PAS appears to have shifted its stance on the use of 'Allah' by non-Muslims, after its Syura Council decided that the word cannot be used as a translation for 'God' or 'Lord' in non-Islamic religious texts.
"... (This is) not allowed because it is wrong in meaning and an abuse, and it does not meet the real requirements which could lead to clear confusion. Hence it should be prevented," reads a carefully-worded statement issued after the council met last night.
The council, which is the party's highest decision-making body, is chaired by spiritual leader Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat.
Its members were unanimous in deciding that:
1. 'Allah' is a holy word referring to the lord revered by Muslims, 'the only one lord, who has no child and is not child of others'.
2. The word 'Allah' is universal (in that) it refers to 'the lord of the worlds'. (So) anyone can mention 'Allah', just as the ignorant non-Muslim Arabs had used it to say that 'Allah created the world'.
3. The word is used specifically by Allah himself to name himself 'Allah'. The word cannot be translated into any language in the world because it does not meet the real requirements of this word. Similarly, other foreign words cannot be translated into 'Allah'.
The statement, jointly signed by Nik Abdul Aziz and his deputy Haron Din, was issued to clear the ambiguity of remarks by party president Abdul Hadi Awang (right), who did not explicitly say whether non-Muslims can use 'Allah' in their religious text.
He had said that 'Allah' should not be abused by people of other faiths, by assigning different meanings to the word, other than the Muslim interpretation.
At the same time, he had said that Islam does not prohibit people of other faiths from using 'Allah' in their religious practice.
Abdul Hadi's stance, while shared by the Pakatan Rakyat top leadership, had split PAS into two camps.
Several PAS leaders - Nik Abdul Aziz, deputy president Mohamad Sabu, Youth chief Nasruddin Hassan and deputy ulama chief Mahfodz Mohamed - supported the stance.
Another group - including secretary-general Mustafa Ali, Haron (left), ulama chief Harun Taib and information chief Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man - were against the use of 'Allah' in other religious texts such as Malay-language Bible.
Matters became complicated for Pakatan when DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, in his Christmas message, called on Putrajaya to allow Christians to use the term 'Allah' in the Malay-language Bible.
DAP later clarified that the call was only for use of the word in Sabah and Sarawak .
On the 'Amanat Haji Hadi' (Haji Hadi's Message), the Syura Council urged the government to allow Abdul Hadi to explain the issue over national channels TV1 and TV3 for at least an hour.
Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim had rejected the request on the ground that it would breach a decree issued by the National Fatwa Council in 2002.