The use of the word ‘Allah’ in Malay language bibles could be considered as committing syrik, according to a grand Imam in Saudi Arabia. Syrik is the act of destroying one’s faith and turning against Allah. According to Al-Hafiz Mohammad Sharif Mohammad Ibrani, an Imam at the Abbad mosque in Mecca, using the word Allah in the Bible is similar to equating Allah to the God of other religions and this is impossible as Allah cannot be compared to any other substance or form. The imam believed that using the word Allah in bibles could lead to confusion among Muslims, as the implication would be that Muslims support the teachings of the bible, which they don’t. A public outcry among Muslims rose when someone proposed that the word Allah be used in Malay language bibles.
Malay is an Austronesian language. It belongs to the Indonesian or western family of languages. It is primarily spoken in Malaysia where it is an official language. It is also spoken in Indonesia, where a large number of ethnic Malays live. Malay is also the official language in Brunei. It is one of the official languages in Singapore and it is also spoken in Thailand, USA and Myanmar. Approximately 18 million people speak Malay and 170 million people speak Indonesian, which is considered to be a form of Malay. The Malays are the largest ethnic group in Malaysia. Other minority groups in the country are Indians and Chinese. Malay language speakers worldwide add up to about 200 million to form the 5th largest community in the world. Malay language courses offered in various universities around the world aim to give a historical depth of the language, while keeping in mind the rich ethnic diversity of the language.
Malay is also known as Bahasa Malaysia, which translates to ‘language of Malaysia’. It became the official language of Malaysia in 1968. English is also commonly used, especially by the Indians and the Chinese. Malay has loan words from Arabic, Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese, Sanskrit and English.