Islamic bodies refuse to return seized Bibles in Malaysia

Two Islamic bodies in Muslim majority Malaysia have refused to return Malay and Iban language Bibles seized from a Christian group earlier this year over the use of the word "Allah".

PTI| Last Updated: Jun 14, 2014, 16:43 PM IST

Kuala Lumpur: Two Islamic bodies in Muslim majority Malaysia have refused to return Malay and Iban language Bibles seized from a Christian group earlier this year over the use of the word "Allah".

Islamic Religious Council (Mais) in a statement today said the Selangor State Government did not have the right to order for the return of items confiscated from the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) in the course of investigation.

As such both the council and the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) would not abide by the instruction, the statement added.

Mais insisted that action be taken against the BSM for distributing Malay and Iban language Bibles, maintaining that Muslim`s faith would be confused otherwise.

Mais chairman Mohamad Adzib Mohd Isa said they believed there was a case against the society under the Non-Islamic Religion (Selangor) Enactment 1988, which prohibits non-Muslims from using "Allah" to refer to God.

"The excuse made by Attorney-General Gani Patail not to charge BSM with distributing those Bibles and the copies by saying it was not a threat to national security would only confuse the Muslim`s faith," he said.

He also said the State Government has no standing to instruct the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) to return the 321 Malay and Iban languange Bibles seized from BSM`s office on January 2.

Mais` statement came three days after the A-G declared that there was no case against BSM. Following the A-G`s statement, the State Government ordered its religious authority to return the seized Bibles to BSM.

However, Mohamad Adzib insisted that as religious authorities in the state, both Mais and Jais were responsible for protecting the sanctity of Islam, especially in Selangor.

"We are very concerned at any attempt to tarnish the sanctity of Islam by misusing Quranic terms or names, a move we believe could be used for proselytisation," he said.

Muslim groups have protested against the Christian use of the word Allah, saying it is an attempt to make Christianity appeal to Muslims.

Malaysia`s majority 60 per cent population is Malay who are all Muslims. Ethnic Chinese form 25 per cent of the population which is both Christians and Buddhists and 8 per cent form ethnic Indians who are mostly Hindus.

However, Malay language is spoken across the country.