PM Must Declare Sabah Christians Right to Use Alkitab, Notwithstanding the Fatwa (2003)

Customers are painfully aware that redemption coupons often are not what they seem to be.  Remember the old customer advisory, “What the bold print giveth, the fine print taketh away.” One can only feel let down after reading the fine print in the “Terms and Conditions Apply” section stipulating the coupon is valid only at … Continue reading “PM Must Declare Sabah Christians Right to Use Alkitab, Notwithstanding the Fatwa (2003)”

Customers are painfully aware that redemption coupons often are not what they seem to be.  Remember the old customer advisory, “What the bold print giveth, the fine print taketh away.” One can only feel let down after reading the fine print in the “Terms and Conditions Apply” section stipulating the coupon is valid only at certain branches. Worse still, the customer service may refer to a hitherto unannounced in-house policy which says the coupon is valid only for ‘privileged members’.

To be fair, PM Najib finally comes clean with the fine print “terms and conditions” of his 10-point redemption coupon. Indeed, he highlighted it in bold print. As reported,

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak reiterated today that state enactments on the use of terms deemed exclusive to Muslims override the Cabinet’s more generous 10-point agreement on the matter. “The 10 points are subject to state constitution and enactments. Where there are state enactments, they will supersede the 10-point agreement,” he told reporters. “We have made our stance clear.” [Themalaymailonline 27/01/2014]

Still, PM Najib was quick to assure the East Malaysians that he has “special terms and conditions” for them. The STAR (24 Jan 2013) in “Najib: 10-point Resolution on Allah Issue Subject to Federal, State Laws” reported,

Najib… took note of the Cabinet’s 10-point resolution on this matter in 2011, which among others, allows the Christian community in Sabah and Sarawak to continue using the word Allah in the Malay version of the Bible. However, he said the points therein were subject to Federal and state laws.

“This means that if the state has an enactment (on use of the word Allah), it is subject to this. If the state does not have such an enactment, like Sabah and Sarawak, so the usual practice will be continued and no party should scare others,” he told reporters after chairing the Umno Supreme Council meeting at Menara Dato Onn on Friday.

However, East Malaysians, especially Sabahans, should be guarded in accepting the PM’s assurance or redemption coupon. They may be in for a rude shock as the customer service of the PM’s ‘Departmental Store’ has a track record applying ambiguous in-house policy to reject redemption coupons. For example, some goods (supposedly Islamic terms) can only be sold to privileged members; a fortiori, customers cannot use redemption coupons to get them.

Put concretely, Sabah Christians should be aware that the state has gazetted on 1 June 2003  a fatwa prohibiting non-Muslims from using 32 so-called Islamic terms under the Enakmen Pentadbiran Undang-Undang Islam 1992.

Under normal circumstances, fatwas should have no bearing on non-Muslims. That is to say, a fatwa must be gazetted to have legal effect (on Muslims).  But a fatwa, even one that is gazetted, has no application to non-Muslims since it is still being gazetted under the state Shariah enactment, which does not apply to non-Muslims.

However, recent events in West Malaysia show that shariah officials are prepared ignore their limited jurisdiction and seek to impose Islamic regulations onto non-Muslims. It is reasonable to predict that Shariah officials in Sabah will exploit the ambiguity of a gazetted Fatwa (2003) to impose Islamic regulations onto non-Muslims, and seize the Christian alkitab. There will be more unjustified intrusions, harassment and raids from Shariah officials until the PM declares unambiguously that fatwas, gazetted or not do not apply to non-Muslims, or until a fatwa/enactment that is wrongly applied to non-Muslim is successfully challenged in court and set aside.

To avoid unnecessary escalation of religious tension and conflict, it is imperative that PM assures non-Muslims that fatwas (gazetted or not), do not apply to non-Muslims and declares Sabah Christians have full Constitutional right to use their alkitab.

What can Sabah Christians do if the PM fails to act and restraint Shariah officials who disregard the 10-point and unlawfully harass Christians?  They cannot return the redemption coupons, having ratified the Sale & Purchase Agreement in the 2013  General Elections. Certainly, the PM Department will no longer accord them the honorable status of exemplary customers, otherwise called, “Safe Deposit”. Nonetheless, Sabahans will be forced to review how they want to do business with PM Najib’s government – Maybe they will consider, “No more ‘Safe Deposit’ – New Terms and Conditions Apply.”


Larangan Penggunaan Istilah-Istilah Islam Oleh Orang Bukan Islam LINK

Tarikh Keputusan:
1 Jun, 2003
(Enakmen No. 13 tahun 1992)


Dengan ini dimaklumkan bahawa Fatwa telah dibuat dan diluluskan oleh Mufti Kerajaan Negeri Sabah di bawah Seksyen 35 Enakmen Pentadbiran Undang-Undang Islam 1992 adalah dengan ini disiarkan sebagai berikut:-
A.  Penggunaan Istilah-istilah Islam oleh orang bukan Islam dalam pengajaran atau pengembangan ajaran mereka adalah dilarang. Istilah-istilah tersebut adalah;







Firman Allah








Hadith atau Hadis
































Qiblat atau Kiblat


















Quran atau Al Quran


B.  Larangan ini meliputi penggunaan Istilah-istilah Islam di (A) di atas dalam apa-apa bentuk terbitan bertulis, media cetak, audio-visual dan sebagainya oleh orang bukan Islam”.

Update Notes added on 5 Feb 2014

The Enactment 1992 was repealed by the Majlis Ugama Islam Negeri Sabah Enactment 2004, by virtue of section 86 of the Majlis Ugama Islam Negeri Sabah Enactment 2004.

However, the repeal of the Enactment 1992 does not affect the 2003 fatwa because section 85 of the Majlis Ugama Islam Negeri Sabah Enactment 2004 reads:

“85. All rules, proclamations, orders, notices, forms, authorization letters and appointments issued or made under or by virtue of any written law repealed by virtue of this Enactment shall remain in force, in so far as they are not inconsistent with this Enactment, until revoked or replaced by regulations, rules, proclamations, orders, notices, forms, authorization letters or appointments issued or made under this Enactment.”



Sabah MP Wants Clarity on ‘Allah’ Fatwa in State

2 Feb 2014 TheMalaymailonline – LINK

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 2 — PKR MP Darell Leiking asked Sabah’s religious authorities today to clarify whether a 2003 religious edict, or fatwa, banning non-Muslims using 31 Arabic remains in effect.

The Penampang MP claimed that non-Muslims in the state are largely unaware that commonly used Arabic words such as God or “Allah” and “Injil” (Gospel) are included in the list of words may be prohibited to them.

“Most Sabahans would think that the prohibition of certain words by non-Muslims is only applicable in the West Malaysia but what they never knew is, there already exist an enactment in the State that prohibits the usage of 31 words by non-Muslims in any forms of publications, printing press, audio-visuals and other modes of communications.

“Unfortunately, the listing had also included certain words which are commonly used by the non-Muslims in the State such as Allah and Injil,” said Leiking in a statement here.

The mufti of Sabah had in June 2003 decreed that non-Muslims are prohibited from using in their religious teachings or propagation 31 Arabic words commonly used by Muslims.

The fatwa was gazetted under Section 35 of the Islamic Laws Administration Enactment 1992.

Besides “Allah” and “Injil”, the list also included “ibadah” (worship), “rasul” (messenger), “iman” (faith), and “wahyu” (revelation).

Leiking highlighted that the fatwa had contravened the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) report and the subsequent 20-point agreement drawn up by Sabah (then North Borneo) before the formation of Malaysia.

The 20-point agreement stipulated among others that the people of Sabah are free to practise their own religion, and there should be no state religion in North Borneo.

The Sabah Constitution was, however, amended in 1973 by the state government to make Islam the religion of the state of Sabah.

“While I am very grateful that there is no religious polarisation in the state, and Muslims and non-Muslims co-exist peacefully, my main concern is that the latter would now be at the mercy of the enactment.

“It has the effect that it may now be possible for the religious authority to restrain active propagation of Christianity among non-Muslim Bumiputera in the state,” Leiking warned.

Putrajaya issued the 10-point solution shortly before the Sarawak state election in 2011 to end a Home Ministry blockade of shipments of Christian holy scriptures in the Malay language containing the word “Allah”.

However, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak reiterated last month that state enactments on the use of terms deemed exclusive to Muslims override the Cabinet’s more generous 10-point agreement on the matter.

This comes as Selangor religious authorities raided the Bible Society of Malaysia and sized Malay and Iban-language bibles early last month, claiming it was enforcing a 1988 state enactment that prohibits non-Muslims from using 35 Arabic words in their worship, including “Allah”.

Bumiputera Christians, who form about 64 per cent or close to two-thirds of the Christian community in Malaysia, have used the word “Allah” when praying and speaking in the national language and their native tongues for centuries.


7 thoughts on “PM Must Declare Sabah Christians Right to Use Alkitab, Notwithstanding the Fatwa (2003)”

  1. Where can I find a list of the 35 words/terms that Christians are not allowed to use and the ‘justification’ for banning them?


  2. Thanks Kam Weng for this. What can I say our God really is great, one decade back already allowed something which will render ineffective the political double talk on this issue. I’m still praying that the Church in M’sia becomes more united, strong and focus on getting on with work of our heavenly Father.

  3. Najib is wrong.

    State enactments, including on the use of the word “Allah,” cannot be inconsistent with Federal Constitution. Jurisdiction does not mean ultimate legal authority, more so when the rights and liberties of NON-MUSLIMS are involved. In other words, the jurisdiction is related to non-Muslims and not Muslims per se.

    Article 4 …
    (1) This Constitution is the SUPREME law of the Federation and any law passed after Merdeka Day which is inconsistent with this Constitution shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.

    Article 71 …
    (4) If at any time the Constitution of any State does not contain the provisions set out in Part I of the Eighth Schedule, with or without the modifications allowed under Clause (5) (hereinafter referred to as “the essential provisions”) or provisions substantially to the same effect, or contains provisions inconsistent with the essential provisions, PARLIAMENT MAY, notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, BY LAW MAKE PROVISION for giving effect in that State to the essential

    Article 75 …
    If any State law is inconsistent with a federal law, the federal law shall prevail and the State law
    shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be VOID.

    1. The state enactments that are inconsistent with the Federal Constitution and impinge on and infringe the fundamental rights and liberties of non-Muslims and the fatwas have no authority and claim on non-Muslims.

    2. These state enactments go beyond matters pertaining to Islam and Muslims and therefore ultra vires and null and void ad initio (from the beginning).

    3. Non-Muslims, contrary to Najib, are not under any obligation to comply with these state enactments and fatwas except to exercise their fundamental rights and liberties enshrined in the Constitution.

  4. Dear Jason,
    Everything you said is correct on paper but religious zealots believe their religion is the true religion and they must follow gods law not mans law such as the fed. Constitution.

    The police, armed forces, religious police are of certain race and religion. These are the people entrusted in executing the law of the land. !

    Something to think about .

  5. Dear Robert,

    Your comments are not helpful.

    1. The security forces are to be *reminded* that Islamisation is a process that does not end. It doesn’t stop with the introduction of tudung and the ban of Allah for Christians. In other words, it would lead to a situation where the conflict between Islamisation (“purism”) and the Malay ethos of the security come out into the open, *and* where the very integrity and existence of the *Malay* character of the (Muslim-based) sultanate is questioned. Remember: The security forces are prohibited from keeping beards.

    2. You must also know that the military in the Muslim and Islamic countries (including Pakistan but excluding Saudi Arabia and Iran) are wary of Islamic fundamentalism. Look at Egypt and Morsi. The military has stepped in. Erdogan dares not go full-gear Islamisation. He knows what the Turkish military is capable of. Look at Syria where the country is polarized – the support for the opposition comes from the outside (Saudi, US).

    3. It’s all about balance — the role and position of the Malay ruler as the guardian of Islam pertains only to Muslims. The law against apostasy is not only enshrined in certain state enactments; it is “implicit” (though not explicit) in the Federal Constitution where Muslims are legally immune from proselytization. In other words, what I’ve been sharing is all aboujt going back to the Constitution. The Malay-Muslim character of the Constitution and the country remains — what we don’t want is the wrong direction prompted by Islamisation. Remember the state enactments in question were enacted precisely during the height of the “dakwah” movement.

    Hope this clears your misunderstanding.

  6. In other words, when it comes to the security forces, Islam is a matter of the heart and so the Islamic identity is “submerged” or kept in the *background.* With full-fledged Islamisation, the reverse occurs. External or outward identity which is “predominantly” Malay must correspond or give way to an Islamised (read: Arabised) identity in the foreground as part of legal symbolism of the full-orbed Syariah legal system.

    The funny thing or rather the irony is that because of Mahathir, it is Umno which is responsible for Islamisation that will compel the security forces to choose between their Malay and Muslim identity when they DON’T have to in the first place. It’s already been settled … just like the fundamental provisions of the Constitution is already settled. No questions asked. That’s it. We just get along with nation-building – to build a Bangsa Malaysia. But Umno is opening up a Pandora’s box that ends up contradicting the spirit, provisions and intent of the Federal Constitution. Umno can only enforce the Constitution not go BEYOND the highest and supreme law and source of law of the land. Of course, Mahathir would not live long to see how divisive the fruits of his Islamisation process set in motion under him. Hopefully, there is national reconciliation that ENACTS the spirit, provision and intent of the Constitution.

    That’s the point.

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