Apart from Allah, why is the word “Tuhan” exclusive for Muslims too?

Apart from Allah, why is the word “Tuhan” exclusive for Muslims too?
By Uthaya Sankar in Focus Malaysia 17 April 2021

While reading Meredah Kabus (2021), an anthology of Bahasa Malaysia short stories published by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP), Uthaya Sankar notices that “every time a non-Malay (non-Muslim) mentions “Tuhan” (God), it is printed as “tuhan” (god).”

Here are several other examples:

  • Mala juga sentiasa diingatkan untuk berdoa dan berterima kasih kepada tuhan. (page 10)
  • Semoga tuhan melindungi John daripada sebarang bencana. (page 63)
    Dengan keizinan tuhan, Sangeetha dipertemukan dengan Madam Ivy. (page 223)
  • Letchumi sempat berdoa agar dirinya dilindungi tuhan. (page 231)
    Inilah balasan tuhan terhadap dosa yang aku telah lakukan terhadap kalian. (page 236)
  • Oh, tuhanku! (page 251)
  • Dalam hal Zohra, dia bertambah yakin dengan kuasa tuhan dan karma. (page 323)

…Appalled by this, I contacted a few writers and they confirmed that in their original manuscript, they wrote “Tuhan” but it has been changed to “tuhan” in print.

Uthaya Sankar notes that the same changes were made when DBP reprinted Abdullah Hussain’s novel, Interlok.

For the record, in Datuk Abdullah Hussain’s original version[1971], “Tuhan” is used. But when it was republished as a student edition, every time a non-Muslim character is involved, “Tuhan” has been changed to “tuhan”. If the character is a Malay-Muslim, “Tuhan” is used.

When this issue was highlighted in 2011, some panel members told me bluntly that if I wanted to use “Tuhan” when it comes to non-Muslims, I had to refer the matter to the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim).

Now, it is clear to me that not only “Allah” is deemed exclusive for the Muslims. There is a movement to ensure “Tuhan” (capital) is also exclusively theirs. It seems “Tuhan” can only be used for “Allah”.

…[I]n Kamus Dewan (2005) and Kamus Dewan Perdana (2020), there are different definitions for “Tuhan” and “tuhan”.

Here is what they say:

Tuhan” seem to refer exclusively to Allah, whereas “tuhan” refers to “something worshipped by people whose religion or belief is not based on the One God” (“sesuatu yang dipuja oleh golongan manusia yang agama atau kepercayaan mereka tidak berasaskan kepercayaan kepada Tuhan Yang Esa”)…

…It is unconstitutional to say that the non-Muslims are allowed to use “Tuhan” only if they worship the Muslim God, “Allah”.

Bahasa Malaysia as the national language belongs to every Malaysian. Therefore, it would be unfair for anyone to say that all Malay words in Kamus Dewan and Kamus Dewan Perdana has to be seen from the Malay-Muslim perspective.

If that is the case, non-Malays and non-Muslims might as well be fully banned for using the language…

Uthaya Sankar is the founder of Kavyan Writers’ Group.

Link to the original post – Apart from Allah, why is the word “Tuhan” exclusive for Muslims too?

Resources on the Malaysian government ban on Christians using the word “Allah” and now it seems the word “Tuhan”:

Collated Resources: Christians from pre-Islam Arab Christians to Bumiputera Christians have the Right to Use Allah