Since Justice Lau's brave decision to allow the Herald to continue publishing its Malay language edition using Malay-speaking Christians' normal term for God ("Allah"), there has been a flurry of condemnations from several quarters.
One of them, Dato' Ariff a.k.a. Sakmongkol wrote an especially incisive article in his usual strong intellectual thrust. In that article, he postulated that the issue was not about the legality or right of Christians to use the term. The real issue was that "Allah" is the exclusive reference to God for billions of Muslims worldwide "and hence, the hijacking of its ownership through some legalistic twists, constitute a rape and pillage on the Muslim person."
He further asserts that this ownership of the term Allah "rests on the altar of worship supported by the pillars of faith jealously guarded by UNREASON" and therefore not open to rational discussion.
Respectfully, I must strongly disagree based on the following points.
1) The "exclusive ownership" argument has been rebutted ad nauseam, ad infinitum. I am loathe to repeat it. You can read my extensively researched arguments against this flimsy premise here. I'll merely briefly mention here that the term "Allah" (and its various permutations) have been in use to refer the the "One Supreme Being" in the Middle East region since before Islam, Christianity or even Judaism! These great monotheistic religions simply adopted the word to express their faith.
So what exclusive ownership?
2) Equating non-Muslim use of the word "Allah" as raping the Muslim personhood? Come on la!
If we were to accept this argument, then Christians should demand that all references to Jesus Christ should be stricken out from the Quran! Because belief in Jesus resides in the hearts of all Christians. Belief in the doctrines about Jesus Christ also rests on the altar wof worship supported on the pillars of faith! Should Christians regard Islam's reference to Jesus in a completely different doctrine as a rape and pillage on their faith and personhood?
Since Christianity came 600 years BEFORE Islam, by virtue of seniority Muslims should respect and obey the wishes of Christians should such a claim arise that the Quran's Jesus conform to Christian doctrine or be stricken out altogether, just as some Muslims expect the same of Christians re "Allah"!
I'm not saying we should get into a semantic tug-of-war. But put forward your arguments by all means, just let's not be hypocritical about it!
3) To state that "The word Allah...rests on the altar of worship supported by the pillars of faith jealously guarded by UNREASON" is, I think, Dato' Ariff's most damaging statement to his cause.
In all of Creation, God created only Man to have reason. It is by the exercise of reason that Man is able to control his base desires and grow in his faith, through spiritual disciplines such as worship, prayer, fasting, study and reflection. No other creature in the world is able to do such things simply because they are beings without reason!
Since God created Man as the only creature with "reason", and Man's growth in his faith in God rests on activities that require the exercise of reason, the implication is that as Man grows in his closeness to God, he exercises MORE of his reason.
Stating that faith is guarded by UNREASON is surely an insult to the sincere spiritual seeker!