Several representatives from the Malaysian government, such as Minister Idris Jala, a Christian, are visiting the Christian communities in Malaysia, trying to convince Christian citizens to abandon the term "Allah" and use "Yahweh" in the texts in the liturgy and in publications.
The intent is part of the ongoing dispute between the Christian and Muslim communities, which began in recent months with a lawsuit involving the Catholic newspaper “The Herald.” With the sentence of December 31, 2009, the High Court of Justice upheld the right of "The Herald" to use the word "Allah" to refer to God. The term "Allah" is, in fact, the only existing word in the Bahasha Malaysia language used to refer to God.
The Christian community does not currently seem willing to accept the proposal of using the Hebrew word "Yahweh." Reverend Thomas Philips, a Christian leader of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Taoism, an organization involved in interreligious dialogue.
"The faithful will continue to use the word Allah," said Philips. "It is a sacred right that affects the freedom of expression. Every person who speaks a language has the right to use all the words of that language, without charges or limitations. The issue will be discussed in the Interreligious Committee formed by the government. We are working with the spirit of understanding to find just solutions to matters affecting the religious sphere. This also applies to the controversy over the use of the word Allah. We are confident that a common solution can be reached for the good of the nation and people of all faiths."
Ed. note: an earlier version of this article had an erroneous headline.