The Use of “Allah,” and What’s Really Going on in Vietnam

My recent vacation prevented me from getting a chance to post the article I wrote last week for World magazine online. I wrote about the appeals court decision in Malaysia that would keep publications like The Herald, a Catholic outlet from using the word “Allah.” 

Yesterday, my most recent article was published. In it, I explore the treatment of Christians in Vietnam and the risks they face. While it may have been much worse in the past, religious freedom is still a dream for Vietnamese believers.

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3 Responses to The Use of “Allah,” and What’s Really Going on in Vietnam

  1. Excellent pieces, both of them — and scary, scary developments. God bless you for your reporting.

    As a side note: in my nosing around the blogosphere, I’ve found a frequent refrain for fundamentalist Christians to be the argument (always with a fair bit of vitriol and prejudice included) that Muslims and Christians believe in a different God in opposition, I guess, to the Catholic Church and others who would seek to have conversations with Muslims. Regardless of how one stands on that particular question — certainly any way one puts it, Muslims have a very different and wrong-headed understanding of God — people need to realize that “Allah” is not strictly a Muslim term. Those people in the West who would denounce “Allah” are effectively on the other side of the same problem, pulling the rug out from under Arabic Christians and Jews and handing the worship of “God” entirely to the Muslims in Muslim-dominated countries.

    • Julia says:

      Thanks Joseph. I’ve been meaning to respond to your comment. I absolutely would say that Christians and Muslims worship a different god and that the Muslim god is a false one. But before researching for this article I was unaware that Allah was actually a term for God before Islam existed. So I can understand why, in countries where that word has always been used to refer to God, they would be upset at being told they cannot use it unless they Muslim. However, from an evangelism standpoint and for the sake of clearly presenting the gospel and avoiding confusion I would love for Christians to be able to use other words (whenever possible).

      • So should we concede the use of the word “Allah” to Muslims? “Allah” is not just a term for God in Arabic, it’s the equivalent of the word “God” as we use it in English. Christians do not have a singular claim to the word “God” in English, any more than Muslims have a valid claim to “Allah.” Even in the United States, many Muslims refer to their god as “God” — as do Jews, and Sikhs, and Hindus, and many others. Do you think English-speaking Christians should find a better word than “God” to refer to the one we worship, to avoid confusion?

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