Petaling Jaya (The Star/ANN) - The Council of Churches (CCM) in Malaysia will continue to use the word "Allah" in the Malay version of the Bible, said the council's heads of churches.
The heads of churches had discussed the issue during their retreat in Ipoh, which began on Tuesday and ends today.
Two days ago, Sultan of the state of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah decreed that non-Muslims in the state are barred from using "Allah" as it is a sacred word exclusive to Muslims.
Hours after the decree was announced, Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party and its allies in the Opposition alliance took a common stand that the word "Allah" can be used by anyone for as long as it is not misused against the Muslim community.
In a statement yesterday, CCM general secretary Rev Dr Hermen Shastri noted that Malaysian Christians had been using the word in their Malay Bible and devotional life for centuries.
"Also, many indigenous communities in our nation have incorporated this word in their everyday language.
"That being the case, we shall continue this practice, and call on all parties to respect this fundamental right," he said.
He added that the heads of churches agreed that the practice was a right "guaranteed to us in our Federal Constitution" under Article 11, which addresses freedom of religion.