Wednesday, February 6, 2013


A group photo - ISDEV members with the Norwegian Undergraduate Students 

25 Jan- 27 undergraduate students from Agder University and Bergen University College, Norway, were at ISDEV to participate in the 5th Annual Lecture Series on Contemporary Islam in Malaysia. They were led by Professor Dr. Levi Geir Eidhamar. It was an annual occasion resulting from the signing of an MoU between ISDEV and the Norway Universities sometime in 2007. Dr. Zakaria Bahari, ISDEV Deputy Director, served as the chairman of the program which was held at C23.

Dr Zakaria Bahari (left) chairing the session and on the right is
Professor Dr. Levi Geir Eidhamar
Shereeza (holding the microphone) presenting her point
The session was divided into two parts. The first part was a talk on "Conversion and The Use of the Name of Allah SWT" by Shereeza Mohamed Saniff, ISDEV PhD candidate while the second talk was delivered by Associate Professor Dr Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid from the School of Distance Education, entitled  'Bumiputera Policies in Malaysia'. 

Assoc. Prof. Dr Ahmad Fauzi giving his talk on "Bumiputera Policies in Malaysia"
Some of the students from Norway attentively listening to the speaker
During the Q& A session, Prof. Levi raised his disagreement on the prohibition of the use of the term Allah by non-Muslims in Malaysia. His disagreement is based on three reasons. Firstly the term Allah had been used by the Christians in Egypt for a long time, even before the time of Rasulullah SAW. Secondly, Rasulullah SAW did not prohibit the usage of the term Allah, hence it is against the sunnah of Rasulullah SAW if the Malaysian Muslims prohibit it. Thirdly the non-Muslims in East Malaysia have been using the term Allah without any problem.

Prof. Levi (left) presenting his view point during the Q&A session
In response, Shereeza with the help of ISDEV Director, Professor Muhammad Syukri Salleh disagreed with Prof. Levi's arguments based also on three reasons. Firstly, the non-Muslims in Egypt have been using the term Allah for mere linguistic purpose only, not in term of the conceptual meaning of God that is based on religious epistemological and philosophical underpinnings. Secondly, in understanding the sunnah of Rasulullah SAW, one has to equip himself with tools of knowledge especially usul-giqh, that enables him to understand what is obligatory (wajib), prohibited (haram), encouraged (nawafil/sunat), discouraged (makruh) and optional (jaiz) in relations to the deeds of Rasulullah SAW. No direct prohibition does not necessarily mean it is encouraged; it could also mean optional. Thirdly, one has to also master the knowledge on maslahah (common good) and the al-thabat wa al-murunah (fixed and flexibility) concept in applying the laws of Islam in accordance to the suitability of place and time for the maximum benefit of the ummah. The prohibition on the use of the term Allah in Malaysia should be seen from the perspective of maslahah, for the sake of unity of the Malaysian multi-religious society.

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