Jump directly to the content

Muslim Nation Bans Christians from Using 19 Religious Words

Brunei expands Malaysia’s ban on ‘Allah', long used by local Christians, to other Islamic words other religions can no longer use.
Muslim Nation Bans Christians from Using 19 Religious Words Image: Wikimedia
Brunei's Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque

Following a decision to implement Shari'ah law in the country, the Brunei government has banned 19 Islamic words from use by non-Muslims.

The words, which include Allahlong used by regional Christians to refer to God—and other words with religious associations, can no longer be used in reference to other religions after the new penal code takes effect in April, according to the Brunei Times.

The government also plans to implement strict punishment for crimes, including death by stoning for adultery and amputation of limbs for theft, Religion News Service reported in October. Those penalties will take effect in phases, beginning in April.

Brunei, an independent state bordered by Malaysia, is located on the northwest edge of Borneo Island in the South China Sea. Its population of 416,000 is 67 percent Muslim and ethnic Malay, and the country is ruled by a constitutional sultanate. Residents speak Malay, a language heavily influenced by Arabic.

The country rose this year from No. 27 to No. 24 on Open Doors' World Watch List for severe Christian persecution. The country implements full Islamic law, considers pastors "enemies," and monitors Christians through spies and the police.

The ban on the 19 words follows the long-standing debates in Malaysia, where the government recently instituted a ban on the word Allah. In an unprecedented move, officials raided the Bible Society of Malaysia and seized 300 Bibles. Some Malaysian states ban up to 32 religious words from use by members of other religions, according to the Malay Mail.

Along with Allah, the banned words in Brunei, with their English meanings, are: Azan: the call to prayer five times a day; baitullah: "mosque"; Al Quran: "the Koran"; fatwa: legal opinion or ruling issued by an Islamic scholar; Firman Allah: "the Word of God"; hadith: "tradition," and Muslim holy writings; Haji: "pilgrimage"; hukum syara': "Shariah law"; ilahi: "divine"; Ka'bah: Muslim shrine in Mecca; kalimah al syahadah: "word of testimony"; kiblat: "Direction of the Prayers"; masjid: "mosque"; imam: "priest"; mufti: Muslim legal official; mu'min: "believer"; solat: "prayer"; and wali: "guardian."

The punishments for committing acts prohibited in the penal code range from a $4,000 fine or a year in prison for a non-Muslim who cohabits with a Muslim, to death by stoning for a married non-Muslim committing adultery with a married Muslim. Parents who leave their children in the care of non-Muslims can be fined and jailed.

In 2001, CT reported the release of five arrested Christians in Brunei after being arrested for smuggling Bibles and evangelizing Muslims.

Support our work. Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Posted:February 26, 2014 at 11:20AM
Gleanings aggregates what others are reporting. Learn more.
Recent Posts
Moral Outrage in America Is Now for Everybody
Gallup finds record-high liberalism on 10 of 19 issues. Yet moderates and liberals are growing more concerned.
ISIS Kills 29 Christians on Church Bus Trip to Popular Monastery
(UPDATED) Egypt cancels Ramadan’s opening celebration as Copts resist revenge.
Shame, Guilt, and Fear: What 1,000 Americans Avoid Most
Churches may be emphasizing the wrong selling point of the gospel, suggests LifeWay.
ICE Deports Christian Who Fled Persecution Back to Indonesia
Man who sought asylum in New Jersey church caught up in 100-day surge in non-criminal arrests.
Christianity Today
Muslim Nation Bans Christians from Using 19 Religious Words