The Brunei government has banned 19 Islamic words from use by non-Muslims. This comes with the implementation of the Shari’ah law in the country.
The Brunei Times reports that words, which include Allah— that have long been 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.
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 ban on the 19 words also follows the long-standing debates in Malaysia, where the government recently instituted a ban on the word Allah. In an exceptional 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.
Brunei is an independent state bordered by Malaysia. It 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.