AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands - Bishop Martinus Muskens of Breda in The Netherlands has called upon Christians to begin calling God “Allah”. Bishop Muskens is confident this will promote better relations between Christians and Muslims.
Bishop Muskens suggested in an interview with Radio Netherlands that Christians should refer to God as Allah. The 71-year-old bishop believes people are needlessly divided over the different names used to refer to God.
The bishop, who had worked in Indonesia, noted that even Christians use the term Allah for God there. The Dutch should learn to get on spontaneously with different cultures, religions and behavior patterns:
"Someone like me has prayed to Allah yang maha kuasa (Almighty God) for eight years in Indonesia and other priests for 20 or 30 years. In the heart of the Eucharist, God is called Allah over there, so why can't we start doing that together?" he was quoted as saying.
Bishop Muskens admitted that he did not think his suggestion would be welcomed readily and that it would take about 100 years before Catholics would feel comfortable calling God “Allah”.
Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations backs the idea as a way to help interfaith understanding.
"It reinforces the fact that Muslims, Christians and Jews all worship the same God.I don't think the name is as important as the belief in God and following God's moral principles. I think that's true for all faiths," he said.
The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago supports the idea.
“I think it will open up doors.Language is a man-made limitation. I think what God cares about is how we fulfill our purpose in life,” said Janaan Hashim, a spokeswoman for the group representing more than 400,000 Muslim Americans in the Chicago area.