Not long ago, the image of an I.D. card belonging to an Indonesian man named Tuhan went viral.
The joke? Tuhan happens to mean “god” or “lord” in Indonesian.
This brought the name to the attention of the Indonesian Ulema Council, Indonesia’s top Muslim clerical body. The group is now asking Tuhan — a 42-year-old Muslim from East Java — to either change his name or prefix it with Abdu, meaning “servant of.” They’re also threatening to exclude him from “any public service until such time as the name [is] amended.”
But according to Antariksawan Jusuf, an expert on the Osing people of East Java, Tuhan’s name has an entirely different origin:
The offending word, Antariksawan said, came from maftuhan, which means “open” in the Osing language. Members of the tribe, however, tend to abbreviate names according to speech. Thus, maftuhan is often shortened to [Tuhan].
“We must be careful not to equate a word in a traditional language with a similar one used in another language, including Indonesian,” Antariksawan said.
So far, Tuhan has decided to keep his birth name as-is.