I get annoyed when i found out that some people regard being malay and a muslim is two separate thing when its not. the malay’s ever since their Sultan became a muslim, be it from Kedah, Malacca or even in other Nusantara (archipelagos) island of Indonesia, even Brunei and a little bit of Philippines of the recent famous Sulu Sultanate have gone far and wide, as malay and as muslim at the same time.
The truth is, we have integrate Islam in every aspect of our life that it is unlikely to separate Islam and Malay as one. The first thing that the King’s back then did when they became a muslim was using the title ‘Sultan’ to replace the ‘Dewa’ ‘Maha Dewa’ and other godly title so that they are not called as something above God.
Secondly, they brought in a lot of Ulema’s and teacher’s to teach first the family of the Sultan in their ‘Istana’ . This mean, they made sure that their prince & princes were taught in islamic value in order to make a good King to one day rule their country according to Islam
Thirdly, they change most of their Law into Islamic Law, this can be seen through Undang Undang Melaka, and Undang-Undang Laut Melaka (Malay Law & Maritime Law) which was also a blue print to other Sultanates nearby like the Undang-Undang Pahang, Undang Undang Johor, Undang-Undang 99 Perak and also Adat Perpatih Negeri Sembilan per say.
I have personally read the translated version of Undang-undang Melaka by Liaw Yock Fang who took almost 20 years to get it translated all the way from Lieden University and other museums in Europe. There’s a strong influence of Islam in every inch other law written inside it.
And then, they built mosque and madrasah for the people to use and learn from teacher’s that was brought in. While some may be imported from the Ottoman Caliphate at that time, there were still many local teacher’s who have studied far and wide and came back to open their own pondok school.
In modern time, pondok school seem like nothing, but in fact it was one of the main teaching place at that time that help to flourish islamization process in our country.
Not only that, we came up with Jawi writing and translated a lot of islamic book to enable us to understand islamic teaching. That means, a whole new writing other than arabic writing. A lot of old people like our grandparents can read jawi, even my grandmother reads jawi and her own notes in jawi whenever she studies her islamic lesson. Can the younger generation nowadays read Jawi ? Sadly most of us can’t, even myself struggles to read like ive just learn the alphabets ,spelling word by word and never able to read fluently.
We also have our own historians, like Tun Sri Lanang who wrote the Malay Annals @ Sulatus Salatin. And most of us think it as a myth whereas the malays have extraordinary unique way of writing something in such a discreet way that you don’t realize you are being advised. If you read the works of Syed Muhammad Naquib Al Attas – Historical Fact and fiction, he have managed to prove that there is more than just a fiction of the history written by these historians.
An interesting opinion from my father is that could the Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat story means not the fight between good and bad, but it is actually the existence of the good and bad in us , and which side do we take more in us? If the Malay history was nothing to us, why is it the western imperialist decided to take it back to their country and preserve it there? Certainly it is more valuable to them than it is to us malays.
Now we go to the way we dress, it is not justsome kain batik, if it doesn’t have any purpose. The kain batik itself were made of a fabric that warms us at night especially, and when you get sick, it is good to cover yourself with kain batik for it helps you to get your sweats out of your body and heal better.
The food, consist a lot of onion,garlic,ginger based food which contains a lot of health benefit and onion for example is a natural antibiotic. We never waste food, any leftovers will be made as fried rice the next day, and even if there is still some, we will give it to the chicken. We rear our own chicken,mostly, some have cows and goats. But one thing about the malays, is tha tduring the kenduri or wedding events, my grandmother told me that, every one will bring some of their rice, chicken ,and all kind of food to help out at the wedding when there is no catering available.
Every one in the kampung will come and bring their own supply to help the family to make the wedding, some lends their plates and cups, for the wedding. And even then, it is a custom to give a house almost full of the basic need like a cupboard, plates for the newly wed. And then, they have a feast together, with joget lambak, or some marhaban, kompang etc.
True some customs may origin from the Hindhu, but the interesting part about becoming a muslim for the malays is that they leave only the things that is against islam while the rest remains as a culture.
Per say, when you build a house, they only have floral carvings as their decorations leaving the animal design that used to be a practice. The house itself was built so beautifully that you have a lot of airways and ventilation around the house. So that in the day you don’t get too hot with the sun because it was already absorbed by atap rumbia, or woven leafs , also design in a way where it was divided into a long going to the back design so that the kitchen is at the back and the guest don’t just come and barge in.
picture credits to: traditional malay house
Compare that to the modern house, you can even see the kitchen as you open the door. And compare to now, you’d have to install and pay high bill over air conditioning, and other electricity bill because most house were made of concrete and zinc roof, so called modern but its actually boils you from your own house.
And if you are a malay , you probably have heard of the ‘istana’ perak that have no metal nails at all and made use of the wooden pillars and design in such a way that it can stand strong without nails. We even built big ships that can go through the winds and deep sea without any trouble that was then copied by other merchants from other countries. Some don’t have nails, and interestingly even on the ships while you sail, there’s a law of the ships as written in Undang-undang Laut Melaka. And as the sultanate empire reduce, so does the ships, so that it is easy to get away from being attacked by the big ships from the imperialist side.
You can read more about these ships here (x) and read the book written by Dr Jelani Ahmad – Perdagangan and Perkapalan Melayu di Selat Melaka.
And all this and other discoveries was made by ‘melayu’ who is also a muslim, even most of the arabs who migrated here wants to be known as malay, why aren’t you?