Wassup with ‘Malay& Islam’?

As most of you are aware of, each time we talk about Islam and ‘Muslim’ in Malaysia, it’ll definitely be associated with MALAY. What’s up with that? I find this particular formula, Islam=Malays, is not accurate at all. Just because the majority of people who profess this particular faith in Malaysia are Malays, does this means that the rest of the people who shares the same faith but do not share the same skin colours are not Muslim and should be brushed off rudely away without considering their feelings?

I have friends who came from China. They came down to Malaysia for holiday and look typically Chinese, with small eyes, flat nose and very fair skin. And yeah, you guessed it right, they are Muslim, not by embracing the faith when they’re a grown adult to get married or anything, but they are Muslim by birth. They belong to a family that had already profess the faith for a few generation, which means, they’re raised as a Muslim, and practices whatever the religion taught them to do. Which means, they too, pray five times a day, fast during Ramadan and every now and then, will go to mosque to perform the prayers. And yeah, like the ‘Malays’ they can’t take alcohol and definitely cannot eat pork too. Basically, they’re no difference from any other Muslims in Malaysia, except maybe for their physical appearance.

I feel that it’s very hard to play hostess for these friends, not because they are being difficult and demand a lot of me and my family, but because the Malay Muslims as well as the non-Muslim in Malaysia tend to stereotype and consider these people as non-Muslim. Honestly, this kind of stereotyping kinda embarrassed me.

When they give ‘salam’ (religious greetings) to the Malays, they would get awful glares from the Malays. And instead of answering their religious greetings there’ll be a question instead. And usually it’ll be, ” Are you a Malay or Chinese.” and without fail, these friends would tell people that they are Chinese, and again, they will be asked why the hell are they giving religious greetings when they are Chinese. And without failed, they would irritate and agitate me to no end.

Why? Because these people are stereotyping the Chinese as non-Muslim! Duh, excuse me, must you be a Malay to be a Muslim? Is it written somewhere in the Quran that you must be a Malay in order to profess Islam that I don’t know of? I even hear complaints from these friends that when they go to the mosque to perform tarawikh (a special prayer during Ramadan nights), they’re given strange glares and some even have the cheek to ask if they’re ‘Malay’. Eh? I must be missing something here. If you’re not a Malay then you cannot enter the mosque to pray? What the hell is this?

Same goes to the non-Muslim. Every now and then, my friends would be asked why they cannot take beer or why they refused to eat the pork meat that had been placed in front of them. When they inform people that they are Muslim, they’ll get strange look or one of those “Eh, you’re not Malay, right?” speech in return.

Then there’s halal Chinese food issue. Coming from China, most of these friends could not really adapt to Malaysian food yet, and so, they had requested me to bring them to Chinese-Muslim food centre. It was just a simple request, but I was actually aghast with their request, because I came to realize that I do not know any Chinese-Muslim food centre or any restaurant that serve certified halal Chinese food. I know there’s some halal Chinese food restaurant, but there’s too few of them, and definitely not in my area. If there’s a restaurant that are serving Chinese food, commonly it won’t be halal because there will be pork or lard in it.

I apologized to these friends, and suggest to them that they will have to settle for a Chinese vegetarian food restaurant if they don’t want to eat the spicy Malay food. They gladly accepted my suggestion, but I really feel bad for them, because they are Muslim too, but generally, the people and the environment in Malaysia is not so Non-Malay Muslim friendly. 🙁

Playing hostess for these friends for a few days really is challenging, and it really hits me that the lives of the non-Malays who converts into Islam is not so easy too. Every now and then, they’ll miss the food that they used to eat too, and imagine how they feel when they can’t eat the food that they used to eat just because they can’t find any halal restaurant that served the food that they used to eat. And to make things worst, the Malays and non-Malays don’t make their daily lives easier too because of the typical ‘Muslim must be Malay’ stereotyping attitude.

It irks me to see each time the leaders talk about about Islam, there’ll always be MALAY MALAY MALAY in their goddamn speech. What’s up with that? Are they blind or too ignorant that they do not realize that there are non-Malays who are Muslims too? There are a lot of converts who are Chinese, Indians and some belongs to other ethnicity that I doubt I can pronounce the word properly. Why is it when they talk about the rights as Muslims, they will automatically just talk about the rights of ‘Malays’?

I really would like to tell off the leaders and whoever talk about being a Muslim MUST be Malay. Shut your fucking mouth up and stop making Malaysians think that there’s only Malay Muslim out there! It’s because of you bastards that the citizens have the stereotyping attitude and make Malaysia a not so friendly environment to the Muslims who are not Malays, as well as the converts who are trying hard to adapt to an Islamic life!

Cleffairy: Tell me that everyone who goes to Mecca to perform ‘Haj’ are all Malays, then I’ll stop bitching about this bloody issue.


  1. ktx says:

    in actual fact, malays and islam are 2 separate issues. it’s totally propaganda to play up that steak and fries thing. fries should be fries and steak should b steak. it’s totally political, as if we are stupid huh? lol.

  2. cleffairy says:

    If that were to happen, I cannot imagine what kind of zoo would be on loose out there! Hmm… religion is always a tool used in any country’s politic to put a leash on the citizen’s mind. So… China have my respect for not using religion to control their citizen’s mind.

  3. kikey says:

    yah… most of the people will think like that…
    I had read about the Muslim in China, so I knew that some Chinese is Muslim.
    Any religion also have different types of people…

  4. cleffairy says:

    Huwa… Kikey…your comment arrived almost on the same time as me. LOL. So I only realized your comment once I posted mine. LOL.

    I was told by my friends that there’s actually a lot of Chinese Muslims in China…and they’re upset that Malaysians are so stereotyping. 🙁 i was kinda embarassed by their statement, but i have nothing to say against it, cuz they are speaking the truth.

    Thank you for adding me to blogroll. I was going to do the same, but you beat me to it. LOL.

  5. Maya says:

    Hi Cleffairy
    I have a friend who’s Chinese but converted to Islam many years ago and in the first few years, the Malays always asked her,”Eh, you convert because you want to buy shares kah? Or get study loan?” She was so insulted! Until now, 14 years later, with kids and a Malay husband, she still gets annoying questions about her faith! She says Malays tend to judge her (giving her the holier-than-thou attitude, telling her how to wear a tudung correctly, etc.) while the non-Malays think she’s a traitor. She calls herself the ‘sardine’ in a sardine sandwich, caught in the middle. Both sides don’t want her – they’re so narrow-minded and judgmental. She has a Muslim name but uses her Chinese name freely and speaks Cantonese most of the time. What she cannot understand is, why do people judge her harshly? A question to ponder isn’t it? By the way, have added you to my blogroll too….;-)

  6. cleffairy says:

    Hihi Maya.

    *sigh* Pity your friend. Who gave them the rights to question her faith? A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet. Whether she is a Malay or not, she profess the same faith, which is Islam, and that makes her a Muslim, and so, the Malays should respect her and not be judgmental of her faith. It’s sad to see the converts being treated and judged like this. Since she convert to Islam and profess the same faith with them, I think it’s only fair to be supportive of her, not judge her and throw creative insults at her. Whether the ‘Chinese’ like it or not, it is her choice to be a Muslim. As far as I’m concern, she’s not a traitor. What’s wrong with these people? Just because she have different faith from them makes her a traitor?

    And what’s wrong with using her Chinese name and speak Cantonese most of the time? Converting into Islam DOESN’T MEAN she needs to loose her identity and fully convert herself into a MALAY. *grrrrrrr!* I think, overall, most people grasps the wrong concept about converting into Islam. Most would think it’s just ‘convert to become a Malay’ and not convert into Islam. Heck…I don’t think your friend have the same privileges as the Malays cuz basically, in her MyKard, it’s still stated that she’s a Chinese, right?

    Oh, yeah, thanks for adding me into your blogroll. i din realize it. LOL.

  7. letusunite says:

    salam !

    its true..this is wat happening in singapore also…
    iam muslim indian and have gone through a childhood when i had a hard time explaining to many that i’m not half indian or half muslim…

  8. Vern says:

    Good article, this one. And I agree that it’s annoying how skin colour automatically determines what religion you are – Muslim or not. Just as how white people are perceived to be Christians and what not. I remember when I was in National Service, I was really tanned, and I have a lot of Malay friends too. So for the first few weeks there, the Muslim trainees would wake me up 5am in the morning to pray. They thought I was Malay, and was persistent at that too. I had to show them my IC to prove that I am, very much a Chinese, and that I wasn’t a Muslim. It took them awhile to get that – 2 weeks or more, maybe?

    Sad news is, stereotyping doesn’t stop there. But I guess one of the first steps we can take to overcome this trend is to stand firm as who we are, and not allow others to shape us with their perceptions.

  9. cleffairy says:

    Hi Letusunite, thank you for visiting my blog and comment here. Sad to know that these kind of things happen in Singapore too. I guess, this kind of things happened everywhere.

    Hi Vern, thank you for visiting and commenting too. You’re involved in the Gossip project, aren’t you? I’ve been making plan to attend the event, but not so sure if I can make it. There’s always things that come up in the last minutes to ruin my plans. Maybe when I’m free, I’ going to write about the Gossip event in my blog.

    Hmm, this things happen both ways…yeah, I’m aware of it too. Why must there be a perception of certain people with certain skin colour profess a certain religion? I can never understand this. And I can never understand the people who are so determined to make sure that others who share the same faith as them to pray and practice whatever it is taught by the religion. To me, whether someone pray or not, wear tudung or not and whether they fast or not during the Ramadan, is their business with God, and other should never stick their nose into it.

    You are right Vern. I couldn’t agree more. One way to start to stop such stereotyping would be standing firm and not allowing people to ‘shape’ our identity into what we are not. It doesn’t matter if we share the same religion or not, what’s important is we treat everyone with respect. 😀

  10. cleffairy says:

    Yerr… why today’s timing so strange wan? Most comment arrive just before mine, and I couldn’t see it. Gosh, I missed u-jean’s comment. 🙁

    Hmm…. you got that right, u-jean, I don’t think people will mistake you for a Malay. In fact, you do look like Non-Malaysian Chinese. You look like a Japanese girl. LOL… the next time people say that to you and you get offended somehow, just swear some very Malaysianized word, and they’ll definitely know that you’re a Malaysian. LOL. 😛

  11. cougar and toyboy dating application says:

    Clef, Kikey, I think the stereotyping of converts in this region is unfortunate. They are caught between a rock and a hard place but then again this is the problem of making Malay=Muslim. It made them think they are more Muslim than others but they fail to realize that other people has been Muslims long before they were enlightened by a wayard Sumatran prince in 1411.

  12. cleffairy says:

    Yup, Kevin…these assholes simply think that they are the only Muslim, but in fact, if comparison are made between other ethnicity in the world, Malays are actually minority in Islam.

  13. Calvin says:

    question…..if this country did not put a regulation to say, if you’re a malay, it is compulsory for you to have islam as your religion, or there’s no stupid rule to say, if you’re married with a malay who is an islam you need not convert…but you can still have chee yok. will there be any more malay/islam people in this country? i think there are the first ones to jump over the boat.

    i was always communicating with my customer in pure terengganu malay when i was in kemaman. my customer’s always thought im a chinese convert, or a muslim with a chinese face. they even got the cheek to welcome me to be converted to islam…i told them straight…..tapi aku suka makan babi. takde babi takleh hidup…HIDUP BABI!!! hehehe.

    but anyways, i have friends who are till today ashamed to be called muslims. they oso makan chee yoke with me…shhhh *whispering* only yesterday, i took him to eat kon low mee near my house. he grumbled he was hungry……hehehe. and come on!!! what’s this with putting a muslim to jail if he/she is caught eating during ramadan. it’s his/her own bloody problem with god lah *shaking head* kanasai

  14. amoker says:

    If you convert to Muslim in Malaysia, you are called a Mualaf. An no matter what you do, you are always not good enough. I went to one Mualaf blog one day where Utusan showed them and his parents celebrating CNY. He have a disclaimer below the photo that says that he was not there on purpose to celebrate CNY, indirectly protecting himself from being called be a lesser “Malay”. I pity his parents for such disrespect as they ( parents) seemed to be accepting these couple and happy.

    In fact, does a non Muslim have to convert in the first place? Only in Malaysia where we have a rule that we have been brainswashed to accept. Like how we are brainwashed to accept racist poliy of BN.
    Islam = Malay = UMNO.

    Yes, China has a bigger population of Muslims than our 27 million people.

  15. roses says:

    sorry. i am late on the comments..*sulk*

    i think this is a very good issue that u bring up.

    most prolly Malay=Islam is because the locals are so accustomed to Malay being Islam and they assume that Malay RACE and Islam RELIGION is somehow attached into one…

    it certainly do no respect to other NON-malay being Islam at all. it sounds like “so only Malay can be an Islam” but common, the religion itself is an INTERNATIONAL religion…i had “angmo” (orang putih) friends being Islam themselves…
    so Malay=Islam is quite an unfair assumption

  16. cleffairy says:

    Calvin, if Malays are allowed to choose their own religion and practice whatever they believed in freely, I bet there are definitely a lot who will be an apostate, just like Lina Joy.


    Anyway, Calvin, good way to tell off those people who are trying to convert you… LOL… aku suka makan babi… tak ada babi takleh hidup! LOL. THAT got me laughing, and I agree that there are a lot of Malays who do not live as a Muslim. I think a lot are Muslim by name only, hence it explains why they eat pork and stuff. 😛

    Amoker, I pity them too… why should the parents should be disrespect this way? I really think the government ought to be blame for all of this! Again, when a Chinese convert into Islam, he DOES NOT convert into a Malay. So, why cannot celebrate CNY? When he convert, cannot retain his Chinese identity? This is downright wrong! Why not the Malays stop being a Malay and start being an Arabian instead? The prophet is not a Malay, is he? Den why not be an Arabian? *snarl* 🙁

    Rose… hhihi… how are you these days? Been busy? Still having author’s block? Update soon, ya? I can never agree to that statement ISLAM=MALAY. Like you said, it’s wrong. Islam was not made only to be professed by Malays. And yeah, I’m aware that there are angmohs who are Muslim too. i used to live in England, and some of the angmohs there goes to mosque to pray. LOL.

  17. cleffairy says:

    Hee, the ‘real’ Islam is not practiced in Malaysia, how do you expect people to actually understand the religion? In Islam, I believe everyone is equal in the eyes of God. The only thing that differentiate people is actually their good deeds. i dun see that’s practiced in Malaysia. If you’re a Malaysian, I am sure you’ve heard about the concept of ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ where one race self proclaimed that they are more supreme than other races in Malaysia like the Chinese and Indians. This concept alone is wrong if one truly practiced Islamic values, is it not? It’s ironic, isn’t it, coming from the mouth of so called ‘Muslims’?

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