Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Arabisation of Malays makes Malays less Malay?

Years ago, before I went to Australia to work, I recall the ‘waktu sembahyang’ on Friday noon when my Muslim mateys had to go to mosque to perform their Islamic obligations, in far more self voluntary fashion than young British Christian soldiers in colonial Malaya being forcefully marched to church on Sunday morning by their parade sergeants to attend religious services [as told to me by my uncles, wakakaka].

But some years later when I returned to Malaysia for holidays I encountered a new word called ‘solat’ being mentioned frequently by Malays, a word admittedly unknown to me before I departed for Down-Under.

I wondered what it was until I subsequently discovered it meant/means exactly ‘sembahyang’. Hmmm, will 'sembahyang' be used again?

There were more new words for me to find out their ‘old’ Malay meaning such as Eid al-Fitr (Hari Raya), iftar (buka puasa), Sanah Helwah (Selamat Hari Lahir), etc. 

So this brings me to CK, my hot-tempered visitor, wakakaka, who was damn annoyed that I criticized only the hallelujah-ing Christians from Calvary Life Assembly Chinese Church (CLAC) for being gullible guppies (naïve morons) in stupidly believing the Golden Jubilee (50 years) celebration of Jerusalem has something to do with Christianity while not saying anything about the Arabisation of Malays in our country.

Well, CK has been incorrect because I have posted articles on the Arabisation of Malays on:

11 May 2014 titled Being Fair (1),

17 July 2015 
titled ISMA and Tabarruj,

and many many more.

There’s no necessity to read the above-mentioned posts (unless you want to) as I’ll be re-producing most of their contents in this post for dear CK’s syiok sendiri ... I mean ... sake, wakakaka, so as to pacify his humongous aggrievement against inequality in Malaysia.

I have to admit CK might have a point on this as most of which, namely the inequality, were a result of Mahathir’s BTN-isation, Ketuanan Melayu-isation and 929 & 617 Declarations.

The last opened the Islamic Pandora Box forevermore, and at its time were severely criticized in written form by none other than, wakakaka, Lim Kit Siang, who might have now forgotten all about those Declarations - hmmm, bukan saja Melayu yang mudah lupa, wakakaka.

Those Declarations have comfort, encouragement and motivation to the ulama and ultra conservative Muslims and which in turn spurred on the Arabisation process of Malays which already started in 1981.

On the gradual erosion of Malay culture by an increasing and relentless Arabisation process favoured by some conservative Malays, The Malaysian Digest in March last year (2016) reported:

… the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar pointed out that Malays should stop doing so.

“If there are some of you who wish to be an Arab and practise Arab culture, and do not wish to follow our Malay customs and traditions, that is up to you,” the Ruler said, highlighting how these days, Malays preferred using terms like ‘Eid al-Fitr’ instead of ‘Hari Raya’ and iftar instead of ‘buka puasa’.

The same was also pointed out by forthright social activist, Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, who spoke against “Arabisation” which she claimed seems to be taking root in Malaysia. “This is just Arabisation. Our culture — it’s colonialism, Arab colonialism,” she remarked.

In April (just 2 months ago), Johan Jaafar of the Star Online wrote:

I have said it many times: as the Malays become more Muslim, they become less Malay

They are discarding almost everything that they perceive as positing “Malayness” and embraced what they believe to be “Islamic.”

In doing so they are losing their real identity by trying to be what they are not. 

There is a real issue pertaining to identity struggle and contestation among the Malays today. In the name of religion, they are questioning not only how they look but their tradition, even folktales and performing arts.

Islamisation is not about Arabisation. You don’t need to be an Arab to be a Muslim.

But what we are seeing in this country today is the process of Arabisation of the Malays. The Malays have never been as confused in manifesting their true identity as they are now. […]

But propagating a notion of one’s race as superior to others is not acceptable. In short, there is nothing with wrong with manifesting one’s race and at the same time professing the religion. […]

The fault lines were established. It is like telling the world that one needs to “look Muslim” to be one. To “look Muslim” is by imitating the Arabs.

There is a new demand to be “more Muslim”, for example in attire. Gestures, too, matter.

And by being Islamic, one is also judged by the words one uses. It is no more Hari Raya but Eid Mubarak. It is no more Selamat Hari Lahir but Sanah Helwah. The term for the yearly Quran reading competition too has evolved to ensure its purity in Islamic terms: musabaqah, tilawah, ujian. […]

Earlier on, the then Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister, Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim, also spoke about the need for the Malays to put a stop to Arabisation of their own culture. “We are not Arabs,” he argued.

Lately the former Information Minister, Tan Sri Zainuddin Maidin, in his controversial blog wrote about the danger of Malays unwittingly believing that what is Arab is Islam.

The debate will rage on. Sadly, despite a spirited effort by a few well-meaning and concerned Malay intellectuals, the voice of conservatism is suppressing all discourse of reason.

Religion is an emotive subject. As the result of the tyranny of the silent majority, pleas for reason are little heard these days.

The Malays have adapted well to other cultures, unashamedly embracing traits and characteristics from others. But they have been steadfast in protecting what they believe is their own culture and identity.

But Arabisation, in the name of religion, is changing all that. The entire culture (with a big “C”) is being challenged.


Something definitely is not right: the growing conservatism that comes with it. The Malays have always taken the position that adat (customs and rituals) and agama (religion), insofar as it is not against the teaching of Islam, should supplement each other.

Joining in the debate, journalist Amin Iskandar published initially in the now-defunct The Malaysian Insider and which article was picked up in 2015 by FMT, lamented at what he perceived as the 'Neo Talibanisation' and Arabisation of the Malay language and culture, the increasing popularity of the Arabic gown known as the 'jubah' and a corresponding decrease in the use of the traditional Malay baju kurung.

FMT continued: He also argued that there appeared to be an infiltration of Arabic words into the Malay language, with long-standing Malay words such as “buka puasa”, “doa” and “sembahyang” being replaced with words such as “iftar”, “dua” and “solat”, respectively.

Amin also pointed out that the Malay Archipelago had its own version of Islam, described by Indonesian President Joko Widodo as Islam Nusantara, which in Malaysia was rapidly being replaced by a more hard-line interpretation of the religion which was prevalent in the Middle East.

Then, PM Najib in his futuristic version of Wawasan 2020 but now called TN50 discussed a future Malay icon or hero by the Arabic name of Firdaus Imtiaz.

Steven Sim, the MP for Bukit Mertajam and a director of Penang Institute, informed us that said hero is identical to an Arabised Hang Tuah.

Why then not continue to call Hang Tuah simply Hang Tuah?

Sim informs us that unlike the historical or mythical heroic Hang Tuah, the typical Malay today suffers from anxiety and fears about his own privileged position, and develops a psyche that is predisposed towards frequent calls for 'Malays to unite' even under leaders accused of corruption and abuses of powers.

'Malays to unite' is a fave chant of politicians from PAS and UMNO, and now Pribumi.

Since 1981, there seems to be a deliberate official indoctrination of the Malays to be less confident so that they would rely heavily on the Malay nationalist political party.

Thus many Malays have become less confident and less secure, and live life with a constant siege mentality.

To compensate for their mental insecurity, many compensate by turning to more complex religious involvement and consequently develop the inclination to be more Arab-like so as to become superior Muslims.

Can we blame them especially if the ultra conservative political Muslim ulama also encourage them towards such Arabisation for their (ulama's) political gains.

So it’s not just CK who has been annoyed by Arabisation as we see today’s Malays walking around Malaysia in thobe, the jubah that Amin Iskandar just mentioned and with some ladies even adorning the niqab (face veil).

In October 2016, Syed Farid Alatas, writing in the Edge Malaysia, narrated (extracts):

What is referred to as Arabisation today is in fact a worrying trend. This is because the adoption by some Malays of certain elements of Arab culture would result in the gradual erosion of Malay culture and practices.

If more and more Malay men were to adopt the thobe, this would mean the marginalisation of the kain pelikat and baju Melayu and their possible demise as a cultural artifact. Indeed, it is already the case that there is hardly a Malaysian kain pelikat industry to speak of, as this is dominated by a few Indonesian manufacturers.

An even greater concern as far as the trend of Arabisation is concerned is the adoption of a way of life that is not only contrary to Malay culture but is also inappropriate for our society.

The example I have in mind is the adoption of the niqab, the part of the hijab that covers the face. The niqab is a tradition of many Arab societies but is foreign to Malay culture. Still, it is increasingly seen on the streets of Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Jakarta. […]

Those Malays and Indonesians who adopt such ways perhaps imagine that they are practising a more authentic version of Islam. In doing so, they set themselves apart from the larger Malay society, contribute to the erosion of Malay traditions and practices, and could be a party to the infusion of extremist interpretations of Islam.

When Islam arrived in the Malay world centuries ago, it adapted itself to the culture of the region and did not marginalise the culture of its people.

Indeed, the above confirm suspicions even among the Malays themselves that those who have gone ‘Arab’ (the opposite of ‘gone native’, wakakaka) did/do so in their ‘belief’ they could become better or superior Muslims.

And Syed said sometime fundamentally important for Malays to consider, that “When Islam arrived in the Malay world centuries ago, it adapted itself to the culture of the region” and not the other way around as seen today, where the culture of the region abdicates to the growing dominance of the culture of the Arabs.

Years back when I haven’t yet departed for Australia, Malay sweeties were elegantly attired in baju kurung and sarong kebaya.

So perhaps it's time to ask what has happened to the lovely sarong kebaya?

Ironically, the kebaya originated in the royal courts of the Majapahit era when the Javanese nobility began adopting Islam as their religion.

The kebaya evolved or came into being so as to modify the traditional Javanese women's sexy Kemban (torso wrap, also known as Dhodot) into a modest dress more acceptable to the new religion of Islam.

sexy kemban (or dhodot) with sweet uncovered shoulders

That’s right, the kebaya was the Mahapahit people’s approach towards modifying their native Kemban into a less sexy attire, and they did so most elegantly to bless us with the elegant but very demure sarong kebaya. They did NOT rush into dicarding the Kamban and substituting it with a jubah.

That was exactly what Syed meant when he said that “When Islam arrived in the Malay world centuries ago, it adapted itself to the culture of the region” and not the other way around as seen today.

a semi-transparent brocade blouse to cover bare shoulders turned the sexy kemban into an Islam-halal kebaya

complete it with a selendang to cover the head and Buotros is your uncle

But today the kebaya, which as mentioned was ironically evolved to respect Islam, might have become non-halal in Malaysia. There seems to be a lack of respect or recollection for history, pious local cultural innovation, and a sad but complete disregard for Malay-ness.

However I believe we needn't worry too much at the potential loss of this beautiful Malay heritage as Chinese Malaysian sweeties love kebaya and will definitely maintain the gorgeous Malay dressing tradition, all complete with beautiful intricate kerongsang and silver or gold belt for the sarong, wakakaka.

Now, leaving aside mention of the PAS government’s prohibition of Mak Yong and Wayang Kulit in the Islamic Party’s relentless drive to abandon Malay culture and adat for those from the Middle-East, we are sad to say the Arabisation started in 1981 to the delight of the ulama and ultra conservative Muslims.

The Arabisation was given an additional fillip in 2001 and 2002 when Mahathir opened the Middle East Pandora Box for his own political brownie points.

Thus today, my dear CK and visitors, why should we be surprised if many Malays have in the majority discarded or abandoned their quintessentially tradisi Melayu to opt for an Arabic culture and lexicon in their anxious desire to be far superior Muslims.

Look, they need those to withstand the perils of the threatening World as constantly told to them by both UMNO and PAS, and now Pribumi.

Alhamdulillah for Ah Moi 


  1. y u can opt for downunder while malay not suppose to choose what they wan? shall we ban arabisation / werternisation since we can ban concert, ashes, jubilee etc?

    1. they HAVE already chosen, so there's f**k-all anyone can do, but other Malays as referred to in my post have raised concerns that those Arabised malays would likely be more extreme in their religious bent, ultras in their ability to live harmoniously with others not of their religion and be a social problem for multiracial Malaysia.

      as usual HY talks cock without reading the post and understanding the issue. just want to kacau. are you paid by maddy? wakakaka

    2. wrong again. i am here to educate u what is logical fallacies, apple to apple, being consistent, n the most important dun sound stupid.

      i cite u one example, u go read the mt liar not so smart daughter comment on lge to hand back his house. lks is perfectly correct when he asked mo1 wife to emulate dicaprio n kerr if she did receive gift from jho loh, lks never claim mo1 wife a criminal. by reading the liar not that smart daughter, she seem to imply that mo1 wife did receive the gift, then she compare the case to lge pula which shown her ignorance, or plain stupid.

      mt publish lots of stupid article, since yours is often being selected and published, i tend to think that yr stupidity is not less, hence my free tuition.

    3. HY, your usual tactic is to change landscape whenever you face difficulties in argument. We were talking about Arabisation which you advocate is the right of a Malay. When I responded with the ugly truth you switched subject to lge, mo1 wife, lks, dicaprio, miranda kerr, jho lo etc, basically talking at a tangent to the topic under discussion.

      if you are incapable of discussing intelligently then don't

    4. i am trying to create some sparkle n hope to revive yr dearth of originality, almost each n every of yr article talk the same thing, mahathir tis mahathir tat. y dun once a while we talk abt the liar and his stupid daughter?

      arabisation is merely a change of tuan from malay to muslim. what u wish to discuss?

    5. Let me ask - have u ever heard of comparative argument le???

      Take bolih pakai contoh yang lain dari tajuk ke?

      Kalau macam tu, siapa yang incapable of discussing intelligently lah.

      Or like yr sifu's 2cent-cleverness argument of describing dog bite & yet only want to keep all the points about dog collar. Mind u the colour of the dog collar, to be precise.

      Berapa pandai macam tu eh?

  2. Hai-ya, so many words, pusingx2 around just like yr sifu trying hard to confuse the already confused blur-sotongs!!!

    " surprised if many Malays have in the majority discarded or abandoned their quintessentially tradisi Melayu to opt for an Arabic culture and lexicon in their anxious desire to be far superior Muslims."?????

    S Freud would have called it - the syndrome of fantasied supriority. A form of psychosis defence mechanism.

    These day-dreams are cathected with a large amount of interest; they are carefully cherished by the subject and usually concealed with a great deal of sensitivity ... such phantasies may be unconscious just as well as conscious.

    Wakakakaka....would it be right to say that it would be a humongous task to expect these blur-sotongs to understand. Just like the pink diamond worn by the hippo, is been paid by the Joe M'sians?

    Sad indeed...a strong willed race been meme-ed into weaklings that's constantly asking for tongkat/dedak/instant gratification/after-life indulgences etc etc as in that 'insaf Allah' excuse!

  3. I agree with KT absolutely on the essence of this post. This is based on an opinion that I have read long time ago from Sheikh Atiyyah Sakr, the former head of fatwa of Al-Azhar University.

  4. ayoyo anhea, u ni tak habis2 dgn bapak penswastaan's syiok sendiri declarations. tak masuk parlimen pun, so not legal or valid.

    wrt melayu nak jadi arab, it's about time to amend the article 160.

    the following is an excerpt of the prophet muhammad (saw)'s last sermon;

    All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves.

    apa mau jadi sama melayu leh?

  5. wud like to add little bit; islam was introduced to the malay archipelago esp in java by the wali songo (9) thru wayang kulit as one of the approaches or tools.

    1. Many wali songo had Chinese ancestry & continued with Chinese Muslim traditions for many generations.

      It's possible that one of the wali songo imported & modified the Chinese art of 皮影 into wayang kulit as a form of entertainment & later become a tool to spread Islam in the Indo archipelago after the defeating of Majapahit to setup the Demak sultanate.

    2. Generally, wayang kulit narrates the hindu epics from the Mahabharata and Ramayana. But here there are also  some folk tales, and the legendary Panji stories.

      Only one Walisongo, i.e. Sunan Kalijaga aka Raden Sahid used wayang kulit suluk as a means to preach.

      The word suluk is usually associated to Islam and sufism (embracing the spiritual path to God). It comes from the word 'fasluki' - An-Nahl (16:69) ~ "Fasluki subula rabbiki zululan", which means "follow the ways of your Lord laid down [for you]"

      "Many wali songo had Chinese ancestry & continued with Chinese Muslim traditions for many generations." ~ CK

      I would agree with CK.

    3. wayang kulit already existed long before their arrival.

      the first sultan of demak i.e. raden fatah had chinese ancestry thru the mother. as far as i know, the wali 9 were all descendants of the prophet muhammad (saw) & whose descendants are aplenty in malaya.

  6. There is a significant part of traditional Malay culture which has strong influence from Hinduism and also Animism.

    Indonesia seems to be quite comfortable with their Hindu as well as Animist heritage, but fundamentalist Malays in Malaysia are busy trying to deny and buy their Hindu history.
    So they end up trying to be pretend Arabs instead.

  7. The syndrome of fantasied supriority IS the cause of the recent arabization of the Malay culture.

    What causes that syndrome le?

    Perhaps, one can read more into that causality by analysing what Pendeta Za'aba's writings about the prevalent thinking of Malay during the pre-mamak's BTN-isation, Ketuanan Melayu-isation and 929 & 617 Declarations.

    Za'aba had proposed many out of the norm cultural revolutions to improve the sopo status of the Malay then.

    Saddly, the only one been adopted by the Malay public then was a mutant in the form of umno.

    So, don't just push ALL the blames to that mamak, though he did contribute a bait to strengthen his political grip on the heartlanders then.


    It all boils down to majority of the Malay have a strong tendency to look for an easy way out in a fantasied manner - just like the character in the folklore of Pak Pandir.

    Ain't most of the Malay kampong folks have a strong liking to those person whose name bear some linkage to the prophet? Family names, like Syed, Nik, Sharifah etc etc put these people one class above the rest? The true character of the bearers ada lah hal lain!

  8. Just a side note.

    Many would have no knowledge that the (in)famous NEP was actually formulated by the Norwegian political economist, DR Just Faaland, who has just past away at age 95 on 27/2/2017.

    He based on his sopo researches in growth and ethnic inequality to come up with the key foundations of;

    To achieve national unity, harmony and integrity

    *Through socio-economic restructuring (of the society)

    *To minimize the level of poverty in the country (poverty eradication)

    The NEP was conceived as a two-pronged strategy for eradicating poverty for all Malaysians as well as reducing and subsequently eliminating identification of race by economic function and geographical location.

    The Policy sought to achieve its objectives through rapid expansion of the economy over time and set its target of substantially reducing the incidence of absolute poverty by 1990.

    Before he died, Dr Faaland made a rare comment about the M'sia NEP - he had no regret about the policies he helped formulated. But he despited the deviated implementation by those elites in positions of power based on their greediness. Thus, TOTALLY de-railed a good & well intended sopo solution for the advancement of a poor multi-racial country.

    In short, he DIDN'T forsee the hidden characters of the Malay elites in scamming the wealth of the country, which was aimed to be redistribute amongst ALL M'sians!

  9. Does that mean Pak Hadid should not be entitled to Bumi discount when he purchase house because Contitutionally he is not a Malay since he didn't practise the Malay customs? Wakakaka......

  10. Federal Constitution article 160 SHOULD be enforced to the every words it meant!

    Then, the zombies WOULD be able to claim their rightful category - Dan Lainx2!

    Instantly, the majority of the Malay population WOULD shrink by at least 30% le!

    Better still, the good-for-nothing leeches surviving under the comfort zone of NEP ke, ketuanan ke & special position ke suddenly been reduced. Putting a long needed relief valve on the already strained national coffer.

    Banyak cantik!!!!

    Umno & pas would have to re-strategize to cater for the zombies, not that they r not doing it now.

    Meanwhile the real orang Melayu can vote freely w/o the chronic alifbata sickles around their necks.

    What an unexpected outcome of arabisation!

    Qui.. bolih return the seed money channelled to those spurious Melayu outfits ke?

    This seed money COULD be FAR bigger than the TOTAL sum of what ahjibgor & that mamak saput-ed from the coffer of bolihland le!!

  11. Islam is still very much an Arab and Arabic-centric religion.
    Only the Arabic language copy of the Koran is accepted as the authoritative text. All official prayers are held in Arabic.
    Versions of the Koran in ANY other languages are considered unofficial translations.

    It is no surprise that Malays look to the Arabs and Arabic language as a kind of model, though bad role models they are.