Malaysia is one of the countries in Southeast Asia that is predominantly Islam. Known for its coastal areas which attract tourists from all over the world visiting famous beaches to historical places that define its colorful past, the country enjoys its peaceful religion. This dates back centuries where Islam was introduced through one of its trade partners.
The Arabian Sea, as well as the East China Sea and even Bengal Bay, were full of Muslim merchants. One reason for this was that their religion was very good for business. In the past, it follows that Muslim traders and merchants had impeccable integrity allowing them to establish strong trade networks. It spanned from East Africa to the Persian Gulf all the way to Indonesia and even China.
Parameswara comes to Malaya
Sometime in 1930, Parameswara came to Malaya somewhere on the west coast and perpetuated piracy with the help of his loyal followers. He later drove out the Siamese which was the imperial power and established Malacca. This is an Arabic word which basically means marketplace and this trading colony persisted since the 8th century.
Islam in Malaya
With most traders being Muslim and Malacca being established, it was no surprise that at around 12th century, Indian Muslim traders came into Malay and brought with them not only goods to trade but Islam as well. Sultan Mudzafar Shah I was the first one to be converted by the Indian traders. It is noteworthy to point out that these traders were themselves recent converts of the religion as well.
Later on, the Malay state of Terengganu received Islam where they built up the Terengganu Stone Monument to commemorate their acceptance of the religion. It was also at this time where Parameswara fell in love with a princess from Pasai (which is now called Indonesia) and converted to Islam as well.
Acceptance of the religion
There are a lot of stories in the past wherein powerful countries would forcefully exert their influence on conquered lands. This would, of course, involve religion. However, this was not the case with Islam in Malaysia where absorbed the religion peacefully especially along the coastal trading ports proliferated by Muslim traders. From that point on, it moved inland and made up the majority of the faith in Malay.
The official and legal form of Islam in Malaysia is Sunni Islam of the Shafi’i school. At present, the country is considered to have a multiracial population with over 28 million people. Of all these, over 60 percent are Muslims. Though recognized as the country’s official religion, the country also practices leniency as it allows people to observe other religion in the country. Conflict resolution within family matters is done with Shariah Law but applicable only with Muslims in the country.
As Islam is a big part of the country, Mosques remain to be a natural sight as you travel in and around Malaysia. It is also not surprising for minarets to blast out Adhan as a call to prayer five time every day. A lot of businesses are also closed for about 2 hours every Friday to give employees times to observe prayer in the mosques.