The Arabisation in Malaysia

First and foremost, I do not have a particular problem with the Arab culture. I love the food, the music, the language, the tradition and so on. What I’m talking about in this post is precisely about how the Arab way of living and thinking have taken over and basically removed the traditional Malay culture. I know that some may argue with me saying that the western culture have done the same, but honestly, I don’t see the westernization actually cancelling the Malay culture like the arabisation has done.

What’s happened actually is that Arabisation is not inclusive. What’s worrying is the Malaysians have adapted the Wahhabi-style Islamic conservatism. So this teaches the muslims in Malaysia that those who don’t practice or believe their form of Islam are considered enemies. Wahhabism comes from Saudi Arabia. Our past leaders have decided to benefit by forming close political relationships with Saudia Arabia because they are a very wealthy country. In return, our government will have to adapt the Saudi ways of managing the Malays in Malaysia.

In the beginning, this may not seem like it could cause problems. Years later, here we are and I see clearly what’s been going on. This is a result of accepting and teaching the Wahhabi-style Islamic conservatism to our nation. The malays have become insensitive to non-malays. They have also become too “fanatic” and “extreme”. Some examples of arabization in Malaysia are:

1. Fashion
Malays have an official traditional clothing called the baju kurung. Before, we also have outfits like baju kebaya which is beautiful and follows the shape of the woman’s body. It wasn’t too revealing, respectable and fashionable enough but now, the women prefer Abayas. Also, the women used to wear a simple headscarf and now so many have decided to put on the niqab where the whole face is covered except for the eyes. As for the Malay men, they had very nice baju melayu and now for Hari Raya they prefer to wear jubah.

2. Language
Malays now have pretty much stopped saying things like “berbuka puasa”. Instead they are calling it “iftar” which is the time to break fast. Sanah helwah instead of selamat hari jadi is another example. More and more we see the restrictions to even wish others Merry Christmas or Happy Valentine’s Day. Even though we don’t celebrate it in our religion or culture, it shouldn’t be a wrong thing to wish others.

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3. Discrimination of other cultures & beliefs
We can get our mosques to have loud speakers outside to call the muslims for prayer time but we won’t even accept a temple or church. Even during the Imam’s preaching, we could hear it outside with the speakers. Somehow, we are so proud about the spread of Islam to others but we are so quick to shut down other beliefs and religions. We can’t even show respect. We say no to churches or temples built around a malay neighbourhood. We don’t allow crosses or statues to be in public places but we can put islamic photos and surah writings. We make fun of how others pray or worship and we think we are the only chosen ones who will go to heaven and others will go to hell. All I see is that we are practicing hate and exclusiveness instead of love, respect and harmony.

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4. Culture, arts & architecture
Music is not really allowed. Concerts have ridiculous rules and regulations. Traditional dance and music performances like Mok Yong and Menora are slowly dying because of how its shunned upon. The Kelantanese authorities have banned such live performances with the reason being that it was borrowed from the Hindu culture and goes against Islam. In Kelantan, female singers are not allowed to sing in public. How crazy is that? Also in Kelantan, we have architechture that really represents Arab buildings and they promote it as “islamic architechture”. Have they ever seen other muslim countries? Like Turkey or Azerbaijan? In Kota Bharu, there’s street art and all the pictures drawn shows arab culture, nothing to do with Kelantan culture and tradition. It just shows lack of originality.

Flame Towers, Baku, a spectacular example of Azerbaijan architecture
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5. Law & order
The treatment of malays are different to the non-malays. For example, when it comes to marraige, the national registration department of Malaysia is suppose to handle all things like identification, passports, birth and death certificates. Somehow, when it comes to marriage and divorce for the malays, the Islamic department handles it. It’s weird that they didn’t just get the national registration department to handle it. This just shows they wanna control the malay muslims making sure they only marry other muslims and if not, for the other person has to convert to Islam. Another sign of exclusivity. You have no choice. Once you are born into Islam, or converted into Islam, there is no way to get out of it. Once it’s on your identification, you cannot remove it. It’s mind boggling that Islam, the religion of peace and does not promote compulsion, seems to be doing exactly that.

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I admire and long for how it was during the P. Ramlee era. Where Islam was definitely our religion but we were not forced into it. We still had quality of life plus room to learn and evolve. What’s going on right now is religion vs culture, religion vs race and religion vs tradition. Religion should stand on it’s own and not infiltrate our culture, race, tradition or laws. Islam originated from a peaceful and non-judgemental religion. Now however, it’s being interpreted wrongly to spread hate. Religion is used to condemn others who may believe otherwise. It promotes lack of respect for other’s freedom and right of choice for what’s best for themselves.

My relationship with my creator is between my creator and I.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Not saying says:

    Hi Sarah. I do enjoy reading your blog but this time you didn’t get it right.
    I been living in malaysia since 2002 and I lived in Saudi for 20years ( am not Saudi ). To be honest the Malays are more extreme then all the Arabs. Even more extreme then Saudis them self. I don’t like to argue much when it come to religions bcuz am not religious person. The Malays add so much to Islam as if it only belong to them and only them understand it best. Trust me the Arabs are more open minded and more relax about religion. Some Arabs have strong culture and traditions but it got nothing to do about religion.


  2. Sarah says:

    Hi ! Thank you for your feedback. Yes i absolutely agree. I was definitely focusing on the fact that the Malays tend to take things to the extreme. They have forgotten their own identity, culture and tradition and have somehow replaced it with a false idea.


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