Banjarese, Banjar Malay in Malaysia

Map Source:  Bethany World Prayer Center
People Name: Banjarese, Banjar Malay
Country: Malaysia
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 29,000
World Population: 4,481,000
Primary Language: Malay
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: Yes
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Banjar of Kalimantan
Affinity Bloc: Malay Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Banjar of Malaysia live in the region of Sabah, which is in the northernmost part of the island of Borneo. Their area was once notorious for smuggling with the peoples of the Philippines and of neighboring Kalimantan, Indonesia. Today, it is a developing agricultural district.
The origin of the Banjar resulted from the mixing of Javanese and Malay cultures. Long ago, they were united by a ruler who followed Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. It was then that the Banjar kingdom grew, and the tribe of the Banjar originated. Originally located in Kalimantan, the Banjar gradually expanded to Borneo, probably as a result of their trading and seafaring way of life. Today, Malaysia keeps close cultural ties with Indonesia.
Traditionally, the Banjar were organized into a somewhat feudal social structure, with a distinct division between the common people and nobility. The chief of each district was a nobleman. Class distinctions do still exist today, but the nobility has now been replaced by appointed and elected officials who are subject to the Malaysian parliament.
In general, the Banjar are friendly and non-threatening. They speak a local Malay language called Banjar, and they easily understand the Malay language.
The majority of them live on Kalimantan, Indonesia, but that island is shared with Malaysia. A small number live on the Malaysian side of the island.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Banjar traditionally made a living from seafaring and trading, but now they are primarily farmers and fishermen. Plantation agriculture began early in the twentieth century, and the port of Tawau grew to be a center for such agricultural products as coconuts, rubber, cocoa, oil palm, and abaca (a plantain grown for its fiber). The port also exports timber and copra (dried coconut meat yielding coconut oil). The Banjar have access to an airport and a small road network.
The staple food of the Banjar is rice, and side dishes consist of all kinds of fish and vegetable curry soups. In everyday life, lunch is the most important meal. Although wet rice farming is predominant, rice must still be imported, usually from Thailand.
The Banjar are mostly rural people, living in villages located either along the coasts or along roads. They build their houses on stilts four to eight feet off the ground, with roofs made of thatch. Houses of the wealthier Banjar have plank floors and tile roofs.
The typical Banjar household consists of a husband and wife and their children. Marriage and inheritance are governed by Islamic law. Although a man is permitted to have as many as four wives (according to Islamic law), the majority of the Banjar practice monogamy (one husband, one wife). Couples are married by registering with the local imam (local Islamic leader). Marriages have traditionally been arranged by the parents.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Banjar are now almost completely Muslim, having converted to Islam around the fifteenth century. They regularly observe all Muslim holidays. However, a few Hindu-based ideas still linger, such as the belief in "spirits of the soil." Many also look to the medicine men to find relief from illnesses. Islamic rites are predominant, but many practices are actually Hindu-Buddhist, especially wedding customs.
The first major outreach to this people group was conducted by the Dutch during their colonization of Indonesia. As the Banjar moved from Indonesia to Malaysia, however, the influence of Muslim missionaries converted them to Islam.

What Are Their Needs?

The Banjar are in desperate need of the gospel of Christ. Pray for the Holy Spirit to empower those trying to take Christ to them.

Prayer Points

Pray for spiritual hunger among the Banjar that will give them the will to embrace Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
Pray for a powerful movement to Christ among the Banjar people.
Pray for more workers to go to the Banjar people in Malaysia.
Pray for an abundant harvest for the Banjar people in Malaysia this year as a testimony of God's lovingkindness and provisions.

Text Source:   Joshua Project