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Faiz Zaki - Shutterstock All rights reserved. Used with permission
Map Source: People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project
|Christian Adherents:||0.60 %|
|Online Audio NT:||No|
|Affinity Bloc:||Malay Peoples|
While the Malay are spread throughout southeastern Asia, the majority are located in the country of Malaysia. There, they make up about 1/3 of the population, sharing the country with Chinese and Indian minorities. In addition to sea trade, some Malay may have been transported as slaves in the 1700s; others were political exiles. The dispersal of the Malay was in progress by the fifth century A. D. when the Malay began to dominate local trade in Southeast Asia and long-distance trade between northwestern India and southern China.
Their domination of sea trade continued until the 1500s and even into the European colonial period. The most numerous Malay minorities live in Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore, and Thailand. There are smaller communities in Madagascar, Taiwan, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, the southern Philippines, and Japan, where they have a small population.
There is a strong sense of community among the Malay Muslim Diaspora. The majority of Malays overseas are international students. Malay Muslim students have often been criticized for the way they tend to cluster, which is a characteristic of how they live. They do this for several reasons. It helps to maintain their sense of identity, it offers a sense of security and it makes it easier for the student leaders to keep an eye on their fellow students. Malay students on government scholarships are monitored very closely which makes it more difficult for individual students to be drawn away into other activities such as Christian meetings. It is a challenge for any outsider to penetrate such a community. Malaysia's government education officers have encouraged students to take opportunities to become involved in local cultural activities as part of their total learning experience overseas, but in practice students have tended to cluster. There are also Malays overseas serving in government posts working in embassies, consulates, tourism and airline offices. They usually have their families with them, have more liberty to live in neighborhoods of their choice, and more freedom to make friends with local people. It is much easier to build relationships with families such as these. Such Malay families can help those seeking to build relationships with Malays and get into Malaysian cultural events and festivals such as visiting their homes during Hari Raya celebrations at the end of Ramadan. The majority of Malays overseas are required to return to Malaysia. This includes students and scholars on government scholarships and those in government service. Some exceptions would be where a Malay student has made a decision to become a Christ-follower or where they have entered into a boy-girl-relationship with a local. Such people will seek a way to remain in the overseas country. There are scattered Malay believers in Jesus around the world, but they are very few. The Malay Muslims need consistent prayer for their spiritual eyes to be open to the blessings of Jesus Christ.
Islam was brought to Malaysia by Arabic and Indian traders many centuries ago, and the Malay people have come to embrace and ardently follow the Islamic faith. This is being reinforced in today's world as the governments of Malaysia and Saudi Arabia are strengthening cultural and religious ties. Some are leaning towards Saudi Arabia's fundamentalist Wahhabi form of Islam. The Malay have early roots in Hinduism and traces of this can still be seen in certain aspects of their culture such as weddings. For instance, the bride and groom sit upon a platform for hours for the guests to admire like they do in Hindu weddings.
Although tools such as the Bible, evangelistic literature, the JESUS Film, and Christian broadcasts are available in the Malay language, few have accepted Jesus as Savior. There is a need for increased intercession and missionary efforts to see the Malay reached with the gospel.
Pray for spiritual hunger among Malay Muslims in Japan that will lead them to seek and find the eternal blessings of Jesus Christ. Pray for believers who are filled with the fruit of the Holy Spirit to go to them and share Christ until He is exalted among Malay Muslim families. Pray for a movement to Christ among Malay Muslims this decade.