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'Malay people existed before Islam'
Published:  Aug 25, 2006 4:01 AM
Updated: Jan 29, 2008 10:21 AM

They were animists, Hindus and Buddhists before embracing Islam. The only connection between Malay as an ethnic group and Islam as a religion is the Federal Constitution, says a reader.

On Ikim DG: Malays are Muslims first

Shufiyan Shukur: The language of the Malays is Austronesian in origin as are the people. It has nothing to do with Islam. The Malay people existed before Islam. They were animists, Hindus and Buddhists before embracing Islam.

The only connection between Malay as an ethnic group and Islam as a religion is the Federal Constitution.

Am I first a Muslim then Malay? No, I am first Malay, then Muslim, because a religion can, at will, be rejected. One can't deny oneself being Malay just as a Chinese can't deny himself/herself being Chinese regardless of what religion he/she subscribes to. And this is the same with the other races. An Indonesian Malay Christian would get quite annoyed if you were to claim that he/she is not Melayu as I found out from a girlfriend many years ago.

You could bleach your skin, colour your hair, speak Icelandic, but you are still Malay - "Melayu tetap Melayu". But in a flash, you could reject your religion. You could eat pork, consume alcohol, get baptised and deny the syahadah (affirmation) and zap! you are not Muslim. But ethnically, you are still 'Melayu' - neither you nor anyone else can take that away.

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