THE ARABS IN MALAYSIA
The Arabs and the Indians (Muslims from Gujarat) came to Malaya more than 500 years ago as traders and merchants. These were the people who brought Islam to this country. At that time, the locals were mostly Hindus while those from Negeri Sembilan were Buddhists, plus many who worshipped trees, the sea, rivers, mountains and whatnot. The coming of the Arab and Indian merchants exposed the locals to Islam.
In those days, the people followed their Rulers. Therefore, when the Rulers converted to Islam the people followed – although they may not have believed in Islam or understood the religion. In fact, many till today still do not understand Islam after more than 500 years.
THE CHINESE IN MALAYSIA
Then along came the Chinese and many were actually Muslims as well. Islam first reached China around 100 years after Prophet Muhammad. This means Islam had ‘migrated’ to China about 1,300 to 1,400 years ago, 800 to 900 years earlier than Islam in Malaysia. Of course, in the northern states bordering Thailand it was earlier than that. (Refer to the Batu Bersurat discovered in Kuala Berang in Terengganu).
Is it not ironical that Malays call Chinese Muslims ‘mualaf’ when the Chinese were Muslims almost 1,000 years before the Malays even heard of Islam?
Okay, now take my family as an example. The Selangor Sultanate was founded in 1745. The first Sultan, Raja Lumu, migrated here from the Riau islands in Indonesia. By then, of course, the Arabs, Indians and Chinese had already been here 200 to 300 years, some even longer.
But these Arabs, Indians and Chinese were traders and merchants, not warriors or fighters, whereas the Bugis from Riau only knew one occupation – fighting and plundering. In short, they were pirates, which was a noble profession back in those days where even Queen Elizabeth the First knighted those English pirates who plundered Spanish ships.
In fact, the Bugis came here because of a sort of civil war in their home...