As someone who grew up in a Malay ghetto, I was always told that Malays could only be good in sports and entertainment. Well indeed we were but we were certainly more than just folks with impressive talents in soccer and playing rock music.
Unhappy with those things that were said to me by teachers and friends, I went on the path of studying Malay history. Years of research have taught me that there were many important traits and achievements of the Malays that we were seldom told.
Here are some of my findings that I hope would encourage Malays to dig deeply into our pasts. These points are meant to encourage us to read about our own history and do something for ourselves to regain back the Glories of Our Esteemed Ancestors, long gone but ought to be remembered. And yes, don’t forget to share this with as many people you know so we can dispel that long-standing Myth of the Sports and Entertainment Natives!:
1. Trade – Malays were masters in the realm of trade so much so that by the 16th Century, the Malay World was regarded by Europeans, Arabs, Chinese, Indians and other communities from all over the world as a place where wealth and great opportunities flowed unceasingly. Being Masters in trade meant that Malays excelled in the science of weights and measures, in mathematics and in navigation.
2. Architecture – The houses and palaces built by Malays lasted for many centuries, many are still in existent till today. These works of architecture and building were not only beautiful, they were designed in such as a way that there was proper ventilation and that men and women could have their own private meeting places. Privacy, being environmentally-friendly, having shared community spaces and sites for prayer were hallmarks of Malay houses.
3. Community Spirit – Malays were the most selfless group of people, unsurpassed by many other communities in history. So strong was the community spirit and so selfless were the Malays that their deeds impressed even the Europeans who were seeking to colonize them. The Dutch and Spanish were at pains in trying to invade Aceh and Mindanao because the community spirit in both communities were too strong for any foreign power to break the Malays apart.
4) Intellectualism – Malays were intellectuals who not only wrote religious treatises but also texts explaining cures to ailments and sicknesses. Building on the Hindu tradition of respecting knowledge and wisdom, the Malays mastered so many branches of philosophical and practical sciences upon the arrival of Islam in the 13th century. Many became respected scholars outside the Malay World in places such as Mecca and Madinah. The Malay World was transformed into a Hub for Learning – A Harvard of the East.
5. Subtlety – Malays are probably the most subtle people any traveller in history could ever encounter in his/her journeys. And that subtlety was borne out of high culture and a great sense of respect shown towards others, towards the environment and towards the Divine. Subtlety aided in maintaining harmony in the community and it did much to make the Malay World a place where one’s heart finds peace. Little wonder that when the Arabs and Chinese came to this part of the World, they seldom dreamt of going back home.
Now that we know what Malays were known for, let’s make this a talking point and a source of motivation to Make Us Great!