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The Brunei Malay
June 4, 2018
The Brunei Malay live in Brunei on the island of Borneo in South-east Asia.
Brunei is a tiny, tropical country surrounded by two Malaysian states and the China Sea. It has been made wealthy by an abundance of oil and a small population of about 250,000 people. It has been a Muslim nation since at least the 15th century, when Arab traders introduced Islam, and it has been influential in spreading Islam across South-east Asia —Spain invaded Brunei in the 15th century to stop their proselytization of the Philippines.
Islamic rituals dominate everyday life for the Malay of Brunei, whose culture is otherwise similar to the larger Malay population. They value harmony and conformity, and the practice of Islam is highly controlled by the government to prevent deviance from traditional teachings. The same sermon is preached in every mosque weekly, issued by the department of religion. Legally, Muslim males can be fined for missing Friday prayers, or failing to meet any of the host of other religious requirements.
Two very ornate mosques, named for the sultans who commissioned and funded them, reflect the nation—wealthy, but authoritarian, with most of the population content to enjoy the benefits of peace and prosperity. But what concerns dwell beneath the calm exterior? Employment for the younger generation, social pressure to conform, and hidden family problems are some that will not be acknowledged by a people who will not speak negatively about anything.
Pray for them
- Pray for Brunei Malays who study abroad—they have opportunities to see things in new ways. Loving Christian friends could show them a new way.
- Perhaps there are those who wonder about what God is like, outside what is prescribed by the government. Pray for miraculous encounters.
- Jesus calls us to come to Him with our burdens (Matthew 11:28). Pray for Brunei Malays struggling silently to find Him.
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