Chinese Convert Don’t Want to be Labeled as Malay

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Dear R1C

I am a muallaf. Chinese guy who embraced Christianity when I was in Sec Two. Met the love of my life who is a beautiful Malay woman when I was 28. Embraced Islam wholeheartedly when I was 30 and married my lovely wife. Proud to be a Muslim and appreciate the beauty of Malay culture.

I often come across many Singaporeans who now calls me a Malay. In reality I am still a Chinese. I speak fluent Mandarin. Before I take up Islam, I used to eat pork, I drank alcohol. I gambled like crazy during CNY. Now, I stopped all that already. Islam has brought new meaning to my life and I am much happier now.


Oh boy, calling me a Malay, that pisses me off big time. Haven’t they noticed that race and religion are two separate issues? I don’t understand why would people ask me questions like:

“Why do you want to be a Malay?”

“Your family members are still Chinese?”

“You are now a Malaylah, is it?”

“Do you miss pork? Let’s eat bak chor mee now?”

“Must have been terrible for you to fast for a month, right?”

“Really Malay pray 5 times one ah?”

“Do your Islam God accept only Arabic language or you can say prayer in English or Mandarin?”

“Is your boss okay about you going to prayer in many times in a day time?”

“Amazing you can keep a beard when you are Chinese!”

“What happen to your Chinese family line? You have any other siblings to carry on the family name?”

“Do you have to cut kukujiao?”

“So now you have join the rilek clan?”

“How can you eat Malay food high in cholesterol!”

“As long no pork, mean you can eat already lor, right”


In Singapore, Malay and Muslims don’t always come in a package. Not all Malays are Muslims. Muslims can be Indian, Chinese, Caucasian, Eurasian, and the list goes on. I noticed many times the local media and even the Malay community themselves often confused the two terms together.

Perhaps it is the lack of education and awareness about race and religion that made them form such distasteful mental picture of Islam and Malays?

Time to clear these misconceptions- starting from the media. Stop using the term ‘Malay-Muslims’.


Joshua Tan aka Syafiq Abdullah


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  1. Pingback: Oh Dear, Darwin Banned in Malaysia | BJ Thoughts…

  2. Rachel

    Perhaps this article can relate to you brother:

  3. Syafiqloves Lovesnoilimthongkul

    what is your facebook?Alhamdulilah.

  4. Rosman

    Well said….people tend to misinterpret. Malay is a race n not a religion…they were neither too ignorance or plain stupid…I believed u had met people who r insensitive and keep asking the stupid questions. Islam is not difficult but people make it look that way…God is testing us…Be patience n insyallah God is always by your side…

  5. Molly Molina

    Hi Joshua,

    I can fully relate to your frustrations! I’m a Malay and a Muslim. Started dating my chinese husband in 2008. In 2013, he converted and we had a beautiful wedding. He’s devoted to the faith now. Alhamdulillah.

    But oh lord, we can never understand how thick some people are! All the questions in your post and more are often asked. The famous one by far is “so what’s your Malay name?”. There are days when we just smile at them and explain calmly that its recommended but not necessary. A Malay name does not make one a Muslim. -_-”

    Then there’s the occasional “so you marry into the family already lor” – usually remarked by his aunties or uncles.

    Unfortunately, like you said, people have the closed mindset of thinking that only the Malays are Muslims.

    And of course till today, the frustration continues. But hey, let’s take it all with a smile ya? 🙂


  6. NurIsdeen NurAmin Alhaj

    Alhamdulillah someone who just stand up and telling the whole world about the two issue that is not inter-related. Allah created us in the form of different race, language and culture so that we can intermingle and get to know each other. For that is the reason human speak different language and practice different culture. Hence the concept of traveling and watch the world goes by educate us as the Minangkabau saying “alam takambang menjadi guru” and about the same meaning a malay saying “jauh perjalanan luas permandangan” both relate to that one will learn and be more aware when one travel far and beyong. Now this concept do teach us that there are other races, other language and other culture being practice and exist on the surface of earth and the same goes about religion and the faithful. Is muslim in the middle east malay. For sure they are not malay. So are the same those in the western world? Are they christian and those in the mainland China are they taoist and those in India are they hindues and buddhist? Am sure the answer is a big no.

    Unfortunately the Singapore Constitition state that the malay are muslim and no malay and muslim politician want to bring up the issue and change it. The reason have to do with political power that goes with it. But that is secondary.
    What is important is your faith as a muslim. Stay calm and cool and take it as a journey ion life to educate yourself that human are created to be part of the colourful spices of life.

  7. Siti Zulriah Tong

    Very true! I don’t like it when people refer me as Malay just because I’m wearing a Hijab. I’m born to be a Chinese Muslim, because my dad is a convert and my race in my Identity Card is Chinese.
    When I told them that I’m not Malay but Chinese, they will not believe it, They’ll then ask me that if I’m a Chinese and why is my name in Malay. My name is not a Malay name BUT it is a Muslim name! People need to know this… when a person converts, their religion change but their race and culture don’t change!

  8. Mohamed Rafi

    Totally agreed bro. I am an Indian muslim. I was shocked once when I was asked why I speak tamil and why I don’t know malay. Do arabs know or speak Malay to be a Muslim? Hopefully the above article is read by the Malays and get a clearer picture of religion and race.

  9. ajai

    There are lots of Muslims around the world Caucasians, Africans etc2 and even in China… just throw back the question at them are they Malays too…hahaha

  10. Zaiton Tamby

    Look yrself in the mirror whethet your are fit to be a human being or worst than animal.

    1. NurIsdeen

      Hi Ms Zaiton Tamby. Just need some clarification on your comments. Who it’s directed to and what’s with the comment all about?

  11. H

    Who is this guy? I understand there is a air force Chinook pilot. He is Chinese and recently married a muslim lady, so he may have converted.


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