Monday, November 30, 2009

"Saudara Baru" a misnomer

When Chinese in Malaysia embrace Islam, they are referred to as "Saudara Baru" by their Malay brethren and sisters. "Saudara Baru" means "new relations."

Is this an apt term? In the context of history, I doubt it simply because the Chinese in ancient China have been practising the faith more than 600 years earlier than the Malays in the Malay archipelago. In 650, eighteen years after the death of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.), his maternal uncle Sa'ad ibn Abi Waqqaas was sent as an offical envoy by the Caliph Uthman ibn Affan of Arabia (currently Saudi Arabia) to the court of Chinese Emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty. So important was this visit that the Hui people of China regard the year 650 as the founding of Islam in their country. Impressed with the teachings of Islam, the Emperor built the magnificent Memorial Mosque in Canton city.

On the other hand, Malaysia's Batu Bersurat (or Terengganu Stone) that was discovered in 1899 revealed that an Islamic state existed in the area before 1326. A theory was thus postulated that Islam had arrived to the East Coast of the Malay peninsula from China. On the West Coast, Islam began to spread its wings only after Parameswara, a Hindu prince from Sumatra, converted to Islam in 1409. In days of yore, prior to the founding of Melaka, the Malays were under the influence of the Hindu-Buddhist empires of Majapahit (1229-1500) and Sri Vijaya (680-1200/1300), both based in Java, and were probably idol-worshippers.

Thus, doesn't it seem right that the Chinese Muslims in China should refer to the Malays in Malaysia as "Saudara Baru"?



Mohd Radzali said...

In the first place, your translation of the word "saudara baru" as "new relations" is literal and misleading. Actually "saudara baru' means "new brothers and sisters"... to Islam. It has nothing to do must with history.
Generally,the term refers to anyone who has converted to Islam and become a Muslim in Malaysia. He can be an India, Chinese, European or an Eskimo from the north pole. As a newly convert to Islam, he or she becomes our new Muslim brother and sister.
A Chinese or any person of other races who was born a Muslim in China, Malaysia or any other parts of the world is never called a "saudara baru' in Malaysia.
I hope this short explanation can shade some light and enlightened those who doubted the term "Saudara baru".


Thank you for your constructive comment.