Malay of Malaysia

Population:   15 million
Primary Location:   Malaysia
Languages:   Malay, English

Who are the Malay of Malaysia?

The Malay of Malaysia are not poor—at least not materially. Nearly every family has a digital camera and several mobile phones, not to mention motorcycles and cars. Well-educated, with good jobs, many Malay people enjoy the comforts of material success.



Before Malaysia's independence in 1957, most Malays were poor. The status of Malays changed dramatically after independence, however. Today, it is normal for Malays, both men and women, to attend university, and many pursue higher degrees. Malays are now found in every profession, including the science and technology fields considered key to Malaysia's growing economy. Malays also dominate in politics, the civil service, the armed forces and the police.


Shopping is a favorite Malay pastime, and Malaysia boasts a large number of fancy shopping complexes. Malays also like to visit the pasar malam, the "night market," where they purchase a variety of Malaysian delicacies, including aromatic durian fruit.

In the evening, Malay men enjoy sitting at coffee shops, sipping sweet teh tarik, Malaysia’s unofficial national drink. Women gather at home, enjoying Korean soap operas and American Idol.


According to the Malaysian constitution: “To be Malay is to be Muslim.” All Malays are, according to their national identification cards, Muslim. They have no other choice.

Malays are proud of their Muslim identity, and many conscientiously practice the five Pillars of Islam. On Friday, the Muslim day of prayer, Malay men congregate at mosques in their "Friday best." Malays also tend to be careful to observe Muslim dietary laws, as well as the Ramadan fast.

Prayer Points

  • Praise God for Malay followers of Jesus who persevere despite family and government opposition.

  • Pray for Chinese-background followers of Jesus in Malaysia to develop a passion for sharing the Good News with their Malay neighbors. May they set aside the fear and the long-standing ethnic tensions that keep them from reaching out.

  • Privileged and prosperous, Malays are not desperate for God. Many seem uninterested in religion as more than a cultural routine. May Malays realize their spiritual need and become interested in hearing the Good News.

  • Pray that Malays would decide to follow Jesus, and that vibrant indigenous communities of faith would be established, reaching out to their own people group and beyond.

Read the full profile

Malay of Malaysia

Learn more about the Malay

(External links)

Joshua Project People Profile
30 Days of Prayer - Malaysia Profile
Official Malaysia Tourism Site
Cultures in Malaysia
Malay Food
Malay Language