As a portal or database of global Malay world provided in many categories and that its validity in academic structural frame could be scientifically proven, Melayuonline.com deems it useful to limit the definition (theoretical frame) of Malay terminology used broadly on this portal. This step is done to avoid variety of interpretation of the used terminology.
“Malay” word was used at the first time by the Chinese news in the year 644 CE, to report the existence of Malay kingdom in Nusantara (Malay Archipelago). “Malay” might refer to Malay country in the east coast of Sumatra that centered around Jambi area. However, the experts terminologically offered different definitions of “Malay”. Muchtar Lutfie divides “Malay” word into three meanings. The first is “Malay” to identify one race among many races of the world. Malay race as Lutfie outlined is those of brown color people. Malay race which he considered to be a subcategory of three races, namely Mongolian (yellow), Caucasian (white) and African (black). The second is “Malay” as a nation. Malay nation, as a result of both historical changes and political development, is now polarized into several modern states such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam and Philippine. In each national point of view, Malay is not viewed as a race, but rather as a nation. And the last is “Malay” as a tribe or an ethnic.
Tengku Luckman Sinar remarks that one might be considered as Malay if he is Muslim, speaks Malay language, upholds Malay norms and settles in Malay territories. This definition stresses cultural foundation as the measure of Malay identity. To be the member of Malay society, he continued, one should uphold the kingdom conception. This is the proof of the central role of king in old cultural identity of the Malay society in dealing with the state policy that put the king as the central of everything. The king was the symbol of personification that represented both society‘s values and historical tradition. Such circumstance was then connected to the origin of the Malay society.
M. Junus Melalatoa showed the historical fact of the origin of the Malays in Nusantara (Malay Archipelago). The migration of Malay race occurred in three phases. The first migration wave was done by Veddoid race (a member of a race of southern Asia traditionally classified by such physical feature as wavy to curly hair, chocolate-brown skin color, and slender body build) after the end of Ice Age. Veddoid race was considered as the first race settled in Nusantara. Their descendants, Orang Sakai, Orang Hutan, Orang Kubu, survive up to now. In the second phase, migration wave, in 2.500 – 1500 BC, was done by those who had Malay physical features called Proto Malay (old Malay race). That group of people was the supporter of the cultural spread of new Stone Age in Sumatra Island through Malay Peninsula. Their descendents survive until this present day known as Orang Talang Mamak and Orang Laut. The third phase occurred after 1.500 BC, when Deutro Malay (young Malay race) did the second migration wave. Their presence eliminated the Proto Malay to rural areas, but many of them assimilated with the new comers.
Another view is offered by Hasan Muarif Ambary. He remarks that at the beginning of the coming of Islam in Nusantara, the Malay Sultans claimed themselves as the descendents of Alexander the Great. This claim is revealed through the Arabic alphabet written on the inscription of old graves in Nusantara areas. On the old graves in Ternate city, for instance, the Ternate Sultans‘ names were written with their formal title, namely Iskandar Qulainsyah. Therefore the kings of Ternate whose ethnic was not Malay, actually upheld Malay tradition but at the same time they related their names to Alexander the Great.
Based on several definitions offered by the experts above, Melayuonline.com uses Malay terminology merely in the frame of culture, not of tribe, ethnic or cultural entity in a narrow meaning. Malay terminology deemed on this portal includes places, communities, society or countries in the entire world that uphold or ever upheld Malay tradition. In another word, Malay culture that tied the historical reality of society in the previous centuries revealed on this portal is not based on the emotional tight of genealogy, but rather on cultural tight. “Malay” word therefore refers to those communities who speak the Malay language or/and uphold Malay custom, tradition and culture.
The practiced Malay custom and tradition are the very identity of Malays molded by both Malay norm and Islam. Both elements played central role in shaping the identity of Malays. Such identity is, more often than not, implemented in the way of thinking, acting and behaving. Tabrani Rab remarks that the Malay identity is the identity of Malays molded by their own cultural system in which Islam and Malay norms play central role. Religion is a marvelous reference of Malay society‘s norms. There is a proverb that said “Adat bersendikan syarak, Syarak bersendikan kitabullah” (the Islamic sharia is the foundation of norm, and the Quran is the foundation of the sharia).
Due to the development of history and the uncontrollable political changes of the world that drove to the polarization of modern state territory, the description mentioned on Melayuonline.com that reveals the details of Malay and all about Malay in the entire world is based on geo-cultural category. This step is taken to easily make the arrangement, material classification and data revelation. This portal explores the Malay culture beginning from Riau and Riau Islands that according to the historical fact was the center of Malay civilization in the past.
Melayuonline.com does not endorse fanatically the ideas of certain experts, but rather attempts to accommodate all opinions that academically have been accepted. Therefore the presence of Melayuonline.com is as the media of documenting, collecting and giving information about Malay world and all about Malay in the entire world. (RI/ter/10/8-07)
- Masyarakat Melayu Riau dan Kebudayaannya
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