The Malabar Muslims initially came as traders to the Malay Archipelago and played an integral part in the spread of Islam in Malaya and Indonesia. Many years later they came in as businessmen to Penang and Singapore when the opportunities arose with the establishment of British trade in the Straits Settlement. They were mainly involves with small scale businesses including restaurant, stalls and sundry shops, a branding still attached to the Malabaris until today. This business community set up their businesses in both the towns and villages. It is a fact that the Malabaris were essentially an asset to the rural economy. They set up small sundry shops and restaurants and mobile mini restaurants selling snacks in rural areas and small townships catering for the daily necessities of the people around. They lived amicably and cooperated with Malays in all walks of life and contributed freely to the proper maintenance of the suraus and mosques in their area as well as other social and religious calls.
Economic boom during the beginning and middle of the 20th century saw the migration of professionals and educated community members to man the offices. They were attached to Government Departments and private sectors including industries in various capacities. This essentially settled in the town area later on spear headed the setting-up of associations in the various parts of the country.
Keralites (Muslims as well as others) were the smaller but important group among those who came to work in the estate after the ‘rubber boom’ in the early 20th century. Equipped with better education, health and contacts they landed supervisory jobs there as compared to the fellow South Indians. They also came to fill the need of skilled construction workers.