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  Malabaris In Malaysia


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titleThe Community Structure


The Malayalees ( including the Malabaris) tended to leave their family back in Kerala – maybe because of the better living facilities there -  and many of the lot retired back to Kerala after the ‘tour of duty’ in Malaya. They took it only as a practical part of their endeavour of enterprise, viz, seeking fortune elsewhere. A great percentage of them had, therefore, only an ephemeral interest in their stay here; once their material needs were satisfied, they called it a day and returned to Malabar for good. This was especially true among the trading community resulting in the general decrease in their number over the years. In Penang for instance many of the businesses were taken over by the Tamil Muslim community.  Although not as significant, this pattern was also seen among the Malayalee estate workers.

Some of them were wiser and settled down here permanently; they chose to cast their lot with that of this country. Some of their descendants in later years rose to rank among the most illustrious sons of the country.

The Malabar Muslims form a minority in most places they settled in Malaysia. In cases where they were isolated, most of them lost their identity as Malabar Muslims. They married into the Malay community quite freely due to the religious and Mazhab similarities between the two. In the plantation areas isolated Malabaris began to speak Tamil and became unidentifiable from the Tamil Muslims.

Wherever possible, the Malabar Muslims came together to support each other and to keep their culture and spirits up.

 Kerala Muslims settled their disputes among themselves without involving others. Panchayat is one such set up to settle disputes. Elders and respected community members- acceptable by both parties in dispute – held discussion to hear out the case and come up with settlement agreeable to both parties. This system has been in practice until recently among the Malabari community in Malaysia.

 As the size of the community grew and with it the ensuing challenges, instances arose where better registered organizations were necessary to solve the issues and to organize better functions.  Associations were formed in major cities to look into the problems of the urban community. Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Johor formed associations or Jamaats to assist travelers and to help out community members in time of need, sickness or deaths. They also organized religious functions such as Maulud for the community. The rural community started to join the associations much later when there was better means of transport and communication.


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