Cape Malays…

and their Heritage

The Malay Archipelago

Posted by tahirfarrath on August 2, 2009

The history of South Africa can be mapped out into three distinct eras:

Colonialism (1652 – 1961),

Apartheid (1961 – 1994), and

Democracy (1994 – current).

I would like to look at how it all began for South African Malays. Why am I called a Malay? “I am what I am”, but what are the factors that influenced “the way I am”? Am I from Malaya or Malaysia?

Is it true that my ancestors were taken from some distant place whose inhabitants were Malays or were they Indonesians? But where exactly was that?

MALAYA used as a noun or an adjective is very rare. Malaya means the States of Malaya (also known as Peninsular Malaysia). In the Filipino (Tagalog) language of the Phillipines, a girl named Malaya, means – free or freedom. So, the closest I got was the Malay archipelago…


The Malay Archipelago is the largest group of islands in the world, located off the Southeastern coast of Asia between the Indian and Pacific oceans and Australia.   It consists of the more than 13,000 islands of Indonesia and some 7,000 islands of the Philippines. The archipelago, formerly called the East Indies, extends along the Equator for more than 6,100 km. (

Alltogether, the archipelago’s area is more than 2 million km² to include other territories, such as Singapore, Brunei, the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah along with the Federal Territory of Labuan, East Timor, and most of Papua New Guinea. The Malay Archipelago encompasses many groups which may be considered archipelagoes in their own right, such as the Sunda Islands, which are known as the Greater and Lesser Sunda Islands. In addition to the Philippines, there is also the Maluku Islands, otherwise known as the Moluccan or Spice Islands. (



2 Responses to “The Malay Archipelago”

  1. Toyer said

    And if your Lord had so willed, He could surely have made humanity one community, and they will not stop disagreeing. Except those for whom your Lord has granted mercy (who will not dispute the Truth). And for this did He create them…[11:118-119]

    The Nabiy (S.A.W.S.) said: Learn enough about your lineages to know your blood relatives and treat them accordingly (Tirmithiy – classed as Sohiih).

    Also click on the link below to view:

    Interconnectedness of the Qabiilah with the Bonds in Faith

    • tahirfarrath said

      Yaziid bin Nu’aamah reported that the Messenger of Allaah (s.a.w.s.) said:

      When a man befriends a man, let him ask his name and the name of his father, and the stock from which he comes, for it is a greater link for love (Tirmithiy) v1p506

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