Malay, Cocos Islands in Australia

People Name: Malay, Cocos Islands
Country: Australia
10/40 Window: No
Population: 1,300
World Population: 8,300
Primary Language: Malay, Cocos Islands
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Translation Needed
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: No
People Cluster: Malay
Affinity Bloc: Malay Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Cocos Malays are the majority population of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, a territory of Australia. The Malay were the first permanent inhabitants of the island, along with Alexander Hare, and English adventurer. They were brought as slaves and members of his harem. When a previous claimant, John Clunies-Ross, arrived a year later in 1827, he took the island back, employing the existing population in the harvest of coconuts. Because of the unbroken European rule of the islands, the culture has been mostly Western.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Malay society that exists today has been held together for eight generations by its isolation, shared economic endeavors, strong family loyalty, a deepening commitment to Islamic religion, and their unique version of the old Malay language of the East Indies. Few outsiders have lived among them and little has been recorded about their cultural and traditional practices. Despite their disparate origins, the Cocos Malay people achieved an identity of their own within one generation of settlement. The "Cocos-born", as they were officially referred to, lived separately from both the Javanese contract laborers and the European owner-settlers. They had their own mosques, their own leaders, and their own ceremonies. Despite their self-imposed isolation, elements of the English-Scottish traditions of the early overseeing families have been absorbed into Cocos Malay cultural practices. Certain foods, dances and musical influences have a Western flavor. Throughout each year, many ceremonies are held at various houses in the community for a wide range of family celebrations. These include house blessings, welcomes, farewells, boat launchings, remembrances of deceased relatives, circumcisions, Koran readings and other family events. The most significant celebration of the year for the Cocos Malay people is Hari Raya Puasa, the day that marks the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan. The Cocos Malay people have shown a remarkable flair for adaptation despite their desire for isolation by accepting new cultural elements and blending them with traditions of their own. Several items to keep in mind when encountering the Cocos Malay people are to dress conservatively out of respect to the Muslim community, remove shoes when entering a house or mosque, enter a house at the backdoor unless the front door is propped open, use the right hand for eating, greeting, or serving, and refrain from touching anyone on the head.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Today the cornerstone of the Cocos Malay society and the focus of each individual's life is the Islamic religion. Few depart from its teachings and observances. The Cocos Malay people are primarily of the Sunni Muslim faith, although animistic beliefs and traditions remain.

What Are Their Needs?

The Cocos Islands need workers skilled in outreach to Muslims. In Australia, outreach to people of other religions is also possible. Opportunities to help with medical and dental services are also available to missions-minded people with the right skills.

Prayer Points

Pray for a movement to Jesus to multiply among families and communities. Pray the Australians will feel empowered in making decisions that affect them. Pray for Muslim Background Believers (MBBs) to be prepared for ministry unto their neighbors. Pray for their protection and provision while they engage in spiritual warfare.

Text Source:   Joshua Project