Thai Islam in Thailand

Map Source:  People Group location: SIL / Mosque location research. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.
People Name: Thai Islam
Country: Thailand
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 1,333,000
World Population: 1,333,000
Primary Language: Thai
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Thai
Affinity Bloc: Southeast Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Muslim Thai people throughout the majority of Thailand originally came from the Bengal region of India, the Yunnan region of China, Pakistan, Arabia and Malaysia, and now from even more diverse places. Many intermarried into the Thai community. They consider themselves to be Thai first in non-religious matters, speak Thai and generally consider themselves part of their Thai communities. Historically and currently Siamese/Thai rulers were considered royal patrons of all religions; this practice of equal favor for all faiths has contributed to stability in Thailand and has benefited Muslim Thai. A Thai monarch commissioned the translation of the Q’uran into Thai in 1964.

Where Are they Located?

The Muslim Thai people in most of Thailand should not be confused with the Muslim Pattani Malay who live mainly in the southernmost three provinces of Thailand; Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat. The Pattani Malay are ethnically Malay, have lived in the region from between 1350 and 1450 and were part of the Pattani kingdom. They have been involved in armed separatist insurgency against the Thai government since 1948.

There are mosques in most Provinces of Thailand, though Muslim communities in many Provinces are very small. The Muslim community in Bangkok is growing, and in the last 15 years has moved toward more strict observance of Islamic practices, such as fasting during Ramadan, wearing the hijab head covering, and Islamic education.

What Are Their Lives Like?

A minority in a Buddhist society, Muslim Thai look to their mosque communities to maintain their Muslim identity. Muslims can be found in all economic strata of Thailand; many are considered to be good business people. Education for women is considered important by Muslim Thai. Young people have a fair amount of freedom in choosing careers and spouses. Love is considered important in marriage. Many Muslim Thai children attend public school, as well as Islamic madrasas: Islamic education is considered superior. Meal times are often long because of a value for spending time with family, friends and neighbors.

What Are Their Beliefs?

There is concern about materialism damaging the community’s values. Muslim Thai have traditionally been more nominal in the practice of their faith, but they are now becoming more aware of Islam and deliberate about practicing it, and are doing away with some Thai practices such as praying to ancestors.

Text Source:   Mark Reichel