Before being overrun by Islam, the people of Malaysia and Indonesia were overwhelmingly Hindu and Buddhists. The clash of the gentle ancestors of the Malays and Indonesians with the violent Muslims is a clash of contrasts. This is so as there is no greater contrast than that between Buddhism and Islam. While Buddhism is intrinsically and universally non-violent, Islam is a violent, cruel and murderous. When attacked and massacred by the Muslims, the Buddhists initially did not make any attempt to escape from their murderers. They accepted death with an air of fatalism and destiny. And hence they are not around today to tell their story. But their mindless slaughter evoked another and extremely opposite reaction from another set of Buddhists.

 

The Indonesians (under their Shaliendra and Majapahit dynasties) resisted the Muslims, albeit briefly in the 15th century, only to lapse back to a defensive position and submit to the Muslims Jihadis by the 16th century.

Before their forced conversion, the Indonesians themselves were Buddhists and Hindu by faith till the 15th century under their kingdoms of Sri Vijaya (Malaysia and Aceh), Majapahit and Shailendra (Indonesian archipelago). These kingdoms were ardent rivals and were at war with each other and with their northern neighbor – the kingdom of  Siam (Thailand) when the Muslim first appeared on the scene. It was the Arab merchant-Jihadis who deceived the last Sri Vijaya king, Parameswara (of  today’s Malaysia) to marry a Muslim damsel and converted him to Islam by promising him help in his fight against his rivals from Thailand. From 1402 onwards Parmeswara increasingly became dependent on the Arabs to stave off attempts from the Thais and the

territorial ambitions of his other rival Majapahit of Indonesia. The Arab merchant-soldiers whose position became increasingly stronger at Parmeswara’s court offered to send in more forces to fight alongside him, if he converted to Islam. Initially Parameswarascornfully refused this offer. But as the struggle with Thailand and Majapahit wore on, his position became more precarious. At this juncture the Arab merchants gifted him a princess of Pasai who was a mix breed descendants from an Arab and Indonesian Nikah Mu’tah Marriage. (A Nikah Mu’tah is a temporary marriages allowed for Muslims

by the Quran)

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