Growing up in a multi-cultural and multi-religious society like Malaysia, the one thing you learn at a very early age is that there are many forms of worship. My belief system is built on this foundation of inclusiveness, and I am thankful to have been raised in an environment where I never heard my parents utter a derogatory word against anyone. The beauty of being raised in such a diverse society is being able to celebrate in the tradition of others and learn to respect other peoples’ religions as equals. But you can only get to that point if you are secure in your own identity. And in this regard I find significant changes in the attitudes of Malays in Malaysia – evident in their clothing, their persona, their Islam, and how that identity manifests itself. Clearly, not all Malays are going through the identity crisis I am highlighting, but sufficient numbers are involved to effect a cultural shift.
I was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the fifth child of six, and am of Malay heritage. My mother is Malay with some Arab blood and my father was Malay with Indian heritage, Punjabi, to be exact. Islam is our faith and we were raised as Muslims in the Sunni Malay tradition.