Superstitious in Malay Community

Written by Fiqa Jamal

Malay or Melayu is a race that is unique in culture and customs. The diversity of races which existed since the days of Melaka’s great glory had influenced and made the customs of the Malay community at that time to be unique and mixed with customs or cultures of other nations such as China, India, Siam and Arabs.

The well known Malay proverb has said ”Biar mati anak, jangan mati adat”, which shows how strong this nation on hold their customs and cultures. However, sometimes there are a handful of Malay people who say certain customs may contradict the Islamic teaching. In fact, thsome people are actively practicing superstition and it is being continued until today.

What is a superstition? Superstition or or in Malay, known as Khurafat is all stories of fiction or fantasy, teachings, taboos, customs, predictions, cults or beliefs that deviate from the teachings of Islam. Khurafat also includes stories and deeds that are designed and ridiculous.

The characteristics of the superstition are not based on nasal (Nas) or al-Quran and al-Hadith. It is fiction, tales, fantasy or superstition stories; based on old beliefs; form of worship and application to other than Allah Ta’ala for the purpose of which conflicts with the teachings of Islam; it involves the use of certain objects related to graves, trees, moss for a particular purposes and it has negative elements to the Islamic faith and syariah.

There are too many beliefs that are practiced by many people and passed down from one generation to other generation but the reality of their persistence is not proven and the truth cannot be disputed. Perhaps this is because the beliefs conveyed by our parents, or older adults, make them a dogmatic understanding and “must believe” because they are more expereinced in life than the yongsters,

The writer do not say that all the beliefs that we hold are wrong. Some may be true and have logical and scientific explanations based on their experiences. But the sad thing is that there is a certain belief that our practice as muslim and Malay is not parallel with not only science but also the Islamic religion.

There are a few of superstitious in Malay community :-


Children wearing yellow or black cord string tied at the waist, other people wore a rope on the wrist. These are all called tangkal and priest or ulama said it is illegally worn. They believe if they wear tangkal it is to keep from bad things coming to them or their family. But normally, tangkal is in one of belief of Buddhists and Hindus.


This santau actually send from the one who practice black magic to the people woth the ntention to harm the people by using ”fine creatures” or ”Makhluk halus”and the person will cough blood and vomiting blood up out of nail, glass, worm and etc. That is santau. But if the blood cough without object out of it still we call it santau? Or is it actually possible Tuberculosis or TIBI? Or maybe Lung Cancer because of too much smoking? Do not early jump into conclusion, if you are blood coughing, the one you supposedly to meet is a Doctor not a Bomoh.

Do not lie down while your feet are up, then your mom will die

Everyone will die !! This belief actually nonsense. Malay people use this proverb are actually to teach the young generation to sit properly, well behave and do anything in manners. There are research about Asian parents need to reverse psychology to teach their children.

Never allow your plate to dry after a meal

Right after a meal, you are expected to immediately clean your plate or just pour a small amount of water onto it. The whole point is to prevent the plate from going dry as it is believed that by not doing so, your supply of food will soon ‘dry out’. The reason behind this because this is to ease the task of dishwashing. Would you want to wash the dishes when the plates are dried out with bits and pieces of food stuck to the base?

Do not cut your nails at night

Our parents always advice us do not clipping nails at night. Clipping your nails after the sunsets is a taboo in Malay community, as it is equivalent to snipping away your lifespan. The reason or this strange belief is simply that the lack of light at night makes this task more difficult. So be patient the next time you need to cut your nails and wait until morning, so you can accurately neaten up those cuticles.

Sweeping the house at night brings bad luck

Sweeping the house at night is considered off limits by most Malays’ families. It is strongly believed that this brings bad luck, as the good luck is being ‘swept away’, especially when sweeping the porch. As a muslim, we do not trust this superstitious. Because behind all of this belief, there must be a positive reason. So the logic behind this is that it is pretty difficult to sweep the house at night due to low visibility. Sweeping in the morning or afternoon obviously provides much more daylight, therefore making the task easier, and so you are less likely to have to sweep the house again shortly after.

So do you still believe in those superstitious? Are you a believer? Although some of these practices may seem rather unconventional, it is cultural uniqueness such as this that makes Malaysia to become an alluring destination for tourists who are seeking to get in touch with the nation’s rich cultural heritage.

As Muslims, we can use the Malay proverbs to teach young generation but still need to explain why an older generation use the proverb. However, avoid those superstitious practice that are against the Islamic faith and syariah. Despite we are living in the modern world, this nonsense is still spreading among the Malay community. It is better for us to abandon these beliefs because as Muslims we should only stick to the Quran and Al-Sunnah as well as the teachings of the learned scholars.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.