The Pattani Malay of Thailand
The 1.1 million Pattani Malay form an ethnic community in the southern provinces of Thailand. The Pattani, a devout Muslim people, are the descendants of Malaysian Muslims. Due to their dedication to the Islamic faith, the Pattani have a distinct identity in Thailand. A vast majority of the Thai are Buddhist; only 3% are Muslim. However, since the beginnings of the ancient Malay kingdom in Thailand, Islam has had a major influence on the culture.
The history of the Pattani Malay has been punctuated by revolt and revolution. Over the years, their unique Muslim culture has led to many separatist movements against the Thai government. Because the Pattani province is located a great distance from the center of the Thai government, the Pattani have developed a feeling of uniqueness and independence. However, each time the government tries to centralize control in the state, their independence is threatened. This has resulted in a resentment for the government.
What are their lives like?
Most Pattani are self-employed either as farmers or fishermen. The southern provinces of Thailand, though small, are rich in natural resources. This allows the Pattani to grow a variety of native crops, which include rubber, coconut, and tropical fruits. The coast provides fish for the many fishermen. Unfortunately, both farming a fishing are seasonal types of occupations. In addition, the fishing industry has been threatened by the large-scale fishing businesses that have developed recently. The southern portion of Thailand is also rich in minerals, such as tin, gold, wolfram, manganese, and natural gas. Yet, the economy in this region is struggling and poor in comparison to the rest of the country. As a result, the Pattani lead a subsistence type lifestyle.
The Pattani society is organized much like the typical Malay socio-political structure, due to the influence of Islam. There are two main social classes in this culture: the rulers and the commoners. The head of the ruling class is the sultan. His position is passed down through heredity. Underneath the sultan is the ruling class, which contains royal and non-royal members. The royal members are related to the sultan and are able to aspire to the throne, while the non-royal members are religious or state leaders who have achieved their status through merit. The commoners, who are often called "subjects," have three distinct divisions: the subjects, the debt bondsmen, and the slaves. All of the relationships in this society are symbiotic, based on mutual need.
What are their beliefs?
Unlike the majority of the population of Thailand, who are Buddhist, the Pattani are Muslim. They closely adhere to Islamic law, or sharia, which is taught in the traditional Islamic schools, called pondoks. According to Islamic doctrine, there is only one god, Allah, whose prophet, Mohammed, came to instruct the followers of Islam. Their book of sacred writings is called the Koran.
Islam is one of the three major world religions. There are five essential "pillars" or duties in Islam: affirming that Allah is the only god and that Mohammed is his prophet, praying five times a day, giving alms generously, fasting during Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim year), and making a pilgrimage to Mecca.
What are their needs?
The Pattani way of life is based on survival. They are not benefiting from the development of large industries in their provinces. In fact, as these industries continue to expand, the Pattani are being pushed farther and farther out of the markets. Agriculturists are needed to teach the small-scale land owners how to get the most out of their land.
The greatest need of the Pattani is for Jesus Christ. The Jesus film, Christian radio broadcasts, and the New Testament are available in the Melayu Pattani language; however, the Pattani remain less than 1% Christian. Prayer alone has the power to break down the walls that separate the Pattani Malay from the Truth.
- Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into Indonesia to minister Life to the Pattani Malay.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to the missions agencies that are targeting this people group.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Pattani Malay through dreams and visions.
- Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Pattani who will boldly declare the Gospel.
- Pray that God will protect the Pattani believers and grant them boldness to share Christ with their own people.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Pattani Malay bound.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through intercession.
- Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Pattani Malay church for the glory of His name!
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Pattani Malay
- Country: Thailand
- Their language: Melayu Pattani
- Largest religion:
- Christian: <1%
- Church members: 221
- Scriptures in their own language: New Testament
- Jesus Film in their own language: Available
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: Available
- Mission agencies working among this people: 4
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 419,300 (38%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 683,400 (62%)
- Country: Laos
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 8
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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