The Life of Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim
2 - Background of Malay/MalaysianHistory and Islam
2 - Background of Malay/Malaysian History and Islam The purpose of this chapter is to briefly outline the history of Malaysia from Before the Common Era (BCE) to the present day (Common Era, or CE). Included in this outline will be a focus upon the introduction, assimilation and evolution of Islam specifically to the Malay Peninsula. History General. Malaysia’s early history is shaped by its geography, where three primary natural aspects evidence themselves. The first is the peninsula’s location, nearly equidistant between the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean. This placement set the Malay Peninsula within reach of both early eastern and western trade routes, each of which can be traced to several hundred years BCE. The second aspect is the region’s dominant weather pattern—the cycle of monsoons. Sail ships used the prevailing winds of one season to travel, and the subsequent opposing winds’ season to return to their point of origin. Thus, the peninsula was ideal as a locus for cross-cultural commerce, as well as a fixed point for cargo storage and nautical refitting. As regional seafaring evolved into trans-oceanic travel, the waters west of the Malay Peninsula, known as the Straits of Melaka (described by one historian as “a gullet … through which the foreigners’ sea and land traffic in either direction must pass”1) offered to maritime travelers and merchants both the safest and most expeditious linkage between diverse ocean markets. Thirdly, the area was rich in resources: tin (and for a brief time, ANWAR IBRAHIM...
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