Map Source: People Group location: SIL / Mosque location research. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.
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|Southeast Asian Peoples
The Muslim Thai people throughout the majority of Thailand originally came from the Bengal region of India and China’s Yunnan Province. Many intermarried into the Thai community. They consider themselves to be Thai first in non-religious matters, speak Thai and generally consider themselves part of their Thai communities. Historically and currently Siamese/Thai rulers were considered royal patrons of all religions; this practice of equal favor for all faiths has contributed to stability in Thailand and has benefited Muslim Thai. A Thai monarch commissioned the translation of the Koran into Thai in 1964.
Muslim Thai speak a Thai language, but they are Muslims like their Malay neighbors to the south. The Muslim Thai people in should not be confused with the Muslim Pattani Malay who live mainly in the southernmost three provinces of Thailand.
There are mosques in most Provinces of Thailand, though Muslim communities in many provinces are very small. The Muslim community in Bangkok is growing, and in the last 15 years has moved toward more strict observance of Islamic practices, such as fasting during Ramadan, wearing the hijab head covering, and Islamic education.
A minority in a Buddhist society, Muslim Thai look to their mosque communities to maintain their Muslim identity. Muslim Thai are in all economic strata of Thailand; many are good businesspeople. The Muslim Thai value education for women. Young people have a fair amount of freedom in choosing careers and spouses. Love is considered important in marriage. Many Muslim Thai children attend public school as well as Islamic madrasas; they give preference to an Islamic education. Mealtimes are often long because of a value for spending time with family, friends and neighbors.
There is concern about materialism damaging the community's values. Muslim Thai have traditionally been more nominal in the practice of their faith, but they are now becoming more aware of Islam and deliberate about practicing it and are doing away with some Thai practices such as praying to ancestors.
Without a single Christ follower, the Muslim Thai people need to hear the glory of the Lord from someone outside their community. They need the courage to step forward and consider the ways of Jesus no matter what their community does.
Pray for culturally sensitive workers to take Jesus to the Muslim Thai people in such a way that they realize that they can embrace him without jeopardizing their culture.
Ask God to open the hearts of the Muslim Thai to make them receptive to the gospel.
Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Muslim Thai.