With an area of 330,363 square kilometers in the eastern part of the Indochina peninsula, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is located in the southeast Asian. Vietnam has a common border with China in the north, it is limited to the Gulf of Tonkin and the South China Sea in the East and South as well. The country is a neighbor of Laos in the West and of Cambodia in the South West. The country has a 3444 km coastline. In general, Vietnam has been formed by three northern regions, the central highland region and the Mekong River Delta. In terms of the natural geography, this country has a thousand mile beam from the Mekong River Delta in the south to the Red River Delta in the north. Two main rivers of the country are the Mekong River and the Red River. With four thousands km length, the Mekong River beside its Delta in the South is the biggest river in South East Asia. Also, it is the seventh river in Asia, which passes China, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia and enters into Vietnam. The Red River and its Delta in the north of the country has been the core of civilization. A small group of 73 thousands of Muslims lives in Vietnam that makes nearly one percentage of the total population of 91 million people of this country. Not only non Muslims but also Malaysians, Chinese and Arabs live in Vietnam. Most of the Muslims live in the south of the country. Vietnam can be called the greenest land in Indochina region. Vietnamese religion is a combination of the three: Buddhism (9%), Taoism, Confucius, Protestant and Catholic Christians make about 8% of the population; while Huvahav1%, Kavada 1%, Muslims 1.0% and those without religion shape 80% the population.
The exact date of arrival of Islam in Indochina region is unknown, but based on some evidence Islam had been developed in this area before its acceptance by the Tang Dynasty rulers (618-907 AD). Muslim merchants played an important role in promoting Islam in this region. It was reported that the first signs of the arrival of Muslims in Melaka were called “Salaht” (a direct way) in the southwest of Malaysia, then the merchants were stopped to enter the Sanf Port which had formed the Champa Kingdom in the east coast of the country. Before discussing about Islam in the region, we should look at the history of this nation.
The word “Champa” refers to a set of the Chammy areas stretching from the center of Vietnam to its south. The Cham kingdom continued from the seventh century to about 1832 AD, i.e., when a country called Vietnam was formed. The kingdom is known Negara Campa in the Chammy and Cambodian dialects; Chăm Pa or Chiêm Thành in the Sino-Vietnamese and Zhànchéng in the Chinese languages. Chammy people who live in modern Vietnam and Cambodia are the survivors of the Chammy Kingdom. The Chammy language is a branch of the Melayu-Polynesian language, a family of the Astronesian languages, it has similarity with the Melayu and Bali-Sasak languages. Prior to Champa, this territory was under the influence of a government called Linyi (Chinese: Lim IP or Lâm Ấp in Vietnamese), i.e., from 192 AD onwards. The relationship between the Champa Government and Linyi is not clear to us, but Champa had reached the pinnacle of its power during the ninth and tenth centuries AD. When Đại Việt called Hanoi, the current capital of Vietnam, got the power, the Chammy government declined. In 1832 AD, the Emperor Minh Mạng attached all the Cham lands to Vietnam. The religious center of Cham called Mỹ Sơn and the center of Hinduism known as Hội A are the old historical places in the world. The scope of the authority of Champa from the second to the fifteenth century AD included Vietnam’s new provinces, namely Khánh Quảng Nam, Quảng Ngãi, Bình Định, Phú Yên, Hòa, Ninh Thuận, and Bình Thuận. Champa was extended from the West Bank of Vietnam to Laos and most of the people in this country were involved in business and a part of them living in the coastal zone were doing business activities, fishing, trading and exchanging of goods with other nations of the world including the Middle East. One of the historical towns of Champ is Indrapura (Indra City) built in 875-1000 AD, which is located in the neighborhood of Dong Duong near the new city “DA Nang”. In the 'DA Nang' area, there is an ancient city called 'Singapora' (i.e., the Lion City) which is located in the neighborhood of the new town Trà Kiệu and the Mỹ Sơn Valley where currently a lot of the Buddhist temples’ remains are seen. Maritime communications were taking place through the port Hội An. Champa authority areas also included the modern provinces: Quảng Bình, Quảng Trị, and Thừa Thiên-Huế. Another ancient town of Champa was Amaravati located in the current province of Quảng Nam.
The war of Cham naval forces against the forces of the Khmer
A stone carved in Bayonne-Cambodia
Chammy Handscript on Estelle Memorial (stone carved)
PO Nagar stele, 965 C
Another Champa center is Vijaya that is the current state of Bình Định. According to the archaeological studies, the center of this province is an area called Cha Ban. The port connected to this province is a place currently called Qui Nhơn. The excavations carried out near Thap Mam show that in the years around 1000 AD Vijaya was one of the cultural and religious centers of Champa that has been ruined under the pressure of Vietnam. Up to 1471 AD, Vijaya was the center of Champa set on fire by the Vietnamese. Then the Champa region was transferred to South Vietnam.
At that time, Vijaya dominated over the areas that are now called Quang-Nam, Quang-Ngai, Bình Định and Phú Yên Provinces. Another center of Champa is Kauthara district, which includes the current province of Nha Trang in Khánh Hòa and the religious center of this province is the PO Nagar temple with many towers located in Nha Trang. Panduranga is another center of Champa located in the current region of Phan Rang in the province of Ninh Thuận. Panduranga was the last point of Champa attached to Vietnam. All these main groups of Champa are divided into two main tribes of Dua and Cau. The people of the Dua tribe were living in Vijaya and Amwarati areas and people of the sea tribe were living in Kavatraha and Panduranga. The two tribes had differences in terms of customs and traditions that sometimes led to conflicts and wars, but marriages between the two tribes were possible to establish peace between them for a while.
Champa historiography can be developed in three forms:
• The physical works remained as monuments and brick ruins as well as stone sculptures,
• Manuscripts in the Chammy and Sanskrit languages on Estelle Memorial (stone carved) and other stone surfaces, and
• Works made by historians, politicians and Chinese and Vietnamese tourists.
Shiva Head, a Chammy Work Dated Back to Around 800 AD
Made up of the alloy of gold and silver called Electra
The hair of the sculpture has been braided beautifully with a metal pipe in the center. One can detect Shiva with the braided hair and one eye in the middle of its forehead. Modern researchers have developed two different theories about the history of Champa. All researchers agree about the historical area of Champa, included provinces, tribes and different regions of the south and along the coast of the current Vietnam with the same language, culture and customs. It should be said that all historical events of Champa do not have strong evidence, for example, in the tenth century, many documents have been found for the Indraputra civilization, in the twelfth century for Vijaya and in the fifteenth century for Panduranga. Based on the document density in each area, some historians have concluded that the center of Champa has been shifted from one place to another in different centuries. For example, according to this group of historians, if the abundance of documents in the tenth century AD belongs to the area of Indraputra; this means that Indraputra at the time was the center of Champa. Some historians do not consider any relationship between the abundance of the documents and the centrality of Champa; they believe that Champa was never a united country, and affluence of documents, human and civilization remain in an area at a specific time are not the reasons for the centrality of Champa.
Culture and People of Cham
Over the past centuries, the culture and people of Cham have been affected by different ethnics of Cambodia, China, Java and India. Shari Mara (137-192 AD) has been known as the founder of the Hindu kingdom of Champa1. His Chinese name was Qū Lián and he was born in the Quảng Nam region where the Han Dynasty imperial conflicts with the local people called Lâm Ấp (Chinese: Lin Yi) took place. In 192 AD, he predominated over the Chinese imperial and called himself as Lin Yi King. This was the starting point of Champa, but some Chammy myths have pointed to long years before 192 AD for the emergence of Champa2. The power of the Kingdom of the Funan Empire in the fourth century AD in Cambodia and its wars with the people of Champa caused the land got more influence of the Hindu culture in the region. At that time, the languages of Sanskrit and Shaivism were dominant among the people. Shaivism means belief in the superiority of Shiva over all other Hindu gods. The tenth century witnessed Muslim merchants traveling from the Middle East to this region that led a number of people of Champa to convert to Islam. At that time, Champa was one of the most important means of communication for spice trading began in the Persian Gulf and terminated to the South China. Later on, the Muslim traders passed the Indochina region to meet the needed aloe Vera. Despite the long battles between Cambodia and Champa, it is seen that there were commercial relations and cultural exchanges between the two regions, and sometimes their rulers had marriage bonds. Champa people had also commercial and cultural relations with the Srivijaya powerful Navy Imperial (Sumatra, Indonesia) and then with Majapahit (current Java in Indonesia) in Melayu region.
1) Milton Walter Meyer, Asia: A Concise History, 1997, Page 63.
2) Nguyễn Khắc Viện, Vietnam, a Long History, 2002, Page 107.
People living in Minangkabau in Sumatra- Indonesia believe that their ancestors have come from Champa to that land and their main ancestor was a man named Campo Harimau (Champa Tiger). Harimav campus with Datuak Suri Dirajo (an ancestor of Minangkabav) An Giang Muslim are the founders of the Indonesian martial arts called silk (Silat). Evidence found in Aceh, Indonesia, show that the culture of Champa was prevailed in Indonesia and even the Chammy language as the main language of the people of Aceh was used especially in Aceh Besar, Byron Pidie, Aceh Utara, Kota Lhokseumawe, Aceh Timur, Aceh Barat, Aceh Barat Daya, Aceh Jaya and Aceh Barat Daya Aceh Jaya.
Legal Status of Champa
Vietnam government is reluctant to enter into a dispute about the South China Sea and discussion about the human rights violations of the ethnic minorities in Vietnam such as the events of 2001 and 2004 with huge killings followed by the introduction of the regional autonomy of Cham from the Vietnamese government which lost the region since 1832 AD.
The Vietnamese government has always attempted to destroy the evidence of the Chammy civilization, art, and culture; to set up farms on Cham temples, to prevent the Chammy religious activities, and to remove the name of a Chammy center called Levi Song destroyed in 1832 AD from the history books. Even the name of the city has been eliminated from textbooks and advertising leaflets for foreign tourists too. The people in Cham compared to other areas in Vietnam are so poor that they do not have drinking water and electricity, they generally live in muddy non-standard houses. Despite the fact that people of Cham are local, it is seen that the Vietnamese government has recognized them as a minority and not the local residents. The government has imposed many limitations over the people of Cham either Muslims or Hindu residents such as restrictions on their religious ceremonies. It has even eliminated their land ownership and deprived them to observe their customs. Despite the desire of the Chammy Hindus, it is seen that temples and worshiping centers in Cham have been converted to tourist centers to attract more foreign tourists which has added the Hindus dissatisfaction. Many events happened in 2010 and 2013 in the villages of Thành Tín and Phươc Nhơn where the Cham people were living in. Some of them were killed in clashes with the government of Vietnam. In 2012, the Vietnamese police attacked a Chammy mosque in the village of Chow Giang. They stole the power generator of the mosque and raped the Chammy Muslim girls. Cham Muslims in the Mekong Delta were under economic pressures of the Vietnam government and experience an extreme level of poverty. The Vietnamese government has tried to settle down the King Vietnamese who constitute the absolute majority of the population in that land in order to change the structure of the land by this organized migration. The Vietnamese government has also tried to prevent religious minorities to freely hold their religious ceremonies.
Hinduism and Buddhism
Champa people served Hinduism before their land was occupied by the great emperor of Vietnam called Trần Thánh Tông in 1471 AD. They were interested in the Hindu religion and culture more than other things. Champa Hinduism tended to Shivaism known to worship Shiva. This school had been combined with native elements such as worship of the goddess of the Earth called Yan PO Nagar. The most important symbols of Shivaism are liṅgam, mukhaliṅga, jaṭāliṅga, the segmented liṅga and kośa.
- Lingual or Lingam is a black stone that is the symbol of Shiva. Cham kings used to put the Linga stone as the main image of the royal temples. The name given to the stoney column by the king of Cham was the name of the king and the suffix Eśvara meant Shiva.
Lingas Lâm Đồng -Vietnam
Mukhalinga is a linguine where the image of Shiva is
Visible in the form of a human image or face.
Mukhalinga in Tibet
Jatalinga is a longing who has a specified hair style.
Vietnam Jatalinga- alloy of gold and silver
Lingo is a stone column segmented into three parts to represent the three facets of those of Hindu and or Trimurti gods. The lower cubic-shaped part is the symbol of Brahma, Vishnu symbol is seen in the octagonal middle part, and the upper part with its spherical shape is the symbol of Vishnu. In Hinduism, “any cosmic act of creation, maintenance and destruction” is done by Brahma as the creator, Vishnu as the keeper and Shiva as the devastator. All of it is called “Triple Unity” or “Great Trinity”. One of its aspects is the graphics in which a man’s body has three heads, each looks in one direction.
Kośa is a metal cylinder to protect Linga. One of the characteristics of Cham Shivaism is to allocate Kośa to one lineage. The Cham kings used to choose a name for Kośa in the same way that they used to do so for Linga.
Quang Nam Age
7-8 century AD
In the ninth and tenth centuries AD, Hindu religion was replaced by Buddhism among the people of Cham because the Dong Duong government of Indraputra Empire (in Chuang region, current name of Quảng Nam in current Vietnam) had chosen Mahayana Buddhism as its religion.It was early in the tenth century AD when Hinduism once again dominated over Cham. Many of Hinduism art works found in Mỹ Sơn, Khuong, Trà Kiệu, Chanh Lo and Thap Mam belong to this historical period.
Cham Islamic Period
Historians attribute Cham ethnic people to Melayu, but about one third of this ethnic is a mix of people of Cham, Melayu, Khmer, Minang, Arabs and Chinese. Historians believe that the first messenger of the third Uthman Caliph to the Chinese Tang Empire in 650 AD was the starting point of China's familiarity with Islam. But obviously the arrivals of the Muslim sailors in the first city in South China, that is Khanfo or Canton, could be possible through the coastal towns of Melayu Peninsula, i.e., Melaka and the coastal areas of the Champa Empire in the West of current Vietnam. The first evidence of the existence of Islam in this region dates back to the China Song Empire based on which some evidence related to the presence of Muslims in Champa in the tenth century AD have been reported. So we can say that after the tenth century AD, Islam has been developed among the people of Cham. Perhaps the Indian traders had also played a large role in propagating Islam among the Hindus living in Cham, because on their ways to the Persian Gulf, the south coast of India, Sumatra in Indonesia and Melaka in Malaysia to the South China coast in Canton, their ships were sailing to Vietnam and played their role in transporting passengers as well as the Iranian and Arab businessmen.
The Champa Empire fell in 1471 AD and led the people of Champa to increase their communication with the people of Melaka in Malaysia. In the seventeenth century, when the royal family converted to Islam, people of Cham followed them and accepted Islam instead of Hinduism and Buddhism. The most important period of orientation to Islam by the people of Champa was from 1607 to 1676 AD when the king of Champa accepted Islam as his religion. Over the centuries, this land has become smaller and smaller until it disappears generally in the territory of present Vietnam. During the Mine Mong era, the ruling of Vietnam, people of Champa were living under so hard condition that Po Chen, the last ruling of Champa decided to migrate his people to the current Cambodian territory. It should be noted that not all the Muslims of Cham migrated rather some of them now live in different provinces such as Nha Trang, Phan Rang, Phan Ri and Phan Thit in current Vietnam. Since their residence center was far from the places where Muslims of Cham were living, their beliefs and customs followed a little bit of Hinduism and Buddhism. As a result of these pressures, Champa coastal residents also moved to Terengganu in Malaysia which is a village called Kampong Cham. Due to these pressures, people of Champa in Vietnam settled down around the Mekong River and formed 13 Muslim resident villages in Cham. But these Muslims sent their children to Klantan in Malaysia to learn the holy Quran and Islamic teachings. When these children learnt Islamic teachings they returned to their villages and taught Islam to others. Other factors that maintain the religious identity of the Cham Muslims in those 13 villages around the Mekong River was the religious propaganda by the Malaysian businessmen who were passing along the River and teaching them the Islamic teachings.
Most of the people in Cham had already been Muslim when Cham was attached to current Vietnam. Most of these people were divided between Hinduism and Islam. The difference is that more Vietnamese Chammies are Hindu while Cambodian Chammies are more Muslims. Here the Buddhists minority is still seen among these religions in Cham. The Chammy and Malay minorities in Cambodia are Muslims and most of them are Shafei Sunnis. The population of Cambodian Muslims is 300,000 and they mainly live in the province of Kampong, Cham.
According to the documents of the fifteenth century AD, the royal family had converted to Islam due to the influence of the Queen Darawati from Cham on her husband, Kertawijaya, as the seventeenth ruler of Majapahit in Indonesia. Located in West Java in Indonesia, the center of Majapahit government is the host of an Islamic-style grave called Putri Champa which belongs to the Queen of Champa. In the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, Cham Muslims had close relationships with the sultan of Aceh through family marriages. The kingdom was located in North Sumatra from where Islam was promoted to other parts of Indonesia. According to linguistic studies, it can be said that the Chammy and Aceh languages originated from the same family which is called Aceh-Chammy.
Unlike the land of Dai Viet (Vietnam), people of Cham did not rely on agriculture in their economic life. The people of the Cham, who were mainly sailors, were very active and had a strong economic network not only in the major ports in the region such as Hội An and Thi Nai, but also in the neighboring mountainous areas.
Drilling numerous wells to obtain drinking water in different regions of Cham, also the foreign ships anchoring in Cham coast as well as the islands of Cu Lao Cham and Ly Son Cham were all in the service of Cham sailors and the regional economic development1. More exports of Champa people were the natural mountain products from Champa to the southernmost point of Laos, i.e., Attapeu. These products were mainly gold, silver, slaves, animals and precious woods. The main export of the region is an aromatic material, Eaglewood. The Italian traveler Marco Polo as well as the Arab merchant Suleiman had reported this issue in the past centuries. This type of wood is the most expensive and most valuable 'gum tree' in the world. This kind of tree is the result of the defense mechanism of Aquilaria in response to a fungal or bacterial attack to protect the wounded parts of the tree (roots, branches or the trunk) which should not be confused with incense. Aquilaria is a plant with fifteen species of Thymelaeaceae trees that grows in the Southeast Asia, especially in the rain forests of Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia.
Remains of Cham Civilization
Mỹ Sơn is considered as the most important and the biggest ancient work center of Cham near Hoi Hội. Much of the region was destroyed during the invasion of America in Vietnam by the US fighter jets. The center has been reconstructed with the help of charitable organizations and different countries. Chammy columns in different regions of Vietnam are still existed, such as Po Nagar and Po Klaung Garai. Networks of drilling wells are still used to supply drinking water and the remains of the foreign ships in the area are still seen. Cham wells are square. The most important things that have been discovered so far are kept in Da Nang Museum (Musée Henri Parmentier) in the coastal city of Da Nang. The museum was built by the French in 1915 and is known as one of the best museums in South East Asia. Other relevant museums are the Museum of Fine Arts in Hanoi, Hanoi History Museum, Museum of Fine Arts in Saigon and Guimet Museum in Paris.
1. Jean Boisselier, La statuaire du Champa, Paris: École Française d'Extrême-Orient, 1963
2. David P. Chandler, A History of Cambodia, Boulder: Westview Press, 1992
3. Emmanuel Guillon Cham Art, London: Thames & Hudson.
4. Hardy, Andrew (2009): 'Eaglewood and the Economic History of Champa and Central Vietnam' in Hardy, Andrew et al.: Champa and the Archeology of My Son (Vietnam). NUS Press, Singapore.
5. Jean-François Hubert The Art of Champa, Parkstone Press.
6. Lê Thành Khôi, Histoire du Vietnam des origines à 1858, Paris: Sudestasie, 1981.
7. Georges Maspero, Le royaume de Champa, Paris: Van Ouest, 1928. This work, perhaps the most thorough in the use of primary sources to reconstruct the history of Champa, has been translated into English by Walter E.J. Tips under the title, The Champa Kingdom: The History of an Extinct Vietnamese Culture, Bangkok: White Lotus Press, 2002.
8. Ngô Vǎn Doanh, Champa: Ancient Towers, Hanoi: Thế Giới Publishers, 2006
9. Ngô Vǎn Doanh, Mỹ Sơn Relics, Hanoi: Thế Giới Publishers, 2005.
10. Scott Rutherford, Insight Guide — Vietnam (Ed.), 2006 ISBN 981-234-984-7.
11. D. R. Sardesai, Vietnam, Trials and Tribulations of a Nation Long Beach Publications, 1988 ISBN 0-941910-04-0.
12. Michael Vickery, 'Champa Revised' ARI Working Paper, No. 37, 2005, www.nus.ari.edu.sg/pub/wps.htm.
13. Geoff Wade, 'Champa in the Song hui-yao' ARI Working Paper, No. 53, 2005, www.nus.ari.edu.sg/pub/wps.htm
14. Hourani, George F. (1979) 'Arab Seafaring' Princeton University Press, New Jersey.
15. Tarling, Nicholas (1992) 'The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia' Vol.1 Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Ho Chi Minh Mosque
Ho Chi Minh Muslim Mosque
In the mid-nineteenth century, a large number of Cambodia Cham Muslims emigrated to the Mekong River region to strengthen the Cham Muslim community in Vietnam. In the early twentieth century, Malaysia played an important role in promoting Islam in Cham, many Islamic books sent from Malaysia to that region, the Malaysian scholars were sent to give speeches in the mosques in the Malay language, and a large number of Cham children and teenagers were sent to study in Malaysia. Cham Muslims and Hindus formed Cham Liberation Front (Front de Liberation du Champa, FLC) under the command of one of the commanders of the Muslim Kingdom of Cambodia called Colonel Les Kosem (from the Cham ethnic) to fight with the government of Vietnam and to gain independence for Cham in North and South Vietnam. Colonel Kosem and Cham Liberation Front united with Montagnard (mountain people of Vietnam - Degar) and Khmer Krom for Cham independence. With the establishment of the socialist government of Vietnam in 1976, 55,000 of Cham Muslims emigrated to Malaysia, 1,750 of the people went to Yemen and settled in Taiz. Muslim tourists traveling to Vietnam in 1981 pointed to freedom of talking and even praying with Cham Muslims. In another report in 1985, we see that majority of the Muslim community in Ho Chi Minh is composed of of Cham ethnic and different people of Indonesia, Pakistan, Yemen, Oman and North Africa and at that time their population was 10,000 individuals. Separation of Vietnam Muslims from other Islamic societies led them to live in extreme poverty of intellectual and religious schools and mosques. It has been seen that some of these Muslims have expressed particular interest in Imam Ali; and even, according Sunnis, some of them know Imam Ali (as) the Son of God. But these documentations of words cannot be trusted. The biased people have given a distorted report about the Chammy people’s tendency to Shiite. Vietnam's largest mosque was built in January 2006 in the Đồng Nai province with the help of Saudi Arabia. A census in Vietnam in April 1999 found that the number of Muslims in the country was about 63,146. More than 77% of them are living in the southeast region (34% in the province of Ninh Thuận and 24% of them in Bình Thun); 9% of them are living in Ho Chi Minh and 22% of them are resident in the Mekong Delta particularly in An Giang province. Only one percent of Vietnam's Muslims live in different cities. Gender differences (male and female) of Vietnam Muslims are about 2%, but in 'Giang' Muslim women are 7.5% more than Muslim men. Distribution of Vietnam Muslim population in different years has differed. Before 1975 AD, about half of Vietnam Muslims were living on the sidelines of the Mekong Delta; and since 1985, the number of Muslims in Ho Chi Mine has been reported about 10,000. In a statistical report of the 54,775 Vietnamese Muslims aged more than 5 years old, about 13,516 (25%) of them go to school, 26,134 of them (48%) had already gone to school, and the rest of them (15,121, 27%) have never had an education. The statistics show that the illiteracy of Muslims compared with other religions are in the second place. That is, 22% of male and 32% of female Muslims are illiterate.
The Role of Regional Islamic Da'wah Council of Southeast Asia and the Pacific (RISEAP) and Saudi Arabia's Al-Alam in Promoting Religious Extremism in Vietnam
Regional Islamic Da'wah Council of Southeast Asia and the Pacific (RISEAP) in Malaysia and Saudi Arabia's Al-Alam play a major role in the influence of religious radicalism in Vietnam. The Council, in collaboration with the Malaysian Islamic Charitable Organization (Perkim) and Saudi’s Al-Alam, was founded following the conference in 11-14 January 1980 in Kuala Lumpur. The main purpose of this regional council has been the influence of religious movements in the style of Saudi Arabia in East Asia. The Council began its official activity on the third of Muharram 1401 AH (11 November 1980). It hosted members from 17 countries: Malaysia, Myanmar, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, the Philippines, Brunei, Singapore, Indonesia, Neo Guinea, New Caledonia, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. Tunko Abdul Rahman Putra Haji was the president of the Council until 1988. One of his activities was to bring together all the minorities in East Asia and the Pacific with the slogan 'serve the Muslim minority' under the advertising banner of Malaysia with the help of Saudi Arabia. Datuk Patingi Abdul Talib Mahmoud, Sarawak Chief Minister and Federal Minister, has been the head of the council after Abdul Rahman. The council now has 44 regular members and 10 guests from 22 countries. One of the tasks of the council formed with the help of Saudi Arabia Alrabitah has been to publish Islamic books and promote religious beliefs among Cham Muslims in Vietnam. The council has also run regular programs by the contribution of Saudi Alrabitah to impress the Vietnamese scholars, religious students and imams in recent years. Nick Shahriman Nick Mat and Mohammad Ferdous Abdullah were the masters sent by the Council to Tay Ninh Vietnam on 24-29 April, 2011. Within a week, 30 Imams and missionaries of six mosques participated in the advertising courses of the Council. The opening ceremony of this course was in the Nour-al Islam Mosque in Kabak village on April 24th in Tay Ninh province located in 150 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh. The program was run by Haji Hamza Mohammed Zain, the head of the Islamic Association of Thai Ninh, as the presidency of the ceremony with his deputy Mr. Haji Mat Razali and the representatives of the province in Vietnam. Haji Mat Razali received a certificate of teacher training programs from the Regional Islamic Da'wah Council of Southeast Asia and the Pacific in 2009. In addition to the traditional teachings such as Quran, Hadith, giving a sermon at Friday Prayers and rituals of burial; we see that the council concentrates on the Vietnamese Muslim scholars’ education to learn modern management systems and personnel making. And one of its strategic objectives is to train highly qualified individuals for the leadership of the Islamic Ummah. These teachings are taking place in a village in Cham-Vietnam. More than 4,000 Muslims are living in seven villages of the area. Interestingly, this organization was a partner of Saudi Alrabitah in 2010 to train religious personnel and run programs to educate imams and missionaries in Ho Chi Minh where 30 imams of the mosques in Vietnam had participated. The Council, in cooperation with the Muslim community in Ho Chi Minh and by the presidency of Haji Idris Ismail has implemented the program. This was the second program to train religious personnels under the supervision of Haji Mahmoud Marzougi Omar, the Secretary General of the Regional Islamic Da'wah Council of Southeast Asia and the Pacific in Vietnam.
The Council has announced that soon other programs in other provinces will be held for Imams in Vietnam. The council has also said that soon it will implement some plans to promote the teachings for Muslims in Cambodia and Vietnam. It should be noted that the Council organizes the program in close cooperation with Saudi Alrabitah which has long experience in promoting religious extremism. Recently, Haji Mohammad Marzougi Omar and Mohammed Shafiq Ong, the executive deputy of the general secretary of the Council travelled to Thi Ninh province to review its future plans, to get acquainted with the region and its people to decide its future programs. Other advertising and organizational programs of the Council was to invite scholars and religious leaders in Vietnam to pass Imam training courses in Kuala Lumpur. These programs were held by Cha Hoa Heir in 2001, known as the Jewel, and Rouzlinda Ismail; Sanavi Ibrahim in 2000; Saleh Ali in 2001; Abdul Rahman in 2003; Dimalux in 2001; and Ahmed Atri, Mohammad Amin and Abdul Rahman in 2009.
Vietnam Mufti Mohammad Omar Ali, who had lived in Saudi Arabia for many years, learnt the Qur'an, hadith and the Arabic language by the narrators and scholars of religion in Mecca and got married to one of the Arab girls; has played a major role in promoting religious ideas based on Salafi teachings in Vietnam. Then he and his wife came back to Vietnam that led a large number of Vietnamese women learnt religious teachings from the Sheikh's wife and be interested in her intellectual trends. For example, Sheikh Mohammad Hussein, the religious advisor of the Muslim population of Vietnam in Paris in 1970, together with Sheikh Mukhtar Davood (living in America) went to the University of Aljamiah al-Islamyh in Medina to learn the religious teachings of Saudi Arabia and are now promoting religious Salafi thoughts in Paris. Therefore, it should not be expected from this type of training to promote the spirit of friendship and peaceful coexistence with Muslims and Christians in their classrooms. Sheikh Hadli Osman, the president of the Islamic Association of Cham in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh), travelled to Saudi in 1968 to set the stage for the Vietnamese youth to study in there. He could receive two scholarships for Sheikh Mohammed Hussein and Sheikh Mukhtar Dawood to study at the University of Aljamiah al-Islamiyah in Medina. Vietnam war in 1975 with the victory of the North over the South made Sheikh Mohammed Hussein unable to come back home after graduation, and that is why he decided to move to France and teach the Vietnamese children and youth in there. A year after the arrival of Sheikh Mohammed Hussein to Medina, a man called Mohammed Essa from Vietnam entered in Aljamiah al-Islamiyah in Medina. After graduation, he joined to Rabitah al-Alam al-Islami, Malaysia branch, and now he is one of the Vietnamese scholars and missionaries living in Malaysia. The Vietnamese youth such as Saleh Haroun (living in Paris) and his friend Ahmed Abdul Ali Musa (living in America) all graduated from Aljamiah al-Islamyiah and do their missions based on the teachings of Saudi Arabia in various countries. They may be considered the first Vietnamese who based on training in Saudi Arabia forgot their traditional customs and promote Salafism.
Chau Doc, Vietnam
From the days of French colonialism in Vietnam up to the end of the Vietnam War in 1973, many Cham Muslims were forced to go military services. Ho Chi Minh defeat made the ethnic autonomous of Cham Muslims impossible; and Cham leaders of the communist regime were sent to mandatory training camps or be executed. The French orientalists have presented distorted interpretations of the demands of the Cham Muslims. The Vietnamese government and foreign orientalists have tried to portray the culture and customs of the Cham people very strange and sometimes backward to West. Vietnam Cham Muslims are a racial minority who has found it difficult to get autonomy and follows its own local and religious customs; and the government has used a variety of policies to change the ethnicity context, such as the forced migration of the Vietnamese to predominantly Muslim areas, to modernize traditional Muslim areas, to impose military pressures, to extract natural resources and to distort the events. The government pressures to marginalize this Muslim ethnic and absorb it in the dominant culture in Vietnam is continuing. Human and social rights of Cham Muslims have been ignored; and in the light of globalization, they have become an ethnic minority in Vietnam. Cham Muslims have been presented in public and the media as backward, poor, and low culture people. This group of Muslims has always been considered as second class citizens faced with great discrimination; and whenever they object, they do not get any result. Ethnic minorities in Vietnam are deprived of their basic rights and are faced with the political and military pressures. Vietnam Muslims still fight to gain their lost dignity and look for a way out of this crisis to gain their lost identity. According to some estimates, Vietnam Muslims are 72,000 of a 91 million population country; and some of them do not still feel themselves as a part of the Vietnam big community and many of them feel themselves as strangers in the country. Sometimes some Buddhists of Vietnam humiliate the Muslims to deal with their avoidance of eating pork. The issue of wearing hijab in Vietnam considered one of the problems of Muslim girls, because if they are wearing a scarf at work, they will be challenged by their Buddhist employers. After the Vietnam War in 1975 AD, many Cham Muslims in Vietnam left the country to America, France, Malaysia, India, Canada and Australia, fearing the socialist government. Now Vietnam's Muslims live in a difficult economic condition and are not capable of doing their religious ceremonies. The socialist government of Vietnam did not provide any financial assistance to Muslims, and that is why the Muslims of the region were forced to depend on the aid of their Muslim neighbors to build mosques, schools and other religious centers. Due to be far from the Islamic centers of the world, many of them do not have deep religious beliefs and are negligent to exercise their religion ceremonies and customs. Because of lack of religious schools, many Vietnam Muslims do not have enough information about the Islamic beliefs and that is why they do the customs of other religions. Also, Cham religious scholars are not good at the Arabic language and this has provided the base for tendency to religious which have stronger logic. Names such as Sadeg, Ali, Bagir and others represent a kind of attitude to Shiite among the Cham Muslims and perhaps the Iranian Shiite traders were busy in this land in past centuries. Some believe that 60 percent of Vietnam Muslims are Shiites, and it is because of the Iranian businessmen who had strong relationships with the people of Vietnam. Some of them even live in South Vietnam and have married with the Vietnamese women and have increased the number of Shiites in the country. Vietnam Shiites mourn during the martyrdom of Imam Hussein and like other Shi'ite of these areas feed the people. These customs are still continuing in that country.
Due to the rational nature and deep intellectual and philosophical arguments, the Shiite views can be grown in this country and the emergence of Shia thoughts will be strong after a while. Although the words “Vietnam” and “America defeat” have always been linked in the public mind in the world, sometimes the Western media have violence and terrorism propaganda about Vietnam and its history; and this has led to a kind of mental problems in the interaction of the Muslim world with the Vietnamese people. After the victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran and the defeat of America in its attack to Tabas, Vietnam has had a good name in the minds of the Iranian revolutionaries as a symbol of resistance and struggle against colonialism and arrogance of America and West and the popular union, despite such positive aspects of the Iranian public mind, there is little evidence of introducing the Islamic rationalism schools against traditional Asharism. It seems that we have provided the ground for the influence of the extremist thoughts of Saudi Arabia and their supporters in Malaysia due to insufficient financial resources and information about the religious context of the region.
The region 8 in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon metropolis) includes about 1,300 Muslims, the area has a big mosque, halal restaurants and a religious school, and oftentimes their children are sent to study in Malaysia. UNESCO has registered the Mi Sen temple near Da Nang as one of the most important centers of world heritage. Some believe that 80 percent of Vietnam's Cham people have converted to Islam and Vietnam government officials have considered Muslims the smallest religious minority of the six religions in the country; while Buddhism is the largest religion. Vietnam Catholics dispute with the government about the ownership of their lands, and some Buddhist groups also complain of the government measures against themselves and the Muslims enjoy less status of their rights. Haji Musa, 52 year old, is the deputy principal of the Islamic school. He says: 'We just pay attention to religious issues, we do not care political events'. He is good at the Malay language and knows a little about the Arabic language. He says: 'There is more than a dozen of mosque imams in Ho Chi Minh who have been trained in Vietnam. The non-Vietnamese Imams also visit the region, most of them are sent from Malaysia. The Holy Quran has been translated and published in the Vietnamese language”. He wears collarless shirt and sarong and has lived in region 8 of the city since 1960. An Giang province on the sidelines of the Mekong Delta, where Chow Duke is located, is the place of residence of many Cham Muslims in Vietnam who have migrated over time to the region 8 of Saigon. At first, Cham Muslims’ houses had been built of wood and thatch in the region 8 of the city, then electricity was introduced in that area in 1990, and later a bridge for communication between the district and the city center was built, and a little more urban facility was brought to the area. According to the people, in Ho Chi Minh 16 mosques were built mostly with the help of international Islamic organizations. The plaque installed on the facade of the Mosque of al-Anwar reads: 'The mosque was built In 2006 with the help of the United Arab Emirates and the Red Cross.' Some Arab countries have helped the Cham Muslims, but Indonesia and Malaysia have had the largest share in the material and spiritual supports due to cultural and religious similarities. Since 20 years ago, when the doors of Vietnam opened to the world and economic and political reforms carried out in the country, Malaysia has started its supports for building schools and creating jobs for Cham Muslims. Some Vietnamese people (of the Kinh race; that forms 86% of the ethnics living in Vietnam based on the 1999 census) do not have a good view towards Cham Muslims. Those Muslims, who are older, have gone for Hajj and most of them have Islamic names while their Arabic names have been registered in their ID cards. Mohammad Zackari, 22 years old, from An Giang migrated 18 months ago and settled in a school. He wants to complete his studies in Information Technology in Malaysia. One of the Muslim Youth says: 'I do not eat pork, but sometimes I spend time with my non-Muslim friends'. Another one says: 'Vietnam is not very strong in faith. I do not eat pork, but I do not pray five times a day and sometimes I drink wine and smoke cigarettes.' Interestingly, his brother and sister are working in Indonesia and Egypt, two Muslim countries. Many Cham women wear the veil and long dress in residential areas, but when they go to work, they wear jeans and do not have hijab not to be harassed by the employer. At a conference held in Vietnam on freedom of religion, Huvahauo Buddhist sect and Islam, the Communist Party and the Vietnamese government provided some plans for religious freedom. The Buddhist temple Huvahauo has brought together about 2 million adherents of this religion. The Buddhists Administrative Council holds religious education classes regularly for children. Buddhists take part widely on socioeconomic development and humanitarian activities in the region. Most of the Muslims belong to the Cham religious community. Islam is also expanding significantly in ten cities and provinces. Two committees of introducing and promoting Islam have been established in Ho Chi Minh and An Giang provinces and there are almost 79 mosques in Vietnam, mostly in the south of the country. Small towns such as Bin Toan, Nin Toan, Tai Nin, Bin Pouak, Dong Nai, Long An, Travin and An Giang are all in the south of the country and they have made a good investment to improve infrastructure of the Muslim communities. They also use bank loans with preferred interest to expand their economic activities. Nguyen Tee, the head of the State Committee for Religious Affairs, and representatives of Religious Affairs from 25 cities and provinces of the South participated in the conference. People of Cham have learned the Quran in Arabic, but they learn religious concepts mainly in the Cham and Malay languages.
In 1959, Champa Muslims grouped together in a village in the Mekong River in southern Vietnam called Ho Chi Minh with a group of Saigon Muslims consisting of Hindi, Pakistani, Malaysian, Indonesian and Arab races to reshape the Cham Muslim community. A few mosques were built in the Vån Lâm region and other regions of Central Vietnam by the Saigon Muslims. Buddhist monks have a special sensitivity to the spread of Islam in Vietnam. There has always been a competition and sensitivity between North Vietnam with the most Buddhists population and the South which is mostly residential by Muslims which has led to several conflicts throughout the history:
- The first phase was during 875-947 AH (1470-1540 AD) when Buddhists in the north with the help of China and Thailand attacked to one of the centers named Champa Vijaya and killed 60,000 Muslims and captured 30,000 of them, of course some of the Muslims moved to Hanoi; while 50 of them were from Champa ruling family.
-The second phase occurred within 947-1060AH (1540-1650AD) when Buddhists of North entered into Kavtahara and beat the Chammy ruler of that region.
-The third stage was in 1060-1237AH (1650-1821AD) when the Champa government was weak and Champa people were forced to move to Panduranga area; therefore, many Vietnamese moved to the green land of Cham which was very important for agriculture to replace Muslims and change the religious context of the region from Islam to Buddhism.
-The fourth stage started in 1238 AH (1822 AD) when the northern forces dominated over the Champa. It has continued up to the present.
In this operation, many agricultural lands of Cham Muslims were occupied by the north Vietnamese and people of Cham forced to migrate from their ancestral lands. Many of them requested political asylum of Cambodia and welcomed by the Cambodian government. A number of the Cham people migrated to other countries.
The history has registered black pages of the Buddhists invasion over Vijaya Muslims and the mass murder of the innocent people. France, which had colonized Vietnam during 1274-1300AH (1858-1883AD) not only did not help the Muslims, but also helped the north Buddhists and organized violence against the Muslim minority. That is why the French colonial era is considered a difficult time for the Muslims in Cham. With the domination of communism in 1975 AD all over Vietnam, from North to South, Cham Muslims experienced harder days than the past.
The communist regime imposed all kinds of tyranny and oppression over the Vietnamese Muslims and the Cham tribes, who had the most important green areas for agriculture, became poor and weak under the pressure of communism, because the government occupied their lands and they were forced to move to remote areas. Vietnam's communist regime tried all the time to expand its dominance over the entire nation so that the Muslims could not achieve leading positions in the country. The most part of the Vietnamese Muslims immigrated in 1970; more than 20 thousand Muslims moved to Malaysia and Indonesia and 10 thousand of them went to France, America and other European countries, and more than 5 thousand of the people were forced to migrate to Australia. One of the most brutal massacres of the people by the communist regime occurred in Huế, as a result of which thousands of Muslims were buried alive in mass graves, their houses were burned and many of them were forced to migrate to other countries. Prior to the regime, there were a total of 400 mosques in Vietnam; but the government destroyed 100 of them and now there are only 300 of them. Materialist thinking of the Communist Party of Vietnam destroyed the body of religion so that many Muslims had limited Islam only to mention it and were not so familiar with the teachings of Islamic religious rituals. After opening the doors of Vietnam and changing the government policies, the Muslims again got freedom and could teach religious faith to their children in schools and mosques and teach Muslims to recover their religious identity. But the resurgence of thought among Muslims is always faced with challenges that are more or less common in most parts of the world and that is the influx of Salafi and Wahhabi thoughts with the support of countries like Saudi Arabia. And poor Muslims in these areas have had to accept the supports of Saudi Arabia to build mosques and schools and send their children to study in Saudi universities. The result of this exercise in front of the Wahhabism was the change of traditional beliefs of the Vietnamese Muslims to Wahhabism and ignorance of Ahle Zahir, Ahle Hadith, reason and logic. If common sense and logic are forbidden for Muslims, the ground will be ready for any misleading interpretation of the religion and origination of extremist movements and terrorist activities in the name of Islam. Young Cham Muslims, who had gone to Saudi Arabia to study at universities such as Umm Al-Qura and Jamiat-al-Madinah since the beginning of 1970, have been easily influenced by the excommunicating thoughts. They will prepare the ground for the Wahhabi ideas once they arrive in Vietnam because to be able to live they have no choice but to trust the Saudi financial resources and to promote their thought. Another problem these Salafi youth face is lack of the spirit of peaceful life with Christians and Buddhists and other religious faith such as Shiites. And experience in other Arab countries has shown that graduates from Saudi Arabia upon arrival in their country have problems with Christians and these people have been under the pressure of death threats and acts of terrorism. These graduated individuals accuse all Islamic sects for blasphemy and heresy; and they believe in the Wahhabi sect as the only savior. Contrary to this Salafi movement, it is seen that the Sunnis of Vietnam have traditionally friendly relationship with non-Sunni sects such as the Shiite Muslims and even family relations have been established between them. These Muslims have experienced a peaceful life with other nations of Buddhist and Hindu in the history. They know that the wars between them and non-Muslims have been due to intervention of politicians, foreign governments and the communist regimes; and a few indigenous Muslims have hatred in their heart towards non-Muslim to commit violence.
Vietnamese Muslims in France
It is said that 6,000 Vietnamese Muslims live in Paris and about 4,000 others live in other French cities in rather poor conditions. Also, their religious programs in the Vietnamese mosque are not so promoted. The Vietnamese Islamic population in France has recently been registered in that country. This population has been organized by Sheikh Mohammed Hussein and Sheikh Saleh Haroun since the Vietnamese immigration from 1980 to the present. In order not to forget the Vietnamese identity, a lot of efforts have been made in America, Australia, Malaysia and France to translate the religious texts into the Vietnamese language. According to information on sending students to other countries, it seems that in recent years a large number of the Vietnamese young Muslims have been sent to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Malaysia and Kuwait in a way that they have been in contact with extremist and excommunication thoughts. The Cham Muslim population in France has maintained its contacts with the Vietnamese people, and collecting donations and help from the rich, it has provided the religious books and the necessary training for their people.
Advertising strategies of Religious Extremists in Vietnam
The most important plans of Saudi Arabia to change the religious context of Vietnam are as follows:
- Pressure on the Vietnamese government to give more freedom to the Muslims to contact with the Cham Muslim immigrants out of Vietnam,
-Pressure on the Vietnamese government to establish the relationship between the Muslims of Vietnam and religious institutions in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar,
- Pressure on the government of Vietnam to allow Saudi religious missionaries to enter into Muslim residential areas of Vietnam,
-To make efforts to explain the situation of the Muslims in Vietnam and their economic, cultural, and religious problems through the media and advertising social networks related to Saudi Arabia,
-Pressure on the Vietnamese government through the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Rabital al-Alam al-Islami of Saudi Arabia's to remove the economic and educational barriers that Muslims of Vietnam face in life and to improve their economic and educational status,
-To give college scholarships to the Vietnamese youth to be Saudi missionaries in Vietnam after coming back home,
-Saudi investment in predominantly Muslim areas of Vietnam, because the Vietnam government has provided some incentives in recent years for investment of rich countries in Vietnam and Saudi Arabia can use this opportunity to influence the Muslim areas of Vietnam to make them dependent on the capital of Saudi Arabia. In addition, Saudi companies can use Vietnam cheap labor, higher education level and innate intelligence of its people to take advantage of investment growth and higher profits. America and global big companies also use this situation for their profits and have moved their factories to Vietnam.
Champa Ethnics in Malay Culture and Myths
In the Malay language, the word “Cham” is used as “Cam” and the word “Champa” is used in the form of “Campa”. The Malay myths and stories (Hikayats) have not mentioned the name of Cham ethnics. For example, the story of Raja Pasai describes the contact with alien races such as Java, China, India and the Middle East, but there is no mention of Cham ethnics. But the Melayu history called Sejarah Melayu has quoted some stories of Cham and Champa. According to these stories, the Cham sailors called as “Champa Capitain” used to stay a long time in Melaka and they were considered important merchants. These documents refer to the residents of Cham as Cham's population in Melaka. According to these documents, after the defeat of Champa in front of the King of Kuci (Vietnamese), two of the princes of Champa escaped together with their fans. The princes were known as Indera Berma Syah and Syah Palembang. When the king Palembang went to Aceh in Indonesia, he chose Indera Berma King, the king of Melaka, as his sanctuary. Sultan Mansur, the king of Malaysia, asked King Indera Berma to convert to Islam and become Muslim. The Cham escaped prince also accepted Islam and was selected as the minister of Sultan Mansur. Accordingly, it can be said that the Cham community in Melaka dates back to 1459- 1477 AD. Historians believe that the defeat of Champa in Vijaya in 1471 was the beginning of the connection between the Cham ethnic and the Malay ethnic, and this date is consistent with the report registered in the Melayu history. The second point is that the Cham ethnic migration has started since 1471 AD, which was the 'era of commerce” (1450-1680 AD). The Cham immigrants have played an important role in the Melaka International Trade in Indochina. It is written in the Melayu History that a Cham sailor Saeedi Ahmed went to Pahang in Malaysia and Hong Nadim from Melaka established a close friendship with him. It seems that Saeedi Ahmad had a lot of information about the people of Melaka and nobody else had more knowledge in this field. According to this history, Saeedi Ahmad played a major role in the development of the commercial cooperations between Melaka and Indochina region. Portuguese historical sources believe that the commercial relations of Melaka with Cambodia have been developed in the second half of the 15th century. So it is not unlikely that the 'Golden Age of Business' of Melaka has a lot of relationships with the immigration of Champa people. Furthermore, there is evidence on the relationship between the Cham people and the north especially in Klantan, Malaysia. Pangkalan Chapa and Kampong Chapa (village of Cham) villages are in that region of Malaysia. There are several works about the Cham people in the area that include clothing, fabrics, hair fashion, arms and paddy fields. For example, in Klantan- Malaysia there is a cloth called Tanjak Chapa and a fabric called Sutra Chapa and Kian Chapa. Also, there is a dagger called Chris Chapa (Chammy dagger) and Sangul Chapa (Chammy haircut) in Klantan.
Some believe that the mosque in the village of Lavet was built by one of the sailors who was frequently travelling in that area. Perhaps the relationship between Cham and Melayu ethnics could be divided into four periods:
- From the beginning up to 1471 AD,
- From the failure of Vijaya in 1471AD and its feat in 1692 AD,
- From 1693Ad until 1835AD when the subsidiary government of Vietnam was in power, and
- From 1835AD until the present time.
The famous traveler Ibn Battuta (703- 779 AH / 1304-1377AD) named an area called Tuvalsy. He had met Arduja the princess of the region. He had written an interesting report about the event. He had gone from Kalikoot to Maldive islands, where he got married and a judiciary position was awarded to him. Then he went to the Molouk island and within his 70-day stay there, he got married twice. In the second half of 745 AD, he left the island to Ceylon. He then came back to Maldive and from there he went to Bngaleh, north of India and Tuvalsy where he stayed 17 days and then left it to the beach of China and entered Canton. There is no doubt that Tuvalsy was Champa on the way to Canton, although some historians have doubt about the existence of such a place. Ibn Battuta reported that the people of that area were not Muslims and that is why he had never eaten their food. Ibn Battuta writes: 'When I got to the princess she welcomed me in Turkish and asked me to sit down beside her. The Princess was good at Arabic writing, she ordered one of the servants to bring ink and paper. The Princess wrote on the paper “بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم” and asked me what was that and I replied ‘the name of God. She said ‘good’”. These statements of Ibn Battuta show that the Princess of Cham was Muslim; otherwise, how she could master the Arabic language, she was good at Turkish also. Thus, no one can find words of blasphemy of Princess Arduja in the report of Ibn Battuta. The remained evidence of French colonialism in Vietnam show that lots of correspondences between people of Cham and Melayu ethnics have been found in the archives; and the French evangelical missionaries have provided reports about the Malay religious missionaries who were inviting people of Cham to Islam. Of course, it is also possible that the Malay people participated in the war of Cham against Vietnamese and had organized many liberation movements against Vietnam authorities. The French documents indicate that the Malay language (Bahasa Melayu) was used in the center of Vietnam and the people of Malaysia played an important role in promoting Islam among Cham people. In 1471 AD and after the defeat of Vijaya, the Cham ethnic groups migrated to Cambodia and had a close relationship with the Malay ethnic in trading exchanges. The most trades between the Cham and Malay ethnic groups have been reported from the second half of the 15th century onwards. At the same time, many Malay people emigrated to Cambodia. In the late 16th century, a strong military force of the Malay ethnic was formed in Cambodia. The Malay army went to Champa in the present Vietnam to support the people of Cham and fight with their enemies. A Malay general called Laksamana could defeat the Spanish, Portuguese and Japanese occupiers of Champa. This nobleman was from Johor in southern Malaysia. By the early 18th century, the Malay language was being used in Cambodia. Since the early 17th century, close business relationships were seen between the Malay and Lausanne ethnics. The Malay ships were competing hard for German East India Company (VOC) in the transport of goods from India to China. The policies of Cambodia governors in dealing with foreign traders were different from those of the Malay authorities, because the Malay traders and sailors were allowed to travel on the territory of Cambodia and get their needed goods easily, but the Malay rulers did not allow the foreign businessmen to communicate with the indigenous peoples to supply their needed goods. Malay businessmen used their freedom in Cambodia to communicate with different parts of the country with the help of Cham ethnics. In fact, the Muslims of Cham played the role of an intermediate for the influence of Malay rulers in Cambodia. The relationship between the Cham and Malay ethnics was so strong that even it was hard for the historians of Cambodia to make a distinction between these ethnics. In 1644 AD, the commander of Cambodia called Ramadhipati converted to Islam and called himself Sultan Ibrahim. At that time, the communication between Cambodia and the Malay land rose significantly. Now many stores selling perfume under the name of “Kedai Minyak Wangi” in Kuala Lumpur which is brought from Cambodia. Several restaurants also opened in Malaysia by the Cambodian immigrants and it seems that Cham ethnic has still intimate relationships with Malay people.
Vietnam Cham Youth Education in Malaysia
Economic and cultural problems of the Cham Muslims in Vietnam are so much that young people are forced to migrate to Malaysia to study in that country. Lack of religious personnels and the imams of mosques and religious schools in Vietnam has led the Muslims of this country to have a tendency to religious institutions in Malaysia to get their help; meanwhile they have been influenced by their religious attitudes. Vietnam Muslims traditionally believe in Shafi'i religion and the Ash'ari creed; and in this way they have full unity with Muslims of Malaysia. The difference is that Saudi Arabia and its Salafist thoughts and religious extremism have influenced in the body of the religious institutions in Malaysia and a group of the Malaysian Muslim youth have a tendency towards this kind of thinking. Now, organizations and institutions in Malaysia are leading the Vietnamese Muslims intellectuals who have just been liberated from the pressures of communism. These Malaysian organizations have long-standing ties with the thoughts of Saudi Arabia’s al-Alam al-Islami, Saudi funds support most of them in educational fields. The Regional Islamic Da'wah Council of Southeast Asia and the Pacific has been established and launched by with the support of Rabitah al-Alam al-Islami of Saudi.
Many Cham missionaries of Vietnam travel to Malaysia and solve their religious problems with the Malaysian promoting institutes; they are unaware of the fact that many of these Malaysian centers are far from the traditional Islamic customs and do not commit their traditional Shafi'i religion and Ash'ari beliefs. Abdul Rahman Ibrahim is one of these Cham missionaries who works for the promotion of Islam in the Islamic community in Ho Chi Minh -Vietnam and on 23 November 2011 he went to RISEAP to set the ground for dispatch of the Malaysia missionaries to Vietnam for teaching the Holy Qur'an. He not only deals with the Islamic traditional teachings and lectures in Ho Chi Minh, but also he is especially interested in training of the younger generation of Cham on the basis of the modern methods of training, and for this reason he uses every opportunity to send his students to study in schools and colleges in Malaysia and send them generally to humanities faculties in Terengganu and Kdah. The humanities school in Kedah is one of the centers that are under the influence of the Islamic Party PAS and a large number of masters of religious studies and the Arabic language have been invited from Palestine and Egypt to work there. This school has a particular sensitivity to the positions of the Muslim Ummah. Even it dismissed a religious teacher accused of having non hostile feelings against the Shia and support the unity between Shiite and Sunni. So that the Chammy youth in Vietnam gets familiar with Salafi extremist foundations instead of learning the religious principles of Sunni. And to promote these kinds of thoughts they come back to their region and in turn create a challenge among the Shafei indigenous Muslims. Dividing by Vietnam into Dar-al-Harb and Dar-al-Islam, they try to introduce Salafism as a true Islam so that they promote excommunication among a large number of the Muslims. At the present, forty Vietnamese students are studying in Dar-al-Islam school in Kuala Ubai, the Qur'anic school in Kubang Pujok and in Mazahi-al-Uloom school in Bukit Payong in Terengganu. Six other Vietnamese students have joined Dar-al-Tahfiz al-Quran in Dar-al-Islam. One of the missions of Abdul Rahman is to find the organizations and institutions that can help the Chammy students of Vietnam to continue their studies. Abdul Rahman has told the Malaysian officials that still there is a large number of young people in Cham interested in studying in Malaysia; and to learn the religion, the Chammy children have to be sent to mosques and not to the religious schools in Vietnam. For this reason, he requested more aid for education of the Chammy Muslims in the style of schools and universities in Malaysia. He has said that the Muslim youth in Ho Chi Minh has to go to mosques and listen to religious lectures in a traditional style in order to meet Islam; they are banned of university education and modern religious schools. Focusing on attracting Cham Muslims, the Regional Islamic Da'wah Council of Southeast Asia and the Pacific has also prepared numerous programs for the Chammy women and has invited a number of Vietnamese women activists to Kuala Lumpur to pass specialized courses for religious education. For the promotion of religious opinions among Muslims in Vietnam, the Council organizes international conferences, including the conference hold on 19-23 December 2011 in Kuala Lumpur in which a number of the Vietnamese intellectuals participated. To plan educational activities in Malaysia, Abdul Rahman was forced to organize all the Vietnamese Imams who had been trained in recent years in Malaysia for this project and use them to expand the influence of Malaysians in Vietnam, including Mat Rosali, Sanawy Ibrahim, Saleh Ali, Abdul Rahman Ibrahim, Br Dimalux, Ahmad Atry, Mohammad Amin and Roslinda Ismail. The Council pays attention to the religious education of Cham people in both Vietnam and Malaysia. In early 2010, the Council organized a training course of Imams in Ho Chi Minh in Muslims Masjid Jame for training 27 Imams. On 23rd June to 11th July 2014, the International Islamic University Malaysia held a training workshop for 12 individuals from Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, the Philippines, Cambodia and Sabah during Ramadan in order to make them familiar with the customs of fasting in Malaysia. All costs of accommodation and food for the participants paid by the university. During this period, visiting the Putrajaya Mosque and the burial ceremony of the deceased was also provided.