I was amused and a little curious reading a blog which was forwarded by a friend. Writing with a catchy title, “Who Are Malays and What Is Their Origin…We Are Feared By The Jews,” the blog states that the Malays are originated from the ten lost tribes of Israel.
The blogger, who does not reveal his name or identify and write in Malay language, says that, Malays mean hill people, from Mala or Malai, which means hill (or mountain). And that they are descended from Abraham (Prophet Ibrahim) through Keturah.
The origin for the word Malay has been a matter of contention. A few theories have been put forward, but that it comes from the word Mala/Malai is news to me. That the Malays are supposedly descended from Abraham through Keturah, however, is not new. I have heard of it before.
The first time I heard about the idea that the Malays are descended from Abraham through Keturah was two decades ago, from one University professor who suggested the same. This University professor said that these descendants of Abraham had fled their birthplace and lived for a time in a hill to the north of India. The hill is known as Himalaya, the “highland of the Malays.”
Though curious, I did not pursue the matter. Since I did not maintain the relationship with that University professor, the matter stopped there, until a few days ago; that is, when a piece of an article in the blog pejuangbangsa31 came to my attention. (1)
But pejuangbangsa31 is apparently not the reader of history. There are too many “historical” errors in his writing. For instance, he says Malays are descended from Keturah, the third wife of Abraham, but he also says that Malays are descended from one of the alleged ten lost tribes of Israel, through the line of Menasseh, the son of Joseph.
Now, if we learn Biblical history (or perhaps Biblical story), then we know that Abraham is the father of many nations. He was the father of Ishmaelite Arabs through his oldest son, Ishmael, whose illustrious descendant was our very own Prophet, Muhammad bin Abdullah. He was also the father of the Israelites, through his grandson, Jacob, also known as Israel. He was also the father of many nations or tribes now extinct or assimilated with other nations.
One of these assimilated tribes is known as the people of Madyan. We know about Madyan because it is mentioned in the Quran. Allah sent Prophet Shuaib to them. The Bible also mentions about this tribe, especially in the story of Moses (Prophet Musa), when he fled Egypt having accidentally killed one of the Egyptians in his effort to help one of his own people, the Israelites.
In Madyan, Moses lived with an elderly called Jethro, tended his flocks and married one of his daughters, Zipporah. The Muslim scholars identify this Jethro as the Prophet Shuaib, and his daughter, Zipporah, as the wife of Prophet Musa, Safura.
As for the name Madyan (or Midian), it was referred to one of the sons of Abraham, whose name was Madyan. His mother was Keturah, the third wife of Abraham, whom Abraham married after Sarah died.
Now, if the Malays were truly descended from one of ten lost tribes of Israel, through the line of Menasseh, the son of Joseph (Nabi Yusuf), in what way can they be descended from Keturah? The name Israelites, or Bani Israel in the Quranic lingo, is referred to the children of Israel. Israel, whose given name is Jacob, is the son of Isaac (Nabi Ishak), the son of Abraham, through his first wife, Sarah.
Keturah is not the Matriarch for the Israelites. Their Matriarch is Sarah, the first wife of Abraham. Or perhaps more properly, their matriarchs are the four wives of Jacob.
Pejuangbangsa31 probably cannot be faulted for his error. He is writing a socio-political blog, not a blog on history. His entry on the origin of Malay appears to be a cut and paste from somewhere else.
After doing a little search, I found a site which contains a lot of ideas mentioned by pejuangbangsa31. The blog is known as mistisfiles. This site delves in mysteries, conspiracy theories, extraterrestrial matters, paranormal activities or something like that. Though I don’t normally indulge in such matters, I find the blog rather interesting and spent a few hours reading some of the entries.
Mistisfiles does not rush to the conclusion like pejuangbangsa31, but the site is full of conjectures, though I must admit that whoever is authoring the blog, he or she must have read history quite a bit.(2)
Reading the mistisfiles (or mystical files in English), I am quite amused to learn that this young girl, Keturah, whom Abraham married, was not from the Middle East, but actually from the Far East. In his twilight years, Abraham had travelled from Canaan (current Israel and Palestine) to somewhere in ancient Cambodia and married this girl. Through that marriage, they were given six sons. One of them was Madyan.
We have to bear in mind that Abraham married Keturah after the death of Sarah. According to the Bible, Sarah lived up to 127 years, and Abraham was about ten years older than Sarah. Abraham used to travel far and wide, but mostly around Middle Eastern region. Whether he traveled to a far away and unknown land during his time, about 4,000 years ago, would be anyone’s guess.
Biblical story also narrates that when Abraham died, he was buried in Hebron (al Khalil in Arabic), which is currently in Israel. We can assume that either he came back from the Far East, or his dead body was carried thousands of miles to be buried in his chosen place. Islamic traditions also relate that he frequently visited his son Ishmael in Makkah. The Bible meanwhile suggests that he spent his old age in Canaan.
Mistisfiles, however, does not try to reconcile this mystery.
There is also amusing hypothesis about the people of Madyan. According to mistisfiles, Madyan was actually the ancient Media.
If you read conventional history, Media was a Persian Civilization that flourished around 700 or 800 BC, that is, about 2,700 or 2,800 years ago. It was located somewhere in the Northwestern Iran.
The location of Madyan that we know, that is, the place of refuge for Prophet Moses, as per Biblical story, and the country of Prophet Shuaib, as mentioned in the Quran, however, was located in the Northwestern Arabia, to the East of Sinai Peninsula, and Southwest of Jordan. It was not in the Northwestern Iran, as Media was.
If we try to make sense of the Biblical story against the story of mistisfiles, we can see the followings. The story of Moses took place sometime around 1,300 BC. There was no Media Civilization at that time. Suppose the people of Madyan were truly the ones creating the Civilization of Media, then these people must have migrated from Northwestern Arabia to Northwestern Iran, about a thousand miles to the north.
This is not impossible, but highly improbable. What makes it more improbable is that the Media people, being of Iranian stock, were considered to be Japhetic, while the people of Madyan, being the descendants of Abraham, were Semitic. Japhetic and Semitic people are referred to the descendants of Noah (Prophet Nuh). Japhetic from the line of Japheth, the third son of the Prophet Noah, while Semitic from the line of Shem, the second son.
Biblical story does tell us that Abraham and his descendants travelled quite a bit, but mostly in the Middle East and North Africa (Egypt). Mistisfiles, however, seems to suggest that the descendants of Abraham through Keturah not only travelled a great deal, but they somehow travelled in a somewhat mysterious manner.
First, they were born in the Far East, somewhere in the ancient Cambodia, because this was where Abraham met and married Keturah. This took place about 4,000 years ago. Then one of Keturah tribes, Madyan, must have travelled west and resided in Northwestern Arabia. This region was thereafter known as the land of Madyan. Moses came to them about 600 or 700 years after their forefather, Madyan, was born. Next, they travelled northeast to the North of Iran.
About 600 or so years after the chance meeting between Moses, the descendant of Israel (Prophet Jacob), and Shuaib, the descendant of Madyan, we heard about these “people of Madyan” forming a civilization, the ancient Persian civilization of Media. Finally, they must have gone to South East Asia (their place of origin, assuming the ancient Cambodia was in South East Asia), and the Pacific Islands. In these regions, they also formed one empire after another. Their last great empire was the Empire of Malacca.
As a Malay, I would love to believe all that, but at the moment, I have more questions than answers. It turns out that this theory on Malays owing their origin from Keturah and the lost tribe of Israel is gaining currency. Pejuangbangsa31 and mistisfiles are not the only ones writing about it.
It also turns out that some African people likewise believe that they were descended from Keturah. The Bahai people, too, believe that their founder was the descendant of Keturah. Every nation appears to have the desire to be descended from this great Patriarch, Abraham the Prophet.
The Jews have hijacked their right to be descended from Abraham through his first wife, Sarah. Their claim is too strong to be rejected since they have ancient scriptures to throw to our face. The Arabs too have hijacked their right to be descended from Abraham through his second wife, Hagar. Their claim too is too strong to be rejected since Prophet Muhammad, who is an Arab, says that he was descended from Abraham through Ishmael.
We are left, therefore, with Abraham’s more obscure wife, Keturah.
If it can make us feel good, we can still claim to be the descendants of Abraham, but we have to choose only one: either we were descended through Keturah, or through Sarah. We cannot owe our origin to the Lost Tribe of Israel through Menasseh and yet descend from Keturah. That would show our total ignorance of ancient history.
I don’t know whether you find all these exciting, or confusing. But you may wonder why the Jews fear us the Malays, as pejuangbangsa31 says? It turns out that the current Jews in Israel were descended from the “bad apple” among the Israelites. They were descended from, or the followers of, the bad Samiri who influenced the Israelites to worship the Golden Calf when Moses went to Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandment.
We are the good guys, because we came from Menasseh, the line of Prophet Joseph. From this line, some other Malay bloggers theorize, will appear Imam Mahdi who will crush the Jews.
Unfortunately we don’t know when that is going to take place. In the meantime, we can only satisfy ourselves watching the Israelis (as oppose to Israelites) crushing our brothers and sisters in Palestine.