Muslims in Thailand form about 5% to 10% of the nation’s populace, and number over 4 million. They are a mixed race sharing a common bond in their Islamic faith. They can be found from the far north of Thailand to its most southern tip, and have little to no exposure of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
The majority of Thai Muslims live in the southern region and are mostly of Malay decent. The Southern Muslims are broken into two main groups: the Malay speaking Pattani people of the three most southern provinces, and the Pak Tai (southern Tai dialect) speakers of the remaining southern provinces. Besides Muslims in the South, there are significant Islamic communities in Bangkok, the nation’s capital, and in the northern provinces of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. The Islamic communities of Bangkok are an ethnically mixed group, while the northern province Muslims are primarily ethnic Chinese. The Cambodian Cham, a small and usually overlooked community lives mostly in Bangkok as well as in the Northeast of Thailand.
Community of Thailand
Most Malays are rural people and live in close knit communities and small villages known as kampungs. Fishing, rubber and rice farming are the main industries but tourism is a fast growing industry in the peninsular. The typical Malay family has a distinct and ordered structure in which the father is the undisputed head. Conversion from Islam is seen as not only a rejection of the religion but of the culture and family.
In Thailand there is relative religious freedom but this could change with more Muslims entering into Government positions. Work with the Pattani Malay started in 1952 with market-place evangelism, literature drives, medical and leprosy clinics.