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 Home > About Thailand > Religions > Muslims

Muslims in Thailand

Muslims comprise Thailand's largest religious minority and are concentrated mainly in the southernmost provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala,and Satun. Isalam is said to have been introduced to the Malay peninsula by Arab traders and adventurers during the 13th century. Most Thai Muslims are of Malay descent, reflecting the common cultural heritage Thailand's southernmost provinces share with Malaysia.

Ninety-nine per cent Sunni and one per cent Shi'ite, Thai Muslims enjoy inspirational and financial support from His Majesty the King,who provided money for translating the Koran into Thai. Each year the King or his representative also presides during celebrations commemorating the Prophet Muhamand's birthday. Moreover, His Majesty appoints a respected Muslim religious leader as Chularajamontri, or State counsellor for all Islamic affairs. The government also provides funds for building and renovating mosques.

In some southern provinces where the Muslim population is substantial, government employed Muslim are allowed to leave for important Muslim festivals and allowed to work half-days on Friday, the Muslim holy day. In such provinces family and inheritance cases are judged according to Koranic law with a Muslim religious judge, or kadi, sitting on the bench In addition, One four month's leave with full salary is also granted to allow an employee to make the Haj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.

There are approximately 2,000 mosques in Thailand, about 100 of which are in Bangkok. Some 200 muslim schools offer secular as well as religious instruction. All in all, Thailand's Muslims enjoy full state support and are free to teach and practice their religion according to their own tenets.

Special Legal Provisions in Support of Islam in Thailand As Islam has been professed in some local communities, the following legal provisions have been made over the course of this century in support of that religion:

Muslim Communities

  1. The act relating to the application of Islamic law in the provinces of Pattani, Narathiwar, Yala and Satun 1946, in which the Islamic laws dealing with the matter of matrimony and inheritance among the Muslims are in practical use and a Kadi or a Muslim judge is to participate in the trial and adjudication of such cases and on points of Islamic law has a power of casting vote.
  2. The act relating to mosques 1974, in which the Ministry of Interior is responsible for registration of Interior is responsible for registration of mosques and the registered mosque becomes a juristic person.
  3. The Royal Decree on religious Patronage of the Religion of Islam 1945, and 1948 in which:
    1. A councillor for Muslim affairs (Chularatchamontri) is to be appointed and he is to be ex officio President of the National Council for Muslims of Thailand as well.
    2. The Ministry of Education has been assigned to start, on appropriate occasion, the Islamic collage of Thailand so that the Thai Muslims be provided with a place for study and training 2.
    3. The National Council for Muslims of Thailand is to be established consisting of at least five members, all Muslim, who are appointed and removed by virtue of the Royal Proclamation.
    4. Provincial councils for Muslims are by the Decree to be set up in all provinces in which an appropriate number 3 of Muslims are domiciled.
    5. Each provincial is authorized by the Decree to appoint a council for each mosque in its province. The mosque-council consisting of at least seven members, all Muslim, is presided over by an Imam who is responsible for the missionary work in the locality and the administrative work of the mosque.

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