The Malays ( Orang Melayu ) are an ethnic group in Southeast Asia. They belong to the Austronesian ethnic groups and speak the Malay language, whose modern forms are the Malaysian and Indonesian that. Today, about 22 million people are counted among the Malays, living mainly on the Malay Peninsula, to the east of Sumatra and on the coast of Borneo. The majority are the Malays in Malaysia ( 50.4 %), the Sultanate of Brunei (66%) and in the four southernmost provinces of Thailand (where up to 88 %). The vast majority of Malays ( > 99.9 %) are Sunni Muslims.
In the past, the term " Malay " was coined by the racial theories of the German scientist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach in the 18th century, used for nearly all Southeast Asian nations, and as one of five human races named in the world, which a transition race between the " would represent Ethiopian "and" Mongolian "race. This interpretation of the term " Malay " is no longer used today.
Defined by the Constitution of Malaysia
Article 160, clause 2, of the Constitution of Malaysia defines all the Muslim and the Malay language speaking and Malay traditions be followed nationals who were born before 31 August 1957 in Malaysia or Singapore or on this date settled there were (Singapore belonged until 1965 to Malaysia), as well as their offspring than Malays.
This ethno- religious identity, according to there can be no non-Muslim Malay, non-Muslim or apostate from Islam Malays are officially not as Malays, but as nichtmalaiische citizen of Malaysia.