Malaysia/Kelantan Social Customs & Tradition


The salam is the Muslim equivalent of a handshake. A younger person usually offers the salam by clasping the hand(s) of the elder. This is usually followed by a verbal greeting of “Assalamualaikum” (Peace be upon you).

A non-Muslim should note that in Islam, physical contact between the opposite sex is discouraged. Thus, a non-Muslim should not be unnnecessarily alarmed if their offer of a handshake is not reciprocated by a member of the opposite sex.

The salam often goes a step further between a younger and a respectable older person (parents, teachers etc); the younger person offers the salam first, then kisses them/it as a sign of respect.

Peculiar to Malays (who make up the majority of Muslims in Malaysia) is the touching of the left side of one's chest after the salam. The hand is retracted gently after the salam, then placed over the heart to symbolise sincerity.

The salam is the Muslim equivalent of a handshake

Leaving footwear outside

When visiting Malaysian homes, it is customary to remove and leave footwear outside the house before entering, unless the owner of the house states otherwise. The majority of Malaysians do not wear footwear within their homes, as shoes and slippers are likely to bring dirt inside with them. This practice is especially significant in Muslim homes for sometimes, common areas such as the living room are used for group prayers. Also, in Malay homes, meals are often taken while seated on the floor.

This practice is also applicable when visiting places of worship.

The use of fingers to eat

Among the Indian and Malay communities in Malaysia, it is common practice to place food, such as rice and cakes, into the mouth using only fingers, without the use of cutlery. The right hand is used, as it is considered a taboo to use the left, which is kept for less clean functions such as cleaning oneself after a visit to the toilet.

Hands are washed before meals. In Malay homes or restaurants, a kettle filled with water for washing purposes is commonly placed on the dining table. A tray to hold the water is placed underneath the kettle.

3 Responses
  1. ambar Says:

    I visited Malaysia in 1998!! I loved it!

  2. Chrisyh Lee Says:

    hai year is the malaysia visit due to 50th malaysia independent day..lot of event and caremony are going to be held..i will post the info about the event later on...see yaa...

  3. Anonymous Says:

    hi, u ada highlight kelantan specialities food ke ?

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