This book, Malays in the Holy Land – An Ethnolinguistic Study is about Malays who have settled in Mecca and Madinah most probably over a century ago. The history of their settlement and their being in these holy cities appear to be a well-known fact among Malays in the Malay world especially those who still have family connection with the settlers in Mecca. It is also a known fact that contact between families in the Holy Land and those in the Malay Peninsula, the Indonesian islands and Pattani in Southern Thailand have in many cases been kept alive.
In terms of hard data of the life of these Malays who have immigrated to the Holy Land however, there has been very little or in some cases none at all. The current study has been undertaken by a group of linguists. Thus, the epistemology applied, as in any branch of linguistics, has its centrality on language. As the research focuses on the life of the community, the language part of this study is on the role that it plays in bonding members of the community together, and in so doing giving them an identity as Malays, hence the phrase “an ethnolinguistic study” as a subcomponent of the title of this book.
Collection of data is focused on almost every aspect of the community life, and language is a most essential part of this life. From the interviews with the subjects, their narration of background history and community life, as well as observations of their activities, the researchers have been able to collect a wealth of data which have been turned into material for this book.