Posted by Learn Melanau on Friday, January 28, 2011
The Melanaus are mostly :
Traditionally malay muslim have a 'Bin' (son of) and 'Binti' (daughter of) in their names. Hence from the name alone one can guess that the person is a muslim. However all the Melanaus have a 'Bin' (son of) and 'Binti' (daughter of) in their names similar to the Malays regardless of their religion.
There are 2 theories why this has happened:
1. The registrar office
The Brooke's administration having trouble to differentiate between etnic groups with just their names. During that time some etnic groups like the kayans will change their names after marriage. Hence it is important to know which etnic group one belongs to avoid confusion.
2. Rebellion by the Melanau chieftain Sharif Masahor
Sharif Masahor was strongly opposed to the Sultan of Brunei’s granting of Sarawak to British private colonialist Sir James Brooke in 1842. Sharif Masahor united the Melanau people against the extension of British rule, centred in Kuching City, to the Rejang River region.
Sharif Masahor, under pressure from their patron the Brunei monarch, eventually surrendered to Sir Jame Brooke. In order to prevent the melanau forming another rebellion, Sir James Brooke suppressed Melanau identity by assimilating them with the malays. Hence the compulsory "Bin" and "Binti".
Different from their counterpart in west Malaysia the word bin and binti have no religious connotations. The non muslim Melanau still use the word bin and binti and even proud of it. Despite their different beliefs and religions, the Melanaus, like the rest of East Malaysians (Sabah and Sarawak) are very tolerant of each other and they rightly feel proud of their tolerance. We would still come across a Melanau family with different child family members embracing Christianity and Islam while their parents still have strong animist belief