03 November 2007

Why some Silat don't teach non-Muslims

There are three main reasons a silat style will train only Muslims: Trust, Secrecy and Content.

Trust means that somewhere in history, every successive master was given specific instructions to only teach Muslims as a method of empowering them. Since non-Muslims already have their own martial styles, thus Muslims also need to have one that is specific for their needs. This amanah is considered sacred and often carried out to the letter.
Because the majority of Malays in Malaysia are Muslim, and being Malay generally means being Muslim, this amanah has often been erroneously extended only to Malays by some hardliner masters who misinterpret the original amanah.
The second reason is Secrecy. Silat was born as a martial art, meaning it was a valid and practical method of war. As all nations and cultures on Earth, we seek to keep secret our nation's abilities and strengths to deter our enemies from designing a counteroffense that will render our methods useless.
This has been nominal human culture, as one national develops more strategic tactics and effective weapons against an inferior enemy. Thus, the tradition of secrecy from opponents, who are normally non-Muslims, the heritage of Badr, the Crusades and the colonisation of South East Asia survives to this day in silat styles.
The third reason is Content. Much of these styles incorporate, as a total method of self-development, solat, sawm and other obligatory Islamic practices to ensure that the pesilat they produce is a moral fighter. In fact, many masters in the past were primarily religious teachers who prepared their students for war, thus the silat aspect became secondary and incidental.
So, it would be dishonest to agree to accept a non-Muslim who will be forced to perform salat, dua, realign his heart to Allah and Rasulullah and many more. It is much easier to say that they don't accept non-Muslims.

Original Article by Mohd Nadzrin Wahab


Hanafi Mohd Noor said...

Hi, congratulation. You are the first to blog about our silat that I found.
If Silat promotes realignment of the heart to Allah and Rasulullah it is a very good discipline indeed.

Mohd Nadzrin Wahab said...

Salam hormat,

Thank you for your comments. Not all silat fall into your definition. It is in reality the master who teaches it that makes the difference.

If previous masters incorporate Islamic values and teachings into their silat, but subsequent masters don't implement them, then the style doesn't become a good channel for dakwah anyway.

Salam persilatan,

teh tarik said...


In reality most Silat styles do teach to non-muslims. Only a small percentage of predominantly Malaysian Malay Silats do not. Biggest in number are the Indonesian and Indo-Dutch styles. With the exception of a few, they all teach to non-muslims.

Love this blog, good work!


Mohd Nadzrin Wahab said...

Salam hormat Jazali,

I agree with your statement. I apologise if my article made it seem as if all silat fall into the title category.

I have modified the title to reflect such.

Salam persilatan,

Pendekar Fatani said...

I don't agree with this articles. Because, we are Muslim, `wajib` to dakwah to all non-muslim. And dont you think with silat we can dakwah to them?

And of course silat teach all about solat, wirid(Silat Spiritual) and others to prepare all Pendekar to go to war. We can just can not teach they all this thing about Islamic practices. Just teach they the fighting move and also Islamic values during silat. When they ask about Silat Spiritual (Kerohanian Silat), we can explain them about Islam in Silat.

I have friend who is Indian-Christian learn silat (Seni Gayung Fatani Malaysia) and right now she is Coach. I can see she is SO interesting about Islam during she learn Silat. She told me that during Silat class, she learn all about Islamic values.

In Europe, lot of Silat student who is Christian had convert to Islam when they can see Islam in Silat.

Silat can be a one of the dakwah channels .

Mohd Nadzrin Wahab said...

Salam hormat Pendekar Fatani,

Thank you for your comment. Which part don't you agree with?

"Because, we are Muslim, `wajib` to dakwah to all non-muslim. And dont you think with silat we can dakwah to them?"

I agree with your statement.

The article above seeks to uncover why some masters still don't want to teach silat to non-Muslims, but it is not about what is wrong or right.

If we want all silat to be taught to non-Muslims, we have to address the concerns of those masters first, rather than tell them what is right or wrong in one perspective.

Salam persilatan

NIB said...

Perhaps silat can be a vehicle for cultural understanding between the Islamic countries and the west.

I do not believe in any religion-- I think it is the source of much murder and violence and oppression-- so I am not interested at all in Islam, but silat has increased my understanding of some countries I would not know anything about otherwise.


João Paulo Esperança said...

Hi. I really like your blog but you're wrong in this point. Pencak Silat is not exclusive to Muslims. Ever heard of Bakti Negara, Tunggal Hati Seminari,...? PSHT students have to pray but may choose to do so in several different religions.
Is Silat different in Malysia?

Mohd Nadzrin Wahab said...

Salam hormat Nib and Joao,

Silat can indeed be a vehicle for peace, even though it was once a tool of war. Peace is about finding what is common between us, war is just about creating differences.

Joao, silat is definitely not exclusive to Muslims. However, some masters are bound my trust to their lineage who have taught their arts within certain limits.

This makes silat within Malaysia certainly different from those outside of it, and this is what this blog is about.

Salam persilatan,

Anonymous said...

great article, mashaAllah
I wish someone taught the wonderful art of Silat here in Pakistan :(. Here it's all Tae kwon do and Karate.

shahpaskal said...

Tahniah, saya baru berjumpa laman web ini, sangat menarik dan lain dari yang lain

Ben AQ Davis said...

As salaamu alaykum

in regards to Da'wa and Silat (or any other cultural form or practice).

First thing must be said: Allaah is the guide! Whoever He chooses to guide, cannot be misguided, and whoever He wishes to leave astray cannot be guided. This is not a slogan, but a key important understanding to remember and contemplate when thinking about Da'wa!

I have seen many people use this idea in different ways, to justify different attitudes to da'wa (including spending lots of time with non-muslims in haram and/or kufr situations, just trying to show them the beauty of their "Islamic" personality)

My feeling is that if you are trying to perform da'wa then you should be brave to present Islam directly, and call to the highest values of Islam without fear (of rejection for yourself or Islam, or of overburdening the person with Islam)

If a person learns about Islam indirectly through silat, then may Allaah accept this from Cikgu/teacher and from Murid/student. If Cikgu insist murid embrace Islam forst, then may Allaah accept this from Cikgu, and guide murid and open his heart!
The key thing that I wish to emphasise is that Islam should be embraced completely and with the heart and the mind. This is unlikely to happen if the murid is only exposed to Islam in martial arts lessons, it is also unlikely if the murid accepts Islam as a passport to achieve something else he values more (like some who convert just so they can marry a muslim woman, etc).

So I say, if you want to create spiritual martial artist, who reflects Islamic values, then teach Silat, but if you want to help Allah to guide non-muslims to Islam, then teach Islam clearly and unambiguously in a way that calls them to confront their own souls, (and teach them Silat before, during or after their shahadah as you feel is best, not forgetting your amanah).

Yunus B. said...

Just think of a Jewish guy going to Malaysia to learn Silat. It would be the most convenient way to commit suicide.

crownislandpainting said...

i have considered converting and becoming a Muslim for a number of years. My child will soon go off to school/university and when that happens I have thought that I would go to Malaysa to live in an Islamic country and also to try and find someone to teach me Silat.I am middle aged, I have lived simply all my life and I am without possessions . Martial Atrs have always been my passion. Do you think I would be accepted as a new convert in Malaysia or would I be distrusted because i am caucasian and from the west?

Mohd Nadzrin Wahab said...

Salam hormat,

There are good Muslims and bad Muslims everywhere on Earth. You'll find them in Malaysia as well.

If you're keen on studying silat, even if you remain non-Muslim, contact me when you come here and I'll point you in the right direction. Email me at nadzrin@gmail.com

There is a large silat community that will accept you as you are, and a large Muslim convert community that will also support you if you need it.

Salam persilatan,

crownislandpainting said...

Mohd Nadzrin Wahab,
Thank you for your kindly response and your offer to point me in the right direction. It is much appreciated.
frank macneil

pakmart said...

silat for muslim only? i beg to differ from your opinion. silat is universal. my silat master teaches non muslim as well.

Mohd Nadzrin Wahab said...

Salam hormat Pakmart,

Have you read the article and the subsequent comments? My opinion is clear and similar to yours.

Salam persilatan,

Shaman said...


I am a Hindu, but have relatives who are Muslim too, I think Silat is really a great art. It is an art that has evolved and has its unique stamp with a melting pot of cultures of South-East Asia. The roots are deep, but my point here is not to point out and give a history lesson. Why I think Silat is a great art and potentially better than most? It has striking, trapping and grappling range, it is hard and soft all at the same time. I only wish I could find a class more easily and yes even I did not search earnestly because I assumed it was only for Muslims in Malaysia. But in Indonesia I believe it is slightly different in this case compared to Malaysia.

Mohd Nadzrin Wahab said...

Salam hormat Shaman,

Thank you for your comment. Silat in Malaysia is generally open to all. As the article above mentions, there are specific reasons for some styles to limit how far a non-Muslim student is allowed to study with them.

Salam persilatan,