Happy Prophet's Birthday!

Today is a holiday in Malaysia because it is the anniversary of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday.  It’s a bit strange, from our perspective, though.  As compared to Islamic holidays in Indonesia, things here seemed very subdued.  The mosques weren’t any more active than they normally were, from our perspective listening from our apartment.  (Then again, we didn’t go to a mosque, so we aren’t sure.)  In fact, we don’t even know the proper greeting for today.  We suppose that it would be Selamat Ulangtahun Nabi Muhammad SAW, but that’s just a bald transliteration.  There may be a specific Arabic term that has been adopted into Malay.

Also unlike other holidays in Indonesia, today the malls were packed.  As we took our daily trip to the gym, we were simply overcome by the number of people.  Now, there may be a good explanation for this.  Given that a much larger percentage of Malaysians are not Muslims, a much larger percentage of Malaysians may view this as just another day off with no religious connotations.  But that doesn’t seem quite right, because there were tons of Malays at the mall today too.  So chalk that up to another difference.  In Jakarta, despite the fact that there is a very large non-Muslim population, almost the entire city shut down on holidays, both Muslim and non-Muslim.  Sure, you could get a cab, but unless you were going to a hotel or something, you wouldn’t find many people around.

We have also learned the translation for the abbreviations SWT and SAW which often follow the names of Allah and Muhammad (see above).  SWT stands for subhanahu wa taala, which means "the Almighty and most worthy of praise" in Arabic, while SAW stands for salla’llahu ‘alaihi wasallama, which means "may Allah bless him and give him peace"  in Arabic.  Not that this comes up much, but you do come across it a lot while reading things that have to do with religion in Malaysia and Indonesia.