Reportage

Muslims in Thailand

233-234

 

Location:

Thailand is a country at the center of Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the west by the Andaman Sea and the southern extremity of Myanmar, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the northwest by Burma, and to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia. 

Area and Population

The area of Thailand is 513,120 km2, its population is 69,172,655 as of 2018 estimates, and its capital and largest city is Bangkok. Thai nationals make up the majority of Thailand’s population, 75%; 14% are Thai Chinese, 3% are Malay, and the remaining are minorities (including Karen Mon, Khmer, and “Hill tribes”). As for religious diversity, some 85% are Buddhists and 10% are Muslims, besides a 5% minority (Christians and Hindus). The official language is the Thai Language, and the official currency is the Thai Baht (Ɓ).

Geography:

Thailand comprises several distinct geographic regions, partly corresponding to the provincial groups. The north of the country is the mountainous area of the Thai highlands, with the highest point being Doi Inthanon in the Thanon Thong Chai Range at 2,565 meters above sea level. The northeast, Isan, consists of the Khorat Plateau, bordered to the east by the Mekong River. The center of the country is dominated by the predominantly flat Chao Phraya river valley, which runs into the Gulf of Thailand.

Climate:

Most of Thailand has a tropical wet and dry climate around the year. Temperature ranges between 20 and 35°C. Thailand’s climate is influenced by monsoon winds causing abundant rain over most of the country

Chao Phraya River
History:

The history of the country is linked to the Sukhothai Kingdom which was established in 1238 AD. By the middle of the 14th Century, the Ayutthaya Kingdom rose instead and expanded to include neighboring areas. The Chinese and Indian cultures further had a great influence on the country.

European contact and trade started in the early 16th century. However, despite the pressure practiced by them, but nevertheless it remained the only Southeast Asian country to avoid direct Western rule. Since the late 19th century, and before continuous threats posed by the Europeans and the penetration of their culture, reforms got underway. Thailand gave some concessions to the favor of the British troops; as such, some listed Thailand under the list of the British Crown colonies, though their control was rather limited.

Following a revolution in 1932, Thailand became a constitutional monarchy. The people of the country, “known then as Siam” were granted their first constitution, thereby ending centuries of absolute monarchy. In 1939, there was a decree changing the name of the country to “Thailand. The country returned to its old name after World War II, to restore its new name again pursuant to a decree issued in 1949.

During the war, the Thai government quickly agreed to join military alliance with Japan. However, no soon it reconsidered its decision and turned to a strong ally to the USA.

Form of Government:

The politics of Thailand is conducted within the framework of a constitutional monarchy. Under the constitution, the powers of the king are limited, and he is primarily a symbol of the Thai nation. The Prime Minister is the head of government; he is appointed by the king from among the members of the Thai House of Representative. He is usually the head of the largest political party in the lower House or the leader of the largest coalition of parties.
The legislative branch under the 2007 Constitution was the bicameral National Assembly  (locally called the Ratthasapha) composed of the Senate, the 150-member upper house, and House of Representatives, the 350-member lower house. The members of the two chambers are elected by universal suffrage.

Every member of the House of Representatives holds his seat for four years, while the term of office of Senate is six years. The king appoints the members of the Supreme Court which is the highest judicial body in the country.

Economy:

Thailand is an emerging economy and is considered a newly industrialized country. The economy of Thailand is heavily export-dependent, with exports accounting for more than two-thirds of gross domestic product (GDP). Thailand witnessed a growth of 8% in the GDP in 2010 what made it one of the most swiftly developing country in Asia and more precisely in East Asia.

Thailand ranks the 24th among World economies. It is the second-largest economy in Southeast Asia, after Indonesia, and the fourth of Southeast Asia per capita GDP after Singapore, Brunei, and Malaysia.

Thai farmers use 45% of the land, and rice is the main product. Other agricultural products include: Cassava, maize, pineapple, rubber, sugarcane, tobacco, almonds, silk, soybeans, and jute fabrics which are used in the production of ropes.

 Major industries include: cars, cement, food products, papers, wood, chips, and textiles. It is worth mentioning that Bangkok is the seat of many world manufacturers’ factories for car assembly, electrical appliances, medicine industry, beside other products.

Tin is one of the major minerals in Thailand. Thai mines also produce large quantities of bauxite, iron ore, lead, manganese, gems, and tungsten. As for natural gas, it is produced from sediments in the Thailand Gulf. 

Main Landmarks:

Thailand Islands: These islands are famous for their gorgeous shores. They are divided into three main groups: Ko Samet, Ko Chang in east Bangkok, and in the Gulf of Thailand Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan, and Ko Tao. As for Phuket, it is the largest and most advanced island in Thailand, and it is connected to the city via two bridges

phuket island

Bangkok:  This city is full of dynamic contracts. Besides modern gigantic commercial centers, you would find mansions built more than 200 years ago. Though many believe that Bangkok is no more than a clamorous city, natural beauty is sensed in canals and greeneries.

Chiang Mai: It is a flourishing city best known as the destination of tourists who desire to discover its fertile lands and tribes and to have riding adventures in the open air.

Phra Nakhan Si Ayutthaya: This city was established in 1350 AD in the Valley of Chao Phraya River. It was the capital of the Kingdom of Siam and a prosperous international trading port until, unfortunately, razed by the Burmese Army. It was deserted for centuries after Bangkok became the capital. The ruins of the old city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it remains a favored touristic attraction.

Khao Sok National Park: The most amazing place in Thailand as it is covered by the oldest evergreen rainforest in the world, breathtaking lakes and rivers, wild animals such as Asian elephants, deer, bears, and several kinds of monkeys. It is a fantastic place for a vacation, where nature meets adventure

History of Islam
Khao Sok National Park.

On its way to this region, Islam took two axes:

  • The first axis was a southern axis introduced to the region by Arab traders who had an old connection to this region, especially the Hadhramis. The Arabs founded the ports on the shores of Pattani in the Fifth century AH.
  • The second axis, is a land axis which came from the north of South China from the area of ​​Yunnan, where Islam spread in a wide area. The Chinese referred to the Muslims as “Hawa”. The spread of Islam via this northern axis became active, especially during the reign of Emperor “Qabla Khan” and was introduced with immigrants, and progressed with their incursion in northern Thailand. Thus Islam concentrated in various areas in central and northern Thailand. Muslims are now five large ethnic groups in Thailand: Arabs, Persians, Indians, Chinese, Malaysians and Thais.

The Kingdom of Pattani: Muslims mount to about 80% of the population of the province of Pattani. Pattani remained an independent Muslim state for centuries. The tragedy of Muslims there began when their state was invaded by the Buddhist kingdom of Siam (later known as Thailand) which considered it part of its territory. By the end of the 12th Hijri Century, Buddhists sought to concur Pattani with a desire to control its wealth.

The Thai people attacked Pattani many times and committed the Pattanis to pay their royalties. The crisis began in 1786 AD when the Kingdom of Thailand launched campaigns against the Pattani Muslim Sultanate, burning down the City of Pattan and its military strongholds. The city fell in 1832 AD.

In 1902 AD, Thailand finally ruled out the independence of the Muslim Sultanate by expelling its last Muslim sultan, Tinko Abdul Qader Qamaruddin, and appointing a Buddhist ruler, thus attaching Pattani to Thailand, claiming it is part of the Thai Kingdom.
The citizens of Pattani are Malays – an ethnicity present in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore; all Malays in Thailand are Muslims, and they have their own language that differs from that of the Buddhists.

After being occupied, the Sultanate of Pattani comprised several provinces: Pattani, Yala, Satun, Narathiwat, and part of Songkhla Chumphon – each of which has several centers and villages.

Even now, Muslims for the overwhelming majority in these provinces except for Songkhla, and despite all the industrious attempts of the occupation to change the demographic composition of the region, it managed only to decrease the percentage of Muslims from 90% to 60%.

Muslims in that area suffer from several difficulties the most crucial of which is preserving their identity with the increasing number of Buddhists and the compulsory elementary education for Muslim children in Buddhist schools. Afterwards, they have the right to switch to Muslim schools if they wish to where they are taught religious studies in both the Arabic and the Malayan languages. However, these schools lack funds as they primary depend on aids from local Muslims or from some Arab countries abroad.

The situation of Muslims in this region has gone through different conditions over the years. The seventies of the last century had witnessed repression and persecution by the occupation authorities against Muslims, especially activists who are demanding freedom. Some of these activists were assassinated, and a number of them fled the country, especially to neighboring Malaysia. However, the conditions improved gradually with the retreat of the armed resistance. As such, the index moves up and down according to the strength of armed resistance and the movement of the activists.

On the other hand, the scene is very different in other areas where the rest of the Muslims live where, speak the Thai Language, and do not know the Malay language. They say that they have a “Siamese” origin, while Muslims in the south confirm that the Thai government forced them to migrate decades ago to merge them in its culture and language, and had succeeded in that to a great extent.

As for the economic status of Muslims, they work in agriculture and trade, and in case a Muslim had an official post, he would be subject to pressure on many levels such as performing prayers on time and banning Hijab for women…

Muslims Today
Bang Luang Mosque

Muslims form about 10% of Thailand’s population, though official estimates say the number is 5%, as the state seeks not to give the correct number of Muslims.

Muslim Areas:

When Islam in Thailand is mentioned, the three southernmost provinces (Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat) come to mind; but a new research covering Thailand has underlined the spread of Islam in other regions.

The research, published by the Bangkok Post, highlighted new areas of Muslim presence within the Kingdom, such as Nakhon Si Tamarat, Songkala, Phuket, Fang Nga, Trang and Satun, all being located in areas bordering the north. The research also pointed to the presence of Muslims in the central region, the capital city of Bangkok, the city of Ayutthaya and others, and in the north in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, as well as in Khon Kaen, Kalasin, Sakon Nakhon and Don Thani in the north-east.

The research showed much interest in these new areas particularly for two main reasons:
First, most of the previous studies on Islam in Thailand focused only on the southernmost region, and thus gave the impression to many that there is no Islam in Thailand except in those three provinces.

Secondly, these provinces and directorates include large populations; consequently, it was important to shed light on the geographical spread of the Muslims of Thailand, in addition to their ethnic diversity and sectarian variety within Islam.

The study focused on the target population of Muslim scholars, community leaders, teachers, mosque imams, the youth, and women, as well as those working in official social organizations, such as regional Islamic councils.

The forms of Islamic life in Thailand are divided into 3 sections, according to the historical and geographical background:

Malay Muslims, who speak Malay, and are based in the three southern provinces (Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat).

Malay Muslims, who have integrated into the Thai society, and they live in areas adjacent from the north to the three southern provinces, and they speak the Thai Language.

Multi-ethnic Muslims (Persians, Malay, Syro-Lebanese, Indonesians, Indians, Bengal and others of Chinese backgrounds) who have integrated into Thai society and also speak Thai. They have merged with the local population in the central provinces of Thailand  (Bangkok, Ayutthaya) as well as in the northern and north-eastern regions. They are immigrants from neighboring countries who had settled in Thailand for economic and political reasons and to escape the religious persecution they suffered at the hands of the Chinese Communists and the Burmese nationalists.

The first section struggled to maintain identity and to avoid integration and perhaps assimilation into the Thai society. They continued to speak Malay in their religious and social dialogues; whereas, the second and third sections merged into the Thai society and came to speak the Thai language for social and religious reasons.

The study asserted that Malay Muslims living in the far south prefer to refer to themselves as Malays living in Thailand. That is why they are establishing an idea that they are native speakers of Malay. The second section sees no contradiction between being Muslims and Thai citizens at the same time. This is the same view shared with the third section towards this issue. All of these share a preference to define themselves as Thai citizens who believe in Islam and speak Thai, despite the great diversity of their ethnicity.

There are also many sects within the Muslim community itself in the Kingdom of Thailand, with Sunni Muslims winning the majority, as well as a small group of Shiite Muslims; as such, Muslims are the largest minority in the country.

The relationship between Muslims and Buddhists is characterized by integration where Thais find the sight of Buddhist temples and mosques side by side, not strange to them.  This is with the exception of the southern regions where their relationship is bloody.

A Muslim candidate may have been elected to parliament in a Buddhist region of influence. So the relationship is that of integration and coexistence in most parts of the country, except in the south.

Rights and Freedoms:

Muslims in Thailand enjoy religious freedom pursuant to Article 5 of the Constitution issued in 2007 which provides for equal rights among the Thai people regardless of religious affiliation. Thus, the rights of citizenship for Muslims are guaranteed in the Thai Constitution, where they enjoy citizenship rights just like others. The Thai government further codifies certain laws and regulations to serve Muslims, such as the Law on the Administration of Islamic Organizations 2540, the Family Code Act, the Inheritance of Muslims 2489, the Thai Islamic Bank Law 2550, and the Customs Code, which exempts donors to mosques and Islamic schools to pay customs to the government, as well as ministerial lists for the official dress of Muslim civil servants and Muslim employees in the Royal Court, and others. Moreover, the four Islamic satellite channels can give religious lectures and practice the Islamic Call with absolute freedom. Muslims also have the right to hold whatever religious and Da’wa activities they want without the least opposition.

The Thai government fully supports the civil Islamic schools which number over 500; the aid includes salaries of administrative employees and teachers and the budget of various educational activities.

Thus the Constitution does not prevent Muslims to form political parties; still they failed to establish a political party of their own and rather got enrolled in national political parties. They managed to occupy influential political positions. The government eventually gave Muslims the right to act according to the personal status law pursuant to the Islamic Sharia and their own Islamic traditions and customs in the southern Thai provinces

Moreover, the current Thai government allowed Muslims to partake in the local and national rule and gave them the opportunity to occupy official positions such as members of municipalities and village councils. The government further urged them to run general elections and occupy governmental posts and encouraged them to practice local rule.
Despite the existence of Muslims with high competence and expertise in various areas, including the former Speaker of the Thai Parliament, ministers of various influential ministries, mayors, deans in universities, professors in various domains, economists, technicians, and officers in the army or police, Muslims in Thailand do not have a project or vision for their own future.

In recent times, Islamophobia campaigns appeared in Thailand; some Buddhist extremists in areas with Muslim minorities opposed the construction of mosques arguing that the sound of the adhaan (call for prayers) causes noise in the region. However, the government settled this matter to the interest of Muslims and gave them permits to build mosques in these areas.

Muslims in the Capital:

Bangkok is home for some one million Muslims among its total population of about six million habitats. Muslims live in total coexistence, unspoiled by any violence on religious grounds. Muslims do not segregate in special private regions that isolate them from their Buddhist milieu. So there isn’t in Bangkok areas for Muslims only.

In keeping with Muslim traditions, a crown prince from the royal family inaugurated with the Muslims in the city the annual celebration marking the birthday of the Prophet (Peace be upon him and his Household). Muslims in Thailand hold this main annual festival they call “Ngarn Malid Klang” in Eid al Fitr, the run up to the Holy Month of Ramadan, and Muslims all around Thailand come to attend the Mawled. The event includes book fairs, and exhibitions for other Islamic goods and services, in addition to festivals where speeches are delivered and contests in reciting the Holy Quran are held.

Religious Education:
Girls Classroom in Dar – al Ilm school in Bangkok

Religious education is of several levels that can be summed in the following:

First: Seminars in Mosques: Thai mosques registered in the government number about three thousand, most of which teach the religious studies for children daily in the evening after the end of compulsory schooling, as well as on the official holiday of public schools. Islamic education at this stage almost totally lacks educational skills, teaching tools, and competent teachers.

Second: Islamic Secondary Schools: There are Islamic secondary schools, whether religious schools or general Islamic schools where Islamic sciences are taught alongside modern sciences.

Third: The Islamic Institute of Thailand: The government had founded the Thai Islamic Institute in Bangkok half a century ago. The institute is for the secondary stage, ad its aim is to qualify students to continue studying in Arab countries; however, after all of this period since its foundation until today, the goal has not yet been achieved!

Fourth: Undergraduate Education and Beyond: Pattani Islamic University was established more than ten years ago. It teaches the various Islamic studies. Prince of Songkla University, Pattani Campus provides Islamic education at all levels up to tertiary education level.

While at the University of “Prince Jeolla Lonkun”, one of the prestigious universities in the capital Bangkok, there is the Muslim World Research Center, which holds conferences on the Muslim world constantly. Recently some public and civil universities started opening programs for Islamic Studies.

As for centers of Quran Memorization in Thailand, there are many such centers, and their students in some cases exceed one thousand. Pupils in these centers are fully dedicated to memorizing the Holy Quran, and they do not study any modern science.

There is another type of Quran memorization centers in modern Islamic schools, where students memorize the Holy Quran and at the same time study modern sciences in the educational stages before the university. This type is still at the beginning of establishment, and thus there is no more than five such centers.

Two monthly newspapers are issued. One is issued by the Muslim World League, and its name is “The League”. The second was named “Jihad” but it is no more published. The Islamic Sharia is implemented in some four southern provinces, and two judges were appointed for every province.

The Holy Month of Ramadan:

Muslims receive the Holy Month of Ramadan with great pleasure and joy after the Sheikh of Islam announces the beginning of the month through official television channels. During this season, some mosques distribute food and drink and set Iftar dinner tables starting from the night of the announcement of the vision of the moon of the Holy Month of Ramadan and throughout the holy month.

In recent years, the Thai government came to set Iftar dinner tables for Muslim ambassadors and heads of Thai Islamic organizations. Likewise, governmental institutions in the various provinces hold local Iftar dinners for mosque imams and Muslims clergymen and distribute Ramadani gifts for every Muslim house in these provinces.

In many civil Islamic institutions, the job hours are reduced for the employees, and the last ten days are given as holidays to help the believers spend these days in mosques and get devoted to worshipping; thus we find many mosques crowded with believers especially in southern provinces, and they exit to perform Eid prayers in mosque courtyards when the Sheikh of Islam announces the day of Eid through official television channels

prayer in Al huda mosque – Bangkok
Moreover, a new mosque is inaugurated in every city and in every village during the Holy Month of Ramadan even if the mosque is small and humble. Among the Ramadani traditions observed by the Thai people also is families visiting their relatives living in far cities.

Citizenship and Islam:

The Muslims of Thailand enjoy religious freedom, for example: women are allowed to wear the veil in official pictures, in government workplaces, and others. The Thai government also provides facilities for pilgrims every year, gives official holidays to celebrate Eid al-Fitr and al-Adha, gives health certificates for Halal foods, and recognizes the position of Chularatchamontri or Sheikh al-Islam – a position similar to the minister of religious endowments in Islamic countries. The Thai government also offered a piece of land in the suburb of Bangkok in “Nong Chok” to build an Islamic edifice including the Chularatchamontri office (Mashyakha), conference rooms, a mosque and other annexed buildings.

The Thai government supports the country’s Islamic Bank with its 26 branches across the country, although the bank does not receive any support from Islamic countries’ investments worldwide.

Main Problems currently faced by Muslims in Thailand:

The weakness of relations between the institutions responsible for Muslims in Thailand and the international institutions responsible for Muslims in the world at all levels, starting with the Chularatchamontri or Sheikh al-Islam and the subsequent heads of Thai Muslims at the level of Islamic Councils in provinces and even the imams and preachers who head about 3 thousand mosques in Thailand.

The problem of traditional Islamic schools known locally as “Fondouqs”, which are similar to institutes where Imams are taught Islamic heritage books only. Then the Chularatchamontri or Sheikh al-Islam, the members of the Islamic Council, the imams, and the preachers – most of whom are graduates of these “Fondouqs”.

The nature of the Thai Muslim himself, including lack of seriousness, weak determination, and the tendency to rest. As such, he is not able to take advantage of opportunities to raise the level of the Thai Muslim community or to call others to Islam. For example, although there are Islamic educational institutions fully supported by the Thai government, these institutions can’t make use of this support to raise the level of education

Islamic Societies:

Islamic organizations and institutions in Thailand can be divided into two groups:
The first group includes the governmental official institutions. That means that such institutions are supported by the Thai government, and that they have employees and administrators who receive monthly salaries or bonuses from the Thai government. Such institutions are the Islamic councils in all Thai provinces such as:

The Islamic Center: It is one of the most important centers of the Muslim Community in Bangkok. It has a spacious mosque where Friday Prayers are performed, halls and courts for holding Islamic activities and events, and restaurants for Muslims, in addition to administrative offices that supervise the activities of Muslims and manage and coordinate their affairs with the government.

The Supreme Islamic Council: It is headed by Sheikh al-Islam. Its members are from all regions of Thailand, and they include the Thai, Malay, Chinese and Pakistani. They all share to handle the issues of Muslims regardless of ethnicities. The Council acts as a link between Muslims in the North and Bangkok and Muslims in the South and coordinates issues that concern Muslims. As for the issues concerning the state, there is no unified position for them, because some are with the government, and others are with the opposition, because of their different political tendencies.

The second group includes nongovernmental Islamic institutions, and this group is subdivided into two types:

The first type includes the Islamic institutions affiliated with societies abroad such as: Heritage Revival Society (Thailand Office) of the State of Kuwait, Fatani Charitable Society of the United Arab Emirates, World Youth Forum and Neda Al Khair Foundation (It builds and supervises mosques and charitable projects affiliated to the Scientific Council. It receives donations from Muslims worldwide who want to build mosques in Thailand), and Human Development from Saudi Arabia and other institutions.

The second type includes local non-governmental organizations, such as: Muslim Scholars Association, Youth (Shubban) Association, and Crescent Charity Society.

Shia

The Shiites have a significant influence on the cultural movement in Thailand, where Shia cultural centers spread in the capital Bangkok – the area where they have been concentrated since the entry of Shiism some 450 years ago via merchants, preachers, and diplomatic relations between the Safavid and the Qajar dynasties and the Thai government, and the authority in Pattani.

In the city of Ayutthaya, the tomb of Sheikh Ahmad al Qumi (1543 – 1657 AH) attests the arrival of the sect of Ahlulbeit (Peace be upon them) to that area. Sheikh al Qumi settled in Bangkok in 1582 AD, and no soon he became of great influence on the commercial and political status in Thailand. He became the Head of Harbor Department “Krom Tha Khwa” in Thailand and very soon occupied the post of the Prime Minister of Ayutthaya upon the order of the king of Thailand.

The tomb of Sheikh al Qumi is decorated with the most beautiful Islamic inscription. His shrine is respected by all Muslims of various sects and factions as well as by Buddhists. They visit the shrine with full conviction that their hopes would come true. Politicians also visit his shrine when they are named in. The visitor of the tomb notes al Qumi’s status in the Thai culture via what is written on the tombstone in both the English and Thai Languages: Sheikh Ahmad, Prime Minister of the State of Thailand in Ayutthaya, under the rule of “Phra Naresuan”; born in 1543 AD in “Paeene Shar” district in the City of Qum, Persia. He belonged to the Ithna Ashari Shiite (Twelver) Sect.

Shiite Presence and Spread
Dar Al- Ilm School

The Shia are notably present in some Thai provinces including the village of Ayutthaya which is near the capital as well as the capital Bangkok. The number of mosques in the capital is more than 200 including several Shiite mosques and Hussainiyahs including:

Imam Parah Mosque

■ Saheb al Zaman Mosque

■ Al Falah Mosque

■ Shahi Mosque

■ Good Luck Mosque (Khushbakhet)

■ Daray Mosque

■ Muslim Aid Mosque

■ Abu Al Fadl Abbass Husseiniyah

■ Pakistanis Husseiniyah

■ Dar Ahlulbeit

■ Um al Banin Husseiniyah

Al Huda Mosque

Dar Al Zahraa Center and Mosque: It is a cultural and scientific center dedicated to religious D’awa and teaching the children of the neighboring cities and villages

■Imam Sadiq (Peace be upon him) Center for Shia Sciences in Thailand: It was established in 2010 AD in the capital Bangkok.

Darul-ilm School: Among its main activities is dispatching preachers and Da’wa callers to far areas, translating Islamic doctrinal books into the Thai Language as well as translating chapters of the Holy Quran. It issues a monthly magazine that highlights the identity of the Shia and their beliefs, and the most important activity is making scientific ties with the Thai University in Bangkok where a number of seminars on Islam are held from time to time.

Shia are also present in the rest of the Southern provinces with Muslim Malay majorities or minorities in some southern provinces. In “Yala” in the south, they commenced in building a school that would be a center for Shia cultural activities

Al Huda Mosque.

They are also present in “Nakhon”, which is the main center for Shia presence, as well as in “Karbi”, “Trang”, “Fukit” and “Sadaw”. They have their own public and private mosques where they are active.  They build mosques and Hussainiyahs here and there. These seats serve as a scientific and awareness center for spreading Shiism. They build schools adjacent to mosques to attract the largest number of Muslims.

Shia activities also broadcasted on satellite channels, both official and private, especially in the country like Thailand, where there is a large scope for ​​freedom of thought and multi-sectarianism, and thus Shia scholars give lessons on Shiism and call for the sect of Ahl Al Bayt (PBUT).

They continually create web sites on the internet such as: Al-Imamain Al-Hassanain Center for Islamic Heritage and Intellect and Ahl Al-Bayt International Information Center. They very often assign certain corners on famous sites or activate the search engine in the Thai Language in these sites, whether in Thailand, Iran, Iraq or some other Arab countries.
There are two Islamic Scientific Hawzas in Thailand; one of which is Al Mahdi Hawza for men. It is located in the city of “Nakhan Si Thammarat” in the south of the country from where pupils graduate and receive a fellowship degree. The other is Al Mahdia Scientific Islamic Hawza for women, and it is located in the Thai capital, Bangkok

Ashura procession at Imam Ali Mosque.
Some Shiite Societies in Thailand include:
  • Ahl Al-bayt (Peace be upon them) World Assembly: It started its activities in Thailand since a long time ago, and it supports the cultural activities of the Thai people.
  • General Society for the Youth followers of Ahl Al-Bayt (PBUT).
  • Islam Studies and Research Institute: It is one of the Shiite organizations in Thailand that had several defined goals.
  • Institute of Reform and Islamic Studies: It is considered one of the greatest Shiite Islamic institutions allover Thailand. It addresses the affairs of Shiites and marks the various religious occasions through preparing specialized periodicals and fliers in addition to broadcasting films related to Shia on the official Thai TV channel which specializes a part of its transmission time to the Shia there.

As is the custom in Thailand, in the Holy months of Muharram and Safar, sorrow and sadness slogans are raised and Husseini lamentation sessions are held and effectively covered by the official Thai media outlets. During this season, the Shia cover the walls of their houses with black slogans. The Shia in Thailand have many rights such as the freedom to worship and the freedom of performing religious rituals. They also have the right to elect ministers and deputies and be appointed in high ranks.

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