Najib the Malay Deity in Chinese Religion

Here’s something interesting about Chinese folk religion. I call it folk religion because it doesn’t fit into the popularly understood categories of Chinese Buddhism or Chinese Taoism.

Now, Chinese shrines are often red in colour, since red is a very auspicious colour.

However, if you are in Singapore or Malaysia, you might come across a shrine that’s yellow in colour!

Here’s one:

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A yellow shrine indicates either: (1) some local (i.e. non-Chinese) deity, (2) a localised version of a Chinese deity (e.g. Tua Pek Kong 大伯公 becomes Datok Pek Kong), or (3) some non-Chinese (typically Malay) guy has been divinised and added into the Chinese pantheon of deities.

In this case, there’s a sign to say that the deity being worshipped is 拿督公 (Naji Gong), which is basically: Najib. (The Gong is just a formal title for addressing).

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I’ve written a bit about Najib the Deity in another post because he’s part of that temple’s pantheon of deities. (See A Trip Back to Medieval China: A Visit to Lian Shan Shuang Lin Monastery (連山雙林寺) for the whole story and lots of nice photos)

Here’s a picture of Najib if you’re curious:

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He’s a Malay guy, dressed in traditional Malay garb. He even has the Malay songkok cap. He’s probably a really awesome guy back in the old days of Singapore who did a lot to help the people around him. Just as how Catholics and the Orthodox canonise really awesome people as saints, the Chinese deifies the really awesome people in their communities.

What’s interesting is that the signage above also says: 不可拜豬肉, which translates as: Do not worship with offerings of pork meat.

Yes… Najib was a Muslim (as are most Malays here in Singapore)! And what’s interesting is that even after being added to Singapore’s Chinese pantheon of deities, he is still respected for being a Muslim. So offerings of pork and even alcohol are prohibited out of respect for his own religious beliefs. In the first photo above, people have offered cups of black coffee to him along with fruits.

Pretty interesting, yeah?