As one of the most ancient ethnic groups in Southeast Asia, the Eastern Cham people have a very deep and interesting history. The Eastern Cham people are a Malayu-Polynesian ethnic group, one branch of the Cham minority group in Vietnam. The Eastern Cham people have an estimated population of approximately 80,000.
As a small minority group now overrun with poverty and persecution, one must remember that the Eastern Cham people's kingdom once reigned in Southeast Asia. "The ancient Cham were known for their seafaring skills, agricultural inventiveness, and construction of temples and religious monuments. The culture of the Cham in more recent periods has had little of the flavor of its ancient progenitor, relative poverty having replaced the grandeur of its ancient past" (World Culture Encyclopedia).
The Eastern Cham live in the provinces along the coastline of southern Vietnam, and their villages are spread out in the coastal and Mekong Delta provinces, specifically the Binh Thuan, NinhThuan, and Dong Nai provinces. Some Eastern Cham live in and around Ho Chi Minh City as well. The Cham are descendents from what was known as the Champa kingdom, which was located in Vietnam, areas of Cambodia, and southern Laos.
They are mainly agricultural, producing rice, corn, and cotton. The Eastern Cham also trade fish, shrimp, and other nautical goods, as well as weavings and other artistic products. Many of the Eastern Cham celebrate religious holidays surrounding their long-standing history. The celebrations are usually held at their historic temples, such as the Po Klong Garai Towers in PhanRang, the Thap Ba Po Nagar Towers in Nha Trang, or the Duong Long Towers, located in BinhDinh.
Cham Belief on Islam
Islam has been in Cambodia for many centuries ago. We also have an inscription in stone, which got from Bak Keng temple (The name of tample) in the Khmer museum of Cambodia has an Arab’s text “لآ اِلَهَ اِلّا اللّهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُوُل اللّهِ” (THERE IS NO ALLAH BUT ALLAH, MUHAMMAD IS THE MESSENGER OF ALLAH). Khmer Islam has been on gold territory of Cambodia from previous time to nowadays be full of freedom in both their job, their religion, and their politic in religious cooperation to respect their tradition and their right to up to Cambodia’s law. We have a half of million Islam people has been living at their areas of most 24 provinces always have own places to pray, to traditional obeying, religious obeying, marriage, ceremonies, religious meeting, traditional announcement, moral principle, and school to. There was been normally to be free by no banning from policeman.
Political Attending was comfortable welcome to push and encourage in carry out of development and protection of beloved country. Nowadays, Islam was noticed to increase success. Islam, which got rank 2 of other large religions next to Buddhism. By these reasons, Islam was called “Khmer Islam” because the large amount of Islamism is Cham nationality and another part is Khmer people to obey Islam. In this meaning, government of Cambodia gave right to religious cooperation, no banning. Moreover, he has helped to announced about Islam and Islamism in Cambodia to human on the world and also let them know about their culture and tradition too. The government of Cambodia also expressed one’s attention and he didn’t look down on these people. He always has given a value Islam human in both Cambodia and around the world.