While most Malaysians subscribe to religions like Islam, Christianity, Buddhism or Hinduism, there’s a small exception of people who place their faith elsewhere.
From getting themselves entangled in activities like living in giant teapots, orgy nights with anyone they brush their fingers against, to believing that Jesus has reincarnated into a fellow citizen, these are just a few of the bizarre practices that cult followers participated in.
Although the government has since banned these groups (for good measure) and labelled them as cults, the fact that they once shook the world and influenced thousands of Malaysians will never be forgotten.
1. Malaysia’s teapot cult
What if we told you that a fellow Malaysian once claimed to be the living embodiment of Jesus, Shiva, Buddha and the Prophet Muhammad, all while sleeping in a giant cream-coloured teapot in Besut, Terengganu.
As crazy as this sounds, thousands of Malaysians believed in Ariffin Mohammed and were faithful worshippers of his infamous teapot cult in the mid-1980s.
Better known to his 22,000 followers as Ayah Pin, Ariffin started this cult in 1979 and named it Sky Kingdom.
Perhaps Ayah Pin’s followers and his four wives (yes, he had four wives) were Alice in Wonderland fanatics as the space that they inhabited practically mimicked its strange fantasy world.
While a ginormous yellow umbrella and two-storey tall blue vase towered over Besut’s forests, Sky Kingdom was most notorious for its giant teapot building which then inspired the nickname of “Malaysia’s teapot cult”.
Special spiritual practices took place every Saturday night to Sunday morning among Sky Kingdom followers, with a heavy emphasis placed on spiritual healing and dream interpretation.
During these “events”, Ayah Pin would be ushered by his followers into a concrete boat where the cult leader would then lay in till the next day. Meanwhile, his followers would surround him and continuously chant for him until 4am.
However, before Sky Kingdom was officially deemed illegal and a cult by the government in August 2005, Ayah Pin, his four wives and his followers’ lifestyles had already been set aflame as masked vigilantes torched and destroyed Sky Kingdom’s headquarters on July 18, 2005.
Ayah Pin passed away on April 23, 2016, but considering his claims of being reborn 17 times, who’s to say if he’s really dead?
Traced all the way back to the 1870s, Taslim is the oldest known cult in Malaysian history based in a village called Kampung Seronok — and that wasn’t the most ‘seronok’ thing about it.
Kampung Seronok may exist peacefully today in Bayan Lepas, Penang, but during the 1940s to 50s, rumours of scandalous activities taking place on Kampung Seronok’s grounds spread like wildfire across the nation while the Taslim cult grew in size and popularity.
This all began after Haji Muhammed Shayfie had moved to Kampung Seronok in 1872 and established Taslim, which then became known as the “Sun Religion”.
The reason behind the Sun Religion ties into the shocking statement that Shayfie once made in front of the Mufti of Kedah, because when he was asked about God, the cult leader said nothing but pointed towards the sun.
This not only enraged the Mufti but it promptly led to Shayfie being banned from Kedah for life.
Some say that Shayfie’s followers were attracted to the Sun Religion because of its more lenient practices like not needing to pray, as they believed that Allah would always be present in the body whenever one spoke.
But perhaps for some, it was the scandalous nighttime activities that took place once a year that sparked their interest.
Rumours said that all Taslim members met once a year at the cult’s main headquarters at Kampung Seronok to wait until midnight.
Once the clock struck 12, they would then engage in sexual activities with anyone in the dark.
Ashaari Mohammad is the founding father of this religious cult with beliefs and practices that have strayed far away from traditional Islamic practices.
As Western habits began influencing more lifestyles in the 1960s, Al-Arqam believed that Muslims had been led astray by it and preached that the only way to get back on the righteous path was to reject modern society.
People who joined Al-Arqam had to detach themselves from reality, immerse themselves in a full spiritual quest for enlightenment and even form mystical and spiritual bonds with deceased saints.
Al-Arqam promised that doing this would develop one’s inner self with good attributes and help gain good prospects for work, which promptly attracted many young Muslims to its group.
However, its followers were not one to keep low profiles as they stuck out like sore thumbs when out in a group together.
Female members draped themselves in flowing black gowns and face veils while the men always sported turbans on their head and dressed in matching green, grey or white robes.
The government banned this movement in 1994, but it was estimated that Al-Arqam had 10,000 to 12,000 members before the ban and a whopping 200,000 sympathisers afterwards.
Source: Malaysia’s most famous cults and their bizarre practices
By Tsen Ee Lin
#RobertReview: 8 | 10
Published: 6th May 2021.
Malaysia’s Infamous Cult and their Weird Practices