Malaysia and Iran may be located on opposite sides of the Asian continent, but there are still many cultural similarities between these two nations. From shared values to similar customs and traditions, the connections between Malaysia and Iran run deep.
While Malaysia and Iran may seem like vastly different countries at first glance, it’s clear that there are many cultural similarities between these two nations. From a shared emphasis on family and religion to the love of good food and the arts, the connections between Malaysians and Iranians run deep.
Despite being located thousands of kilometers apart, Malaysia and Iran share many surprising cultural similarities which highlight the universality of certain values and traditions. From shared family values to food culture, respect for elders, and hospitality, there are numerous areas where Malaysians and Iranians intersect and overlap when it comes to their cultural practices.
In this article, we will explore 10 cultural overlaps between Malaysia and Iran, shedding light on aspects of both countries that unite them in ways that are often overlooked. Hence, every year a considerable number of Iranians visit Malaysia, and similarly, Iran is also a popular destination for Malaysian tourists who travel to Iran individually or by tours. Whether you are a curious traveler looking to understand the cultural nuances of these two nations or simply interested in learning more about different cultures and traditions, this article is sure to provide insight and inspiration.
1. Emphasis on Family
Both Malaysia and Iran place a high value on strong family relationships, where the well-being of the group is prioritized over individual needs. This shared cultural value manifests in many aspects of daily life, from the way families often live together in multi-generational households to the importance of respecting elders and honoring family traditions.
While Malaysia is predominantly Muslim and Iran is predominantly Shi’a Muslim, both countries have a deep respect for religious values and traditions.
3. Food Culture
Another cultural overlap between Malaysia and Iran is their rich culinary tradition. Both countries are known for their delicious cuisine, which emphasizes fresh ingredients, bold flavors, and complex spice blends. In Malaysia, the mix of Malay, Chinese, and Indian influences converge to create unique dishes like nasi lemak, satay, and laksa. Similarly, in Iran, the use of aromatic herbs and spices like saffron, turmeric, and cumin creates a distinct flavor profile that can be tasted in famous dishes like chelo kebab, ghormeh sabzi, and fesenjan. Despite having different culinary traditions, Malaysians and Iranians share a passion for food that brings people together and reflects the richness of their culture.
4. Respect for Elders
In both Malaysian and Iranian cultures, respecting and honoring elders is considered essential.
Malaysians and Iranians are known for their warm hospitality and friendly nature towards guests. In Malaysia, there is a saying “ramah tamah” which means “welcoming and hospitable”, reflecting the country’s reputation for friendliness and warmth towards visitors. Similarly, in Iran, the concept of “mehman-nawazi” (hospitality) is deeply ingrained in the culture, where guests are treated with utmost respect and kindness. Whether it’s inviting guests to share a meal, offering a place to stay, or simply showing them around town, both Malaysians and Iranians take pride in making guests feel welcome and comfortable. This shared quality creates a welcoming atmosphere that fosters meaningful connections between people of different cultures and backgrounds.
6. National Identity
Both Malaysia and Iran have a strong sense of national identity and take great pride in their respective cultures and histories. In Malaysia, this can be seen through the promotion of traditional arts and crafts, such as batik textiles and wayang kulit shadow puppetry. The country also celebrates its diverse cultural heritage through festivals like the Thaipusam and Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Similarly, in Iran, the preservation of ancient Persian customs, traditions, and architecture is a source of national pride. Many Iranians take deep pride in the country’s rich history and cultural heritage, which is reflected in everything from the cuisine to the art and literature. The shared value placed on national identity highlights the importance of preserving culture and history, and serves as a reminder of why it is essential to celebrate diversity and embrace differences between cultures.
7. Traditional Clothing
Both countries have traditional clothing that reflects their cultural heritage.
8. Love of Poetry
Persian literature is renowned around the world for its depth, beauty, and complexity. From mystical poetry to epic tales of love and adventure, Persian literature has influenced countless writers and poets throughout history. Famous works include the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, the Shahnameh (Book of Kings), and Divan-e-Hafez (a collection of poems by Hafez). In Iran, poetry is still a vibrant part of everyday life, with many Iranians reciting verses from memory during social gatherings or special occasions.
Similarly, Malay poetry also has a long history and is still celebrated today. Known as “pantun,” Malay poetry is characterized by its use of rhyme and repetition and often touches on themes of love, nature, and spirituality. Famous Malay poets include Usman Awang, Muhammad Haji Salleh, and Shahnon Ahmad. Despite the differences in language and style, both Persian and Malay poetry reflect the rich cultural heritage of their respective countries and serve as a reminder of the power of language to express complex emotions and ideas.
9. Festivals and Celebrations
Both Malaysia and Iran have a calendar full of festivals and celebrations that reflect their unique cultures and traditions. In Malaysia, festivals like Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Chinese New Year, and Deepavali are celebrated with much fanfare, where families gather to share traditional foods, exchange gifts, and participate in religious ceremonies. Similarly, in Iran, festivals such as Nowruz (Persian New Year), Yalda Night, and Mehrgan are celebrated with great enthusiasm, where family and friends come together to feast on traditional foods, share stories, and perform rituals.
These festivals not only serve as an opportunity to celebrate cultural heritage but also to bring people together for shared experiences. Whether it’s through music, dance, food, or art, these events allow Malaysians and Iranians to showcase their customs and traditions and share them with the rest of the world. The joy and vibrancy of these festivals illustrate the importance of cultural diversity and the richness it brings to society.
10. Heritage Preservation
Both Malaysia and Iran place significant importance on preserving their cultural heritage, including architectural landmarks and historical sites. In Malaysia, many historical buildings such as the Sultan Abdul Samad Building in Kuala Lumpur, the A Famosa Fort in Malacca, and the Kellie’s Castle in Perak have been restored and maintained to reflect the country’s diverse cultural influences. In Iran, ancient structures like the Persepolis, Naqsh-e Jahan Square, and the Jameh Mosque of Isfahan are preserved as a testament to the country’s rich history and culture.
The preservation of these landmarks is important because they serve as a link between past and present, connecting Malaysians and Iranians to their roots and helping them understand their cultural identity better. Additionally, they attract tourists from around the world, promoting cultural exchange and generating income for local communities. By keeping these landmarks intact, both Malaysia and Iran are actively working to ensure that future generations can benefit from the wisdom, beauty and insights of their ancestors.
|anggur||grape||انگور / angūr|
|badam||almond||بادام / bādām|
|baju||shirt||بازو / bâzu “arm”|
|bandar||port/town||بندر / bandar|
|cadar||bed linen||چادر / chādar “cloak”|
|dewan||hall||دیوان / dīvān “administration”|
|gandum||wheat||گندم / gandom|
|kismis||raisin||کشمش / kishmish|
|kurma||date||خرما / khormā|
|pahlawan||hero/warrior||پهلوان / pahlavān|
|pasar||market, bazaar||بازار / bāzār / pazar|
|piala||cup (in the sense of a trophy)||پیاله / piyālah|
|takhta||throne||تخت / takht ‘platform’|
|topan | taufan||typhoon||طوفان|