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This effectively renders many traditional names illegal including Puteh or Putih (white), Wulan or Bulan (moon), Suria (sun), Rimau (tiger) and Awan (cloud).

Partly because of these restrictions and mostly as a result of the increased religious awareness during the last century, the vast majority of Malays today tend to favour Arabic names.

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In pre-modern times, words and names of Arabic derivation were adapted to suit the Classical Malay language.

This is still reflected in the rural pronunciation of certain Middle Eastern names.

Thus, Sharif would be Sarip and Aziz would become Ajis.

Personal names in Malaysia are extremely useful in tracing a person's cultural and ethnic background as Malaysia comprises many ethnicities and cultures in which each has its own distinct system of names.

Personal names are, to a certain degree, regulated by the national registration department, especially since the introduction of the National Registration Identity Card (NRIC).

The Malaysian Chinese are the only major ethnic group in Malaysia to use family names.

Most other groups, including the ethnic Malays, Orang Asli and the Bumiputera of Sabah and Sarawak, share a naming custom that includes the use of a personal name followed by a patronym name.

Arabic names were introduced later along with Islam but didn't become dominant among commoners until the colonial era.

Although traditional Malay names were still widely used for centuries afterward, they are now primarily confined to rural areas.

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