The coming of Islam into South-East Asia is a major historic event, which decisively changed the culture and historical development of the Malay peoples. The first Muslim people came into the area probably in the 10th or 12th century, but the first political polities to proclaim themselves as Muslim (as opposed to individuals who may have been believers) did so in the 14th century. The earliest witness to this vital development is the Inscribed Stone of Terengganu. This is a granite pillar measuring 89 cm in height, 53 cm in width at the top and of 214.8 kg in weight. It has inscriptions on three sides (part of the inscription on the third side is no longer legible). These were written in Malay in 1303, using the Jawi script (a script derived from Arabic), and announced that the State of Terengganu was the first polity in East Malaya which had accepted Islam. It went on to say that Shari law was henceforth to be enforced and it gave in detail the penalties which would be enforced for adultery, and orders the payment of debts, and payments to charity.
The inscription is the earliest surviving Malay writing in the Jawi script, which was to be the normal script for the writing of Malay for the next five hundred years, and as such, is important to the development of Malay culture. The Inscribed Stone was set up in the sea-port of Kuala Bering, which was, at the time, a major port-of-call and market for the entire East Coast of Malaya: the Stone calls on visitors to note the Sharia penalties now being enforced. Batu Bersurat Terengganu was inscribed on the International Memory of the World Register in 2009.