Sunday, 1 May 2011

The Spread of Islam in Kedah Kingdom

Assalamu'alaikum wa Rahmatullah!

I had just finished reading this book about the Spread of Islam in the Malayan Peninsula which forms a part of Malaysia today. This is about some history of the past in Malaysia. The book is written by Ustad Abdul Manaf b. Hajj Ahmad and its title means "the Islam and Its Interest in the Malays."



It is interesting for me as a local born of Kedah state, and we have special sentiment toward this state because of the first sultan (because he accepted Islam, so he is known as a sultan and not a raja anymore) had accepted the light of Allah without any compulsion but with sincerity when a preacher brought the teachings. I actually love this state with its long historical journey just like my parents love this state although we do not live in this state. There are few other narration in the book but I would just limit it to a focused historical narration.  

The first part of the book talks about the spread of Islam in Malayan Peninsula is through persuasion without any war. Arab merchants and sailors came through the movement of business visit since third centuries. These people from Middle East like Arabia and Iran travelling through maritime route from India to China and stopped by in the Peninsula to get their rest or loading stuffs for trading. 

The people stopped by at the port in Kedah and bartering their stuffs, clearing stocks that they have got from China or India or from their places of origin there. And then Islam arise in 7th C, it begins to shine in the West and spreading to the East. Arab sailors and merchants bringing together the religion with them. 

And then the second part of the book talks about the spread of Islam in the kingdom of Kedah. Kedah is now a non-federated state in Malaysia with a Sultanate that could trace the lineage from the last Hindu-Buddhist king of 10th C. The story of the conversion of this state begins around the year 1136 C according to the Kedah Annals translated from Malay into Arabic.

It says that a religious man from Yemen known as Syeikh Abdullah had arrived in Kedah kingdom and he visited the king of the state. He asked about the religion of the state to the king and the king answered: "my religion and the religion of my people is the religion of our ancestors. All of us worshiping gods' statues and gods." The syeikh said, "So then, your highness must have not listening about Islam yet, and about Quran which was revealed by Allah to Muhammad (saw) had canceled the previous religions before that." 

The king was so astonished when he listened to the syeikh. He said to the syeikh, "if what you had said is the truth, then teach us about this new religion, and guide us with its light." The sheikh was so glad when he heard the king listening to the preaching. Then a big change happened in the state and the whole kingdom.

The king diligently listening to the faith and religious preaching. He encourages his subjects to obey Allah. The syeikh and the king called the attendants in the palace to be taught about religion and the creed of Islam in the palace. The syeikh politely, creatively, and gently teaching the people although with his own language until it attracts the peaceful heart of the attendants and royal family. Not long after that, almost all of the kingdom received Islam and it spreads through the royal court. 

The king name was changed from Hindu-Buddhist name, Phra Ong Mahawangsa to Muslim name, Sultan Muzaffar Syah. The name was chosen himself by the king. The syeikh proclaimed that the name is among the famous names from the West to the East, and the king was so glad. He hope that he and his kingdom would be rewarded with blessings from Allah through the big change. 

He build mosques and ordered each villages to build mosque near subjects residences. Each mosque must have 44 men for the congregational prayers for Friday holy day. Later this story of conversion from Hindu-Buddhism to Islam in the kingdom of Kedah reached Acheh Sultanate in the nearby Sumatera Island which is now apart of Indonesia. The kingdom of Acheh had sent to the kingdom of Kedah a man whose name is Syeikh Nuruddin. This man also asked fellow Arabs from Mecca to bring together religious kitaab to be sent to the Sultanate of Kedah and brought a letter to the Sultanate of Kedah. It says:

"This letter from the Sultanate of Acheh and Nuruddin to our brother the Sultan of Kedah and Syeikh Abdullah the Yemeni who lives now in the Sultanate of Kedah. We send you this letter together with the religious kitaab so may the Islamic Creed deeply rooted in your kingdom, and teach the people and give answer to their questions regarding religion with satisfying answers."

The Sultan of Kedah and Syeikh Abdullah the Yemeni send back the reply letter to Acheh and intensifying the efforts of preaching Islam. Then many musallas being constructed in the villages as the additional places for prayer other than a mosque. It is for the benefit of the subjects and being the place to teach people about the wisdom of religion and the pillars of the religion.

This is some part that I read in the book. I do not know whether this book is also available in Malay or in English. It is a compilation of history of Islam in Malaysian Peninsula and quite simple but detailed compared to text books that we have to read in schools last time. Other things being narrated in the book is about the appearance of Islam in the kingdom of Malacca in 14th C. The contact with European merchants from 15th C with Malacca Sultanate, the contact of Malacca under Portuguese governance of 16th C with Dutch, the contact of Kedah Sultanate in 17th C with English in Penang, the nationalist movement in the kingdoms in Malayan Peninsula, and the independence of Malayan Peninsula which consists of different kingdoms merged into one state or country from the Great Britain administration (it has to do with federated Malayan States and Straits Settlement Administration area like Penang and Malacca because non-federated Malayan States never recognize British occupation).

Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad, wa 'ala aali Muhammad, wa ahlihi wa sahbi ajma'in. Allah forgive us our sins, Allah bless us with wisdom. Gratitude to Allah for the grace of Imaan. Aaminnn!!              

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