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According to Parlindungan, in , Cheng Ho appointed Bong Tak Keng, a resident in Champa who was a descendent of migrants from Yunnan, to govern all the Chinese Muslim communities along the coastline of Southeast Asia. Sunan refers to a saint who has made great contributions to the spread of Islam on Java, and Ngampel was one of the nine great Islamic saints there. Between and , he established Muslim communities, mainly for Javanese natives, in Ngampel, north Java, and Madura.

What merits special attention is the fact that while Cheng Ho was preaching in Chinese, Bong Swee Hoo, a Chinese descendent who had grown up in Java, was preaching in Javanese.

His son Bonang could not speak Chinese and used the Javanese language to diffuse the doctrines of Islam. It was he who subverted the Majapahit dynasty, which upheld Buddhism, and established an Islamic kingdom in Demak, the first of its kind in Java. This kingdom played a very important role in spreading Islam in Kalimantan as well as Java. In , when Djin Bun travelled to Semarang, he discovered that an image had been placed in the mosque in memory of Cheng Ho, making it a Cheng Ho temple rather than a mosque, for image worshipping was forbidden in a mosque.

As a pious Muslim, Djin Bun was extremely upset upon witnessing such a scene and prayed and hoped that Allah would help him build a new mosque there in the near future. His dream was finally realized in , when a gorgeous mosque was completed, which is still standing in Semarang today. When talking about the spread of Islam in Java between the 14 th and the 16 th centuries, we must also take into account the nine saints Wali Songo , said to be the best missionaries in Java and revered by local Muslims.

Among the nine, Bong Swee Hoo, i. His two sons, Sunan Bonang and Sunan Drajat, were also saints. Sunan Giri. In , when Shi Jinqing died, his son Shi Jisun and his second elder sister fought over the position, and on January 8 th , , between his 6 th and 7 th expeditions, Cheng Ho travelled to Kukang with a view to resolving the conflict. The eldest daughter of Shi Jinqing, who was usually called Nyai Gede Pinatih, came to Java due to the family in-fighting.

She was reputed for her hard and successful work in spreading Islam in eastern Java and became the foster mother of Raden Paku, who devoted himself to spreading Islam in the area of Surabaya. When Majapahit sent troops to suppress his activities, Raden Paku, a wise and brave man, led his follow men and beat the aggressors. Among the other eight saints, five were more or less related, either by kinship or as teacher-disciple, with Bong Swee Hoo.

Raden Paku, and was also a disciple of Sunan Bonang, although he was not a saint. These achievements in disseminating Islam in Southeast Asia are highly appreciated by local scholars and others. And as China recognized these Islamic countries, they were freed from aggression by Siam and Majapahit. After Pasai was eliminated in north Sumatra, Melaka became the centre of Islam in the region, recognized by the Cheng Emperor. In the popular press, the September 14 th , , edition of the Indonesian magazine Tempo wrote that, like other pious Muslims, Cheng Ho was engaged in preaching wherever he travelled in Java.

British missionary Robert Morrison reported Java to be the richest island in Southeast Asia and credited Cheng Ho whom he called an Islamic preacher with soldiers with forcing the Javanese to convert from idol worship to Islam In However, that Cheng Ho used force is against the historical truth. Up until now, no article or book has ever recorded such violence. Friends said that the building was built by Cheng Ho himself as a mosque, but was later refurnished by the local Chinese, who believed in Buddhism, Taoism, or Confucianism, as a Cheng Ho temple.

However, this plaque repeatedly reminds people not to forget that Cheng Ho was a pious Muslim. Ten days later, Cheng Ho went on with his voyage, leaving Wang behind with ten servants to continue his recovery. After recovering, however, Wang did not catch up with the fleet, but settled. Out of enthusiasm for his adopted land, he taught local and Chinese farmers how to farm and do business and preached Islamic doctrine. First, in the early Ming dynasty, Islam was enjoying an unprecedented boom in China, providing favorable conditions for expanding it to other countries.

And also during the Yuan dynasty, Muslims were all over China. Ibn Battuta reported that Muslim communities could be found in every city in China, and they built mosques within their communities.

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If anyone dare go against the wish of the emperor, he will be severely punished. All these helped boost the spread of Islam in China and created favorable conditions for Cheng Ho to diffuse his religion overseas. Second, as Cheng Ho was a Muslim, it was his glorious obligation to spread Islam. Cheng Ho was born into a Haji family, and in he paid homage to the tombs of Muslim ancestors in Ling Mountain and prayed in Jiuri Mountains in Quanzhou.

These activities, showing his desire and sense of mission to spread Islam, are retrievable from historical records. It is conceivable that during his voyage, Cheng Ho did not forget these responsibilities and obligations. Furthermore, through his efforts in spreading Islam, he established close relations with local rulers and residents, thus enabling him to better accomplish his expeditions. Therefore, while assuming his mission from the court, as a Muslim he also harbored the motive to diffuse Islam.

As is recorded in ancient archives, Cheng Ho visited Java on each expedition except the sixth. During this period, i. If it had come from Melaka or from the eastern coast of Sumatra, then it would not have been Hanafiyah, but Shafiiyah or some other school. During his expeditions, Cheng Ho used force only three times out of the need for self-defense. And according to extant foreign archives, as a Muslim, Cheng Ho spread Islam through peaceful means.

There was no sign of violence in this. Many Chinese Muslim leaders, who were more or less indebted to Cheng Ho, carried on this non-violent tradition in their preaching. Some other cases in Annals are also indicative of the non-violent approach. He loved his people, and protected all of them regardless of their religious beliefs.

Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei is distinctive in itself, i. Local residents accepted it voluntarily and gradually. What should be noted is that Islam was introduced into Indonesia along with commerce, thus promoting the development of business there, marking a great step forward in the Middle Ages in Indonesia.

Here is another example. Maulana Malik Ibrahim, one of the nine saints of Java, was a merchant. He was born in Gujarat, India, went to lead a mission to Java in , and died in When describing the overall picture of the development of Islam in Southeast Asia between the late 13 th century and early 16 th century, M.

What merits special attention is that these places were at the same time places where Chinese private merchants and Chinese Muslims were most active. In this sense, Islam helped build equal and harmonious relations among people. Her adopted son, Sunan Giri, one of the nine saints on Java, himself sailed to southern Kalimantan for commercial purposes. Through Islam, Muslims, regardless of nationality, all became masters of commerce. Success in marine trade in turn gave impetus to the development of Islam. And these three Muslim villages together were responsible for the logistics provision to the fleet.

Moreover, inter-marriage between immigrant Muslims and local women is another feature of the development of Islam in Indonesia. The Chinese Muslims among the nine saints were all products of inter-marriage. And that chef must have been a Muslim too, for after their death, the couple was buried together, and their tomb was regarded as sacred. Based on the examples cited above, it is highly possible that Cheng Ho was engaged in spreading Islam in Indonesia and that what he did was of great significance at the time.

Thus, Hamka appeals to scholars focusing on the history of Islam in Indonesia to further study Cheng Ho. The primary reason is scarcity of relevant materials. Another group is Muslim Chinese from Guangdong, Zhangzhou, and Quanzhou, whose lifestyle is just as tasteful and clean. Most of them fast according to Islamic rituals. Most people are believers in Islam, and there are twenty to thirty mosques. This study inspired his next field research project, a study of the formation of predatory states among the Makassar of South Sulawesi, Indonesia in relation to peer polities around the Java Sea in the period before CE He then turned his attention to the shifting relationships among social, political and religious centers of authority in Southeast Asia from to In a forthcoming monograph on Subjectivity and Sovereignty in Islamic Southeast Asia: Polyontological Practices among the Makassar , he will examine the political implications of life cycle rituals, Islamic devotional practices and mass schooling.

He plans to follow this trilogy of monographs on Islam in Indonesia with a comparative study of the development of Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist nationalism in the countries surrounding the Indian Ocean. In , he returned to his original research interest by helping to organize a comparative study of ten egalitarian societies in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, which resulted in an edited volume This study has led to a new project concerning the history of the movement for the rights of indigenous peoples, both in the Philippines and around the world.

Edited volume with Ku Kun-hui. Special issue of Anthropological Forum 29 3. According to a tradition collected by Linschoten in Goa at the beginning of the s, various communities of fishermen, including people from Daniel Perret. Bengal, were the earliest settlers in Melaka Linschoten, , I: Bengali fishermen in Melaka were still noticed at the beginning of the 16th century Pires, , I: After the conquest of the town by the Portuguese, their Gujarati captives appeared in the region on the markets for seamen.

In fact, the Portuguese employed them as rowers in their boats. At that time, both groups formed the majority of the seamen working for the Portuguese in the far eastern part of Nusantara. They belonged to several castes specialized in navigation but some of them were also Muslims settled there, maybe Hindus converted to Islam. We know for instance that the Portuguese quickly recognized the technical skills of the Kanaris, groups of professional Hindu or Muslim seamen from Konkan.

On the Relationship between Cheng Ho and Islam in Southeast Asia

Westerners did not have the monopoly over these South Asian seamen. In the second half of the 17th century, the royal trade ships of Banten sent up to the Coromandel Coast and Gujarat had South Asian seamen in their crews Rantoandro, , seamen with Banten as their home port. The sultan and dignitaries preferred to hire them for their ships above Javanese crews ibid. Several sources of the s and s even mentioned From Slave to King These seamen did not spend all their time aboard the ships.

They went ashore, especially during the time of transactions. Some of them stayed even longer. During one of his stays in Aceh in , Beaulieu mentioned the repurchase there of several Christian seamen from Goa, Cochin and Melaka. Formerly working on Portuguese ships, these people were probably captives or slaves Beaulieu, The career of these seamen sometimes took another turn.

We have at least one example of South Asian seamen who became pirates in the region: a seemingly relatively important group of Gujarati pirates headed by Khoja Asem was in fact active in the South China Sea during the s Gopal, Finally, many South Asians were probably working as fishermen in the region, but they are very poorly documented. Miners and artisans. In maritime Southeast Asia, local literature is the main type of source revealing direct indications of gold mining by South Asian people before the arrival of the Portuguese. McKinnon, This idea of gold mining carried out by Indians in the hinterland of North Sumatra may somehow be strengthened by the find of an inscribed gold ring in Lobu Tua near Barus, on the west coast of North Sumatra.

Based on this inscription, it has been assumed that its owner was an Indian miner Friederich, Much later, by midth century, we know that Kelings managed the exploitation of gold deposits in the suburbs of Melaka Arasaratnam, b: and that two Hindu Kelings from Nagapattinam had discovered a goldfield not far from the town.

One of them predates by a millennium the period under focus here. It is a touchstone found in Krabi, on the west coast of South Thailand. This artefact bears a Tamil inscription dated to the third or fourth century AD, which gives the name of a Tamil goldsmith, Perumpatan Kal. It is dated to the end of the 13th century Subbarayalu, Therefore, between the Krabi inscription and this Aceh inscription fell maybe a millennium of exploitation of gold deposits by South Asian people in North Sumatra.

I have mentioned earlier the connection between gold and Kelings in the Karo area. In fact, in the same area, there is another tradition linking metalworking and the Kelings E. McKinnon, 26, It is interesting to note that the same link occurs in traditions in the eastern part of the Archipelago. For instance, the goldsmiths on the island of Lease near Ambon recount a tradition according to which they learned metal-working from Kelings of Coromandel Rumphius, In Melaka, the presence of South Asian artisans is attested since Despite the significant decrease of the South Asian community during the 17th century, the presence of Indian artisans in Melaka was still mentioned by the end of the period Watson Andaya, At least since the 17th century, Bengali people were well known as goldsmiths in Banten Rantoandro, and numerous Indian artisans were based in Aceh Schrieke, , II: Moreover, at the same time, Indian and Singhalese cabinetmakers were working in Batavia.

They represent an interesting case regarding the diffusion of furniture styles during From Slave to King They were free workers, but also slaves or former slaves working under the supervision of Dutch masters. At least from the end of the 16th century, sources about Banten mention the presence of Indian interpreters who were familiar with the Portuguese language. As the Portuguese started to visit Banten in , one can assume that these interpreters were in demand there since midth century Rantoandro, , This presence of Indian interpreters at Banten lasted until the beginning of the 17th century.

At that time, Keling Panjang, a Tamil from Meliapur, was the head of the protocol and official interpreter at the Banten court due to his good command of the Portuguese language. Involved with the party in favor of free trade during the crisis, he left Banten the next year with most of the Kelings. Apart from Banten, we have several indications during the whole 17th century of the existence of Indian interpreters in the region, from Aceh to Buton Island in present Sulawesi Tenggara Province. When Peter Floris arrived in Patani in June , a group of people, including Chettiars, came on board in order to translate into Malay the letter of the King of England Floris, Both parties recognized these Indian Muslims as skilled interpreters and negotiators Watson Andaya They were also employed as advisors and experts.

From his name, in fact, he was very probably a Portuguese mestizo of Indian origin as the other interpreters. A month before stopping at Aceh, Beaulieu was at Tiku, on the west coast of Sumatra, where he mentions that the former interpreter of the English there was someone from Goa named Pedro Ferreiro ibid.

We know another interpreter from Goa, this one working for the Dutch around , when they settled in Jacatra. Later, in the s, the interpreter of the sultan of Banten was a Bengali Rantoandro, , whereas a Koja was the interpreter of the king of Buton Chijs et al. This kind of association was not restricted to the coastal polities. We know for instance that Pakubuwana I, the ruler of Mataram at the beginning of the 18th century , had a Bengali interpreter during his meetings with the Dutch Ricklefs, Staff and servants.

In Melaka, before the Portuguese conquest, numerous clerks and accountants of Muslim traders were skilled Hindus Sandhu, We know also that at least since the 17th century, South Asians were secretaries of local rulers and dignitaries as well as foreigners. In Aceh, the cashiers of the local and foreign merchants were generally Gujaratis, because of their reputation as most proficient identifiers of counterfeit money Dampier, At least since the end of the 16th century, the wealthy Keling merchants of Melaka seem to have brought servants, laundry workers and other members of castes specialized in services Arasaratnam, Eunuchs were noticed in the Banten and Aceh courts by the beginning of the 17th century.

Some 20 years later, the first contact Beaulieu had with people in Aceh was on a royal ship where he saw one eunuch wearing the royal kris or seal, adding that there were of them at the same court ibid. Unfortunately, these three almost contemporary observations do not give any clue about the origin and antiquity of this tradition. Around , Barbosa mentioned that in Bengal, Muslim traders often ventured in the hinterland to buy pagan boys, castrate them before training and selling them Barbosa, , II: This hinterland could be the Sylhet area, to the northeast of Dhaka, where at that time boys were particularly in demand to be made into eunuchs.

Another community needs to be mentioned here: the Muslims from Coromandel settled at Bengkulu with the English after the latter left Banten at the beginning of the s Coolhaas ed. Religious proselytizers and leaders. For the period examined here, the oldest explicit mentions I have found so far regarding the presence of South Asian Hindu or Buddhist religious teachers in the region relate to Majapahit, where people from Karnataka and Gaur stayed at the court in the midth century Pigeaud, , III: Two names are especially mentioned: Buddhaditya from Kancipuri and a Brahman named Mutali or Mudaliar?

Both wrote Sanskrit verses to honor the king Hayam Wuruk. Looking for the motivation of these Indian Brahmans risking been polluted through contact with foreigners, the main one was maybe the financial advantages offered by the status of guest of honor at the Majapahit Court. Certainly revered by their host, these guests were prestigious because of their birth and as such were superior to the local religious teachers Pigeaud, , IV: , , Another advantage was probably their supposed supernatural power, especially for the specialists of tantric Shivaism Sarkar, It is interesting to draw a parallel between this situation and the later narratives, which recount the magical powers of Sufi masters.

These powers are considered as crucial in several stories of Islamization of religious Daniel Perret. Apart from this case, as far as I know, neither in the whole history of the Samudra-Pasai Sultanate, nor in 15th century Melaka, traces of South Asian religious leaders have been found. The various sources only mention Persian and Arabic religious dignitaries.

I have recently highlighted this question for another place, namely Barus on the west coast of North Sumatra. Based on various sources, I suggested very tentatively that Barus could have been Islamized during the second half of the 13th century. Three sources mention that the hero of the Islamization of Barus came by ship, but do not agree on his origin and the route he followed. According to a legend collected in Barus at the beginning of the 19th century, he departed from Makah and came straight to the archipelago.

The name of the sponsor of this monument, perhaps an indication about the origin of the hero himself, could also lead to both India and the Middle East. In fact this Nugan b. Madari or Tugin b. Madari as deciphered by Kalus, could refer to a tariqah Muslim brotherhood established by Shah Madar and possibly active in India, especially in Bengal, during the 13th century. If Madari refers to the place name Madar, then Syeikh Mahmud could be linked to Yemen where four places still bear this name or to a town near Al Basrah in Iraq Perret, For the period under study here, the best known examples are probably the Arab ulamas involved in the connection between the Gujarat and Aceh.

It seems that ulamas from Gujarat regularly visited Aceh since the s Azra, He arrived in Aceh in the s to teach Islamic law, ethics, logic and rhetoric. He went back to Makah before to come again to Aceh a few years later to teach mysticism during the reign of Sultan Ala ad-Din Riayat Syah After a stay in Makah around , he became head khalifah of a Muslim brotherhood, the tariqah Rifa''iyyah, which he introduced later in maritime Southeast Asia.

In Aceh, where he certainly stayed between and , he became Syaikh Al-Islam, the most important religious adviser of the sultanate. He started a reform of Islam and had some opponents executed. Raniri was a prolific writer, producing religious and profane literature, including his famous Bustan al-Salatin. Regarding 15th century Java, I refer to Pires, who mentions that Muslim traders from Gujarat and Bengal living on the north coast of Java used to bring in religious leaders, probably from the same regions.

The economic success of these traders, exemplified through the construction of mosques, opened the door to the control of the commerce and power by their descendants Pires, , I: These Muslim dignitaries probably legitimized their control of the power. Two centuries later, there is the interesting mention, in , of the presence at the court of Mataram of a Haji Gujarati, who officiated the ceremony during which the ruler was conferred the title of sultan de Graaf, , The single indication I have found regarding the presence of South Asian religious scholars in Bali during the period under study here refers to scholars formerly living in religious centres in the kingdom of Majapahit that encountered local scholars during the 16th century, after the fall of this kingdom.

A century earlier , there is a similar report regarding Muslims from Calicut and Bengal in the island of Solor. Data are more detailed for the beginning of the 17th century. They show the use of various strategies of Islamization, including the opening of specific schools to Islamize the children of the elite, where teachers were mostly Javanese and Gujarati traders or sailors.

Therefore, it is not surprising that, as in Aceh, people in Ambon still keep the tradition of Islamic teachers from Gujarat, starting probably in the 17th century with a certain Daud Ji Suleiman, followed by his son Abdul Rachman and later his grandson Hasan Suleiman Knaap, 76, These people were also active in spreading propaganda against the VOC or the Westerners.

There were also South Asian traders who helped members of local ruling families to perform the hajj. This was the case for example in , when a prince of Banten left aboard a Gujarati ship sailing first to Surat before to go to Makah with a large retinue Arasaratnam, a: Rulers and civil dignitaries. During almost the entire period considered here, most of the coastal polities of maritime Southeast Asia, from Aceh to Ternate and the Malay Peninsula, integrated more or less acculturated foreigners, including people from South Asia, in their political structure and highest administration. It seems that opportunities of upward mobility were numerous, and this characteristic may have encouraged people from South Asia to settle in the region.

Based on the available sources, this phenomenon is certainly noticeable from the second half of the 14th century, but I suggest that it could perpetuate a much older regional tradition of entrusting foreigners with the From Slave to King Compared to other social categories, this phenomenon is rather well documented in the sources. Inscriptions on tombstones reveal the names of four rulers.

They abandoned the power at the end of the 14th century, when the dynasty which founded the sultanate came back on the throne. At least two individuals originating from South Asia acceded to the function of governor in the region. By the midth century, Kaicil Guzerate 74 became governor sengaji of the kingdom of Jailolo, in the northern part of Halmahera, under the authority of Sultan Hairun of Ternate r. He was previously the chief of his naval fleet.

About , Mataram destroyed and took control of ports on the north coast of Java, including Jepara, where a Gujarati bearing the title of Khoja Hulubalang or Khoja Baba was posted as governor of the town and maybe of the surrounding territories under the authority of the Mataram ruler. Coen noticed that he spoke Malay but not Javanese. Based on the Sejarah Melayu and the Suma Oriental, we may assume that a Keling gained prominence at the court of Melaka around the midth century.

Through his marriage to a daughter of the bendahara, he probably Daniel Perret. Whereas the highborn status of this Keling in the Sejarah Melayu could be one of the recurrent themes of the text recently highlighted Chambert-Loir, , he probably belonged to the Chettiar financial community, as he became. Moreover, if he was not a Muslim before to access this function, he converted soon thereafter as suggested by Pires. The comparison of the genealogies of various versions of the Sejarah Melayu gives rise to caution regarding the authenticity and intensity of the bonds between the sultans and this bendahara line of descent initiated by a Keling.

However, the bendahara line as a reservoir of spouses for the sultans does seem to be one of the structural features of the kingdom of Melaka. Pires also points to this phenomenon , II: This bendahara line of descent initiated by a Keling raises the question of the ethnic identity claimed or assigned by the descendants, whether in the male or in the female line. In fact, the Sejarah Melayu and Pires clearly identify the origin of the founder of the line of descent, but the answer is much less obvious regarding the descendants.

A number of indications suggest that the Malay text seeks to emphasize their integration in the Malay community. After the Portuguese conquest, a Keling acceded again to the function of bendahara of Melaka: Nayinar Chatu, previously probably a moneylender in Pulicat, is surely the most often studied South Asian of 16th century Melaka so far. He committed suicide in and was replaced by his son. In fact, sources reveal that, in , one of the sons of the bendahara Tun Narawangsa bore the title of Tuanku Marakayar, a title linked without any ambiguity to the Marakkayar Muslim community of Coromandel, especially active in the ports of Kunjimedu and Nagore at the time Alves, At Banten, Indians, especially Tamils, dominated the administration of the town from its foundation in until The Tamil Gobay held the highest function of tumenggung Prime Minister for foreign affairs in Three other South Asian individuals assisted him.

As an intermediary between the local ruler and the foreigners, it was a key position for economic relations. The function of syahbandar seems to appear in the context of Muslim kingdoms, but it was not an innovation in maritime Southeast Asia, as the From Slave to King The Keling Nayinar Kuniyappan, perhaps from Kunjimedu in Coromandel, held the position of syahbandar in Pasai between and about He was also a diplomat.

The reasons behind this repartition are not clear, but the demographic importance of each of these communities was certainly a deciding factor.

Islamic Narrative and Authority in Southeast Asia: From the 16th to the 21st Century -

None of the names of these Keling syahbandars. We only know the title of Raja Mendeliar at the time of Sultan Mahmud Syah, an individual as rich as the bendahara and probably one of the most influential dignitaries at the court. Nayinar Melaka, another Tamil, held again the position of syahbandar. It was also a title of a caste used by Tamils.

At Banten, during the entire 16th century, Kelings monopolized the single position of syahbandar Rantoandro, Syahbandar Keling replaced the above mentioned Raja Mudelyar by the end of the s, soon after the foundation of Banten. Since the end of the s at least and for more than 20 years, a Tamil originating from Meliapur Daniel Perret. By the turn of the 17th century, he was replaced by another Tamil, who held the function until In fact, Soliman Daud was in charge of the entire Indian community living there — people from Coromandel, Gujarat and Bengal — Guillot, As far as I know, the last mention of a Keling syahbandar in the region refers to an individual named Saracsatty living in Krawang, near Batavia, in It does not mean that Tamils never assumed the function later, but their successors were undoubtedly Muslims called Chulias.

Since the end of the 15th century at least, until the Portuguese conquest, Melaka had a Gujarati syahbandar.

Islamic Narrative and Authority in Southeast Asia

Nakhoda Begawan, the only name or title left, held the function at the beginning of the 16th century. He was an influential spiritual master at the court of Sultan Mahmud Syah and played a major role during the first visit of the Portuguese to Melaka in Alves, , As in Melaka, there were four syahbandars in Aceh, 88 including at least one Gujarati at the time of Iskandar Thani Nakhuda Mu''tabar Khan held this position until at least, during the reign of Safiyyat ad-Din Aceh had another Gujarati syahbandar at the time , Moutjakan or Moedjagkan Benjamin settled in Aceh since the s Ito, , , It may be noted that the presence of Gujarati.

In for example, the syahbandar of Hitu in Ambon was also a Gujarati Knaap ed.

If the dignitaries of Tamil, Telugu and Gujarati origins seem to represent the majority of the most influential South Asians in local courts, Bengali From Slave to King In Jepara, where the administration seems to have been organized with several syahbandars, two Bengalis probably held the position. In fact, Key Raxa Bengal or Bengala was syahbandar there in the mids. Even if there is no explicit mention regarding his origin, his title leaves no doubt.

He lived in Jepara with one of his sons and took part in two embassies to Batavia. Since at least the s, he was among the four major traders in town, with a powerful influence on the governor. As his predecessor, he took part in embassies to Batavia. It is the case for Khoja Babu at Banjarmasin from the end of the s until the mids at least. He notably went to Batavia in to sign the first contract of purchase of pepper by the VOC at Banjarmasin.

The official function of saudagar raja king merchant was sometimes associated to that of syahbandar. This dignitary was especially in charge of all the business transactions of the ruler, but he also carried out other tasks not directly connected to trade. He was saudagar raja in Perak from the s until the beginning of the s and spent also some time in Melaka and Johor. Mahometh Lebey was another Chulia saudagar raja, this time in Banten during the s Guillot, South Asians appear also among the Orang Kaya. For instance, at the beginning of , one of the highest dignitaries of Banda was an Indian with the title of Orang Kaya Keling, and among the notables captured there a decade later by the Dutch we find individuals such as Codia Ali, Codia Omnian and Lebe Bousam.

Interactions with the foreign world were entrusted to diplomatic agents nominated by the ruler. Here again the tendency in maritime Southeast Asia seems to have been to send foreigners to accomplish these missions. Here we find again the above mentioned Tuanku Marakayar sent by Johor to Melaka to sign a peace agreement with the Portuguese in Alves, , as well as the Raja Mudeliar or their descendants.

In the middle of the 17th century, Aceh sent Orang Kaya Raja Mudeliar to Tiku, on the west coast of Sumatra, to sign a trade agreement with the VOC, and soon later, he went to Perak for a similar mission. During the period under consideration, South Asians not involved in trade were present from Aceh to Maluku. The mention of the latter raises the question of an earlier involvement of South Asians there.

Thanks to the account of Pires, we may assume that South Asian traders settled in Maluku since at least the 14th century. As South Asian traders are identified on the north coast of Java since the ninth century, and as this area had long been in contact with Maluku for the spice trade, I suggest that South Asians, involved in trade or not, may have lived in Maluku since the beginning of the period studied here.

The identification and archaeological excavations of old settlements in Maluku could yield some precious indications to support this hypothesis. Regarding the origins of these people, we can conclude that all the coastal areas from Gujarat to Bengal yielded migrants to a greater or lesser extent, along with Ceylon and the Maldives. The demographic weight of this phenomenon is impossible to estimate with precision.

However, I have suggested above a conservative estimate of , South Asian slaves imported by the natives polities between the 15th and the 17th centuries. If this figure is doubled to take into account slaves imported by the Portuguese and the Dutch, as well as the people who found their ways in other groups, except traders, the total estimate would be 1.

From the 16th to the 21st Century

Arrivals between the late 13th century and the late 14th century need to be added to this number to cover the entire period under consideration here. Moreover, to estimate the overall impact of South Asian people in the region the various categories of traders need also to be taken into account. If my hypothesis on the migration of South Asian labour force to maritime Southeast Asia since the 15th century is right, South Asia as a source of manpower is a recurrent feature of the economic relations between both regions until today. After an interruption during the 18thth centuries, the phenomenon surged again from the late 19th century until the s in the Malay Peninsula, especially with the massive migration of Tamils in the rubber and oil palms plantations, and others in the development of public infrastructure and municipal services.

It has been followed, since the s, by the hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshi workers, who have flocked into Malaysia, especially in the construction and industry sectors. I have shown the continuity of their involvement in the plantation sector since the development of native pepper plantations in North Sumatra, followed by the nutmeg plantations controlled by the VOC in Maluku and later in Peninsular Malaysia as just mentioned above. Does this involvement go back to the apparition of the pepper cultivation in 11th century Java, as this culture requires some expertise?

This question will be very difficult to answer, except if archaeologists are lucky enough to spot these early plantations and find indications of an Indian presence in their vicinity. The same continuity of involvement is perceptible in the subsistence farming controlled by native polities and the VOC cultivation of rice and vegetables, stockbreeding, fishing , as well as gold mining, in which Indian experts were very probably involved long before the period under consideration here.

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We have seen South Asians meeting the native and foreign demands to increase the population, to build and maintain the infrastructure of strategic centres such as Aceh and Batavia. Again, this role in the development of infrastructure reappeared in 20th century Malaysia, as mentioned above. South Asians also met part of the demand of the rulers, as well as growing local and foreign elites, for palace staff, domestic helpers and artisans.

The demand was also strong for Indian sailors by natives Banten and foreigners Indian traders, Portuguese, Dutch and Englishmen settled in maritime Southeast Asia. The continuity of their involvement in military troops is clear too. As fighters, some of them had surprising destinies. I think especially of those sent back to South Asia Ceylon in the VOC military expeditions, but also of those fighting against each other during the conquest of Banten in Again, continuity should be pointed out here with the role played by Sikh soldiers and policemen in British Malaya and likely in today Malaysia.

The same may be said of the role played by Indians in the civil service. I have noticed their role as tax farmers in late 17th century Batavia, perhaps a resurgence of what seems to be a very old tradition of South Asian tax collectors in Java. It is almost certain that other sectors have escaped our attention or are totally absent from the sources.

Art would be one of them. The common shortage of population stimulated the social mobility, usually leading to progressive shifts of cultural identities. The shortage of a middle-class especially, led to the formation of a class of slaves-clients in native polities, and to the liberation of a large number of South Asian slaves, who became parts of two bourgeois classes, the Mardicas in the Portuguese settlements and the Mardijkers in the VOC settlements. This middle class of foreign origin offered several advantages to the foreign authorities: no social demand, no pretention to power, and conversion to the Christian faith.

We have seen South Asians reaching the highest positions in the administrative hierarchy of several local polities, such as bendahara and. This fact may be interpreted as a capacity to integrate through assimilation in an open society, which usually requires the conversion to Islam, the adoption of the local language and customs, marriage to a native spouse, and the acceptance of a native title.

It may also be analyzed as a sign of shortage of native experts to fill certain positions, perhaps by lack of interest, or because of fear or difficulty to interact outside ones own society. In that case, the existence of a cosmopolitan high administration could be the result of a deliberate strategy conducted by the native rulers. Regarding the involvement of South Asians in the religion, I have notably shown their role in the propagation of Islam almost all over the region during the 17th century.