Saturday, March 24, 2012

121 - Some history facts of Arakan and the origin of Arakan's Muslim population

Some history facts of Arakan and the origin of Arakan's Muslim population

1 History

1.1 Origin of Burmese Indians

1.2 Indians in Burmese History
1.2.1 Pyu and India
1.2.2 Orissa
1.2.3 Andhra Dynasty
1.2.4 Indian Royal family
1.2.5 Talaings
1.2.6 Ah Yee Gyis
1.2.7 Bengal prince Pateik Kara

1.2.8 India and Arakan (

The Arakanese chronicles claim that the Kingdom was founded in the
year 2666 BC.[78]

Wesali founded by Hindu Chandras

"The area known as North Arakan had been for many years before the 8th
century the seat of Hindu dynasties. In 788 AD a new dynasty, known as
the Chandras, founded the city of Wesali. This city became a noted
trade port to which as many as a thousand ships came annually; the
Chandra kings were upholders of Buddhism, ... their territory extended
as far north as Chittagong;---- Wesali was an easterly Hindu kingdom
of Bengal --- Both government and people were Indian.[79] So far as
Arakan is concerned, the inscriptions show traces of two early
dynasties holding sway in the north. The earlier one, a Candra
dynasty, seems to have been founded in the middle of the fourth
century A.D. Its capital was known by the Indian name of Vaisali and
it maintained close connections THE PRE-PAGAN PERIOD 9 with India.
Thirteen kings of this dynasty are said to have reigned for a total
period of 230 years. The second dynasty was founded in the eighth
century by a ruler referred to as Sri Dharmavijaya, who was of pure
Ksatriya descent. His grandson married a daughter of the Pyu king of
Sri Ksetra.[80]

Hindu statues and inscriptions in Wesali  The ruins of old capital of Arakan - Wesali show Hindu statues and inscriptions of the 8th century AD. Although the Chandras usually held Buddhistic doctrines, there is reason to believe that Brahmanism and Buddhism flourished side by side in the capital.

Chittagong is from Tsit-ta-gung

The Arab chief was the Thuratan, in the Arakanese utterance whom the
king of Arakan Tsula-Taing Tsandra (951-957 AD.), claimed to have
defeated in his invasion of Chittagong in 953 AD. In memory of his
victory the Arakanese king set up a stone trophy, in the conquered
land. And inscribed on it the Burmese word, "Tsit-ta-gung" meaning
"there shall be no war". And from this remark of the monument,
according to Burmese tradition, the district took its name, Chittagong.

Chittagong under Arakanese rule

Nearly a century, from about 1580 till 1666 AD Chittagong was under
almost uninterrupted Arakanese rule. Arakanese captured and sent
numbers of the inhabitants of Bengal into Arakan as agricultural and
slave labours.Arakanese known in Bengal as Maghs

The Buddhists Arakanese, known as Magh or Rakhine are descended from
Aryans of Maghada, India Mongolians mixed with the Tibeto-Burmans.[82]

During the 16th and 17th centuries the Arakanese (known in Bengal as
Maghs) in alliance with the Portuguese constituted a plundering party.
By dominating the riverine tracts they plundered and devastated large
parts of southern and eastern Bengal.[83]

They carried a large number of men, women and children from the
coastal districts of Bengal,[84] as captives and the Maghs (Arakanese)
employed them as agricultural labour. It is well known that the
Kingdom of Arakan was a sparsely populated area, which required huge
amount of human labour for agriculture. With this intention the
Arakanese employed a large number of captives in the villages of land
on the bank of the Kuladan river to the Naf. This Kula population of
the country form about 15 percent of the whole population. A.P.Phayre
mentions, "the Kolas or Mossalmans, are of an entirely different race.
They being of Bengalee descent.[85]

Burmese settlement in Arakan

"The Burmese do not seem to have settled in Arakan until possibly as
late as the tenth century AD. Hence earlier dynasties are thought to
have been Indian, ruling over a population similar to that of Bengal.
All the capitals known to history have been in the north near modern

Arrival of Arab Muslims

The Arab Muslims first came into contact with Arakan through trade and
commerce during the 8th century AD and since then Islam started
spreading in the region. In those days the Arabs were very much active
in sea-trade, they even monopolized trade and commerce in the East.

Dr. Mohammad Enamul Haque introduces another Arakanese chronicle,
which informs us of an Arab settlement, in the tenth century AD.
extending from the mouth of the Meghna to the North of the Naf riverin
the East.[88]

With the passing of time, the number of Muslims in Arakan began to
increase. Gradually these Muslims have established very good and
cordial relations with the local people and intermixed by marrying
local women.

"They differ but little from the Arakanese except in their religion
and in the social customs which their religion directs; in writing
they use Burmese, but amongst themselves employ colloquially the
language of their ancestors".[89]

Even, a Russian merchant, Athanasius Nitikin, who travelled in the
East (1470) mentions regarding activities of some Muslim sufis of Pegu
(Bago). The Merchant pictured Pegu as "no inconsiderable port,
inhabited by Indian dervishes.[90]

Ships wrecked at Ramree Island

In the history of the Arakanese kings, it is recorded that during the
reign, of Arakanese king Mahat-y-ing Chandayat (780-810 AD.) several
Kula or foreign ships were wrecked upon the island of Ramree, and the
people who boarded on them were said to be Muslims. The Arakanese king
ordered them to be settled in the villages of Arakan.[91]

Narameikhla alias Solaiman Shah

However, Islam made its first major political and cultural impact
during the early 15th century through Narameikhla, king of Arakan. He
lost the war, run to India Mogul Empire for help. With the help of
Muslim soldiers he was restored as a king and Narameikhla, took the
title Solaiman Shah.[92] and established a new dynasty, known as Maruk-
u-dynasty, with its capital at Mrohaung.[93]

Arakan coins with Islamic features

With effect from the year 1430 the kingdom of Arakan became tributary
to Bengal and the kings assume a Muslim name and struck coins with
Kalima (The declarition of Islamic faith of the single God, Allah and
believef of His messenger Mohammad- Peace be upon him.)[94]

"It is common for the kings, though Buddhist, to use Mohamedan
designations in addition to their own names, and even to issue
medallions bearing the Kalima, the Mohammedan confession of faith, in
Persian script".[95]

This practice was prevalent among the Arakanese kings till the first
half of the seventeenth century. This was because they not only wished
to be thought of as sultans in their own rights, but also because
there were Muslims in ever larger numbers among their subjects.
A.P.Phayre observes that the practice of assuming Muslim name and
inscribing Kalima in their coins was probably first introduced in
fulfilment of the promise made by Mung-Somwun but was continued in
later time as a token of sovereignty in Chittagong.[96]

He also mentions that "these they assumed as being successors of
Mussalman kings, or as being anxious to imitate the prevailing fashion
of lndia.[97]

Muslim influence in Arakan since 1430So the Muslim influence in Arakan may be said to date from 1430, theyear of Narameikhla's restoration.During his reign an unexpected
development took place, which paved the way for a period of Muslim
domination in the land of Arakan. From this time onwards the relation
of Muslims with the Arakanese became more intimate and for about two
centuries Arakan was united in a bond of friendship with Islamic
lands. As a result of the impact of the civilization of the Muslims,
Arakanese culture also progressed and thus began the 'Golden Age' in
the history of Arakan.[98]

Muslims Massacred in Arakan

The next and last event was the flight of Shah Shuja, the brother of
Aurangzeb, to Arakan in 1660, which brought a new wave of Muslim
immigrants to the kingdom of Arakan and also caused political changes.
Later on the prince and some of his soldiers were murdered on Feb.,

Kaman or Kamanci

But "who escaped the massacre were later admitted into the king's
bodyguard as a special archers unit called Kamans or Kamanci".[100]

From 1666 to 1710 the political rule of Arakan was completely in their hands, during which the Muslim Kaman units played a decisive role of
king makers and king breakers. Their numbers were increased from time
to time by fresh arrivals from upper India.[101]

Buddhist Arakan Kings with Islamic names

All the kings of Arakan were said to be Buddhist. However to rule the
12 towns in the Bangal smoothly seven kings decided to have Arakanese
and Mogul Islamic names. The interference of Ava and Pegu in the
affairs of Arakan had important consequences for that country. The Ava
king placed his son-in-law on the throne of Arakan. The Mons in return
invaded the country, killed the Burmese nominee and replaced him with
a ruler chosen by Razadarit. In 1430, however, with the assistance of
Bengal, the exiled king, Narameikhla,returned and was reinstated as
the vassal of the Mohammedan king of Gaur. He founded Mrohaung as his
capital, and his, Mohammedan followers built a mosque there. From this
time onwards the Arakanese kings, although Buddhists, used Mohammedan
titles in addition to their own names, They even issued medallions
bearing the Kalima, the Mohammedan confession of faith. The connection
between Arakan and India became even more pronounced when in 1459 an
Arakanese king occupied Chittagong.[102]

The Islamic-names of Arakan Kings

No- - -Name- - - - - - - - - - - year

1 Min-kha-ri (Ali Khan)- - - 1433
2 Ba-saw-phru (Kalama Shah)- -1459
3 Dolay (Mokhu Shah)- - 1482
4 Ba-saw-min-nyo (Maha Moshah)- -1492
5 Min-raza-kri (Ili Shah)- - - 1501
6 Saw-min-o (Jal Shah)- - - 1515
7 Thazata (Itsli Shah)- --1515

Summarized History of Arakan

Independent Kingdom --- 266 BC- 1782 AD.
Burmese ruled ----------1783 - 1815 AD.
British ruled ----------1815 - 1942 AD.
Japanese ruled ----------1942 - 1945 AD.
British ruled ----------1945 - 1947 AD.
Burmese rule -----------1948 till present.

4 Religion
4.1 Muslims

Myanmar Indian Muslims formed one of the definite group among Myanmar
Muslims or Burmese Muslims.

Myanmar's Muslims are descendents of the following countries - a more
appropriate and accurate term should be South Asian" Burmese as they
consist of groups originating from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri
Lanka and Afghanistan. Also, an even smaller minority claim descent
from Arabs, Persians, Turks, Moors, various groups of Indian-Muslims,
Pakistanis, Pathans, and Bengalis intermarried with local Burmese and
many ethnic Myanmar groups such as, Rakhine, Shan, Karen, Mon etc.

The various sub groups of Burmese Indian Muslims are; Soorti, Meimans,
Chulia. Tamil, Bengali, Pakistan, Shia (originated from Iran), Dawoodi-
Bhora community, Isaili Community, Malabar group,Hydrabud Muslims,
Madarasi depending from their origin in India subcontinent.

Many of the Pakistani affiliated groups including the Rakhine have
been resettled to Pakistan.


Most of the South Asians who arrived during the time of British India
went back to their respective countries in the subcontinent after
General Ne Win took over and nationalized all the business. So who
decided to continue to stay in Burma cut off the umbilical cord and
have shown love to the new home, Burma. Now most of them are second
and third generation or some of them were married to locals and almost
totally assimilated into mainstream Myanmar Muslims. [103] Now they
lost contact with their roots and most of them are even not interested
at all to trace their origin.[104] [105]

Myedu Muslims

Some of the earliest Myanmar Muslims or Zerbardi or Kala Pyo or Myedu
Muslims or Myedu Kalas or Thone Thaung Khunhit Yar (=3700) were also
actually from the Indian subcontinent of Asam and Manipura, brought in
by the Burmese Kings as prisoners of wars.[106] Some of the most
assimilated or Burmanized Muslims in Burma took the name Pathi as the
race and even try to put infront of their name as a prefix e.g. Pathi
Ko Lay.

In the 1930 Census, British enlisted Muslims as Zerbardi Race. But
most of the Muslims did not know the origin of the word and refused to
accept that name. Moshe Yegar solved the problem by the following
finding. He searched for the source and found out in the library in
Singapore that the Arab sailors called themselves, people above the
wind. (Orang atas angin, in Malay) and called the Muslims from Burma,
Thailand, Malaya and Indonesia as, people under the wind (Orang bawah
angin, in Malay). That is Zerbard in Persian. So Zerbardi referred to
Muslims from Burma, Thailand, Malaya and Indonesia.[107]

4.2 Racial Discriminations
4.2.1 Anti-Indian Riots
Anti Indian sentiments

Anti Indian sentiments started after the First World War during the
British rule. [109] In Burma there were half million Muslims in 1921.
More then half of Indians were Indian Muslims. [110] Although Myanmar
Muslims are different from the Indian Muslims and Indian Myanmar
Muslims, Burmese Buddhists put them together even mixed with Hindu
Indians, and called them Kala.

4.2.2 After Independence
4.2.3 Massacre of Indian Shans


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