MUSLIM PRIME MINISTERS & MINISTERS OF
By AFK Jilani
According to Daulat Kazi, “The king made Ashraf Khan his Chief Minister and the commander of his army. One day the king Thiri Thudama (Salim Shah-II) went on hunting expedition with his army. The king with his army stayed there for four months. The chief minister returned to his court with the permission of the king. When Ashraf Khan sat in the court the Mughal, the Pathans and numerous Hindus sat in rows. Asharaf Khan was like full moon in its sixteen parts. “Asharaf Khan was virtually in charge of conducting all state affairs.(Missing Links in Arakan History By S.n. Goshal P-258.) Sri Bara Thakur was the Lasker Wazir or war minister or defence minister of the king Narapatigyi (1638-1645 A.D.) The war minister Sri Bara Thakur was blessed with a son by praying to God.
MAGAN Thakur was the son of Sri Bara Thakur. Alaol writes, ‘He was the famous Magan who possessed excellent qualities, he was extremely handsome, and there is no end of his virtues. His generosity was known throughout the country, he was born in the family of Siddiq and he was a Sheik and he was well known in the world by his good birth and good deeds. He was an Alim himself and was learned and he recognized merit. He brought learned men of his country and honoured them.” Sri Bara Thakur was the war minister of the king. By begging to God he got the offspring in the morning. Because he was obtained by praying or begging, he was given the name as Magan. “Thakur was the official title given by the king.” The princess was extremely pretty and polite, the king brought up his daughter with great care.
Seeing the tender age of the princess, the king was thinking as to whom the guardianship of the princess was to be given. The king made Magan Thakur the guardian of princess because he was a great virtuous man When the king died the princess became the chief queen. She appointed her guardian the prime minister of the kingdom.”
The fact is that the king Narapatigyi had no son, but only a daughter. When the king became old, he appointed Magan Thakur, who was a minister, and who belonged to a good Arab family, guardian of his daughter. After the king`s death she was married to Thado Minthara, the nephew of the king, i.e. the king`s daughter was married to her cousin. Thado Minthara became king and the king`s daughter became the chief queen of the kingdom. Magan Thakur became the chief or prime minister of the kingdom. But the king Thado Minthara died in 1652 and was succeed by his minor son Sanda Thudama (1652-1684). Sanda Thudhama was a minor the queen ruled the country as regent.
She gave her guardian Magan Thakur the authority to rule the country on her and her son`s behalf. Magan Thakur ordered Alaol to compose epic work Padmavati, which the poet completed in 1651 during the reign of Thado Minthara. Magan Thakur later ordered to compose Saiful Mulk Badiujjamal. Alaol began the work, but before completing the book Magan Thakur died and the composition of the book remained incomplete.
After the death of Magan Thakur, Sayyid Musa was appointed Prime Minister of Arakan. Sayyid Musa remained in this office for about a decade under the king Sanbda Thudama. Alaol received patronage from him and at his order completed the composition of Saiful Mulk Badiujjamal. He completed the book in 1669-70A.D.
The next Muslim prime minister of Arakan was Nabaraj Majalis. He ordered Alaol to compose the famous Persian book Sikandearnama of Nizami Ganjabi. Once the Prime Minister sat in the assembly of learned men, arranged foods and drinks for the guests. Those present in the assembly praised the Prime Minister for his good deeds, particularly the construction of Mosques and excavation of tanks. In reply Nabaraj Majlis said that mosques and tanks were not permanent. In old days great men did these beneficial works, but they did not last. Only books have lasted, books pleased the readers, books impart education. Illiterate people became learned by reading books; books and poets are honoured not only in their own country but also outside, and books last until the day of resurrection. The book Sikandernama was completed by Shah Alaol in 1673AD.
Nabaraj Majlis was so important a personality that he administered the coronation oath to the king Sanda Thudama. Shah Alaol says about this, “The great religious king had a Prime
Minister known as Nabaraj MAJLIS. Now I will tell something about Majlis. When the king died, the crown prince came to sit on the throne. Outside the throne, he stood facing the east.”
The Majlis wore his dress and standing before the prince advised him, “Treat the people as your sons, do not deceive upon the people, be just in religious and legal matters, do not allow the strong to oppress the weak, you should be kind, truthful and religious, behave well to the good people and destroy the wicked, always be generous and do not vacillate or be restless, do not harm anybody for past fault, and he advised the king in many other matters. The king agreed to abide by his advice and follow his admonition. Then, the king saluted Nabaraj Majlis and then others of his family.
Sayyid Muhammad Khan was a minister of the king Sanda Thudama. Alaol says, “He was a king of kings, owner of huge wealth and his chief war minister was Sayyid Muhammad. His body is blue and his face is like a full moon. He speaks smilingly and he is learned in many subjects, in Arabic, Persian, Indian and Maghi languages. He is a good singer and remains busy with music day and night. Many scholars adorn his court and remain busy discussing philosophical subjects. I attend his court and he brings me up giving food and drinks. He keeps me obliged to him by giving salt, grin and betel-nut. He shows me favour and I attend his court as a member of his assembly. I discuss many tales about religious subjects and I related to him the most fascinating story of Sapta Paikar.” At his request Alaol composed the Haft Paikar in 1660 A.D.
Sri Manta Sulaiman was a minister of the king Sandra Thudama. At his request, Alaol composed Tuhfa and completed the unfinished Satimaina Lor Chandrani. He says as follows about the minister Srimanta Sulaimanin his Lor Chandani, “Srimanta Sulaiman is a very virtuous man and He brings up virtuous foreigners with care. He became extremely glad to receive me and always entertains me with food and clothes. Learned people always discuss in his assembly on philosophical subjects. Once he sat in his court and discussed on variouys subjects. By chance the story of Lor Chandrani came up for discussion. The poem remained incomplete, and if completed, readers and hearers will be happy…. considering this the great Sulaiman ordered me to complete the book. At his order Alaol composed the poem in Bengali verses. “Sri Manta Suleiman was a amatya or minister, and he was a finance minister.
We can say that Burhanuddin was the first Lashkar Wazir (defence Or War minister) of Arakan. His name is found in Nasirullah Khondkar Shariatnamah. In giving his genealogy the poet writes;” He was patient, heroic and there was no end of his honour. His name was Hamid-uddin, the intelligent. In Bangalah of Gour, he was a great minister. His son Burhanuddin was virtuous and eminent in using arms. By chance he left the country and with relatives settled in the country of Rosaang (Arakan). In those days there was no horse and horseman in Roshang. Seeing him with horse and elephant the king appointed him the Lashkar Wazir.” Nasrullah Khondkar wrote his book in 1749/50, and as he was the 7th descendant of Burhanuddin, the latter was alive about the last of the 16th century.
There might be more Muslim ministers. So far we get the names of eight Muslim ministers of Arakan; four of them were Prime Ministers. The new so-call civilian government of Burma failed to include Muslim minister in the central government cabinet and no single Rohingya Muslim minister is included in Arakan State ministers. For the information of the readers the list of the Arakan State Ministers is written below as stated in New Light of Myanmar dated 15 February 2011.
1) Defence Services Personnel Hlut-taw Representative Col Htein Lin,
2) U Kyaw Khin of Yanbye Township Constituency (2),
3) U Kyaw Thein of MraukU Township Constituency (2),
4) U Soe Aye of Gwa Township Constituency (2),
5) U Mya Aung of Maungtaw Township Constituency (2),
6) U Tha Luche of Sittway Township Constituency (1),
7) Dr Aung Kyaw Min of Taunggup Township Constituency (2),
U Aung Than Tin of Ponnagyun Township Constituency (2), and
9) U Hla Han of Thandwe Township Constituency (1) to the nomination of State Ministers.
The elected Chief Minister of the Arakan State nominated Chin National Representatives U Ko Ko Naing for State Minister for National Races Affairs. The State Hluttaw approved the nomination and appointed of U Ko Ko Naing.
As the Rohingya are excluded in the ministerial body of Rakhine State, Rohingya are left out from the Rakhine State affairs. The Rohingya Should seek for the restoration of Mayu district out of Rakhine State as the Elected Democratic Government of the Hon’ble Prime Minister U Nu had created Mayu Frontier District in 1961 for Rohingyas’welfare and developments under Central Government. ##
Source: Prof. Dr. Abdul Karim, “The Rohingyas: A Short Account of Their History And Culture”, Printed at Sonali Art Press, Chittagong, Bangladesh in 2000.