The population of Muslims in Myanmar
increased during the
British rule of Burma
because of new waves of
sharply declined in the years following 1941 as a
result of the Indo-Burman Immigration agreement,
and was officially stopped following Burma's
(Myanmar) independence on
Muslims arrived in Burma as
travelers, adventurers, pioneers, sailors, traders,
military personnel (voluntary and mercenary),
and prisoners of war.
Some were reported to have taken refuge from wars,
and other circumstances. Some were victims of
many early Muslims were professionals and skilled
personnel such as royal advisers and administrators.
Still others were port authorities, mayors, and
traditional medicine men.
Persian Muslims traveled over land
in search of China and arrived in northern Burma at
the (Chinese) border. Their colonies were
recorded in the Chronicles of China in 860
Myanmar Muslims were sometimes called Pathi.,
a name widely believed to be derived from Persian.
Bago / Pegu,
Dala, Thanlyin / Syriam,
were full of Burmese Muslim settlers and Muslims
often outnumbered the local Burmese by large
margins. In one record, Pathein was said to be
populated with Pathis.
In Kawzar 583 (13th Century), Bassein or Pathein was
known as Pathi town under the three Indian Muslim
Arab merchants arrived Martaban, Margue. Arab
settlement in the present Meik’s mid-western
During the reign of Bagan King,
1255-1286, in the first Sino Burman war,
attacked and occupied up to Nga Saung Chan.
invaded the Pagan Kingdom. During this first Sino
Burman war in 1283, Colonel Nasruddin’s Turks
occupied up to Bamaw. (Kaungsin)
Bagan (Pagan) Period
Byat Wi and Byat Ta
The first evidence of Muslim landing
in Burma’s chronicle was recorded in the era of the
first Burmese Empire of Pagan (Bagan)
1044 AD. Two Arab Muslim sailors of the Byat family,
Byat Wi and Byat Ta, arrived at Burmese shores, near
are people in
Iraq, Arabia and some Surthi Northern Indian
Muslims with the same surname even at present. See
their ship was wrecked, they managed to use a plank
to swim to the shores. They took refuge and stayed
at the monastery of the
Thaton king became afraid of them and killed the
The younger brother managed to escape to
took refuge to King Anawratha.
He married a girl from Popa and got two sons, Shwe
Shwe Byin brothers
Later they also served the king as
even as the special agents to infiltrate the enemy’s
inner circle. They were famous after they
successfully infiltrated the Chinese King Utibua’s
bodyguards. That event forced the Chinese to sign a
peace agreement with the Burmese.
After the war, on the way back home,
they refused to contribute in the building of a
pagoda at Taung Byone,
just north of
The brothers’ enemies left vacant the spaces for the
two bricks so that the king could notice. After a
brief inquiry the king ordered to punish the
brothers for disobedience but they were later given
the death sentence.
The royal raft could not move after
royal consultants, interpreted that the two brothers
were loyal faithful servants but unjustly punished,
and they pulled the rudder of the royal boat to show
their displeasure. Then only, Anawratha ordered the
building of the spirit-palace at Taung Byone and
ordered the people to worship the two brothers.
For five days each year Taung Byone
village becomes a fairground. Taung Byone, 14 km
north of Mandalay, has about 7,000 nat shrines,
nearly 2,000 of them elaborate ones dedicated to
those two brothers.
King Anawratha (1044-1077 AD) also
had Myanmar Muslim army units and body guards. When
King Anawrahta attacked Martaban, capital of Mon
(Talaing) King, Mingyi Swa Saw Kae’, two Muslim
officers’ army unit fiercely defended against his
Nga Yaman Kan
appointed a Muslim Arab
as a Royal teacher for his son, Prince
teacher’s son later became the Governor of
known as Ussa City.
His name was Raman Khan.
(Known as Nga Yaman Kan in Burmese). King Sawlu
himself had given the town to his childhood friend,
also an adopted brother because they were fed from
the same breast as Raman Khan’s mother was the wet
nurse of Prince Sawlu.
Once Raman Khan won the game of
with joy and clapped the elbows. King Sawlu was
angry and challenged Rahman Khan to rebel against
him with the Bago province. Raman Khan accepted the
challenge and successfully trapped King Sawlu and
his army in the swamps.Kyanzittha
tried to rescue but Sawlu refused to be rescued and
was later killed by Raman Khan. Rahman Khan himself
was ambushed by the sniper bow-shot of Nga Sin the
hunter and died.
Kyanzittha became the third king of
the Bagan Dynasty. While expending the empire he
brought back many Indian-Muslim captives. They were
settled in central Burma.
sailors and traders
In the chronicles of
during the first
in the early fifteenth century, it was recorded that
the Burmese (Muslims) sailors and traders were
regularly arriving there. Those Bago (Pegu) seamen, likely to be
Muslims, were also recorded by the Arab historians
of the Tenth Century. During the Fifteenth to
Seventeenth Centuries, there were a lot of records
of Burmese Muslim traders, sailors and settlers on
the whole coast of Burma. That was from the
coast (Including all the islands along the whole
During the reign of Peik Thaung Min
of the early
Dynasty (652-660 AD),
Arab travelers from
China through the East Indian Islands, visited
ports. It was recorded in Arab chronicles in 800 AD.
In the Seventeenth Century, those
Muslims controlled the business and became so
powerful because of their wealth. They were even
appointed as Governors of Mergui, the Viceroys of
the Province of
Port Governors and Shah-bandars (senior port
Muslim sailors built many
mosques, but those should be more appropriately
they were equally holy to Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus
and Chinese. They were called Buddermokan, The so
called Buddermokan on Sittway island is claimed by
believers of different faiths. ‘Buddermokan’
in memory to Badral-Din Awliya, a
are found in
on a small island off Mergyi.
Sa Nay Min Gyi King (King Sane) had
two flotillas of Steam-ships, named Alarhee and
Selamat, both are Arabic Islamic names. In 1711,
Myanmar Missionary was sent to Mogul King Shah Alam.
They used the Alarhee Ship and the captain was an
King Thalun (1629-1648), the
successor of Anaukpetlun, settled those Muslims at
Muslim prisoners of war were settled in upper
Myanmar by successive Burmese kings. Myae Du near
Shwebo was one of the sites. Muslim prisoners from
Bago during 1539-1599 AD were the first settlers.
brought back the Muslim prisoners, after attacking
Arakan in 1546 and 1549 AD.
India and brought back more Muslims to settle in
Burma. These Muslims later assimilated to form the
core of Burmese Muslims.
King Sane (Sa Nay Min Gyi) brought
back several thousand Muslim prisoners of war from
Sandoway and settled in Myedu in 1707 AD. Next year
few thousands more were settled in those places and
Taungoo. 3000 Muslims from Arakan took refuge under
King Sane in 1698-1714. They were divided and
Nyaung Yan, Yin Taw,
Pin Tale, Tabet Swe, Bawdi, Syi Tha, Syi Puttra,
Myae du and Depayin. This Royal decree was copied
from the Amarapura Royal Library in 1801 by Kyauk Ta
During the rule of King
conquered Assam and brought back 40,000 prisoners of
war. About half of them were likely to be Muslims.
Maha Bandula and Burmese Army’s war at Ramu and Pan
War were famous. Burmese captured one big cannon,
200 firearms, mixed Sepoy Indians. 200 Muslims
amongst them were relocated at the south of
Amarapura, that is Myittha River’s south.
When the famous Raza Dirit attacked
and conquered Dagon (Yangon),
Muslim soldiers defended from the Burmese side and
Raza Dirit also had to use the help of Muslim
The army of King
(eleven century) already boasted Indian units and
bodyguards, Muslims apparently among them.
attacked Martaban in 1541 AD, many Muslims resisted
successfully conquered Ayuthaya (Thailand) in
1568-1569 AD, he used the help of Muslim
1752-1760 AD conquered Syrim. Muslim prisoners of
war were forced to serve in his army.
(1846-1853 AD) appointed U Shwe Oh, a Burmese
Muslim, as the Governor of the Capital city,
Amarapura. His personal secretary U Paing (also a
Burmese Muslim) donated a two mile long bridge, made
of teakwood across the Taung Tha Man Lake. In 1850,
the Governor of
also said to be a Muslim.
Burmese kings employed a lot of
Muslims in his inner circle: Royal bodyguards,
eunuchs, couriers, interpreters and advisers.
were about 20,000 families, at the time of
kingdom (1855 AD). Most of them were
attack of Mons near
Mon warrior Talapan was assisted by Muslim soldiers.
Because of their artillery fire, a lot of Burmese
soldiers were wounded and died.
(meaning 'The End of Strife'). The Mon soldiers
surrendered and four Muslim rich men also
surrendered with the expensive presents, ammunitions
and four warships.
Although Yangon was conquered, there were more
battles to fight with the Mons. So Alaungpaya
rearranged the army. Pyre Mamet was one of the “Thwe
Thauk Gyi” assigned to serve as the Royal Bodyguard.Alaungpaya
Syriam, and many Muslim artillery men were captured.Alaungpaya
captured four warships and Muslim soldiers. They
were later allowed to serve him.
On the page 203 of the Twin Thin Teik Win’s
Chronicles of Alaungpaya’s battles, it was recorded
as only three warships.
captured Pegu, and at the parade, those Pathi Muslim
soldiers were allowed to march with their
Four hundred Pathi Indian soldiers participated in
the Royal Salute March.
Bodaw U Wine (Padon Mayor, Padon Min) (1781-1819) of
the Konbaung Dynasty founded Amarapura as his new
capital in 1783. He was the first Burmese King who
recognized his Muslim subjects officially by the
following Royal decree. He appointed Abid Shah
Hussaini and assistants, Nga Shwe Lu and Nga Shwe
Aye to decide and give judgment regarding the
conflicts and problems amongst his Burmese Muslim
Abid Shah Hussaini burial place was well known as a
shrine in Amarapura Lin Zin Gone Darga.
Before the Ramu and Pan War battles,
Captain Nay Myo Gone Narrat Khan Sab Bo’s 70 Cavalry
(horse) Regiment's marching among the Burmese army,
was watched by Maha Bandula.Burmese
Muslim Horsemen were famous in that Khan Sab Bo’s 70
Cavalry (horse) Regiment. Khan Sab Bo’s name was
Abdul Karim Khan and was the father of the Captain
Wali Khan, who lead the famous Wali Khan
Khan Sab Bo was sent as an
During Bagyidaw’s reign, in 1824, Gaw Taut Pallin
battle was famous. British used 10,000 soldiers but
were defeated. During that battle Khan Sab Bo’s 100
horsemen fought vigorously and bravely.More
than 1300 loyal brave Kala Pyo Muslims (means young
Indian soldiers) were awarded with colourful velvety
When the Konbaung Dynasty’s 8th
(King) marched on Okkalapa, more than 100 Pathi
Muslim Indian cannoneers took part.
There are also a lot of Muslim soldiers in other
parts of the
But during the Konbaung Dynasty’s
(1846-52), there was a blemish in the Muslims’
history. The Royal Capital
Mayor Bai Sab and his clerk U Pain were arrested and
sentenced to death.
Prince and brother Prince
Ka Naung ran
away with their servants to
started a rebellion. U Bo and U Yuet were the two
Muslims who accompanied the princes. Some Kala Pyo
Burmese Muslim artillery soldiers followed them.U
Boe later built and donated the June Mosque, which
is still maintained in 27th Street, Mandalay. U Yuet
became the Royal Chief Chef.
Regent Prince Ka Naung sent scholars
to study abroad. Malar Mon U Pwint was a Burmese
Muslim sent to study explosives. He became the Yan
Chet won or Minister of explosives.
In the Royal Defence Army, many
cannoneers were Kindar Kala Pyos and Myedu Muslims.
In 1853 King Mindon held a donation
ceremony. He ordered to prepare halal food for his
Muslim soldiers from Akbart Horse Cavalry, Wali Khan
Horse Cavalry, Manipur Horse Cavalry and Sar Tho
Horse Cavalry, altogether about 700 of them.
U Soe was the Royal tailor of King
Kabul Maulavi was appointed an
Islamic Judge by King Mindon to decide according to
the Islamic rules and customs on Muslim affairs.
Captain Min Htin Min Yazar’s 400
Muslims participated to clear the land for building
a new Mandalay city.
Burmese Muslims were given specific
quarters to settle in the new city of Mandalay
In those quarters, lands for 20
Mosques were allocated outside the Palace wall.
Sigaing dan Mosque
Kone Yoe Mosque
Taung Balu Mosque
Wali Khan Mosque
Kala Pyo Mosque
Seven lots of lands for Setkyer
King Mindon donated his palace
teak pillars to build a mosque at North Obo in
central Mandalay. (The pillars which failed to
place properly at the exact time given by
The broadminded King Mindon also
permitted a mosque to be built on the granted
site for the
(Burmese Chinese Muslims)
Photos of Mandalay Panthay mosque.
Inside the Palace wall, for the
Royal Body Guards, King Mindon himself donated and
started the building of the Mosque by laying the
Gold foundation at the South-eastern part of the
Palace located near the present Independent
Monument. This Mosque was called the Shwe Pannet
Mosque. That mosque was destroyed by the British to
build the Polo playground.
King Mindon (1853-78) donated the
rest house in Mecca for his Muslim subjects
Nay Myo Gonna Khalifa U Pho Mya and Haji U Swe Baw
were ordered to supervise the building. The Kind
donated the balance needed to complete the building
which was started with the donations from the
Burmese Muslims. This was recorded in the Myaedu
Mosque Imam U Shwe Taung’s poems.
Muslim soldiers who participated in
the Royal Parade during King Thibaw’s reign were_
Captain Bo Min Htin Kyaw and his
350 Kindar Kala Pyo artillery soldiers.
Setkyer Cannon Regiment Captain
Hashim and 113 Cannoneers
Mingalar Cannon Regiment Captain
U Kye and 113 Cannoneers
Mingalar Amyoke Sulay Kone
Captain U Maung and 113 Cannoneers
Mingalar Amyoke Bone Oh Captain
U Yauk and 113 Cannoneers.
After King Thibaw’s declaration of
war on the British, the Burmese Army formed three
groups to descend and defend against the British
attack. One of those, the Taung Twingyi defence
chief, was Akhbat, Horse Cavalry Chief, Mayor of Pin
Lae Town, Minister Maha Min Htin Yar Zar. His name
was U Chone when he was the Chief Clerk of Kala Pyo
Army. During the Myin Kun Myin Khone Tain revolt, he
carried the Chief Queen of Mindon on his back to
safety. So he was rewarded with the Mayor position
of Pin Lae Myo which was located 12 miles south of
Under Maha Min Htin Yar Zar there
were 1629 soldiers:
Kindar Captain Bo Min Hla Min
Htin Kyaw Thu’s 335 Kindar soldiers two cannon
and Sein let Yae 3 regiments
Shwe Pyi Captain Bo Min Hla Min
Htin Thamain Than Like and Shwe Pyi 100
soldiers, one cannon and Sein let Yae 2
Wali Khan’s 990 Akhbat Horse
Cavalry and Sein let Yae 20 regiments
Specially trained 200 soldiers.
On 28 November 1885, after the
British took over the administration, the British
revamped the new administration with Kin Won Min Gyi,
Tai Tar Min Gyi, and the Minister Maha Min Htin Yar
Zar. U Chone was included as the representative of