by M.A Tahir Ba Tha (translated by A.F.K Jilani, edited by Mohd. Ashraf Alam)
Editor and Publisher’s note
"A SHORT HISTORY OF ROHINGYAS AND KAMANS OF BURMA" is an English
translation and edited version of "ROHINGYAS AND KAMANS" of Mr. M. A.
Tahir Ba Tha. The Rohingyas and Kamans of M. A. Tahir Ba Tha is a
landmark in the history of Rohingya people. History is dynamic; not
static; it is a process of change and movement in time.
The book was first printed and published in Burmese in 1963 and it was
the only printed history book of Rohingyas by a Rohingya in Burmese. The
Board of Directors of the Institute of Arakan Studies, Bangladesh
consider it an honour to publish the book in English in the name of "A
SHORT HISTORY OF ROHINGYAS AND KAMANS OF BURMA” and present it to the
readers and researchers of Rohingya and Arakan, both at home and abroad.
Retaining the original contents of the book we have endeavoured to
convey a sense of history as a continuing process. We have taken pains
to incorporate the results of the most recent research and some maps of
political events and changes in political geography.
It may be mentioned here that till today we have not found a full,
comprehensive history of Rohingyas and Kamans either in Burmese or in
English so far. So, the Directors of the Institute requested to Mr.
A.F.K Jilani to translate Mr. M.A. Tahir Ba Tha's “The Rohingyas and
Kamans" into English. He had done it without hesitation and delay. The
Board of Directors of the Institute of Arakan Studies, Bangladesh
express their sincere thanks and gratitude to Mr. A. F. K. Jilani and
their valued members and partons who have helped them generously, by
providing much needed funds to publish this book. The Institute has
decided to publish more on Rohingya and Arakan gradually and to restore
them for future Generation.
This book is primarily a discussion on the history of Rohingyas and
Kamans. The motive in this presentation and translation is the
circulation of Rohingyas' views on their history to the people of Burma
and Bangladesh particularly and the world at large.
We shall consider our efforts rewarded if the readers find this modest
attempts of mine to be of some use in knowing the Rohingya people who
are still far behind the time.
Mohamed Ashraf Alam
The history of Rohingyas and Kamans, by M. A. Tahir Ba Tha, deals the
advent of Rohingyas in Arakan since 7th century A.D. He has explored an
enormously wide field in digging up many materials from various sources.
According to history, Islam reached Arakan before 788 A.D. and it
attracted the local people to come to the fold of Islam en masse all
over Burma. Since then Islam had played an important part towards the
advancement of civilization in Arakan. From 1430 to 1784 A.D. Arakan was
a Sultanate. Muslims and Buddhists lived side by side for centuries
with amity and concord as one family and ruled the country together.
The position of the Muslims of Arakan was glorious during the time of
Mrauk-U Empire but their position was down trodden during the 40 years
of Burmese occupation. During British rule too, they had been
discriminated and blindfolded by the British so much so that none of the
Muslims could hold a single high position in the government. As they
were the conqueror of the Muslim Moghul Empire, the British politically
kept the Muslims of subcontinent and that of Arakan uneducated,
unhealthy and undeveloped.
The British played divide and rule in Arakan, with the result that many
of the Arakanese Buddhist brethern bear hatred against the Muslim
Rohingyas and threat them as "Kalas" (foreigners). This hatred should no
longer be bred in the Union of Burma as it had been brought up in the
nursery of British imperilism. Unfortunately, the same policy is now
adopted by the ruling military junta of Burma.
The Rohingyas of Arakan have been together as an indigenous race in a
group from time immemorial. Still, their sister community, the Rakhine
Maghs, intentionally branded Rohingyas as the illegal immigrants from a
neighbouring country. Their false allegations reputed by M. A. Tahir Ba
Tha by writing articles in the Daily Mirror, Kaba-Alin and the Guardian
Magazines of Rangoon in 1960s. When he was transferred to Myitkyina city
of Kachin State, as a Bank manager, he was requested to write a book on
the History of Rohingyas by the Executive Committee members of the
United Rohingya National League (U.R.N.L), Myitkyina. At their request
this book "History of Rohingyas and Kamans" was written in Burmese by M.
A. Tahir Ba Tha and duly published by the United Rohingya National
League of Myitkyina, Burma.
Moreover, with the collection of M. A. Tahir Ba Tha's articles from the
Guardian Magazines and the Kaba Alin Magazines. "A Short History of
Rohingyas" was compiled and published by the United Rohingyas National
League of Rangoon in 1960.
M. A. Tahir Ba Tha is a native of Rohingyadaung village of Buthidaung
Township. He is now residing in Ran-goon with his family passing his
retired life. He wrote- another book entitled “FAITHFUL ROHINGYAS” but
unable to publish. His articles and booklet on Rohingyas played
important source of documents for the historical background of Rohingya
The Institute of Arakan Studies, Bangladesh, requested me to translate
the History of Rohingyas and Kamans, by M. A. Tahir Ba Tha. On their
request, I have translated it with my poor knowledge of Rohingya history
and English literature. If this translation could contribute for the
history of our people, then I will be satisfied with my work. I expect
the blessing of Almighty Allah.
A. F. K. Jilani
In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
"Verily never Will Allah change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves." (The Holy Quran, Sura 13:11)
As I am neither a perfect historian nor a man of literature, my
presentations of the historical references and the placing of the
sentences, phrases, idioms, words may be in crude positions. If so, my
earnest request to the esteemed readers is to read it in correct and
smooth way. As per above Quranic verse I tried my best to dig up many
materials from various sources. I write this booklet at the request of
the United Rohingya Nationlal League of Myitkyina, Burma with the object
of enriching the knowledge of the history of Rohingyas and Kamans to
all citizens of the Union of Burma.
M. A. Tahir Ba Tha
The Union of Burma with an area of about 2, 61,610 sq. miles was born on
4 January 1948. It is a multi-national, multi-cultural and multi-
religious country collectively owned by various peoples and ethnic
races. About 60% of the country's populations are non-Burmans mostly
in-habiting in the states/provinces. They are Shan, Chin, Kachin, Karen,
Kayah, Mon, Pa-o, Palaung, Padaung, Naga. Lahu, Akha, Wa, Rohingya
(Arakanese Muslim), Rakhine (Arakanese Buddhist) and many other
Arakan is the north-western province of the Union of Burma. It is a
narrow mountainous strip of land with 360 miles coastal belt from the
Bay of Bengal. It is bounded by Bay of Bengal on the west, Chin Hills on
the north-east. It borders 176 miles with the People's Republic of
Bangladesh, 48 miles of which is covered by river Naf and is a natural
physiographic unit clearly divided from the rest of Burma by the
mountain range of Arakan Yoma running north to south.
Arakan covers an area of about 20,000 sq.miles. The Arakan Hill tracts
district (5235 sq.miles) bordering India and southern most part from
Kyauk Chaung river to Cape Negaris were partitioned from Arakan mainland
without the native people's concern. Arakan is now reduced to 14,200
Arakan is blessed with geographical diver-sities. In all, there are
seven rivers in Arakan. They are the Naf, the Mayu, the Kaladan, the
Lemro, the Ann, the Taungup and the Sandoway.The four major navigable
rivers are the Naf, Mayu, Kaladan and Lemro and all they are situated in
the Northern Arakan. All these four rivers are tidal and easily
navigable all the year round. Akyab is situated on the seacoast at the
mouth of the Kaladan River and it is the Capital of Arakan since 1826
Arakan is inhabited by two major ethnic races, the Rohingyas and the
Rakhines (Maghs). The Rohingyas are Muslims and the Maghs are Buddhists.
At present, the Rohingyas and the Maghs stand at almost in equal
proportion with about two lacs tribal people [Saks, Dinets (Chakmas) and
Mros (Kamis)]. The Rohingyas are mostly concentrated in the riparian
plains of Naf, Mayu and Kaladan. Arakan is the only Muslim majority
province among the 14 provinces of Burma. Out of the 7 million Muslim
population of Burma half of them are in Arakan.
Under different periods of history Arakan had been an independent
sovereign monarchy ruled by Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims. After Bengal
became Muslim in 1203 A.D., Islamic influence grew in Arakan to the
extent of establishing Muslim vassal state begining in 1430 A.D.
Muslim's rule and influence in Arakan lasted for more than 350 years
until it was invaded and occupied by Burmans in 1784 A.D. Then the
British occupied Arakan in 1824 A.D. annexing it to former British
India. When Burma was seperated from British India in 1937, Arakan was
made a part of British Burma against the wishes of its people and thus
finally Arakan became a province of independent Burma in 1948.
Rohingya is not the people who suddenly appeared in Arakan. According to
the historical evidences, they were descendants of the Arabs who
arrived 1200-years back.
Rohingyas and Kamans are the two people of Arakan who profess Islam. In
the following chapters we will study and discuss the coming of Arab
Muslims, the Tibeto-Burmans, the Pathan Muslims from Bengal and the
Moghul Muslims from India to Arakan. Then we will trace the ethnic
identity of ethnic Rohingyas and Kamans.
COMING OF THE ARAB MUSLIMS TO ABAKAN
The Arab Muslims first came into contact the Indian Subcontinent and
South-East Asia through trade and commerce. From the times long past,
spices, cotton fabrics, precious stones, minerals and other commodities
from South and South-East Asia were of great demand in the oriental and
European countries. The Arabs as a seafaring nation almost monopolized
this trade between the South and South-East Asia on the one hand the
oriental, north African and European countries on the other. The Arab
merchants carried goods to the ports of Mascot and that of Siraf on the
two sides of the Persian Gulf, Basra, Yemen, Jeddah, Quizum (Suez), for
exchage with the goods of the merchants of the Middle Eastern, Central
Asian. North African and European countries. For about eight centuries
they monopolized the trade between the East and the West. The Arabs were
born traders, and after the introduction of Islam they became a great
maritime people. Their profound knowledge in navigation, in the science
of latitude and longitude, in astronomical phenomena and in the
geography of the countries they visited made them unrivalled in
mercantile activities in the Indian Ocean for centuries together.
The Arabs used to write about the places they had visited which indicate their arrivals at East and the West of the world.
The land Jazirat-al-Rahmi or Rahma mentioned by Arab geographers of 9th
and 10th centuries may have been referred to the kingdom of Raham (God
blessed land) corrupted later to Rohang / Roshang / Roang. Ibn
Khordadzbeh(844-48 A.D.),a Persian traveller from Basara (in Ferrand)
said that Jazirat-al-Rahmi came after Sarandip (Cyelon) and contained
peculiar unicorn animals and little naked people. Arab geographers,
Persian travellers and marchants such as Sulymen (851 A.D.) Yaqubi (880
A.D.), Ibn al Fakih (902 A.D.), Masudi (943 A.D.), HudulAl-Alam (982
A.D.) and Marvazi (1120 A.D.) also referred Delta region of Burma and
Arakan as Rahama. They and many other travellers used route over Arakan
yoma to travel to Burma and then to China.
But Ibn Batuta wrote the name of Arakans as Arkan, derived from the
Arabic word Al-Rukun. The authors of the Ain-i-Akbar, Baharistan-i-
Ghaibi and Siyar-ul-Mutakherin wrote it as Arkhang, which appears also
with a slight change in Alamgirnama and Fathya-i-ibria is close to the
name Arakan. In the medieval Bengali literary works and Rennell's map
the name of Arakan is written Roshang. To the Portuguese and other
European travellers mentioned it Arracan, Arracoo, Orrakan, Arrakan and
Van Linscoten writes it Arakan which is nearest to the modern name. The
British government turned Arakan from Arkan. As a matter of fact the
name was given by the Muslim Arabs. The meaning is land of peace.
The celebrated 17th century Arakan court poet Sayed Shah Alawal who
composed the famous ballad on the lamentations of Ameena, the youngest
daughter of the ill-fated Moghul prince Shah Shuja after his death,
amply mentioned about the kingdom of Rohang and Rohingyas. The poet
similarly referred to Rohang and Rohingyas in his two other popular
ballads: Saiful Mulk Badiuzzamal and Sikander Nama. Also Arakan court
poets Qazi Daulat in his book Lorchandrani O Satimaina 1622-30 A. D, and
Mardan in his book Nasib Nama 1631-38 A.D, Arakan was mentioned as
Roshango country. From all the above facts and evidences it has become
crystal clear that the indigenous name of Arakan was Rohang, a term used
first by Arabs.
Also, Arab Muslim traders had good contacts with Arakan, Burma,
Indochina, Indonesia, Malay etc. with their trade and they propagated
the religion of Islam in those countries. The arrival of Mohammad Hanif
son of Hazarat Ali to Arakan is also narrated in a book written in 16th
century by Shah Barid Khan named Hanifa O Kaiyapuri.
"In 680 A.D. after the war of "Karbala". Mohammad Hanif with his army
arrived at Arabshah para, near Maungdaw in the Northern Arakan, while
Kayapuri, the queen of cannibals ruled this hilly deep forest attacking
and looting the people of Arakan. Mohammad Hanif attacked the cannibals
and captured the queen. She was converted to Islam and married to him.
Her followers embraced Islam enmasse. Mohammed Hanif and queen Kayapuri
lived in Mayu range. The peaks where they lived were still known as
Hanifa Tonki and Kayapuri Tonki. The wild cannibals were tamed and
became civilized. Arakan was no more in danger of them and peace and
tranquility prevailed. The followers of Mohamed Hanif and Kayapuri were
mixed up and lived peacefully. The descedents of these mixed people are
no doubt formed the original nucleus of the Rohingyas in Arakan."
The regular contact of Arab Muslims with Arakan came through trade and
commerce during 8th century A.D. and since Islam started spreading in
the region. After advent of Islam in Arabia, the Muslims followed the
footprints of their fore-fathers in trade and commerce. These Arab
Muslim merchants made regular contact with Arakan. In those days the
Arabs were very much active in sea-trade, they even monopolised the
trade and commerce in the East.
After the death of Prophet Mohammd (S.M), in 712 A. D. there was a
dispute between the Arab king and king Dehir of Sind of west India on a
Arab trade ship which arrived at the port of Gipal. The Arab General
Mohammad Ibn Kasim conquered the Sind with an army of six thousand.
Since that time a large number of Muslims began to arrive in India.
Mr. Harvey wrote in the History of Burma that the Muslim built up
mosques and Bader Mokans in India, Arakan, Burma, Malayu, Indonesia and
China. Arakan became prosperous with the trade of Arab Muslim traders.
From 7th century to 16th century the Arab Muslims were very powerful and
they were master of trade from Persian Gulf to Indonesia.
Country of Raham or-Arakan hed been an independent for many centuries
due to its geographical location with occasional short breaks. It was
ruled by various legendry Indian dynasties and made their capital at
Dinnawadi (Dhanyavati), Vesali, Pinsa, Prin, Krit, Launggyet and Maruk-U
along the river Lemro. According to M. S. Collis, "in 788 AD, a
dynasty, knowns as Chandras, founded the city of Vesali in North-Arakan.
This city became a noted trade port to which as many as a thousand
ships came annually....... their territory extended as far north as
Chittagong...Vesali was an easterly Hindu kingdom of Bengal...."
In 8th century while Arakan was ruled by Maha Chandras of Wessali
Kyauklayga dynasty and Burma was ruled by Pagan Pikthonmin – many Arab
traders arrived at Ramawadi, Wessali, Thaton, Muttama, Syriam and other
ports. These were written by the Arabs in their diaries after 800 A.D.
In their diaries they recorded that they found precious stones, spices,
peafowls tails, rhinoceroses' horns, etc. in Arakan and Burma.
According to the British Burma Gazetteers and Burma Gazetteers (Akyab
District) published in 1879 and 1957, "about 788 A.D. Mhataing Sandya
ascended the throne, founded a new city (Vesali) on the site of old
Ramawadi and died after a reign of twenty two years. In his reign
several ships were wrecked on Ramree island and the crews, said to have
been Mohamedans, were sent to Arakan Proper and settled in villages.
They were Moor Arab Muslims."
Those Arab crews sought sympathy of the people of the island, uttering
the Arabic word "Rahma". So they were called Rahma people. The Rohingyas
of Arakan are also the descendants of these Arab people. Those Arab
crews and traders were sheltered at Ramree, the king ordered to bring
them to Arakan proper as Ramree was small and danger of over population.
The king was very sympathetic towards them. They settled in Arakan and
some turned from traders to farmers.
In course of their trading activities in this part of the world the
Arabs colonised in and around Arakan first and afterward begin to
penetrate interior part of Burma. They paved the way for the influx of
Muslims Saints, Sufis, Faqirs and Sages in Arakan and East Bengal. Those
Sages used to visit the remote conners of the provinces only to preach
their true religion Islam among the infidels and to dedicate their lives
to the service of humanity and the oppressed and suppressed people of
the land. The superior moral character and high missionary zeal of those
followers attracted large number of people towards Islam who embraced
The Arabs presence in Arakan continued upto the 17th Century A.D.,when
European traders sailed to the Eastern Seas. The Arabs developed a port
city in Arakan known as Akyab. The Arabic version Ak-Ab means 'Place of a
river meeting the sea.' The Arabs also extended their trade from the
Red Sea to China.
There is no doubt that the following river Kaladan, Lemro, Mayu or
Kalapansi and Naf are Arabic. The Arabs also name the Island as Rambree
Island and Chowdoba Island.
The Arab Muslim married the indigenous women and Islam spread among the
local people.Their children were engaged in the service of the kings of
Arakan. Afterward they migrated to the fertile valleys of Lemro,
Kaladan, Mayu and Naf. They also migrated to other places which we
called today Akyab, Kyaukpyu, Kyauknimaw and Sandoway townships.
COMING OF THE TIBETO-BURMAN TO ARAKAN
Before 10th century, Arakan was inhabited by Hindus. At that time Arakan
was the gate of Hindu India to contact with the countries of the east.
Morris Collis writes in his book "Burma under the iron heels of British"
that the Hindu ruled Arakan from first century to 10th century. Hindu
civilization and literature spread all over Arakan d'-''ring this long
thousand years. After the vanishing of the Hindu civilization there
still remain the names, Danyawadi, Ramawadi, Maygawadi and Dwarawadi,
the four-Wadis given by Hindus. Temples built by Hindus, coins melted by
Hindus and the stone inscriptions written by Hindus were still to be
found in Arakan.
According to A.P. Phayre and G, E, Harvey, History of Burma state that:
"The capital of Arakan was successively Thaveiktaung, Dinnyawadi, 25
kings (146-746 AD) and Vesali, 12 kings (788-994)-AD) dawn to eleventh
century. First Pyinsa (Sandawut), 15 kings (1018-1103 AD), Parin, 8
kings (1103-1167 AD), Krit, 4 kings (1167-1180 AD), Second Pyinsa, 16
kings (1180-1237 AD), Launggyet, 17 kings (1237-1433 AD)and Mrauk-U, 48
kings (1433-1785 AD)."
Shiri Gupta hill is 20 miles north of Mrohaumg. Mahamatmuni Image (the
Great Image of Lord Buddha) is on that hill. This place is older than
Vesali. The place was established by Hindus. Mahamatmuni image was built
by the king Sandathuriya (146-198 A. D.).There were Hindu gods around
the image of Mahamatmuni. These images of gods indicated that Arakan was
a Hindu land until 10th century. Those Hindus might be Bengalees.
The image of Mahamatmuni was ruined when Arakan was attacked by
Mongolians or Tibeto-Burmans in the year 957 A.D. Morris Collis also
wrote that the image was renovated while Arakan was feudatory to Pagan's
kings of Burma. The ruins of the city of Vesali can still be found at
the place five miles north of Morhaung City.
The city of Vesali was founded in 788 A.D. by king Mahataing Sandya.
This was the beginning of the Chandra dynasty. They were Hindus but
professed Buddhism. Vesali was a prosperous sea port of Arakan. Over one
thousand foreign ships used to visit the port annually. Most of them
were Arab ships. Before the arrival of Islam, the people of Vesali
professed Hinduism and Buddhism. Later, they abandoned Hinduism and
professed Buddhism and Islam.
Inside the palace compound of Vesali there were many stone plates
inscribed in Nagris. The Vesali kings also melted coins with cows,
Nandis and shred of flower and Nagris letters. The coins of Vesali was
melted with Bhraman civilization.
Vesali was razed in 957 A.D. with the invasion of Tibeto-Burmans. The
Tibeto- Burmans killed Sula Candra, the last king of Vesali dynasty, and
Amia Thu of their tribe was throned. Within a few years the Hindu of
Bengal was able to throne their Pala Dynasty. But the Hindus of Vesali
was unable to restore their dynasty because of the invasion and
migration of Tibeto-Burmans were so great that their population
overshadowed the Vesali Hindus.
Morris Collis wrote that since 957 A.D. Tibeto-Burmans cut Arakan away
from India and mixing in sufficient number with the inhabitants of the
Vesali, created that Indo-Mongoloid stock now known as Rakhine. The
Rakhine Maghs descended from the mixture of Tibeto-Burmans (Mongolians)
and Vesali Hindus (Ayrians). Nowadays, many Rakhine Maghs claimed to be
more Ayrian than Mongolian. But the date 957A.D. may be said to mark the
appearance of Rakhine Maghs and their history.
The last Tibeto-Burman king of Vesali Ngapinngaton in 994 A.D. shifted
the capital from Vesali to Sanbawet on the delta region of Lamro river,
some 15-miles southeast of Vesali city, for easier communication with
Burma. For centuries numerous dynasties ruled the country, each with its
own city but always in the same locality. Many kings ruled the country,
but no coins were melted by them. These kings had good contact with the
Pagan dynasty of Burmese kings. Later they had been feudatory to Pagan
kings. Burmese civilization came to Arakan through the Bu-Rwak-Manyo
mountain pass. Pegan, the city state of Burman herself had modified
their religion from the Mahayanist to the Hinayanist form of Buddhism
and modification was transmitted to Arakan during the 11th and 12th
centuries. Rakhine Maghs resemble more to Burmans less to Hindus. Their
religion became less Mahayanist and more Hinayanist.
The Arakanese Buddhists called themselves Rakhine and their country
Rakhinepyi. Accoring to Sir A. P. Phayre's History of Burma, the word is
a corruption of the Pali Rakkhasa (Skt. Rakshasa) meaning "ogre"
(Burmese bilu) or guardian of the mansion of Indra on Mount Meru. Before
12th century, there was no Burmese literature in Arakan, but Sangada
(Sanskrit) literature was found with Nagaris letters. Burmese literature
arrived in Arakan during 12th century. In regard to Rakhine Maghs
language. Sir Arthur Phayer wrote that, Rakhine Maghs are the
descendants of Tobeto-Burman. There is no difference between Rakhine
Maghs and Burmans except a little in their languages.
The Rakhine Maghs of today are basically Burmese, though with an
unmistakable Indian admixture. Although mainly Buddhist, they have been
influenced by long centuries of contact with Muslims Bengal.
Phonetically Rakhines have 42 syllables; that is eight syllables less
than Burmese. Their is language is Burmese with some dialectical
difference and an older form of pronuciation, especially noticeable in
their retention of the "r" sound, which the Burmese have changed to y'.
The Bengali refer to them by the name Magh, a word adopted by 17th
century European writers and written "Mugg". Rakhine Maghs are generally
short-temper, vociferous and undiplomatic. They consider their homeland
as the father or fatherland. They looked upon the Wednesday as sacred
for they belive that their country was founded on that day. In ancient
times Rakhine's national dress was to that of Bengal, more or less. As
to marriage the Rakhines favour 'cross-cousin mirrage'. That is marriage
between the children of a woman and those of her brother or vice versa.
Hence the Buddhist of Arakan known as Rakhine Maghs are mixed blooded race descended from Aryan
of Magadah of Bihar, India, Mongolian, and Tibeto-Burman.
COMING OF THE PATHAN MUSLIMS TO ARAKAN
In addition to Arab Muslims, many Muslims from India also arrived and
settled in every nook and cranny of Arakan. They were Gauri Pathans from
Gaur, the capital of the Sultan of Bengal. Previously, the Indian
Muslims had only contact with Arab Muslims and had no relation with
Rakhine Magh people of Arakan because they were non-Muslims and they
thought that they (the Maghs) were wild hilly people.
At that time the Bengal Sultanate was ruled by the Pathan Muslims with
their capital at Gaur. When Narameikhia took refuge at the court of Gaur
the relation between Arakan and Bengal started.
The circumstances which made Arakan turn from the East and look west to
the Moslem States were political. When Longgeret dynasty's last king
Thingathu died, Narameikhia, the son of his elder brother Razathu,
ascended the throne of Longgeret. Saw Pu Nyo, the sister of Anandathein
(the governor of Dallah) was the most beautiful woman of Arakan at that
time. Narameikhia had developed weakness for her. Being unable to
control his lust for her, he took her as his queen after forced divorce
from her husband which made annoyed Annandathein. He took it as an
insult to the courtiers and entire people and to himself. So, he sought
assistance from Ava king Min Khong-I of central Burma who succeeded the
King Min Khong considering the previous infiltration of Arakanese king
Hla Ra Giri to Yaw,Saw, Long Shay, the request of Annada Thien and his
own lust for expansion of his country, sent his 13 year old son Min Ye
Kyaw Swa, as the head of 30,000 soldiers, to Arakan. Min Ye Kyaw Swa
conquered Arakan in 1404 A.D. and the deposed king Narameikhia fled to
Bengal and took refuge at the court of king Ahmed Shah at Gaur. That
kingdom had been independent of the sultanate of Delhi for eighty six
years ago.It was one of the many sovereign states of the world-wide
Moslem polity. His younger brother Naranu fled to Hantha Wadi and took
refuge at the court of Mon (Talaing) king Razadirize.
When the victory of Min Ye Kyaw Swa was conveyed to King Min Khong, the
king gave his daughter, Shwe Pyi Chan Tha, in marriage with Ahnawratha
Saw, the governor of Kalay, and sent him to Arakan and called back his
son. But his tyrannic rule was unbearable to the people of Arakan.
Naranu requested help from Mon king Razadirize. King Razadirize sent Mon
and Muslim army - both land and naval forces to Arakan. They conquered
Arakan. Anawratha Saw and Shwe Pyi Chan Tha were taken to Hanthawidi
where the former was put down to death and the latter was made queen.
Naranu ascended the throne of Longgeret.
When bad news was heard by the king Min Khong, he sent again Min Ye Kyaw
Swa to Arakan. Min Ye Kyaw Swa conquered Arakan again. Naranu fled to
the upper reaches of Kassapa Nadi (Kaladan River). In this way Arakan
became the battle field of Burmese and Mon. Lastly, Mon won the
battle.Thus Arakan fell under the subjugation of Mon.
While Narameikhia was serving at the army of Sultan Ahmed Shah, the
Indian king of Delhi (according to Rakhine Razawin, the king of Janpur,
Sultan Ebrahim) invaded the Sultanate of Bengal. Narameikhia fought the
battle with full of valour and skill. The king was very pleased and
called him son and Naramekhia called the king father, which was written
by Sayadaw U Nyana in his Danyawadi Razawintheik (the Modern History of
Arakan). Hence, Rakhine Maghs and Muslims became brothers and sisters.
Fraternity began between Maghs and Muslims.
After the victory of the battle, king Ahmed Shah handed over the throne
of Gaur to his son Nazir Shah in the year 1426 A.D (According to Bengal
History it was not Nazir Shah but Sultan Jalaluddin Mohammed Shah). Then
Narameikhia pleaded help from the king to take back his lost throne of
Longgeret. The king agreed to do so when Narameikhia agreed to abide the
1. To return the twelve towns of Bengal.
2. Muslim title must be used by the king of Arakan.
3. The court emblem must be inscribed with Kalima Tayuba in Persian.
4. The coins, medallions must be inscribed with Kalima Tayaba in Parsian and to mint them in Bengal.
5. To use the Persian as court language of Arakan.
6. To pay taxes and presents annually.
Since that time onward Rakhine Maghs had to learn the Islamic history
and the meaning of the triumph of Islam and how it arrived, that the
chief Moslem protagonists were Mongolians. For hundred years, Arakan was
a vassal state of the Muslim Bengal and paying tribute to Bengal.
As Narameikhia agreed to the six conditions, in 1429, Sultan Nazir Shah
sent Gen. Wali Khan as the head of 20,000 Pathan forces with Narameikhia
to restore the throne of Arakan to Narameikhia. The Pathan army crossed
Arakan through Golangi pass and another army crossed through Wall Khan
(later Alt Khan) pass. They conquered Arakan from the control of Mon and
Narameikhia ascended the throne.
Soon Wali Khan and Narameikhia had a dispute over the No. 5 condition of
introduction of Persian as the court language of Arakan. Gen. Wali Khan
arrested Narameikhia and locked up at Balouthaung fettering him. Sir
Arthur Phayer wrote that Gen. Wali Khan arrested Narameikhia with the
collaboration of a Magh Chief who was his enemy (may be Ananda Thein).
Gen. Wali Khan ruled the country for one year. He introduced Persian in
his court and appointed Qazis. From the upper Kissapa Nadi (Kalandan
River) Naranu came down and rescued Narameikhia.
He went straight to Sultan Nazir Shah and narrated all the happenings.
The king become furious and sent his right and left ministers such as
Dampasu, Razamani, Setta Khan with an army larger than that of Gen. Wali
Khan, now headed by Gen. Sandi Khan. They throned Narameikhia at
Lounggeret and sent back Gen. Wali Khan to the Bengal.
Narameikhia thought that the city of Lannggyet was a cursed city from
where he was ousted and which city also saw the rise and fall of many
kings, Harvey writes: “The turmoil of foreign inroads showed that
Launggyet was ill-fated and the omen indicated Mrohaung as a lucky site,
so he decided to move there; though the astrologers said that if he
moved the capital he would die within a year, he insisted, saying that
the move would benefit the people and his own death would matter little.
In 1433 he founded Mrohaung and in the next year he died. A populous
sea-port, built on hillocks amid the rice-plain, and intersected by
canals which served as streets, Mrohaung remained the capital for the
next four centuries."
Narameikhia shifted his capital to a new site known as Mrauk-U or
Patthri Quilla in 1433. As the Pathan soldiers of Gen. Sandi Khan was
faithful to him, king Narameikhia deployed them to all important and
strategic places and all bordering areas to defend the state. These
Pathan soldiers were unable to return to their motherland. They served
in Arakan with the posts-ranked from ministers to soldiers and built
many monuments. Among them the most prominent mosque is the Sandi Khan
mosque which was built in the year 1433 at Kawalong, in Mrohaung City.
Though the religion of Islam and the culture of Muslim began with the
arrival of Arabs in Arakan, but it came to prominence with the arrival
of Gauri Pathans. In U Kyi's "The Essential History of Burma", he wrote
that "Rakhine Maghs became Muslims after embracing Islam in 15th
century. For hundred years, from 1430 to 1530 A. D. Arakan was under the
suzerainty of Muslim Bengal."
Eleven kings successively ruled Arakan for hundred years 1430 to 1530
A.D... The relation with Bengal remained extremely cordial. The
Arakanese paid tribute to Muslim Bengal and learnt Islamic history and
According to Lt. Col.Ba Shan's "Coming of Islam to Burma to 1700 A.D.",
some of the Arakanese Kings with Muslim titles are as follows:
1. Naramekhla (Solaiman Shah) 1430 1434 A.D.
2. Meng Khari (a) Naranu(Ali Khan) 1434-1459
3. Ba Saw Pru (Kalima Shah) 1459-1482
4. Dawlya (Mathu Shah) 1482-1492
5. 'Ba Saw Nyo (Mohammed Shah) 1492-1493
6. Ran Aung(Noori Shah) 1493-1494
7. Salimgathu (Sheik Abdullh Shah) 1494-1501
8. Meng Raza(Ilias Snah-I) 1501-1513
9. Kasabadi (Ilias Shah-II) 1513-1515
10. Meng Saw Oo (Jalal Shah) 1515-
11. Thatasa (Ali Shah) 1515-1521
12. Min KhaungRaza (El-Shah Azad) 1521-1531
13. Min Bin(a)Min Pa Gri(Zabuk Shah) 1531-1553
14. Min Dikha (Daud Khan) 1553-1555
15. Min Phalaung (Sikender Shah) 1571-1591
16. Min Razagri (Salim Shah) 1593-1612
17. Min Khamaung (Hussain Shah) 1612-1622
18. ThiriThudama(SalimShah-II) 1622-1637
In 1531 Minbin (Zabuk Shah) ascended the throne. With him the Rakhine
Maghs graduated in their Islamic studies and the Arakanese Empire was
In the year 1556 Bengal was invaded and conquered by the General of
Emperor Akbar and many Pathans and Mughals of Bengal took refuge in
Arakan. T.N. Sarkar wrote that the Pathan and Mughal of Arakan had
supported Shah Shuja. The twelve towns of Bengal were ruled by the
Arakanese kings till king Narameikhla. These twelve towns of Bengal were
returned by Narameikhla to the Sultan of Bengal and were under the
control of Sultanate of Bengal for hundred years. Chittagong was under
the control of Arakan for more than two hundred years, that is, from
1459 A.D to 1666 A.D. In those days the people of Arakan and Bengal had
very cordial relations.
From the days of the restoration of king Mmsawmun (1430 A.D.), there was
an influx of Muslim officials, including ministers and courtiers,
physicians (hakims or tabibs), qazis, soldiers both of the cavalry and
infantry, merchants, traders, labourers and workers who were soon
absorbed in the general population. In addition there was a transient
population of sailors of becalmed Arab, Persian and Indian Muslims
vessels who spent considerable periods of the year in the seaports of
Aakan waiting for favourable winds.
In 17th century the Maghs and Portugese pirates brought Bengalee
prisoners, both Muslim and Hindus, and sold at the ports of lndia and
The Arakan pirates both Magh and Portugese (Feringhi) used constantly to
come by water route and plunder Bengal. According to D.G.E. Hall,every
year a devasting raids, often as far as Dacca and Murshidabad, were a
carried out and vast numbers of captives carried of to Maruk-U, where
the king, after selecting all the artisans for his own service, sold the
rest to foreign traders at a few Ruppes a head.
According to Puthi literature, "the inscription of the Muslim Kalima on
Arakanese coins and the adoption of many Muslim customs and terms were
other significant tributes to the influence of Islam. Mosques including
the famous Sandikhan mosque began to dot the country-side and Islamic
customs, manners and practices came to be established since this time.
For about two hundred years the Muslim domination seemed to have been
In Arakan most of the ministers, and officers of land and naval forces
were Muslims since Narameikhla's rule in Arakan. The famous poet of
Arakan Shah Alawal wrote that, Margan Thakur, Sulaiman, Sayed Musa,
Nobaraj Mujalis were Muslim Prime Ministers of Arakan and Lashkar Wazir
Ashraf Khan was War Minister of King Thiri Thudhamma-raza (1612-22 A.D.)
according to M.K. Rahman's Tarik-i-Islam Arakan and Burma.
In 1666, the Subader of Bengal, Shahista Khan sent his son Gen. Omid
Khan and conquered Chittagong and Ramu. Then many Maghs migrated to
Mrohaung and many Muslims settled at the northern side of Arakan. Some
say the population of north Arakan was thin due to migration of Maghs to
COMING OF THE MOGHUL MUSLIMS TO ARAKAN
In the middle of the 17th century, there was a political upheaval in
Moghul Empire in India. The Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan (1627-1658 A.D.)
had four sons and two daughters. The four sons are Dara Shikoh, Shah
Shuja, Aurangzeb and Murad.
Shah Shuja was the second son of Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan of India and
(the famous queen of love) queen Mantaz Mahal. In 1639 A.D. Shah Shuja
became the governor of Bengal. He was a clever and brave soldier. But he
indulged to enjoyment than administration. But his younger brother
Aurangzeb, the governor of Dakina (southern) state was very industrious,
intelligent and a good administrator.
In 1657 A. D., the Emperor Shah Jahan fell ill seriously. Rivalry began
among his sons for the succession of throne. Finally, Aurangzeb
controlled the throne after dethroning his father.
His youngest brother Murad was put into jail and Aurangzeb had declared
himself to be the Emperor of Hindustan. Shah Shuja, the Governor of
Bengal denounced Aurangzeb's claim and advanced with his forces to
dethrone Aurangzeb. On the way, Mir Jumla, the general of Aurangzeb
fought with Shah Shuja and he was defeated at Kajawa, at the north of
Allahabad on 5 January 1658 A.D...
Then Aurangzeb put his elder brother Dara Shikandar to jail, to whom he
promised to reappoint him as the governor of Punjab and was crowned on
21st July as Emperor of India. In 1660 A.D. Mir Jumla conquered Bengal
and defeated Shah Shuja at Dhaka. According to ‘Alamgirnamah', Shah
Shuja had three sons Zain-al-din, Buland Akter, Zain-al-Abedin and three
daughters Gulrukh Banu, Raushan Ara Begum or Mah Khanan and Amena Banu.
His wife is Piaree or Piara Banu. On Sunday, 6th May 1660, Shah Shuja
fled with his treasures and family with an army of 3000 archers to
Mrauk-U (Mrohaung).They arrived at Chittagong on 3rd June 1660 A.D. From
thence they had arrived at the capital Mrauk-U on 26th August 1660 A.D.
On the way he stayed at Maungdaw. The village, where he stayed a few
days at Maungdaw, is still known as Shujapara.
The intention of Shah Shuja was to go to Holy Makkah, where he wanted to
pass his rest of life. Sanda Thudama (1651-1684 A.D.), the king of
Arakan, granted him asylum and give a house at the foot of Babu hill
(Mintha Taung) on the right bank of Wathee creek (near the Palace) with
full facilities. The king also promised to provide a ship for travelling
to Holy Makkah. But he wanted to break the promise for his lust for his
daughter and teasures. The king had never seen such huge treasure
brought by Shah Shuja. Time passed in many months. But the king kept
silent about his promised-ship. He sent messengers for the ship. Sanda
Thudama refused it and complained about Shuja's failure to come and ask
him about the ship.
Shah Shuja was afraid of being seized if he visited the king. He sent
his son. Sultan Banque with various rich brocades and rare pieces of
gold smith's work, set with precious stones of great values. But the
king wanted to seize all his treasure and find out a lame excuse. So,
Sanda Thudama asked the hand of Shuja's daughter Ameena, though he knew
very well that Sultan Shuja would never consent, he, being a pagan and
she a Muslim princess of the imperial Moghul family members which were
strong believers in the tenets of the Muslim faith. As Shah Shuja
refused the suit, the king ordered him to leave the country within three
days. Aurangazeb, a brother from the same mother womb became his deadly
enemy and he had no ship to proceed for Makkah. To die was cast. To
live, Shah Shuja had to dare.
According to Arakanese Chronicles of that period tells that Shah Shuja
was only too happy to give his daughter to the king of Arakan in
gratitude for the asylum granted, however, when he saw that had lost the
Moghul throne, he decided to conquer Arakan and make himself king with
the help of his own soldiers, the Muslim soldiers under king's army and
the local Muslim population, but the plot was uncovered; he fled to the
hill, was captured and executed. The historian Sir Arthur Phayre thinks
that the Arakanese Chronicles conceal their king's ugly behavior, and
emphasise the prince's abortive experiment to capture the palace by
neglecting to mention the preceding provocation of not providing the
promise ships, the king's request to have one of Shah Shuja daughter's
in marriage and his wish to molest the prince's riches. Phayre quotes no
source of his opinion, which is apparently only his personal point of
view, but a decidedly acceptable one.
In the support of Sir A. P. Phayre's opinion Niccolao Manucci, a
Venetian gunner, in service with Prince Dara was in India between the
years 1656-1712 A.D. This work 'Storia do mogor or Mogul India’
(1653-1708 A.D.) corroborates, and especially in perfuse detail the
slaughter of the Mughal Prince Shah Shuja and his family. He says:
He confided this design to some of his people by whom it was approved.
But they were not able to carry out the project with the called-for
secrecy, and though the delay they made there was time for the King of
Arakan to hear of the plot. He planned the assassination of Shah Shuja
and all his adherents, and to this intent called to him his four
principal captains, each of whom had three thousand armed men ........
To these he issued orders that one morning of daybreak they should all
with one accord shout "Long live the King of Arakan! Death to Shah Shuja
and all traitors!" Under cover of these, they were to kill everyone.
The captains carried out the order of their king, killing everybody they
encountered. Upon this news reaching the unfortunate prince Shah Shuja,
he tried to save his life by getting on his elephant, hoping that he
might thereby impose some respect for his person.
But it was grievous to see the fury with which the Maghs came on,
throwing everything into disorder, with blows and shouts and cries, some
saying "Death to the Prince Shah Shuja!" others,"Death to his son.
Prince Bang!" "Slay those traitorous Moguls who fled here from Bengal!"
Prince Bang was taken prisoner, while Shah Shuja with a few men fled to
the jungle. He made liberal use of the bags of jewels and pearls, which
he scattered among these savages, attempting by the use of these
valuables to mitigate the rage of the soldiers and gain a free passage
for his flight. But the Maghs paid no heed to his proffered wealth; they
pursued the poor prince like famishing wolves, cutting his body into
pieces, stripping it bare, and plundering all his valuables...........
So, on 7th February 1661 A.D. Shah Shuja fled to the forest with some of
his followers. The Magh chased them like faminishing wild wolves.
Ultimately the Magh caught Sultan Shah Shuja and chopped him into pieces
and plundering all his valuables. The family of Shah Shuja was arrested
by the Magh Raja.
According to D.G.E Hall, on 25th July 1663 A.D., the Royal Palace had
been fired by 10 or 12 desperate "Mogolders" and burnt to the ground. In
the general confusion Manaw-thiri, the Governor of Mrauk-U, was burnt
to death and the king and his family bearly escaped with their lives.
Shah Shuja's three sons were suspected of having been the cause of it
and the king gave orders for the total extermination of Shuja's family.
Sultan Banque and his brother were decapitated with blunt axes, and the
ill fated families were closely confined in their apartments. Piara
Banu, Shah Shuja's wife, when approached by king Sanda Thudhamma in his
seraglio, is supposed to have killed with a dagger while her two elder
daughters took poison and died. The youngest, Amena Banu, was forcibly
taken as wife by the king but languished in captivity and left to die of
hunger. It has been confirmed by most accounts that Amena Banu, at the
time other assassination was pregnant; her killing was probably the
crowning inequity of king Sanda thudhamama among all his other misdeeds.
Many Moors and Bengali Muslims had been plundered and massacred by the order of the king.
Shah Alaol, the great poet and writer who flourished in Arakan Court,
also confirmed in his writings Saiful Muluk Baduzzaman and Sikandar Nama
referring to the wholesale killings and imprisonments of the Muslims of
Mrauk-U. In the reign of terror which followed the abortive rising,
Aloal himself, an innocent citizen of Mrauk-U, was incarcerated in
prison for a period of 50-days on the basis of the reports of tell-tales
and was only released by strong intercession on his behalf.
The fate of Shah Shuja was heard by the Emperor Aurangazeb. Sanda
Thudama knew that the Mughal would retaliate it. In advance the Magh
Raja ordered the Portugese at Dainga and Sandip to advance to Dhaka. On
the way they destroyed 40 ships of the Subeder (governor) of Bengal. So,
Emperor Aurangazeb ordered to break the nest of the pirates of Magh and
Shayista Khan, the governor of Bengal captured Sandip in 1665 with the
cooperation of Dutch. Sanda Thudama had doubt about the loyalty of the
Portugese. The Portugese in turn doubt about their safety. So, they fled
to the side of Shayista Khan with 42 war ships.
In February 1666, Shayista Khan's son General Buzuruk Omed Khan captured
Chittagong with the help of 288-war ships. After the captured of
Chittagong the Mughals conquered Ramu within 36 hours. Two thousand
Maghs were sold as slaves. The fleeing Magh soldiers were chased by the
Some historians view that Gen. Omed Khan captured whole of Arakan for a
very short period. They did not keep control of Arakan because the aim
of the Mughul Emperor was only to control Bengal and to break the nest
of the pirates. They could easily control Arakan because the Portugese
and the Dutch were on their side.
If Shah Shuja planned to seize the throne of Arakan was true and the
secrecy of the Shah Shuja was not known to Magh Raja, Shah Shuja could
easily captured the throne of Arakan and the course of Arakanese history
might have been changed.
After the loss of Chittagong and Ramu, out of fear, the Rakhine Maghs of
North Arakan fled to the South. Many Muslims migrated to North Arakan.
G. E. Harvey wrote in his book the History of Burma that at that time
though there were no robbery but the atmosphere of robbery existed.
Alter the massacre of Shah Shuja, his remaining followers in 1661 A.D.
were retained as Archers of the Guard, praetorians who drew Rs. 4 a
month, equivalent to many times that amount of modern currency, at the
request of Muslim Prime Minister Margan.
Some of the followers of Shah Shuja escaped the persecution of Maghs and
crossed to Burma. The king of Ava settled them in Ramethin, Shwebo,
Maydu, Meiktila, Their descendants can be found today at these places.
Detail was written by U-Mya (I) in his Short History of Burmese Muslims.
THE EMERGENCE OF ETHNIC ROHINGYAS
The term Rohingya is derived from the word Rohai or Roshangee, a
terminology pervered to Rohingya. Rohai and Roshangee are terms denoting
the Muslim people inhabiting in the old Arakan (Rohan/Roshang/ Roang).
It is probably the corruption of Arabic term Raham (blessing) or Raham
Borri meaning the land of God's blessings.
The word Rahma to Rahmi-Rahmia-Rahingya to Rohingya, which denotes honest, dutiful, pitiful or kind hearted to others.
But there is another historical defination of Rohingya. That is Rohingya
which derived from the Magh language "Rwa-haung-gya-kyia". The Magh
used to call the Pathan army of General Wali Khan and General Sandi
Khan, who came to restore the throne to Narameikhia, as
"Rwa-haung-gya-kyia"- which was changed time to time - as Rwahingyia -
Rohingya-which denotes as brave as tiger. As the Pathans army defeated
Mon-Talaing army, the Rakhine Maghs used to call the Pathan as brave as
tiger. They mixed with the Arab descendants for centuries and become
"Arakan, infect, a continuation of the Chittagong plain was neither
purely a Burmese nor an Indian territory till the 18th century of the
Christian era. Chiefly for its location, it was not only remained
independent for the most part of history, but endeavoured to expand its
territory in the surrounding tracts whenever opportunity came and
Chittagong was the first to be the victim of the territorial ambition of
the Arakanese monarchs.
...... Shut off from Burma by a hill range, it is located far away from
the Indian capitals. The relation between Chittagong and Arakan is
influenced by geographical, ethnological, cultural and historical
considerations, from about 1580 A.D. nearly a century, Chittagong was
under almost uninterrupted Arakanese rule which is undoubtedly an
important period marked by momentous events.
"There were Moors, Moghuls and Pathans also in Arakan.... Thus, the
Muslim population of Arakan consisted roughly of four categories,
namely, the Bangalee, other Indian, Afro-Asian and native. Among these
four categories of Muslims the Bengali Muslims formed the largest part
of the total Muslim population of Arakan."
The Arabs and Pathans army are founded the original nucleus of the
Rohingyas in Arakan, who arrived from Arab and Bengal Sultanate during
the time of Arakanese kings.
The Arabs were the first to lay the foundation of Muslim society in
Arakan in the later part of the 7th century A.D. and the waves of
immigration from Bengal were very significant, for with these immigrants
came the Muslim nobels, statemen, traders, teachers, poets, and
There had been large-scale conversion of the Hindus, Buddhists and
animists to Islam who also constitute part and parcel of the Rohingya.
In 15th century the number of converts to Islam soared, specially as the
Muslims has established standard of credibility and stature in the
community, initially through inter-mirrages.
These various migrations led to the admixture of blood and culture to
form one common racial and linguistic classification to be known as
Rohingya a term derived from "Rohang", the ancient name of Arakan.
The Rohingya people developed a culture which was relatively advanced
for that period. Schools, Madarasas were established, epics, ballads and
riddles were advanced, music and dances were performed. This culture
spread out all over Arakan. The Rohingya economy was also relatively
developed. They developed agriculture, trade and commerce and extended
their trade relation with neighbouring countries. Today the majority of
the Rohingya people rely on agriculture as their base of subsistence;
even Rohingya fishermen engage in agriculture during the non-fishing
Among the Muslim population of Chittagong two distinct ethnic characters
are found; one is known as Chatgaiya and the other Rohai. Although
professing the same religion they have different cultural habits. In
fact the Rohais of Chittagong today are those Muslim people who fled
Arakan (Rohang) as a result of Bunnan atrocities after the country was
occupied in 1784 A.D. As many as 50% of the total population of
Chittagong district are Rohais who trace their ancestoral origin to
Arakan. The Rohingyas trace their origin to Arabs, Moors, Turks,
Persians, Moghuls, Patthans and Bangalees.
Since Rohingyas are mixture many kinds of people, their check-bone is
not so prominent and eyes are not so narrow like Rakhine Maghs and
Burman. Generally they are broad shouldered, thin-bearded, a bit taller
in stature than the Rakhine Maghs and Burmans but darker in complexion.
They are some bronze coloured and not yellowish.
THE ROHINGYAS ARE A NATION
"From 1430 to 1531, for more than one hundred years, Arakan was ruled by
the Muslims." "Their Muslim Kingdom was independent in the 14th and
15th centuries. It was later absorbed by Burma" in 1784 A.D. The people
of Arakan, the Rohingyas and Rakhines, had already organized their own
statehood patterned after the Sultanate system of government current in
those days. Thus in the context of Arakan the Rohingyas are not a
minority but part of an integral whole. Today Rohingya nation exists
because it is rooted in the direct personal feelings and the material
interests of the large section of the Rohingya people whether in the
homeland or in the places of refuge:
Aside from the compulsion of geography the Rohingya national identity is
unique into Itself in terms of language and culture. The Rohingyas
speak a common language and have common cultural trials. Almost all the
Rohingyas are Muslims though there are a few Rohingya language speaking
Hindus and Baruas. The Rohingyas are proud of their distinctive culture
and language. They can not be classified cultural sub-group.
The Rohingyas inhabit a contiguous area and therefore have a separate
territory which is the most crucial element in a national identity. The
Rohingya populations in North Arakan are united by ancient heritage, a
rich culture and distinct language. They have lived for many centuries
within well defined geographical boundaries which demarcate their
"Traditional Homeland". The group identity of the Rohingya people has
grown over the past several centuries, hand in hand with the growth of
their homeland in North Arakan, where they worked together, spoke to
each other, founded their families, educated their children and also
sought refuge, from time to time, from physical attacks elsewhere in
Arakan and Burma.
The Rohingyas were once in absolute majority in the whole of Arakan. But
they have been exterminated in a systematic and planned way and their
homeland has now shrunk progressively in insignificance or to
semi-preservations — a process still evidenced. Planned increase in the
Buddhist population systematically exterpate the Rohingya people and
destroy the crucial geo-graphical link between areas in the whole of
Arakan. It threatens the Rohingya's claim to a contiguous homeland of
the whole of North Arakan. The face of Rohingya homeland has been
changed as the Rohingyas are helpless to check their demographic
erosion. Despite systematic extermination of Rohingya population by
means of genocidal actions and continued persecution, the Rohingyas
still predominate in the area between the river Naf which demarcates the
border between Burma and Bangladesh and river Kaladan, the longest
river in Arakan. But the Rohingyas still claim that all those areas
which have been inhabited by Muslims or atleast within their sphere of
influnce before the pogram of 1942 are also included in their
Arakan has always been a country with two nations within one geographic
entity. Two different peoples, from the very ancient period, have been
inhabiting Arakan. During the course of their settlements Arakan is
divided into two parts : Muslim North and Buddhist South. That is the
Rohingya homeland of North Arakan and Rakhine homeland of South Arakan.
Though Rohingyas live everywhere in Arakan and they are once majority in
Maungdaw, Buthidaung, Rathidaung, Akyab, Kyauktaw, Mrohaung and Minbya.
Now, they are majority only in former Mayu Dist. and Akyab Island.
RELIGION AND SOCIETY
All Rohingyas profess Islam. They are strict followers of Islamic
traditions. In every village there is atleast one mosque and one
Rohingya Muslims celebrate religious festivals with great joy and
enthussasm. Great rejoicings marked the two Eids, Eidul-Fitr, and
Eidul-Azha (Qurbani Eid). Eids prayers were generally offered at Eidgahs
or Mosques (where there is no Eidgah) and the days were spent in
feeding, feasting and visiting the houses of the neighbours and
relations. They also visit graveyard for ziyarat who left them earlier.
Zakat is paid by all solvent Rohingya people ordinarily during the month
of Ramadan. Qurbani is offered by all according to their financial
means. Shab-i-Maraj, Shab-i-Barat and Shab-i-Qadar were observed with
prayer, devotion, alms-giving and feeding of the poor. Romadan is
greeted by all Rohingyas with much religious fervour. The birth day of
Hazart Mohammed (s.m.) was celebrated every year on 12th of Rabiul-Awal
as known Uman-Nabi.
Though the Rohingyas lived together with Rakhine Maghs, they lived with
their own culture.They never eat together. Inter-marriage also not so
common. They live in separate villages.
Every compact village or a part of it formed a social unit with the
mosque as its centre and a uniting force for the convenience and
regulation of social life of the inhabitants of the area. The eldest,
pious, and influential man in the society was recogonised as the head of
village society (Samaj) who decide all disputes among them with the
help of village elders.
In Arakan, Rohingya people live in somewhat densely packed villages and
the majority of their houses are built of wooden pole, bamboo, thatched
with palm-leaves (Dani) and stand on stilts as a protection against the
floods that rise and surge under the monsoon rains.
At townships headquarters and at most villages of any size or importance
a few brick houses are to be found in Arakan. In the large villages
have a fair number of wooden houses with thatch (dani) or corrugated
OCCUPATION AND TRADE
The soil of Arakan is very fertile and the climate is ideal for rice
cultivation. Arakan is dependent entirely on agriculture; all other
occupations are subsidiary to, or exist for the maintenance of, the
agricultural population. Of total Rohingya population 80% are occupied
in agriculture or pasturing. The next order of numbers are those engaged
in trade in food-stuffs. The third in respect of numbers are
shop-keepers and followed by persons engaged in transport by water and
by road, wood workers, fisherman, manufacturers of tobacco and salts.
Endogamy is a factor resulting in the practice of segmentation. In other
words, endogamy reinforces ties of common descent. The Rohingyas
In early days, a Rohingya would not be eligible for marriage until three
voyages of trade by water or three trips of trade on land. Otherwise,
he would be looked down by the society and would call him impotent with
The Rohingya would never marry with other non-Muslim without conversion
to Islam. If one many without conversion to Islam, the Rohingya society
would boycott them until and unless he or she embraees Islam. So, the
Rohingya parents control their children and arrange marriage between the
parents. If they eloped, after having love affairs, the Rohingya
society used to condemn them.
Betrothal is arranged by the Rohingya parents. The bride and the groom
are not allowed to meet before marriage. Family lines are thoroughly
checked before the engagement. Engagement breaks if there arise
dissension amoung the parents or guardians. Mohar is fixed by the
parents or guardians of the bride and the groom and it is most essential
according Islamic law. It must be given by the groom for the bride.
Both the bride and groom must declare their willingness by pronouncing
the words "Khawbul Ahsi" (we do agree) in front of at lest two witness
and the molvi Shaheeb (Alim) who perform the mirrage. Divorce rate among
the Rohingyas is less then other races of Burma. The wedding ceremonies
are held in receptions as far as possible. The receiption diner is
usually held by the family of the bride-groom. In special case called
"Salami", the reciption dinner is hold at bride home. During the wedding
month the relatives of the newly wedded couple use to invite them and
are served with at least one meal in consecutive days by each and every
household of their relatives which shows their affections for the
couple. In almost all Rohingya's marriage ceremonies 'Howlla’ (Group
singing) songs sing and folk-dancing of girls and women are common.
Rice is the staple food grain of Arakan. The diet of the Rohingya is
simple rice, fish, vegetables and chillis; meat was taken on occasions.
The majority Rohingyas eat dry fishes with fresh vegetables or potatoes
or also without any of them. On all festive occasion cows,
water-buffolos and goats were slaughtered for sales and distribution.
Rakhine Maghs like pork very much. Rohingyas never touch or eat pork.
Pork is forbidden by Islam. They eat mutton, beef, chicken after making
Halal according to Islamic teaching. Rohingyas honoured their special
guests slaughtering a goat or more with their means and the poor with a
The Rakhine Maghs males wear Gaung-Boung and Rohingyas males wear caps.
The Rakhine Maghs wear Burmese jackets and Rohingyas wear coats. In
olden days Rohingya used to wear Turbans of white clothes of 10 yards
long and 1/2 yard breath. But British and Indian culture changed the
dress of the Rohingya.
The male Rohingya wears a shirt with long sleeves called Bazu covering
the upper part of the body while the lower part is covered a sheet of
cloth stitched from side to side called longgi. Vest or gonji is wear as
inner garment by the Rohingya male.
The adult female Rohingya wears long sleeved garment known as Suli to
cover the upper part of the body while the lower part is covered with a
Tami. Inner garment called Boduli long sleeve barazier wear every gril
and woman of Rohingya. They wear a petticoat of cloth called Assar. This
is without tie or fastening, but is broutht round the waist, with the
edges well twisted in and kept on by the graceful curve of the hips.
Young woman fastened a silk Belt called Rayshamer-Dowali and old women
fastened a pice of red cloth 2.5 yards long and six inches wide stitched
from side to side called Jali to hold their Tami on their waists.
She also wears a scarf known-as Romal which cover the head and
shoulders. Whenever she is out-door she wears a Burkha, traditional veil
covering the whole body.
RITES AND RITUALS
Some Rohingya males keep hair fallen on shoulders. They are mostly
Molvis. The Rohingyas, on their brith, they keep the Islamic names in
Arabic. Some prefer Burmese names or Rakhine Magh names at schools
mostly where the teachers are Rakhine Maghs as they can not pronounce
Muslim name correctly. Some keep both names such as, Saleh Tun Sein,
Ahmed Maung Maung and so on. It is also not good. Muslim should take
pride as the kings of Arakan used Muslim titles.
On the death of a Rohingya Muslim all the members of the society
arranged his / her funeral as a social duty and hurried him/her in the
graveyard with a prayer (janaza) according to Islamic Law.
Rohingyas are good natured people. They are honest. They are not
oppressors. They can not tolerate the oppressors. They defend their
people even not caring their lives. They are brave and intelligent
During the Second World War, the Rohingya fought for the Independence of
Burma with courage. Though the Japanese easily conquered the Southern
part of Arakan within a few days, the Japanese were unable to control
the North-Arakan due to the defence strategy. Even the Japanese had to
retreat failing to advance-through the defence operation of Rohingyas.
The courage and bravery of Rohingyas should be recorded in Myanmar
Razawin. As Rohingyas are always neglected people, their bravery was
never recorded. Rohingyas respect laws and are peace loving people.
SPORTS AND GAMES
Rohingyas have may indigenous sports and games which are usually held
during summer and winter. Some also in rainny season. They are
Boli-Khela (wrestling), Ghari-Khela (Boat racing), Mohal Khela,
Gila-Khela Du Du Khela, Qunda Khela (weight lilting of round stone), Dan
Khela, Ulu Khela, Ciyar Khela, Luk-palani Khela, Phoni Khela, Mal-pat
Khela, Bak-goru Khela, Bosgya-buri Khela, Morish Khela, Bat Khela,
Kalatur Khela, Saws-sa-rani Khela, Dope-marani Khela, diving and
swimming, Paddy transplanting competition.
SONGS AND MUSICS
The Rohingyas are fond of music (both vocal and instrumental) and dance.
Rohingyas have their own folk songs, dances and musics. Howla songs
sing by women in almost all Rohingya's marriage ceremonies and also
women dance their flok dences in the same ceremonies. Young women mostly
used mouth orgen (Baza) while dancing.Bitayali Geet, Jari Geet and
Gazir Geet are very music is very sweet and meladious. Those who had
came across the Rohingya National Programme from the Burma Broadcasting
Service (BBS), they may recall the art of the Rohingya music.
LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE
There is separate Rohingya language, literature and civilization. It
developed through Islamic civilization. Rohingya language is a mixture
of Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Bangali and Rakhine Maghs, because they are
the people of border and as same as the people of other border of Burma.
In the year 1429 A.D. General Wall Khan introduced Persian as state
language of Arakan and also introduced Qazi courts in Arakan. Rohingya
language is not recent make up. Muslim writers and poets used to write
in this language since the early days in Arabic and Persian alphabets.
One of the book is still in the possession of the author (Tahir Ba Tha).
In addition to this, the coins of Arakan were melted in Arabic and
Persian and also there are numerous Kyauksa (stone inscriptions) carved
The Rohingya literature is considerly rich in ballads, love songs,
Floktales, Baramasa, legends,mystic songs, proverbs, bewsans, riddles,
lullabies (Auli) and so on.
There are many Rohingya poets and writers who flourished in the court of
Arakan kings. The Arakanese kings had come under the influence of
Bengal Sultans. Most of the their courtiers were Bengali speaking people
from Bengal and neighbouring Chittagong region and they encouraged the
cultivation of Bengali language. The poets and writers who wrote in
Bengali and a good number of their poems and works have been discovered.
Some of the Rohingya poets and writers who flourished in Araka court
are: Abdu Minyo or Ahmedu Minyo, Shah Barid Khan, Daulat Kazi, Mardan
and. Shah Alawal.
Quraishi Magan, Abdul Karim Khandkar, poet Abdul Karim are also well known writers and poets of Arakan.
The British government also used Persian as the official language
ofArakan till 1836 A.D.In addition to Rohingyas many Rakhine Maghs also
learned Persians. For example- Seikky Thado Pe and U Aung Gyi. Later on
Persian was replaced by English and Urdu.
Thus written languages of Rohingya, Persian and Bengali almost
disappeared from Arakan during the later part of British rule. The
British subtitued English, Urdu and Burmese in place of Rohingya,
Persian and Bengali. The Rohingya used Urdu till 1945 British re-entry.
Urdu language is rich in poetry and literature.
The kinds of birds can be differentiated with their feathers. So it is
time for Rohingyas to establish their ancestral dress, literature and
culture. Rohingyas are rich with fine-arts, music and architecture.
Rohingya architecture resemble the Arab Saracenic style which is
witnessed by the mosques of Arakan. Sandi Khan mosque was built with
hard rocks and easier design which stood as the oldest Rohingya's
So, it must be preserved by the Rohingyas.Rohingyas should take pride for those Muslims who had built this mosque.
ROHINGYAS AND THE UNION CITIZENSHIP ACT OF 1948
In the precedng chapters, we have given the Rohingya's millenia old
establishment in Arakan, with a history of more than 3 centuries of
Muslim influence and rule. No Citizenship Law by any standard, can
legally term Rohingya as non-nationals; however, it is the false
interpretation of the Law by politically motivated elements that the
Rohingyas are termed as non-nationals or inferior citizens.
In March 1947 Mr. Sultan Ahmed and Mr. Abdul Gaffar returned on the
votes of Rohingya Muslims as members of the Constituent Assembly and
these members are still continuing in office, representing the Akyab
District North Constituency, and took the oath of allegiance to the
Union of Burma on the 4th January 1948 as members of the new Parliament
of the Union of Burma.
In Chapter II, Section 10 and 11 of the 1947 Constitution of Union of Burma stated that:
* 10- There shall be but one citizenship throughout the Union; that is
say, there shall be no citizenship of the unit as distrinct from the
citizenship of the Union.
* 11-(i) Every person, both of whose parents be- long or belonged to any of the indigenous races of Burma;
(ii) Every person born in any of the territories includd within the
Union, atleast one of whose grand-parents belonged to any of the
indigenous races of Burma;
(iii) Every person both in any of the territories included with the
Union of parents both of whom are, if they had been alive at the
commencement of this constitution would have been, citizens of the
(iv) Every person who was born in any of the territories which at the
time of his birth was included within His Britannic Majesty's dominions
and who has resided in any of the territories included within the Union
for a period of not less than 8 years in the ten years immediately
preceding the 1st January 1942 and who intends to reside permanently
therein and who signifies his election of Citizenship of the Union in a
manner and within the time pescribed by law, shall be Citizen of the
'Indigenous race' is a term applied to a people distnct culture and
civilisation who had been residing within the territory of Union before
1823, the year of British occupation of Arakan.
When Section 11 of the Constitution of the Union of Burma was being
farmed a doubt as to whether the Rohingya Muslims of North Arakan fell
under the Section 11, Sub-Clauses (i), (ii) and (iii), arose and in
effect an objection was put in to have the doubt cleared in respect of
the term "Indigenous" as used in the Constitution, but it was withdrawn
on the understanding and assurance of the President of the Constituent
Assembly, at present His Excellency the President of the Union of Burma,
who, when approached for clarification with this question, said
"Muslims of Arakan certainly belong to one of the indigenous races of
Burma which you represent. In fact, there is no pure indigenous race in
Burma, and that if you do not belong to indigenous races of Burma, we
also can not be taken as indigenous races of Burma." Being satisfied
with his kind explanation, the objection put in was withdrawn by the
In 1948, however, a new Citizenship act (The Union Citizenship Act of
1948) was promulgated which restricted Section 11 (iv) of Constitution
to any person "from ancestors who for two generation at least all made
any of the terriories included within the Union of Burma their permanent
home and whose parents and himself were born in any such territories."
As a measure to prevent the continued immigration of the Indians into
Burma, all residents in Burma were required to apply for registration
within one year of the law and were
givn indenty cards. Many Rohingyas registered and were given cards which
enabled them to vote during the democratic period between 1948 to 1962.
According to Mr.M.A. Gaffar, Member of Parliment (M.P.) from Akyab West
Constituency and Parliamentary Secretary from 1947 to 1962, Press
Conference held on 21st. April 1960 in Rangoon are:
“Though Rohingyas resemble a little with the people of East Pakistan
(now Bangladesh), their literature, names and tittles, dresses,
languages, customs and cultures are as difference as the sky and the
earth. Therefore to regard Rohingyas as Chittagonians is a grevious hurt
to Rohingyas and a matter of tragedy and a great blow to Rohingya and
far from actual history.”
"Although Rohingya's culture, tradition, history and civilization are
not inferior to that of other indigenous races of Burma, Rohingyas are
always victims of persecutions, specially, the immigration used to
arrest them. In June 1959, 76 Rohingyas were rounded and arrested in
Akyab and Mayu districts by the immigration and were sent to Rangoon by
steamer for ultimate dispatch to Gawdu-thoung in Pyapon District.”
"On November 4, 1959, the Supreme Court of Burma had passed orders
directing the release of Hasan Ali and Mahar Alt, who were arrested
about the same time and on the same ground. It was pointed out them that
the two cases would have served as test cases to the immigration. This
was not done and the court had to order to release of 76 detainees who
had subsequently applied for writ of habeas corpus. Section 4(2) of the
Union Citizenship Act. also pointed out that those persons whose
ancestors had made Burma for two generation as their home and who and
whose parents were born in Burma were also citizens of the Union. It had
been observed by the court that in Union of Burma there were races who
could not speak the Burmese language and who nevertheless were citizens
of the Union of Burma.”
"According to Section 3 (1) of the Act, the people who lived in group in
a part of Burma since 1823 (Bur-mese Era 1185) are also indigenous
people of Burma in addition to Karen, Kaya, Chin, Myanmar, Mon, Rakhine
(Magh) and Shan.”
"Due to the 1942 Massacre of Muslims of Arakan, the Rohingyas of
Kyauktaw, Mrohaung, Minbya, Pauktaw, Phoonagyon and Maybon had fled to
Mayu Dist. and the population of Mayu Dist. increased, which is better
known to the Magh people, but the Maghs intentionally alleged them as
the illegal immigrants from Pakistan (now Bangladesh). The precious
unity of the two sister people of Arakan was ruined due to the fault of
Maghs. Rohingyas tried several times for the unity of the people of
Arakan, as it is time for the development of Arakan. But the Maghs have
not changed their hostile attitude towards, Rohingyas.”
"Some leaders from Arakan have been engaged in malicious propaganda
against the Rohingya people. Some after the Second World War, when the
British reoccupied Burma, they began to conspire against the Rohingyas
with the slogan that the Rohingyas are Pakinstani minded and consented
to join Arakan with Pakistan. This slogan is utterly false and is but a
device to tarish the image of the Rohingyas with a view to exterminating
them. These communal and narrow minded Maghs leaders engineered a
communal riot in 1942 resulting in the total destruction of the age old
Rohingya settlements from 6 of the 9 townships of Akyab District. The
Rohingya population of Myebon in Kyauckpyu District was completely
annihilated. Many Rohingyas had taken shelter in Maungdaw and Buthidaung
townships. A number of them had taken refuge in the then East Bengal.”
"These uprooted Rohingyas, execpting those from the townships of
Maungdaw and Buthidaung, have not been repatriated and rehabilitated
yet, in their original places. There is no security for their lives.
More than half of their landed properties were taken away by the Rakhine
Maghs who are not ready to return the prop-erties to the original
Rohingya owners. It had become an attraction for the Rakhines of other
areas to leave for those 7 townships to grasp the chance of the seizing
Rohingyas' lands. Accordingly, the Rakhines from Maungdaw and Buthidaung
had sold out their lands to the Rohingyas at high prices and scrambled
to get possession of the Rohingyas lands.”
"Now let us ask those Rakhine Magh leaders who are shouting that the
Pakistanis are infiltrating into the country. Where are those Rohingyas
from 7 townships of 244 Villages have gone? Were all these people killed
in 1942 riot? The answer is certainly not. How long the Rakhines will
illegally hold the lands of the Rohingyas? How long will they show this
drama? The alledged illegal immigration of Pakistanis is utter false.
It is nothing but a conspiracy to perpetuate their illegal possession of
Rohingyas' lands and to oppose their repatriation and rehabilitation in
"In 1949-50 more than 30,000 Rohingyas, that included women and
children, were inhumanly driven across the border to East Pakistan.
Conspiratory plans after plans have been hatched out to finish of the
Roningyas with the slogan of illegal immigration. This was carried out
with an ulterior motive to disturb Rohingyas and to oppose their
"The Government is indifferent to the plights of the Rohingvas. They do
not get any legal redress. Even the Government officials publicly
"Why don't you Kalas (aliens) understand the policy of the Government?
Why don't you leave the country despite continued persecution?"
"What a unfortunate is this! They are not Pakistanis and so they are not
accepted by the Pakistan Government. But by all legal standards they
are Burmese citizens entitled to all rights and protections guar-anteed
by the constitution of Burma. Inspite of this they are unwanted by their
own Government. If so, where shall they go arid who will give them
asylum? It is very unfortunate that instead of getting any remedies the
culprits and the violators of law are encouraged and rewarded.
Through out their Parliamentary tenure Ra-Ta-Nya (Rakhine Maghs' Party)
members acted in an unfriendly manner against the Rohingyas. They
branded Rohingyas as "Kalas" or Chittgoniany and did not recognise
Rohingyas as their equals.
After winning 1960 General Election Govt. of Prime Mininster U Nu
declared to set up a special "Mayu Frontier Admisnistration" (MFA) in
the provinces of Maungdaw, Buthidaung and western portion of Rathedaung
under direct control of Central Govt. It would be administered by Army
officers. However the new arrangement earned the agreement of the
Rohingya leaders. The actual implementation of the administration took
place with effect from March 31, 1961. The Govt. recognised Rohingya as
race of Burma. A special police force known as "Mayu ye” was rised with recruits from local Rohingya Mus-
lims and the law and order situation strated to improve. Since Govt. of
Burma resolved and recognized Rohingyas as one of the indiginous races
of Burma, 1st batch of 290 Rohingya armed Mujahadeen surrendered on July
4, 1961 at Maungdaw and another 2nd batch of more than 200 armed
Mujahadden surrendered on November 15, 1961.
THE EMERGENCE OF ETHNIC KAMANS
Besides Arabs and Pathans there were also Kaman archers, the followers
of Moghul Prince Shah Shuja. The descendants of Shah Shuja's Kaman
archers are still survive in Arakan among the Rohingyas with their
special name "Ethnic Kamans" in Arakan. Kaman is a Persian word means a
bow. They speak Rakhine Magh language but retaing their Mohammedan faith
and Afghan features.
The Kamans, units of Muslim Archer servicing the king of Arakan, got the
upper hand and continually reinforced by new forces from Upper India.
From 1690 to 1710 AD. (for 20-years) the political rule of Arakan was
completely in their hands. They were the king makers of Arakan. They
used to roam to over the country carrying fire and sword, wherever they
went. If a Kaman was angry in a Magh village, out of fear, all Magh
villagers used to run away.
So, there is a proverb among the Maghs. That is "In water the shark (is
most dangerous) and on land the Kaman is": In 1710 AD. Maha Danbado
defeated the Kaman and ascended the throne with the title of
SandaWizaya( 1710-1731). He deported the Kaman archers to Thayagon,
Thinganet, Thakeybin, Rambree and Sandaway and the cavalry forces of
Muslim Pathans were deported to the Northern border areas of Maungdaw,
Buthidaung and Rathedaung and Kyauktaw and Minbya.
The Kaman women are very industrious. They ran business from vegetable
to cloth in Akyab, Rambree and Sandaway. But Kaman males are lazy. Their
culture, dress, tradition, every thing is like Maghs except their
religion, Islam. Inter-marriage between Kaman and Rohingya is common.
Their children become Kamans if they are grown among Kamans, and they
become Rohingya if they are grown among Rohingyas. Such people are
commonly found in Akyab District. If a Kaman is asked why they are
called Kaman they would proudly reply that their ancestors were archers
of Mughal and Rakhine kings.
Though Kamans are educated Muslims, their spirit of Islam is weak.
Moreover, they are influenced by Buddhist culture as they live mixing
with the Buddhist people. Therefore, the Kamans of Laydaung, Sanne and
Kyauktaw professed Buddhism according to M. K. Rahman's Tarik-i-Islam
Arakan and Burma (Urdu version), which make (the author) very sorry. It
was indeed the weakness of Rohingyas and Kamans. To control and hinder
from such occurence is the duty of Rohingyas and Kamans. Negligence to
it would lead to the. disapperance of their people.
The Rohingyas are an ethno-racial group developed from different stocks
of people. They trace their ancestry to Arabs, Moors, Turks, Moghuls,
Bengalees and some Indo-Mongoloid people. The first group to leave its
mark upon the culture and civilization of Arakan were the Arabs who
carried out trade and propagation of Islam while settling down
permanently in the coastal areas. The descendants of the mixed marriges
between the local people and Arabs founded the original nucleus of the
Rohingyas in Arakan. The Muslim settlements in Arakan dated back to 7th
century A.D. The Buddhists of Arakan, the other major ethnic community,
known as Maghs or Rakhine are a mix-blooded race descended from
Indo-Aryans of Maghada, Mongolians and Tibeto-Burmans.
Until 1942, all those in Arakan - the Rakhine Buddhists and the Rohingya
Muslims lived in full harmony and amity. But in early 1942, an ultra -
conservative section of the Rokhine Buddhist undertook a sort of
campaign to keep the Arakanese Rohingya Muslims under subjections,
massacred about 1,00,000 Rohingya Muslims and causing as many as 80,000
Rohingya Muslims to flee from Arakan and to take shelter in the then
East Bengal (now Bangladesh). Since 1948, up to 1992, there have been no
less than 19 major "operations" or eviction campaigns against the
Rohingyas carried out the Government of Burma. The largest and probably
the best documented "operation" was the so-called King Dragon operation
of 1978. Between 24 April and 25 July 1978 more than 250.000 Rohingyas
fled into Bangladesh as refugees. The 1991-92 campaign known as Pay
Saya, which was launched on 18 July 1991,the refugee figure is little
over (2,68.887) "that of 1978 and the causes of the influx are not much
There was a presence of Rohingyas in practically every place of Arakan.
Due to massacre of about 100,000 Rohingya Muslims in 1942 and continued
persecution against them some areas in South Arakan have been turned
into non-Muslim territory. At present the largest concentration of the
Rohingyas is in North Arakan, particularly the territory between the
East Bank region of the river Kaladan, the longest river in Arakan, and
the river Naf which demarcates the boundary between Bangladesh and
Burma, where they still constitute 70 to 80 percent population of the
region. There are also Muslim pockets in South Arakan such as Chaduba,
Kyauk Pyu, Kyauk-ni-maw and Sandoway.
The Rohingyas are, by all legal standards, nationals as well as an
indigenous ethnic group of the Union of Burma. They had been recognized
as such by the previous elected governments with members in parliament
and cabinet having a programm as an indigenous people in the official
Burma Broadcasting Service (BSS) and participation in official "Union
Day" celebration of Burma's racial groups in the Burmese capital every
The former Prime Ministers of Burma, U Nu and U Ba Swe stated, "the
Rohingyas are people of Arakan. who profess the Islamic faith. The
Rohingyas are equal in every way with other minority races like the
Shan, Kachin, Karen, Kayah, Mon and Rakhine, They have lived in Burma
for ages, according to historical facts. There is historical evidence
that they have lived faithfully and harmoniously with other races of the
To reject all previous records and refusal to accept the Rohingyas as
Burmese nationals is blatant lies. But, their history, civilization and
the elected government's statements unambiguously and unequivocally make
it evident that:
(a) The arrival and settlements of the Rohingyas in Arakan have predated
the arrival and settlements of many other people and races inhabiting
Arakan and Burma.
(b) The Rohingyas are nationals of Arakan and constitute one of the many
indigenous races of Burma like the Shan, Chin, Kachin, Karen, Karenni
etc. now inhabiting Arakan and other parts of Burma.
(c) By history, by tradition, by culture and civilization, the Rohingyas
are as much citizens of Burma as anyone else in the country.
The conclusion is drawn with prayer to the Almighty Allah, the
Beneficent, the Merciful, to perpetuate Rohingya and Kaman. Ameen!