Wednesday, 13 December 2017

By Prof. Dr. Abdul Karim

 

Introduction

 

Arakan is now a part of the Union of Burma (renamed Myanmar) but in the past she was independent. In ancient times, Arakan was divided into two kingdoms, south Arakan or Sandoway and north Arakan or Arakan proper. The two parts were united into one in the last part of the 13th century and this position of Arakan lasted till 1785 A. D. when the kingdom was merged with Burma (Myanmar).

Geographical Features

 

Arakan is bounded in the north by India, in the south and west by the sea (Bay of Bengal) and in the east by the Yoma Mountains. In the north and west Arakan had a common boundary with Bengal in the river Naf which is still the borderline between Bangladesh and Burma. The old kingdom of Arakan was stretched from north to south along the coastline, divided by the high, stiff and inaccessible Yoma Mountains from Burma. Though Arakan is now a part of Burma, land communication between Arakan and the rest of Burma is almost sealed except for the army and the armed forces; the two parts are however linked by water communication. Being situated on the sea, Arakan had harbours providing anchorage to maritime ships; the country is intersected by many rivers and streams of which three are important, Kaladan, Lemru and Mayu.

 

The Arakanese kings established alternately capitals in eight different towns, transferring from one to the other. The places were Thabeiktaung, Dinnyawadi and Vesali down to the eleventh century, Pyinsa (Pyinsa-Sambawut) till 1118, Parin 1118-1167, Krit 1167-1180, Launggyet 1237-1433, and Mrohaung (Mrauk-U) 1433-1785. All these capitals were situated in the Akyab district on or near the river Lemru.

 

The Area of Arakan is 20,000 sq. miles. But Arakan Hill-Tracts District (5,235 square miles) and southern most part of Arakan were partitioned from Arakan. So, it has now been reduced to 14,200 square miles. In the absence of census it is not possible to give the exact population figure, but the estimated population is 40 lakh excluding about 1.5 million of those Rohingya Muslims who had been expelled from Arakan since 1942. At present inside Arakan, the Buddhists and Muslims stand at almost in equal proportion, i.e. 20 lakh are Buddhists, 18 lakh are Muslims and the rest 2 lakh are Animists, Hindus and Christians.

 

Coming of the Foreigners

 

The wall of the Yoma hills rendered Arakan immune from attack from the east and kept her more or less safe from Burmese occupation. Both Burma and Arakan being maritime countries naval attacks from one to the other took place occasionally. The Shans overran part of Arakan, particularly the Akyab zone in the 10th century. Occasional raids from Bengal are also known; thus in the 13th - 14th centuries, in the reign of Minhti (1273 -1374) a naval attack from Bengal is recorded; Chittagong experienced attacks from Arakan more than once and in the ancient and medieval periods, Chittagong was often in the hands of the Arakanese kings. Of the religious groups of people, coming to Arakan from outside, Buddhism reached Arakan earlier than all and Buddhists had entered there earlier than they reached the interior of Burma. The Mahamuni image of Buddha, usually placed in the shrine of Dinnyawadi, an old capital and 22 miles north of Mrohaung may be dated from the early centuries of the Christian era, the Arakanese assign it to Sandathuriya (146-98 A.D).1 Compared to the Buddhist, the Hindus came to Arakan much latter, which is proved by their fewer number. Whatever that may be, after the 10th century Arakan was professedly a Buddhist country, and during about the same time Muslims traders from Arabia entered into her seaport in course of their trading voyages to the east. Still later came the Europeans with their large Ocean-going ships, and the Arabs and the Europeans established trade links between Arakan and the Eastern and Western countries.

 

The name of the Country

 

Arakan is a modern name, in ancient times the country was known as Rakhaing. A. P. Phayre says that Rakhaing was the name of a tribe in  old Arakan and he could actually trace the existence of the Rakhaing tribe at Pegu.2 Muslim writers called it Rakhang or Arkhang, in a few coins of Sultan Shams-ud-din Ghazi bearing the date 962 A. H. (1555 A. D.), the name of the mint is read as Arakan. If the reading proves correct, it may be assumed that even in the 16th century, Arakan was known by this name.3 The Rohingyas of Arakan believe that Arakan is derived from the Arabic word all-Rekan or al-Rukn,4 the Turkish Admiral Sidi Al-Reis called the place Rakanj 5 and in the Bangali Punthi literature both Roshang and Rokam are used, but the used of Roshang is more popular. In the 16th century when the Europeans came, they wrote the name of the place Arakan and their maps also the country is known as Arakan. So by evolution the old name Rakhaing was turned into Rakhang or Arkhang of Muslim writers and later it becomes Arakan. It is stated above that the last capital of the kingdom of Arakan was at Mrohaung (Mrauk-U). The story of the transfer of the capital to this place will be told at a later stage in this essay. Mrohaung was called by the Bengali poets Roshang which in the month of the local people of both Arakan and Chittagong became Rohang, ‘sha’ being turned into ‘ha’ and thus the people came to be known as Rohangi or Rohingya.

 

The Rohingyas are the Muslim inhabitants of Arakan, and now they form a little less than half of the total population. The story of how the Muslims came to Arakan, how their number gradually increased and how did they fuse themselves into the political, social and cultural life of the country of Arakan, is the subject matter of this essay. They came to Arakan in several phases, some came as traders from as far places as Arabia and Persia, others came as conquerors and in the train of the invading army, some came as victims of pirates and still others came in peaceful pursuits. In the 17th century Arakan reached its pinnacle of glory through the contribution of Muslim poets, Muslim learned men, saints and administrators.

 

Coming of the Arab Muslims

 

The Muslim infiltration into Arakan has started earlier in history. The oft-quoted statements of the Arab geographers and traders are important sources to reconstruct the history of the coming of the Muslims. Referring to early geographers Harvey writes as follows:6

 

“Ptolemy, the Greek geographer, writing in A.D. 140 even mentions a Tugma Metropolis, in a spot curiously like Upper Burma, as if it were Tagaung. But it is to Prome that the Chinese pilgrims chiefly refer when, in their travels, they speak from hearsay of Burma; and to the Arabs, whose shipping predominated in the eastern seas from the eighth to the sixteenth century, Burma was Arakan and Lower Burma: -

 

“They say that the king of Rahma (Lower Burma) has fifty thousand elephants. His country produces cloth made of velvety cotton and aloe wood of the sort called Kindi. (Ibn Khordadzbeh years 844-8, Persian traveller from Basra, in Ferrand.)

 

“The king of Rahma enjoys no great repute … His troops are more numerous than those of Ballahra, Gudjra and Tekin. They say that when he marches to battle he is accompanied by about fifty thousand elephants. He campaigns only in winter indeed his elephants cannot stand thirst and so they can go forth only in winter. They say that in his army the washer-men amount to between ten to fifteen thousand. In his states are found cloths not found elsewhere; a dress made of such cloth is so fine and light that it can pass through a signet ring. It is of cotton. We have seen a sample. For barter the people use cowries, which form their currency. But gold, silver, aloes are also found and a stuff called camtara (yak hair) whereof fly-flaps are found. The same country produces … the rhinoceros, an animal which has on his forehead a single horn, and in this horn is a human figure…. We have eaten the flesh. He is found in other parts of Iand. but here the horn is more beautiful, often containing the image of a man, peacock, fish or anything else. The Chinese make girdles of this horn and pay high price among themselves, upto three or four thousand dinar and even more according to the figure’s beauty. These horns are bought with cowries. (Sulayman, Year 851 …….) 

 

“In Ind. lies a realm called Rahma, bordering on the sea. Its ruler is a woman. It is revenged by the plague, and any man who comes from elsewhere in Ind. and enters the country, dies there. Yet many come by reason of the great profits to be made. (Ibn al-Fakih, Persian Traveller, Year 900-Ibid. )”

 

There are some of the extracts from the writings of old Arab and Persian writers, all of whom mentions a place or kingdom which they called Rahma and which Harvey identifies with lower Burma. Other Arab geographers, al-Masudi, al-Idrisi also refer to the kingdom of Rahma and historians of early Bengal have much speculated about the identify Rahma with the kingdom of Dharmapala of the Pala dynasty in Bengal or in other words they identify Rahma with Bengal.7

 

In the golden age of the trading activities of the Arabs, their merchant-vessels used to ply all over the sea- coast from the Red Sea to the Chinese coast, and this golden age of the Arabs continued at least up to the 17th century. With the coming of the Europeans with their superior vessels and huge capital, the Arabs began to lose hold on their eastern trade. It develop upon the geographers and scholars to do researches on all matters connected with trade and commerce, the location and nature of the sea-ports, availability of commodities, their places of origin, price and facts of other nature. In later time, i.e. during the hey-day of European trade with East Indies, European scholars and traders also did the same kind of research for the benefit of their traders. These Arab Geographers refer to various trade centres on the cost of the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal, although unfortunately most of these places can not be identified at present with the knowledge at our disposal. The modern scholars have tried to identify two places- Samandar and Ruhmi. The first is identified with Chittagong 8 and the second is identified with both Bengal and lower Burma as we have seen above. Whether or not, the kingdom of Rahma is to be identified with Bengal or Lower Burma, these accounts of the Arab geographers leave no doubt that the Arabs were acquainted with and the Arab traders frequented the ports of Bengal, Arakan, Burma and other coastal kingdoms. If the Arabs visited the Chittagong port, they were also acquainted with Arakan and came into contact with the Arakanese kings. So the identification of Rahma is immaterial for the purpose of our present study, there is no doubt that the Arabs had contact with Arakan during the 8th to 10th centuries of the Christian era. A part from the general statements of the Arab geographers, there is positive local evidence of the early Arab contact with Arakan. In the Arakanese traditional history, it is stated that in the reign of Mahatoing Tsandaya (788-810 A.D) several Arab ships wrecked off the coast of Rambi Island (Ramree), the Muslim sailors somehow escaped and swam into the shore. In the Arakanese history they are called kula-s or foreigners. When they were taken and produced before the king, the latter allotted a piece of land for them and they were allowed to settle there.9

 

This is the first evidence of the Muslim settlement in Arakan. R.B. Smart writes in the British Burma Gazetteer as follows: 10  “The local histories relate that in the ninth century several ships were wrecked on Ramree Island and the Mussalman crews sent to Arakan and placed in villages there. They differ but little from the Arakanese except in their religion and in the social customs which their religion directs, in the writing they use Burmese, but amongst themselves employ colloquially the language of their ancestors.”

 

This is a very important piece of evidence regarding the origin of the Rohingyas. These shipwrecked Arab Muslims became the nucleus of the Muslim population of Arakan; later other Muslims from Arabia, Persia and other countries entered into Arakan. The important point to be noticed about these shipwrecked Muslims is that they have stuck to their religion. i.e. Islam and Islamic social customs. Though they used Burmese language and also adopted other local customs, they have retained the language of their ancestors (probably with mixture of local words) in dealing among themselves. Another point to be noted is that the Arab shipwrecked Muslims have retained their religion, language and social customs for more than a thousand years. Later on, of course other Arabs also come in the trading and other pursuits and some of them have stayed on in Arakan and in this way people of Arab blood increased as time passed by. So the Rohingyas have been staying in Arakan for more than a thousand years.

 

Second phase of the coming of the Muslims

 

The fifteenth century is a great turning point in the history of Arakan; during this time a large contingent of Muslim entered into Arakan from Bengal and they went there by invitation of the ruling prince. The cause was political. In the beginning of the 15th century, the Arakanese king Min-Saw-Mun attacked some area of Burma, but was defeated. The Burmese king retaliated by attacking and taking possession of Launggyet, the capital and the king was expelled from his kingdom. The story is given below in the words of A.P Phayre:

 

“The war between the Burman monarch, Meng-tshewl (Minkong) and the Arakanese king Min Saw Mun resulted in the latter’s defeat and expulsion from his kingdom in the local era 768 (1406 A.D). Min Saw Mum fled to Bengal, the governor of Chittagong took from him his queen, Tsan-mwe-sheng, on which the fugitive king went to Thura-tan where the king received him with distinction, ….. For several years the Talaings (a hilly tribe who were fighting for the Arakanese) and the Burmans struggled for the possession of Arakan, and the letter were finally expelled in the year 788 (i.e. 1426 A.D) by the efforts of the Arakanese and Talaings.

 

“During this period, the dethroned king was residing at the king of Thu-ra-tan, who being engaged in war could not afford him any assistance, while there the Delhi king came to attack Thu-ra-tan, with a huge army consisting of elephants, horses, chariots and foot soldiers, also dogs are large as bullocks, trained to war. By the advise of Min-Saw-Mun, the dog were disabled by means of iron-hooks baited with raw flesh, seizing which they were caught by the mouth and easily overpowered. The elephants and horses fell into pits dug for them, and covered over with straw and earth, at the bottom of which were iron spikes; thus the Thu-ra-tan king obtained a complete victory. The Arakanese exiled king taught the king’s subjects the art of entrapping a herd of wild elephants by driving them into a space enclosed by a stockade and ditch; he also instructed them in the art of training elephants.

 

“Out of gratitude for these services, the king determined to assist the exiled prince in the recovery of his kingdom. He appointed a general called in the Arakanese U-lu-Kheng (Wali Khan) to command the army of restoration. This person however betrayed his trust, and joining with a Rakhine Chief, named Tse-u-Ka, they established a government and imprisoned Min-Saw-Mun. He escaped and fled to Bengal.

 

“The king of Thu-ra-tan now appointed two nobles; named Dan-ba-tsu and Ban-ba-tsu, to carry out his intentions together with a large army under the command of Tshat-ya-Khat (Sandi Khan). They arrived with orders to place Min-Saw-Mun on the throne and bring back the head skin of U-lu-Kheng. The expedition was successful. U-lu-Kheng suffered the fate his crime deserved and the historian records in glowing terms the joy of the people, from the inhabitants of the kingly city to those of the smallest village in the empire that the descendant of their ancient line of kings was restored to them.

 

“The restored king, however, was forced to submit to the degradation of being tributary to the king of Thu-ra-tan, from his time the coins of the Arakan kings bore on the reverse, their names and titles in Persian Character.11

 

This event had far reaching effects on the history of Arakan and spread of Muslim influence there. The Arakanese king Min-Saw-Mun passed his exiled life in Bengal for a quarter of a century and he must have been accompanied by his family and retinue. During this twenty-five years the Arakanese people came in contact with the local people and became conversant with local language and local customs and culture. In the above quotation Phayre states that the Arakanese king taught the Bengali army as to how to face foreign invasion and deal with invading elephants, horses and dogs. Similarly, the Arakanese who accompanied the king must have also learnt many things from Bengali Muslim hosts.

 

When the Arakanese king Min-Saw-Mun took shelter in Bengal in 1406 AD. Sultan Ghiasud-din Azam Shah was on the throne, but he was restored by Sultan Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Shah in 1430 AD. During the interval, Bengal witnessed several palace intrigues, several kings were killed by kingmakers and several occupied the throne through their blessings. Thus the family of Ghias-ud-din Azam Shah was exterminated and a line of kings under their slave Shihab-ud-din Bayazid Shah occupied the throne, the latters were also removed, and Hindu king Raja Ganesh occupied the throne. A prince of his family Jadu became a Muslim and occupied the throne under the title of Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Shah. This man restored the Arakanese king to his throne. So the king Min-Saw-Mun and his family and retinue experienced all these events and happenings in the Bengal Court. The changes did not take place easily as we have stated in a few sentences. There were movements and counter movements, fightings, killings, political groupings and regroupings; at one stage the guardian saint of Pandua, Shaikh Nur Qutb Alam interfered and invited Sultan Ibrahim Sharqi of Jaunpur to intervene and save the Muslim kingdom. The Sharqi Sultan came and invaded with a large army, but had to return when by tricks, Raja Ganesh got his son Jadu converted to Islam and feigned to relinquish the kingship to his converted son. There was the scene of re-conversion of Jadu to Hinduism by passing him through a cow made of gold. The Arakanese king returned to his kingdom with all these experiences. Arakan had no proper coinage, they became now acquainted with minted coins; Arakan used Burmese script, literature was not developed, but in Bengal they found Bengali, Arabic and Persian languages and literature. So the Arakanese returned to their country with much commitment to a civilised life and a better living.

 

The next important point to be noted is the arrival of large Muslim population in Arakan. In those days Arakan’s fighting force was predominantly navy and elephant corps, but Bengal was weak in both, Bengal was strong in army, or land force. And, in fact, not one but two expeditions were sent to Arakan by the Bengal king. The first expedition was sent under Wali Khan who proved a traitor, but the second expedition succeeded in seating Min-Saw-Mun to his throne. In both the expeditions, many people belonging to the auxiliary forces, like carriers, tent bearers, cooks and butlers, washer-men etc. accompanied the actual fighting force, or in other words combatant and no-combatant people taken together, several thousand Muslims entered into Arakan in 1430 AD. while reinstating the ousted king Min-Saw-Mun. It is almost certain that the first expeditionary force did not return to Bengal because they rebelled and they knew what could be their fate if they returned to Bengal. So it is very probable that they remained in Arakan hiding, and settled in villages and out of the way places. It is also doubtful if all soldiers of the second expeditionary force returned home, because their services were needed by the reinstated king. So these soldiers also helped in swelling the Muslim population as found in later times.

 

In the previous pages it has been stated that the king of one country was reinstated in his kingdom by that of another, but the enterprise was not so easy. It involved not two but three kingdoms, Bengal, Arakan and Burma. So it may reasonably be assumed that much diplomatic exercises preceded the actual restoration of the Arakanese king, and actually it took long twenty-five years to accomplish the task. The Bengali king did not certainly undertake such hazardous and expensive enterprise for no ultimate gain for himself. It is not possible to say for want of positive events, what was the agreement arrived at between the two parties, thought it may be reasonably surmised that the king of Arakan bound himself to be loyal to his benefactor, the king of Bengal. Events and facts prove that the Arakanese king not only bound himself to bear the cost of the expedition but also to pay tribute to the king of Bengal.

           

M.A Tahir Ba Tha in his Short History of Rohingyas and Kamans of Burma (translated by A.F.K Jilani, edited by Mohd. Ashraf Alam) says, “Narameikhla agreed to the following conditions:

 

To return the twelve towns of Bengal.

The kings of Arakan must use Muslim titles.

The court emblem must be inscribed with Kalima Tayuba in Persian.

The coins, medallions must be inscribed with Kalima Tayuba in Persian

and to mint them in Bengal.

To use the Persian as court language of Arakan.

To pay taxes and presents annually.

 

 The above points may not be accepted in all its details, but there is no doubt that the king of Arakan had entered into an agreement with the king of Bengal before he was restored. The terms of agreement must have been favourable to the Bengal king.

 

When the king Min Saw-Mun reached the capital, he was widely acclaimed by his people. The first thing he did was to transfer the capital from Launggyet to Mrohaung, which in the hands of Bengali poets and people became Roshang (Rohang). Min Saw-Mun probably received the idea of transferring the capital from his benefactor, the Bengal Sultan Jalal Uddin Muhammad Shah. The Bengal Sultan transferred the capital from Pandua to Guar 12 because the former place saw many killings, including the killing of several kings as a result of the palace intrigues. The boy king Jalal Uddin did not like to reign from that cursed city. For Min Saw-Mun also the city of Laungggyet was a cursed city from where he was ousted and which city also saw the rise and fall of many kings, Harvey writes:13

 

“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.”

 

The Muslims who went to Arakan from Bengal built the Sandi Khan mosque at Mrohaung and thus the Muslims settled at the capital city in large number. In fact these were the people who followed the king to reinstate him there. Seated on the throne, the king had to pay attention to the payment of cost of the expedition and pay the tribute as stipulated. The payment must have continued for several years. This payment, however, posed a problem, because Arakan had no regular coinage, unstamped silver pieces of various sizes were used in their transaction. But in Bengal, they used minted and stamped coins of superior dies and exquisite finishing. The Bengal coins were of standard size, weight and shape bearing inscriptions in Arabic characters giving the names and pedigree of kings, dates of issue and the name of mint. So if the Arakanese had to pay and they did so, in the coins of the same fashion. For this reason, they had to provide for minting coins in the Bengal fashion, i.e. with standard weight, size and shape. It is in this connection that the Arakanese king had to invite experts, mint masters, die staff, and artisans for minting the coins. The Arakanese coins that they produced reveal much more information than only the minting of coins. Their coins bore the name of the king and date, but the most important point to be noted is that though the kings were all Buddhists, they took a Muslim name along with their Buddhist name, the Muslim names were written in Arabic characters, sometimes both in Arabic and Bengali characters. This suggests that Arabic and Bengali calligraphers were also appointed along with mint experts.

 

Min Saw-Mun bound himself to pay the tribute to Bengal, but he died in 1434 A.D. Sultan Jalal Uddin Muhammad Shah of Bengal had also died in the meantime, he died in 1432 A.D. So it is doubtful whether the pact or agreement reached between the two monarchs remained valid. As there is no written record, nothing definite can be said, but facts show that the practice of adopting a Muslim name by the Arakanese kings continued for more than two hundred years. The Arakanese kings who are known to have taken Muslim names are as follows:

 

            Name of Kings                           Reigning Period             Muslim Names

1.         Min Saw Mum or Narameikhla     1430-1434                     Sulaiman Shah or Sawmun Shah

2.         Naranu or Min Khari                   1434-1459                     Ali Shah or Ali Khan

3.         Basawpyu                                 1459-1482                     Kalima Shah

4.         Min Dawlya                               1482-1492                     Mu-Khu-Shah

5.         Basawnyo                                 1492-1494                     Muhammad Shah

6.         Yanaung                                   1494                             Nuri Shah

7.         Salingathu                                 1494-1501                     Shiek Abddullah Shah

8.         Minyaza                                    1501-1513                     Ilyas Shah-I

9.         Kasabadi                                   1513-1515                     Ilylas Shah-II

10.        Mim Saw O                               1515                             Jallal Shah

11.        Thatasa                         1515-1521                     Ali Shah

12.        Min Khaung Raza                      1521-1531                     El-Shah Azad

13.        Min Bin                                     1531-1553                     Zabuk Shah

14.        Min Dikha                                  1553-1555                     Daud Khan

15.        Min Palaung                              1571-1593                     Sikandar Shah

16.        Minyazagyi                                1593-1612                     Salim Shah-I

17.        Min Khamaung                          1612-1622                     Husain Shah

18.        Thiri Thudamma             1622-1638                     Salim Shah-II

 

Col. A.P. Phayre who first discovered some of those coins and studied them says:14

 

“The restored king (Meng Yoan Mwyn- Min Saw-Mun), however was forced to submit to the degradation of being tributary to the king of Thuratan (Bengal) and from this time the coins of the Arakan kings bore on the reverse their names and titles in the Persian character. This custom was probably first made obligatory upon them as vassals, but they afterwards continued it when they had recovered their independence and ruled the country as far as the Brahmaputra river.”

                      ……………………..                ………………….    

                     ………………………                ………………….

 

“The Arakanese sovereign, no doubt wished to follow the kingly practice existing in Bengal, of coins being struck in the name of the reigning monarch. We learn from their annals about the middle of the fifteenth century of the Christian era that they conquered Bengal as far as Chittagong of which they kept possession for about a century. It was then that they first struck legendary coins. On the reverse of the earliest of these, we find the date and the kings names written in the Burmese character together with barbarous attempts at Muhammadan names and title, that they assumed as being successors of Mussalman kings, or as being anxious to imitate the prevailing fashion of India.”

                         ………………………               ………………………..

                        ………………………                 ………………………

 

“The Muhammadan Names are fanciful designations”

 

A. P. Phayre is in great confusion; in the first place he says that the Arakanese kings became vassals of the Bengal king, and became tributary to the latter. While he said this he was explaining the facts correctly. As a result of his restoration to his throne, the king Min Saw-Mun was obliged to pay for the cost of the expedition and pay tribute meaning that the Arakanese king accepted suzerainty of that of Bengal. In the second passage Phayre forgot what he had written earlier, and said that he made a barbarous attempt at imitation of the Bengali fashion of striking coins. In the third statement he called the Muslim names as fanciful designation. Phayre could not read the Arabic characters properly, so to him it was “barbarous imitation” and “fanciful designation”. Nowadays many scholars, European, Bengali and Arakanese, have deciphered the coins, and have read the Muslim names properly. There is no doubt that the names are clear Arabic words, e.g. Husain, Ilyas, Kalima, Mohammed, Nuri, Salim, Sikandar etc. Not only that, European writers like Fray Sebastien Manrique also have written the Muslim names of Arakanese kings. Manrique was himself in the Arakanese court for a pretty long time; he was present in the capital on the occasion of the coronation of the king Thiri Thudamma (Muslim name Salim Shah). So Manrique’s evidence cannot be questioned. What is more important is that Manrique used the Muslim name (Salim Shah) only, he did not use the Buddhist name of the king. So there is no doubt that the Arakanese kings took the Muslim names purposely and deliberately, and not only one king but all reigning for more than two hundred years used the Muslim names and inscribed the same in the coins. So A.P. Phayre is wrong when he says that the Arakanese king made “barbarous imitation” and adopted “fanciful designations”.

 

The Arakanese kings used to take the title “Dhavala Gajeshwara” (Lord of the Red elephant) and they inscribed this title in their coins.15 The following interesting account about white elephants is reproduced:

 

“White elephants are comparatively rare, and they are revered by the Buddhists, who believed that the Buddha had been a whit elephant in his last incarnation, before being born as a man. Possession of one was symbol of universal sovereignty. Determining white elephant is quite a science, and considerable literature is to be found on the subject …….. but as a guide we can say here that the two main tests applied are that the elephant shall have five toe nails on its hand feet instead of four, and that if you pour water on a white elephant, he return red while a black elephant becomes even blacker.

 

“Written evidence of the existence of white elephant is found in several accounts of the time. In particular Ralph Fitch claims to have seen a white elephant in 1586 when he was at Pegu. It was shown to him as a “Siamese loot”, and he was some what surprised at having to pay half ducat to get in to see it. Manrique, a Portuguese Friar, who travelled to Arakan in 1630 saw the white elephant at Mrauk-U (Mrohaung or Roshang) probably the same one which Fitch and Manrique describe the luxury in which the elephant was kept, in a gilded stall lined with silks and cushions and with a retinue of servants to prepare and serve food in vessels of silver and gold, to attend to its daily bath, and other needs. Much later in Mindon’s time (1853-78 A.D) we read that the Royal Elephant was even breast-fed by a succession of human mothers lined up specially for the purpose, and that the mothers actually queued up for the honour.”16

 

It is to be noted that the title “Dhavala Gajeshwara” was inscribed on their coins in Arabic script and in Arabic rendering which is “Sahib-ul-Fil-ul-Abyaz” and also in Bengali script. The Bengali Muslim poet like Alaol, Mardan and others also ascribed this “Dhavala Gajehwara” tittle to the Arakanese king of their time.

 

As stated above Min Saw-Mun made the pact with the Bengal Sultan to pay for the cost of the expedition and to pay tribute, but how long the Arakanese kings were obliged to honour the pact made by Min Saw-Mun with Sultan Jalal-ud-din is not known. Certainly all the monarchs of Arakan who ruled for more than two hundred years did not honour the pact, because there is positive evidence that some kings of Arakan did not only annul the pact unilaterally, but actually fought against the Bengal kings, or Mughal Viceroys of Bengal under their control. Both sides fought between themselves on the possession of Chittagong in the Husain Shahi period (1493-1538) and Afghan period (1538-1576). Those kings of Arakan who fought against the Sultans of Bengal also adopted Muslim names and inscribed these names in their coins. To cite a few examples two Arakanese kings Minyazagyi (Salim Shah-I 1593-1612) and Min Khamaung (Hussain Shah 1612-1622) were contemporary of Jahangir, both invaded Bengal several times, but they also adopted Muslim names, Thiri Thudama (Salim Shah-II 1622-1638) was a contemporary of both Jahangir and Shah Jahan; he invaded Bengal in the later part of the reign of Jahangir, and actually looted the city of Dhaka, but he also adopted a Muslim name. Why then the Arakanese kings adopted Muslims names? There is no proof that any of them accepted Islam, they remained Buddhists although. Min Saw-Mun and a few of his successors were tributary, but later kings ruled and maintained their sovereignty without any let or hindrance. That is why, the question is why did they inscribe Muslim names in their coins.

 

Various writers have explained this question in their own way. As we have seen above, A.P. Phyre thinks that initially it was made obligatory upon the kings of Arakan to mint the coins with “Persian” inscription, but latter when they “recovered their independence”, they just continued the previous practice. A Modern historian of Arakan entitled this period of the history of Arakan as “Muslim conquest of Arakan”, meaning that the Bengal kings conquered Arakan in 1430 and kept it under their control for long two hundred years. He says:17

 

“Narameikhla embraced Islam and adopted the Muslim name of Solaiman Shah ……. Eleven kings successively ruled Arakan for the hundred years from 1430 to 1530. The relation with Bengal remained extremely cordial. The Arakanese paid tribute to Bengal and learnt history and politics. In 1531 Minbin (Zabuk Shah) ascended the throne. With him the Arakanese graduated in their Moslem studies and the empire was founded.”

 

It is probably a little too much to say that Min Saw-Mun accepted Islam, because there is no evidence to make such a positive statement. The writer speaks about one hundred years, 1430-1530. But he is silent about the next one hundred years 1530 to about 1638, during this second period also the Arakanese kings inscribed their Muslim names in Arabic and sometimes in Bengali characters. That they adopted Muslim names in this second period also is proved by the accounts of European writers apart from the coins themselves. Another writer says as follows:18

 

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English translation:  “ In striking the coins and in fixing the value of the coins of the above mentioned kings of Roshang or Arakan Gaudina policy (Policy of Gaud or Bengal) was followed. In those coins the policy of inscribing Islamic creed (Kalima) and the Muslim names of their kings in Persian character was followed. This policy was followed for 215 years for 1430 to 1645 during the reigns of independent kings of Roshang. Due to inscribing the Islamic creed (Kalima) and the Muslim name of their kings in the coins in Persian characters, and because in the court of the Arakanese kings Muslim ministers were appointed, modern Arakanese Rohingya Muslims believe for certain that those Arakanese kings adopting Muslim names accepted Islam. Such belief is baseless and there is no historical proof in support of this belief.”

 

This is another extreme, and the writers do not try to explain why the Arakanese kings adopted Muslim names, and why did they inscribe these names in Arabic characters. (It may be noted here in passing that the inscription on the coins is in Arabic and not Persian character). A third scholar, Sultan Ahmed Bhuiyan has tried to rationalise the point. He writes”:19

 

 

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English translation:  “The adoption of Muslim names by Arakanese kings was not obligatory. If it was obligatory, there is no reason for them to accept Muslim names even after they assumed independence. We know that the culture and civilisation, daily life, etiquette, dress, education etc. of the undeveloped people are regulated on the ideals of developed communities. In those days, the Muslim nations were at the top in education, knowledge and kingly dignity. As we, in our time, are following the western culture in all aspects, similarly in those days it became a fashion (for the undeveloped people) to imitate Muslim culture. The 15th – 16th century was the glorious period in India of the Mughal and Pathan rule, and it was also the glorious period of Mughal and Pathan civilisation. So the Arakanese kings considered it glorious for them to inscribe Muslim names and Muslim creed (Kalima) in their coins along with their Buddhist names.”

 

At the present stage of our knowledge, we know for certain that a Sultan of Bengal, Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Shah reinstated an Arakanese king Min Saw-Mun (Narameikhla) to his throne. This must have been done through an agreement between the two kings; otherwise the Bengal Sultan would not have incurred such a huge expenditure for fitting an army. We do not know what were the points of agreement between the two kings, and in the absence of any written record it will not probably be possible to have any idea in future also. But from the events that followed in Arakan we may surmise the following points of agreements: 1st, the Arakanese king bound himself to pay for the cost of expedition. 2nd, the Arakanese king became a tributary to the king of Bengal. To meet these demands, the Arakanese kings started minting silver coins in the same fashion as the Bengal kings did. With the help of these coins he met cost of expedition and also paid the tributes.

 

So far so good, but the Arakanese kings did something more, they accepted Muslim names and inscribed these names in Arabic characters. There is no evidence that the Arakanese kings gave up their Buddhist religion and accepted Islam. So the reason for accepting Muslim names and inscription in Arabic, should be sought elsewhere.

 

With the restoration of Min Saw-Mun to his throne, a big contingent of Muslims entered into Arakan. The contingent included the army, not one army but two, of which the members of the first expeditionary force spread over the country and mixed with the people. The second army also must have been a big one, because they had to fight against both Arakanese and the first contingent of Bengal army. Next, the contingent included the administrators, officers and intellectual persons. Though we have no knowledge about the administration in Arakan in the 15th – 16th century, we find that not only soldiers and members of the subordinate staff but also the ministers and judges came from the Muslim community. The seventeenth century Bengali Muslim poets give in their writings an impression that the capital city of Roshang (Mrohaung or Mrauk-U) thronged with the Muslim population, so that the Muslim ministers maintained courts, i.e. religious, social and cultural assemblies of their own. Then in the third category came the Muslim artisan and craftsmen, the officers and men connected with the mint and other state establishments. Last but not the least came the traders and businessmen in the hitherto terra incognita abounding in agricultural and natural resources. Later, in the essay, we shall give an idea of the Muslims who entered into Arakan in large number. We shall also see that when the king of Arakan picked up quarrel with Shah Shuja, the former did not take action against the latter openly for fear of estranging his relations with the Muslim subjects. So it is possible that initially the Arakanese king accepted Muslim name and inscribed legend in coins in Arabic just to satisfy his overlord, the Bengal king, but later the practice continued. The kings found it expedient to continue the practice to keep his Muslim subjects in good humour.

 

We have seen above that the Muslims entered into Arakan in a body twice; first the shipwrecked Arabs and second with the restoration of Min Saw-Mun. The Arabs trade with the east continued up to the 16th centuries the Arabs traders visited the Arakanese ports quite often, may be once a year during trading season. Some traders must have remained there either voluntarily or out of necessity. In this way the Arab Muslims became familiar with the land of Arakan. But with the restoration of Min Saw-Mun, a large number of Muslims entered into Arakan and taken together, the Muslims in Arakan became a force in the body-politic of Arakan.

 

Third Phase of the coming of the Muslims

 

There was yet another group of Muslims to enter into Arakan. They were the people of the coastal areas of Bengal, but kidnapped and sold to slavery by the pirates. They belonged to both Hindu and Muslim community, but both became unfortunate victims. The pirates were the Portuguese and Maghs of Arakan. When the Portuguese first came to Bengal they came for trade and commerce, they were followed by missionaries whose purpose was evangelisation. But the Portuguese in course of their establishment of trade relations with Bengal often took recourse to violence and piracy. So from the beginning their religious and commercial motives were hampered by their wanton acts of piracy and their involvement in the slave trade. S.N. Sen says:20

 

“Nothing was unfair to a fanatical Christian, and fanaticism was the order of the day, particularly in the comparatively less civilised lands of the west, when a Moor or Muslim happened to be the victim. They had waged a long and Portuguese patriotism and bitter war against the Moor in their native country, and Portuguese piety equally demanded the extermination of the hated Moor in the neighbouring tracts of Africa. Commercial rivalry added further zeal to racial hatred and religious aversion, and a Moor was considered to be fair prey whenever encountered.”

 

There are various examples of Portuguese piracies in the ocean as well as in the coastal districts, and men, women and children, and valuable i.e. whatever came before them were lifted and carried away, so that the whole coastal area of Jessore, Khulna, Bakerganj were desolated and no habituation was to be founded there. The Magh king of Arakan employed the Portuguese to perpetrate their piratical activities into Bengal and later the Magh were also joined with the Portuguese, so that they jointly raided the coastal districts. Manrique, a Portuguese priest who visited Bengal and Arakan and who spent six year in the Angustinian Church at Dianga (Deang, opposite Chittagong town) was himself a witness to such piratical raids.  He gives a picture as to how the Magh kings employed the Portuguese to loot and plunder the coastal districts of Bengal. He writes:21

 

“…… the Magh kings decided to always retain Portuguese in their service, granting the best of them the rank of Captain and conferring on them Bilatas, or revenue-producing lands, on the understanding that they maintained a certain force of their country men and also Geli as …… Beside the annual income they were authorised to take their vessels into the principality of Bengala, which belonged to the great Mogul. Here they would sack and destroy all the villages and settlements on the banks of the Ganges, to a distance two or three leagues up-stream, and besides removing all the most valuable things they found, would also take captive any people with whom they came in contact. This raiding was pronounced by the Provincial Council at Goa to be just, since the Mogors (Maghuls) were not only invaders and tyrannical usurpers but also enemies of Christianity …….. They usually made there general attacks three or four times in the year, irrespective of minor raids which went on most of the year, so that during the five years I spent in the kingdom of Arracan, some eighteen thousand people came to the ports of Dianga and Angarcale.”

 

Of these eighteen thousand captives Manrique and other Portuguese priests baptised eleven thousand four hundred seven. Before Manrique, his predecessor priests baptised sixteen thousand ninety captives from Bengal. Manrique gives other examples of carrying away of captives from Bengal by the pirates.  Manrique and other priests welcomed the piratical activities, because the more people the pirates enslaved, the better for them to baptise them. The Maghs also joined the Portuguese in piracy and they jointly carried on piratical attacks to the coastal districts of Bengal. Shihab-ud-din Talish, the famous 17th century historian gives a horrible picture as to how the Magh and Portuguese pirates carried away people from Bengal, oppressed them and sold them as slaves. He says:22

 

“As these (piratical) raids continued for along time, Bengal became day by day more desolated. Not a house was left inhabited on either side of the river lying on the pirates’ track from Chatgaon to Dacca. The prosperous district of Bakla (Bakergung) was swept clean with the broom of plunder and kidnapping, so that none was left to occupy any house or kindle a light in that region.

 

“When they came from Chatgaon to ravage Bengal they skirted the imperial frontier post of Bhulua (Noakhali) on their right and the island of Sondip on their left, and reached the village of Sangramarh at the southern apex of the Delta of Dacca (some 30 miles from Dacca) and then point of junction of the Brahmaputra and the Ganges. From this place they sailed up the Ganges if they wished to plunder Jessore, Hughli and Bhushna, or up the Brahmaputra if Vikrampur, Sonargaon and Dacca were their objectives.

 

“The Arakan pirates both Magh and Feringi used constantly to plunder Bengal. They carried off the Hindus and Muslims they could seize, pierced the palms of their hands passed thin strips of cane through the holes, and threw the men huddled together under the decks of their ships. Every morning they flung down some uncooked rice to the captives from above as people fling grain to fowl. They sold their captives to the Dutch, English, and French merchant at the ports of the Deccan. Sometimes they bought their captives to Tamluk and Balasore for sale at high prices…… Only the Feringis sold their prisoners but the Maghs employed all whom they carry off in agriculture and other occupations, or as domestic servants and concubines.”

 

There are many such examples of piratical activities of the Maghs and Portuguese who carried away men, women and children from Bengal and as has been said by Talish, the Portuguese generally sold their captives in exchange of cash; the buyers English, Dutch and French sold them as slaves in slave markets. The Portuguese also handed over some of their captives to their priests for converting them to Christianity. But the Maghs generally did not sell their captives, they employed them in Arakan in low works particularly agriculture, cutting of wood, feeding the animals and felling the trees etc. Their number was not small and an idea of their member may be had from the fact that when the Chittagong fort fell into the hands of the Mughals, ten thousand Bengali (both Muslim and Hindu) captives got liberty and they went to their homes. Actually they were not slaves but free men; they were made to slavery. The Kaladan River originates from the Chin hills and falls into the Bay of Bengal. ‘Kala’ means place occupied by the foreigners. Actually the captives of Magh pirates were made to settle there and they were employed in tilling the soil and developing agriculture. So these captives also helped in increasing the Muslim population of Arakan.

 

Fourth Phase of the coming of the Muslims

 

The next large influx of Muslims from Bengal into Arakan took place in the middle of the 17th century. This was due to political upheaval in India, in the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (1627-1658) had four sons, Dara Shikoh, Shuja, Aurangzib and Murad. The Mughal princes were trained in the art of government. Shah Jahan could guess that his four able sons would eventually fight amongst themselves to occupy the throne after his death. So he tried to keep them separate giving each of them a share of governing the country. Dara Shikoh, the eldest was kept in the capital by his side, he was more refined, philosophic but less able in the art of governing. Shah Shuja, the second son was given the viceroyalty of Bengal and Orissa, he was able but a little devoted to pleasure. Aurangzib, the third son, was as learned as he was appointed viceroy of the Deccan province. Murad, the forth son was the viceroy of Gujarat, but he was less experienced and more indolent. It is happened that Shah Jahan actually fell ill in 1658 and for some time all hope of his recovery was given up. Dara Shikoh being in the capital took control of affairs; he stopped leaking out information from the capital to the countryside. When the princes living in the provinces did not receive information of the emperor’s health for some time, they took it for certain that the emperor had been dead and that Dara would not inform them before consolidating his authority. The princes therefore came out of their provinces with huge army, proceeded towards the capital and in this way war of succession began. In the contest Aurangzib, ultimately came out successful and occupied the throne. Dara and Murad had been killed by Aurangzib already; Shah Shuja was also defeated, but instead of surrendering he escaped and took shelter in Arakan.

 

The king of Arakan [Sanda Thudhama- Chandra Sudharma (1652-1684)] agreed to grant asylum to Shah Shuja and his family and send them to Mecca in favourable season. The Portuguese and Maghs escorted Shah Shuja and his entourage to Mrohaung (Roshang) and they reached there in 1660. But unfortunately, the Arakanese king did not keep his word; rather he proposed to marry a daughter of Shah Shuja. When Shah Shuja did not agree to the proposal, the relation was estranged. Ultimately, Shah Shuja was treacherously murdered with his family by order of the king of Arakan. It is not known how many people were in the retinue of Shuja. It is, however, probable that about one thousand Muslims entered into Arakan during this time. 23

 

So by the seventeenth century, the Muslims entered into Arakan in a big way on four different occasions; the Arabs in course of their trading activities including the ship-wrecked ones; the Muslim army, actually two big contingents, in course of restoring the king Min Saw-Mun to the Arakanese throne; the captive Muslims carried by the pirates in the 16th-17th centuries; and the family and retinue of Shah Shuja in 1660 A.D. Of them, the army contingents who entered into Arakan with the restored king Min Saw-Mun were numerically very great, they also influenced the Arakanese society  and culture in a great manner. In the 17th century the Muslims thronged the capital Mrohaung and they were present in the miniature courts of ministers and other great Muslim officers of the kingdom. An idea of their presence is available in the writings of Muslim poets. The great Bengali poet Alaol, for example writes as follows:24

 

 

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The above evidence of Alaol is very important, as will be discussed below. Alaol, originally a Bengali national, went to Arakan being captive by the Portuguese. He wrote various poetical works in Bengali in the second half of 17th century. Being a poet, he was honoured by the Muslim Wazirs and other high officers of Arakan. He had access both in the court as well as assemblies of ministers and high officials and so he was in a position to write confidently about the people of Arakan. In the above passage, Alaol says that people from various countries and belonging to various groups came to Arakan to be under the care of Arakanese king. He mentioned the people from Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Abbyssinia, Rumi (actually by Rumi, he mentioned Turkish), Khurasan, Uzbekistan, Lahore, Multan, Sind, Kashmir, the Deccan, Hind (north Indian), Kamrup and Bengal, Karnal, Malayese, Achin, Cochin and Karnatak country. The poet also refers to the Shaikhs, Sayyids, Mughal, Pathan, Rajputs, Hindus, and people of Ava, Burma, Shyam (Indo-China), Tripura, Kukis (of Assam and Tippera); the Armenians, the Dutch, the Danish, the English, the French and the Spanish and the Portuguese were also found in the capital city of Mrohaung.25 Alaol’s evidence gets support from the European writers. For example, Ferdinand Mendez Pinto, a 17th century European traveller says that the Arakanese army comprised of the following nationalities and countries: “Portugals, Grecians, Venetians, Turks, Janizaries, Jews, Armenians, Tartars, Mogores, Abyssians (Abyssinians), Raizbutos (Rajputus), Nobins, Coracones (Khurasanis), Persians, Tuparass (people from Tripura or Tippera), Gizares, Tanulos, Malabares, Jaos (Jens), Achem, Moens, Saims, Lussons of the Islands, Borneo, Checomes, Arracons, Predin, Papuaas, Selebres, Mindancas, Pegus, Bramaas, and many other whose names I know not.”26 The Portuguese Padre Fray Sebastien Manrique visited Arakan and stayed for some time; he was also present in the coronation ceremony of the Arakanese king held on 23 January 1635. He gives a description of the coronation procession and says that of the several contingents of army that took part in the coronation, one contingent wholly comprised of Muslim soldiers, let by a Muslim officer called Lashkar Wazir. The leader rode on Iraqi horse, and the contingent comprised of six hundred soldiers. In other contingent, led by Arakanese commanders also there were Muslim soldiers. This evidence of Sebastien Manrique combined with the fact that there were several Muslim ministers in Arakan gives a good picture of the presence of the Muslim in Arakan in the 17th century. The influence of the Muslim officers over the king of Arakan is also evident from the following episode mentioned by Sebastien Manrique.

 

The Arakanese king Min Khamaung Husain Shah (1612-1622) was succeeded by his son Thiri Thudhama, but his coronation was delayed. The astrologers said that the king would die one or two years after the coronation. So the king was in no mood to perform the coronation, but after 12 years had passed, the great officers of the state desired that the old custom of coronation of the king be observed. The king felt that their desire should be performed. But before acceding to their demand, he consulted his preceptor, who was a Muslim. Manrique says that his man was a Haji, he visited the holy cities of Makka and Madina, but he was held to be a saint by the king and his Magh subjects. Manrique writes: 27

 

“But first of all he consulted his false preceptor, a Mahammadan, who, having twice visited the hateful Mausoleum where the obscene sandals of the descendant of Hagar are said to preserved, was held to be a saint by these Barbarians.”

 

Actually Manrique confused here; he was ignorant of the Muslim rite of the performance of Haj. Manrique’s editors write: 28

 

“The hateful Mausoleum” is strictly speaking, at Madina, where Muhammad was buried, but here Manrique confuses Madina with Makka, the place of regular pilgrimage. There is no support to the statement that the prophet’s shoes are shown either at Madina or Makka, though soon after Muhammad’s death his servant Anas used to show his shoes to the faithful, presumably at Makka.”29 Any way, the main point here is that the Arakanese king’s preceptor was a Muslim, so an idea of the Muslim influence in Arakan may be obtained.

 

 

Reference and notes

  1.     G. E. Harvey: History of Burma, London, 1925, ( hereafter referred to as Harvey),   p.313.

  2.       Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, (hereafter referred to as JASB), Vol. XIII, 1944, part 1, p. 24.

3.       This is a tricky problem and much has been written both for and against the reading by different scholars. We quote below the latest opinion given by Pratip Kumar Mitra and Sutapa Sinha “Chandir Jhar Hoard of Silver Coins” in Pratna Samiksha, Vols. 2&3, 1993-94, (Journal of the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums Government of West Bengal, Calcutta, 1995, p. 285).  :

The coins of the Afghan rulers of Bengal are fairly well represented in the hoard. Only one coin (Sl. No. 199) of Shams al-din Muhammad Shah Ghazi, the first Sultan, is available which bears a date of 962 A. H. and mint name of Arakan. The coin is similar to those published by Marsden, Lane Poole and Wright. But a controversy had been raised regarding the reading of the mint name Arakan in these coins. G. S. Farid has very aptly summarised such controversy in the following words:

“According to Blochmann the correct reading on Marsden’s coins is Sunargaon and not Arkat.

According to A.B.M. Habibullah the reading of the mint name Arakan is not acceptable. He writes Arakan is not only a foreign name, but the form was not known to the Muslims at that time. Muslim historians always use the name Rakhang. The reading is also not clear, it looks like Rikab.

N. B. Sanyal justified the reading of the mint name Arakan.  A. Karim holds a view similar to that expressed by Habibullah as regards the mint name, and concludes that Marsden has wrongly read ( Te) instead of (Nun) and made Arakat of Arakan. By no stretch of imagination it could be read as Sunargaon, as suggested by Blochmann. It appears that Habibullah and Karim have consulted I.M.C. Plate, Alif, of ‘Arakan’ is partly visible which has been taken as a dot of (Be) of the word ‘Zarb’ which precedes the mint name, and this has created doubts in the mind of some of the scholars, although Wright and Rogers have correctly read as ‘Arakan. Had they consulted the plates illustrated in Marsden’s book and B.M. Catalogue, the controversy might not have arisen.”

On a close examination of the coin found from the present hoard, we fully attest the conclusion drawn by Farid and maintain that there should be no room for any doubt regarding the reading of the mint name ‘Arakan’. In view of N.B. Sanyal’s assertion that Bengal was not weak vis-à-vis Arakan during Shams aldin Muhammad Shah’s time, it seems likely that this Sultan conquered Arakan and issued coins from the Magh capital city. The coins of Shams al-din Muhammad Shah is (Sic) extremely rare and so far only four pieces are known to exist. The present coin is a welcome addition to this scare list.”

4.         “The Call of Rohingya” paper published by the Rohingya Patriotic Front, Arakan, Vol.1, No.1, 1981, quoted in Abdul Hoque Chowdhury: Praehin Arakan Rohingya Hindu O Barua Bauddha Adhibhasi (Bengali), (Hereafter referred to as A.H. Chowdhury 1), Bangla Academy, 1994. P, 3.

5.         Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. Vol. XVI, No. 3, P. 236.

6.         G.E. Harvey, History of Burma, pp. 9-10.

7.         S.H. Hodivala: Studies in Indo-Muslim History, p.5; Proceedings of the Pakistan History Conference, Karachi Session, 1951, p. 198.

8.         Journal of the Asiatic Society of Pakistan, Vol. VIII. No. 2, 1963, pp. 13-24.

9.         JASB, Vol. X. Part I, 1844, p. 36.

10.      British Burma Gazetteers. Vol. A, 1917, District Akyab. P. 90.

11.      A.P. Phayre writes the name “Mengh-tsan-newun”. I have modernised the spelling.

12.      A.P. Phayre: History of Burma, London, 1884, p. 78.

13.      Riaz-us-Salatin, tr. A. Salam, Delhi,  reprint 1975, p. 118.

14.      G. E. Harvey, pp. 139-40.

15.      JASB,  Vol. XIII, 1844, pp. 32-34; Vol. XV, 1946, p. 232.

16.      Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. II, 1882, pp. 233-235;  A. P. Phayre: Coins of Arakan, pp. 5-7.

17.      M. Robinson and L.A Shaw: Coins and Banknotes of Burma, Manchester, 1980, pp. 46-47.

18.      Dr. Mohammed Yunus: A History of Arakan, Past & Present, 1994, p. 35.

19.      Abdul Huq Chowdhury: Chattagram-Arakan, Chittagong, 1989, p. 64.

20.      Sultan Ahmed Bhuiyan: Prachin Muslim Bengla Sahitya, p. 31, quoted in Abdul Huq Chowdhury: Chattagram-Arakan, p. 65.

21.      History of Bengal, Vol. II. Ed. J. N. Sarkar, D.U. 1948, p. 353.

22.      The Travels of Fray Sebastien Manrique, ed. Luard & Hosten, Vol. 1, p.285.

23.      History of Bengal, Vol. II, ed. J.N. Sarkar, pp. 378-79.

24.      Abdul Karim: History of Bengal, Mughal period, Vol. II,  Rajshahi, 1995, p. 363.

25.      Abdul Karim and Enamul Huq: Arakan Rajsabhaya Bangla Sahitya, Calcutta, 1935, p. 12.

26.      Ahpai, Khotanchari, Almani, Kastilan could not be identified. According to another reading Ahpai is actually Bhopali (i.e. from Bhopal) in India.

27.      The Voyages and Adventures of Ferdinand Mendez Pinto, Translated by H. Cogan, London, 1981, quoted in S.A. Ahsan: Padmavati (Bengali), Dhaka, 1968, p. 87.

28.      The Travels of Fray Sebastien Manrique, Vol. I, p. 352.

29.      Ibid.,  p. 252, note 6.

        If Anas showed the shoes it was at Madina (and not Makka), because the prophet  passed away in Madina.