Brunei has always been known to be one of the earliest Muslim Kingdoms in Southeast Asia. They pride themselves in this fact. All their neighbors pride themselves in this too, and of course, since it is fact, it is irrefutable. Right?
Good. Let’s quickly look at some FACTS then:
It is taught in school textbooks that Pateh Berbai, the brother of Awang Semaun and Awang Alak Betatar, discovered Brunei. Awang Alak Betatar subsequently became Brunei’s first Sultan and was known as Sultan Muhammad Shah. Awang Semaun and Awang Alak Betatar were the famous heroes in Brunei during that time.
Sultan Muhammad Shah was the first Sultan of Brunei. He ruled Brunei from 1363 to 1402. He was the first Muslim ruler of Brunei as a result of his conversion to Islam in 1363 for his marriage to a Johorean-Temasik princess. Prior to conversion to Islam, he was known as Awang Alak Betatar.
He sent a mission to China in 1371 by which his name is recorded in Ming historical record as Mo-ha-mo-sha. Sultan Muhammad Shah died in 1402. Sultan Muhammad Shah was the first Sultan of Brunei. He ruled Brunei from 1363 to 1402. He married the daughter of Iskander, a Johorean-Temasik princess introduced by Bal-Paki, her brother-in-law to be.
So far so good… Oh Really?
Read the above again very carefully !! Sultan Muhammad Shah married a Johorean-Temasik princess in 1363. Now, for all those products of Biro Tata Negara (BTN) out there, what year was Malacca formed? 1403. So, there was a Johor king already in 1363? Are you going to argue with Ketuanan Brunei on this? (By the way, he’s more Melayu than YOU!) Also for those who insist that Penang be handed over to Kedah, read the following again and again …
The Johor ruler was under the Thais. The entire Peninsular belonged to the Thais! The ‘king’ of Singapore (Temasik), whom Parameswara of the Malaccan Sultanate murdered in cold blood was in fact the brother-in-Law of the ‘King’ of Pattani, who was under Ayodthaya rule. For those who do not know, Ayodthaya is in Thailand. And that, my friend was already well established before 1363.
Next, Kota Gelanggi was also another Thai City, (yet to be publicized). And why not? Because it is a Thai Buddhist kingdom. Yes, it’s along the Johor River. All I’m allowed to say at this point is that Kota Gelanggi is REALLY along the Johor River. Expose Kota Gelanggi, and you will find its 30ft Buddha statues and its many Buddhist Temples, in all it’s glory.
So, for Penang to go back to Kedah, ALL of the peninsula needs to go back to the Thais. Sarawak needs to go back to Brunei, Brunei needs to go back to Majapahit, Sabah needs to go back to the Philippines, and Parameswara needs to go back to Palembang, leaving the Orang Asli in charge all over again. (I find it ludicrous that the Orang Asli are disqualified as ‘Bumiputera’ although they have been here since 60,000 years ago)
Next, the year 1363 is of great significance. Why? That was the year that the first Sultan of Brunei converted to Islam. And he immediately became the Ruler of Brunei? What was he before that? A fisherman? A carpenter? A farmer? What was Awang Alak Betatar in 1362? And what happened the following year when he became a Sultan? Is becoming a Muslim enough to justify becoming a Sultan? Was he the first person in Brunei to convert to Islam?
Let’s scroll back time by 100 years; the year is now 1264. A full hundred years BEFORE Awang Alak Betatar converted to Islam, and declared himself a Sultan. A trip to Bandar Seri Begawan is not complete unless one visits the Muslim graves at Rangas. Chuck your ‘pantang’ out the window if you want to enjoy this first-hand, and in real life. Amongst these tombstones is the one of a Chinese Muslim by the name of Pu Kung Chih-mu. He was buried there in 1264. He was a Muslim, buried in a Muslim grave! This is more than a hundred years earlier, before the ascension of Awang Alak Betatar as the ‘first’ Sultan of Brunei. Not only that, he is not the only Chinese Muslim there. I cross-checked against the Brunei Museum Journal of 1993, and found that this has been so well documented!! In fact, this grave had already been found since 1973. Whole communities of Chinese Muslims had already been living in Kampong Batu well before the 12th Century. It is clearly recorded in the 1973 Brunei Museum Journal, and was visited by professors from Japan and China. Pictures are on page 3, 4, 6, 8 and 12. Some are even in colour.
So, here’s another nugget for BTN un-educators. The Chinese brought Islam to this region in 1264. Wait! That’s not even correct. It was even earlier, because, this Muslim Chinese died in 1264. He had lived a full life in Brunei before he died. And before anyone even thinks of contesting this, let me draw your attention to yet another well-established fact, and let’s see how early the Chinese arrived.
According to records – as in the ‘Notes on the Malay Archipelago and Malacca Compiled from Chinese Sources’ by WP Groeneveldt in 1880 – a Chinese Islamic trader arrived in Brunei in the 10th century. His name was P’u-lu-shieh. He was both a trader and a diplomat. SQ Fatimi writing in the Sociological Research Institute in Singapore in 1963 under an article entitled ‘Islam Comes to Malaysia’, P’u-lu-shieh name is akin to Abu al-Layth.
The Brunei King at that time was named ‘Hiang-ta’. The arrival of the diplomat-trader from China was greeted with great ceremony. If this is so, Islam actually arrived in Brunei in the year of 977.
If this is the year 977, and the Sultan’s name in the year 977 is Hiang-Ta, then how can Awang Alak Betatar be the ‘first’ Sultan of Brunei in 1363? For those with very bad logic (or timeline problems), the year 977 is 406 years older than 1363. And in the year 977, the Chinese were already sending Muslim ambassadors to Brunei. The real question should be, thus, who exactly was that ‘Hiang Ta’ who ruled Brunei in the year 977? An Iban? A Kadazan or a Chinese?
It gets even better. The MOST interesting thing was that the Brunei king’s delegation to China to return the emperor’s greetings was also headed by another Muslim official by the name of P’u A-li (Abu Ali).
Based on this fact alone, Abu Ali must have held an important position in the Brunei government if he was tasked to be Brunei’s ambassador in those days. This is again, irrefutable proof that there was already a government, with a King, and some members of his royal court were Muslims. Again, this is proof that Islam had already reached Brunei before the year 977. This is 75 years into the beginning of the Soong Dynasty, and only severely retarded people will say that Abu Ali was an Arab because of his name.
And by the way, Malacca was not to have been discovered for another 400 years. Is there a prawn under the stone? You can bet your bottom dollar (because Ringgit is worthless toilet paper) that whenever John Doe writes, there is.
A number of European historians claimed that Brunei was still not a Muslim nation until the 15th century. However, the Ming Shih, Book 325, a Chinese reference book noted that the King of Brunei in 1370 was Ma-ho-mo-sa. Some say that this should be read as Mahmud Shah. In fact, local Brunei historians prefer to take this to refer to Muhammad Shah, the first Sultan of Brunei.
Robert Nicholl, a former Brunei Museum curator argued in another paper entitled ‘Notes on Some Controversial Issues in Brunei History’ in 1980 that the name Ma-ho-mo-sa could be pronounced as Maha Moksha which means ‘Great Eternity’. ‘Maha Mokhsa’ would make it a Buddhist name. Nicholl goes on to argue that even the Brunei Sultan who died in Nanjing in 1408 was not a Muslim. (History books always detail that the Sultan of Brunei went to China, but few will state that he died there),
Another historian Paul Pelliot said Ma-na-jo-kia-nai-nai was reconstituted as Maharajah Gyana (nai). But the closest title would have been Maharaja Karna. However Brunei historians have insisted that the King was Sultan Abdul Majid Hassan, who would have been the second Sultan of Brunei.
Nicholl further argued that Sultan Muhammad Shah converted to Islam as late as the 16th century and not during the 14th century as is widely known. However according to Brunei historians, Sultan Muhammad Shah converted to Islam in 1363 and that he ruled until 1402. After which time, it was Sultan Abdul Majid Hassan, who died in China who ascended the throne. That was when Sultan Ahmad reigned in Brunei beginning 1406.
And why did I bring up this detail? Simple !! Read the top all over again:
Sultan Muhammad Shah married a Johorean-Temasik Princess in 1363.
And that Kota Gelanggi and the entire peninsular Malaya belonged to the Thais. And if this is true and correct, then both the Sultan of Brunei and his wife, would have been Buddhists.
In fact, the entire peninsular Malaya had been Buddhist and/or Hindu ever since the second century when Lembah Bujang was built. And since this is the year 1363, all of Brunei and Borneo was also under the rule of King Hayam Wuruk, who was King of the Majapahit empire. And what religion did they have? (I’ll give you a hint… they built the Borobudor. And for those who claim that Borobudor is a mosque in disguise, please learn to recognize temple architecture.)
Borrobudor in all its splendour.
Oh, and even more important is this:
“Sultan Abdul Majid Hassan whose proper name is Zein Ul-Abidin, frequented the near distant islands, that He called ‘Solook’ (Sulu) from 1402 to 1424. Marrying the daughter (Parmursuli) of the Sulu Tomaoi (chief) Baginda” – it means he had a Filipino wife.
Also important to note, that since this is 1363, Parameswara had not yet swum across Pirate-Bay to reach Temasik yet. Hence, the need to locate the earlier kingdoms which pre-date ‘His Royal Pendatangness’.
During the reign of Wikramawardhana, the series of Ming armada naval expeditions led by Admiral Hajji Mahmud Shams (aka Zheng He), a Muslim Chinese admiral, arrived in Java for several times, spanning the period from 1405 to 1433. By 1430, Zheng He’s expeditions has established Muslim Chinese and Arab communities in northern ports of Java, and thus Islam began to gain foothold on Java’s northern coast. “Admiral Hajji Mahmud Shams (aka Zheng He) was so frustrated when he first arrived in Java, because he could not find a single halal restaurant there”, so wrote Mah Huan, his scribe, thus deciding to spread Islam to the “barbarians” as Chinese records would write.
Also interesting to note is the following:
“In late Yuan Dynasty, China became chaotic, people who lived along the coastal area of Fujian, under the leadership of Ong Sum Ping’s siblings, escaped to eastern Kalimantan — they landed at the river mouth. When they were exhausted, facing a shipping crisis, someone lost their arms. After that, the Kadazans named it as Sungai Kinabatangan — the place where the Chinese lost their arms.
Ong Sum Ping and his sister, and the Chinese people developed the area of Sungai Kinabatangan, and they increased their influences there. With the increase of his prosperity, the natives named him Raja, or King. The Chinese named him as ‘Chung Ping’ – meaning the General. We can clearly see that Ong Sum Ping controlled Eastern Kalimantan.
This is Ong Sum Ping Rd in Brunei.
(Part 2 will appear tomorrow)
Kenneth Hall, Maritime trade and state development in early Southeast Asia, citing Wang Gungwu, ‘The Nanhai trade: a study of the early history of Chinese trade in the South China Sea’, JMBRAS 31, 2 (1958): 33, citing Paul Wheatley, The Golden Khersonese, studies in the historical geography of the Malay peninsula before 1500, Kuala Lumpur, 1961, and other secondary sources;
Yoshiaki Ishizawa, ‘Chinese chronicles of C1st-5th century AD Funan’,
Yoshiaki Ishizawa, ‘Chinese chronicles of C1st-5th century AD Funan’, citing Wan Zhen, Nanzhou yuwuzhi.
Louise Levathes, When China Ruled the seas, citing the Liang Shu (History of the Liang dynasty) and (i) Paul Shao, Asiatic Influence in Precolumbian art, Ames, Iowa State Univ 1976, and (ii) David H.Kelley, ‘Nine lords of the night’, Studies in the Archaeology of Mexico and Guatemala, 16, Berkeley, Univ of California Dept of Anthropology, Oct 1972 & ‘Calendar animals and deities’, Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, 16, Albuqerque, Univ of New Mexico, 1960.
Chisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (Eleventh ed.). Cambridge University Press.
Ongkili, James P. “Ancient Chinese Trading Links.” East Malaysia and Brunei. Ed. Wendy Hutton. Tuttle Publishing, 2001.
Saunders, Graham. A History of Brunei. London and New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2002.
Wright, Leigh. “Brunei: An Historical Relic.” Journal of the Hong Kong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. Vol. 17 (1977).
“Background Note: Brunei Darussalam”. U.S. State Department. Retrieved 2008-12-16.
http://www.personal.psu.edu/users/m/v/mvp111/karin.htm, citing vol.231 of The Great Chinese Encyclopedia, compiled by court historians of the Wang emperors from 502 to 556 AD (other refs give the editor’s name as Ma Tuan-Lin);
Prof V.G.Nair, Buddhist mission visits America before Columbus,
http://www.1s.com/hkmission/history/chinese.htm, citing hearsay of an 1100 page diary in the Chinese imperial archives of which only 75 pages of partial excerpts seen;
Kenneth L. Feder, Frauds, Myths and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology, p113-4, citing Frost, F, 1982,
The Palos Verdes Chinese anchor mystery, Archaeology, Jan/Feb 23-27,
quoted on www.kenspy.com/Menzies/Ships.html regarding irrelevance of these anchors.
J.V.G.Mills, introduction, to Ma Huan, Ying-yai Sheng Lan; John Carswell, Blue & White, p.87; Louise Levathes, When China ruled the seas; Ma Huan, Ying-yai Sheng Lan. Inscription in Galle