The Kedah Sultanate is a Muslim dynasty located in the Malay Peninsula. It was originally an independent state, but became a British Protectorate in 1909. Its monarchy was abolished after it was added to the Malayan Union but was restored and added to the Malayan Union's successor, the Federation of Malaya.
Sultanate of Kedah
State of Siam (1821–1909)
Protectorate of the United Kingdom (1909–1941; 1945–1946)
|Mudzaffar Shah I (first)|
• 1909–1915; 1918–1919
|Historical era||Early modern period|
• Conversion to Islam
• Annexed by Siam
|9 July 1909|
|16 February 1942|
|18 October 1943|
• Japanese surrender; returned to United Kingdom
|14 August 1945|
• Added into Malayan Union
|31 March 1946|
|Currency||Native gold and silver coins|
Straits dollar (until 1939)
Malayan dollar (until 1953)
|Today part of||Malaysia|
1 Remains as capital until today
2 Malay using Jawi (Arabic) script
The information regarding the formation of this sultanate and the history before and after its creation comes from the "Kedah Annals". The Kedah Annals were written in the eighteenth century, over a supposed millennium after the formation of the Kedah Kingdom. It describes the first king of Kedah as arriving on the shores of Kedah as a result of an attack by a mythical gigantic beast. It states that the nation was founded by the offspring of Alexander the Great; who maintained ties with Rome throughout his reign (two centuries after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, but while the Eastern Roman Empire still existed).
The Kedah Annals also gives unreliable information on the sultans of Kedah. Listing the first sultan of Kedah as Sultan Mudzafar Shah I centuries before the partitioning of the Abbasid Caliphate into distinct sultanates and almost three centuries prior to the contradicting claims of the Terengganu Inscription Stone. This claim also directly contradicts the fact that the Buddhist Srivijaya kingdom was in direct control of Kedah at the time that Sultan Mudzafar Shah I allegedly converted the region to a sultanate. Kedah may have remained Hindu-Buddhist until the 15th century.
Around 788 BCE, a systematic government of a large settlement of Malay native of Kedah had already established around the northern bank of Merbok River. The state consisted a large area of Bujang Valley, covering Merbok and Muda River branches about 1000 square miles area. The capital of the settlement was built at the estuary of a branch of Merbok River, now known as Sungai Batu. Around 170 CE groups of Hindu faith arrived at Kedah, joining them soon were peoples from nearby islands and from the northern Mon-Khmer region. At the same time traders from India, Persia and Arab, arrived the brink of the Malacca Strait, using Gunung Jerai the Kedah Peak as marking point. Ancient Kedah covered the areas of Kuala Bahang, Kuala Bara, Kuala Pila and Merpah.
The king from GombroonEdit
According to At-Tarikh Salasilah Negeri Kedah, written by Muhammad Hassan bin Dato' Kerani Muhammad Arshad, 1928, in about 630 CE, Maharaja Derbar Raja of Gombroon (now known as Bandar Abbas) in Persia was defeated in battle and escaped to Sri Lanka, and he was later blown off course by a storm to the remote shores of Kuala Sungai Qilah, Kedah. The inhabitants of Kedah found him to be a valiant and intelligent person, and they made him the king of Kedah. In 634 CE, a new kingdom was formed in Kedah consisting of Persian royalty and native Malay of Hindu faith, the capital was Langkasuka.
Conversion to IslamEdit
Based on the account given in Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa (also known as the Kedah Annals), the Sultanate of Kedah when King Phra Ong Mahawangsa converted to Islam and adopted the name Sultan Mudzafar Shah. At-Tarikh Salasilah Negeri Kedah described the conversion to Islamic faith was started in 1136 AD. However, historian Richard Winstedt, quoting an Acehnese account, gave a date of 1474 for the year of conversion to Islam by the ruler of Kedah. This later date accords with an account in the Malay Annals where a raja of Kedah visited Malacca during the reign of its last sultan seeking the honour of the royal band that marks the sovereignty of Malacca Empire on a Muslim ruler.
British colonisation of Penang and Seberang PeraiEdit
In 1770, Francis Light was instructed by the British East India Company (BEIC) to take Penang from Kedah. He achieved this by giving assurance to Sultan Muhammad Jiwa Zainal Adilin II that his army would protect Kedah from any Siamese invasion. In return, the Sultan agree to hand over Penang to the British. In 1786, Light negotiated with the new Sultan of Kedah, Abdullah Mukarram Shah, over the cession of Penang to the BEIC. However, Light made the agreement without the consent of his superiors in India. The BEIC did not provide military support, as promised by Light, when Siam attacked Kedah. The Sultan demanded that Light return Penang, but Light was reluctant to hand it back. He offered compensation for the damage but was refused by the Sultan. In 1790, Abdullah planned to launch an amphibious invasion of the Island of Penang to recapture it. The BEIC with the help of the British military made a preemptive strike and attacked Kedah's navy and fort in Seberang Perai, damaging them. The Sultan signed a ceasefire agreement with Light in 1791.
On 7 July 1800, while George Alexander William Leith was Lieutenant-Governor of Penang, a treaty came into effect that gave the British sovereignty over Seberang Perai, subsequently named Province Wellesley. The treaty, negotiated by Penang's First Assistant George Caunter and Sultan of Kedah Dziaddin Mukarram Shah II, increased the annual payment to the Sultan from 6,000 to 10,000 Spanish dollars per annum. While the acquisition improved Penang Island's military and food security, for Kedah it provided a protective strip against enemy attack from the sea. The treaty also provided for the free flow of food and commodities from Kedah to Penang Island and Province Wellesley. To this day, the Malaysian federal government still pays Kedah, on behalf of Penang, RM 10,000 annually as a symbolic gesture.
Partition of KedahEdit
After the death of Sultan Abdullah Mukarram Shah the 20th Sultan of Kedah in 1797, the thrones were given to his half brother Sultan Dziaddin Mukarram Shah II. However Sultan Dziaddin was forced to abdicate in 1803 by the King of Siam and was replaced by his nephew Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin II. This sparked a succession crisis as crown prince, Tunku Bisnu claimed to be the rightful heir to the throne. Fearing civil war, the Siamese Kingdom reconciled the two parties by appointing Tunku Bisnu as ruler of Setul, thus establishing the Kingdom of Setul Mambang Segara in 1808. In 1892, the kingdom was reunified with Kedah Sultanate. However the assimilation of Siamese people and culture in Setul had weakened Kedah rule over it. The Anglo-Siamese Treaty in 1909 finally ended Kedah rule over Setul, as the Siamese and British agreed to exclude Setul from Kedah jurisdiction, thus separating Kedah and Setul.
List of rulersEdit
The list of rulers of Kedah as given here is based to some extent on the Kedah Annals beginning with the Hindu ruler Durbar Raja I. According to the Kedah Annals, the 9th Kedah Maharaja Derbar Raja converted to Islam and changed his name to Sultan Muzaffar Shah, thereby started the Kedah Sultanate. A genealogy was compiled in the 1920s, Al-Tarikh Salasilah Negeri Kedah Darul Aman or Kedah Genealogy. The historicity and the dating of the list of rulers however is questionable as Kedah may have remained Hindu-Buddhist until the 15th century when its king converted to Islam.
- Durbar Raja I (330–390)
- Diraja Putra (390-440)
- Maha Dewa I (440-465)
- Karna Diraja (465-512)
- Karma (512-580)
- Maha Dewa II (580-620)
- Maha Dewa III (620-660)
- Diraja Putra II (660-712)
- Darma Raja (712-788)
- Maha Jiwa (788-832)
- Karma II (832-880)
- Darma Raja II (880-956)
- Durbar Raja II (956–1136; succeeded as Sultan of Kedah, see below)
- Source for the list of sultans is the Muzium Negeri Kedah, Alor Setar, Malaysia. "The sultans of Kedah".
|Sultan of Kedah|
since 12 September 2017
|installation 22 October 2018|
|Style||His Royal Highness|
|Heir apparent||Tunku Sarafuddin Badlishah|
|First monarch||Mudzaffar Shah I (first)|
|Residence||Istana Anak Bukit, Alor Setar|
The beginning of the use of the title sultan in Kedah is attributed to a visit by a Muslim scholar from Yemen, Sheikh Abdullah bin Ja'afar Quamiri, to Durbar Raja II's palace at Bukit Meriam in 1136. The audience resulted in the king's conversion to Islam. He adopted the name "Mudzaffar Shah" and established the sultanate of Kedah, which continues to rule today.
The source for the list of sultans given here is the official genealogy given for the Sultan of Kedah. There are however discrepancies with the Kedah Annals as it lists only 5 sultans from the first convert Mudzaffar Shah to Sulaiman Shah who was captured by Aceh in 1619, in contrast to the twelve listed here. The rest of the list largely follows as that given in the Kedah Annals with the exception of a few changes and more recent updates in the 20th and 21st century.
The Nobat musical instruments of Nagara and Nepiri were introduced to Kedah by Maharaja Derbar Raja. The instrument is also called semambu. The band is led by the king, and it consists of drums, a gong, a flute and a trumpet. Today, Nobat is a Royal orchestra, played only during royal ceremonies such as inaugurations, weddings, and funerals. The building which houses the instruments and where the ensemble rehearses is known as the Balai Nobat, literally the Office of Nobat, in Alor Setar city proper.
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