Rasyid is so excited and in high spirit whenever talking about Aceh and related things. That is why he wants so much to write a book about it, especially to bring up the deep connection he sees exist between the Islamic struggle of Aceh and Malays Sultanates in Peninsular Malaysia. The University College of London Bachelor of Science in Mathematics graduate believes that the land of Aceh was the Islamic umbrella for the whole Malay Archipelago, starting with the inception of the Sultanate of Perlak 1,200 years ago followed by the enlightineng age of Samudera Pasai 400 years later. So that is why he feels obliged to write these all…
The Sultanate of Aceh contained the former territories under Perlak and Samudera Pasai and then inherited the greatness of the Sultanate of Melaka along with the legacy of the above kingdoms… After Melaka fell into Portuguese hands in 1511. And so the lad is adamant there existed a continous link to protect the welfare of Islam in this region by Perlak, Samudera Pasai, Melaka and then Aceh, a continuity of struggle supported by the related blood coursing through the veins of the rulers of these Malay kingdoms.
Too bad, this link is purposely hidden by Western colonialists when they divided the Eastern region into two parts which eventually became Indonesia and Malaysia, through the English-Dutch Treaty of 1824. The existence of such a link can be proven by the presence of more than 300 tombs belonging to royalty, religious scholars and the nobles in Peninsular Malaysia graced by Aceh tombstones, a type of unique gravestone signifying the owner as having traces of the Verandah of Mecca noble blood. Among such tombs is the the tomb of Bendahara (something like the prime minister of olden days) Padang Saujana in Kota Tinggi, the Bendahara of Johor whose offsprings became the later rulers (after the 16th century) of Johor, Pahang and Terengganu to this day.
More importantly, Rasyid believes the history of the land of Aceh and its struggle is actually the history of the struggle of Islam and the Malays itself. But many don’t realise this because of the colonialists’ subtle and evil ways of politicking which managed to make the old Sultanates fought against each other..,, All these the colonialist did to ensure and increase their hold over this region, also to erase the light of Islam from the face of the earth! And so the Malay unity forged by the spirit of Islamic brotherhood which used to exist in ancient times is replaced with narrow nationalism which saw the Malays splitting into rival factions.
“In fact Aceh had many times fought the Portugeuse and Dutch to free the city of Melaka from the colonialists’ hold while Johor who is supposed to inheret the struggles of the Melaka Sultanate dared to work in cohorts with the West,” Rasyid espoused his views with such a spirit in front of an academician who also likes old stories.
“But Aceh’s struggles were hardly mentioned in Malaysia, what more to be recognised in official text such as history books used in schools just because the kingdom of the Verandah of Mecca is now under the sovereignity of Indonesia. So how can the people of this country especially the Malays be able to see the link of struggle beared by the Sultanate of Perlak, then Samudera-Pasai followed by Melaka and finally Aceh before the Eastern region is overpowered, divided and shaped by the colonialist? Before the region is literally eaten raw and broken apart?”
Therefore, in order to wholly understand the Malay struggle and the fight to bring forth the light of Islam to the Eastern world, the lad believes the borders between nations created through the games of the colonialists which also serves as the dividing borders of history must be forgotten at least for a moment. Therefore too, the old stories and history of Aceh and related tales must be shared, especially after the Tsunami of December 26, 2004…
“All these must be revealed and explained to fill the gap which I believe exist in official history of the Malay Archipelago… At the same time to strenghten the self-esteem of the Malays which has been diminished due to lost of direction because of Western propaganda which often belittle the ability and character of the Malays,” he adds.
“Do bear in mind! World history as you know and accept as the whole truth and nothing but the truth, the so-called result of academic studies by those in the know which allegedly can’t be reputed are actually history written and shaped by the West… According to their views and standards made as they please. It’s the same with history of the Malay world which is written by Orientalists such as Stamford Raffles, the man said to be the founder of Singapore… So much so that such views are taken as the gospel by local historians including the Malays too! Well, is the island never ever been explored before? Is there no humans in Singapore before the Whites came? If so, who is Sang Nila Utama (the ruler who opens up the island in Malay history) then? Monkey? Donkey? Until when must we be made fools by the West?”
Rasyid also writes so that Malaysians especially the Malays take note of what is happening in Aceh, so they become more conscious and caring of the fate of their brothers in faith and religion there.
“They should know that Aceh has been long under pressure. In fact it is still under pressure. Since hundreds of years ago, its people are involved in the fight against Western colonialist. And from 1873 until the 20th century, they suffered because of the Dutch attacks too,” the lad continues.
“As if that’s not enough, when the Western colonialist left the Malay Archipelago, the people of Aceh are bullied by the authorities of Republic of Indonesia in turn! The bullies want them to bow to Jakarta and hand all the resources of the Verandah of Mecca which is rich with God’s blessings such as oil reserves and timber. Besides that, there also exist efforts to bring down the dignity of Islam there as is happening in Pattani (a former Malay Sultanate now within the sovereignity of Thailand) until this very day! The people there are further traumatised by the Tsunami which took so many innocent lives and destroyed all sorts of infrastructure and goods,” he added sad and angry at the same time.
Whatever, the former sports jounalist concedes the book is not a history book, what more a book on politics… Although it does contain historical facts and commentaries on politics current and old.
“Consider it a story book which contains facts and lessons… Or a collection of personal and unique views on some events related to the Verandah of Mecca,” he said summing up his thoughts.
The book also records Rasyid’s experience travelling alone to Aceh while elaborating some happenings in his childhood till adulthood which became his raison d’etre for stepping to the land. This is because the experiences and reasons are what made it possible for the historical stories and tales to be compiled and presented into a unique personal sequence of stories.
Let it be reminded, the travel was made in January 2004, while the emergency because of armed confrontations between GAM and TNI was still going on strong, often spilling blood. At the time, outsiders are not allowed to get into Aceh without written permission from the authorities in Jakarta. So, the situation and background mentioned might be different from that as known now… For one, there is no more major obstacles imposed by anyone to enter country.
Rasyid’s friends are not surprised to see him so spirited when talking about all these whenever they met. They know since in college, the lad is very passionate whenever he believes in something, know of the weird ways he carries himself… Just think of this… How many people you know studied Mathematics up to university level, then totally change direction to become a journalist (later on, a sports journalist some more!) and now wants to write books on Islam and Malay history? When one can practically count the number of Maths graduates in Malaysia especially among the Malays, what more one who became a journalist and then a book author…
His shift from the news-desk which is considered intellectual to the sport desk which borders on entertainment and the glamourous while being a journalist is also not that surprising. His friends also don’t find it strange that once upon a time, Rasyid used to be very excited talking about science theories such as Quantum Mechanics, Unifield Field Theory and Big Bag but now not a days goes on without him mentioning the history of Malay rulers, the saints and coming of Islam.
What made them perplexed, why is this guy from Muar, Johor keeps talking in favour of Aceh as if he is a freedom fighter for the Verandah of Mecca? Since when did Rasyid join GAM? Or maybe he is a member of the infamous Islamic League which often cries about jihad, the fight under the name of Islam? Maybe this lad wants to use all his expertise and natural intelligence to teach the West especially America and Britain which he considers very rude, even evil in their ways?
Janda Baik, Bentong, Pahang.
19 September 2005 (equivalent to 15 Sya’aban 1426 on the Islamic calender)
p/s: Just before 9am local time December 26th 2004, an underwater earthquake with its epicentre in the Indian Ocean outside the west coast of Aceh measuring 9 on the Richter scale caused a big wave of Tsunami to hit the coastal areas of some Asian countries up to Africa. The calamity caused huge destructions at every place it touched especially in Aceh and Sri Lanka. More than 230,000 lives were lost, some 200,000 of them the people of Aceh so much so that it practically paralysed the region which have long suffered from war.
Al Fatihah (read the Opening Verse of the Quran) for their souls. Hopefully however small in effect and contribution, this book is able to perk up the spirit of the people of Aceh who seems to suffer never-ending calamities, at the same time restore back the feel for greatness of the Verandah of Mecca which seemed to be diminishing in time. Amen oh Lord of all that exist… God willing!
Note: Don't know when the next round of translation/ adaptation will start. Meanwhile, do have look at Kingdom of Perlak: The story unfolds and The tale of Keramat Kuala Bidor 2… Touching a bit on the world shadow government. Cheerio! :]