This blogspot is a medium to share my thoughts and adventures apart from promoting my books. Below are the books which have been written or authored and published by myself.
"Berpetualang ke Aceh: Mencari Diri dan Erti".
ISBN 983-42031-0-1, Jun 2006
"Berpetualang ke Aceh: Membela Syiar yang Asal"
ISBN 983-42031-1-x, May 2007
"Berpetualang ke Aceh: Sirih Pulang ke Gagang?"
ISBN 978-983-42031-2-2, November 2007
It is interesting to note that while these books were written in Malay it has gained enough attention to merit being part of the collections of the American Library of Congress and National Library of Australia. Look here and here.
While the first three books were published by my own company, the fourth titled "Rumah Azan" was published in April 2009 by a company called Karnadya with the help of the Malaysian national literary body Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. It features beautiful pictures along with stories behind selected mosques which could be related to the history of Islam and the Malays alongside the formation of the Malaysian nation. Look at the article A collaboration of old collegemates - the book "Rumah Azan".
My fifth book "Ahlul Bait (Family) of Rasulullah SAW and Malay Sultanates", an English translation and adaptation of the Malay book "Ahlul Bait (Keluarga) Rasulullah SAW dan Kesultanan Melayu" authored by Hj Muzaffar Mohamad and Tun Suzana Othman was published early 2010. Look here... My 5th book is out! Ahlul Bait (Family) of Rasulullah SAW and the Malay Sultanates... . For more information check out my Malay blogspot CATATAN SI MERAH SILU.
Like my fourth book "Rumah Azan", the sixth book "Kereta Api Menuju Destinasi" is also a coffee-table book which is published by the company Karnadya with the cooperation of Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (the main Malay literary body in Malaysia). Coming out January 2011 it features pictures and stories on the adventure travelling by train to all of Peninsular Malaysia along with the interesting places which could be reached this way.
My seventh book "Jejak keluarga Yakin : Satu sketsa sejarah" in turn is a coffee-table book which is written, editted, designed and has pictures taken by me. Coming out of the factory October 2011, this book which combines family history with history of places such as Singapura, Johor, Batu Pahat, Muar and in fact the history of the island of Java and England has been reviewed with me interviewed live in the program Selamat Pagi Malaysia at RTM1. Look at the article Siaran langsung ulasan buku "Jejak keluarga Yakin : Satu sketsa sejarah" dan temu ramah di Selamat Pagi Malaysia. Some selected contents have been featured in Sneak peek "Jejak keluarga Yakin : Satu sketsa sejarah".
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
A history of Aceh
Aceh is a region on the northern tip of Sumatra. Aceh first rose to importance as a center of resistance to the Portuguese. Aceh went into decline when the Dutch established a presence in Malacca.
It was used as a counter to the Dutch by the British, and an Anglo-Dutch treaty guaranteed Aceh's independence in 1824. In 1871, the Treaty of Sumatra gave the Dutch a free hand in Aceh in return for recognition of British rights in the Horn of Africa. The Dutch invaded Aceh in 1873. While the Dutch gained control of the cities, they could not project their power into the countryside. Major war lead by strong Acehnese resistance leaders ended in 1912. Outside main cities, guerrilla war continued until 1942.
Chinese chronicles from as early as the sixth century speak of a Buddhist kingdom called Po-Li on the northern tip of what is now Sumatra. Arabic writings and Indian inscriptions from around the 9th century also mention this area and its obvious importance.
Of all the regions in Indonesia, Aceh, at the northwestern end of Sumatra, is the first to have contact and be influenced by the outside world. Ironically, it is still one of the least known regions of Indonesia, even among Indonesians themselves.
Aceh has a fascinating history which over the centuries has shaped and transformed the region into what it is today. In 1292, Marco Polo, on his epic voyage from China visited Sumatra on his way to Persia and reported that in the northern part of the island there were as many as six busy trading ports including Perlak, Samudera and Lamri. Islamic writings and Indian inscriptions from around the ninth century also name the area and its importance, primarily as a busy and highly strategic trading posts.
The first Islamic kingdom of Perlak was established in the year 804 about 100 years after Islam is first believed to have reached the archipelago. In 1511, the Portuguese seized the important strategic port of Malacca, pushing many Asian and Arabic traders to call instead on the developing port of Aceh, bringing with them wealth and prosperity. Aceh's dominance in trade and politics in northern parts of Sumatra and in the entire region had begun and would last until it reached its zenith between 1610 and 1640.
Aceh's decline began with the death of Sultan Iskandar Thani in 1641, and as a result the British and Dutch both began vying for domination of the area. Eventually the signing of the London Treaty in 1824 saw the Dutch gain control of all British possessions in Sumatra in return for their surrender of enterprises in India and withdrawal of all claims on Singapore.
The Dutch found gaining control of Aceh to be more difficult than they had anticipated. It was a long drawn out struggle for the Dutch in their attempts to subdue the recalcitrant Acehnese. The Aceh War, which lasted intermittently from 1873 to 1942, was the longest ever fought by Holland.
From Po-Li to Aceh Darussalam
"The city of Achin, if you could call it a city, is incredibly spread out, and is built in the forest itself in such a way that no even one home is visible until we find ourselves directly in front of it. And everywhere we went there were houses and people, so that I felt that the city covered the whole land," John Davis, a British observer on a Dutch ship which visited Aceh in 1600 AD wrote. The kingdom of Aceh he spoke of was ruled by Alaidin Riayat Syah.
The history of the Liang Dynasty of China (506-556) spoke of a kingdom called Po-Li to be found on the northern tip of Sumatra. This same kingdom was again mentioned in the history of Sui Dynasty (581-671). "The people in this land are masters at throwing a disk, about the size of a small mirror, whose edges are cerated and sharp, and in whose center a hole is cut. If they throw this weapon they never miss. The other weapons they use are much the same as those existing in China."
In the history of the T'ang Dynasty (618-906) the existence of this kingdom is listed in Book 222. "There is also found a bird called s'ari, which can understand the speech of man. It is black, with a read head, and claws like those of an eagle." The bird referred to was the minah (Gracula religoisa).
Several Arabic writings of the early 9th century also mention an area called Rami or Ramni, and sometimes Lambri. "On that island - I am referring to Lambri - there are many elephants. There is also sapang wood, bamboo and a tribe of cannibals," the Arab notes report. And most experts agree that the positioning of the area indicated is that of what is now known as Northern Sumatra.
In an inscription found in Tanjore, India which was carved in around 1030-31, the name Ilamuridesam is used to refer to a place near Manakkavaram (Greater Nickobar island). Texts from 13th century China also refer to a country called Lan-Wuli or Lan-Li. All these names are very similar to Lamuri, which was mentioned in earlier reports.
At the end of the 13th century, Marco Polo, the adventurer from Venice reported that in the northern part of Sumatra there were to be found as many as 6 trading ports. These were Ferlec, Basman, Smudra, Dagroian, Fansur and Lambri. The name Lamuri was also refered to by Arab explorers like Ibn Sa'id (end of the 13th century), Rasyid ad-Din (1310), and Abulfide (1273-1331). And in 1323 the Christian Father Odoric de Pordenone angrily wrote of the habits of the people of Lamuri, whom he described as savages because they practiced poligamy and cannibalism.
Cheng-Ho, and admiral serving the emperor of China of the Ming Dynasty, in the first part of Sumatra: A-lu (Aru), Su-men-ta-la, or Hsiu-wen-ta-la (Samudra) and Lanwul-li, or Lan-po-li (Lamuri). Concerning Samudra he reported that the region exported precious stones, other kinds of stone, indigo, rhinoceros, pumice stone, gaharu, kalambak, and pucuk wood, cloves, incense, daggers, arches, tin, pepper, sapan wood, belereng and other things. According to the same notes, after a struggle for the throne the name of the region referred to was change to A-tsi (Aceh).
The influence of Hinduism and Buddhism was also felt in this region, but it is not clear when this first occurred. The are is close to India so it is assumed that this influence existed there long before it did in other parts of Sumatra or Java. In the 54th book of the Ling Dynasty history there are several indications that the religion embraced by the king of Po-Li was Buddhism. Several other histories report the presence of Hinduism in Aceh. However it is all but impossible to find any physical sign of this presence, so it is difficult to reconstruct what type of influence India actually had in Aceh. This is probably because of the influence of the Islamic religion in the 7th and 8th centuries A.D.
"All aspects of the culture which were in direct opposition to Islamic law and teachings were wiped out completely" according to A. Hasjmy. Almost all structures and objects related to Indian influence were destroyed and almost no trace at all is left.
According to A. Hajmy the mosque in Indrapuri (Aceh Besar) was built on the foundation of a huge temple. "Its form was similar to that of the Borobudur temple."
The first Islamic kingdoms in Aceh were Perlak, Lamuri and Pasai. The kingdom of Pasai was the first to embrace Islam in Southeast Asia. Two other Islamic kingdoms of Aceh, Samudra Pasai (14th and 15ths centuries) and Aceh Darussalam (16th and 17th centuries), had major impact on the development and expansion of Islam in Indonesia. The religious, philosophic and literary works of the ulemas of Aceh opened up new horizons all over Indonesia.
The name Aceh itself began to be used more definitely around 1520 when Tome Pires of Portugal wrote, "Aceh is the first nation along the coast of Sumatra and is bordered by Lamri, which extends into the interior." Concerning the king of the region Tome Pires refers to him as being a Moslem king with power great enough to bring all of his enemies under control.
Denys Lombard, and expert on the history of Aceh, in his book, "The Kingdoms of Aceh" (1986) speculates that the king referred to was probably Ali Mughayat Syah, who is believed to have been the establisher of Islamic power. This king won the first sea war against the Portuguese in May 1521. Under his rule, and those of his successors, Aceh continued to expand its borders into the whole of Sumatra island and into Semenanjung, Malaysia.
The golden age of Aceh came during the period of kingdom of Aceh Darussalam (Land of Peace) under the rule of Sultan Iskandar Muda (1607-1636). According to Ausgustin de Beaulieu, a French admiral, the Aceh kingdom was the strongest of all the neighboring nations in terms of its sea power. In its three main harbors as many as 100 war ships were on the alert and ready to sail at a moment's notice. "A third of them were larger than any war ship ever seen in Christiandom," Beaulieu wrote. He also recorded the information that each ship carried three cannons and 40 tons of shells, and were manned by between 600 and 800 men.
Peter Mundy, a Briton, in 1673 reported that Aceh had an armada of 200 large ships, besides numerous large and small boats with sails made of woven matting or rattan. The Portuguese, the foe of Aceh, called these large Acehnese ships Espanto del Mundo or the "bogey men of the world". These ships were about 100 meters long, with three sails and equipped with 100 guns. "Even though our eyes were accustomed to seeing things of great beauty, we all amazed to see this (the ships)," Faria y Sousa, a Spaniard, who worked for the Portuguese, reported.
On land Aceh's army featured the use of elephants, which were greatly feared. Beaulieu reported that the elephants forces numbered as many as 900. These forces were supported by a cavalry mounted on 200 horses. The Aceh kingdom also had a force of at least 40,000 foot soldiers. With this type of military strength Aceh expanded its territory and successfully fought off the Portuguese in areas as far away as Malacca and Semanjung, Malaysia. Because these forces inspired such confidence the people of Aceh did not bother to build high, thick walls to protect Aceh city. Explorers from Europe who are used to seeing such fortresses in Europe and India were amazed that Aceh had none.
As time passed the Dutch became the threat instead of the Portuguese and Aceh was the only part of Indonesia that had yet to fall under the influence of the colonial forces at the first of 20th century.
The Aceh war (1873-1942) was the most major war ever fought by the Dutch and it claimed over 100,000 lives, including that of the Dutch Major General J.H.R. Kohler.
On Aceh's side many heros and heroines surfaced, many of them dying, during this prolonged struggle, among them being: Teungku Chik di Tiro, Teuku Umar, Cut Nyak Dien, Panglima Polem, Cut Meutia, and many, many more. Aceh was the last region in Indonesia to fall to the Dutch colonial forces, and the first to break away.