Sunday, June 15, 2014

Pashtun rule of northren Burma, Arakan state

Chittagong and Arakan proper (Burma) were conquered by Muhammad Khan Sur, Afghan ruler of Bengal in 1554.
South East Asia - Burma

Mohammed Shah Sur’s General forced Arakan king (perhaps Min Dikka (1553-1554) or Min Saw HIa (1554-1555) to submit to the authority of Bengal Sultan. Perhaps the Pathans conquered the principality of Ramu and some portion of modern Akyab Division. He ordered the striking of coins in 1555 A.D. The mint of these coins mentioned as Arakan. Eminent numismatist such as Mr N. B. Synyal, points out from the reading of the coins that Mohammed Shah’s conquered Arakan . He pointed out that the afore coins were not only the specimen of Mohammed Shah’s Arakan coins, but the coins preserved in British Museum also indicate the same reading. In this connection Dr. Kunango referred to Numismatists, Rodgers Lamepole, and Wright who expressed the same idea about the coins of Mohammed Shah, which were minted in the name of Arakan.
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.According to eminent numismatists like Lanepole, Rodgers and Wright, Bengal king Sultan Muhammad Khan Sur struk coins bearing the date 962 A.H.(1554-55 A.D.) styling himself Sultan Shamshuddin Muhammad Shah Ghazi, the name of mint is read as Arakan. A few of these coins are preserved in the London British Museum.The coins are similar to those published by Marsden, Lane Pole and Wright.

1. J.A.S., LXVII (1951), P.11.
2. Journal of the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Government of West Bengal, Culcutta (1995), P.285.

The successor of Mohammad Shah Suri, Giyathuddin Bahadur Shah (1555-60) also struck coins in his name in Arakan proving that Arakan remained under the effective control of Bengal Sultan till 1560.
But how long the Pathan rulers after Bahadur Shah's death could hold on Arakan given the internal political crisis in Bengal remains in the dark.
A History of Chittagong: From ancient times down to 1761 - Sunīti Bhūshaṇa Kānunago - Google Books
The sturdy and warlike race of Afghans had once held sway over Bengal. Their authority extended not only up to Chittagong but as far south as Arakan.
Towards Understanding Arakan History ( Part II) - Kaladan Press Network

There is a sizable muslim minority in arakan known as rohingyas, meaning "native born".however they are thought to be descendants of Suri soldiers by some, who fled there when Mughals defeated them in 1555.
Historical Dictionary of Bangladesh - Syedur Rahman - Google Books


When Bengal was seized by Mogul emperor Akbar in 1572, from the hand of Afghan king, many Muslim high-ranking officers had to flee into Arakan kingdom where they were warmly welcomed and offered high-ranking official posts. In early Mrauk-U period a steady influx of population of Islamic faith, chiefly mercenaries from Afghan, Persia and even from Turkey as well as traders from other parts of the Muslim world reached Arakan. Dr. Kanungo adds to it that Arakanese required their (the exile’s) services in fighting out the enemies, the Mogul and the Portuguese, all of who were the enemies of Pathans too.

During the year 1538-39 Sher Shah’s General Noazish occupied Chittagong and till 1580 it was ruled by the Afghans. Though the Afghans left Bengal in 1575, Jamal Khan Panni ruled Chittagong up to 1580. In 1580 she was re-captured by the Arakans
The problems and possibilities of Chittagong

Earlier Conquest of Arakan by Pashtuns

As Naramaikhla agreed to six point conditions (Arakanese kings also followed and practiced them while they were independent and under no obligation), in 1429 AD, Sultan Nadir Shah sent Gen. Wali Khan as the head of 20,000 Pathan army with Naramaikhla to restore the throne of Arakan to Naramaikhla. The Pathan army conquered Arakan from the control of Mon and Naramaikhla ascended the throne. Soon Wali Khan and Naramaikhla had a dispute over the No. 5 condition of introduction of Persian language as court language of Arakan. Gen. Wali Khan arrested king Naramaikhla and locked up at Balutaung fettering him. Gen. Wali Khan ruled Arakan for one year and introduced Persian in his court which continued as state language up to 1845 AD and appointed Qazis. But some time after that Narameikhla succeeded in re-conquering Arakan with the help of a second army supplied by Nadir Shah headed by Gen. Sandi Khan. The accession of Min Sawmon to the throne ushered a new era in the history of Arakan. Upon his return, Narameikhla founded a new city, Mrauk-U on the bank of the Lembro River, now known as Mrohaung, which remain the capital until 1785 when Arakan was conquered by Burma. Narameikhla’s Muslim soldiers, who came with him from Bengal, settled in villages near Mrohaung and built the Sandi Khan Mosque, which still exists today. Muslim influence in Arakan, they may be said to date from 1430, the year of Narameikhla’s return. As a result of the close land and sea ties between the two countries, which continued to exist for a long time thereafter, the Muslims played a decisive role in the history of Arakan Kingdom.
Arakan ~ TSR News
In 1430, after nearly three decades in exile in the Bengali Royal city of Gaur, king Narameikhla also known as Min Saw Mun (1404-1434) returned to Arakan at the head of a formidable force largely made up of Afghan adventurers, who swiftly overcame local oppositions and drove off the Burmans and Mons. This was the start of a new golden age for this country – a period of power and prosperity...This cosmopolitan court became great patrons of Bengali as well as Arakanese literature. Poet Dulat Qazi, author of the first Bengali romance, and Shah Alaol, who was considered the greatest of seventeenth-century Bengali poets, were among the eminent courtiers of Arakan.
Muslim influence in the kingdom of Arakan

Narameikhia shifted his capital to a new site known as Mrauk-U or Patthri Quilla in 1433. As the Pathan soldiers of Gen. Sandi Khan was faithful to him, king Narameikhia deployed them to all important and strategic places and all bordering areas to defend the state. These Pathan soldiers were unable to return to their motherland. They served in Arakan with the posts-ranked from ministers to soldiers and built many monuments. Among them the most prominent mosque is the Sandi Khan mosque which was built in the year 1433 at Kawalong, in Mrohaung City.

A mosque in Mrauk-U (Mrohaung). The Sandi Khan mosque - called the "Santikhan" mosque - which was built by Pashtuns coming from Bengal has been destroyed by the Burmese.

Though the religion of Islam and the culture of Muslim began with the arrival of Arabs in Arakan, but it came to prominence with the arrival of Gauri Pathans. In U Kyi's "The Essential History of Burma", he wrote that "Rakhine Maghs became Muslims after embracing Islam in 15th century. For hundred years, from 1430 to 1530 A. D. Arakan was under the suzerainty of Muslim Bengal."