Saturday, March 15, 2008

Iskandar Muda in The Eye of The World

Editor: Yusra Habib Abdul Gani

368 years ago, Sultan Iskandar Muda left us, but today he alive among us. Today, Achehnese commemorating the death of Sultan Iskandar Muda in December 27, 1636, a national holiday, SULTAN ISKANDAR MUDA DAY. Here, we can read comment from several source of Iskandar Muda: wrote: “Under the leadership of Sultan Iskandar Muda, Aceh reached its golden era, conquering numerous areas in Sumatra, including Natal Tiku, Pariaman, Nias island and Johor on the Malaka Peninsula. Aceh also launched several offensives against Portugal in Malaka. Although it never truly defeated Portugal, Aceh controlled trade in the straits. Because of his success in expanding Aceh, Sultan Iskandar Muda was often referred to as the Alexander the Great of the East.”

Meanwhile Salam knowledge, wrote: ”Iskandar ascended the throne in 1607 and because of his naval superiority, took control of the northwest Indonesia. He seriously threatened the Portuguese hold of Malaca but was defeated in 1629, by an alliance of Portuguese, Johore and Patoni (now part of Thailand) fleet, near Malaca. Iskandar encouraged scholarship and during his time his capital was a centre of trade and Islamic learning.”

Medan understanding Heritage, wrote: “The famous Sultan Iskandar Muda from Aceh defeated Aru kingdom in Deli Tua ("Old Deli" located southward of the present Medan) in 1612, established the Deli kingdom in 1632, and appointed Gocah Pahlawan as the first king. The second king, Marhum Kesawan was enthroned in 1669 and then moved the capital to the present location of Medan (the name "Kesawan" is originated from his name). The location of the capital of Deli kingdom was moved several times (to Pulo Brayan, then to Labuhan Deli) before finally settled down in the present location of Maimoon Palace in 1888 by the 9th ruler, Sultan Ma'mum Al Rasyid Perkasa Alamsyah.”

Further, The 1911 Editon Encyclopedia Love to Knowth wrote: “It attained its climax of power in the time of Sultan Iskandar Muda (1607-1636), under whom the subject coast extended from Aru opposite Malacca round by the north to Benkulen on the west coast, a sea-board of not less than noo miles; and besides this, the king's supremacy was owned by the large island of Nias, and by the continental Malay states of Johor, Pahang, Kedah and Perak.

The chief attraction of Achin to traders in the i;th century must have been gold. No place in the East, unless Japan, was so abundantly supplied with gold. The great-repute of Achin as a place of trade is shown by the fact that to this port the first Dutch (1599) and first English (1602) commercial ventures to the Indies were directed. Sir James Lancaster, the English commodore, carried letters from Queen Elizabeth to the king of Achin, and was well received by the prince then reigning, Alauddin Shah. Another exchange of letters took place between King James I. and Iskandar Muda in 1613. But native caprice and jealousy of the growing force of the European nations in these seas, and the rivalries between those nations themselves, were destructive of sound trade; and the English factory, though several times set up, was never long maintained.

The French made one great effort (1621) to establish relations with Achin, but nothing came of it. Still the foreign trade of Achin, though subject to interruptions, was important. William Dampier (c. 1688) and others speak of the number of foreign merchants settled thereEnglish, Dutch, Danes, Portuguese, Chinese, &c. Dampier says the anchorage was rarely without ten or fifteen sail of different nations, bringing vast quantities of rice, as well as silks, chintzes, muslins and opium. Besides the Chinese merchants settled at Achin, others used to come annually with the junks, ten or twelve in number, which arrived in June. A regular fair was then established, which lasted two months, and was known as the China camp, a great resort of foreigners.

Hostilities with the Portuguese began from the time of the first independent king of Achin; and they had little remission till the power of Portugal fell with the loss of Malacca (1641). Not less than ten times before that event were armaments despatched from Achin to reduce Malacca, and more than once its garrison was hard pressed. One of these armadas, equipped by Iskandar Muda in 1615, gives an idea of the king's resources. It consisted of 500 sail, of which 250 were galleys, and among these a hundred were greater than any then used in Europe. Sixty thousand men were embarked.

On the death of Iskandar's successor in 1641, the widow was placed on the throne; and as a female reign favored the oligarchical tendencies of the Malay chiefs, three more queens were allowed to reign successively. In 1699 the Arab or fanatical party suppressed female government, and put a chief of Arab blood on the throne. The remaining history of Achin was one of rapid decay.”

The other source, wrote: “Hikayat Aceh, the panegyric chronicle of the sultan of Aceh Iskandar Muda (1607-1636), is quite untypical in the context of traditional Malay historiography. This allowed Teuku Iskandar to assume that it had followed the pattern of Akbar-nama (around 1602), the panegyric chronicle of the Mughal emperor Akbar. The present author, however, believes that structurally Hikayat Aceh is more similar to another work of the Mughal era, Malfuzat-i Timuri (the 'Autobiography of Timur [Tamerlane]'), which was presented to the emperor Shah Jahan (1628-1637). While studying the question whether Malfuzat-i Timuri may have been a 'prototype' of Hikayat Aceh, the author has come to the conclusion that there are no serious grounds for the generally accepted dating of this chronicle back to the reigning period of Iskandar Muda. What we can state with due certainty is only the fact that Hikayat Aceh was composed after Iskandar Muda's enthronement in 1607 and before the late 17th century, when this work became known to the Dutch missionary Leidekker. Some internal evidence seems to allow us to limit this long span of time to the period between the early 1630s and the late 17th century.”

The last, The Price Of Freedom The Unfinished diary of Tengku Hasan di Tiro. (27 Desember, 1978), wrote: “Iskandar Muda was a military genius, a great stateman, law-giver, all at once. Iskandar Muda is a great Achehnese leader, Po Teuh Meureuhom. This posthumous name given him by our people is so meaningful. It means “Our Beloved Late Lord”, denoting such love, respect, intimacy and immediacy, as if he is still alive among us to day, although he was dead in 1636. This is immortality. His monuments are not pyramids, but the throbbing hearts of his people, from generations to generations.

This is the feeling that I want you to share about him. He is not dead. He still alive among us today. We walk under his shadow. He is our witness. We need a man like him, the standard-bear of our history, against whom we must measure ourselves. I want you to partake some of his ago. Then you will not salute the Javamen anymore. You have to be a free man in your heart first, before you can be free in your home. You have to free your home first before you can free your country. But when you have freed your heart, you can free your home, and you can alsa freeyour country. This is the prosess that we are instigating in Acheh today. If Iskandar Muda were alive today, this ias what he would have done, and he would be with you today, right here in Punteu√ęt Hill.

There is an Achehnese proverb that said:
Adat bak Po teuh Meureuhom,
Hukom bak Sjiah Kuala.

It means “Our Customary Laws cam from our Beloved Late Lord, our Religious Laws cam from Sjiah Kuala”. Sjiah Kuala was a great Islamic scholar and Chief Justice of Iskandar Muda. This is the immediate fount of Achehnese legal system which is based on Islam. It is the foundation of our stare decicis.” []