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The Muslim Buddhist Kings of Arakan

 Category: History  Publisher: Unknown  Published: 1 January 2000  Tags: ArakanArakan KingdomIslamRohingya |  Download

“Thereafter it is common for the kings, though Buddhist to use Mahomedan designations in addition to their own names, and even to issue medallions bearing the Kalima, the Mahomedan confession of faith, in Persian script; doubtless at first, about this time, the kings had these medallions struck for them inBengal, but later they struck their own.”(G.E.Harvey).

Narameikhla (1404-34) was the first Muslim Buddhist king of Arakan and he was the first Arakanese king of Myauk-U dynasty who kept Muslim name as vassal of Bengal in accordance with the agreement reached between Sultan Jalaluddin Mohammed Nasiruddin Nazir Shah of Bengal and Narameikhla. When he was ousted by Minkhaung (1401-22) of Ava, he ran away to Bengal where he took shelter with her independent ruler Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah (1390-1410) of Gaur where he served Azam Shah with distinction in the field. After many years in exile he was given an army to regain his throne in 1428. Although his Muslim commander at first betrayed and imprisoned him he was ultimately reinstated in 1430.

When he was in Bengal he observed the Muslim greatness and he studied Islam and was graduated in his Muslim studies and turned away from what was Buddhist and familiar to what was Muslim and foreign and accepted Islam under the Muslim name of Samoom Sulaiman Shah.3

From his reign the Muslim Sultanate of Bengal became influential in Arakan and a good cultural relation between Bengal and Arakan was established, and “ from this time Bengali was accepted at the Arakan court as the chief cultural language, mainly because many of the high officials of Arakan came from Chittagong and the other neighbouring territories whose mother-tongue was Bengali.”4 He left Arakan as a wicked and evil man, but he returned from Bengal with a reformed character.

He wanted to make Arakan a prosperous and powerful country. So in 1433 he moved the capital to Myauk-U as it was a lucky site in defense of foreign aggression and Laungkyet was ill-fated by turmoil of foreign incursions. Narameikhla and his successors continued to use Muslim titles as 5 signs of vassal of Bengal Sultans….