Captain of The Arabs

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Portrait of Captain of Arabs in Tegal
Captain Arab of Pekalongan in front of his house, circa 1920

Captain of The Arabs (Indonesian: Kapten Arab; Dutch: Kapitein der Arabieren; Arabic: الكابتن العربtranslit.: al-Kaabitain al-'Arab) or Head of The Arabs (Dutch: Hoofd der Arabieren; Arabic: القائد العربtranslit.: al-Qaaid al-'Arab) is a position in the colonial Dutch East Indies appointed with the task of leading the ethnic Arab-Indonesians, who usually lived in concentrated clearly defined-living areas (Kampung Arab).[1] The role was to provide liaison between his community and the government, to provide statistical information to The Dutch East Indies government on issues related to Arabs, to disseminate government regulations and decrees, and to ensure the maintenance of law and order.[2]


In Batavia, The Arabs, according to Van den Berg, settled in an area called Pekojan.[3][4] Pekojan is from Indonesian word Pe-Koja-an, which means The Koja,[5] a term for muslim people of Gujarat, India. While Koja itself is from word Khoja. When he did the study (1884-1886), there were no more Gujarati. At that time the majority of the settlers were Arabs and a handful of Chinese. Since about the 1970s, the Arabs are the minority and the Chinese turned into majority. He describes that Pekojan then was a slum and dirty area, but the Arabs seem did not suffer from it that much.

Approximately one and half century ago, the Arabs also had moved and lived in the suburbs (now Central Jakarta), such as Krukut and Tanah Abang areas.[6] As more and more immigrants immigrate from Hadramaut, in 1844 the Dutch government required a head of the group, or Captain of the Arabs. The similar position was appointed for Captain of the Chinese to Chinese. More than half of the Captain of Arabs appointed by the colonial government were non Sayyid people. This decision was made to undermine traditional Hadhrami assumption about their social status.[2][7]

Among the Arabs who had been captains of the Arabs in Batavia was Muhammad Umar Ba-Behir (Arabic: محمد عمر البابحرtranslit.: Mohammed Omar al-Baa Behir) and Umar bin Yusuf Mangus (Arabic: عمر منقوشtranslit.: Omar Manqoosh) during the period of 1902-1931. Umar Mangus was a rich merchant and had property business. For his service as the Captain of Arabs, Umar was awarded the title De Ridder in de Orde van Oranje-Nassau (Knight of The Order of Orange-Nassau).[8]

Before Umar Mangus was appointed as a captain of Arabs, most Arabs had decided to choose sharif Abdullah ibn Husein Alaydrus, a rich merchant, famous for his generosity and had good behavior as well as prominent among the Arabs and the Europeans. Many people think that with his close relationship with europeans, he would be willing to accept the Arab captaincy. The colonial government constantly urged him to accept the position, but he firmly rejected it. He wasn't alone in refusing, as this refusal had the support of respected Arab elders.[9] According to Snouck Hurgronje who observed in 1901, the Dutch colonial government had more difficulty appoint Kapitein der Arabieren as more and more indies-born arabs (Muwallad) born which lacked authority compared to pure-blood Hadramis (Wulayti) whose number diminished.[2]

In Cirebon, there was an Arab Indonesian appointed as a captain in 1845. As in Batavia, the Arab village here was once the abode of the Gujarati or likely of the Bengali too. In 1872 the colony in Indramayu separated from Cirebon to appoint a captain (or head of) of Arabs. In Banjarmasin in around 1899, the Captain of Arabs was Said Hasan bin Idroes al-Habshi or more known as Habib Ujung Murung.[2][10] The successor of Said Hasan as the Kapitein in South Kalimantan was Alwi bin Abdullah al-Habshi, who later moved to Barabai.

Similarly in Tegal, Pekalongan, Semarang, Surabaya, Gresik, Pasuruan, Bangil, Lumajang, Besuki, Banyuwangi, Surakarta, Sumenep, and various places in the archipelago had their own captain of Arabs. One of the reasons the colonial government did this was to segregate Arabs from the indigenous people.[6] In Pekalongan, one of the Captains was Hasan Saleh Argubi. In Bangil, the Captain of The Arabs were Saleh bin Muhammad bin Said Sabaja (1892), Muhammad bin Saleh Sabaja (1920), and Muhammad bin Salim Nabhan (1930).[11] In Banyuwangi, some Captain of the Arabs who were in positions, among others, was Datuk Sulaiman Bauzir, Datuk Dahnan, Habib Assegaf, and Ahmad Haddad.[12] In Pasuruan, the Kapitein der Arabieren was a Sayyid named Alim al-Qadri, which is the grandfather of Hamid al-Gadri.

According to two Baha'i travellers from Iran India, the Iranian Baha’i Sulayman Khan Tunukabanı, known as Jamal Effendi, and his Indian-Iraqi friend Sayyid Mustafa Rumı who visited Makasar in 1885, the Kapitein der Arabieren was Said Ali Matard. [13]


  1. ^ Jacobsen, Frode F. (2008). Hadrami Arabs in Present-day Indonesia: An Indonesia-oriented Group with an Arab Signature. Taylor & Francis. p. 24. ISBN 978-020388-4614. 
  2. ^ a b c d Mobini-Kesheh, Natalie (1999). The Hadrami Awakening: Community and Identity in the Netherlands East Indies, 1900–1942 (illustrated ed.). SEAP Publications. p. 25. ISBN 978-0877-2772-79. 
  3. ^ Ensiklopedi Jakarta: culture & heritage 1. Pemerintah Provinsi Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta, Dinas Kebudayaan dan Permuseuman. 2005. p. 68. ISBN 978-97986-82506. 
  4. ^ van den Berg, Lodewijk Willem Christiaan (1989). Hadramaut dan koloni Arab di Nusantara 3. INIS. 
  5. ^ Shahab, Alwi (2004). Saudagar Baghdad Dari Betawi (in Indonesian). Penerbit Republika. p. 29. ISBN 978-97932-10308. Retrieved Jun 9, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b "Hadramaut dan Para Kapiten Arab". Retrieved Jun 8, 2014. 
  7. ^ Jacobus de Hollander, Johannes; Eck, Rutger (1895). Handleiding bij de beoefening der landkunde en volkenkunde van Nederlandsch Oost-Indië (5th ed.). Broese. p. 311. 
  8. ^ "Nahdah: Renaissance Kaum Hadhrami". Retrieved July 8, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Penghormatan Masyarakat Terhadap Arab Sayyid" (in Indonesian). Retrieved Jun 9, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Habib Hasan Ujung Murung Sang Kapten Arab". Retrieved Jun 8, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Bangil, Terlupakan Dalam Sejarah". Kampung Arab Surabaya. Retrieved June 11, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Asal-usul Desa Lateng Kampung Arab" (in Indonesian). Retrieved Jun 9, 2014. 
  13. ^ de Vries, Jelle (2007). "Effendi, Jamal and Sayyid Mustafa Rumi in Celebes: The Context of Early Baha’i Missionary Activity in Indonesia". Baha’i Studies Review 14. Retrieved September 14, 2014.