Samudera Pasai Sultanate
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- For the town in Burma see Pasai, Burma
Samudera Pasai, also known as Samudera and Pasai sometimes called Samudera Darussalam was a Muslim harbour kingdom on the north coast of Sumatra from the 13th to the 15th centuries CE. It was believed the word Samudera derived from Samudra meaning ocean in Sanskrit. According to Hikayat Raja-raja Pasai, it was said Merah Silu saw an ant as big as a cat, he caught it and ate it and he named the place Samandara. King Merah Silu later converted to Islam, known as Malik ul Salih, he was the sultan in year 1267 CE.
Little evidence has been left to allow for historical study of the kingdom.
Pasai exported its culture, and most importantly its language — an early form of Malay written in the Jawi alphabet — to a number of islands. Later, this language became the lingua franca among traders in what is now Indonesia and Malaysia.
Arab and Indian Muslims had traded in Indonesia and China for many centuries. A Muslim tombstone in eastern Java bears a date corresponding to 1082. But substantial evidence of Islam in Indonesia begins only in northern Sumatra at the end of the 13th century. Two small Muslim trading kingdoms existed by that time at Pasai and Peureulak or Perlak. A 1297 royal tomb at Samudra is inscribed entirely in Arabic. By the 15th century several harbour kingdoms developed, all ruled by local Muslim princes, from the north coast of Java and elsewhere to as far east as Ternate and Tidore in Maluku. Marco Polo spent five months here, he had Ferlec, Basma, and Samara (Samudera) mentioned in his travel story. Another famous traveller Ibn Battuta on his way to China stayed 15 days at Samudera.
The establishment of the first Muslim centres in Indonesia was probably a result of commercial circumstances. By the 13th century the collapse of Srivijayan power, drew foreign traders harbours on the northern Sumatran shores of the Bay of Bengal, safe from the pirate lairs at the southern end of the Strait of Malacca. Northern Sumatra had a hinterland rich in gold and forest produce, and pepper was being cultivated at the beginning of the 15th century. It was accessible to all the merchants of the archipelago who wanted to meet ships from the Indian Ocean.
In the year 1345, Ibn Battuta, a Moroccan traveler visited Samudra Pasai where he notes in his travel log that the ruler of Samudera Pasai was a pious Muslim, who performed his religious duties in utmost zeal. The madh'hab he observed was Imam Al-Shafi‘i. At that time Samudera Pasai was the end of Dar al-Islam for no territory east of this was ruled by a Muslim ruler. He praised the kindness and hospitality demonstrated by the sultan of Samudera Pasai. Here he stayed for about two weeks in the wooden walled town as a guest of the sultan, and then the sultan provided him with supplies and sent him on his way on one of sultan's own junks to China.
By the end of the 14th century, Samudra-Pasai had become a wealthy commercial centre, giving way in the early 15th century to the better protected harbour of Malacca on the south-west coast of the Malay Peninsula. Majapahit attacked and looted the place in the middle of the 14th century.
Pasai's economic and political power depended almost entirely on foreigners. Muslim traders and teachers probably participated in its administration from the beginning and were bound to introduce religious practices that made them feel at home. The first Muslim beachheads in Indonesia, especially Pasai, were to a considerable extent genuine Muslim creations that commanded the loyalty of the local population and encouraged scholarly activities. Similar new harbour kingdoms formed on the northern coast of Java. Tomé Pires, author of the Suma Oriental, writing not long after 1511, stresses the obscure ethnic origins of the founders of Cheribon, Demak, Japara, and Gresik. These Javanese coastal states served commerce with India and China and especially with Malacca, an importer of Javanese rice. The rulers of Malacca, despite their prestigious Srivijayan origin, accepted Islam precisely in order to attract Muslim and Javanese traders to their port.
- Ricklefs, M.C. 1991. A History of Modern Indonesia since c.1300. 2nd Edition, Stanford: Stanford University Press, p. 15. ISBN 0-333-57690-X
- "Ibn Battuta's Trip: Chapter 9 Through the Straits of Malacca to China 1345 - 1346". The Travels of Ibn Battuta A Virtual Tour with the 14th Century Traveler. Berkeley.edu. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
- Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society , Volume 33, Parts 1-4. Quote: "The Portuguese knew Pasai as Pacem."