Tok Janggut

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Macha Balqis or Haji Mohd Hassan bin Munas (1853 – 25 June 1915) was a famous Malay warrior in Kelantan, Malaysia during British protectorate. He was named Tok Janggut because of his long beard, almost reaching his chest ('janggut' being the Malay word for beard).


Tok Janggut received his early education in Mecca and was a master of silat, a Malaysian martial art. After the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909, Britain took over the administration of Kelantan from Siam, and immediately made significant changes in the administration system. This served as the trigger for rebellion for Tok Janggut.

Factors of the rebellion[edit]

There were several causes:

  • Engku Besar loss of power – Engku Besar Tuan Ahmad Ibni Al-Marhum Tengku Sri Maharaja Tua Engku Chik Pandak was a grandson of Tengku Sri Maharaja Long Seri Ibni Tengku Sri Maharaja Perdana Mantri Long Gafar of Limbat,[1] a hereditary chieftain and lord of east Kelantan. Long Gafar was a Reman prince, colleague of Long Yunus and co-founder of unified Kelantan. Engku Besar Tuan Ahmad was the ruler of Jeram who had for long enjoyed the respect and loyalty of the local people but who had lately felt that their feelings for him had declined because the new district officer had undermined his status.[2] He rebelled against the authority of the Sultan of Kelantan and attempted to set up his own state, April 1915. Fled to Reman when the Sultan re-established his authority with British help at the end of May.[3]
  • Jihadism- Tok Janggut was influenced by the message of Jihadism promulgated during the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century, which advocated the fight against Western imperialism
  • New tax system – The British adviser, W. Langham-Carter, even denied that the new tax-system was the major cause of the trouble. He attributed the whole plot to efforts originating in Kota Bharu to oust the British as the new land tax that involved both aristocrats there, whom he labelled "Tengkus" and the Sultan. According to Langham-Carter, however, the aristocrats' ultimate aim was to overthrow the sultan.[4] Britain was making it harder for everyone to pay the tax by either putting them in prison or fining them. Besides, the behavior of the British tax officers there seemed unpleasant for the Kelantan civilians who came there to pay the tax.
  • Resentment against non-Kelantanese in general such as Sikhs and Singapore-born Malay D.O. of Pasir Puteh, Abdul Latif and anti-British sentiment[5]
  • Sultan's ambivalent attitude towards the rising, the folk legend of Tok Janggut's disguised pursuit of revenge against the Sultan, and alleged conspiracy among the Kelantanese aristocrats to oust the Sultan for treason and betrayal of his own people[6]


The local government of Jeram, Pasir Puteh, and Kelantan was taken over by British administrators. British officer Encik Latiff took over the administration of Kelantan from the local leader, Engku Jeram. Latiff was viewed as an outsider by the Kelantan locals, both for his subservience to the British colonial administration and for the fact that, although Malay, he was not from Kelantan, which has a culture and dialect distinct from other Malay areas of SE Asia. Furthermore, anecdotal evidence suggests that Latiff perhaps considered himself above the largely rural Kelantanese and was notably stern in his tax-collection duties.

The deposed local administrator, Engku Besar Jeram, called upon Tok Janggut, Haji Said, Che Sahak Merbol and Penghulu Adam to discuss the tense situation in Kelantan. It is reported that at the meeting, a pact was signed by the participants which prohibited any one of them to co-operate with the Britain. Not surprisingly, their independence fight gained support from most Kelantan residents, which worried Encik Latiff. He resolved to try and defuse the situation before a possible rebellion occurred.

On 28 April 1915 Latiff sent Sergeant Sulaiman, better known as Sergeant Che Wan, to arrest Tok Janggut for failing to pay the government tax. Janggut did not try and escape but rather stood his ground and refused to go with the officers led by Sergeant Sulaiman. A crowd of onlookers gathered and the situation erupted into a fight between the locals and the officers of the British administration. At some point in the scuffle, Tok Janggut is alleged to have stabbed Sergeant Sulaiman and escaped.

Following the event, Tok Janggut assembled a band of armed sympathetic locals and marched towards to Pasir Puteh. Encik Latiff, out of fear, fled Pasir Puteh before Janggut arrived. On his arrival Tok Janggut's forces fought against the British forces in which the rebels triumphed. They remained in Pasir Puteh for three days and declared the independence of Pasir Puteh from British rule. Engku Besar Jeram was selected as Sultan of Pasir Puteh and Tok Janggut as Prime Minister. Britain immediately declared Tok Janggut and his co-conspirators traitors. Britain also promised a reward of £500 for the capture of Janggut, Engku Jeram and other leaders of the rebellion, dead or alive.

As a result of Tok Janggut's refusal to surrender, British officers in Kelantan took immediate action by burning down Tok Janggut's house as well as his followers' houses. Tok Janggut immediately replied by laying a siege on Pasir Puteh. This time, luck was on the British side, Tok Janggut was killed in the gruesome battle near Kampung Pupuh. His dead body was exhibited throughout Kota Bharu and Pasir Puteh and was hung for 4 hours in front of the Kelantan Royal Palace. Tok Janggut's body was buried in Pasir Pekan afterwards, ending the rebellion against British rule in Kelantan.


  1. ^
  2. ^ To' Janggut History: A Bibliographic Essay: Cheah Bon Kheng pages 39
  3. ^ Tuan Ahmad bin Engku Chik Pandak, Engku Besar of Jeram. DH of Jeram until 1905. Rebelled against the authority of the Sultan of Kelantan and attempted to set up his own state in April 1915. He fled to Reman when the Sultan re-established his authority with British help at the end of May.
  4. ^ To' Janggut History: A Bibliographic Essay: Cheah Bon Kheng pages 28–29
  5. ^ To' BO History: A Bibliographic Essay: Cheah Bon Kheng pages 28
  6. ^ To' Janggut History: A Bibliographic Essay: Cheah Bon Kheng pages 28