War and Resistance, 1785-1838

Azra, Azyumardi. The Origins of Islamic Reformism in Southeast Asia: Networks of Malay-Indonesian and Middle Eastern Ulama in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. Asian Studies Association of Australia, Southeast Asia Publication Series, ed. Virginia Hooker. Honolulu: Allen & Unwin and University of Hawaii Press, 2004.

Azra (2004): 143-44 – Sheikh Daud bin Abdullah al-Fatani was a major proponent of jihad (holy war) among Malay-Indonesian scholars in the 18th century. He saw the increasing attempts of the Thais to tighten their grip over the Muslim region of Patani and became a major concern for him (which is not surprising, given the declining political realities for the sultanate, especially after 1785). He delineated his ideas on jihad in his various works. For example, his work on prayer (salat), entitled Munyat al-Musalli in Malay, completed in Mecca in 1827, has some political overtones. Azra points to Matheson and Hooker’s article, who claim that he wrote this specifically for Muslims in Patani to support them in their struggles against the Thais. Al-Fatani’s ideas teachings on jihad appear to bear some relation to his idea of the Islamic state. In his opinion, an Islamic state (dar al-Islam) should be based on the Qur’an and the hadith; otherwise it would be called a state of unbelievers (dar al-kufr). Furthermore, he believed that it was an essential obligation (fard al-ayn) for every Muslim to wage jihad against hostile unbelievers (kafir al-harb). If an Islamic state is attacked and annexed by unbelievers, the Muslims are obliged to fight them until they regain their freedom. As for the jihad to expand the realm of Islam, which involves the subduing of unbelievers, it is only a fard al-kifayah, an obligation which is acquitted in the name of all as long as it is performed by some. In both cases of jihad, al-Fatani stresses the need for Muslims to have fighting strategies; they must not wage jihad if they are ill-prepared militarily.

Azra (2004): 150-51 – The decline of tasawwuf (Sufism, mysticism) in favor of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and usul al-din (dogmatic theology) can be seen in many places, but particularly in the scholarship of Patani-born scholars. Azra argues this was due to the rise of European dominance and so-called scientific rationalism to which Islamic writers responded with their own reinterpretation of their own beliefs and practices. As Snouck Hurgronje observed, this was a result of the fact that in Mecca, the chief branches of learning had been reduced to those two. In Patani, it may also be seen that tasawwuf was of lesser importance because of its struggle against Siam (not to mention its place as a pawn in the imperialist struggle between France and Britain). Patani ulama of the time seem to have been most concerned with the maintenance of the Malay Muslim identity. Azra goes onto show the role played by Sheikh Ahmad, his students including Tok Kenali, and their influence in the Patani-Kelantan region as well as throughout the archipelago as reformers.

Bonney, R. Kedah 1771-1821: The Search for Security and Independence. East Asian Historical Monographs, ed. Wang Gungwu. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1971.

p. 7. Although by 1818, Kedah’s tin exports had been dwarfed in comparison to Perak and Selangor, it still managed to control tin exports from Patani, Kelian Intan, and Keroh, which had to pass down the Sungei Muda. Bonney depicts Kedah as a burgeoning entrepot at this time with a great variety of products such as rice, tin, timber, rattan, elephants, ivory, wax, dammar, fish, tripang, and bird’s nests, as well as products from Patani and northern Sumatra.

p. 79-80. By the beginning of August 1786, the fortress at Pujit had fallen, after which the uparat began a systematic policy of the extermination of inhabitants of Patani as well as confiscating a large number of people as slaves. The uparat even warned Kedah against accepting any refugees from Patani. This of course put Kedah in an impossible position – faced on the one hand with a conquering army at its borders, and on the other with the impossibility of preventing such refugees from coming into Kedah.

p. 81. The Siamese, having fully subjugated Patani by November 1786, began to assert greater pressure on the other northern Malay states.

p. 101-02. In June or July 1791, there appeared in Kedah, Sheikh Abdul Kamal of Mecca, who sought assistance in exacting revenge for the sufferings of the Patani chief in 1786-87. Sultan Abdullah ended up supplying some arms for the purpose, but they were deemed insufficient to gain success. Though the movement made initial headway, it was soon crushed and Patani was laid waste.

p. 159-60. In the period 1818-19, the English, based in Penang, attempted to force Kedah into granting them a monopoly over the tin trade of Perak and Patani, as well as other territorial and economic concessions.

Hall, D. G. E. A History of South-East Asia. 4th ed. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1981.

p. 554. At the time of the Siamese conquest of Kedah, this caused much apprehension with the British at Penang, who drew most of their food-supply from Kedah at that time. It had been carrying on an important tin trade with other Siamese dependences, such as Perak, Patani, and Junk Ceylon, the most important of the three. Thus relations between the British at Calcutta and Bangkok hastened in 1822 and they sent John Crawfurd as their emissary.

Johns, A. H. “Islam in the Malay World: An Exploratory Survey with Some Reference to Quranic Exegesis,” in Islam in Asia – Volume 2: Southeast and East Asia, ed. Raphael Israeli and Anthony H. Johns. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1984.

p. 130-31. Patani rose to become one of the major Southeast Asian centers of education. This movement was led by Da’ud ibn Abd Allah ibn Idris. In 1809, he compiled a treatise on marriage based on well-known Shafi’ite law books such as al-Minhaj, al-Fath al-Wahhad, al-Tuhfa, and al-Nihaya. In 1816, he wrote a book, often reprinted, al-durr al-thamin fi l-i’tiqad, and in 1824, he published a rendering of al-Ghazali’s Minhaj al-Abidin. In 1838, he compiled Furu al-masa’il wa usul al-Masa’il and a selection from the judgments of Ramli and the Kashf al-anam an as’ila al-anam of Husayn b. Muhammad al-Mahalli on points of fiqh such as ritual purity, the five pillars of Islam, ritual slaughter and questions of inheritance. Other scholars are also known in Mecca, such as Sheikh Zayn al-Abidin b. Ahmad al-Patani, who wrote a Malay work, Kashf al-Ghaybiyya, based on three Arabic treatises, daqa’iq al-akhbar fi dhikr al-janna wa l-nar by Imam Abd al-Rahim b. Ahmad al-Qadi, al-durar al-hisan of al-Suyuti and Mashariq al-Anwar by Sheikh Hasan al-Adawi.

Kobkua Suwannathat-Pian. Thai-Malay Relations: Traditional Intra-regional Relations from the Seventeenth to Early Twentieth Centuries. East Asian Monographs, ed. Wang Gungwu. Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1988.

p. 124. Kelantan and Terengganu both supported Patani in its 1831 uprising. This uprising was led by six of the seven petty princes of the splintered 7 provinces (the exception being Yaring, who was ruled by a Siamese governor). Afterward, the rebel leaders fled to Kelantan and Terengganu, but were handed over to the Siamese rulers as part of the negotiations that followed (which included, for Kelantan, the payment of indemnities as well).

p. 124, 161. Patani was split into seven petty principalities following its rebellion in 1808 in an attempt by Siam to fracture its political power. These principalities were: Tani, Jaring/Yaring, Saiburi, Legeh/Ra-ngae, Raman, Yala, and Nongchik, known collectively as Khaek Jet Huamuang. They were administered as separate political units, each with its own phraya/governor who was given the authority of a frontier provincial governor. They were also put under the supervision of Songkhla, which was elevated to the position of viceroyalty of the South.

p. 165. In 1789, the raja of Patani wrote to Nguyen Anh (later emperor Gia Long) of Annam, inviting him to join with Patani in attacking Siam. Kobkua argues that Patani was the leading antagonist of Siam among the Malay communities adjoining the kingdom.

Lieberman, Victor. Strange Parallels: Southeast Asia in Global Context, c. 800-1830: Volume 1: Integration on the Mainland. Studies in Comparative World History, ed. Michael Adas and Philip D. Curtin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

p. 334. Patani tried to revolt against Rama I by projecting itself as a center of reformist Islam and Malay culture.

Mills, L. A. British Malaya 1824-67. First published as volume 3, part 2 of the Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1925; reprinted Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1966.

p. 132. The treaty between Britain and Siam in 1824 was mainly done to address what Britain saw as interference by Siam in its trade relations with its southern principalities, where it conducted a steady tin trade at Perak, Patani, Ujong Salang, and elsewhere. Penang has also begun trade with Siam in 1817 and in 1820-21, this trade was valued at $207,750.

p. 139. British Gov. Fullerton wrote, Oct 24, 1824, a dispatch to the Supreme Government which foreshadowed his Malayan policy for the next three years. He strongly advocated the restoration of the ex-sultan of Kedah and insisted that Siam renounce all claims to sovereignty over every Malay state south of Kedah and Patani. Such pretensions had no legal justification, in his view, for “no act of superiority whatever has been exerted over any state South-East of Kedah within the memory of man.” He also seems to have predicted the outbreak of a war, led by the raja of Ligor. His views were strongly influenced by Anderson’s pamphlet of the same year.

Sarasin Viraphol, Tribute and Profit: Sino-Siamese Trade, 1652-1853. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1977.

p. 159. Notes that by the first decade of the 19th century, tributary trade was giving way to commercialism. In the Chinese document Ta Ch’ing hui-tien (1818) named Chaiya, Ligor, Songkla, and Patani as hu-shih chu-kuo (trading states) rather than as kung-kuo (tributaries) as it had in the past.

p. 174. The east coast of the Malay-Siam Peninsula was particularly known for its tin deposits, making it attractive to merchants during the reign of Rama I. By the turn of the century, Chinese merchants flocked there, including several gold prospectors who sought trade in the region.

Sarasin (1977): 201 – In the 1830s, pepper remained an important product for export to Chinese ports from the peninsula. Patani and Kelantan together produced around 16,000 piculs and Terengganu produced about 8,000 annually.

p. 215. By Burney’s visit to Ligor in 1826, direct trade between the region and China had ceased. However, local ethnic Chinese merchants were in complete control of the transfer of goods to Bangkok for re-export to China. In Trang and Patani, the Chinese also exported elephant’s teeth, tin, and bird’s nests to the capital for the junk trade.

Talib, Shaharil. “The Port and Polity of Terengganu during the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries: Realizing its Potential,” in Southeast Asian Port and Polity: Rise and Demise, eds. J. Kathirithamby-Wells and John Villiers. Singapore: Singapore University Press, 1990: 213-30.

p. The district of Besut in Terengganu was only settled in the early nineteenth century by Malays from Patani and Kelantan who fled there from the Siamese.

Tarling, Nicholas. British Policy in the Malay Peninsula and Archipelago 1824-1871. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1969.

p. The British aimed under Governor Fullerton to restore the raja of Kedah to his former position relatively free of tribute, and for Siam to disavow all claims to Malay states on the peninsula south of Patani, including Perak, Selangor, Kelantan, and Trengganu.

p. 30. Governor Bannerman, after the close of the Napoleonic War, determined to develop Malay tin resources by establishing a settlement on Pulau Pangkor off Perak, and by opening negotiations with the rajas of Perak, Selangor, and Kedah (the last of which controlled routes to Patani). This had been disrupted by the 1819 invasion by Siam. Clubley believed that a challenge to Siam would lead naturally to a revival of the trade with Patani.

p. 31. Late in 1823, Maingy formed a depot for tin on the Muda River with a view to encouraging trade with Patani from Wellesley.

p. 43. In August 1832, the British reported Siamese warships arriving in Trengganu that claimed they were pursuing Patani rebels, but Bonham, then Resident Councillor at Singapore, had thought they might openly attack Kelantan and Trengganu (and he cites the Burney treaty).

p. 44. The Siamese Phra Klang (Siamese Foreign Minister) visited Kelantan and fined the raja for harboring the raja of Patani. He cites Moor’s 1837 work, p. 201.

Wyatt, David K. Thailand: A Short History. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982.

p. 151. By 1785, the Burmese were taking control of southern Siam without much resistance. At that moment, the army of the uparat entered the peninsula. The Burmese army, afraid of being cut off, retreated north, ultimately back to Burma. Rama I then ordered the uparat to consolidate Siam’s position over the south. Patani initially resisted but was defeated and had a new ruler imposed upon them. The other southern states of Kedah, Kelantan, and Terengganu all soon fell into line and began paying tribute once more. Furthermore, the ruler of Songkla, a relative newcomer of Chinese origins, was put in charge of Siam’s relations with all of the southern Malay tributary states and reported directly to Bangkok. Wyatt speculates that Patani probably rebelled because it believed Thonburi to have already fallen or that they believed Siam would not be able to resist Burmese military power.

p. 158. The ruler who had been installed by the uparat in 1785 again attempted to organized renewed resistance to Siamese rule, as a result of which a new Siamese expedition was sent into the state in 1791 to install yet another ruler.

p. 169. In the Burney Treaty of 1826, Siam’s position in Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu, and Patani was recognized and a border between British Burma and Siam was established.

p. 172. Trouble erupted in the south first in Kedah in 1831, when supporters of the exiled Sultan Ahmad launched a rebellion that managed to expel Siamese officials stationed there. The governor of Nakhon Si Thammarat, Chaophraya Nakhon (Noi), began to levy an army and asked Songkla and Patani to do the same. Songkla resisted and Patani again rebelled. Patani had been divided into seven petty states under Songkla’s control since 1817, but these states now joined forces in what they thought was an opportunity to end Siam’s overlordship. When they attacked Songkla, the latter had to appeal to Bangkok for aid, and even the four armies Siam sent were insufficient to repulse the Patani Malays, who were supported by Kelantan and Terengganu. Additional forces were sent to the region and were reinforced in early 1832 by the Nakhon Si Thammarat armies, which had succeeded in recapturing Kedah and reinstalling Siamese government there. By mid-year, the seven states of Patani were subdued, and new governors were appointed to most of the states, including Siamese in Patani itself and in Yaring.

p. 173. Scarcely a decade after the 1831-32 rebellion, a similar scene played out again. Supporters of Sultan Ahmad rebelled in 1838 and advanced on Songkla and Patani. A few months later, in early 1839, the Siamese counter-attacked from Nakhon and Songkla, and by late March they had reconquered Kedah. Meanwhile, Kelantan fell into civil war and only by outside military intervention were the two parties reconciled.


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