Kedah Sultanate

Kedah Protectorate
قدح در الامن
Negeri Kedah
Protectorate of the United Kingdom

Flag Coat of arms
Kedah in present-day Malaysia
Capital Alor Setar1
Languages Malay2
Kedah Malay
Religion Sunni Islam
Political structure Protectorate
   1901–1910 Edward VII
  1936–1952 George VI
  1909–1915; 1918–1919 George Maxwell
Historical era British Empire
   Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909 9 July 1909
  Japanese occupation 1941
  Annexed by Thailand 18 October 1943
  Japanese surrender; Returned to United Kingdom 14 August 1945
   Added into Malayan Union 31 March 1946
Currency Straits dollar until 1939
Malayan dollar until 1953
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Rattanakosin Kingdom
Japanese occupation of Malaya
Malayan Union
Today part of  Malaysia
1 Remains as capital until today
2 Malay using Jawi (Arabic) script
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The Sultanate of Kedah may be the earliest sultanate on the Malay Peninsula and is supposedly one of the oldest Sultanates in the world, allegedly founded in 1136.

The information regarding the formation of this sultanate and the history before and after its creation comes from the "Kedah Annals". The Kedah Annals were written in the eighteenth century, over a millennium after the formation of the Kedah Kingdom. It describes the first king of Kedah as arriving on the shores of Kedah as a result of an attack by a mythical gigantic beast. It states that the nation was founded by the offspring of Alexander the Great; who maintained ties with Rome throughout his reign (oddly two centuries after the decline of the Roman Empire due to sacks by the Visigoths and Vandals in 410 and 455).

The Kedah Annals also provide us with very unreliable information regarding the sultans of Kedah. Listing the first sultan of Kedah as Sultan Mudzafar Shah I centuries before the partitioning of the Arabic Muslim empire into distinct sultanates and almost three centuries prior to the contradictory claims of the Terengganu Inscription Stone. This claim also directly contradicts the fact that the Buddhist Srivijaya kingdom was in direct control of Kedah at the time that Sultan Mudzafar Shah I allegedly converted the region to a sultanate.

Kedah Kingdom

Kedah Kingdom (630-1136) was founded by Maharaja Derbar Raja of Gemeron around 630 CE and the Hindu dynasty ended when Phra Ong Mahawangsa converted to Islam.

Map of the early Kadaha kingdom and the Early transpeninsular routeway.
Ancient artefact found in Kedah.


Main article: History of Kedah

Around 170 CE a group of native refugees of Hindu faith arrived at Kedah, joining them soon were peoples from nearby islands and from the northern Mon-Khmer region . Ancient Kedah covered the areas of Kuala Bahang, Kuala Bara, Kuala Pila and Merpah, and the inhabitants of Kedah appointed Tun Derma Dewa and Tun Perkasa as their village chiefs.

The king from Gemeron

In 630 CE, Maharaja Derbar Raja of Gemeron (now known as Bandar Abbas) in Persia was defeated in battle and escaped to Sri Lanka, and he was later blown off course by a storm to the remote shores of Kuala Sungai Qilah, Kedah . The inhabitants of Kedah found him to be a valiant and intelligent person, and they made him the king of Kedah. In 634 CE, a new kingdom was formed in Kedah consisting of Persian royalty and native Malay of Hindu faith, the capital was Langkasuka .

Conversion to Islam

In the late 11th century, after the Chola military left Kadaram , the 9th Hindu rajah, Dubar Raja II, renounced Hinduism and converted to Islam, which was introduced by Muslims from neighbouring Aceh, he also changed his name to Sultan Mudzafar Shah. He ruled the northern region of Malay Peninsula from 1136 to 1179. According to the Kedah Annals, the first king of Kedah was Maharaja Derbar Raja I, a fleeing king from Gameron in Persia.

List of rulers

According to tradition , the founding of the Kedah kingdom (or Kadaram) occurred around 630 CE, replacing the ancient kingdom of Langkasuka. It is said to have been founded by Durbaraja I, a Hindu who originated from Gemeron in Persia. The Hindu dynasty ended when the ninth king Durbaraja II, styled "Phra Ong Mahawangsa" by the Siamese, converted to Islam in 1136.[1]

Hindu era

The following is a list of kings of Kadaram, nine in total. Each used the Hindu title of maharaja. The exact dates of each king's reign are not known.

  1. Sri Paduka Maharaja Durbar Raja I (c. 630–?)
  2. Sri Paduka Maharaja Diraja Putra
  3. Sri Paduka Maharaja Maha Dewa I
  4. Sri Paduka Maharaja Karna Diraja
  5. Sri Paduka Maharaja Karma
  6. Sri Paduka Maharaja Maha Dewa II
  7. Sri Paduka Maharaja Darma Raja
  8. Sri Paduka Maharaja Maha Jiwa
  9. Sri Paduka Maharaja Durbar Raja II (?–1136; succeeded as Sultan of Kedah, see below)
Source for the list of sultans is the Muzium Negeri Kedah, Alor Setar, Malaysia. "The sultans of Kedah".

Islamic era

The beginning of the use of the title sultan in Kedah is attributed to a visit by a Muslim scholar from Yemen, Sheikh Abdullah bin Ja'afar Quamiri, to Durbaraja II's palace at Bukit Mariam in 1136. The audience resulted in the king's conversion to Islam. He adopted the name "Mudzafar Shah" and established the sultanate of Kedah, which continues to rule today.[1]

Sultans of Kedah
Number Sultan Reign
1 Sultan Mudzafar Shah I 1136–1179
2 Sultan Mu'adzam Shah 1179–1201
3 Sultan Muhammad Shah 1201–1236
4 Sultan Mudzaffar Shah II 1236–1280
5 Sultan Mahmud Shah I 1280– 1321
6 Sultan Ibrahim Shah 1321– 1373
7 Sultan Sulaiman Shah I 1373–1422
8 Sultan Ataullah Muhammad Shah I 1422–1472
9 Sultan Muhammad Jiwa Zainal Adilin I 1472–1506
10 Sultan Mahmud Shah II 1506–1546
11 Sultan Mudzaffar Shah III 1546–1602
12 Sultan Sulaiman Shah II 1602–1625
13 Sultan Rijaluddin Muhammad Shah 1625–1651
14 Sultan Muhyiddin Mansur Shah 1651–1661
15 Sultan Dziaddin Mukarram Shah I 1661–1687
16 Sultan Ataullah Muhammad Shah II 1687–1698
17 Sultan Abdullah Mu'adzam Shah 1698–1706
18 Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin Halim Shah I 1706–1709
19 Sultan Muhammad Jiwa Zainal Adilin II 1710–1778
20 Sultan Abdullah Mukarram Shah 1778–1797
21 Sultan Dziaddin Mukarram Shah II 1797-1803
22 Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin Halim Shah II 1803–1843
23 Sultan Zainal Rashid Al-Mu'adzam Shah I 1843–1854
24 Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin Mukarram Shah 1854–1879
25 Sultan Zainal Rashid Mu'adzam Shah II 1879- 1881
26 Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah 1881–1943
27 Sultan Badlishah 1943–1958
28 Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah 1958–present
Source for the list of sultans is the Kedah State Public Library (2003). "The genealogy of His Highnesses". Our Sultan. Retrieved 29 August 2010. 



The Nobat musical instruments of Nagara and Nepiri were introduced to Kedah by Maharaja Derbar Raja. The instrument is also called semambu. The band is led by the king, and it consists of drums, a gong, a flute and a trumpet. Today, Nobat is a Royal orchestra, played only during royal ceremonies such as inaugurations, weddings, and funerals. The building which houses the instruments and where the ensemble rehearses is known as the Balai Nobat, literally the Office of Nobat, in Alor Setar city proper.

See also


  1. 1 2 "Kedah: Intro and Background". Capslock Sdn Bhd. Retrieved 4 March 2011.


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