Melaka and the Middle East

Tawarikh Talks Series

24 AUG 19

in collaboration with

Badan Warisan Malaysia
Jalan Stonor
Kuala Lumpur

with Badan Warisan Malaysia

Andrew Peacock

University of St Andrews

Profile

Prof. Andrew Peacock is a professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic History. He studied Oriental Studies at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and has held positions in Cambridge, Ankara, and as Visiting Professor in the Department of History, University of Malaya (2017-2018).

Highlights

Professor Andrew Peacock talks about Melaka's position as an international port according to Arabic, Persian, and Turkish sources.

Links between the Middle East and Southeast Asia long predate both the foundation of Melaka and indeed Islam. Due to strong demand from the Abbasid Caliphate, navigational trade routes between the Middle East and Southeast Asia through the Indian Ocean were recorded, of which the most detailed is the al-Masalik wa’l-Mamalik by Ibn Khurdadhbih (846-7).

Ibn Majid’s works are usually in verse, such as his al-Ma‘laqiyya or Melaka poem which gives directions for sailing to Melaka. Whereas Sulayman al-Mahri composed his al-‘Umda al-Mahriyya fi’l-‘ulum al-Bahriyya in prose.

The use of Malay words, such as 'tukang', in Ibn Majid's work, suggests Middle Eastern ships were accustomed to use a local pilot to guide them through the Melaka straits.

Our best informed source on Southeast Asia in Persian, the Jami‘ al-Barr wa’l-Bahr, was composed in India at the court of the Qutbshah rulers of the Deccan by an Iranian émigré, Mahmud b. ‘Abdallah Nishapuri, around the end of the sixteenth or early seventeenth century.

Turkish text, the Seadetname by Firaki Abdurrahman Çelebi, was composed around 1527, and it describes the conquest of Portuguese in Melaka. He also suggests Melaka as a city of garden with cardamom and hyacinth as its flowers.

The use of Malay words, such as 'tukang', in Ibn Majid's work, suggests Middle Eastern ships were accustomed to use a local pilot to guide them through the Melaka straits.

Arabic navigational manuals created during the late fifteenth century and early sixteenth century by two South Arabian sailors, Ahmad b. Majid (c. 1432-7- after 1500) and Sulayman al-Mahri (active early sixteenth century) tell us about the trade routes that linked Melaka to the western Islamic world.

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