TODAY -

E-Pao! Manipur - Muslims in Manipur

Muslims in Manipur

By: Farooque Ahmed Makakmayum *


Having come to the full circle of research in this area, I now put briefly about the history of Manipuri Muslims (Pangals who are acculturated to the Meiteis in various aspects) wherein I consummate the points of relevant previous papers and at the same time abrogating the inconsistencies of the earlier same hereby providing the ultimate and authentic opinion vide exhaustive studies and findings.

This passage tries to trace the earlier history only and the most known theory is that 'Pangan'/'Pangal' is a word derived from 'Bengal', from where most of the Muslims came between 1550 AD and 1690 AD. And neighbouring history is also referred to for a better grasp of idea.

On close scrutiny and critical analysis, I find that the Manipuri Muslims are one of the earliest settlers (i.e., from circa 680 AD) outside the Arab Peninsula and the Gulf region vis-a-vis histories of South Asian and S.E. Asian Muslim histories including China where the Prophet Muhammad (570-632 AD) sent two preachers by sea in c. 616 AD.

Teaching of Prophet Muhammad (Sa'd bin Waqqas) and that of Tang period Chinese records reveal that in a return journey to China in reciprocity to the Chinese embassy to Arabia, i.e a Muslim embassy to Chinese capital Chan'gan reached in 651 AD. The Hui of China (Chinese Muslims) trace their origin to the date of 25 August, 651 AD.

"The advent of Islam in South China makes a fascinating study. The earliest Muslims came to these parts by sea. Arab traders were known to have sailed to China even during the period beyond historical records. Records exist from 5th century A.D. (Tang Dynasty 618-907) which shows the route from Siraf in the Persian Gulf to Muscat in the Gulf of Oman, thence to the South Indian (Malabar) coast. From there the route continued to Ceylon (Sarandip), to Nicobar group of islands, to straits of Malacca, then round the South coast of the Malay Peninsula to the Gulf of Siam and thence to Canton and Hangchow in China.

According to Muslim traditions, when the early Muslims were being persecuted in Mecca some of them were allowed to migrate to Habash (Abyssinia) but most of them later came back, including the famous companions and muazzin Bilal. However, the Books of Individual Records noticed that four companions did not return, one of them being Abi Waqqas, a maternal uncle of the Holy Prophet. It is narrated that Abi Waqqas had gained favour with the Najashi King of Habash who had allowed him to sail to China.

"This tallies with the account of Liu Chih (who wrote a 12-volume Life of the Prophet in Chinese in 1721 A.D.) according to which Abi Waqqas, the Holy Prophets maternal uncle, arrived in China with three other Sahaba. Broomhall gives the date of this arrival in China of the Sahaba. Broomhall gives the date of this arrival in China of the Sahaba as 611 A.D. The Chinese historian gives the date as 587 A.D. Both the dates are incorrect, since the first revelation to the Prophet came in 611 A.D. and the first batch of Muslim emigrants went to Abyssinia in 615 A.D.

Abi Waqqas could not have reached Canton before 616 A.D.) Abi Waqqas then went back to Arabia to being the Holy Quran and came to China the second time after 21 years. An inscription at Canton dated 1861 A.D. also states that Abi Waqqas landed in Canton in 587 A.D. and built the mosque of Holy Remembrance. It is believed that the earliest mosque built in China is the present mosque of Holy Remembrance at Canton. The mosque was built along-side the Smooth Minaret (Kwang Ta) which was built earlier by the Arabs as a lighthouse.

The mosque and the minaret exist even today in Canton, and the tomb of Abi Waqqas as well as a small mosque are also located in the Muslim graveyard of Canton. According to Great Ming Geography, two of his companions lie buried in nearby Fukian. It is almost certain that these were the first Muslim preachers who came to South China by sea and propagated Islam in the coastal cities of Kwangchow, Chuanchow, Hangchow and Yang- chow.

There is, however, a difference of opinion about the exact dates because of the difficulties in calculations in the Western Gregorian Calendar and the Chinese and Muslim Lunar Calendars.

"The introduction of Islam in Western China makes a still more colourful and fascinating study. According to Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.) records, two embassies, one from Yezdegrid, the grandson of Khosroes and the other from the Roman Empire, came to the court of Tai Tsung, the second tang Emperor (627-650) in 638 and 643 respectively and both reported their defeats at the hands of the Arabs. Yezdegird, the last of Sassanian Kings of Iran, had sought refuge with the Turkish tribes of Ferghana and had also sought friendship with Emperor Tai Tsung whose capital was at Chang An (modern Sian). The Chinese of the time were at the height of their power, and had their frontiers with the Persian Empire.

In 650 Tai Tsung died and his son, Emperor Kao Tsung, received an appeal for aid from Firuz, the son of Yezdegird. Kao Tsung sent an emissary to Caliph Osman at Madina to plead for Firuz and the Caliph in return sent one of his generals to Sian in 651 and thus the first Muslim Embassy was established in Western China."
(Source :: http://www.geocities.com/khyber007/china.html)

Prophet Muhammad (born to a Quraish clan) proclaimed: "Utubul ilma lau kana bisseen" (literal meaning: Go in quest of knowledge unto China). Thus China and Arab civilizations were familiar to each other since early Tang period by virtue of trans-Asia trade by the Silk Route and sea route as well. Another lesser known silk route passed through Manipur to Yunnan along which early Arab caravan, muleteers and Persian traders and adventurists (known as Posa/Posse/Pasa from Persian/Farsi in Japanese and Chinese annals) traded in items as horse-trade and on return journey the Middle east and Syrian Arabs brought back silk, spice and other items.

Another silk route was via Tripura-Arakan besides the Patkai range along which the Ahoms (Tai) led by Sukanpha came and settled in Upper Burma in 1228 AD and earlier Turuskas (a disgruntled section of Bakhtiyar Khilji's army that conquered gaur/Bengal in 1204 AD) reached Gauhati and Mikir Hills, some of which reached and settled in Manipur setting up a principality within the Meitei kingdom, known as Pathan Ningthourel/Turushka principality as found in Puyas (Yengkhom Bhagya Singh, 1956, "Leithak Leikharol", pp. 112-3) and Vaishnavite literatures.

Earlier, a group of Arabs led by Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyya (son of Caliph Ali) of Ummayad dynasty based in Damascus (Syria) sailed from Kufa across the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal trying to reach China but ended up in Arakan and then Maundaw in 680 AD. Some of them led by a saint probably Hanafiyya himself visited and preached in Manipur, and founded a nascent Arab hamlet possibly taking Meitei women as wives in Manipur by circa 680 AD during king Naophangba's reign.

Habib Siddiqui notes: "Some historians tell us that the first Muslims to settle the Arakan were Arabs under the leadership of Muhammad ibn Hanafiya in the late 7th century (CE). He married the queen Kaiyapuri, who had converted to Islam. Her people then embraced Islam en masse. The peaks where they lived are still known as Hanifa Tonki and Kaiyapui Tonki" (http://www.weekly holiday.net/2005/020905/edit.html). A. Ezzati (1994, Spread of Islam, Tehran, pp. 333, 428): This Hanifa was a son of Ali, the 4th Caliph, 656-661 AD) and reached Arakan in 680 AD.

Rajkumar Kokngangsana ("Kanglei Langba Pakhangba", 1955: 2) and Khulem Chandrasekhar Singh ("Sakok Lamlen Ahanba", 1992: 10) wrote in these puyas: "Lairen Naophangbaki hakthakta nongchuplomdagi Pangal Musalman guru ama phaorakye". R.K. Sanahal (Pangal Thorakpa, 1983/1989) and N. Dibendra Singh (2005) noted that Muslim (Pangal) Aribam clan had been existing, the clan name being conferred by king Naophangba, since the reign of this ancient king.

This group from Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyya included some Persians (Pasa) that founded hamlets in Sylhet and Cachar in 7th-8th century. Pemberton (1966:113) noted of a Pasa (Basa) kingdom apparently in Cachar of 777 AD (Chietharol Kumbaba, 1989; 2005 by S.N. Arambam Parratt) till where Shan adventurer Samlungfa raided, before he raided Manipur. A Chinese account Chia Tin's itinere of 785-805 AD, mentions of a Ta-ts'in Po-lo-men of Manipur which G.E. Gerini (1909:813) opined to be Sylhet.

From the Ummayad Caliphate (660-750 AD) based in Syrian Arabia (Damascus), Hanifa (Hanafiyya) and his group reached Arakan coast; Tang period Chinese account recorded of contemporary Syrian people as Ta-ts'in and the Arabs in general as Ta-shih, as they (Syrian and Arab Muslims) came from the land of Syria-based caliphate. Hence the Ta-ts'in meant the Arabs (Aribah whose literal meaning is 'Pure Arab' in Peter Thomas Hughes, The Dictionary of Islam, 1999) settlement or abode in Manipur within the Meitei (Kathe) kingdom.

As such the Aribam (the earliest Manipuri Muslim clan) term could have been derived from the word 'Aribah', or it could be mere co-incidence of name as Ariba/Liraba/liba in Meitei language simply means 'old' or 'antiquity'. Aribam clan (sagei/yumnak) also exists prominently among the Meitei community. "Leithak Leikharol" (op. cit, pp. 112-3fts.), records of Pasa Ningthourel and Pathan Ningthourel, that would explicitly mean two Manipuri Muslim abodes or principalities as initiated in different periods.

L. Joychandra (Lost Kingdom: 1995:1) noted that Manipuri (Meitei) king Naofangba reigned between 624 AD and 714 AD. Ch. Manihar (A History of Manipuri Literature, 1997:104) and Wahengbam Ibohal (History of Manipur, 1986:215) noted that Pasa is the old name of Sylhet, while Pemberton (eastern Frontier of India, 1966:113) noted that Pasa/Basa 'probably means Banga, the ancient capital of Cachar country).

Henry Yule noted that Muslims of early Manipur (Kathe Musalmans) are descendants of early Muslims of Arakan, Cachar and Manipur that later altogether got fusioned to form a Muslim (known as Pangal) community. All these records would account that the earliest Muslim clan of Manipur are traced to the period of around 685 AD of initiation of the first Muslim clan. They fanned out eastward to Shan-Pagan area and further to Yunnan, as Moshe Yegar noted of Chinese annals revealing that Chinese travellers found Persian colony on Yunnan-Burma border in 860 AD.

The Pansi (derived from Persian) Muslims of Upper Burma and Panthay of Yunnan have the reputation of being sturdy horse-riders. Frank. M. Lebar et al (Ethnic Groups of Mainland Southeast Asia, Toronto/New Haven, 1964:2) wrote:
"The Panthay of Burma are chiefly known as muleteers on the trade routes. They are excellent caravan drivers, carrying goods as far as Rangoon and Moulmein. They are mostly engaged in trade, and cultivate only just enough to supply their immediate needs. Much of the domestic work is carried in by slaves or by hired servants (Scott and Hardiman: 1900:600-13)."

During, king Irengba's period of Manipur (984-1074 AD according to "Cheitharol Kumbaba") there were distinctly two Pasha and one Pangal villages (Mars) indicating the diverse nature of ethnic origin of Manipur Muslims- from different directions and different eras- that later subsumed to make the Pangal or Meitei-Pangal community as is known today. Abbasid period (750-1258 AD) coins were also found in Lalmai-Samtata region of frontier Bengal (Richard M. Eaton, 1997). The Pangals living at Khuga valley under their chieftain Maradon Adon (Murad al Abdullah) were noted to be a peasant community as found in Moirang Ningthourel Lambuba, K.C. Tensuba's account, Ningthourel Lambuba etc.

According to the Lost Kingdom (op. cit), king Irengba ruled in 1031 to 1121 AD; and Khuman principality was prominent at this time. Asim Roy (1983:89) noted that there were legendary tales, corroborated in early hagio-logical (hagiography) accounts of Muslims of Bengal-Samatata-Arakan continuum regarding Muhammad al Hanifa (son of Caliph Ali, 656-661 AD, from his second wife from Hanifa clan of Central Arabia), who must have brought the heroic tales of Amir Hamza, a maternal uncle of Prophet Muhammad, as Amir Hamza's tales are found in legends and early annals of Muslims of Bengal.

Earlier it was thought that Amir Hamza could have arrived in this frontier region because of such renderings, but the fact is that Hamza died in the Battle of Uhud in 625 AD. Historians such as Abul-Fazl Ezzati, Taher Ba Tha, Maung Than Lwin, Habib Siddiqui and Ashraf Alam noted that Muhammad al Hanifa (Hanafiyya) landed in Arakan and married the local queen there, and their tombs are still exiting in Maungdaw, north of Arakan, who are revered as saints.

Related Articles:


Farooque Ahmed Makakmayum wrote this article for The Sangai Express . This article was webcasted on July 28th, 2007

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Khangkhui Cave @Ukhrul #1: Gallery
  • USPA Vs Manipur : Women's Polo #2: Gallery
  • Communication to UN on Manipur crisis
  • National Voters' Day :: Poem
  • Option of President's Rule in Manipur
  • The Northeast migrants in Delhi #2
  • Sadar Hills Demand 2011-2017 : Timeline
  • Children Workshop on Manipuri Dance
  • BNHS launches Climate Change Program
  • Bravery award for five kids
  • Imphal under cold spell
  • Districts: Can there be a meeting point?
  • The perfect gamblers
  • Final Match :Women's Polo #1 : Gallery
  • Kachai Lemon Festival : Gallery
  • Gaan Ngai @Sangaiprou: Gallery
  • Press Statement of former UNC President
  • Manipur: A time for Positive Bargaining
  • AFSPA: In comparative perspective
  • Victims of anti-ILPS bills to be buried
  • Election Code : Ballot paper - photo
  • The Killing Fields :: News Timeline
  • Kachai Lemon Festival 2017 held
  • Playing blockade politics ahead of polls
  • Keibul Lamjao- Drama Fest #1: Gallery
  • Anti-economic blockade protest: Gallery
  • Becoming a rights defender
  • Grave situation for people of Manipur
  • Kaladan: A sea gate for India's NE!
  • What meaning is there to life from Buddha
  • 45th Manipur Statehood Day
  • Kakching Lamkhai :: 360 View Panorama
  • Leiteng Changdamnaba: Gallery
  • Letter to PM Modi on UNC Blockade
  • Chakaan Gaan-Ngai, Zeliangrong fest #1
  • Election Code: Short Film Competition
  • The casuality of tie with suit
  • The Naked Reality :: Poem
  • Jobs at Ascend Institute, Lambulane
  • Students Admission in private school
  • Civil Engineer to be stationed in Manipur
  • Training & Rehearsal Programme on EVM
  • NE has potential to push medical systems
  • Film to be screened at Berlin film fest
  • The hopeless future
  • Khoupum Valley & Cave #3 : Gallery
  • Neroca FC kit distribution : Gallery
  • Gita-Govinda : Synopsis of Play
  • BJP vs Congress: Setting the right agenda
  • Economic blockade : Why it matters?
  • Intensifying Global Crisis & Conflict #3
  • EVM / VVPAT familiarization Campaign
  • Indo-Naga Talks 2017 :: News Timeline
  • Inadvertently strengthening Cong : Election
  • Timely action
  • USPA Vs Manipur : Women's Polo #1: Gallery
  • Combing operation @Thangal Bazar: Gallery
  • Gaan Ngai @ Namguilong #2: Gallery
  • Atonna, Chanaphul, Morungkham :: eMing
  • Kabuliwallah : Synopsis of Play
  • On MCSCCE-2016 : Open letter to MPSC
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • The Fruit :: Poem
  • Zeliang asked to step in
  • Ensuring Nagaland State Diversity Policy
  • Director of Education(S) : admission norms
  • Election Code : Facilities for Observers
  • Issuing invite to UNC for talks
  • Trekking to Dzukou Valley #1: Gallery
  • Keibul Lamjao - Play synopsis
  • This Way, That way or Highway
  • Significance of Gaan-Ngai festival #3
  • Bandhs and blockades of Manipur
  • A Boat on the River :: Poem
  • RIST talk 25: Dynamics of Deep Eutectics
  • Election Model Code : Requisition of Staff
  • General Body Meeting of CADA
  • Germany hosts 35 soccer players
  • LDFM likely to play key role
  • Time to make AFSPA a poll issue
  • Politics in Manipur
  • Meiteilon Folk & Tangkhul duet : Ooba
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni #3: Gallery
  • How to be unique among private schools
  • The measuring Tape :: Poem
  • Points On Election Manifesto in Manipur #4
  • HSE examination Schedule 2017
  • HSLC examination Schedule 2017
  • Election Code : Use of school Grounds
  • Public hearing on Child Rights- Postphoned
  • TSA DJ Celebration Committee Formed
  • Lecture : Democratic Transition in Burma
  • Mary Kom- needs to tackle insurgency
  • Group seeks global support
  • Not the time to pass the buck
  • Lamkhunu Na Chakkouba :: Funga Wari
  • Gaan Ngai @Moirangkhom #1: Gallery
  • Gaan Ngai @Ragailong #2: Gallery
  • Ever smiling Prof Gangmumei
  • Buddhism and politics #2
  • Election Model Code : Use of Loudspeakers
  • Election Model Code : Govt. Scheme
  • Interaction of President Of India
  • Mohammedan signs Reisangmei Vashum
  • Rs. 6.95 lakh cash in new notes seized
  • Dos and don'ts for the media
  • Sanamanbi Sanarei :: eRang Classic
  • Angkor Wat @Cambodia #3: Gallery
  • Kappu Ema Kapsi Penna Ngasidi : Poem
  • ESC for PG Course, MU- abnormal case
  • The old mental baggage
  • Buddhist connection of Hajo in Assam
  • Sadar Hills District Demand :: Articles
  • Women Support Centre launched in Delhi
  • Power of the commoners
  • Gaan Ngai @ Namguilong #1: Gallery
  • Chinglen Nongdrenkhomba #2: Gallery
  • Jangled all the way with Jiangam
  • 2nd Statehood Women Polo Tournament
  • Polo tour to protect rare breed of pony
  • What do Nagas think about Nagas?
  • RIST talk 24: Cosmological Observations
  • Appointment of Director of IGNTU-RCM
  • Alleged Torture of Gaidon Kamei
  • Non-indigenous Nagas filing nominations
  • Key issues missing in run up to polls
  • Assumption but it is possible
  • Lamlong Keithel #5 : Gallery
  • Sonia Nepram bags Young Achiever Award
  • Human Rights in India: UN periodic review III
  • Indian NGOs slam India's human rights
  • God Loves You All The More :: Poem
  • My maiden sojourn of enchanting NE #2
  • Summary Of Electoral Rolls Released
  • Jobs Opening @ Virgo Enterprise
  • Jobs Opening @ Taibang Sintha
  • Questioning the silence of Delhi
  • Political pandemonium: opportunity ...
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni #2: Gallery
  • Puthiba Haraoba @Tripura : Gallery
  • Prof Irabanta in the galaxy of Aerobiologist
  • The Naga question
  • Judicious Selection Of Candidates
  • Your financial health
  • Youth Street News 2017 Calendar released
  • Thang-ta fights for recognition
  • Incomplete idea of India as a Nation
  • Unfulfilled promises Who should be blamed
  • Gaan Ngai @ Ragailong #1: Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Significance of Gaan-Ngai festival #1
  • Milk hygiene practice in India
  • Goa International Youth Football Fest
  • 4th WIM Cup 2016 at Goa
  • Pulling up sleeves before election
  • The public: more than mere numbers
  • Reinterpreting Anglo-Kuki War, 1917-1920
  • Chinglen Nongdrenkhomba #1: Gallery
  • Gaan-Ngai: Zeliangrong Fest :: Flash
  • Gaan-Ngai: Zeliangrong Festival :: Articles
  • Blockade and bandh bonanzas
  • Tangkhul Welfare Society Mumbai - Stmt
  • Model Code of Conduct: Discretionary Fund
  • Binalakshmi Nepram meets Thant Myint-U
  • From goods trucks to passenger buses
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni #1: Gallery
  • A Hymn for Goddess Emoinu
  • All about Gaan-Ngai : Gangmumei Kamei
  • Follow The Code And Go To Vote :: Poem
  • State level Manipuri Pony Show
  • Model Code of Conduct : Republic Day
  • Verdict of the Court says guilty
  • Khoupum Valley & Cave #1 : Gallery
  • Manipur Press Club day : Gallery
  • Prof. Gangmumei Kamei: Personal Tribute
  • Thought on current situation in Manipur
  • My maiden sojourn of enchanting NE #1
  • My New Year :: Poem
  • Transformation of govt into governance #3
  • Painting Competition - Voters Day
  • Requisites for a fresh start
  • Prof Gangmumei Kamei Funeral: Gallery
  • Points On Election Manifesto in Manipur #1
  • Clean Rolls For Fair Poll : Poem
  • Every day is a New Year's day
  • Foundation Day of Manipur Press Club
  • PG Course in Plastic Surgery at Shija
  • Election Expenditure monitoring measure
  • Board for issue of Disability Certificate
  • ILP System Demand- Photos from 2012
  • Workshop on Digital Payment Systems
  • Priyanka Rajkumari #2 (Photos) :: eRang
  • Khunung Eeshei/ Ema Emoinu #3 : Radio
  • New Year picnic @Sekmai #2: Gallery
  • Daylight Robbery In Manipur
  • Ibobi lost control over his own creation
  • NABH certifies Shija Hospitals
  • CEO Notice on Poll Model Code of Conduct
  • Promotion of payment through Digital mean
  • Condolence for Prof Gangumei Kamei
  • Recalling the Oja in Prof Kamei
  • When election subsides major issues
  • Pana Polo Exhibition #2: Gallery
  • Assembly Election : Poll Schedule
  • Who says there is no hope for Manipur
  • New Year message for 2017
  • Shillong Lajong FC : Complete Team List
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand : Timeline
  • New Year picnic @Singda : Gallery
  • Diana Khumanthem- IAS candidate: Gallery
  • UNC prez judicial custody [Jan 2]: Gallery
  • 'Goals for Girls' USA visited Andro Team
  • New Year picnic @Sekmai #1: Gallery
  • Online 2017 Manipuri Calendar :: Tools
  • A brand new year! :: Poem
  • Featured Front Page Photo for 2016 #6
  • New Year 2017 eve -Shopping: Gallery
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2017 : Download
  • Maphou Dam @ Mapithel Hills : Gallery
  • Miss Manipur 2016 #4 : Gallery
  • Ethoi Oinam - Actress Profile :: eRang
  • Moirangthem Rajen : Akademi Award
  • Landscape of Manipur #3: Wallpaper
  • 60th CC Meet Semifinal #2 : Gallery
  • 60th CC Meet Semifinal #1 : Gallery
  • Police personnel ambushed : Gallery
  • Honour to police killed : Gallery
  • Imas from Nupi Lan: Gallery
  • Manipur Phone Directory :: e-pao Tools
  • SPONSORED ADS