|Alauddin Ri'ayat Syah al-Kahar|
Grave of Sultan al-Kahar in Komplek Kandang XII, Banda Aceh
|Sulṭān of Acèh Darussalam|
|Reign||1537/1539 – 28 September 1571|
|Predecessor||Salahuddin of Aceh|
|Successor||Ali Ri'ayat Syah I|
|Died||28 September 1571|
Komplek Kandang XII, Banda Aceh
Abangta Abdul Jalil
|Father||Ali Mughayat Syah|
Sultan Alauddin Ri'ayat Syah al-Kahar (died 28 September 1571) was the third sultan of Aceh, and was one of the strongest warrior rulers in the history of the kingdom. In his time the power structures that his father had begun were greatly strengthened. His age was marked by warfare with the Portuguese and Malay rivals, with varying fortunes.
Alauddin was the son of Sultan Ali Mughayat Syah who founded the state in the early sixteenth century. After Sultan Ali's death in 1530, his eldest son Salahuddin ruled for a while but was inept to govern. The queen mother had great influence in the state and appointed a regent called Raja Bungsu who had a green payung (parasol), a symbol of authority, and a house opposite the royal abode. Meanwhile, Alauddin governed Samudra Pasai which had been conquered by Aceh in 1524. Being dissatisfied with conditions in the capital, he staged a royal coup in c. 1537 or 1539, killed Raja Bungsu, and imprisoned Salahuddin and the queen mother Sitt Hur. The prisoners died years later in 1548 and 1554, respectively. Alauddin now took the throne with the regnal title Sultan Alauddin Ri'ayat Syah al-Kahar. In Acehnese tradition he is remembered as a great organizer of the Acehnese state. Thus he was supposedly the ruler who divided Acehnese society into administrative lineage groups (kaum or sukeë), but it is unclear whether this attribution is correct.
Conquests on Sumatra
The campaigns of Alauddin began in 1539 when he waged war on the Batak people, who lived to the south of Aceh. The Portuguese traveler Fernão Mendes Pinto mentions that the sultan asked the king of the Bataks to convert to Islam, and attacked him when he refused. Pinto provides a long and picturesque account of the Bataks and their affairs with the Acehnese; it is doubtful from the point of view that no comprehensive Batak kingdom is known to other sources. The Acehnese army reportedly included contingents of Turks and men from Cambay and Malabar. After this campaign Alauddin attacked Aru, the later Deli. He killed the ruler of that place in 1539, but was then forced by the Johor army to withdraw in c. 1540. Aru subsequently belonged to Johor up to 1564.
Enterprises against Melaka and Johor
The principal enemy was, however, Melaka, which was held by the Portuguese since 1511. There were both economic, political and religious reasons for the intense rivalry. At stake was the control of the trade through the Melaka Straits. In 1547, Alauddin personally participated in a night attack on Melaka. However, the Acehnese fleet was defeated at the Perlis River After the failure, Aceh returned to a comparatively peaceful state for a decade and a half. However, in 1564 he led a fleet of ships, ostensibly to go to Patani. Suddenly he ordered the course changed and instead assaulted Johor, the heir of the old Melaka Sultanate. The enterprise was completely successful; Johor was sacked and Alauddin brought its sultan, Alauddin Riayat Shah II of Johor, to Aceh where he had him killed. A Johor princess was married to the sultan. Instead of the deposed ruler, Muzaffar II was placed on the throne of Johor. With the defeat of Johor, Aru fell to Aceh and was entrusted Alauddin's son Abdullah. In January 1568 the sultan undertook another attack on Malacca. He personally led 15,000 troops and 400 Ottoman elite soldiers, using 200 bronze cannons. The Portuguese, surprised by the assault, applied for help from the Malay neighbours Johor and Kedah. They were nevertheless able to beat back the Acehnese before the Malay allies had arrived. At this occasion Alauddin's oldest son Abdullah of Aru was killed. The attitude of Johor enraged the sultan who burned many Johorese villages on his way back to Aceh. When Muzaffar of Johor was poisoned, Alauddin sent another fleet to Johor, but had to return due to the strength of Johor's defenses.
The Turkish connection
In order to strengthen his case, Alauddin dispatched envoys to the Ottoman sultan Süleyman the Magnificent in about 1561-62, asking for assistance against the infidel Portuguese. At this time the predatory practices of Portuguese ships made the sea-road over the Indian Ocean dangerous for Muslim shippers. An alternative route for pepper trade therefore developed from about 1530, where Gujarati, Arab, Turkish and Acehnese traders brought spices directly from Aceh to the Red Sea without coming near the Portuguese strongholds. The Ottomans and Aceh thus had common interests to counter the Portuguese might on the oceans. Turkish gunners were sent to Aceh by 1564. The next Ottoman sultan, Selim II, showed enthusiasm for supporting the Acehnese. He equipped a fleet of fifteen galleys and two barques. However, before it could be dispatched al-Mutahhar's rebellion broke out in Yemen and the fleet had to be used there. Nevertheless, two vessels with munitions and military experts reached Aceh and the crew appears to have stayed in the service of Sultan Alauddin. Their participation in the 1568 campaign has been mentioned above. In a new sea battle with the Portuguese in 1570, the Acehnese likewise made use of Turkish arms. This campaign was apparently coordinated with the attack on Portuguese Goa by Bijapur, Golconda, Bidar and Ahmadnagar. The battle, which took place close to the main port of Aceh, was nevertheless a failure, and the Acehnese fleet suffered great losses. The superior artillery and more robust ships of the Portuguese explain part of the repeated Acehnese failures, which Turkish help could not make up for
Family and death
According to the relatively trustworthy chronicle Bustanus Salatin, Alauddin had five sons:
- Sultan Abdullah, ruler of Aru (d. 1568)
- Sultan Husain, later Sultan Ali Ri'ayat Syah I (d. 1579)
- Sultan Mughal, ruler of Priaman, later Sultan Sri Alam (d. 1579)
- Sultan Abangta di-tangkap
- Abangta Abdul Jalil, killed by his father due to excessive ambition; grandfather of Sultan Iskandar Muda
Sultan Alauddin Ri'ayat Syah al-Kahar died on 28 September 1571, as apparent from the inscription on his grave. He was succeeded by his son Sultan Ali Ri'ayat Syah I. Although Sultan Alauddin was not actually militarily successful against Portuguese Melaka, his reign witnessed the beginning of the high tide of Aceh's power.
- Iskandar (1958), p. 38.
- The grave of Sitt Hur (in another reading Siti Hut) at Glé Jong (Daya) being dated 6 December 1554; see Kalus & Guillot (2013), p. 213.
- Ricklefs (1994), p. 33.
- Lombard (1967), p. 37.
- Djajadiningrat (1911), p. 154.
- Hadi (2004), p. 23.
- Hadi (2004), p. 23.
- Reid (2010), pp. 28-9.
- Encyclopedia of Islam (1960), Vol. 1, p. 743.
- Reid (2010), p. 29.
- Hadi (2004), p. 23-7
- Djajadiningrat (1911), p. 155.
- Djajadiningrat, Raden Hoesein (1911) 'Critisch overzicht van de in Maleische werken vervatte gegevens over de geschiedenis van het soeltanaat van Atjeh', Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, 65, pp. 135–265.
- Encyclopedia of Islam (1960), Vol. 1. Leiden & London: Brill & Luzac.
- Hadi, Amirul (2004) Islam and State in Sumatra: A Study of Seventeenth-Century Aceh. Leiden: Brill.
- Iskandar, Teuku (1958) De Hikajat Atjeh. 's Gravenhage: M. Nijhoff.
- Kalus, Ludvik & Claude Guillot (2013) 'La principauté de Daya, mi-XVe-mi-XVIe siècle', Archipel 85, pp. 201–36.
- Lombard, Denys (1967) Le sultanat d'Atjéh au temps d'Iskandar Muda, 1607-1636. Paris: École francaise d'Extrême-Orient.
- Reid, Anthony (2010) 'Aceh and the Turkish Connection', in Arndt Graaf et al. (eds), Aceh: History, Politics and Culture. Singapore: ISEAS, pp. 26–38.
- Ricklefs, Merle C. (1994) A History of Modern Indonesia Since c. 1300, Stanford: Stanford University Press.
| Sultan of Aceh
Ali Ri'ayat Syah I