B. Buddhists kings with Pseudonym Muslim Titles:
The 'Rohingyas' claimed that Arakan was ruled by the Muslim kings from 1430 for about 100 years.
In fact, the
dynasty were Buddhists. Some kings had assumed Muslim Titles because, as mentioned above, Min
Saw Mun (Man Saw Muan), the founder of the
of Gaur who helped him to regain the Arakanese throne in 1430. Hence, he promised the Sultan that
the Arakanese kings would bear Pseudonym Muslim Titles. But in fact, all of the Arakanese kings were
donors of many temples in Mrauk U as well as in the other parts of Arakan. They did make coins, one
side with Burmese/Arakanese scripts and the other side with Persian (NOT Bengali).
For example: Min Saw Mun (Man Saw Muan), the founder of the
Muslim Title 'Suleiman Shah' built seven Buddhists temples in
Phaya (Leemyatna Phara) in Mrauk U (now Mrohaung). His successor and younger brother Min Khayi
(Man Khari), who had an assumed Muslim Title 'Ali Khan', erected the Nyidaw Zedi, which can be
roughly translated as 'The Pagoda built by the Younger Brother'. His son and successor King Ba Saw
Phru alias Kaliman Shah constructed four Buddhists temples including the Maha Bodi Shwegu Pagoda.
His son Dan Ugga alias Daluya, who bore the Muslim Title Moguh Shah, was the donor of Thongyaik
Aung) alias Narui Shah founded the Htupayon Pagoda. Min Bin (Man Ban) had an assumed Muslim
Title of Zabauk Shah; and was the donor of seven temples including Shit Thaung Phaya (Shite Thaung
Phara) or the
Secudah Shah was the donor of six temples including Htukkan Thein, his son Min Yaza Gyi (Man Raza
Gri) with the Muslim Title Salem Shah donated Phaya Paw (Phara Paw) Pagoda and Pakhan Thein in
Mrauk U and also Shwe Kyaung Pyin Monastery in Thandwe. Min Khamaung, who subjoined the
Muslim Title Hussein Shah constructed Yatanapon (Ratanabon) and Yatana Pyethet (Ratana Prethat)
Pagodas and his son Thri Thudhamma (meaning the Protector of Buddhist Religion) alias Salem Shah
the Second, erected the Sekkya Manaung (Sakkya Manaung) Pagoda.
Muslim Sharia Law dictated the Muslim community to convert all 'infidels', i.e., all who supported any
other religions except Islam. A Muslim who converts to another religion can be punishable with a
death penalty. If those kings of the Mrauk U Dynasty were Muslims, they would have been
condemned to death by the Mullahs for breach of the Islamic faith.
There was and is no Muslim ruler who undertook or undertakes to promote Buddhism or Christianity or
any other religion. The Crusade Wars had proven this in history. In 2000, the Talibans of
destroyed two 2000 years old gigantic Buddha Statues despite of the protests from the whole world.
They could not keep those statues even as historical monuments. For them, those statues were the
“Idols of the Infidels”!
See also: Jacques Leider, “Those Buddhist Kings with Muslim Titles”, Scholars Column,
Taking assumed Muslim Titles or a Muslim name did not and does not mean that that person must be
a Muslim. Even President Obama of
singers of the Burmese Classical Songs during the late Colonial Era and in the early 50’s bore the
name U Ali, but he was a Buddhist. Many people of
though they were and are devoted Buddhists. The late Daw Khin May Than, wife of the late Dictator
General Ne Win bore the Christian name Kitty Ba Than. A son of the first President of the
Minister of the NCGUB, Dr. Sein Win, was called John Ba Win until 1959 in the then
Diocesan Boys’ School,
former classmate, the present author too has also a Christian name Peter Saw Maung, though I am a
Buddhist and my parents were Buddhists.
There are many reasons for bearing a foreign name. It may be because of friendship, in some cases
just for courtesy and sometimes just to show respect for that society. All members of ‘the Thirty
Comrades’ had Japanese Pseudonyms. For example: Omoda (Aung san), Tani (Let Ya), Tagazuki (Ne
Win). Most of the Burma Scholars of Foreign Origin have Burmese names. For Example: U Hla Thein
(Prof. John Okell,
IV. British contributions about Muslims in
I searched for the ethnic group ‘Rohingyas’ in all history books, literature, encyclopaedias and other
publications published before 1953 and written by foreign scholars. Unfortunately, I did not find any.
None of the British Colonial Officers recorded the name 'Rohingya, neither in the Indian Subcontinent
To be honest, I had never heard of the word "Rohingya" until the late 1950's.
1. "The fact that there has never been a "Rohingya" ethnic group in
no such name as "Rohingya" in the Census of India, 1921 (
I.C.S., Superintendent of Census Operations
(1924) compiled by R. B. Smart.
2. Even in Hobson-Jobson. "A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo Indian Words and Phrases, and of Kindred
Terms, Etymological, Historical, Geographical and Discursive" published by British Colonial Officers
of British East India Company, Col. Henry Yule and A. C. Burnell (First Published 1886) the word
"Rohingya" was not mentioned. Since this book was published by the Bengal Chamber Edition,
during the last 300 years and its impact on the East and West, it should be considered as a
3. The well known author and scholar, Maurice Collis, who wrote many articles and books about
Arakan, also never mentioned the word "Rohingya".
4. None of the British Colonial Officers' contributions about
"Rohingya", however, they mentioned about 'Zerabadi' the Indo-Burmese Hybrids or "Burmese
Muslims", the Muslims in Shwebo and Yamethin Districts in
"Kaman Muslims" and Bengali Muslim Settlers of Arakan.
A. Kaman Muslims
Some Muslim settlement began only after Min Saw Mun (Man Saw Muan) regained the throne of
Arakan in 1430 with the help of the Sultan of Gaur. There were some Muslim troops in Mrauk U to
protect Min Saw Mun (Man Saw Muan) from the Burmese invasion. About two hundred years later,
some followers of Mogul Prince Shah Shuja, who took refuge by the Arakanese king Sanda
Thuddhama, joined the descendants of these soldiers. These groups of mercenaries were Afghans,
Persians and Moguls. They were called "Kamans", meaning archers in Persian language. Their
descendants still live in the
Now they are assimilated into the Arakanese society. Only in religion and complexion do they differ
from the Arakanese (Rakhaing/Rakhine), they know the Arakanese language, literature and Buddhist
traditions very well. Most of them have Burmese/Arakanese names. They rarely used their Muslim
B. Myay Du Muslims
There are some Muslims living in Thandwe District. These Muslims are called "Myay Du". They are
the descendants of the former "Pagoda Slaves". When King Min Bin (Man Ban) alias Min Bargyi (Man Bargri) reoccupied the Chittagong District in A.D. 1533, he brought back some Bengalis as prisoners
of war and let them work as menial workers at Andaw, Nandaw and Sandaw Pagodas in Thandwe.
Since they had to do menial works and were not free people anymore, they were called "Pagoda
Slaves". In the year 1624, these Bengali "Pagoda Slaves" supported the 'Palace revolution' lead by
the 'Duke of Thandwe' and the crown prince then, Min Khamaung, against his own father King Raza
Gri. After the aborted revolution against the Arakanese king these 'Bengali Pagoda Slaves' and their
families, all together about four thousand people, escaped to the Burmese
refuge. The Burmese king accepted them as his subjects, gave them their freedom by royal orders
declaring that they were no longer "Pagoda Slaves", and let them settle in the small town Myay Du.
That's why they were known as "Myay Du Muslims". These "Myay Du Muslims", generation by
generation, served in the Burmese Royal Army. When Bodaw Phaya's armies invaded Arakan in1784,
the descendants of these "Myay Du Muslims" came together with the Burmese Army at Thandwe front.
When the Burmese occupied Arakan they let the "Myay Dus" resettle in Thandwe and nearby villages.
Since these people had lived about 150 years in
Burmese society. Although their descendants live in Thandwe District, they speak Burmese central
dialect instead of Arakanese Thandwe Dialect. Only in complexion and faith do they differ from the
Arakanese and Burmese, yet they know the Burmese language, culture and traditions very well.
Officially, they have Burmese/Arakanese names. They rarely use their Muslim names in public. See
also: Tydd, W.D., Burma Gazetteer, Sandoway District, Vol.A,
C. Bengali settlers after the British annexation of Arakan in 1826:
Since Arakan has a direct land border with
Arakan by the British as cheap labourers. These latter settlers are called "Khawtaw Kalas" in both
Burmese and Arakanese.
Some settlers learnt Arakanese and Burmese; hence, some of them were assimilated in the native
society. However, these Chittagonian Bengalis differ from the Arakanese in their features, complexion
and religion as well as in some customs which their religion directs; in writing they use Burmese but
among themselves employ colloquially the language of their ancestors, either Urdu or Bengali. They
never named themselves ‘Rohingyas’ but ‘Arakan Muslims’. Since they were assimilated in the native
society, Burmese as well as Arakanese (Rakhaings) did not call them Khawtaw Kala any more, but
used the term Muslims, just to differentiate them from the natives who are Buddhists, Kamans and
Myaydus. Though Kamans and Myaydus are Muslims they were already assimilated in the native
society. When one hears the name Kaman or Myaydu, one knows automatically that they are
Unfortunately, however, many latter settlers never tried to assimilate into the native society and
therefore they were and are never welcomed by the natives, neither by the Burmese nor by the
Arakanese society. Nor could they join even in the society of "Indigenous Muslims of Arakan", the
"Kamans" and the "Myay Dus". That was the main reason why racial riots happened often during the
whole colonial era and also in post-colonial era, especially in
Arakanese (Rakhaings) called them either Khawtaw Kala or Sittagaung Kala.
D. Mujahid Rebels
autonomous Muslim state. "Some members of the 'Juniyatu Olamai' religious association went to
illusion of an uneducated man like Cassim who wanted to turn a traditionally Buddhist land like Arakan
into a Muslim state". As a result, in the 1950's these rebels were totally crushed by the Burma Armed
Forces. Some surrendered while some fled to
shot dead in Cox Bazaar by an unknown person in 1966.
Both surrendered Mujahid and Bengali Muslim Settlers did not want to be called Khawtaw Kala or Kala
which according to their own interpretation supposed to be derogatory because ‘Kala’ means ‘dark’ or
‘Coloured’ or ‘Blackie’ in the languages such as Hindi, Urdu, Bengali . In fact, the literal pronunciation
of the Burmese as well as Arakanese word ‘Kala’ is ‘Kula’ and also written as ‘Kula’. This term was
derived from the Pali or Sanskrit word ‘Kula Puttra’ meaning ‘the son of a noble race’ because Lord
Buddha himself was an Indian. Both
for Indian is ’Kal’. Hence, it is not derogatory instead it is ‘a word of courtesy’!
Anyway, Bengali Muslim Settlers did not want to be called ‘Kala’. As a result, they settled for the
name "Rohingya". In the late 1950"s, the demand for the statehood of the Rakhaings (Arakanese)
same status as the Arakanese (Rakhaings). When their demands were turned down by the Burmese
government on the grounds that they were not an indigenous race of Arakan, some educated Bengali
Muslims like M. A. Tahir, well known through his Burmese name Ba Tha, Maung Than Lwin and some
Bengali Muslim students from the
that they were "Indigenous Arakanese Muslims" and started to fabricate stories that they and their
ancestors belonged to Arakan historically.
V. Evolution of the word ‘Rohingya’
There are many stories fabricated by educated Bengali Muslims to prove that their ancestors were the
indigenous ethnic minorities of Arakan but all of them are baseless.
The real etymology of the term ‘Rohingya can be traced as follows:
After the Second World War when British Administration restarted in
Because of their immigration waves many Arakanese left their villages in
southwards. These villages were named "Old or
or Ra-haun in Arakanese pronunciation). The villagers of Ywa-Haun were called Ywa-Haun-Tha in
Burmese (Ra-Haun-Tha in Arakanese pronunciation). Those Bengali new settlers could not pronounce
'Ra-Haun' as well as Ra-Haun-Tha properly and called with their Bengali accent "Ro-han" and the “Rohan-
za”, respectively. Later it deviated to ‘Ro-han-ja’ and then ‘Ro-hin-gya’.