Book Review: Kerajaan Aceh Zaman Sultan Iskandar Muda by Denys Lombard


Denys Lombard’s book is his dissertation from a historical
perspective on mentality. This book explored the history of Sultan Iskandar
Muda when he became the Sultan of the Aceh Darussalam kingdom. This work
primarily uses the reports of foreign migrants who had stopped in Aceh at that
time. Therefore, when you read this work, you will feel the value of objectivity
because it was written by European scholars from the experience of Europeans
themselves. However, this work is entirely different from the works of Dutch
scholars, for example, Snouck Hurgronje, who stated that there was no triumph
of Aceh in the 16th and 17th centuries AD. Lombard even proved, on the
contrary, that historical facts about Sultan Iskandar Muda were actual. In
addition, Lombard’s work shows Aceh from what happened “inside” the
palace, rather than from “outside” the palace.

This book describes the cosmopolitan situation of the Kingdom of
Aceh Darussalam. The governance of Aceh is neatly arranged, which can also be
read in the Adat Aceh script. The role of Sultan Iskandar Muda, who adheres to
the rules of the Aceh kingdom, has narrowed foreign influence in the Melaka
Strait. Thus, every foreigner from East Asia, South Asia, and Europe must obey
what is contained in the 
Adat Aceh. Lombard’s work also introduces local sources
containing the history of Aceh and the Kingdom of Aceh Darussalam. Scholars
have acknowledged and studied this on local sources, namely Bustan al-Salatin,
Hikayat Aceh, and Adat Aceh. In these sources, it is stated how the Acehnese
built the palace system at that time. The maritime and military power of the
Aceh Darussalam Kingdom has become an essential record in the history of
defense and security in the archipelago.

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Lombard also presented how the
fiscal/financial system was practiced by the government of the Kingdom of Aceh
Darussalam. Tax rules are also applied very regularly and systematically.
Actors from the royal apparatus also played an essential role in collecting
taxes, especially from foreigners arriving in Aceh waters. Lombard even said:
“It was Iskandar the Younger who succeeded in formulating such a policy
and carrying it out well during the 30 years he was on the throne.” He can
also bring order to society through Islamic law based on ahl al-sunnah wa
al-jama’ah. Religious groups are given a role as part of the reproduction of
knowledge, especially in Islamic studies.

In addition, Lombard also narrated how Sultan Iskandar Muda
ascended the throne. Since the arrival of the Portuguese in 1511, the Aceh
kingdom has indeed been unstable. Royal intrigue has always been influenced by
the attitude and character of the “rich man.” When he was imprisoned
in prison, he was even able to escape the snares of death until he finally
succeeded in repelling his enemy. Sultan Iskandar’s military experience and
knowledge are unquestionable. In this case, it can be read, for example, in
Hikayat Malem Dagang, where it tells how the efforts of the Kingdom of Aceh
Darussalam to dispel the Portuguese. Sultan Iskandar Muda stepped down from his
throne to lead the war against the Portuguese. The peak and historical facts of
Aceh against the Portuguese can be seen in the Melaka region in Malaysia. Many
Aceh fighters’ graves there can still be seen clearly. Even the tomb of Sheikh
Samsuddin al-Sumatrani, a colleague of Sheikh Hamzah Fansuri, can be visited
this day.

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Therefore, it is not surprising when Lombard explained the
strength of Sultan Iskandar Muda’s war fleet. The story of the conquest of the
Kingdom of Aceh begins with Aru and the Malay Peninsula. It was even mentioned
that 900 elephants became the war fleet of the Kingdom of Aceh Darussalam. They
were trained for war. Lombard based his data on eyewitness accounts who saw how
elephants were trained as part of a war fleet. Through this military power,
Sultan Iskandar Muda conquered several countries in Sumatra, to Aru and Melaka.
This influence was then responded to by the Malay Kingdom in the Malay
Peninsula. This is the early history of the glorious Kingdom of Aceh Darussalam
in Rantau Melayu.

The Implementation of trade politics is by controlling trading
activities down to the grassroots. So that foreign parties are not arbitrary
with the people of Aceh when they trade in the territory of the Kingdom of Aceh
Darussalam. To support this, Sultan Iskandar Muda issued the currency of the
Kingdom of Aceh Darussalam. Finally, trading activities are not carried out
through barter but like a modern economic system through gold currency. Several
researchers later found these gold pieces, which sometimes read the words of
monotheism and the names of the Sultan of Aceh, who once led the Kingdom of
Aceh Darussalam. Various nations come to Aceh to carry out economic activities,
Lombard’s study is presented. Nations outside, such as India, Siam, Turkey, and
European nations, came, including Java.

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Lombard also noted how the development of Islamic culture was
produced during the Iskandar Muda Sultanate. Aspects of Sufism in
constitutional politics at that time were undeniable. Almost all places in
Banda Aceh are colored with the term Sufi. Lombard showed that Sultan Iskandar
Muda could carry out the role of Islamic religious values. Scholars then
describe the process of democratization in the kingdom of Aceh Darussalam in a
Sufism frame. The palace celebrates every Islamic celebration on a large scale.
The people are involved in every palace agenda to honor major holidays in
Islamic religious celebrations. It can be said that the aspect of Islamic
intellectual awakening in Aceh emerged during the era of Sultan Iskandar Muda.
Lombard also referred to local works produced by Acehnese writers at that time.
The Sultan gave considerable space to intellectual production.

Other information produced by Lombard is the biography of Sultan
Iskandar Muda and the Acehnese kings who had been Sultans of the Kingdom of
Aceh Darussalam. Lombard also provided a chronological list of significant
events that occurred in Aceh. So that this work can be used as a historical
reference in the archipelago. These are some of the contents of Lombard’s book,
which is the most comprehensive work on the History of the Kingdom of Aceh
Darussalam in the era of the Iskandar Muda Sultanate.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Kerajaan Aceh Zaman Sultan Iskandar Muda by Denys Lombard”

  1. Belum terjelaskan pada esensi diri atas tentang sejarah mentaliltas. Terima kasih sudah mendedah isi buku baik itu

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