Batak Rabit: The story of Ibrahim Taha and Tok Tambah – loyal comrades of Sultan Abdullah Muhammad Shah II

by Raja Mariam Raja Mohamed Iskandar

Mohd. Hussein Hj. Yahya, great-grandson of Ibrahim Taha.

We were late. About three months late. An elder of Batak Rabit passed away three months ago and lay buried, could have probably been an oral history of the early life of Almarhum Sultan Abdullah Muhammad Shah II.

Two cousins, one a great-granddaughter of the late Sultan and the other, his great-grandniece, set out to Batik Rabit on a quest to trace the early history of Sultan Abdullah. All was not lost as we were fortunate enough to meet another elder of the village who is the great-grandson of Almarhum’s staunch aide. With the help of the village’s imam and muezzin, we met Mohd Hussein Haji Yahya, 76.

Pak Hussein was unable to offer much information about the late Sultan but we were delighted to learn about someone who had a direct and close link with him. His great grandfather, Ibrahim bin Taha, was a loyal supporter and a close friend of the Sultan. To quote Pak Hussein, “Dia damping dengan Mohom Serotan Abdullah.” He fought alongside the Sultan during the uprising against the British or more precisely, against Perak’s first British Resident, J.W.W. Birch, in 1875.

According to Pak Hussein, his great-grandfather, out of his own volition, was among those who were exiled to the Seychelles along with the Sultan in 1877. After 14 years of life in banishment and after many appeals, the Sultan was finally allowed to leave the Seychelles but still bound by several strict conditions, one of which was to not set foot to his homeland of Perak again. In 1894, the Sultan and his entourage, which included Ibrahim Taha, set sail for Singapore. Eventually, Pak Hussein’s great-grandfather did return to Perak because it was at Durian Sebatang, Perak that he breathed his last breath and interred.

Pak Hussein leading the way to the area where Tok Tambah had an impressive fort to thwart the British enemy.

Another of Pak Hussein’s ancestors, Laksamana Mohd Amin, however was not as fortunate as Ibrahim Taha. He was not permitted to leave Singapore and there he remained until his death. It was interesting to discover that Pak Hussein was among those given the honour to receive Laksamana Mohd Amin’s remains which was later interred at the Al-Ghufran Royal Mausoleum in Bukit Chandan. His grave lays near that of Almarhum Sultan Abdullah’s, his comrade and Sultan. In life and in death, they were never far apart.

Through Pak Hussein, we also learned about another of Sultan Abdullah’s closest aide, Laksamana Tok Tambah. Although the Laksamana was spared from exile, he had fought fiercely against the British together with Ibrahim Taha. A man of immense wealth, Tok Tambah had built an impregnable fort of which very faint traces are now left to be seen.

Almarhum Sultan Abdullah (middle) and his chiefs, together with J.W.W. Birch (seated to his left) at his fort in Batak Rabit, c.1875. Was this the same fort in Batak Rabit built by Tok Tambah? INSET: What is believed to be the remnants of Tok Tambah's fort.

Although no dates were given, it was reported that Batak Rabit was previously known as Kampung Laksamana, to denote the influence of Laksamana Tok Tambah. Recorded history shows that during the time of Sultan Abdullah, it was already known as Batak Rabit. Laksamana Tok Tambah had built a wooden mosque near his fort. And when he acquired more wealth, he replaced the original wooden mosque with a brick one in 1885.

Masjid Kg. Batak Rabit, built by Tok Tambah in 1885.

The mosque is still in good repair and is simply called Masjid Kampung Batak Rabit. On the grounds is where Tok Tambah and his lineage are buried. And for these two descendants of Almarhum Sultan Abdullah, it was a privilege to have stepped foot on and to offer the ‘Asar prayers in the mosque built by his close ally.

Photographs (apart from the photo of the fort at Bandar Bahru) courtesy of Raja Mariam Raja Mohd Iskandar and Raja Nur Jannah Raja Hirdan.

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Raja Mariam Raja Mohamed Iskandar lives in Rapat Setia, Ipoh.

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6 thoughts on “Batak Rabit: The story of Ibrahim Taha and Tok Tambah – loyal comrades of Sultan Abdullah Muhammad Shah II

  1. I was born and raised in the fort of Batak Rabit. According to my mother, a great-granddaughter of Haji Musa and Datuk Laksamana Muhammad Amin, the ‘Kota’ belonged to Haji Musa. The late Sultan Abdullah ll settled in the Kota after his appointment as Raja Muda.

    • Salam Saudara Hushairy,

      I am the researcher cum writer of the above article. I am also the great granddaughter of the late Sultan Abdullah. That is indeed valuable information. Would it be possible for me & my team to meet and interview your mother? We intend to go back to Batak Rabit/Teluk Intan to gather more information and it would be wonderful to meet your dear mother, the descendant of Datuk Laksamana Muhammad Amin.

      Selamat berpuasa to you and family.

      Wassalam,

      Raja Mariam Raja Mohd Iskandar
      Ipoh

  2. There are few roads which name after those historical figures here in Teluk Intan. For exampl, Jalan Sultan Abdullah and Jalan Laksamana. However I quite disappointed with the condition of Istana Raja Muda Musa in Teluk Intan. There is no conservation done, and we lost another historical place.

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