The duties of a ‘hamba Raja’

“All hamba Raja that are close (to their lord) should observe five stipulations. First, always to be diligent of heart, eye and ear to investigate whatever afflicts the subjects of his Raja bringing dishonour to his lord. The Raja should quickly be informed so that he knows about it. If it is known to the Raja without being informed (by his hamba) his heart will harden towards him. Second, they should not be envious of their equals in Islam, because this envy is a discreditable attitude and an extremely painful sickness, because Allah (who is praise) certainly does not approve and it has no usefulness to the Raja and will become an affliction to him. All debased attitudes like this should be cast out by the hamba. Third, he should be brave in doing homage at the proper time, even if he considers he has been angered by the Raja, because it is the custom of hamba that not bringing distress to one’s lord brings honour to oneself. Fourth, don’t (look) for the Raja’s bounty, and expect praise, because whoever vaunts himself is not praiseworthy. If any action of his without consideration for his lord, if it is altogether finished but he has kept silent about it, he must not be ashamed about it in his thoughts concerning the Raja. Because in a matter like this the Raja needs to see his good character or is waiting for the (moment for him to come forward). Fifth, he should carefully keep the Raja’s secrets, because that which is secret is something their lord entrusts to all his chosen hamba.”

Sullivan, P. Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, Monograph No.10. Social Relations of Dependence in a Malay State. Nineteenth Century Perak. Kuala Lumpur: Council of MBRAS; 1982.

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