27th Sultan of Perak: Sultan Yusuf Sharifuddin Muzaffar Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdullah Muhammad Shah I (1886-1887)

Sultan Yusuf Sharifuddin Muzaffar Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdullah Muhammad Shah I (1886 - 1887). Source: Arkib Negara Malaysia

Sultan Yusuf Sharifuddin Muzaffar Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdullah Muhammad Shah I (1886 - 1887). Source: Arkib Negara Malaysia

According to Frank Swettenham, Sultan Yusuf was not the kind of man who makes friends and influences people but he had great gifts – intelligence, ability and he was a strong man with a will. He also added that Sultan Yusuf was a ruler who intended to rule. That was why it took him a while to reach the throne. Sultan Yusuf had been born to high office, being the eldest son of Sultan Abdullah Muhammad 1 (1851-1857).

In those days at the beginning of the nineteenth century, Perak was beginning to break up. During that time, it was no longer possible to keep the State really united under the control of a single authority. It became necessary to share the office of Sultan between the branches of the royal house. At any time, the Sultan was drawn from one branch of the dynasty, the Raja Muda from another and the Raja Bendahara from the third.

Thus, when a Sultan mangkat, the Raja Muda would become the next Sultan, the Raja Bendahara would be promoted to Raja Muda and the Sultan’s son would become Raja Bendahara. Everyone had a fair share and the Sultan’s son would become Sultan eventually if he lived long enough.

Nevertheless, the election of royal princes to these offices rested with the great chiefs of Perak, who understandably preferred to elect a Sultan (and the heir presumptive) that would serve their benefits and interest. It was not surprising that they did not like strong men like Raja Yusuf. As a result, Raja Yusuf was denied to the throne three times – during the reign of Sultan Jaafar (1857- 1865), Sultan Ali (1865-1871) and Sultan Ismail (1871-1874).

In the 1850s, the chiefs were divided themselves. The Upper Perak chiefs around the region Kuala Kangsar were at loggerheads with the Lower Perak group around Durian Sebatang (near Teluk Intan). It was during this time that a civil war existed between Sultan Abdullah Muhammad I with Raja Muda Ngah Jaafar and most of the chiefs of Perak, especially those from Lower Perak. Later, Sultan Abdullah I had to flee his palace in Durian Sebatang and sought refuge in exile at the residence of Datuk Laksamana Tok Janggut. Mat Amin (later Dato’ Laksmana) made his reputation in this war and was later chief of Durian Sebatang and became the real power in Lower Perak.

Raja Yusuf took this opportunity to enter boldly into the fighting. He did not win battles but he made a name for himself as a formidable warrior and a strong character.  However, the war dragged on inconclusively until the death of his father.

According to custom, Raja Yusuf should then have been elected Raja Bendahara, as the son of the deceased Sultan. However, the chiefs would not elect their arch-enemy of the civil war to lord it over them. They felt that he would be a tyrannical Sultan in due course, and they appointed an outsider, Raja Ismail of Siak, to be Raja Bendahara in order to keep Raja Yusuf out of the succession to the throne. Raja Yusuf was repeatedly passed over in 1865 and again in 1871, when the subsequents Sultans mangkat and new appointments had to be made.

Raja Yusuf then lived in his village at Senggang, opposite to Kuala Kangsar by the Perak river, brooding in bitter disappointment. He had no friends and power to claim what he considered his due.

Sultan Yusuf Sharifuddin (seated centre) seen here with Raja Muda Idris (seated left) and Sir Hugh Low, the British Resident of Perak. (Source: M.A. Fawzi, Cempaka Sari: Sejarah Kesultanan Negeri Perak)

Then in 1872, his fortunes began to mend. There was now a near civil war between two rival contestants for the throne of Perak, Raja Muda Abdullah and Raja Bendahara Ismail, after the demise of Almarhum Sultan Ali. Raja Abdullah, being in need of good fighting men, invited Raja Yusuf to join him. The price for Raja Yusuf’s support was that Raja Abdullah would make him Raja Muda. Although the Sultan alone would not able to make such appointment, nonetheless, Raja Yusuf clung to the title, as to him it was a step forward in his long-thwarted dues.

The year 1874 saw Perak came under British protection and 1875 was the year of Malay reaction to it. There was much coming and going along the Perak river in 1875. Now, Raja Yusuf was the only chief of consequence left in Perak. Following the exile of Sultan Muda Ismail to Johor and Sultan Abdullah Muhammad Shah II to the Seychelles as a result of the assasination of JWW Birch, as Raja Muda he was made Regent in the Sultan’s absence, with the title of Wakil Sultan. Together with the Sir Hugh Low, the second British Resident for Perak, Raja Muda Yusuf was instrumental in developing Perak into a successful and peaceful state.

At first, the British were not very confident about bringing forward Raja Yusuf in this way. However, the British later thought that it was necessary for Perak to have a head of state of royal stature, and to ascertain whether he was fit to be entrusted with the governing of the state. According to the British, Raja Yusuf was a clear-thinking leader and had enough skills to grasp the realities of the situation. It was in 1886 when the British decided that Raja Yusuf was to finally become the Sultan after he had successfully completed his period of probation and Sultan Abdullah was evidently not coming back from exile in the Seychelles. Raja Yusuf was then made Sultan of Perak, styled as Sultan Yusuf Sharifuddin Muzaffar Shah, and made his residence in Sayong.

Makam Sultan Yusuf

The makam of Almarhum Sultan Yusuf (Marhum Gharirullah). (Source: Laman Rasmi Pejabat SultanPerak)

Unfortunately, Sultan Yusuf did not live long enough especially after much disappointment he had faced. Tuanku was still an active man despite his years. It was described that Sultan Yusuf began to be troubled with pains in his head, which was the onset of a brain tumour. Being the strong-willed man that he was, Tuanku was able to ignore his symptoms from this terminal disease for some time. Tuanku mangkat on 26 July 1887, a year after he became the 27th Sultan of Perak.

A photo of YAM Raja Haji Johor ibni Almarhum Sultan Yusuf Sharifuddin, who was Raja Kecil Tengah. (Photo courtesy of YM Raja Muhaiyuddin Raja Alias)

Sultan Yusuf was known to be physically stout, a tall man with grey hair and a white moustache, a powerful figure with a bull neck. In his face, there was a look of exceeding haughtiness. He walked with feet turned out at “ten-to-two” (ngempor in Perak Malay) in blue canvas shoes with something of waddle. He carried a stave of spear in his hand. However, the fact that he could not read and write restricted his activity.

Sultan Yusuf had four sons and a daughter – Raja Mansur, Raja Muhammad Azzam, Raja Pendawa, Raja Johor (later Raja Kechil Tengah) and Raja Perempuan Nuteh Aishah.

For the family tree of Sultan Yusuf, click HERE*.

Almarhum was interred in Sayong and was conferred the posthumous title Marhum Gharirullah.

[*] The attached family tree is not exhaustive. SembangKuala would be grateful if any of family members or readers could provide any additional information.


1. Warrior Sultan was disliked by subjects. The Straits Times. 1956 June 23.
2. Laman Rasmi Pejabat DYMM Sultan Perak
3. M.A. Fawzi Basri. Cempaka Sari: Sejarah Kesultanan Negeri Perak. Yayasan Perak; 1986.
4. The Straits Times. 20 November 1875 November 20.

33 thoughts on “27th Sultan of Perak: Sultan Yusuf Sharifuddin Muzaffar Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdullah Muhammad Shah I (1886-1887)

  1. My late mother is Raja Noraini(Raja Nyah) binti Raja Badri Shah bin Raja Pendawa ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Yusuf Sharifuddin Muzaffar Shah. If any member of any royalty who dicovers that we are some what related, and wish to get touch with me can do so at mamashifa@gmail.com.
    I simply like to get to know about Raja Pendawa ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Yusuf Sharifuddin Muzaffar Shah. You know! When was he born, where, and when he died and where.

    • Sharifah Norsiha,

      Thanks for visiting sembangkuala. We take note of your request and will try our very best to locate for the info, insyallah!

      Editors of sembangkuala

    • I am Raja Ahmad Feisal bin Raja Ahmad Shah bin Raja Badri shah bin Raja Pendawa ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Yusuf Sharifuddin Muzaffar Shah. So it seems that we are related. Your late mother was my father’s younger sister. I will contact you with this info through your email.

      • I am Raja Idris Shah bin Raja Ahmad Shah bin Raja Badri Shah bin Raja Pendawa ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Yusuf Sharifuddin Muzaffar Shah.

  2. Thanks so much for replying. My mum passed away at age of 27. At that time I was only 11 months old and her only child. My late dad did want me to be brought up amongst the royal families, and took me back to Sitiawan, Perak, to be raised by my late grandmother. So that’s the reason most of my relatives on my mother’s side do not know me, except my aunt’s and aunties. I do visit my mum’s graveyard twice a year(on the 2 hari rayas), and a visit to my grand dad’s house after that. So, I always consider myself an outcast when I do meet some of the royalties. Tambahan pulak nama patik taht ada Raja atau Tengku kat depan.

    • Salam Sharifah

      Firstly thank you for your visit. Kami at SembangKuala anggap semua family members as saudara kami dari satu keturunan. Be it a Megat, Putri, Syed and Sharifah we’re from one rumpun. Our late grandmother was a Sharifah. Anyway, keep in touch and let us expand family members yang kita tak kenal.

      Rgds SembangKuala

    • Dear Sharifah Norsiha,

      The makam of your late grandfather (Almarhum Raja Badri Shah), is it at Kota Lama Kiri?

      Right next to my great-grandfather’s makam at Kota Lama Kiri is one Raja Badri Shah Bin Raja Pendawa. Correct me if I’m wrong. My great-granfather is Megat Omar Bin Megat Muhammad Ali – father to Dato’ Seri Dr Megat Khas and grandfather to Tan Sri Megat Najmuddin.

      wife of Megat Iskandar yg selalu menyibuk kat SembangKuala….

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  4. setinggi tinggi terima kasih kepada sembang kuala atas article ini.
    dapat juga saya share dengan anak anak generasi baru saya. my mum raja teh khadijah bin raja azahari .. dari famili raja pendawa.
    my dad.. raja ahmad shah bin raja yusuf bin raja haji johor ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Yusuf Sharifuddin Muzaffar Shah.
    dapat juga kami melihat wajah moyang kami di sini..
    thanks again

  5. Salam buat semua.. pertama kali join sini dan baca isi kandung syukur alhamdulillah dgn harapan setinggi trima kasih coz ujud sembang kuala yg patik baru tau 🙂 semoga usaha semua akan diberkati n di kabul olih Allah…patik baru berjumpa pertama kali dgn ku yong azni tak di sangka pangkat anak saudara patik..raja johor mempunyai 5 anak berbondakan cik mariam 1.raja ariffin 2.raja adenan 3.raja yusuf 4.raja ibrahim 5.raja busu … patik anak sulung raja adenan bin raja johor ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Yusuf Sharifuddin Muzaffar Shah. patik harap dapat khabar berita dari anak arwah ayahanda raja ariffin dgn ayahanda raja ibrahim .. insyaAllah masa terdekat patik akan jumpa ayahanda raja busu yg merit wajah ayahanda raja adenan … trima kasih kpd ku jannah yg banyak membantu patik …dgn ku yong… di harap dapat pertolongan dari blog sembangKuala ..Amin

    • Assalamualaikum. Saya juga salah seorang daripada zuriat keturunan Sultan Perak ke-27 serta cucunda kepada Allahyarham Raja Haji Ariffin (Yang Mulia Raja Chik Muda Pawang di-Raja). Nama penuh saya ialah Raja Mohd Yahuza bin Raja Shahrudzaman bin Raja Haji Ariffin bin Raja Kecil Tengah Haji Johor ibni Almarhum Sultan Yusuf Sharifuddin Muzaffar Shah Gharirullah.

  6. Hi
    My father once told me that we are related to the Sultan.
    From back when he was exiled to the Seychelles.
    So i was wondering if anybody knows of any records relating to the family tree.
    thx anyway

    • Hi Matthew – I am one of the editors of this site and am a direct descendant (I am his great great grandson) of Sultan Abdullah Muhammad Shah II. The family tree I have access to only contains details of his issue from his marriage to his Malay wives. If I may ask – are you from the Seychelles? Also, could you be so kind to share with us how your father described your family’s link to the late Sultan?

      -Mahariz Muzaffar

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  8. Salam and thanks to SembangKuala, this article telah mengenalkan I to my great great grandfather. I am the granddaughter to Raja Gob @ Raja Alias from his first marriage to Raja Halijah, my mom is Raja Norhayati bt Raja Gob but she passed away in year 2000. I feel so please to know that i have lots of new relatives,thank you again.

    • Salam PSA,

      I heard your grandfather’s name many times. Do you have any & willing to share with us and others?

      Appreciate that.

  9. I was introduced to the site by a friend of mine. My name is Raja Kamarul Arifin bin Raja Mohd Affandi bin Raja Abdul Halim bin Raja Abdul Majid bin Raja Mansur ibni Sultan Yusoff Sharafudin. Since my father passed away early, I don’t know of any relatives from my father’s father side. It is good to know that I actually have many realtives. Keep up the great work!

    • Salam Kamarul,

      Welcome aboard and good to hear from you esp scion of Raja Abdul Majid.

      My late grandfather (mother side) was Raja Abdul Aziz bin Raja Abdul Majid bin Raja Mansur ibni Sultan Yusoff.

      Feel free to drop by again.

      Raja Shahriman

    • My grandfather (Raja Badri Shah ibni Raja Pendawa) first wife (my nenek) is Raja Nuteh Aishah binti Raja Abdul Majid bin Raja Mansur ibni Sultan Yusuf. So meaning to say you are my anak saudara. He He He. You can get me on facebook…Sharifah Norsiha Syed Kamal.

  10. Dear SembangKuala – I am one of the descendants of YAM Raja Sulaiman (mangkat di Ligor) ibni Sultan Abdullah Muhammad Shah. My questions are: a) Why did Sultan Yusuf (27th ruler) sent his brother YAM Raja Sulaiman to Kedah for the Sultan of Kedah’s son’s wedding? b) Why did the British/Perak sultanate not bring back Raja Sulaiman to Perak since both were governed by the British?

  11. Dear Sdr Azman,

    Interesting question. I may not have the exact answer to why Sultan Yusuf sent his brother to attend the wedding of the Kedah Sultan’s son. My best bet is the Sultan was busy or perhaps he was ill (Sayong to Alor Setar in those days was quite a long journey…)

    However, for your second question, I am more interested in the role of Raja Sulaiman in Kedah. I must admit that I have very limited knowledge on the person of Raja Sulaiman. Since he is known to have mangkat in Ligor, then he must have played some role in Kedah. Perhaps, he had a Kedahan wife? (which explains why Sultan Yusuf sent him as Raja Sulaiman was already prominent in Kedah)

    Your 2nd question was about why didn’t Perak or the British bring him back to Perak. This clearly implies that Raja Sulaiman was sent to Kedah for a greater purpose rather than merely attending a wedding. What was the purpose? Could it have been an effort by the British to foster stronger ties between Kedah and Perak?

    Remember not long before Sultan Yusuf came to power as Regent in 1876, it was the same Sultan of Kedah (Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin III) that surrendered the old Sultan Ismail of Perak to the British. Maybe by placing a brother of the new Ruler in a neighbouring Malay state will help the British to capture any anti-British persons fleeing Perak.

    The British needed this Malay proxy as during the reign of Sultan Yusuf of Perak (1876-1887), Kedah was still a Siamese Province and the British has no jurisdiction there. Kedah became a British-administered state after the Bangkok Treaty of 1909.

    These are only my assumptions, unfortunately…

    • Salam…
      Based from my research from the Wikipedia, Raja Sulaiman was indeed married to a Kedahan wife – namely Tengku Putih Aishah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin Mukarram Shah III (Sultan Kedah). She was also a sister of Kedah’s Sultan Abdul Hamid and Sultan Zainal Rashid (also abducted to Ligor)). Raja Sulaiman and Tengku Putih Aishah had a few children namely Raja Haji Daeng, Raja Habibah, Raja(Haji) Abdul Rahman (who, as a grown up was sent to a small town in Perak named Selama, to be the first Kadhi and handled religious matters there), Tengku Long Putih, Tengku Esau(Esah) Ku Ngah, Tengku Jahara (Ku Jah),and Tengku Chik. In Ligor Tengku Putih Aishah was widely known as Tengku Long Aishah. Hope this infos help…
      Indeed, there’s very little research and info on Raja Sulaiman (ever since the abduction by the Thais to Ligor) and perhaps more researchers could help explain on the many interesting issues still left undocumented and unexplained. InsyaAllah…

      • As Salam Ardan,

        This Raja Sulaiman had a related history to Sultan Zainal Rashid Muadzam Shah 2( the 24th Sultan of Kedah). As my great grandfather also known as Tengku Sulaiman bin Tengku Muhamad( wife is Tengku Fatimah also a younger sister of Sultan Zainal Rashid). The history of “Raja Sulaiman mangkat di Ligor” was written by Rahim Nan Jahtera, Ever since the story I had not been able to contact Rahim or maybe something had happen and he didn’t answer anything. I normally visit Ligor to meet with my relative and at the same time trying to search for Raja Sulaiman descendent.

      • n regret to inform u, that rahim nan jah tera passed away in 2017. Inna lillah wa inna illaihi rojiun, pls feel free to contact me@ikeazman@gmail.com for further discussion n research on our great great grandfather raja sulaiman

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  14. salam sembang kuala.. saya sedang menjejaki silisilah keluarga saya.. yang juga adalah silisilah keluarga bendahara Perak Tun Syed Zahiruddin bin Syed Hassan.. menurut cerita datok saya ayah syed hassan ialah syed Ibrahim .. maqam di Padang Rengas.. dan ayah Syed Ibrahim ialah Syed Muhammad bin Syed Safa.. maqam di Sayong yang dikenali dikalangan keluarga kami sebagai penasihat Agama Sultan Perak yang ke 27 Sultan Yusuf 1.. adakah pihak tuan mempunyai sebarang maklumat berkaitan ini..

  15. salam, saya sedang menjejaki seorang penasihat agama yang hidup pada sultan Yusuf ini.. Namanya ialah syed Muhammad .. adakah pihak editor mempunyai sebarang maklumat? kubur syed muhammad adalh di sayong..

  16. salam..

    mohon bertanya. siapa gerangan seorang lg yg duduk bersama Al-Marhum Sultan Idris dan Sultan Yusuf di dlm gambar.

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