15th Sultan of Perak: Paduka Seri Sultan Iskandar Dzulkarnain ibni Almarhum Sultan Muhammad Shah (1754-1764)

Paduka Seri Sultan Iskandar Dzulkarnain resided at Pulau Indera Sakti. His consort was Raja Budak Rasul, a princess to Sultan Mudzaffar III, who was made Raja Perempuan. He was also married to Che’ Puteh Selamah binti Panglima Kinta Tok Paloh, a commoner who was also known as Paduka Maha Dewi. Panglima Kinta Tok Paloh was then bestowed with the title Orang Kaya-Kaya Panglima Kinta Seri Amar Bangsa di-Raja.

Sultan Iskandar Dzulkarnain was known to have made Sharif Abu Bakar bin Sharif Jalaluddin as Bendahara, who held the title Bendahara Seri Maharaja, replacing Bendahara Megat Abu Kassim. However, it was not long until Sultan Iskandar Dzulkarnain made his younger brother, Raja Alauddin (Bendahara Penyengat Hitam), Bendahara and the title was changed to Raja Bendahara Paduka Seri Maharaja Wazirul Kabir. Interestingly, it was from this day henceforth that a Bendahara was appointed from those of Royal blood. The last Raja Bendahara was YAM Raja Abdul Rashid ibni Almarhum Sultan Idris Murshidul Azzam Shah. When YAM Raja Abdul Rashid mangkat in 1959, the post of Raja Bendahara was abolished and in its place was the title Yang Amat Berbahagia Orang Kaya Bendahara Seri Maharaja, the appointment of whom is made to a commoner.

Megat Iskandar Megat Zaharuddin, secretary of the Megat Terawis Association, had this to say, “Since the reign of Sultan Muzaffar Shah I until that of Sultan Iskandar Dzulkarnain, the title of Orang Kaya Bendahara had always been vested to the Megat Terawis clan. The last Megat who held the Bendaharaship was Megat Abu Kassim (posthumously known as Bendahara Hilang di Teluk). Sultan Iskandar Dzulkarnain instructed the Bendahara to build a palace*. It was said that the requirement was bilik seribu, tiang sebatang (a thousand rooms, but held up by a single pillar). Megat Abu Kassim tendered his resignation together with Orang Kaya Temenggong Tan Bantan and Orang Kaya Menteri Syed Hussain. During this time, the post of Orang Kaya Besar was vacant – due to the demise of Megat Mutabar (former Temenggong who later was appointed as Orang Kaya Besar and died in office).”

[* – According to Hikayat Misa Melayu, Sultan Iskandar Dzulkarnain had built his istana at Pulau Chempaka Sari (which was later named Pulau Indera Sakti).]

Megat Iskandar further added, “According to the order of rotation, the next in line to the Bendaharaship was Megat Mentaha (who is also known as Megat Lambat Makan di Kuala Kenas). Sultan Iskandar Dzulkarnain knew that the Bendaharaship is hereditary to the Megats. When he appointed his younger brother, Raja Alauddin as Bendahara, he compensated the Megat family by making the title of Orang Kaya Besar hereditary exclusively for the Megats. That’s why, Megat Mentaha Lambat Makan of Kuala Kenas was later appointed as Orang Kaya Besar.”

[An appraisal of the Raja Bendahara had been posted previously in SembangKuala here.]

Sultan Iskandar Dzulkarnain was a wise ruler and was concerned with the administration of the land and the well-being of his people. Together with the Raja Perempuan, they would visit the entire span of Perak, especially the districts along the banks of Sungai Perak, all the way to the coastal villages. A set of laws named Undang-undang Sembilan Puluh Sembilan (The 99 Laws of Perak) was compiled to aid in administration of matters pertaining to the state.

Makam Iskandar Dzulkarnain

Makam Almarhum Sultan Iskandar Dzulkarnain (Marhum Kaharullah) (Source: Laman Rasmi Pejabat Sultan Perak)

After his demise, he was interred at Pulau Indera Sakti with the title Marhum Kaharullah.

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Undang-undang ke-99: The 99 laws of Perak

The 99th law of Undang-Undang 99 Perak appears to be concerned with what good governance is about, where a Raja has the ability to express his concerns for matters of the state and her people, as well as for the Raja to listen to his subjects. The 99th law reads:

Undang2 ke99

which is translated as, following J. Rigby’s appraisal of the subject:

99th Law

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“This little pamphlet on an old Perak Code is being published to illustrate the working of the adat temenggong or “autocratic custom” of the ancient river States. The “Ninety-nine Laws” (as this code is called) were not altogether what they profess to be. They had never been enacted by any legislative authority and were always liable to be overridden at the arbitrary will of the king. They were a compromise between the law of the Prophet and the ancient adat of the country. In some respects they bear the impress of fraud, whether intentional or otherwise, for they explicitly claim to be the work of Nushirwan and Buzurjmihr, who certainly had nothing whatever to do with their compilation.”

– R.J. Wilkinson’s preface. In LAW. PART II. THE NINETY-NINE LAWS OF PERAK. Edited and translated by J. Rigby

Just who is Nushirwan? Also known as Nushirwan (or Anushiravan) the Just, he was the son of King Kobat (or Kavadh I) who ruled Persia from 531 to 579AD. He introduced rationalisation of taxes, by reorganising the wealth of the upper classes, the results of which lasted into Islamic times. He even submitted himself for review and drew the regulation “pay like all the rest”. Relevant to the 99 laws of Perak, Nushirwan reorganised the laws of the land into four main areas.

Prophet Muhammad SAW was also said to have handed down four classifications of laws to his close sahabats – Abu Bakar (law of equity), Umar ibn Khattab (law of unbending severity), Usman ibn Affan (compromise of between equity and severity) and to Ali (law of charity).

These four elements were said to be incorporated into Undang-Undang 99 Perak (the 99 laws of Perak). It is interesting to note that all ninety-nine laws were written in the form of questions and answers, which bears a semblance to Persian laws of old. However, Rigby postulated that the link of Persia to the 99 laws of Perak may well be added grandeur to the story of how these laws came into being.

According to Rigby, the 99 laws were believed to have been brought to the Perak by Saiyid* Hassan (?Raja S’ari). During the reign of Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin, Saiyid Abdul Majid was said to be his Orang Kaya Menteri, and the law was handed down to Saiyid Jalaluddin (To’ Tambak of Pulau Pisang), and subsequently the other Saiyids, who were elected as Menteris in the Sultan’s court. The Saiyids ranked the 99 laws in importance as second only to the laws of the Prophet Muhammad SAW, and they used the laws as reference whenever the Sultan consulted them on matters of the state, especially those pertaining to Islam and welfare of the people. The Saiyids then became very influential in the istana. The first prominent Saiyid in the court of the Sultan of Perak was Saiyid Abu Bakar bin Saiyid Jalaluddin during the reign of Sultan Iskandar Dzulkarnain (Marhum Kaharullah).

Rigby divided the 99 laws of Perak into four categories:

1. Public law
2. Proprietary rights and duties
3. Slavery, sorcery and miscellaneous
4. Relations of the sexes

As each section contains laws that were not written in a strict numerical order, the 99 laws can also be categorised as such:

1. Duties and responsibilities of a Raja
2. Laws pertaining to adat
3. Criminal law
4. Family law

The 99th law described above would fall under the duties and responsibilities of a Raja. Sembangkuala have briefly posted excerpts of some of these laws, and you may find them by using the search box in the top right corner of the blog, or look under the category for Publications.

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[*] The saiyids are said to be descendants of the Prophet Muhammad SAW, by way of his daughter, Fatimah Az-zahra. For the genealogy of the Jamalullail family of Perak, as drafted by R.O. Winstedt, click here.

Reference:
1. Papers on Malay Subjects. Law: Part II, The 99 laws of Perak. ed. Rigby J. FMS Government Press, Kuala Lumpur. 1908
2. Wikipedia