Little do people know about the expansion of extremist attacks on Buddhists in the region, specially the only few remaining Buddhist nations in the region.
How the Buddhists of Thailand momentarily overcame the moral scruples that Buddhism imposed on them of being utterly non-violent and launched a counter-offensive against the Jihadis who had begun ravaging Southern Thailand in the 17th century. Only to be lulled back in to apathy of non-violence in to the 21st century to invite upon themselves another round of attacks from the Muslim Malays from the 1980s which have escalated especially after 9/11. But the Thais have fought back the Jihad to preserve Thailand as a Buddhist island amidst a Muslim Ocean.
Clash of Contrasts - Buddhism and Islam in Thailand
Thailand is today a Buddhist nation, unlike its Muslim neighbors like Malaysia and Indonesia. Thailand is Buddhist today due to the largely forgotten struggle waged by the Siamese (Thai) kings against the Muslim Jihadis who invaded South East Asia from the 13th century onwards. Like Thailand, the people of Malaysia, Indonesia also were overwhelmingly Hindu and Buddhists, before they were overrun by Islam.
In fact, what are today the ASEAN countries had, up to the 15th century, one religion (a mix of Hinduism-Buddhism-Animism) and one culture. They did not look upon themselves as different countries. A large part of today�s Malaysia was at times a part of the kingdom of Siam (Thailand). And at times Malaysia and Indonesia were under the rule of one single dynasty (Sri Vijaya, Shailendra, Mataram, and Majapahit).
The Bas Reliefs of Borobudur in Indonesia and the ancient Indian (Sanskrit) language are the only reminders of the Buddhist and Hindu past of the current Muslim population of Malaysia and Indonesia. The clash of the gentle ancestors of the Thais, Malays and Indonesians with the violent Muslims is a clash of contrasts.
This is so as there is no greater contrast than that between Buddhism and Islam. While Buddhism is intrinsically and universally non-violent, Islam is a violent, cruel and murderous paranoia as we witnessed in 9/11, 7/7, 3/11 and numerous other events in recent history. The 14 century long history of Islam has been equally violent and bloodied and cruel.
The face-off between Islam and Buddhism is a study of extremely stark contrasts; contrasts like, actions followed by queer reactions followed again by counter reactions. Confusing is it? Let us explain. Read on.
The universal non-violence of Buddhism pitted against the depraved Cruelty of Islam
The Buddhists teach their adherents to be extremely non-violent whatever the provocation, while Islam teaches its adherents to be extremely cruel, murderous, deceptive (Taqiya)and sadistic. When the Buddhists first encountered the Muslims in Central Asia and Afghanistan (remember the Bamiyan Buddhas?), the Buddhist reaction was no reaction at all. The Buddhists tamely submitted to the Muslims. No they did not embrace Islam en masse; they just gave themselves up for being slaughtered en masse by the Muslims. The Buddhists were one of those few who accepted the �Death Option� from the Muslims� offer of �Islam or Death�.
Hence the Buddhists simply perished in the first flush of Muslim onslaught against them. Many of the Buddhists never learned to resist the Muslims. Even when the Muslims raided famous Buddhist Universities like Nalanda in India�s Bihar province, the Buddhists died en masse when the Muslim swordsmen slaughtered them like hyena would devour a clutch of rabbits in a cage. The Buddhists also did not make any attempt to escape from their murderers. They accepted death with an air of fatalism and destiny. And hence they are not around today to tell their story!
But their mindless slaughter evoked another and extremely opposite reaction from another set of Buddhists. This was also the most dramatic one so far � the Mongol invasion of Iran and Iraq by Chengiz Khan and his son Hulagu Khan. These Mongols were Buddhists by faith, whose homeland had been suffering the depredations of the Muslims for six centuries (from 651 C.E. to 1200 C.E.) when the Buddhist Mongols decided that enough was enough and decided to pay back the Muslims with their own coin � with due premium added! The Mongols slaughtered the Muslims of Iran and Iraq with unremitting cruelty.
The Mongols laid waste the countryside, burnt down cities slaughtered the Muslim population en masse, including the Caliph himself!.
It was only this unexpected reversal of attitudes of the Mongol Buddhists, that resulted in the ravaging Muslims being ravaged themselves by a force that was infinitely more barbarous than the Muslims. And only this could lead to the defeat of the Muslims. This folks is the moral of our story when we try to understand the Muslim attacks on the Buddhists of Thailand and how the Muslims can finally be defeated in the ongoing War on Terror.
The face-off between Islam and Buddhism is a study of extremely stark contrasts; contrasts like, actions followed by queer reactions followed again by counter reactions. Confusing is it? Let us explain. Read on.
Physical science tells us that whenever there is an action, there is also an equal and opposite reaction. In the world of human psychology, this rule generally becomes skewed depending on the ethical-moral mindset of the parties involved. The Muslims have encountered varying levels of resistance in their history of rampage spread across three continents of Europe, Asia and Africa up to the 20th century. A rampage which spread in a dramatic manner to America (9/11) and Australia (Bali attacks) in the 21st century.
The Muslim marauders started their rampage (Jihad) by measuring their theologically inspired murderous mentality against the military valor of the Zoroastrian Persians in the 7th century followed by the military valor of the Byzantine Christians. Note here that it was the military valor of the Persians and Byzantines that was pitted against the theologically inspired murderous mentality of the Muslims. This match itself was unequal as theologically inspired murderous mentality can and did easily overcome military valor. The inspiration of the Muslims was to destroy their enemies, while that of the Persians and Byzantines was only to defeat and roll back the Muslim invasion. It was in this battle of objectives itself that the Persians and the Byzantines lost out to the Muslims. To defeat the Muslims, our primary objective should be to destroy Islam. Only then can victory over Muslim be the result!
The Muslim mindset of unremitting violence, cruelty and murder finally defeated the military valor of both the Zoroastrian Persians and the Byzantine Christians. Both the cultures fell before the advance of the murderous Muslim marauders. The Zoroastrian Persians perished and disappeared from history altogether. But the Christians responded differently. After four centuries of unremitting barbarism from the Muslims who overran the Christian nations of the Middle East (known today as Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Turkey) and the Christian nations in Africa (Egypt, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia) as also in Europe (Spain for 800 years) France (for 30 years) Italy (for 8 years) the Christians finally decided that enough was enough and determined to return the barbarism of the Muslims with even greater and more effective barbarism, tinged with determination to liberate the Holy Land from its infidel occupiers, singed as the Christians had been with four centuries of Muslim horrors across three continents of Asia, Africa and Europe.
The Thais resisted the Muslims, albeit briefly in the 17th century, only to lapse back to a defensive position and again start suffering at the hands of the Malaysian Jihadis in the 21st century.
The Malays themselves were Buddhists and Hindu by faith till the 15th century under their kingdoms of Sri Vijaya (Malaysia), Majapahit (Indonesian archipelago). These kingdoms were ardent rivals and were at war with each other and with their northern neighbor � the kingdom of Siam (Thailand), when the Muslim first appeared on the scene.
On the other hand because of the change of strategy while fighting the murderous Muslims, the Crusaders were stunningly successful, and in their first rush itself overwhelmed the barbarous Muslim with even greater barbarism. The Crusaders not only slaughtered the Muslims, but went further to roast and eat the Muslims in a gruesome barbecue. An exercise that can today be termed as recycling the adversary! Mind you, these Crusaders were not Head Hunting cannibals when the left Europe. They came from established civilizations in France, England, Germany, Spain, Italy in Mediaeval Europe. But the relentless barbarism of the Muslims had built in the Christians an urge to put an end to it all, once and forever. The result was � The Crusades. and the corollary of cannibalism that was compelled upon the Crusaders by four centuries of near fatal depredations of their countries, culture and civilization. It was only this unexpected reversal of attitudes on part of the Crusaders of the ravaging the ravager Muslims with a force that was more barbarous than the Muslims, could lead to the defeat of the Muslims. This folks is the moral of our story when we try to understand the Muslim attacks on the Buddhists of Thailand.
The universal non-violence of Buddhism pitted against the depraved Cruelty of Islam
The Buddhists teach their adherents to be extremely non-violent whatever the provocation, while Islam teaches its adherents to be extremely cruel, murderous and sadistic. When the Buddhists first encountered the Muslims in Central Asia and Afghanistan (remember the Bamiyan Buddhas?), the Buddhist reaction was no reaction at all. The Buddhists tamely submitted to the Muslims. No, they did not embrace Islam en masse; they just gave themselves up for being slaughtered en masse by the Muslims. The Buddhists were one of the few who accepted the �Death Option� from the Muslims� offer of �Islam or Death�. Hence the Buddhists simply perished in the first flush of Muslim onslaught against them. Many of the Buddhists never learnt to resist the Muslims. Even when the Muslims raided famous Buddhist Universities like Nalanda in India�s Bihar province, the Buddhists died en masse when the Muslim swordsmen slaughtered them like a pack of famished hyenas would devour a clutch of rabbits inside a cage.
Before the advent of Islam, Sri Vijaya and Majapahit were powerful empires from the 13th upto the 15th centuries. Both the Sri Vijaya and Majapahit kings followed an eclectic faith made up of Hinduism and Buddhism. These kingdoms also had their illustrious counterparts in Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Burma (Myanmar). They built magnificent cities. The ruins of Angkor are the most dramatic surviving evidences of their glory. Similar cities dotted Malaysia, and Indonesia in the 12 to the 15th centuries. Their decline began with the coming of Arab dhows (vessels) who carried not just merchandise but also the sword of Islam. The king who first embraced Islam was named Parmeswara and he became a victim of circumstances when he was tricked into becoming a Muslim.
When attacked and massacred by the Muslims, the Buddhists initially did not make any attempt to escape from their murderers. They accepted death with an air of fatalism and destiny. And hence they are not around today to tell their story. But their mindless slaughter evoked another and extremely opposite reaction from another set of Buddhists. This was also the most dramatic one so far � the Mongol invasion of Iran and Iraq by Chengiz Khan and his son Hulagu Khan. These Mongols were some sort of Buddhists by faith, whose homeland had been suffering the depredations of the Muslims for six centuries (from 651 to 1200) when the Buddhist Mongols decided that enough was enough and decided to pay back the Muslims with their own coin � with due premium added! The Mongols slaughtered the Muslims of Iran and Iraq with unremitting cruelty. The Mongols laid waste the countryside, burnt down cities slaughtered the Muslim population en masse, including the Caliph himself!. The Mongols were matched in their reaction to Muslim Barbarism, only by the Crusaders. And interestingly it was only the Mongols and the Crusaders who defeated the Muslims in their own homeland in the last 1400 years of the existence of the Muslims since 622 CE. Other minor aberrations that turned the tide of the Muslims were the Franks at Tours,the Spanish Re-conquistadores, the Hindus under their king Sivaji, the Nubian marksmen and the Thai reconquest of the Sultanate of Pattani late in the seventeenth century.
How Islam came to Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand
After this longish preamble, we shall see how the Thais resisted the Muslims, albeit briefly in the 17th century, only to lapse back to a defensive position and again start suffering at the hands of the Malaysian Jihadis in the 21st century.
The Malays themselves were Buddhists and Hindu by faith till the 15th century under their kingdoms of Sri Vijaya (Malaysia), Shailendra and Majapahit (Indonesian archipelago). These three kingdoms were ardent rivals and were intermittently at war with each other and with their northern neighbor � the kingdom of Siam (Thailand).
Interestingly, the entry of Islam in to South East Asia was facilitated by this rivalry and internecine warfare of the three kingdoms of Thailand with SriVijaya of Malaysia and Shailendra and Majapahit of Indonesia. But the ultimate reason for the conversion of the last Sri Vijaya king, Parmeswara to Islam was deception as we shall see below.
It was the Arab merchant-Jihadis who deceived the last Sri Vijaya king, Parameswara (of today�s Malaysia) to marry a Muslim damsel and converted him to Islam by promising him help in his fight against his rivals from Thailand. From 1402 onwards Parmeswara increasingly became dependent on the Arabs to stave off attempts from the Thais and the territorial ambitions of his other rival Majapahit of Indonesia. The Arab merchant-soldiers whose position became increasingly stronger at Parmeswara�s court offered to send in more forces to fight alongside him, if he converted to Islam. Initially Parameswara scornfully refused this offer. But as the struggle with Thailand and Majapahit wore on, his position became more precarious. At this juncture the Arab merchants gifted him a princess of Pasai who was a mix breed descendants from an Arab and Indonesian Nikah Mu�tah Marriage (A Nikah Mu�tah is a temporary marriages allowed for Muslims by the Quran).
Before the advent of Islam, Sri Vijaya, Shailendra, Mataram and Majapahit were powerful empires from the 13th upto the 15th centuries. The Sri Vijaya, Shailendra and Majapahit kings followed an eclectic faith made up of Hinduism and Buddhism. These kingdoms also had their illustrious counterparts in Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Burma (Myanmar). They built magnificent cities. The ruins of Angkor Vat and Borobudur are the most dramatic surviving evidences of their glory. Similar cities dotted Malaysia, and Indonesia in the 12 to the 15th centuries. Their decline began with the coming of Arab dhows (vessels) who carried not just merchandise but also the sword and the murderous mentality of Islam.
The Indonesian-Malay Hindu king who first embraced Islam was named Parmeswara and he became a victim of circumstances when he was tricked into becoming a Muslim. Parameswara was a scion of the Sri Vijaya dynasty and ruled from Palembang. But during Parameswara's time, Sri Vijaya was in decline and Majapahit had become the overlord of Sri Vijaya. Parameswara had a dispute with the Majapahit ruler and was forced to shift his capital from Palembang to the relatively safer Temasek island - now Singapore. There, during a skirmish with the forces of Majapahit, Parameswara killed prince Temagi of Siam, who was allied with Majapahit This angered the Siamese king, who threatened to capture and kill Paremeswara. This led to another string of battles between Sri Vijaya against Siam and Majapahit, in which Parameswara was worsted and he had to flee his new capital the Temasek island (Singapore) island, and seek refuge first in Muar, before fleeing further on to Malacca and deciding to make it his new capital in 1402.
Arabs deceive and browbeat the last Sri Vijaya king Parameswara to marry a Muslim Girl and convert to Islam
Malacca was a trading port frequented by the Arabs, where they had established a colony. At Malacca, the Arabs promised King Parameswara, help in his fight against his rivals from Thailand. From 1402 onwards Parmeswara increasingly became dependent on the Arabs to stave off attempts from the Thais to avenge the slaughter of their prince and the territorial ambitions of Majapahit. The Arab merchant-soldiers whose position became increasingly stronger at Parmeswara�s court offered to send in more forces to fight alongside him, if he converted to Islam. Initially Parameswara scornfully refused this offer. But as the struggle with Thailand wore on, his position became more precarious. At this juncture the Arab merchants gifted him a princess of Pasai who was a mix breed descendant of the Arab and Indonesian Nikah Mu�tah Marriages (A Nikah Mu�tah is a temporary marriage allowed for Muslims by the Quran).
Pasai, was originally known as Samudera-Pasai later renamed called Samudera Darussalam. Pasai was a thriving harbor kingdom on the north coast of Sumatra in the 13th to the 15th centuries CE. Due to its wealth Pasai had attracted Arab merchants who in the course of time intermarried with local women to create a Muslim community that was half Arab and half Indonesian, as the offspring of these marriages were brought up as Muslims. The area of Pasai is in today�s Aceh province of Indonesia.
Incidentally the term �Pasai� is believed derived from Parsi, or Parsee immigrants from the west coast of India namely Gujarat, some of who migrated for mercantile activities to northern Sumatra in today's Aceh province. Arab and Indian Muslims had also traded in Indonesia and China for many centuries. A Muslim tombstone in eastern Java bears a date corresponding to 1082. But substantial evidence of Islam in Indonesia begins only in northern Sumatra at the end of the 13th century. Two small Muslim trading kingdoms existed by that time at Pasai and Peureulak or Perlak
Coming back to this princess from Pasai, she was from among these half-breed Arab-Indonesian Muslims, and was a maiden of extreme beauty. The militarily weakened king Parameswara fell for her, making his position even more precarious vis-�-vis the Arabs. Parameswara incidentally did not have any heir from his Queen but his new love told him, that she was carrying his child. The lovelorn Parameswara who was becoming increasingly militarily weak wanted an heir desperately. In this desperation and his blind love for his new love, he proposed to her, only to be told that marriage was possible only under Muslim rites for which he needed to convert to Islam . To get an heir Parameswara agreed and recited the Shahada before he could bring his new love from the harem to his palace as his legitimate queen. But according to Sri Vijaya court records, in reality, the child which his Muslim harlot told him she was carrying was not his but was fathered by an Arab as Parmeswara was diagnosed as impotent by his medical practioners. But the urge to become a normal person and have an heir was overwhelming for Parameswara and that urge compelled him to abandon his ancestral religion and convert to Islam.
The Hindu kingdom of Sri Vijaya transformed itself in to the Sultanate of Malacca after the last Hindu king Parameswara, embraced Islam
Thus, in 1414, for reasons which were amorous and desperate in 1414, Parameswara converted to Islam after marrying the princess from Pasai. After his conversion, he assumed the title Sultan Iskandar Shah. After his conversion, his half Arab Queen also encouraged his subjects to embrace Islam and this is how Malacca became a sultanate. Thus Malacca was the first to fall to the Muslims.
This conversion led to waves of conversions in Malaysia and Indonesia, most of whose people converted to the new faith, except in far off Bali which remained Hindu, as it is till this day. The descendants of Parameswara started the first Muslim dynasty and expanded the Sultanate of Malacca. At its height the Sultanate encompassed most of modern day Peninsula Malaysia, the site of modern day Singapore and a great portion of eastern Sumatra and Borneo. The governor of Borneo later seceded from Malacca to form the independent Sultanate of Borneo. For a long time Malacca remained the center of Islam in the Malaysian and Indonesian archipelago (Aceh, Riau, Palembang and Sulawesi). It was from Malacca where, imams and ustazes went to all over Malaysia and Indonesia to discuss religion and the like. Muslim missionaries were also sent by the successive Sultans of Malacca to spread Islam to he Hindu and Buddhist communities in the Malay Archipelago, such as in Java, Borneo, and the Philippines (Mindanao). Most of South East Asia at that time was Hindu-Buddhist, except for the Philippines where the population was animist.
In the 15th century the Sultanate of Malacca destroyed the other Hindu kingdom of Majapahit in Indonesia, and weakened Thailand
The Sultanate's most important regional rivals continued to be Thailand in the north and the declining Majapahit Empire in the Indonesian archipelago (Aceh, Riau, Palembang and Sulawesi) in the south. But within the archipelago, Majapahit was not able to control or effectively compete with the Sultans of Malacca with their new found zeal of Islam, and ultimately came to an end during the later 15th century. After the demise of Majapahit kingdom and the conversion of most of its inhabitants to Islam, the Sultans of Malacca alongwith their Arab allies concentrated on the conquest of Thailand with the purported aim of converted the Thais to Islam. The Arabs based in Malacca along with their new converts the Malay Muslims of Malacca repeatedly attacked Thailand and for a time it seemed that they would go storming up the narrow Isthmus of Kra and penetrate up to the Thai capital of Ayutthaya which was also under constant threat from the Burmese from up north.
During much of the fifteenth century Ayutthaya's energies were directed toward the Malay Peninsula, where the great trading port of Malacca contested its claims to sovereignty. As the erstwhile Hindu-Buddhist states of Malacca along with other Malay states south of Tambralinga had become Muslim early in the century, a resurgent and aggressive Islam served as a symbol of Malay solidarity against the Thais and for a time it seemed that the Thais would also have to submit to Islam. But from the 17th century successive Thai kings allied themselves with the seafaring Western powers � the Portuguese and the Dutch and succeeded in staving off the threat of Islam from the Muslim Malays and their Arab overlords.
The coming of the Spanish and the Portuguese was a breather to the beleaguered Thai kingdom.
For Thailand, the coming of the Spanish and the Portuguese was a breather. The Thais smartly allied themselves with the Portuguese to ultimately destroy the Sultanate of Malacca during the reign of the last Sultan of Malacca, Sultan Mahmud Shah.
It was in 1509, during the reign of the last Sultan of Malacca, Sultan Mahmud Shah that the Portuguese became the first European power to reach Malacca and Southeast Asia in general. The Portuguese fleet was led by Admiral Lopez de Sequira. Trouble however ensued after the general feeling of rivalry between Islam and Christianity was invoked by a group of Goan Muslims in the sultan's court after the Portuguese had captured Goa. Soon, the Portuguese fleet was attacked by Malacca and was forced to flee. Incidentally Goa was then a Portuguese colony in India that was ruled by the Muslims before the Portuguese conquered it.
In 1511, a larger Portuguese fleet from Cochin, India led by Viceroy Alfonso d'Albuquerque came back to Malacca. The Viceroy made a number of demands - one of which was for permission to build a fortress as a Portuguese trading post near the city. All the demands were refused by the Sultan. Conflict was unavoidable, and after 40 days of fighting, Malacca fell to the Portuguese on August 24.
Sultan Mahmud Shah was forced to flee Malacca. The sultan made several attempts to retake the capital but his efforts were fruitless. The Portuguese retaliated and forced the sultan to flee to Pahang. Later, the sultan sailed to Bintan and established a new capital there. With a base established, the sultan rallied the disarrayed Malay forces and organized several attacks and blockades against the Portuguese's position.
Frequent raids on Malacca caused the Portuguese severe hardship. The raids helped convince the Portuguese that the exiled sultan's forces must be silenced. A number of attempts were made to suppress the Malay forces, but it wasn't until 1526 that the Portuguese finally razed Bintan to the ground. The sultan then retreated to Kampar in Sumatra where he died two years later. He left behind two sons named Muzaffar Shah and Alauddin Riayat Shah II.
Muzaffar Shah was invited by the people in the north of the peninsula to become their ruler, establishing the Sultanate of Perak. Meanwhile, Mahmud's other son, Alauddin succeeded his father and made a new capital in the south. His realm was the Sultanate of Johore, the successor of Malacca. But the Portuguese could not retain the possession of Malacca for long, as it was conquered by the Dutch in 1641. Although Malacca changed hands, the saving grace was that the barbaric Muslims were never able to sink their claws in Malacca and this enabled the straits to remain free for mercantile activities for the next five centuries. The fallout of the coming of the Europeans was that Thailand was saved from the threat of Muslim conquest that was looming over it in the 15th and 16th centuries.
The Thais launch a counter attack against the Muslims
Taking advantage of the weakened position of the Muslims. Taking advantage of the weakened position, the Thais attacked the Sultanate of Pattani and attempted to re-conquer the territories they had lost to the Sultans of Malacca from 1414, when Parameswara the Sri Vijaya king had embraced Islam and his successors had fought relentless campaigns against Thailand and Majapahit. While they were able to destroy Majapahit and absorb Indonesia (Aceh, Riau, Palembang and Sulawesi) in to the Muslim Ummah by converting the Indonesian Hindu-Buddhist population to Islam, they could not get comparative success against their other rival Thailand. The point to note here is that the entry of Islam in South East Asia was facilitated by the rivalry and internecine warfare of the three kingdoms of Thailand with SriVijaya of Malaysia and Majapahit of Indonesia. The proximate reason for the conversion of the last Sir Vijaya king was deception as we saw above.
In the 16th century, after fighting a single-handed battle against the Sultanate of Malacca for a century, (the successor to the Hindu Sri Vijaya empire), the Thais were nearing the end of their tether. But for the arrival of the Portuguese and Dutch in the 17th century, the Thais might have succumbed to the Sultans of Malacca as had their other rivals the Majapahit empire of Indonesia.
In Indonesia, the Majapahit kingdom found itself increasingly unable to control the rising power of the Sultanate of Malacca. Dates for the end of the Majapahit Empire range from 1478 to 1527. After a series of battles with the Sultanate of Demak, the last remaining courtiers of Majapahit were forced to withdraw eastward to Kediri. Even this small state was finally extinguished at the hands of the Demak in 1527. A large number of courtiers, artisans, priests, and members of the royalty moved east to the island of Bali which is still dominated by their descendants who still practise their original Hindu faith. But effectively Majapahit had ceased to be an imperial power and by the early 16th century, the emerging Muslim power had eclipsed the once powerful Majapahit kingdom and many of their subjects across the Indonesian archipelago had been converted to Islam.
The Thais too could have been forcibly converted to Islam as were the Malaysians in the 15th century when the Sri Vijaya king was converted to Islam following which the Majapahit kingdom of Indonesia was defeated and destroyed by the Sultans of Malacca (successors to the kings of Sri Vijaya who embraced Islam).
Thus when Portuguese and Dutch came in to the scene, the Thais received a much needed breather and they gathered their fading strength to garner enough courage to counterattack the Sultanate of Malacca three times, along with their Portuguese allies and finally brought an end to the rogue infidel Muslim power of the Sultanate of Malacca as a threat to themselves (Thais) as well as to the emerging mercantile powers � the Portuguese and the Dutch. The British gave a final end to the pretensions of the other auxiliary Muslim sultanates, that had succeeded the fallen Sultanate of Malacca. These included the Sultanate of Pattani, the Sultanate of Johore, and the Sultanate of Borneo.
In the 18th century, the Thais had an ambition to overrun both the Sultanate of Pattani and the Sultanate of Johore and reclaim the entire Malay peninsula through the lost Thai towns of Ligor (Nakhon Si Thammarat) and Kataha up to Singapore (earlier known as the island of Temasek) that they had lost to the Muslims when Parmeswara the last Sri Vijaya king converted to Islam in 1441. But that was not to be however, the Thais checkmated the Muslim ambitions to overrun Thailand and took the war in to Muslim territory as we shall see in the following paragraphs.
The Thais re-conquer the Sultanate of Pattani from the Muslims
In the 13th to the 15th centuries, Pattani intermittently was a part of the Buddhist kingdom of Siam and the Hindu-Buddhist Sri Vijaya Empire. Siam and Sri Vijaya had a keen rivalry for dominating the Isthumus of Kra in order to be able to dominate the strategic straits of Malacca. The Sri Vijaya kingdom was located in Palembang and was a maritime confederation dating back to the 3rd century C.E. During the pre-Islamic era, Sri Vijaya dominated trade on the South China Sea and exacted tolls from all traffic through the Straits of Malacca and the province of Tambralinga (know also as Nakhon Sri Thammarat).
The growing power of Siam threatened this lucrative monopoly from the 13th century. This led to a string of battles between the two empires despite close affinities in language, culture and religion. This conflict was the chink that allowed Islam to sneak in to South-east Asia in the 15th century.
After the conversion of the last Sri Vijaya king Parameswara to Islam through deception, and the transformation of the Sri Vijaya kingdom into the Sultanate of Malacca, the rivalry with Thailand became more acute, as the antagonists now belonged to different religions and with Islam, the erstwhile Sri Vijaya (now the Sultanate of Malacca) found greater zeal to pulverize its long time northern rival Siam with the additional aim of converting the Thais to Islam.
Successive Muslim chieftains of Pattani who were surrogates of the Sultan of Malacca tried to attack Thailand from the Isthumus of Kra.
Four successive rulers of Pattani known as Ratu Hijau (The Green Queen), Ratu Biru (The Blue Queen), Ratu Ungu (The Purple Queen) and Ratu Kuning (The Yellow Queen) tried to conquer Thailand from 1584 onwards. But the Pattani kingdom's economic and military strength proved inadequate to conquer Siam single-handedly and the Thais fought off four major invasions, with the last one threatening the overrun Pattani itself. It was then that the Sultans of Patani allied themselves with the eastern Malay kingdom of Pahang and the southern Malay Sultanates of Malacca and Johore. They jointly endeavored to subdue Thailand.
They got an unique opportunity to stab Thailand in its back when in 1563 a massive Burmese attack from the north against the Siamese kingdom threatened to overrun the Thai capital of Ayutthaya. Seizing this opportunity the Sultan of Pattani, Muzaffar Shah took launched an attack on Ayutthaya from the South. The Thais however proved to be no mean opponents, and despite being weakened by their long drawn out war with Burma, they repulsed the Muslim invasion led by the Sultan of Pattani, Muzaffar Shah who was himself slain during the battle.
But the Thais could not push their advantage to overrun Pattani, Johore and Malacca altogether, as they had to still grapple with the Burmese threat from the north of Thailand. The Burmese intermittently occupied the Thai capital of Ayutthaya. Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries Thais were engaged in constant skirmishes with the Burmese and in these see-saw campaigns, the Burmese occupied the Thai capital of Ayutthaya in 1767. The Thais shifted their capital to Bangkok 72 kilometers downstream to the south and continued fighting the Burmese invasion. And in the same year, the Thais finally retook Ayutthaya from the Burmese after a devastating campaign. The city was almost entirely destroyed in this war and was rebuilt over the next few years from 1782 onwards when the residence of the king and the royal family during the Rattanakosin period. Following this victory, the Siamese king Taksin succeeded in driving the Burmese invaders from the rest of Siam. His successor, Rama I, established the Chakri Dynasty, which still rules Thailand today.
With the Burmese threat having receded, the Thais turned on their old enemies the Sultans of Pattani, Johore and Malacca. As fate would have it, during this period in the 17th Century, the Sultanate of Pattani had fallen into disarray and was in gradual decline especially during the reign of last queens who ruled Pattani.
Siezing the opportunity, Prince Surasi, Rama I's younger brother and vice-king, invaded Pattani. Pattani's Sultan Muhammad was killed in battle and his capital razed to the ground. According to Pattani sources, about 4,000 Malay soldiers were enslaved as POWs and the most muscular of them were made to work on system of khlongs in Thailand�s new capital Bangkok. To further humiliate Pattani, the symbols of its military strength � the Seri Patani and Seri Negara cannon - were brought to Bangkok. (The Phaya Thani is a prized cannon that once belonged to the Sultan of Pattani This gigantic cannon has a length of 6 meters and today stands in front of the Thai Ministry of Defense in Bangkok. This cannon was confiscated by Thai troops after their conquest of Pattani in 1785 and the defeat of Rattanakosin the Sultan of Pattani. This cannon was brought by the victorious Thais to Bangkok and was presented as war booty to the Thai king Rama I.)
The Jihad against Thailand today
But for the people of Pattani, this war has not ended. The Muslim converts of Pattani never reconciled to the reconquest of Pattani by the Thais and continued to terrorize the Buddhist population intermittently throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. In the 20th and 21st centuries this rebellion has taken the form of an insurgency. And even to this day there are terrorist incidents in Pattani, in which innocent students, teachers and Buddhist monks are routinely murdered.
Lessons from the struggle of Thai Buddhists against Islam
The lessons from the continuing suffering of the Thai Buddhists at the hands of the Muslim Malays of which only Southern Thailand is in the limelight, is that the sneaky and ruthless tactics of the Muslims can only be outmatched by we being more sneaky and ruthless ourselves. The old English adage �Everything is fair in love and war,� holds greatest relevance while battling the Muslims. And only when we in the Non-Muslim world realize this and go into an overreach with subterfuge against the Terrorists (all of whom are Muslims), and use our still prevailing (but fast closing) edge of superior weapons against the enemy, can the Muslims finally be defeated in the looming Third World War.