By Aman Ullah
Mr. M A Taher Ba Tha (1932-2017) wrote his masterpiece book, On Rohingya and Kamans, in 1963 and published it in the same year. The name of that book is “A SHORT HISTORY OF ROHINGYAS AND KAMANS OF BURMA” It was the only printed history book on Rohingyas by a Rohingya in Burmese.
This book was translated into English by Mr. Abul Faiz (a) AFK Jilani (1940-2017). The followings are the Preface of Mr Taher Ba tha and the forward letter of Mr. AFK Jilani.
We Lost our both historian within a short time, within one week. However their legacies remain for us.
In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
As I am neither a perfect historian nor a man of literature, my presentations of the historical references and the placing of the sentences, phrases, idioms, words may be in crude positions. If so, my earnest request to the esteemed readers is to read it in correct and smooth way. As per above Quranic verse I tried my best to dig up many materials from various sources. I write this booklet at the request of the United Rohingya Nationlal League of Myitkyina, Burma with the object of enriching the knowledge of the history of Rohingyas and Kamans to all citizens of the Union of Burma.
M. A. Tahir Ba Tha
The history of Rohingyas and Kamans, by M. A. Tahir Ba Tha, deals the advent of Rohingyas in Arakan since 7th century A.D. He has explored an enormously wide field in digging up many materials from various sources.
According to history, Islam reached Arakan before 788 A.D. and it attracted the local people to come to the fold of Islam en masse all over Burma. Since then Islam had played an important part towards the advancement of civilization in Arakan. From 1430 to 1784 A.D. Arakan was a Sultanate. Muslims and Buddhists lived side by side for centuries with amity and concord as one family and ruled the country together.
The position of the Muslims of Arakan was glorious during the time of Mrauk-U Empire but their position was down trodden during the 40 years of Burmese occupation. During British rule too, they had been discriminated and blindfolded by the British so much so that none of the Muslims could hold a single high position in the government. As they were the conqueror of the Muslim Moghul Empire, the British politically kept the Muslims of subcontinent and that of Arakan uneducated, unhealthy and undeveloped.
The British played divide and rule in Arakan, with the result that many of the Arakanese Buddhist brethren bear hatred against the Muslim Rohingyas and threat them as “Kalas” (foreigners). This hatred should no longer be bred in the Union of Burma as it had been brought up in the nursery of British imperialism. Unfortunately, the same policy is now adopted by the ruling military junta of Burma.
The Rohingyas of Arakan have been together as an indigenous race in a group from time immemorial. Still, their sister community, the Rakhine Maghs, intentionally branded Rohingyas as the illegal immigrants from a neighbouring country. Their false allegations reputed by M. A. Tahir Ba Tha by writing articles in the Daily Mirror, Kaba-Alin and the Guardian Magazines of Rangoon in 1960s. When he was transferred to Myitkyina city of Kachin State, as a Bank manager, he was requested to write a book on the History of Rohingyas by the Executive Committee members of the United Rohingya National League (U.R.N.L), Myitkyina. At their request this book “History of Rohingyas and Kamans” was written in Burmese by M. A. Tahir Ba Tha and duly published by the United Rohingya National League of Myitkyina, Burma.
Moreover, with the collection of M. A. Tahir Ba Tha’s articles from the Guardian Magazines and the Kaba Alin Magazines, “A Short History of Rohingyas” was compiled and published by the United Rohingyas National League of Rangoon in 1960.
M. A. Tahir Ba Tha is a native of Rohingyadaung village of Buthidaung Township. He is now residing in Ran-goon with his family passing his retired life. He wrote- another book entitled “FAITHFUL ROHINGYAS” but unable to publish. His articles and booklet on Rohingyas played important source of documents for the historical background of Rohingya nation.
The Institute of Arakan Studies, Bangladesh, requested me to translate the History of Rohingyas and Kamans, by M. A. Tahir Ba Tha. On their request, I have translated it with my poor knowledge of Rohingya history and English literature. If this translation could contribute for the history of our people, then I will be satisfied with my work. I expect the blessing of Almighty Allah.
A. F. K. Jilani