The Islamic kingdom of Samudera Pasai was built in the 13th century. The founder of the kingdom was Sultan Malik Al-Saleh who died in 1297.
According to the study by G.P. Rauffer, a Dutch scientist, Pasai was initially located on the right-hand side of the Pasai river, while Samudera was on its left. In the end, the two united to form a single kingdom, Samudera Pasai Kingdom.
Samudera Pasai was located on Malacca Strait, on a busy navigation line between Arabia, India, and China. In the 13th century, the kingdom was already well-known as a center of trade in the region.
The kingdom only had narrow farmland along the flood plain of the River Peusangan. There were villages (meunasahs) in the area which were the smallest units of government.
Due to its glory, Samudera Pasai Kingdom was also able to spread Islam to other regions in Nusantara, such as Minangkabau, Palembang, Jambi, Malacca, and Java.
After Sultan Malik Al-Saleh died, he was succeeded by his son, Sultan Muhammad. He was more popularly known as Malik Al-Tahir. He ruled Samudera Pasai until 1326, then he was succeeded by Sultan Ahmad. He used the same title as his predecessor, Malik Al-Tahir.
When he was in power, the kingdom was visited by Ibnu Battuta, an explorer from Morocco who was an envoy of the sultan of Delhi in 1345. According to the travel note of Ibnu Battuta, Samudera Pasai was a flourishing trade sultanate.
While staying in Samudera Pasai, Ibu Battuta met three well-known ulamas, namely Amir Dawlasa from Delhi (India). Kadi Amir Said from Shiraz, and Tajudin from Isfahan. The sultan of Samudera Pasai loved to have a discussion about religious matters with the three ulamas.
There were many public figures and experts of various disciplines from outside Nusantara, such as Persia (that was under the reign of Caliph Abbasiyah) who assisted the Samudera Pasai Kingdom. It can be assumed, therefore, that the system of government of Samudera Pasai Kindom was that of Caliph Abbasiyah’s system.
To strengthen the relations with other kingdoms which were under the control of Samudera Pasai, some marriages were arranged. So a princess of Perlak was married to the sultan of Samudera pasai, the first king of Malacca, Parameswara married a princess of Pasai.
Because of the marriage, the relation between Malacca and Samudera Pasai developed in many sectors. As a result, Samudera Pasai Sultanate developed fast in various sectors, especially trade because of the following factors.
- Sriwijaya Kingdom had started to weaken.
- Samudera Pasai was located on one side of Malacca Strait which was a gate to international trade routes.
In the 14th century, Samudera Pasai could make itself one of the centers of Islamic study. Ulamas from various Islamic countries gathered in Samudera Pasai to discuss religious and worldly matters. However, approaching the 14 century,
Samudera Pasai was overwhelmed by chaos and disputes of power starting from the emergence of Aceh Darussalam Sultanate in 1524. By the 16th century, the glory and role of Samudera Pasai Sultanate had gone.
In coincidence with that, Mallacca Sultanate emerged in the east of this kingdom.