Abdullah al-Mu'tassim Billah

Abdullah al-Mu'tassim Billah
عبد الله المعتصم بالله
Sultan of Pahang
Reign 19171932
Coronation 19 June 1917
Predecessor Mahmud Shah
Successor Abu Bakar
Born (1874-10-12)12 October 1874
Royal Palace, Pekan, Pahang
Died 30 March 1944(1944-03-30) (aged 69)
Burial Royal Mausoleum, Kuala Pahang
Full name
Kebawah Duli Yang Maha Mulia Colonel Paduka Sri Baginda Sultan Sir Abdullah al-Mu’tassim Billah Shah ibni al-Marhum Sultan Sir Ahmad al-Mua’azzam Shah
House Bendahara
Father Ahmad al-Muadzam Shah
Mother Cik Kusuma binti Tok Minal Daeng Koro
Religion Sunni Islam

Colonel Paduka Sri Baginda Sultan Sir Abdullah al-Mu’tassim Billah Shah ibni al-Marhum Sultan Sir Ahmad al-Muadzam Shah is the third Sultan of modern Pahang who ruled from 1917 to 1932.

Early life

Born at the royal palace, Pekan on 12 October 1874, Abdullah is the third son of the first Sultan of modern Pahang, Paduka Sri Baginda Al-Sultan Besar Sir Ahmad al-Muadzam Shah ibni al-Marhum Bendahara Sri Maharaja Tun ‘Ali by his wife, Cik Kusuma binti Tok Minal Daeng Koro. Educated privately, he was raised to the title of Tengku (from Tun) on 5 December 1884. He succeeded on the death of his elder brother, Mahmud Shah in 1917 and installed at the Balairong Sri, Kota Istana Sri Terentang, Pekan, May 1919.[1]


During his reign, Pahang immersed in much political changes. The British government introduced legislation and innovation in the state machinery to make the Malay states 'modern' in political and economic practices. These activities resulted from the constitutional events in the reign of Sultan Ahmad al-Muadzam Shah, namely the creation of the Federated Malay States in 1896 and the establishment of the Federal Council in 1909.[2]

A lot of heat was generated against the effectiveness of the Rulers' participation in the Federal Council is in the reign of Sultan Abdullah. The Sultan was irked to find the increasingly Kuala Lumpur was calling in the tune, even in the affairs which he thought had nothing to do with the Federated Malay States, but only Pahang. However, he toed the line because he was dependent to a certain extent on the adequate collective funds of the Federated Malay States, Pahang stood to benefit from the wealth of Perak and Selangor.[3]

The Sultan was mollified somewhat when during the governorship of Sir Laurence Guillemard there was intense activity to decentralise powers from the centre at Kuala Lumpur back to the individual States comprising the Federated Malay States. But he did not see the scheme materialise. Neither did his successor because the move was still going on when the Japanese invaded Malaya.[4]

Among other reform initiated during Abdullah's reign was the abolishment of a modified form of the corvée system commonly practiced in Pahang. Beginning 1919, substantial Malay reservation areas were opened in order to ensure that land remained available to local Malays. The Sultanate Lands Enactment was promulgated in 1919, vesting certain areas in the Sultan and giving him the right to regulate the leasing and occupation of those areas.[5]

The year 1930 marked the creation of the title Tengku Mahkota ('crown prince') along with other new Malay titles, and the framing of agnatic rules of succession.[6] In 1932, at the age of twenty, Tengku Abu Bakar, son and heir of Abdullah was installed as the Tengku Mahkota of Pahang, the first time a prince ever had this title conferred upon.[7]

Personal life

Abdullah married first to a woman known as Che’ Endut. His second wife was Tengku Hajjah Kalsum binti Tun Abdullah, daughter of a Terengganuan nobleman Tun Abdullah bin Tun Abdul Rauf of Pulau Duyung, who later was made the Tengku Ampuan Besar ('high consort'). His first son from this marriage was Abu Bakar, who later succeeded as the next Sultan. Abdullah's third marriage was with Cik Wan Chantik binti Wan Muhammad Amin, daughter of a Pattani nobleman Wan Muhammad Amin. From all these marriages, he had issue in total, ten sons and seven daughters.[8]

Death and succession

By 1931, Abdullah's health began to fail, yet he still managed to attend the Durbar held in August that year.[9] He died the following year, at the Istana Kuning, Pekan on 22 June 1932 and buried at the Royal Cemetery, Kuala Pahang. He was succeeded by his second son, Tengku Mahkota Abu Bakar.[10]



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