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Alexander the Great from Britain to Southeast AsiaPeripheral Empires in the Global Renaissance$
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Su Fang Ng

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198777687

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198777687.001.0001

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(p.333) Epilogue
Alexander the Great from Britain to Southeast Asia

Su Fang Ng

Oxford University Press

This Epilogue narrates an incident in which the Islamic Alexander became a rallying cry for the anti-kafir (infidel) movement in Sumatra. It considers how Ahmad Shah bin Iskandar, a claimant to Sumatra’s Minangkabau throne in Palembang, professed the status of a saint to wage holy war against the Dutch, and turned to the legend of Alexander the Great to inspire his resistance. As a leader of the anti-kafir movement, Ahmad Shah garnered support from various chiefs in the region and sought to build an archipelagic alliance. An analysis of Ahmad Shah’s uses of the Alexander legend reveals how the Alexander Romance was turned to religiously motived politics in European encounters with Southeast Asia. Ahmad Shah’s exegesis of Iskandar Zulkarnain’s name emphasizes the latter’s dual role as king and prophet, and in laying claim to an Alexandrian descent of Palembang provenance, Ahmad Shah pretended to sacral kingship.

Keywords:   anti-kafir movement, Islamic Alexander, Sumatra, Ahmad Shah bin Iskandar, holy war, Dutch, Alexander the Great, Alexander Romance, Iskandar Zulkarnain, sacral kingship

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