Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah of Kedah

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Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah was the 25th Sultan of Kedah.
Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah of Kedah

Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah ibni Ahmad Taj ud-din al-Mukarram Shah (18641943) was the 25th Sultan of Kedah (1881-1943) and the Sultan who modernized Kedah.[1] Two of his progeny created history in Malaysia:

  1. Tunku Abdul Rahman, the country's first prime minister who was the Sultan's 7th son; and
  2. Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah, who is the first Sultan to become the Yang di-Pertuan Agong twice.

Sultan Abdul Hamid's tengkolok (head-dress) now rests in a glass display at the Kedah Royal Museum. The notations beside this display explain that the set of diamonds that once adorned this head-dress is now affixed to the ceremonial headdress of the present Sultan of Kedah.[1] Locals believe that if Sultan Abdul Hamid's tengkolok is lost, Kedah will lose everything.[1] There is still a strong belief that the Sultan continues to bring prosperity to the state. This is precisely why a framed photo of Sultan Abdul Hamid hangs on the walls of many establishments in Alor Setar.[1]

2.  Brief biography: Born the son of Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin Mukarram Shah and Wan Hajar binti Dato' Wan Ismail, Sultan Abdul Hamid travelled overseas widely, forging friendships with many of the world's leaders. He was made a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George during the coronation of King George V.

In 1896, Sultan Abdul Hamid initiated the refurbishing of the Balai Besar which had been destroyed by Bugis (1770) and Siamese (1821) attacks. The wedding ceremony of the Sultan's 5 children in 1904 was held here simultaneously, with the celebrations extending over a 90-day period.

Sultan Abdul Hamid also built a new building for the Balai Nobat, using concrete and metal, in 1906. Based on the same architecture as the previous wooden building, the 3-storey building had a dome at its apex, representing the Islamic element found on mosques. It was during Sultan Abdul Hamid's reign that Masjid Zahir was built and officially opened on 15 October 1915. Inspired by the architecture of the Azizi Mosque in Tanjung Pura, Langkat Sultanate (present-day North Sumatra), this mosque is enhanced with 5 prime large domes, symbolizing the Five Pillars of Islam. Masjid Zahir has been voted as one of the 10 most beautiful mosques in the world.|[2]

By 1905, Kedah was facing a financial crisis. Sultan Abdul Hamid requested for a $2,500,000 loan from Siam, which was extended, with the proviso that a Financial Advisor from the court of Siam be accepted by the Sultan, and a State Council created to assist the Sultan in the administration of all public affairs. This resulted in the promulgation of a new state constitution on 29 July 1905 which curbed the Sultan's administrative powers. The State Council was run by Sultan Abdul Hamid's brothers, followed by their sons, and including the Financial Advisor as one of its members.

Sultan Abdul Hamid had 8 wives and over 40 children. At the time of his death, he had over 90 grandchildren.