Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Hereditary Malay Titles

Hereditary titles are used by various ethnics. The Tamils have their caste titles which can be used as paternal family names or titular clan surnames.

These are hereditary and should only be used by those who belong to that particular family. For example, a person with the Udayar title cannot call himself a Desigar and vice versa.

Like the Tamils, the Malay people too have their own hereditary titles. However, unlike the Tamils who use it as their last name, the Malay titles are used as the first name, right before the given name.

Let's take a look at some of it.

Pengiran and Tengku
Pengiran is much more common in Borneo (esp Brunei) than in Peninsular Malaysia. It is equivalent to the Tengku title used in peninsular.

One of Brunei’s recognized literary artist is Pengiran Setia Negara Pengiran (Dr.) Haji Mohd Yusof Pengiran Haji Abdul Rahim. He is also known as Yura Halim.

Tengku Razaleigh bin Tengku Mohd Hamzah, former Finance Minister of Malaysia

This title varies depending on the lineage. It is also common among Bugis royalties.

Raja Petra bin Raja Kamarudin is a Malaysian editor known for running the Malaysia Today website.

Used by the members of the Johor royal house. I was told that it is also used by the maternal descendants of a ruler in some states.

Former Vice-Chancellor of University of Malaya (1968-1988), Profesor Diraja Ungku Abdul Aziz bin Ungku Abdul Hamid

Used in the several Malay Sultanate in Kalimantan and it is believed to be of Javanese origin.

Raden Kartini, daughter of Raden Sosroningrat, was a pioneer women's rights activist in Indonesia.

Abang & Dayang
This title is particularly found in Sarawak. Its origin can be traced to the appointments of Datuk Patinggi, Datuk Temenggung, Datuk Bandar and Datuk Imam in Sarawak before the British era. The children of these state dignitaries carry the title Abang (male) and Dayang (female). Dayang is also used as Dayangku.

When an Abang marries a Dayang or a commoner, the issue will get to keep the title. The issue of a Dayang does not carry a title if he/she has a non-Abang father.

However, if a Dayang marries a male aristocrat bearing a different title than hers, her issue will be named according to the husband's given title.

Dayang Noor Camelia, daughter of Abang Khalid.

Awang is the term used for addressing men in Brunei and it is equivalent to Encik (Mr). However, Awangku is hereditary, of which they may later claim the title Pengiran since they are also related to the Brunei Sultanate.

This, however can only be done after he gets the approval of the elders and is considered as matured enough to carry the title. The change is only eligible for those who inherit the name Awang from their family line.

Awangku Fakharazzi is a footballer from Brunei.

Syed, Sharifah and Meor
Many believe that this title is inherited by male descendants, through the male line, from the Prophet Muhammad via his grandsons Hassan and Hussein.

Female descendants are known as Syarifah or Sharifah. However, Syed has also been used as a common name by many parents.

Syed is actualy used as Sayyid and it is very popular in India. The Indian Muslim Sayyids migrated to Malaysia and intermarried with the locals. They then passed this title to their descendants here.

This is how the title became popular in Malaysia.

Owners of the Syed Group of Companies. A chain of restaurant outlets famous for their Bukhara Briyani.

Sharifah Zohra Jabeen. You know who :)

Meor is a title inherited by the male issue of a Syarifah and non-Syed father.

Meor Aziddin Yusoff, is an independent Malay language folk singer-songwriter from Malaysia.

Megat, Puteri and Tun
A Megat is a descendant of the Pagaruyung Prince, Megat Terawis who was also the first bendahara of Perak. Megats along with Puteris and Tuns are typically found in Perak. Megat is also styled by a half blood royal male descendant of a female royal of Pahang. 

Megat Junid Megat Ayub, former Malaysian Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs.

Puteri is a title inherited by the female descendant of a Megat.

Puteri Sarah Liyana Megat Kamaruddin, actress and model.

Tun is a title inherited by the issue of a Puteri and a commoner father, in turn inheritable through the male line.

In Pahang it is the title of a male or female descendant of a Sultan through the distant line.

Tun Hisan Tun Hamzah, Chief Police Officer of Selangor.

This title inherited by the issue of a male Wan. Typically found in Kelantan, Kedah and Terengganu. In Kedah, Wan is the title used by descendants of certain former chief ministers of the state, e.g. the descendants of Wan Mohd Saman. Wan can also be used as the title for a girl's name.

A Wan may later claim the title Tuanku. This, however can only be done after he gets the approval of the elders and is considered as matured enough to carry the title. The change is only eligible for those who inherit the name Wan from their family line.

A female issue of Wan carries the title Sharifah. The issue of a Sharifah does not carry a title if he/she has a non-Wan father.

Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

This title is inherited by the issue of a male Nik. It is typically found in Kelantan, Terengganu and Pattani (South Thailand).

The first recognised Sultan of Kelantan, Sultan Muhammad I, was also known as Nik Muhammadiah.

Some historians believe that the Niks are the descendants of Nik Ali, who was an important official under the rulers of Pattani. Nik Ali was also known as Fakih Ali Malbari and studied Islam in India.

It is also customary in Kelantan and Pattani that when a princess marries a common man, their children will bear the Nik title. 

Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, the spiritual leader of Parti Islam Se-Malaysia and the former Chief Minister of Kelantan.

This is a title inherited by the issue of a male Che descendants and were also used by some Malay nobles in ancient times. The Che title can also be passed down from a descendant of a female Nik and non-Nik male. 

Keep in mind that the Malay title Che has got nothing to do with Che Guevara. So don't get confused.

I would have probably missed out some titles.

The National Registration Department (NRD) of Malaysia has set some strict rules in using these titles. Only those in the bloodline can use it.

You cannot simply name your son as a Tengku if you are not a Tengku!
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