It was chance alone that I heard, over the radio, mid 1986, that there was to be a ceremony in Ayudhya in honour and memory of Sheikh Ahmad Qomi, I was quite interested and anxious to attend. By the time I arrived, however, the ceremony had finished and I was about to depart, again only by chance, I was introduced to Associate Professor Adul Tan prayoon, a lecturer at Phra Nakorn Sri Ayudhya Teachers College. He, in turn, introduced me to Khun Siri Tangtrandchitr, Assistant Secretary of the Chao Phya Boworn Rajanayok (Sheikh Ahmad Qomi) Foundation. During our conversation I was told that Sheikh Ahmad Qomi was a Persian and the title 'Sheikh' used in Persia meant much more than an Arab tribal leader, it meant that the title - holder was a highly learned man of the Qoran and a person deem worthy of the utmost respect and honour. Later on I was told by the highest authority on the matter, that the word 'QOMI' had to follow his name if his name was to be correctly used.
Of course, I was astounded but delighted with this information and a multitude of question gathered in my mind, such as, who exactly was this Sheikh Ahmad Qomi and what exactly did he do? I did have a general understanding that he was of great service to some early Kings of Siam; that his descendants had succeeded him in being of service to the various Kings; that titles and honours had been bestowed on over nine generations of descendants of Sheikh Ahmad Qomi. The detailed facts the who, what, where, when and why- I humbly plead guilty of never ascertaining. That is, until now!
Khun Siri has been invaluable in apprising me of all
sorts of significant as well as interesting information, such as this anectote:
'The site on which Phra Nakorn Sri Ayudhya Teachers College was being built was
adjacent to the river. The whole site was merely barren ground, full of dense
undergrowth and bushes, and, in some parts, somewhat swampy. There was evidence
that there had been building but only the foundations remained, Everyone took
it for granted that it was now vacant land and considered Crown or Government
property. When it came to clearing the rear part of the property, the bull dozers,
tractors, and gangs of labourers were sent in. To everyone's dismay, the labourers
and all concerned with the undertaking, bacame ill, stricken with fever, and no
work could proceed. Replacements were sent in and they too were sticken with fever.
Work was stopped and an investigation took place. It was eventually discovered,
to everyone astonishment, that the site was the former location of Chao Phya Boworn
Rajanayok's (Sheikh Ahmad Qomi) first Kuti (Mosque), cemetary and original residence
at Ta Kayee. Members of the Islamic Chao Sen sect were sent in and they discovered
the family grave of Sheikh Ahmad Qomi and many of his descendants. After much
consulation and deliberation, the grounds were cleared and a tomb was built. No
buildings were or have been erected where the old cemetary is located. Needless
to say, there has been no further outbreaks of fever!
This was the
very spot where the Memorial Service took place.
The tomb, to this day,
stands on the campus of the Phra Nakorn Sri Ayudhya Teachers College. The discovery
was a unique revelation, or some would say a miracle.
Khun Siri also
put into my possession a number of publications, all in Siamese, dicussing various
incidents in the history of Sheikh Ahmad Qomi and his descendants. They had achieved
much more than I had realized. I gathered more information at the National Library,
the National Archives Institute, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Information
on the last few descendants, I am pleased to say, has been told me directly by
my father, Phya Raja Nuprabandh (Pier). Much of this information has not been
published, and much of it that has been, such as cremation dedications, are inaccurate.
I want to set the record straight!
It is in the interests of the historical heritage of Siam and in the mutual diplomatic interests of both Siam and Iran (persia) that this story is now told in English as the international language, soliciting an international readership. A story whose interests and fascination I now wish to share with you.
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