coastal port and the hinterland has been one of the most important issues for scholars interested in the history and political culture of maritime Southeast Asia. The coastal port needed the hinterland for its products, and the hinterland needed the coastal port in order to barter for such necessities as salt and cotton cloths. Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam helped local rulers in their efforts to glorify their kingly roles as mediators between foreign traders and the hinterland population. The acceptance of Islam by those rulers resulted in the strengthening of ties both within the Islamic world and with the hinterland.Although Muslim Arab and Persian traders were visiting Southeast Asia from at least the 8th century, it was from the end of the 13th century that north Sumatran coastal rulers began to embrace Islam, in order to reinforce their authority in the midst of a rapid influx of Muslim traders from west and south Asia and Chinese traders from east Asia. Sufi orders played an important role in the conversion of Southeast Asian rulers to Islam, as pointed out by A. H. Johns.In order to respond to increased demands by visiting merchants for local products, Sumatran coastal rulers needed to mobilize their hinterland people more effectively. While there is no doubt that the military superiority of the coastal rulers may have provided them with the means to exercise control over their hinterlands, nevertheless it was difficult for them to consistently control affairs in the interior and particularly to guarantee that the agricultural system would allow the people to collect and cultivate their products. In this context, the coastal ruler needed to associate his power with the fertility of agricultural production in the hinterland. Sufism helped to develop the kind of divine power and influence for these rulers to strengthen ties with their peoples.The royal chronicles of Sumatran Muslim coastal states give us interesting examples of the rulers’ conversion to Islam and the establishment of relationships between them and the hinterland. Hikayat Raja Pasai (The Royal Chronicle of Pasai) is one case in point, claiming that the first ruler of Samudera was a son conceived between a mother born from bamboo and a father raised by an elephant. Before he established Samudera, he had traveled into its interiors and gained support from the people, who praised his wealth accumulated by his supernatural powers. After he became a ruler of Samudera, he had a revelation from Muhammad in a dream who ordered him to call himself Sultan Malikul Saleh and to follow teachings from Syeikh Ismail coming from Mecca. The chronicle clearly implies that Sultan Malikul Saleh’s legitimacy as the ruler of Samudera is based both upon support from the hinterland people and upon a revelation from Muhammad himself. Samudera=Pasai became a prosperous coastal entrepôt which attracted traders from the East and the West and was recognized as a leading Islamic center among Muslim states of Southeast Asia during the 14th and 15th centuries. Although Pasai’s royal chronicle mentions that a group of people who refused to accept Islam fled from Samudera into the interior, relations between the hinterland population and the coastal city was so firmly established that by the early sixteenth century, Pasai merchants were itinerating into the hinterland to trade with the people of north Sumatra, according to Tomé Pires.The prosperity of Muslim coastal cities often led to the further development of hinterland agricultural society. Royal chronicles of Barus suggest that the coastal rulers associated themselves with the interior authority which the local population believed was connected with the fertility of their agricultural production. Before Barus was placed under the influence of Aceh in the 1530’s, there were two royal families: one of Downstream Barus (Barus Hilir) and the other of Upstream Barus (Barus Ulu). Barus, a port city well-known from early times for its exports of good quality of camphor and gold, may have adopted Islam as early as Samudera, for Sejarah Melayu (The Malay Annals) tells that before reaching Samudera, Syeikh Ismail first arrived at Barus and converted its inhabitants to Islam.058MODERN ASIAN STUDIES REVIEW Vol.5