5 Historical theories on the spread of Islam in Indonesia

Bisnis.com, JAKARTA – Islam is a religion adopted by the majority of the Indonesian people. In the history of Islam’s arrival in Indonesia, there are many theories underlying the spread of Islam.

According to former UIN chancellor Syarif Hidayatullah and current press council chair, Azyumardi Azra said that Islam coming to Indonesia is very complex, which means that the history of Islam comes to Indonesia not only from one place, the role by a single group and not simultaneously.

Quoted from the Syahada Padangsidimpuan UIN magazine, there are many disagreements among historians on the issue of Islam’s entry into Indonesia, one of which is the opinion of Snouck Horgounje, who said that Islam was first brought to Indonesia by Indians.

However, some say Islam brought by Arabs, Chinese and even Europeans.

These are the details of the history of Islam’s entry into Indonesia according to several theories:

1. Arabic theory

In this theory it is said that religion Islam came first directly from the 7th-8th Century AD by merchants from Arabia. Then, according to this theory, Barus was the first area visited by Arab Muslims. Evidence for this theory is the discovery of a tomb with the inscription Ha-Mim in AD 670 and the discovery by archaeologists according to epigraphic sources in the form of tombstones.

This theory is supported by Krawfurl, Keijzer, Nieman, de Hollender, JC Van Leur, Thomas W. Arnold, Naquib al-Attas, Buya Hamka, Djajadiningrat, Mukti Ali and the most persistent figure defending this theory is Naquib al-Attas.

2. Gujarati Theory

This theory was put forward by scientists from Leiden University, Pijnapel, saying that Gujarat’s trade relations played an important role in the spread of Islam in Indonesia, this theory was developed by a Dutch scientist, Snouck Hurgronje.

Hurgronje then the reason for developing this theory because of the lack of facts explaining the role of the Arabs in the spread Islam long-standing Indo-Indonesian trade relations with Indonesia and Sumatra is home to the oldest inscription in Islam showing the relationship between Sumatra and Gujarat.

The Gujarat theory is also supported by Moquette, adding evidence of the discovery of tombstones in Pasai as well as tombstones in Gujarat. However, this evidence was criticized by an Australian journalist, George Ernest Morrison. In his opinion, this evidence does not necessarily mean that Islam originated from this area, because according to historical data, the first king of Pasai died in 698 H/1298 AD. While Gujarat was still a Hindu kingdom, it became an Islamic one Rich.

3. Persian theory

One of the figures in this theory is Hoesein Djajaningrat, in the Persian theory Djajaningrat has found evidence in the life of the people on the territory of Indonesia in the 11th century, such as the 10th anniversary of Muharram as Ashura day known as the day the Shiite commemoration of the assassination of Husayn bin Ali bin Abi Muttalib.

Furthermore, there are similarities between the teachings of Sheikh Siti Jenar with the teachings of the Iranian Sufi al-Hallaj and the use of Iranian terms in early Qur’anic recitation in the Arabic spelling system for characters of haraka letters.

4. Chinese theory

This theory explains that ethnic Chinese Muslims play a very important role in spreading Islam in the archipelago. Islam entered China in Canton (Guangzhou) during the reign of Tai Tsung (627-650) of the Tang Dynasty. Then Chinese Muslims arrived in the 7th-8th centuries. Century AD via trade routes to the archipelago, and the first area they visited was Sumatra.

It should be understood that this theory does not emphasize the early arrival of Islam in Indonesia, but rather the role of Chinese Muslims in providing data and information on the existence of Muslim communities in Indonesia and their role in developments in the 15th/16th centuries. For example, Chinese sources state that an Arab merchant became the head of an Arab-Muslim settlement on the coast of Sumatra (called Ta’shih) in the 7th century AD.

5. Turkish theory

In addition to the four theories mentioned above, the Turkish theory also states this Islam in Indonesia comes from Muslims in Turkey. With evidence that many Kurdish clerics from Turkey are teaching Islam in Indonesia, such as the book Tanwir al-Qulub by Muhammad Amin al-Kurdi, then there is the Barzanji tradition already popular in Indonesia and the many Kurdish terms used in Indonesia such as Haji Kurdi, Gang Kurds, Kurdish streets and so on.


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