Notes on the Hajj in the past, sailing on a sailing ship – fighting pirates


The original journey of the Indonesian Hajj pilgrims is not precisely documented. However, it was noticed by European sailors.

“The Hard Journey of the Pioneer Hajj Pilgrims,” reads the poster about the Hajj pilgrimage in prison Onrust IslandA thousand islands.

Yes, this small island north of Jakarta is a silent witness to the journey Indonesian Hajj pilgrims. Onrust Island was not only the busiest port at the time, but also a trusted port Hajj quarantine.

“This island is the second Hajj quarantine after the one on Rubiah Island in Aceh,” said Rosad, a local tour guide during the visit. detikTravel last week with the DKI Jakarta Disparekraf.

Unlike today, the pilgrimage back then was very difficult. Hajj pilgrims must drift at sea for months, battling waves, disease and pirates or pirates.

In the 16th century, would-be pilgrims from the archipelago had to use foreign trading ships. The merchant ships belonged to Arabs, Turks and Indians who sailed back and forth in Indonesian waters.

Indonesian pilgrims at the beginning of the 16th century Photo: (bonauli/detikcom)

But it turns out it’s not just foreign merchant ships carrying Indonesian hajj pilgrims. The Sultan of Malacca also ordered a special ship from Jepara. The ship was used for trade and transport of Hajj pilgrims.

In 1671, Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa of Banten sent his son, Sultan Ageng Kahar, to meet the Sultan of Mecca and perform the Hajj. After his return from Mecca, Sultan Abdul Kahar bore the title of Sultan Haji.

When the VOC was in power in the archipelago, it banned its ships, including European ships, from carrying potential pilgrims. These ships can only carry Hajj pilgrims if they have a special request or a guarantee from the local rulers.

An Arab merchant saw the increase in Hajj pilgrims as an opportunity. He first built a special ship to carry Hajj pilgrims in 1825.

In 1850, 147 people from different regions of Java and Sumatra were recorded as taking part in the Hajj. By 1853 this number had risen rapidly to 1,113 people. However, the number fluctuated between 1854 and 1862, but was over a thousand people.

Steamship used to transport Indonesian Hajj pilgrims in the early 16th century Photo: (bonauli/detikcom)

The British viewed this as a business area. Not wanting to be overtaken, England sent a steamship to Batavia in 1858; the number of pilgrims then reached 3,862 people. The ship was the first steam ship to be used as Hajj transport after centuries of using sailing ships (merchant ships).

Competition to transport Indonesian Hajj pilgrims is becoming increasingly fierce. Not wanting to be outdone, the merchants in Batavia purchased a steamship with a capacity of 400 people to transport pilgrims from Batavia via Padang.

Although it was a little late, the Dutch government finally got involved in this business. In 1873 the government granted monopoly permits to three Rotterdamsche Lloyd companies, Stoomvaartmatschappij Nederland and Stoomvaartmatschappij Ocean. These ships are known as Triple Kongsi ships.

The number of pilgrims continued to increase between 1927 and 1928, reaching 33,000 people. Unfortunately, the number of departures and arrivals from Mecca does not match. According to colonial records, between 1853 and 1858, not half of the returning pilgrims returned.

Historical records indicate that Portuguese news mentioned the existence of trade links between ports in Java and abroad, such as Jeddah and Mecca. Italian news also reported that many people from Little India (the archipelago) were in Mecca. These message records were found in the early 16th century.

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