Spread of Islam in Southeast Asia

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Minaret of the Menara Kudus Mosque, influenced by both Islamic and mainly Javanese art and architecture.
A Muslim "Food jar" from the Philippines, also known as gadur, well known for its brass with silver inlay.

Islam came to the Southeast Asia, first by the way of Muslim traders along the main trade-route between Asia and the Far East, then was further spread by Sufi orders and finally consolidated by the expansion of the territories of converted rulers and their communities.[1] The first communities arose in Northern Sumatra (Aceh) and the Malacca's remained a stronghold of Islam from where it was propagated along the trade routes in the region.[1] There is no clear indication of when Islam first came to the region, the first Muslim gravestone markings date to 1082.[2]

When Marco Polo visited the area in 1292 he noted that the urban port state of Perlak was Muslim,[2] Chinese sources record the presence of a Muslim delegation to the emperor from the Kingdom of Samudra (Pasai) in 1282,[1] other accounts provide instances of Muslim communities present in the Melayu Kingdom for the same time period while others record the presence of Muslim Chinese traders from provinces such as Fujian.[2] The spread of Islam generally followed the trade routes east through the primarily Buddhist region and a half century later in the Malacca's we see the first dynasty arise in the form of the Sultanate of Malacca at the far end of the Archipelago form by the conversion of one Parameswara Dewa Shah into a Muslim and the adoption of the name Muhammad Iskandar Shah after his marriage to a daughter of the ruler of Pasai.[1][2] In 1380, Sufi orders carried Islam from here on to Mindanao.[3]

Another driving force for the change of the ruling class in the region was the concept among the increasing Muslim communities of the region when ruling dynasties to attempt to forge such ties of kinship by marriage.[3] By the time the colonial powers and their missionaries arrived in the 17th century the region up to New Guinea was overwhelmingly Muslim with animist minorities.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d P. M. ( Peter Malcolm) Holt, Bernard Lewis, "The Cambridge History of Islam", Cambridge University Press, pr 21, 1977, ISBN 0-521-29137-2 pg.123-125
  2. ^ a b c d e Colin Brown, A Short History of Indonesia", Allen & Unwin, July 1, 2003 ISBN 1-86508-838-2 pg.31-33
  3. ^ a b Nazeer Ahmed, "Islam in Global History: From the Death of Prophet Muhammed to the First World War", Xlibris Corporation, December 1, 2000, ISBN 0-7388-5962-1 pg. 394-396