He was born Jaafar As-Sadiq, the son of Sunan Ngudung and Syarifah (sibling of Sunan Bonang), thus the grandson of Sunan Ampel. It is said that he was a son of an Egyptian sultan who migrated to Java. In the Sultanate of Demak, he was appointed commander of the army. He went forth with Sultan Prawata, battling against Adipati Jipang, Arya Penangsang.
He learned a lot from Sunan Kalijaga and apply most of the methods in dawah taught by Kalijaga. Kudus then fled to Central Java to the most empty place there such as Sragen, Simo and also Gunung Kidul.
He was so tolerant to the local culture and even more softer than the other wali up to the point that if someone said to have be having difficulty making dawah in Kudus they will refer back to Sunan Kudus as the most successful person in this area. He makes good use of the symbols appearing in Hinduism and Buddhism and manifested it into architecture especially mosques, minarets, entrance gates and ablutions symbolizing the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism.
On one occasion he deliberately called the locals to listen to his sermon by tying his cow named "Sapi Gumarang" in the mosque courtyard, the Hindus who revered cows as their deity soon became sympathetic after listening to the explanation made by him in Sura al-Baqara. Up until then those people in Kudus refuse to slaughter bulls and cows because of their ancient beliefs in the sanctity of cows.
Sunan Kudus also compiled stories on tawhid into series and made the crowd became enthusiastic in listening to those stories. This is the Javanese version of 1001 Arabian Nights prior to The Book of One Thousand and One Nights during the Abassid Caliphate.
- Sunyoto, Agus (2014). Atlas Wali Songo: Buku Pertama yang Mengungkap Wali Songo Sebagai Fakta Sejarah. 6th edition. Depok: Pustaka IIMaN. ISBN 978-602-8648-09-7
- Islam in Indonesia
- The spread of Islam in Indonesia (1200 to 1600)
- Ali al-Uraidhi ibn Ja'far al-Sadiq
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