Sunan Kudus Dakwah and Inter-Religious Relationship

Title : Sunan Kudus’ Dakwah and Inter-Religious Relationship
Author : Zaenal Muttaqin (CRCS, 2005)
Keywords : Sunan Kudus’ tolerance, cultural dakwah, inter-religious harmony
This research aims at exploring the strategy of dakwah applied by Sunan Kudus when preaching Islam in the early period of Islam in Java and the model of inter-religious relationship occurred in his lifetime.

Islam was initially spread in Kudus by Muslims traders from Arab and China. In Kudus, before the coming of Islam, most people were Hindus. Others held Buddhism and local religious beliefs, i.e. animism and dynamism. Not sooner did Sunan Kudus arrive, he became aware that Islam should be taught by using local traditions. He tried to understand previous religious traditions existing in Kudus and then decided to preach Islam while still retaining traditions followed by local people to create harmony in society.

The media used by Sunan Kudus to introduce Islam were the prohibition of slaughtering cow as a valuation to Hindus teaching, building temple-shape minaret of Kudus mosque as an architectural combination, and building an eight waterspouts cistern as an appreciation of eightfold path of Buddhism.

However, the accommodation and tolerance to other religions did not neglect the prime focus of Sunan Kudus, i.e. preaching Islam to religious others. The goal to convert Hindus and Buddhist people to Islam in Sunan Kudus’ dakwah was indicated as the fulfillment model of inter-religious relationship. From his attitudes to other religious teachings and symbols, Sunan Kudus honored other religions. The valuation of cow as holy in Hinduism, the temple-shape minaret of Al-Aqsha mosque, and the eight waterspout cistern had become the acknowledgement of Sunan Kudus that there were any other ways of salvation within non-Islam religions, particularly Hinduism and Buddhism. Yet he kept on his way preaching Islam since he convinced that Islam is the last and final truth and revelation.

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