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The development of Islamic in Demak Kingdom

History - Around the year 1500, an Islamic kingdom was founded in Demak under the leadership of Raden Patah (1500-1518). He had been the regent of Demak who was Muslim. In 1500, he openly declared disengagement of any ties with Majaphit. As the story goes, Raden Patah even succeeded in bringing Majaphit down as then moved all ceremonial equipment and heirlooms of Majaphit to Demak.

Please read : Majapahit Kingdom in history

Raden Patah's 1500 muncul to found Demak Kingdom began with a task assigned to him by Sunan Ampel to teach Islam and build an Islamic school at Glagah Wangi. Later on, this area was known as Bintoro and determined as the capital town of Demak Kingdom and called Bintoro Demak. Before long, Demak Kingdom developed into the greatest Islamic Kingdom in Java.

This kingdom did not only become a center of Islamic study but also a busy center of trade. Here are some factors which helped Demak to develop fast.
  1. The decline of the Hindu kingdom of Majapahit, so Demak could get rid of all its influence. Please read : The fall of Majapahit Kingdom
  1. The fall of Malacca into the hands of the Portuguese (1511) which caused many Muslim tradesmen to move their trade to Demak because they would not do trade with the Portuguese.
  2. Demak was very strategic as a center of trade.
  3. Quite a lot of Demak's agricultural products were commodities which were in great demand.
Demak location in map
Demak location in map
During his period of reign in Demak, Raden Patah was assisted by a 'wali' named Sunan Kalijaga. He was highly meritorious in spreading Islam in Java. Meanwhile, the product of Sunan Kalijaga's mind which is still very famous up to now is 'Demak Mosque'. This mosque is supported by 9 pillars made of wood shavings.

These nine pillars symbolized that there were 9 'walis' who had been meritorious in spreading Islam, especially in Java, and the 'walis' were well-known as 'Walisanga'.

Read the full article : The role ulamas in the early development of Islam in Indonesia

The son of Raden Patah, Pati Unus (Regent of Jepara) actively helped his father strengthen and expand Demak Kingdom.

In 1513, Demak's armada under the command of Pati Unus attacked the Portuguese in Malacca, but the attempt to drive away the Portuguese failed. Nevertheless, Pati Unus's courage to fight for justice and truth deserved to be modelled on.

It was just proper that Pati Unus was awarded the title of 'Pangeran Sabrang Lor' which means the prince who courageously crossed the sea north of Demak Sultanate.

In 1518 Raden Patah died and he was succedeed by his eldest son. Pati Unus (1518-1521). He did not rule Demak for a long time. He died and was succeeded by his second younger brother, Trenggana (1521-1546).

The second younger brother of Pati Unus, Sekar Seda Lepen, could not become a sultan because he was killed by Pangeran Prawata, the son of Trenggana. The reason of the murder was to assure that the throne of Demak would fall into the hands of Prawata, not the hands of Sekar Seda Lepen's son.

During Trenggana's rule, an ulama from Pasai named Nurullah arrived in Demak. Nurullah had a potency to help Trenggana to expel the Portuguese, so he was then married to Trenggana's younger sister.

Because of good cooperation between Trenggana and Nurullah, the Portuguese failed to take over important ports in West Java, such as Banten, Cirebon and Sunda Kelapa. The severe attacks launched by Demak forced the Portuguese to leave java.

After successfully driving away the Portuguese, Trenggana managed to defeat the remainders of Mataram and Singasari forces. Yet, Pasuruan and Panarukan remained unbeaten. So did Blambangan which remained part of Bali Kingdom.

In 1546, Trenggana was even killed in an attempt to conquer Pasuruan. The death of Trenggana in battle tiggered a dispute over power among the royal families in Demak. Arya Penangsang, who felt he was entitled to be a sultan, murdered Pangeran Prawata and his family. This was a revenge for the death of his father, Sekar Seda Lepen.

When Arya Penangsang was in power (1546-1568) there were a lot of chaos and murders. Manyy people did not like to see him stay in power because he was a cruel ruler. Pangeran Hadiri (regent of Jepara) who was considered as an obstacle to maintain his power was murdered.

Following that, the wife of Jepara regent decided to take a revenge on Arya Penangsang for the death of her husband and relatives. She managed to persuade some regents, one of them was Adiwijaya (also called Jaka Tingkir of Mas Karebet) from Pajang, to fight Arya Penangsang.

Adiwijaya was able to kill Arya Penangsang in a battle in 1568. Since then, the crown and all symbols of glory of Demak were moved to Pajang.

Next article : The development of Islamic in Pajang Kingdom
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