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Encyclopedia > Wali Songo

The nine walis were Sufi teachers who spread Islam and did all variety of powerful and unusual acts across Java. The histories of these men are not always clear. In fact, if you try to count all of them, you will end up with more than nine. Some sources say that there was more than one group of nine. The most probable explanation is that there was a loose council of nine religious leaders, and that as older members retired or passed away, new members were brought into this council. Sufism (Arabic تصوف taṣawwuf) is a system of esoteric philosophy commonly associated with Islam. ... The term Java can refer to: In geography: Java (island), Indonesia, the most populous island in the world Javanese language, a language widely spoken on the island of Java Java coffee, a variety of coffee plant which originated on the island of Java, or a slang word for coffee Java...

Symbolically, for later rulers on Java, the wali songo provided a link between the rulers of Majapahit or earlier kingdoms, and the rulers of Mataram, and eventually the Sultans of Yogya and Surakarta. They were both links in the dynastic family trees and cultural links, as they adapted the old arts and traditions to the new Islamic reality.

In spite of the confusion, and some of the legends told about them, these were real men, and some of them such as Gunungjati or Kalijogo (Kali Jaga)were important figures who helped create the Java--and the Indonesia--that we know today.

Here is an incomplete (or maybe too complete!) list of the Wali Songo. Most of them did their work in the late 1400s to mid-1500s C.E.:

  • Sunan Sunan Maulana Malik Ibrahim
  • Sunan Ampel
  • Sunan Giri
  • Sunan Bonang
  • Sunan Drajad
  • Sunan Kalijaga
  • Sunan Kudus
  • Sunan Muria
  • Sunan Gunungjati



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