In our ‘Cities of Islam’ series, we present a country known for Bali Island. We introduce you to Jakarta, a city in Indonesia, one of Asia’s most populous and heavily Muslim nations. Enjoy this insightful read.
The Gem of the East: Jakarta
Located in Southeast Asia, Indonesia shares borders with Australia to the south, Malaysia to the north, and Papua New Guinea to the east. Its capital, Jakarta, is situated to the north of Java.
Among the world’s largest urban areas, Jakarta boasts various economic, cultural, and political opportunities. Striving for a high standard of living, the city has left a lasting impression on many and provided a home for numerous people.
Origin of the Name Jakarta
Often referred to as the ‘Queen of the East’ or the ‘Gem of the East,’ Jakarta’s name signifies victory. Previously known as Batavia, the city’s name was changed in 1946 to its current form.
A Nation Gaining Independence
Due to its geographically strategic position, Indonesia faced colonization by various countries and endured foreign rule for years. Prior to declaring independence, it was under Dutch dominion. After gaining independence, Indonesia emerged as a Muslim nation.
When Did Islam Arrive?
Islam arrived in Indonesia around the 13th century when Muslim traders began visiting the region, leading to the spread of Islam. An intriguing tale narrates this occurrence: Once upon a time, there was a humble trader who settled in Indonesia. He was an honest and content man. One day, he arrived late at his workplace. His employee had made a significant profit from selling goods. Curious, he inquired about the selling price. The employee had sold the fabric for more than its price.
The trader promptly located the buyer and requested forgiveness for the overpricing. The buyer was puzzled by this act and asked what it meant to seek forgiveness. The trader explained, and the story soon spread, reaching the ears of the king. The king summoned the trader and inquired about the incident. The trader revealed his Muslim faith and stated that Islam required such actions. He confessed that he had trespassed by profiting from someone else’s loss, and he had corrected his mistake. The king then asked questions about Islam, and the trader answered them one by one. Eventually, the king embraced Islam.
Approximately 90% of Indonesia’s population is Muslim today. We can attribute Indonesia’s introduction to Islam to honest and trustworthy traders. This story reveals the importance of honesty and trustworthiness in Islam and how it can lead to a positive outcome.
“A truthful and trustworthy merchant will be with the prophets, the truthful, and the martyrs on the Day of Resurrection.” (Tirmidhi, Trade, 4)
The Explorer Who Spread Islam to Indonesia: Zheng He
Zheng He, born in China in 1371, was a Muslim, admiral, and explorer. He diligently recorded his expeditions’ notes, later publishing them under the title ‘Ying-Yai Sheng-Yan.’ During his frequent journeys, he and his companions endeavored to spread Islam. He built mosques and engaged in other social services. He is considered one of the pioneering figures in spreading Islam in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia and Malaysia.
A Museum with History
The National Museum is renowned as an archaeology, ethnology, and history museum. It provides insights into Indonesian land and history.
Constructed during Sukarno’s era, this monument symbolizes independence. At its peak, an eternal flame is present.
Historical Luar Batang Mosque
Situated in Jakarta, this mosque is among the oldest in the region. It also houses the tomb of Al Habib Husein bin Abu Bakar Al-Aydarus.
The Grand Istiqlal Mosque
The Istiqlal Mosque represents Indonesia’s independence and its Muslim population. An interesting fact about the mosque is that it was designed by a Christian architect, Frederich Silaban, who won a design competition. The five floors of the mosque correspond to Islam’s five pillars, while the seven gates symbolize the seven gates of heaven. The mosque’s architecture holds deep significance. Hopefully, one day we’ll have the chance to visit this city with its beautiful atmosphere.