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Tomb of Sunan Giri, Gresik (East Java) also known as “Makam Sunan Giri, Gresik” Neelakantan, Vivek


Sunan Giri (1442-1506) also known as Joko Samudro, Raden Paku, Muhammad Ainul Yaqin, or Sunan Satmata founded the Islamic principality of Giri (also known as Giri Kedaton). A member of the Wali Songo (revered saints of Islam in Indonesia, particularly Java), Sunan Giri was the son of Maulana Ishak (brother of Maulana Malik Ibrahim or Sunan Gresik). Both Babad Tanah Jawi and Serat Walisana chronicles agree that Sunan Giri descended from the Raja of Blambangan, a vassal of the Majapahit Empire, from his maternal side. The first two rulers of Giri (Sunan Satmata and Sunan Dalem), defended their Islamic principality against depredations of the Majapahit army, according to Javanese chronicles. After the demise of the Majapahit Empire in 1527, Sunan Dalem of Giri succeeded in bringing the port of Gresik under his rule. Dutch contemporaries during the first quarter of the seventeenth century referred to the Sunans of Giri as the " Moorish Popes" (Pigeaud and Graaf 1976). Under Sunan Giri's grandson, Sunan Prapen's leadership, the Court of Giri became the epicenter for the propagation of Islam to the Outer Islands of the Indies archipelago, particularly Lombok, Celebes, Borneo, and the Moluccas. Local inhabitants from the Outer Islands of Indonesia revere Sunan Giri as "Raja Bukit" (Pigeaud and Graaf 1976). Trained by Sunan Ampel in Ilmu Tasawuf (Sufi mysticism), Sunan Giri became the leader of the Wali Songo in 1478 subsequent to the demise of his mentor and assumed the title of Prabu Satmata (one of the names of Lord Siva in the Javanese language). A salient feature of Sunan Giri’s dakwah (invitations for people to more fully embrace Islam) was the adjustment of Javanese cultural elements to Islam. For instance, Sunan Giri redesigned the Javanese wayang (shadow) puppets such that they did not contravene the Islamic proscription of representing the human form. Likewise, the architectural elements of the Sunan Giri tomb complex appropriate Javanese architectural elements such that they conform to Islamic principles.

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