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Masjid Al-Aqsha Menara Kudus, Kudus (Central Java) Neelakantan, Vivek


Sunan Kudus—also known as Ja’far Shadiq (d. 1550)—is widely considered one of the Nine Saints (Wali Songo) who are widely believed to have contributed to the indigenization of Islam on the island of Java. He was the son of Sunan Ngudung who officiated as the Imam of the Grand Mosque of Demak during the reign of Sultan Trenggana. Sunan Kudus was the fifth imam at the Grand Mosque of Demak and built the Masjid al-Aqsha Menara Kudus (popularly known as Menara Kudus) in 1549. Menara Kudus is named after the Jami al-Aqsha mosque at al-Quds (the Arabic name for Jerusalem). As a strict disciplinarian, Sunan Kudus wished to extirpate pantheistic heresy. To this end, he burnt Siti Jenar (also known as seh Lemah Abang), a heterodox Sufi mystic and his disciple, the ruler of Pengging. Sunan Kudus’ dakwah (act of inviting people to embrace Islam) consisted of the extensive deployment of wayang klitik (the flat wooden puppet) to convey Islamic themes. During the first quarter of the sixteenth century, as majority of the population of Kudus was Hindu and regarded cow as a sacred animal, the saint issued a fatwa (a religious decree) that proscribed cow slaughter on Idul Adha. The architecture of Menara Kudus reveals the acculturation between Islamic and Javanese architectural elements. Resembling an ancient Javanese shrine or a Candi, the minaret is similar to a Majapahit-era temple.

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