When the history of Majapahit was finished, at the same time, the Islamic influence along the coastal areas of Java had grown too strong that soon it would bring about the birth of Demak, the first Islamic kingdom on the Island of Java.
Islam gained its first foothold on the island of Java long after the establishment of Indonesia’s first Islamic states, Perlak and Samodra Pasai, in northern Sumatra.
The earliest center of Islamic activity in Java were the areas around the coastal towns of Tuban, Gresik, and Surabaya, where the new faith was introduced by Persian traders of whom one, by the name of Maulana Malik Ibrahim, was particularly revered. From there, the faith eventually spread along the islands’ northern coast, first towards Jepara and Demak, then towards Cirebon and Banten, finally to reach the other parts of the island.
The sultanate (kingdom) of Demak was established by the wish of the “Wali Songo”. the nine highly revered early religious leaders and propagators of the faith on Java. Its first king was Raden Patah, a wise and powerful ruler under whose leadership Demak quickly consolidated its position, in the process expanding its territory by the inclusion of a number of party states along the coast.
Raden Patah died in 1518 and was succeeded by his son, Pati Unus, who is known mainly for the sea wars which he waged against the Portuguese. Pati Unus died only three years after his father, and as he had no children, his brother Raden Trenggana inherited the throne.
One of Raden Trenggana’s sisters was married to a prince from Sumatran kingdom of Pasai. His name was Fatahillah or Falatehan, and he was one of Trenggana’s most trusted aides and confidants/ It was this same Fatahillah who was later to be the central figure in the history of the spread of Islam in West Java.
The rapid growth of Islam in Java was a reason for great worry for the rulers of the West Javanese Hindu kingdom of Pajajaran, who therefore sought the assistance of the Portuguese to keep the Moslems at the bay. A treaty closed between the two sides allowed the Portuguese to build fortifications at the port of Sunda Kelapa (now Jakarta’s inter-island harbor). Confronted with such a situation, Sultan Trenggana dispatched Fatahillah to Banten to drive out the Portuguese. Fatahillah occupied Banten and, in 1527, forced the Portuguese out of Sunda Kelapa, burning their ships and changing the port’s name into “Jayakarta”. That event is now celebrated annually as the birth-day of Jakarta, the Indonesian capital city.
In 1552, Fatahillah surrendered his throne to his son, Hasanudin, and moved to Cirebon, where he died 18 years later and was buried on a hillock known as Gunung Jati, a little to the west of the town, Since then he has been venerated as Sunan Gunung Jati.
At the beginning of the 16th century, a new kingdom by the name of Aceh Darus-Salaam (Aceh The Land of Peace) rose in the northernmost region of Sumatra, replacing the earlier Islamic kingdoms. The first king is believed to have been Ali Mughayat Syah (1514-1528).
After his death, a succession of kings came to power, but it was during the reign of Sultan Iskandar Muda (1607-1636) that Aceh reached the peak of its greatness and prosperity. A formidable regional military power in those days, Aceh Darus-Salaam under Sultan Iskandar Muda extended from coastal regions of Sumatra to Aru, Pahang, Kedah, and Perak on the West Malaysian peninsula.
After the demise of Iskandar Muda. Aceh’s decline began.
Kingdom of Islamic Mataram
Mataram under Sultan Agung was one of the major power in the Indonesian archipelago and one which the East India Company had to reckon with. It was Sultan Agung, who after a rather long campaign against the coastal state brought the whole of Central and East Java, as well as Cirebon and Priangan in West Java, under Mataram’s firm control.
In Banten, one of the greatest rulers was Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa (1650-1682, a staunch opponent of the Dutch, under whose reign Banten achieved its highest renown. What Sultan Ageng Tirtasaya was for Banten, Sultan Hassanudin was for Makasar, as the Sultan refused to obey Company orders to close the port of Makasar for all foreign shipping except that of the Dutch, the war was inevitable, which finally led to the collapse of the Makasar sultanate. For a long time, Aceh continued to defy the authority of the Dutch. Ultimately, however, the Company managed to establish its supremacy.