Sunan Kalijaga Biography: His Lifetime, Teacher, Da’wah Strategy, and His Works

Biography of Sunan Kalijaga – Does Sinaumed’s know who Sunan Kalijaga is? Or have you even heard of his name but don’t know who he is? If so, that’s okay , because through the following description, Sinaumed’s will definitely know about one of these Walisongo. Sunan Kalijaga is one of the well-known figures in the Walisongo ranks, who played a major role in spreading Islam, especially in Java.

Yep, the existence and spread of Islam in the archipelago did not just come out of nowhere, but were also carried out by several people who were not random. One of them is Sunan Kalijaga who is still respected by Muslims. In fact, his tomb is never empty of the presence of pilgrims. Then what is the life span of Sunan Kalijaga? Does Sunan Kalijaga still have any connection with other sunans from Walisongo? What about His work which is still preserved today? So, so that Sinaumed’s understands who he is and knows what his works are, let’s look at the following review!

Sunan Kalijaga Biography: Childhood

Sunan Kalijaga was born around the 1400s to a Tuban aristocratic family, namely from a Tuban regent named Tumenggung Wilatikta and his wife named Dewi Nawangrum. At that time, his first name was Raden Sahid (in some literature, spelled as Raden Said). Since he is of royal descent, he has a number of names, let’s say Lokajaya, Shaykh Malaya, Prince of Tuban, Ki Dalang Sida Brangti, and Raden Abdurrahman.

Regarding His origins, it turns out that there are two different opinions. The first opinion says that Sunan Kalijaga is of native Arab and Javanese descent. Meanwhile, another opinion based on the Babad Tanah Jawi reveals that Sunan Kalijaga was an Arab. Even if the genealogy is traced from his grandfather, Sunan Kalijaga still has a genealogy with Abbad bin Abdul Muthalib, the uncle of the Prophet Rasulullah SAW.

Since childhood, Sunan Kalijaga was introduced to Islam by his religious teacher. The aim is that the basic Islamic values ​​from the Al-Quran and Hadith of Rasulullah SAW can become good guidelines for religious life for Him. In addition, since childhood he has also been taught to have a leadership spirit, especially in solving a problem. Evidently, he is always the leader or the originator of ideas when he is playing with his peers. However, he never felt arrogant and remained humble, so he was liked by his friends.

Short Biography of Sunan Kalijaga

In several sources, it is stated that there are two versions of the youth of Sunan Kalijaga. In the first version, it says that Sunan Kalijaga, who at that time still used the name Raden Said, was as if he was a thief. However, he did this robbery and theft not for his own enjoyment, but for the common people. At that time, Raden Said, who had received religious education since childhood, was worried about the condition of the people of Tuban, who were always overwhelmed by poverty and made their souls rebellious. Raden Said, of course, had expressed his concern about his father, but his father was only a subordinate king of the central Majapahit Kingdom.

Then, Raden Said’s sense of solidarity and sympathy for the people of Tuban made him take a reckless action in the form of stealing food ingredients from the Duchy’s warehouse. After committing the theft, Raden Said secretly distributed it among the people of Tuban. However, this action was discovered by the guards of the Duchy, causing him to be punished in the form of expulsion from Tuban.

After the expulsion, Raden Said wandered without a definite purpose but still with the same mission, namely to rob and steal for the benefit of the common people. Then he settled in the Jatiwangi forest, becoming a hooligan who robbed rich people who passed through the forest area. While the second version reveals that since childhood, Raden Said was a mischievous figure and grew up to be a sadist. He is even said to have killed people and earned the nickname Brandal Lokajaya .

Long story short, Raden Said’s delinquency ended after he met Sunan Bonang and repented. According to Serat Lokajaya , at that time Raden Said was hiding in the forest while watching for potential prey that passed by. Incidentally, at that time there was an old man who was wearing sparkling clothes, who was none other than Sunan Bonang. Then, Raden Said immediately approached and confiscated the wealth from Sunan Bonang, but the Sunan already knew his intention and took out his supernatural powers by transforming into four forms. Seeing this, Raden Said was frightened and ran away. However, wherever he goes, Sunan Bonang always manages to block him. Until he was cornered, Raden Said felt afraid and repented to the Almighty.

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After the incident, Raden Said was made a student of Sunan Bonang, with the condition that Raden Said had to wait for Sunang Bonang by the river while guarding his cane. It was Raden Said’s waiting on the bank of the river that made him known as Kalijaga , which means guarding the river (river).

Historically, Sunan Kalijaga had three wives, namely Dewi Sarah, Siti Zaenab and Siti Hafsah.

  • From his marriage to Dewi Sarah, he has 3 children namely Raden Umar Said (Sunan Muria), Dewi Rukayah and Dewi Sofiah.
  • Meanwhile, from his marriage to Siti Zaenab (son of Sunan Gunungjati), he was blessed with 5 children namely Ratu Pembayun, Nyai Ageng Panegak, Sunan Hadi, Raden Abdurrahman, and Nyai Ageng Ngerang.
  • Then from his marriage to Siti Khafsah it is not clear what his son’s name is. It should be noted that Siti Khafsah is the daughter of Sunan Ampel.

Sunan Kalijaga’s life span is estimated to have reached more than 100 years, namely around the middle of the 15th century to the end of the 16th century. Thus, he also experienced the end of the reign of the Majapahit Kingdom in 1478 to be precise. He even participated in efforts to design the construction of the Great Mosque Cirebon and the Great Mosque of Demak. Sunan Kalijaga then died around 1680 at the age of 131 years. He was buried in the village of Kadilangu located in Demak.

Teacher Sunan Kalidjaga

In several historical records, Sunan Kalijaga also had many teachers, especially in his efforts to spread Islam on the island of Java. So, some of these teachers are:

1. Sunan Bonang

Previously, Sinaumed’s must have known that Sunan Bonang was the teacher who gave Raden Said the name Sunan Kalijaga. Yep, Sunan Bonang played the role of a teacher who was able to turn Sunan Kalijaga’s delinquency into an exemplary figure to this day. At that time, on the preaching of Sunang Bonang who was able to show his supernatural powers in turning palm fruit into gold, made Raden Said repent and try to be a better person. In fact, for this reason, Raden Said, who changed his nickname to Sunan Kalijaga, also became a member of the Wali Songo.

Seeing the wisdom of knowledge from Sunan Bonang caused Raden Said to want to study with him. Sunan Bonang was of course willing to accept Raden Said to be his student, with the condition that he must meditate on the bank of the river until Sunan Bonang met him again. After waiting on the bank of the river, Sunan Bonang met Raden Said again and took him to Ngampel Gading to receive religious instruction.

2. Sheikh Siti Jenar

Syekh Siti Jenar is a teacher figure who taught Sunan Kalijaga the science of Ilafi. He is also the first person in Pondong Giri Amparan Jati.

3. Sheikh Sutabaris

Syekh Sutabaris was a religious teacher who lived on Upih Island, which was located in the city of Malacca, which was also a trade center at that time. On the island, Sunan Kalijaga received an order from him to return to Java and build a mosque as well as fulfilling the Wali Songo. When Sunan Kalijaga returned to Java, he settled in Cirebon and met Sunan Bonang. The village where they met is known as Kalijaga village.

4. Sunan Gunung Jati

Based on Hikayat Hasanuddin, Sunan Kalijaga’s presence in the Cirebon area was to spread Islam and at the same time study Sunan Gunung Jati. It was even stated that Sunan Bonang and his family, Sunan Kalijaga, and Prince Kadarajad (Sunan Drajad) also studied under Sunan Gunung Jati. Then, the daughter of Sunan Gunung Jati named Siti Zaenab married Sunan Kalijaga and was blessed with 5 children.

Da’wah Strategy of Sunan Kalijaga

Sinaumed’s needs to know that at that time, the Indonesian people still had dynamism, animism, and Buddhist beliefs. So that the main strategy in the process of spreading Islamic da’wah carried out by Sunan Kalijaga is in the form of using puppet shows. At that time, wayang performances were very popular with people who still adhered to old religious beliefs. Bearing in mind that the Islamic teachings that are to be conveyed to the public must be given little by little so that they will be easy to practice the teachings of Islam.

His da’wah strategy begins with teaching people to read the shahada sentences first with a sincere heart so that they can convert to Islam religiously. Then during preaching, Sunan Kalijaga introduced Islam to the public through wayang performances. With his ability to play wayang, Sunan Kalijaga preaches using pseudonyms, one of which is Ki Dalang Bengkok in the Tegal area.

The popularity of Sunan Kalijaga in spreading the teachings of Islam using wayang plays really attracted the attention of many people. Even if he performs in a village, people will flock to watch his performance. He also never charged for his puppet shows. So in exchange for payment, he asked all the people who came to watch to take the shahada and take an oath of acknowledgment that there is no god but Allah SWT and at the same time acknowledge that the Prophet Muhammad SAW is His messenger.

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The way of preaching that was carried out by Sunan Kalijaga looked very flexible, so that the Javanese people, who at that time still adhered to old beliefs, did not feel that the presence of his preaching was against customs. Moreover, Sunan Kalijaga also approached the community in a subtle way, accompanied by his clothes which were not in the form of a robe so that people would not feel “afraid” of his presence. The clothes worn by Sunan Kalijaga are not big robes, but everyday Javanese traditional clothes. Apart from that, he also used folk arts and their songs as a means of preaching. In Javanese society, Sunan Kalijaga is regarded as the most popular wali and as a great teacher.

Works of Sunan Kalijaga

During the spread of Islam in the Land of Java, Sunan Kalijaga always used Javanese cultural arts and left many works. Even in certain places, these teachings are still studied and used today. So, here are some of Sunan Kalijaga’s works that are already familiar to the people of the Archipelago, namely:

1. Wayang Art

The process of spreading Islam in Javanese society carried out by Sunan Kalijaga utilizes local culture in the form of wayang. Previously, shadow puppets in Java were always based on stories from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. So, for the sake of this da’wah, Sunan Kalijaga gave a wayang performance with an Islamic style so that wayang plays such as Jimat Kalimasada, Dewa Ruci, and Punakawan appeared. The Kalimasada amulet is a symbolic form of the shahada sentence, in which the Song of Rumekso Ing Wengi is recited.

Sunan Kalijaga made the wayang play a medium for preaching the spread of Islam. In this wayang, almost all of them present stories about tasawuf and akhlakul karimah related to kebatinan. Since the people at that time were Buddhists or Hindus, the teaching of kebatinan was appropriate.

2. Sculpture

In spreading Islam, Sunan Kalijaga also produces works in the form of carvings in the form of leaves. Since these Wali came to the archipelago and developed Islamic da’wah, carvings in the form of humans and animals were no longer used. The art of carving leaves was created by Sunan Kalijaga, which can still be found in gamelan musical instruments and traditional houses around Demak and Kudus.

3. Gamelan Art

Sunan Kalijaga also created a gamelan musical instrument in the form of a sekaten gong and was named Syahadatain, which means pronouncing two sentences of the Shahada. Nowadays, the gong is played during the celebration of the Prophet’s Birthday around the courtyard of the Great Mosque of Demak. The aim is to invite the public to gather at the mosque to listen to religious lectures.

4. Sound Art

Sunan Kalijaga has also created works in the form of sound art, and his songs have even been used as traditional songs in certain areas. Call it Ilir-Ilir, Bald-Bacul Hoof, Song of Rumeksa ing Wengi, Lingsir Wengi , and Suluk Linglung . In fact, Sunan Kalijaga also participated in the creation of the Dhandhanggula macapat place which has a collaboration of Arabic and Javanese melodies.

5. Taqwa clothes

Sunan Kalijaga is one of the members of Wali Songo who has a characteristic that tends to be accommodative to Javanese traditions. Even in the way he dresses, Sunan Kalijaga always uses a blangkon. This is clearly different because other saints tend to wear robes. Sunan Kalijaga is also believed to be the creator of the clothes of piety which were later perfected by Sultan Agung. Until now, this takwa shirt is used as traditional clothing and is used when holding a wedding. Currently, baju takwa is better known as Surjan.

So, that’s a review of the biography of Sunan Kalijaga as one of the Wali Songo ranks who participated in the spread of Islam in the archipelago, especially in the Land of Java. Has Sinaumed’s ever attended a pilgrimage visit to Sunan Kalijaga’s tomb?

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