Sufferance within a Cultural Framework as the Preaching Strategy of Sunan Gunungjati in Forming a Civil Society

Hajam Hajam


This study explores preaching strategies of forming civil society used by Syarif Hidayatullah or Sunan Gunungjati, was one of the most influential wali (holy people) on the island of Java. Relying upon historical research design, this study described how Sunan Gunungjati devoted his entire life to his religion and the state through a culturally framed Sufism-based approach. Results show Sunan Gunungjati helped propagate Islam, especially in western Java, Cirebon, and surrounding areas, something that was not easy at the time. The community’s cultural traditions, religious rituals, social systems, and insights were already strongly rooted in animism, and this presented a real barrier. Such beliefs had been reinforced by the previous Hindu and Buddhist religions. This prompted Sunan Gunungjati to find many ways to win over the hearts of people and encourage them to embrace Islam. Sunan Gunungjati successfully spread Islamic teachings by establishing a civil society. This was demonstrated by the many relics of that time in sociocultural, artistic, architectural, educational, moral, and even political aspects. Sunan Gunungjati approached almost all aspects of life as a means for spreading Islam, and Islam spread rapidly as a result. These Islamic teachings did not merely convey religious material and textual—they harmonized Islamic values with community life at the time. Sunan Gununjati’s success in spreading Islam is therefore a benchmark for forming a civil society based on local wisdom.


Sunan Gunung Jati, Sufism, Culture, Civil Society

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