Java has been gradually Islamized since the 14th century. It is assumed that the process was made easy by the spread of Sufism, but a satisfying discussion is lacking because of the limited availability of historical sources. The purpose of this panel is to discuss how Islamization took place in Java after it had gone through a long history of Buddhist and Hindu kingdoms, by analyzing Javanese documents written during the 16th-19th centuries.
Javanese is the language with the longest history and largest number of native speakers in Southeast Asia, and a large number of most voluminous texts survives. From the middle of the 19th and during the 20th centuries, these texts were the object of philological investigation, carried out by Dutch researchers and Indonesian and other researchers trained in the Dutch tradition. As a result, many text editions have appeared. However, the main focus of these philological activities was on the older, pre-Islamic period. As a consequence, relatively few of the texts belonging to the Islamic period are accessible in scholarly editions. The proposed panel brings together scholars with an expertise in the manuscript tradition of the Islamic period. It is the aim of the panel to lay the basis for an informed discussion on the process of Islamization of Javanese society by involving these texts that have hitherto been neglected as historical sources.
There are two groups of manuscripts that can be used as sources. One group consists of contemporary documents discussing contemporary topics such as religious doctrines. The other group consists of later documents of a historiographic nature, reflecting later perspectives. The latter group includes ‘national history’ such as Mataram kingdom chronicles, and religious legends such as stories about saints, from Java itself or from other countries. An additional problem is that many of these histories were subject to change in the course of time (even though the titles may have remained the same). In our panel, we will compare the contemporary and historiographic texts and take into consideration the various versions produced in subsequent periods as an expression of religious change in Java.