The Development of Islam in West Papua

West Papua Religion
Sumber : Republika

Talking about the West Papua religion, we all can say that Islam is a minority religion embraced by about 38 percent of the total population of 760,422 people based on the 2010 census.

For a further explanation of the spread of the religion, let’s read here.

West Papua Religion
Sumber : Trip

The Arrival of Islam in West Papua

The development of Islam in this area began in the 16th century. It can be connected to the history of trade routes in Malacca and Java. Precisely in the 15th century, Islam began to be known in the Tidore Sultanate, North Maluku. Since then, Islam began to develop in the Sultanate of Tidore, including Fakfak.

At the beginning of the 16th century, the tribes in Papua and the islands to the west, such as Misool, Waigama, Waigeo, and Salawati, had submitted to Sultan Bacan, a king in Maluku. Sultan Bacan then expanded his power to the Onin Peninsula (Fakfak) in 1606.

The process of Islamization in the Fakfak area happened through trade, marriage, politics, and education. The spread of Islam through trade routes was carried out when traders came and settled in community settlements around the coast.

They also introduced Islam by teaching residents to pray. In addition, traders also take the path of marriage to spread Islam so that it is easier to get the possibility of getting nutmeg products from the local community. The traders married local women and became leaders in one of these religions.

Then, the leaders also spread Islam through non-formal education channels, which are carried out in recitation centers in mosques and preachers’ homes.


Theory of the Entry of Islam

There is a long debate behind the information about the entry of Islam in West Papua. Some disagreement happened among many experts. Thus, here are several versions that explain the theory of the spread of this religion.

Papuan theory

This theory is a traditional view and legend inherent in some indigenous Papuan people. This theory explains that Islam did not come from outside Papua and was not spread by the Kingdom of Ternate and Tidore or Muslim traders from Arabia, Sumatra, Java, or Sulawesi.

Islam comes from Papua because this island is a creation of Allah SWT. They also said that Islam already existed in Papua and the emergence of Papua’s island. Moreover, people believed that the Prophet Adam and Eve were on the mainland of Papua.

Arabic theory

According to the hereditary history of Fakfak, Islam was introduced to West Papua for the first time in the Onin Peninsula region. Sharif Muaz al-Nathan carried out this deployment.

Syarif Muaz is a Sufi who comes from Yemen and has the title of Blue Robe Sheikh. He spread Islam in Papua in the mid-16th century.

Bacan Version

The Bacan version explains that the Bacan Sultanate carried out Islamization in Papua during Sultan Muhammad al Baqir. He laid the foundation for the unity of the four kingdoms in Maluku, namely Ternate, Tidore, and Maluku.

Aceh Version

According to this version, Islam entered the land of Papua through an Acehnese preacher named Abdul Ghafar in 1360-1374. After looking for spices in Maluku, he and his friends landed in Fatagar Lama, the kingdom in Fakfak.

Ternate and Tidore Versions

This version states that Islam was originated from Ternate and Tidore. According to Tidore’s historical records, it is indicated that Sultan Ibn Mansur and Sangaji Patani carried out a conquest expedition and the symbol of Islam in West Papua in 1443.

It is interesting to look at the West Papua religion development, including Islam. The religion in this area happens due to many influences, either from the other islands in Nusantara or from foreign countries.