Expansion of Islam in Southeast Asia 1500–1800


Map Code: Ax01241

The first Muslim merchants are recorded in Sumatra in the 7th century. The catalyst for wider dissemination came with the establishment of powerful sultanates with trading empires in the 15th and 16th centuries: Malacca, Brunei and Aceh (Sufi missionaries were also influential). The Portuguese captured Malacca in 1511, but Aceh for a time dominated most of Sumatra, while Brunei invaded the Philippines, introducing Islam in 1498. The Demak sultanate introduced Islamic rule to Java (1520). The sultanates of Ternate and Tidore in the Moluccas grew rich on the spice trade, although when Sir Francis Drake landed there in 1580, he astonished the sultan by rejecting their cloves, as his cargo-holds were overladen with Spanish gold. In the 1660s, Sultan Hasanuddin of Macassar was called the ‘fighting cock of the East’ because of his battles with the Dutch East India Company. In fact, as the colonizers became Christian, Islam increasingly became the religion of the ordinary people.

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