Masjid Gede Kauman means the “Great Mosque of Kauman”. It is an ancient mosque that is located west of the Kraton North Square. It was built around the time when Indonesia converted to Islam from Hinduism and Buddhism, for the primary purpose of spreading the Islamic teachings during the Kasultanan Yogyakarta era in the reign of Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono I, Yogyakarta’s first sultan. Construction was completed on May 29, 1773. As Yogyakarta’s center for Islamic teachings during that time, the grand mosque represented the Sultan’s role as the city’s political leader (Senopati Ing Ngalogo) and official delegate of Allah himself (Sayidin Panatagama Khalifatullah). The Sultan, therefore, decreed all national and religious acts. As the physical mosque is still a towering religious building today, so is its symbolic role as the center of Islam. Yogyakarta locals hold it in very high regard. Because of the mosque, the village of Kauman was chosen as the base of for the Muhammadiyah, an important Islamic Organization in Indonesia, as initiated by Ahmad Dahlan, a well-known Islamic figure. Kauman also has the largest Arabic race community in Yogyakarta.
There are a number of mosques in Yogyakarta but Masjid Gede Kauman is unlike the rest. For one, it is the oldest mosque in the city and one of the oldest in Indonesia. And as already mentioned above, it played a very important role in the history of Islam in the country. Today, Indonesia is the largest Islam nation in the world. Of its total population of almost 250 million people, more than 80% are Muslims. [Read more…]