Nine Saints of Java




Rinkes, D. A.

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Malaysian Sociological Research Institute


D.A Rinkes (1878-1954) was a Leiden-trained orientalist who had a lengthy civil service career in the Netherlands East Indies, now Indonesia. In 1910 he began to publish a series of articles about the Islamic apostles or Saints of Java, semi-legendary figures of great renown. Sic articles followed down to 1912, which are translated here. These works rested upon oral information collected at the holy grave-sites of these men and upon printed and manuscript sources in Javanase. Rinkes originally planned a longer series, but other professional duties took him away from his scholarly work thereafter. The first of Rinkes’ article concerned Abdulmuhyi, a central figure in the legendary early history of the Shattariyya mystic brotherhood in Java. Thereafter he studied figures reckoned to be among the nine Walis (saints), who are traditionally said to have been responsible for the Islamisation of Java in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. These were Seh Siti Jenar, Sunan Geseng, Ki Pandan Arang and Pangeran Panggung. The historical reality of these figures is now beyond confident reconstructing, but there can be no doubt of the continuing popular belief in their importance in the Islamization of Java, in their special standing with God and in the continuing capacity to exercise an influence in the lives of their devotees. Rinkes’ articles on the Saints of Java remain a valuable collection of materials and commentary. The continuing relevance of the traditions about these holy figures, and the continuing belief in their extraordinary roles and powers, are confirmed by the fact that very many thousands of Muslims in Java still undertake pilgrimages to their grave-sites every year. Rinkes’ studies of these saints thus remain relevant today. Rinkes’ important articles are here made available in English translation for the first time.




Rinkes, D. A. (1996). Nine Saints of Java. (H.M. Froger, Trans.) Alijah Gordon, (Ed.) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian: Malaysian Sociological Research Institute.