Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Husnan Bey Fananie and researchers from University of Indonesia`s (UI`s) Faculty of Cultural Sciences will conduct joint research on entry of Islam into the archipelago from the Caucasus region, especially Azerbaijan.

Maman S. Mahayana, Bastian Zulyeno, Ghilman Assilmi, and Chaidir Ashari will be the fellow researchers from UI's Faculty of Cultural Sciences.

"I, as the Indonesian ambassador to Azerbaijan, with the assistance of lecturers and researchers from UI, will conduct research on the history of entry of Islam into Indonesia," Ambassador Fananie informed via a short message received by Antara here on Wednesday.

He explained that the study will reveal similarities in cultural materials found in Indonesia and Azerbaijan, which demonstrate the possibility of the influence of the Caucasus in the process of entry of Islam into the archipelago.

According to Zulyeno, who had conducted preliminary research, a relationship exists between Azerbaijani and Indonesian people. This is apparent from the similarities observed in the ancient gravestones found in both countries, especially those in Barus, North Sumatra, and Aceh.

"I have conducted field observations in the Sundu and Maraza areas in Azerbaijan. I found that some ancient gravestones in Barus and Aceh have the same shape and characteristics as those in the two areas in Azerbaijan," Zulyeno noted.

Earlier, in April 2017, President Joko Widodo had inaugurated the Zero Point Monument of Islamic Civilization on Barus Beach.

Furthermore, Zulyeno pointed out that based on the cultural materials, the tombstones found in the Azerbaijani and Indonesian areas bore inscriptions and symbols usually written on the headstone of Sufi or kings.

Tombstones in the two different areas of the country are also found on the hill.

Indonesia is a Muslim-majority country, and the number is the largest in the world. However, the history of the entry and development of this religion in the archipelago is still a matter of debate.

Until now, historians have failed to reach an agreement on the early arrival of Islam and who propagated the teachings.

Theories about the entry of Islam into the archipelago of Indonesia can be divided into two categories. The first category mentions that the spread of Islam in Indonesia occurred in the 7th century AD, which means the time is almost simultaneous with the expanding power of the Islamic state under the rule of the Umayyah (661-750 AD).

Followers of this first theory include W.P. Groeneveldt, T.W. Arnold, Syed Naquib Al-Attas, J.C. van Leur, Hamka, and Uka Tjandrasasmita.

According to the second category of theory, Islam spread into the archipelago of Indonesia just in the 13th century AD. This second category of theory is supported by C. Snouck Hourgronje, R.A. Kern, J.P. Moquette, and Haji Agus Salim.

The second theory shows that Islam spread to the archipelago when the Abasiyyah (750-1258 AD) became the ruler in the Middle East.

Ambassador Fananie noted that the research is expected to create a new paradigm on the history of the entry of Islam into Indonesia. So far, the theory on this history is still biased and dominated by the Gujarat and Middle East theories.

"We believe that during the early arrival of Islam into the archipelago, there were influences from other regions apart from Gujarat and the Middle East that contributed to the spread of Islam into Indonesia," the ambassador stated.

Editing by S. Haryati

Reporter: Libertina W. Ambari
Editor: Bambang Purwanto
Copyright © ANTARA 2018