By: Nia S. Amira (Indonesian author, journalist, and linguist)
Though it is separated by 7,778 km in distance, this year is the celebration of the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and Indonesia. The two countries tend to be close and harmonious as Indonesia has always been a good friend who supports Azerbaijan in the complicated problems facing with Armenia. But since the new facts were revealed about Maulana Malik Ibrahim, it turns out that good relationships between the two countries have existed since a long time, even had started since six centuries ago.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Republic of Indonesia recognized the independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan on 28 December 1991 and a year later, diplomatic relations between the two countries officially established on September 24, 1992. On 12 February 2006, the Embassy of Azerbaijan to Indonesia in Jakarta was established and became the first Embassy of Azerbaijan in Southeast Asia. Indonesia responded four years later by establishing the Embassy on 2 December 2010 in Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan. The two countries are the Members of State Islamic and Non-Aligned Movement. Within this period, bilateral relations developed very fast and dynamically. High-level political relations are based on the principles of brotherhood and mutual support. Both countries recognize and support their territorial integrities and sovereignties over internationally recognized state borders. Indonesia is one of the louder countries condemning the terror acts and military aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan.
During this 25 years diplomatic relations, there are lots of achievement have been obtained. In 2009, for the first time Azerbaijan offered scholarships for the Master of Arts in Diplomacy and International Affairs (MADIA) program for young Indonesian diplomats in Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. While Pusdiklat Kemlu offered scholarships for middle-career Azerbaijan diplomats since 2011.
In 2012, Azerbaijan University of Language (AUL) established the Center for Indonesian Studies. This institution promotes the understanding and learning of Indonesian language and culture for Azerbaijani students. In April 2012, the Indonesian Studies Center at AUL in cooperation with the Indonesian Embassy in Baku held a batik workshop and exhibition, performing Batik designer from Yogyakarta as the keynote speaker. The event is intended to promote cultural exchange between the two countries.
Recently it was revealed the information that explains that the man called as Ibrahim Samarkandi whose full name is Maulana Malik Ibrahim, one of the Nine Saints of the first Wali Songo is said to be originally from Azerbaijan. Maulana Malik Ibrahim lived in the 15th century. From his place on the Caspian Sea peninsula, Azerbaijan, Ibrahim traveled to Samarkand in Uzbekistan where he studied Islam. Having felt qualified, Ibrahim continued his spiritual journey to Indonesia with his brother whose named Maulana Ishak and spread Islam in Java. The relationship between Azerbaijan and Indonesia seems to have started back to six centuries ago, precisely in the 15th century AD.
The news that contains history is certainly very interesting and important for Muslims, especially for the people of Azerbaijan and Indonesia who are predominantly Muslim. Together with Husnan Bey Fananie, Indonesian Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Professor Zaur Aliyev, who is a member of the Azerbaijani Academy of Sciences, stated that the facts about Maulana Malik Ibrahim who is a scholar of religious knowledge from Azerbaijan has a very dominant position in the history of Islam in Indonesia.
Maulana Malik Ibrahim is known as Kakek Bantal or Sunan Gresik in Indonesia. He is considered the forerunner of the first Wali Songo (9 Saints in Islamic history in Indonesia). The name of Maulana Malik Ibrahim is written in the Indonesian history, immortalized as the name of the Mosque and the name of the Road in East Java. The manuscript of the holy Qur'an written by this great cleric is still well preserved in Indonesia. According to some historical sources, from his marriage to Princess of Champa (read: Cambodia), Maulana Malik Ibrahim has descendants, Raden Rahmat known as Sunan Ampel and Sayid Ali Murtadho or Raden Santri. In 1419, Maulana Malik Ibrahim passed away and the tomb of this great cleric found in Kampung Gapura, Gresik East Java is often visited by pilgrims from all over the country and the neighboring countries.
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