Masjid (Mosque)Menara Kudus: Blend of Islam, and Java-Hindu Architecture, Kudus, Central Java, Indonesia

Masjid Menara Kudus has a distinct gate unlike most of mosques in Indonesia. The gate and tower were made of red rock blocks, that may look like East Java hindu temples. In Ramadhan, the fasting month, people flock to this temple. Not only Indonesian visitors, but also international travelers. The mosque area is alse where the tomb of Sunan Kudus located, that pilgrims come here to pray.

Masjid Menara Kudus is situated in Kauman village, Kota, Kudus Regency, Central Java, Indonesia. According to its history, it was constructed in 956 Hijriyah or 1549, as Masjid Al-Aqsa, same as one of mosques in Palestina. Ja’fat Sodiq, that later known as Sunan Kudus had souvenir stone from Baitul Maqdis in Palestina, that was laid as the first stone on the mosque construction, so the mosque was named as Al Aqsa mosque. Lately, this mosque is more popular as Menara (Tower) Kudus, for its Hindu Majapahit tower on the east side of the mosque.

When Islam entered Indonesia, the missionaries were wisely using Indonesia original culture to intruduce holy Koran, that religion and culture mix and evolved quickly. This mosque is very unique, none of mosques in the world has similar architecture as this. It said that to respect Hindi followers that reside in Kudus, people in Kudus did not slaught cow/bull, as cow/bull was a holy animal in Hindu, as Sunan Kudus asked. Until now one of the most popular food from Kudus is Soto Kebo, not Soto Sapi (Cow) as in other regions.

This building is 100 meters square, and 18 meters high, and the whole building delineates typical Javanese-Hindu style. The foot and body of the tower is carved as in Java-Hindu tradition, also the motive. And as temples, this construction was built  without cement, but buffed until both blocks attached to each other. The traditional construction technoque can be seen from the tower head that shape as a teak structure with 4 soko guru or pillars that support the roof. The roof is placed with dome as seen on the terraces roof in Hindu Java building.

There are two ceramics made in Vietnam that can be found in the mosque.  The first ceramic is located on the north entrance, in the shape of square, with white basic color, and the middle is floral motive in blue color. This ceramic is estimated to be made to the 14th or 15th century. The other one is attaced on the southern entrance, with bigger size, and dominated with blue floral motives, it is assumed made in the 15th century and has Islam design that commonly found in Istambul.

Japanese archaeologists found this decoration unique, as Vietnam is country that most of its inhabitants are Hindu-Buddha, but its ceramics could be found in this historical mosque built by Sunan Kudus, that was a prominent moslem and one of Wali Songo.