How many men taught the Javanese their Islam, how far they succeeded and whether the Javanese are really just heathens.
The men who proselytised Islam to the Javanese, the "Wali Songo", or the "nine teachers", may have been more than nine, says History professor at UGM, Djoko Suryo. (Although there is an unofficial tenth - Siti Jenar.)
There is no clear explanation in Javanese literature as to why it later came to be thought that there were nine.
The Wali Songo were known for their pragmatic approach to converting the Javanese to Islam, and many pre-existing Javanese practises often derived from Hindu and Buddhist sources were Islamised and incorporated into the new faith, thereby being allowed to survive.
Some orthodox minded Muslims today regard these examples of syncretism as intolerable pagan rituals while Agus Sunyoto, another scholar, says one such practice, that of kenduri kematian, or marking the third, seventh, 40th, 100th, and 1000th days after a death by holding a ritual meal and family gathering has in fact nothing to do with Hinduism or Buddhism.
Agus says the kenduri kematian tradition likely came from the Campa/Champa people, Muslims in the Cham area of what is today southern Vietnam, and ultimately has its origins in Shia Islam. Similarly with other "peculiar" Javanese Muslim practises, such as the celebration of Muhammad's birthday, visiting relatives' graves, and others, also came from the Campa, and are basically Shia.
Sunan Ampel, one of the Wali Songo
Other Champa influences on the Javanese could be seen linguistically - the Cham people called their mothers mak and in Surabaya, East Java, where Sunan Ampel was king, people also use the term mak today. Non-Muslim Majapahit people in Java instead used the terms ibu or ra-ina. antara