Zainal Abidin of Ternate

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Zainal Abidin
Sultan of Ternate
Reign 1486–1500
Successor Bayanullah
Father Marhum Gapi Baguna II
Religion Sunni Islam

Zainal Abidin (born Gapi Buta) was the eighteenth ruler of the Sultanate of Ternate in modern day Indonesia. He was the first ruler of Ternate to use the title Sultan rather than Kolano, or king, and enacted a number of changes to government, based on Islamic law, transforming Ternate into an Islamic kingdom.[1]

Early life[edit]

Gapi Buta was the son of Kolano Marhum Gapi Baguna II, the seventeenth king of Ternate. His father, the first recorded convert to Islam, provided him with an Islamic education, under the guidance of a merchant cleric named Maulana Hussein Datu.[2]:128

Islamization of Ternate[edit]

As soon as he was appointed ruler, Gapi Buta started Ternate on the journey to become an Islamic kingdom.

In 1494, he traveled to Java to study Islam further, possibly under Sunan Giri.[3]:194 While there, he was famous as Sultan Bualawa, or Sultan of Cloves. He was well respected, known as a valiant warrior and pious scholar, and developed friendships which developed into strong alliances. One story told of his time there is that he stood up to a crazed killer on the rampage while others fled, beheading him with a single stroke.[2]:65

On his return, he replaced the royal title Kolano with Sultan and took the Islamic name Zainal Abidin.[4]:101 He brought back a mubaligh from Java named Tuhubahanui to propagate the Islamic faith[5]:28 and created a Bobato to assist in all matters relating to the rule of Islamic law across the Sultanate.

Diplomatic efforts[edit]

Zainal Abidin negotiating treaties of friendship with rulers from Makassar and Ambon. These had long lasting impacts. The friendship pact with Pati Puti (or Pati Tuban), one of the rulers from Ambon, that he concluded formed the basis for a later claim made by Ternate to the Bura, Seram, Ambon, Lease and Banda islands.[6]:188


Zainal Abidin had two wives and six children, including Kaicil Leliatur who succeeded him as the second Sultan, Bayanullah.


  1. ^ Hanna, Willard Anderson; Alwi, Des (1996). Ternate dan Tidore, Masa Lalu Penuh Gejolak (in Indonesian). Jakarta: Pustaka Sinar Harapan. ISBN 9789794163108. 
  2. ^ a b Amal, M. Adnan (2002). Maluku Utara, Perjalanan Sejarah 1250 - 1800 Volume 1 (in Indonesian). Ternate: Universitas Khairun Ternate. 
  3. ^ Soejono, R.P.; Leirissa, Richard Z. (2008). Sejarah nasional Indonesia: Zaman pertumbuhan dan perkembangan kerajaan-kerajaan Islam di Indonesia (in Indonesian). Jakata: PT Balai Pustaka. ISBN 9789794074091. 
  4. ^ Putuhena, M. Shaleh (2007). Historiografi haji Indonesia (in Indonesian). Yogyakarta: PT LKiS Pelangi Aksara. ISBN 9789792552645. 
  5. ^ Office of Islamic Information Service (1980). The Development of Islam in Indonesia. Jakata: Office of Islamic Information Service, Ministry of Religious Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia. 
  6. ^ Abdurachman, Paramita Rahayu (2008). Bunga angin Portugis di Nusantara: jejak-jejak kebudayaan Portugis di Indonesia (in Indonesian). Jakata: Yayasan Obor Indonesia. ISBN 9789797992354. 
Zainal Abidin of Ternate
Preceded by
New Creation
Sultan of Ternate
Succeeded by