Islam arrived in Jakarta in various ways. As well as local people’s exposure to the Muslim merchants who settled in the Malacca Straits in order to trade with the Ottoman Empire, the Samudera Pasai (in Sumatra) and its influence on the Banten and Demak kingdoms in most parts of Java also played a significant role. During the 13th-14th century Samudera Pasai (a Muslim Harbour Kingdom in Sumatra) became the most influential kingdom of the Malacca Straits which led to the mass conversion to Islam. In turn helping the kingdom to secure a powerful political and economic patron.

The spread of Islam across Java, followed the same pattern — economic and political necessity drove mass conversion. In Java this related to the rise of Malacca (Islam) and the decline of Majapahit (Hinduism, Buddhism, Kejawen). However throughout its history, Jakarta had never been the centre of Islamic power or a disseminator of Islam. Its development was successful due to its status as the main port and trade hub for spices, and the administration centre during Dutch colonialism. Until the arrival of Indonesian Revolution!

The mosque was commissioned by the national government and supported and supervised by the Communist sympathiser President Sukarno, who started building the nation of Indonesia straight after the revolution.
The mosque design includes elements of style typical of Soviet and Turkish architecture — both of which Sukarno was trying to emulate — a Communistic Muslim country.
Ottoman-style architecture is not uncommon in Indonesia, which explains the architect’s abstraction of the needle minaret.
After its completion in 1963 the people of Indonesia became familiar with the Istiqlal Mosque, which soon after became the symbol of Indonesian Islam. The “Istiqlal”, which stands for “independence” in Arabic, is the largest mosque in Southeast Asia and it was designed by Christian architect, Frederich Silaban, a friend of President.
Due to countless wars the government was devastated and feared over-spending. Therefore the competition for the design of the Istiqlal Mosque asked not only for the design of the symbolic landmark, but also required the use of durable and locally available materials.
Sukarno also insisted that the mosque should be built near Jakarta Cathedral and Immanuel Church, to symbolise religious harmony and tolerance as promoted in Indonesian national philosophy (Pancasila).
The mosque is located in downtown Jakarta, close to the National Monument and the Presidential Palace and next to the most prominent church in Jakarta, the Cathedral of Saint Maria Assumption.
There is tongue-in-cheek speculation that the mosque's 12 central pillars supporting the massive dome, two of them are visible here, must have been intended to represent the Twelve Apostles of Christianity.
The dimensions and measurements of the mosque complex are full of symbolism, which reflects local superstition. One suggests that in Jakarta, where a maritime-trade tradition stimulated the society with various political interests and Islamic currents, the existence of this mosque became a crucial feature that would mean the achievement of social stability.