Tuesday, December 01, 2015

A little bit about Islam in Indonesia

One of the things I do see here in Indonesia is a practice of Islam exactly as I have been and continue to practice, people say their 5 time prayers, but than go back to work. Alcohol and pork is served at restaurants and no one gets upset, people just eat according to their religious dietary restrictions. Islam in Indonesia is integrated into everyday life but not at the expense of or to the exclusion of other things. And yes,  the point about the Indonesian Nusantra is very true and Indonesians are proud of the fact that they  can show the world that Islam can cohabitant peacefully with other religions, perhaps I think because to an extent Indonesians see themselves first as Indonesians than to their religious affiliation. 

“The problem with Middle East Islam is they have what I call religious racism,” said Azyumardi Azra, an Islamic scholar and former rector of the State Islamic University in Jakarta. “They feel that only the Arabs are real Muslims and the others are not.”

This comment could not be more true - I have seen it time and time again even in America, this idea by Arabs that somehow they hold the real Islam and the rest of us, not of Arab descent, should yield to them, we are inferior to them - and I think a large part of the problem and why these radical groups seem to be taking hold of the Islamic world is because of this inferiority complex suffered by non-Arabs (I see it heavily in many of my Pakistani friends) this desire to prove their "Muslim-ness."   At the local mosque in Virginia, it is always the Arab ladies who stand up and boss everyone around (how to stand, what to do during prayers), as if to proclaim they hold the truth and the rest of us are just saplings. Yet, in Indonesia that isn't the case - so far I haven't found anyone who lords over another during prayer times or at Islamic holidays, like a prayer police officer. Its very freeing. 


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