Indonesian Beliefs and Religions

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The Land Of Seventeen Thousand Islands -Indonesian beliefs and religions

Located in South East Asia, Indonesia is the world’s largest island country. It is famous for different reasons, including Jakarta, the capital city, the sovereignty of Almighty God, religious affiliations, religious beliefs, constitutional court, the Gafatar movement, West Kalimantan province, police, Joint decision letter, and Human Rights Watch. Its economy is the world’s 16th largest economy by national GDP. Central Jakarta is an attractive point for tourists and traders. Let us see the Indonesian beliefs and rituals below.

Society of Indonesia

Indonesian society is a blend of Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, indigenous faiths, and many different ethnic groups, all very particular about religion and faith. Islam, being the most dominant and one of the official religions of the country, maintained its joint supremacy for a very long time without any question. However, the followers of Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Protestantism are not any less and are fully acknowledged by the government.

In the middle east and North African societies, a decision was made and Islamic Law was being accepted by the people and implemented by the government officials but matters are not tackled in a healthy way by the institutes, police, and the governments here. Therefore, keeping the conflict in view, a decade ago, the international human rights convention made sure that total freedom of religion is guaranteed for everyone without any discrimination based on caste, creed, or color yet the police couldn’t offer any protection. Decisions to put local regulations in place were made by the local authorities for the purpose. Unfortunately, religious affairs are still controversial in West Kalimantan.

Indonesian Official Religions

It’s quite surprising that despite being the largest Muslim majority population in the world, there is a total of 6 major religions practiced in the country. These include followers of Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. Hindu and Confucian marriages are officially registered at the local government. Hinduism expanded in the era when Hindu and Buddhist empires were established in the region. Protestantism came into the region as a result of the Dutch missionaries. Contrary to popular belief, there are regions like Bali in which Hinduism and its followers are more than Muslims or places such as Sumatra, particularly North Sumatra, where Christian followers are more in number than Buddhists. In comparison with Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism religions came a little late to the region in ancient times.
Apart from that, locals have a total inclination towards traditional belief systems, there are even certain localities where worshiping practices are central to people. Society has a deep respect for values and customs enforced by their ancestors and the local government acknowledges that.

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Challenges Faced By People In Indonesia


Indonesia is home to hundreds of different ethnic groups, traditional beliefs, and indigenous faiths including Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and many others. One of the biggest challenges is freedom of religion, specifically for minorities. To resolve the issue of religious freedom, government and public protection institutes worked on some basic policy. For instance, acknowledging religious celebrations and observing holidays is a part of the constitution policy, ensuring basic human rights for people and is emphasized from school days. Providing equal opportunities and religious freedom to the public is the top priority of the administrative offices. Training and courses are also considered obligatory in the school level, institutes, and offices in a joint verdict by the government officials. Moreover, the Wahid institute states that minority belief systems were partly recognized as per the 2017 decision of the constitutional court. Established in 2003, the constitutional court has been actively handling cases on certain religious matters including blasphemy

Freedom Of Religion Vs Religious Minority

As per the order of the Indonesian government officials and the pressure of ulama, people are strictly prohibited from expressing any offensive remarks or opinions on any level regarding the six religious groups, their religion, and their followers. Ulama or Muslim scholars are considered sacred and disrespect of the holy prophet Muhammad is a punishable crime. Prophet Muhammad’s respect is a matter of life and death for them. One such incident of discrimination was observed in West Kalimantan, against the Ahmadiyah community (JAI) whose activities were banned by the Joint Decision Letter of the attorney general. Thousands even protested outside the presidential palace in Jakarta. Marriage law states that two individuals of different religions cannot marry each other. The minister of religious affairs and the interior minister signed the joint decision letter on September 26, 2007. Since the government recognizes Sunni Islam as the mainstream religion, moreover, the law states that all religious groups must officially register with the government. The ministry of religious affairs is also unable to provide shelter to those affected.
It is interesting to note that the independence constitution clearly states that religious freedom is the basic right for every individual and that includes every person of every community with any religious affiliation, but the pressure in Kalimantan states otherwise and so does the brutality of the police. Moreover, the constitution was amended four times to incorporate human rights into the constitution for the sake of ensuring anti-discriminatory and equal social treatment of the nationals. It further stresses that any person who believes that his or her human rights were violated, can report their complaint to the National Human Rights Commission.

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Human Rights Watch

The Human Rights Watch has been receiving hundreds of reports of abuse and discrimination against the general public and constantly condemning the role of government institutes, military, police, and extremists in abuse and discrimination of minorities and traditional groups in Kalimantan. Organizations like Human Rights Watch have arranged certain meetings with the ministers, even written letters to the UN, reporting abuse, detention, discrimination in Jakarta and the province of Kalimantan, and raised the question of injustice in the West Kalimantan community on many platforms. Some Muslim extremists also prohibit women from working in a male-dominant workplace. In Sumatra, a police officer was sentenced to 16 months in prison for shredding copies of the Quran and throwing in the dumpster. Looking at such instances in support, freedom of religion sounds like a total joke to the public.

Kalimantan And Gafatar

Activist groups and movements are considered a major threat to both the local and the central government. In the West Kalimantan province, the controversial group Gafatar’s compound was burnt down by the villagers in January 2016, as they suspected them of spreading deviant teachings. It was speculated that the group combined the teachings of Islam with Christian faith and Jewish beliefs. Persons who were staying on Gafatar farms were forcibly evicted from their homes by the joint operation of the Navy, local government officials, and the police. The police officers even restricted women from visiting their children in the hospital in West Kalimantan. When the question was raised, police officers called the act a social security exercise, an evacuation to protect the safety of the locals.

Muslims in Jakarta

When it comes to Muslims in Jakarta, they put every business aside at the time of the prayers. It is a common social observation in east Asia that every society is very respectful towards faith and religious celebrations. It is a social convention in the country to follow the traditions, even for business purposes. Traditional practices and rituals are not limited to remote areas or religious minorities, spirituality is a shared treasure for them, which perhaps came from Confucians and Buddhists. Thanks to Buddhist influence and affiliation, business owners seek spiritual guidance and turn into followers only to find a balance between work and individual life.
Rich cuisines are an integral part of the Balinese culture. Spices, herbs, and sauces are special to Balinese locals and Indonesian people love to enjoy them. For a tourist, some of the dishes might even seem strong. Tourists are always looking forward to an authentic Balinese experience and a central Java visit to taste different flavorful items. Art and design are central to Indonesian institutes. Students study art and design and utilize the ancient styles of Buddhist paintings in modern construction. Society is gradually learning to adapt to tolerance. The efforts of Human Rights Watch will someday bring a vital and permanent change that will allow the community members to share a sense of humanity.

Indonesian Religions And Beliefs

Indonesian beliefs and religions have been a controversial topic for quite some time. But no matter how controversial the topic of freedom of religion seems, the belief systems’ level in Indonesia is stronger than imagination. In Indonesian communities, the family is the strongest institute. Large families live together in the same houses solely due to love and mutual respect. Most families choose to live with their second and third generations in the same household, only to preserve family values and share personal belongings. Everyone likes to stay closer to each other, most of the time, in the same house even when they are financially stable. Family matters are solved entirely by the eldest members and no one questions their authority in the community meetings, an acknowledged convention there.

Communal celebrations, indigenous faiths, and rituals are also very eminent in their culture, even if they come from a religious minority. Locals love to talk about legends, certain months are associated with them, followers love to tell stories of national landmarks regardless of their religious affiliations to a certain group or community.

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