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Indonesia in Focus

Archive for the Religion Category

Road to Eternal Peace: Poso, Central Sulawesi

December 26th, 2007 | Username By Barrie | Comments No Comments »

It is debatable whether or not the Malino Peace Treaty has brought significant change to conflict-torn Poso in Central Sulawesi. The significance of the pact, signed on Dec. 20, 2001, in terms of its ability to bring Poso back to more pleasant days, remains unclear.

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Indonesians in Focus: Mudji Sutrisno

December 23rd, 2007 | Username By Barrie | Comments 1 Comment »

mudji-sutrisno.jpgMudji Sutrisno often speaks of the three life-changing moments in his life. Twenty five years ago, on Dec. 30, 1982, to be exact, Mudji, who was at that time a cultural activist, was ordained as a Catholic priest in Yogyakarta. The first of the three events was in 2003. Mudji had been asked to marry a couple in Wonogiri, Central Java. The couple, who were quite poor, asked whether they needed to rent special clothes for the church ceremony. “We have nothing, Father. We only have our love,” they said.

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Indonesians in Focus: M. Quraish Shihab

December 14th, 2007 | Username By Barrie | Comments 5 Comments »

Former religious affairs minister and Islamic scholar Muhammad Quraish Shihab’s decision to repeat a year of high school proved to be a defining moment in his life. Quraish graduated from Tsanawiyah senior high school in Cairo without the necessary grades to get into the School of Ushuluddin (Religious Principles) at Al-Azhar University. But, after days and nights of soul-searching, he decided to return and improve his score.

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Saraswati: Bali

November 9th, 2007 | Username By Barrie | Comments No Comments »

Today is Saraswati in Bali. This is the special day of thanks for the gift of knowledge. The festive day is a time for making offerings to books and especially the sacred lontar palm leaf books. All books are subjects on this day. One is not supposed to read books, however schools have special ceremonies. Notedly, Pura Jagatnatha in Denpasar is jam packed with students praying for success in their studies in the early morning ceremony.

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Paying Homage to the King of Banawa: Sulawesi

November 5th, 2007 | Username By Barrie | Comments No Comments »

Bearing gifts, a group of Tobaku and Sarudu traditional leaders approached the house of Datu Wajar Lamarauna, son and heir of the late king, Adam Ardjad Lamarauna. As per custom, the gifts included betel nut, a sack of rice, 14 eggs, four black and white chickens and a white cow.

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Indonesians in Focus: M. Syafi’i Anwar

November 1st, 2007 | Username By Barrie | Comments No Comments »

mini-anwar.jpgIn a country where people are grappling to live up to democratic values, standing firmly with a controversial principle can have dire consequences. M. Syafi’i Anwar, for example, was branded a “CIA agent” and “Western puppet” by Islamic radicals here when he publicly denounced the fatwa of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), which deemed pluralism as “religiously unlawful” and driving the nation toward disintegration. He received angry responses and threats via email, SMS and over the telephone. One big mosque in Jakarta even forbade him from giving speeches and sermons there, despite the fact Syafi’i is a renowned Muslim intellectual and activist whose contributions to the development of the mosque’s youth movement have been well noted.

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Indonesians in Focus: Djoni Basri

October 29th, 2007 | Username By Barrie | Comments No Comments »

In most Indonesian cities the principal crossroads are graced — or disgraced if you like — by statues in the style known as Soviet Realism. These show muscle men snapping their manacles, thrusting forward, determined to engage with some enemy. They
are valiant, determined, aggressive and always triumphant.

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Mandi Balimau Ritual: Pekanbaru, Riau, Sumatra

October 27th, 2007 | Username By Barrie | Comments No Comments »

mini-mandi-balimau-ramadhan.jpgIn Indonesia, Muslims celebrate Ramadhan in various ways. In Riau, they take part in the mandi balimau, or lime purification ritual. Usually occurring the last day before Ramadhan, the tradition of greeting the fast by cleaning oneself with limes in the river has been handed down from the royal Islamic kingdoms. But while it was traditionally a celebration of restraint, outings to local rivers to celebrate the last day before fasting begins is so popular today that mandi balimau has become a mass picnic attracting tourists.

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Ampel Mosque: Surabaya, East Java

October 26th, 2007 | Username By Barrie | Comments 1 Comment »

mini-ampel-mosque-surabaya.jpgAmpel Mosque is believed to be the oldest in the country. Its founder, Sunan Ampel (otherwise known as Raden Ahmad Rachmatulloh), was one of nine figures who played a leading role in spreading Islam across Java. Sunan Ampel was born in 1401 in Champa, Cambodia. He is a descendant of Ibrahim Asmarakandi, or Maulana Malik Ibrahim, a Champa ruler. When he was 20 years old, Sunan Ampel moved to Surabaya in East Java, which was then ruled by Raja Brawijaya, a Majapahit king.

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