Education & Practice


"I do not intend to prejudge the past." ~ William Whitelaw

Women praying for the return of pilgrims to Mecca, Indonesia, Java, Cirebon

Javanese Muslims in rural Java are strange. Most of them don’t understand Arabic. Most of them don’t have physical proof of God. And yet their unquestioning piety is astounding. Being called “Hajji/Hajjah” is something they spend their entire lives and savings for. No matter how poor.

Recently, the Muslims in Aceh passed the practice of stoning as legal sanction. I barely a year spent there, so it’s hard to confirm; but regressing to modern day stoning could give you an idea why anybody would give up TRYING with the Acehnese.

Islam in Java is woven into the culture, practiced with the kind of obedience that reminds me of cattle herds. A lot Javanese Muslims belong to a tariqah; a sufistic order and collectivistic in their religious practice.

Islam in Sumatra is practiced with rigid brutality as in Saudi in the 80s. Either you believe, or fake it, or be stoned. A lot Sumatran Muslims are Muhammadiyahs, the Indonesian version of Wahhabism.

Does it explain anything to you if you knew that Islam in Java was spread through storytelling, shadow puppets and plenty of mind boggling myths and legends?

Does it explain anything to you if you knew that Islam in Sumatra was spread with bloodletting? That the Paderi Wars stabbed conviction into every animist, man, woman and child. That my great-great-grandmother fled to Java carrying horrors about women folks being forced to witness their men beheaded, after being publicly raped. For objecting Paderi-advocated reforms.

By the men in white thobes and turbans.

Do methods of teaching define practice?

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