In this article of the series on Islam around the world, we explore Indonesia, the fourth most populous country with around 250 million people and the largest Muslim-majority nation. How did Islam reach Indonesia? How many Muslims live there? What are the prominent mosques and figures? Let’s delve into the answers to these questions and explore the challenges faced by Muslims in the country.
What is the Muslim population in Indonesia?
Indonesia’s population of 263 million consists of 88% Muslims, with the rest being Christians (Catholic and Protestant), Hindus, Buddhists, and a small percentage following local animist traditions. This makes Indonesia the country with the largest Muslim population in the world. However, Islam is not the official state religion, and the country adopts a pluralistic approach to religion. Islamic Sharia is only applied in the Aceh region.
How and when did Islam reach Indonesia?
Islam first reached Indonesia in the early 12th century through Muslim traders from Iran, India, and China who arrived on the coasts of Sumatra. From the 13th century onwards, Islam rapidly developed among the Indonesian population through trade, marriage, and Sufi orders, gradually gaining strength and eventually replacing other religions’ dominance by the 15th century.
What are Indonesia’s famous mosques?
Indonesia’s prominent mosques include:
– Istiqlal Mosque, the famous central mosque and the largest in Southeast Asia.
– Beutah Rahmann Mosque, known as the fortress of Acehnese Muslims.
– Erkam Bab El Rahman Mosque, also known as the “floating mosque.”
– Minaret Mosque in Jerusalem, Dian Al Mehri Mosque, Soko Tunggal Mosque, Rahmeten Lil-Alemin Mosque, and the Great Demak Mosque are some of the other famous mosques in Indonesia. Additionally, there are over 850,000 mosques in Indonesia.
Who are the influential figures promoting Islam in Indonesia?
In Java, Arab and Iranian preachers were active since the 1400s. One of the earliest figures promoting Islam in Indonesia was Sheikh Abdullah Ârif, an Arab scholar. His disciple, Sheikh Burhâneddin Efendi, continued various preaching activities in the region. Sufi figures such as Hamza Fansuri, Nureddin er-Raniri, and Abdurrauf es-Sinkili also played significant roles in promoting Islam in the region.
What is the major challenge faced by Muslims in Indonesia?
The Ministry of Religious Affairs in Indonesia recognizes administrative autonomy and freedom of worship for religions other than Islam. However, at times, Western circles highlight limited radical activities within certain groups of Indonesian Muslims, falsely portraying it as pressure on other religious minorities. This can create tensions between Muslim and non-Muslim communities in the country.