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Why Indonesian Muslims Practice Traditional Ways     SNTC Native News and Views
Muhammed Morsi

 Monday, May 15. 2006

Though large populations in Asia are Muslims many retain their animist beliefs prior to their introduction to Islam by Arab merchants and travelers. While Christian preachers tried to persuade traditional people into Christianity, Islam was preached to them as a call to Islam rather than an attack on their beliefs. The masses of Asian people that accepted Islam retained their traditional ways. Most of these Muslims didn’t see a problem in practicing their preIslamic ceremonies as well as Islam. Many Asiatic people who are Muslim still practice traditional Spiritual ways.

The clash between traditional Spiritual beliefs and Islam never occurred in places like Indonesia whereas the Asiatic people in that region had a series of clashes with Christians who came with the European colonies. The difference between traditional Spiritual ways and Islam never occurs with respect to accepting the beliefs. Both traditional Spiritual beliefs and Islam say that there is One Creator and both say that the Creator sent Prophets, thus fundamental beliefs of the two are the same. When it comes to Islam and Christianity the fundamental beliefs of the two clash. Islam considers Christianity as an earlier form of Islam before the arrival of Prophet Muhammed while Christianity dismisses Prophet Muhammed. Islam considers Jesus as a Prophet and says that there is One Creator while Christianity says that Jesus was one of three gods. Islam accepts the Bible as a Holy Book in it’s original form and dismisses the authenticity of later forms of the Bible that were rewritten many times. Christianity says that the Bible in it’s rewritten form is authentic and dismisses the Qur’an. Muslims consider the Qur’an authentic and are very meticulous about who transmitted the Qur’an and other texts over the generations from person to person. At the same time Muslims consider the Qur’an a Miracle from the Creator because it’s text is impossible to be changed; nothing can be added to it without the incoherence being noticed, nor taken out of it without the missing portion being noticed. Looking at the Qur’an with it’s structure and literary value of the highest standard Arabic literature, nothing can be written equivalent to any part of it.

There are two important factor that played a role in retaining the traditional Spiritual ways of many Asian people who were under Islamic influence, as well as animists in Africa.  The first is that the Qur’an orders that no one be compelled into Islam. The second is that Prophet Muhammed ordered Muslims leave alone people from Nations such as the Turkic Nations and African Nations who both have traditional Spiritual beliefs. Christians on the contrary went to conquer and convert those Nations to Christianity.

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