Islam and local culture: An interplay
April-June 2017
By: Erni Budiwanti

A slight variation in the way Islam is expressed and observed is a common phenomenon, although the principles that underlie religious acts remain the same. For instance, Sasak Muslims in Lombok are accustomed to wearing a sarong and songkok (a Muslim cap) when observing daily prayers. Other Muslims in Indonesia might wear different clothes in accordance with their own local customs. Yet, the universal religious purpose is the same: performing prayers in clothes that follow the standardized requirement of covering the aurot (the intimate parts of the body, for men defined as the area from the navel to the knees).

Another example is the observance of Ramadan, which is universal in the Muslim world. Yet in Lombok, this obligation is elaborated with the local customary practice of ziarah (visiting the graves of deceased family members) a day before and after the fasting month, and exchanging meals (betukah or betukahan) a few minutes before breaking the fast. These distinct local traditions resulted from intermarriage between universal Islamic tenets and unique customary practices.  

Procession of the Sabuk Belo

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