dinsdag 20 januari 2009

Buddhists in Muslim Indonesia

McGill University's Department of Religious Studies has instituted a chair of Buddhism (thanks to a Japanese grant for some 30 years!). This chair will convene a conference on Buddhism amidst or in relation with Islam, worldwide. The conference will be held 29-31 May 2009. I wrote already an abstract for a paper on Buddhists in Muslim Indonesia.

To start with: on top a picture of a ceremony in 2005 where monks and the chairperson of Walubi donate a hall at the Halim Airport to the military. The hall will be used for the transport to the outer islands of food and other supply, needed in case of disasters and at difficult periods.

Buddhism in Muslim Indonesia

Karel Steenbrink (University of Utrecht)

Abstract. This paper presents an overview of various ways how Buddhists and Muslims lived together, since the arrival of Islam about 1200. It tells how Buddhism slowly disappeared and became a religion for the Chinese (who very often converted to Islam until the 19th century). In the early 20th century we see more female Chinese arriving in Indonesia and a revival of Chinese self-confidence was mostly concentrated on Confucianism, but in the Malay journal Sin Po also aspects of Buddhism are shown. I have done some research on this journal and would like to continue this also for the topic of the conference. The Muslim revival of the late colonial period had some anti-Chinese tendencies (Sarekat Islam as a Muslim union against Chinese positions in the trade, shops in all towns), but were not directed against Buddhism as a religion.
Between 1945 and 2006 only five religions were recognised in Indonesia: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism. Only very recently also Confucianism is an official religion. All religions had to recognize the base of the Indonesian State in its Pancasila ideology that stipulated the ‘belief in the one and high divinity’. For Hindus this has been studied quite well, but I will analyse textbooks, especially books for Buddhist religious education in primary and secondary schools, to see how this national ideology has influenced Buddhism in modern Indonesia. For this period also the different Buddhist organizations and their position towards Muslims and Indonesian culture in general will be important.

The picture shows the marriage of the son of the Chairperson of the National Buddhist Organization (Walubi) Mrs Siti Hartati Murdaya. At the reception the Indonesian President and Vice-President were also invited. They are photographed for a replica of the Borobudur Temple. Mrs Murdaya is one of the richest people (no 13) in Indonesia.

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