Wetu Telu: A very different brand of Islam in Lombok.


pura_lingsar_lombok.jpgIndonesia is the worlds largest Muslim country. I have mentioned before that the brand of Islam practiced here seems to be a liberal and accepting form. Lombok has a branch of the Muslim religion called Wetu Telu, which is a major divergence from all other forms. The Wetu Telu still strongly believe in ancestor worship and the old animist beliefs are still recognized. Islam has been adapted here so that instead of praying 5 times a day they pray 3 times and the holy month of Ramadan becomes a 3-day observation. The most important festival in the calendar is called Maulid, which is Mohammed’s birthday. The most important rituals are the life-cycle ceremonies to recognize birth, death, marriage, circumcision etc. There are many crossovers into Balinese Hinduism and in fact the Wetu Telu believe Gunung Rinjani, the largest volcano in Lombok is the dwelling place of their ancestors and the Supreme Being.

Some other random facts about Wetu Telu:

1. The temple of Pura Lingsar in central Lombok has unique significance as it is a place of worship for Balinese Hindus and the Wetu Telu.
2. Bayan in northern Lombok is the site of the oldest mosque (masjid) on the island and is a center for the Wetu Telu.
3. This and the differences in the observance of Islam have created tensions with members of more traditional Islam.

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