|Indonesia is home to four of the world's great
religions: Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism. About 90% of the
population is Muslim, making Indonesia the largest Muslim country in the
The five practices observed by Muslims are known as the five pillars of Islam. The profession of faith, Shahada, holds that "There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is His prophet." Salat is the requirement to pray five times a day. Zakat means giving alms to the poor. Saum is the requirement to fast from sunrise to sunset during the month of Ramadan. The hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca that Muslims must make at least once in their lifetime, if possible. Muslim practices vary from one ethnic group to another. For example, the Central Javanese are nominally Muslim, but observe many practices associated with Hindu mysticism.
|About 5% of Indonesians are Christian. Indonesian
Christianity has been influenced by local practices. For example, the Easter
procession at Flores is accompanied by the music of the gamelan orchestra,
and the Toradjanese Christians of Sulawesi carry out bull sacrifices.
Most Balinese are Hindu and honour the Trinity of Gods: Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Destroyer. They believe in the cremation of the dead, to release the spirit and allow for participation in the cycle of reincarnation. The Balinese also combine animist and Hindu beliefs. They practise ancestor worship and perform rites that are supposed to keep peace with the forces of nature.
|The Chinese and Tenggerese of Java
are Buddhists. Buddhists follow the Eightfold Path to conquer desire, which,
they believe, is the cause of suffering. The Eightfold Path includes right
understanding, right thought, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood,
right effort, right attentiveness and right concentration. The goal is
nirvana-the escape from the cycle of birth and reincarnation.
Some isolated communities in Indonesia are animist. Animists believe that animate and inanimate objects have a roh or life-force. They practise ancestor and spirit worship.