(U-FOUO) Marine Corps Intelligence Activity Indonesia Cultural Study

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  • MarineCorpsIntelligenceActivityCulturalStudyUNCLASSIFIED//FOUO

    CulturalIntelligenceforMilitaryOperations:IndonesiaDoD2630IDN01006

    Summary

    IndonesiaisageographicmixingpointbetweenthetraditionalMalaypeoplesofmostofSoutheastAsiaandtheAustronesianpeoplestotheeast.Thecountry'sterritorystretchesthousandsofmilesfromeasttowestandhasacenturiesoldhistoryofsettlementandinteractionwiththeregionandrestoftheworld.ConsequentlyitscultureandsocietyreflectinfluencesfromChina,India,theMiddleEast,andotherareasofSoutheastAsia.IndonesianshaveadoptedamixoftraditionalAsianvaluesalongwiththeparticularpracticesofeachethnicgroup.Manyofthecustoms,gestures,andvalues(calledadat)aresimilarforeachethnicgroup,eventhoughtheymayhaveadifferentorigin.MostIndonesians,regardlessofethnicgroup,sharearespectfortraditionandculture,closetiesandobligationtoonesfamily,andarespectforhierarchy,whichtranslatesintodeferencetoageandeducation.Islamisthepredominantreligion(approximately90%ofthepopulation),buttheIslampracticedinIndonesiaisgenerallymoremoderatethanthatpracticedintheMiddleEast.TherearealsolargenumbersofChristians,Hindus,andBuddhists(whotogethermakeuptheremaining10percentofthepopulation).VirtuallyallIndonesiansalsoincorporatetraditionalandanimistreligiouspracticesandbeliefsintotheirdailylives.Thedegreeofreligiousdevotionandobservancediffersamongvariousethnicgroupsandregions.SomeIndonesiansarenominalMuslims,identifyingthemselvesassuchforofficialpurposesbutlargelypracticingtheirtraditionalfaiths,whileothers,suchastheAcehnese,areorthodoxMuslims.Maintainingterritorialandnationalintegrityisofparamountconcerntothegovernment,andtoIndonesiansingeneral.Nationalintegrityissuchanoverridingconceptforthearmedforcesthattheharshsuppressionofpoliticalorreligiousactivistscanbejustifiediftheyareseenasthreateningthenation'sintegrityordevelopment.TheoverallattitudetowardtheU.S.anditsmilitaryisoneofcautionandmistrustregardinglargernationalandforeignpolicyissues,butthisrarelymanifestsitselfindirectconfrontationswithWesternorU.S.persons,evenmilitary.TheUnitedStateshasgainedconsiderablecredibilitythroughoutIndonesiathroughtsunamireliefoperationsinAceh,andrecenthospitalshipvisitsineasternIndonesia.Thenationallanguage,BahasaIndonesia(IndonesianLanguage),isastandardizedformoftheMalaylanguage.Itisthecommonlanguageofcommerceandinteractionthroughoutthecountry.However,therearealsohundredsofregionalorethniclanguagesanddialects,oftendistincttoindividualvillagesorlocales,andthelevelofproficiencyinBahasaIndonesiaislowerinmoreremoteareasofthecountry.Inmanycases,anindividualwillusethelocalorethniclanguageindailylife,butBahasaIndonesiaforcommunicatingwithmembersofotherethnicgroupsorthe

  • government.Englishproficiencydeclinesdramaticallyoutsideurbanareas,withvirtuallynoEnglishcapabilityinruralvillages.ThoughIndonesiansarepredominantlyMuslim,ArabicisnotcommonlyusedintheregionexceptinthemostorthodoxMuslimprovinces.

    RegionalandEthnicdifferences

    RegionalandEthnicDifferences

    PhysicalDescription

    MostIndonesianshavedarkbrownhairandbrowneyes,andareslightlyshorterandthinnerthantheaverageAmerican.ThemajorityofIndonesiansaremembersoftheMalayethnicgroups.Theirskinisoftenalightbrown,withthewidefacesandstraightblackhaircommontoMalaypeople.EthnicMalaysandChinesearebothclassifiedasmembersoftheMongoloidrace,buttheMalaysskinpigmenttendstobedarkerthanthatofChinesepeople.IndiansinIndonesiatypicallyhavearelativelylightcomplexion.TheChinesetendtohavethelightestskincolor,andmanyhavethedistinctivealmondshapedeyestypicalofEastAsians.Austronesian/PolynesianpeoplemakeupalargerportionoftheIndonesianpopulationasonemoveseastward.Ingeneral,Austronesian/PolynesiansaretallerthanindividualsfromotherareasofIndonesia,withmaleandfemaleadultheightsclosertoWesternnorms.Theirskinisdark,oftenappearingNegroidandtheirfacialfeaturesarethosecommontoPapuanandSouthPacificpeoples,clearlydifferentfromthewidelyrecognizedfacialfeaturesofmostAsians.Theirhairtendstobekinkyandwiryratherthanstraight.

    ReligionIndonesiaisoverwhelminglyMuslim,andthemajorityofpeopleinmostprovincesareMuslim.However,thereareregions,insomecasesentireprovinces,thatarepredominantlyChristianorHindu.Forexample,NorthSumatraishometothelargestnumberofChristiansinIndonesia3.61millionor20percentofIndonesiasChristianpopulation,andtheprovinceofBaliispredominantlyHindu.TherearealsosmallnumbersofBuddhists,mostlyconcentratedamongtheethnicChinesepopulationsinurbanareas.

    Priortothearrivaloftheworldreligions(Islam,Hinduism,Christianity,andBuddhism),animismwas

  • thedominantbeliefsystemthroughoutmostofIndonesia.Animistreligionstillplaysamajorrole,althoughmanyoftheseaspectshavebeenincorporatedintothemainstreamreligiousbeliefsandpractices,andhavebecomeinextricablymeldedbymostIndonesiansintoasinglebeliefsystem.Thisreligiousmixtureinformsandinfluencesallaspectsandchoicesofdailylife,fromdeterminingprimedatesforfuneralsandweddings,todecidingonplantingandharvestingdaysandtimes.Thisisseenprimarilyintheinvocationofspiritsandancestorsformajordecisions.Forexample,variousobjectsmarkreligiouslyorculturallysignificantsites,suchasvillageboundaries,ricepaddy/fieldownership,orreligiouslysignificantlocations,andancestorsareconsultedandcelebratedformarriages,births,deaths,homebuilding,andothermajorlifeevents.

    Adat

    Values,practices,andwayoflifeinIndonesiaareheavilyinfluencedbyadatadatisabroadtermwhichreferstocustoms,traditions,andasetofsocialnormsthathavealwaysexistedforeachethnicgroup.InmanyareasofIndonesia,establishedandwidelyheldnotionsofadataresometimesabasisforlegaljudgment.Violatingadatmaybeconsideredextremelyinappropriateorrudeandinsomecasesisaseveresocialtaboo.Eachethnicgrouphasitsownnotionsofwhatconstitutesadathowever,somevaluesorpracticesaresharedbymostethnicgroups.Filialpiety,orrespectandloyaltytoonesfamilyandelders,iscommontomostethnicgroups.Inaddition,indigenouspropertyrightstocommunallandareregardedasadat.Indonesiansoftenusetheconceptofadattoexplaintheindividualcharacteristicsorbeliefsthatareheldbyeachethnicgroup.Ifoneaskswhyanotherindividualhasaparticularcustomortradition,theresponseisoftenthatitispartofthatpersonsadat.

    Formostethnicgroups,adatisheldinthesameesteemasIslam.Becauseoftheprominenceofadat,ithasalsoservedasamoderatinginfluenceonthepracticeofIslaminIndonesia.Forinstance,withinMinangkabausocietyinSumatra,matrilinealpracticesareanimportantpartofadat,eventhoughsomeofthosepracticesareatoddswithpatriarchalIslamicteachings.Thissyncretictradition,whichallowsIslamandadattocoexist,iscommonforethnicgroupsthroughoutIndonesia.

    Islam

    IslamisamonotheisticreligioninwhichGodisapervasivebutdistantfigure.TheProphetMuhammadisnotgivenGodstatus,butisreveredasthemanchosentospreadthewordofGodtoothers.IslamsholybookistheKoran.ThereligionisbasedonhighmoralprinciplesandinspirestheindividualtoattemptachievementofholinessandrighteousnessthroughstrictadherencetoIslamicprinciples.ThoseprinciplesincludeIslamiclaw(sharia)basedontheKoranthesunna,Islamictraditionwhichincludesthehadithijma,theconsensusofalocalgroupofIslamiclegalscholarsandsometimestheentireMuslimcommunity.Islamisuniversalist,allowingconversionofpeopleofanynational,ethnic,orideologicalorigin.

    TherearesixarticlesofbelieftypicallysharedbyMuslims:

    BeliefinAllah,theoneandonlyGodworthyofworshipBeliefintheAngelsGabrielandMichaelBeliefintheBooks(sentbyGod)BeliefinalloftheProphetsandMessengers(sentbyGod).BeliefinFateBeliefintheDayofJudgment(Qiyamah)andintheResurrection.

    Muslimsareexpectedtoperformfivebasicduties,knownastheFivePillarsofIslam:

  • ProfessthatthereisnoGodbutAllahandMuhammadishisprophetPrayfivetimesperdayGivealms(zakat)tothepoorandtothemosqueFastfromdawntoduskduringthemonthofRamadanMakeapilgrimage(haj)totheholycityofMeccaatleastonceinoneslifetimeiffinanciallyandphysicallyable

    MuslimsgathercollectivelyforworshiponFridaysatthemosque,whichisalsoacenterforteachingoftheKoran.Theimamandtheulamaplayimportantrolesinprovidingreligiousguidancetothepeople.

    IslaminIndonesia

    Thedegreeofreligiousdevotionandobservancediffersamongvariousethnicgroupsandregions.SomeIndonesiansarenominalMuslims,identifyingthemselvesassuchforofficialpurposesbutlargelypracticingtheirtraditionalfaiths,whileothers,suchastheAcehnese,areorthodoxMuslims.MuslimsinIndonesiaareoftenregardedasbelongingtooneoftwocategories:(1)abangan,lessreligious,or(2)santri,devout.MostIndonesiansconsiderthemselvesabangan.

    ThepracticeofIslaminIndonesiaisgreatlymoderatedbytraditionalculturalpractices,makingitsignificantlydifferentfromIslamintheMiddleEast.BecauseaHinduBuddhistcivilizationalreadyexistedintheregion,Islamwasforcedtoadapttolocalconditions.Inaddition,IslamcametoIndonesiaviaMuslimtradersfromIndia,notfromtheMiddleEast.Therefore,theformofIslamintroducedinIndonesiawasmodifiedbyHinduBuddhistIndianinfluences,Sufism(amysticalformofIslam),andindigenousspiritualandculturalbeliefsintoasyncreticformofIslam.ThismoreinclusiveformofIslamisevidentevenamongthemoredevoutMuslimsinIndonesia.Forinstance,theMinangkabau,whoareknownasferventMuslims,havematrilinealinheritancecustoms,passinglandandwealthdownfrommothertodaughter,thoughthispracticeisatoddswithmalefocusedtraditionalIslamiclawsregardinginheritance.

    Therehasbeenanincreasingshiftinthelastseveraldecadestowardsapurer,stricter,moreconservativeformofIslam.Forinstance,thereisincreasedsocialpressuretoobservetherulesofRamadanandagreaternumberofpeopleareobservingthedailyprayerrequirements.Inaddition,thereisincreasingstrictnessregardingdatingandmorewomenhaveadoptedthejilbab

    ChristianityinIndonesia

    ChristianityarrivedinvariouspartsofIndonesiainthe16thcentury,butitwasntuntilthemiddleofthe19thcenturythattheDutchcolonialgovernmentbegantoallowandattimes,activelysupportChristianmissionaries.TheirgoalindoingsowastocurbtheinfluenceofradicalIslam,particularlyoffundamentalistMuslimswhowishedtoeliminatenonIslamicelementsfromtheirsociety.Christianconversionwasoftentargetedatspecificethnicgr