An Arab Indonesian family
5,000,000 Native Indonesians with Arab ancestry
|Regions with significant populations|
Jakarta, West Java, Central Java, East Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi & Maluku
|Indonesian, Arabic, Indonesian regional languages|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Hadhramis, Arab diaspora|
Arab Indonesians are citizens of Indonesia of Arab, mainly Hadrami, descent. Restricted under Dutch East Indies' law until 1919, the community elites later gained economic power through real estate investment and trading. Currently found mainly in Java and South Sumatra, they are almost all (generally orthodox) Muslims.
Indonesia has had contact with the Arab world for hundreds of years, prior to the emergence of Islam in Indonesia. Most contact was with spice traders, but the first Arab settlements in the archipelago may date from the fifth century. Some later founded dynasties, including the Sultanate of Pontianak, while others intermingled with existing kingdoms. These early communities adopted much of the local culture, and some disappeared entirely while others formed ethnically distinct communities.
Modern Arab Indonesians are generally descended from Hadramis, They were classified as "foreign orientals" along with Chinese Indonesians by the Dutch colonists, which led to them being unable to attend certain schools and restricted from travelling, and having to settle in special Arab districts, or kampung Arab. As liaison and to lead the community, the Dutch government appointed some Captain Arabs in the districts. These laws were repealed in 1919. A few Arabs from other countries also came to Indonesia during Dutch colonial rule.
The community elites began to build economic power through trade and real estate acquisition, buying large amounts of real estate in Batavia (modern-day Jakarta), Singapore and other parts of the archipelago. Through charity work and "conspicuous consumption", they built and protected their social capital; eventually, some Arab Indonesians joined the Volksraad, the people's council of the Dutch East Indies.
During the Indonesian National Awakening, Arab Indonesians began to experience hostility from native Indonesians owing to their foreign descent; they also experienced hostility from the Dutch. This led to the formation of organizations exclusively for Arab Indonesians beginning in 1913; these organizations viewed the Arabian peninsula as a homeland and tended to ignore Indonesia. An Indonesian nationalistic movement, Persatoean Arab Indonesia, was founded by Abdurrahman Baswedan in 1934, eventually leading to a "cultural reorientation".
Indonesian scholar Azyumardi Azra depicts Indonesians of Arab descent as wishing to purge Indonesian Islam of its indigenous religious elements. Indonesian critics of Arab influence in Indonesia point to the founding of the radical group Jemaah Islamiah (JI) and leadership of Laskar Jihad (LJ) and Front Pembela Islam by Indonesian Arabs,.
First generation immigrants are referred to as wulayātī or totok. They are a small minority of the Arab Indonesian population. The majority, muwallad, were born in Indonesia and may be of mixed heritage.
A large amount of the Arabs from Hadramaut were Sayyid and Sharif and had special status and privileges within the Hadrami community. Other Muslims were required to show them respect and a non-Sayyid could not marry the daughter of the Sayyid, while a Sayyid could marry other women (Kafa'ah).
Arab Indonesians are almost all Muslim; according to the 2000 census, 98.27 percent of Arab Indonesians are Muslim, compared to 88.22 percent of the general population. Historically, most have lived in Kauman, or the area around mosques, but this has changed in recent years. The majority are Sunni, following the Shafi'i school of Islamic law; a growing minority are Shia. Children are generally sent to madrasahs.
The Islam practiced by Arab Indonesians tends to be more orthodox than the local, indigenous-influenced forms like abangan. Most of the sayyid families follow Ba 'Alawiyya sufi order. Many Arab Indonesians attempt to convince local Muslims to follow a more orthodox form of Islam as well.
Notable Arab Indonesians
- Abdurrahman Baswedan, founder of Persatoean Arab-Indonesia
- Abu Bakar Bashir, suspected head of Jemaah Islamiyah
- Ahmad Albar, a musician
- Ali Alatas (half-Sundanese), former Minister of Foreign Affairs
- Anies Baswedan, educator
- Alwi Shihab, Indonesian statesman
- Asyifa Latief (half-Sundanese), Miss Indonesia 2010
- Fuad Hassan, scholar and politician
- Habib Ali Kwitang, Islamic scholar and preacher
- Haddad Alwi, Indonesian Nasheed singer
- Habib Munzir Al-Musawa, Islamic scholar
- Haidar Bagir Al-Habshi, scholar and businessman
- Irfan Bachdim (half-Dutch), Indonesian footballer
- Jafar Umar Thalib, founder of Laskar Jihad
- Munir Said Thalib (half-Javanese), human rights activist
- Nurhayati Ali Assegaf, a politician; Chairperson of Democratic Party Faction
- Raden Saleh (half-Javanese), Romanticist painter during Dutch colonial era
- Habib Rizieq Shihab, a scholar and activist
- Sultan Hamid II (half-Malay), Designer of Garuda Pancasila, national emblem of Indonesia
- Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II, a sultan of Palembang sultanate
- Sunan Ampel, one of wali Songo who spread Islam in Java
- Sunan Kudus, one of Wali Songo
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