Arab Indonesians

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Arab Indonesians
Orang Arab-Indonesia
عرب إندونيسياindo
Total population

(387,254 [1]

5,000,000 Native Indonesians with Arab ancestry)
Regions with significant populations
Aceh, West Sumatra, Jakarta, West Java, South Kalimantan
Indonesian, Arabic, Indonesian regional languages
Sunni Islam
Related ethnic groups
Hadhramis, Arab Singaporeans, Arab Malaysians, Arab diaspora

Arab Indonesians (Arabic: عرب إندونيسي‎‎), or Hadharem (Arabic: حضارم‎‎; sing., Hadhrami, Arabic: حضرمي‎‎), informally known as Jama'ah,[2] are citizens of Indonesia of Arab, mainly Hadrami, descent. The group also includes those of Arab descent from other Middle Eastern Arabic speaking nations. 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, especially West Java, they are almost all Muslims.


Indonesia has had contact with the Arab world for hundreds of years, prior to the emergence of Islam in Indonesia as well as since pre-Islamic times. The earliest Arabians to arrive into South East Asia were traders came from Southern Arabia and other Arab states of the Persian Gulf. Most of the earliest Arabians were Christian Arabs, Sabeans and other Pagan religions before the coming of Islam.[citation needed] These traders helped to connect the spice and silk markets of South East Asia and far east Asia with the Arabian kingdoms, Persian Empire and the Roman Empire. 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.[3]

An Arab store in Java circa 1910-1930

Modern Arab Indonesians are generally descended from Hadramis, although there are also communities coming from Arabs of Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Arab States of the Persian Gulf area.[citation needed] They are generally from upper strata and classified as "foreign orientals" (Vreemde Oosterlingen) 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.[4] 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.[5]

During the Indonesian National Awakening, an Indonesian nationalistic movement, Persatoean Arab Indonesia, was founded by Abdurrahman Baswedan in 1934, to be more integrated as a citizen of where they lived. To unite with the native in war against the imperialist, To forbids self isolation, to fulfill their responsibility as a citizen. Eventually leading to a "cultural reorientation".[6]

The Ampel Mosque at the end of a shopping street in the Arab quarter of Surabaya, January 14, 1927
Women of Hadhrami descent in Palembang, circa 1950


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.[7]

Because of the lack of information, any of Indonesian scholar mistaken the Arabs of Indonesia as Wahhabism agents, as 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.[8][9][citation needed]


Many Arabs from Hadramaut were Sayyids of the Ba 'Alawi Sada family and Sharifs and had special status and privileges within the Hadrami community. They are descendants of Mohammed. Other Muslims or a non-Sayyid could not marry the daughter of a Sayyid, while a Sayyid man could marry other women (Kafa'ah) because Arab's bloodline is based on father side (Patriarchy) this custom was required to keep the bloodline of Prophet Mohammed, which is considered sacred, and a gift from The God to be born as a Sayyid/Sayyida, Sharif/Sharifa.[citation needed]


The majority of Arab Indonesians live in Java, primarily in West and East Java and Madura. A sizable minority live in Sumatra (primarily in Palembang, West Sumatra, Aceh),[10] Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Ambon. The earliest census figures that indicate the number of Hadhramis living in Dutch East Indies date from 1859, when it was found that there were 4992 Arab Indonesians living in Java and Madura.[11] The census of 1870 recorded a total of 12412 Arab Indonesians (7495 living in Java and Madura and the rest in other islands). In 1900, total number of Arab population 27399, 44902 in 1920, and 71335 in 1930.[11]


Four parallel bar graphs, with the one second from right having a much larger blue bar than others
Arab Indonesians (second from right) had a higher proportion of Muslims than other ethnic groups.

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 so called kauman villages, in the areas around mosques, but this has changed in recent years.[12] The majority are Sunni, following the Shafi'i school of Islamic law with Ba 'Alawi sada families usually follow Ba 'Alawiyya tariqa and growing minority of Shia.[13] Children are generally sent to madrasahs.[14]

The Islam practiced by Arab Indonesians tends to be more orthodox than the local, indigenous-influenced forms like abangan who doesn't follow some of Islamic religious restriction. Most of the sayyid families follow Ba 'Alawiyya Sufi order, which is different from Wahhabism and Shiism.

Notable Arab Indonesians[edit]

See also[edit]




  1. ^ Suryadinata 2008, p. 29.
  2. ^ Shahab, Alwi (January 21, 1996). "Komunitas Arab Di Pekojan Dan Krukut: Dari Mayoritas Menjadi Minoritas" (in Indonesian). Retrieved April 19, 2015. 
  3. ^ Cribb & Kahin 2004, pp. 18–19.
  4. ^ Jacobsen 2009, p. 54.
  5. ^ Freitag 2003, pp. 237–239.
  6. ^ Jacobsen 2009, pp. 54–55.
  7. ^ Jacobsen 2009, pp. 21-22.
  8. ^ Diederich 2005, p. 140.
  9. ^ Fealy 2004, pp. 109-110.
  10. ^ Suryadinata 2008, p. 32.
  11. ^ a b c Mobini-Kesheh, Natalie (1999). The Hadrami Awakening: Community and Identity in the Netherlands East Indies, 1900-1942 (illustrated ed.). EAP Publications. pp. 54–56. ISBN 978-08772-77279. 
  12. ^ Suryadinata 2008, pp. 29-30.
  13. ^ Jacobsen 2009, p. 19.
  14. ^ Jacobsen 2009, p. 21.
  15. ^ a b c Cribb & Kahin 2004, pp. 18-19.
  16. ^ a b c Algadri, Hamid (1994). Dutch Policy against Islam and Indonesians of Arab Descent in Indonesia. Jakarta, Indonesia: LP3ES. p. 187. ISBN 979-8391-31-4. 
  17. ^ Shahab, Alwi (2004). Saudar Baghdar dari Betawi (in Indonesian). Penerbit Republika. p. 25. ISBN 978-9793210308. 
  18. ^ a b Leifer, Michael (2001). Dictionary of the Modern Politics of South-East Asia (reprint, revised ed.). Taylor & Francis. p. 243. ISBN 9780415238755. 
  19. ^ a b Backman, Michael (2004). The Asian Insider: Unconventional Wisdom for Asian Business. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 154. ISBN 9781403948403. Retrieved August 31, 2014. 
  20. ^ bin Muhammad al-Habsyi, Abdurrahman (2010). Prasetyo Sudrajat, ed. Sumur yang Tak Pernah Kering: Dari Kwitang Menjadi Ulama Besar: Riwayat Habib Ali Alhabsyi Kwitang (PDF) (in Indonesian). ICI. ISBN 978-6029668308. 
  21. ^ Syamsu As, Muhammad (1996). Ulama Pembawa Islam Di Indonesia Dan Sekitarnya. Seri Buku Sejarah Islam (in Indonesian). 4 (2 ed.). Lentera. ISBN 978-9798880162. 
  22. ^ Munir Amin, Samsul (2008). Karomah Para Kiai (in Indonesian). PT LKiS Pelangi Aksara. p. 122. ISBN 978-97984-52499. 
  23. ^ Morimoto, Kazuo, ed. (2012). Sayyids and Sharifs in Muslim Societies: The Living Links to the Prophet. Routledge. ISBN 978-1136337383. 
  24. ^ Weintraub, Andrew N., ed. (2011). lam and Popular Culture in Indonesia and Malaysia. Routledge. ISBN 9781136812293. Retrieved August 31, 2014. 
  25. ^ van der Velde, Paul; McKay, Alex, eds. (1998). New Developments in Asian Studies: An Introduction. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-710306067. Retrieved August 22, 2014. 
  26. ^ Legge, J. D. (2010). Intellectuals and Nationalism in Indonesia: A Study of the Following Recruited by Sutan Sjahrir in Occupied Jakarta (reprint ed.). Equinox Publishing. p. 79. ISBN 978-6-028397230. 
  27. ^ Bunte, Marco; Ufen, Andreas, eds. (2008). Democratization in Post-Suharto Indonesia. Routledge. p. 286. ISBN 9781134070886. Retrieved August 31, 2014. 
  28. ^ L. Berger,, Peter; Redding, Gordon (2011). The Hidden Form of Capital: Spiritual Influences in Societal Progress (illustrated ed.). London, UK: Anthem Press. p. 195. ISBN 9780857284136. 
  29. ^ "Komisi Untuk Orang Hilang dan Tindak Kekerasan (Indonesia)". Bunuh Munir!: sebuah buku putih. Komisi Untuk Orang Hilang dan Korban Tindak Kekerasan. 2006 [Oct 14, 2008]. ISBN 9789799822567. 
  30. ^ "Dipanggil Arab, Nurhayati Perkarakan Ruhut ke Dewan Kehormatan PD". Merdeka Daily. June 24, 2014. Retrieved September 1, 2014. 
  31. ^ "Ulama Hadhrami di Tanah Betawi Berdakwah dengan Sepenuh Hati" (in Indonesian). Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved July 11, 2014. 
  32. ^ a b M. Denny, Frederick (1998). Islam and the Muslim Community. Waveland Press. p. 93. ISBN 9781478608516.