Religion in Indonesia: All about the history

When looking for ideal travel destinations, you should think about the religion of the country you consider to visit since sometimes all of your plans may be affected by the religious views of the native people. Regarding the religion in Indonesia, it is important to note that the country has a constitution that guarantees freedom of worship to every individual in the country. However, the constitution only recognizes Muslims, Protestants, Catholics, Buddhists, Confucianists and Hindu believers.

Religion in Indonesia: Islam

Grand Mosque, Ternate, – Religion in Indonesia

Despite the fact that the State recognizes the listed religions, the country happens to be mostly populated by Muslims who in 2014 made up 88% of all religions. The Islam community in Indonesia is further categorized into three:

  • The Sunni who make up about 99%,
  • The Shias,
  • The Ahmadis.

These facts mean that the country is the single most Muslims populated country in the world. However, you should not mistake the country as one whose political system is mainly based on Islam and Sharia law. The system is quite secular with the most popular parties being the most diverse and general in their opinion on religion. This means that in no way is Indonesia going to be a Muslim State soon.

Prayer in a mosque – Religion in Indonesia

The high population of Muslims in the country means that the number of women wearing headscarves on the streets is tangible. However, the dress code for men may not be significantly different. The number of mosques available in the towns is also notably high. The good thing is that the Muslims are very friendly and open to other religions. During the history, the number of conflicts between the religions in the country has been very low and hence they have been able to build a strong economy.

The process of Islamization happened over a long period of time and was caused by:

  • International trade
  • Social movements
  • Establishments of influential Muslim sultanates

Formed Police Unite (FPU) members from Indonesia, perform their evening prayers for Ramadan in the mosque at the base in UNAMID headquarters in El Fasher (North Darfur) – Religion in Indonesia

Trade being the most critical factor means that since the eastern side had the main trading routes, it experienced greater and more rapid development, which led to a greater exposure to the world. Again, this led to the islands on the east being more developed than those on the west. The East has also experienced faster economic growth and increased urbanization.

Urbanization affected the development of two subgroups of Islam in Indonesia. These include:

  1. Abangan; the traditional Muslims, mainly with a rural background.
  2. Santri; more open Muslims with an urban background.


 Religion in Indonesia: Christianity

Jakarta Cathedral – Religion in Indonesia

Christianity makes up the second largest religion in the state. But this is just a small minority compared to the numbers of Muslims. In Indonesia, they are accustomed to separating Christianity into Catholics and Protestants. This can be seen very clearly even in their constitution. It’s funny that the word Christianity is commonly associated only with the Protestants.

The Christian communities are spread all over the country but are more centralized in the areas such as North Sumatra, Kalimantan, North Sulawesi and West Sulawesi.

The arrival of Christianity in the country can be traced to the 12th century. There were some churches around the area of West Sumatra. As evident in the statistics, the spread was not a huge success. Today, Christianity in the country has established political and social systems but it goes without saying that they are not as developed as those of the Islam community.

Jakarta Cathedral inside – Religion in Indonesia