Religious Beliefs In Indonesia

Islam, Sunni

It is believed that Arab merchants brought Islam to Indonesia sometime in the early 700s. By the 1400s, Islam had expanded thanks to increased preachers, a quickening of commerce with the Arabs, the conversion of Indonesian royalty, and the Islamic invasion quickly.

The first Muslim state in Indonesia was the Demak Sultanate (1475–1554), followed by several smaller kingdoms and Sultanates that governed the majority of the country outside of the Hindu–Buddhist–held Bali and distant eastern islands.

Before the Dutch ruled Indonesia, one of the last significant autonomous kingdoms was the Mataram Sultanate (1587–1755).

From 1603 until 1949, when Indonesia finally attained independence, it was a Dutch colony. When Indonesia gained independence, it included the Pancasila principles into its Constitution, which acknowledged official faiths, including Islam.

Since 1998, various ideologies outside Pancasila have been permitted for political parties in Indonesia.

There is also no longer only one government-supervised Islamic party. To secure the supremacy of Islam, this rule has led several Islamic parties to base their ideologies on Shariah law; nonetheless, these parties have not had any notable success.

The majority of Muslims in Indonesia, which has the world’s most enormous Muslim population as of now, practice Sunni Islam.

Christian Protestantism

With the foundation of the first Dutch outpost in the nation by the Dutch East India Company in 1603, Protestant Christianity, also known as Protestantism, made its way to Indonesia for the first time.

Following the Dutch East India Company’s demise in 1800, the French and the English invaded Indonesia. The Dutch had retaken the sovereignty of Indonesia in 1815.

From then on, the Dutch East Indies remained a Dutch colony until 1949, when Indonesia gained independence. By 1835, King William I had ordered that all Protestant denominations in the Dutch colony of Indonesia would unite into a single church council to govern all Protestants there.

The Dutch had forced all Protestant denominations to join forces under the Protestantsche Kerk in 1817.

Currently, the provinces of North Sulawesi and Papua have a majority of Protestant residents, while the regency of Tana Toraja has a considerable Protestant population of roughly 17 percent. One of Indonesia’s five official faiths is Protestant Christianity.

The Roman Catholic faith

Odorico Mattiussi, an Italian Franciscan friar, launched the first Roman Catholic mission to Indonesia in the 14th century. However, the Roman Catholic religion did not take root in Indonesia until the Portuguese arrived in the nation in 1511 and overcame Malacca.

Portuguese missionaries quickly followed in the following decades after the Portuguese mainly were pushed out of Indonesia by the Dutch beginning in the 1590s. Dutch hatred for the faith encouraged Catholicism under the Dutch East India Company’s (1603–1800) administration.

All religions, including Catholicism, were lawful when the Dutch East India Company went bankrupt and the Dutch East Indies were turned over to the Dutch government as a colony.

One of the five recognized faiths in Indonesia is Roman Catholicism, and in 1967 the church elevated Justinus Darmojuwono, the nation’s first archbishop, to the rank of cardinal. In Indonesia, the provinces of Papua, East Nusa Tenggara, and West Kalimantan are home to most Catholics.


Although there are a few primary hypotheses on how Hinduism got from India to Indonesia, there isn’t enough evidence to pinpoint its precise arrival date or how it got there in the first century AD. The first foreign religion to enter Indonesia was Hinduism.

Indonesia has several noteworthy Hindu-Buddhist Kingdoms, including the Medang Kingdom (732-1006). The most prominent Hindu-Buddhist Javanese dynasties, the Majapahit Empire (1293–1527), and Hindu-Buddhist thought peaked in the 14th century.

Islam began to spread in Indonesia in the 13th century. By the 15th century, Muslim Sultans had waged war against the Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms, conquered most of the nation, and made Islam the official religion.

Islam overtook Hinduism and Buddhism, which had long held that position, to become the predominant religion in Indonesia at this time.

Non-Muslims who wanted to avoid living under Muslim authority either agreed to pay the Jizya tax and became Muslims or emigrated to other Indonesian islands.

Hinduism, a polytheistic religion, was not acknowledged as the official state religion of Indonesia when it attained independence since it only recognized monotheistic faiths and required religion to be granted full citizenship.

Due to this, Bali, a primarily Hindu province, proclaimed itself an independent religious territory in 1952 and requested aid and assistance from India and the Netherlands.

After years of unrest in the nation’s political and religious affairs, Hinduism eventually earned one of the five official religious recognitions in 1962.

With around 83 percent of the nation’s Hindus residing there, the province of Bali is now the Hindu stronghold in Indonesia. No other area in the country has a Hindu population greater than 4%.


The second foreign religion to arrive in Indonesia was Buddhism. In the first century, commerce brought Buddhism to Indonesia for the first time. Buddhism had a similar trajectory to Hinduism regarding its ascent and dominance over the great kingdoms.

Then its quick collapse and declined after Islam conquered the majority of Indonesia. Buddhism decreased during the following centuries, with Chinese immigration making up most of its adherents.

Buddhism did not become an official state religion until 1962, during the New Order period led by President Suharto, much like Hinduism. Today, Jakarta and a few other areas in Indonesia are home to most of the country’s Buddhists.

Muslim Shia

Shia Islam’s emergence and expansion in Indonesia have a similar history to Sunni Islam’s, however, on a much lesser scale since Sunni Islam is the vast majority religion in the nation.

After first arriving in Indonesia in the 800s, Shia Islam did eventually come there roughly a century later. Only approximately one million individuals in the country now practice Shia Islam, most of whom live in Jakarta, the nation’s capital.

Islam of Ahmad

Rahmat Ali, a missionary, first introduced Ahmadi Islam to Indonesia in 1925 when he founded the faith in Tapaktuan, a city on the island of Sumatra.

By 1935, the group, now known as Jemaat Ahmadiyah Indonesia, had established its organizational framework and had religious branches spread across Indonesia.

Ahmadi Islam has significantly impacted the nation via its talks, debates, literature, and lectures. Still, it has dealt with increased intolerance from the country’s other religious institutions and assaults by extremist Islamic organizations in recent years. In Indonesia right now, there are 542 branches.


Early in the third century AD, traders from China are said to have introduced Confucianism to Indonesia. .

Over the following centuries, Indonesian religion changed from a well-organized organization with strong theological dogma to a diversity of loose individual practices and a general belief in a code of behavior.

A Confucianist group named the Tiong Hoa Hwee Koan was not established in Jakarta until the 1900s. The Association of Khung Chiao Hui Indonesia, a Confucianist organization, declared in 1961 that Confucianism is a religion.

This declaration became significant when President Sukarno issued Presidential Decree No. 1/Pn.Ps/1965 in 1965, acknowledging that the Indonesian people practice six different religions, including Confucianism.

This did not last long because, in response to the coup attempt by the Indonesian Communist Party, known as the 30 September Movement, which the Chinese allegedly supported, President Suharto issued Presidential Instruction No. 14/1967, which outlawed Confucianism and Chinese culture in the nation, in 1697.

Confucianism was reinstated as an official religion by Statute No. 5/1969, enacted in 1696; this was never put into reality since it was repeatedly emphasized during the following decades that it was not a religion.

Confucianism was once again recognized as a religion by the country’s new president, Abdurrahman Wahid, in 1998.

However, in 2014, when provinces and regions were granted administrative autonomy, Confucianism was excluded from the list of five religions listed on a person’s national identification card in some areas.


Javanese polytheism, known as keratin, synthesizes animist, Islamic, Hindu, and Buddhist beliefs. The Indonesian Constitution of 1945 gave the legal religion standing.

The religion has no prophet, holy book, rituals, or festivals and is loosely structured. Instead, it emphasizes each individual’s vision and belief in their connections with others and the ultimate deity.


Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo founded the spiritual movement known as Subud in Indonesia in the 1920s. The spiritual practice known as latihan serves as the foundation of the religion.

The religion only has around 10,000 adherents worldwide and was officially recognized in Indonesia in the 1940s.


The first and oldest religion followed by people in Indonesia is Animism. Since Animists do not adhere to any one deity, Animism is still practiced in some areas of the nation but is not recognized as an official religion.

To avoid being coerced to convert to a different religion, practitioners of the many animistic faiths connect with Hinduism generally. Other animists who wanted to become complete citizens changed to other religions, yet they continued to practice and perform Animism.


Dutch Jews who arrived in Indonesia at the beginning of the 17th century are considered the country’s first Jews. Jews were interned in concentration camps when the Japanese occupied Indonesia; some chose to convert to Christianity to escape imprisonment.

There are between 100 and 500 Jews in the nation, most of whom reside in Jakarta and Surabaya. There is currently just one synagogue in the country, located in Tondano.

However, the Indonesian Religious Affairs Ministry built Beit Torat Chaim in 2015, the nation’s first recognized Jewish community.


Since they are not included in the census and mostly interact online via atheist groups, no one is certain of the actual number of atheists in Indonesia.

Although atheism is not legally prohibited in Indonesia, it is not accepted since it contradicts both sharia law and the Pancasila values in the Indonesian Constitution.

In Indonesia, atheists have been charged with blasphemy under Islamic law but never under secular law. Nobody who is not religious is tolerated or accepted by anybody else.

RankBelief SystemShare of Indonesian Population
1Sunni Islam86.5%
2Protestant Christianity7.0%
3Roman Catholic Christianity2.9%
6Shia Islam0.4%
7Ahmadi Islam0.2%
8ConfucianismOther Beliefs0.1%0.5%
The Religions In Indonesia

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