Monday, September 01, 2008

Kampung Islam

September 1st marks the first day of the holy month of Ramadan in 2009. After having witnessed Ramadan in various countries such as Algeria, United Arab Emirates, Oman and Pakistan we (Gü joins in) will now give some impressions on Ramadan in Indonesia. As mentioned in earlier blogs, Islam in Indonesia has some unique features, most notably the extensive use of loudspeakers not only for mosques but also for prayer halls (mushollas), and not only for the calls to prayer.

Since our house is only some 100 meters away from such a (well hidden and very active) musholla, there will be no escape from any Ramadan activities. So we will share them…

In non-Ramadan times, our day starts at 4:45AM with the first call to prayer (2/3 minutes). Sometimes, chanting starts at 4AM to warm people up for the coming prayer call but it usually happens after the first call to prayer and mostly stops before 6:30AM. During ordinary days, musholla activities are reduced to the prayer calls (last one at around 7PM).

During the week the busiest days are Thursday and Saturday when the musholla transmits the entire preaching and chanting between 6:30PM and 9PM, with a short interruption of approximately half an hour. Saturdays is usually a bit less active and recitations could be finished by 8PM.

However, we often experience exceptions to the ‘rules’; last Saturday for instance, chanting started at 7:30AM all the way to 9:30AM.

Diversity is also guaranteed, the muezzin is not always the same, and we are offered quite a bandwidth of voices from melodic, inflammatory to calm.

We call this series Kampung Islam since it is mainly about mushollas which often are quite ordinary houses within the kampung (= neighborhood) with a big hall, a non distinguishable roof apart from the loudspeakers on top as shown in the above picture.

Whether our Kampung musholla belongs to Muhammadiyah or Nahdlatul Ulama (Indonesia’s main Sunni organizations) will become clear upon counting the cycles of the traweh prayers … (another quite unique feature of Islam in Indonesia).

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