Islam, Indonesia’s main religion

Islam, Indonesia’s main religion

According to surveys, eighty percent of Indonesians adhere to Islam, making Indonesia the world’s largest Muslim population. In the past, Hinduism and Buddhism reigned in the archipelago until the arrival of Islam in Sumatra. From there it gradually spread to other islands. Hindu kings thought they would benefit from converting to Islam in order to integrate the maritime trade network which was controlled by Muslim merchants travelling through the Malacca straight and the silk road. 

Islam today

Most Muslim Indonesians have a relatively free life style sometimes, still, bearing traces of their Hindu Buddhist past. In general, Islam is moderate but more conservative Muslims are found in certain areas such as Aceh, West Java, a few of the Nusa Tenggara Islands and in the southeast of Kalimantan.  
Islam, Indonesia’s main religion
Indonesian man reading the Koran
In spite of being predominantly Muslim, the country does not implement the sharia, Islamic law except in Aceh. Recently, a number of regional governments have imposed Islamic rules that are incompatible with the very basic principles of the Indonesian constitution, the Pancasila, with its tolerance and freedom of religious beliefs. Nowadays, numerous Muslims advocate to maintain a pluralist state, open to religious differences amidst pressures from vocal and radical groups. Indonesia is often referred to as an example of political and religious tolerance, especially when compared with the Middle East Islamic nations.
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