Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-768ffcd9cc-5rkl9 Total loading time: 0.303 Render date: 2022-12-06T20:56:46.856Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

Popular Sites of Prayer, Transoceanic Migration, and Cultural Diversity: Exploring the significance of keramat in Southeast Asia*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 March 2012

SUMIT K. MANDAL*
Affiliation:
Collaborative Research Centre on Representations of Changing Social Orders, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, SFB640 / B3, Mohrenstraße 40/41, 10117 Berlin, Germany Email: sumit.mandal@staff.hu-berlin.de

Abstract

Keramat is the Malay word for the graves of notable figures which are popular sites of prayer and dot the social and physical landscapes of much of Muslim Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean region as a whole. The term refers to both people as well as their burial sites. Historically, keramat drew people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds. While the venerated dead also came from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, histories, and faiths, they were usually Muslim and frequently Hadrami (from the Hadramaut region in Yemen). In this paper, I view keramat as a significant site of social and cultural diversity. The study of keramat, and the transoceanic movement of the people and faith to which it is linked, may shed further light on the cultural interaction that has historically characterized the region. At the same time, the permissibility of the veneration of graves constitutes a terrain that has long been contested by Muslim scholars. As a result, the fate of this popular practice may offer insights into the complex process of Islamization in the region which began around 700 years ago. I explore two questions in particular. First, in what ways do keramat embody cultural diversity? Secondly, where do keramat stand in relation to state- and organization-driven Islam?

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

1 Chambert-Loir, H., ‘Saints and Ancestors: The Cult of Muslim Saints in Java’, in Chambert-Loir, H. and Reid, A. (eds), The Potent Dead: Ancestors, Saints and Heroes in Contemporary Indonesia (Crows Nest, Australia: Allen and Unwin, 2002), p. 139Google Scholar.

2 Chambert-Loir, ‘Saints and Ancestors’, p. 138.

3 This section is a much expanded and revised version of part of the first chapter of my doctoral thesis: see S. K. Mandal, ‘Finding their Place: A History of Arabs in Java under Dutch Rule, 1800–1924’, PhD thesis, Columbia University, New York, 1994.

4 Chambert-Loir, ‘Saints and Ancestors’, p. 132.

5 Chambert-Loir, ‘Saints and Ancestors’, p. 132.

6 Winstedt, R. O., ‘Karamat: Sacred Places and Persons in Malaya’, Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 2 (3), December 1924, pp. 264, 272–79Google Scholar.

7 Hurgronje, C. Snouck, The Achehnese, trans. O'Sullivan, A. W. S. (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1906), Vol. 2, pp. 291, 293Google Scholar.

8 I am grateful to Diana Wong and Josh Dewind for informing me in 2004 of the existence of keramat in Cape Town. I have since embarked on researching them.

9 Bose, S., ‘Space and Time on the Indian Ocean Rim: Theory and History’, in Fawaz, L. T. and Bayly, C. A. (eds), Modernity and Culture: From the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), pp. 365–86Google Scholar.

10 Azra, A., The Origins of Islamic Reformism in Southeast Asia: Networks of Malay-Indonesian and Middle Eastern ‘Ulamā’ in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (Crows Nest, Australia: Allen and Unwin, 2004)Google Scholar.

11 Ho, E., ‘Before Parochialization: Diasporic Arabs Cast in Creole Waters’, in de Jonge, H. and Kaptein, N. (eds), Transcending Borders: Arabs, Politics, Trade and Islam in Southeast Asia (Leiden: Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, 2002), pp. 185201Google Scholar.

12 D. Vinesh and K. Kasturi Dewi, ‘Indians in Penang’, The Star, 29 November 2001.

13 I am indebted to Colin Nicholas for expanding my knowledge of the diversity of keramat by telling me of those venerated by Orang Asli and located in the deep jungle, and the variety of their forms.

14 Chambert-Loir, ‘Saints and Ancestors’, p. 136.

15 C. H. Tong, ‘The Datuk Kong Spirit Cult Movement in Penang: Being and Belonging in Multi-ethnic Malaysia’, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 23 (2), September 1992, pp. 381–405.

16 Salmon, C. and Lombard, D., Klenteng–klenteng dan masyarakat Tionghoa di Jakarta (Jakarta: Yayasan Cipta Loka Caraka, 2003), pp. 1819, 82Google Scholar.

17 R. Sidharta, ‘Kelenteng Da Bo Gong – Ancol, Jakarta,’ April 2001, <http://kelenteng.com/kelenteng-da-bo-gong-ancol-jakarta>, [accessed 31 December 2011].

18 Hurgronje, C. Snouck, The Achehnese, trans. O'Sullivan, A. W. S. (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1906), Vol. 1, p. 156Google Scholar.

19 Snouck Hurgronje, The Achehnese, Vol. 2, p. 292.

20 Buckley, C. B., An Anecdotal History of Old Times in Singapore (Kuala Lumpur: University of Malaya Press, 1965), pp. 97100Google Scholar.

21 Buckley, An Anecdotal History, p. 100.

22 Morley, J. A. E., ‘The Arabs and the Eastern Trade’, Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 22 (1), May 1949, pp. 166–67Google Scholar.

23 Heuken, A., Mesjid-mesjid tua di Jakarta (Jakarta: Yayasan Cipta Loka Caraka, 2003), p. 47Google Scholar.

24 van den Berg, L. W. C., Le Hadhramout et les colonies Arabes dans l'Archipel indien (Batavia: Imprimérie du Gouvernement, 1886), pp. 162–63Google Scholar.

25 N. Kaptein, ‘The Conflicts About the Income of an Arab Shrine: The Perkara Luar Batang in Batavia’, in De Jonge and Kaptein (eds), Transcending Borders, pp. 185–201.

26 Azra, The Origins of Islamic Reformism.

27 Chambert-Loir, ‘Saints and Ancestors’, p. 135.

28 Chambert-Loir, ‘Saints and Ancestors’, p. 136.

29 Ho, ‘Before Parochialization, p. 28; M. Sila, A., ‘The Festivity of Maulid Nabi in Cikoang, South Sulawesi: Between Remembering and Exaggerating the Spirit of the Prophet’, Studia Islamika, 8 (3), 2001, pp. 156Google Scholar.

30 Ho, E., The Graves of Tarim: Genealogy and Mobility Across the Indian Ocean (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

31 Ho, ‘Before Parochialization’, p. 29.

32 Ho, ‘Before Parochialization’, p. 14.

33 Ho, The Graves of Tarim, p. 157; Wolters, O., History, Culture, and Region in Southeast Asian Perspectives (Ithaca and Singapore: Cornell Southeast Asia Program Publications and the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1999; first published in 1982)Google Scholar.

34 Mandal, S. K., ‘Boundaries and Beyond: Wither the Cultural Bases for Political Community in Malaysia?’, in Hefner, Robert (ed.), The Politics of Multi-culturalism: Pluralism and Citizenship in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia (Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press, 2001), pp. 141–64Google Scholar; Mandal, S. K., ‘Transethnic Solidarities, Racialisation, and Social Equality’, in Gomez, E. Terence (ed.), The State of Malaysia: Ethnicity, Equity, and Reform (London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2004), pp. 4978Google Scholar.

35 Toer, P. A., Hoakiau di Indonesia (Jakarta: Garba Budaya, 1998)Google Scholar; Toer, P. A., The Chinese in Indonesia, trans. Lane, Max (Singapore: Select Books, 2008)Google Scholar.

36 Chambert-Loir, ‘Saints and Ancestors’, p. 140.

37 Chambert-Loir, ‘Saints and Ancestors’, p. 139; Knysh, A., ‘The Cult of Saints and Religious Reformism in Hadhramaut’, in Freitag, U. and Clarence-Smith, W. G. (eds), Hadrami Traders, Scholars, and Statesmen in the Indian Ocean, 1750s–1960s (Leiden: Brill, 1997), pp. 199216Google Scholar.

38 P. S. Jha, ‘The Dance of Shiva’, Outlook, 15 April 2002, <http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?215183>, [accessed 31 December 2011].

39 G. Quinn, ‘Local Pilgrimage in Java and Madura: Why is it Booming?’, International Institute for Asian Studies Newsletter, 35, November 2004, p. 16.

40 Jaques, R. Kevin, ‘Genealogy and Power in Popular Islamic Beliefs’, Suvvanabhumi, 8 (2), May 1997Google Scholar.

41 N. Soid, ‘Bila jemari bertemu Keyboard’, 6 November 2004, <http://www.hudasoid.blogspot.com/>, [accessed 17 January 2012].

42 N. Leong, C. Y. Ng and S. Arulldas (comp.), ‘Place Flowers in Moderation’, The Star, 3 November 2004, <http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2004/11/3/nation/9301908&sec=nation>, [accessed 31 December 2011].

9
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Popular Sites of Prayer, Transoceanic Migration, and Cultural Diversity: Exploring the significance of keramat in Southeast Asia*
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Popular Sites of Prayer, Transoceanic Migration, and Cultural Diversity: Exploring the significance of keramat in Southeast Asia*
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Popular Sites of Prayer, Transoceanic Migration, and Cultural Diversity: Exploring the significance of keramat in Southeast Asia*
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *