Abangan – At a Glance

The Abangan are the population of Javanese Muslims who practice a more syncretic version of Islam than the more orthodox santri. The term, apparently derived from the Javanese word for red, was first developed by Clifford Geertz but the meaning has since shifted. Abangan are more inclined to follow a local system of beliefs called adat than pure Sharia (Islamic law). Their belief system integrates Hinduism, Buddhism and Animist traditions. However, some scholars hold that what has classically been viewed as Indonesian variance from Islam is often a part of that faith in other countries. For example, Martin van Bruinessen notes similarity between adat and historical practice among Muslims in Egypt as described by Edward Lane.


  • Geertz, Clifford, The Religion of Java, University Of Chicago Press 1976

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