Ternatan/Tidorese - Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs and Practices. Ternatan and Tidorese are convinced Muslims, as is expressed by the rituals at circumcision, marriage, and death; in the strict maintenance of the fast during Ramadan; in the celebration of the holy days; and in the high value placed on the pilgrimage to Mecca. At the same time they retain a great number of traditional local customs that are incompatible with orthodox Islam, such as the belief in shrines that are visited to pray for recovery from illness and for other pragmatic purposes. There also exists a widespread belief in guardian spirits, who are venerated and beseeched for help by means of shamanistic rituals.

Religious Practitioners. Formerly Arabs especially acted as religious teachers. The leaders of religious ritual, imams and khatibs, were appointed by the sultan, who acted as head not only of the polity but also of the religious community ( ummat ). That situation changed after World War II. Indonesia has created a nationwide educational system for the training of religious teachers. The bureaus of the Department of Religion are filled with graduates from the schools for religious training. This department has its branches on Ternate and Tidore, where it appoints imams and khatibs and takes care of religious jurisdiction, as it does elsewhere in Indonesia. The traditional position of Arabs as teachers of religion has been strongly undermined by this new educational system for religious teaching. The modern teachers of religion are more orthodox than the traditional Arab teachers and are inclined to cleanse Islam of traditional customs incompatible with orthodoxy. Leaders of shamanistic rituals, however, are still tolerated for traditional reasons.

Arts. There are no conspicuous art performances on Ternate or Tidore.

Medicine. People value modern medicines highly, but besides these most people also believe strongly in traditional forms of surgery and in traditional ceremonies to prevent illness and all kinds of mischief.

Death and Afterlife. Ideas about death and afterlife are borrowed wholly from Islam.

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