The Abangan are Javanese people who are Muslims and practice a much more syncretic version of Islam than the more orthodox santri.[1] The term, apparently derived from the Javanese language word for red, abang, 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 and Kebatinan than pure Sharia (Islamic law). Their belief system integrates Hinduism, Buddhism and animism. 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.

Indonesian mass killings of 1965–66

Many Abangans were supporters of the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI),[2][3][4] and their interests were thus supported by the PKI.[5] They subsequently made up most of the people who were slaughtered in the anti-Communist Indonesian mass killings of 1965–66.[6][7] Abangans were targeted for attacks by Ansor, the youth wing of Nahdlatul Ulama and the Santri with help from the Indonesian Army.[8][9] To avoid being classified as atheist and communists, Abangan Muslims were forced by the Indonesian government to convert to Hinduism and Christianity in the aftermath of the slaughter.[10][11][12][13]


  1. Murray, Alison J. (1991). No Money No Honey: A Study of Street Traders and Prostitutes in Jakarta. Oxford University Press, Incorporated. ISBN 978-0-19-588991-8., glossary p. xi
  2. Donald Hindley (1966). The Communist Party of Indonesia: 1951–1963. University of California Press. pp. 12–. GGKEY:LLE8C4X460W.
  3. John H. Badgley; John Wilson Lewis (1974). Peasant Rebellion and Communist Revolution in Asia. Stanford University Press. pp. 108–. ISBN 978-0-8047-0856-2.
  4. Solidarity, Volume 3, Issues 7–12 1968, p. 16.
  5. Crouch 2007, p. 155.
  6. Darmaputera 1988, p. 84.
  7. McDonald, Hamish (6 January 2015). Demokrasi: Indonesia in the 21st Century. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 9781466879263 via Google Books.
  8. Cribb & Kahin 2004, p. 264.
  9. Ricklefs 2008, p. 327.
  10. Mariko Urano (2010). The Limits of Tradition: Peasants and Land Conflicts in Indonesia. Kyoto University Press. pp. 145–. ISBN 978-1-920901-77-6.
  11. R. B. Cribb; Audrey Kahin (1 January 2004). Historical Dictionary of Indonesia. Scarecrow Press. pp. 176–. ISBN 978-0-8108-4935-8.
  12. Brita Heimarck Renee (21 August 2013). Balinese Discourses on Music and Modernization: Village Voices and Urban Views. Taylor & Francis. pp. 198–. ISBN 978-1-136-80045-0.
  13. Michel Picard; Rémy Madinier (13 May 2011). The Politics of Religion in Indonesia: Syncretism, Orthodoxy, and Religious Contention in Java and Bali. Taylor & Francis. pp. 182–. ISBN 978-1-136-72639-2.

Further reading

  • Embree, Ainslie T. ed. Encyclopedia of Asian history (4 vol. 1988) 1:1.

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