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In addition, the saint organizes the feeding of the multitudes in rituals, festivals, and weekly zikr meetings at the central lodge. So who is the kyai in Indonesian Sufi Islam? Is he a teacher of young men and small children or a murshid, initiating and guiding his disciples? The second ambiguity in the literature arises in relation to the organization of pesantren Sufi lodges in Indonesia.

Alternatively, one might look at the regional cults of the kyai or saints as comprising the sa- cred center along with its khulafa, sent by the saint to found new lodges, who continue to recognize their allegiance to their saint-guide, and to regard his lodge as the cult center. Sila 3 reports on a popular order in Bandung which had places of manaqiban Sufi circles practicing collective reading of saintly hagio- graphies , with the number of students extending to tens of thousands throughout the city.

Another order, Kadisiyya, was said to have founded four branches, spreading in several large cities in Indonesia, including Jakarta, with Cilegon as the headquarters Sila 9. This particular founding saint claims direct inspiration from a hidden companion Uways of the Prophet.

In one case, reported by Azra 5 a newly founded Sufi center which treated drug users through zikr, had developed transnational network through- out South East Asia. In other words, it had developed a new regional cult around the center. How is such a far flung regional cult co-ordinated in Indonesia by the sa- cred center?

We know nothing about these particular cults, but the literature contains some clues about the co-ordination of other Sufi regional cults in In- donesia. In his own study of Jatinom, another lodge, Jamhari reports on a tradi- tional celebration, named Angkawiya, commemorating the life of a deceased saint, to which people walked on foot some 30 kilometers to obtain apem, a pancake-like cake made of rice flour, coconut milk, sugar, salt, and oil Jam- hari The festival, also known as apenam ibid.

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As many as three tons of flour are donated by surrounding villagers, and the apem itself can only be baked by direct descendants of the saint Jam- hari , The apem is arranged in a mountainous shape, in two types, one male, one female, representing the saint, Kyai Ageng Gribig, and his wife ibid. This is a moment of sacred exchange: the saint feeds the multitudes, slaughtering hundreds of animals in sacrifice, while dis- ciples return from the lodge with gifts of white caps and cotton scarves.

Like the King of Mo- rocco, Indonesian royals also claim direct descent from the Prophet. Dhofier reports that in the minor lodge at Tegalsari, at its heyday, during the annual kaul five cows, forty goats and hundreds of chickens were slaughtered for the festival.

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Jamhari reports that in the annual kaul akbar ceremony at the shrine of Sunan Tembayad, which lasts for a whole week, the cloth on the grave, the pasang singep, is changed and the old cloth is cut into handkerchief shapes and distributed to visitors, sometimes for a fee Jamhari , This is very like the following built up by Zindapir.

But what are these so- called umbrella organizations? Is he referring here to the regional cults formed around particular living saints, or are they the associations that joined these cults together? Once again organizational analysis and the use of ver- nacular terminology inhibit theoretical and conceptual comparisons with Sufi orders elsewhere.

For example, according to van Bruinessen ibid. Second, we know little about how students are recruited to study at the lodge. How can a Javanese lodge attract young students in their teens from as far afield as Bali or Malaysia? Such re- cruitment from a vast catchment area implies connections—whether via key individuals or lodges located in peripheral areas. Muhaimin contains the best ethnographic detail on the connections between different lodges.

He reports on the many instances in which a saints sends delegates to found new lodges, much as Zindapir did in Pakistan and beyond it. The career of a saint usually begins as a young man with travel for learning, in which he may spend time at many different lodges, and often in the Hijaz, before returning to his original lodge and ultimately founding his own lodge.


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  • Over time a network of lodges emerges, linked through disciple- ship to the central lodge see in particular Muhaimin , There is a tendency for saints to recruit talented sons-in-law by marrying them to their daughters, and many lodges are connected by intricate kinship relations, since saints tend to marry endogamously with families tracing descent to the Prophet ibid.

    Lodges often celebrate the eleventh of the month known in Pakistan as gyarvi sharif much as they do in Pakistan, and Mu- haimin reports regular visits from other branches to such celebrations. It is also evident from the ethnography that most big saints go on regular circuits to visit outlying branches of the lodge. As in other regional cults, large Sufi regional cults in Indonesia encom- pass a wide catchment area, including followers on other islands Bali, Kali- mantan, Sumatra and beyond, in Singapore and Malaysia.

    They are thus in- ter-ethnic and trans-national. This is a distinctive feature of central place or- ganizations and pilgrimage centers, which do not respect administrative and territorial boundaries. According to Richard Werbner, regional cults are, dis- tinctively, cults of the middle range—more far-reaching than any parochial cult of the little community, yet less inclusive in belief and membership than a world religion in its most universal form.

    Their central places are shrines in towns and villages, by cross- roads or even in the wild, apart from human habitation, where great populations from various communities or their representatives, come to supplicate, sacrifice, or simply make pilgrimage. Werbner ix Like other regional cults, Sufi cults are transregional, transnational, and tran- sethnic. They interpenetrate with one another rather than generating contigu- ous, bounded territories. They leapfrog across major political and ethnic boundaries, creating their own sacred topographies and flows of goods and people. These override, rather than being congruent with, the political boundaries and subdivisions of nations, ethnic groups, or provinces ibid.

    The cult extended into Afghanistan, and also had South African Indian Muslim followers, who are mainly Gujarati speakers. Zindapir was seeking to reach Christians in Sindh and was very welcoming to Christians, Japanese, and even a Jew like myself, since this proved his universal inclu- siveness. There are still shrines both in India and Pakistan that have Muslim and Hindu followers see, for example, Saheb Regional cult analysis aims to disclose hidden structural interdependen- cies and ruptures between different domains of action: economic, ritual, po- litical.

    Like other regional cults, Sufi regional cults are both linked to centers of political power and in tension with them. Various historical studies have highlighted the pragmatic tendencies of Sufism in South Asia which have en- abled Sufi saints to accommodate to a variety of different political regimes and circumstances, over many centuries of imperial and postcolonial rule.

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    Initially following the trade routes into the hinterland, Sufi regional cults drew extensive patronage from a wide variety of Muslim and Hindu petty kings and rulers who struggled to legitimize their rule by claiming spiritual dominion via important Sufi shrines or Hindu temples. Turner conceptu- alized pilgrimage centers as alternative loci of value within feudal-type socie- ties. Pilgrimage centers thus embodied an alternative ethical order, one uncircumscribed by territorially defined relations of power and au- thority. Werbner XII passim.

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    As the history of Sufism in South Asia shows, Sufi regional cults are inex- tricably intermeshed in regional politics. This is because Sufi cults are not simply inclusive. They foster an exclusive membership, and yet the sacred center and the major festivals around it are open to all. Relations between ini- tiates are said to be generic relations of love and amity, stripped of any prior status, idealized as beyond conflict or division, yet the organization of re- gional cults is based around the ingathering of elective groups from particular, defined political and administrative communities—villages, towns, city neighborhoods—while cult relationships are often, as I show in my book Werbner , marred by interpersonal rivalries and jealousies.

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    The egali- tarianism between initiates comes alongside internal relations of hierarchy, and all disciples, whatever their rank, are subject to the absolute authority and discipline of the saint or his successors at the cult center. Indeed, worldly status, class and caste are implicitly recognized at the central lodge, while saintly descendants often vie bitterly for the succession after the decease of the founder. In this spirit, regional cult theory, as proposed here, aims to conceptualize the dynamics of spatially al- ternative focal organizations to those centered on bounded, territorially based states or administrative units.

    The literature also make clear the extent to which Sufi cults and orders are intermeshed with the politics of Indonesia, first with the politics of the court—royals claimed descent from the Prophet and officiated at major Sufi rituals—and later with the colonial and postcolonial governments. At the same time, most Indonesian saints guard their autonomy and refuse to be fully co-opted by any regime.

    This too is a widely found feature of Sufi saints and their cults. Conclusion Sufism always has its concrete, local manifestations. Without an adequate analytic terminology, however, and a conceptual framework linked to central place theory allowing for comparisons, the study of Indonesian Sufism seems doomed to remain locked in fragmentary descriptions and often fruitless de- bates about syncretism. Without serious consideration of hierar- chy and authority relations within each regional cult or order, one has no sense of how such networks are constructed and maintained.

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    Without serious attention to ritual performances as indexical events, the management of cult organization remains obscure, and no serious comparative analysis with South Asia or the Middle East is possible. Above all, we know very little about the kinds of sacred exchanges occurring at a central lodge—how are relations be- tween saint and disciple or saint and khalifa embodied?

    What are the rituals that connect distant places? We do, however, get a hint of the prevalence of such sacred exchanges in accounts of the distribution of apem, sticky rice and sacrificial meat. It is evident that, like in Pakistan and North Africa, in Indonesia as well Sufi centers rise and fall, wax and wane see Dhofier , as they do elsewhere. Too much at- tention, it seems to me, is paid to the educational, scholarly and intellectual dimensions of Indonesia Sufi cults, or the mapping in space of genealogical connections or chains of authority in the case of Sufi orders.

    These may not reflect actual organizational connections on the ground, but are often merely a way of conceptualizing space through the use of genealogies descent, familiar in the anthropological literature. In the case of Sufi genealogies, these trace the links from Pakistan or Indonesia to Mecca, the sacred center of Islam. To understand the charisma of a Sufi saint, and the cult he creates, sometimes expanded by his descendants, the need is to study contemporary Sufi regional cults or sub-orders, apart from the major global Sufi orders to which they rec- ognize allegiance.

    The need, in other words, is to plot the actual relationships between branches and their disciples, and how these are sustained and revital- ized through periodic ritual performance. This is a central theme in the re- gional cult theorization of Sufi orders. Even the nineteenth-century Ti- janiyya, as it expanded, has tended to lose its centralized authority.

    The shaikh of the central Darqawi zawiya has no control over the many offshoots ibid. Throughout India and Bangladesh, Sufi shrines exist in both the rural and urban areas, from the remotest wilderness to the modern Asian city, lying opposite banks and skyscrapers. This book illuminates the remarkable resilience of South Asian Sufi saints and their cults in the face of radical economic and political dislocations and breaks new ground in current research.

    It addresses the most recent debates on the encounter between Islam and modernity and presents important new comparative ethnographic material. Embodying Charisma re-examines some basic concepts in the sociology and anthropology of religion and the organization of religious movements. Passar bra ihop. Diaspora regrets the error. Access options available:. Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide.

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