Indonesia, the epitome of secularism, religious freedom and tolerance serves as the best example of Islam and Muslim compatibility with democracy in the world. Figures show that about 87.2 per cent of Indonesians practise Islam. The historical traces of Islam are though unclear; however, it is believed that commercial and trade interventions introduced Indonesians to Islam in 10th to 12th century and its spread came along trade from both the Arab World and South Asia, particularly India. Historians believe that Islam’s encounters with local Indonesians were peaceful in comparison to West Asia, North Africa and South Asia. This peaceful transition contains the roots of Indonesian pluralism, tolerance and the least radicalism.
Indonesians practise Islam in the same way as South Asian Muslims- the Barielvi thought, therefore pre-existing cultural traditions retain a tremendous influence there. That is because once Islam became a part of public life, Sufi saints melded Islamic practices with pre-existent customs from Hinduism, Buddhism and other devotions. This was a unique fixation which culminated into the adoption of a pluralistic multi-religious independent country. Constitutional reforms were crafted by Govt in Indonesia in such a way that besides preserving religious freedom, the internationally acclaimed standards of tolerance were very well served. International observers acclaimed these Indonesian norms and began to refer to its model as suitable for religiously diverse countries. Though, Indonesian society is not without religious extremism against sectarian minorities like Shias and Ahmadis yet, these conflicts are equally checked by Indonesian authorities while maintaining that there is no space for religious extremism in Indonesian territories. The few factors responsible for the prevalence of peace, and religious harmony in Indonesia are:-
- Indonesian Muslim intellectual circles have been keeping principles of religious freedom, respect to ethnic diversity and tolerance alive.
- Islam in Indonesia has managed to sustain the distinctivity from that of West Asia by not flaring up the societal, tribal and ethnic distinctions.
- This progressive manifestation of Islam has kept radicalism/extremism at a distance and therefore diminished the occurrence of terrorist activities. beside the least temptation of Indonesian youth towards extremism.
The idea of unity in diversity, the celebration of ethnic and religious diversity, the constitutional precedents protecting religious freedom and the campaign to keep these principles intact and guiding are indeed Indonesian contribution to this world. This system has become a role model for multi-ethnic and mulita-religious countries. Muslim of rest of world, especially Indian Muslims should take a lesson from Indonesian Muslims for the peaceful and better living.