Indoslam is a photographic observation of Islam in South East Asia. It is a project developed in chapters beginning in late 2014. Its aim is to delve into the diverse features of contemporary Islam in the Malay archipelago and to explore its coexistence with other creeds and practices that merged with it
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In Indonesia the healthcare system is fragmented. The state provides minimal care for the poorest but good treatments are private and still beyond most families' budgets. Although initiatives to extend healthcare to larger groups of citizens are in place, an increasing number of Muslims prefer Islamic medicine.
Faith healing clinics which provide 'the medicine of the Prophet' are quickly becoming a real player in the healing market. The Indonesian Bekam Association (ABI) registers and monitors faith healing businesses in throughout the country. According to the ABI the number of active licenses for faith healing clinics was 1700 in 2012 and grew to 3570 by 2015. However, such registration is not required to do business. ABI also reported that in the same period about 30 new herbal products factories opened in greater Jakarta.
Islamic healing, or medicine, is mentioned in the Koran, albeit vaguely, and mostly indicates self-healing methods based on common sense. However, just like elsewhere, medicine is huge business in Indonesia, therefore it is easy to observe the exploitation of ignorance for profit. The offers of any faith healing clinic may range from distributing herbal products, cupping (bloodletting with pressurized cups), exorcisms, acupuncture, water therapies, hypnotherapy, advising or providing the use of boarding houses as well as mental asylums. Prices vary from zero to hundreds of dollars depending on who and where the service takes place.
According to the traditional Indonesian Islamic view, the cause of most conditions afflicting a person may be the same. Both in pre-Islamic mythology and in the Koran, a demonic creature called Jinn is mentioned, said to be born at the edge of fire. A Jinn can simply travel across land, be present within things as well as the body and be the cause of any affliction.
“It’s possibly a Jinn” is often the initial explanation anytime there is no immediate understanding of what is wrong. To some psychiatrists exorcising a Jinn offers a chance of “atonement” and a way to let repressed energy burst out, somewhat like Confession in the Christian tradition. Anyone may request a cleric to perform a Ruqyah, a chanted prayer to test for a ghostly presence, and use the same prayer to get rid of it in case a jinn is believed to be there. From a more secular perspective, a Ruqyah can help a person to release energy. But believing to have a ghost in one’s body or in the family “is perfectly normal in Indonesia”. It can happen for a moment or it can be the root of a deeper problem, either behavioral or physical.
However easy it may seem to lump Islamic Healing with radical Islam, the bulk of faith healing consumers are normal, moderate Muslims who cannot afford or simply trust Islamic doctors more than the conventional healthcare to which they have access.