Muslim Pilgrimage in the Modern World

By Babak Rahimi; Peyman Eshaghi | Go to book overview

CHAPTER EIGHT
Grave Visiting (Ziyara) in Indonesia

JULIAN MILLIE AND LEWIS MAYO

This chapter is about the religious and spiritual observances performed at gravesites in the Republic of Indonesia.1 Specifically, we give attention to a notable feature of Indonesian grave visiting—the fact that some of the bestattended gravesites in Indonesia attract visitors from more than one religion.2 These sites make possible unique combinations of religious symbols and concepts that do not conform to the normative religious geographies that carry authority in contemporary Indonesia. To explore how some gravesites exert a blurring effect on religio-spiritual boundaries, we make a case study of one gravesite, namely the tomb of two Islamic heroes at Mount Kawi (Gunung Kawi) in East Java. This tomb attracts visitors who are affiliated with Islamic, Chinese, and indigenous Javanese religious traditions. We provide two explanations for how gravesites facilitate the weakening of borders between religions: first, pilgrims are attracted to the site because it provides opportunities for engaging in practices that have both efficacy and immediacy due to their material and sensory character; second, the site enables visitors from diverse religious spaces to be accommodated because its legitimizing narratives are multivocal and fluid. These attractions arguably outweigh any anxieties Mount Kawi pilgrims might hold about performing spiritual observances at a site shared by a number of faith groups.

The problem of materiality arises frequently in religious discourse: what role should material objects and the physical properties of places play in religious belief and practice?3 The present volume reveals a range of Islamic responses to this question, which is unsurprising given that pilgrimage is an arena in which the relationship between sacredness and the physicality/ materiality of spaces and objects appears in sharp relief. Emilio Spadola describes an Islamic ideology that associates the materiality of a gravesite with the sin of idolatry. Paulo G. Pinto reveals a contrasting Islamic evaluation of materiality: Brazilian Hajj pilgrims returning from the Holy Land bearing souvenirs, including miniature replicas of the Kaʿba. These act as “concrete mnemonic devices that encode the experiential dimension of pilgrimage. They can evoke the actual places and objects that engendered

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