Baha’i: a Narrative of Minority Religion in Indonesia

Title: Baha’i: A Narrative of Minority Religion in Indonesia (A Case Study in Banyuwangi, East Java)

Author: Amanah Nurish (CRCS, 2010)

Keywords: Religion, Baha’i, identity, and minority


This research is addressed on the Baha’i community in Banyuwangi East Java, Indonesia. Baha’i is a minority religion propagated by Bahaullah1 who was from Persia (now Iran). This research is based on the life history of the author while living among Baha’is and Muslims for several years. It discusses the Baha’i issue of the minority survival in the face of violence and pressure from majority groups in Indonesian society, particularly in the village of Canga’an, Banyuwangi, East Java, Indonesia. The village population is approximately 7000, of which majority people are Muslims and another small group in the village is Baha’i adherent.


Trough my research, it has become evident that Baha’is were once Muslims. As Baha’is they were exposed to new teachings that made them more tolerant of other peoples’ religious beliefs. Likewise, they were able to climb the social ladder and become middle class because of their new faith which allows them to be more open-minded, get better education and allow new teachings to be learned. On the other hand, it has exposed them to discrimination because of their faith. One example is their inability to put in their citizen card on their new faith. Indonesian government allows only the official religions to be in the card. Likewise, babies born to Baha’is parents are not given official card.


To develop this study, it uses resources of literature and field research to complete data in order that researcher could compare between theory and facts of field dealing with Baha’i community in Banyuwangi, East Java. Generally, this research tries to answer two major questions. First, What kinds of pressures are faced by Baha’i people as a minority among religious society in Cangaan village of Banyuwangi and how do Baha’i people respond the pressures. Second, what factors support them to keep surviving as a minority? So, my research has produced several possible answers to these questions. One of the reasons why the Baha’i community in Banyuwangi can be surviving among government pressures is because of communal power of Baha’i community as minority group. Discrimination cosequences faced by Baha’i community are they do not obtain or receive good administration service as citizen and as minority group their citizen rights are ignored by government because they are apostate group so that their social life is rather closed from majority group. For example when Baha’i adherents died, their corpse cannot be buried in the public cemeteries belonging Muslim society.

This post is also available in: Indonesian


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