The Madurese of Indonesia
At different times the Madurese have enjoyed independence from the Javanese Empire. Arrival of Islam in the 16th century was one such time. However, after they were placed under strict Dutch rule in the mid-1800's, they began to lose their status as a separate people group.
The Madurese can only be described as a "hot-headed people." Bull racing and blood feuds are central aspects of their culture. They are also known for seeking out "blood revenge" in cases of adultery and cattle theft, or incidences involving public shame. Other Indonesians view the Madurese as being ruthless and violent.
What are their lives like?
Very few of the people in Madura make their living solely as farmers; the climate there is very arid and the soil is infertile. Instead, many raise sheep, goats, and cattle, some are fishermen, and others transport goods to various markets by boat. Supplemental income is often acquired by the production and trading of crafts.
Java, unlike Madura, has very fertile soil. Its richness, which is due to the presence of volcanoes and regular monsoon rains, promises successful harvests. Despite this, many of the Madurese living in Java have abandoned farming to become fishermen or sailors.
The hot-tempered Madurese often settle their disputes by what is known as carok. This is a type of "blood revenge" in which the victim is attacked from behind with a sickle-shaped knife. A successful, fatal carok often results in a blood feud between families of the victim and the victor. To avoid a carok, one would consult an Islamic clergyman. These clergymen are among the most influential people in Madurese society, and are said to have even more power than the village council.
According to Islamic law, a man may have more than one wife. Marriage proposals are usually made by the groom's parents, preferably to a first or second cousin. If the proposal is accepted, the bride's parents are then presented with the "bride price," which is usually cattle. The groom's parents then set the date for the upcoming wedding. Most newlywed couples live with the bride's family.
What are their beliefs?
What are their needs?
Only portions of the Bible have been translated into the Madurese language. There are no Christian radio or television broadcasts in their area at this time.
Although the Madurese do not practice a strict form of Islam, any form of Islam is hard to penetrate. Muslim converts to Christianity are often persecuted, tortured, or even put to death.
There are some missions agencies currently working among the Madurese; however, work permits are becoming harder and harder for Christian personnel to obtain.
After a century of intermittent missionary work and outreaches in Indonesia, the Madurese remain unreached. There are actually several Christian churches located in the city of Surabaya (eastern Java), but they have not been able to reach the Madurese. Some of these churches have been burned to the ground and many of the believers have been persecuted by the Madurese Muslims.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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