The Global Mail has ceased operations.
Culture
<p>Ali Lutfi</p>

Ali Lutfi

Gunung Kemukus, seen from across the water

The Swingers’ Guide To Islam

On a hill in the centre of Java, thousands of Muslims regularly turn up to a religious ritual with a surprising stipulation: to seek their fortunes, they abandon spouses, find strangers, and have sex with them.


Every 35 days, the Friday of the Gregorian calendar intersects with Pon, one of the five days of the ancient Javanese lunar calendar. Its eve is an auspicious date at Gunung Kemukus, a hilltop Islamic shrine in the centre of Java, Indonesia’s main island.

If she happens to be feeling down on her luck, it’s also the date when Sarimah, a thickset, 63-year-old widowed grandmother, makes her pilgrimage from the city of Solo. Finishing work at her small cart selling soup in one of the town’s markets, she powders her face, applies a shock of red lipstick, slips on a headscarf, and makes the hour-long journey to Gunung Kemukus.

Sarimah arrives at dusk, ascending a path of stone steps that passes under a scattered canopy of trees in Java’s hyper-real green, to the single grave believed to hold the legendary prince Pangeran Samodro and his stepmother, Nyai Ontrowulan. In the cramped room, Sarimah drops aromatic leaves in a brazier and moves over to the grave, sprinkling it with flowers. She kneels down, raises her hands in supplication and mutters to herself surahs from the holy Quran.

Sarimah gets up, and plants herself by the yellow stucco wall by the shrine’s entrance, and waits to complete the next part of the ritual.

<p>Ali Lutfi</p>

Ali Lutfi

Sarimah waiting for a ritual sex partner

It’s just before maghrib, the fourth of the five daily prayers required of all Muslims.

It’s time to find a stranger — and have sex with them.

This is when I run across Sarimah. I’ve been standing at the top of the stairs, trying in vain to find someone to talk to among the waves of pilgrims who ascend the hill, dump their shoes, and enter the shrine. Sarimah spots me, and waves me over.

“I’ll talk to you. It’s better to be honest,” she says, as I sit cross-legged on the floor across from her. “Being a hypocrite just makes it worse. I’m already sinning, why add another sin?”

Like the of thousands of pilgrims that have turned up this night to Gunung Kemukus, Sarimah is here to seek her fortune. According to local belief, the ritual here can guarantee success in business, usually for those at or near the bottom of the ladder – bus drivers, rice farmers, market stall traders and the like. Pilgrims mostly come from Indonesia’s Javanese-speaking core, but some travel days across the massive archipelago to get here.

It’s just before maghrib, the fourth of the five daily prayers required of all Muslims. It’s time to find someone and have sex with them.

But the ritual needs to be done right. First, prayers and offerings must be made at the grave of Pangeran Samodro and Nyai Ontrowulan. At some stage, pilgrims must wash themselves at either one or two of the sacred springs on the hill. Then they must find a sex partner who meets two conditions. First, your mate for the night must be of the opposite sex; and second, they cannot be your spouse. Many people believe the ritual only works if you return at seven consecutive, 35-day intervals, either the night before Friday intersects with Pon, or when it crosses with another Javanese day, Kliwon.

The way Sarimah puts it, life became hard when her husband died back in 2001, leaving her to support two daughters by moving from her hometown, Semarang, to Solo. Each time she comes here, she finds a new man by about midnight. Often, the men will hand her money afterwards. She doesn’t ask for it upfront, or haggle over the price – sometimes up to 200,000 rupiah, or about AUD20 – but she accepts it gladly, she says, even though accepting money might detract a little from the ritual’s spiritual power. At about 2am she heads home after bathing at one of the springs, bringing the water home in a plastic bottle to sprinkle over her stall, which buys her about three weeks of good business.

This time, Sarimah has arrived with three friends, all middle-aged women. One of them, a woman in a headscarf, had declined to talk to me earlier. I tell Sarimah, of her friend, “Dia masih malu” – meaning, “She’s still shy.” Sarimah corrects me. “Dia masih mau,” Sarimah says, laughing at her own wordplay. “She still wants it.”

I ask Sarimah if she’s found a partner. Not yet, she says, but she agrees to an interview later, after she’s found someone. She hands over her mobile phone number, so we can meet in a couple of hours.

Unless, she adds, I want to be the lucky guy.

<p>Ali Lutfi</p>

Ali Lutfi

A palm reader waits for customers

IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING that there is a glaring contradiction in the fact that Gunung Kemukus, a mass ritual of adultery and sex, is going on in the middle of Java, the demographic heart of the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.

Of course, the ritual isn’t Islam as most would recognise it. Instead, it’s emblematic of Indonesia’s – and especially Java’s – syncretic mix of Islam with earlier Hindu, Buddhist and animist beliefs. But what is truly surprising is that even while Indonesia undergoes a steady shift towards more orthodox Islam, the ritual on Gunung Kemukus is exploding in popularity. It’s a quintessentially Indonesian contradiction.

Tracing the roots of the ritual at Gunung Kemukus involves dipping into the confused story of the fall of Majapahit, the last great Hindu-Buddhist empire of Java. At its height, Majapahit ruled vassals as far away as southern Thailand. But by the start of the 16th century, it had fallen apart and was being eclipsed by a plethora of small courts that were steadily adopting the new religion of Islam. The remainder of Majapahit’s court fled to the volcanic hills of eastern Java and Bali, where the old religion has carried on and evolved to today. Across Java, Islam spread unevenly. In some areas, a more orthodox form of the religion took hold; in other areas, a more pragmatic fusion was made with Java’s traditional beliefs, which are collectively known as kejawen.

It’s the kind of culture that will allow a ritual of adultery to exist alongside a moral code imported from the sparse deserts of the Arabian Peninsula. Nothing is black and white here.

All cultures are a blend of influences. But for the Javanese, a very cornerstone of their identity has been the ability to blend together contradictory ideas and belief systems that would leave other peoples hopelessly divided. It’s the kind of culture that will allow a ritual of adultery to exist alongside a moral code imported from the sparse deserts of the Arabian Peninsula. Nothing is black and white here.

According to one version of the local legend, Pangeran Samodro was a child born at the fall of Majapahit and raised in the court of Demak, a Muslim sultanate on Java’s north coast, says Floribertus Rahardi, an Indonesian writer who has studied the ritual. The young prince struck up an affair with his stepmother, Nyai Ontrowulan, and the two were forced to flee. They were staying on Gunung Kemukus when they were found out. “People believe that they committed incest in that place, but before they had finished having sex they were chased by the soldiers of Demak, killed, and buried together in the one hole,” Rahardi says. “From there, the word emerged that whoever can finish off their sex act will receive blessings from Nyai Ontrowulan.”

There’s no historical evidence that the two lovers ever existed, or if there are in fact bodies in the grave, Rahardi says. There are also radically differing accounts of the legend. Some believe Pangeran Samodro and Nyai Ontrowulan were Hindu, and not Muslim. In Sragen, the sleepy rural district that is home to Gunung Kemukus, the local government and religious authorities promote a G-rated version of the story, with the prince cast as a devoted proselytiser of Islam.

But what no one is doing is trying to shut the ritual down.

<p>Ali Lutfi</p>

Ali Lutfi

A karaoke hostess sings and dances with customers

As recently as the 1980s, Gunung Kemukus was an almost entirely undeveloped hill marked by sacred dewadaru trees and the twisting roots of massive figs. At night, small groups of pilgrims would arrive and have sex mostly in the open, their anonymity protected by the dark. These days, electric lamps light up the hill, which is plied by scores of traders selling aphrodisiacs, food, novelties, miracle cures and kitchen appliances. The dewadaru are still there, but the trees are unhealthy, and share space with shacks offering drinks, karaoke, prostitutes and rooms for sex. There are multiple tolls to get in, and businesses are levied a daily charge. With between 6,000 and 8,000 pilgrims arriving on the busiest nights, according to official figures, it’s a big money spinner for the local community and the Sragen government.

At his house in Yogyakarta, about two hours away, Keontjoro Soeparno, a social psychologist from the city’s Gadjah Mada University, says he misses the old days. “It’s not as porn, as vulgar, as before,” he says, sitting in his garage with a neighbour, Wahyudi Herlan.

“They’re getting payments, they’re clearly profiting from all of this. They’re hypocrites. Look at the entry fee. They won’t admit there’s a sex ritual, but then they’re charging people to get in.”

These days, prostitution is taking an increasing role in the ritual. By Koentjoro’s own reckoning, about half of the women who show up are commercial sex workers. Another 25 percent are “part-timers,” people like Sarimah who carry out the ritual but will accept money if it’s on offer.

The 1980s was when commercial sex workers, as well as other businesses, started moving into the area, Koentjoro says. It’s also when the local government decided to spread its own cleaned-up version of the ritual — while at the same time profiting from sex-seeking pilgrims.

“They’re getting payments, they’re clearly profiting from all of this. They’re hypocrites. Look at the entry fee,” he says. “They won’t admit there’s a sex ritual, but then they’re charging people to get in.”

Since the 1998 fall of the Suharto regime, religiously-minded authorities have cracked down on many legal red-light districts. Gunung Kemukus, on the other hand, has come to be seen as a safe place.

“There used to be no water in the rooms. So if I was to have sex in one of the rooms, there’s no water, no handkerchief, so it depends on what you bring. If you bring a tissue, use a tissue,” Koentjoro recalls of the old days, before Wahyudi cuts in, cackling.

“Bring a newspaper! Use a newspaper!”

Another neighbour, Abdul Hamid Sudrajat, drives his motorbike by, stops and joins in.

<p>Ali Lutfi</p>

Ali Lutfi

Throngs of pilgrims ascending the stairs to the grave of Pangeran Samodro

“You don’t mind if my story is filthy, right?” he asks, as he takes his place on a stool.

Abdul tells us of a visit back in 1987. Standing on one terraced level of the hill with a friend, he decided to relieve himself into the dark on the next level below.

“It turned out I was pissing on the back of someone who was having sex,” he says. “He had no idea it was piss, I think. He just thought it was somebody pouring out some water.”

ENTERING GUNUNG KEMUKUS in the early afternoon, it is clear just how lucrative the shrine has become. From a main road, local villagers levy a charge on every vehicle entering, and ojek – motorcycle taxis – wait for those without vehicles of their own. During the wet season, when water fills up the Kedung Ombo dam, boats ferry pilgrims across to the hill, which rises symmetrically over the water like an upturned cup of rice.

At the other side of the dam, pilgrims pay another 5,000 rupiah at a post belonging to the Sragen government’s tourism department, before ascending a road of banana trees and shacks that loops around to the top of the hill.

“If their intention isn’t good, then they’re just here to seduce you. It’s only the genuine ones that are good for your business.”

Here, the man in charge of collecting the money, Suyono, hands over a government pamphlet that describes what he says is the real legend of Pangeran Samodro. According to him, Pangeran Samodro was a prince and disciple of Sunan Kalijaga, one of the Wali Songo, or nine saints, credited with spreading Islam throughout the archipelago. The prince travelled Java preaching, before falling ill and dying near Gunung Kemukus.

When Pangeran Samodro’s stepmother – with whom he most emphatically was not having sex – heard of his death, she rushed to grave. As reached the base of the hill she received a vision from the prince, telling her to wash in one of the springs. As she ascended the hills, flowers began falling from her hair, and sprouted into rare dewadaru trees behind her. Reaching the grave, she fell down dead. Her body then disappeared – whether it was into the air, or absorbed into the grave, nobody knows.

Suyono is adamant that few people turn up at Gunung Kemukus for ritual adultery. Ninety percent are chaste pilgrims, he says. “The rooms are for people to rest in if they’ve been on long journeys,” he says. “These are places for staying the night, not at all for prostitution or people having affairs.”

The official concedes that the sex that does go on at the mountain offends some conservative Muslims in the big towns, but says the site is well protected. When word got out recently that a radical vigilante group, the Islamic Defenders Front, was going to conduct a raid from Solo, the police showed up in force to protect the hill. The shrine is too valuable to shut down, he says. “This is tourism. Every component, every element, every layer of society gets something out of tourism.”

<p>Ali Lutfi</p>

Ali Lutfi

Wagiyo, left, and Sarimah after meeting

All over the hill, the nod and wink of officialdom is blatant. At the grave, Hasto Pratomo works as the juru kunci, or ceremonial head. He is the eighth generation of his family to hold the job (there is also a separate juru kunci for each of the two springs). His version of the myth is similar to the government’s, although he concedes the prince and his stepmother may have been sleeping together. “Maybe there was a sexual relationship – I don’t know,” he says. “But what’s important was that her love for him was extraordinary.”

Hasto also admits most pilgrims come here for sex, and that this is a misinterpretation of the ritual. If they come to talk to him about the ritual, he sets them straight. But he takes a laissez faire attitude to the couples meeting each other just metres away from where he sits, or the dozens of prostitutes that lean against the wall of the shrine waiting for customers.

Even when Hasto does correct the pilgrims, he does it pretty gently. He recounts a story of a meeting with one man who got rich from having sex at Gunung Kemukus. “He tells me, ‘I came here with nothing, but I found a partner. I was a bus driver. The woman I was with was a vegetable seller. We came here for five years and I’ve had success. If you don’t believe me, come to my house. I have more than 20 minibuses. I got these with my lover – not my wife, but the wife of someone else. That’s the reality.’

Hasto also admits most pilgrims come here for sex, and that this is a misinterpretation of the ritual.

“I replied to him: ‘Everything you got was because of yourself. If you’re convinced it’s because you had a lover here, go ahead. I won’t forbid it. If that’s what you believe, by all means.’”

Further up the hill, Trihardjatmo, the owner of one karaoke shack — where customers drink beer and ginseng spirits while singing with sex workers — cracks up when I mention a sign by the door from the local police that says alcohol and prostitution are forbidden. Trihardjatmo explains he’s a retired cop, and introduces me to one of his customers, Erry, a police intelligence sergeant in the city of Semarang. All the customers in the next room, it turns out, are police.

IN THE RITUAL ADULTERY of Gunung Kemukus, there are many ways to reach your goal. Some people arrive with the blessing of their spouses; others do it secretly. For some, paying for sex invalidates the ritual; for others, it’s just a shortcut. Everyone has a different idea of just how Islamic the whole thing is.

Mohammed Saputra, a 43-year-old clothing trader from Mantingan in East Java, is something of a purist. “I’m looking for the ladies” – he uses the English word – “with good intentions, not the ones looking for money,” he explains. “If their intention isn’t good, then they’re just here to seduce you. It’s only the genuine ones that are good for your business.”

Saputra says his wife doesn’t know he’s here, and that in two visits he hasn’t yet found a woman he fully trusts. This might be a self-serving statement; during a break in our interview I see him try, and fail, to pick up a younger woman beside us. But already he says he’s seen benefits from coming here: he recently bought a new house, a garden and some rice paddies.

<p>Ali Lutfi</p>

Ali Lutfi

Pilgrims praying and spreading flowers over the grave of Pangeran Samodro

“This is all Islam. There are those here who are only Muslims on their identity cards, but there are also people here who have been on the pilgrimage to Mecca, who come here to help out their business. Sure, adultery is against Islam but it’s no big deal if it’s to benefit your business.”

Near one food stall further down the hill, I come across Murni, who is clicking along in heels, a headscarf and a blue leopard skin dress. She looks drunk, or wasted on something at least. Murni is 46 and from the town of Jepara, as is her partner, Rosidi, 50. Both have been meeting each other here for a year. Rosidi has been coming behind his wife’s back, but Murni has the full blessing of her husband – although the two men still haven’t met.

Even though they’ve already completed the mandated seven consecutive meetings, they’re still meeting up, and seem to have formed some sort of attachment. Rosidi says he has gotten richer, but still wants more. “I haven’t reached my goals,” he says, before correcting himself. “Well, I have, but there’s still temptation.

“It’s always this isn’t enough, this isn’t enough. There’s no limit to it.”

Finally, on a bit of concrete wall near the shrine, I run into Sarimah again. I don’t recognise her at first – she’s changed her clothes.

“I just finished!” she exclaims gleefully.

It turns out Sarimah had already found herself a partner, Wagiyo, a rice farmer from Purwodadi, not so far away, who estimates he’s in his mid-sixties. Wagiyo isn’t very keen to meet at first, but he also seems a little smitten and, after some goading from Sarimah, he comes and sits down to talk. He opens up fairly quickly.

Wagiyo says this is his first visit to Gunung Kemukus. His wife died in 2007, and his joint business with family and friends selling rice and beans was flailing. “I heard from a friend that if you came here you’d get your fortune, so I thought I’d try it out,” he says.

Wagiyo was approached by two younger women who offered themselves in exchange for money before he spotted Sarimah. “He sat down and then he came over closer to me,” Sarimah recalls. “He asked me where I was from. ‘Semarang,’ I said.”

“He said: ‘Purwodadi.’ Yeah, that’s it, it was on.”

The two went together to one of the small rooms for rent on the hill. Afterwards, Wagiyo slipped Sarimah 100,000 rupiah and bought her a cup of tea. He asked her to come back home and live with him on his farm. Sarimah’s not so sure about this. In a moment when Wagiyo isn’t paying attention, she says she doubts his wife is really dead, and, miming her own throat being slit, says she’s afraid of the fracas that would take place if the two ever met.

Whether the two will meet again or not seems to be an open question.

Since he seems taken with Sarimah, I ask Wagiyo if he’ll be back in 35 days.

Insha’Allah.”

It all depends if God wills it, he says, and if Sarimah is keen to meet again, too.

98 comments on this story
by Noah Westaway

One of the best stories on the conflicting nature of Indonesia's fascinating religious identity I've ever read. Mandatory reading for those who believe Indonesia is a land solely of puritanical terrorist sympathisers and FPI zealots. Brilliant reporting. Also the new GM format, scroll down etc is a much needed overhaul, looks great.

October 11, 2012 @ 10:48am
by Melanie V

So rare to have such insights into the complex nature of Javanese culture. Well written and reported.

October 11, 2012 @ 1:15pm
by Baak Omar

One of the instances of religion being abused to fulfil the sexual desires of men. As the article states, Islam is against adultery, full stop. You cant by any means break that law and feel you are doing a service to Islam.

October 11, 2012 @ 4:55pm
by vincent m

Great story.
I love how pragmatic the community and police are in recognising a tourist attraction.
It just goes to show there are many facets to indonesia and to Indo Isalm.

October 11, 2012 @ 5:17pm
by angoes

This is not the Islamic identity ... they are simply the name of Islam, because this is really shirk / envious, and strongly opposed by Islam.

And most of this is derived from the Javanese culture Buddhism. Please do not call comes from Islamic teachings

October 11, 2012 @ 6:12pm
by Dr. Loath-Life

reading the title and the first two paragraphs, i can easily foretell there will be comments defending islam.
born in javanese family, i found out that sex -which is taboo to be talked about- is part of some spiritual practices.
i don't wanna judge they who practise those.. people need to believe in something, it becomes stronger when the situation force them to..
if you keep a stone in your pocket to hold bladder, then you can be one of them someday :)

October 11, 2012 @ 7:40pm
by Superbukowski

People need love....sex....passion. It's simple, God made us that way. I salute you superstitious horny Indos, keep up your positive outlook!

October 11, 2012 @ 8:38pm
by Eagles of Black Metal

indonesia at its weirdest? more like a lazy bule journo making up weird story here

October 11, 2012 @ 8:52pm
by Zainib

A more apt title would include Hindu mysticism rather than islam. In no way can any part of this ritual be considered islamic. But still, a fascinating freak show to read about.

October 11, 2012 @ 9:06pm
by EGA

I guarantee..... ISLAM is never teach us something like this !!! if you guys read this article and interested about ISLAM.. please thinking twice and just talk with someone who really know about ISLAM...

October 11, 2012 @ 9:38pm
by Sarah

I think it's a sign of the times that many people these days will pick and choose the parts of a religion that make them feel spiritually whole, and that they will go against other aspects of that religion if they feel it will lead to wealth, health or happiness (or all of the above). I think it's really fascinating that a person states they are from a religion which in a sense is what they feel they 'should' be a part of, but when they follow their heart they allow a more spiritual element in. It's a shame though that this sacred place is now being desecrated through prosititution. Love the article. Really interesting

October 11, 2012 @ 11:25pm
by Daniel Alexander

"This is not the Islamic identity ... they are simply the name of Islam"

FPI anyone? Or other "Islamic" NGOs?

October 12, 2012 @ 1:17am
by Balazs N

It's a pretty sad reality, really... I could care less how one religion or another perceives the sex and adultery taking place here, especially Islam (Islam, like most other religions, is pretty much in its entirety a disservice to humanity and is thus moot). But regardless of particular beliefs, the sheer number of outrageous religions, superstitions and useless rituals still being practiced in the world today is sickening, which is my point.

If only all humans could find a way to seek peace and purpose in life without being so self-destructive... Just look at those faces in the photos, do they at all look happy to you?

October 12, 2012 @ 4:05am
by Hang on

And please don't imply that it comes from Buddhist teachings either. This is a local quirk of history and culture, surely, and has very little to do with either of those larger, more established traditions.

October 12, 2012 @ 5:00am
by rtn

please do not related this ritual to Islam. learn more more about this culture and Islam

October 12, 2012 @ 5:26am
by VoyuerofIslam

Interesting. So in Dubai and elsewhere (the penile burial mounds in Tehran) i'm sure during this ritual and many other customs. Allah averts his eyes but still has an open heart. Because why else would a ritual take place if it doesn't work right?

October 12, 2012 @ 5:34am
by frkhan

"Sure, adultery is against Islam but it’s no big deal if it’s to benefit your business."

Pretty much sums up their desires and intentions. This is prostitution, adultery, deception and misguided beliefs, this is not Islam, let's not mix the two.

October 12, 2012 @ 5:58am
by Hisham

this is not Islam .neither having sex with strangers...those people
adapting a religion so as to feed the sexual hunger; that's madness

October 12, 2012 @ 9:01am
by Ale Ale Alejandro

Am I the only one curious about the lack of mention of any form of birth control or preventive measures in regards to sexually transmitted diseases? Otherwise fantastic and interesting - Also you totally should have boffed that nice woman for the sake of prosperity.

October 12, 2012 @ 9:40am
by SHaik Farid

THIS IS NOT ISLAM........! THIS IS NOT ISLAM.......! THIS IS NOT ISLAM......!

October 12, 2012 @ 2:24pm
by O.D.

First and foremost we should be aware that in many ways religion and local culture give influence to each other and it happens everywhere around this world. Having said that, we clearly can't judge that this is an Islam teaching. There are hundreds of different culture in Indonesia and not all cultures do Islam in an exact same way. Not to mention the issue about poverty -- there are a lot of factors to consider here. From what I see what motivate people that do this ritual is more to the economic factor instead of sex. What can we say when what they're aiming is some money to feed their kids?

October 12, 2012 @ 2:43pm
by Christine Osborne

Of course it's not Islam. Its a very old and certainly interesting Javanese custom is this particular area. It likely even pre-dates Islam. Thanks for an interesting post and I have made a note of the date while wondering what locals will think should I pay a visit...

October 12, 2012 @ 2:46pm
by Things Unseen

It is a combo of desperation and taking the situation for granted. Indonesia is very rich with culture but I must say that this one is a bit sad and twisted!

October 12, 2012 @ 3:34pm
by Rafa

After reading this article, i found that the title is little bit provocative. This ritual is nothing to do with Islam. It's more like animism, worshiping a place, a grave, offering something to ancestors spirit etc. Maybe some of the pilgrims are Muslims, but their motivation to seek fortunes by doing this ritual is far from Islamic ways. It's called "Musyrik" and it's considered as the biggest sin in Islam.

October 12, 2012 @ 3:57pm
by Romy

I'm a Javanese, and I know it by my self that, this kind a worshiping is easily found in remote area far inside java. its absolutely nothing to do with religion, nor islam or other religion., it is pure animism that done by people which has poor knowledge about their current religion. and practicing their traditional culture.

October 12, 2012 @ 5:32pm
by DudleyB

This pilgramage looks like Perth. 10 men for every woman.

October 12, 2012 @ 5:32pm
by heri

it's truly animism, not islam.

October 12, 2012 @ 6:36pm
by Hafiz Ismail

Interesting subject, misleadingly (?) titled, beautifully written. Being quarter Javanese myself (and a Muslim), it's difficult not to feel pity and outraged by the whole situation - if accurately portrayed.

October 12, 2012 @ 10:22pm
by shiki

What most people don't realize is that a lot of people in Indonesia only use Islam for their ID cards and live day to day not worshiping anything except the paper in their wallets XD

October 12, 2012 @ 10:28pm
by SAFI, PAKISTAN.

NOT AT ALL ISLAM...THIS IS SOMETHING ELSE...HE WHO KNOWS EVEN A LITTLE ABOUT ISLAM CAN TELL THIS HAS GOT NOTHING TO DO WITH ISLAM...THIS IS SOME REGIONAL PHENOMENA

October 12, 2012 @ 11:33pm
by bill

why add Islam to this article?? there is no reference to Muslims or Islam in this articles,

October 12, 2012 @ 11:39pm
by zeeshan

nice way to confuse this garbage with the religion that has nothing to do with it.

October 13, 2012 @ 1:23am
by Anton

Many people will get irritated with your bias that this adultery is based on Islam.
Such ritual is a common practice long before Hindu and Islam came to Indonesia, connecting this ritual with religion is quite not relevant and dangerous for you.

October 13, 2012 @ 1:34am
by wan

Agree with Heri. Well whatever it is, this is NOT the way of Islam. Quoting back

"I have more than 20 minibuses. I got these with my lover – not my wife, but the wife of someone else. That’s the reality." - any muslim will know that this statement is Syirik!

Syirik is the practice of ascribing partners to Allah. It is the practice of associating Allah's Qualities to another. Saying that it is his lover's doing that resulted in his wealth is wrong! Bah, any sane person will say that these doings are wrong.

October 13, 2012 @ 2:50am
by mksharma

These are the remnants of still earlier cultures when sex was free and group sex usual. In foregoing in general that custom or facility, people in various places seem to have reserved one or some days in a year as ritual days in which such custom is continued.

October 13, 2012 @ 3:47am
by maia

It's so nice to know that there are totally unexpected things out there, that there is still mystery and people who didn't get their ideas from hollywood. Pity it's just turning into a commercial tourist attraction. The shrines with the petals look beautiful. Sarimah's 97% right about his wife 'not being dead' though - boy, i had a quid for every man i'd met on a dating site who turned out not to be single lol

October 13, 2012 @ 9:02am
by Petruk

Been there, done that.

October 13, 2012 @ 3:29pm
by led zep 52

It is not an Islam tradition, but a remnant of the earlier culture. This tradition is practiced only by small group of people, mostly from the central of Java.

October 14, 2012 @ 12:06am
by Denise Cavassa, CMA

A better, less-inflamatory title for this article - especially during this time of anti-Islam-media-incitement - would be "How Javanese Blend Ancient Ritual With Islam" and would be much more responsible and respectful in EVERY way.

October 14, 2012 @ 3:58am
by JoeInLA

I got halfway through the article and thought "Why do we care about this?" It's certainly not newsworthy, and any attention caused by this reporter's investigation may very well bring unwanted official attention (unless of course that was his intent, in which case he's a busybody and should mind his own business).

October 14, 2012 @ 8:56am
by Jeremy Zerfoss

Why do we care? Really? We care because it's a window into a different culture, with beliefs and practices that are unique and interesting in their own way.

Judas Priest, people. A closed mind is a closed society.

October 14, 2012 @ 12:23pm
by Jurisconsult

These people are living in bondage, trapped by Satan. It's clear they need deliverance, the type only Jesus can give them. If only they would come to trust Jesus. The Bible talks about some works of darkness in this way: For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret-Ephesians 5:12. This is an example.

October 14, 2012 @ 12:34pm
by Klemens

Interessting article. The ending is very sweet.

October 14, 2012 @ 1:04pm
by Richard

Islam is often misunderstood as being puritanical in the West, but this is a Christian tendancy not a Muslim one. This is one example of many around the world where Muslims engage in sexual behaviour that is within the norm for a particular gorup, but behaviour which some Christians find undesirable. Iran and Turkey have had levels of sexual liberalism for centuries, and still do, which only became more normalised in Europe in the later half of the twentieth century.

October 14, 2012 @ 1:47pm
by Arthur

"These people are living in bondage, trapped by Satan. It's clear they need deliverance, the type only Jesus can give them. If only they would come to trust Jesus. The Bible talks about some works of darkness in this way: For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret-Ephesians 5:12. This is an example."

Weird how your comment fits three criteria at once:

(a) no logical nexus with the story
(b)Displays what college students would call arrogant western cultural imperialism.
(c) Asserts without proof based on some random bronze age holy book whose authority non-believers completely does not recognise.

October 14, 2012 @ 3:34pm
by JCisalie

Jurisconsult, you need to wake up and realize the bible is just a book that was used for political purposes thousands of years ago.........Pretty pathetic you believe that rubbish.

P.S. Jesus had a wife ;)

October 14, 2012 @ 4:34pm
by Abbas

Islam has absolutely nothing to do with the above. Adultery is adultery regardless of which faith a people belong to. Apart from that anyone that believes that anything can bring him/her good fortune except God is indulging in idol worship and has already left the boundaries of Islam.

Very mislabeled article. It's equalivent to writing an article on a nudist colony in Europe and labeling it the "Freedom of Chirstanity".

October 14, 2012 @ 4:40pm
by a muslim

Hard to believe that these folks are Muslim. Islam forbids sexual relationships outside of marriage. Period. None of their names are normal islamic names either.

October 14, 2012 @ 6:55pm
by Daniel Milloy

@Richard, "Islam is often misunderstood as being puritanical"...

Oh really? So those stonings and hangings are all just part of our misunderstandings? Who, exactly, to you think you're kidding?

October 14, 2012 @ 7:30pm
by Ian Sankey

Looks like a sausage fest to me. Swinger meets are the same the world over!

October 14, 2012 @ 7:32pm
by John

If anyone wants to learn about sexuality and Islam, I suggest that they read Prof. Tim Winter's excellent translation of Imam Ghazali's chapter on the topic, entitled "Breaking the Two desires", rather than seek to draw anything from this article, which (not to the writer's fault I might add) only seems to be touching on practices which have nothing to do with Islam, but rather, as the writer points out, to do with ancient pagan traditions as well as socio-economic conditions.

An online version of Tim Winter's translation can be found below:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/21209661/The-Breaking-of-the-Two-Desires-Imam-Ghazali-Translated-by-T-J-Winter

October 14, 2012 @ 8:16pm
by JR

This is Totally against the Islamic teachings! Its senseless to mix religions on your own where it ends you nowhere. Sex outside marriage is forbidden in Islam in any condition.

October 14, 2012 @ 10:07pm
by Margub

Islam has nothing to do this adulterous ritual, This seems to be (if true) an ancient practice by certain group of people of an area. Therefore, I would request the writer of this article to keep Isalm out of it. Thank you.

October 14, 2012 @ 11:25pm
by F Callen

I thought Muslims could have multiple wives? What's that if not concealed adultery? Or the practice of having temporary wives?

October 15, 2012 @ 1:17am
by mutala mohammed

i think dis article is in bad taste against Islam,,,d lady said, she is committing a sin so why shd she commit anoda by telling a lie,,,so where do Islam come in here to make it permissible, Mr. Writer ????

October 15, 2012 @ 1:23am
by Kabir Orlowski

@Margub - I don't think it was the writer's idea or fancy to connect this ritual to Islam - he simply told us what people participating in the ritual believe. Therefore, I don't think your request makes much sense. Fascinating article, by the way. I reminds me of some rituals I saw in India.

October 15, 2012 @ 1:45am
by Evina Utami

Hey John, thanks heaps for your information. One of the topics I have been searching.

October 15, 2012 @ 2:28am
by jay

no-where is this allowed in mainstream Islam. In fact it is forbidden ... please get your facts right before labelling something "Islamic" when it contradicts the teachings of that religion ...

poor reporting, i suspect with a biased agenda.

October 15, 2012 @ 3:37am
by j

First of All it is direct contradiction of teaching of islam,second and most important thing is that the real authentic guide to understand principle of islam is life of Holy prophet Muhammad (SAW).

October 15, 2012 @ 5:07am
by Reader

Thanks very much for this article, it was a fascinating read!

In response to the readers creating a fuss...
of course Belford is going to pick an eye-catching title to this piece. This is the real world, and journalism is a business like any other, with incentives to attract consumers to your product. When you read the article itself, he does not actually portray this local ritual as being something genuinely Islamic, it is clear that he himself is skeptical of the links being made to Islam and it is obvious that it is a social creation. It is not the journalist himself, but the people that he interviews who are relating their practice to Islam - as such it is ridiculous to call for him to remove references to Islam from the article.

To anyone with half a brain who has actually read this article, it is perfectly clear from the writing that this practice is a cultural phenomenon, not an orthodox Islamic practice. There is absolutely no need to act like tyrannical children throwing tantrums and imposing censorship on the journalist, if anything you are losing much more face for Islam than this article ever could. If you are really so concerned about preserving Islam's dignity (even though, as an established religion, it really doesn’t need your PR blunders), next time make some use of your intellect and actually read the article!

October 15, 2012 @ 5:42am
by tez

The whole point of the article is that this practice has no base in the Koran. It's like Christianity has ended up commemorating Jesus' death and return to life with a chocolate-egg-laying rabbit, and Jesus' birth with a fat guy in a red coat promoting conspicuous consumption and gluttony (there seems to be a pattern here). People will, absent a very strong central regulating body, adapt their practice of the religion they adhere to to their preexisting lifestyles and culture, with all the usual shifts and "fashions" that cultural phenomena undergo.

October 15, 2012 @ 6:20am
by thuglife

This is a good read. I think it is eye opening for those who this all muslims everywhere follow the koran to the letter. This is no different than the catholic church's corrupt practice of selling "indulgences" to absolve sin. Islam will have a reformation eventually (soon hopefully) and this and other problems within islam will be sorted out.

October 15, 2012 @ 11:01am
by Ali

Bear in mind that many Muslim Javanese only declared themselves 'Muslim' in the 1960s, during anti-Communist hysteria.

So it's quite unfair to demonise them today for their traditions, when they never intended to promote their behaviour as Islamic in the first place.

October 16, 2012 @ 8:33am
by Ali

It's interesting that these people are usually from poor backgrounds.

Superstition is rife among all social classes in Indonesia, yet there is less criticism when imams and presidents consult witch-doctors.

October 16, 2012 @ 8:37am
by Alan

This Javanese ritual is to Islam as Satanism/Wika/Halloween/Hugh-Heffner-playboy-party or as such is to Christianity. Nothing to do with it.

October 16, 2012 @ 12:41pm
by raza

The journalist should have been a little more critical of her choice of headline. This ritual has no room in Islam, which she also admits, so then why taint the religion with such a connotation?

October 17, 2012 @ 3:33am
by George Quinn

I have visited Gunung Kemukus four times, most recently on the evening of October 6th (about two weeks ago). Although it was a Saturday night the site was virtually deserted and I spent about half an hour totally alone at the grave of Prince Samodro and Nyai Ontrowulan in their cramped burial chamber. From my experience I think Aubrey Belford's article is accurate as far as it goes. Intending visitors should choose the time of their visit carefully, namely the night before Friday Pon (malem Jumat Pon) or the night before Friday Kliwon (malem Jumat Kliwon) otherwise all they will not witness the site at its most lively. Despite some of the outraged comments that have followed this article, Gunung Kemukus is definitely an Islamic site, for two main reasons: (i) Prince Samodro was a prince of Demak (Java's first independent Islamic state) who is reputed to have disseminated Islam in the interior of Central Java, and today many pilgrims at Gunung Kemukus still honour him for this; (ii) like Ibu Sarimah, almost all the pilgrims who go to the site sincerely call themselves Muslims and we have to respect their self-description. Many of them strictly observe the outward stipulations of Islam. Gunung Kemukus and the people who go there are part of the extraordinary diversity of Indonesian Islam, and it is not worthy of them to call them "lesser" Muslims, even worse "non-Muslims", "Hindus" etc.

October 17, 2012 @ 11:16am
by haider

some crazy people with their self created ritual has nothing to do with Islam. they may believe it that way but if a group commits a sin and calls it a religious practce that sin cannot be considered as part of a religion as whole. this. is the 1st time im listening abt this sinful ritual. it has nothing to with Islam watsoever

October 18, 2012 @ 8:28am
by Elan

I'm shy of my people's activity above. they said that they are moslems, but all those what they did is not written in our Qur'an and hadith

October 18, 2012 @ 3:57pm
by Michael

I am not a Muslim but my understanding of the religion is that each devotee has a personal relationship with Allah. That would make reconciling this activity is their own business! Good on them I say!

October 19, 2012 @ 9:54am
by Kirsten Homes

Poor journalism to paint the religion of Islam with the actions of a few..But then again that is happening all over the media with terrorism. It's an interesting article but lazy journalism to suggest they are Muslim or give connotations that Islam preaches this.

October 20, 2012 @ 3:01am
by Rita

Another excuse for an orgy which is what this is ,they are kidding themselves ,do the people not know any thing about AIDS.

October 20, 2012 @ 2:33pm
by Lord of shrimps

Hi @Kirsten Homes do not dismiss the story as "lazy journalism". Indonesia is not 'actions of a few'.Indonesia is home to 12.7% of the world's Muslims,the largest single concentration of muslims anywhere on earth or on mars,so you see there is no running from this simple truth.The house of allah shall get you laid and that's in Indonesia.Its the ugly truth but,its the truth.Wait this gets electronic.

October 24, 2012 @ 8:21pm
by Bule

"...adultery is against Islam but it’s no big deal if it’s to benefit your business."
Well, that's all Indonesia, where I live since year.
Being european, I see what it means everyday...

October 26, 2012 @ 12:57am
by Babut

well i must say, this is indeed brilliant reporting. this should be another subject to discuss by the government whether to keep this practice as a cultural heritage or to banish it simply because its against the islamic law. that's for the govs to decide but i personally think this should never be considered as an islamic ritual, but rather as a javanese cultural practice. IMO, this is a symbolism that the indonesian people are not hypocritical

October 28, 2012 @ 12:04pm
by Zakkiyya

I am shocked and appalled by this "...adultery is against Islam but it’s no big deal if it’s to benefit your business." Really? Who said this? Allah (SWT) nor the Prophet Muhammad agreed to this. These people are making innovations, and the prophet peace be upon him says every innovation is in the fire. All of this, the ritual, the adultery and fornication are AGAINST Islam. None of it is Islamic. Any right-headed, knowledgeable Muslim knows this. And the government of that country should fear Allah, as the punishment for allowing this to go on will be severe Im sure, because the punishment for adultery and fornication is severe. This practice is not from Islam, I repeat THIS is NOT from Islam.

October 29, 2012 @ 7:23am
by Harun

Hah! I went there 20 plus years ago. Lots of young men milling around and not so much sex.

November 4, 2012 @ 3:10pm
by Wuff

Zakkiyya, the point is it is not YOUR Islam. Like Christianity and alot of other religions Islam is not monolithic and there are many variants and different belifes around the core.

December 18, 2012 @ 10:05am
by serge

no coment

December 27, 2012 @ 3:57am
by Mohamed

From Anas that the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

"The Children of Israa’eel divided into seventy-one sects and the Christians divided into seventy-two sects. And my Ummah shall divide into seventy-three sects, all of them being in the Fire except one sect."

[Related by al-Haakim in al-Mustadrak with the Talkhees of adh-Dhahabee (1/128), it is related in Majmoo‘ul Fataawaa (3/340) and (16/491) of Ibn Taymiyyah and ash-Shaatibee in al-I‘tisaam (2/189-191) and by al-‘Iraaqee in Takhreejul Ihyaa (3/230) and Ibn Hajar in Takhreej Ahaadeethul Kashaaf (p. 63). It was authenticated by Shaykh al-Albaanee in as-Saheehah (no. 203-204, 1492) and in Saheeh Sunan Ibn Maajah (no. 3225-3227) and in Dhilaalul Jannah (no. 63-67).]

The other 72 sects are under the threat of going to Hellfire to be punished for their sins. So long as they did not fall into major shirk, then eventually they will be removed from Hellfire and placed into Paradise. Note: there are some sects that have fallen into major shirk which removes them from Islaam completely. Those people will be in Hellfire forever as Allaah does not forgive shirk (associating partners with Allaah in worship) for the one who dies upon it.

But no one wants to have to make a stop in Hell before going to Paradise.

The true Muslim in any time period is the one who follows the Qur'aan and the authentic Sunnah upon the understanding of the Companions of the Messenger of Allaah, peace be upon him, and the scholars who have followed their way and will follow their way until the Day of Judgment.

December 27, 2012 @ 6:15pm
by Sombre Nouille

Religion is compulsory in Indonesia, and gets mentioned on your ID. It has been since independence. Most people in Indonesia declare themselves muslims (80% if I recall correctly). As a result, Indonesia is the biggest muslim country in the world (12,5% of world muslims). This "pilgrimage" seems to show that perhaps they're not all that muslim, really ?

January 10, 2013 @ 4:17am
by Hugh Beaumont

These people are doing things which, if it were happening in the US among the general pagan population, and one criticized it, he'd be shouted down by the moral relativists (you know, consenting adults, etc.) But these same people love to ridicule anyone who engages in hypocrisy, oblivious to the fact that they themselves, having no morals at all, could never be called hypocrites.

January 14, 2013 @ 3:38am
by Lucky I. Ismail

I am Indonesian Muslim and I have different view about this issue. I respect the author's efforts to bring this matter up, while I believe the author also miss an important aspect in Indonesian social structure that may not be noticed by foreigners.

Indonesian see religion and tradition as two different things, that shape one's identity as individual. People here have stronger bond with their ethnic roots traditions, both mentally and socially, which cannot be replaced by whatever religion they believe. One can live and practice both traditional rituals and religion rituals, maintain both identities separately, without problem with the social structure of the community here. For example, the majority of the population in Central Java still maintain the 'Kejawen', a form of old Javanese ritual and tradition, no matter they are Muslim, Christian, Buddhist or Hindu. These people keep the Kejawen because they and their ancestors before them are Javanese, and they embrace modern religion like Islam or Christianity because they open their mind to new ideas that do not conflict with their root believes, which is Kejawen. The same situation also occur in various ethnic groups around Indonesia. This is our identity as Indonesian that may not be understood by foreigners.

January 30, 2013 @ 3:08pm
by Dr S Arimi

Indonesia is NOT a Muslim country - it does however have the population of Muslims - big difference.
Whilst this article is interesting it has no connexion with Islam save to illustrate that behind fake islam is Kejawen.
So many foreigners are unable to come to terms with the fact that not very "Muslim" gives a damn about religion. As an Italian may be born a Catholic, it doesn't mean he goes to mass every Sunday.

February 28, 2013 @ 1:13pm
by Bob

Lucky, the author recognizes that religions and older cultural traditions co-exist: that's why she talks about syncretism.That doesn't exempt Indonesians from being called hypocrites. That sounds to me like a case of special pleading.

February 28, 2013 @ 9:02pm
by David

I am Indonesian and I am Christian, this is an interesting cultural phenomena that i haven't known until today. in one hand Aubrey have manage to made an interesting founding based on facts with an outstanding descriptions with abundance sociology background. in other hand Lucky try to give an explanatory descriptions because the subject that being justify in this article mostly Muslim religion. lets says that i want to try to be a moderator here... the archipelago Indonesian were differ with any other continent the world, here exist more that 250 ethnics, mean while the sum of year that Indonesian had undergo to become a country only takes 68 years. in several country it already takes more that a hundred years for example America take more than 300 years. this background has made the cultural development from the era of animism or traditional cultural to modernization or religions is differ to other country and sometimes in several area still overlapping... based on this explanation, if i may with all do respect i couldn't agree with Mr. Bob opinion that Indonesian people being Hypocrites.. there a time for Avery culture to get maturities every nation to get modernization... in the other hand sometime modernization made the worst nightmare of it self for an example which country do make a movies of taboo incest in the year of 1968..... well... that is all from me folks... warm regards

March 5, 2013 @ 10:00pm
by Richard

Very interesting comments, David. Moves me to imagine that it is not possible to impose one's own brand of a given religion, or one's own brand of democracy for that matter, on a people... Except by subjugation and those professing a religion whilst subjugating others debase themselves and, more worryingly, the religion they profess.

March 6, 2013 @ 4:42pm
by Ronnie

What a great story

March 9, 2013 @ 4:00pm
by Xavier

Hello, Is it possible to get the contact of the author for more informations for a possible TV report ...
Thanks,

Xavier in Moscow

August 19, 2013 @ 10:02pm
by Feras

Greetings to all readers, frankly I am saying that I was shocked while reading this article!!!
And to whom it may concern I would like to assure you that these rituals have nothing to do with Islam religion or its prayers and fundamentals, since that Islam in its core asks for chastity and purity and this is why the relation between man and woman when having sex has only one way which is through legal marriage where a man and a woman an ounce there marriage to public and they seek god bless and for this reason if there relation resulting having children one day they will be well known father and mother and siblings, not sons or daughters of forbidden relation with a stranger or such casual things. And it's a bless of this religion to its believers and there ancestors and children where the relation between the man and a woman cherished with morals and boundaries that governs them from being anonymous in this life.
Muslims even are allowed to marry a woman from different religion and not force her to get onto his religion while she has all the respect and rights in this marriage of any Muslim women.
Such article aubrey with my full respect to you as a journalist you had to seek clarity and logic and truth before you conduct such theories and myth under the name of Islam.I do ask myfriends of readers who seek truth and nothing but the truth not to follow such polluted information about Islam and not to generalise on your fellow Muslims who are worldwide gather many different nationalities, races and people who are from all over the globe that all share same believes and there message is to worship god the most merciful and peace on all man kind while respecting men and women and both are equal in front of god and we all were and created by God for a reason to worship Allah and work for our next life and gain the prise of purity and chastity am which is paradise.

September 26, 2013 @ 2:37pm
by Faraz baig

Asalam-o-Alicom
as a muslim i can tell all the readers one thing for sure, who ever wrote/post this "The Swingers’ Guide To Islam By Aubrey BelfordOctober 11, 2012" story, does not knows a thing about islam or muslims, my guess is that the may be the author even does not know there on religon too,
there is no such thing in islam and there is no place for such a things in islam too, i dont know where are these pics from or what are they doing in these pics but there is no link in these pics and the title of this blog and it hasd noting to do with islam too.

September 27, 2013 @ 6:19pm
by :/

bullshit, Islam has nothing to do with this, plus, I am sure that this is fornication, Islam forbids it

September 28, 2013 @ 12:47am
by kutkok

i reckon this is ok since muslims can have 4 wives at a time and infinte number in total. so i wouldnt talk about chastity and stuff, lol

October 14, 2013 @ 6:55am
by zoheb

Nonsense things written by nonsence peoples...all this is bullshit...dont know from which hell all these photos are taken...

October 18, 2013 @ 10:53pm
by Muslim

Yeah this is seriously a Bull shit.. Islam has no such rituals.This is s way to offend islam's piousness

October 21, 2013 @ 2:20am
Show previous 95 comments
by Geoff

No doubt an interesting story, but I agree with posters that the way it was wrongly framed. Some of those attending identify as Muslims, but that doesn't make it a Muslim ritual. My main beef would be that this is clearly a prostitution complex. There may have been once some ritual aspect, but not now. The reason it still exists is because of the money it makes, nothing else.

November 1, 2013 @ 6:43pm
by jenn

Of course it has no such rituals, they say that in the article. This is about 'business' not religion

December 5, 2013 @ 7:53am
by A Proud Muslim

The philosopher who wrote this article about Islam must double check his sources before talking about such a sensitive issue that touches almost two Billion Muslims around the world, Islam has no such fornicating events what so ever its the most decent and clean religion that calls for equality and advocates all the good manners and morals that are essential for the existence of healthy society.
This person must have some serious grudges intending to disfigure Islam image with such a cheap claim.

February 7, 2014 @ 2:24am
CLOSE
Type a keyword to search for a story or journalist

Journalists

Stories