Magic in Indonesian Islam

It was the Arab Muslim traders entering Indonesia as early as the 8th century who brought Islam in Indonesia. Its historical inhabitants were animists, Hindus and Buddhists. However, it was not until the end of the 13th century that the spread of Islam began.
Nowadays, magic is everywhere in Indonesia and it is taken very seriously. It coexists with Islam and it has become a part of it, even the mantras that shamans read in order to cast a spell. These are nothing but choranic verses.

Indonesia does not have a psychiatric or psychological culture. Most conditions then often go untreated or, are interpreted religiously to the discomfort of the person, who then undergoes the effects of all the superstition and the mix of beliefs that the crossing between animism and Islam has generated.

All activities in this part of Indonesia involve at some stage a “sanro”, the local witch doctor.
Under a Sanro’s care there are medicine, cloud control, sports, celebrations or/and black magic.

As harvest begins, they are summoned more often as their services are needed. However, their most demanded practice is for exorcisms of sorts, which are likely performed over a young woman who is believed to be possessed by a demon or the devil itself.
Strangely enough it is not a demon or Satan to enter a body on its own accord. The belief is that another “sanro” casts the spell to a recipient. He might do so because he receives the commission from a woman who was mistreated by a man, but in most cases, “possessions” take young girls who have refused the attentions of a boy or man.
Some rituals intended to rid a girl of a demon can last even  weeks, some, say months, whilst the person must endure the psychological and physical discomfort that the whole process entails.
So, when on the islands, when it comes to get a sanro, it’s best to find an Islamic one, but ush come to shove, just any sanro seems to be better than no sanro at all.



  ZAA indo 001 Sumbawa, country  Mosque. female side during morning pray                                                                ZAA indo 011 A tree in the rice fields                                                   ZAA indo 013

A horse lurks in the rice fields. Come dusk, farmers burn bad weeds and dead leaves. During harvest fires are visible form everywhere and everywhere around any crop.                                                                      


  ZAA indo 003 A family meets a sandro, who spent a week with this family allegedly to help their youngest girl to get rid of a demon that had entered her body. The sandro convinced her family that she had to be naked so that the demon could get out her body through her genitals.                                                                     MG 3418

A 27 year old girl is believed to be possessed by the devil (or by a demon) Her family met a sandro, who spent a week with this family, costing them around five US dollars a day. The sandro convinced her family not only that this devil was following her in the country side around their house, but that she had to stay naked for the demon to find its way out her body through the genitals.       


Later, form different line of enquiry it emerged that the girl started suffering of "attacks" after she came back from Saudi Arabia, where she went, as mulsims do at least once in their life time.

Back from her trip she found out that her brother stol all the moeny she had been sending home for the three years of her stay abroad.                                                     

  ZAA indo 005 A duck roams free in a fish processing plant in Lombok.                                                           ZAA indo 006 A Sanro, a witch-doctor takes a girl away from the house where she received a sort of exocism.
On different accounts the villagers say, that a demon or the devil, possesed her body.
In Central Indonesia a Sanro is a shaman, he is specialized in traditional medicine and what is believed to be magic.
Most of these intervention are made on young women, when their behavior is interpreted to be the result of a possession.
This often happens when a girl rejects a boy, he often decide to have a which doctor make a black magic ritual on her.                                                                   
  ZAA indo 004 A Sanro (Shaman) named Arif is helping Sunan Khairani (Ani)  to get rid of an evil entity that has inhabited her body for years. On her account Ani said that the entity cwas generated by the envy of another woman that stalked her in the past. Ani trusts this sanro as he is a good muslim and there lies a treshold to her and many others, who sould not believe a non islamic sanro.                                                              ZAA indo 007 A sanro waits for a patient who did not arrive                                                    ZAA indo 008 A knife maker shows his last craft. Among Sanros ( Shamans ) protective mantra are very common and some of them believ they can harden their skin to a point where not even very sharp knives can hurt them                                                            ZAA indo 009 Sumbawanese Kids swim in a stream. Most people in Sumbawa who don't have running water at home use the river to bathe. In spite of muslim custums even women do bathe in rivers                                                             ZAA indo 010 four men take a farming machine to get the rice from the spikes. These machines are incredibly heavy and need more men to be moved around                                                        ZAA indo 012  bull riding competitions are a traditional event during harvest. Hundreds of bull riders arrive from all over Sumbawa to participate to the race.
The races are considered to bless the harvest.
Each tam is coached by a Snaro ( a shaman ) he blesses the bull and the riders with sacred mantra.                                         
   ZAA indo 014 A woman is prayin in a praying glass booth by the sea. On weekends the sumbawanese like to go on the beach and seat under gazebos to enjoy the chill of the shade. They usually come in packs, bringing exended family and friends.                                                         ZAA indo 015 Guests, in a tradiotional wedding in Sumbawa western district.                                                           ZAA indo 016  Traditional Marriage offering made by the local shaman, the sanro, celebrates weddings.                                                        ZAA indo 017  A 30 year old woman is getting married. She receives the visit of many sanros that bless her fortune with several rituals, most of them, involving oils and creams to be spread on her arms.                                                                  ZAA indo 018 Family watching television and praying.
Most families sleep together in Sumbawa. Especially in traditional houses there are very few beds and somethimes people just sleep on the floor                                                                 
  ZAA indo 019  Shaf sleeps wih his doughter Lathifa in their house in Sama Pues, a nighbouring village of Sumbawa                                                           ZAA indo 020 District of Sama pues, in Sumbawa (city)
Girls train for the National Education Sport Day                                                        
  ZAA indo 021 At dusk in the rice fielsd a boy trains a horse to race                                                                     ZAA indo 022