Bandit Saints of Java - George Quinn
The pilgrimage culture on the island of Java in Indonesia is a rebuke to the conservative orthodoxy that has been gaining ground in Indonesia’s religious landscape since the 1980s. In the rhetoric of this orthodoxy the "real" Islam is pure and exclusive. Piety comes from obedience to religious authority and its rules. Local pilgrimage is anything but pure and exclusive or rigidly authoritarian. It is powerfully Islamic but it fuses Islam with local history, the ancient power of place and a pastiche of devotional practices with roots deep in the pre-Islamic past. Quietly but tenaciously – just outside the great echo chamber of public space – it is growing as fast as the higher profi le neo-orthodoxy.
Bandit Saints of Java is a work of nonfiction that delves deep under the surface of modern Indonesia, exploring personalities and stories in the wacky world of local pilgrimage. It paints an astonishing portrait of Islam as it is practised today – largely invisible to journalists, scholars and tourists – by many of the 130 million people of Java. Bandit Saints of Java is insightful, poignant, factually informative and sometimes provocative. It brings Java’s history and grassroots religious practices vividly to life.
Monsoon Books. 2018. 308 pages. Paperback.