Belonging without Conversion: The Establishment of Buddhism in Muslim Village

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Jesada Buaban


This paper investigates networks and strategies that the Thai missionary monks initiated with Muslim and Christian groups in Indonesia. It questions how has the monks reinterpreted Theravada Buddhism to establish itself in a Muslim village. Based upon an ethnographic fieldwork conducted in 2015-2016, it found that the forms of rituals have been adapted to respond to the local culture, Javanese in particular, while religious teachings are mostly transmitted in secular ways. Social welfare is a tool adopted to negotiate with other religious followers. Interestingly, monks seemed to be respected as much as Muslim Imans. This phenomenon portrays the successful adaptability and negotiations that eventually lead to the new form of religion. These processes help Thai monks to attract the new patrons who can still remain in Islam and Christianity without conversion, which can be seen as an interesting method of missionary work in the global era.


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Buaban, J. (2021). Belonging without Conversion: The Establishment of Buddhism in Muslim Village. Asia Social Issues, 14(2), Article 243548 (12 pages). Retrieved from
Research Article


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