A minority within a minority, organization and numbers of Chinese Muslims in Java and North Sumatra.
Masjid Lautze 1
In Pecinan, Pasar Baru, Jakarta is located the Masjid Lautze (or Lao Tze), the centre of the Chinese Muslim community in the city, built in 1991, and, perhaps not inappropriately, being located within a ruko commercial complex.
The mosque is run by the Yayasan Haji Karim Oei, which bears the name of businessman/politician Abdul Karim aka Oei Tjen Hien/Tjeng Hien (Haji Abdurkarim), a man from Padang who converted to Islam in 1929 and was thereafter active in Muhammadiyah and Masyumi. The mosque is run by his son, Ali Karim Oei, who claims that in Jakarta City ethnic Chinese make up about 20% of the 8 million population, and of these he estimates that 5% are Muslim.
Abdul Karim Oei Tjeng Hien.
One reason there is uncertainty over the number of Chinese Muslims, says Ali, is because such people are difficult to keep track of, as they tend to intermarry with other, non-Chinese, Muslims, and thereafter, depending on one's view, lose their distinctive ethnic identity, or gain a new one/become assimilated.
Nationally, according to the Yayasan Persatuan Islam Tionghoa Indonesia (PITI), which was founded in 1961, there are at the least 80,000 Muslim Chinese, while the vast majority of Chinese are Christian or Confucian/Konghucu.
Since 1991 about 1600 people in Jakarta have undergone conversion at the Lautze mosque, one of the most recent of these being Paulus Prasetya, 32 years old, now known as Mohammad Rizqi. He says when he felt called to Islam he sought out the Lautze mosque in Pecinan, and now after converting attends everyday to pray and receive instruction, and says he feels comfortable there because there are many new converts, who similarly lack much knowledge of the faith.
Masjid Lautze 2
The Yayasan Haji Karim Oei also runs "Masjid Lautze 2", in Bandung, West Java, on Jalan Tamblong, built in 1997 and located on the ground floor of a rented ruko/shop front building, measuring only 7 x 6 metres and capable of holding 60 people. During office hours it is used by many non-Chinese who work nearby, while the core, regular attendance is about 20.
Muhammad Sultoni of Masjid Lautze 2 says it is best to be located in a business district because most potential converts are business types, and in any case funds are not available to build a "proper" mosque. gatra
Cheng Hoo, Surabaya
The Muslim Chinese community in Surabaya, East Java is centred on the Cheng Hoo mosque, built in 2002. The caretaker of the mosque, Abdul Halim Muhammad, or Li Guang Lin, claims there are something over 6000 [sic] Chinese in Surabaya, and of these 700 are Muslim. The growth of the community there is the most rapid in Indonesia, he says, increasing by 30 new converts every year.
He adds that the Cheng Ho mosque is expressly intended to receive new converts, and keeps away from doctrinal disputes in Islam by having no specific affiliation with any organisation or stream of thought, such as Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, or Shia, or Wahabi.
The penetration of Islam into the Chinese community is felt to have advanced the furthest in East Java as a whole, with PITI's provincial office having 26 branches with 8,000 members, with many members having deep links with Nahdlatul Ulama, some of them occupying senior positions within it.
Chinese Muslims in the North Sumatra capital are grouped under the Himpunan Pembauran Muslim Tionghoa Indonesia (HPMTI), founded in 1983 by a Mrs Maimunah/Maemunah, and separate from PITI.
According to HPMTI there are about 1,000 Muslim families out of 460,000 Chinese in the city. Head of the organisation, Nuraini aka Wong Sueng, says it is difficult to attract converts because Islam is cursed with a stigma of being violent and threatening, and because families will fiercely resist if one member desires to enter Islam.
She adds, possibly ruefully, that many of her members are still attached to traditional non-Islamic customs, such as visiting ancestors' tombs/remains at the Festival of the Tombs time (Cheng Beng), but adds that they do not participate in prayers or light candles or joss sticks. gatra