No, Indonesia does not include in the Middle East region, but Indonesia has, for centuries, established relationships with several countries in the Middle East.
Middle East Influences On Indonesia: As a result of global trade, Indonesia has also adopted many cultures originating from the Middle East region, including culinary and religious matters. Before going any further, I also have an article that might be useful regarding, Where Is Indonesia, and How Is The Climate And Geography In Indonesia Related To The Traveler.
There have been many scholars in Indonesia who have gone to study in the Middle East since centuries ago. Some also later taught in the Middle East.
Relations between Indonesia and countries in the Middle East still establish until today, both politically, economically, culturally, and religiously.
The existence of this assimilation provides a unique cultural style in Indonesia that can be seen by travelers directly in many regions of the country.
These peculiarities usually exist in urban areas and port areas that crowded with residents. So it’s also easily accessed by a solo traveler without worrying about safety.
This article will touch a little about religion. And any belief in the world has positive and negative sides in it.
Initial contact with middle east
Initial contact allegedly occurred during the early days of the emergence of Islam. Some Indonesian scholars suspect that there had been contacting between the Middle East and the archipelago, Indonesian-archipelago. It is worth remembering that at that time, Indonesia did not yet exist).
The evidence is a gravestone with Arabic names. The headstone is the headstone of a woman by the name of Fatimah.
Scholars suspect that the contact that occurred was by sea using a ship. In the archipelago, there are indeed kingdoms that use boats for trade, including to China and Arabia.
Next, from the Umayyad and Abbasiyah emporiums centered in the Middle East, contact was also made with the kingdoms in the archipelago. It also mentioned by the historical record of a traveler named Ibn Battuta.
The note tells about how the state of the kingdoms in the archipelago. It was before the birth of Indonesia, including Papua.
Massive relationship with middle east
This massive relationship has been suspecting of having occurred because of trade reasons. Many Arab traders who trade in the archipelago establish relationships with residents. Then there is also a marriage between the newcomer and the local population.
Massive relations between the Middle East and the archipelago occurred around the Turkish Ottoman era. Ottoman kingdom, which was still in its heyday at that time, sent several experts to the territories in Indonesia and was diplomatic.
The experts sent then taught the technology and knowledge they already had, such as agriculture and state administration — many royal families who participated in the study of scholars from the Middle East.
At this time, there was a prolonged political turmoil in Indonesia, especially in Java. And end up in a poor and displaced community.
When did Islam enter Indonesia? During this time, the religion of Islam spread widely in Indonesia. Previously, Islam had emerged in Indonesia, but its spread was not massive. The outspread of Islam in Indonesia was not carried out by war.
From the direct contact, finally, there was assimilation, the people who established relationships with each other finally gave birth to a distinctive style of culture that is distinctive.
The relationship between the Middle East and Indonesia still established. Trading is persisting as well — many products from Indonesia also have been exported to the Arab world, and vice versa.
This relationship sometimes raises a hot issue when it comes to Indonesian women workers who work in Arab areas hit by a crisis.
Likewise, concerning education, Many Indonesian students have a study in Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, and so on.
Most are studying religious knowledge. But now many also learn science and technology. Although it is not that interesting if compared to the interest in the study of science and technology to the western world, like Europe and the United States.
Many alumni also decided to later live in their study places and teach in the Middle East region.
There are also many immigrants from several countries in Arabia who have entered Indonesia, both for trading and teaching.
The Middle East influences on Indonesian culture
This long-standing interaction undoubtedly gave birth to its cultural-style, which added to the richness of culture in Indonesia. And this is not only related to the Middle East world.
Contacts between Indonesia (or pre-Indonesia) with other regions also create their own culture. Such as contact with India, with China, and even with Europe.
The Middle East influences on Indonesian Food
Middle East Influences On Indonesia: Arabic food is commonly found in Indonesia, especially in areas that have ports. This food is not only made by Arab descendants but also made by local people.
Many local people consume Middle Eastern food too. Arabic cuisine, as well as archipelago cuisine in general, are rich in spices and flavors. Maybe this is what makes Arabic cuisine accepted by the local community.
This Arabic food has characteristics such as the use of foodstuffs in the form of dates, goats, milk, wheat, olive oil, and so forth.
One of the most famous foods is Kabuli rice. Kabuli rice is even more unique because it also gets influence from India. The people much love Kabuli rice.
This type of food is typically common in Jakarta, and it is also easy to find in many areas. It usually exists in the “Arab town” (an area that is inhabited by many people of Arab descent, such as Chinatown but with different ethnicities).
The difference in the availability of food ingredients also leads to the creation of new menus. Thus, it is a combination of the archipelago with Arabic cuisine.
For the example is Uduk rice, which is influencing by Arabic rice dishes. There are also snacks called Cucur cakes, which are available in traditional markets, especially on the island of Java.
Many people believe that this cake is initially creating because of the absence of baking ingredients. That ingredient is wheat. So that it makes the rice flour is substituting the wheat flour, then which added with the yeast. This cake tastes sweet.
When the spread of culinary Franchise, types of food such as Maryam bread, Shawarma, and kebabs became widely sold in food courts, local people usually consider these foods as snacks.
The Middle East influences on Indonesian Building
A striking building from eastern influences is the mosque. Many mosques have Arabic architecture in Indonesia, which are historical heritages and as a proof of Middle East Influences On Indonesia.
One of them is the Baiturrahman Grand Mosque. This Mosque exists in the center of Banda Aceh city, was built in 1612 during the reign of Sultan Iskandar Muda. This building still exists and is maintained today.
Presumably, the influence of the Middle East on mosque architecture is still happening today. Central Java Grand Mosque in Semarang adopts the architecture of the Nabawi Mosque in Saudi Arabia.
There are also mosque buildings that use other architectural styles of culture. Like the Kauman Great Mosque in Yogyakarta that uses Javanese architecture, the Grand Mosque of West Sumatra which adopts Minang architecture, or the Cheng Ho mosque, which adopting architecture from China.
Middle East influences on Indonesian Socio-cultural
The aesthetic style that arises from Indonesia’s interactions with the Arab world is also unique. Many terms from Arabic absorb into Indonesian vocabulary.
There are also Jawi letters that use the Arabic alphabet, and this type uses local languages, which in their writing, use Arabic characters. This method is appearing in Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam.
So it is with clothes. Many women in Indonesia use the hijab, although many do not wear the hijab. But in general, Islam in Indonesia is not too conservative.
This cultural assimilation is usually persisting in areas where there were once Islamic empires, before the founding of the Indonesian nation, especially in the center of the kingdom and the port area.
This cultural mix does not necessarily eliminate the original culture of the local community but will become a cultural enrichment that previously existed. Also, read about this article, What Do I Need To Travel To Indonesia. This was all about Middle East Influences On Indonesia in this article.