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A look at the lifestyle of the Shia community in Salatiga


Salatiga, located in Central Java, is inhabited by various social groups including the Shia community in Salatiga and other intellectual communities about the presence of Satya Wacana Christian University (SWCU). Salatiga can be said to have a comfortable and, so far, the conducive social situation in maintaining relations among members of society. The presence of SWCU, which is known as “mini Indonesia,” adds more value from various aspects such as social, political, and cultural aspects to Salatiga. The presence of SWCU has contributed to managing pluralism in Indonesia. The busiest business activities in Salatiga are markets, schools, offices, banks, and houses of worship that are quite a lot. Daily social economy activities of Salatiga people seem to be in line with the rhythm of social life in the society.

History of Shias in Saltiaga

The presence of Shia in Salatiga, since decades ago, is an enrichment of Islam rather than a new form of belief. Shia devotees had known Islam, widely held by people in Indonesia before they learned about Shia. They obtained their previous knowledge of Islam from parents, schools where they study, and the society they live in. Some of them were educated in Islamic boarding schools in Indonesia, like Gontor boarding school.

Shia in the society

As social beings, Shia community in Salatiga cannot separate itself from society as a whole. It is because the fulfillment of their needs depends on society’s social, economic dynamic. Some of them are of middle and lower socio-economic level. Some are hairstylists, soya milk sellers, food stall owners, cell phone account sellers, computer repair persons, or office workers like teachers and labors. This background makes them more sensitive toward socio-economic changes. Some Shia devotees in Salatiga work in private sectors; they unite with economic development in Salatiga, where purchasing power is a commonly discussed issue.

Like other people, they also discuss the rising fuel, chili, soy, and internet service prices. They are also directly involved in the dynamic of the prices of daily needs and economic conditions in Indonesia. It is obvious in the topic of their discussions; religion does not prevent them from mingling or even chatting with anyone they meet. They can make friendships with anyone they meet and discuss any topics while smoking and sitting at the front porch of their houses or street-side along the alleys in the Pancuran village.

Tariqa – The repentance station

A tariqa is a place where a sinful individual starts their repentance. It does not consist of holy people, but those who are willing to learn to make themselves closer to Allah (God) while repenting of all sins they have done. The Shia community of Salatiga participates in a tariqa group that is open to new friends from any background. They gather in a natural and relaxed situation, praying, practicing zikr together, and chatting with others while enjoying fries. All flows naturally and informally. It happens because they struggle for the same thing, repenting of all their sins. That is why they do not act as if they are holly or make up their self-image.


According to the Shia community of Saltiaga, Islam that they previously followed was limited only in symbols they inherit without an in-depth understanding of them. As a result, all seem to be dry and not manifest in their personality and everyday lives. This religious experience leads them to Shia. Their encounter with Shia serves as a new thing that challenge and capture their logic. They see many new and interesting things in Shia teachings, such as the concept of imamate, philosophy, the oneness of God, and the glory of the Prophet’s family (ahlul bayt). According to them, that is the true teaching of Islam, which is filled with peace. During the last decades, there have been many references about Shia that have been translated to Indonesian.


Shia community (A research everyday lives of the Shia community in Salatiga, central java) by Retnowati and Yedi Efriadi p. 207 – 211


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