Ustaz Salim's Effort to Change Labun Islanders’ Habits

It’s difficult to change the locals’ customs and beliefs that are contrary to the teachings of Islam. This was the challenge faced by Ustaz Salim when he first preached Islam to Labun Islanders.

Ustaz Salim receives financial assistance from Global Zakat-ACT. (ACTNews)

ACTNews, BATAM – Changing people's customs that have been passed down from generation to generation is an extraordinary difficulty. The story of Sunan Kalijaga who preached Islam using shadow puppets is an example of preaching Islam through culture. With these shadow puppets, Sunan Kalijaga instilled Islamic values to the people of Java without them having to drastically change their culture.

This story inspires Ustaz Salim to teach Islam to the residents of Labun Island, Pemping Village, Belakang Padang District, Batam City. When Ustaz Salim first came to Labun Island in 1985, the locals were still venerating local deities. The people from outside the island also used to come to give their offerings.

"In the past people used to make offerings for the deities that they venerated. They believed that these deities guarded the sea and the island. This needed to be changed gradually by teaching them the understanding of Islam with the approach exemplified by the prophets and the saints,” he said, Sunday (6/6/2021).

Ustaz Salim slowly changed the locals’ custom of giving offerings to Islamic gatherings and ceremonies. During these events, the foods used as offerings are served to be eaten together. Though it wasn’t easy, Ustaz Salim believes that the habits of the residents will change.

"People used to insult me. They said that I am acting against the gods, and will be cursed for that. They also called me crazy for giving the foods meant for their gods to humans. Slowly, I taught them Islamic values, and I explained to them why what they were doing was wrong. I did not eliminate the custom. Rather, I adjusted it to Islamic teachings as the saints of the past used to do,” he said.

Ustaz Salim says patience is very much needed in dealing with insults and rejections when one is preaching Islam. Our duty as Muslims is simply to convey the message. In the end, only Allah gives guidance to whom He wills.

"The most important thing is to be patient. As you see, many have embraced Islam now. it's not because of me. There are many factors leading to this. There have been many immigrants; Mosques have been established, and the people’s old customs have been adjusted to Islamic values. They no longer give offerings to their deities," he explained

In an effort to support Ustaz Salim's struggle, Global Zakat-ACT provided financial assistance through Sahabat Dai Indonesia program, Sunday (6/6/2021). This program is a tangible manifestation of the benefits of zakat that the community entrusts to Global Zakat.[]