Idrus Samalegu, a security guard at the Dharma Bhakti Temple, poses for the Jakarta Globe on Jan. 17, 2023. Idrus is a practising Muslim and he has guarded the temple for seven years, thus depicting Indonesia's interreligious harmony. (JG Photo/Asia Ahmed)

Interfaith Tolerance: Muslim Man Helps Guard Dharma Bhakti Temple

BY :ASIA AHMED

JANUARY 22, 2023

Jakarta. Respecting others’ spiritual beliefs is key to maintaining peace in a multireligious nation like Indonesia, and the Dharma Bhakti Temple in Jakarta’s Chinatown Glodok becomes a testament to the country’s interfaith tolerance.

Meet Idrus Samalegu, one of the security guards at the Dharma Bhakti Temple. Idrus was on duty when the Jakarta Globe came to visit the temple on Tuesday. 

At the time, it was just less than a week before the Chinese New Year, locally known as Imlek, so the temple was having a spring clean. Some worshippers visited the temple to pray and make offerings. As a guard, Idrus made sure that the worshippers could pray in peace.

Idrus’ adaptability to secure the place of worship for many has put him in the spotlight. He is well-versed in the practices of those of the Buddhist faith, and also understands their devotion. But what came as a surprise was that Idrus, who has been guarding the temple for seven years, is a Muslim. 

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“We are all human, therefore, regardless of religion, you should accept one another's beliefs,” Idrus told the Globe on Tuesday. 

“We are all blessed by God. What makes people different from one another is their hearts and minds,” Idrus said.

The second floor of the Dharma Bhakti Temple in West Jakarta on Jan. 17, 2023. Completed in 1650, Dharma Bhakti Temple is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Jakarta. (JG Photo/Asia Ahmed)
The second floor of the Dharma Bhakti Temple in West Jakarta on Jan. 17, 2023. Completed in 1650, Dharma Bhakti Temple is the oldest Chinese temple in Jakarta. (JG Photo/Asia Ahmed)

Despite having a different religious belief, Idrus was delighted to see individuals return to normalcy and celebrate the important occasion. 

Worshiping in temples is one of the many important traditions during the Chinese New Year.

It is believed that doing so brings good fortune for the entire year. The Covid-19 pandemic had taken a significant toll on the proceedings since there had been major restrictions in previous years. Idrus said that last year the worshippers had to take turns praying at the altar on the second floor. 

Idrus said the temple had also geared up to welcome the crowds of worshippers for this Imlek, which would fall on Jan. 22. According to Idrus, the temple had already done most of its deep cleaning over the weekend. They were polishing the rest of the statues by the time when the Globe dropped by the temple. 

Over the past years of being the temple guard, Idrus has seen many visitors from all sorts of different backgrounds and nationalities.

“Many foreign tourists visit the historic Dharma Bhakti Temple,” Idrus said while adding that Former Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan also came to the temple during the 2019 Imlek celebrations.

The temple’s doors are wide open for visitors, but what matters the most is that we all maintain interreligious harmony. And that these visitors do not disrupt those who are praying at the temple, according to Idrus.

“We should all safeguard the interreligious harmony,” he told the Globe.

The statues as seen in the Dharma Bhakti Temple in West Jakarta on Jan. 17, 2023. (JG Photo/Oliver Dixon)
The statues as seen in the Dharma Bhakti Temple in West Jakarta on Jan. 17, 2023. Dharma Bhakti Temple is also known as the Kim Tek Ie Temple. (JG Photo/Oliver Dixon)
Worshippers pray at the Dharma Bhakti Temple in West Jakarta on Jan. 17, 2023. (JG Photo)
(JG Photo/Asia Ahmed)
The Hian Tang Keng shrine is located within the Dharma Bhakti Temple as seen on Jan. 17, 2023. (JG Photo/Asia Ahmed)

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