Islam and Australia’s Aborigines? A perspective from North-East Arnhem Land

Islam and Australia’s Aborigines? A perspective from North-East Arnhem Land Journal Article

Journal of Religious History

  • Author(s): McIntosh, Ian S.
  • Published: 1996
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
  • Volume: 20
  • ISBN: 0022-4227

Abstract: In 1996, a group of Aboriginal dancers from Elcho Island in north-east Arnhem Land will travel to Macassar (Ujung Pandang), in Indonesia, to perform a ritual associated with the 'Dreaming' creation figure, Walitha' walitha, also known as Allah. Aborigines are said to share this ceremony, known as the Wurramu, with the people of Macassar, but the Aboriginal version, a mortuary ritual, has never before been performed outside of Australia. The performance has been designed to reunite these old acquaintances, but the ceremony itself, in this context, embodies a paradox. According to senior Aboriginal leaders, the songs and dances are sacred. On an 'outside' level they are about the new world introduced to Aborigines in pre-colonial times as a result of this first contact experience, but on an 'inside' level, they focus on the Aboriginal deaths that occurred as a consequence of contact with these fishing peoples from the north of Australia. The 'inside' meaning of the ritual relates to the passage of the soul of the deceased to a heavenly paradise above, the abode of Allah.

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Suggested Citation
McIntosh, Ian S., 1996, Islam and Australia’s Aborigines? A perspective from North-East Arnhem Land, Volume:20, Journal Article, viewed 19 May 2024, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=28320.

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