Indonesia’s Minangkabau: The World’s Largest Muslim Matrilineal Society
The Indian Globetrotter | 2018
In most Islamic societies, the situation of women is not very favourable, when compared to the men, especially in conservative societies like Saudi Arabia. However, in the world’s largest Islamic nation, Indonesia, there is a place where women rule over men. Welcome to West Sumatra in Indonesia and meet the atypical Minangkabau people.
Though prevalent in some Asian societies, including in Kerala and north-eastern India, Minangkabau is one of the few Islamic communities that follows matrilineal culture and it is also the largest matrilineal society in the world. Women own the family house and it is passed from mother to daughter. After the wedding, the groom moves to his bride’s house and live there, as the local custom goes, as it is the girl that inherits the family assets.
The Minangkabau represent about 3% of the Indonesian population of about 245 million, or about 7.5 million people. Contrary to the gender-selection in India, where the sex ratio has fallen to around 800 women per 1000 males in some parts of the country, here, in West Sumatra, the inhabitants pray to the God to be blessed with a girl child as their first baby.