Since about the sixteenth century, the Minangkabau have followed Islam of the Sunni sect; however, the practices of Islam have only been strictly adhered to since about the eighteenth century. Previous to Islam, the Minangkabau followed their adat, or customary beliefs. The adat is based on the maternal influence that the Minangkabau emphasize. This is the main difference of the Minangkabau compared to other religions: they have an emphasis on women that most Islamic cultures do not have, and they have combined their maternal influences with their Islamic beliefs. Their customary religion was a form of animism, in which each person has two souls, one real souland one semangat. The semangat is used to explain illness, because when a person is ill, it means an evil spirit has overtaken their semangat. The adat is sometimes referred to as the relationship between humans and nature.
As early as the seventh century, Muslim traders brought Islam to the Minangkabau. During the time of the Crusades, local rulers were the first to convert, with their subjects following closely behind. The rulers wanted to attract Muslim traders and teachers to their lands. The Minangkabau were not very strict Muslims until about the eighteenth century, when they were strongly influenced by the Wahhabi movement in Mecca, the holy city of Islam. This movement sought to remove societal such as opium. From this point on, the Minangkabau have been very strict in their Muslim beliefs, however their adat has been incorporated into their religion as well.
A Mosque, the worship place of Muslims.

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