On 20 September 2011 Fredrik Yosep Apeles Doeka, born in Alor, 1967, defended his doctoral dissertation at Utrecht University's Department of Religion. It was the end of a process that started in 1998 when Doeka came to Amsterdam for his Masters' Degree at the Free University of Amsterdam. Anthony Wessels was his tutor in Amsterdam, but he came regularly to Utrecht for Indonesian Islam and Qur'anic Studies. In 2000 he finished his MA with a nice thesis on Muslim Sufism. Born in a mixed Muslim-Christian family on the island of Alor (50,000 inhabitants, some 25% Muslim, 25% Catholics, the rest Protestant, but all still imbedded in traditional Alor ideas and rituals) he had studied theology in Jakarta in the late 1980s and early 1990s, has been a Protestant pastor in Labuan Bajo, Muslim stronghold in Catholic Flores. His wife is also a minister, at this moment in the prominent position of Secretary of the Synod of the GMIT, Timorese Protestant Church.
Doeka started in 2006 with the research on the reception and interpretation of Moses in Indonesian Muslim and Christian sources. His major sources were the five great Qur'an Commentaries (Zainal Arifin Abbas cs, Hamka, Hasbis ashShiddieqy, Departemen Agama, Quraish Shihab), the two great Qisasul Anbiya (Malay and Javanese) and the many books for children, comics etc. he found in various places, shops and libraries in Indonesia. It has always been my idea that we should just start reading and only draw conclusions and more general theories after our confrontation with the material. This is sometimes diffgicult, because Qur'an commentaries are quite encyclopaedic works and the Qisasul Anbiya also present the material in an anecdotic way. Therefore it was a little bit difficult to come to more general conclusions. These were mostly taken from theological discourse, about theology of religions and theories of dialogue: Moses is not superseded by the great figures of Islam and Christianity, Muhammad and Jesus, but has retained his own role in these religions. Sometimes this can be seen in his mystical quality. He was the one who spoke directly to God, other prophets received their messages through Gabriel. Moses was not easy, he was critical and debated with God: he is also the image for the seeking man. Vatican II has given an eminent position to Abraham and Mary in the dialogue with Muslims. But the Jordanian Document A Common Word has taken the word of Moses as its central theme: love God and your neighbour.
Above four pictures taken this day in the ceremonial building of Utrecht University; the Academiegebouw: Fredrik standing in Alor attire with Vera Daud Nolte and Jeannette Boere the two paranymphs. In the middle I read the second part of the laudatio, after Dr. Freek Bakker, co-promotor had read the first part in English. This second part was in the style of a Malay Syair:
Untuk Dr. Fredrik Doeka, 20 sept. 2011
Fredrik Doeka sekarang sudah doktor fi’din
Berkelana jauh-jauh ke negara dingin
Dari isteri, anak-anak dapat izin,
Asal tetap minal mu’minin
Fredrik Doeka is now a Doctor of Theology
He travelled far away to a foreign country
His wife and children consented in his journey
as long as he would stay in the faithful community
Fredrik mirip sang Pangeran Mesir
Musa juga mondar-mandir
Mencari hikmah di padang pasir
Begitu Doeka ke Belanda, saleh dan kafir
Fredrik is close to the Egypt's Prince
Moses also went here and hence
sought wisdom in desert and behind fence
So, Doeka arrived among the Dutch, pious and without any sense
Berbeda juga dari Musa, si sarjana Doeka:
Daging sama sekali tidak suka
Burung puyuh, kambing tidak mau luka
Vegetarian itulah cara yang cocok, sempurna
This Doeka differed from Moses very much,
No meat, he did not like that or such
Quails and manna, not on his table, no touch
Vegetarian that he likes as Indonesian or Dutch
Muslim ibunya, bapanya Kristen untuk agama
Fredrik, ya mau semua sama
Dapat gaji dari Kristen, mengajar di Artha Wacana
mengajar Islam sebagai matapelajaran utama
His mother was Muslim, his father's faith was the Christian stream.
Fredrik, to practice them both, is his dream.
Get's his salary from Christians, at Artha Wacana's regime
but teaches Islam as his major theme
Doeka lahir di Alor, pulau yang sedang
Mencari ilmu di Jakarta, kota gedang
Puncak ilmu dapat di negeri kecil, sekarang pulang!
Baru di Kupang lalu berkembang.
Doeka was born in Alor, the little island
sought wisdom in Jakarta, the biggest in his own land
came to the small country of Holland,
now in Kupang he will truly expand.
Fredrik Doeka with his two promotors and Mrs. Pauline Steenbrink who had him for four periods of two months as a guest in our house. With good final results!
In the evening there was a social event in our house where Mrs. Gracia Nolte (born in the Netherlands, but from parents born in Roti/Timor), played a traditional Timorese harp.
I do hope that there will be a lasting ('enduring') development for Doeka in the field of teaching, research and interreligious relations in East Indonesia, where Muslims are a strong minority but Christians have majority positions. His feeling for the narrative side of religions can be seen in this dissertation. Besides, he has strong ties with the traditional culture and these local traditions, when respected and honoured by the world religions, can also be the binding factor between the international religions.