The reason for this November trip to Indonesia was the International Conference of the Studies on Indonesian Islam: Tribute to Karel Steenbrink and Martin van Bruinessen, of 17-18 November at Universitas Islam Negeri, UIN in Yogyakarta.
In 1970 i began my study of the Islamic education in Pesantren and Madrasah, in 1978 I was the coordinator for the first group of IAIN staff who came to the Netherlands. Between 1981 and 1988 I was a lecturer in Jakarta and Yogyakarta. Martin van Bruinessen arrived in 1982 as a researcher for LIPI. In the early 1990s he was during three years also a lecturer in Yogyakarta. We felt very honoured by the idea of this conference that was initiated by Lies Marcoes and some opther friends. In Yogyakarta Muhammad Nur Ichwan became the actual organiser under the umbrella of the Graduate School.
The title of the book is: A Journey against Defeat. Narratives of Women's Rejection of Poverty. It has wonderful pictures and strong stories. I will later write more about the book. Like the others, also Lies had nice anecdotes of her contacts with 'Romo Karel' and Sayyidina Martin.
He had some nice one-liners: Indonesian Islam is too big to fail. There is Muhammadiyah, Nahdlatul Ulama: the conservatives are not able to win, and Salafi ideas are too simple. The whole network of UIN and IAIN is much larger in number and in quality than Al-Azhar of Egypt, although it does not have the international impact.
There was a young man from Medan, of Tamil offspring who complained about Islamofobia, also about the difficult position of Islam in Indonesian politics. Azyumardi became angry: we should not consider ourselves as losers and only blame others. We must be proud for what we are, must be confident and sure, that is a much better strategy than playing the card of minority complex.
I did not make good pictures and also that of Azyumardi is not good, but still I post hem below. Here he looks somewhat angry,indeed, while responding this India-from-Medan.