zaterdag 6 december 2014

The 'Tribute Conference', the older colleagues

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.
Of the old buildings of the IAIN/UIN nothing is left. Already in 2004 there were many new building, but after the earthquake of May 2006 again many building had to be restored or totally rebuilt. There is a great convention hall, where the two days were held: the first day in the largest hall, the second in a somewhat smaller place, but with a more gentle atmosphere. On the early morning of 18 November we were welcomed by a musical group playing music in Arab/Islamic style.

Lies Marcoes was one of my first student to write a 'doctorandus thesis' (now considered as a MA) on a Libyan sufi order. She is now 55 years., but could retire from the Ford Foundation two years ago, because trafic between Bogor and Jakarta became to difficult for her, with one blind eye and other health problems. But she is still very active, among other things in women empowerment. She gave me for Paule a very positive book about 'dream women' who could make improvements in the lives of themselves and of their community.
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.

 Here we see Lies Marcoes with Din Wahid (specialist on the Salafi Pesantrens) and Martien van Bruinessen.
Left of Lies is here on the 2rd row Moh. Nur Ichwan, the true organiser and the on the front line Ana Saidi, one of the first colleagues of Martin van Bruinessen at LIPI. Right of Lies is Machasin, now a high official at the central office of the Ministry of Religion (Dirjen Bimas Islam). He regretted that Agama or Religion had been removed during the transfer of IAIN to UIN. The UIN has been going a long way from Pesantren to the way of thinking of international academic institutions, but still there is some soft sentiment for the traditional way of Islamic learning. Noorhaidi Hasan ('Lasykar Jihad') is on this picture first row left (but right from the perspective of the viewer). Utmost right here isHilman Latief (Utrecht dissertation on Islamic philanthropy).
We appreciated very much that Azyumardi Azra was also present. He look older, tired, but had a warm speech on the Development of Islamic Studies. The excellency of the Dutch programmes compared to McGill was that McGill had never truly Indonesia-specialist. They came sometimes for several months, but never for longer period and were not familiar with the country.
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.

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