donderdag 10 september 2015

AICIS in Manado: Opening session, plenary and panel presentations, posters,

In 2001 the first meeting of AICIS, the Annual International Conference of Islamic Studies was held in Indonesia by the Ministry of Religion, in fact its Directorate for Islamic Higher Education. It had from the beginning the format of the big international academic meetings, with opening and closing ceremony (including the political leaders, ministers), keynote speeches, plenary sessions, panel session and poster presentation.
From 3-6 Septemver 2015 AICIS 15 was held in Manado and I was invited to give a plenary speech on 'Catholics in Majority Muslim Indonesia, 1945=2010: Between a closed and exclusive community and concern for the common good in an open society'. I had attended this format only at EUROSEAS in Lisboa, 2013, but know that AAR has the same system.
After arrival I immediately had to give an interview. This is posted also on youtube,see
The opening session was a great event. Minister of Religion Lukman Hakim Saifuddin gave a major speech about religious harmony and a Manado Declaration was signed by the minister and nine other officials, all of them Muslims (it was anyway a Conference of Muslims, although there were plenary speakers who were Protestant or Catholic).  But there was a choir of 80 members: forty Muslims and forty Christians. The conductor of the choir was a Christian from Manado, a region with a strong tradition of church music. There were also traditional dances.

Above the announcement of the AICIS with Minister Lukman Hakim and governor of Minahasa. Below this announcement an advertisement for an Evangelical service in the hotel Aston (as if there are not enough churches in Manadao!). Belowe the choir. Notice the Muslim girls with the veil.

The opening session was indeed a great festive event, but the room was very great and the sound system definitely not perfect. I found personally the 90 papers presented in the panel session the most attractive part of this great academic exercise.
My own presentation for the plenary session on the second day is published in the site On the official AICIS site also many papers can be found.
A few remarks about highlights of the papers. Bob Hefner gave a plenary paper about Muslim Ethics in building Civil Society. He paid much attention to the basic structure of Indonesian Islam (and society) since the 1910s: the great organizations like Muhammadiyah, Nahdlatul Ulama, Sarekat Islam. They have put Indonesian citizens in a society that was nationally orientated. He stated that Indonesia is the most associationalized society in the world. This reminded me of the structure of Shi'a Islam where all true believers are supposed to show affection and obedience to a personal ayatollah and to follow his advice and rules. In Indonesia it is not a person but an organization that gives the learning based practical ethics. The Muslim Brothers only seek an Islamic Society. The Indonesian organizations are directed towards Nusantara, the Indonesian state and society. In Egypt the Muslim Brothers tried to take over the state, without success: in this way 'they wasted much of its social capital'.
The panel sessions had quite a few papers on Islamic Banking  (less than 5% of economic transactions in Indonesia, but coming from nearly 0% in the 1980s. In Saudi Arabia it is perhaps some 23%, but probably much less). MUI has issued more than 100 fatwas between 2000-2013, many about Islamic Finance. But Sahirom Syamsuddin severly criticised all these slogans about justice: according to him Peter Schmiedel has proven that Muslim and Westrn principles about economy are not much different!
Atho Mudzhar was very critical about Perda Syariat, rulings of local government about partial introduction of 'Muslim rules', mostly about gambling, clothing, alcohol: all of them by district leaders or bupati in their first period of rule. 'Only to seek votes for re-election, after this they forget the whole thing.' Only in Aceh there is a legal basis for a real introduction of Shari'a law. Dean Wahid used the word internal resistance against a abundance of new rules and preceipts. Not the concrete rules, but more general ethics, or the maqasid shari'a  should be studied and taught.
There was a paper about the doctrinal aspect of the teachign of Fethullah G├╝len.
There was an interesting paper about high schools in Padang where Christian students (sometimes only 20 out of  850) have to read the Arab text of the Qur'an, learn the 99 names of God by heart: against freedom of religion, as formulated in Indonesian laws. And many, many other topics.

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