From October 15-21, 2017, Devin Stewart, senior director of Carnegie Council's Asia Dialogues program, led a group of 12 Pacific Delegates from seven countries and a diverse set of professional backgrounds to Yogyakarta, Indonesia, to examine the role of religion and pluralism in Indonesian politics and society.
Over the course of a week, the delegates participated in classroom discussions, expert lectures, cultural activities, and site visits designed by Carnegie Council's Pacific Fellow Dicky Sofjan of Gadjah Mada University in cooperation with the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies (ICRS).
The week began with presentations and discussions on Islam and Hinduism in Indonesian society, demographics, and cosmology with ICRS scholars Jeanny Dhewayani, Dicky Sofjan, and Putu Suryadarma. Afterward, the delegation traveled to tour the former royal garden of the Sultanate of Yogyakarta, Tamansari Water Castle, and Sumur Gumuling underground mosque with stairs representing the five pillars of Islam.
On day two, the delegation spent the morning at the State Islamic University of Sunan Kalijaga (UIN SUKA) where they heard lectures on Islam, inter-faith relations, and radicalism from scholars Fatimah Husein and Noorhaidi Hassan. After lunch at the UIN SUKA auditorium, the delegation visited the headquarters of Muhammadiyah, one of the country's largest Muslim organizations, which aims to adapt Islam to modern life. Delegates spoke with organization representative Ahmad Norma Permata and ICRS expert Siti Syamsiyatun about Islamic modernism, interfaith relations, and gender in Muhammadiyah. Afterward, some delegates attended a musical performance by Kiai Kanjeng at Tamantirto.
On the third day of activities, the delegates spent the morning at Duta Wacana Christian University (UKDW) learning about Christianity in Indonesia from ICRS scholar Bernard Adeney-Risakotta and UKDW Rector Henry Feriadi. In the afternoon, Professor Sofjan led a discussion session among the delegates on the site visit theme of religion, pluralism, and society. Later that evening, delegates toured the backpacker area of Prawirotaman.
For the fourth day of structured activities, the delegation spent the morning at the interfaith dialogue institute Dian Interfidei to discuss interfaith activism as well as Islam and family planning with Elga Sarapung and Alissa Wahid, the head of the Gusdurian Network and daughter of former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid (aka Gus Dur). After lunch, the group visited the traditional Islamic boarding school Pesantren Krapyak, which is affiliated with Nahdlatul Ulama (NU). At the school, the delegates learned about the curriculum from its leaders and spoke with students about the Quran's teachings as well. During the evening, the delegation visited the 9th Century Prambanan Hindu Temple and attended a Ramayana Ballet performance depicting an ancient Hindu epic.
On the final day, delegates spent the morning at Kotagede with Muslim Interfaith Leader Kyai Haji Muhaimin learning about efforts to combat extremism. Afterward, some delegates toured Kotagede, visited the Mataram old mosque, and observed prayers at Jum'at. After lunch at guesthouse nDalem Natan Royal Heritage, Professor Sofjan led a wrap-up discussion with the proprietor of the guesthouse. While some delegates shopped for Batik and souvenirs, others traveled to the Riverside Javanese Cottages outside the city for dinner and a musical performance by Carnegie Council scholars and delegates. The night culminated in a trip to the Buddhist Borobudur Temple in Central Java to watch the sunrise.
Delegates described the trip as stimulating, rewarding, and educational and will be producing articles and other resources in the coming weeks based on their experiences.
Carnegie Council would like to thank the fellows, delegates, and participants as well as the Henry Luce Foundation, Gadjah Mada University, and ICRS for their support and invaluable advice toward making this successful project possible. The participating delegates included: Gullnaz Baig, Philip Caruso, Daniil Davydof, Darlene Machell de Leon Espena, Alicia Izharuddin, Yukari Kayama, Jiyoung Kim, Nyi Nyi Kyaw, Carolyn Nash, Tammy Nguyen, Ronnie Saha, and Nazneen Uddin.
image: Pacific Delegates with Dicky Sofjan, Elga Sarapung, Devin Stewart, and Alissa Wahid at Dian Interfidei in Yogyakarta