IL News 002/2017

Institut Leimena in cooperation with UIN Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta has conducted a Seminar to discuss the book: “Beyond Jihad: The Pacifist Tradition in West African Islam” by Prof. Lamin Sanneh. This article is taken from The Research Center of Islam and Society (Pusat Pengkajian Islam dan Masyarakat, PPIM) UIN Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta.

Ciputat, PPIM – Hate search, hate speech, and hate crime that is based on the fear of Muslims is increasingly rising these days. This comes from the sentiments of the society against the violent acts and terrors which are done in the name of Islam. In the US, for example, the search of “I hate Muslim” keyword in Google is keep on rising in this decade. The question is, is it true that Islam, which has a meaning of peace in etymology, is a religion full of hatred?

Regarding that, Professor Lamin Sanneh of Yale Divinity School, Yale University (US) stated that the violent acts and terrors which are occurred in every part of the world are utterly unrelated to Islam. In fact, the reason behind them is merely political uproar.

“The genocides in human history were more caused by the failures of nation-states politics, not religion. Not Christian or even Islam. Don’t blame religion for the failures of secular nation in giving social and economic justice on the society,” said Prof. Sanneh in PPIM UIN Jakarta Seminar Room, South Tangerang, Tuesday (10/1/2017) noon.


The Big Celebration of Religion and Tolerance


In that 29th Seminar of PPIM, Prof. Lamin Sanneh also emphasized that the spread of Islam in every part of the world has been occurring in peace and harmony. Not through jihad, as alleged by all types of people all this time. He used the example of West Africa experience, where Muslims and Christians are able to live together regardless of their differences.

“Since long time ago, West Africa has been having an inheritance of appreciating and understanding each other, so that when Islam entered [to West Africa], the process took place without any sword and war,” said this History Professor of Yale University in this event, which was also the discussion/review of his book, Beyond Jihad: The Pacifist Tradition in West African Islam.

He continued, in West Africa, when a religious festival takes place, people will share their joy to each other. Without hesitation, they eat and drink together in a same table. This is the inheritance that must be preserved to be inherited to the next generation one day.

“When the end of Ramadhan comes, our Muslims brothers and sisters invite their neighbors and colleagues to celebrate their victory and bliss together. Muslims and Christians understand and listen to each other amid the warmth of that religious celebration,” told Prof. Sanneh enthusiastically.

God is the provider for all mankind. Therefore, by mutually sharing God’s blessing, let us together contribute in building a peaceful great civilization, said Prof. Sanneh.


Islam, Batik and Diversity


In line with Prof. Sanneh, Prof. Azyumardi Azra, who also spoke in that Seminar, mentioned many similarities between Indonesia and West Africa. Adaptive local culture is the key to the similar acceptance of Islam in both country, continued Prof. Azyumardi.

“Adaptation of local culture to Islam is the key of the success of peaceful Islamization in both country [Indonesia and West Africa]. Many similarities such as the people who like to share happiness, like to gather and like to give gifts to others,” said the History Professor of the Faculty of Civilization and Humanities, UIN Jakarta.

Indonesian Islam is a colorful Islam, said Prof. Azra. “Islam in the Middle East cannot be equated with Indonesian Islam that is not monolithic. Indonesian Islam is full of color and peace with diverse local culture,” continued the Professor who has ever awarded by the Fukuoka Prize in academic field.

In addition to Prof. Azra points, Prof. Lamin Sanneh also said that the diversity is like the Indonesian traditional cloth, batik. Diverse tone, motive, pattern and color in the batik itself has in fact represented the diversity of Indonesian people. “The diversity in batik is very beautiful, just as the diversity of mankind that is needed to be nurtured and preserved,” stated Professor D. Willis James, Professor of Missions and World Christianity of Yale Divinity School.

Moreover, the Seminar that was also moderated by Dadi Darmadi, Director of Advocacy and Knowledge Management PPIM UIN Jakarta, turned out to be attended by participants with diverse cultural backgrounds and nationalities. Who knows that this plurality message which was conveyed by Prof. Sanneh was in fact delivered to the audience who was also plural in that very same space and time. Not only from Indonesia, but also from Africa, Europe and Middle East.

Another important message in that discussion was conveyed by Jajang Jahroni, Senior Researcher of PPIM UIN Jakarta, who was the discussant in that event. He mentioned that Prof. Sanneh’s book is a must read book for all Civitas Academica and common people. Especially for students and lecturers who want to know the history of Islam civilization in West Africa. “This book gives deep insight and knowledge regarding the history of Islam in West Africa. Besides that, this book also gives an unequivocal view that there are many similarities between the pattern of Islam spreading in West Africa and Indonesia,” explained that Doctor from Boston University. (END)