Call for Participation in ICM 2012
International Conference on Muhammadiyah
Commemoration of its Centennial Anniversary
University of Muhammadiyah Malang
29 November – 2 December 2012 CE
“Discourse on the Search for a Renewed Identity of Muhammadiyah for its Post-Centennial Era”
I. Background and Rationale for the Conference
Over the past 100 years, the progressive Muslim social movement Muhammadiyah has made significant contributions to the nation building of the Republic of Indonesia, mainly in the field of education, philanthropy, and social welfare. More than that, its contributions to the enhancement of the people’s sovereignty, national unity, social justice, and the uplifting of public morality for the nation have been countless. By now, Muhammadiyah has become one of the two most important Islamic religious organizations in Indonesia alongside its ‘traditional and traditionalist rival’ Nahdlatul ‘Ulama (NU). The two organizations constitute the moderate and progressive pillars of civil society in contemporary Indonesia. In a global context, Muhammadiyah is also one of the largest and best-organized modern Islamic social movements based upon the piety and voluntary dedication of their members and supporters.
In the recent process of Reformasi -- the political transition from Soeharto’s dictatorship to democracy in Indonesia -- Muhammadiyah’s participation was very active, symbolized by the role of its chairperson, Dr. Amien Rais. He spearheaded anti-Soeharto popular movements and eventually occupied a key position in the post-Soeharto government, Chair of People’s Assembly (MPR). He also founded PAN (= Partai Amanat Nasional, National Mandate Party), which has been receiving a substantial number of votes in both national and local elections. It has become one of the important components in a series of post-Reformasi coalition governments.
Muhammadiyah celebrated its 100th year by having its centennial national congress in Yogyakarta in 1430H/2010M according to the Hijrah calendar. The occasion led by Dr. Din Syamsuddin, its current chairperson, was undoubtedly a great show of force for the organization, with participation by tens of thousands of local representatives, observers, and ‘celebrators’ from all over the country. It was an historic occasion for the organization and also for the city, where it was born one hundred years ago. Muhammadiyah is now poised to enter the second century of its life with a century of achievements behind it.
In spite of all this, some people have perceived that Muhammadiyah’s presence in the Indonesian public seems to be somewhat waning recently. Many factors seemed to have caused this. Muhammadiyah has been contested externally by the emergence of a number of Islamist movements since the fall of the New Order -- many of them with trans-national connections. Even more directly, Muhammadiyah has faced with the threat of infiltration by some Islamist forces, among others, by the PKS (Partai Keadilan Sejahtera, Prosperous Justice Party). Internally, too, Muhammadiyah has experienced unprecedented conflicts because of the development of three contrasting orientations. The first has been the revival of ‘Salafist’ trend emphasizing puritanical origins of the movement criticizing the ‘compromising’ tendencies in the everyday practices of Muhammadiyah. The second has been the well-established mainstream, taking a moderate centralist position by balancing efforts for purification and reformation. The third is a more recent trend of ‘liberals’, which has been represented by a number of young university graduates and teaching staff. They have criticized the mainstream as stagnant and have urged to revitalize the efforts for reform/renewal (tajdid) to meet the challenges of changing societal situations.
In the field of education, it has been well recognized that Muhammadiyah has pioneered to achieve the combination of modern general education and enlightening Islamic education. It has even presented models for educational reform for the entire country from the level of kindergarten to that of university. However, recent trends by Muhammadiyah have raised some issues. In contrast to the obvious achievement of its institutions at the level of higher education -- some of which are even getting competitive with the government and private centers of excellence -- its primary and secondary education seems to be lagging behind the rapid progress and improvements undergoing in its counterparts in government and private sectors. Here, again, ‘Salafist-oriented’ schools, named Sekolah Islam Terpadu (‘Intensive Islamic School’), well funded, well equipped and well staffed with the support from Middle Eastern foundations, are emerging here and there, diminishing the attractiveness of Muhammadiyah schools as a model for modern Islamic education. Its relatively high school fees are reportedly accelerating this tendency.
In the field of philanthropy and social welfare, which has been another strong point of the movement, Muhammadiyah is also suffering from external competition and internal stagnation. Many of the PKU hospitals, clinics, and orphanages under the management of Muhammadiyah have lost touch with the local Muslim communities and are operating not that much differently from private business institutions. Quality-wise, their services are sometimes even less satisfactory than government institutions like PUSKESMAS and secular commercial ones in spite of their relatively high charges. In contrast, a number of new voluntary philanthropic movements are achieving amazing degrees of success on the basis of massive popular support – ex. Dompet Dhuafa (‘Wallet for the Poor’) – enabling them to establish and operate high quality but less expensive clinics and hospitals for the poor.
All in all, an image of Muhammadiyah in recent years has been less dynamic, less innovative, and less progressive compared to its fresh forward looking stance shown decades before. Some people have even perceived that its ‘traditional and traditionalist’ rival NU is getting ahead of Muhammadiyah in terms of progressiveness, innovativeness and positive adaptation to modernity.
Thus, Muhammadiyah at the entrance of its second century is facing a number of serious challenges. The most essential among them seems to be the “rediscovery” or “reformulation” of its own identity. Recent rapid, global grand-scale changes are demanding Muhammadiyah to seriously re-examine the meanings of its modernity, progressiveness and reformism in the post-modern contexts.
Concerning this, “Statement on the Thought of Muhammadiyah for its Second Century”— a document adopted by the centennial 46th national congress – reflects a new discourse the movement is engaged in now. The document states that the following should be Muhammadiyah’s basic guidelines: the pursuit of universal human rights, gender equality, the promotion of social justice and social welfare among the masses, the basic stance of anti-war, anti-violence, anti-terrorism, anti-exploitation, anti-environmental destruction, and anti-persecution of minorities, and the guarantee of ethnic, racial, national, cultural and religious pluralism.
Now, apparently serious endeavors are being undertaken to justify these basic guidelines in terms of contextual re-interpretation (ijtihad) of the Qur’an and Hadith, at the same time being supported by enormous progress in general sciences and technology. Also, various efforts are developing to implement those guidelines in the fields of education, social welfare and in the efforts for uplifting socio-economic levels of community life, especially of the poor. In other words, a total renewal (tajdid) of the movement itself is being attempted in terms of its theology, philosophy, organizational structure, management styles and skills, work ethics of officers and members, cadre trainings, formal and informal education, and patterns of everyday life for ordinary members, and so forth.
The prospective international conference intends to survey and discuss the Muhammadiyah movement in search of new identity and direction. Can and will Muhammadiyah continue and even advance to be an organization of progressive Islamic social and religious movement well into its post-centennial era? How is it revitalizing the élan vital of the movement? These questions seem to require serious inquiries not only by Muhammadiyah activists themselves but also by those scholars who have been observing Muhammadiyah for many years.
In a broader global perspective, Muhammadiyah is undoubtedly standing at the forefront of responding to intellectual and practical challenges arising from fast changing world situations among a number of Islamic social movements of the world. Therefore, Muhammadiyah’s past experience, present stance and future direction is not only significant for Indonesia alone but also for the entire Islamic world. Muhammadiuah’s basic stance of advocating modernity, moderation and democracy in terms of Islamic teachings seems to be especially relevant in view of the recent development of ‘Arab Spring’ in the Middle East. It may be able to expect a positive interaction to develop between Muhammadiyah and its counterparts in the region. Furthermore, Muhammadiyah’s fortune will gravely affect the relationship between Islamic and non-Islamic parts of the entire humankind. What would be the contribution of Muhammadiyah towards peace, harmony and happiness of the entire world? Questions presented above are undoubtedly not only academic but practical ones, too, to be discussed and answered seriously. Deeper understanding on Muhammadiyah by foreign scholars, mostly non-Muslim, through exchange of views and intensive discussion with Indonesian colleagues, mostly Muslim, in a gathering is expected to enhance mutual intellectual solidarity and practical cooperation beneficial for the both sides.
Hence, an international conference is to be organized on the occasion of the centennial anniversary of Muhammadiyah, November 2012, according to the CE calendar.
II. Objectives and Organization of the Conference (ICM 2012)
1. The prospective conference is envisaged as an international gathering of those scholars, foreign and Indonesian, who are committed to the study of Muhammadiyah. Through the conference, exchange of their research findings and discussion on a number of topics concerning Muhammadiyah will take place in order to produce a comprehensive and coherent picture about the contemporary Muhammadiyah movement with insights and suggestions for its future direction.
2. The conference will put an emphasis on providing an occasion to get involved in international academic discourse for those who are relatively junior Indonesian scholars who have just completed their PhD’s or those in the process of completion of them on the topic of Muhammadiyah, meanwhile senior scholars are supposed to be playing mentoring roles.
3. The conference, while held on a Muhammadiyah university campus, substantially supported by it, and participated by a number of Muhammadiyah members, will NOT be a Muhammadiyah project. It will be a gathering of independent scholars -- many of them non-partisan ‘public intellectuals’ -- who are genuinely committed to objective studies on Muhammadiyah.
4. Language: English only for written and oral presentation and discussion.
5. Date: Thursday 29th of November – Sunday 2nd of December 2012.
6. Place: University of Muhammadiyah Malang (UMM), Malang, East Java, Indonesia.
7. Participants: Participants will consist of panelists (paper presenters, moderators and discussants) and ordinary participants (participation from the floor).
8-1. Steering Committee (SC) of ICM 2012:
Chair: Prof. Dr. Azyumardi Azra (Former Rector of State Islamic University,
UIN, Jakarta, and currently Director of its Graduate School)
Vice-Chair: Prof. Dr. Mitsuo Nakamura (Professor Emeritus, Chiba University.
Former Head of Study Group on Islam in Southeast Asia, Japan)
Prof. Dr. Muhadjir Effendy (Rector, Muhammadiyah University of Malang, UMM)
Prof. Dr. Ahmad Syafi’i Maarif (Professor, National University of Yogyakarta, UNY. Former Chairperson of Muhammadiyah),
Prof. Dr. Ahmad Syafi’i Maarif (Professor, National University of Yogyakarta, UNY. Former Chairperson of Muhammadiyah),
Prof. Dr. Amin Abdullah (Former Rector of State Islamic University, UIN, Yogyakarta)
Prof. Dr. Chamamah Suratno (Professor Emeritus, Gadjah Mada University,
UGM. Former Chairperson of ‘Aisyiyah)
Dr. Siti Syamsiyatun (Director of Center for International Religious and
Cross-cultural Studies, ICRCS, Gadjah Mada University, UGM)
Prof. Dr. James Peacock (Professor, University of North Carolina. Former
President, American Anthropological Association)
Prof. Dr. Robert Hefner (Professor, Director of Institute on Culture, Religion, and
World Affairs, Boston University)
Prof. Dr (HC). A. Malik Fadjar (Professor, State Islamic University, UIN, Jakarta.
Founding Rector of the University of Muhammadiyah Malang, UMM. Former
Minister of Department of Religious Affairs and Department of Education and
Culture, Government of Indonesia)
Prof. Dr. Bahtiar Effendy (Professor, State Islamic University, UIN, Jakarta)
8-2. Organizing Committee (OC) of ICM 2012 at UMM:
Prof. Dr. Muhadjir Effendy (Adviser, Rector of UMM)
Drs. Soeparto (Co-Chair, Head of International Relations Office, UMM)
Prof. Dr. Mitsuo Nakamura (Co-Chair, Professor Emeritus, Chiba University)
- History (two sessions): Modern History of Islam in Indonesia with Emphasis on the Early Period of Muhammadiyah Development
- Ethnography: Realities of the Muhammadiyah Movement in Local Context
- Education (two sessions): Challenges of Globalization, Multi-Culturalism and Universalism
- Philanthropy/Social Welfare/Social Business (two sessions): The working of LAZISMU, PKU, BMT, etc.
- Reformism Revisited: The Working of Majelis Tarjih/Tajdid and Interpretation/ Application of Syari’ah
- Women and Gender Equality
- Youth and Radicalism
- Domestic and International Politics: Democratization, the Challenge of Islamism, and World-wide Cooperation of Moderate Muslims
- Conflict Resolution and the Enhancement of Intra/Inter-Faith Solidarity
- The State of Art in Muhammadiyah Studies