UIII and University of Edinburgh Address Issues on Global Muslim Mobilities

March 16, 2023

Contributor: Kante Hamed  |  Editor: Supriyono

As part of the realization of the Going Global Partnership, the International Islamic University of Indonesia (UIII) and the Alwaleed Centre at the University of Edinburgh co-hosted an online panel discussion on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, aimed at addressing issues on the global Muslim mobilities.

Held exclusively via Zoom, the panel was chaired by Dr. Siti Sarah Muwahidah, an Alwaleed Early Career Teaching and Research Fellow on Contemporary Muslim Societies in Southeast Asia, who is also a visiting scholar at the Faculty of Islamic Studies at UIII.

The panel addressed various approaches to analyzing transnationalism, migration, and global interconnectivity in the globalized Muslim world and how they intersect with issues such as authorities, orthodoxies, identities, nationalities, gender, and social class.

Dr. Syamsul Rijal, the UIII’s head of Ph.D. in Islamic Studies program, was among the speakers at the discussion, along with Dr. Sayed Mahdi Mosawi and Dr. Mira Al Hussain both from Alwaleed Centre. Meanwhile, Dr. Kholoud Al Ajarma—also an Alwaleed scholar—took part as the discussant.

Spoke first in the discussion, Dr. Sayed Mahdi Mosawi presented the findings of his research titled “Refugees and Politics of Othering: Living Afghan Identity in Iran". In this regard, Afghan refugees make up one of the largest refugee groups in the world, and Iran has played a significant role in hosting them since the 1970s. 

Dr. Mosawi explained that the identities and organizations of refugees are flexible, and his research addressed the process by which immigrants managed their sense of identity and sense of community when they settled, focusing on the second generation of Afghans in Mashhad, a place of religious pilgrimage in northeast Iran.

“The identity and belonging of the refugee are a multiplex and shifting subject, and are uniquely built-in for negotiation and contestation with the identity politics of the host society," Dr. Mosawi explained.

Meanwhile, Dr. Syamsul Rijal of UIII presented a topic of "Diasporic Connections and Cultural-Religious Revival Among Indonesian Hadhramis" which as the title hinted, focused on the Hadhramis group (natives of South Arabia) in Indonesia.

Albeit Hadhramis have assimilated into Indonesian society, Dr. Rijal claimed that Hadhramaut is still highlighted in Islamic proselytizing efforts as the center of Islamic authority and piety. Moreover, Indonesian Hadhramis remains strengthening their influence within Indonesian Muslim traditions and preserving their culture.

“Hadhrami Sayyids are reviving their heritage in Indonesia due to religious contestation and religious identity crises," Dr. Rijal said.

In contrast with the first two speakers, Dr. Mira Al Hussain—as the third speaker—focused more on the western context. She addressed the question “Why Do Gulf Nationals Go to Europe? A Recent Development Among Khaleeji Emigres”. Her presentation illuminated the aspects of this newly emergent phenomenon and inverted the scholarly gaze toward new trajectories of "anticipatory migration".

"Gulf nationals are increasingly relocating to Europe, a phenomenon that is unique and subverts accepted theories of south-to-north migration,” argued Dr. Hussain, whose presentation fetched engaging responses from the audience.

Concluding the three presentations, Dr. Kholoud Al Ajarma—as the discussant—gave brief remarks on each presenter. Her comments lingered on the speakers' methodologies and research limitations whilst addressing some constructive criticism.

The discussion marks the joint effort in academic collaboration between UIII and the Alwaleed Centre at the University of Edinburgh, highlighting the importance of critical dialogue between scholars to seek novel approaches to research the Muslim world, specifically on the worldwide interconnectedness of globalized Muslim communities.