Contributor: Maarif Institute, Atia Adjani | Editor: Ari Stoltze
Buya Syafii Maarif (Prof. Dr. KH. Ahmad Syafii Maarif), known as the Guru Bangsa (Nation’s Teacher), passed away on Friday, May 27, 2022. Buya Syafii is not only known as a scholar and Guru Bangsa with a humanist personality, but also as a critical historian. His thoughts on Islamic, Indonesian, and humanitarian issues have paved the way for the intellectual growth of future generations of the nation.
To honor the memory of Buya Syafii Maarif, the MAARIF Institute collaborated with the Faculty of Social Sciences (FOSS) at the Indonesian International Islamic University (UIII) to host the 2nd Syafii Maarif Memorial Lecture (SMML). This year’s lecture theme was ‘Agama, Politik dan Hak Asasi Manusia: Refleksi atas Kontribusi Syafii Maarif pada Keberagaman Indonesia’ (Religion, Politics and Human Rights: Reflections on the Contribution of Syafii Maarif to Indonesian Pluralism).
With an attendance of 200 invited guests, the event commenced with remarks from Dr Rizal Sukma, the Chairman of the Ahmad Syafii Maarif Foundation, and Prof Dr Jamhari Makruf, the Vice-Rector for Research, Cooperation, and Community Engagement.
In his speech, Rizal Sukma emphasized the importance of not only honoring the memory of Buya Syafii each year, but urged us to diligently carry forward his (Buya Syafii) ideas and ideologies.
“Buya Syafii’s outward simplicity, egalitarian nature in social interactions, and profound knowledge make him a remarkable individual. His lifelong dedication and passion for Indonesia never wavered. In the current political context, Rizal highlights the importance of embracing Buya Syafii’s moral principles. Without the moral consciousness that Buya Syafii consistently promotes, politics loses its purpose and significance,” Rizal elaborated.
In his address, Jamhari highlighted Buya Syafii’s unwavering dedication to the betterment of the people and his country.
“Buya is someone who always pays attention to the condition of the nation he loves,” says Jamhari. According to him, Buya maintained this attitude with all his heart and mind until the end of his life.
“Buya embodies an inclusive, pluralistic, and moralistic Muslim philosophy. Given his intellectual prowess and inclusive approach, it comes as no surprise that Buya Safii’s ideas transcend territorial boundaries. This not only characterizes Buya as a Muslim thinker but also highlights him as an admirable beacon for the next generation.” Jamhari pointed out.
“The purpose of this Memorial Lecture is to stress that our legacy from Buya Syafii is not confined to his intellectual contributions. We are also continuing and mirroring his modest lifestyle”, Jamhari concluded.
At this occasion, Prof. Dr. Greg Fealy, a distinguished Political Historian from Australian National University (ANU), was invited by the MAARIF Institute to give a cultural speech that paid tribute to the anniversary of Buya Syafii’s passing. M. Rifqi Muna moderated the event.
Greg began his presentation by stating that, despite not knowing Buya Syafii closely, he had attentively followed Buya’s career, particularly during significant moments in the public life of Indonesian society when religious and political issues were being debated.
In Greg’s perspective, Buya Syafii was not only an intellectual but also a former journalist who recognized the power of well-written media, combining clear language and strong metaphors. Greg further added that Buya didn’t wish to be just another columnist writing pleasant and somewhat stirring opinions. Instead, he aimed to grab his readers attention, provoke them, and stimulate their thought process.
Furthermore, Greg portrayed Buya Syafii as a person who consistently applied his principles, demonstrated great systematic and diligent intellectualism, and passionately criticized political and religious leaders involved in wrongdoing. Indonesia, as well as every country, needs a figure like Buya Syafii, who serves as a beacon of ethical resilience, personal humility, and unwavering strength in the face of immense challenges.
"We cherish and honor the legacy of Pak Syafii, as well as his numerous contributions aimed at making Indonesia and the world a better place,” he elaborated.
The event commenced with a Betawi dance performance by students from Muhammadiyah University Prof Dr Hamka, followed by a recitation of the poem “Muadzin Bangsa” (Nation’s Muezzin) by the poet Gaus AF.
This article was previously published on the Maarif Institute website, and this is a translated version.