Seizing the Moment for Reinventing Muslim Civilization: Opening Remarks

Prof. Dr. Komaruddin Hidayat
Rector of Indonesian International Islamic University

Distinguished guests and scholars,
Professor Mohamed Abouzaid Alamir from Egypt,
Professor Mohammad al-Rougi and Professor Mohamed Adiouane from Morocco,
Professor Moncef ben Abdeljalil from Tunisia,
Professor James Piscatori from Australia,
Professor Abdullah Sahin from England,
Professor Philip Buckley from Canada,
Professor Arskal Salim, from Indonesia,
And all my dear friends from the Ministry of Religious Affairs and from IIIU Taskforce.

Assalamu’alaikum Wr. Wb.,

Alhamdulillah, alhamdulillahi rabbil ‘alamin, washshalatu wassalamu ‘ala rasulillah, khatamal anbiya’i wa al-mursalin, sayyidina wa maulana Muhammadin, wa ‘ala alihi wa shahbihi ajma’in.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure and honor to welcome you today to this Expert Meeting, which brings together scholars from different countries and expertise. Ahlan wa sahlan bihudurikum. That many of you have traveled long distances to get to this place, only signals just how special you are to us, having accepted our invitation to this important meeting.

The theme of this meeting is Seizing the Moment for Reinventing Muslim Civilization. While the theme seems ambitious, this special event wants to achieve various practical things. A glance observation at the list of presentations, I find it special because of the issues and the speakers. The issues are crucial and the professors are notable individuals from advanced international universities. They will share best practices and experiences they have; such as how to develop institutions and put good governance in place, to boost research, and to enhance financing, curriculum and academic reputation.

From this meeting, the IIIU’s stake holders will listen, contemplate, learn and implement. I believe this conference will provide thoughtful and useful contribution to the academic and institutional development of this recently established campus; Indonesian International Islamic University (IIIU).

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, why did we decide to build university, rather than, for instance, building political party or etc.? This is because we believe that Indonesia has the potentials to be the home for such intellectual project, and to be the center of knowledge, research, culture and civilization.

As one of the world's great plural societies, with Muslims as vast majority, Indonesia has the reputation of being able to cope with diversity, democracy and modernity. Indonesia has authentic history of peaceful co-existence of various beliefs and traditions, shaping a multicultural society, which is inclusive rather than exclusive; connected rather than isolated; and tolerant rather than violent. This multicultural co-existence is possible because recognition and affirmation of cultural diversity is firmly upheld. This social-setting gives rise to the hope that Indonesia’s democracy will sustain.

Indonesia can share its experience with other nations. Similarly, Indonesia must listen and learn from other nations. Indeed, we are proud of this peaceful reality of diversity, and grateful for God Almighty’s blessing. We think that we have the tasks to preserve and sustain this instrumental social capital.

We learn from this social setting and seek to achieve our goals by means of developing IIIU as a unified three pillars system. The first pillar is Graduate University whose task is to provide a broad range of scientific fields of graduate schools with various academic programs. The second pillar is Research Centers with specific expertise to respond to strategic issues and challenges related Muslim societies worldwide. And the the third pillar is Cultural Centers, whose mission is to study, preserve, and promote Islamic culture and civilization, including Indonesia’s rich and diverse ones, aiming to perpetuate Muslim heritage.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen! Before I end my speech, again, I would like to express my gratitude, from the bottom of my heart, for your time, insights and contribution. I hope you will come back to IIIU some years from now and reflect on what you have contributed to developing this campus. From this stage I would like to inform you that IIIU is established with the continuous and strong supports from Jokowi-JK administration, especially from the Office of Vice President, Indonesian Broadcasting Agency (RRI), Ministry of Religious Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of State Secretary, Ministry of Public Works and Housing (PUPR), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Research and Higher Education, Ministry of Agrarian and Spatial Planning, the province government of West Java, the city government of Depok, UIN Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta and many other parties I cannot mention one by one, with all due respect.

And last but not least, it is with great sadness that I learned from the recent death of Professor Bahtiar Effendy. He was a high respected leader in our academic community, someone who will always be remembered, one of the initiators of the IIIU establishment as a new university in Indonesia. His impact on the field of political science, especially on religion and the State will continue to be felt many years from now.

This meeting could not have been possible without Prof. Bahtiar’s remarkable insights and contribution.

As a lasting legacy, I can think of no better tribute for a scholar.

Prof. Dr. Komaruddin Hidayat

Rector of the Indonesian International Islamic University