Hundreds of International Scholars Gather in Semarang, Redefining the Role of Religion in Addressing the Global Crisis – STIT Almarhalah Al Ulya

Hundreds of International Scholars Gather in Semarang, Redefining the Role of Religion in Addressing the Global Crisis

Hundreds of scholars from both Indonesia and foreign countries are to meet in Semarang for the 23rd Annual International Conference on Islamic Studies (AICIS). This annual event is organized by the Directorate General of Islamic Education Ministry of Religious Affairs and will take place at the State Islamic University (UIN) Walisongo, on February 1–4, 2024.

In addition, a number of religious leaders from various countries will be present too. They will discuss the various contemporary issues within the framework of the theme ‘Redefining the Roles of Religion in Addressing Human Crisis: Encountering Peace, Justice, and Human Rights Issues’.

The committee selected 328 papers out of 1,957 articles sent by prospective conference participants. The authors come from 10 countries, such as Afghanistan, Armenia, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. There are three categories for these papers: Invited Papers (80), Open Panel (100), and Extended Panel (148).

“This time, AICIS aims to redefine the role of religion, especially Islam, in facing contemporary humanitarian challenges on the global stage,” explained Special Staff to the Minister of Religion for Media and Public Communication Wibowo Prasetyo in Jakarta, Monday (29/1/2024).
“This event coincides with the International Day of Human Fraternity which has been established by the UN since 2020 to be celebrated every February 4,” he said.

The International Human Fraternity Day commemorates the signing of the Human Fraternity Document for World Peace and Coexistence on February 4, 2019, by Grand Sheikh Al Azhar Ahmed Al Tayeb and the Leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis. As a follow-up,  the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity was established.

“Praise be to God, this year NU and Muhammadiyah have been named recipients of the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity,” said Wibowo.

As for AICIS 2024, Wibowo explained that there are seven issues or sub-themes that will be discussed, namely: 1) Religion, Nationalism and Citizenship in Southeast Asia; 2) The Impact of International Religious Issues and Tensions on Nationalism, Citizenship and Human Rights; 3) Crisis of Equality, Justice and Humanity; 4) Global Religious and Humanitarian Tensions; 5) Gender, Spirituality and Minority Issues; 6) Siyasah Fiqh on War and Peace: Post-Colonial; and 7) Policies based on Maslahah Murlah, Equality and Empowerment.

“The big issue is the role of religion in strengthening nationalism, responding to the crisis of justice and equality, gender issues, and the benefit of the people, including those related to the climate crisis,” explained Wibowo.

The Director of Islamic Higher Education, Ahmad Zainul Hamdi, further informs that there are 25 panel sessions prepared by the committee to discuss such issues. A number of scholars are scheduled to attend and share their ideas.

They are Dr. (HC). K.H Yahya Cholil Staquf (Nadhlatul Ulama Central Board), Prof. Dr. Ismail Fajrie Alatas (New York University), Prof. Rahimin Afandi bin Abdul Rahim (University of Malaya), Prof. Dr. Claudia Saise (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin), Prof. Dr. Dora Marinova (Curtin University, Australia), Prof. Dr. Abdul Djamil, MA (State Islamic University Walisongo Semarang, Indonesia), Prof. Dr. Kamaruzaman (Asian Muslim Action Network), Prof. Dr. Hassanein Al-Saeed Hassanein Ahmed (Suez Canal University, Egypt), Prof. Madya Dr. Kamaluddin Nurdin Marjuni (Sultan Sharif Ali Islamic University of Brunei Darussalam), Assistant Professor Dr. Jassim Mohammed Harjan (University of Baghdad, Iraq), Fazlur Rahman bin Kamsani (Middle East Institute National University of Singapore), and Dr. Fatma Mohamed Mansour (Suez Canal University)

Religious Leaders Summit
Different from last year’s event, AICIS 2024 will organise a religious leaders summit. A total of 14 religious leaders from various countries have confirmed their attendance, namely KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf (Indonesia), Chairman of PP Muhammadiyah (Indonesia), Prof. Philip Kuntjoro Widjaja (Indonesia), Major General TNI (Ret.) Wisnu Bawa Tenaya, S.I.P. (Indonesia), Venerable Dr. Vanh Keobundit (Laos), Venerable Dr. Yon Seng Yeath (Cambodia), Mr. Bounthavy Phonethasin (Laos), YB Datuk Dr. Hasan bin Bahrom (Malaysia), Phra Dr. Anilman Dhammasakiyo (Thailand), Rev. Gomar Gultom (Indonesia), Father Hery Wibowo (Indonesia), Ws. Andi Gunawan, ST (Indonesia), Dr. A. Elga J. Sarapung (Indonesia), and Bishop Pablo Virgilio Siongco David (Philippines).

“They will take part in discussing solutions to a series of contemporary problems from a religious perspective. This is in line with COP28 in Dubai at the end of 2023, which will also begin to involve religious figures in discussing the climate crisis,” said Ahmad Zainul Hamdi, who is also familiarly called Inung.

The meeting will be an opportunity to share perspectives and insights based on their experience in responding to humanitarian and peace issues. “The results of the religious leaders’ discussions will be put in the Semarang Charter,” he explained.

Islamic Civilization Exhibition
Some other events will also enliven AICIS 2024. First, the Islamic Culture and Civilization Expo or exhibition of Islamic culture and civilization. AICIS visitors will be invited to witness the heritage of civilization through ancient artefacts and manuscripts in an interesting interactive display.
“Discover the stunning beauty of Islamic art and architecture, from intricate calligraphy and stunning geometric patterns to magnificent mosques and stunning palaces. This is the world of Islamic literature and philosophy,” said Inung.
Second, Islamic Higher Education Expo and Journal Clinique. This event will showcase various academic works from numerous prestigious Islamic universities and institutions in Indonesia and other countries. The Journal Clinic will help the scholars improve the quality of research and academic writing skills.

“This includes increasing the chances of successful publication in reputable journals with expert guidance and support,” said Inung.
Third, cultural tourism to the Old City of Semarang to explore the atmosphere of colonial-era heritage in the form of the architectural splendour of buildings decorated with European influences. “The committee will also provide the opportunity to enter the historic Blenduk Church, a Catholic building that continues to serve its congregation to this day,” explained Ahmad Inung.
Lastly, there will be Semarang Halal Food Festival. Organized by local culinary entrepreneurs, this festival will feature a wide range of halal menus from various regions.
“There will be a durian party during the exhibition,” he said.


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