Sharing Session on Indonesian Model of Religious Moderation and Democracy



ISLAMABAD: The Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Islamabad, in collaboration with the International Research Council for Religious Affairs (IRCRA), organized a significant experience-sharing session on 23 January 2024, titled “Memories from Indonesia: Reflections on the Indonesian Model of Religious Moderation and Democracy,” at the National Book Foundation (NBF) in Islamabad where the Indonesian Corner has been established last November 2023.

As speakers of the Session were Pakistani Ulemas, Scholars, Academics, Activists, and Politicians, who have visited Indonesia last December 2023 to interact with their counterparts in Jakarta and Bandung, and to closely witness the practices of religious moderation and democracy in the Country. This Session was expected to make the results of the visit more impactful for broader Pakistani public as well as to bring Pakistan and Indonesia closer as the two brotherly Muslim countries. 

“In the wake of current global challenges, both Indonesia and Pakistan need concerted efforts to share best practices to promote tolerance, moderation, gender equalities, and to ensure positive contribution of individuals in the political democratic system,” said the Indonesian Chargé d’Affaires, H.E. Mr. Yusran Hardromi in his welcoming remarks.

During the session, delegates shared their perspectives and comments on current Indonesia, emphasizing the strategic roles in nation building played by the two largest Indonesian Muslim organizations, namely Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, as well as the critical contribution by Indonesian female ulemas in advancing gender equality. In addition, the democracy in Indonesia was also their attention as the Indonesians are currently preparing the general elections next February 2024.

“The religion should be a source of goodness, and different opinions of scholars of Fiqh are not meant to create divisions but provides new ways to the people according to the needs and priorities of their societies,” explained Mr. Khurshid Nadeem, Chairman of Rahmatul-Lil-Alameen Wa Khatamun Nabiyyin Authority.

Pakistani prominent Politician, Barrister Zafarullah Khan also shared his views during his visit to Indonesia, “The inclusion of minorities even Ahmadis in political and social progress is allowed in Indonesia. There is no distinction on gender basis in the Country and their religious ulemas and scholars are well educated and interpret religion as mercy (rahmat) for all mankind with element of universality and gender justice.”

In line with two previous speakers, Ms. Beenish Irfan Khan, an Activist in gender inclusion and women’s rights in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province emphasized the Indonesian women’s independence and active roles in politics and society, underscoring the acceptance of other faiths as a notable element of Indonesia. While Mr. Malik Habib Orakzai, Chairman of Pakistan International Human Rights Organization (PIHRO) shared his experiences of democracy in Indonesia, highlighting the country’s notable tolerance that has allowed democracy to flourish by accommodating all parties.

Chief Guest, Chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology, Dr. Qibla Ayaz, noted that Indonesia’s approach to tolerance has evolved into appreciation, respect, and acceptance of other faiths and cultures. Dr. Ayaz added that Indonesian religious harmony, moderation and role of their two big Muslim organizations could be good learning experience for all. “We can learn from Indonesia’s journey”, he concluded his keynote speech.

Previously, Mr. Muhammad Israr Madani, President of IRCRA, emphasized the significance of religious diplomacy and called for increased interaction between religious academics and ulemas of Indonesia and Pakistan. He highlighted the unique approach and philosophy of Indonesia’s mosque and madrasah system, emphasizing their focus on societal betterment rather than politics.

Dr. Raja Mazhar Hameed, Managing Director of NBF, appreciated efforts in organizing such inclusive informative event. He said that the Indonesian Corner in NBF was reflection of growing friendly ties and cooperation between the two nations and would create more awareness about Indonesia among Pakistani people.