Dialoging Interfaith Dialogue

For the past two months of this semester, the students of CRCS were busy having two field trips. On February 12-13, they together with Prof. Dr. Irwan Abdullah and Dr. Mark Woodward conducted a mini-research project in Klaten. The research focused mainly to the Yaqowiyyu Celebrations in Jatinom, a small village in Klaten. The project was part of their class in Research Methodology of Religion and in Indigenous Religion & Society. The last field trip that they did is dialoging interfaith dialogue in Salatiga? as also part of another course.

On March 14, the students had a productive field trip to Salatiga along with their professors (Prof. Banawiratma and Dr. Fatimah Husein ) for their ‘Inter-religious Dialogue’ class. The class visited two institutions that promote interfaith dialogue which are Percik and Sekolah Alternatif Qarryah Tayyibah (Alternative Junior and Senior High School). The objective of the trip was for the students to reflect to and compare theoretical experiences to actual practice as far as inter-religious dialogue is concerned. Percik is a non-governmental organization which holds interfaith dialogue as one of their programs. The organization had a network with other organizations or institutions that have the same program or purpose with them. Through networking, the organization has built a kind of collaborative program besides its own program. Based on their explanation regarding its interfaith program, they started it by raising the discourse of pluralism and interfaith dialogue to the community. The organization?s kind of interfaith dialogue is not confined with purely religions or in religious terms but it also advocates issues on politics, economy, society and culture etc.

On the other hand, the interfaith dialogue practiced at Sekolah Alternatif Qarryah Tayyibah is different from that at Percik. As a community-based academic institution, the interfaith dialogue exercised in the school starts with democracy in their educational system; the school also promotes educational liberation. The school has been criticizing the educational system of Indonesia which for them prioritizes more on school fees, administrative requirements and examinations. They also criticize the student learning process which is that of following what the school or teacher says to the students. Here, the term ?teacher? is not used, they would rather use the term ?friend? to refer to the person helping and assisting the students of what they want to learn. The students decide for the curriculum of the school. The students are given the freedom to know what they want to learn as long as they will be held responsible for it, as long as it does not break any laws or rules of the society and harm life. When a student finds a subject that interests him/her or that which supports some needs of the community, he/she looks for a person in the school who could facilitate him/her with information and skill according to his/her needs. Proudly to say, some of the students have already authored books and written drama scripts, produced films, some have even created their own information technology. The school has been long accommodating guests here and abroad, religious and non-religious; and guests learned a great deal of new experiences from them. This is done to build and maintain interfaith dialogue.

For the CRCS students, the visit gave them a great deal of new insights and perspective in life. What is engraved in their minds is the question ?Can they, if not equal, do far better than the two organizations? Or at least express or promote the same spirit academically or practically??


This post is also available in: Indonesian


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