P3M Online – Eleven students from Miami Dade College in Florida, United States recently visited Tabuireng Islamic Boarding School in Jombang, East Java to learn about Indonesian multiculturalism.
Meeting on Saturday with representatives from the Islamic boarding school, locally known as pesantren, the visiting students posed questions on relevant issues, such as diversity and gender equality, as reported by Antara news agency.
Enrique Sapulvedas, a student majoring in Politics, asked about the openness of the institution toward non-Muslims.
“Do you implement an open door policy for those with different religions?” Sapulvedas asked.
Fellow visiting student Joshua Elias, an International Relations major, asked about any existing national aspirations for the enforcement of Islamic sharia law in Indonesia.
Meanwhile, on observing the all-male representatives from the pesantren, Anthropology student Marie Geraldine Georges questioned whether women were able to hold an official role in the school.
To answer, Pesantren Tebuireng director Lukman Hakim began by noting that the school is open for cooperation with different ethnic and religious groups.
Among the staff at Hasyim Asyari University (Unhasy), he said, were a Hindhu official at the Quality Assurance Unit, as well as a Catholic lecturer in the Information Technology faculty.
Former Pesantren Tebuireng Social Foundation director Mohammad Asad meanwhile added that the school founder KH Hasyim Asyari was a figure who played an important role in integrating Islam and nationalism, which was apparent through his works in the spreading of the doctrine “Cinta Tanah Air adalah bagian dari iman” (Love of the Homeland is part of faith), as well as the Jihad Resolution fatwa on fighting against colonialism in 1945.
“If today there are still people who insist on imposing Islamic sharia law as the basis of the state, or insist on the establishment of a caliphate, then the person is inviting a reversion back 30 years,” Asad said.
Deputy Unhasy Rector Muhsin Kasmin contributed by adding that women have the same opportunities at the institution, as long as they have the required capabilities.
“One of the schools in Pesantren Tebuireng had previously been headed by a woman. The same opportunities are also available at Unhasy,” Muhsin said.
The group of students, led by professor Michael Leneghan, following the dialogue went on to visit the grave site of former Indonesian president KH Abdurrahman Wahid, popularly known as Gus Dur, which is located in the pesantren complex.
Previously, the pesantren also received visiting students from the King’s College in New York, where the group learned about the education system in Islam and the Islamic boarding schools system. (The Jakarta Post / KAN)