MUHAMMADIYAH.OR.ID, YOGYAKARTA – Robert W. Hefner, professor of anthropology at Boston University, highlighted intriguing developments in how the global community perceives Islam, Indonesian Muslims, and Islamic studies in recent two decades.
The world’s perceptions of Indonesian Muslims have shifted from being marginalized by Western and certain Muslim societies to being more appreciated for their intellectual and organizational contributions to Islam. This newfound acknowledgment also extends to the recognition of Indonesia’s rich Islamic heritage and intellectual traditions.
“Indonesia, with its majority Muslim population, boasts an outstanding intellectual heritage and flourishing Muslim mass organizations, ranked among the world’s best, especially in Islamic education,” said Hefner in the book launching ‘Filsuf Membumi dan Mencerahkan: Menyemai dan Menuai Legacy Pemikiran Amin Abdullah’ (Enlightening Modest Philosopher: Cultivating and Gaining the Legacy of Amin Abdullah’s Thoughts) conducted by the Muhammadiyah Council for Islamic Thought and Judgement on Friday (July 28).
Hefner lauded the exceptional quality of Islamic educational institutions, including Universitas Islam Negeri (UIN) and Muhammadiyah higher education institutions, which have earned global recognition and demonstrated competitiveness.
“The universities represents that Indonesia with predominant Muslims is not marginal or syncretic,” said Hefner.
“Over the past 15 years, as an anthropologist and a researcher, I have observed a fundamental change in the global perspective on Indonesian people. The shift can be noticed in Western countries like Turkey, Egypt, and Morocco whose universities offer Islamic Studies. They now recognize that Indonesian Muslim scholars are of exceptional quality and not inferior to scholars from other majority Muslim countries. In fact, there is a remarkable revival in their contributions,” mentioned Hefner.
According to Hefner, Muhammadiyah played a crucial role in redefining the perception of Indonesian Islam worldwide, primarily driven by its educational institutions and the significant contributions of intellectual figures like Prof. Amin Abdullah, who served as the Chair of Muhammadiyah Council for Islamic Thought and Judgement from 1995 to 2000.
Prof. Amin Abdullah’s remarkable contributions extend beyond revitalizing Islamic education and philosophical ideas, significantly impacting studies in Indonesia. He skillfully implemented these ideas by designing curricula emphasizing the integration of multidiscipline with the principles of maqashid syariah.
“I wholeheartedly support and deeply appreciate Muhammadiyah’s efforts, especially the remarkable contributions of Pak Amin Abdullah over the past 15 years. His reinterpretation of maqashid syariah, tracing its roots back over a thousand years to As-Syatibi, has enabled its effective application in both theoretical and practical aspects of Islamic higher education,” expressed Hefner.