A delegation of university representatives from Indonesia visited Bayan Claremont on Friday to discuss the topic of inter-religious studies and how education can help teach spiritual leaders to think beyond their place of workshop and make significant contributions to community.
Bulkani Haman, Rector of Muhamahiyah University of Palangkaraya; Siti Rifai, a lecturer and researcher at Raja Ali Haji Maritime University; and Dr. I Gusti Ngurah, Rector of Mahendradatta University Bali, Denpasar, met with Claremont Lincoln Founding Board Member Jihad Turk, who is also President-Designate of Bayan Claremont.
The group discussed both similarities and striking differences between religious studies in Indonesia and the United States, noting that Americans tend to take a more integrated approach to faith practices.
Rifai was “shocked” to see Muslim women in America not wearing a hijab. “In Indonesia, all women wear one,” she said.
“In the U.S., we have an American Muslim identity,” Turk explained, adding that the concept of freedom among American Muslims extends to the way they practice their religion, speak out on matters of civic interest and feel patriotism and pride in being a part of a nation that extends people the right to do both.
He also discussed the importance of interreligious education in preparing thought leaders to adapt to a changing society. “We’re trying to create a new generation of leaders who can be relevant to society, who address the needs of the community and do so in conjunction with people from other religions.”
The delegation’s visit was part of a tour set up by the U.S. State Department, and included visits to Washington, D.C., New York and Pensacola, Fla. Members said they hoped to extend an invitation to Turk to visit Indonesia as well, in order to continue the exchange of ideas between their respective universities.