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J. Asshiddiqie: Address to 32nd International Leadership Conference

Address to 32nd International Leadership Conference, Seoul, Korea, August 26–29, 2018


Peace, Development and the Role of Religious and Political Leaders

by Prof. Dr. Jimly Asshiddiqie, Chairman, Indonesian Community of Muslim Intellectuals (ICMI)

Salam ‘alaikum. Peace be upon you.

My dearest friends, respected leaders, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Firstly, I am deeply gratified to learn about the important roles played by the Universal Peace Federation (UPF), the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP), and the Interreligious Association for Peace and Development (IAPD) on many occasions, such as this conference. I also would like to express special appreciation to learn that UPF as a premier peace-building organization has put interfaith dialogue, respect and harmonious cooperation among the world’s faith and religious traditions at the core of its peace-building initiatives. As some of you may know, when Indonesia gained independence in 1945, the founding leaders of our nation enshrined equal respect and protection for all religions in the constitution. With over 87% Muslims among its population, they could have easily opted to make Islam the state religion, but they did not do that; rather, they chose to follow Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) example by respecting other faiths and protecting those with different beliefs. Islam stands for peace. Therefore, when the founder of UPF, Dr. Sun Myung Moon, proposed the creation of an Interreligious Council at the United Nations at the turn of the new millennium in the year 2000, his call was fully supported by the Indonesian mission at the UN. And I am proud to say that Indonesia was one of the sponsoring nations of the Resolution passed by the UN General Assembly on the “Promotion of Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, Understanding and Cooperation for Peace” (RES/60/L.11/Rev.2, December 2006).

Political leaders, governments and parliamentarians will greatly benefit from the wisdom and guidance given by the religious leaders. The purpose of religion is to help us become better human beings, overcoming egoism and self-centered desires, qualities so much needed for our leaders to become models and an inspiration to others. Religion also teaches us to love our enemies and turn them into friends, something that is not easy to do, but if we sincerely try to practise our respective religious tenets, we can find the foundation for peace and reconciliation even under the most difficult circumstances. Therefore, I applaud UPF for its many peace initiatives in the world’s most critical trouble spots like in the Middle East, Myanmar, and the Korean Peninsula. Let us all work together to reconcile our divided human family and build a world of lasting peace and happiness for all humankind.

Secondly, from listening to presentations from all the distinguished speakers, I believe we all share a similar understanding about today’s problem of world peace and religious tolerance. Most of the problems actually are related to the dynamic relation between religion and state politics. We are facing so many problems of conflict caused by religious intolerances everywhere in the world. Therefore we need new approaches in the understanding of the ideal relations between religions and politics.

From history, we can describe five modes of relationship between religion and politics which are still applied in different ways in many countries. First, religion and politics are integrated into practices in countries based on one religion, such as the Vatican, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc. The second is in communist countries, where religion is not recognized and its existence is prohibited, such as under the former eastern European countries, China, Cuba, etc. The third is the separation between church and state, as it has been practiced for a long time in western European countries, which is known as a hostile relationship between state and religion. The fourth is the mode of relations between state and religion as it is practised in the United States of America which is known to be a more friendly relationship between the two. The fifth is the mode of relations between religion and state as it is applied in Indonesia based on the philosophy of Pancasila, which recognizes as its first principle the Oneness of God, that is, the universal God belongs to every religious group in the country. The relationship between the state and religion in Indonesia is more than just friendly; it is also brotherly, fraternal. In Indonesia, the government has as its duty and interest to help and to strengthen all religious groups so that they can develop, educate and promote attitudes and behaviours of its respective believers in private life as well in public life that result in quality citizenship as the social capital of the country.

In short, ladies and gentlemen, the world today is facing serious peace problem caused by the unproductive relations between states and religions that the leaders of both have to work in partnership to overcome. Therefore, it is timely for us to consider having the world’s religious leaders convene together and talk with the world’s political or state leaders in a Summit Meeting, supported by the United Nations, to find ways in achieving a new mode, a more productive relationship between religion and the state power. By the improvement of the mode of relationship, I believe, the process of peace-building will be more effective for the happiness of all mankind. Thank you very much. Salam ‘alaikum. Peace be upon all of you.



To go to the 32nd International Leadership Conference Schedule page, click here.