Last night Professor Yudian Wahyudi
spoke of the long and tortured relationship between Islamic law, or Shari'a, and secular conceptions of the state in Indonesia, which has come into the spotlight in the age of Islamic terrorism.
Indonesia has one of the largest Muslim populations in the world, but it is not officially an Islamic state.
"Indonesia will become the most Democratic state in the Islamic world" if the current balance between Islam, secularism, and democracy continues, Wahyudi
lecture by recounting the history of Indonesia's relatively recent existence as a republic- the country came out from Japanese occupation at the end of World War II.Previously, it was under Dutch rule.
"Indonesia would not have gotten its dependence from Japan if the United States had not dropped atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki," Wahyudi
Indonesia's government became secularized, but Wahyudi
said contention between nationalists and Muslims did not end until 1946 with the Jakarta Charter.The charter held that the state was based on belief in one God and required Muslims to follow Shari'a but gave national independence precedence.
Muslim leaders later soured on the compromise, since many thought it had not been intended as a permanent, and remains divisive to this day.
Now, "most Indonesians would describe Indonesia as neither secular nor religious," Wahyudi
said.Though the majority of Indonesians are Muslims, approximately sixty religious groups scatter the population.
And though religious courts held the same authority as general and military courts from 1970 to 1999, Sukarno assured that they upheld the civil rights of men and women of all religions.Uncommonly, Muslim women are allowed to be judges in Islamic courts. Wahyudi
said there are at least 15 state institutes of Islamic Studies in Indonesia, and since 2002, graduates of these institutes can practice law in state courts.This recent constitutional change has endured radical Islamic attempts to reinstate principles of the 1946 Jakarta Charter.
During the question and answer session, when asked what role Indonesia would play in the continuing "war on terror," Wahyudi
said this was "a difficult question to answer, not only for me, but for the Indonesian
"The government has taken steps [to combat terrorism]," he
said.Many Indonesians complain their government has unfairly imprisoned some Muslims to appease President Bush.On the other hand, Wahyudi
said the Indonesian government did not thoroughly investigate the 2002 Bali bombing. Wahyudi
said the government may have held back investigations because it feared catching the perpetrators would force them to challenge some of the former leaders of Indonesia who had supported radical Muslim groups in the past.Wahyudi received his PhD at the Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill University in 2002.He worked in Harvard's Islamic legal studies program before becoming a professor at Tufts.
In the spring, he
will teach "Introduction to Islamic Law" and "Introduction to Sufism."
Last night's talk was part of the "Goddard Chapel Celebrity Series."Wahyudi was introduced by Reverend David O'Leary and Associate Professor Joseph Walser.