IRCICA cooperated with the Ministry of Religious Affairs of Indonesia and UIN Maulana Malik Ibrahim State Islamic University, Malang, to organize the “International Symposium on Religious Literature and Heritage” on the theme “Religious Cultural Heritage and Literature in Facing Global Challenges”. The symposium was held on 30 November – 2 December 2021 in hybrid format, in Malang and online through videoconferencing. The Ministry of Religious Affairs of Indonesia conducted the symposium through the Center for Research and Development for Literature, Religious Treasures and Organization Management of the Ministry’s Research and Development and Training Agency.
The Chancellor of UIN Maulana Malik Ibrahim State Islamic University Prof. M. Zainuddin gave a welcoming address, thanking the participants for their interest and expressed the hope that the symposium will be beneficial for the whole world.
IRCICA Director General Ambassador Prof. Dr. Mahmud Erol Kılıç underlined, in his opening address, the significance of religious literature and heritage for all peoples, past and present. The Director General pointed out religious literature has provided the most needed spiritual, intellectual and moral refuge to peoples during good and hard times in their histories. Religious literature also assumes a crucial function in regulating human relations at communal, national and international levels. For all these considerations, said the Director General, the heritage and development processes of religious literature never failed to draw academic interest. The subject is also incorporated into the mandate of IRCICA. Prof. Kılıç then outlined the projects carried out by IRCICA to study and promote religious literature including the studies on the manuscript copies and translations of the Holy Quran in world languages, the digitization and restoration projects relating to the collections of historical manuscripts in the OIC Member States, and the editions of the classical works of the great scientists and philosophers of the Muslim world.
In his opening words, the Head of the Research and Development and Training Agency of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Prof. Achmad Gunaryo said that “With the current global disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic, discussions about religious and cultural heritage — especially those related to ancient ways of dealing with similar challenges — find momentum”. Prof. Gunaryo gave examples of his Agency’s projects that are connected to the symposium theme such as disaster mitigation based on scriptures, assessment of religious education books, and publication of the Heritage journal. He expressed this symposium will be the beginning of a sustainable academic collaboration, adding, “We are fortunate to partner with IRCICA, whose interest and commitment to religious arts and culture are exceptional. We welcome colleagues from IRCICA to conduct studies or publish the results together”.
Mr. Mahmud Syaltout, expert at the Ministry of Religious Affairs, addressed the opening session on behalf of the Minister of Religious Affairs of Indonesia Mr. Yaqut Cholil Qoumas. Underlining the tripartite international cooperation between the Ministry, the University and IRCICA, he expressed the hope that there will be further cooperation between the Ministry of Religious Affairs and IRCICA regarding research and publications. Recalling that currently the world is experiencing the problem of global warming and the destruction of the environment by humans, he said that norms, values, and religious beliefs can be a solution to these problems. Mr. Syaltout pointed out that “Religion should be a great inspiration, not just an aspiration. … Religion must be higher than worldly affairs. The way to respect religion is to use it as an inspiration to respect others. … So the more religious we are, the more solidarity we have with humanity.” Prof. Dr. Arskal Salim, Head of the Center for Research and Development for Literature, Religious Treasures and Organization Management, said, in his address, that they were privileged to be cooperating with IRCICA.
Prof. Arskal Salim expressed the hope that this event would be a beginning for further academic collaboration, in addition to being an opportunity of knowledge and experience sharing. He elaborated upon the theme of the symposium, namely the significance of religious literature and heritage in facing global challenges.
A total of 88 papers were presented in parallel sessions arranged under the following seven sub-themes: Religious Literature and Oral Traditions Across the Muslim World: Research and Teaching; Religious Literary Heritage: Preservation, Promotion and Digitization; Epidemics and Disasters in Islamic History: Experiences, Studies, Lessons Learned; Management and Preservation of Cultural Heritage in Post Disaster Recovery Processes; Traditional Medication and Popular Wisdom in Facing Global Challenges; The Role of Cultural and Religious Heritage in Enhancing Interfaith Harmony; Religious Literature and the Challenges of Radicalism.
The symposium was attended online by speakers from The Netherlands, Nigeria, Sudan, Turkey, U.S.A. and Uzbekistan, with online and offline participation from Indonesia. It is noteworthy that the comprehensive scope of the symposium theme achieved its desired outcome of receiving region-specific papers highlighting the written and other sources of religious and traditional knowledge and the various uses and functions of knowledge in different cultural and geographical contexts.
The papers of the symposium will be published by the co-organizers in books and journals.