An international group of Jesuits recently gathered in Indonesia to learn more about Islam, diversity and interreligious tolerance in the country with the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation. Twelve Jesuit priests from Germany, France, Nigeria, Turkey, India, Spain, Italy and Indonesia held a series of session on Aug. 10 at Tebuireng Islamic Boarding School in Jombang, East Java.
"The gathering is part of regular meetings among priest who join the Jesuits Among Muslims (JAM) programme and this year Indonesia is the host," said the group leader Father Franz Magnis Suseno, a Dutch-born Indonesian Jesuit who teaches philosophy and is noted for his initiatives in inter-religious dialogue.
Interacting with students
Abdul Ghofar, the boarding school secretary said the Jesuits talked with students at the school to learn more about their life experiences and what their faith means to them. When asked whether a non-Muslim could be enrolled at the school, Gofar said they do have non-Muslims studying there.
Jesuit Father Ignatius Ismartono, one of the group members, said that through this encounter, participants also learned about Nahdlatul Ulema, Indonesia’s largest moderate Islamic organization. "We study about how Nahdlatul Ulema goes about living in harmony with others who are non-believers," he told UCANEWS.
The Tebuireng Islamic School, that today has more than 7,000 students, was founded in 1899 by Hasyim Asya’ri, a moderate Muslim leader belonging to the Nahdlatul Ulema.
After the visit, the priests visited the grave of Abdurrahman Wahid or Gus Dur, Indonesia’s fourth president, and a former NU leader. (Source: UCANEWS)