Religious and Cross-cultural Study Programme and Peace and Conflict Resolution master’s programme of Universitas Gadjah Mada held a public lecture themed Learning from Imam and Reverend titled When Religion Brings Peace instead of War on Tuesday (10/10) in the University Club (UC) Hotel at Universitas Gadjah Mada.
The lecture was part of series of events of The Instutionalization of Interfaith Mediation, a cooperation between Centre for Religious and Democracy Studies of Paramadina (Jakarta), Interfaith Institution of Maluku (LAIM-Ambon), supported by Tanenbaum Foundation (US) and Yayasan Tifa (Jakarta). Resource persons of the lecture include Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Rev. James Wuye from Nigeria. Both Imam Ashafa and Rev. James are known as peace campaigners who earned the Tanenbaum peace award. James Wuye is former leader of a Christian youth militia in Kaduna, Nigeria, while Imam Ashafa is a pious Muslim brought up in traditionalist family. The Christian-Muslim conflict in Nigeria back in 1992 had killed his teacher and two cousins, which changed his life. Both persons were engaged in war between Christian and Muslim groups for years up to the time when they realised that the conflict had destroyed the lives of people in Kaduna. Both camps eventually reached a reconciliation.
Imam Ashafa and Rev. James are real examples of how peace can actually be made. Both were militia leaders that have now become religious leaders who spread peace. They both also encouraged transformation in the institutional level and brought values and initiative of peace from city, country, continent to the world. Both leaders built a centre for interfaith mediation in Nigeria, increased insight and skills of religious figures to manage conflict and expanded networking around the world.
Rev. James said in the general lecture that he had made a big mistake when dealing with the conflict by confrontation. He said this would only create fear among society. He further called the lecture attendants to maintain peace in Indonesia.
“You all live in a prosperous and secure country, so just don’t imagine to ever get involved in a war just like we had done before,” he said.
Imam Ashafa asked the participants to reflect on how religion is often brought in many conflicts around the world. One way to prevent conflict is by avoiding territorial separation based on religion. “Avoid interfaith comparison to find which is the most correct. For Muslims, we have to stick to principle of ‘To you be your religion and to me my religion’,” he said.
Lecturer in Peace and Conflict Resolution of UGM Graduate School, Diah Kusumaningrum, hoped the general lecture would give an example of how peace between religions can be established. She further hoped the programme would not only resolve conflict but also prevent a conflict from happening.