A Rendezvous Between Turkey and Indonesia: Trajectory in Scientific Development

24 January 2023

Written by Athanasia Safitri

Following the visit made by University of Gadjah Mada Rector Prof. Dr. Ova Emilia, M.Med.Ed., Sp.OG(K)., Ph.D. to Kirikkale University in Turkey on 4-6 July 2022, a team from Kirikkale repaid the visit to UGM accompanied by the son of the President of Turkey, Necmettin Bilal Erdogan and the delegation from Prof. Fuat Sezgin Research Foundation for the History of Science in Islam, on 20 December 2022. The visit was not only to continue mutual cooperation in education and research programs between these institutions but also to give a public lecture entitled “Scientific Development: Past, Present, and Future Trajectories”. The signing of an MOU for collaboration on education, technology, and communication service in Islamic and religious studies was completed by UGM Rector Prof. dr. Ova Emilia, Kirikkale University Rector Prof. Dr. Ersan Aslan, and President of the Board of Directors for Prof. Fuat Sezgin Research Foundation for the History of Science in Islam Mecit Çetinkaya. The event was also attended by academic scholars, lecturers, Director of ICRS Dr. Zainal Abidin Bagir, Director of CRCS Dr. Samsul Maarif, and Prof. Dr. Siti Ruhaini Dzuhayatin from UIN Sunan Kalijaga. Dr. Dicky Sofjan of ICRS UGM also delivered a lecture as part of the occasion.

Emilia in her opening speech stated that the collaboration between Turkey and Indonesia has existed since the 12th century upon the spreading of Islamic teaching to Indonesia from the Turkish Muslim scholars. The countries’ positions and relations in the G20 have further created a strong bond in economy and trades. She continued that this new cooperation will hopefully invite the modern technology that Turkey has to Indonesia through several scholarship and economic industrial programs between the two countries. The meeting of the educational institutions will allow Indonesian scholars to learn from Turkish science and technology, let alone further discussion for any future collaborations. She encouraged concrete actions initiated in the educational field to bring about positive impacts in joint research and publications, as well as community service to people.

Legacy of the Turkish Scholar

Erdogan expressed his hope that collaboration between universities and other educational centers in Turkey and Indonesia, especially in Yogyakarta, can create more interaction for both countries. In his public lecture, he mentioned how the partnership must be of benefit for the two countries, following the collaboration of UGM with Prof. Fuat Sezgin Research Foundation for the History of Science in Islam. The foundation was established more than ten years ago to spread the legacy of Turkey’s greatest historian of science of the world, Prof. Fuat Sezgin, who dedicated 65 of 94 years of his life to research in the field of the history of Islamic science. The past helps Turkey to strive for modernization in science and technology in the present. This is in hopes that it may change the course of the nation’s future in order to create a world legacy for all studies.

The main purpose of the research foundation is to provide a greater understanding of the scientific legacy as well as cultural technology and Islamic civilization to the world. Erdogan is convinced that Islamic teachings could be more developed and help shape a better direction for the new generation in the future. He expected that collaboration could strengthen the process of research and technology development for all parties, in relation with Islamic and religious studies. The foundation focuses on the study of scriptures referring to the Islamic literature in 25 languages and conveys the message for the young generation that no single religion can ever define any development. Erdogan emphasised that regardless of how significant a religious development affects the world, it does not mean the religion can be more powerful than the others. All religious people must work together and learn both from the successes and the downfalls.

Following the talk by Erdogan, Çetinkaya and Aslan through their speeches elaborated on the role of many Turkish scholars who outlined Islam civilization in bringing ahead the continuity of technology. The latter even invited the participants to find out whether science and knowledge as part of the technology ever stopped evolving. These three confirmed the urgency to act hand in hand to welcome future technology which still embraces different religious thoughts and traditions.

Trajectories in Religion and Scientific Development

The second session of the public lecture was given by Dzuhayatin and Sofjan, who interrelated the situation today with what is ahead of us in relation to religion and scientific development. We begin with understanding that religion and science should not go against each other. Dzuhayatin underlined the quote by Galileo that two truths cannot contradict one another, that is, the truth of religion and the truth of science should be complementary to each other. He continued by saying that in Indonesia there was a problematic situation where the government faced community and religious groups while imposing a lockdown during COVID-19 pandemic. It relates with the state and regional policy on trades, politics, cultural and economic limitation, as well as the banning of various religious activities to avoid the virus spread. She concluded by an invitation to work together to raise public awareness on modern science in socio economic and religious teachings in order to ensure science and religion can walk side by side, especially post pandemic.

Sofjan in his talk stated that it is quite normal now to witness underdevelopment in the Muslim world. However, there have been false circumstances in general which could be seen as humanity problems in the world, not necessarily considered only as problems in the Muslim world. It is the role of Islamic philosophy to contribute an alternative approach toward modern science and to reduce the possibility toward Islamization of knowledge. Along with other religious scholars, Muslim thinkers should tackle today’s challenges such as the shift of human priorities on their activity, limited resources both nature and men power, up to the vast development of science and technology. These are several substantial points which can be burdensome if not managed and anticipated properly by any scientists and religious scholars.