In an effort to foster academic cooperation and enhance participation in the world’s major forums and conferences, a delegation from the Faculty of Islamic Studies of the Universitas Islam Internasional Indonesia (UIII) recently visited the United Kingdom, aimed at exploring collaborative opportunities with the country’s prestigious institutes that would contribute to UIII’s growth in research and academia.

The first highlight of the visit was the participation of three lecturers from UIII’s Faculty of Islamic Studies in the Annual Conference of The British Association for Islamic Studies (BRAIS). Held at The Aga Khan University’s Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations, BRAIS serves as a learned society and professional organization dedicated to advancing research and teaching about Islam and Muslim cultures in higher education institutions across the UK. 

During the conference, the UIII delegation, consisting of Dean Prof. Noorhadi Hassan, Secretary of the Faculty Dr. Yanwar Pribadi, and Head of Master’s Study Program Dr. Zezen Zaenal Mutaqin, actively engaged in academic exchange and presented their research findings. The first panel, titled “Decolonising the Study of Islam: Institutional Visions, Practices, and Challenges,” provided a platform for Prof. Hassan to discuss the academic direction and vision for UIII, focusing on decentralizing Islamic Studies.

Meanwhile, Dr. Mutaqin and Dr. Pribadi contributed to the second panel, which explored the topic of “Indonesian Muslims and the West: Diaspora, Residence, and the Reinvention of Identity.” Dr. Mutaqin’s presentation, “Islamophobia and Indonesian Muslim Diaspora: Negotiation and Reinvention of Identity in the United States,” shed light on the challenges faced by Indonesian Muslims residing in the West. Whilst, Dr. Pribadi’s talk, “The Dutch Chapter of the Nahdlatul Ulama: Indonesian Muslims in Constructing Religious Identity in the West,” examined the role of the Nahdlatul Ulama in shaping the religious identity of Indonesian Muslims in the Netherlands.

In addition to the academic presentations at the conference, the UIII representatives, accompanied by officials from the Ministry of Religious Affairs, also visited the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. SOAS is renowned for its research and expertise in global issues and is dedicated to the study of languages, cultures, and societies of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

The visit to the SOAS was meant to seek possibilities for Islamic universities in Indonesia to build partnerships with SOAS, especially between UIII and SOAS. The discussions revolved around research collaboration, dual degree programs and other forms of academic cooperation that would benefit both institutions. The UIII and the Ministry of Religious Affairs were welcomed by Prof. Adam Habib, the director of SOAS and his team, including Dr. Ben Murtagh and Dr. Mulaika Hijjas. 

The visit of the UIII board to the UK marks a meaningful step towards fostering academic collaboration and strengthening connections between UIII and renowned academic institutions abroad. The insightful contributions and high-quality research presented by the UIII representatives during the BRAIS conference showcased the expertise and dedication of the faculty members at UIII’s Faculty of Islamic Studies.

The discussions held at SOAS opened avenues for potential research partnerships and exchange programs, paving the way for a promising future of academic cooperation between UIII and international institutions. By actively engaging in academic dialogues and forging alliances with esteemed institutions, UIII continues to position itself as a leading institution in Islamic studies, contributing to global discourses.

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