The Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies Universitas Gadjah Mada held a panel discussion entitled SEA Talk #44 which was held on March 10, 2022. In general, CESASS UGM has concerns about social, economic, political, and cultural issues in the Southeast Asian region as stated in the panel discussion. In this SEA Talk #44, Prof. Dr. phil. Hermin Indah Wahyuni, S.IP, M.Sc. as chairman of CESASS UGM opened and welcomed participants and speakers who had joined and participated in the SEA Talk #44 panel discussion. The speaker will be delivered by Drs. Moh. Arif Rokhman, M. Hum. Ph.D., who is a Lecturer in English Literature at the Faculty of Cultural Sciences at Gadjah Mada University.
In the first session of SEA Talk #44, Muh. Arif Rokhman presented a topic entitled “The Other in 21st Century Islamic Literature in Indonesia” especially in the early 21st century. Muh. Arif Rokhman said that this research is about literary works written by the authors of the Lingkar Pena Forum, an association of Muslim writers in Indonesia. The theory applied is postcolonial including encounter, mimicry, and hybridity. The presentation focuses on textual analysis focus on the Indonesian Muslim encounter with others, including westerners, icons from western popular culture, foreign Muslims, and Indonesian non-Muslims. Muh. Arif Rokhman begins by tracing the origin of Islamic literature which from Sumatra with the publication of novel ‘Kehilangan Mestika’ in 1935. This was followed by the emergence of a group of Muslim authors from Sumatra including Hamka, Rifa’I Ali, and A Hasmy. The discussion of Islam as a concept in literature emerged in the 1930s Starting when Hamka was the editor of Pedoman Masjarakat. In 1940, the Sumatra writers continued to play an important role in the discussion of Islamic literature. In 1943 the role of literature as a means of supporting da’wah was initiated by Dimyati. In the mid-1950s, Islamic cultural group set out their artistic beliefs as a response to Communist-affiliated Lekra and the universal humanist manifesto called Mukadimah and the Surat Kepercayaan Gelanggang In the 1960s, Lesbumi was founded to counter the activities of Lekra. The 1970s and 1980s are considered to be a literary period notable for ‘returning to the root of tradition’, a time in which tradition was prioritized as a primary resource of inspiration for their literary works. In 1984, Hasjmy proposed an interesting formulation of the essence of Islamic literature in his book entitled “Apa Tugas Sastrawan Sebagai Khalifah Allah”. Then Moh. Arif Rokhman continued about the formation of the Lingkar Pena Forum which was established during the Indonesian reform in 1997 from the Faculty of Letters of the University of Indonesia, to promote Islam through literature. Its activities include recruiting aspiring writers, and training and publishing their writings.
The results of the research are, that Islamic characters remain strong in their Islamic beliefs while the Westerners undergo considerable transformation concerning their religious sensibilities. Second, the western icons provide the local characters with sufficient energy and inspiration to transform themselves to bring about change in their immediate environments. The encounter between the Indonesian Muslims protagonist and Muslims of other nationalities provides a space to argue for the Indonesian Muslim as having perfect “akhlaq”. Last, Muh. Arif Rokhman explains that facing the Indonesian Muslims and their fellow Indonesian depicted the encounter between pious Indonesian Muslims and Christian Indonesians and also Javanese Indonesian of nominal Muslim faith, resulting in how the protagonist remains strong with their faiths and deal with the violation of Islamic principles, traditional beliefs, and the evangelism.