Purpose of the Conference:
Since its birth in the city of Yogyakarta on the 18th of November 1912, the progressive Muslim social movement Muhammadiyah has made significant contributions to the nation building of the Republic of Indonesia over the past 100 years, mainly in the field of education, philanthropy, and social welfare. More than that, its contributions to the enhancement of the people’s sovereignty, national unity, social justice, and the uplifting of public morality for the nation have been countless. Muhammadiyah forms a strong pillar of civil society organizations in Indonesia along with its traditionalist ‘rival’, Nahdlatul Ulama.
In spite of all this, some people have perceived that Muhammadiyah’s presence in the Indonesian public seems to be somewhat waning recently. Many factors seemed to have caused this. Muhammadiyah has been contested externally by the emergence of a number of Islamist movements since the fall of the New Order -- many of them with trans-national connections. Even more directly, Muhammadiyah has faced with the threat of infiltration by some Islamist forces. Internally, too, Muhammadiyah has experienced unprecedented conflicts because of the development of three contrasting orientations: The revival of ‘Salafist’ trend, the well-established mainstream, taking a moderate centralist position, and a more recent trend of ‘liberals’.
All in all, Muhammadiyah at the entrance of its second century is facing a number of serious challenges. The most essential among them seems to be the “rediscovery” or “reformulation” of its own identity. Recent rapid, global grand-scale changes are demanding Muhammadiyah to seriously re-examine the meanings of its modernity, progressiveness and reformism in the post-modern contexts.
In a broader global perspective, Muhammadiyah is undoubtedly standing at the forefront of responding to intellectual and practical challenges arising from fast changing world situations among a number of Islamic social movements of the world. Therefore, Muhammadiyah’s past experience, present stance and future direction is not only significant for Indonesia alone but also for the entire Islamic world. Furthermore, Muhammadiyah’s fortune will gravely affect the relationship between Islamic and non-Islamic parts of the entire humankind.
As an academic enterprise to commemorate the centennial anniversary of Muhammadiyah, the IRCM intends to survey and discuss the Muhammadiyah movement in search of new identity and direction. Can and will Muhammadiyah continue and even advance to be an organization of progressive Islamic social and religious movement well into its post-centennial era? How is it revitalizing the élan vital of the movement? What would be the contribution of Muhammadiyah towards peace, harmony and happiness of the entire world? These questions seem to require serious inquiries not only by Muhammadiyah activists themselves but also by those scholars who have been observing Muhammadiyah for many years.