Peace Education

Indonesian people now face serious problems because of increasing conflict in community, vertically, and horizontally. As a nation with its abundance wealth Indonesia constitutionally protect freedom of beliefs and association by the Indonesian government, 18.018 island, 33 provinces, 378 regencies, 403 ethnics, and 300 regional languages. The variety is not only the wealth but also potency for easy conflict in Indonesia.
Since 2005-2007, Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace (ICRP) reports that there are 150 conflicts in Indonesia in the name of religion and ethnics. Komisi Perlindungan Anak Indonesia (KPAI or Commission for Indonesian Children Protection) has noted that in 2005-2007 there are 788 cases of violence to children in sexual abuse, physical violence, psychological violence, and other forms. Disturbances among footballs supporters, attacks toward religious minority groups, political conflicts in local elections, are the sequential events been witnessing everyday in our Indonesian people. The conflicts evoke violence radicalism and terrorism. There are many victims who have lost their property and soul.
Pursuant to those realities, I think to do something, like peace education in Indonesia. When attending Community Leader Program in May 2007, I got inspiration to do peace education for student at school. Finally, after coming home to Indonesia, I did coordination with Pelangi Mizan, a big publisher in Indonesia. Before leaving to US, I have expostulated peace module concept with Irfan (General Manager of Pelangi Mizan) and Eric Lincoln (American person who lives in Bandung). I got a great opportunity, because peace module has been printed, under the title “12 Nilai Dasar Perdamaian” (12 Basic Values of Peace). Finally, I cooperate with Pelangi Mizan Publisher to do peace education program.
This program has started with Training of Trainers (ToT) at 14-15 July in Bandung. Beside to educate some trainers, ToT was conducted to promote peace education to broader society. In this event, 40 activists and teachers has been invited from various town in Indonesia, such as Aceh, Medan, Bengkulu, Jakarta, Bandung, Garut, Solo, Yogyakarta, etc. They were trained to become peace spreader.
At 26th July 2007 and 20 November 2007, we visited Nangro Aceh Darussalam for Training of Teacher. This event was hold by Samaritan’s Purse; International Non Government Organization in Medan. This NGO have the kindness to execute peace education program for 5000 students in secondary school. All participant of this training would teach peace values to their student. They attend this activity with pleasure and enthusiastic. Since them have got easy and practical method of peace education. And surely, they have been long enough hungered for peaceful life in Nangro Aceh Darussalam.
Besides becoming trainer, I also educate peace values to santri (student) of Islamic Boarding School (Pesantren), Darul Arqam Muhammadiyah in Garut-West Java. Teaching peace values in Pesantren very attractive and full of challenge, because Pesantren represent a unique and an exclusive institution. Homogenous of cultural background and religion make the character of all santri close and exclusive. They unaccustomed to face differences, especially, in the difference of religion and opinion. This condition, in fact, own potency of conflict and violence. Cause, since early they look into other religion people not as a friend. I think there are some walls among them that block pesantren with external world. After teaching peace values, finally, little by little, they view become barer. Until Now, I still teach peace education in Pesantren Darul Arqam Muhammadiyah Garut.
In peace education program, I own desire to make an even that bring into contact santri with different student in religion, tribe and race. Finally we plan an event that we called as “Breaking down The Walls” on December 2007. This even will bring into contact student of Bandung Alliance International School (BAIS) with Santri Pesantren Darul Arqam (DA). However, in this month they will get the test, finally, we carry out “Breaking down The Walls” at 6 February 2008.
This event was executed successfully. All students attend this activity with pleasure and enthusiastic. After they become acquainted with through game and ice breaking, they divided by into some group. Each group consisted of both DA and BAIS students. And then, they discuss about peace values, and prepare group presentation. In this event, we perform basket ball match, between DA students Vs BAIS students. This is not an ordinary match, because, we conduct peace campaign in front of 600 audience, before starting the match. All players break down the paper wall which wrote by assorted words such as racism, hate, war, discrimination, etc. After breaking down the walls, they changed it with banner which writes down with “Peace Generation”. Finally, this event was closed by sing together. I think this event was executed successfully, because the students got mutual understanding. From this event, they learned about how to live in diversity. And one thing which make me happy, that until now they visit each other and keep the contact.

This article has been presented by Ayi Yunus in CLP Action Plan Forum, at February 2008th in Bandung.


One thought on “Peace Education

  1. If Islam were superior, why isn’t there any Muslim country which is progressive and leading in terms of education, technology, culture or economy? Many of Muslim countries were even black-listed because of their poor appreciation upon women and human fundamental rights, the fragility of government bureaucracy and corruption. In the academic level, none of the Islamic universities were listed as the international highest standard. Definitely, these complex social matters cannot be solved by yelling “Allahu akbar” and scapegoating the west.

    Violence has been widespread in Muslim regions ranges from Saudi Arabia to Indonesia. Terror, bombing, coercion, abduction, and destruction were rampantly committed and indicating a horrifying escalation. This seems to verify several theses saying that Muslim world is the world of violence and barbarism, and Islam is religion that produce violent texts and export militant-terrorists across the globe (Edward Said, Covering Islam).

    Because of this phenomenon, the image of Islam as religion of peace, tolerance, and uphold civility began to become overcast. The Islamic slogan as “rahmatan lil alamin” and “peaceful religion” is less popular than the ongoing violence and vandalism committed by radical Muslims in wider part of the world.

    It is true that sometimes, the process of western media’s report and the opinion of (some) western orientalist, politician, religious figure, and scholar in general were unfair. They will directly point their fingers and associate any violence with “the nature” of Islam as a violent religion whenever it occurs in the Muslim countries. But when the very similar violence takes place in non-Muslim countries (such as Israel, North Ireland, Eastern Europe, Soviet Union, China or Latin America) they have never associate it to particular religion. When Muslim terrorist attacked WTC and Pentagon on 11 September 2001, many began to find the Quran to check out the relationship between Islam and global terrorism.

    The political and religious observers were busy researching the roots of Islamic terrorism. Bernard Lewis book, What Went Wrong? which examined the historical roots of terrorism and violence within Islam became the reference for “anti-Islamic” group to support their argument about Islam as “violent religion”. Books of Angel Rabasa, a political analyst in RAND Corporation, especially on “global terrorist network”, were often quoted in printed medias. On the contrary, when George W. Bush government attacked Afghanistan and Iraq, Muslims were not that enthusiastic in buying Bible to find the Christian doctrine on war and terrorism.

    Several explanations is available behind the increasing violent phenomenon in the Muslim world today. The social gaps between Muslim and non-Muslim, the East and the West, becomes a factor. There is a deep economical gap between the barren “muslim world” and the welfare “western world”. In the cultural aspect, we also see “western culture “ domination is infiltrating the Muslim world. Technological advance become the main determinant of this cultural domination. Muslim regions have to consume an alien cultures which were “smuggled” throughout TV, movie, internet etc. While in the political aspect, the US infiltration, domination and pressure (as the western symbol) upon the “third word” regions is becoming more apparent.

    This fact drives the “multicultural liberal” group to divide the world into two extreme categories namely “the oppressors” which is represented by West-Christian-Jews (mainly US) and “the victims” which is represented by Muslims. This oppression annoyed several “narrow minded” Muslims and incited them to act violently. In other words, violence can be observed as a “reflection” of their fear as well as their cultural and political incapability to face the domination, hegemony and penetration of the global western culture. Thus, to justify their violent actions, they exploited the Islamic text, doctrine, tradition, history and discourse as the theological justification over their brutal actions. They also misinterpreted the doctrine of jihad as an offensive acts against the so-called “enemies of Islam”.

    What we often hear from the Muslim fundamentalist is that they did so for the sake of “defending God” and “the establishment of Islam”. They took confrontation and violence as the only path to demonstrate the Islamic supremacy and power as a religion which is superior to everything (ya’lu wala yu’la alaih). On the contrary, the persuasive, peaceful and nonviolent movement is regarded as a form of cowardness and inferiority.

    This is definitely a ridiculous and apologetic paradigm. If Islam were superior, why isn’t there any Muslim country which is progressive and leading in terms of education, technology, culture or economy? Many of Muslim countries were even black-listed because of their poor appreciation upon women and human fundamental rights, the fragility of government bureaucracy and corruption. In the academic level, none of the Islamic universities which were listed as the international highest standard. Definitely, these complex social matters cannot be solved by yelling “Allahu akbar” and scapegoating the west. Those yells and blames were like an Indonesian proverb “buruk muka cermin dibelah” (ugly face and the mirror is shattered).


    In the future, Muslim societies need to reformulate a brilliant, peaceful and civilized strategies for the Islamic movement. Violence only gives Islam a bad name and increases the tension between Muslim and non-Muslim. Violence will breed another new violence and it will afterward entrap humankind in the “vicious circle” of violence. Violence is also against the fundamental spirit of Islam as “religion of peace”. The word Islam according to The Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic means “submission, acceptance, and reconciliation” (upon God’s will) and also “peace, salvation, security, and welfare” (Cowan, ed. 1976: 425-426). Violence is also not the best resolution to solve the problems of the Muslim countries, including Indonesia (Abu-Nimer, Nonviolence and Peace Building in Islam).

    Thus, the Islamic movements must prioritize soft power approach throughout the mediums of culture, knowledge, education, diplomacy, and political tools which were carried out by nonviolent means and cross-civilizational dialog (Nye, Soft Power: the Means To Success in World Politics). In order to actualize “soft power” strategy and approach, several NU intellectuals in the United States and Canada have established Komunitas Nahdhatul Ulama Amerika Serikat dan Kanada (Nahdlatul Ulama Community of the United States and Canada). This establishment aims to bridge the tension and gap among Muslim & non-Muslim and also to solve the problems of Islam and humanity.

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