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Impact study

An Impact Study was carried out in 2000 to document the scope of the IAIN's influence and the roles of IAIN alumni at the grass roots level and at the national level. Fuad Jabali, who received his PhD from McGill's Institute of Islamic Studies in 1999, headed the UIN Jakarta research team. The study has also been published in Bahasa Indonesia by Logos and UIN Jakarta Press. Below is the Executive Summary of the study. For the complete version please see the Impact Study [.pdf].

Executive summary

Over the past two decades, an Islam based on tolerance and inclusiveness has taken root as mainstream Islam in Indonesia. Key factors in this development include the changing role of rural-level Muslim institutions, the continued modernization of Islamic education, and the reorientation of mass Muslim organizations and their emergence as political as well as social forces, and as leaders in the reform movement.

Indonesia's fourteen National Islamic Institutes (Institut Agama Islam Negeri (IAIN)) in major centres and thirty-three Sekolah Tinggi Agama Islam Negeri (STAIN - Islamic Colleges) in medium-sized cities, have played a major role in this transformation of Indonesian Islam. Central to this role is the IAIN's approach to Islam. This approach emphasizes critical thought and objective enquiry; interaction with, tolerance and understanding of, and respect for other religions; a participatory, democratic, and inclusive approach to government and development; and respect for the humanistic, tolerant, egalitarian and open traditions of classical Islam.

Through this approach to Islam reflected in their teaching and other programs and by way of the IAIN community of students, faculty members, and alumni, the IAIN has had a positive influence on the modernization of Islamic education from the elementary to the post-graduate level, a system serving altogether over 6 million young people; the positions taken by Indonesia's mass Muslim movements, whose combined memberships number perhaps 40 million; the focus of Muslim non-governmental organizations working with the disadvantaged, the poor, women, and the economically marginalized; the direction of religious discourse and the mass media's treatment of religious issues; and the shape of Government policy on issues ranging from religious education to inter-religion relations.

Ultimately, the IAIN's approach to the modernization of Islam, carried to the community level through the influence of its leaders, teaching staff, and graduates on the Islamic education system, Government policy, Islamic organizations, and non-government organizations, strengthens important trends at the community level:

  • An increased role for women in decision making in family, community, and religious forums, increased activity by women in public service, greater access of women to educational opportunities, and increased ownership by women of small and medium enterprises;
  • Stronger, self-reliant community-based civil society organizations, and more participatory and independent community decision-making processes;
  • A stronger network of Muslim owned small and medium enterprises at the community level, including areas fringing major urban areas, which provides a potential vehicle for SME development;
  • Greater tolerance among religions, and stronger non-governmental community social control and dispute resolution mechanisms to resolve communal disputes and to preempt communal strife;
  • Through programs developed by religion-affiliated groups at the community level, a greater degree of non-governmental action to alleviate poverty and to provide social welfare support and education and training to socially and economically disadvantaged groups; and
  • A higher degree of commitment to and participation in democratic processes, within civil society organizations as well as in the selection of local leaders and legislative representatives.

For more than forty years, the IAIN's approach to Islam has received important support from the Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill University, a world-renowned centre of classical Islam and comparative Islamic studies, most recently through the ten-year IAIN-McGill University Islamic Higher Education Project Phase I and II. IHEP has been centred on the two most senior IAIN, IAIN Syarif Hidayatullah (Jakarta), and IAIN Sunan Kalijaga (Yogyakarta), which have served as development agents for the IAIN and STAIN system as a whole. McGill's primary contribution to the IAIN system has been its support for, and influence through prominent graduates on, the IAIN's own goal of transforming the IAIN into centres of Islamic modernization; a number of graduates have played central roles in the modernization of Indonesian Islam over a period of thirty years. Also, through training and support for new programs, IHEP has strengthened the institutional capacity of the two lead IAIN to carry out their mission.