Call for Papers of the Conference on 3-4 January 2018 in Jakarta

Invitation to an International Conference

Re-Learning to Be Human for Global Times:

A Dialogue between Islam and Culture

PIEC-Paramadina University, IC-THuSI, and CRVP-Washington

Jakarta, 3-4 January 2018

Thematic Background

One of fundamental causes of religious violence and extremism is a void of respect to the human being in the name of sacred divine virtues. On the other side, the profane values cultivated in modern society have also lost the true meaning of being human in the name of secularism. Both sides have put the human being in its peripheral existence. In the contemporary Muslim world it seems that there is a latent theological tension between Islam as a religion based on the divine revelation, which is universal and unchangeable and culture as a product of human creativity, which is historical and always changeable.

Is the tension the effect of the contradiction between the absolute and the relative? Or does the tension arise from an inadequate understanding of the notion that Islam is a religion while culture means something else? In other words, is the tension merely the product of reductionism occurring in the connotative and denotative meaning of religion and culture?

In fact Islam is not only a religion, but also a civilization (Seyyed Hossein Nasr; Nurcholish Madjid). The historical facts have shown that Islam has given birth to a glorious culture and civilization with various scientific heritages as well as intellectual and spiritual traditions which are preserved to this day. The Islamic civilization is also extremely rich in poetry, music, and other forms of arts, broadly as far as from Morocco in the West to Indonesia in the East.

Why, then, should there be terms as “Cultural Islam,” “Indonesian Islam” or “Religious Islam”” Why should there be the discourse of dialogue between Islam and culture? Is it not excessive to consider Islam itself a religion or a civilization? It is understood that such a discourse is devised in the context of responding to certain religious views and attitudes, which view Islam as entirely theological and transcendental in contrast to culture conceived fully as anthropological and profane. It is also understood that the attempt to have a dialogue between Islam and local traditions is because there are some kind of religious groups (Muslim in this case) which become intolerant due to the tension between the religious teachings and the local cultural traditions.

Hence, the sub-theme of “dialogue between Islam and culture” in the context of the main theme “Re-learning to be Human for/in Global Times” has become an increasingly urgent and highly relevant subject, especially when radicalism and religious extremism try to occupy the intellectual and spiritual sphere among young Muslims with certain superficial and impoverished religious symbols. In this sense, religion becomes an idol that curbs the potential of humanity and even against the nature of humanity and universal human values. In the name of puritanism and orthodoxy, religion becomes a tool to suppress the creativity of mind, science, wisdom, and culture.


Based on the above understanding, a dialogue between Islam and culture is one of systematic strategies to attempt properly to understand radicalism and religious extremism and reduce their negative influence not only upon young people but also on genuine religion itself. This is an important academic task in our complex and globalized times to pioneering the effort of reconciliation between Islam and culture. This is the goal of this conference. It will begin with an investigation of how the model of acculturation of Islam with a particular culture, and what kind of relationships Islam should construct with a particular culture. This needs to identify certain features and idea what “Indonesian Islam” means; whether culture is recognized as dynamic and fluid or stagnant and motionless. Moreover, some fundamental questions also need to be thought out: whether Islam is considered fully transcendental without any relation to the profane world; whether culture is viewed completely profane without the transcendental dimension; and what are the meaning of the transcendental and the profane.

These questions are part of the entrance to the answers or at least some clarification of the conference theme “Re-Learning to be Human: A Dialogue between Islam and Culture”, which will be held on January 3-4, 2018, in Jakarta.


This international conference is a scientific collaboration between PIECParamadina University, IC-THUSI (International Center for Thoughts on Human Sciences in Islam), and the RVP (the International Council for Research in Values and Philosophy).

Submission of Papers

Abstracts of 250-300 words with a short vita should be submitted to by November 31, 2017. Upon acceptance, full papers should be submitted by December 20, 2017.

Important Dates: 1. Abstract Submission Deadline November 31, 2017 2. Full Paper Submission Deadline December 20, 2017 3. The Conference January 3-4, 2018

Participation Fee: USD 100 (This subsidized fee will cover two days accommodation and board during the conference.)


Husain Heriyanto Email: