Indonesia, home to the largest Muslim population on earth, is widely recognized as a land of moderate Islam. The archipelago takes pride in religious harmony.
"President Joko Widodo wishes to make Indonesia’s Islam a global, big force,” Mastuki, head of the information center of the Ministry of Religious Affairs said.
Mastuki made the remarks when commenting on the government’s plan to start building the campus of Universitas Islam Internasional Indonesia (UIII), or Indonesia International Islamic University in Depok, south of Jakarta next year.
President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo made public that plan in July of last year during the opening ceremony of the 26th Quran Recital Competition (MTQ) in Jakarta. But he did not mention an exact time frame for the plan to materialize.
The President then said, "The time has now come for Indonesia to become a source for the Muslim world’s thinking, a source for the Muslim world to learn.” He mentioned Indonesia as becoming like a patented drug recipe, which is a moderate Islam.
Meanwhile, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said that UIII would open post-graduate programs only and that the Ministry of Religious Affairs would coordinate the operation of its campus.
A number of experts from other countries like Egypt, the UK, the United States, Canada and Australia will be involved to design curriculums for the university. Students are expected from those countries and others, according to Kalla.
"There will be lots of research and development of ideas, and their contents will be ‘international’,” the Vice President told reporters. The university will have a grandiose, large campus in an area where student dormitories and a house complex for lecturers will also be located. As much as 75 percent of students are expected to be foreigners.
UIII is meant to prepare Islamic thinkers and intellectuals, Jusuf Kalla said as reported by the Cabinet Secretary website.
The Vice President added that the government would allocate a relatively small amount of funds for building the new university. Funding, including grants, had been planned to come mainly from abroad. A senior official at the Ministry of Religious Affairs had said that many Western countries had expressed interest in the would-be university.