ISLAM AND THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY 16-20 Muharram 1417/3-7 June 1996 Department of Southeast Asia & Oceania Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands

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Muhammed Haron



On 4 June 1996, a plenary session was held at Groot Auditorium, in
the Academy Building of Leiden University. This session was chaired
by Professor Leertouwer, the vice-chancellor and rector of Leiden
University (est. 1575), who also gave the opening address. In his
speech, he emphasized the importance of the conference theme and
referred to one of the most noteworthy and influential Dutch scholars,
Snouck Hurgronje, who taught at the university between 1907 and 1921
and contributed to the field of Islamic studies in a unique manner. He
then introduced Tarmizi Taher, Indonesia’s current minister of religious
affairs, who delivered the opening address along with Abdelkabir
Alaoui M'daghri, Morocco’s current minister of waqf and Islamic
affairs, and a representative of the Netherland’s Ministry of Education,
Culture, and Science. The minister of the Netherlands was not able to
attend the conference.
The Indonesian minister, a trained medical doctor, used his opening
address to stress the importance of research in Islamic studies and to conantrate
upon Dutch-Indonesian cooperation in this field. The Moroccan
minister‘s speech was well received; the minister was added to the program
at the last minute when it was learned that he would be visiting the
country at that time. Tht title of his speech was “Coexistence in the New
World Order.” A lawyer by training, he Ssed the issue of human rights
and perfaced it by commenting upon the changes that have taken place
over the centuries and the manner in which societies and communities
took control of their circumstances.
The keynote speaker, Riffat Hassan (University of Louisville, KY,
USA) gave a speech titled “What Does it Mean to be a Muslim on the
Eve of the Twenty-First Century?” A social anthropologist by training,
she addressed the topic and drew quite a bit upon her own life history as
a woman. The audience genedy found her feminist ideas to be very
provocative and challenging.
It was indeed unfortunate that one of the first parallel sessions was
cancelled because one of the key participants fell ill. The other panelists
for this session were fitted into other sessions. Atadah Bogdan Kopan ...

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