The Jakarta Post
Shared religious beliefs and values bring the people of Morocco and Indonesia closer, an envoy said, singling out education as one of the strongest pillars of the relationship.
'There is strong interest among Indonesian students to study [Islam] at Moroccan universities. We have been offering scholarships and currently, there are 200 Indonesian students studying in Morocco,' Moroccan Ambassador to Indonesia Mohamed Majdi told The Jakarta Post during an Association of Indonesian Alumni in Moroccan Universities in Jakarta gathering on Friday.
Morocco, a paradigm of religious freedom and tolerance in the Middle East and North Africa,recently earned praise as the most peaceful country in North Africa and Sahel with a 57th rank ( out of 162 ) on the 2013 World peace Index from the Policy Mic organization.
In February, the Moroccan government restored the 17th century Slat Fassiyine Synagogue in Fez. Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane, a leader of the ruling Islamic party, headed the inauguration of the synagogue.
Former US president Bill Clinton, while visiting Morocco recently, praised the country, saying that 'the restoration of a synagogue in a Muslim country is a sign of cultural diversity and religious freedom'.
Many Indonesian ulemas have studied one aspect of Islam, Tasawuf, in Morocco, but apparently not the noble values of its teaching such as religious tolerance or communal harmony, scholars said during the gathering.
Tasawuf, also known as Sufism, means the path of sufis, whose main goal is to follow the sunnah ( words and deeds ) of Prophet Muhammad. Some scholars describe it as the inwardness of Islam, which focuses on the spiritual development of Muslims.
'Indonesian Tasawuf and that of Morocco have so many similarities as many ideas and aspects of Tasawuf came from Morocco,' Ahmad Najib Affandi, who earned his PhD in Morocco, said.
'If Indonesian Muslims visit Morocco, they will be very happy to see that there is no difference in the way Moroccans and Indonesians practice Islam. They will feel at home'.
'Though we both follow Tasawuf, Morocco is ahead of Indonesia in propagating and implementing progressive views and values. Moroccan scholars excelled in religion, philosophy, science, technology, literature and other fields a long time ago. Indonesia is relatively a new player in this field,' Nasrullah, who had also obtained PhD, said in his paper titled The Role of Nine Walis in Java.