Azerbaijani Multiculturalism seen from Indonesia

Azerbaijani Multiculturalism Seen from Indonesia

Written by Imas Choirun Nisa Fujiati


Allow me to begin my essay by quoting a wise word from Azerbaijani National Leader : "The more ethnicities a country has, the richer it becomes, as each of them contributes to world culture and civilization". (Heydar Aliyev) Land of Fire, Genoside of Khojaly and the famous Azerbaijani poets and writers named Nizami Ganjevi. Of all these literary figures, Nizami is perhaps the most renowned, having written the love story of Leyla and Mejnun. Those things is always flash up in mind every time I hear about Azerbaijan. Involving as editor in IRS-Warisan Magazine makes me learn a lot of things about this country. The Azerbaijanis boast thousand of years of rich history and culture, and today represent different past civilization. Througout the span of Azerbaijan’s colorful history, the Azerbaijanis have interacted closely with Persians, Turks, Greeks, Romans, Mongols, Arabs and Rusibs. They have embraced all the major monotheistic religions, such as Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Of a these faiths, Islam retains a special place in the social life of Azerbaijan. A miraculous country of Azerbaijan with its unlimited natural resources, centuries-old culture, history and ancient people, whose lifestyle presents a unique and harmonious combination of the traditions and ceremonies of different cultures and civilizations. Azerbaijan makes important contributions to the traditions of tolerance, intercultural and inter-civilization dialogue. The country's success in multiculturalism relies on the full-scale embrace of this openness and tolerance by both government and the society at large which has remained primarily stable for many decades. As I learn about multiculturalism of Azerbaijan through IRS-Magazine, the representatives of all religions and nationalities live there as a family, in an atmosphere of peace, friendship, tranquility and mutual understanding. This is Azerbaijan's great heritage, a great advantage. The fact that tolerance is a key characteristic of the Azerbaijani nation is no secret. However, it is also true that the role of Islam in the formation of a tolerant atmosphere is significant. Azerbaijans, the biggest ethnic group in the Caucasus, are widely considered friendly, tolerant and educated people. Tolerance has long been part of their culture. They boast world-class leader, poets, architects, engineers, entrepreneurs, sculptors, scientist, intellectuals, artist, craftmen, athletes and carpet makes, noth in the past and the present. Speaking about culture, a society’s culture is its lifeblood, and can include the arts, food, beliefs, customs, language, music, technology and traditions. Social scientist describe culture as a people’s whole way of life, and it is thus very difficult to find an acceptable definition. Azerbaijanis have every right to g\feel proud of their history, architectural and cultural monuments, handicrafts, literature, arts and musical heritage. Being wonderfully diverse country, whose indentity is the result of a sophisticated blend of different cultures and civilizations, Azerbaijan also has a strategic geopolitical position in Eurasia, that of the core of the historic Silk Road, which made the country a natural conduit through which goods, information and values of different civilizations traveled, were exchanged and expanded to a wider region. The Azerbaijani language is spoken out around 95 percent of the population and sround 30 percent of those neighboring Iran. A number of Azerbaijanis still speak Russian, but their numbers are on the decline. At the same time, the English speaking community is growing at the rapid place. Prof. Zarbaliyev, who has written several books and articles on Indonesian literature, history and culture, and currently teaches Indonesian at the Azerbaijan University of Languages, said that Azerbaijan have some 2,000 words that we share with Indonesian. Azerbaijan has strived to provide universal education.The national literacy rate is 98.8 percent, and the number of people with higher education is more than 1.2 million. Azerbaijan is also progressive in terms of women’s education. That’s good point!. Azerbaijanis share with Indonesians a love of music, be it classical or contemporary. Azerbaijani music, enriching world musical culture with its rare pearls, takes two main forms; Folk music that includes songs, dances, mugam and asig, and contemporary music that includes classical music, juzz, pop and rock. At a glance we could see that Azerbaijan multiculturalism is the only way for the development of mankind in the future, because in the age of globalization, when the exchange of information and, in general, the processes of integration is active, engaging in self-isolation is simply disastrous. Now let’s take a glance of my country. Indonesia belong to many thousand ethnic groups. We speak in three thousand different tongues. We recognise and worship-p God in different ways. We are proud of our own distinctive cultures. Indonesia is truly a melting pot. While one ethnic group, its language and culture form the majority, other ethnic groups with their respective languages and cultures are also strongly represented. In fact, there are about 1.126 ethnic groups, large and small, in Indonesia. Indonesia make up 250 thousand of the population. Not only local people but also Chinese, Indian, Arabian, and few others. “Cultural diversity”, that is the most prominent feature of the Indonesian nation. “A nation of unity in diversity (Bhinneka Tunggal Ika)”, that is the national slogan established at the time Indonesia proclaimed her independence in 1945. Long before the independence, in 1928, a group of young Indonesians declared the unity of their future nation: “One country, one nation, one language, Indonesia” (Satu nusa, satu bangsa, satu bahasa, Indonesia)”. It is interesting to note here that bahasa Indonesia was cited as the ‘national language’ at the time Indonesia was still colonized by the Dutch. It is more interesting to know that those young Indonesians consciously chose bahasa Indonesia as the lingua franca among the existing hundreds local languages spread over the archipelago. By considering the total number of languages in larger islands and regions only, excluding the small islands, as many as 701 languages are spread throughout Indonesia (see Fox of his quotation on the number of languages in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Java and Bali, Nusa Tenggara, Maluku and Papua as quoted from Ethnologue: Languages of the World[Grimes 1992 in Fox 2004:15]). If language is used as an indicator of cultural diversity, it means that only from the larger islands and regions, there are seven hundreds cultures in Indonesia. We could thus imagine how enormous the diversity in Indonesia is. In such a situation, if bahasa Indonesia can function as the lingua franca, to what extent could the national identity and sense of belongingness function as the ‘tie’ of more than 200 millions people with their heterogeneous cultural identities and backgrounds? It is not at all a simple and easy thing to realize. It shows that it is the reality with hundreds of cultures in Indonesia. This is only one issue to deal with such a complexity. Various other aspects of people’s life, for examples religion, kinship, and economic-social-political system also vary from one group to another. In my opinion, the similarities shared between Indonesia and Azerbaijan in so many ways. The first one is the fact that mostly Muslim population dominates both countries. This means, in the future, there could be enhanced relationship in this particular arena to strengthen the religion’s platform within both countries. What is more astonishing, even though the two nations are dominated by Muslim population, both countries successfully adapted the culture of living next to each other with people from differing religious background. Both in Indonesia and Azerbaijan, there are many individuals with differing beliefs, but they can live next to each other peacefully and respect the notion to co-existence. Speaking about economy, Azerbaijan is a country relatively little known in Indonesia. Despite of trade, Indonesia business players, government officials, intellectuals and academics have scant knowledge about this amazing country.


Resources : Azerbaijan dalam Pandangan Indonesia, Veeramalla Anjaiah, 2010 956650.html

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