King Abdullah's visit to Indonesia this week carries more political implications than the usual visits he had had to other South Asian countries. The Islamic dimension in the trip was very visible since the 241 million Indonesians identify more with the king due to his being a descendant of the Prophet of Islam, Mohammed, sanctified by tens of millions of Sufists. Those Sufist spiritual orders are the ones who brought Islam from Yemen to that archipelago eight centuries ago, to form the largest people to convert to Islam peacefully and without resorting to any form of conquest or war.
For decades, the Indonesians identified with the Arabs, politically and emotionally. The late Ahmed Sukarno, the founding president, visited the Arab world several times.
Following the Arab defeat in the six-day war, and the fall of Jerusalem to Israeli hands, 50 highly trained air force pilots sent a letter to the late Hussein expressing their wish to volunteer in the Jordanian Air Force, hoping to have a share in the honour of liberating Al Aqsa Mosque. The Indonesian ambassador then, Nour Shazeli, could not find a way to communicate to those officers that their request could not be accepted due to political considerations.
When the former Indonesian President Mohmmed Wahidi visited Jordan in his way to pray in Jerusalem several years ago, he spoke about the potential of having one million Indonesian tourists coming to Jordan annually as part of their pilgrimage to Mecca and Jerusalem.
Members of the delegation accompanying the king during this trip, were stunned by the way Indonesian Al Nahdha society, the Mohammedan society, and Sufi imams expressed the intensity of love to the King, asking him to be the spiritual leader to a nation of 241 millions, who are willing to follow whatever course he wants them to .
The depth of emotions evinced by religious leaders and imams surprised all observers, and reminded all of the Islamic depth that Jordan has in the Muslim world. Such a great potential can be used to Jordan’s advantage economically as well as financially since the Indonesian gross domestic product had reached last year the figure of $1.285 trillion.
An Indonesian engineer, Mohammed Habib, was the first one to build, decades ago, an aircraft manufacturing factory in South Asia, to satisfy the needs of the region, following his graduation from a German university.
Jordan can invest in the Islamic dimension of the Indonesian equation, which had so far rejected
Through postgraduate scholarship, Arabic language teaching programs, touristic bilateral agreements for a million pilgrims a year to the nine holy shrines in Karak and Salt, and through economic joint ventures, Jordan can reinvest in King Abdullah’s visit to a nation that considers him to be their spiritual leader.