My wife Hisako and I have received the news of the passing away of Prof. Azyumardi Azra with a deep shock and profound sorrow. What a loss to the intellectual world of the entire mankind his departure is! It is a symbolic coincidence that the Queen Elizabeth II who gave him a British knighthood has gone several days before Pak Azyumardi’s death. We do hope and pray that their souls be resting in peace.
Pak Azyumardi was a teacher, friend and comrade for Hisako and me in our endeavor for fighting against “Islamophobia” intellectually and socially. I am fondly remembering the occasion on which Pak and Ibu Azyumardi were invited to Japan to receive the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize. I was honored to recommend him to the prize and have introduced him to the Japanese public at the ceremony of the prize granting held in Fukuoka and the lecture meeting at the Nippon Foundation, Tokyo.
I am also remembering warmly the occasion of “The International Research Conference on Muhammadiyah” commemorating its 100th birthday held at Universitas Muhammadiyah Malang in November 2012. Pak Azyumardi assumed the chairpersonship of its organization committee while I myself sat as its vice-chairperson, helped by Prof. Muhadjir Effendi, Dr. Ahmad Najib Burhani and many others. Unfortunately, the plan for the publication of the papers for the conference was unrealized due to my sudden illness (for which I express my sincere apologies), but I believe that the meeting gave a certain intellectual stimulation and encouragement to the younger generation of Muhammadiyah researchers in Indonesia as well as elsewhere in the world.
All in all, I am convinced that Pak Azyumardi and his works will remain to be one of the most reliable and lasting references in the study of Indonesian and Southeast Asian Islam.
Selamat jalan, Pak Azyumardi.
With sincere regards,
Mitsuo & Hisako Nakamura
PS: Dr. Najib, please convey our condolences to the survived family of Pak Azyumardi