In 1644, a noble from the East, having his address at a spice-producing archipelago, ordered a 400-cm diameter globe. It became the largest globe order ever made in the workshop of Joan Blaeu, a Dutch citizen who was the most famous cartographer in Europe at that time. The order caused an uproar among scholars in Europe. The nobleman also ordered other odd objects from Europe: a bell, binoculars made by Galileo, and a pair of male-female camels.


The odd nobleman is a prime minister of the Gowa-Tallo kingdom, widely known as Karaeng Pattingaloang. Historical records refer to him as a collector of European books, always carrying books everywhere, loving and mastering on his own mathematics, astronomy, geography, and theology. Karaeng Pattingalloang also mastered Portuguese, Latin, Italian, Danish, Arabic, and Malay, and he used this mastery to launch diplomacy with various parties in Southeast Asia and also Europeans.


Karaeng Pattingalloang inherited his love of science from his father, Sultan Awalul Islam (he was the first Tallo king to convert to Islam). Anthony Reid, in A History of South East Asia: Critical Crossroads (2015), dubbed Karaeng Pattingalloang a “Rennaissance Man”. He also seemed to be firmly embracing religion, according to Denys Lombard in Nusa Jawa: Batas-batas Pembaratan (1996). In 1662, Blaeu published a masterpiece of cartography, Atlas Maior. On the map of the world, he drew the face of Karaeng Pattingaloang, as a tribute to this nobleman from the East who died in 1654.


The combination of love of science, religious conviction, and openness to people from all corners of the world is also seen in another Makassar son born in the 20th century: BJ Habibie. Gaining much respect in Germany and the aviation world for creating the formula “Crack” of which the application lasts until now to secure the planes that we use, he often did his salat (according to Islamic teachings, of course) in a church in Germany (because he couldn’t find any mosques and the serene church atmosphere added to his solemn prayers).


Karaeng Pattingaloang and Habibie died bringing peace and shared lives between science and religion, mathematics and love, with them. They lived everyday based on a principle of reconciliation of knowledge and faith, what Stephen Jay-Gould called in his essay in Natural History (1994) as NOMA, Non-Overlapping Magisteria. This principle recognizes the authority of religion for matters of values and the authority of science for matters of fact. The two don’t even need to live apart to avoid interference with each other. Karaeng Pattingalloang and Habibie have proved that, just as Newton (pioneer of physics and devout Christians), Abdul Salam (Nobel Prize in Physics 1979), and Azis Sancar (Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2015) have.


Meanwhile, the world we live in nowadays seems increasingly difficult to reconcile faith and science. Religion becomes only an emotional realm while rational reasoning is considered outside of (even threatening) religion. Facts are hard to believe, the world is said to have become a post-truth universe. Media and social media are now a venue for horizontal conflict amplification.


Film has the potential to be a bridge in the chaos. Films can become a medium for conversations of ideas. The worlds of the characters who live on the screen can be presented in all its variety, being presented in a frame that will be seen by many eyes of the audience. In the camera frame, highlighted on the screen, faith and science can thrive in dialogues. In the darkness of the cinema, as the projector’s light shines onto a white field, a world comes to life. In this darkness, do we hear the whispers of the souls of Karaeng Pattingaloang and Habibie, about bids to reconcile everything that is different and conflicting out there?


The International Madani Film Festival raises the theme “Reconcile” because it believes that those who are different and opposing each other can live in a peaceful frame and live together.



Hikmat Darmawan

Board of Festival