2024_02_19_Royal Anthropological Institute

Journal of the world’s oldest anthropological institute recognizes Humanitarian Islam’s global importance

“[Nahdlatul Ulama’s] ambition is high: not merely to counterbalance the dominance currently exercised by Saudi and Egyptian religious authorities, tied to autocratic regimes, but also to set an example for all other scriptural religions, to renounce their ‘hard texts,’ which can be cited to justify xenophobia and violence.”
~ Dr. Jonathan Benthall
Department of Anthropology, University College London

LONDON, United Kingdom, 19 February 2024 — The world’s oldest scholarly association dedicated to the furtherance of anthropology — Britain’s Royal Anthropological Institute (est. 1871) — has published an academic review of Humanitarian Islam: Reflecting on an Islamic Concept (Brill | Schöningh, 2023), an edited volume compiling analyses by some of the world’s leading experts on the global Humanitarian Islam movement.

The review — published in Volume 30, Issue 1 of Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute — is the latest in a series of analyses by world-leading experts in the fields of anthropology, international relations, geopolitics, religious studies, and global peace and security, who recognize that Humanitarian Islam merits serious academic research.

Dr. Jonathan Benthall — an Honorary Research Associate at University College London who served as Director of the Royal Anthropological Institute for a quarter-century and is founding editor of the academic journal Anthropology Today — wrote the review, which may be read in full below. Continue reading full communiqué…

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2024_02_05_Zayed Award for Human Fraternity

Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah organizations recognized for their contributions to humanity and to international peace and security

“The largest Islamic organization in the world, Nahdlatul Ulama, plays a major role in spearheading global peace and diplomatic efforts”
~ Zayed Award for Human Fraternity

KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf, General Chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board (left) and Dr. Haedar Nashir, Chairman of the Muhammadiyah Central Board, at the Zayed Award ceremony in Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — On 5 February 2024, the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity — a joint initiative of the Holy See, Egypt’s al-Azhar University, and the Government of Abu Dhabi — presented the 2024 Zayed Award for Human Fraternity to Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah organizations for their “respective roles in the humanitarian field, as well as their peacebuilding efforts at the national, regional, and international levels.”

The humanitarian award is named after Shaykh bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founder of the United Arab Emirates, and the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together. His Holiness Pope Francis and His Eminence Shaykh Ahmed al-Tayyeb of al-Azhar signed the Document on Human Fraternity on 4 February 2019 in Abu Dhabi, during the first-ever Papal visit to the Gulf region.

Prior recipients of the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity include Pope Francis and Shaykh Tayyeb; UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres; King Abdullah and Queen Rania of Jordan; and the Roman Catholic grassroots organization Sant’Egidio. Continue reading full communiqué…

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2024_01_28_“Gus Dur” at al-Azhar

Egypt’s al-Azhar University celebrates the life and legacy of KH. Abdurrahman Wahid

“Al-Azhar considers Nahdlatul Ulama to be its sister organization, for NU employs the same classical Sunni religious methodology taught at al-Azhar al-Sharif”
~ Dr. Osama al-Azhari
Advisor for Religious Affairs to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

CAIRO, Egypt, 28 January 2024 — In a sign of Nahdlatul Ulama’s burgeoning influence in the Middle East, al-Azhar University — one of the oldest and most influential seats of learning in Sunni Islam — held an official celebration of H.E. KH. Abdurrahman Wahid’s life and legacy. Popularly known as “Gus Dur,” the long-time Chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama (1984 – 99) and first democratically elected president of Indonesia, attended al-Azhar University in the 1960s.

President Wahid (1940 – 2009) was renowned for his lifelong efforts to promote a pluralistic and tolerant understanding of Islam that enables Muslims to live at peace with the modern world and to embrace the values of democracy and universal human rights. Nahdlatul Ulama’s current initiatives — including the Humanitarian Islam movement, Islamic Jurisprudence for a Global Civilization (fiqh al-hadarah), and the Movement for Shared Civilizational Values — were directly inspired by President Wahid and are being executed by his close friends and disciples. Continue reading full communiqué…

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2024_01_02_The Muslim 500 — 2024

NU Chairman KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf among world’s 20 most influential Muslims

“We need to find a new, moral interpretation of religion that will guide people of different faiths to have more harmonious relations with one another”
~ KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf
The Muslim 500

AMMAN, Jordan, 2 January 2024 — For the second year running, the world’s premier index of Muslim power and influence, The Muslim 500, has ranked Nahdlatul Ulama Chairman KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf among the 20 most influential Muslims on earth.

Mr. Staquf is at the forefront of a global movement working to reform obsolete and problematic tenets within religious orthodoxy, and thereby ensure that religion functions as a genuine and dynamic source of solutions, rather than problems, in the 21st century. He has co-authored numerous landmark theological treatises, declarations, statements, and proclamations that have been disseminated to millions, and which carry the unambiguous support and religious authority of the world’s largest Muslim organization.

The Muslim 500 is published by The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre, a research entity affiliated with the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, headquartered in Amman, the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Continue reading full communiqué…

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2024_01_01_National Post

Roman Catholic priest, professor, and columnist highlights Humanitarian Islam’s potential to transform the Muslim world

“‘Humanitarian Islam’ — a religious vision tolerant of pluralism and committed to interreligious harmony, human rights and democracy [has] the potential to change the thinking of hundreds of millions of Muslims in the next generation… It is a development very much worth watching and, at year’s end, a cause for hope”
~ Fr. Raymond J. de Souza
Senior Fellow at Cardus and the University of Toronto

TORONTO, Canada, 1 January 2024 — On the first day of the New Year, prominent Canadian Catholic priest, professor, and commentator Father Raymond J. de Souza dedicated his column in Canada’s National Post to an expansive analysis of the prospects for Middle East peace.

In his article, titled “A budding peace grows in the Islamic world, despite terrorist efforts,” Fr. de Souza praised Nahdlatul Ulama’s Humanitarian Islam movement for having a greater long-term potential impact than recent diplomatic breakthroughs in the region, such as the Abraham Accords or the Chinese-brokered détente between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Continue reading full communiqué…

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POLITICAL COMMUNIQUÉS – 2023

2023_12_25_Egypt and Indonesia

Egypt’s largest newspaper — state-owned al-Ahram — publishes call for the world to acknowledge and cooperate with Indonesia and Nahdlatul Ulama

“It is important for us to note, and draw the attention of the entire world, to the fact that from 1945 to the present day… Indonesian leaders have steadfastly resisted Islamist efforts to transform their nation into the center of an Islamic state encompassing much of Asia.”
~ Hisham al-Najjar,
al-Ahram (The Pyramids)

CAIRO, Egypt — On Christmas Day 2023, one of the oldest and most influential newspapers in the Arab world, Egypt’s state-owned al-Ahram, published an article highlighting the vital role Indonesia has played, for nearly 80 years, in blocking the spread of Islamist extremism in the Muslim world and beyond, and the similar role played by Egypt.

Had the governments of Egypt and Indonesia not prevented the establishment of transnational Islamic states in Egypt, North Africa, and the Levant, and in Southeast Asia, the world would be faced with a situation in which religious extremists had consolidated political and military power in the heartland of the Arab world and in much of Southeast Asia, as political Islam spread from Indonesia to Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Burma, Singapore, and beyond. These geopolitically strategic regions would threaten non-Muslims worldwide in a manner that would make the church bombings of Christmas Eve 2000, the 2002 Bali bombings, the 1997 Luxor massacre, and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 appear trivial in comparison.

The article’s author, Hisham al-Najjar, enjoys a close relationship with the Egyptian military. In May 2023, he was awarded the title of Distinguished National Leader by Egypt’s highest military educational facility, Nasser High Military Academy for Strategic Studies, whose Supreme Council is headed by the Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces. Mr. al-Najjar has also been honored by Egypt’s National Defense College. Continue reading full communiqué…

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2023_12_20_Bandung AAA Planning Conference

Nahdlatul Ulama and the Republic of Indonesia launch “AAA Initiative” to mobilize the Global South in support of a rules-based international order

“As occurred in this very hall, in 1955…. we of the Global South need to raise our collective voice once again. We need to raise a powerful voice in unison, to remind and educate the people of the world about the remarkable, precious, and yet highly fragile consensus that humanity achieved in 1945: namely, the United Nations Charter.”
~ H.E. KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf
General Chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board

BANDUNG, Indonesia — From 20 – 22 December 2023, the Government of Indonesia and the world’s largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, convened an international planning conference designed to “Revive the Spirit of Bandung and the Non-bloc Movement in Response to Current Geopolitical Dynamics.”

Government ministers, policymakers, foreign observers, diplomats, and ambassadors from 25 nations gathered in the iconic Merdeka Building on Asia-Afrika Street in the city of Bandung, site of the 18 – 24 April 1955 Bandung Conference (image below). The original summit, which was held in the midst of the Cold War, aspired to remake the world on terms more just and favorable to those across the Global South who had been colonized for centuries. Continue reading full communiqué…

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2023_12_17_Real Clear Politics

The Future of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

“75 years ago the UDHR achieved an imperfect but impressive transcultural consensus. Thanks in no small measure to the far-sighted leadership of Nahdlatul Ulama and the Center for Shared Civilizational Values, the UDHR may again imperfectly but impressively capture the shared convictions of the world’s peoples and nations.”
 ~ Peter Berkowitz, writing in Real Clear Politics
Princeton Conference Celebrates UDHR’s 75th Birthday”

Dr. Peter Berkowitz (center left, arms folded) with, around the table from left to right, Rt. Rev. Henry Ndukuba (Anglican Primate of Nigeria); Charles Bhagaskara Taylor (NU); Dr. Najib Azca (Deputy General Secretary, NU); Rabbi Prof. Alan Brill (Seaton Hall University); Rabbi Silvina Chemen (Seminario Rabínico Latinoamericano, Argentina); Shaykh Syed Salman Chishty (Dargah Ajmer Sharif, India); Elder Robert M. Daines (LDS Church); Rob Howell (LDS); The Hon. Ján Figel (former European Commissioner, Slovakia); Prince Gharios El Chemor of the 1,500-year-old Christian Ghassanid dynasty (Lebanon/Brazil); Dr. Robert Hefner (Boston University); and Shaykh Kabir Helminski (USA)

PRINCETON, New Jersey — On 17 December 2023 Dr. Peter Berkowitz, former Director of the Policy Planning Staff at the US State Department and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, published an article in which he wrote:

Amid political turmoil abroad and widespread intellectual confusion at home, renewing appreciation of human rights and their proper place in democratic self-government and responsible foreign policy is for the United States a vital act of democratic self-government and responsible foreign policy….

In the face of these daunting headwinds – and almost exactly 75 years to the day after the United States joined 47 other nations at the United Nations to adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (none voted against the UDHR, eight abstained, two did not vote) – a two-day conference held last week at Princeton University gathered approximately 40 religious leaders and scholars from around the world to reaffirm the power of human rights to unite peoples and nations. Princeton’s James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions cohosted “The Future of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” with Nahdlatul Ulama, headquartered in Indonesia and, with around 100,000,000 members, the world’s largest independent Muslim organization; the Center for Shared Civilizational Values, which works closely with NU; and the G20 Religion Forum (R20), for which the Center for Shared Civilizational Values serves as a permanent secretariat. The conference aimed to build a “global consensus” that the UDHR embodies assumptions, principles, and goals that, consistent with the best in their own traditions, the world’s peoples and nations “should strive to fulfill.” Continue reading full communiqué…

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2023_12_14_R20 Princeton UDHR Conference

Towards a Global Consensus that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Embodies a Civilizational Vision that the World’s Diverse Peoples, Faiths, and Nations Should Strive to Fulfill

“This is not just another meeting among countless meetings. It is essential to say ‘Hineni!’ — We are here! In the midst of so much hate speech, polarization, death, horror, wars, and the widespread trampling of human dignity: We are here!”
~ Rabbi Silvina Chemen
Seminario Rabínico Latinoamericano (Argentina)

Nassau Hall at Princeton University (est. 1746)

PRINCETON, New Jersey — On 13 – 14 December 2023, international religious authorities and scholars representing the world’s major faith traditions gathered in Princeton to discuss the future of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and build upon the momentum of previous G20 Religion Forum (R20) summits held in Bali, Surabaya, and Jakarta, Indonesia.

Princeton University’s James Madison Program for American Ideals and Institutions hosted the conference, which was co-sponsored by the world’s largest Muslim organization, Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, the Center for Shared Civilizational Values (CSCV), the R20, and the global Humanitarian Islam movement.

Following a two-day exchange of ideas and substantive discussion, participants adopted a twelve-point R20 Princeton Declaration, which concludes: Continue reading full communiqué…

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2023_12_08_Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal op-ed highlights Nahdlatul Ulama and the Center for Shared Civilizational Values:

“Humanitarian Islam, the inclusive, tolerant form of Islam promoted by that 100-million-member group [NU], has real potential to shift the probabilities for peace in many parts of the world.”
 ~ Mary Ann Glendon,
“There’s Life Yet in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”

NEW YORK CITY, New York, 08 December 2023 — Two days before the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by Harvard Law Professor (emerita) and former US Ambassador to the Holy See Mary Ann Glendon, analyzing the current state of the UDHR.

Titled “There’s Life Yet in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Professor Glendon noted that “In the face of war and atrocities, the principles of the 75-year-old document remain sound.” In particular, Professor Glendon noted that:

The Center for Shared Civilizational Values, founded by the Indonesia-based Nahdlatul Ulama, wants to build a movement to strengthen a rules-based international order grounded in universal principles. Joining in that endeavor is the world’s largest network of political parties, Centrist Democrat International, composed mostly of European and Latin American political parties. In 2020 both organizations called for renewed global support of the human-rights principles in the Universal Declaration. That East-West collaboration is evidence that the core principles of the Universal Declaration have foundations in most of the world’s great philosophical and religious systems. Continue reading full communique…

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2023_11_27_R20 ISORA

R20 International Summit of Religious Authorities (ISORA):

Religion’s Role in Addressing Middle East Violence and Threats to a Rules-based International Order

“I would like to thank all R20 ISORA delegates for actively working with Indonesia to help bridge differences and uphold international peace and security. For it is unconscionable that in today’s hyper-modern world, civilians, women, and children are openly massacred, and wars continue to rage unchecked.”
~ H.E. Joko Widodo
President of the Republic of Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia — On 27 November 2023, the president of the world’s largest Muslim-majority democracy joined the leadership of Nahdlatul Ulama, the G20 Religion Forum (R20), and the Center for Shared Civilizational Values in convening leaders of the world’s major faith traditions to discuss “Religion’s Role in Addressing Middle East Violence and Threats to a Rules-based International Order.”

The R20 International Summit of Religious Authorities (ISORA) was convened in direct response to the 7 October 2023 surprise attack upon Israel, and the massive civilian casualties inflicted by both parties to the current Israel-Hamas war.

In a striking demonstration of his personal support for Nahdlatul Ulama and the R20, President Joko Widodo (“Jokowi”) delivered the R20 ISORA’s keynote address in the presence of multiple cabinet ministers, foreign ambassadors, and religious authorities from six continents, who gathered in Jakarta on short notice to discuss and develop effective strategies to: (i) prevent the political weaponization of identity; (ii) curtail the spread of communal hatred; (iii) promote solidarity and respect among the diverse peoples, cultures, and nations of the world; and (iv) foster the emergence of a more just and harmonious world order, founded upon respect for the equal rights and dignity of every human being. Continue reading full communiqué…

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2023_11_24_Lessons from the Israel–Hamas War

“Gaza divides the wheat from the chaff among religious leaders”

~ Dr. James M. Dorsey, Times of Israel

“The illusion that fundamentalism and terrorism can be overcome with Western tools has been completely shattered. In light of the left’s intellectual hypocrisy and the right’s lust for war, it may be time for a new approach.
~ Dr. Amit Varshizky, Haaretz

TEL AVIV, Israel, 24 November 2023 — Two essays that were recently published in leading Israeli newspapers highlight religion’s critical role in shaping geopolitical dynamics. The articles contrast the humane and constructive engagement of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama in this vital arena with the harsh and polarizing rhetoric generally employed on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide.

In an in-depth analytical piece titled “Israel–Hamas War: What if there’s another way to fight fundamentalism?” author and historian Dr. Amit Varshizky writes:

Only a Muslim struggle which calls, for example, for what’s known as ijtihad (renewal of religious rulings in the direction of openness and social reform), or the adoption of a moderate, tolerant form of Islam such as was introduced by Abdurrahman Wahid, the fourth president of Indonesia and onetime chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest Sunni religious-political movement, will be able to accelerate liberalization processes in Muslim society and mitigate entrenched resentments that originate in the disparity between a feeling of religious supremacy and political weakness. Voices like this, it must be acknowledged with regret, are very much absent in the Muslim Middle East today. Continue reading full communiqué…

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2023_11_14_ASEAN and Centrist Democrat International

Strengthening ties between Nahdlatul Ulama, ASEAN, and the world’s largest political network, Centrist Democrat International

“[Centrist Democrat International] calls upon CDI member parties to expand cooperation with ASEAN Member States and the ASEAN Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue Conference, in order to strengthen shared civilizational values and thereby foster peace, security, and economic prosperity worldwide”
~ CDI Executive Committee, Brussels, 14 November 2023

BRUSSELS, Belgium — On Tuesday 14 November 2023, the Executive Committee of Centrist Democrat International unanimously adopted a resolution calling upon CDI member parties to expand cooperation with ASEAN and the ASEAN Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue Conference (ASEAN IIDC).

The event was held in the Jacques Delors Building, which houses The European Committee of The Regions (CoR), the European Union’s assembly of local and regional representatives that provides sub-national authorities with a direct voice within the EU’s institutional framework. CDI’s European affiliate is the European People’s Party (EPP) — the largest political grouping within the European Parliament, whose member parties govern sixteen (16) EU Member States.

CDI’s endorsement of the ASEAN IIDC throws the collective weight of the world’s largest political network — with 109 member parties in 83 countries — behind a visionary agenda pioneered by Nahdlatul Ulama and the Center for Shared Civilizational Values: i.e., the re-emergence of Southeast Asia as a coherent civilizational sphere and powerful, independent pillar of support for a rules-based international order. Continue reading full communiqué…

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2023_10_09_Gaza Crisis

Nahdlatul Ulama moves to block the political weaponization of religion amidst the escalating Gaza crisis

“We urge that religious inspiration — including the values of universal love and compassion, human fraternity, and justice — be brought to the forefront of public awareness to help resolve conflict at every level of society, from the grassroots to the corridors of state power.”
~ Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board

JAKARTA, Indonesia — On 9 October 2023, the world’s largest Muslim organization released an official statement in response to the Gaza crisis and its potentially devastating regional and global consequences.

The statement by Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) comes amid escalating violence between Israelis and Palestinians, which threatens to destabilize societies worldwide by enflaming ethnic and religious tensions in regions as diverse as North America, Latin America, Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and Australia. Continue reading full communiqué…

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2023_09_28_Brill Academic Publishers: “Humanitarian Islam”

Leading academics explore the significance of Indonesia’s Humanitarian Islam movement in a volume published by Brill

“Humanitarian Islam can, indeed, be analyzed as a powerful discursive strategy of Indonesian foreign policy”
~ From the Introduction to “Humanitarian Islam”

LEIDEN, Netherlands and VIENNA, Austria — In August 2023, one of continental Europe’s oldest and most prestigious academic publishers released an edited volume compiling analyses of Indonesia’s “Humanitarian Islam” movement by some of the world’s leading scholars of Islam in Europe and the United States.

Co-published by Brill (est. 1683) and the University of Vienna (est. 1365), Humanitarian Islam: Reflecting on an Islamic Concept was co-edited by Dr. Rüdiger Lohlker and Dr. Katharina Ivanyi, and appears as Volume 24 in a series titled “Religion and Transformation in Contemporary European Society.” With offices in Leiden, Boston, Paderborn, and Singapore, Brill publishes 275 journals and around 1,200 new books and reference works each year, all of which are subject to external peer review. Continue reading full communiqué…

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2023_08_16_The Economist

The Economist: “Indonesia wants to export moderate Islam”

The world’s largest Muslim-majority country enters the Islamic debate

WESTMINSTER, London — On 16 August 2023, the world’s most influential English-language news magazine published an article that confirms both Nahdlatul Ulama’s, and Indonesia’s, rising international influence. In a feature titled “Indonesia wants to export moderate Islam,” The Economist credited Nahdlatul Ulama for preserving Indonesia’s traditions of religious pluralism and tolerance, while projecting these values on the world stage.

The news story highlighted NU’s Centennial Proclamation, with its “call for the abandonment of the Caliphate,” and a 2019 fiqh (Islamic-jurisprudential) ruling that Muslims should “accept the reality of the nation state,” as well as “reject the concept of kafir, or infidel, and accept non-Muslims as fellow citizens.”   The Economist also noted the significance of the G20 Religion Forum (R20) and the ASEAN Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue Conference (IIDC), which Nahdlatul Ulama convened in November 2022 and August 2023, respectively. Continue reading full communiqué…

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2023_08_07_ASEAN IIDC Closing Ceremony and Final Communiqué

“Shared civilizational values are a bridge that unites us, offering ASEAN the potential to become a major regional and global power.”
~ His Excellency H. Yaqut Cholil Qoumas
Minister of Religious Affairs, Republic of Indonesia
“Islam in Indonesia has always been a religious tradition inclined to provide refuge and protection to minority groups. We want that spirit of humility, kindness, and service to others to become the dominant expression of religiosity throughout the world.”
~ Hj. Zannuba Ariffah Chafsoh (Yenny Wahid)

JAKARTA, Indonesia, 7 August 2023 — The seventh and final plenary session of the ASEAN Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue Conference witnessed the adoption of the Summit’s final communiqué, the ASEAN IIDC Jakarta Declaration. The 5-page document articulates a clear strategic vision and program of action to foster the re-emergence of Southeast Asia as a coherent civilizational sphere and powerful, independent pillar of support for a rules-based international order. Continue reading full communiqué…

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2023_08_07_ASEAN IIDC Plenary Session 6

From ASEAN to the World:
The Movement for Shared Civilizational Values

“There are efforts underway — in ASEAN and other parts of the world — to develop and strengthen a conceptual framework that does not regard others as solely good or evil, but views politics in terms of doing what is right and avoiding the greatest evil of all, which is war.”
~ H.E. Sidharto Reza Suryodipuro
Director General for ASEAN Cooperation,
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia, 7 August 2023 — The ASEAN Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue Conference (ASEAN IIDC) showcased the burgeoning efforts of Nahdlatul Ulama, the Government of Indonesia, and the Center for Shared Civilizational Values (CSCV) to revive the ancient civilizational heritage of South and Southeast Asia through an initiative also known as “The Ashoka Approach.”

The final plenary session of the ASEAN IIDC discussed the global ramifications of these efforts. Specifically, Nahdlatul Ulama and CSCV seek to facilitate the re-emergence of South and Southeast Asia as a coherent civilizational sphere and powerful, independent pillar of support for a rules-based international order at a time of rising international chaos and human rights abuse worldwide. Continue reading full communiqué…

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2023_08_07_ASEAN IIDC Plenary Session 5

Transforming ASEAN into an epicentrum of peace, tolerance, and harmony through shared civilizational values

“We share a civilization dating back 2,600 years, and stand on a common ground of shared values, ancient language, culture, and spirituality. This makes us who we really are as ASEAN.
~ Venerable Phra Shakyavongsvisuddhi (Anil Sakya)
Director, Peandin Dhamma Foundation

JAKARTA, Indonesia, 7 August 2023 — The fifth plenary session of the ASEAN Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue Conference discussed the potential for religious leaders to revitalize Southeast Asia’s shared civilizational heritage in order to resolve conflict and foster peace, tolerance, and harmony throughout the region.

Moderated by Dr. Muhammad Najib Azca — Deputy General Secretary of the Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board and a senior lecturer in the Sociology Department of Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia’s premier seat of higher learning — the plenary convened religious leaders with decades of experience in conflict resolution and a deep appreciation for the powerful socio-political reality of ASEAN shared civilizational values. Continue reading full communiqué…

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2023_08_07_ASEAN IIDC Plenary Session 4

The Ashoka Approach:

Rediscovering and re-enlivening the principle of “unity in diversity” throughout Southeast Asia

“The ASEAN region constitutes a unique ‘civilization of civilizations.’ It is, in fact, a ‘confluence of civilizations.’ In a world riven by conflict, it can help other societies, and cultures, learn how to coexist peacefully.”
~ Dr. Timothy S. Shah
Co-founder & Director of Strategic Initiatives, Center for Shared Civilizational Values

JAKARTA, Indonesia, 7 August 2023 — The fourth plenary session of the ASEAN Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue Conference (ASEAN IIDC) convened religious leaders and scholars from South and Southeast Asia for a panel discussion that explored how to reawaken the ancient spiritual, cultural, and socio-political heritage of what was once a largely cohesive Indianized cultural sphere, or “Indosphere.” Home to an immense variety of ethnic and religious groups, this region pioneered shared civilizational values rooted in the principle of “oneness amid diversity,” including religious pluralism and tolerance, long before the West began to widely embrace these values in the modern era.

Roughly co-extensive with South and Southeast Asia, the Indosphere is a vast geographic and cultural zone stretching from Pakistan to Indonesia, which was formatively and permanently shaped by great spiritual traditions — including Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism — that originated in the Indian subcontinent.

The panel was moderated by Dr. Timothy S. Shah, an Indian-American scholar of Jain descent, who directs the Center for Shared Civilizational Values’ South Asian operations from an office in Bangalore, India. Continue reading full communiqué…

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2023_08_07_ASEAN IIDC Plenary Session 3

ASEAN Shared Civilizational Values: Building an Epicentrum of Harmony to Foster Peace, Security, and Economic Prosperity in Southeast Asia

“What the world needs today is unconditional love, which heals divides that are based on the color of our skin, the languages we speak, and the religions we profess. This pure, unconditional love may be found in the essence of all religions.”
~ Sister Loh Pai Ling
President of the Buddhist Missionary Society of Malaysia

JAKARTA, Indonesia, 7 August 2023 — Plenary Session 3 of the ASEAN Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue Conference featured a series of short addresses delivered by prominent religious leaders from ASEAN Member States, India, and China regarding how moral and spiritual values shared by the diverse peoples of Southeast Asia might help transform the region into an epicentrum of peace, harmony, and economic prosperity.

The session featured contributions from senior Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, and Confucian religious leaders, and was hosted by Dr. Al Makin, rector of one of the world’s leading Islamic universities, Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University, in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Continue reading full communiqué…

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2023_08_07_ASEAN IIDC Session 2: Character Education

Indonesia’s Minister of Education commends students for their contribution to ASEAN:

“Your outstanding proposal has helped shape key elements of the ASEAN Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue Conference and its long-term agenda” 

“We urge government leaders to strengthen character education within the national curricula of ASEAN Member States, so that youth may successfully adapt to the modern world, while simultaneously developing a way of life that imparts the inner resources, character, and resilience required to overcome the negative influences of modernity and globalization.”
~ Students of State Middle School 1
Magelang, Central Java

JAKARTA, Indonesia, 5 September 2023 — The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has endorsed a call by Indonesian middle school students to “strengthen character education within the national curricula of ASEAN Member States, so that youth may successfully adapt to the modern world, while simultaneously developing a way of life that imparts the inner resources, character, and resilience required to overcome the negative influences of modernity and globalization.”

The Chairman’s Statement of the 43rd ASEAN Summit, which was unanimously adopted by all 10 ASEAN heads of state and government, who convened in Jakarta, Indonesia from 5 – 7 September 2023, “reaffirmed the importance of fostering the values of an inclusive, sustainable, resilient, dynamic, and harmonious ASEAN Community through facilitating a greater understanding of shared civilisational values derived from the ASEAN region’s culture and religions.” Continue reading full communiqué…

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2023_08_07_ASEAN Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue Conference (ASEAN IIDC)

Indonesian leadership in the movement for pluralist reawakening in South and Southeast Asia

We have launched the ASEAN Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue Conference in order to begin consolidating a vast constituency upon the basis of shared civilizational values, capable of fostering peace, tolerance, and harmony throughout ASEAN and, God willing, of inspiring a similar dynamic worldwide.
~ KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf
Chairman, Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board

KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf and H.E. Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia (center), with religious leaders from ASEAN Member States and beyond

JAKARTA, Indonesia — On 7 August, 2023, senior religious and cultural figures from across South and Southeast Asia convened with the leadership of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the Government of Indonesia to chart a course for the region’s re-emergence as a cohesive, vital, and proactive civilizational sphere.

Hosted by Nahdlatul Ulama with the full support of the Government of Indonesia and the ASEAN Secretariat, the two-day ASEAN Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue Conference (IIDC) offered a striking demonstration of broad institutional, popular, and governmental backing for a regional strategy pioneered by NU leaders and the Center for Shared Civilizational Values (CSCV), known as the “Ashoka Approach.” Continue reading full communiqué…

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2023_08_04_R20 Book Launch

Proceedings of the R20 International Summit of Religious Leaders illuminates NU strategy to avert a global “clash of civilizations”

“The launching of this book… is nothing less than a transformative moment in contemporary world affairs. The book provides a breathtaking overview of the ideas and exchanges animating the most comprehensive meeting of religious leaders from around the world ever organized”
~ Robert Hefner,
Professor of Anthropology and International Relations at Boston University and President of the American Institute for Indonesian Studies

YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia — On 4 August, 2023, scholars and religious leaders from across the world gathered in the historic Senate Building of Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) — Indonesia’s premier seat of higher learning — for the official launch of a seminal work titled Proceedings of the R20 International Summit of Religious Leaders in Bali, Indonesia. A panel of highly respected scholars representing a wide range of academic disciplines praised the 428-page volume for providing a clear vision and practical roadmap whereby the world’s major religions “may become a genuine and dynamic source of solutions, rather than problems.”

In a world in which scholarly publications are often slow to reach the printing press and strikingly expensive, Nahdlatul Ulama, the Center for Shared Civilizational Values, and the G20 Religion Forum (R20) worked with Gadjah Mada University Press — the publishing house of Indonesia’s top university — to make Proceedings of the R20 available in both high-quality hardback and an open-access online version, nine months after the event was held in Bali, Indonesia. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2023_06_30_“Pak Kaji Muh”

Special advisor to Nahdlatul Ulama Chairman performs haj — one of the five “pillars of Islam” — for the first time, in the company of NU spiritual leaders

“Because of his devoted service to Nahdlatul Ulama, Gus Yahya bestowed a ‘special gift’ upon Mr. Taylor: an invitation from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to perform the haj pilgrimage”
~ Suara Merdeka (The Voice of Freedom)

C. Holland Taylor (aka Muhammad Kholil) at Mount Arafat with senior NU leaders including KH. Miftahul Akhyar, Chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama Supreme Council; KH. Afifuddin Muhajir, Deputy Chair of the Supreme Council; and the heads of prominent pesantren (Islamic boarding schools) KH. Abdul Hamid Wahid; KH. Ahmad Jauhari; and KH. Ubaidillah Faqih

MINA (MECCA), Saudi Arabia — On 30 June 2023 (12 Dhuʻl-Hijjah, 1444 H) senior leaders of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest Muslim organization, held a selamatan ceremony (traditional meal accompanied by prayer) to formalize the awarding of an Arabic name to C. Holland Taylor, following his successful completion of the haj for the first time. Mr. Taylor serves as Special Advisor for International Affairs to the General Chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board, Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf. At Mr. Staquf’s request, Mr. Taylor assumed the name Muhammad Kholil during his pilgrimage to Mecca in the company of more than forty Nahdlatul Ulama leaders. Continue reading full communiqué…

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2023_06_15_ASEAN Shared Civilizational Values

World’s largest Muslim organization launches a movement for pluralist re-awakening in South and Southeast Asia

NU coordinates with the Government of Indonesia and ASEAN to build consensus regarding values that may serve as the foundation for an emerging global civilization
“[S]hared civilizational values can play an important role in mobilizing a vast constituency to support a more peaceful and harmonious global civilization, founded upon respect for the equal rights and dignity of every human being
~ KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf
General Chairman, Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board

H. Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, Minister of Religious Affairs, Republic of Indonesia; President Joko Widodo; and KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta, following discussion of the ASEAN Summit

SURABAYA, Indonesia — On 15 June, 2023, religious leaders from around Indonesia and across its faith traditions gathered in East Java for a workshop socializing Nahdlatul Ulama’s vision and strategy to consolidate South and Southeast Asia as an alternate pillar of support for a rules-based international order founded upon respect for the equal rights and dignity of every human being. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2023_05_18_Centrist Democrat International Resolution on the R20

World’s largest political network endorses the G20 Religion Forum:

“[T]he R20 functions as an inclusive, cross-cultural platform designed to infuse the world’s political and economic power structures with moral and spiritual values”

BLED, Slovenia — On 18 May 2023, the world’s largest political network, Centrist Democrat International (CDI) — which has 109 member parties in 83 countries — unanimously adopted a resolution endorsing the G20 Religion Forum (R20) at its General Assembly, held in close proximity to the Church of the Assumption of Mary (photo above), an ancient pilgrimage site that lies at the heart of Slovenian identity.

The resolution, submitted by Indonesia’s National Awakening Party (PKB), “calls upon [CDI] member parties, and all G20 Member States, to cooperate in securing recognition of the R20 as a permanent G20 Engagement Group,” “as a means of providing a seat at the G20 table for religious communities and their leaders.”

As the resolution points out, “religious believers constitute the single largest demographic within the human family, whose share of the global population is estimated to exceed 80%.” Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2023_05_06_Muslim Women Prepare to Lead

Nahdlatul Ulama empowers women to issue Islamic rulings (fatwas)

“The principle is ‘appoint whoever is most able.’ It’s as simple as that. If women have a greater capacity than men, that’s not a problem, for the Prophet said of [his wife] Sayyidina Aisha, ‘take half of your religion from this woman.’”
~ KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf
Chairman, Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board
NU encourages Muslims to follow a “middle path,” between the extremes of Islamist and militant secular ideology

PURWAKARTA, West Java, 6 May 2023 — For the first time in its 100-year history, the world’s largest Muslim organization has authorized female religious scholars to address issues related to Islamic law, by opening participation in Lembaga Bahtsul Masa’il (LBM) decision-making to women.

A prestigious division of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), LBM is composed of prominent ulama (religious scholars) whose knowledge and mastery of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) qualifies them to issue authoritative rulings on matters of practical and immediate concern to Muslims. Historically, throughout the Muslim world, the authority to issue fatwas has, with rare exceptions, been conferred almost exclusively upon men. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2023_04_24_Anglican Schism

The Turbulent World:

“Anglican schism is not just about theology. It’s about geopolitics too.”

“In a twist of irony, Nahdlatul Ulama, a conservative, Indonesia-based reformist Muslim civil society movement, has discreetly stepped into the breach left by the Anglican church…. NU included Archbishop Henry Ndukuba, the primate of Nigeria, in the opening plenary of [the R20] summit of religious leaders held in Bali in November 2022.”

Nahdlatul Ulama Chairman KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf presents a commemorative plaque to Archbishop Henry Chukwudum Ndukuba, Primate of the Church of Nigeria, at the G20 Religion Forum (R20) in Bali

 James M. Dorsey   |   April 24, 2023

KIGALI, Rwanda — A schism that could tear the Anglican church apart is about more than LGBTQ rights. It’s about fundamental cultural and religious differences with potentially profound consequences for the geopolitical battle to shape a 21st-century world order.

The rift also raises questions about the Church of England’s priorities at a time when the Anglican congregation in Nigeria, home to the world’s largest Anglican community, is under persistent attack by Muslim militias in an environment of escalating violence in the country that targets multiple communitiesContinue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2023_04_21_In the Black Hole

Pakistani nuclear scientist and human rights activist, Pervez Hoodbhoy, hosts in-depth public discussion of Nahdlatul Ulama’s agenda

“Past proponents of reform in Islam were individual thinkers, maybe small groups of thinkers. They were not organisations with the kind of power that Nahdlatul Ulama represents.”

The following text and transcript appear courtesy of Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy and Dr. James M. Dorsey:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan / 21 April 2023 — Pakistan ranks high on the list of Muslim-majority countries in which significant segments of the population are, in religious terms, militantly ultra-conservative. It’s a country where the impact of decades of Saudi funding of ultra-conservative religious thinking has left deep inroads.

It’s also a country in which numerous people over the years have been killed or lynched by outraged individuals or mobs over allegations of blasphemy, or for expressing opposition to harsh laws that mandate the death sentence for blasphemy. Since 1990, more than 80 people have been killed in such violence. This month, a Chinese national was remanded in custody after protesters accused him of blasphemy. Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2023_04_13_Ramadan Forum

Building Peace Between Palestine and Israel, on the Basis of Sunni Islamic Jurisprudence for a Global Civilization (fiqh hadarah ahl al-sunnah wa-al-jama‘ah) and Jewish Law (halakha)

Many people involved in this conflict believe that the solution is to eliminate the other side. But a genuine solution requires striving to create a better future for all humanity, not simply our own religious group.
~ KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf, addressing the Ramadan Forum at UIII

DEPOK, Indonesia — On the afternoon of 13 April 2023, Indonesia’s flagship International Islamic University (UIII) served as the venue for a wide-ranging discussion of the prospects for building peace between Palestine and Israel, through the reform of obsolete and problematic tenets of both Islamic, and Jewish, orthodoxy. The Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board (PBNU) initiated and co-sponsored the event — advocating a novel approach to fostering Middle East peace.

Experts on Islam, Judaism, and the Middle East addressed a live audience during a 2 ½ -hour discussion that was livestreamed by UIII and TVNU.

Shaykh Mohammed Abdalhafez Yousef Azzam, Deputy Chief Judge of the Palestinian Authority’s Islamic court system, stated his position clearly in remarks delivered before an international audience gathered at UIII in a suburb of metropolitan Jakarta: “There is no basis within Islamic law for establishing peace with Israel.” Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2023_04_11_GetReligion

Award-winning journalist Richard Ostling:
Nahdlatul Ulama’s “[c]ampaign for thorough reform of Muslim law deserves mainstream coverage – now”

Nahdlatul Ulama leaders pray at a gathering of almost two million followers in Sidoarjo, East Java on 7 February 2023

NEW YORK, 11 April 2023 — One of America’s leading religious affairs commentators — a veteran journalist who produced 23 cover stories for Time Magazine over the course of his decades-long career — has called on Western media to take note of Nahdlatul Ulama’s campaign for “thorough worldwide reform of how to understand [Islam’s] religious law (Sharia),” and give it the serious coverage it deserves.

“Far from some esoteric intellectual discourse,” Richard Ostling writes, “such a philosophical change could potentially affect the future of the world’s second-largest faith regarding democracy, blasphemy laws, human rights, education, the role of women, treatment of other religions, warfare, extremism, terrorism and crime and punishment.” Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2023_04_02_Dawn

Ongoing dialogue between Nahdlatul Ulama and Hindu nationalists attracts increasing global attention

“Indonesia has been contributing significantly to the development of discourse on Islamic jurisprudence.”
~ Dawn (Pakistan)

Badshahi mosque in Lahore, Pakistan, former capital of the Mughal Empire

KARACHI, Pakistan, 2 April 2023 — Pakistan’s newspaper of record and most influential English-language daily, Dawn, has published an article praising Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama and its significant contribution to the development of discourse on Islamic jurisprudence.

In an article titled “End of ideology,” prominent security analyst and columnist Muhammad Amir Rana noted that “Nahdlatul Ulama has been advocating for abolishing the concept of caliphate and replacing it with the idea of the nation state. It has also issued a decree or fatwa to erase the concept of kafir or infidel from Islamic jurisprudence and replace it with the idea of citizenship.” Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2023_03_29_Sciences Po “Focus”

Sciences Po, the EU’s top university in the field of politics and international affairs

“Nahdlatul Ulama has laid down a marker that other Muslim religious authorities will ultimately be unable to ignore if they want recognition as proponents of a genuinely moderate Islam.”
~ Dr. James M. Dorsey
L’Observatoire International du Religieux

KH. A. Mustofa Bisri, former Chairman of the NU Supreme Council, delivering the Nahdlatul Ulama Centennial Proclamation in Sidoarjo, East Java on 7 February 2023

PARIS, France, March 2023 — For the second time in three months, an elite academic research program supported by France’s Ministry of Armed Forces has highlighted the geopolitical significance of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, and its efforts to reform obsolete and problematic tenets of religious orthodoxy.

Established at the height of the Islamic State movement, when over 4,000 French citizens joined ISIS, L’Observatoire International du Religieux seeks to clarify contemporary religious phenomena and their interaction with politics. The Observatory is financially supported by the Directorate General for International Relations and Strategy of France’s Ministry of Armed Forces. Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2023_03_21_Strategic Triangulation

Wall Street Journal:

“India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is, from the standpoint of American national interests, the most important foreign political party in the world”

NEW DELHI and LUCKNOW, India — On 21 March 2023 Wall Street Journal foreign affairs analyst Walter Russell Mead published his weekly “Global View” column with the title “India’s BJP Is the World’s Most Important Party.” He went on to add that “It may also be the least understood.”

Mr. Mead’s column appeared immediately “[a]fter an intensive series of meetings with senior BJP and RSS leaders, as well as some of their critics,” facilitated by Dr. Timothy S. Shah, Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Center for Shared Civilizational Values, and Sri Ram Madhav Varanasi, who previously served as National General Secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Mr. Madhav is also a member of the National Executive of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Corps, or RSS), a Hindu-nationalist mass organization established in 1925. Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2023_03_13_Borobudur: A Center of Worship for Buddhist Pilgrims

Indonesian film promotes Buddhist pilgrimage in world’s largest Muslim-majority nation

“Borobudur is a civilizational wonder that belongs to all humanity. We pray that Buddhists throughout the world will visit this great temple for pilgrimage and worship”
~ Minister of Religious Affairs H. Yaqut Cholil Qoumas

Bhante Sri Pannavaro Mahathera, Vice President of the World Theravada Sangha and head of Vihara Mendut, a Buddhist monastery 3 kilometers from Borobudur Temple

BOROBUDUR, Indonesia, 13 March 2023 — The government of the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation and democracy has released a 16-minute film (above) inviting Buddhist pilgrims throughout the world to visit Borobudur Temple, one of the religion’s most sacred and historic sites.

The 9th century Buddhist temple — the largest on earth — is located on the heavily populated island of Java, which constitutes the geographic, political, cultural, and economic center of Indonesia, and is the heartland of the world’s largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU). Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2023_03_09_Short Film: R20 in Java

“Shine Your Light, the great Light, so that we may grasp the beauty of Truth and follow it, and can grasp the consequences of evil and stay away from it.”

“Yesterday we told all of our students that THIS [R20] is the jihad of today”
~ KH. Azka Sya’bana, Trustee
Pandanaran Islamic Boarding School (Yogyakarta)

JAKARTA, Indonesia and WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina / 9 March 2023 — The permanent secretariat of the G20 Religion Forum (R20) has released the second of two films documenting the inaugural R20 Summit in Bali and a subsequent planning conference held in Yogyakarta, the heartland of Javanese civilization. Created by a team of European filmmakers who have decades of experience producing advertisements for some of world’s major fashion houses and corporate brands, the 10-minute film enables viewers to directly experience the culture that gave birth to Nahdlatul Ulama and the R20.

Following two days of intensive, formal deliberations among more than 400 religious leaders and scholars gathered from around the world and across its major faith traditions, R20 delegates traveled from Bali to the island of Java to plan the future direction of the R20. Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2023_03_07_Short Film: R20 Summit in Bali

“Welcome to Bali, the land of Hindus, in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country”

“Even before I came to this meeting, I was anticipating that [the R20] was going to be a landmark event for one reason: it represented an acknowledgment on the part of the G20 that religion is a factor that can’t be ignored in geopolitical policy and planning.”
~ Professor Mary Ann Glendon, Harvard University

H.E. Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia, addresses the opening session of the R20 Summit

JAKARTA, Indonesia and WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina / 7 March 2023 — The permanent secretariat of the G20 Religion Forum (R20) has released the first of two films documenting the inaugural R20 Summit — which was held from 2 – 3 November 2022 on the tropical island of Bali — and a subsequent R20 planning conference convened in the heartland of Javanese civilization. An official G20 Main Event, the R20 Summit gathered more than 400 religious, political, economic, and thought leaders from around the world to “help ensure that religion functions as a genuine and dynamic source of solutions, rather than problems, in the 21st century.” Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2023_02_16_al-Ahram

Egypt’s al-Ahram newspaper hails Nahdlatul Ulama project “to transform Islam from a problem — as it is in many nations — into a solution”

“The majority of Muslims look to the Arab world for guidance, but the failure of this region’s ulama to keep up with the transformations taking place will lead to the rug being pulled out from under them… by Nahdlatul Ulama and its new Chairman”
~ Mohamed Abu Al-Fadl
Deputy Editor, al-Ahram (The Pyramids)

CAIRO, Egypt, 16 February 2023 — One of the oldest and most influential newspapers in the Arab world, Egypt’s al-Ahram (est. 1875), has published a highly favorable analysis of Nahdlatul Ulama’s efforts to recontextualize obsolete and problematic tenets of Islamic orthodoxy. In the words of Mohamed Abu Al-Fadl, deputy editor of al-Ahram, “NU inevitably faces great challenges, and deserves support. For Nahdlatul Ulama’s project is not only consistent with a rules-based international order and the Charter of the United Nations, but could clearly serve the interests of Arab governments that are locked in an unavoidable confrontation with extremist ideas.”

Dr. Abu Al-Fadl’s article appeared following his participation in the First International Convention on Islamic Jurisprudence for a Global Civilization in Surabaya, Indonesia on 6 February. This was Dr. Abu Al-Fadl’s third visit to Indonesia since 2015, when his extensive reporting on Nahdlatul Ulama, in al-Ahram and al-Arab, precipitated The New York Times’ publication of a highly influential article titled “From Indonesia, a Muslim Challenge to the Ideology of the Islamic State.”

Dr. Abu Al-Fadl’s latest article includes a highly critical analysis of the Arab world’s failure to substantively engage with Nahdlatul Ulama’s project to recontextualize Islamic teachings, and the consequences thereof. “Nahdlatul Ulama’s project revolves around separating politics from religion and breaking out of the mental prison of calls to establish an Islamic caliphate. . . . So long as the Arab world remains mired in the trench of traditional Islamic orthodoxy, we will not escape the catastrophic impact this has upon governments, nations, and the future.” Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2023_02_13_Doctor Honoris Causa

Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot,
MCCJ Prefect of the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue at the Holy See:
“I am deeply touched to be the first Roman Catholic Cardinal ever to receive an honorary doctorate from an Islamic University”
KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf,
Chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board:
“All my activism under the flag of Nahdlatul Ulama — both domestically and internationally — bears the theme of this struggle for the wellbeing of all humanity and the future of human civilization”

YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia — On 13 February 2023, Pope Francis’ personal emissary for interreligious dialogue, Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, joined Nahdlatul Ulama Chairman KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf and former Muhammadiyah Chairman Dr. Sudibyo Markus in a ceremony at Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University, where the three religious leaders were awarded honorary doctorates for “Fostering Global Peace, Human Fraternity, and Unity in Diversity.”

Broadcast live and heavily covered by Indonesian mass media, the ceremony was attended by a wide range of dignitaries, including religious leaders, academics, and senior officials from both the Vatican and the government of popular two-term Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2023_02_07_Nahdlatul Ulama Centennial

Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf:
“Welcome to the second century of Nahdlatul Ulama!”

“In the view of Nahdlatul Ulama, the most appropriate and effective means to promote the wellbeing of Muslims worldwide is to foster the wellbeing of all humanity, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and to acknowledge the brotherhood of all human beings.”
~ Nahdlatul Ulama Centennial Proclamation

SIDOARJO, Indonesia — On 7 February 2023 nearly two million people converged upon a small town in East Java to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the world’s largest Muslim organization. The crowd was so large that the motorcade of popular Indonesian president Joko Widodo (“Jokowi”) ground to a halt several hundred meters from the entrance to Gelora Delta Stadium. President Jokowi and his wife waded through a joyful throng of NU supporters to join participants who had camped overnight in anticipation of the celebration. Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2023_02_07_Nahdlatul Ulama Centennial March

Nahdlatul Ulama launches its Centennial March at a gathering of nearly two million men, women, and children

“Let’s strengthen our intent
and forge an unbreakable determination
to continuously perform good deeds,
increasing our service to God and humanity.
“Spreading love and compassion to all of creation
and building a new and noble civilization
for the sake of peace and happiness together,
acting in accord with the will of Allah, the Great
‘One,’ and receiving His blessings.”
~ Nahdlatul Ulama Centennial March
Lyrics by KH. A. Mustofa Bisri

SIDOARJO, East Java, Indonesia — On 7 February 2023, the world’s largest Muslim organization released the Nahdlatul Ulama Centennial March (music video above) to celebrate its 100th anniversary according to the Islamic lunar calendar.

The song — whose lyrics were composed by the revered religious scholar, poet, painter, and Muslim intellectual KH. A. Mustofa Bisri — was performed by a live orchestra at a massive event attended by the President of Indonesia and a crowd of nearly two million NU followers, who converged upon the small town of Sidoarjo to take part in the centennial celebrations. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2023_02_06_First International Convention on Islamic Jurisprudence for a Global Civilization

Is There a Need to Establish an Islamic Legal (Fiqhi) Foundation for Global Peace and Harmony?

“The view that Muslims should have a default attitude of enmity towards non-Muslims, and that infidels should be subject to discrimination, is well established within the tradition of Islamic jurisprudence.”
~ KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf
General Chairman, Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board

SURABAYA, East Java, Indonesia — On 6 February 2023 (15 Rajab 1444 H), over 300 Islamic scholars, political leaders, and international observers gathered to discuss the legal status of the modern nation state under Islamic jurisprudence and whether Muslims throughout the world have a religious duty to establish an Islamic caliphate. Titled the “First International Convention on Islamic Jurisprudence for a Global Civilization,” the event was convened by the world’s largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, and the G20 Religion Forum (R20).

Islamic law, or fiqh — often conflated with shari‘ah — emerged during the centuries following the death of the Prophet Muhammad, at a time of endemic warfare between Muslims and non-Muslims. Still taught in Islamic seminaries worldwide, the principles of fiqh siyasah (laws of governance) remain authoritative tenets of Islamic orthodoxy and thus continue to shape the prevailing Muslim mindset in the 21st century.

Terrorist movements including ISIS, al-Qaeda, and al-Shabab seek to establish a universal Islamic caliphate, a goal they share with non-violent Islamist movements including the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-e-Islami. Religious hatred, supremacism, and violence directed towards those regarded as non-Muslim (kuffar, or infidels) have long been associated with orthodox tenets of Islamic law. Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2023_01_22_President Jokowi Honors NU

Indonesian President Joko Widodo:
“Everyone already knows, full well, Nahdlatul Ulama’s enormous contribution to the well-being of our nation.”

“In sixteen days Nahdlatul Ulama will celebrate its centennial. We invite all NU followers, and all Indonesian citizens, to join in this celebration, as together we strive to create a more noble future for humanity”
~ NU Chairman KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf

SURAKARTA, Indonesia, 22 January 2023 — On an early Sunday morning, tens of thousands of Nahdlatul Ulama followers joined Indonesian President Joko Widodo and NU Chairman KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf in a 3.5 kilometer “Healthy Walk Towards the NU Centennial” in downtown Surakarta (“Solo”), former capital of the Mataram Sultanate and birthplace of President Jokowi. The event is one of hundreds being held nationwide, in honor of Nahdlatul Ulama’s centennial (1344 – 1444 in the Islamic calendar).

Accompanying President Jokowi were First Lady Iriana and their grandson, Jan Ethes Srinarendra; Mr. Staquf; KH. Ahmad Said Asrori, General Secretary of the NU Supreme Council; C. Holland Taylor, Special Advisor for International Affairs to Mr. Staquf; Puan Maharani, Speaker of the House of Representatives and granddaughter of former president Sukarno; Mahfud MD, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs; Erick Thohir, Minister of State Owned Enterprises; Zianudin Amali, Minister of Youth and Sport; Ganjar Pranowo, Governor of Central Java; General Listyo Sigit, Chief of the National Police; and Yenny Wahid, the daughter of former Indonesian president KH. Abdurrahman Wahid. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2023_01_21_Islamic Jurisprudence for a Global Civilization

Establishing a shari‘ah basis for the nation state and a rules-based international order, which guarantees the equal rights and dignity of all

“Through these discussions on Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) for a global civilization, NU is creating a future characterized by a strong and beneficent nationalism. For civilizational fiqh obliges all citizens to prevent their nation from being undermined, either from within or without.
~ Senior Nahdlatul Ulama scholar Shaykh KH. Abdullah Kafabihi Mahrus

“Islamic Laws of Governance and Citizenship”
“The Citizenship Status of Non-Muslims from the Perspective of Islamic Law”
(“Efforts to Contextualize the Concept of Citizenship in the Governance of Modern Nation States”)

KEDIRI, East Java, Indonesia — On the morning of 21 January 2023, over 300 ulama (Muslim scholars), seminarians, and academics gathered at one of Indonesia’s largest and most influential Islamic seminaries, Pondok Pesantren Lirboyo, in preparation for the first International Convention on Islamic Jurisprudence for a Global Civilization, which will be held on 6 February 2023 in Surabaya, East Java.

The event at Lirboyo represents the culmination of a series of 231 halaqoh (“study circles”) launched in August 2022, at which leading Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) scholars discussed and popularized the subject of Islamic Jurisprudence for a Global Civilization (Arabic: fiqh al-hadarah/Indonesian: fikih peradaban). Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2023_01_19_Launch of the R20 Website

R20 establishes multifaceted online presence “to help ensure that religion functions as a genuine and dynamic source of solutions, rather than problems”

“A unique and significant initiative… to assist G-20 governments in building a united, pluralist and peaceful world”

JAKARTA, Indonesia, 19 January 2023 — The G20 Religion Forum (R20) has launched an extensive website to provide religious leaders, government officials, journalists, scholars, and other interested parties with ready access to authoritative information about the R20, including its vision, mission, goals, and agenda.

The world’s largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), established the R20 in conjunction with Indonesia’s  Presidency of the G20 group of the world’s largest economies, in 2022, and appointed the Center for Shared Civilizational Values to serve as the R20’s permanent secretariat.

A number of R20 events are planned for 2023 in the U.S., the Middle East, and South and Southeast Asia, following the rotation of the G20 Presidency from Indonesia to India. Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2023_01_14_Sciences Po “Bulletin”

Elite academic publication supported by France’s Ministry of Armed Forces highlights the geopolitical significance of the R20

“It would be truly a game changer, I will suggest, if the R20 were to stimulate the world’s most important religious authorities to reform their traditions from within and become forces for peace, carrying along with them the huge number of adherents that each of them could mobilize.”
~ Dr. Jonathan Benthall, writing in Sciences Po’s Bulletin de L’Observatoire International du Religieux

Soldiers patrol in front of the Eiffel Tower in 2015, following a major terrorist attack in Paris

PARIS, France, January 2023 — An academic program affiliated with Sciences Po (the Paris Institute of Political Studies) and supported by the French Ministry of Armed Forces has published an article examining the geopolitical significance of the G20 Religion Forum (R20). As the article notes, “the largest Muslim civil society organization in the world initiated [the R20] in conjunction with the Indonesian Presidency. . . of the Group of 20 political and economic summit.”

In the words of KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf, Chairman of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, and founder of the R20: “The purpose of the G20 Religion Forum is to ensure that religion functions as a genuine and dynamic source of solutions rather than problems in the 21st century. Through the R20, we hope to facilitate the emergence of a global movement, in which people of goodwill of every faith and nation will help bring the world’s geopolitical and economic power structures into alignment with the highest moral and spiritual values, for the sake of all humanity.”

An R20 working group (WG-3 on the recontextualization of obsolete and problematic tenets of religious orthodoxy) examines and addresses teachings embedded within the world’s major religions that are incompatible with peaceful coexistence and a rules-based international order founded upon respect for the equal rights and dignity of every human being. Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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POLITICAL COMMUNIQUÉS – 2022

2022_12_12_A Curious Courtship

As G20 Presidency moves to India, the R20 “is part of a larger Muslim struggle that is likely to define Islam in the 21st century”

“India is not where the battle for the soul of the world’s major religions, including Islam and Hinduism, will be decided, but it is the battle’s next arena.”
~ James M. Dorsey

R20 participants from India observe a Hindu ritual at Prambanan Temple on the Indonesian island of Java

BANGKOK, Thailand, 12 December 2022 — Geopolitical expert and commentator James M. Dorsey has written an extensive, 1,300-word analysis of the intensifying soft power competition surrounding the G20 Religion Forum, or R20, the results of which will determine whether Muslims “choose between taking the high or the low road to coming to grips with history.

“The high road involves confronting painful truths in a quest for a healthier, more pluralistic, and socially cohesive society. The low road allows autocrats to either rewrite history or sweep it under the table and opportunistically bend it to their will.”

Founded by Nahdlatul Ulama Chairman KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf in 2022 in conjunction with Indonesia’s Presidency of the G20, the next R20 Summit will occur in India in 2023. At stake, observes Dr. Dorsey, is whether the event will retain its original focus “on coming to grips with the problematic histories of various religions, including Islam, to generate genuine religious reform” or follow other interfaith summits and become “geared towards themes likely to curry favour in Western capitals.” Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2022_12_01_The Muslim 500

NU Chairman KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf recognized as one of the 20 most influential Muslims in the world

AMMAN, Jordan, 1 December 2022 — The Muslim 500, the world’s premier index of Muslim power and influence, has acknowledged KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf as among the world’s 20 most influential Muslims in its newly released 2023 edition. This comes amid a rising tide of international recognition for the Nahdlatul Ulama Chairman and organizations that he has founded, including Bayt ar-Rahmah, the Humanitarian Islam movement, the Center for Shared Civilizational Values, and the G20 Religion Forum, or R20.

At number 19, Mr. Staquf is ranked just nine places below Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia — an indication of Nahdlatul Ulama’s enormous influence. The Muslim 500 describes Nahdlatul Ulama as “the world’s largest Muslim organisation, [which] teaches that the primary message of Islam is universal love and compassion.” Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2022_11_29_India-Indonesia Strategic Partnership

High-level Ulama Delegation of “National Treasures” Visits India in the Wake of R20 Summit

“We take pride in our relations with Indonesia, which have been elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in recent years.”
~ India’s National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval

NEW DELHI, India, 29 November 2022 — The India Islamic Cultural Center hosted a day-long dialogue on the role of ulama, or Muslim scholars, in fostering interfaith peace and social harmony in India and Indonesia, as part of a comprehensive strategic partnership emerging between the world’s largest and third largest democracies.

India’s National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval and his Indonesian counterpart, Mahfud MD, held two days of high-level discussions that included meetings with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and its Minister of External Affairs, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. As Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs, the Honorable Mahfud MD led a 25-member Indonesian delegation that included senior Muslim scholars and representatives of other faiths including Roman Catholicism and Hinduism. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2022_11_22_The Times of Israel

Geopolitical Analyst Dr. James M. Dorsey, writing in The Times of Israel:

“Major Muslim and Hindu organisations are battling to define the role of religion in global politics”

WEST JERUSALEM, Israel — On 22 November 2022, leading international affairs expert Dr. James M. Dorsey published an in-depth analysis of the recently concluded G20 Religion Forum (R20) and its geopolitical ramifications. Writing in The Times of Israel, a multi-language newspaper that documents developments in Israel, the Middle East, and around the Jewish world, Dr. Dorsey argued that the R20 “positioned Nahdlatul Ulama. . . . as a leading force in defining moderate Islam and promoting concepts of genuine religious reform not only of Islam but also of other major faiths such as Hinduism.”

Dr. Dorsey went on to observe that “from Nahdlatul Ulama’s perspective, jurisprudential reform of religious law is the key to positioning religion ‘as a source of solutions, not problems.’”

The article, titled “Behind lofty declarations, major Muslim and Hindu groups compete for power,” describes Nahdlatul Ulama’s engagement with the Muslim World League — which NU invited to co-host the R20 — as “a bold but risky strategy that also underlies Nahdlatul Ulama’s engagement with Hindu nationalism.” Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2022_11_09_The Hill

German Marshall Fund scholar hails the G20 Religion Forum (R20) as “the world’s most important interfaith venue”

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On 9 November 2022, The Hill, a top U.S. political newspaper that is widely read by Washington insiders, published an article describing the newly established G20 Religion Forum (R20) as “hugely significant” and “in just its first year, the world’s most important interfaith venue.”

According to the author, Muddassar Ahmed, a visiting fellow at the German Marshall Fund:

A remarkable transformation has been taking place in the Muslim world, a years-long shift towards pluralism and tolerance belying common assumptions about Islam.

Maybe we missed this earlier: A lot has been going on, after all. But last week in Bali, at the G20’s ground-breaking Religion Forum, the R20, that transformation took center stage. Not only is it an epochal moment in modern Islam, but this moment also helped create the world’s most important interfaith conversation. 

By expanding beyond the G7 to the G20 — the world’s 20 largest economies — the developed world has created more space for non-Western populations to enter the space of global governance and bring their perspectives and insights with them. That extends to India, with the world’s largest Hindu population and a massive Muslim minority, as well as three Muslim-majority countries: Turkey, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia.

Over the course of a week in Bali, I watched, spellbound. Three hundred senior leaders from the world’s major faith traditions explored how to interject religious frameworks into questions of global governance. . . .

It’s not only the world’s many people of faith who gain from having their religious leaders exposed to high-level political conversations that connect the West and other parts of the world. The same can be said for secular leaders enriched by the insights of faith leaders they might never have otherwise interacted with — how, after all, can Western leaders pursue global challenges without understanding what shapes most global sentiments?

But what if I told you that’s not the most important thing about the R20? Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2022_11_03_R20 Bali Communiqué

The G20 Religion Forum (R20)
Final Communiqué

“[T]he R20 is mobilizing religious, social, economic, and political leaders from throughout the world to ensure that religion functions as a genuine and dynamic source of solutions, rather than problems.
~ R20 Bali Communiqué, point 3

BALI, Indonesia, 3 November 2022 — Following two days of intense and substantive discussion among over 400 religious leaders and scholars gathered from around the world and across its major faith traditions, the first annual G20 Religion Forum, or R20, issued a final communiqué. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2022_11_03_Handover Ceremony

R20 Plenary Session 7: Handover Ceremony

“See you in India!”

“I think R20 has set in motion a tectonic force here in Bali. From Bali it will go to India, from there to Brazil, from there onwards to wherever G20 is held.”
~ Sri Ram Madhav Varanasi

BALI, Indonesia — Formal deliberations at the R20 Summit in Bali concluded with an official handover ceremony on the afternoon of 3 November 2022. KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf, Founder and Chairman of the R20, passed the R20 banner to prominent Hindu leaders, who will host the R20 Summit during India’s 2023 presidency of the G20. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2022_11_03_R20 Plenary Session 6

G20 Religion Forum (R20) Plenary Session 6:

Spiritual Ecology:
Fostering Balance within Nature and Society

“A creation-inflected spirituality means that we celebrate the divine presence within all of God’s creatures, however we spell out the details of that presence. A sense of spirituality is precisely that which brings us closer to an appreciation of nature and a sense of awe before its wonders.”
~ Keynote Address by Rabbi Arthur Green

BALI, Indonesia — On the afternoon of 3 November 2022, Nahdlatul Ulama religious leaders announced the launch of the Spiritual Ecology movement during Plenary Session 6 of the R20 Summit. The opening speaker was Kyai Haji Jadul Maula, Chairman of the Institute of Indonesian Muslim Cultural Artists, or Lesbumi — an autonomous branch of the world’s largest Muslim organization.

Established in 1962, Lesbumi was originally intended to safeguard and strengthen traditional artistic communities that were threatened by the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), whose “People’s Cultural Institute” (Lekra) sought to harness all artistic expression in the service of an atheistic, Marxist-Leninist agenda.

In recent decades, Lesbumi has vigorously defended traditional artistic communities threatened by the spread of Wahhabi/Muslim Brotherhood ideology, which demonizes the diverse cultural expressions of Islam Nusantara (“East Indies Islam”).

The symbol of Lesbumi (depicted above) is based on the gunungan (“mountain”, a.k.a. kayon, or “tree”), which constitutes an essential element of Javanese shadow puppet theater, or wayang kulit. Its shape reminiscent of a “fire mountain,” or volcano, the gunungan symbolizes the universe. Surrounded by wild animals, the kayon symbolizes the “cosmic tree,” which emerges from the Void (“suwung”) of the “Divine Being that encompasses all things” (“Hyang Maha Segalanya”). Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2022_11_03_R20 Plenary Session 5

G20 Religion Forum (R20) Plenary Session 5:

What values do we need to develop to ensure peaceful co-existence?

“I believe that we can readily identify shared civilization-building ethical norms… that work against a clash of civilizations in the same way as the right medicine from our doctors can effectively counteract disease in our bodies.”
~ Rev. Professor Thomas K. Johnson

Rev. Dr. Paolo Benanti displaying a “deepfake” video of actor Morgan Freeman, generated by artificial intelligence, during Rev. Benanti’s presentation in Plenary Session 5

BALI, Indonesia, 3 November 2022 — The fifth plenary session of the R20 Summit featured a diverse array of religious leaders, scholars, and activists who discussed “the importance of developing a global consensus regarding shared values that the world’s diverse cultures will need to embrace if they are to co-exist peacefully” (R20 Founding Chairman KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf).

Speakers addressed a wide range of topics, including the need to bring moral and spiritual values to bear in institutional and governmental decision making; the threat to human dignity and freedom posed by artificial intelligence; the resurgence of tribalism worldwide; and the 2020 report of the US Department of State’s Commission on Unalienable Rights. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2022_11_03_R20 Plenary Session 4

R20 Plenary Session 4:

What values do our respective traditions need to relinquish to ensure that religion functions as a genuine and dynamic source of solutions, rather than problems?

“Traditional religions travel heavy and do not throw texts away. They may think that they do not use a given problematic text anymore, so they lay it aside, but it returns. And in every generation, we may have to reread it again, and again.”
~ Keynote Address by Rabbi Alan Brill

BALI, Indonesia — On the morning of 3 November 2022, prominent religious leaders and scholars gathered at the R20 Summit to discuss teachings embedded within their respective religions that are, or were, incompatible with peaceful coexistence and a rules-based international order founded upon respect for the equal rights and dignity of every human being.

In his keynote address delivered at the opening plenary of the G20 Religion Forum (R20), NU Chairman KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf invited the world’s religious leaders to join Nahdlatul Ulama in an open and honest discussion about “what values our respective traditions need to relinquish, to ensure that religion functions as a genuine and dynamic source of solutions, rather than problems, in the 21st century.” Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2022_11_02_R20 Plenary Session 3

G20 Religion Forum (R20) Plenary Session 3:

Historical grievances, truth-telling, reconciliation, and forgiveness

“If we are to proceed beyond the surface talk and shallow agreement typical of most interfaith gatherings, and truly be worthy to contribute to global discussions and decision-making, we must first confront the violent sectarianism amongst us.
~ Keynote address by Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda

BALI, Indonesia, 2 November 2022 — A diverse panel of religious leaders and scholars from the Middle East, South Asia, Europe, North and South America, and the Caribbean convened on the first day of the R20 Summit for a candid and wide-ranging conversation about the injustices that religious communities have inflicted upon each other throughout history. Their conversation was directly inspired by R20 Founding Chairman KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf, whose address to the opening plenary urged religious leaders “to engage in honest discourse” and “acknowledge the problems that befall us so that we can find a way out of identity-based conflict.”

In his remarks, Mr. Staquf observed:

For centuries, human civilization has grappled with the reality of strife between religious communities. Today, we inherit a situation in which people of different faiths are engaged in competition, antagonism, and conflict motivated by religion. We still witness this crisis of conflict across the world: in West Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and even in Europe and America. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2022_11_02_R20 Plenary Session 2

G20 Religion Forum (R20) Plenary Session 2:

Identifying and embracing values shared by the world’s major religions and civilizations

“The aspirations of the R20 are ambitious and the obstacles great…. [but] the time is right for a multicultural, multinational effort to broaden and deepen the quest for shared civilizational values.”
~ Keynote address by Professor Mary Ann Glendon

Indonesia’s Minister of Religious Affairs, the Honorable Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, addressing the R20’s second plenary session

BALI, Indonesia, 2 November 2022 — A diverse array of religious, political, business, and academic leaders gathered on the first day of the R20 Summit to discuss the urgent need to identify “shared values common to all religions, which may become the basic reference point from which we can embark upon a joint endeavor. . . to ensure that religion functions as a genuine and dynamic source of global solutions rather than problems” (R20 Founding Chairman KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf).

The second plenary session began with a keynote address titled “The Quest for Shared Civilizational Values,” delivered by Harvard Law Professor and former US Ambassador to the Vatican, Mary Ann Glendon. Author of the book, A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Professor Glendon is a leading expert on the emergence of the post-World War II human rights project. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2022_11_02_R20 Plenary Session 1

G20 Religion Forum (R20) Opening Session

President Joko Widodo of Indonesia addresses R20 participants:
“[R]eligious leaders of different faiths and nations must work together to strengthen religion’s contribution to solving the world’s problems, reduce rivalry, end conflict, and achieve a peaceful, united world.”

BALI, Indonesia, 2 November 2022 — Over 400 religious leaders and scholars from around the world gathered for the first annual R20 Summit, which the Government of Indonesia welcomed as an official “main event” during its Presidency of the G20. Reflecting the profound spirituality characteristic of Nusantara (“East Indies,” or Indonesian) civilization, the R20 was carefully designed to infuse the world’s political and economic power structures with moral and spiritual (i.e., religious) values, rather than instrumentalize religion to serve a purely secular agenda.

Frankly acknowledging that religion has often contributed to identity-based conflict, both throughout history and in the present day, Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama founded the G20 Religion Forum (R20) in order to “help ensure that religion functions as a genuine and dynamic source of solutions, rather than problems, in the 21st century.”

This communiqué provides extensive excerpts from addresses delivered on the morning of Thursday, 2 November 2022, during the R20’s opening session. These excerpts are intended to allow readers — including religious leaders, policy makers, scholars, journalists, and other interested parties — to readily access and understand the substantive nature of the R20’s agenda and of the presentations delivered by prominent religious leaders at the R20 Summit in Bali. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2022_10_31_R20 Spiritual Ecology Movement

Muslim and Hindu Leaders Launch Spiritual Ecology Movement at Historic R20 Gathering in Bali

Mahamahopadhyay Bhadreshdas Swami:
“Dharma is that which upholds the whole universe.
Similarly, spiritual ecology is that which protects the whole of creation.”

BALI, Indonesia — On the afternoon of 31 October 2022, religious leaders met to break new ground by launching a global “spiritual ecology movement” to foster balance within nature and society. The event was held at Puja Mandala, a religious complex consisting of five houses of worship built side-by-side, including a Hindu temple, a mosque, Protestant and Catholic churches, and a Buddhist vihara.

The gathering began with a ritual purification ceremony and offerings made by Balinese Hindu priests (photograph below) prior to the planting of twenty trees considered sacred within Hindu cosmology. This ceremony and tree planting are believed to enliven the spiritual unity that connects all of creation and thereby secure harmony and balance between the seen and unseen worlds. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2022_10_02_Religious Soft Power

Indonesia’s Religious Soft Power on Display in the Middle East

As Qatar doubles down on its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, the Saudi-based Muslim World League has “forged an unlikely alliance with Nahdlatul Ulama”
Indonesia’s “Nahdlatul Ulama is arguably the world’s only mass movement propagating a genuinely moderate and pluralistic form of Islam”

DOHA, Qatar and MECCA, Saudi Arabia — The fierce competition for religious soft power between Middle East nations was on stark display in September with the announcement of diametrically opposed initiatives by major Islamic organizations backed by the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Reflecting the growing influence of the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, Indonesian religious leaders are at the heart of both initiatives.

As reported by geopolitical analyst Dr. James Dorsey, on 10 September:

[F]ormer Indonesian Minister of Social Affairs Habib Salim Segaf Al-Jufri was named Secretary General of the Qatar-based International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), founded by controversial Islamic scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of the world’s foremost Muslim theologians associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Mr. Al-Qaradawi died on Monday in Doha at the age of 96.

Intriguingly, Mr. Al-Jufri, a senior member of Indonesia’s Brotherhood-affiliated Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), also represents the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) in East and Southeast Asia, a Saudi government-funded organization initially established in the 1970s to promote Saudi religious ultra-conservatism globally.

Arab commentators have described Al-Jufri as a Muslim Brotherhood loyalist and argue that his election reflects not only the difficulties confronting the Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East, but also the group’s hope to expand its footprint in Southeast Asia. Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2022_09_23_Official Statement by the Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board

Official Statement of the NU Central Board Regarding R20 and Ongoing Discussions with India & RSS

“Nahdlatul Ulama encourages people of good will of every faith and nation to reject the weaponization of identity”

JAKARTA, Indonesia — The Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board has published an official statement that outlines the vision and objectives of the newly-established G20 Religion Forum (R20), and its approach to interreligious conflict.

Signed by NU Chairman, KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf, and its General Secretary, H. Saifullah Yusuf, the document states:

Nahdlatul Ulama believes that the only way to overcome entrenched historical grievances and promote peaceful co-existence is to engage all parties and refuse to indulge in the sentiment of enmity and hatred, based upon a claim of unique communal victimhood. 

Nahdlatul Ulama is aware of the potential for genocide in South Asia, not only because of contemporary geopolitical dynamics, but also due to the history of the region, including the Bangladesh genocide of 1971; the massacres that accompanied Partition in 1947; British colonial policies of divide and rule; and centuries of invasion from the northwest, accompanied by massive destruction, slaughter, and enslavement. Even the Emperor Ashoka is known for his massacre of over 100,000 inhabitants of Kalinga during the third century B.C.E., prior to his conversion to Buddhism. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2022_08_14_G20 Religion Forum and the Muslim World League

G20 Religion Forum (R20):

“Helping to ensure that religion functions as a genuine and dynamic source of solutions, rather than problems”

Nahdlatul Ulama invites Muslim World League Secretary General to co-chair R20 Summit

JAKARTA, Indonesia and RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — The official host of this year’s G20 Summit — the Republic of Indonesia, led by popular two-term President Joko Widodo — has decided to place religion and religious leaders near the center of geopolitical discourse for the first time in the history of the G20.

The world’s largest Muslim organization, Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, established the G20 Religion Forum (R20) in order to “help ensure that religion in the 21st century functions as a genuine and dynamic source of solutions, rather than problems.”

In order to fulfill this vision, the R20 will mobilize diverse religious, political and economic leaders from G20 Member States and elsewhere throughout the world “to prevent the weaponization of identity; curtail the spread of communal hatred; promote solidarity and respect among the diverse peoples, cultures and nations of the world; and foster the emergence of a truly just and harmonious world order, founded upon respect for the equal rights and dignity of every human being.” Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2022_07_07_The Print: Islam Nusantara Can Help India Too

Major Indian media outlets praise NU and the G20 Religion Forum (R20):

“[A] unique and significant initiative. . . that will bring together leaders of all the important world religions to assist G-20 governments in building a united, pluralist and peaceful world”
“Islam Nusantara aims to transform the role of religion from being a source of conflict and hatred to a wellspring of compassion and collaboration”

Home page of The Print (July 8, 2022)

NEW DELHI, India — July 7, 2022: Leading Indian news outlets have published a pair of articles that highlight the newly established G20 Religion Forum and the potential role of Islam Nusantara (“East Indies Islam”) in countering Islamist extremism in India, whose Muslim population is second only to that of Indonesia.

On July 7, an article authored by Indonesian scholar Hadza Min Fadhli Robby appeared in The Print under the title: “Islam Nusantara saved Indonesia’s Muslims from ISIS. It can help India too.” The brainchild of award-winning journalist Shekhar Gupta, The Print is an online newspaper launched in 2017 with the support of prominent Indian billionaires, including N.R. Narayana Murthy, Ratan Tata, Nandan Nilekani, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Vijay Shekhar Sharma and Nirmal Jain.

Dr. Robby, who lectures at the Indonesian Islamic University (UII) in Yogyakarta, highlights the role of Nahdlatul Ulama Chairman KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf in establishing the G20 Religion Forum (“R20”). This coming November, Nahdlatul Ulama will launch the R20: a first-of-its-kind G20 event designed to tackle religious extremism and establish a framework to help ensure that religion functions as a source of genuine solutions, rather than problems, in the 21st century. Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2022_05_20_Center for Shared Civilizational Values

Nahdlatul Ulama and the Center for Shared Civilizational Values

Striving to ensure that religion in the 21st century functions as a genuine and dynamic source of solutions, rather than problems”

JAKARTA, Indonesia and WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina, May 20, 2022 — In the midst of rising identity-based conflict world-wide, leaders of Indonesia’s 90-million-member Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) have created an organizational vehicle to “identify shared values that may serve as the basis for harmonious coexistence between the diverse people, cultures, nations and religions of the world.”

The North Carolina-based Center for Shared Civilizational Values (CSCV) provides an institutional platform for global cooperation between Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

CSCV was incorporated in June of 2021 by the former head of the NU Supreme Council,  KH. A. Mustofa Bisri; the Chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board, KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf; and Indonesia’s Minister of Religious Affairs, the Honorable Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, with Americans C. Holland Taylor, F. Borden Hanes, Jr., and Dr. Timothy Samuel Shah. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2022_05_18_India Today: The Integration of Muslim Minorities in Europe

“Unless serious efforts for greater integration on the lines of NU are made, the divide between Muslims and non-Muslims is bound to grow.”
Humanitarian Islam seeks to unite the center-left and center-right in blocking the political weaponization of identity

NEW DELHI, India, May 18, 2022 — Writing in South Asia’s leading news magazine, India Today, a major Hindu social and political leader has analyzed the severe challenges European nations face in integrating their Muslim minority populations. The article concludes that Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, with its systematic efforts to reform obsolete and problematic tenets of Islamic orthodoxy, may hold the key to overcoming obstacles to Muslim integration in Europe and elsewhere.

“NU leadership has fearlessly championed the cause of Islamic reform”

Significantly, the author of the article, Sri Ram Madhav Varanasi, acknowledged that dangerous forms of “anti-Islamist radicalism” have emerged among non-Muslim populations in many parts of the world, triggered in part by Islamist separatism, supremacism, and violence. Mr. Madhav concludes his article by calling for “enlightened citizens and governments of the world” to combat Islamic radicalism through a serious and responsible program of reform, and thereby avert a catastrophic eruption of identity-based violence. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2022_05_12_Muslim World League: Forum on Common Values

At Saudi Conference, NU Chairman Invites Religious Leaders to Develop a Strategy for Transforming the Mindset of Religious Communities Worldwide

“Many religious communities still view the relationship between religions as a form of political competition. Hence, it is no surprise that religion is often used as a political weapon to acquire or retain power.”
Will Saudi Arabia sever its long-standing ties with Indonesian groups that seek to establish an Islamic state?

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — May 12, 2022: For the first time in its 61-year history, the Saudi-funded Muslim World League has chosen to engage substantively with the world’s largest Muslim organization — Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama — and convey NU’s message of religious pluralism and tolerance to Muslims worldwide.

Long known for spending billions of dollars to promote ultra-conservative Sunni Islam, in recent years the Muslim World League (MWL) has begun to shift its messaging and modes of engagement under the leadership of Dr. Mohammad bin Abdulkarim al-Issa, who was appointed Secretary General of MWL in 2016.

On May 11 – 12, 2022, the Muslim World League convened 90 religious leaders for the Forum on Common Values among Religious Followers. Participants included 47 Muslim scholars, 24 Christian leaders, 12 rabbis and 7 Hindu and Buddhist figures. Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2022_05_09_Can Indonesia’s Humanitarian Islam inspire a Hindu nationalist equivalent?

“Reawakening the ancient spiritual, cultural, and socio-political heritage of the Indianized civilizational sphere”

JAKARTA and NEW DELHI, May 9, 2022 — Amid rising hostility between the world’s great powers, Hindu and Muslim leaders have begun to explore strategies to “stem the tide of chaos” and preserve a rules-based international order, by strengthening “the humanitarian values of the East.”

These discussions are unfolding against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; ongoing wars and the threat of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East; China’s Belt and Road Initiative; and the continuing spread of identity-based conflicts in Asia, Africa, Europe and North America. Significantly, Indonesia will host leaders of the world’s largest economies (the “G20”) in November of 2022, while India will hold the G20 presidency next year.

On May 9, Hindu social and political leader Ram Madhav Varanasi traveled to Jakarta to meet with NU Chairman Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf and C. Holland Taylor, co-founders of the Humanitarian Islam movement and the Center for Shared Civilizational Values. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2022_04_23_India Today – Cover Story

“A Deepening Divide?”

“How India can avert strife” by embracing the “inclusive and humanitarian Islam… promoted by organisations like Nahdlatul Ulama”
“Indian social leaders need to stand up to the forces of hatred and violence” on both sides of the communal divide.

NOIDA, UTTAR PRADESH, India – April 23, 2022. The most widely circulated magazine in India, with a readership of close to 8 million, has published a cover story advocating the embrace of “a more inclusive and humanitarian Islam” by Indian Muslims, in order to help bridge that nation’s deepening communal divide.

Authored by Hindu social and political leader Sri Ram Madhav, the essay was one of seven commissioned by India’s leading news magazine, in the midst of rising polarization in a country with the world’s second-largest Muslim population and a highly popular Hindu nationalist government, which has been widely criticized by Western media and human rights organizations for its treatment of religious minorities.

Mr. Madhav, the former National General Secretary of India’s ruling political party, BJP, was recently described by a prominent Western observer as a moderate alternative to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who has been accused of expressing anti-Muslim sentiments. “I personally think [Ram] is smart and world-savvy,” wrote the observer, “and is the most compelling BJP candidate to succeed [Narendra] Modi” as India’s Prime Minister. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2022_04_01_The Ashoka Approach

“The ‘Ashoka Approach’ and Indonesian Leadership in the Movement for Pluralist Re-Awakening in South and Southeast Asia”

Capital of inscribed Ashoka pillar at Sarnath, India (250 BCE; photographed in 1904)

JAKARTA, Indonesia and NEW DELHI, India — Leaders of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest Muslim organization, are working to consolidate South and Southeast Asia as an alternate pillar of support for a rules-based international order founded upon respect for the equal rights and dignity of every human being. Integral to this effort is a regional strategy called the “Ashoka Approach,” which seeks to reawaken the ancient spiritual, cultural, and socio-political heritage of the Indianized cultural sphere, or “Indosphere” — a civilizational zone that pioneered, long before the West, key concepts and practices of religious pluralism and tolerance.

Roughly co-extensive with South and Southeast Asia, the Indosphere is a vast geographic and cultural zone stretching from Pakistan to Indonesia, which was formatively and permanently shaped by the great spiritual traditions — particularly Hinduism and Buddhism — that originated in the Indian subcontinent. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2022_03_23_Autocratic vs. Democratic Islam

“Dr. James Dorsey has drawn a stark contrast between Nahdlatul Ulama’s democratic vision and the autocratic view of Islam represented by Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah”

SINGAPORE — The world’s largest Muslim organization, Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, is moving to dismantle a key legacy of President Suharto’s 32-year authoritarian regime (1966 – 1998), as part of its continuing effort to reconcile Islam and democracy.

Majelis Ulama Indonesia (the Indonesian Council of Islamic Scholars, or MUI) is a quasi-governmental body created in 1975 by the Suharto regime, which sought to by-pass the religious authority of Nahdlatul Ulama — an organization that has steadfastly maintained its independence from government since its founding in 1926. Following President Suharto’s relinquishment of power in 1998, in the wake of the Asian financial crisis, dozens of extremist organizations infiltrated MUI and have sought to use its perceived authority to advance an Islamist agenda, backed by a government-issued monopoly on the certification of halal products.

Writing in The Times of Israel, geopolitical analyst and scholar Dr. James M. Dorsey has drawn a stark contrast between Nahdlatul Ulama’s democratic vision and the autocratic view of Islam represented by Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah, Chairman of the United Arab Emirates Fatwa Council. An 87-year-old Mauritanian-born scholar of classical Islamic law — who for many years played a key role in Saudi Arabia’s and Qatar’s propagation of ultra-conservative Sunni Islam — Shaykh bin Bayyah severed his close ties with Muslim Brotherhood figure Yusuf al-Qaradawi in the wake of the Arab Spring and moved to Abu Dhabi. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2022_03_14_The Classical Intellectual Heritage of Islam Nusantara

Nahdlatul Ulama challenges Middle East claims to possess a monopoly on Islamic authority and religious discourse

Nahdlatul Ulama Chairman:

“Re-awakening the rich intellectual heritage of East Indies ulama will enable us to contribute significantly to the future of world civilization in partnership with stakeholders from other great civilizations, including Europe, India, China and the Middle East”

NU Central Board members and the Governor of Jakarta attended the launch of an exhibit on the classical Islamic heritage of Islam Nusantara (East Indies Islam)

JAKARTA, Indonesia, March 14, 2022: In a move reminiscent of Martin Luther’s challenge to the authority of Rome in the 16th century — which launched the Protestant Reformation and paved the way for an explosion of scientific and technological progress in Europe — Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) is challenging Middle East governments’ claim to possess a monopoly on Islamic authority and discourse.

Islamic institutions and public discourse are tightly controlled by governments throughout the Arab world, as well as in Iran and Turkey. Nahdlatul Ulama — a traditional Sunni Muslim organization with over 90 million followers — offers a stark contrast to such authoritarian-friendly models of Islam, and to the extreme violence perpetrated by ultraconservative Sunni groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda. Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2022_03_04_Saudi Arabia and Indonesia: Clashing Visions of Moderate Islam

Dr. James Dorsey:

Muhammad bin Salman and Yahya Cholil Staquf represent “diametrically opposed visions of moderate Islam,” mirroring the global struggle between autocracy and democracy in the 21st century

SINGAPORE, March 4, 2022: Drawing a stark contrast between two “clashing visions” of Islam and its global future, a new essay by award-winning journalist and geopolitical analyst Dr. James Dorsey highlights the profound civilizational differences between the religious reform agenda of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama and that being proffered by Middle East governments, including Saudi Arabia.

For nearly twelve centuries, Muslim populations in the Middle East were ruled by Islamic caliphates, which systematically fused religious doctrine and political power. The 17,000 islands of the Indonesian archipelago, on the other hand, were never part of the Ottoman Empire or any previous caliphate. Rather than weaponize religion for political purposes or coercively impose religious norms upon unwilling populations, Islam Nusantara (East Indies Islam) has historically prioritized peaceful coexistence with diverse ethnic and religious communities. Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2022_02_24_Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Threatens the Current World Order

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine requires an urgent response from the world community”

“General Chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board Responds to Conflict Between Russia and Ukraine”

JAKARTA, Indonesia — On February 24, 2022, shortly after the Russian Federation launched a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine, the Chairman of the world’s largest Muslim organization described the attack as a profound threat to the post-World War II international order and called for a global response to Russia’s violation of Ukrainian territory.

Yahya Cholil Staquf, General Chairman of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, said that the attack also risks undermining stability within the Islamic world by normalizing aggression between states — a practice that was widespread throughout human history prior to the United Nations Charter of 1945. Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2022_02_23_Kompas: Nahdlatul Ulama’s Civilizational Mission

“Sharing the vision of a universal humanity — i.e., universal humanism has become an integral part of NU’s efforts to project strategic influence upon the world stage”

Pictures of Nahdlatul Ulama figures line the entry hall at NU headquarters in Jakarta, Tuesday (6/8/2019). KOMPAS/RADITYA HELABUMI

JAKARTA, Indonesia — On February 23, 2022, Indonesia’s largest and most influential newspaper, Kompas, published another in a series of articles examining the impact of KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf’s December 2021 election as General Chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board. With an estimated daily readership of 2.25 million people, Kompas is Indonesia’s “newspaper of record,” helping to shape public opinion in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation and democracy. Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2022_02_18_Leading Hindu Nationalist Endorses Humanitarian Islam

“Indian Muslims Need to Emulate the Indonesian Model:
The humanitarianism of eastern Islam”

Sri Ram Madhav addressing the Centrist Democrat International (CDI) Eurasia Forum in Yogyakarta, Indonesia on January 24, 2020. Others (left to right) are: C. Holland Taylor, co-founder, Humanitarian Islam movement; Dr. Teresita Cruz-del Rosario, National University of Singapore; Antonio López-Istúriz White, Secretary General, CDI and European People’s Party; and Dr. James M. Dorsey, geopolitical analyst.

NEW DELHI, India: February 18, 2022 — An influential Indian politician, author, public intellectual and member of the National Executive of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the group that gave birth to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has called on Indian Muslims to emulate Indonesia’s concept of Humanitarian Islam.

Writing in Open, an Indian current affairs weekly magazine, former BJP General Secretary Sri Ram Madhav Varanasi advocated that India and Indonesia “join hands as nations with the world’s largest and second largest Muslim populations, respectively, to steadfastly promote the concept of the ‘Humanitarian Islam of the East’.”

Mr. Madhav’s endorsement of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama for “champion[ing] a version of Islam that promotes peace and pluralism” — in contrast to Wahhabi and other forms of Islamist extremism that originate in the Middle East — is significant, given that the RSS has been a driving force of Hindu nationalism for nearly a century. Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2022_02_11_Indonesian Government Restores Hindu and Buddhist Worship at UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Indonesia’s Minister of Religious Affairs:

“Prambanan Temple will no longer be simply a tourist destination, but rather a center of active worship for Hindus from Indonesia and throughout the world”
The restoration of Hindu and Buddhist worship at the great temple complexes of Prambanan and Borobudur reflects the compassionate spirit of Islam Nusantara (“East Indies Islam”) and offers a glimmer of hope amid the widespread destruction of religious and cultural sites across the world

YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia — On February 11, 2022, senior Indonesian government officials and religious leaders met to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the Use of Prambanan Temple and Borobudur Temple for the Religious Interests of Hindus and Buddhists in Indonesia and the World. As a result, two of Asia’s most renowned sacred sites, which in recent decades had been largely closed to ritual worship, are now available for the performance of Hindu and Buddhist religious rituals on a regular basis.

This development comes amid a dramatic rise in the destruction of religious and cultural sites, not only in the Middle East and Africa, where Muslim extremists seek to destroy the world’s diverse cultural and religious heritage, but also regions such as Europe and North America. In Canada alone, at least 56 churches were set aflame or vandalized in the summer of 2021, many of them burned completely to the ground, while over the past decade thousands of churches were desecrated, vandalized and/or set ablaze in Europe. In recent years, synagogues, churches, mosques, and other houses of worship have been the target of deadly attacks in many Western nations, including Canada, the United States, France, and New Zealand. Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2022_01_31_Inauguration of Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board

President Joko Widodo of Indonesia:

“NU’s contribution to our religious and national life has transformed Indonesia into a nation united by the principle of ‘Oneness Amid Diversity.’ This achievement may serve as a model and an inspiration to other nations.”
Welcoming Nahdlatul Ulama’s Centennial: Nurturing the Earth and Building a Global Civilization

BALIKPAPAN, East Kalimantan, Indonesia: On January 31, 2022, Indonesian political leaders gathered to witness the inauguration of the newly elected Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board, which will govern the world’s largest Muslim organization from 2022 – 2027 under the Chairmanship of Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf.

Held on the island of Borneo, at the city of Balikpapan’s Sport and Convention Center, the event was attended by Indonesian President Joko Widodo (“Jokowi”); Vice President KH. Ma’ruf Amin; former Vice President Jusuf Kalla; Puan Maharani, the granddaughter of Indonesia’s first president Sukarno and currently Speaker of Indonesia’s National Assembly; nine cabinet ministers; and Indonesia’s chief of police. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2022_01_27_International Holocaust Remembrance Day

NU Chairman Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf:
Holocaust remembrance serves as a memorial and vivid reminder of the cruelty, violence and suffering that so many human beings… have, for thousands of years, inflicted upon others.
“Today, in remembrance of the Holocaust and its millions of victims, Nahdlatul Ulama and I wish to raise our voices in a simple, heart-felt call:
“‘Let us choose compassion!’”

U.S. Senator Alben W. Barkley (D-Kentucky) looks on after Buchenwald’s liberation

LOS ANGELES and MANAMA, Bahrain. On January 27, 2022, KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf — newly elected Chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board — joined global leaders in commemorating the United Nations International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which takes place every year on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on January 27, 1945.

In doing so, Mr. Staquf is walking in the footsteps of his predecessor and mentor, H.E. Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid, who convened the historic Bali Holocaust Conference in 2007 to reject “The Evils of Holocaust Denial” and affirm religion as a source of universal love and compassion (rahmah).

Jointly sponsored by the Simon Wiesenthal Center and The King Hamad Global Centre for Peaceful Coexistence, the global webinar featured former Israeli Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, who is also a child Holocaust survivor; President Isaac Herzog of Israel; Reverend Johnnie Moore, leading American Evangelical Pastor and former member of the US Commission for International Religious Freedom; Rabbi Marvin Hier, CEO and Founder of Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Museum of Tolerance; and former U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2022_01_26_Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, RSIS

“Humanitarian Islam”: New Nahdlatul Ulama Chairman and the Global Initiative to Promote Religious Moderation

Alexander Raymond Arifianto   |   26 January 2022

Humanitarian Islam at work: teaching the children. Photo by Andri Helmansyah on Unsplash.

SYNOPSIS

Nahdlatul Ulama — Indonesia’s largest Islamic organisation — recently elected Yahya Cholil Staquf as its new chairman. A close analysis of his background and past accomplishments reveals that Yahya has a potential agenda to transform the organisation into a global voice on religious moderation through his promotion of “humanitarian Islam”.

COMMENTARY

On 24 December 2021, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) — Indonesia’s largest Islamic organisation — concluded its 34th national congress (muktamar) in Lampung. Congress delegates elected Yahya Cholil Staquf, formerly general secretary of the organisation, as its next chairperson.

Yahya’s election means that NU, which claims nearly 100 million Indonesian Muslims as its followers, will once again be led by a cleric with a strong genealogical linkage to the family of its founding fathers, what NU activists internally refer to as “blue blood” (darah biru). The last NU chairman who came from a “blue blood” background was the late Abdurrahman Wahid, who later became Indonesia’s first democratically elected president. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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POLITICAL COMMUNIQUÉS – 2021

2021_12_24_Humanitarian Islam Co-founder Elected General Chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama

Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf:

“NU was founded to develop a new civilizational framework, following the collapse of the old civilizational construct after WWI and the dissolution of the Ottoman Caliphate.”

Nahdlatul Ulama launches a movement to “revive Gus Dur’s humanitarian vision” and “create a better, more noble future for human civilization as a whole”

KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf addresses leaders of NU provincial and regional chapters who gathered to support his candidacy as Chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama Executive Board (December 21, 2021)

BANDAR LAMPUNG, Indonesia: On December 24, 2021 Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf was elected General Chairman of the world’s largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, with a mandate to promote Humanitarian Islam on the global stage — in order to foster the emergence of a truly just and harmonious world order, founded upon respect for the equal rights and dignity of every human being.

In a fiercely contested election whose complex maneuvering dominated Indonesian media coverage for weeks prior to NU’s 34th National Congress — held from December 22 – 24, 2021 in Lampung province on the island of Sumatra — Mr. Staquf received 337 votes to 210 votes cast in favor of the incumbent Dr. KH. Said Aqil Siradj, who served two terms as General Chairman of the NU Executive Board from 2010 – 2021. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_12_21_Director of Strategic Outreach

Member of Bayt ar-Rahmah’s core team stands down:

“It has been an enormous privilege to support Nahdlatul Ulama spiritual leaders as they advance a pluralistic and tolerant understanding and practice of Islam worldwide”

Thomas Dinham seated at his work desk in Nahdlatul Ulama headquarters, Jakarta (2018)

LONDON, United Kingdom, December 21, 2021: Bayt ar-Rahmah’s Director of Strategic Outreach — Thomas Dinham — is standing down after over three years in the role, during which he worked closely with Nahdlatul Ulama spiritual leaders to help the world’s largest Muslim organization emerge upon the world stage as “a formidable challenger to powerful state actors in the battle for the soul of Islam. . . This struggle has and will affect the prospects for the emergence of a truly more tolerant and pluralistic interpretation of one of the three Abrahamic religions.” (“The Battle for the Soul of Islam,” Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, Hudson Institute Center on Islam, Democracy, and the Future of the Muslim World).

Mr. Dinham is an accomplished geopolitical analyst, journalist, author and strategic communications professional, who cut his teeth as a Middle East specialist covering events in Syria, Libya and Egypt during the height of the Arab Spring. Described by the BBC’s flagship current affairs program, From Our Own Correspondent, as “a witness to crucial days in the history of Egypt,” he has lived, studied and worked in several of the region’s key power centers, including Cairo, Abu Dhabi, Damascus and Beirut. Fluent in classical and colloquial Egyptian Arabic — both spoken and written — Mr. Dinham has profound knowledge of the manner in which state and non-state actors throughout the Muslim world deliberately weaponize problematic tenets of Islamic orthodoxy in order to maintain or acquire political, military and economic power, with all the human suffering this entails. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_11_16_Deepening Ties Between Indonesian and African American Muslims

Senior Indonesian politicians visit The Nation’s Mosque:

“the blessed place where Islamic proselytism began in Washington, DC”
“An example of the ‘indigenization of Islam’ in the world’s most powerful nation”

Imam Talib Shareef of The Nation’s Mosque and the Honorable H. Muhaimin Iskandar

WASHINGTON, DC: On November 16, 2021 a delegation of senior Indonesian politicians affiliated with Nahdlatul Ulama visited the first mosque in the United States built by descendants of enslaved African Americans, and paid their respects to leaders of the Imam W. Deen Mohammed Community, which operates hundreds of mosques and Islamic centers nationwide.

The delegation was led by the Honorable H. Muhaimin Iskandar (“Gus Imin”), who is Chairman of Indonesia’s largest Islamic political party, PKB; Deputy Speaker of the People’s Representative Assembly in Indonesia (DPR); and Vice President of the world’s largest political network, Centrist Democrat International (CDI), whose headquarters are in Brussels at the heart of the European Union. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_11_16_Inalienable Rights and the Traditions of Constitutionalism

Conference at University of Notre Dame explores the nature of human rights and their future in an uncertain world

“Grounding analysis of human rights in fundamental principles, not policy preferences”

Members of the United Nations committee that drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including Eleanor Roosevelt and Charles Malik, of Lebanon, to her left

SOUTH BEND, Indiana: From November 14 – 16, 2021, the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at the University of Notre Dame convened thirty international scholars to explore and extend the work of the Commission on Unalienable Rights (COUR) — an independent and nonpartisan body convened from 2019 through 2020 and composed of academics, philosophers, and religious scholars. Its charge was to provide the US State Department with advice on human rights grounded in the nation’s founding principles and the principles of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Keynote speakers included Dr. Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard Law School, who chaired the Commission on Unalienable Rights; Dr. Joseph Weiler, NYU Law Professor and Co-director of the Jean Monnet Center for International and Regional Economic Law & Justice; Dr. Robert P. George, Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University; Dr. Meir Y. Soloveichik, Rabbi of Shearith Israel, America’s first Jewish Congregation, founded in Manhattan in 1654; and Dr. Peter Berkowitz of Hoover Institution, Stanford University, who served as Director of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, executive secretary of the department’s Commission on Unalienable Rights, and senior adviser to the Secretary of State. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_11_16_“The Indigenization and Universalization of Islamic Law in Indonesia”

EU counter-terrorism expert and Professor of Islamic Studies regarding Nahdlatul Ulama’s recontextualization of Islamic law:

“[I]t is possible to understand this process… as the development of a genuine Indonesian school of thought beginning to operate at a global level and claiming Islam as part of the universal values of humanity”

VIENNA, Austria: In July of 2021, one of Europe’s foremost scholars of jihadism and Islamic law published an in-depth analysis of the indigenization of Islam within Indonesia and its recent emergence upon the world stage as the Humanitarian Islam movement. Humanitarian Islam offers a unique, dynamic and universal alternative to the supremacist, political understanding of Islamic law that animates Islamist ideology and has trapped much of the Muslim world in a cycle of authoritarianism, underdevelopment and violence for centuries.

The 21-page analysis, titled “Fiqh Reconsidered: Indigenization and Universalization of Islamic Law in Indonesia,” was written by Rüdiger Lohlker, Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Vienna’s Oriental Institute and a renowned expert on the links between Islamic theology and Islamist terrorism. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_11_10_National Defense University

NU General Secretary Addresses Indonesia’s Defense Establishment:

“Indonesia is strategically positioned to foster global stability and help ensure the survival of the post-WWII international order”
“Our founding fathers strove to create a new world order built upon justice and the equality of nations”

KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf with Prof. Dr. Amarulla Octavian, Rector of Indonesia’s prestigious National Defense University

BOGOR, Indonesia: On November 10, 2021, Nahdlatul Ulama General Secretary KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf addressed the assembled faculty, staff and students at Indonesia’s National Defense University, stating that Indonesia has a strategic role to play in preserving and strengthening the post-WWII international order, as well as shaping its future.

“It is time for us to realize this great potential and act wisely, so that Indonesia’s influence among the community of nations may steadily rise, reflecting its status as the world’s fourth most populous country and sixteenth largest economy. . . As the world moves towards a new equilibrium between major powers, Indonesia has a vital interest in preserving and strengthening our current, rules-based international order. Likewise, the international community has a strategic interest in ensuring that Indonesia remains strong, independent and sovereign,” Mr. Staquf told senior members of Indonesia’s defense establishment. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_10_29_Centrist Democrat International appoints PKB Chairman as Vice President

Muhaimin Iskandar elected Vice President of the world’s largest political network

CDI resolution lauds speech by Indonesia’s Minister of Religious Affairs and pledges support for “the [G20] agenda described by Minister Qoumas in that address”

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša addresses a hybrid (online and in-person) CDI Executive Committee meeting in Brussels on October 28, 2021. His nation currently holds the Rotating Presidency of the EU Council.

BRUSSELS, Belgium, October 28 – 29, 2021: The world’s largest political network has resolved to support the agenda set by Indonesia’s Minister of Religious Affairs & Humanitarian Islam co-founder H. Yaqut Cholil Qoumas for his nation’s G20 Interfaith Forum — a move likely to bolster Indonesia’s Presidency of the G20 and increase its global impact.

In a strong demonstration of support for the global Humanitarian Islam movement, the Honorable H. Muhaimin Iskandar, Chairman of PKB — Indonesia’s largest Islamic political party, which Nahdlatul Ulama spiritual leaders founded in 1998 — was appointed CDI Vice President and joined CDI’s Executive Committee, the organization’s highest decision-making body. Centrist Democrat International (CDI) has over 100 member parties in more than 70 nations, including the largest political group within the European Union, the European People’s Party (EPP). Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_10_28_Freedom of Religious Belief

Indonesia’s Ministry of Religious Affairs affirms the constitutional right to freedom of conscience

The Honorable Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, Indonesia’s Minister of Religious Affairs: “To my brothers and sisters in the Baha’i community, wherever you may be, I wish you a joyful celebration of your new year 178 EB [marking the anniversary of your founder’s teaching]”

JAKARTA, Indonesia: In July of 2021, Indonesia’s Minister of Religious Affairs responded to harsh Islamist criticism of a video address — in which he warmly conveyed a New Year’s greeting to Indonesia’s miniscule Baha’i minority — by affirming that every Indonesian citizen has a constitutional right to religious freedom, and to practice the teachings of his or her faith.

A government regulation dating from the mid-1960s provides official recognition to only six religious communities in Indonesia: Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, and Confucianism.

Muslim extremists were swift to condemn Minister Qoumas for acknowledging and greeting members of Indonesia’s Baha’i community. Despite the viral nature of the controversy that exploded in print, broadcast and social media, the Minister did not apologize for his action. Demonstrating the strength of his convictions — and widespread popular support for his position — the Honorable Minister of Religious Affairs simply instructed officials within his Ministry to explain the constitutional, legal and regulatory framework that guarantees freedom of conscience to every Indonesian. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_10_28_Nahdlatul Ulama Circular Letter: Executive Summary

2021 National Conference of Nahdlatul Ulama Religious Scholars Press Conference: “[Strengthening] East Indies Islam and NU Autonomy, for the Sake of Global Civilization”

JAKARTA, Indonesia, September 20, 2021: The Central Board of Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest Muslim organization, has instructed all of its chapters, institutions and autonomous bodies to cancel or suspend all activities with an Indonesian NGO and two of its foreign partners, and to submit any proposed future activities for approval by the Central Board. The order is designed to protect and enhance minority rights while preserving social harmony and political stability, rather than seeking to curtail NGOs’ freedom to engage in activities of their choice.

The order was issued in the form of a circular letter distributed to those who govern Nahdlatul Ulama, in response to efforts by the Leimena Institute, a Jakarta-based NGO and its foreign backers — the U.S.-based Institute for Global Engagement (IGE) and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) — to harness Nahdlatul Ulama and Indonesia’s powerful Ministry of Religious Affairs in service of a potentially disruptive agenda dictated by foreign actors, who seek to reshape Indonesia’s complex socio-cultural, religious and political landscape.

For the past century, Nahdlatul Ulama has consistently sought to block the infiltration of Wahhabism, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist movements into Indonesia’s religious mainstream. The unanimous decision by NU’s Supreme Council and its Executive Board to cancel or suspend any and all cooperation with Leimena, IGE and AJC suggests that NU is also concerned about Western NGOs acting in pursuit of agendas that have the potential to induce social unrest and political instability in Indonesia. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_10_28_Peace Conference Ends in Death Threats and Recrimination

Participants claim they were misled
New York Times quotes the son of keynote speaker:
“Four times al-Qaeda tried to assassinate us. One day they blew up our house in Baghdad. Now we are wanted by everyone.”

ERBIL, Iraq, September 24, 2021: A conference held in the Kurdistan Autonomous Region of Iraq attracted global media coverage when its keynote speaker issued a demand for Iraq to join the Abraham Accords and recognize the state of Israel. Yet within 24 hours, conference participants were denying any foreknowledge of the event’s controversial agenda as Sunni and Shiite militias launched a manhunt for those involved.

Held two weeks before Iraq’s national elections, the conference appears to have inadvertently played into the hands of Islamist militias and extremist political parties, including that of prominent Shiite cleric Muqtadr al-Sadr, whose party won a plurality of votes in the election. Sadr was swift to condemn the event in Erbil and to declare that it is legitimate to shed the blood of conference participants. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_10_28_Nahdlatul Ulama Circular Letter: Full Report

“Always be honest and open, there’s no need to be afraid”

Nahdlatul Ulama moves to prevent foreign and domestic interference in its affairs

It is in light of these dangers — i.e., the perennial threat posed by an alliance between Muslim extremists and self-aggrandizing politicians — that the Nahdlatul Ulama Circular Letter published on September 20, 2021, should be understood.

As the intense polarization currently roiling much of the West demonstrates, the weaponization of identity can swiftly undermine even well-established democracies, to say nothing of those societies, such as Indonesia’s, that have recently undergone a transition from authoritarianism to democracy.

In this perilous environment, the behavior of even well-intentioned actors who lack the requisite knowledge of Islam, and sufficient experience, may easily produce unintended and devastating consequences.

Hence, the Nahdlatul Ulama Circular Letter may be viewed as a timely reminder to anyone who wishes to promote equal rights for religious minorities in the Muslim world: it is essential to conduct such efforts in a manner that strengthens, rather than undermines, the fabric of social harmony and political stability that are essential to a nation’s well-being and ensuring the rule of law. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

2021_09_23_The Conversation: “Humanitarian Islam is different”

Does Nahdlatul Ulama offer a solution to the Muslim world’s authoritarian malaise?

Award-winning Turkish scholar:
“In terms of membership, the organization hugely outstrips that of the Taliban – yet this face of Islam has not been sufficiently recognized on the international stage”

SAN DIEGO, September 23, 2021: One of the world’s preeminent scholars of political Islam — Turkish American Professor Ahmet T. Kuru — has highlighted Humanitarian Islam’s transformative potential as an alternative to the mosque-state alliance that has kept much of the Muslim world trapped in a cycle of authoritarianism, underdevelopment and violence for centuries.

Titled “How the world’s biggest Islamic organization drives religious reform in Indonesia,” Professor Kuru’s article originally appeared in The Conversation, a multi-lingual network of media outlets that publishes news stories written by academic experts and researchers. The article was also prominently featured by a number of leading news, educational and foreign policy outlets — including AP, Religion News Service, International Policy Digest and Britannica and translated into Bosnian, French, German, Indonesian, Spanish and Turkish. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_09_14_G20 Interfaith Forum in Bologna, Italy

Indonesia’s Minister of Religious Affairs sets agenda for the G20 Interfaith Forum to be held in 2022

Urges religious leaders to “act decisively to ensure that religion is no longer ‘part of the problem,’ and instead becomes ‘part of the solution’”

BOLOGNA, Italy, September 12 – 14, 2021: Indonesia’s Minister of Religious Affairs, H. Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, has delivered a landmark address setting the agenda of the world’s largest Muslim majority nation and democracy for its chairmanship of the G20 Interfaith Forum (IF20), to be held in 2022.

The video address — delivered to political and religious leaders gathered from around the globe at the historic Salone del Podestà in Bologna’s 13th-century Palazzo Re Enzo — outlined Indonesia’s strategy to mobilize the world’s great faith traditions to preserve and strengthen the post-WWII rules-based international order at a time of increasingly unimpeded violations of international law and rising human rights abuse. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_09_11_9/11: A 20-Year Retrospective

Regent University, founded by televangelist Pat Robertson, welcomes Indonesian Muslim leader on the eve of 9/11 anniversary

U.S. evangelicals endorse General Secretary of the world’s largest Islamic organization
Praised as “a leading Muslim voice” who seeks “to reform obsolete tenets of Islamic orthodoxy that enjoin religious hatred, supremacy and violence”

VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia, September 9, 2021: Regent University — which, together with the Christian Broadcasting Network, may be said to represent “the beating heart of evangelical Christianity in the U.S.” — invited Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf, General Secretary of the world’s largest Muslim organization, to deliver a keynote address at Regent’s commemoration of the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

The invitation may signal a major shift in evangelical attitudes towards Islam and Muslims, inspired by Nahdlatul Ulama’s willingness to acknowledge and address certain tenets of Islamic orthodoxy that underlie and animate Islamist extremism worldwide. These tenets are often employed by groups such as ISIS, al-Qaeda and Boko Haram to condemn those they regard as infidels, thereby legitimizing the widespread persecution of Christians in the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_09_09_Taliban perpetuate Muslim world’s failed governance paradigm

Al-Arab:
“The Taliban’s control of Afghanistan spotlights the failed model of government in Muslim states”

Nahdlatul Ulama represents a unique exception to the mosque–state alliance perpetuated by Middle East autocrats

SINGAPORE, September 9, 2021: In a hard-hitting article published on the eve of the 9/11 attacks’ 20th anniversary, veteran foreign correspondent and Senior Fellow at National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute, Dr. James M. Dorsey, argued that Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama constitutes a unique exception to the cycle of authoritarianism, underdevelopment and violence that afflicts so much of the Muslim world.

Dr. Dorsey wrote:

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan perpetuates a paradigm of failed governance in the Muslim world based on a centuries-old alliance between Islamic scholars and the state that, according to scholar Ahmet T Kuru, explains underdevelopment in many Muslim-majority states and authoritarianism in most.

The takeover also highlights that, in a twist of irony, a majority of competitors for Muslim religious soft power, leadership of the Muslim world, and the ability to define Islam have as much in common as they have differences. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_09_08_Muslim–Christian Relations: Becoming Good Neighbors

Evangelical Podcaster John W. Morehead:

“Two of the most important religious leaders in the world, an evangelical and a Muslim, neither of whom are Americans, came together in Washington, D.C. to launch a book.”

Why?

“Because what happens on the borderline between religion and politics in the United States affects the whole world.”

SYRACUSE, Utah: In July of 2021, U.S. evangelical leader John Morehead introduced his audience to the Humanitarian Islam movement in conjunction with the launch of a book published in honor of Bishop Thomas Schirrmacher, Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance, which represents 600 million Protestants in 140 countries.

Over the course of a one-hour discussion with Reverend Dr. Thomas K. Johnson and C. Holland Taylor — who co-edited the book God Needs No Defense: Reimagining Muslim–Christian Relations in the 21st Century — Reverend Morehead and his guests discussed the nature and ramifications of an unprecedented alliance that has emerged between the world’s largest Protestant and Muslim organizations.

During the course of the interview, Reverend Morehead explored the genesis of the book as well as its structure and contents, asking “What can readers look forward to in this volume?”  Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_08_17_Independence (Day) Prayer

Indonesians reaffirm shared moral and spiritual values in nationwide ceremony

Minister of Religious Affairs delivers prayer composed
by KH. A. Mustofa Bisri:
“Illuminate us with Your Light, oh Light of Lights,
that we may perceive the beauty of truth
and follow it.
That we may perceive the ugliness of falsehood
and distance ourselves from it.
That we may perceive the beauty of honesty
and fully embrace it. 
That we may perceive the evil of lies
and guard against them.”

“Remembering Indonesia’s Declaration of Independence 76 years ago:
Live broadcast on Tuesday, 17 August, 2021 at 09:00 a.m.”

JAKARTA, Indonesia, August 17, 2021: During a ceremony broadcast throughout the Indonesian Archipelago, Minister of Religious Affairs H. Yaqut Cholil Qoumas read a prayer composed by Nahdlatul Ulama spiritual leader and Humanitarian Islam co-founder Kyai Haji A. Mustofa Bisri.

In the midst of the COVID pandemic, tens of millions of Indonesian school children, parents and other adults stood to attention in their homes as they watched an elaborately staged celebration of the nation’s independence broadcast from Istana Merdeka (Independence Palace) in downtown Jakarta. President Joko Widodo and his cabinet ministers, wearing traditional attire, solemnly presided over the ceremonial raising of Indonesia’s red-and-white flag. From 1945 – 1949, Indonesian Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Buddhists alike waged a bloody four-year struggle to prevent the re-imposition of Dutch colonialism following Imperial Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_08_12_God Needs No Defense

God Needs No Defense:
Reimagining Muslim–Christian Relations in the 21st Century

Kyai Haji A. Mustofa Bisri:
“We wish to submit to the dictates of conscience”

WASHINGTON, DC, July 13, 2021: Spiritual leaders of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) have published a Festschrift, or collection of essays, honoring Bishop Thomas Schirrmacher, the newly appointed Secretary General & CEO of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA).

“We hope this book will mark the beginning of a long and important journey of these two religions [Islam and Christianity] towards a more harmonious relationship, characterized by peaceful co-existence,” NU General Secretary KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf told an audience of nearly 1,000 religious freedom activists and government leaders gathered at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC, for the 2021 International Religious Freedom Summit. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_08_09_Fundamental Principles of Nahdlatul Ulama

Historic speech, published in English for the first time, offers a stark reminder to the West 

“Social unity is the highest virtue and most powerful instrument for promoting the common good”
“Division has been the cause of weakness, defeat and failure throughout the ages”

“A house divided against itself cannot stand” ~ Abraham Lincoln

WASHINGTON, DC, August 9, 2021: The world’s largest Muslim organization, Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), has made a century-old speech by one of its founders, KH. Hasyim Asy’ari, available for the first time in English. The publication of this speech — titled Introduction to the Fundamental Principles of Nahdlatul Ulama — is part of a larger effort by the 90-million-member NU to promote shared civilizational values and discourage the political weaponization of identity.

The speech, which was delivered at the inaugural meeting of Nahdlatul Ulama in 1926, warns that social divisiveness “is the root of destruction and bankruptcy, the source of collapse and ruination, and the agent of humiliation and chaos.” Nearly a century after its delivery, this address, which articulates the ethical and theological framework embraced by the world’s largest Muslim organization, remains the foundational document of Nahdlatul Ulama. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_07_26_Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

“The Voice of Moderate Muslims”

“Indonesia is a model for the transition from an autocratic to a democratic system”

Indonesian Muslims at prayer

FRANKFURT, Germany / July 26, 2021: One of Germany’s leading experts on the contemporary Middle East has written a penetrating analysis of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and its “credible” efforts to reform obsolete and problematic tenets of Islamic orthodoxy, such as the legal concepts of kafir (infidel) and dhimmi (conquered and subordinate non-Muslims).

The article examines NU’s engagement with the World Evangelical Alliance, which has officially “recognized [Nahdlatul Ulama’s] pioneering work. The most populous Islamic country has thus acquired a ‘points advantage’ within the intra-Islamic competition to become the leading religious ‘soft power’ in the Muslim world.” Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2021_07_15_International Religious Freedom Summit

Nahdlatul Ulama leader on “The Rise of Religious Nationalism”:

“We need to address obsolete values within our own traditions, which prevent peaceful coexistence”

WASHINGTON, DC, July 15, 2021: Nahdlatul Ulama General Secretary Yahya Cholil Staquf delivered a keynote address to nearly 1,000 civil society and government leaders at the 2021 International Religious Freedom Summit, during a five day visit to the United States. His topic was the complex and often controversial subject of religious nationalism.

Mr. Staquf is co-founder of the global Humanitarian Islam movement and the Center for Shared Civilizational Values, which seek “to prevent the political weaponization of identity; curtail the spread of communal hatred; promote solidarity and respect among the diverse peoples, cultures and nations of the world; and foster the emergence of a truly just and harmonious world order, founded upon respect for the equal rights and dignity of every human being.” Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_07_14_Religious Freedom and a Free and Open Indo-Pacific

Indonesian and U.S. Statesmen agree that “shared civilizational values” are essential building blocks of a rules-based international order
Former Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo:
“The places where we can build peace, the places where we can identify overlapping interests will always revolve around shared values.”
NU General Secretary Yahya Cholil Staquf:
“We need to mobilize civil society actors and mass-based organizations to foster societal consensus regarding fundamental values, if a rules-based international order is to endure.”

Yahya Cholil Staquf, Kenneth Weinstein and Michael R. Pompeo

WASHINGTON, DC: On July 14, 2021, Hudson Institute Distinguished Fellow Kenneth Weinstein moderated a discussion between Yahya Cholil Staquf, General Secretary of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, and Hudson Distinguished Fellow and former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency/U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo. It was the first time the Indonesian and U.S. statesmen had met face-to-face since Secretary Pompeo addressed leaders of the Humanitarian Islam movement in Jakarta on October 29, 2020, days before the U.S. presidential election.

Their wide-ranging discussion covered a variety of topics including: Indonesia’s and America’s founding values; mobilizing public support for a sustainable rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific that is resilient and adaptable to the great power realities of the 21st century; the future of the post-World War II human rights project; the persecution of ethnic and religious minorities; threats posed by the political weaponization of identity; genocide; the role of sovereign nation states, and civil society, in preserving and strengthening the rules-based international order; and the need to maintain a stable balance of power within the Indo-Pacific region. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_07_13_The Nation’s Mosque Statement

Leaders of the world’s largest Islamic and Evangelical organizations establish alliance with African American Muslims to promote human dignity and equality worldwide
“God Needs No Defense:
Reimagining Muslim–Christian Relations in the 21st Century”
Imam Talib Shareef: “We are against weaponizing identity”

From left to right, Rev. Thomas L. Bowen, Minister of Social Justice at Shiloh Baptist Church; Rev. Christopher Zacharias of John Wesley A.M.E. Zion Church; Imam Talib Shareef of The Nation’s Mosque; KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf, Nahdlatul Ulama General Secretary; Bishop Thomas Schirrmacher, WEA Secretary General & CEO; and Ibrahim Mumin of The Nation’s Mosque

WASHINGTON, DC, July 13, 2021: Major faith leaders from around the world gathered at Masjid Muhammad, known as “The Nation’s Mosque,” to announce the establishment of a global alliance that aims to promote human dignity and equality.

In a signed statement, Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders said their alliance “seeks to prevent the political weaponization of identity; curtail the spread of communal hatred; promote solidarity and respect among the diverse people, cultures and nations of the world; and foster the emergence of a truly just and harmonious world order, founded upon respect for the equal rights and dignity of every human being.”

Participants in the unlikely religious summit included Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf, General Secretary of the Supreme Council of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest Muslim organization with 90 million followers; Bishop Thomas Schirrmacher, Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), which represents 600 million Protestants in 140 countries; Imam Talib Shareef of The Nation’s Mosque; Rabbi David Saperstein, former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom; prominent U.S. evangelical figure, Reverend Johnnie Moore; and HRH Prince Gharios El Chemor of Ghassan Al-Nu’man VIII. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_04_14_Shifting Youth Attitudes Threaten State-controlled Interpretations of Islam

Battle for the Soul of Islam:
Spotlight on the Gap Between Regimes and Populations

“Trouble is brewing in the backyard of Muslim-majority states competing for religious soft power and leadership of the Muslim world.”
“Nahdlatul Ulama’s critical mass of Islamic scholars… offer a bottom-up alternative to state-controlled religion that seeks to ensure the survival of autocratic regimes and the protection of vested interests.”

BELGRADE and NEW YORK, April 14, 2021: Nahdlatul Ulama spiritual leaders are at the vanguard of a grassroots, global trend — especially prevalent among Muslim youth — to reject the political weaponization of Islam by Middle East autocrats and Islamist movements. This dramatic shift in Muslim attitudes was recently detailed by Dr. James M. Dorsey, a veteran foreign correspondent and Senior Fellow at National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute (MEI).

In an 18-page article titled “Battle for the Soul of Islam: Spotlight on the Gap Between Regimes and Populations,” Dr. Dorsey writes that “[s]hifting youth attitudes towards religion and religiosity threaten to undermine the rival efforts of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran and, to a lesser degree, the United Arab Emirates, to cement their individual state-controlled interpretations of Islam as the Muslim world’s dominant religious narrative. Each of the rivals see their efforts as key to securing their autocratic or authoritarian rule as well as advancing their endeavors to carve out a place for themselves in a new world order in which power is being rebalanced. . . . Continue reading full communiqué with images. . .

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2021_03_05_Humanitarian Islam, Evangelical Christianity, and the Clash of Civilizations

Global evangelical leader and scholar urges “Christians to develop extensive interfaith cooperation with Humanitarian Islam”

BONN, Germany, March 5, 2021: The world’s largest Protestant organization has endorsed the Humanitarian Islam movement as an essential vehicle for peacefully and definitively resolving “the Muslim-Christian clash of civilizations, which started almost 1,500 years ago.”

On the day that Pope Francis commenced an historic papal visit to Iraq — which included a meeting with the world’s preeminent Shi‘ite spiritual leader and a tour of Mosul, until recently a stronghold of the defeated ISIS caliphate — the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) Theological Commission published Humanitarian Islam, Evangelical Christianity, and the Clash of Civilizations: A New Partnership for Peace and Religious Freedom. Continue reading full communiqué with images. . .

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2021_02_27 World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General

Bishop Thomas Schirrmacher, friend of Humanitarian Islam, appointed as WEA Secretary General
Heir to a tradition of religious liberty and respect for the equal rights and dignity of every human being
“It is only the prayer of millions, and the prayer of close friends… that makes it possible to take over a task which is too big for just one human being”

Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher, Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance, stands with Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) General Secretary Yahya Cholil Staquf beside the Indonesian and NU flags (Jakarta, 2019)

BONN, Germany, February 27, 2021: Bishop Thomas Schirrmacher — co-founder of an initiative that unites evangelical Christians and the Humanitarian Islam movement in promoting religious freedom across the globe — has been appointed Secretary General & CEO of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA). Founded in 1846, WEA is the largest international organization of evangelical churches, representing over 600 million Protestants and national evangelical alliances in 140 countries. Continue reading full communiqué with images. . .

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2021_02_18_CDI Seeks to Deepen and Expand Cooperation with its Indonesian Sister Party, PKB

World’s Largest Political Network Commends Indonesia for Appointing Humanitarian Islam Co-founder as its Minister of Religious Affairs
A major step “in realizing our shared aspirations for a better world.”
Observers hail Minister’s swift action in defense of women’s rights, religious minorities and Indonesia’s Constitution

BRUSSELS, February 18, 2021: The Executive Committee of the world’s largest political network, Centrist Democrat International (CDI), has unanimously adopted a formal statement praising the appointment of Humanitarian Islam co-founder H. Yaqut Cholil Qoumas (“Gus Yaqut”) as Indonesia’s Minister of Religious Affairs. The appointment has been widely hailed by analysts as evidence of a growing determination by the government of Indonesian President Joko Widodo to combat Islamist extremism, uphold the Constitution and defend Indonesia’s ancient traditions of religious pluralism and tolerance. Continue reading full communiqué with images. . .

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2021_01_14_How to Make the Islamic World Less Radical

Recontextualize the teachings of Islam to address extremism—and to inspire reform.

By Yahya Cholil Staquf   |   Jan. 14, 2021

Members of Nahdlatul Ulama, the biggest Muslim organization in Indonesia, hold a mass prayer to welcome Ramadan in Jakarta, June 14, 2015. PHOTO: ADEK BERRY/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Nearly a generation after 9/11, the world has made little progress in freeing itself from the threat of radical Islam. For every Osama bin Laden or Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi the U.S. eliminates, 100 radicals pop up.

Horrendous violence has engulfed much of the Islamic world, from Central Asia through the Middle East to Africa. It also erupts periodically on the streets of London, Paris and New York. As of 2019, Britain’s domestic intelligence agency alone maintained watch lists comprising over 35,000 Islamist terror suspects believed to pose a threat to the U.K.

Why is the modern world plagued by Islamic extremism? Why do al Qaeda, Boko Haram and Islamic State display such savagery? Continue reading full communiqué with images. . .

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2021_01_07_Commission on Unalienable Rights: Lessons Learned

Last month, the head of the world’s largest independent Muslim organization sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a gracious letter thanking him for his recent visit to Indonesia — home to the world’s largest Muslim population — to discuss the report of the Commission on Unalienable Rights.

The visit and the letter vindicate Secretary Pompeo’s decision in the summer of 2019 to establish the commission to review the principles of freedom that inform America’s founding commitment to the rights inherent in all persons. By recounting the history of those universal principles and of the United States’ struggle to honor them at home and champion them abroad, the commission aimed to call Americans to what is best in our country’s traditions and to invite other peoples and nations to draw on their own heritages to renew a shared dedication to human rights. The secretary’s Jakarta visit and the letter from the general secretary of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) furnish an inspiring example of the exciting opportunities for which the commission’s work has laid the foundations. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_01_07_Co-founder of the Humanitarian Islam Movement Appointed as Indonesia’s Minister of Religious Affairs

“Religion should be an inspiration for society, not a vehicle for the political aspirations of those who seek worldly power”
Antara News: “Yaqut is an active leader of GP Ansor, and has an extensive network stretching from the very center of power all the way to Indonesia’s grass roots”

PRESIDENTIAL PALACE, JAKARTA, Indonesia: On December 22, 2020, Indonesian President Joko Widodo (“Jokowi”) appointed H. Yaqut Cholil Qoumas (“Gus Yaqut”) —Chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama’s 5-million-member young adults organization, Gerakan Pemuda Ansor, and co-founder of the global Humanitarian Islam movement — as Indonesia’s Minister of Religious Affairs. The appointment, which received viral coverage across Indonesian print, broadcast and social media, signals the Jokowi administration’s determination to block the political weaponization of Islam and neutralize its potentially destabilizing effects in the run-up to Indonesia’s 2024 national elections. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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POLITICAL COMMUNIQUÉS – 2020

2020_12_01_Hudson Institute’s Current Trends in Islamist Ideology:

“Nahdlatul Ulama has emerged as a formidable challenger to powerful state actors in the battle for the soul of Islam”
“The [Humanitarian Islam] movement has gone beyond paying lip service to notions of tolerance and pluralism with the issuance of fatwas intended to re-contextualize the faith by eliminating categories like infidels”

Indonesian Muslims wearing masks and maintaining social distance perform Friday prayer at the At-Tin Grand Mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia on June 5, 2020. (Eko Siswono Toyudho/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, D.C.: A leading U.S. think tank has published an in-depth analysis of “The Battle for the Soul of Islam,” reporting that Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama has emerged as a formidable contender in the Islamic world’s competition for religious soft power and leadership — capable of operating on the same level as states such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Turkey and Iran.

The 18-page article by Dr. James M. Dorsey — a Middle East expert who is a senior fellow at prominent universities in Singapore, Germany and Israel — appeared in the journal Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, which is published by Hudson Institute’s Center on Islam, Democracy, and the Future of the Muslim World. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2020_11_23_Nahdlatul Ulama General Secretary helps shape British grand strategy for the emerging “Eurasian century”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison:
“In 1941 Europe was certainly in the cockpit of history. Now in the 21st century the Indo-Pacific will shape the destiny of the world.”
Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan:
“I warmly welcome today’s report from the Policy Exchange Indo-Pacific Commission” which “chart[s] out a path of renewed British engagement in the region [and] points the way towards a truly globally co-operative era”

LONDON, United Kingdom and CANBERRA, Australia, November 23, 2020: Current and former Prime Ministers from four of the world’s most economically powerful countries have endorsed recommendations contained within a landmark report on the future of the Indo-Pacific Region (IPR). Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf, General Secretary of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, helped shape key elements of the 52-page strategic plan, which was warmly received by 10 Downing Street, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and Britain’s Parliament. Mr. Staquf serves as one of 16 members of the Indo-Pacific Commission, which is chaired by former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

In a major foreign policy speech that accompanied the launch of the Commission’s report, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed “the UK’s acknowledgment of the strategic significance of the Indo-Pacific Region” and said: “I endorse the report’s vision for a reinvigorated community of free and independent nations with a single overriding goal, namely: to reinforce a sustainable rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific that is resilient but adaptable to the great power realities of the 21st century.” Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2020_10_29_U.S. Secretary of State Praises Nahdlatul Ulama, Gerakan Pemuda Ansor, Humanitarian Islam and the Movement for Shared Civilizational Values

“Indonesia has an incredible reach and potential as a force for good in the region and indeed throughout the entire world.”
“I am ecstatic to be part of this event today.”

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo addressing leaders of the global Humanitarian Islam movement, while observing COVID-19 social distancing restrictions

JAKARTA, Indonesia (October 29, 2020): U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo delivered a major speech in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation and democracy, at an event hosted by Nahdlatul Ulama’s 5-million-member young adults movement, Gerakan Pemuda Ansor, and Bayt ar-Rahmah, which coordinates the global expansion of NU and Ansor activities.

Titled “Nurturing the Shared Civilizational Aspirations of Islam Rahmatan li al-‘Alamin, the Republic of Indonesia and the United States of America,” the event took place at the Four Seasons Hotel in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, and was part of a two-day forum attended by top leaders of Nahdlatul Ulama, Ansor, the Government of Indonesia, the U.S. Department of State and all six of Indonesia’s major religions. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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Al-Arab (The Arabs), a leading Arabic-language newspaper founded in 1977

2020_10_27_Indonesia is Washington’s Gateway for Promoting Islamic Reform

Supporting local Islamic groups is an American recipe for confronting fundamentalism.

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Local groups lead the battle for Islam’s renewal

Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama—an Islamic mass movement—is hosting a two-day conference in the capital Jakarta to explore the “shared civilizational aspirations” of Indonesia, the United States and Islam. The event will be attended by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is pushing his administration to promote Islamic reform.

JAKARTA: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is determined to strengthen the efforts of the world’s largest Islamic mass movement to reform the faith’s prevailing religious discourse. The Secretary of State will be visiting Indonesia during the last leg of a tour of three Asian nations, as U.S. strategy increasingly focuses upon supporting tajdid (renewal) movements capable of accomplishing Islamic reform and mobilizing Muslim communities against radicalism and terror.

Local religious groups such as Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the Muhammadiyah—which has distanced itself from its Salafist origins—and the Sufi-oriented Movement for Support and Guidance play a key role in supporting Indonesian government efforts to foster widespread rejection of radicalism and extremism. The main goal of these mass movements is to promote the peaceful and moderate face of Islam and—thanks to their extensive social work caring for the poor and orphans, establishing religious schools, and preserving Indonesian social unity—they enjoy widespread popular support in this endeavor. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2020_10_01_World’s largest political network promotes global solidarity in response to COVID-19 crisis

CDI endorses Humanitarian Islam’s call to embrace “the spirit of cooperation rather than conflict, within and between civilizations”

CDI President Andrés Pastrana Arango

BRUSSELS, Belgium, October 1, 2020: Gathering virtually for the first time in its 59-year history, Centrist Democrat International’s (CDI) Executive Committee has adopted a resolution to address “the widespread social isolation, economic hardship, despair, fear and anger triggered by the COVID-19 crisis in societies across the globe.”

The call to action was issued in a Resolution on promoting solidarity and respect among the diverse people, cultures and nations of the world, unanimously passed by the Executive Committee of CDI—a center-right coalition spanning 73 nations that includes the European Union’s largest and most successful political group, the European People’s Party (EPP), and many ruling parties in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

Antonio López-Istúriz White—Secretary General of both CDI and EPP—warmly thanked leaders of Indonesia’s Humanitarian Islam movement for drafting the resolution. He also expressed his appreciation for the Indonesians’ having recognized Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain’s role in laying the foundations of a rules-based international order in the aftermath of WWII, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Second Vatican Council and the establishment of the European Community. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2020_09_23_Nahdlatul Ulama General Secretary at the 75th United Nations General Assembly

Hailed as key partner in an emerging values-driven alliance to “foster respect for the equal rights and dignity of every human being”
U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo:
“We must rediscover the nature of human rights, and we must have the courage to defend them. Your presence here today gives me great confidence that we are up to that task.”

NU General Secretary KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf addressed UN delegates at two events broadcast live by the U.S. Department of State during High Level Week of the 75th UN General Assembly

UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK CITY, 23 and 25 September 2020: There are growing indications that the U.S. Department of State has begun to mobilize its extensive diplomatic capacity to foster awareness of Nahdlatul Ulama General Secretary KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf and the Humanitarian Islam movement he co-founded. The Indonesian religious leader is increasingly viewed in Western political circles as a potential lynchpin in an effort to forge a global, values-driven alliance dedicated to strengthening the rules-based international order and Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) at a time of increased geopolitical uncertainty and rising human rights abuse.

Over the past year, the State Department has increased both the level and intensity of its diplomatic outreach to Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), coordinating closely with Mr. Staquf on matters related to fundamental human rights, including religious freedom. These efforts are set to continue with a planned visit to Indonesia in October of 2020 by U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, his Director of Policy Planning, Peter Berkowitz, and Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon, Chair of the State Department’s Commission on Unalienable Rights. The U.S. delegation will be hosted by Mr. Staquf and Nahdlatul Ulama’s 5-million-member young adults organization, Gerakan Pemuda Ansor, which co-founded the Humanitarian Islam movement. Continue reading full communiqué. . .