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 communities. Continue 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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