Associated Press/ABC News: “In Israel, Indonesian Muslim leader risks backlash at home,” by Caron Creighton, June 11, 2018. “A leader of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization is visiting Israel this week, braving angry protests at home in order to spread what he calls a message of interfaith compassion.”
Associated Press/ABC News: “Indonesia Calls on Islamic Leaders to Promote Tolerant Islam,” May 9, 2016. “Indonesia’s vice president on Monday called on Islamic leaders to spread messages about a tolerant Islam to curb extremism that often springs from misinterpretation of Islamic teachings. Speaking at the opening of the International Summit of the Moderate Islamic Leaders, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said he believes that youths who don’t have deep faith are susceptible to be militants, not for wealth or political cause, but rather as a ‘shortcut’ to heaven.”
Al Arabiya: “Indonesian cyber warriors seek to counter ISIS message,” May 10, 2016. “A group of Indonesian ‘cyber warriors’ sit glued to screens, as they send out messages promoting a moderate form of Islam in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country. Armed with laptops and smartphones, some 500 members of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) — one of the world’s biggest Muslim organizations — are seeking to counter ISIS messages.”
Al-Ahram: “Indonesian Islam,” by Muhammad Abul Fadl, deputy editor, Al-Ahram, June 11, 2015. “The vital role of the Nahdlatul Ulama stems from its success as a mediator between the Indonesian government and its people. The NU can maintain a harmonious relationship between the government and the people due to its spiritual values, political engagement and mass following, which combine a profound understanding of Islam with respect for the inherent variety of Indonesia’s countless local cultures. That is why the Nahdlatul Ulama has consistently nurtured the values of Islam Nusantara (East Indies Islam) for over a century, and is now poised to export its collective wisdom and experience throughout the world, for the benefit of humanity.” Al-Ahram (The Pyramids) is one of the oldest (est. 1875) and largest-circulation daily newspapers in the Arab world.
Al-Arab: “Political Horizons for Indonesian Islam,” by Muhammad Abul Fadl, June 15, 2015. “…the profoundly spiritual and tolerant worldview embodied in the term Islam Nusantara has begun to expand beyond its local framework to a global environment. Many lines of communication have been initiated between the Nahdlatul Ulama and various Western governments. [Spiritual leaders within] the Nahdlatul Ulama have begun to establish working relationships and operational nodes in many countries, operating under the organizational name, ‘Home of Divine Grace (Bayt ar-Rahmah).’ Each operational node propagates the model of tolerance embraced by the Nahdlatul Ulama—such as peaceful coexistence with others and respect for individuals’ right to privacy, including freedom of thought and conscience—and seeks to accomplish this by leveraging the profound humane and spiritual values that underlie and animate all religions.”
Al-Azhar: “Pope Francis Thanks Judge Mohamed Abdel Salam for his efforts in drafting the Document on Human Fraternity,” February4, 2018. “In his Speech at the Global Conference of Human Fraternity held in Abu Dhabi, His Holiness Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church, expressed his thanks to Judge Mohamed Abdel Salam, former Adviser to the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar.”
Al-Monitor: “Indonesian cleric’s call for compassion lost in controversy over Jerusalem visit,” by Eetta Prince-Gibson, June 19, 2018. “Yahya Staquf, an Indonesian cleric and secretary-general of the Jakarta-based Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the world’s largest Muslim organization, believes that “rahma,” meaning “compassion” or “mercy” in Arabic, can provide the basis for a political solution to the conflict between Israel and the Muslim world.”
The Algemeiner: “In Speech to Jewish Group, Leader of World’s Largest Muslim Organization Calls for Compassion,” by Benjamin Kerstein, June 10, 2018. “The leader of the world’s largest Muslim organization told a leading Jewish group on Sunday that religious people must seek to solve today’s violent conflicts and embrace “rachma” — compassion and caring for people.”
American Jewish Committee (video): “A Conversation with Yahya Cholil Staquf,” June 10, 2018.
American Jewish Committee: “Leader of World’s Largest Muslim Organization to Address AJC Global Forum in Jerusalem,” May 14, 2018. “‘We are deeply honored to host Pak Yahya on his groundbreaking journey to Israel at our Global Forum in Jerusalem,’ said AJC CEO David Harris. AJC, throughout its history, has spearheaded interreligious initiatives, with an ever-increasing focus on Muslim-Jewish relations.”
Antara News: “President inaugurates Staquf as Presidential Advisory Council member,” June 1, 2018. “‘It is my duty to accept the president’s request to join the Presidential Advisory Council. I will fulfill the task and duties as well as responsibilities as member of the council by following the proper procedures and ethics,’ Staquf added.”
Arutz Sheva: “Indonesia’s once multiple ties with Israel,” by Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, April 5, 2018. “His Excellency Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid served as president of Indonesia from 1999-2001. He is the only Indonesian president who visited Israel and did so a number of times. President Wahid was deeply aware of the cultural, historical, intellectual and spiritual dimensions of Judaism, as well as the intimate religious and linguistic connections between Judaism/Islam and Hebrew/Arabic.”
Asia News: “Muslim cleric visits Israel and meets Netanyahu, sparking anger among radicals,” by Mathias Hariyadi, June 18, 2018. “The visit to Israel by an important Islamic cleric has sparked criticism from the radical movements in the world’s most populous Islamic country. Yahya Cholil Staquf… gave a presentation at a Jewish Forum and met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv.”
Asia Society: “Asia Game Changer Awards – The Founders of Koolulam,” August 23, 2018. “Bringing disparate groups together is central to the mission of Koolulam, a self-described ‘social musical initiative’ whose name is a portmanteau combining the Hebrew words for ‘ululation’ and ‘everyone.’ The June 14 concert in Jerusalem was held in honor of Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf, secretary general of the world’s largest independent Muslim organization, the Indonesian-based Nahdlatul Ulama, which boasts 60 million members.”
Associated Press (AP): “The Big Story”, “Indonesia calls on Islamic leaders to promote tolerant Islam,” May 9, 2016. “Indonesia’s vice president on Monday called on Islamic leaders to spread messages about a tolerant Islam to curb extremism that often springs from misinterpretation of Islamic teachings. Speaking at the opening of the International Summit of the Moderate Islamic Leaders, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said he believes that youths who don’t have deep faith are susceptible to be militants, not for wealth or political cause, but rather as a ‘shortcut’ to heaven.”
The Atlantic: “ISIS in the World’s Largest Muslim Country,” by Edward Delman, January 3, 2016. “In November, The New York Times pointed to one factor behind the muted response to ISIS in Indonesia: Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), an Islamic organization that claims to have 50 million members. NU preaches an Islam of compassion, inclusivity, and tolerance of other faiths, as opposed to ISIS’s fundamentalist, Wahhabi-inspired theology. ‘We are directly challenging the idea of ISIS, which wants Islam to be uniform, meaning that if there is any other idea of Islam that is not following their ideas, those people are infidels who must be killed,’ Yahya Cholil Staquf, the general secretary to the NU supreme council, told the Times.”
The Australian/AAP: “Scholars set to tackle Muslim ‘orthodoxy’,” by Lauren Farrow, May 20,2017. “While radicalism is not new in Indonesia, NU’s Supreme Council general secretary, Yahya Cholil Staquf, told AAP the movement is clearly becoming stronger. In the hopes of coming up with a strategy to combat extremism and rising Islamophobia, more than 400 scholars from Indonesia, North Africa, the Middle East, Europe and America are expected to attend a conference in East Java on Sunday and Monday. Through theological debate, Mr. Staquf said they hope to challenge some of the ‘problematic’ elements of Islam, which are being promoted by the ultra-conservative orthodoxy.”
The Australian: “Indonesian online warriors pulling the beard of radical Islam,” by Amanda Hodge, March 30, 2016. “When the head of Indonesia’s largest and most moderate Muslim organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama, joked that men with beards tend to be stupid—and the longer the beard the more stupid the man—there was apparently method in his madness.”
The Australian: “Nahdlatul Ulama: Indonesia’s antidote to Islamism’s feral fringe,” by Peter Alford, December 15, 2015. “The message to vulnerable Muslim communities everywhere is ‘NU is here to help’, Supreme Council secretary-general Yahya Cholil Staquf told The Weekend Australian. ‘We know this threat, we have been fighting it for almost 90 years — it’s our daily business to face them,’ said Haji Yahya. ‘We know how they think, we know who they are, we know how they operate.’
Bild: “Islam is Linked to Terrorism,” August 21, 2017. “It is an alarm call – from an authoritative source: ‘There is a clear relationship between fundamentalism, terror and the basic assumptions of Islamic orthodoxy.’ That is what the Islamic scholar Yahya C. Staquf said in a recent interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). Staquf is not just anyone. In fact, he’s General Secretary of the world’s largest Muslim organization, the Indonesia-based Nahdlatul Ulama (40 million followers).
Black Christian News Network: “Pence & Johnnie Moore Meet Leader of Indonesia’s Largest Muslim Group Days After ISIS Church Bombings,” May 18, 2018. “Just days after the spate of deadly suicide bombings targeting three churches and a police station in Surabaya, Indonesia, Vice President Mike Pence met with the leader of the world’s largest Islamic organization, [Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf], to stand in solidarity for religious freedom and peaceful coexistence.”
Bloomberg: “Indonesia’s Largest Islamic Group Seeks End to ‘Infidel’ Usage,” by Tassia Sipahutar and Arys Aditya, March 1, 2019. “Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, has issued a call to end the usage of “infidel” or “kafir” to refer to non-Muslims in state or citizenship matters, a move that may be aimed at calming religious tensions ahead of the presidential election”
The Boston Globe: “Moderate Muslims reclaim their faith,” by The Editorial Board, December 11, 2015. “In Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim group has embarked on an international effort to repudiate the jihadist teachings and ideology of the Islamic State. The group is Nahdlatul Ulama… Last month, NU released a 90-minute film that vigorously refutes ISIS and its Wahhabist-rooted fundamentalism.”
Breaking Israel News: “Israeli Music Project Koolulam Brings Jews, Christians and Muslims Together at Tower of David,” by Eliana Rudee , June 18, 2018. “Before the main Koolulam event, religious leaders gathered for a colloquium on how religion can serve as a bridge to mutual understanding, compassion and peace between people of all faiths and backgrounds in Israel. Hosted by Dr. Yehuda Stolov, CEO of the Interfaith Encounter Association, the meeting was attended by Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf (Pak Yahya), the Secretary General of the world’s largest Muslim organization, Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, which has more than 60 million members. According to Dr. Stolov, Sheikh Staquf promotes a ‘committed Islam, but an Islam of love and compassion, which is very important for Jews and Christians to meet.'”
Channel News Asia: “Indonesia’s largest Muslim organisation warns against politicians using Islam to win votes,” by Amy Chew, December 4, 2017. “‘There are political actors who have used Islam as a weapon and have succeeded (in winning elections). Using religion in a heterogeneous society (ends up) discriminating against people of other faiths,’ Yahya Staquf, secretary-general of NU, told Channel NewsAsia.”
Channel News Asia: “World’s largest Muslim youth organisation calls for re-examination of Islamic text,” by Amy Chew, May 22, 2017. “The world’s largest Muslim youth organisation Gerakan Pemuda Ansor (GP Ansor)—the youth wing of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organisation Nadlatul Ulama (NU)—on Monday (May 22) called for a re-examination of Islamic text to adapt it to modern civilisation.”
Channel News Asia: “Indonesia’s largest Muslim group joins battle against radical Islam,” by Sujadi Siswo, December 10, 2015. “‘This film was created to use technology in order to function as a loudspeaker and to easily propagate the traditional teachings of Islam that is a characteristic of not only Nusantara, or Indonesian Islam, but also the characteristics of the vast majority of Muslim population throughout the world,’ said C Holland Taylor, chairman and CEO of LibForAll Foundation.”
Christian Daily: “Indonesia demands the promotion of ‘tolerant Islam’,” by Christian Deguit, May 11, 2016. “The Southeast Asian country of Indonesia has called on Islamic leaders during the International Summit of the Moderate Islamic Leaders to spread messages promoting a tolerant Islam with hopes of suppressing extremism. Islam teachings are often misinterpreted, which causes extremism.”
The Christian Post: “Pence Meets Leader of Indonesia’s Largest Muslim Group Days After ISIS Church Bombings,” by Samuel Smith, May 18, 2018. “‘The vice president found out [Nahdlatul Ulama General Secretary, Yahya Cholil Staquf] was in town and asked to see him,’ Moore said, adding that Pence knows Yahya from a multi-faith event they both attended in Indonesia last year. ‘I have been in lots of these meetings. You can tell when a meeting is warm and a meeting is cordial. This was a very warm conversation. It was a special time. And it was substantive, I would say.’”
Christian Science Monitor: “A Muslim call to end words of contempt,” by the Monitor’s Editorial Board, March 7, 2019. “On March 1, the largest Muslim organization in Indonesia took a stand against the word [kafir] as a weapon of discrimination. The 45-million-strong Nahdlatul Ulama (N.U.) issued a statement asking Muslims not to use kafir as a form of ‘theological violence.'”
Christianity Today: “Pence Meets Indonesia’s Top Muslim Leader After Church Attacks,” by Kate Shellnutt, May 18, 2018. “Less than a week after the first family of suicide bombers killed or injured dozens of worshipers at Sunday services in Indonesia, the country’s top Muslim leader [Nahdlatul Ulama General Secretary, Yahya Cholil Staquf] met with Vice President Mike Pence to discuss religious freedom in the face of mounting extremism.”
CNN (video): “Indonesian Muslims Denounce Islamist Extremism,” by Ivan Watson, May 10, 2016. This video features remarks by LibForAll Foundation associate, Bayt-ar-Rahmah Director of Religious Affairs and General Secretary to the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) Supreme Council, KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf; and LibForAll Foundation advisor and Research Director of the Centre for Asymmetric Threat Studies (CATS) at the Swedish Defence University, Dr. Magnus Ranstorp, at the 2016 International Summit of Moderate Islamic Leaders gathering in Jakarta.
Daily Mail/AFP: “Indonesia’s ‘militant moderates’ fight religious intolerance,” June 10, 2017. “Clad in camouflage and armed only with their convictions, the paramilitary wing of Indonesia’s biggest Muslim organisation is on a campaign — to crush intolerance and defend the nation’s inclusive brand of Islam.”
Democracy Digest: “Is Indonesia’s ‘pious democracy’ safe from Islamist extremism?” July 5, 2017. “‘Pluralism has always been a part of Indonesia’s DNA,’ [Indonesian President] Joko Widodo told Reuters in an interview at the presidential palace in Jakarta. ‘Despite many challenges, Islam in Indonesia has always been a force for moderation.’”
Democracy Digest: “Promoting modernized Islam to counter jihadist ideology,” June 23, 2017. “Leaders of Nahdlatul Ulama’s youth wing, known as Ansor, say that elements of Shariah, which Muslims consider divine law, are being manipulated by groups like the Islamic State and Al Qaeda to justify terrorist attacks around the world, invoked to rally fighters to battle in the Middle East and elsewhere, and distorted by movements that seek to turn Islam into a political weapon, The New York Times reports…”
Democracy Digest: “Antidote to jihadism debunks ISIS ideology,” March 29, 2016. ““The University of Vienna has partnered with Nahdlatul Ulama (NU)—Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization—and LibForAll Foundation in a research program on terrorism and extremism called VORTEX, which is funded by the Austrian interior ministry.”
Deutsche Welle: “Indonesian cleric: ‘Islamic recontextualization’ needed for Israel-Palestine peace,” by Rizki Nugraha, June 26, 2018. “After visiting Israel and meeting with PM Netanyahu, Indonesian cleric Yahya Cholil Staquf has received criticism at home. In a DW interview, he said that a ‘reinterpretation’ of Islam is necessary for peace… ‘I ask clerics from all religions to think about what solutions religion can offer to various conflicts that are engulfing the world today. Religion is often used as justification and even weapon for conflict. Is religion really just for this or does it offer a solution?’”
Deutsche Welle: “Ex-President Gus Dur’s vision for democratic Islam in Indonesia,” September 7, 2017. “With so many legacies, it is not a surprise that Gus Dur is loved by the Indonesian people, and still influences Indonesia today. At a time when the world is challenged by Islamism and Islamophobia, Gus Dur’s views and works would be a source of inspiration that indeed Islam is part of the world, and can play its vital role to fulfill the dream of the Prophet Muhammad: Islam is a blessing for the universe (Islam Rahmatan li al-Alamin).”
Die Presse: “How an Austrian Plans to Defeat the Islamic State,” by Frederic Spohr, May 29, 2016. “A Viennese expert on Islam, Nico Prucha, wants to undermine radical Muslims’ digital hegemony and their recruiting operations. To accomplish this, he has managed to recruit 50 million allies—in Indonesia.”
The Diplomat: “Indonesia’s Challenge to Radical Islam,” by Keith Loveard and Bastiaan Scherpen, November 4, 2016. “Leading the charge in the nation that has the largest Muslim population in the world but which has typically punched below its weight in Islamic discourse is Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf, general secretary of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the largest Muslim organization in the country and arguably the world, with at least 50 million adherents… Yahya is the leading proponent of what Nahdlatul Ulama calls Islam Nusantara, the Islam of the archipelago. He and his allies argue that Islam in Indonesia is different from that in most other parts of the world because it did not arrive at the end of a sword, but peacefully…”
Eurasia Review: “Indonesian Muslim Leader Signals Global Shifts In Meetings With Pence And Netanyahu – Analysis,” by James M. Dorsey, June 24, 2018. “Yahya Staquf, a diminutive, soft-spoken leader of Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest Muslim movement, and Indonesian president Joko Widodo’s advisor on religious affairs, has held a series of meetings in recent weeks that reflect the Muslim world’s shifting attitudes towards Israel and the Palestinians and a re-alignment of socially conservative Muslim and Christian interests.”
Facebook – Tower of David Museum: “At midnight, with the magical backdrop of the Tower of David…” July 8, 2018. “At midnight, with the magical backdrop of the Tower of David in the Old City of Jerusalem, together with the spectacular images of the new night experience KING DAVID, hundreds of strangers from different religions and different sections of Jerusalem’s population shared One Love by Bob Marley in an original musical arrangement in three languages and three voices by the social musical initiative for mass singing events Koolulam.”
Family Research Council: “Supporting Indonesia’s Religious Freedom-Loving Muslims,” by Tony Perkins, May 18, 2018. “Thus, we all have a stake in whether Indonesia continues to nurture and grow in its protection of religious freedom, or whether it slides toward violent jihad. We must continue to encourage and come along side people like Mr. Staquf and organizations like NU — for without their help, the likelihood that we will achieve the former certainly goes down.”
Frankfurter Allgemeine: “Jihadists as the Elite Troops of Islam,” by Suzanne Schröter, August 29, 2017. “Progressive Muslims such as Saida Keller-Messahli, Elham Manea, Abdel-Hakim Ourghi, Ahmad Mansour and, most recently, Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf—General Secretary of the Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 19 August)—have long demanded that [Germany] confront the ideas that legitimize violence, which circulate so freely among Muslim associations here. The fact that nearly all the assassins [involved in terrorist attacks] had a clear affiliation with a mosque, and drew their ideology of hatred from sources that are not confined to secret internet chat rooms, makes this demand all the more urgent.”
Frankfurter Allgemeine: “Terrorism and Islam are Intimately Connected,” by Marco Stahlhut, August 19, 2017. “Western politicians should stop pretending that extremism and terrorism have nothing to do with Islam. There is a crystal clear relationship between fundamentalism, terror and the basic assumptions of Islamic orthodoxy. So long as we lack consensus regarding this matter, we cannot attain final victory over fundamentalist violence within Islam. Radical Islamic movements are nothing new. They’ve appeared again and again throughout our own history in Indonesia. The West must stop ascribing any and all discussion of these issues to ‘Islamophobia.’ Or do people want to accuse me—an Islamic scholar—of being an Islamophobe, too?”
Free Malaysia Today: “Stop using Islam to win votes, says Indonesia’s largest Muslim body,” December 5, 2017. “Indonesia’s largest Muslim organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), has ticked off politicians in Muslim countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia who use Islam to win votes. Yahya Staquf, the secretary-general of NU, said it would inevitably result in discrimination of minorities, provoke intolerance and possibly lead to religious conflict.”
Hamodia: “Netanyahu Unexpectedly Meets with Indonesian Muslim Leader,” June 14, 2018. “The leader of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization [Yahya Cholil Staquf] has held a surprise meeting with Israel’s prime minister. … Speaking of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, [Staquf] said, ‘We are facing a civilizational problem here; and it is related to religions. As Muslims, we want to do our part related to our religion.'”
The Hindu: “From Indonesia, a Muslim challenge to Islamic State,” by Joe Cochrane. November 28, 2015. “An Indonesian film seeks to fire the opening salvo in a global campaign by the world’s largest Muslim group to challenge the Islamic State’s ideology head-on.”
Associated Press/Hindustan Times: “Indonesia calls on Islamic leaders to promote tolerant Islam,” May 9, 2016. “The meeting organized by Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization, is expected to produce a message about the importance of promoting a peaceful Islam to combat radicalism worldwide.”
Horizons: “Indonesia’s Battle for the Soul of Islam,” by James M. Dorsey, Winter, 2019. “To achieve its reform goal, Nahdlatul Ulama is bonding with groups across the globe, spanning the political spectrum from Muslim organizations to Jews, Christian Democrats, evangelists and evangelicals, and Islamophobes— and all this in a bid to muscle the political clout to impose the adoption of its concept of humanitarian Islam on Middle Eastern states that it sees as the motor of political Islam and religious extremism.”
Nadirsyah Hosen: “Understanding Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf’s Message of Compassion,” by Nadirsyah Hosen, June 19, 2018. “You may disagree with what Kyai Yahya did [in visiting Jerusalem]. But do not underestimate the Message of Compassion that he delivered, in order to foster world peace. This is the true Heavenly Message. You may not realize it, but the Noble Prophet was present, in Jerusalem, when Kyai Yahya delivered his Message of Compassion.”
Hudson Institute: “Conflicts in Indonesian Islam,” by Paul Marshall, May 31, 2018. “In May 2017, NU’s five-million-member-strong youth movement, Gerakan Pemuda Ansor, convened more than 300 international religious scholars to consider the ‘obsolete tenets of classical Islamic law’ that call for ‘perpetual conflict with those who do not embrace or submit to Islam.’ At this gathering, the Ansor Declaration on Humanitarian Islam was drafted, which builds on the May 16, 2016, NU-hosted International Summit of Moderate Islamic Leaders.”
Hudson Institute: “Among the Believers,” by Paul Marshall, September 5, 2015. “Historically, NU, like Indonesia, has rarely sought a bigger place on the Islamic or world stage. But now, with the nation’s economy the largest in the Muslim world, and after eight successful democratic elections, both are reaching out, sponsoring reconciliation and educational programs in Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. There are even NU branches in the United States. As we continue to struggle with bloody chaos in much of the Middle East, Indonesia, and especially Indonesian Islam, needs our careful attention.”
The Huffington Post: “Stirrings of Humanitarian Islam,” by Kabir Helminski, May 29, 2017. “It is essential that Western leaders and opinion makers recognize that Islamist extremism and terror arise from the web of complex factors — historical, religious, economic, and political — and that Islam is not a monolithic belief system. Despite the prevalence of the recently promoted Wahhabist mentality, traditional Islam has a long history of humane and tolerant values, and that the great majority of Muslims deserve to be viewed as allies in creating a humane and just world.”
The Huffington Post: “World’s Largest Islamic Organization Tells ISIS To Get Lost,” by Krithika Varagur, December 3, 2015. “NU is setting its sights globally. In December 2014, it created an American nonprofit called Bayt ar-Rahmah in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to serve as headquarters for its international activities. It is planning ‘an international conference and cultural event in Washington, D. C.’ in Spring 2016, NU General Secretary Yahya Cholil Staquf told the Huffington Post.”
Independent: “Indonesia provides a vision of a peaceful post-Islamofascist world,” by Peter Popham, November 27, 2015. “‘We are directly challenging the idea of Isis, which wants Islam to be uniform, meaning that if there is any other idea of Islam that is not following their ideas, those people are infidels who must be killed,’ Yahya Cholil, general secretary of the organisation’s supreme council, told the New York Times. ‘We will show that is not the case with Islam.'”
ISOMIL/Nahdlatul Ulama: “ISOMIL/Nahdlatul Ulama Declaration Sample Media Coverage,” May 10, 2016. Full text of the historic 2016 ISOMIL/Nahdlatul Ulama Declaration and selected media coverage that includes articles from Agence France Presse (AFP), Al Arabiya, Associated Press (AP), CNN, Daily Mail, Hindustan Times, Jakarta Post, Kompas, Nettavisen, Saudi Gazette, South China Morning Post, Straits Times, Sydney Morning Herald, Vatican Radio, Washington Post and more.
Israel21c: “800 Jews, Christians, Muslims sing ‘One Love’ in Jerusalem,” July 8, 2018. “Jews, Muslims and Christians, young and old, most of them strangers to one another, …were forgoing a night’s sleep for the chance to sing Bob Marley’s “One Love” in three languages and three-part harmony as a show of unity from Israel… That night was Eid al-Fitr, a holiday marking the end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting and introspection, and the Jerusalem visit of Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf, secretary general of Indonesia-based Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest Muslim organization with more than 60 million members.”
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “PM Netanyahu meets with General Secretary of the Global Islamic Organization Nahdlatul Ulama,” June 14, 2018. “Israel is the innovation nation, and I’m very happy to see that the Arab countries and many Muslim countries getting closer to Israel. I hope that we have some movement with Indonesia.”
The Jakarta Post: “Be brave in defending Pancasila, Jokowi tells Nahdlatul Ulama youths,” November 23, 2018. “President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo has urged GP Ansor, the youth wing of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization, to be brave and to be on the front line in safeguarding the state ideology of Pancasila and national motto Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity).”
The Jakarta Post: “Let us choose to solve Israeli-Palestinian feud,” by Yahya Cholil Staquf, June 19, 2018. “I don’t know if there is anyone among us who witnessed how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict began. Yet clearly, we are all children born of a troubled history. A multi-generational saga that spans continents and is deeply suffused with suspicion, pain, anger and hatred. A complex and traumatic history that continues to roll ever onwards, completely beyond our control. A history that has bequeathed us mutual hostility and bondage, as though we were enslaved by fate itself.”
The Jakarta Post: “NU cleric visits Israel to ‘support’ Palestine,” by Kharishar Kahfi, June 12, 2018. “A top Muslim cleric from Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Yahya Cholil Staquf, has broken his silence regarding his visit to Jerusalem to fulfill an invitation from an Israeli organization, saying his visit was made in part to support Palestine. “I stand here for Palestine. I stand here on the basis that we have to honor Palestine’s sovereignty as a free country,” he said in a statement posted on NU’s official website.”
The Jakarta Post: “Indonesian Muslim cleric to speak in Israel amid diplomatic row,” June 10, 2018. “A top Muslim cleric from Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization, is scheduled to deliver a speech in Jerusalem after an invitation from an Israeli organization. NU supreme council secretary-general Yahya Cholil Staquf, who is also known as Gus Yahya, has reportedly been invited by the Israel Council on Foreign Relations to deliver a speech titled “Shifting Geopolitical Calculus: From Conflict to Cooperation” at the David Amar World North African Jewish Heritage Center in Jerusalem on June 13.”
The Jakarta Post: “NU scholar inaugurated as President’s adviser,” by Marguerite Afra Sapiie, May 31, 2018. “President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo inaugurated on Thursday Muslim scholar Yahya Cholil Staquf as a member of the Presidential Advisory Board (Wantimpres) in a ceremony at the State Palace.”
The Jakarta Post: “The enduring threat of Islamist politics in ‘reformasi’ (post-Soeharto) Indonesia and its global ramifications,” by Yahya Cholil Staquf, May 22, 2018. “A rising tide of Islamism in its myriad forms — which run the gamut from preman berjubah (thugs draped in Arab garb) to social media activists, proselytism movements, educational networks, political parties and even terrorist groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) group — has been among the most noteworthy phenomena to emerge in the country over the past 20 years. Individually and collectively, these developments threaten the unity of Indonesia and its people, often in ways more subtle and profound than the bloody conflicts waged in the name of Islam in regions as diverse as Ambon, Poso and Aceh.”
The Jakarta Post: “Humanitarian Islam movement begins in East Java,” May, 25, 2017. “A movement to address the contextualization of Islamic teaching, dubbed Humanitarian Islam, has been inaugurated in Jombang, East Java. GP Ansor, the youth wing of Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization, inaugurated the movement during an event attended by over 300 worldwide religious scholars.”
The Jakarta Post: “Moderate Muslims interested in Islam Nusantara,” by Marguerite Afra Sapiie, May 12, 2016. “A number of visiting foreign Muslim leaders have expressed their interest in the concept of Islam promoted by the Indonesian government, Islam Nusantara. Introduced by Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Islam Nusantara is a tolerant form of Islam that upholds values of peace, modesty and cultural respect.”
The Jakarta Post: “Islam of the Archipelago leads way to moderation,” by Tama Salim, May 11, 2016. “The moderate view of Islam that promotes tolerance, peace and an appreciation for local cultures has gained wide acceptance in the world’s Muslim community, as Muslim leaders from 35 countries issued a joint statement on Tuesday on the global promotion of Islam Nusantara. … NU concluded its two-day International Summit of the Moderate Islamic Leaders (ISOMIL) by issuing the Jakarta Declaration, with the aim of disseminating Islam Nusantara’s tenets for a global audience.”
The Jakarta Post: “NU, foreign ulemas endorse Jakarta Declaration,” by Marguerite Afra Sapiie, May 11, 2016. “Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization, Nahdlatul Ulama ( NU ), and ulemas from 35 countries have endorsed the NU’s Jakarta Declaration, asserting the importance of disseminating peaceful Islamic values internationally to end conflicts emerging from tensions between religion and state.”
The Jakarta Post: “Govt tells NU to act as Middle East Peacemaker,” by Marguerite Afra Sapiie, May 10, 2016. “The government has urged Nahdlatul Ulama ( NU ), Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization, to play a role in disseminating peaceful Islamic teachings and acting as a peacemaker for conflicts in the Middle East.”
The Jerusalem Post: “Can Indonesians Help Moderate Islam in Europe?” by Manfred Gerstenfeld, January 12, 2019. “Few European politicians know that the world’s largest Muslim organization is a moderate one. The Indonesian Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) has more than 45 million members and tens of millions of additional sympathizers. Its secretary-general, Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf, in a 2017 interview with the German daily Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung, said Western politicians should stop saying extremism and terrorism have nothing to do with orthodox Islam.”
The Jerusalem Post: “Editor’s Notes: A Message of Peace and Rahma,” by Yaakov Katz, June 15, 2018. “’Everyone knows everyone did bad things,’ he said. ‘Israel did and the Palestinians did. Do we want to continue pursuing vengeance and fight for the annihilation of others? Is that our choice, or do we want an alternative?’ The alternative, Yahya Staquf said, is rahma, the Muslim concept of compassion and caring for others.”
The Jerusalem Post: “Islamic Cleric Preaches Compassion Between Israelis and Palestinians,” by Greer Fay Cashman, June 14, 2018. “Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf, an Islamic cleric from Indonesia who serves as secretary-general of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) supreme council – the world’s largest Sunni Muslim organization that claims some 60 million members and that teaches that Islam’s primary principle is one of universal love and compassion – has come to Israel with a one-word message: “rahma” – the Arabic word for “compassion.” The message is not directed at Israel alone, but also at the Palestinians. Without rahma, he said at a meeting organized by the Israel Council on Foreign Relations at the North African Jewish Heritage Center in Jerusalem, there can be no peace.”
The Jerusalem Post: “Koolulam does Bob Marley at the Tower of David,” June 10, 2018. “This week’s event is being held in honor of the Jerusalem visit of Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf, the Secretary General of the world’s largest Muslim organization—Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama with more than 60 million members—who will be attending along with other faith leaders. The event will take place at midnight, featuring Marley’s anthem sun in three languages by the participants who will undergo rehearsals beforehand.”
Jewish Journal: “Three Faiths, Three Languages, One Love in Jerusalem’s Old City,” by Eetta Prince-Gibson, June 28, 2018. “The evening — sponsored by the Tower of David Museum and Jerusalem.com with the cooperation of the Interfaith Encounter Association and more than 50 other local and international dialogue and interfaith organizations — was held in honor of Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf of Indonesia, head of the 60-million-member Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest Muslim organization.”
Jewish News Syndicate: “Netanyahu gets impromptu visit from head of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization,” June 15, 2018. “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu got an impromptu meeting with the leader of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization. Yahya Cholil Staquf, secretary general of the 60-million member Nahdlatul Ulama, visited with Netanyahu at his office in Jerusalem on Thursday. Staquf had been in Israel at the invitation of the American Jewish Committee.”
Katholische.de: “Identify Problems Clearly,” by Volker Resing, August 22, 2017. “The West must stop ‘ascribing any and all discussion of these issues to Islamophobia,’ says Yahya Cholil Staquf. The Muslim scholar is not saying this to strengthen anti-Islamic sentiment in the West, but rather, to facilitate co-existence between those of different faiths. These problems [within Islam] must be clearly identified, in order to permanently improve relations between Muslims and non-Muslims. ‘A problem that is not acknowledged cannot be solved.’ That is very true— even amidst the heat of a nationwide political campaign.”
Kompas: “EDITORIAL: RI Sets Example of Peaceful Religious Life,” May 12, 2016. “It is interesting that NU, as the biggest civil society organization in Indonesia, offered the Islam Nusantara movement at the international conference as a manifestation of a tolerant and peaceful Islam that can accommodate local cultures. This accommodative attitude also arises in the adoption of nationalistic views by the NU so that the concept of a unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia is not a problem. In practice, these accommodative approaches have been practiced and widely accepted ever since Islam first came to the archipelago.”
Kompas: “NU Offers Archipelagic Islam to the World,” May 11, 2016. “Islam Nusantara or Archipelagic Islam, a manifestation of a peaceful and tolerant Islam that accommodates culture and local wisdom, is being offered as a new concept in the world of Islam. Archipelagic Islam can be the solution to conflict or a reference for the Islamic world to realize a world order that is peaceful and tolerant.”
Kompas: “Islam and Nationalism Inseparable,” May 10, 2016. “Nahdlatul Ulama senior cleric KH Yahya C Staquf said that the world’s moderate Muslims should be more actively promoting moderate Islam. “This is what all Islamic leaders must continue to do: promoting a moderate form of Islam,” he said. A similar sentiment was voiced by C Holland Taylor, the director of Bayt Rahmah in California, the US. He said that he hoped moderate Muslims would continue promoting a friendly Islam such as that in Indonesia. He added that many Americans and Europeans who do not understand Islam well had their image of the religion shaped by terrorist events conducted by groups abusing the name of Islam.”
La Croix International: “Muslim cleric urges Europe to challenge radicalism,” by Keith Loveard, February 18, 2019. “Do European politicians dare to tell Muslims what they should do? According to one of Indonesia’s leading Muslim figures, K.H. Yahya Staquf, general secretary of Sunni movement Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), it’s important that they do so for the sake of their own communities.”
Middle East Institute: “Jakarta’s Political Turmoil: Post-storm Thoughts on the Moderate Muslim Mainstream,” by Giora Eliraz, July 6, 2017. “The NU’s youth wing, Gerakan Pemuda Ansor (GP Ansor), also joined efforts to counter extremism. Three weeks after Ahok’s jailing, GP Ansor released the Gerakan Pemuda Ansor’s Declaration on Humanitarian Islam — a roadmap for re-contextualizing Islamic teachings for the modern era.”
Mint Press News: “With Pence and Netanyahu Meetings, Indonesia Signals Shift to Saudi-Israeli Fold,” by Dr. James M. Dorsey, June 27, 2018. “Yahya Staquf, a diminutive, soft-spoken leader of Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest Muslim movement, and Indonesian president Joko Widodo’s advisor on religious affairs, has held a series of meetings in recent weeks that reflect the Muslim world’s shifting attitudes towards Israel and the Palestinians and a re-alignment of socially conservative Muslim and Christian interests.”
Nahdlatul Ulama/Bayt ar-Rahmah: “Sample Media Coverage April 2015 – March 2016.” Includes articles from Al-Ahram, Al-Arab, Atlantic, Boston Globe, Channel News Asia, CNN, Huffington Post, Jakarta Post, New Mandala, New York Times, Spiegel, Strategic Review, Tempo, Weekly Standard and more.
Netral News: “Responding to Yahya Cholil Staquf, Fahri Asks MUI to Issue Fatwa Banning Visit to Israel,” June 14, 2018. “The polemic over the visit by President Advisory Council (Wantimpres) member Yahya Cholil Staquf during the annual conference of the American-Jewish Committee (AJC) Global Forum in Jerusalem, Palestine, has recently continued to come into spotlight. Yahya is considered to have tarnished the consistency of Indonesia’s support for Palestinian independence since 1947.”
Nettavisen: “The world’s largest Muslim organization to combat Islamic State,” by Thomas Paust, April 5, 2016. “The renowned terrorism expert, Magnus Ranstorp, will cooperate with the world’s largest Muslim organization in the global ideological struggle against the Islamic State (IS). Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) is an Indonesian organization with 50 million members. ‘They’re going to create a platform against IS, and I’m going to be involved in it. My role will be clarified in a few weeks,’ says Ranstorp, who is a terrorism researcher at the Swedish National Defense Academy.”
New Mandala: “Daesh, Islam Nusantara and shades of grey,” by Kieth Loveard, January 14, 2016. “For NU, the propagation of Islam Nusantara as a counter to Daesh is not merely a question of theology. The organisation was formed specifically to counter pressure from Wahhabi infiltration. ‘We know who these people are, we have been fighting them for 90 years,’ says KH Yahya Cholil Staquf, one of the leaders of the Islam Nusantara project.”
Associated Press/New York Times: “Netanyahu Unexpectedly Meets With Indonesian Muslim Leader,” June 14, 2018. “The leader of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization has held a surprise meeting with Israel’s prime minister. Yahya Staquf, secretary general of the 60 million member Nahdlatul Ulama, is visiting Israel at the invitation of the American Jewish Committee, a U.S. advocacy group. Israel and Indonesia do not have diplomatic relations, and the visit has prompted protests in Indonesia. Staquf, an advocate of interfaith coexistence, met with several religious leaders this week. However, Thursday’s meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not listed on his schedule.”
Associated Press/New York Times: “In Israel, Indonesian Muslim Leader Risks Backlash at Home,” June 6, 2018. “A leader of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization is visiting Israel this week, braving angry protests at home in order to spread what he calls a message of interfaith compassion. Yahya Staquf, secretary general of the 60 million member Nahdlatul Ulama, is in Israel as a guest of the American Jewish Committee, a U.S. advocacy group holding a major conference in Jerusalem.”
New York Times: “A Former First Lady Presses On for a Tolerant, Feminist Islam,” by Jon Emont, April 7, 2017. “The transgender Muslim women gazed around the reception room with wonder. It was loaded with lavish tributes from foreign rulers: gold filigreed swords from Kuwait, elaborately painted Chinese urns and elegantly framed Quranic verses. Finally the host, Sinta Nuriyah, 69, breezed into the room in her wheelchair, passing by a giant bust of her husband, Abdurrahman Wahid, a former president and a powerful voice for moderate Islam.”
New York Times: “Indonesians Seek to Export a Modernized Vision of Islam,” by Joe Cochrane, May 1, 2017. “Leaders of Nahdlatul Ulama’s youth wing, known as Ansor, say that elements of Shariah, which Muslims consider divine law, are being manipulated by groups like the Islamic State and Al Qaeda to justify terrorist attacks around the world, invoked to rally fighters to battle in the Middle East and elsewhere, and distorted by movements that seek to turn Islam into a political weapon.”
New York Times: “Jakarta Protest, Tied to Faith, May Have Deeper Links to Secular Politics,” by Joe Cochrane, November 13, 2016. “‘The protest really was a picture of how radicalism is way more dangerous to Indonesia than other Muslim-majority nations,’ said Yahya Cholil Staquf, the secretary general to the supreme council of Indonesia’s widely respected Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest Muslim organization. ‘The masses have this negative feeling toward Ahok, and all this political maneuvering has been increasing their negative emotions toward him,’ he said, referring to Mr. Basuki by his nickname and describing the sentiments of protesters, most of whom were from outside Jakarta. ‘This makes Muslim leaders, who are in fact moderate, afraid to speak out against it, because they are afraid of the masses.’”
New York Times: “From Indonesia, a Muslim Challenge to the Ideology of the Islamic State,” by Joe Cochrane, November 26, 2015. “‘We are directly challenging the idea of ISIS, which wants Islam to be uniform, meaning that if there is any other idea of Islam that is not following their ideas, those people are infidels who must be killed,’ said Yahya Cholil Staquf, general secretary to the N.U. supreme council. ‘We will show that is not the case with Islam.’”
Nikkei: “Moderates tackle both extremism and Islamophobia,” by Erwida Maulia, December 24, 2015. “The 90-minute film, titled “Rahmat Islam Nusantara” (The Divine Grace of East Indies Islam), urges Muslims not to take too rigid a view of Islamic scripture and to put more focus on the human side of Islam. The film encourages them to follow in the footsteps of the wali songo, the nine earliest propagators of Islam on the island of Java who are said to have spread the religion through peaceful means, allowing assimilation with the local culture.”
Nova24TV (video): “Interview of Yahya Cholil Staquf,” December 17, 2018.
Office of the Prime Minister of Israel (video): “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets NU General Secretary Yahya Cholil Staquf,” June 14, 2018.
Palestinow: “Fatah: the participation of Staquf in AJC is a crime,” by Elfalasteen, June 12, 2018. “Fatah spokesman Osama al-Qawasmi said in a statement that Yahya Staquf’s participation, ‘secretary-general of the Indonesian Muslim Organization Nahdlatul Ulema,’ at this conference in occupied Jerusalem was a betrayal of religion, al-Aqsa and resurrection, the Palestinian people and the Arab and Islamic countries.”
Palestinow: “Judaism, LibForAll, Bayt ArRahmah and Staquf,” by Elfalasteen, June 12, 2018. “Since the news about the visit by one of Indonesian figure to Jerusalem as to fulfill invitation of the Zionist Israel, the condemnation from many sides come. Hamas and Fatah even spoke about this, they strongly condemned his `crime`. It is Yahya Cholil Staquf, a General Secretary of Indonesian Muslim Organization (Nahdlatul Ulama) and a member of the presidential consideration council, who attended the Zionist invitation to come to the American Jewish Committee (AJC) Global Forum in the Apartheid State of Israel.”
Partnership for Peace Consortium: “Foreign Terrorist Fighter Networks: Threats, Challenges, and Responses,” May 30-31, 2017. “Mr. Holland Taylor, CoFounder and Chairman of the LibForAll Foundation, spoke on the Indonesian Sunni organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest independent Muslim organization in the world, which is trying to promote a pluralistic and humanitarian interpretation of Islam. He spoke on the importance of understanding the elements within Islam that can be weaponized by extremists, and re-contextualize them within the historical framework in which they emerged. He also warned that until Western governments hold states that promote radical interpretations of Islam responsible for their culpability in the spread of extremism, things would not change. Mr. Taylor pleaded that organizations and citizens promoting peaceful narratives must be fully supported.”
Partnership for Peace Consortium: “Tabletop exercise takes whole of society approach to foreign terrorist fighter threat,” August 3, 2015. “Mr. C Holland Taylor, co-founder, chairman and CEO of the LibForAll Foundation—a leading NGO developing counter-extremism strategies worldwide—remarked on the PfPC’s unique ability to ‘assemble people from a diverse set of backgrounds, nationalities, ethnicities, cultures, and religions,’ and that ‘the PfPC succeeded at facilitating a frank and honest discussion about the threat posed by violent extremism and did so in a manner that is conducive to developing a societal consensus necessary to meet this threat.’”
Public Radio International (PRI): “The world’s largest Islamic group wants Muslims to stop saying ‘infidel’,” by Patrick Winn, March 8, 2019. “Quit calling people kafir, an Arabic word for infidels or nonbelievers. This proclamation was issued by Nahdlatul Ulama or NU, an Indonesian collective claiming more than 90 million adherents — from clerics and politicians to shopkeepers and farmers.”
Qantara: “Indonesia confronts extremists with own brand of Islam,” December 16, 2015. “Speaking to a traditional Javanese soundtrack, a Muslim cleric implores: ‘We invite others to join us in launching a mental revolution.’ The invitation comes in a scene from a documentary made by Indonesia’s largest Muslim organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama, as part of a campaign to discredit the ideology of Islamic State and other extremist groups. The documentary, titled Rahmat Islam Nusantara (The Divine Grace of Malay Archipelago Islam), seeks to highlight the brand of tolerant Islam that has been practiced in Indonesia for centuries.”
The Quint: “How to Challenge ISIS Propaganda? Indonesia Shows the Way,” by Aakash Joshi, December 1, 2015. “‘The spread of a shallow understanding of Islam renders this situation critical, as highly vocal elements within the Muslim population at large – extremist groups – justify their harsh and often savage behaviour by claiming to act in accord with God’s commands, although they are grievously mistaken. According to the Sunni view of Islam, every aspect and expression of religion should be imbued with love and compassion, and foster the perfection of human nature.’ ~A Mustofa Bisri, Spiritual Head, Nahdlatul Ulama”
Religious Freedom Institute: “Countering Extremism In Indonesia And Beyond,” by Paul Marshall, June 22, 2018. “On May 31, Indonesian President Joko Widodo appointed Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf (Pak Yahya) as a member of the Presidential Advisory Council. Pak Yahya is from one of Indonesia’s most distinguished Muslim families, is the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the world’s largest Muslim organization, and is the head of Gerakan Pemuda Ansor (ANSOR), NU’s young-adult wing, which has some 5 million members. He is also among the Muslim world’s most incisive and outspoken reformers.”
Religious Freedom Institute: “Indonesian Muslims Protest Against Islamist Extremism: The Ansor Declaration on Humanitarian Islam,” by Kent Hill, February 24, 2018. “…four out of five Muslims are not from the Middle East. How do they respond to the threat of Islamist extremism? One of the most remarkable answers to that question emerges from Indonesia. Gerakan Pemuda Ansor is a five-million-member-strong youth movement and is part of Nahdlatul Ulama, which, with an estimated 50 million members, is one of the largest Muslim lay organizations in the world. Last May, Gerakan Pemuda Ansor convened more than 300 religious scholars from throughout the world to address what they called ‘obsolete tenets of classical Islamic law’ that call for ‘perpetual conflict with those who do not embrace or submit to Islam.’ This global gathering of ulama—Muslim theological leaders—resulted in the adoption of the 8,000-word ‘Ansor Declaration on Humanitarian Islam,’ which makes a case that reform in Islam is urgently needed.”
Reuters: “Islamists fail to sway regional Indonesian elections,” by Tom Allard, June 28, 2018. “A resounding win by an Indonesian mayor targeted by some hardline Muslims over the construction of a church highlighted a broader failure by Islamists to influence regional and local elections in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country.”
San Francisco Chronicle: “Indonesia calls on Islamic leaders to promote tolerant Islam,” May 9, 2016. “Indonesia’s vice president on Monday called on Islamic leaders to spread messages about a tolerant Islam to curb extremism that often springs from misinterpretation of Islamic teachings. Speaking at the opening of the International Summit of the Moderate Islamic Leaders, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said he believes that youths who don’t have deep faith are susceptible to be militants, not for wealth or political cause, but rather as a ‘shortcut’ to heaven.”
Sekretariat Kabinet Republik Indonesia: “Commemorating the Birth of the Prophet Muhammad in Pekalongan, President Jokowi Urges the Muslim Community to Follow the Example of God’s Messenger,” by Joko Widodo, November 23, 2018. “Never stray from the leadership of kyais (NU religious scholars), either in your communal life or in serving our nation. To all GP Ansor cadres: know that by following the Prophet’s noble path, our great nation shall, God willing, continue to progress.”
South China Morning Post: “The Indonesian Muslim ‘cyberwarriors’ who are battling Islamic State online,” May 9, 2016. “A group of Indonesian “cyberwarriors” sit glued to screens, as they send out messages promoting a moderate form of Islam in the world’s most populous Muslimmajority country. Armed with laptops and smartphones, some 500 members of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) – one of the world’s biggest Muslim organisations – are seeking to counter the Islamic State group’s extremist messages.”
Spiegel: “Indonesia’s Secret: In the Kingdom of Gentle Islam,” by Erich Follath, August 13, 2015. “The Asian island kingdom, with all its faults and setbacks, does set the right priorities. Its most important politicians and writers are connected by the knowledge that education is the only way to progress and religion is something private. Of Indonesia’s 220 million Muslims, far fewer have left to join the Islamic State than in Tunisia or Saudi Arabia or, for that matter, Germany.”
Associated Press/Stars and Stripes: “Indonesian Muslim leader visiting Israel risks backlash at home”, by Caron Creighton, June 11, 2018. “A leader of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization is visiting Israel this week, braving angry protests at home in order to spread what he calls a message of interfaith compassion. Stars and Stripes 2 Yahya Staquf, secretary general of the 60 million member Nahdlatul Ulama, is in Israel as a guest of the American Jewish Committee, a U.S. advocacy group holding a major conference in Jerusalem.”
Strategic Review: “Enduring threat, global ramifications,” by Yahya Cholil Staquf, July – September 2018. “The recontextualization and reform of Islamic orthodoxy is thus crucial to the welfare of Muslims and non-Muslims alike, for it constitutes the one indispensable prerequisite of any rational and humane solution to the multidimensional crisis that has plagued the Muslim world for more than a century and not only shows no sign of abating – despite an ever-growing toll of human lives and misery – but rather, increasingly threatens to spill over and engulf humanity as a whole.”
Strategic Review: “Maneuvering within Islam’s narrative space,” by Brian L Steed, January – March 2018. “Life is lived in the narrative space. What we hear, read or see is sorted and evaluated based on our narrative space terrain. Influence comes easiest through understanding this terrain.” “Maneuver in the narrative space: Lessons from Islam Nusantara,” by C. Holland Taylor. “There has been a centuries-long struggle between competing forces, maneuvering in both the physical and narrative space, producing Indonesia’s uniquely pluralistic, tolerant and spiritual brand of Islam. It should be celebrated.”
Strategic Review: “The universal values of Indonesian Islamic civilization,” by Kyai Haji A. Mustofa Bisri, January – March 2017. “Centuries of conflict have left deep scars upon the collective psyche of Muslims and non-Muslims alike, in many parts of the world. The spread of Islamist extremism and terror in recent decades has revived, and exacerbated, this ancient trauma. And although this long history of conflict is inextricably tied to military and political rivalries – rather than the substantive (ie, spiritual) teachings of religion – the fact remains that Muslims and non-Muslims alike have been deeply enmeshed in nearly 14 centuries of armed conflict.”
Strategic Review: “Theology Matters: The case of jihadi Islam,” by Rüdiger Lohlker, July – September, 2016. Since 2014, LibForAll Foundation has worked closely with Dr. Rüdiger Lohlker, one of the world’s leading experts regarding the online/offline activities of al-Qaeda, ISIS and other terror groups. A senior professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Vienna and respected counter-terrorism advisor to the European Union and various Western nations, Dr. Lohlker heads the Vienna Observatory for Applied Research on Terrorism and Extremism (VORTEX), whose founding partners include the University of Vienna, Nahdlatul Ulama, GP Ansor, LibForAll/IIQS and Bayt ar-Rahmah. Dr. Lohlker’s landmark article refutes the widely held and frequently asserted view that Western governments, scholars and media outlets should neither critically examine, nor address, the religious dimensions of Islamist terrorism.
Strategic Review: “How Islam learned to adapt in ‘Nusantara’,” by Yahya Cholil Staquf, with C. Holland Taylor, April – June, 2015. “Islam was forced to ‘surrender’ to the prevailing local customs, and power, of Nusantara’s highly pluralistic civilization.”
Stratfor: “Indonesia and the Future of Islam,” by Bernard Adeney-Risakotta, November 1, 2018. “…Indonesia has an ancient history of religious tolerance that is far more peaceful than the history of religions in Europe or the Middle East… No one knows what the future will bring, but whatever happens in Indonesia will affect the future of Islam in the modern world.”
The Sydney Morning Herald: “Indonesian summit to promote ‘renovated’ Islam in challenge to global jihadis,” by Jewel Topsfield, May 8, 2016. “‘Ansor’s global unity forum will highlight the fact that elements within classical Islamic law explicitly enjoin discrimination against certain classes of human beings on the basis of religion,’ says C. Holland Taylor from the LibForAll Foundation, a non-profit organisation fighting for tolerant Islam which he co-founded with former Indonesian president and NU leader Abdurrahman Wahid in 2003. ‘Ansor will issue a call to ulama (Islamic scholars) to examine the problems humanity is facing and see how they are connected to Islamic law and teachings and how these might be reconceptualised.’”
Taiwan News: “Indonesian cleric: ‘Islamic re-contextualization’ needed for Israel-Palestine peace,” June 28, 2018. “‘First, we must want peace. That’s it. Do we want to keep fighting until everything is destroyed or do we want peace? If you choose peace, then there should be dialogue. But dialogue alone is not enough. Dialogue must be accompanied by social movements, so that aspirations for peace become consensus at the community level. Then political leaders will build policies based on the aspirations of peace.’ ~ Yahya Cholil Staquf”
Tempo.co: “Minister Claim Israel Visit is Pro-Palestine,” June 16, 2018. “A number of figures and public organizations have launched criticism toward the government for allowing Yahya Staquf to visit Israel. The prominent figure of Nahdlatul Ulama was reported to participate in a general lecture on ‘Shifting the Geopolitical Calculus: From Conflict to Cooperation’ during the America Jewish Committee event.”
Time: “The 100 Most Influential People of 2018 − Sinta Nuriyah,” by Mona Eltahawy, April 30, 2018. “Ms. Nuriyah, the widow of former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, is undeterred. The self-identified Muslim feminist has degrees in both Shari‘a law and women’s studies; she understands how politicized religion is particularly cruel to women and minorities. She has counseled transgender women, supported a Christian former governor of Jakarta who was convicted of blasphemy and more—choosing to support the vulnerable rather than settle into a risk-free life as a former President’s widow.”
Time: “Top Indonesian Muslim Scholar Says Stop Pretending That Orthodox Islam and Violence Aren’t Linked,” by Marco Stahlhut, September 8, 2017. “There’s a growing dissatisfaction in the West with respect to Muslim minorities, a growing fear of Islam. In this sense, some Western friends of mine are “Islamophobic.” They’re afraid of Islam. To be honest, I understand their fear … The West cannot force Muslims to adopt a moderate interpretation of Islam. But Western politicians should stop telling us that fundamentalism and violence have nothing to do with traditional Islam. That is simply wrong.”
The Times: “You and the Commonwealth can fight merchants of hate,” by name Alexander Downer, March 17, 2019. “The second crucial thing is engagement of the right kind with those who are trying to stamp out extremism — and pressure on those who are exacerbating it. In Indonesia, for example, the Nahdlatul Ulama movement, with a membership of up to 30m Muslims, does remarkable work to counter the polarisation of Indonesian society and strengthen social cohesion. By challenging obsolete tenets within Islamic tradition that are used to justify hatred and violence, they make future attacks such as the Bali bombing less likely.”
The Times of Israel: “Netanyahu unexpectedly meets with Indonesian Muslim leader,” June 15, 2018. “Speaking to The Times of Israel on Wednesday, Staquf appealed for “compassion” between Jews and his coreligionists, which he said could help the Jewish state build ties with Muslim countries around the world.”
The Times of Israel: “In Israel, top Indonesian cleric calls for ‘compassion’ between Muslims and Jews,” by Raphael Ahren, June 12, 2018. “‘I want to call the world, the whole world to choose a better future. Let us choose rahma, meaning compassion and caring about others,’ Yahya Cholil Staquf, the head of the 60 million member Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), told The Times of Israel during an interview. ‘Rahma is the foundation of anything that we could hope for to find a solution to all the conflicts in our current world,’ he said. ‘And rahma doesn’t need a precondition.'”
Tipping Point (audio): “Special Interview with Top Muslim Cleric Yahya Cholil Staquf,” June, 2018.
The Tower: “Leader of World’s Largest Muslim Organization Meets Netanyahu, Wants Closer Ties with Israel,” June 15, 2018. “Staquf, a strong advocate of interfaith dialogue, met with several religious leaders this week. His meeting with Netanyahu, however, was not officially on the agenda. After talks with the cleric, Netanyahu spoke of Israel’s warming ties with Muslim countries, and expressed his hopes ‘that we have some movement with Indonesia.'”
Tower of David Museum (video): “Koolulam | One Love – Bob Marley | Tower of David | 06.14.2018,” July 8, 2018. On June 14th, 2018, in honor of the historical visit to Israel by Indonesia’s religious leader Sheikh Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf, Koolulam invited 1000 people who had never met before to a special event at the Tower of David in Jerusalem, to sing one song, in three languages and in three-part vocal harmony.
Tower of David Museum (video): “Making of ‘One Love’ Peace Event,” July 5, 2018. At midnight after the final day of Ramadan, and in honor of the Jerusalem visit of Indonesian Sheikh Yahya Cholil Staquf—General Secretary of the world’s largest Muslim organization, Koolulam, the Tower of David Museum and Jerusalem.com invited more than 1,000 Jews, Muslims and Christians—to sing together to celebrate the message of universal love and compassion. Before the main Koolulam event, religious leaders gathered for a colloquium on how religion can serve as a bridge to mutual understanding, compassion and peace between people. Hosted by Dr. Yehuda Stolov, CEO of the Interfaith Encounter Association, the meeting was attended by leaders of three religions.
The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer: “Did they or didn’t they? The battle for control of Brussels’ Grand Mosque,” by James Dorsey, November 17, 2017. “‘There is a clear relationship between fundamentalism, terrorism, and the basic assumptions of Islamic orthodoxy. So long as we lack consensus regarding this matter, we cannot gain victory over fundamentalist violence within Islam,’ said Yahya Cholil Staquf, the 51-year old general secretary of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU).”
The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer: “Two conferences spotlight Muslim world’s struggle to counter militancy,” by James Dorsey, May 23, 2017. ‘…[T]he NU conference warned that Muslims need to bridge the gap between teachings of Islamic orthodoxy and the contemporary Muslim reality. In a reference to Saudi-inspired ultra-conservatism, the draft asserted that ‘social and political instability, civil war and terrorism all arise from the attempt, by ultra-conservative Muslims, to implement certain elements of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) within a context that is no longer compatible with…classical norms.’”
Twitter – Amy Chew: “Ground-breaking –
#Indonesia’s largest Muslim organisation #NU urges that non-Muslims are not called #Infidels anymore as it contains elements of violent theology. #NU is the largest #Muslim organisation in the world with over 50 million followers,” February 28, 2019.
Twitter – IDC-CDI: “The #IDCCDI executive committee held in #CaboVerde approved full membership of #PKB from #Indonesia pkb.id facebook.com/dpp.pkb @cakimiNOW we welcome you to the world largest center right political organisation,” December 18, 2018.
Twitter – Benjamin Netanyahu: “A special meeting today in Jerusalem with Yahya Cholil Staquf, the General Secretary of the global Islamic organization Nahdlatul Ulama. I’m very happy to see that Arab countries and many Muslim countries are getting closer to Israel!” June 14, 2018.
Twitter – Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met today, at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, with Yahya Cholil Staquf, the General Secretary of the global Islamic organization Nahdlatul Ulama.” June 14, 2018.
Twitter – American Jewish Committee: “In a historic conversation at AJC Global Forum 2018, Pak Yahya, leader of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) Supreme Council, called for Muslims and Jews to pursue justice through compassion.” June 10, 2018.
Twitter – Indonesian President Joko Widodo: “Yahya Cholil Staquf becomes a member of the Presidential Advisory Council.” May 31, 2018.
Twitter – U.S. Vice President Mike Pence: “Honored to welcome the @NahdaltulUlama Secretary General to the @WhiteHouse today. Their efforts opposing radical Islam are critical in Indonesia—where we saw despicable attacks on Christians. @POTUS Trump’s admin stands with NU in its fight for religious freedom & against jihad.” May 17, 2018.
Twitter – Sam Harris: “Well, this is refreshing… Orthodox Islam and Violence ‘Linked’ Says Top Muslim Scholar.” September 10, 2017.
UCA News: “Indonesia clerics urge end to using term ‘infidel’,” by Konradus Epa, March 4, 2019. “Clerics from Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization, have issued a call to Muslims to stop branding non-Muslims as “kafir” — infidels. Their call came at the end of an annual three-day meeting in Banjar, West Java on March 1. The term ‘infidel,’ discriminates against people of other religions, and is not in accordance with the Indonesian Constitution that recognizes each citizen’s equal status and rights, the meeting was told.”
University of Melbourne: “Islam Nusantara: a local Islam with global ambitions,” by Nadirsyah Hosen, February 26, 2016. “Over the past year, Indonesia’s largest Muslim organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), has embarked on a project to promote its vision of inclusive and peaceful Islam to Indonesia and the world. Through Islam Nusantara, or “Islam of the Archipelago”, Nahdlatul Ulama believes it can offer a counter-narrative to the rigid and violent ideology of the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham (ISIS).”
Vatican: “A Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together,” February 4, 2019. “…this Declaration may be a sign of the closeness between East and West, between North and South, and between all who believe that God has created us to understand one another, cooperate with one another and live as brothers and sisters who love one another. This is what we hope and seek to achieve with the aim of finding a universal peace that all can enjoy in this life.” Signed by His Holiness, Pope Francis and The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb.
Vatican Radio: “Indonesia: Islamic moderates hold summit to promote peace in the Middle East,” May 12, 2016. “In a joint effort to promote understanding of Islamic teachings and the spread of moderate views, some 500 moderate Muslim leaders from 70 countries held a conference in Jakarta, sponsored by Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Indonesia’s largest moderate Islamic organization.”
Voice of America: “Indonesia Hopes to Flex Diplomatic Muscle With Security Council Seat,” by Krithika Varagur, June 20, 2018. “In fact, some of the most promising diplomatic overtures from Indonesia are coming from non-state actors. A leader of the Indonesian Sunni Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama, considered the world’s largest Muslim organization, visited Israel last week for an interfaith dialogue, despite the deep current anti-Semitism in Indonesia. The same leader, Yahya Cholil Staquf, also met with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in the White House last month.”
Wall Street Journal: “Giant Muslim Group Joins Fight Against Fake News,” by Sara Schonhardt, March 12, 2017. “The world’s largest Muslim organization is helping step up a battle in Indonesia to scrub the internet of fake news. At first glance, a nearly century-old organization that normally focuses on things like maintaining Islamic boarding schools and funding hospitals wouldn’t seem like the tech-savvy champion of such a cause. But Nahdlatul Ulama, which claims 50 million members, has teamed up with information technology experts and advocacy groups to debunk a flurry of sectarian hoaxes and false news reports that began circulating on WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter last year.”
Associated Press/Washington Post: “In Israel, Indonesian Muslim leader risks backlash at home,” by Caron Creighton, June 11, 2018. “A leader of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization is visiting Israel this week, braving angry protests at home in order to spread what he calls a message of interfaith compassion. Yahya Staquf, secretary general of the 60 million member Nahdlatul Ulama, is in Israel as a guest of the American Jewish Committee, a U.S. advocacy group holding a major conference in Jerusalem.Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country, does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, and support for the Palestinians there is strong. Staquf’s presence has triggered angry reactions, as seen on Indonesian social media.”
Associated Press/Washington Post: “Indonesia calls on Islamic leaders to promote tolerant Islam,” May 9, 2016. “Indonesia’s vice president on Monday called on Islamic leaders to spread messages about a tolerant Islam to curb extremism that often springs from misinterpretation of Islamic teachings. Speaking at the opening of the International Summit of the Moderate Islamic Leaders, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said he believes that youths who don’t have deep faith are susceptible to be militants, not for wealth or political cause, but rather as a ‘shortcut’ to heaven.”
Weekly Standard: “Among the Believers,” by Paul Marshall, September 14, 2015. “NU scholars, and many others in Indonesia, are developing serious theological works seeking to understand, clarify, and expound this adaptable Islam for wider application in the Muslim world. One major goal is to counter extremism both abroad and in Indonesia—ISIS, of course, but also movements that have been active locally, such as the Islamic Defender’s Front, Laskar Jihad, the Indonesian Mujahidin Council, and Hizb ut-Tahrir. NU’s Islamic College in Jakarta runs a graduate program devoted to Islam Nusantara.”
World Israel News: “Palestinian ‘moderates’: Indonesians who met with Israelis ‘sold their souls to the devil’,” June 19, 2018. “A spokesman for the supposedly moderate Fatah faction harshly condemned an Indonesian delegation of Muslim scholars who came to Israel to participate in a conference of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in Jerusalem earlier this month, calling it “a crime against the city, the members of our people and Muslims throughout the world.” Fatah is the largest faction in the PLO and is headed by Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas. Compared to Hamas, it is considered the more moderate Palestinian political leadership.”