Kyai Haji Achmad Mustofa Bisri (“Gus Mus”) is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Bayt ar Rahmah. He is also former Chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama Supreme Council (Rais ‘Aam Syuriah PBNU). Gus Mus is often called “Sang Kyai Pembelajar”—the Great Religious Scholar Devoted to Learning—by members of the world’s largest Muslim organization.
Widely revered as a religious scholar, poet, novelist, painter and Muslim intellectual, Gus Mus has strongly influenced not only the 50-million-member NU, but also the social, cultural and political development of Indonesia over the past forty years—facilitating its transition from decades of authoritarian rule to an open, vibrant and successful democracy.
Descended from a long line of charismatic religious leaders, Gus Mus heads the prestigious Raudlatuth Tholibin Islamic boarding school in Rembang, Central Java, where he was born in 1944. As a child, he received a thorough education in Islamic studies, first from his parents, and then from other preeminent Muslim scholars—including the renowned Kyai Haji Ali Maksum at al-Munawwir Krapyak Islamic boarding school in Yogyakarta—all of whom encouraged artistic development and critical thought among their students.
This influence—combined with a unique set of native abilities, cultivated through a lifetime of devotion to God, humanity and the arts—has produced a distinctive fusion of spirituality and artistic expression widely admired in Indonesia, where Gus Mus is regarded as both a religious and a cultural icon. Often called the “President of Poets,” he is also celebrated for his courage in defending artistic and religious freedom in the face of radical onslaughts.
A graduate of al-Azhar University in Cairo, which regards him as a highly-distinguished alumnus, Mustofa Bisri’s personal philosophy can be seen in the “Mata Air” (“Living Spring”) interfaith community that he founded, whose membership is open to all who share its essential values: “Worship God; respect elders; treat those who are younger with loving kindness; open your heart to all humanity.”
For a more complete (13-page) biography, click here.
Modir (Director of Religious Affairs): Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf
KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf is Modir (Director of Religious Affairs) of Bayt ar-Rahmah. He also serves as General Secretary to the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) Supreme Council. As the world’s largest Muslim organization, the Nahdlatul Ulama adheres to the traditions of Sunni Islam, and teaches that the primary message of Islam is universal love and compassion. With his position in the NU, Shaykh Yahya has primary responsibility for the expansion of NU operations to North America, Europe and the Middle East. Shaykh Yahya also served as presidential spokesman to Indonesia’s first democratically-elected head of state—Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid, and was a member of Indonesia’s National Electoral Commission during that nation’s successful transition from authoritarian rule to democracy.
Shaykh Yahya has become the most visible and frequently-quoted expert on Islam Nusantara (East Indies Islam) and Indonesia’s strategic role in addressing the global threat posed by Islamist extremism. In this capacity, he serves on the executive board of the U.S.–Indonesia Council on Religion and Pluralism, which was established pursuant to a bilateral agreement signed by Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and U.S. President Barack Obama in October 2015, in order “to expand relations between Indonesia and the U.S. into a strategic partnership.”
For a more complete (2-page) biography, click here.
Deputy Chairman & COO: C. Holland Taylor
C. Holland Taylor is Deputy Chairman & COO of Bayt ar-Rahmah. He is also chairman and CEO of LibForAll Foundation and its International Institute of Qur’anic Studies, which he co-founded with former Indonesian president and Nahdlatul Ulama chairman H.E. KH. Abdurrahman Wahid.
An expert on Islam and the process of Islamization in Southeast Asia, Mr. Taylor has lived, studied and worked in the Muslim world, from Iran to Indonesia, for much of his life. Educated at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and Princeton University, Mr. Taylor’s unique combination of experience in the fields of international business, strategy and the forging of cross-cutural relationships has enabled LibForAll to become “a model of what a competent public diplomacy effort in the Muslim world should look like” (Wall Street Journal).
An author, speaker and successful entrepreneur, Mr. Taylor is the former CEO of USA Global Link, which made telecommunications history by introducing competition to previously monopolistic markets, and dramatically lowering the cost of telecom services to customers worldwide. Numerous business publications have credited Mr. Taylor as being one of the essential catalysts in the deregulation of the global telecommunications industry in the 1990s.
Treasurer: F. Borden Hanes, Jr.
F. Borden Hanes, Jr. is a founding board member and Treasurer of Bayt ar-Rahmah. He is also Vice Chairman of Bowen, Hanes and Company, Investment Counsel, and serves as Chairman of the John Wesley and Anna Hodgin Hanes Foundation, and the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts.
Mr. Hanes is the immediate past Chairman of the board of trustees of Old Salem, Inc., and past president of the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art and SciWorks in Winston-Salem, NC. He is also a long-term board member of the Cancer Center of Wake Forest University Medical Center, the North Carolina Museum of Art, LibForAll Foundation, the National Development Council of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Friends of the Library at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Secretary: H. Emilie Taylor
H. Emilie Taylor is Secretary of Bayt ar-Rahmah. Born and raised in Denmark, she lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. A life-long mystic, Emilie is intimately familiar with the “common ground” shared by all religions, namely, their spiritual and ethical dimensions. She is also Secretary and Treasurer of LibForAll Foundation and its International Institute of Qur’anic Studies.