The Humanitarian Islam movement emerged from Java’s 15th/16th century Wali Songo (“Nine Saints”) movement, whose wisdom, respect for pre-existing cultures and profoundly spiritual modes of da‘wah (proselytism) precipitated the emergence of a great Islamic civilization in the Malay Archipelago, rooted in the principle of rahmah (universal love and compassion) and other noble values of religion.

Indonesians Seek to Export a Modernized Vision of Islam

The youth wing of Nahdlatul Ulama, an Indonesian Islamic group, is pressing governments around the world to bring Islamic law into line with 21st-century norms.

by Joe Cochrane

JAKARTA, Indonesia — The imposing, six-foot-tall painting is a potent symbol of modern Indonesian history: the country’s founding father, Sukarno, cradling a dead, barefoot rebel killed by Dutch colonial forces amid rice fields and smoldering volcanoes in late-1940s Java.

The fighter’s bloodied shirt draws immediate attention — but so does a necklace dangling from the body: a Christian cross, worn by the independence martyr for the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation.

The 2006 painting has become the symbol of a global initiative by the Indonesian youth wing of Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest mass Islamic organization in the world, that seeks to reinterpret Islamic law dating from the Middle Ages in ways that conform to 21st-century norms.

Among other things, it calls for a re-examination of elements of Islamic law that dictate relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, the structure of government and the proper aims and conduct of warfare.

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. Read the full article (PDF).

A 2006 painting by the Dutch artist John van der Sterren depicts Indonesia’s founding leader, Sukarno, cradling an independence fighter in the 1940s. The rebel’s Christian cross has made the image a symbol of the drive to reinterpret Islamic law. Nahdlatul Ulama

“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,
writing in Sciences Po’s Bulletin de L’Observatoire International du Religieux

Big Idea

Islam Nusantara

Nobel Nomination

Nobel Laureate and East Timor independence leader H.E. José Ramos-Horta (above)
praises Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah for securing Indonesian democracy and fostering a pluralistic and tolerant understanding of Islam.

“A Worthy Model for the World to Emulate”

Media Archive

Read the
NYT Article

Media Highlights

New York Times: “From Indonesia, a Muslim
Challenge to the Ideology of the Islamic State”



European Unity

Portuguese Socialist MEP Ana Maria Gomes greets KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf at the European Parliament

Addressing the nexus of security threats linked to Islam,
terrorism and migration in Europe

Al-Ahram (The Pyramids)

(est. 1875), one of the oldest and most widely-read newspapers in the Arab world

Indonesian Islam… once again

“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)

Read the full article (PDF).