World’s Largest Political Network Embraces Humanitarian Islam

Centrist Democrat International Adopts PKB Resolution, Signaling a Profound Shift in Global Discourse Regarding Extremism and Terror

BRUSSELS, Belgium: On April 10, 2019, the Executive Committee of Centrist Democrat International (CDI)—the world’s most extensive political network, with over 100 affiliated parties in more than 70 nations—unanimously adopted a resolution endorsing the “universal principles and aspirations” of the global Humanitarian Islam movement, and calling for the “widespread dissemination and study” of its foundational texts.

A “Resolution on acknowledging that universal human fraternity is essential to the emergence of a global civilization founded upon respect for the equal rights and dignity of every human being,” was drafted and presented to the Committee by the National Awakening Party (PKB), Indonesia’s largest Islamic political party. The resolution commends Nahdlatul Ulama—the world’s largest Muslim organization—for its “groundbreaking” role in having “first articulated the concept of universal human fraternity as a shari‘ah basis for legal equality between Muslims and non-Muslims” at its National Congress held in Situbondo, East Java, in 1984.

Members of the CDI Executive Committee during their April 10, 2019 meeting in Brussels

CDI announced its “unanimous recognition of PKB’s leadership on this sensitive issue,” and voiced its “maximum support for the PKB [i.e., Humanitarian Islam] project,” which seeks to reform obsolete and problematic tenets of Islamic orthodoxy that enjoin religious hatred, supremacy and violence, by restoring rahmah (universal love and compassion) to its rightful place as the primary message of Islam. The following day, Nahdlatul Ulama hosted a press conference at its headquarters in Jakarta, where Kyai Haji Said Aqil Siradj, General Chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama Executive Board; H. Muhaimin Iskandar, Chairman of PKB; and Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf, General Secretary of the Nahdlatul Ulama, Senior Advisor to Indonesian President Joko Widodo and PKB’s Emissary to CDI, all hailed the move as marking a profound shift in global discourse regarding Islamist extremism and terror.

KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf (center), announces CDI’s adoption of the PKB resolution during a joint press conference with KH. Said Aqil Siradj (left) and H. Muhaimin Iskandar (right), hosted at Nahdlatul Ulama’s headquarters in Jakarta

Before CDI adopted the resolution, a video address was played to the Executive Committee, in which Mr. Staquf explained that “this resolution will assist all of us. . . end the weaponization of identity that lies at the heart of the current global crisis. Human fraternity is key to reaching across racial, religious, cultural and political lines to achieve the unity of purpose required if we are to stop the cycle of violence and consolidate democracy around the world.”

Humanitarian Islam’s foundational texts include: the International Summit of Moderate Islamic Leaders (ISOMIL) Nahdlatul Ulama Declaration (2016); the First Global Unity Forum Declaration (2016); the Gerakan Pemuda Ansor Declaration on Humanitarian Islam (2017); the Nusantara Statement and Nusantara Manifesto (2018), in addition to the Document on Human Fraternity (2019).

Signed by Pope Francis and Grand Shaykh Ahmed al-Tayyeb of al-Azhar, and ratified at the 2019 National Conference of Nahdlatul Ulama Religious Scholars, the Document is consistent with, and articulates, key elements of the concept of fraternity that the Nahdlatul Ulama has embraced and strived to implement for over 35 years.

The CDI resolution concludes with the statement: “We believe that the widespread dissemination and study of these documents will serve to reduce all forms of ethnic and religious prejudice, discrimination, hatred and violence and thus foster the emergence of a global civilization founded upon respect for the equal rights and dignity of every human being.”

Resolution on acknowledging that universal human fraternity is essential to the emergence of a global civilization founded upon respect for the equal rights and dignity of every human being
  • Welcoming the joint signing and promulgation of the Document on Human Fraternity by Pope Francis and Grand Shaykh Ahmed al-Tayyeb of al-Azhar—Egypt’s pre-eminent center of Islamic authority—on February 4th, 2019, during an historic Papal visit to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates;
  • Noting that the theological and conceptual framework of the Document on Human Fraternity is consistent with, and reflects, the groundbreaking ijtihad (independent legal reasoning) of Kyai Haji Achmad Shiddiq, former General Chairman of the Supreme Council of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the world’s largest Muslim organization, which is based in Indonesia;
  • Recognizing that Kyai Shiddiq first articulated the concept of universal human fraternity as a shari‘ah basis for legal equality between Muslims and non-Muslims at the Nahdlatul Ulama National Congress held in Situbondo, East Java, in 1984, at which Indonesia’s first democratically-elected president and the co-founder of PKB, H.E. KH. Abdurrahman Wahid, was elected Chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama for the first time;
  • Considering that it is the official position of Nahdlatul Ulama—ratified at the 2019 National Conference of NU Religious Scholars—that the Document on Human Fraternity is consistent with, and articulates, key elements of the concept of fraternity that the Nahdlatul Ulama has consistently embraced and strived to implement for over 35 years;
  • Realizing that this concept of universal fraternity inspires NU efforts to: 1) end ethnic and religious supremacism, and enmity, as factors shaping relations between Muslims and non-Muslims; 2) accept the existence of the nation state as theologically legitimate; 3) theologically accept the existence of a nation’s constitution, political institutions and laws derived from modern political processes, and acknowledge that these do not conflict with fundamental Islamic values; and 4) resolve conflicts between Muslims and non-Muslims and establish a state of world peace;
  • Affirming the 2016 International Summit of Moderate Islamic Leaders (ISOMIL) Nahdlatul Ulama Declaration, which called upon “people of good will of every faith and nation to join in building a global consensus not to politicize Islam” (point 15), and explicitly stated that the NU “will strive to consolidate the global ahlussunnah wal jamaah (Sunni Muslim) community, in order to bring about a world in which Islam, and Muslims, are truly beneficent and contribute to the well-being of all humanity” (point 16);
  • Acknowledging that Gerakan Pemuda Ansor, the 5-million-member Nahdlatul Ulama young adults movement, responded to the ISOMIL Nahdlatul Ulama Declaration by establishing a global (“Humanitarian Islam”) movement that seeks to restore rahmah (universal love and compassion) to its rightful place as the primary message of Islam;
  • Recognizing that the Humanitarian Islam movement emerged from the May 2016 First Global Unity Forum and its Declaration, which included the GP Ansor Call: “Certain that Islam was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (saw.) as a ‘blessing for all creation,’ and as a means to perfect noble character and virtue, the Ansor Youth Movement calls for an end to conflict in the name of religion, and for qualified ulama (Muslim religious scholars) to carefully examine and address those elements of fiqh (classical Islamic law) that encourage segregation, discrimination and/or violence towards those perceived to be ‘non-Muslim.’”
  • Appreciating that on May 22nd, 2017, GP Ansor promulgated the Gerakan Pemuda Ansor Declaration on Humanitarian Islam, an 8,000 word analysis of the threat to our global civilization posed by state and non-state actors’ weaponization of religious teachings to foster communal enmity, incite terrorism and thereby undermine the very structure and feasibility of modern pluralistic societies, which are founded upon humane values and the rule of law;
  • Observing that the Gerakan Pemuda Ansor Declaration on Humanitarian Islam also contains a detailed road map for building the necessary societal consensus and political will to marginalize and discredit religious extremism and related threats to international peace and security;
  • Affirming that “there is an urgent need for honest discussion of these matters” (General Secretary of the Nahdlatul Ulama Supreme Council, Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf) and that “no progress can be made towards neutralizing a threat, unless it is understood and identified” (Gerakan Pemuda Ansor Declaration on Humanitarian Islam, point 40);
  • Noting the report of findings and recommendations of the Special Committee on Terrorism of the European Parliament in its resolution of 12 December 2018, and in particular, those concerning “Preventing and countering radicalization leading to violent extremism”;
  • Noting that the PKB welcomes the publication of the above-mentioned report and acknowledges that it begins to address a number of important issues, including extremist movements that denigrate democracy, rule of law and human rights, even when these do not explicitly enjoin violence;
  • Welcoming a number of statements made by KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf and other experts at a Joint Meeting with the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) held at the European Parliament on 31 January 2019, titled “Innovative Approaches to Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism.” These statements represent a qualitative improvement in the discourse surrounding this topic, as the European Parliament/UNICRI event honestly and frankly identified a number of problems linked to supremacism, segregation, discrimination and enmity between ethnic and religious groups as causal factors triggering violent extremism. The experts discussed faulty root cause analysis of the extremist threat and called for a revised assessment of risk indicators, based on the doctrinal infrastructure that underlies and animates both violent and non-violent movements that reject the legitimacy of the democratic state, the rule of law and human rights;
  • Recalling that on October 25 – 26, 2018, a coalition of international religious and political figures joined Nahdlatul Ulama leaders in signing the Nusantara Statement at the Second Global Unity Forum in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Signatories “call[ed] upon people of goodwill of every faith and nation to join in building a global consensus to prevent the political weaponization of Islam, whether by Muslims or non-Muslims, and to curtail the spread of communal hatred by fostering the emergence of a truly just and harmonious world order, founded upon respect for the equal rights and dignity of every human being”;

The IDC-CDI states the following:

  • We endorse the universal principles and aspirations articulated in the Document on Human Fraternity and the following declarations produced by the Nahdlatul Ulama and its young adults movement, Gerakan Pemuda Ansor: the ISOMIL Nahdlatul Ulama Declaration (2016); the First Global Unity Forum Declaration (2016); the Gerakan Pemuda Ansor Declaration on Humanitarian Islam (2017); the Nusantara Statement and the Nusantara Manifesto (2018);
  • We commend the Vatican, al-Azhar University, Nahdlatul Ulama and Gerakan Pemuda Ansor for their respective actions in promulgating these documents;
  • We advise IDC-CDI member parties to encourage the study and wide dissemination of these documents within their respective governments and among party members and society at large;
  • We believe that the widespread dissemination and study of these documents will serve to reduce all forms of ethnic and religious prejudice, discrimination, hatred and violence and thus foster the emergence of a global civilization founded upon respect for the equal rights and dignity of every human being.

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