2023_11_24_Lessons from the Israel–Hamas War

“Gaza divides the wheat from the chaff among religious leaders”

~ Dr. James M. Dorsey, Times of Israel

“The illusion that fundamentalism and terrorism can be overcome with Western tools has been completely shattered in light of the left’s intellectual hypocrisy and the right’s lust for war, it may be time for a new approach.
~ Dr. Amit Varshizky, H’aaretz

TEL AVIV, Israel, 24 November 2023 — Two essays that were recently published in leading Israeli newspapers highlight religion’s critical role in shaping geopolitical dynamics. The articles contrast the humane and constructive engagement of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama in this vital arena with the harsh and polarizing rhetoric generally employed on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide.

In an in-depth analytical piece titled “Israel–Hamas War: What if there’s another way to fight fundamentalism?” author and historian Dr. Amit Varshizky writes:

Only a Muslim struggle which calls, for example, for what’s known as ijtihad (renewal of religious rulings in the direction of openness and social reform), or the adoption of a moderate, tolerant form of Islam such as was introduced by Abdurrahman Wahid, the fourth president of Indonesia and onetime chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest Sunni religious-political movement, will be able to accelerate liberalization processes in Muslim society and mitigate entrenched resentments that originate in the disparity between a feeling of religious supremacy and political weakness. Voices like this, it must be acknowledged with regret, are very much absent in the Muslim Middle East today. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2023_06_15_ASEAN Shared Civilizational Values

World’s largest Muslim organization launches a movement for pluralist re-awakening in South and Southeast Asia

NU coordinates with the Government of Indonesia and ASEAN to build consensus regarding values that may serve as the foundation for an emerging global civilization
“[S]hared civilizational values can play an important role in mobilizing a vast constituency to support a more peaceful and harmonious global civilization, founded upon respect for the equal rights and dignity of every human being
~ KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf
General Chairman, Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board

H. Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, Minister of Religious Affairs, Republic of Indonesia; President Joko Widodo; and KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta, following discussion of the ASEAN Summit

SURABAYA, Indonesia — On 15 June, 2023, religious leaders from around Indonesia and across its faith traditions gathered in East Java for a workshop socializing Nahdlatul Ulama’s vision and strategy to consolidate South and Southeast Asia as an alternate pillar of support for a rules-based international order founded upon respect for the equal rights and dignity of every human being. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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  1. We, religious leaders from G20 Member States and elsewhere throughout the world, are deeply concerned by global challenges such as environmental degradation, natural and man-made disasters, poverty, unemployment, displaced persons, extremism, and terrorism. Effectively responding to these challenges has been rendered more difficult by rivalry between and among major powers and the resurgence of identity-based conflict worldwide, which threatens both domestic and international peace and security, as well as by the erosion of public commitment to ethical and spiritual values that are essential to the wellbeing of individuals and societies.
  2. In response to these challenges, we have gathered in Bali, Indonesia, for the first G20 Religion Forum (R20) on 2 ­– 3 November, 2022, co-chaired by Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf and H.E. Shaykh Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa.
  3. The R20 seeks to promote mutual understanding, a culture of peace, and harmonious co-existence among the world’s diverse peoples, religions, and nations. In pursuit of this objective, the R20 is mobilizing religious, social, economic, and political leaders from throughout the world to ensure that religion functions as a genuine and dynamic source of solutions, rather than problems.
  4. The R20 welcomes and appreciates constructive endeavors to achieve the aforementioned goals, including but not limited to:
  1. The establishment, in June 2021, of the “Center for Shared Civilizational Values” by Nahdlatul Ulama spiritual leaders, including the Founding Chairman of the R20 and General Chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board, Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf; and
  2. The “Forum for Building Bridges Between East and West” and the 2019 “Makkah Charter,” initiatives established by the Muslim World League under the leadership of H.E. Shaykh Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, Secretary General of the Muslim World League, in order to foster mutual understanding, peaceful co-existence, and harmony among the world’s diverse peoples, cultures, and nations.
  1. Therefore, the R20 calls upon religious and political leaders and people of goodwill of every faith and nation to join in building a global alliance founded upon shared civilizational values.
  1. The R20, through this global alliance, seeks to:
  1. develop and implement concrete initiatives that will build bridges between nations and civilizations;
  2. encourage honest and realistic conversation within and between religious communities, in order to ensure that religion functions as a genuine and dynamic source of solutions, rather than problems;
  3. infuse the world’s social, political, and economic power structures  with moral and spiritual values;
  4. prevent the political weaponization of identity;
  5. curtail the spread of communal hatred;
  6. promote solidarity and respect among the diverse peoples, cultures, and nations of the world;
  7. safeguard human beings from violence and suffering precipitated by conflict;
  8. call upon the world to actively assist those who are suffering the consequences of such violence;
  9. harness the wisdom of spiritual ecology embedded within the world’s religious traditions to ensure respect for, and preservation of, the natural environment, including the elements of earth, air, and water;
  10. foster the emergence of a truly just and harmonious world order, founded upon respect for the equal rights and dignity of every human being; and
  11. secure recognition of the R20 as an official G20 Engagement Group.
  1. Having launched the R20 under the 2022 Indonesian Presidency of the G20, we look forward to India’s Presidency of the G20 in 2023.