2021_12_24_Humanitarian Islam Co-founder Elected General Chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama

Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf:

“NU was founded to develop a new civilizational framework, following the collapse of the old civilizational construct after WWI and the dissolution of the Ottoman Caliphate.”

Nahdlatul Ulama launches a movement to “revive Gus Dur’s humanitarian vision” and “create a better, more noble future for human civilization as a whole”

KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf addresses leaders of NU provincial and regional chapters who gathered to support his candidacy as Chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama Executive Board (December 21, 2021)

BANDAR LAMPUNG, Indonesia: On December 24, 2021 Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf was elected General Chairman of the world’s largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, with a mandate to promote Humanitarian Islam on the global stage — in order to foster the emergence of a truly just and harmonious world order, founded upon respect for the equal rights and dignity of every human being.

In a fiercely contested election whose complex maneuvering dominated Indonesian media coverage for weeks prior to NU’s 34th National Congress — held from December 22 – 24, 2021 in Lampung province on the island of Sumatra — Mr. Staquf received 337 votes to 210 votes cast in favor of the incumbent Dr. KH. Said Aqil Siradj, who served two terms as General Chairman of the NU Executive Board from 2010 – 2021. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_12_21_Director of Strategic Outreach

Member of Bayt ar-Rahmah’s core team stands down:

“It has been an enormous privilege to support Nahdlatul Ulama spiritual leaders as they advance a pluralistic and tolerant understanding and practice of Islam worldwide”

Thomas Dinham seated at his work desk in Nahdlatul Ulama headquarters, Jakarta (2018)

LONDON, United Kingdom, December 21, 2021: Bayt ar-Rahmah’s Director of Strategic Outreach — Thomas Dinham — is standing down after over three years in the role, during which he worked closely with Nahdlatul Ulama spiritual leaders to help the world’s largest Muslim organization emerge upon the world stage as “a formidable challenger to powerful state actors in the battle for the soul of Islam… This struggle has and will affect the prospects for the emergence of a truly more tolerant and pluralistic interpretation of one of the three Abrahamic religions.” (“The Battle for the Soul of Islam,” Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, Hudson Institute Center on Islam, Democracy, and the Future of the Muslim World).

Mr. Dinham is an accomplished geopolitical analyst, journalist, author and strategic communications professional, who cut his teeth as a Middle East specialist covering events in Syria, Libya and Egypt during the height of the Arab Spring. Described by the BBC’s flagship current affairs program, From Our Own Correspondent, as “a witness to crucial days in the history of Egypt,” he has lived, studied and worked in several of the region’s key power centers, including Cairo, Abu Dhabi, Damascus and Beirut. Fluent in classical and colloquial Egyptian Arabic — both spoken and written — Mr. Dinham has profound knowledge of the manner in which state and non-state actors throughout the Muslim world deliberately weaponize problematic tenets of Islamic orthodoxy in order to maintain or acquire political, military and economic power, with all the human suffering this entails. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_11_16_Deepening Ties Between Indonesian and African American Muslims

Senior Indonesian politicians visit The Nation’s Mosque:

“the blessed place where Islamic proselytism began in Washington, DC”
“An example of the ‘indigenization of Islam’ in the world’s most powerful nation”

Imam Talib Shareef of The Nation’s Mosque and the Honorable H. Muhaimin Iskandar

WASHINGTON, DC: On November 16, 2021 a delegation of senior Indonesian politicians affiliated with Nahdlatul Ulama visited the first mosque in the United States built by descendants of enslaved African Americans, and paid their respects to leaders of the Imam W. Deen Mohammed Community, which operates hundreds of mosques and Islamic centers nationwide.

The delegation was led by the Honorable H. Muhaimin Iskandar (“Gus Imin”), who is Chairman of Indonesia’s largest Islamic political party, PKB; Deputy Speaker of the People’s Representative Assembly in Indonesia (DPR); and Vice President of the world’s largest political network, Centrist Democrat International (CDI), whose headquarters are in Brussels at the heart of the European Union. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_11_16_Inalienable Rights and the Traditions of Constitutionalism

Conference at University of Notre Dame explores the nature of human rights and their future in an uncertain world

“Grounding analysis of human rights in fundamental principles, not policy preferences”

Members of the United Nations committee that drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including Eleanor Roosevelt and Charles Malik, of Lebanon, to her left

SOUTH BEND, Indiana: From November 14 – 16, 2021, the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at the University of Notre Dame convened thirty international scholars to explore and extend the work of the Commission on Unalienable Rights (COUR) — an independent and nonpartisan body convened from 2019 through 2020 and composed of academics, philosophers, and religious scholars. Its charge was to provide the US State Department with advice on human rights grounded in the nation’s founding principles and the principles of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Keynote speakers included Dr. Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard Law School, who chaired the Commission on Unalienable Rights; Dr. Joseph Weiler, NYU Law Professor and Co-director of the Jean Monnet Center for International and Regional Economic Law & Justice; Dr. Robert P. George, Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University; Dr. Meir Y. Soloveichik, Rabbi of Shearith Israel, America’s first Jewish Congregation, founded in Manhattan in 1654; and Dr. Peter Berkowitz of Hoover Institution, Stanford University, who served as Director of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, executive secretary of the department’s Commission on Unalienable Rights, and senior adviser to the Secretary of State. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_11_16_“The Indigenization and Universalization of Islamic Law in Indonesia”

EU counter-terrorism expert and Professor of Islamic Studies regarding Nahdlatul Ulama’s recontextualization of Islamic law:

“[I]t is possible to understand this process… as the development of a genuine Indonesian school of thought beginning to operate at a global level and claiming Islam as part of the universal values of humanity”

VIENNA, Austria: In July of 2021, one of Europe’s foremost scholars of jihadism and Islamic law published an in-depth analysis of the indigenization of Islam within Indonesia and its recent emergence upon the world stage as the Humanitarian Islam movement. Humanitarian Islam offers a unique, dynamic and universal alternative to the supremacist, political understanding of Islamic law that animates Islamist ideology and has trapped much of the Muslim world in a cycle of authoritarianism, underdevelopment and violence for centuries.

The 21-page analysis, titled “Fiqh Reconsidered: Indigenization and Universalization of Islamic Law in Indonesia,” was written by Rüdiger Lohlker, Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Vienna’s Oriental Institute and a renowned expert on the links between Islamic theology and Islamist terrorism. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_11_10_National Defense University

NU General Secretary Addresses Indonesia’s Defense Establishment:

“Indonesia is strategically positioned to foster global stability and help ensure the survival of the post-WWII international order”
“Our founding fathers strove to create a new world order built upon justice and the equality of nations”

KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf with Prof. Dr. Amarulla Octavian, Rector of Indonesia’s prestigious National Defense University

BOGOR, Indonesia: On November 10, 2021, Nahdlatul Ulama General Secretary KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf addressed the assembled faculty, staff and students at Indonesia’s National Defense University, stating that Indonesia has a strategic role to play in preserving and strengthening the post-WWII international order, as well as shaping its future.

“It is time for us to realize this great potential and act wisely, so that Indonesia’s influence among the community of nations may steadily rise, reflecting its status as the world’s fourth most populous country and sixteenth largest economy. . . As the world moves towards a new equilibrium between major powers, Indonesia has a vital interest in preserving and strengthening our current, rules-based international order. Likewise, the international community has a strategic interest in ensuring that Indonesia remains strong, independent and sovereign,” Mr. Staquf told senior members of Indonesia’s defense establishment. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_10_29_Centrist Democrat International appoints PKB Chairman as Vice President

Muhaimin Iskandar elected Vice President of the world’s largest political network

CDI resolution lauds speech by Indonesia’s Minister of Religious Affairs and pledges support for “the [G20] agenda described by Minister Qoumas in that address”

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša addresses a hybrid (online and in-person) CDI Executive Committee meeting in Brussels on October 28, 2021. His nation currently holds the Rotating Presidency of the EU Council.

BRUSSELS, Belgium, October 28 – 29, 2021: The world’s largest political network has resolved to support the agenda set by Indonesia’s Minister of Religious Affairs & Humanitarian Islam co-founder H. Yaqut Cholil Qoumas for his nation’s G20 Interfaith Forum — a move likely to bolster Indonesia’s Presidency of the G20 and increase its global impact.

In a strong demonstration of support for the global Humanitarian Islam movement, the Honorable H. Muhaimin Iskandar, Chairman of PKB — Indonesia’s largest Islamic political party, which Nahdlatul Ulama spiritual leaders founded in 1998 — was appointed CDI Vice President and joined CDI’s Executive Committee, the organization’s highest decision-making body. Centrist Democrat International (CDI) has over 100 member parties in more than 70 nations, including the largest political group within the European Union, the European People’s Party (EPP). Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_10_28_Freedom of Religious Belief

Indonesia’s Ministry of Religious Affairs affirms the constitutional right to freedom of conscience

The Honorable Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, Indonesia’s Minister of Religious Affairs: “To my brothers and sisters in the Baha’i community, wherever you may be, I wish you a joyful celebration of your new year 178 EB [marking the anniversary of your founder’s teaching]”

JAKARTA, Indonesia: In July of 2021, Indonesia’s Minister of Religious Affairs responded to harsh Islamist criticism of a video address — in which he warmly conveyed a New Year’s greeting to Indonesia’s miniscule Baha’i minority — by affirming that every Indonesian citizen has a constitutional right to religious freedom, and to practice the teachings of his or her faith.

A government regulation dating from the mid-1960s provides official recognition to only six religious communities in Indonesia: Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, and Confucianism.

Muslim extremists were swift to condemn Minister Qoumas for acknowledging and greeting members of Indonesia’s Baha’i community. Despite the viral nature of the controversy that exploded in print, broadcast and social media, the Minister did not apologize for his action. Demonstrating the strength of his convictions — and widespread popular support for his position — the Honorable Minister of Religious Affairs simply instructed officials within his Ministry to explain the constitutional, legal and regulatory framework that guarantees freedom of conscience to every Indonesian. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_10_28_Nahdlatul Ulama Circular Letter: Executive Summary

2021 National Conference of Nahdlatul Ulama Religious Scholars Press Conference: “[Strengthening] East Indies Islam and NU Autonomy, for the Sake of Global Civilization”

JAKARTA, Indonesia, September 20, 2021: The Central Board of Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest Muslim organization, has instructed all of its chapters, institutions and autonomous bodies to cancel or suspend all activities with an Indonesian NGO and two of its foreign partners, and to submit any proposed future activities for approval by the Central Board. The order is designed to protect and enhance minority rights while preserving social harmony and political stability, rather than seeking to curtail NGOs’ freedom to engage in activities of their choice.

The order was issued in the form of a circular letter distributed to those who govern Nahdlatul Ulama, in response to efforts by the Leimena Institute, a Jakarta-based NGO and its foreign backers — the U.S.-based Institute for Global Engagement (IGE) and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) — to harness Nahdlatul Ulama and Indonesia’s powerful Ministry of Religious Affairs in service of a potentially disruptive agenda dictated by foreign actors, who seek to reshape Indonesia’s complex socio-cultural, religious and political landscape.

For the past century, Nahdlatul Ulama has consistently sought to block the infiltration of Wahhabism, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist movements into Indonesia’s religious mainstream. The unanimous decision by NU’s Supreme Council and its Executive Board to cancel or suspend any and all cooperation with Leimena, IGE and AJC suggests that NU is also concerned about Western NGOs acting in pursuit of agendas that have the potential to induce social unrest and political instability in Indonesia. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_10_28_Peace Conference Ends in Death Threats and Recrimination

Participants claim they were misled
New York Times quotes the son of keynote speaker:
“Four times al-Qaeda tried to assassinate us. One day they blew up our house in Baghdad. Now we are wanted by everyone.”

ERBIL, Iraq, September 24, 2021: A conference held in the Kurdistan Autonomous Region of Iraq attracted global media coverage when its keynote speaker issued a demand for Iraq to join the Abraham Accords and recognize the state of Israel. Yet within 24 hours, conference participants were denying any foreknowledge of the event’s controversial agenda as Sunni and Shiite militias launched a manhunt for those involved.

Held two weeks before Iraq’s national elections, the conference appears to have inadvertently played into the hands of Islamist militias and extremist political parties, including that of prominent Shiite cleric Muqtadr al-Sadr, whose party won a plurality of votes in the election. Sadr was swift to condemn the event in Erbil and to declare that it is legitimate to shed the blood of conference participants. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_10_28_Nahdlatul Ulama Circular Letter: Full Report

“Always be honest and open, there’s no need to be afraid”

Nahdlatul Ulama moves to prevent foreign and domestic interference in its affairs

It is in light of these dangers — i.e., the perennial threat posed by an alliance between Muslim extremists and self-aggrandizing politicians — that the Nahdlatul Ulama Circular Letter published on September 20, 2021, should be understood.

As the intense polarization currently roiling much of the West demonstrates, the weaponization of identity can swiftly undermine even well-established democracies, to say nothing of those societies, such as Indonesia’s, that have recently undergone a transition from authoritarianism to democracy.

In this perilous environment, the behavior of even well-intentioned actors who lack the requisite knowledge of Islam, and sufficient experience, may easily produce unintended and devastating consequences.

Hence, the Nahdlatul Ulama Circular Letter may be viewed as a timely reminder to anyone who wishes to promote equal rights for religious minorities in the Muslim world: it is essential to conduct such efforts in a manner that strengthens, rather than undermines, the fabric of social harmony and political stability that are essential to a nation’s well-being and ensuring the rule of law. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

2021_09_23_The Conversation: “Humanitarian Islam is different”

Does Nahdlatul Ulama offer a solution to the Muslim world’s authoritarian malaise?

Award-winning Turkish scholar:
“In terms of membership, the organization hugely outstrips that of the Taliban – yet this face of Islam has not been sufficiently recognized on the international stage”

SAN DIEGO, September 23, 2021: One of the world’s preeminent scholars of political Islam — Turkish American Professor Ahmet T. Kuru — has highlighted Humanitarian Islam’s transformative potential as an alternative to the mosque-state alliance that has kept much of the Muslim world trapped in a cycle of authoritarianism, underdevelopment and violence for centuries.

Titled “How the world’s biggest Islamic organization drives religious reform in Indonesia,” Professor Kuru’s article originally appeared in The Conversation, a multi-lingual network of media outlets that publishes news stories written by academic experts and researchers. The article was also prominently featured by a number of leading news, educational and foreign policy outlets — including AP, Religion News Service, International Policy Digest and Britannica and translated into Bosnian, French, German, Indonesian, Spanish and Turkish. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_09_14_G20 Interfaith Forum in Bologna, Italy

Indonesia’s Minister of Religious Affairs sets agenda for the G20 Interfaith Forum to be held in 2022

Urges religious leaders to “act decisively to ensure that religion is no longer ‘part of the problem,’ and instead becomes ‘part of the solution’”

BOLOGNA, Italy, September 12 – 14, 2021: Indonesia’s Minister of Religious Affairs, H. Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, has delivered a landmark address setting the agenda of the world’s largest Muslim majority nation and democracy for its chairmanship of the G20 Interfaith Forum (IF20), to be held in 2022.

The video address — delivered to political and religious leaders gathered from around the globe at the historic Salone del Podestà in Bologna’s 13th-century Palazzo Re Enzo — outlined Indonesia’s strategy to mobilize the world’s great faith traditions to preserve and strengthen the post-WWII rules-based international order at a time of increasingly unimpeded violations of international law and rising human rights abuse. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_09_11_9/11: A 20-Year Retrospective

Regent University, founded by televangelist Pat Robertson, welcomes Indonesian Muslim leader on the eve of 9/11 anniversary

U.S. evangelicals endorse General Secretary of the world’s largest Islamic organization
Praised as “a leading Muslim voice” who seeks “to reform obsolete tenets of Islamic orthodoxy that enjoin religious hatred, supremacy and violence”

VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia, September 9, 2021: Regent University — which, together with the Christian Broadcasting Network, may be said to represent “the beating heart of evangelical Christianity in the U.S.” — invited Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf, General Secretary of the world’s largest Muslim organization, to deliver a keynote address at Regent’s commemoration of the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

The invitation may signal a major shift in evangelical attitudes towards Islam and Muslims, inspired by Nahdlatul Ulama’s willingness to acknowledge and address certain tenets of Islamic orthodoxy that underlie and animate Islamist extremism worldwide. These tenets are often employed by groups such as ISIS, al-Qaeda and Boko Haram to condemn those they regard as infidels, thereby legitimizing the widespread persecution of Christians in the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_09_09_Taliban perpetuate Muslim world’s failed governance paradigm

Al-Arab:
“The Taliban’s control of Afghanistan spotlights the failed model of government in Muslim states”

Nahdlatul Ulama represents a unique exception to the mosque–state alliance perpetuated by Middle East autocrats

SINGAPORE, September 9, 2021: In a hard-hitting article published on the eve of the 9/11 attacks’ 20th anniversary, veteran foreign correspondent and Senior Fellow at National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute, Dr. James M. Dorsey, argued that Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama constitutes a unique exception to the cycle of authoritarianism, underdevelopment and violence that afflicts so much of the Muslim world.

Dr. Dorsey wrote:

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan perpetuates a paradigm of failed governance in the Muslim world based on a centuries-old alliance between Islamic scholars and the state that, according to scholar Ahmet T Kuru, explains underdevelopment in many Muslim-majority states and authoritarianism in most.

The takeover also highlights that, in a twist of irony, a majority of competitors for Muslim religious soft power, leadership of the Muslim world, and the ability to define Islam have as much in common as they have differences. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_09_08_Muslim–Christian Relations: Becoming Good Neighbors

Evangelical Podcaster John W. Morehead:

“Two of the most important religious leaders in the world, an evangelical and a Muslim, neither of whom are Americans, came together in Washington, D.C. to launch a book.”

Why?

“Because what happens on the borderline between religion and politics in the United States affects the whole world.”

SYRACUSE, Utah: In July of 2021, U.S. evangelical leader John Morehead introduced his audience to the Humanitarian Islam movement in conjunction with the launch of a book published in honor of Bishop Thomas Schirrmacher, Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance, which represents 600 million Protestants in 140 countries.

Over the course of a one-hour discussion with Reverend Dr. Thomas K. Johnson and C. Holland Taylor — who co-edited the book God Needs No Defense: Reimagining Muslim–Christian Relations in the 21st Century — Reverend Morehead and his guests discussed the nature and ramifications of an unprecedented alliance that has emerged between the world’s largest Protestant and Muslim organizations.

During the course of the interview, Reverend Morehead explored the genesis of the book as well as its structure and contents, asking “What can readers look forward to in this volume?”  Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_08_17_Independence (Day) Prayer

Indonesians reaffirm shared moral and spiritual values in nationwide ceremony

Minister of Religious Affairs delivers prayer composed
by KH. A. Mustofa Bisri:
“Illuminate us with Your Light, oh Light of Lights,
that we may perceive the beauty of truth
and follow it.
That we may perceive the ugliness of falsehood
and distance ourselves from it.
That we may perceive the beauty of honesty
and fully embrace it. 
That we may perceive the evil of lies
and guard against them.”

“Remembering Indonesia’s Declaration of Independence 76 years ago:
Live broadcast on Tuesday, 17 August, 2021 at 09:00 a.m.”

JAKARTA, Indonesia, August 17, 2021: During a ceremony broadcast throughout the Indonesian Archipelago, Minister of Religious Affairs H. Yaqut Cholil Qoumas read a prayer composed by Nahdlatul Ulama spiritual leader and Humanitarian Islam co-founder Kyai Haji A. Mustofa Bisri.

In the midst of the COVID pandemic, tens of millions of Indonesian school children, parents and other adults stood to attention in their homes as they watched an elaborately staged celebration of the nation’s independence broadcast from Istana Merdeka (Independence Palace) in downtown Jakarta. President Joko Widodo and his cabinet ministers, wearing traditional attire, solemnly presided over the ceremonial raising of Indonesia’s red-and-white flag. From 1945 – 1949, Indonesian Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Buddhists alike waged a bloody four-year struggle to prevent the re-imposition of Dutch colonialism following Imperial Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_08_12_God Needs No Defense

God Needs No Defense:
Reimagining Muslim–Christian Relations in the 21st Century

Kyai Haji A. Mustofa Bisri:
“We wish to submit to the dictates of conscience”

WASHINGTON, DC, July 13, 2021: Spiritual leaders of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) have published a Festschrift, or collection of essays, honoring Bishop Thomas Schirrmacher, the newly appointed Secretary General & CEO of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA).

“We hope this book will mark the beginning of a long and important journey of these two religions [Islam and Christianity] towards a more harmonious relationship, characterized by peaceful co-existence,” NU General Secretary KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf told an audience of nearly 1,000 religious freedom activists and government leaders gathered at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC, for the 2021 International Religious Freedom Summit. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_08_09_Fundamental Principles of Nahdlatul Ulama

Historic speech, published in English for the first time, offers a stark reminder to the West 

“Social unity is the highest virtue and most powerful instrument for promoting the common good”
“Division has been the cause of weakness, defeat and failure throughout the ages”

“A house divided against itself cannot stand” ~ Abraham Lincoln

WASHINGTON, DC, August 9, 2021: The world’s largest Muslim organization, Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), has made a century-old speech by one of its founders, KH. Hasyim Asy’ari, available for the first time in English. The publication of this speech — titled Introduction to the Fundamental Principles of Nahdlatul Ulama — is part of a larger effort by the 90-million-member NU to promote shared civilizational values and discourage the political weaponization of identity.

The speech, which was delivered at the inaugural meeting of Nahdlatul Ulama in 1926, warns that social divisiveness “is the root of destruction and bankruptcy, the source of collapse and ruination, and the agent of humiliation and chaos.” Nearly a century after its delivery, this address, which articulates the ethical and theological framework embraced by the world’s largest Muslim organization, remains the foundational document of Nahdlatul Ulama. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_07_26_Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

“The Voice of Moderate Muslims”

“Indonesia is a model for the transition from an autocratic to a democratic system”

Indonesian Muslims at prayer

FRANKFURT, Germany / July 26, 2021: One of Germany’s leading experts on the contemporary Middle East has written a penetrating analysis of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and its “credible” efforts to reform obsolete and problematic tenets of Islamic orthodoxy, such as the legal concepts of kafir (infidel) and dhimmi (conquered and subordinate non-Muslims).

The article examines NU’s engagement with the World Evangelical Alliance, which has officially “recognized [Nahdlatul Ulama’s] pioneering work. The most populous Islamic country has thus acquired a ‘points advantage’ within the intra-Islamic competition to become the leading religious ‘soft power’ in the Muslim world.” Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2021_07_15_International Religious Freedom Summit

Nahdlatul Ulama leader on “The Rise of Religious Nationalism”:

“We need to address obsolete values within our own traditions, which prevent peaceful coexistence”

WASHINGTON, DC, July 15, 2021: Nahdlatul Ulama General Secretary Yahya Cholil Staquf delivered a keynote address to nearly 1,000 civil society and government leaders at the 2021 International Religious Freedom Summit, during a five day visit to the United States. His topic was the complex and often controversial subject of religious nationalism.

Mr. Staquf is co-founder of the global Humanitarian Islam movement and the Center for Shared Civilizational Values, which seek “to prevent the political weaponization of identity; curtail the spread of communal hatred; promote solidarity and respect among the diverse peoples, cultures and nations of the world; and foster the emergence of a truly just and harmonious world order, founded upon respect for the equal rights and dignity of every human being.” Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_07_14_Religious Freedom and a Free and Open Indo-Pacific

Indonesian and U.S. Statesmen agree that “shared civilizational values” are essential building blocks of a rules-based international order
Former Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo:
“The places where we can build peace, the places where we can identify overlapping interests will always revolve around shared values.”
NU General Secretary Yahya Cholil Staquf:
“We need to mobilize civil society actors and mass-based organizations to foster societal consensus regarding fundamental values, if a rules-based international order is to endure.”

Yahya Cholil Staquf, Kenneth Weinstein and Michael R. Pompeo

WASHINGTON, DC: On July 14, 2021, Hudson Institute Distinguished Fellow Kenneth Weinstein moderated a discussion between Yahya Cholil Staquf, General Secretary of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, and Hudson Distinguished Fellow and former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency/U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo. It was the first time the Indonesian and U.S. statesmen had met face-to-face since Secretary Pompeo addressed leaders of the Humanitarian Islam movement in Jakarta on October 29, 2020, days before the U.S. presidential election.

Their wide-ranging discussion covered a variety of topics including: Indonesia’s and America’s founding values; mobilizing public support for a sustainable rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific that is resilient and adaptable to the great power realities of the 21st century; the future of the post-World War II human rights project; the persecution of ethnic and religious minorities; threats posed by the political weaponization of identity; genocide; the role of sovereign nation states, and civil society, in preserving and strengthening the rules-based international order; and the need to maintain a stable balance of power within the Indo-Pacific region. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_07_13_The Nation’s Mosque Statement

Leaders of the world’s largest Islamic and Evangelical organizations establish alliance with African American Muslims to promote human dignity and equality worldwide
“God Needs No Defense:
Reimagining Muslim–Christian Relations in the 21st Century”
Imam Talib Shareef: “We are against weaponizing identity”

From left to right, Rev. Thomas L. Bowen, Minister of Social Justice at Shiloh Baptist Church; Rev. Christopher Zacharias of John Wesley A.M.E. Zion Church; Imam Talib Shareef of The Nation’s Mosque; KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf, Nahdlatul Ulama General Secretary; Bishop Thomas Schirrmacher, WEA Secretary General & CEO; and Ibrahim Mumin of The Nation’s Mosque

WASHINGTON, DC, July 13, 2021: Major faith leaders from around the world gathered at Masjid Muhammad, known as “The Nation’s Mosque,” to announce the establishment of a global alliance that aims to promote human dignity and equality.

In a signed statement, Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders said their alliance “seeks to prevent the political weaponization of identity; curtail the spread of communal hatred; promote solidarity and respect among the diverse people, cultures and nations of the world; and foster the emergence of a truly just and harmonious world order, founded upon respect for the equal rights and dignity of every human being.”

Participants in the unlikely religious summit included Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf, General Secretary of the Supreme Council of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest Muslim organization with 90 million followers; Bishop Thomas Schirrmacher, Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), which represents 600 million Protestants in 140 countries; Imam Talib Shareef of The Nation’s Mosque; Rabbi David Saperstein, former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom; prominent U.S. evangelical figure, Reverend Johnnie Moore; and HRH Prince Gharios El Chemor of Ghassan Al-Nu’man VIII. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_04_14_Shifting Youth Attitudes Threaten State-controlled Interpretations of Islam

Battle for the Soul of Islam:
Spotlight on the Gap Between Regimes and Populations

“Trouble is brewing in the backyard of Muslim-majority states competing for religious soft power and leadership of the Muslim world.”
“Nahdlatul Ulama’s critical mass of Islamic scholars… offer a bottom-up alternative to state-controlled religion that seeks to ensure the survival of autocratic regimes and the protection of vested interests.”

BELGRADE and NEW YORK, April 14, 2021: Nahdlatul Ulama spiritual leaders are at the vanguard of a grassroots, global trend — especially prevalent among Muslim youth — to reject the political weaponization of Islam by Middle East autocrats and Islamist movements. This dramatic shift in Muslim attitudes was recently detailed by Dr. James M. Dorsey, a veteran foreign correspondent and Senior Fellow at National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute (MEI).

In an 18-page article titled “Battle for the Soul of Islam: Spotlight on the Gap Between Regimes and Populations,” Dr. Dorsey writes that “[s]hifting youth attitudes towards religion and religiosity threaten to undermine the rival efforts of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran and, to a lesser degree, the United Arab Emirates, to cement their individual state-controlled interpretations of Islam as the Muslim world’s dominant religious narrative. Each of the rivals see their efforts as key to securing their autocratic or authoritarian rule as well as advancing their endeavors to carve out a place for themselves in a new world order in which power is being rebalanced. . . . Continue reading full communiqué with images. . .

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2021_03_05_Humanitarian Islam, Evangelical Christianity, and the Clash of Civilizations

Global evangelical leader and scholar urges “Christians to develop extensive interfaith cooperation with Humanitarian Islam”

BONN, Germany, March 5, 2021: The world’s largest Protestant organization has endorsed the Humanitarian Islam movement as an essential vehicle for peacefully and definitively resolving “the Muslim-Christian clash of civilizations, which started almost 1,500 years ago.”

On the day that Pope Francis commenced an historic papal visit to Iraq — which included a meeting with the world’s preeminent Shi‘ite spiritual leader and a tour of Mosul, until recently a stronghold of the defeated ISIS caliphate — the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) Theological Commission published Humanitarian Islam, Evangelical Christianity, and the Clash of Civilizations: A New Partnership for Peace and Religious Freedom. Continue reading full communiqué with images. . .

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2021_02_27 World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General

Bishop Thomas Schirrmacher, friend of Humanitarian Islam, appointed as WEA Secretary General
Heir to a tradition of religious liberty and respect for the equal rights and dignity of every human being
“It is only the prayer of millions, and the prayer of close friends… that makes it possible to take over a task which is too big for just one human being”

Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher, Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance, stands with Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) General Secretary Yahya Cholil Staquf beside the Indonesian and NU flags (Jakarta, 2019)

BONN, Germany, February 27, 2021: Bishop Thomas Schirrmacher — co-founder of an initiative that unites evangelical Christians and the Humanitarian Islam movement in promoting religious freedom across the globe — has been appointed Secretary General & CEO of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA). Founded in 1846, WEA is the largest international organization of evangelical churches, representing over 600 million Protestants and national evangelical alliances in 140 countries. Continue reading full communiqué with images. . .

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2021_02_18_CDI Seeks to Deepen and Expand Cooperation with its Indonesian Sister Party, PKB

World’s Largest Political Network Commends Indonesia for Appointing Humanitarian Islam Co-founder as its Minister of Religious Affairs
A major step “in realizing our shared aspirations for a better world.”
Observers hail Minister’s swift action in defense of women’s rights, religious minorities and Indonesia’s Constitution

BRUSSELS, February 18, 2021: The Executive Committee of the world’s largest political network, Centrist Democrat International (CDI), has unanimously adopted a formal statement praising the appointment of Humanitarian Islam co-founder H. Yaqut Cholil Qoumas (“Gus Yaqut”) as Indonesia’s Minister of Religious Affairs. The appointment has been widely hailed by analysts as evidence of a growing determination by the government of Indonesian President Joko Widodo to combat Islamist extremism, uphold the Constitution and defend Indonesia’s ancient traditions of religious pluralism and tolerance. Continue reading full communiqué with images. . .

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2021_01_14_How to Make the Islamic World Less Radical

Recontextualize the teachings of Islam to address extremism—and to inspire reform.

By Yahya Cholil Staquf   |   Jan. 14, 2021

Members of Nahdlatul Ulama, the biggest Muslim organization in Indonesia, hold a mass prayer to welcome Ramadan in Jakarta, June 14, 2015. PHOTO: ADEK BERRY/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Nearly a generation after 9/11, the world has made little progress in freeing itself from the threat of radical Islam. For every Osama bin Laden or Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi the U.S. eliminates, 100 radicals pop up.

Horrendous violence has engulfed much of the Islamic world, from Central Asia through the Middle East to Africa. It also erupts periodically on the streets of London, Paris and New York. As of 2019, Britain’s domestic intelligence agency alone maintained watch lists comprising over 35,000 Islamist terror suspects believed to pose a threat to the U.K.

Why is the modern world plagued by Islamic extremism? Why do al Qaeda, Boko Haram and Islamic State display such savagery? Continue reading full communiqué with images. . .

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2021_01_07_Commission on Unalienable Rights: Lessons Learned

Last month, the head of the world’s largest independent Muslim organization sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a gracious letter thanking him for his recent visit to Indonesia — home to the world’s largest Muslim population — to discuss the report of the Commission on Unalienable Rights.

The visit and the letter vindicate Secretary Pompeo’s decision in the summer of 2019 to establish the commission to review the principles of freedom that inform America’s founding commitment to the rights inherent in all persons. By recounting the history of those universal principles and of the United States’ struggle to honor them at home and champion them abroad, the commission aimed to call Americans to what is best in our country’s traditions and to invite other peoples and nations to draw on their own heritages to renew a shared dedication to human rights. The secretary’s Jakarta visit and the letter from the general secretary of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) furnish an inspiring example of the exciting opportunities for which the commission’s work has laid the foundations. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2021_01_07_Co-founder of the Humanitarian Islam Movement Appointed as Indonesia’s Minister of Religious Affairs

“Religion should be an inspiration for society, not a vehicle for the political aspirations of those who seek worldly power”
Antara News: “Yaqut is an active leader of GP Ansor, and has an extensive network stretching from the very center of power all the way to Indonesia’s grass roots”

PRESIDENTIAL PALACE, JAKARTA, Indonesia: On December 22, 2020, Indonesian President Joko Widodo (“Jokowi”) appointed H. Yaqut Cholil Qoumas (“Gus Yaqut”) —Chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama’s 5-million-member young adults organization, Gerakan Pemuda Ansor, and co-founder of the global Humanitarian Islam movement — as Indonesia’s Minister of Religious Affairs. The appointment, which received viral coverage across Indonesian print, broadcast and social media, signals the Jokowi administration’s determination to block the political weaponization of Islam and neutralize its potentially destabilizing effects in the run-up to Indonesia’s 2024 national elections. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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POLITICAL COMMUNIQUÉS – 2020

2020_12_01_Hudson Institute’s Current Trends in Islamist Ideology:

“Nahdlatul Ulama has emerged as a formidable challenger to powerful state actors in the battle for the soul of Islam”
“The [Humanitarian Islam] movement has gone beyond paying lip service to notions of tolerance and pluralism with the issuance of fatwas intended to re-contextualize the faith by eliminating categories like infidels”

Indonesian Muslims wearing masks and maintaining social distance perform Friday prayer at the At-Tin Grand Mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia on June 5, 2020. (Eko Siswono Toyudho/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, D.C.: A leading U.S. think tank has published an in-depth analysis of “The Battle for the Soul of Islam,” reporting that Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama has emerged as a formidable contender in the Islamic world’s competition for religious soft power and leadership — capable of operating on the same level as states such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Turkey and Iran.

The 18-page article by Dr. James M. Dorsey — a Middle East expert who is a senior fellow at prominent universities in Singapore, Germany and Israel — appeared in the journal Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, which is published by Hudson Institute’s Center on Islam, Democracy, and the Future of the Muslim World. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2020_11_23_Nahdlatul Ulama General Secretary helps shape British grand strategy for the emerging “Eurasian century”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison:
“In 1941 Europe was certainly in the cockpit of history. Now in the 21st century the Indo-Pacific will shape the destiny of the world.”
Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan:
“I warmly welcome today’s report from the Policy Exchange Indo-Pacific Commission” which “chart[s] out a path of renewed British engagement in the region [and] points the way towards a truly globally co-operative era”

LONDON, United Kingdom and CANBERRA, Australia, November 23, 2020: Current and former Prime Ministers from four of the world’s most economically powerful countries have endorsed recommendations contained within a landmark report on the future of the Indo-Pacific Region (IPR). Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf, General Secretary of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, helped shape key elements of the 52-page strategic plan, which was warmly received by 10 Downing Street, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and Britain’s Parliament. Mr. Staquf serves as one of 16 members of the Indo-Pacific Commission, which is chaired by former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

In a major foreign policy speech that accompanied the launch of the Commission’s report, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed “the UK’s acknowledgment of the strategic significance of the Indo-Pacific Region” and said: “I endorse the report’s vision for a reinvigorated community of free and independent nations with a single overriding goal, namely: to reinforce a sustainable rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific that is resilient but adaptable to the great power realities of the 21st century.” Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2020_10_29_U.S. Secretary of State Praises Nahdlatul Ulama, Gerakan Pemuda Ansor, Humanitarian Islam and the Movement for Shared Civilizational Values

“Indonesia has an incredible reach and potential as a force for good in the region and indeed throughout the entire world.”
“I am ecstatic to be part of this event today.”

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo addressing leaders of the global Humanitarian Islam movement, while observing COVID-19 social distancing restrictions

JAKARTA, Indonesia (October 29, 2020): U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo delivered a major speech in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation and democracy, at an event hosted by Nahdlatul Ulama’s 5-million-member young adults movement, Gerakan Pemuda Ansor, and Bayt ar-Rahmah, which coordinates the global expansion of NU and Ansor activities.

Titled “Nurturing the Shared Civilizational Aspirations of Islam Rahmatan li al-‘Alamin, the Republic of Indonesia and the United States of America,” the event took place at the Four Seasons Hotel in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, and was part of a two-day forum attended by top leaders of Nahdlatul Ulama, Ansor, the Government of Indonesia, the U.S. Department of State and all six of Indonesia’s major religions. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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Al-Arab (The Arabs), a leading Arabic-language newspaper founded in 1977

2020_10_27_Indonesia is Washington’s Gateway for Promoting Islamic Reform

Supporting local Islamic groups is an American recipe for confronting fundamentalism.

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Local groups lead the battle for Islam’s renewal

Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama—an Islamic mass movement—is hosting a two-day conference in the capital Jakarta to explore the “shared civilizational aspirations” of Indonesia, the United States and Islam. The event will be attended by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is pushing his administration to promote Islamic reform.

JAKARTA: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is determined to strengthen the efforts of the world’s largest Islamic mass movement to reform the faith’s prevailing religious discourse. The Secretary of State will be visiting Indonesia during the last leg of a tour of three Asian nations, as U.S. strategy increasingly focuses upon supporting tajdid (renewal) movements capable of accomplishing Islamic reform and mobilizing Muslim communities against radicalism and terror.

Local religious groups such as Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the Muhammadiyah—which has distanced itself from its Salafist origins—and the Sufi-oriented Movement for Support and Guidance play a key role in supporting Indonesian government efforts to foster widespread rejection of radicalism and extremism. The main goal of these mass movements is to promote the peaceful and moderate face of Islam and—thanks to their extensive social work caring for the poor and orphans, establishing religious schools, and preserving Indonesian social unity—they enjoy widespread popular support in this endeavor. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2020_10_01_World’s largest political network promotes global solidarity in response to COVID-19 crisis

CDI endorses Humanitarian Islam’s call to embrace “the spirit of cooperation rather than conflict, within and between civilizations”

CDI President Andrés Pastrana Arango

BRUSSELS, Belgium, October 1, 2020: Gathering virtually for the first time in its 59-year history, Centrist Democrat International’s (CDI) Executive Committee has adopted a resolution to address “the widespread social isolation, economic hardship, despair, fear and anger triggered by the COVID-19 crisis in societies across the globe.”

The call to action was issued in a Resolution on promoting solidarity and respect among the diverse people, cultures and nations of the world, unanimously passed by the Executive Committee of CDI—a center-right coalition spanning 73 nations that includes the European Union’s largest and most successful political group, the European People’s Party (EPP), and many ruling parties in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

Antonio López-Istúriz White—Secretary General of both CDI and EPP—warmly thanked leaders of Indonesia’s Humanitarian Islam movement for drafting the resolution. He also expressed his appreciation for the Indonesians’ having recognized Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain’s role in laying the foundations of a rules-based international order in the aftermath of WWII, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Second Vatican Council and the establishment of the European Community. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2020_09_23_Nahdlatul Ulama General Secretary at the 75th United Nations General Assembly

Hailed as key partner in an emerging values-driven alliance to “foster respect for the equal rights and dignity of every human being”
U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo:
“We must rediscover the nature of human rights, and we must have the courage to defend them. Your presence here today gives me great confidence that we are up to that task.”

NU General Secretary KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf addressed UN delegates at two events broadcast live by the U.S. Department of State during High Level Week of the 75th UN General Assembly

UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK CITY, 23 and 25 September 2020: There are growing indications that the U.S. Department of State has begun to mobilize its extensive diplomatic capacity to foster awareness of Nahdlatul Ulama General Secretary KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf and the Humanitarian Islam movement he co-founded. The Indonesian religious leader is increasingly viewed in Western political circles as a potential lynchpin in an effort to forge a global, values-driven alliance dedicated to strengthening the rules-based international order and Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) at a time of increased geopolitical uncertainty and rising human rights abuse.

Over the past year, the State Department has increased both the level and intensity of its diplomatic outreach to Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), coordinating closely with Mr. Staquf on matters related to fundamental human rights, including religious freedom. These efforts are set to continue with a planned visit to Indonesia in October of 2020 by U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, his Director of Policy Planning, Peter Berkowitz, and Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon, Chair of the State Department’s Commission on Unalienable Rights. The U.S. delegation will be hosted by Mr. Staquf and Nahdlatul Ulama’s 5-million-member young adults organization, Gerakan Pemuda Ansor, which co-founded the Humanitarian Islam movement. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2020_09_17_Evangelical Review of Theology

A Case for Ethical Cooperation between Evangelical Christians and Humanitarian Islam

Senior World Evangelical Alliance theologians at the headquarters of Gerakan Pemuda Ansor, Nahdlatul Ulama’s 5-million-member young adults organization, in November of 2019. Dr. Thomas Johnson appears seated to the left of NU General Secretary KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf (center).

BONN, Germany (August 1, 2020): The flagship theological journal of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA)—which represents 600 million Christians in 130 nations—has published an extensive analysis of the Humanitarian Islam movement that concludes: “Though we understand and relate to God in very different ways. . . [t]he level of philosophical agreement between evangelical Christians and Humanitarian Islam demonstrated in this paper justifies a concerted joint effort to build a world in which religious faith can flourish for the benefit of humanity.”

The 14-page essay, titled “A Case for Ethical Cooperation between Evangelical Christians and Humanitarian Islam,” was published by Evangelical Review of Theology: the World Evangelical Alliance’s Journal of Theology and Contemporary Application. Its author, Dr. Thomas K. Johnson, describes Humanitarian Islam as “a philosophically sophisticated response to some of the crucial questions of our era” which “fully accepts the existence of multiple religious communities within one country, with the hope that those communities and their members can flourish together.” Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2020_08_18_The Islamic Religious Community of Italy (COREIS): “Hagia Sophia unites Christians and Muslims across the globe

“The largest international political network, inspired by Christianity, allies with the world’s largest Islamic organization to denounce the political weaponization of religion”

Home page of the Islamic Religious Community of Italy (COREIS) featuring an image of Hagia Sophia, flanked by the European Union headquarters in Brussels and Baiturrahman Mosque in Banda Aceh, Indonesia

MILAN, Italy / August 18, 2020: Two days before the Islamic New Year (1 Muharram 1442 AH) Imam Yahya Sergio Yahe Pallavicini—President of the Islamic Religious Community of Italy (COREIS)—published a message from Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) General Secretary KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf to the 1.4 million Muslims who live in Italy.

In an article that accompanied the NU General Secretary’s message, COREIS welcomed the recent adoption—by Centrist Democrat International (CDI) and the European People’s Party (EPP)—of a statement issued by the NU-based National Awakening Party (PKB) of Indonesia. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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