“A President for All People”

“Many Muslim Indonesians considered Mr. Wahid a living saint. But Christians, Buddhists and many others mourned his passing last week. Their grief is testament to the power of his ideas, not just for Indonesians, but for every other pluralistic society seeking a peaceful and prosperous future.”

~ Wall Street Journal

Humanitarian Islam is a global movement that seeks to restore rahmah (universal love and compassion) to its rightful place as the primary message of Islam, by addressing obsolete and problematic elements within Islamic orthodoxy that lend themselves to tyranny, while positioning these efforts within a much broader initiative to reject any and all forms of tyranny, and foster the emergence of a global civilization endowed with nobility of character.

The inspiration for Humanitarian Islam is the unique example of the 15th/16th century Wali Songo (“Nine Saints”) who proselytized Islam Nusantara (“East Indies Islam”)—rooted in the principle of rahmah—stressing the need to contextualize Islamic teachings and adapt these to the ever-changing realities of space and time, while presenting Islam not as a supremacist ideology or vehicle for conquest, but rather, as one of many paths through which humans may attain spiritual perfection.

International Summit of Moderate Islamic Leaders (ISOMIL)

The Humanitarian Islam movement emerged in response to 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 affirmed 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).

Humanitarian Islam is also a direct response to the First Global Unity Forum Declaration—issued on May 12, 2016 by Gerakan Pemuda Ansor, the Nahdlatul Ulama young adults movement—which “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 anyone perceived to be ‘non-Muslim.’”

The movement was born on March 30th, 2017, in Jakarta, Indonesia, when Gerakan Pemuda Ansor and Bayt ar-Rahmah announced the launch of a concerted effort to promote Humanitarian Islam (al-islam li al-insaniyyah), by developing and operationalizing a global strategy to recontextualize the teachings of orthodox, authoritative Islam and thereby reconcile certain problematic tenets of Islamic orthodoxy with the reality of contemporary civilization, whose context and conditions differ significantly from those in which classical Islamic law emerged.

The elements in question include those portions of fiqh that address relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, the structure of governance and the proper aims and conduct of warfare. It is precisely these elements that are often employed by terrorists to justify their actions, and by those who seek to use Islam for political purposes, fostering a sense of grievance and alienation from the modern world.

Alissa Wahid, the daughter of Indonesia’s fourth president, H.E. KH. Abdurrahman Wahid, and Putri Guntur Soekarno, granddaughter of Indonesia’s first president, attended the launch of the Humanitarian Islam movement at Gerakan Pemuda Ansor’s headquarters. Together, they presented Ansor Chairman H. Yaqut Qoumas with Sri Ayati’s Legacy, a painting that vividly illustrates why the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation and democracy was established as a multi-religious/pluralistic state, with a constitutional guarantee of equal rights for all its citizens.

Gerakan Pemuda Ansor adopted this painting as a symbol of the Humanitarian Islam movement. A four-page brochure explains the painting’s significance and contains the lyrics (in English translation) of popular Indonesian musician Leo Kristi’s The Old Cathedral’s Silhouette. This deeply-moving song is written from the perspective of a young Catholic freedom fighter—like the one whose lifeless body lies cradled in President Soekarno’s arms, in Sri Ayati’s Legacy—who sacrificed his life to free Indonesia from colonial rule.

Sri Ayati’s Legacy, John van der Sterren, oil on canvas, 200 x 130 cm, 2006

H. Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, General Chairman of Gerakan Pemuda Ansor (center) and H. Alfa Isnaeni, Commandant of Ansor’s 5-million-member militia, Banser in Jombang, East Java, at the international gathering of ulama where Ansor promulgated its Declaration on Humanitarian Islam

On 21 – 22 May 2017, over 300 Indonesian religious scholars gathered with colleagues from South Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North America to address “obsolete tenets of classical Islamic law, which are premised upon perpetual conflict with those who do not embrace or submit to Islam.” The event was held at PP (Madrasah) Bahrul ‘Ulum in Jombang, East Java— birthplace of the Nahdlatul Ulama and its 5-million-strong youth movement, Gerakan Pemuda Ansor.

A. Mustofa Bisri—former Chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama Supreme Council and currently Chairman of Bayt ar-Rahmah—opened the event with a prayer that the assembled scholars’ deliberations would constitute “a humble act of religious piety and a blessing for all humanity… [as well as] the starting point of a movement that may bring the rays of enlightenment to a desperate world.”

The two-day international gathering of ulama concluded with the adoption of Gerakan Pemuda Ansor’s Declaration on Humanitarian Islam, an 8,000 word analysis of the manner in which state and non-state actors have “weaponized” orthodox Islamic teachings, and detailed road map that calls for “a serious, long-term socio-cultural, political, religious and educational campaign to transform Muslims’ understanding of their religious obligations, and the very nature of Islamic orthodoxy.”

“Muslims face a choice between starkly different visions of the future. Will they strive to recreate the long-lost ideal of religious, political and territorial unity beneath the banner of a Caliphate—and thus seek to restore Islamic supremacy—as reflected in their communal memory and still firmly entrenched within the prevailing corpus, and worldview, of orthodox, authoritative Islam? Or will they strive to develop a new religious sensibility that reflects the actual circumstances of our modern civilization, and contributes to the emergence of a truly just and harmonious world order, founded upon respect for the equal dignity and rights of every human being?” ~ Gerakan Pemuda Ansor Declaration on Humanitarian Islam (point 31)

The road map is divided into five sections, viz., “Identification and Containment of the Threat (points 40 – 66); Conflict Resolution (points 67 – 72); New Theological Discourse to Recontextualize Islamic Teachings for the Modern Era (points 73 – 87); Development and Adoption of New Educational Curricula Throughout the Islamic World (points 88 – 95); and Grassroots Movement to Build Societal Consensus and the Political Will Necessary to Resolve the Crisis” (points 96 – 112).

Bayt ar-Rahmah and its sister organization, LibForAll Foundation, developed—and have been continuously executing—a concrete strategy to operationalize the Gerakan Pemuda Ansor Declaration on Humanitarian Islam in conjunction with like-minded civil society institutions, governments, and people of good will of every faith and nation, including Nahdlatul Ulama, Gerakan Pemuda Ansor, the Center for Shared Civilizational Values, and the G20 Religion Forum (R20).

Detailed information regarding the execution of this strategy may be obtained by clicking on the image associated with each of the five elements of the Humanitarian Islam Road Map (below).

Operationalizing the Gerakan Pemuda Ansor
Declaration on Humanitarian Islam “Road Map”

Identification and Containment of the Threat
(i.e., religious hatred, supremacy and violence)

KH. Achmad Nadhif Mudjib, KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf and KH. Aunullah Habib with
Palestinian academic Dr. Ali al-Awar at the Noble Sanctuary (Temple Mount) in Jerusalem

Conflict Resolution

New Theological Discourse to Recontextualize
Islamic Teachings for the Modern Era

GP Ansor promulgates the Nusantara Statement before President Jokowi and 100,000
members of Ansor and its militia Banser in Pekalong, Central Java on November 22, 2018

Grassroots Movement to Build Societal Consensus
and the Political Will Necessary to Resolve the Crisis