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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