2022_05_18_India Today: The Integration of Muslim Minorities in Europe

“Unless serious efforts for greater integration on the lines of NU are made, the divide between Muslims and non-Muslims is bound to grow.”
Humanitarian Islam seeks to unite the center-left and center-right in blocking the political weaponization of identity

NEW DELHI, India, May 18, 2022 — Writing in South Asia’s leading news magazine, India Today, a major Hindu social and political leader has analyzed the severe challenges European nations face in integrating their Muslim minority populations. The article concludes that Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, with its systematic efforts to reform obsolete and problematic tenets of Islamic orthodoxy, may hold the key to overcoming obstacles to Muslim integration in Europe and elsewhere.

“NU leadership has fearlessly championed the cause of Islamic reform”

Significantly, the author of the article, Sri Ram Madhav Varanasi, acknowledged that dangerous forms of “anti-Islamist radicalism” have emerged among non-Muslim populations in many parts of the world, triggered in part by Islamist separatism, supremacism, and violence. Mr. Madhav concludes his article by calling for “enlightened citizens and governments of the world” to combat Islamic radicalism through a serious and responsible program of reform, and thereby avert a catastrophic eruption of identity-based violence. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2022_05_09_Can Indonesia’s Humanitarian Islam inspire a Hindu nationalist equivalent?

“Reawakening the ancient spiritual, cultural, and socio-political heritage of the Indianized civilizational sphere”

JAKARTA and NEW DELHI, May 9, 2022 — Amid rising hostility between the world’s great powers, Hindu and Muslim leaders have begun to explore strategies to “stem the tide of chaos” and preserve a rules-based international order, by strengthening “the humanitarian values of the East.”

These discussions are unfolding against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; ongoing wars and the threat of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East; China’s Belt and Road Initiative; and the continuing spread of identity-based conflicts in Asia, Africa, Europe and North America. Significantly, Indonesia will host leaders of the world’s largest economies (the “G20”) in November of 2022, while India will hold the G20 presidency next year.

On May 9, Hindu social and political leader Ram Madhav Varanasi traveled to Jakarta to meet with NU Chairman Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf and C. Holland Taylor, co-founders of the Humanitarian Islam movement and the Center for Shared Civilizational Values. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2022_04_23_India Today – Cover Story

“A Deepening Divide?”

“How India can avert strife” by embracing the “inclusive and humanitarian Islam… promoted by organisations like Nahdlatul Ulama”
“Indian social leaders need to stand up to the forces of hatred and violence” on both sides of the communal divide.

NOIDA, UTTAR PRADESH, India – April 23, 2022. The most widely circulated magazine in India, with a readership of close to 8 million, has published a cover story advocating the embrace of “a more inclusive and humanitarian Islam” by Indian Muslims, in order to help bridge that nation’s deepening communal divide.

Authored by Hindu social and political leader Sri Ram Madhav, the essay was one of seven commissioned by India’s leading news magazine, in the midst of rising polarization in a country with the world’s second-largest Muslim population and a highly popular Hindu nationalist government, which has been widely criticized by Western media and human rights organizations for its treatment of religious minorities.

Mr. Madhav, the former National General Secretary of India’s ruling political party, BJP, was recently described by a prominent Western observer as a moderate alternative to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who has been accused of expressing anti-Muslim sentiments. “I personally think [Ram] is smart and world-savvy,” wrote the observer, “and is the most compelling BJP candidate to succeed [Narendra] Modi” as India’s Prime Minister. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2022_04_01_The Ashoka Approach

“The ‘Ashoka Approach’ and Indonesian Leadership in the Movement for Pluralist Re-Awakening in South and Southeast Asia”

Capital of inscribed Ashoka pillar at Sarnath, India (250 BCE; photographed in 1904)

JAKARTA, Indonesia and NEW DELHI, India — Leaders of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest Muslim organization, are working 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. Integral to this effort is a regional strategy called the “Ashoka Approach,” which seeks to reawaken the ancient spiritual, cultural, and socio-political heritage of the Indianized cultural sphere, or “Indosphere” — a civilizational zone that pioneered, long before the West, key concepts and practices of religious pluralism and tolerance.

Roughly co-extensive with South and Southeast Asia, the Indosphere is a vast geographic and cultural zone stretching from Pakistan to Indonesia, which was formatively and permanently shaped by the great spiritual traditions — particularly Hinduism and Buddhism — that originated in the Indian subcontinent. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2022_03_23_Autocratic vs. Democratic Islam

“Dr. James Dorsey has drawn a stark contrast between Nahdlatul Ulama’s democratic vision and the autocratic view of Islam represented by Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah”

SINGAPORE — The world’s largest Muslim organization, Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, is moving to dismantle a key legacy of President Suharto’s 32-year authoritarian regime (1966 – 1998), as part of its continuing effort to reconcile Islam and democracy.

Majelis Ulama Indonesia (the Indonesian Council of Islamic Scholars, or MUI) is a quasi-governmental body created in 1975 by the Suharto regime, which sought to by-pass the religious authority of Nahdlatul Ulama — an organization that has steadfastly maintained its independence from government since its founding in 1926. Following President Suharto’s relinquishment of power in 1998, in the wake of the Asian financial crisis, dozens of extremist organizations infiltrated MUI and have sought to use its perceived authority to advance an Islamist agenda, backed by a government-issued monopoly on the certification of halal products.

Writing in The Times of Israel, geopolitical analyst and scholar Dr. James M. Dorsey has drawn a stark contrast between Nahdlatul Ulama’s democratic vision and the autocratic view of Islam represented by Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah, Chairman of the United Arab Emirates Fatwa Council. An 87-year-old Mauritanian-born scholar of classical Islamic law — who for many years played a key role in Saudi Arabia’s and Qatar’s propagation of ultra-conservative Sunni Islam — Shaykh bin Bayyah severed his close ties with Muslim Brotherhood figure Yusuf al-Qaradawi in the wake of the Arab Spring and moved to Abu Dhabi. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2022_03_14_The Classical Intellectual Heritage of Islam Nusantara

Nahdlatul Ulama challenges Middle East claims to possess a monopoly on Islamic authority and religious discourse

Nahdlatul Ulama Chairman:

“Re-awakening the rich intellectual heritage of East Indies ulama will enable us to contribute significantly to the future of world civilization in partnership with stakeholders from other great civilizations, including Europe, India, China and the Middle East”

NU Central Board members and the Governor of Jakarta attended the launch of an exhibit on the classical Islamic heritage of Islam Nusantara (East Indies Islam)

JAKARTA, Indonesia, March 14, 2022: In a move reminiscent of Martin Luther’s challenge to the authority of Rome in the 16th century — which launched the Protestant Reformation and paved the way for an explosion of scientific and technological progress in Europe — Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) is challenging Middle East governments’ claim to possess a monopoly on Islamic authority and discourse.

Islamic institutions and public discourse are tightly controlled by governments throughout the Arab world, as well as in Iran and Turkey. Nahdlatul Ulama — a traditional Sunni Muslim organization with over 90 million followers — offers a stark contrast to such authoritarian-friendly models of Islam, and to the extreme violence perpetrated by ultraconservative Sunni groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda. Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2022_03_04_Saudi Arabia and Indonesia: Clashing Visions of Moderate Islam

Dr. James Dorsey:

Muhammad bin Salman and Yahya Cholil Staquf represent “diametrically opposed visions of moderate Islam,” mirroring the global struggle between autocracy and democracy in the 21st century

SINGAPORE, March 4, 2022: Drawing a stark contrast between two “clashing visions” of Islam and its global future, a new essay by award-winning journalist and geopolitical analyst Dr. James Dorsey highlights the profound civilizational differences between the religious reform agenda of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama and that being proffered by Middle East governments, including Saudi Arabia.

For nearly twelve centuries, Muslim populations in the Middle East were ruled by Islamic caliphates, which systematically fused religious doctrine and political power. The 17,000 islands of the Indonesian archipelago, on the other hand, were never part of the Ottoman Empire or any previous caliphate. Rather than weaponize religion for political purposes or coercively impose religious norms upon unwilling populations, Islam Nusantara (East Indies Islam) has historically prioritized peaceful coexistence with diverse ethnic and religious communities. Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2022_02_24_Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Threatens the Current World Order

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine requires an urgent response from the world community”

“General Chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board Responds to Conflict Between Russia and Ukraine”

JAKARTA, Indonesia — On February 24, 2022, shortly after the Russian Federation launched a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine, the Chairman of the world’s largest Muslim organization described the attack as a profound threat to the post-World War II international order and called for a global response to Russia’s violation of Ukrainian territory.

Yahya Cholil Staquf, General Chairman of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, said that the attack also risks undermining stability within the Islamic world by normalizing aggression between states — a practice that was widespread throughout human history prior to the United Nations Charter of 1945. Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2022_02_23_Kompas: Nahdlatul Ulama’s Civilizational Mission

“Sharing the vision of a universal humanity — i.e., universal humanism has become an integral part of NU’s efforts to project strategic influence upon the world stage”

Pictures of Nahdlatul Ulama figures line the entry hall at NU headquarters in Jakarta, Tuesday (6/8/2019). KOMPAS/RADITYA HELABUMI

JAKARTA, Indonesia — On February 23, 2022, Indonesia’s largest and most influential newspaper, Kompas, published another in a series of articles examining the impact of KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf’s December 2021 election as General Chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board. With an estimated daily readership of 2.25 million people, Kompas is Indonesia’s “newspaper of record,” helping to shape public opinion in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation and democracy. Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2022_02_18_Leading Hindu Nationalist Endorses Humanitarian Islam

“Indian Muslims Need to Emulate the Indonesian Model:
The humanitarianism of eastern Islam”

Sri Ram Madhav addressing the Centrist Democrat International (CDI) Eurasia Forum in Yogyakarta, Indonesia on January 24, 2020. Others (left to right) are: C. Holland Taylor, co-founder, Humanitarian Islam movement; Dr. Teresita Cruz-del Rosario, National University of Singapore; Antonio López-Istúriz White, Secretary General, CDI and European People’s Party; and Dr. James M. Dorsey, geopolitical analyst.

NEW DELHI, India: February 18, 2022 — An influential Indian politician, author, public intellectual and member of the National Executive of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the group that gave birth to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has called on Indian Muslims to emulate Indonesia’s concept of Humanitarian Islam.

Writing in Open, an Indian current affairs weekly magazine, former BJP General Secretary Sri Ram Madhav Varanasi advocated that India and Indonesia “join hands as nations with the world’s largest and second largest Muslim populations, respectively, to steadfastly promote the concept of the ‘Humanitarian Islam of the East’.”

Mr. Madhav’s endorsement of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama for “champion[ing] a version of Islam that promotes peace and pluralism” — in contrast to Wahhabi and other forms of Islamist extremism that originate in the Middle East — is significant, given that the RSS has been a driving force of Hindu nationalism for nearly a century. Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2022_02_11_Indonesian Government Restores Hindu and Buddhist Worship at UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Indonesia’s Minister of Religious Affairs:

“Prambanan Temple will no longer be simply a tourist destination, but rather a center of active worship for Hindus from Indonesia and throughout the world”
The restoration of Hindu and Buddhist worship at the great temple complexes of Prambanan and Borobudur reflects the compassionate spirit of Islam Nusantara (“East Indies Islam”) and offers a glimmer of hope amid the widespread destruction of religious and cultural sites across the world

YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia — On February 11, 2022, senior Indonesian government officials and religious leaders met to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the Use of Prambanan Temple and Borobudur Temple for the Religious Interests of Hindus and Buddhists in Indonesia and the World. As a result, two of Asia’s most renowned sacred sites, which in recent decades had been largely closed to ritual worship, are now available for the performance of Hindu and Buddhist religious rituals on a regular basis.

This development comes amid a dramatic rise in the destruction of religious and cultural sites, not only in the Middle East and Africa, where Muslim extremists seek to destroy the world’s diverse cultural and religious heritage, but also regions such as Europe and North America. In Canada alone, at least 56 churches were set aflame or vandalized in the summer of 2021, many of them burned completely to the ground, while over the past decade thousands of churches were desecrated, vandalized and/or set ablaze in Europe. In recent years, synagogues, churches, mosques, and other houses of worship have been the target of deadly attacks in many Western nations, including Canada, the United States, France, and New Zealand. Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

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2022_01_31_Inauguration of Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board

President Joko Widodo of Indonesia:

“NU’s contribution to our religious and national life has transformed Indonesia into a nation united by the principle of ‘Oneness Amid Diversity.’ This achievement may serve as a model and an inspiration to other nations.”
Welcoming Nahdlatul Ulama’s Centennial: Nurturing the Earth and Building a Global Civilization

BALIKPAPAN, East Kalimantan, Indonesia: On January 31, 2022, Indonesian political leaders gathered to witness the inauguration of the newly elected Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board, which will govern the world’s largest Muslim organization from 2022 – 2027 under the Chairmanship of Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf.

Held on the island of Borneo, at the city of Balikpapan’s Sport and Convention Center, the event was attended by Indonesian President Joko Widodo (“Jokowi”); Vice President KH. Ma’ruf Amin; former Vice President Jusuf Kalla; Puan Maharani, the granddaughter of Indonesia’s first president Sukarno and currently Speaker of Indonesia’s National Assembly; nine cabinet ministers; and Indonesia’s chief of police. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2022_01_27_International Holocaust Remembrance Day
NU Chairman Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf:
Holocaust remembrance serves as a memorial and vivid reminder of the cruelty, violence and suffering that so many human beings… have, for thousands of years, inflicted upon others.
“Today, in remembrance of the Holocaust and its millions of victims, Nahdlatul Ulama and I wish to raise our voices in a simple, heart-felt call:
“‘Let us choose compassion!’”

U.S. Senator Alben W. Barkley (D-Kentucky) looks on after Buchenwald’s liberation

LOS ANGELES and MANAMA, Bahrain. On January 27, 2022, KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf — newly elected Chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board — joined global leaders in commemorating the United Nations International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which takes place every year on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on January 27, 1945.

In doing so, Mr. Staquf is walking in the footsteps of his predecessor and mentor, H.E. Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid, who convened the historic Bali Holocaust Conference in 2007 to reject “The Evils of Holocaust Denial” and affirm religion as a source of universal love and compassion (rahmah).

Jointly sponsored by the Simon Wiesenthal Center and The King Hamad Global Centre for Peaceful Coexistence, the global webinar featured former Israeli Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, who is also a child Holocaust survivor; President Isaac Herzog of Israel; Reverend Johnnie Moore, leading American Evangelical Pastor and former member of the US Commission for International Religious Freedom; Rabbi Marvin Hier, CEO and Founder of Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Museum of Tolerance; and former U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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2022_01_26_Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, RSIS

“Humanitarian Islam”: New Nahdlatul Ulama Chairman and the Global Initiative to Promote Religious Moderation

Alexander Raymond Arifianto   |   26 January 2022

Humanitarian Islam at work: teaching the children. Photo by Andri Helmansyah on Unsplash.

SYNOPSIS

Nahdlatul Ulama — Indonesia’s largest Islamic organisation — recently elected Yahya Cholil Staquf as its new chairman. A close analysis of his background and past accomplishments reveals that Yahya has a potential agenda to transform the organisation into a global voice on religious moderation through his promotion of “humanitarian Islam”.

COMMENTARY

On 24 December 2021, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) — Indonesia’s largest Islamic organisation — concluded its 34th national congress (muktamar) in Lampung. Congress delegates elected Yahya Cholil Staquf, formerly general secretary of the organisation, as its next chairperson.

Yahya’s election means that NU, which claims nearly 100 million Indonesian Muslims as its followers, will once again be led by a cleric with a strong genealogical linkage to the family of its founding fathers, what NU activists internally refer to as “blue blood” (darah biru). The last NU chairman who came from a “blue blood” background was the late Abdurrahman Wahid, who later became Indonesia’s first democratically elected president. Continue reading full communiqué. . .

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