2023_05_18_Centrist Democrat International Resolution on the R20

World’s largest political network endorses the G20 Religion Forum:

“[T]he R20 functions as an inclusive, cross-cultural platform designed to infuse the world’s political and economic power structures with moral and spiritual values”

BLED, Slovenia — On 18 May 2023, the world’s largest political network, Centrist Democrat International (CDI) — which has 109 member parties in 83 countries — unanimously adopted a resolution endorsing the G20 Religion Forum (R20) at its General Assembly, held in close proximity to the Church of the Assumption of Mary (photo above), an ancient pilgrimage site that lies at the heart of Slovenian identity.

The resolution, submitted by Indonesia’s National Awakening Party (PKB), “calls upon [CDI] member parties, and all G20 Member States, to cooperate in securing recognition of the R20 as a permanent G20 Engagement Group,” “as a means of providing a seat at the G20 table for religious communities and their leaders.”

As the resolution points out, “religious believers constitute the single largest demographic within the human family, whose share of the global population is estimated to exceed 80%.” Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

Download a PDF copy of this communiqué (minus images)

2023_04_24_Anglican Schism

The Turbulent World:

“Anglican schism is not just about theology. It’s about geopolitics too.”

“In a twist of irony, Nahdlatul Ulama, a conservative, Indonesia-based reformist Muslim civil society movement, has discreetly stepped into the breach left by the Anglican church…. NU included Archbishop Henry Ndukuba, the primate of Nigeria, in the opening plenary of [the R20] summit of religious leaders held in Bali in November 2022.”

Nahdlatul Ulama Chairman KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf presents a commemorative plaque to Archbishop Henry Chukwudum Ndukuba, Primate of the Church of Nigeria, at the G20 Religion Forum (R20) in Bali

 James M. Dorsey   |   April 24, 2023

KIGALI, Rwanda — A schism that could tear the Anglican church apart is about more than LGBTQ rights. It’s about fundamental cultural and religious differences with potentially profound consequences for the geopolitical battle to shape a 21st-century world order.

The rift also raises questions about the Church of England’s priorities at a time when the Anglican congregation in Nigeria, home to the world’s largest Anglican community, is under persistent attack by Muslim militias in an environment of escalating violence in the country that targets multiple communitiesContinue reading full communiqué. . . 

Download a PDF copy of this communiqué

2023_04_21_In the Black Hole

Pakistani nuclear scientist and human rights activist, Pervez Hoodbhoy, hosts in-depth public discussion of Nahdlatul Ulama’s agenda

“Past proponents of reform in Islam were individual thinkers, maybe small groups of thinkers. They were not organisations with the kind of power that Nahdlatul Ulama represents.”

The following text and transcript appear courtesy of Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy and Dr. James M. Dorsey:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan / 21 April 2023 — Pakistan ranks high on the list of Muslim-majority countries in which significant segments of the population are, in religious terms, militantly ultra-conservative. It’s a country where the impact of decades of Saudi funding of ultra-conservative religious thinking has left deep inroads.

It’s also a country in which numerous people over the years have been killed or lynched by outraged individuals or mobs over allegations of blasphemy, or for expressing opposition to harsh laws that mandate the death sentence for blasphemy. Since 1990, more than 80 people have been killed in such violence. This month, a Chinese national was remanded in custody after protesters accused him of blasphemy. Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

Download a PDF copy of this communiqué (minus images)

2023_04_13_Ramadan Forum

Building Peace Between Palestine and Israel, on the Basis of Sunni Islamic Jurisprudence for a Global Civilization (fiqh hadarah ahl al-sunnah wa-al-jama‘ah) and Jewish Law (halakha)

Many people involved in this conflict believe that the solution is to eliminate the other side. But a genuine solution requires striving to create a better future for all humanity, not simply our own religious group.
~ KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf, addressing the Ramadan Forum at UIII

DEPOK, Indonesia — On the afternoon of 13 April 2023, Indonesia’s flagship International Islamic University (UIII) served as the venue for a wide-ranging discussion of the prospects for building peace between Palestine and Israel, through the reform of obsolete and problematic tenets of both Islamic, and Jewish, orthodoxy. The Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board (PBNU) initiated and co-sponsored the event — advocating a novel approach to fostering Middle East peace.

Experts on Islam, Judaism, and the Middle East addressed a live audience during a 2 ½ -hour discussion that was livestreamed by UIII and TVNU.

Shaykh Mohammed Abdalhafez Yousef Azzam, Deputy Chief Judge of the Palestinian Authority’s Islamic court system, stated his position clearly in remarks delivered before an international audience gathered at UIII in a suburb of metropolitan Jakarta: “There is no basis within Islamic law for establishing peace with Israel.” Continue reading full communiqué. . .

Download a PDF copy of this communiqué (minus images)


Award-winning journalist Richard Ostling:
Nahdlatul Ulama’s “[c]ampaign for thorough reform of Muslim law deserves mainstream coverage – now”

Nahdlatul Ulama leaders pray at a gathering of almost two million followers in Sidoarjo, East Java on 7 February 2023

NEW YORK, 11 April 2023 — One of America’s leading religious affairs commentators — a veteran journalist who produced 23 cover stories for Time Magazine over the course of his decades-long career — has called on Western media to take note of Nahdlatul Ulama’s campaign for “thorough worldwide reform of how to understand [Islam’s] religious law (Sharia),” and give it the serious coverage it deserves.

“Far from some esoteric intellectual discourse,” Richard Ostling writes, “such a philosophical change could potentially affect the future of the world’s second-largest faith regarding democracy, blasphemy laws, human rights, education, the role of women, treatment of other religions, warfare, extremism, terrorism and crime and punishment.” Continue reading full communiqué. . .

Download a PDF copy of this communiqué


Ongoing dialogue between Nahdlatul Ulama and Hindu nationalists attracts increasing global attention

“Indonesia has been contributing significantly to the development of discourse on Islamic jurisprudence.”
~ Dawn (Pakistan)

Badshahi mosque in Lahore, Pakistan, former capital of the Mughal Empire

KARACHI, Pakistan, 2 April 2023 — Pakistan’s newspaper of record and most influential English-language daily, Dawn, has published an article praising Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama and its significant contribution to the development of discourse on Islamic jurisprudence.

In an article titled “End of ideology,” prominent security analyst and columnist Muhammad Amir Rana noted that “Nahdlatul Ulama has been advocating for abolishing the concept of caliphate and replacing it with the idea of the nation state. It has also issued a decree or fatwa to erase the concept of kafir or infidel from Islamic jurisprudence and replace it with the idea of citizenship.” Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

Download a PDF copy of this communiqué (minus images)

2023_03_29_Sciences Po “Focus”

Sciences Po, the EU’s top university in the field of politics and international affairs

“Nahdlatul Ulama has laid down a marker that other Muslim religious authorities will ultimately be unable to ignore if they want recognition as proponents of a genuinely moderate Islam.”
~ Dr. James M. Dorsey
L’Observatoire International du Religieux

KH. A. Mustofa Bisri, former Chairman of the NU Supreme Council, delivering the Nahdlatul Ulama Centennial Proclamation in Sidoarjo, East Java on 7 February 2023

PARIS, France, March 2023 — For the second time in three months, an elite academic research program supported by France’s Ministry of Armed Forces has highlighted the geopolitical significance of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, and its efforts to reform obsolete and problematic tenets of religious orthodoxy.

Established at the height of the Islamic State movement, when over 4,000 French citizens joined ISIS, L’Observatoire International du Religieux seeks to clarify contemporary religious phenomena and their interaction with politics. The Observatory is financially supported by the Directorate General for International Relations and Strategy of France’s Ministry of Armed Forces. Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

Download a PDF copy of this communiqué

2023_03_21_Strategic Triangulation

Wall Street Journal:

“India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is, from the standpoint of American national interests, the most important foreign political party in the world”

NEW DELHI and LUCKNOW, India — On 21 March 2023 Wall Street Journal foreign affairs analyst Walter Russell Mead published his weekly “Global View” column with the title “India’s BJP Is the World’s Most Important Party.” He went on to add that “It may also be the least understood.”

Mr. Mead’s column appeared immediately “[a]fter an intensive series of meetings with senior BJP and RSS leaders, as well as some of their critics,” facilitated by Dr. Timothy S. Shah, Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Center for Shared Civilizational Values, and Sri Ram Madhav Varanasi, who previously served as National General Secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Mr. Madhav is also a member of the National Executive of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Corps, or RSS), a Hindu-nationalist mass organization established in 1925. Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

Download a PDF copy of this communiqué (minus images)

2023_03_13_Borobudur: A Center of Worship for Buddhist Pilgrims

Indonesian film promotes Buddhist pilgrimage in world’s largest Muslim-majority nation

“Borobudur is a civilizational wonder that belongs to all humanity. We pray that Buddhists throughout the world will visit this great temple for pilgrimage and worship”
~ Minister of Religious Affairs H. Yaqut Cholil Qoumas

Bhante Sri Pannavaro Mahathera, Vice President of the World Theravada Sangha and head of Vihara Mendut, a Buddhist monastery 3 kilometers from Borobudur Temple

BOROBUDUR, Indonesia, 13 March 2023 — The government of the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation and democracy has released a 16-minute film (above) inviting Buddhist pilgrims throughout the world to visit Borobudur Temple, one of the religion’s most sacred and historic sites.

The 9th century Buddhist temple — the largest on earth — is located on the heavily populated island of Java, which constitutes the geographic, political, cultural, and economic center of Indonesia, and is the heartland of the world’s largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU). Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

Download a PDF copy of this communiqué (minus images)

2023_03_09_Short Film: R20 in Java

“Shine Your Light, the great Light, so that we may grasp the beauty of Truth and follow it, and can grasp the consequences of evil and stay away from it.”

“Yesterday we told all of our students that THIS [R20] is the jihad of today”
~ KH. Azka Sya’bana, Trustee
Pandanaran Islamic Boarding School (Yogyakarta)

JAKARTA, Indonesia and WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina / 9 March 2023 — The permanent secretariat of the G20 Religion Forum (R20) has released the second of two films documenting the inaugural R20 Summit in Bali and a subsequent planning conference held in Yogyakarta, the heartland of Javanese civilization. Created by a team of European filmmakers who have decades of experience producing advertisements for some of world’s major fashion houses and corporate brands, the 10-minute film enables viewers to directly experience the culture that gave birth to Nahdlatul Ulama and the R20.

Following two days of intensive, formal deliberations among more than 400 religious leaders and scholars gathered from around the world and across its major faith traditions, R20 delegates traveled from Bali to the island of Java to plan the future direction of the R20. Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

Download a PDF copy of this communiqué (minus images)

2023_03_07_Short Film: R20 Summit in Bali

“Welcome to Bali, the land of Hindus, in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country”

“Even before I came to this meeting, I was anticipating that [the R20] was going to be a landmark event for one reason: it represented an acknowledgment on the part of the G20 that religion is a factor that can’t be ignored in geopolitical policy and planning.”
~ Professor Mary Ann Glendon, Harvard University

H.E. Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia, addresses the opening session of the R20 Summit

JAKARTA, Indonesia and WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina / 7 March 2023 — The permanent secretariat of the G20 Religion Forum (R20) has released the first of two films documenting the inaugural R20 Summit — which was held from 2 – 3 November 2022 on the tropical island of Bali — and a subsequent R20 planning conference convened in the heartland of Javanese civilization. An official G20 Main Event, the R20 Summit gathered more than 400 religious, political, economic, and thought leaders from around the world to “help ensure that religion functions as a genuine and dynamic source of solutions, rather than problems, in the 21st century.” Continue reading full communiqué. . .

Download a PDF copy of this communiqué (minus images)


Egypt’s al-Ahram newspaper hails Nahdlatul Ulama project “to transform Islam from a problem — as it is in many nations — into a solution”

“The majority of Muslims look to the Arab world for guidance, but the failure of this region’s ulama to keep up with the transformations taking place will lead to the rug being pulled out from under them… by Nahdlatul Ulama and its new Chairman”
~ Mohamed Abu Al-Fadl
Deputy Editor, al-Ahram (The Pyramids)

CAIRO, Egypt, 16 February 2023 — One of the oldest and most influential newspapers in the Arab world, Egypt’s al-Ahram (est. 1875), has published a highly favorable analysis of Nahdlatul Ulama’s efforts to recontextualize obsolete and problematic tenets of Islamic orthodoxy. In the words of Mohamed Abu Al-Fadl, deputy editor of al-Ahram, “NU inevitably faces great challenges, and deserves support. For Nahdlatul Ulama’s project is not only consistent with a rules-based international order and the Charter of the United Nations, but could clearly serve the interests of Arab governments that are locked in an unavoidable confrontation with extremist ideas.”

Dr. Abu Al-Fadl’s article appeared following his participation in the First International Convention on Islamic Jurisprudence for a Global Civilization in Surabaya, Indonesia on 6 February. This was Dr. Abu Al-Fadl’s third visit to Indonesia since 2015, when his extensive reporting on Nahdlatul Ulama, in al-Ahram and al-Arab, precipitated The New York Times’ publication of a highly influential article titled “From Indonesia, a Muslim Challenge to the Ideology of the Islamic State.”

Dr. Abu Al-Fadl’s latest article includes a highly critical analysis of the Arab world’s failure to substantively engage with Nahdlatul Ulama’s project to recontextualize Islamic teachings, and the consequences thereof. “Nahdlatul Ulama’s project revolves around separating politics from religion and breaking out of the mental prison of calls to establish an Islamic caliphate. . . . So long as the Arab world remains mired in the trench of traditional Islamic orthodoxy, we will not escape the catastrophic impact this has upon governments, nations, and the future.” Continue reading full communiqué. . .

Download a PDF copy of this communiqué

2023_02_13_Doctor Honoris Causa

Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot,
MCCJ Prefect of the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue at the Holy See:
“I am deeply touched to be the first Roman Catholic Cardinal ever to receive an honorary doctorate from an Islamic University”
KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf,
Chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board:
“All my activism under the flag of Nahdlatul Ulama — both domestically and internationally — bears the theme of this struggle for the wellbeing of all humanity and the future of human civilization”

YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia — On 13 February 2023, Pope Francis’ personal emissary for interreligious dialogue, Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, joined Nahdlatul Ulama Chairman KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf and former Muhammadiyah Chairman Dr. Sudibyo Markus in a ceremony at Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University, where the three religious leaders were awarded honorary doctorates for “Fostering Global Peace, Human Fraternity, and Unity in Diversity.”

Broadcast live and heavily covered by Indonesian mass media, the ceremony was attended by a wide range of dignitaries, including religious leaders, academics, and senior officials from both the Vatican and the government of popular two-term Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

Download a PDF copy of this communiqué (minus images)

2023_02_07_Nahdlatul Ulama Centennial

Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf:
“Welcome to the second century of Nahdlatul Ulama!”

“In the view of Nahdlatul Ulama, the most appropriate and effective means to promote the wellbeing of Muslims worldwide is to foster the wellbeing of all humanity, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and to acknowledge the brotherhood of all human beings.”
~ Nahdlatul Ulama Centennial Proclamation

SIDOARJO, Indonesia — On 7 February 2023 nearly two million people converged upon a small town in East Java to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the world’s largest Muslim organization. The crowd was so large that the motorcade of popular Indonesian president Joko Widodo (“Jokowi”) ground to a halt several hundred meters from the entrance to Gelora Delta Stadium. President Jokowi and his wife waded through a joyful throng of NU supporters to join participants who had camped overnight in anticipation of the celebration. Continue reading full communiqué. . . 

Download a PDF copy of this communiqué