Nahdlatul Ulama and LibForAll Foundation Call Upon the West to Overcome “Institutional Paralysis” in the Face of Extremism
BRUSSELS and WASHINGTON, DC—On May 3 and May 10, 2011, Kyai Haji A. Mustofa Bisri (Deputy Chairman, Nahdlatul Ulama Supreme Council), and C. Holland Taylor (Chairman & CEO, LibForAll Foundation) launched the English edition of The Illusion of an Islamic State—“a book that makes history” (New Europe)—in back-to-back events hailed by the Washington Post as “remarkable” and “a roaring success.”
The world’s largest Muslim organization, with over 50 million members, the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) is working closely with LibForAll Foundation to “restore honor and respect to Islam, which the extremists have desecrated,” and to “restore the majesty of Islamic teachings as rahmatan lil ‘alamin—a blessing for all creation—[which] represents a vital key to building a peaceful world” (LibForAll co-founder and former NU chairman Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid, writing in The Illusion of an Islamic State).
Co-sponsored by H.E. Arif Havas Oegroseno, Indonesia’s ambassador to the European Union; the Honorable Dr. Werner Langen, Chairman of the German CDU/CSU group of the European Parliament; and by the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC, the book and its well-publicized launch at the political heart of Europe and the U.S. were intended to help transcend the increasingly polarized and strident debate on Islam that has paralyzed most Western societies. The resulting institutional deadlock—in the face of the profound threat posed by Islamist ideology, terrorism and a rising tide of Islamophobia in the West—jeopardizes the prospects of a peaceful and harmonious future for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
An immediate publishing phenomenon upon its hard launch in May of 2009 in Indonesia—the country with the world’s largest Muslim population and democracy—The Illusion of an Islamic State exposed extremist ideology to public ridicule and rejection, and decisively influenced the outcome of Indonesia’s national elections that year. As such, the book is “hugely relevant to the worldwide debate on the merits of a religious versus a secular state—especially in light of the current revolutions in the Arab world” (India Currents).
Like the original Indonesian edition, which “thr[ew] a gauntlet down at the feet of radical Islam” (Jakarta Globe), the English version was co-published by The Wahid Institute, the Maarif Institute and LibForAll Foundation.
Launch at the European Union
Left to right: KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf; H.E. Arif Havas Oegroseno; KH. A. Mustofa Bisri; and KH. Adib Hattani, briefing members of the European Parliament in Brussels (photos courtesy of Indonesian embassy)
Shada Islam with H.E. Apichart Chinwanno, Royal Thai Ambassador & Plenipotentiary to the European Union
Ambassador Oegroseno (far right) with C. Holland Taylor, KH. Mustofa Bisri, Dr. Werner Langen and colleagues from the European Parliament
“There will only ever be one Gus Dur [LibForAll co-founder Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid], I think we can all attest to that. We miss him, but it’s reassuring to know that the NU and the spirit that animates it lives on. It lives in Indonesia, and it lives in this remarkable book that you’ve published.”
~ Walter Lohman, Director, Asian Studies Center, Heritage Foundation, introducing Kyai Haji Mustofa Bisri, C. Holland Taylor and The Illusion of an Islamic State
Dr. Richard Land (President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, a public policy institute that represents the Southern Baptist Convention and its 16.3 million members in over 44,000 churches throughout the U.S.), with members of the NU/LibForAll delegation. Dr. Land, who has a PhD. in theology from Oxford University, described Mustofa Bisri’s reply to a question about Qur’anic interpretation—posed by a Christian who attended the book launch at Heritage—as “the single best description of hermeneutics (scriptural exegesis) I have ever heard.”