Associated Press/ABC News: “In Israel, Indonesian Muslim leader risks backlash at home,” by Caron Creighton. “A leader of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization is visiting Israel this week, braving angry protests at home in order to spread what he calls a message of interfaith compassion.”
Associated Press/ABC News: “Indonesia Calls on Islamic Leaders to Promote Tolerant Islam.” “Indonesia’s vice president on Monday called on Islamic leaders to spread messages about a tolerant Islam to curb extremism that often springs from misinterpretation of Islamic teachings. Speaking at the opening of the International Summit of the Moderate Islamic Leaders, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said he believes that youths who don’t have deep faith are susceptible to be militants, not for wealth or political cause, but rather as a ‘shortcut’ to heaven.”
Aftonbladet: “A firewall against terror in Islam’s name,” by Wolfgang Hansson. In this Swedish language article, Wolfgang Hansson describes LibForAll Advisor, Kyai Haji Mustofa Bisri, as a “firewall against terror in Islam’s name.” The problem is not Islam, says Mustofa Bisri, but religion when it is used to suppress human rights and freedoms. Read about Mustofa Bisri’s European visit.
The Age: “Gentle friendly face of Indonesia and Islam,” by Greg Barton. “Wahid is remembered today largely for his role as a reformist president, but history is likely to also remember him as one of the 20th century’s leading Islamic intellectuals and as someone who demonstrated how a traditional Islamic scholar can also be modern, democratic and humanitarian.”
Agence France-Presse (AFP)/Le Monde: “Holocaust-affirming Conference Opens in Indonesia/L’existence de l’Holocauste réaffirmée lors d’une conférence en Indonésie,” by Sebastien Blanc. “Chairing the discreetly-organized conference is former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid, known as Gus Dur, a moderate Islamic leader known to take courageous positions in Indonesia…. ‘Although I am a good friend of Mahmud Ahmadinejad, I have to say he is wrong,’ Gus Dur told the conference, referring to the Iranian president’s dismissal of the Holocaust as a myth. ‘He falsified history.’”
Agence France-Presse (AFP)/The Weekend Australian: “Dalai Lama Defends Islam at Anti-terror Religious Meeting,” by Gary Chapman. The world’s oldest (and 3rd largest, after AP and Reuters) news agency carried this story about an historic summit between the Dalai Lama and Muslim leaders that LibForAll helped organize.
Al Arabiya: “Indonesian cyber warriors seek to counter ISIS message.” “A group of Indonesian ‘cyber warriors’ sit glued to screens, as they send out messages promoting a moderate form of Islam in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country. Armed with laptops and smartphones, some 500 members of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) — one of the world’s biggest Muslim organizations — are seeking to counter ISIS messages.”
Al-Ahram: “Indonesian Islam,” by Muhammad Abul Fadl, deputy editor, Al-Ahram. “The vital role of the Nahdlatul Ulama stems from its success as a mediator between the Indonesian government and its people. The NU can maintain a harmonious relationship between the government and the people due to its spiritual values, political engagement and mass following, which combine a profound understanding of Islam with respect for the inherent variety of Indonesia’s countless local cultures. That is why the Nahdlatul Ulama has consistently nurtured the values of Islam Nusantara (East Indies Islam) for over a century, and is now poised to export its collective wisdom and experience throughout the world, for the benefit of humanity.” Al-Ahram (The Pyramids) is one of the oldest (est. 1875) and largest-circulation daily newspapers in the Arab world.
Al-Ahram: synopses of 13 al-Ahram columns (January through June 2014) by Dr. Ali Mabrook, Executive Director of the International Institute of Qur’anic Studies’ public policy division, the Center for Contemporary Islam (CCI). Dr. Mabrook wrote a regular column for al-Ahram, one of the oldest and most widely-read newspapers in the Arab world. Two additional papers in this collection were written for the Mominoun (Believers) Without Borders Institute and a third for an international conference regarding the philosophical thought of Murtada Mutahhari held in Qom, Iran.
Al-Ahram: synopses of 21 al-Ahram columns (March through December 2013) by Dr. Ali Mabrook, Executive Director of the International Institute of Qur’anic Studies’ public policy division, the Center for Contemporary Islam.
Al-Ahram: “The Discourse of Visions and Supernatural Tidings in Rabi’a Square,” by Dr. Ali Mabrook. “Anyone who propagates a similar ‘vision’ of the Prophet (PBUH)—in this case, instructing Morsi to lead communal prayers—is exploiting an historical narrative that is familiar to every Muslim Brotherhood supporter gathered in Rabi’a Square. Leading the prayer in Muhammad’s presence (PBUH) is cited as ‘proof’ of a right to political power. Given this vision and narrative, it is only natural that Brotherhood followers would demand Morsi’s reinstatement as president, for the Prophet (PBUH) himself commands Morsi’s return to power. As a result of such manipulative discourse, many of those gathered in Rabi’a Square are prepared to sacrifice their lives for a cause they believe is dear to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), when in fact the real agenda behind the protests at Rabi’a is the gratification of the Brotherhood’s political ambitions, orchestrated by charlatans who hide behind the veil of religious belief.”
Al-Ahram: “Religious Discourse and the Human Condition: Which Comes First?,” by Dr. Ali Mabrook. “If we all agree upon the fact that Egypt is currently in dire need of a serious and fruitful dialogue among its citizens, the only way to achieve such dialogue is to construct an open intellectual arena, in which everyone can share his or her views with others, for the sake of mutual enrichment. We do not need an atmosphere in which all parties assert the absolute validity of their own vision, and seek to impose it upon others, or cling to such ideas and ask others to accept or reject them, despite the feeble evidence adduced for said opinions. The prerequisite for any productive dialogue is a critical examination of any and all concepts being discussed, along with their intellectual foundations or lack thereof. That is to say, concepts should be treated not as ideological ‘slogans’ used to mobilize people, but as ‘subjects’ of discussion that may lead to further knowledge and understanding.”
Al-Ahram: “Is it ‘Qur’anophobia,’ Or Merely Rejecting a Specific Interpretation of the Qur’an?,” by Dr. Ali Mabrook. “Egypt, in the aftermath of its revolution, is in urgent need of dialogue. In order for this dialogue to be fruitful and productive, it must be open dialogue, conducted in such a manner—by different elements of society—that the worldviews and concepts of everyone who participates are mutually enriched. One thing we certainly do not need is for everyone to rigidly adhere to their own opinions, and seek to impose these upon others, or society as a whole—expecting people to accept or reject said views in the absence of any solid intellectual or factual evidence to support them.”
Al-Ahram: “The Civil State and its Totalitarian Opponents,” by Dr. Ali Mabrook. “State-sanctioned dogma inevitably degrades human beings, by positioning them as mere tools to verify, and conform to, the dogma in question. Dogma gives rise to a state in which people are compelled to serve a ‘transcendental’ power, whether God (i.e., those who claim to speak in His name); the supreme hero; a political party; class; tribe; sect or any other power that seeks to diminish human beings’ freedom and autonomy…
“For when some people insist on attributing human actions to God, we should realize that their attributions are merely metaphorical. In reality, they are attributing [the revolution’s success] to those who hide themselves behind God, and claim to speak in His name. Attributing the fall of Mubarak’s regime to God thus reveals the attempts of certain religious groups to steal the Egyptian revolution, so that they may dominate post-revolutionary Egypt in the name of God.”
Al-Ahram: “The Classical Roots of Abu-Zayd’s Thought,” by Dr. Ali Mabrook. “The essence of Abu-Zayd’s work was to establish a kind of interactive relationship between the text (i.e., the Qur’an) and human understanding, in which the text is not positioned as an authority that subjugates or enslaves the human mind. In other words, Nasr sought to establish an arena of interactive communication between human understanding and the texts in question.
“By framing the issue this way, we may quickly realize that the ‘interactive relationship’ proposed by Abu-Zayd has extremely deep roots, which stretch all the way back to a central event in the history of Islam. I am referring to conflict between the Fourth Caliph, ‘Ali bin Abi Talib, and Mu’awiyah, founder of the Ummayad dynasty—whose parents Hind and Abu Sufyan had sought to kill the Prophet Muhammad and exterminate the early Muslim community, until the Muslims’ triumph led them to embrace Islam and seek power within the newly victorious community. The outcome of this bloody struggle between ‘Ali and Mu’awiyah helped determine the entire subsequent political and cultural history of Islam.”
Al-Ahram: “Extremism is Alien to Islam,” by Alaa Amer, praises LibForAll Foundation as “a nongovernmental organization which cares deeply about Islam and Muslims. The foundation strives to express, clarify and widely disseminate a true understanding of Islam not only to non-Muslims, but also to Muslims in general.”
Al-Ahram Weekly: “Thus spoke Nasr Abu-Zayd,” by Mona Anis. “The death of Nasr Abu-Zayd in a Cairo hospital this week has deprived Arab-Islamic culture of a leading voice of rationalism.”
Al-Ahram Weekly: “When the professor can’t teach,” by Nadia Abou El-Magd. “I would like to tell the Muslim nation that I was born, raised and lived as a Muslim and, God willing, I will die as a Muslim…. My worst fear is that people in Europe may consider and treat me as a critic of Islam. I’m not…. I’m critical of old and modern Islamic thought.” (2000)
Al-Arab: “Political Horizons for Indonesian Islam,” by Muhammad Abul Fadl. “…the profoundly spiritual and tolerant worldview embodied in the term Islam Nusantara has begun to expand beyond its local framework to a global environment. Many lines of communication have been initiated between the Nahdlatul Ulama and various Western governments. [Spiritual leaders within] the Nahdlatul Ulama have begun to establish working relationships and operational nodes in many countries, operating under the organizational name, “Home of Divine Grace (Bayt ar-Rahmah).” Each operational node propagates the model of tolerance embraced by the Nahdlatul Ulama—such as peaceful coexistence with others and respect for individuals’ right to privacy, including freedom of thought and conscience—and seeks to accomplish this by leveraging the profound humane and spiritual values that underlie and animate all religions.”
Al-Arab: “European Expert on Islamist Groups: ‘The Interests of Ankara and Washington Prevent Them From Eliminating ISIS’—A Dialogue with Dr. Rüdiger Lohlker,” by Muhammad Abul Fadl. “Dr. Lohlker emphasized the absolute necessity of Western nations identifying and embracing a new initiative to propagate ‘the tolerant face (version) of Islam,’ with its rich traditions of spirituality, pluralism and genuine acceptance of others.”
Al-Azhar: “Pope Francis Thanks Judge Mohamed Abdel Salam for his efforts in drafting the Document on Human Fraternity.” “In his Speech at the Global Conference of Human Fraternity held in Abu Dhabi, His Holiness Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church, expressed his thanks to Judge Mohamed Abdel Salam, former Adviser to the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar.”
The Algemeiner: “In Speech to Jewish Group, Leader of World’s Largest Muslim Organization Calls for Compassion,” by Benjamin Kerstein. “The leader of the world’s largest Muslim organization told a leading Jewish group on Sunday that religious people must seek to solve today’s violent conflicts and embrace “rachma” — compassion and caring for people.”
Almasryalyoum: “Nasr Hamed Abu Zaid: Islam’s scholar,” by Mohamed Shoair. “Nasr Hamed Abu Zaid got his wish: He died in his home country, Egypt, not in exile as he once feared. Abu Zaid passed away in a Cairo hospital on Monday where he was receiving treatment for the past few weeks. The renowned Islamic scholar had contracted an unknown virus last month during a routine visit to Indonesia, where he had recently co-founded the International Institute for Quranic Studies, a project dedicated to promoting tolerance, pluralism and critical thinking in the Islamic world.”
American Islamic Leadership Coalition: “Foundational Principles.”
American Islamic Leadership Coalition: “A Communiqué in Response to the National Strategy for Counterterrorism.” LibForAll joins fellow American Islamic Leadership Coalition members in proposing key revisions to U.S. National Strategy on Counterterrorism.
American Jewish Committee (video): “A Conversation with Yahya Cholil Staquf.”
American Jewish Committee: “Leader of World’s Largest Muslim Organization to Address AJC Global Forum in Jerusalem.” “‘We are deeply honored to host Pak Yahya on his groundbreaking journey to Israel at our Global Forum in Jerusalem,’ said AJC CEO David Harris. AJC, throughout its history, has spearheaded interreligious initiatives, with an ever-increasing focus on Muslim-Jewish relations.”
American Thinker: “A New Model of Islam with Less Bark and More Bite,” by Robert Small. “The best solution is to increase the proportion of moderates to extremists; however, Bostom and other proponents of the simple model are quick to ‘correct’ anyone who dares pair the word ‘moderate’ with ‘Islam’ or give moderate Muslims a measure of relevancy. In my last article, Bostom’s targets were the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and its former head and one-time president of Indonesia, Abdurrahman Wahid. Never mind that Andrew McCarthy, in his excellent book The Grand Jihad, wrote of my ‘much ballyhooed’ Wahid that ‘by any estimation, he is an authentic moderate who urges interfaith tolerance.’”
Antara News: “President inaugurates Staquf as Presidential Advisory Council member.” “‘It is my duty to accept the president’s request to join the Presidential Advisory Council. I will fulfill the task and duties as well as responsibilities as member of the council by following the proper procedures and ethics,’ Staquf added.”
Antara News/Kompas: “Gus Mus Launches Book at the European Parliament.” “In his address, Dr. Werner Langen… expressed his great pride in being able to sponsor the launch of this important book, in order to expand Europeans’ horizon of understanding about Islam.”
Arabian Business: “Special Report: Top Stories of 2007.” “In Bali, Indonesia, a gathering of religious leaders and victims of terrorist attacks, sponsored by the US LibForAll Foundation, denounced Iran’s president for claiming the Holocaust was a myth.”
Arc of the Universe: “A Muslim John Courtney Murray?” by Daniel Philpott. “A recent article in Public Discourse decries the persecution of Christians in the Middle East at the hands of Muslims – written by a Muslim. Not just any Muslim, but rather Yahya Cholil Staquf, General Secretary of the world’s largest movement of Muslims, the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), whose ranks number 90 million. Staquf and the Nahdlatul Ulama are developing a doctrinal framework to produce changes in Islam much like those that took place in another religion – Catholicism.”
Arutz Sheva: “Indonesia’s once multiple ties with Israel,” by Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld. “His Excellency Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid served as president of Indonesia from 1999-2001. He is the only Indonesian president who visited Israel and did so a number of times. President Wahid was deeply aware of the cultural, historical, intellectual and spiritual dimensions of Judaism, as well as the intimate religious and linguistic connections between Judaism/Islam and Hebrew/Arabic.”
Asia News: “Muslim cleric visits Israel and meets Netanyahu, sparking anger among radicals,” by Mathias Hariyadi. “The visit to Israel by an important Islamic cleric has sparked criticism from the radical movements in the world’s most populous Islamic country. Yahya Cholil Staquf… gave a presentation at a Jewish Forum and met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv.”
The Asia Sentinel: “Indonesia and Transnational Islamic Extremism.” “An exhaustive report compiled by three reputable Indonesian foundations and led in part by a former Indonesian president, was released last week saying Indonesia’s moderate form of Islam is being undermined by extremists who are infiltrating moderate Muslim groups and institutions in order to gain support for an Islamic state or international caliphate.”
Asia Society: “Asia Game Changer Awards – The Founders of Koolulam.” “Bringing disparate groups together is central to the mission of Koolulam, a self-described ‘social musical initiative’ whose name is a portmanteau combining the Hebrew words for ‘ululation’ and ‘everyone.’ The June 14 concert in Jerusalem was held in honor of Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf, secretary general of the world’s largest independent Muslim organization, the Indonesian-based Nahdlatul Ulama, which boasts 60 million members.”
Asian Affairs: “Tears, Anger and Solidarity,” by Duncan Bartlett. “The General Secretary of Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest Muslim organisation, is worried that the New Zealand attacks will create more hatred and division. Yahya Cholil Staquf insists that solidarity across racial, religious, cultural and political lines is the appropriate way to try to prevent this. But he says that, as a Muslim, he faces challenging questions that require difficult but honest answers. ‘The targeting of Muslims at prayer in Christchurch comes after nearly two decades during which Islamist atrocities have been a pervasive feature of news bulletins around the world. The massacre in New Zealand would likely be inconceivable if divorced from this wider context in which Islam has become synonymous with terror in the minds of many non-Muslims,’ Mr Staquf told the British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph. His message to his fellow Muslims is to reject interpretations of the religion which justify hatred and violence.”
Associated Press: “Indonesia calls on Islamic leaders to promote tolerant Islam.” “Indonesia’s vice president on Monday called on Islamic leaders to spread messages about a tolerant Islam to curb extremism that often springs from misinterpretation of Islamic teachings. Speaking at the opening of the International Summit of the Moderate Islamic Leaders, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said he believes that youths who don’t have deep faith are susceptible to be militants, not for wealth or political cause, but rather as a ‘shortcut’ to heaven.”
Associated Press: “Former Telecom Executive Battling Extremism in Indonesia,” by Tim Whitmire. “‘We engage with individuals through ideas. We implode radical Islam through ideas,’ Taylor said, describing his desire to link moderate Muslim leaders in Indonesia in a network of ‘lighthouses within the Islamic world’ that will promote tolerance and freedom of thought and worship.”
Associated Press/Washington Post: “Bahrain interfaith group pays unprecedented visit to Israel,” by Ilan Ben Zion. “An interfaith group from the Gulf state of Bahrain is paying an unprecedented public visit to Israel this week, receiving a warm welcome but generating uproar across the Arab world.”
Associated Press/Washington Post: “In Indonesia, Iranian Leader Criticized,” by Robin McDowell. “Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, hosted an unusual gathering Tuesday of religious leaders and victims of terrorist attacks who denounced Iran’s president for claiming the Holocaust was a myth.”
The Atlantic: “ISIS in the World’s Largest Muslim Country,” by Edward Delman. “In November, The New York Times pointed to one factor behind the muted response to ISIS in Indonesia: Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), an Islamic organization that claims to have 50 million members. NU preaches an Islam of compassion, inclusivity, and tolerance of other faiths, as opposed to ISIS’s fundamentalist, Wahhabi-inspired theology. ‘We are directly challenging the idea of ISIS, which wants Islam to be uniform, meaning that if there is any other idea of Islam that is not following their ideas, those people are infidels who must be killed,’ Yahya Cholil Staquf, the general secretary to the NU supreme council, told the Times.”
Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council: “A distinctive Islamic voice against extremism,” by Giora Eliraz. “Over the past few years, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the largest Muslim organisation in Indonesia and probably in the world, has engaged in a global campaign aimed at countering religious extremism, advancing harmony and understanding between civilisations and curtailing Islamophobia. This campaign, which is supported by the Indonesian Government, carries the theme of Islam Nusantara (Islam of the Indonesian Archipelago). It’s led by several institutions and forums, two of them US-based, devoted to the progressive humanitarian legacy of late Abdurrahman Wahid (1940-2009), NU’s former charismatic leader and the first democratically-elected president of Indonesia. AIJAC 2 Yahya Cholil Staquf, the distinguished Muslim scholar who is Secretary-General of NU’s Supreme Council, is the leading figure in the campaign.”
The Australian/AAP: “Scholars set to tackle Muslim ‘orthodoxy’,” by Lauren Farrow. “While radicalism is not new in Indonesia, NU’s Supreme Council general secretary, Yahya Cholil Staquf, told AAP the movement is clearly becoming stronger. In the hopes of coming up with a strategy to combat extremism and rising Islamophobia, more than 400 scholars from Indonesia, North Africa, the Middle East, Europe and America are expected to attend a conference in East Java on Sunday and Monday. Through theological debate, Mr. Staquf said they hope to challenge some of the ‘problematic’ elements of Islam, which are being promoted by the ultra-conservative orthodoxy.”
The Australian: “Indonesian online warriors pulling the beard of radical Islam,” by Amanda Hodge. “When the head of Indonesia’s largest and most moderate Muslim organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama, joked that men with beards tend to be stupid—and the longer the beard the more stupid the man—there was apparently method in his madness.”
The Australian: “Nahdlatul Ulama: Indonesia’s antidote to Islamism’s feral fringe,” by Peter Alford. “The message to vulnerable Muslim communities everywhere is ‘NU is here to help’, Supreme Council secretary-general Yahya Cholil Staquf told The Weekend Australian. ‘We know this threat, we have been fighting it for almost 90 years — it’s our daily business to face them,’ said Haji Yahya. ‘We know how they think, we know who they are, we know how they operate.’
The Australian: “Australia owes a debt of gratitude to Indonesia’s accidental president,” by Greg Barton. “Australia lost one of its best friends in Southeast Asia with the passing of former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid on Wednesday. A controversial figure, particularly as president, Wahid was nevertheless loved and admired by tens of millions.”
The Australian: “A legacy of democracy.” “The outpouring of affection for Gus Dur is not surprising… A moderate Islamic scholar, his most important legacy was paving the way for the democracy that Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, now enjoys.”
The Australian: “Lesson today is hatred as Bashir cultivates bombers’ breeding ground,” by Paul Toohey. “‘Modernisation will not produce moderation,’ says Taylor. ‘As a matter of fact, it’s very often Muslims with the most modern educations who have the capability of committing the violent acts. They use the education they have to radicalise their fellow members of society.’”
Australian Associated Press: “Extremists sit deep in Indonesia: Wahid.” “Islamic extremists have infiltrated deep into Indonesia’s government, businesses, schools and religious bodies, and are using cunning new tactics to seize control of mosques and preach radicalism, a former president says. Writing in a new book, The Illusion of an Islamic State, Wahid says the extremists are systematically infiltrating Indonesian institutions in order to remake Indonesian society ‘in their own harsh and rigid likeness.’”