On December 17 & 18, Dr. Mabrook, Shaykh Yahya, Shaykh Ghofur and Mr. Taylor engaged in prolonged discussion—and refinement—of the intellectual/theological arguments contained in an Arabic-language book currently being written by CCI, whose working title is Between the Qur’an and History: How Politics Manipulates the Concept of Shari‘a Within Muslim Communities.
Following on the heels of the workshop, this highly focused discussion led to a remarkable cross-fertilization of ideas, and also revealed the enormous gap that has opened in Arab society between modernists, Muslim extremists and classically-trained Sunni ulama, with each disputing and rejecting the others’ authority.
This project seeks, among other objectives, to bridge the gap between academics and traditional Sunni ulama—i.e., to reconcile reason and faith in holy scriptures—in order to “help stimulate a renaissance of Islamic pluralism, tolerance and critical thinking—[which will enable] Muslims to embrace the universal and cosmopolitan principles that characterized Islamic civilization at its height, while adapting peacefully to the modern world.” ~ LibForAll/IIQS co-founder KH. Abdurrahman Wahid
Approximately 4,000 Indonesian students are enrolled at al Azhar University in Cairo, many of them members of the Nahdlatul Ulama trained in NU pesantren (madrasahs). During their visit to Cairo, KH. Abdul Ghofur Maemun (former head of the NU students’ association at al-Azhar) and KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf met with over 100 members of this association, and set in motion a process whereby NU students will identify and establish relationships with traditional Sunni ulama in Egypt who share the NU’s concern about the spread of religious extremism and the need to adapt peacefully to conditions in the modern world, preparatory to senior NU clerics meeting said ulama on future visits to Egypt. As Shaykh Yahya observed, Egypt and the Arab world need a grassroots movement of traditional Muslims prepared to resist the inroads of religious extremism, as the NU has done in Southeast Asia since its establishment in 1926 by KH. Hasyim Asy’ari—the paternal grandfather of LibForAll/IIQS co-founder HE. Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid—and countless other traditional ulama.