by Isson Khairul
“OPINION | 08 May 2011 They call him Gus Mus. One thing’s for sure: although he’s currently in Brussels and Washington, DC, it’s not on the pretext of engaging in “comparative study” abroad, like so many members of Indonesia’s [corrupt] legislature. He is a profound and mature intellectual. And though he has lots of time, it’s never enough, because he’s constantly immersed in thought and action.
“Because of his broad and open heart, he’s willing to completely trust the good intentions of others. He keeps suspicion at a distance, knowing that it will only devour his energy. He lives simply in his native village in Rembang [Central Java], and has never been tempted—like so many others—by the bright lights and lures of Jakarta.
“He is not a blasphemer. For he maintains perfect control of himself, never giving vent to anger or cursing others. He carefully and wisely considers every step he takes. And though he now finds himself amid the upheaval of politics [because of his responsibilities as Deputy Chairman and day-to-day head of the Nahdlatul Ulama Supreme Council], he continues to guard his thoughts and behavior. He does not remain aloof from our nation’s chaos, but reflects carefully upon the steps needed to address our many problems.
“And, he is taking concrete steps to do so. He shares his profound reflections with others, through his writings. He has collected and offered many brilliant ideas to foster peace and progress in our island nation. Then, [two years ago,] he carefully arranged and presented these thoughts in the form of a book, Ilusi Negara Islam. Through this book, he cast his thoughts far and wide, and inspired millions of Indonesians to refrain from inciting hatred, inflaming others’ emotions, or encouraging their fellow [Muslims] to point swords at others.
“Now he has translated this distinguished book into English, with the title, The Illusion of an Islamic State. His noble objective is to inspire not only Indonesians, but people throughout the world. In this way he is giving of himself, and sincerely inviting the ‘citizens of this earth’ to know and understand each another. To recognize that all human beings are truly our brothers and sisters, in spirit. And to realize that although there will always be conflict, this very fact obliges us to invite one another to find solutions together, cooperating in a spirit of brotherhood.
“Gus Mus has already written millions of words, expounding his countless ideas. And he has perfected these words in the greatness of his heart and soul, and brought them to bear in face-to-face meetings. He visits people whom it is appropriate to visit. He straightens that which is crooked, and transforms the twisted aims [of those who listen] into models of sincerity. He engages in heart-to-heart dialogue, so that there will be no room for the growth of hatred. And on Saturday, 07 May 2011, Kompas [Indonesia’s largest newspaper] reported his latest step in an article entitled, Gus Mus Launches Book in Europe:
“‘Kyai Haji Achmad Mustofa Bisri, widely known as Gus Mus, a leading Indonesian religious figure, launched the English version of the book The Illusion of an Islamic State in the European Parliament in Brussels, an event that was attended by a number of European Union politicians. The Indonesian Ambassador in Brussels, Arif Havas Oegroseno, and Dr. Werner Langen, a German member of the European Parliament who serves as head of the Parliament’s Commission for Southeast Asia and ASEAN, served as joint hosts in launching the book, which was previously launched in Indonesia and received widespread acclaim from the [Indonesian] public.
“‘Dr. Langen (shaking hands, above), who visited Indonesia this past February, expressed his great pride at being able to sponsor the launch of this vital book, in order to expand Europeans’ horizon of understanding about Islam. According to Dr. Langen, this effort to explain the tolerant nature of Indonesian Islam is consistent with one of the fundamental principles of the European Union, namely, to support and develop interfaith and intercultural dialogue within the bounds of Europe itself.’” Read the full article (PDF).