Board of Advisors

Kyai Haji Achmad Mustofa Bisri
Kyai Haji Achmad Mustofa 

			BisriFormer Chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama Supreme Council (Rais ‘Aam Syuriah PBNU), Kyai Haji A. Mustofa Bisri is often called “Sang Kyai Pembelajar”—the Great Religious Scholar Devoted to Learning—by members of the world’s largest Muslim organization.

Widely revered as a religious scholar, poet, novelist, painter and Muslim intellectual, “Gus Mus” has strongly influenced not only the 50-million-member NU, but also the social, cultural and political development of Indonesia over the past forty years—facilitating its transition from decades of authoritarian rule to an open, vibrant and successful democracy. 

Descended from a long line of charismatic religious leaders, Gus Mus heads the prestigious Raudlatuth Tholibin Islamic boarding school in Rembang, Central Java, where he was born in 1944. As a child, he received a thorough education in Islamic studies, first from his parents, and then from other preeminent Muslim scholars—including the renowned Kyai Haji Ali Maksum at al-Munawwir Krapyak Islamic boarding school in Yogyakarta—all of whom encouraged artistic development and critical thought among their students.

This influence—combined with a unique set of native abilities, cultivated through a lifetime of devotion to God, humanity and the arts—has produced a distinctive fusion of spirituality and artistic expression widely admired in Indonesia, where Kyai Haji Mustofa Bisri is regarded as both a religious and a cultural icon. Often called the “President of Poets,” he is also celebrated for his courage in defending artistic and religious freedom in the face of radical onslaughts.

A graduate of al-Azhar University in Cairo, which regards him as a highly-distinguished alumnus, Mustofa Bisri’s personal philosophy can be seen in the “Mata Air” (“Living Spring”) interfaith community that he founded, whose membership is open to all who share its essential values: “Worship God; respect elders; treat those who are younger with loving kindness; open your heart to all humanity.”

Numerous books and doctoral dissertations have been written exclusively about Gus Mus, in addition to thousands of articles that reference his achievements in fields ranging from Islamic spirituality, theology, literature and the arts, to education and social politics.

Mustofa Bisri is the project supervisor for LibForAll’s ground-breaking Ocean of Revelations Film Series, and advises LibForAll on several other key programs, including the Theology Division of its International Institute of Qur'anic Studies (IIQS).

For a more complete (13-page) biography, click here.

Independence (Day) Prayer, by KH. Mustofa Bisri

“Gus Mus is a true mufti [a master of Sunni Muslim scholarship and jurisprudence]. But he is too humble [to pride himself on this fact]. Yet al-mufti is indeed his quality, and his spiritual station in life.”

~ Indonesian composer, musician and author/Sufi mystic Emha Ainun Nadjib

~ Aftonbladet (Sweden’s largest newspaper)


Her Excellency Ibu Hajjah Sinta Nuriyah
Her Excellency Ibu Hajjah Sinta Nuriyah is the widow of LibForAll co-founder and patron H.E. Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid, and his successor as LibForAll's patron and senior advisor. Widely known and respected for her pioneering work in the field of Qur'anic studies and gender equality, she serves as a major inspiration for the academic, ulama and women's divisions of LibForAll's International Institute of Qur'anic Studies. Click here for a more complete biography.


Ahmad Syafii Maarif
Ahmad Syafi’i Ma’arifAhmad Syafii Maarif is former Chairman (1998-2005) of the world’s second largest Muslim organization, the Muhammadiyah, with 30-million members. Under his leadership, the Muhammadiyah demonstrated a strong commitment to a pluralistic, tolerant and peaceful understanding of Islam, and to the nation of Indonesia. He inspired the establishment of the Young Muhammadiyah Intellectuals Network, a progressive youth wing of the Muhammadiyah.

Dr. Maarif received his Master’s degree from Ohio University, and a PhD in History from the University of Chicago in the field of Middle Eastern Languages and Civilizations. At the University of Chicago, Dr. Maarif engaged in intensive study of the Qur’an with renowned Islamic reformist Fazlur Rahman. He also engaged in deep discussions with future Indonesian reformer Nurcholish Madjid, who was also studying at University of Chicago.  Together with Abdurrahman Wahid, their thought was formative in building Indonesian civil society and preparing Indonesia for the transition to democracy.

Dr. Maarif is a 2008 recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award (often considered Asia's Nobel Prize) in the category of Peace and International Understanding. Dr. Maarif  was honored for "guiding Muslims to embrace tolerance and pluralism as the basis for justice and harmony in Indonesia and in the world at large."

Dr. Maarif is a prolific writer and speaker, whose prominent works include “The Dynamics of Islam” and “Islam, Why Not?” He is the founder and chairman of the Maarif Institute, a non-profit, non-governmental institution promoting the values of Islam, humanity, and Indonesian culture.

Dr. Syafii Maarif serves as patron and senior advisor to LibForAll's International Institute of Qur’anic Studies (IIQS), together with H.E. Ibu Hajjah Sinta Nuriyah, the widow of LibForAll co-founder Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid.


Amin Abdullah
Amin AbdullahAmin Abdullah is the former Secretary of the Muhammadiyah Central Board and  served two terms as Rector of Sunan Kalijaga Islamic State University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.  This was the first and "mother" of all the Islamic State Universities/Institutes (UIN/IAIN/STAIN), and is now one of the leading Islamic universities in Indonesia, with about 15,000 students. 

Dr. Abdullah is well known as an Islamic philosopher who distinguishes normative Islam from historical Islam and advocates a new path in Islamic philosophy of knowledge, one that is open to dialogue and integration with many different sources of knowledge.  Internationally recognized for his role in promoting a modern, pluralistic and tolerant understanding of Islam, Dr. Abdullah helped lead the world's second-largest Muslim organization, the Muhammadiyah, from 2000-2005, when he served as Vice Chairman of its governing board. 

Born in the regency of Pati, Central Java in 1953, Dr. Abdullah received his Baccalaureate degree from Pesantren Gontor Ponorogo; his Ph.D. in Islamic Philosophy from the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey; and has conducted post-doctoral study at McGill University in Toronto, Canada.  He is the author of numerous books, including Religious Education in a Multi-Cultural and Multi-Religious Era; Between al-Ghazali and Kant: Islamic Ethical Philosophy; The Dynamism of Cultural Islam; and Islamic Studies in Higher Education.  He is also the author of dozens of articles, and frequently speaks at international seminars in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

According to Dr. Abdullah, Indonesia's network of State Islamic Institutes and Universities have long been at the forefront of issues such as interfaith dialogue and improving overall relations between Islam and the West (“We must explain to the Saudis that they misunderstand the West”).  Dr. Abdullah is currently engaged in the process of modernizing his institution's curriculum, and expanding its relationships with other leading universities worldwide, while maintaining its links with the past.  Sunan Kalijaga University itself is named after the Muslim saint who ensured the triumph of a mystical and tolerant Islam in 16th century Java, and thereby helped to preserve freedom of conscience for all Javanese. 


Azyumardi Azra
Azyumardi AzraAzyumardi Azra is one of Southeast Asia’s most prominent liberal Muslim intellectuals. Born in West Sumatra, Indonesia in 1955, Dr. Azra served two terms (1998-2006) as Rector (President) at the prestigious Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University (UIN) in Jakarta. Under his leadership, UIN-Jakarta has played a vital role in Indonesia’s transition from authoritarian rule to democracy—promoting a moderate and tolerant understanding of Islam, at peace with itself and the modern world.  In this regard, the leadership, faculty and staff at UIN-Jakarta serve as a vital bulwark against the inroads of religious extremism inspired from abroad.

Professor Azra graduated from the Faculty of Tarbiyah (Islamic Education) at the Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic Institute (now UIN) in 1982. He was appointed Lecturer there in 1985 and in the following year was selected for a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue advanced studies at Columbia University, New York City. He graduated with an MA from the Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures in 1988. Winning a Columbia President Fellowship, he moved to the Department of History, Columbia University where he undertook further studies: MA (1989), MPhil (1990) and a Ph.D. in Philosophy (1992).

He was Vice Director of the Centre for the Study of Islam and Society at IAIN/UIN Jakarta before his appointment as Vice Rector for Academic Affairs. Professor Azra has been a visiting fellow of Southeast Asian Studies at Oxford University’s Centre for Islamic Studies; a Visiting Professor at the University of Philippines and University Malaya; a Distinguished International Visiting Professor at the Department of Middle Eastern Studies, New York University; member of the Board of Trustees of International Islamic University Islamabad (2004-9); editor-in-chief, Studia Islamika, an Indonesian journal for Islamic Studies (1993-present); member of the editorial board of the journals Ushuluddin (University Malaya); and Quranic Studies (University of London). He has presented numerous papers at international conferences and has lectured at many universities, including Harvard, Columbia, Australian National University, Kyoto, Leiden and others.

Dr. Azra has published 18 books on the subject of Islam and is a regular contributor to Indonesian newspapers and journals. He is also a noted commentator on Indonesian Islam and politics for the Indonesian and international media.  His latest book is entitled The Origins of Islamic Reformism in Southeast Asia (University of Hawaii Press, 2004; Leiden: KITLV Press, 2004; Allen & Unwin, 2004).

"Southeast Asia has an extraordinarily large and well-developed structure of Islamic education that can be a resource of critical importance in the ongoing war of ideas within Islam. These institutions can be expected to keep the Muslim communities in Southeast Asia rooted in their moderate and tolerant values, despite the apparent onslaught of extremist ideology from the Middle East. At a global level, they could serve as the building blocs of a moderate or liberal Muslim international movement to counter the influence of radical Salafi networks."

~  Angel Rabasa, writing in Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, published by the
Hudson Institute's Center on Islam, Democracy and the Future of the Muslim World


Franz Magnis-Suseno, SJ
Franz Magnis-Suseno, SJFranz Magnis-Suseno, SJ was born in the German province of Silesia (now Poland) in 1936, to a family of devout Roman Catholics.  Having survived the horrors of World War II and forcible expulsion from Silesia, the young Franz Magnis escaped to West Germany. He joined the Jesuit Order at the age of nineteen, and received his baccalaureate degree from the College of Philosophy in Pullach, Bavaria in 1960. The following year he moved to Yogyakarta, in the cultural heartland of Java, where he was ordained as a Jesuit priest in 1967.  A few years later, the young priest surrendered his German nationality and became an Indonesian citizen, in order to dedicate the rest of his life to serving the people of his adopted homeland.

Father Magnis-Suseno is a widely beloved and immensely popular figure in Indonesia, who appears frequently in interfaith dialogues and on radio, television and in the print media, promoting harmony and respect between Indonesia’s many faiths.  Periodically threatened by religious extremists, he responds with a gentleness, love and courage born from his deep faith and religious convictions.

A Doctor of Philosophy who graduated summa cum laude from Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Germany (which he attended from 1971-73), Father Magnis-Suseno is currently the Director of Postgraduate Studies at Driyakarya College of Philosophy in Jakarta, Indonesia, which he helped to found and then headed for many years. Driyakarya College—which is also a place for training Roman Catholic priests—has among its students quite a number of Muslims, including many members of Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid’s Nahdlatul Ulama organization, who come to learn European philosophy in order to sharpen their critical thinking and the tenets of their fellow citizens’ Christian beliefs.

Father Magnis-Suseno has served as a visiting professor at the University of Indonesia; Parahyangan University in Bandung, Indonesia; the College of Philosophy and Ludwig-Maximillians University in Munich; and the University of Innsbruck.  He is the author of over 30 books, including “Javanese Ethics and World View,” “In Search of a Rational Purpose for Life” and “Becoming a Witness for Christ in the Midst of a Complex Society.”

Dr. Magnis-Suseno holds the Distinguished Service Cross (“Das Grosse Verdienstkreuz) from the Federal Republic of Germany and an honorary doctorate in theology from the University of Lucerne, Switzerland.


Abdul Munir Mulkhan
Abdul Munir MulkhanAbdul Munir Mulkhan was born in the town of Jember in the Indonesian province of East Java in
1946. He received his BA from the Department of Religious Interpretation at Raden Intan State Islamic Institute in Lampung, Sumatra, and his MA and Ph.D. in the field of Social and Political Science from the prestigious Gajah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesiagraduating cum laude on each occasion.

For many years Dr. Munir has been an active member of the governing board of the Muhammadiyah, the world’s second largest Muslim organization with an estimated 30 million members. He has served as Vice-Secretary of the organization as a whole (2000-2005); as Secretary of the Office for Organization and Cadres; Secretary of the Council of Religious Interpretation; and as a member of the Council for Higher Education Research and Development. Since 1996 Dr. Munir has been a member of the editorial board of Suara Muhammadiyah (the Muhammadiyah’s official publication), and since 2002 has served as head of the Central Muhammadiyah Board’s “Good Governance” Council, with a primary task of eliminating corruption. In addition, Dr. Munir previously served as Vice-Secretary of the Yogyakarta branch of the Indonesian Council of Religious Scholars.

Dr. Munir is a member of the faculty of Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.  He has conducted post-doctoral research at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and served as Visiting Research Fellow at Nanyang Technological University’s Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies in Singapore.

Dr. Munir is the author of over 40 books and hundreds of articles published in various Indonesian magazines and newspapers.


Sukardi Rinakit
Sukardi RinakitSukardi Rinakit received his B.A. from the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, University of Indonesia, Jakarta; his M.A. in Southeast Asian Studies from the National University of Singapore; and his Ph.D. from the Department of Political Science, National University of Singapore. He is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Soegeng Sarjadi Syndicate (SSS), Jakarta, a non-profit organization that promotes democracy and supports the transformation of civil society. His research focuses on the areas of the military, terrorism, security policy, political culture, the process of decentralization, the relationships between religion, politics and civil society, and the protection of human rights in Indonesia.

Dr. Sukardi is the former Head of Department, Research and Development Institute, All Indonesian Labor Unions and a former ghost writer for the Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of Security and Defense. He has published hundreds of articles in leading journals and national newspapers and is extensively quoted in such publications. He has also published numerous books, including a recent one in English, entitled Indonesian Military after the New Order.

Dr. Sukardi is a close confidante of many Indonesian political leaders, and is privy to the internal dynamics of that nation's military. He currently serves as a policy advisor and speechwriter to President Joko Widodo.


Shaykh Musa Abubaker Admani
Shaykh Musa Abubaker AdmaniBorn in Nairobi, Kenya, Shaykh Musa Abubaker Admani completed his religious doctorates from the Darul-Ulum Deoband orthodoxy in India, and has been an Imam in the UK since the early nineties. His early interest in furthering inter-faith dialogue has earned him a special place amongst faith communities across the UK. A leading moderate thinker, the Shaykh lectures extensively on Islam’s role in the West, loyalty to one’s country, citizenship, distortion of Jihad as acts of terror and many other contemporary issues. In 2001, he became the first imam to be officially appointed to Higher Education at the London Metropolitan University. He formally established the Luqman Institute of Education and Development in 2003 in order to address the challenges facing Muslim communities in the West and to promote greater civic participation and social harmony.


Magnus Ranstorp
Dr. Magnus RanstorpDr. Magnus Ranstorp is the Research Director of the Centre for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defence College, directing a large funded project on Strategic Terrorist Threats to Europe which focuses on both radicalisation and recruitment of salafist-jihadist terrorists across Europe and the critical issue of the convergence between CBRN and terrorism.

Previously he was the Director of Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV) at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. He is the author of Hizballah in Lebanon and other numerous articles and monographs on terrorism and counter-terrorism. His most recent edited book is Mapping Terrorism Research: State of the Art, Gaps and Future Direction (Routledge, 2006). He is on the International Editorial Advisory Board of the academic journal Studies in Conflict and Terrorism. Additionally, he is also on the Editorial Board of Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict as well as Critical Terrorism Studies, two new international, peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary journals published by Taylor & Francis.

He is Advisor to the Terrorism Project on Violent Radicalisation led by the Danish Institute of International Studies as well as Scientific Advisor to the DHS Center of Excellence START programme led by the University of Maryland. He is also on the Advisory Board of CSTPV, University of St Andrews.

He is internationally recognised as a leading expert on Hizballah, Hamas, al-Qaeda and other militant Islamic movements. He has conducted extensive field work around the world, interviewing hundreds of terrorists as well as members of militant Islamic movements. His work on the behaviour of the Hizballah movement was recognized by Israeli media in March 2000 as among the contributing factors leading to the decision by the Israeli government to withdraw from southern Lebanon.

Dr. Ranstorp has briefed many senior government and security officials from around the world and lectures regularly to most major universities, think tanks and intergovernmental organisations. In 2003, he was invited to testify before the 9-11 Commission in its first hearing.

He was also a member of an Advisory Panel on Terrorism in Europe advising the EU counterterrorism coordinator. In 2005, he was a contributor to the George C. Marshall Center directed project on: Ideological War on Terror: Synthesizing Strategies Worldwide (a project funded by the Office of the Secretary of Defence). In 2006 Dr Ranstorp was invited to join the European Commission Expert Group on Violent Radicalisation, an official advisory body on all matters relating to violent radicalisation and recruitment of extremists within the EU.

He is an elected Fellow of The Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences.

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