by A. Mustofa Bisri and C. Holland Taylor

"Prior to his death in December 2009, our friend Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid, who fully recognized these facts, set in motion a pair of interrelated endeavors to help realize Indonesia’s strategic potential as an engine of spiritual progress for humanity. The first of these [is] the International Institute of Quranic Studies (IIQS)...

"The second endeavor consists of a systematic effort to help educate and mobilize Western governments, civil society and public opinion at large, to address the complex array of threats posed by Islamist ideology, terrorism and a rising tide of Islamophobia in the West. This strategic endeavor, jointly undertaken by the Nadhlatul Ulama and LibForAll Foundation, seeks to develop a broad center-left to center-right coalition in North America and Europe that will unite the 'humanitarian left' and 'national security-oriented right' in forging the societal consensus required to marginalize and discredit both Islamist extremism and its mirror phenomenon in the West..."

   Recent News

Jakarta Globe, "Sahal Mahfudz — Scholar, Activist" by Sumanto Al Qurtuby. "Sahal’s contributions were also crucial in developing new forms of Islamic thought. Since 1984, Sahal led a halaqah (a regular informal meeting for kyais to discuss social-political issues through the lens of Islamic law) whose creative methods of Islamic legal theory and Islamic legal maxims resulted in the production of progressive Islamic ideas and decisions, while at the same time keeping the spirit and essence of Islam as a 'prophetic religion.' His concept became known as 'social fiqh,' a rational-contextual-based understanding of Islamic law trying to solve contemporary social problems."

Indonesian Embassy, Brussels, "Theological Approach is Inevitable in Discussion about Islam and Europe." " 'Indonesia’s experience proves that moderate values which are voiced by moderate Muslim leaders, including academicians and NGOs, in Indonesia greatly contribute to the counter-radicalism in Indonesia,' [Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia H.E. Arif Havas Oegroseno] explained, at the same time showing a book titled 'The Illusion of an Islamic State' published by the Wahid Institute, LibForAll Foundation and Maarif Institute. The book was a result of research conducted by leading think-tanks in Indonesia and abroad which promote academic and theological aspects. Ambassador Oegroseno further explained that Indonesia's ability to overcome the political and economic crisis in a relatively short time, and with Indonesia’s stature today, have proven that Islam is compatible with modernization, democracy and human rights."

Epoch Times, "Drones Will Remain, Despite Controversies" by Kremena Krumova. " 'Drones are a stopgap measure employed by Western governments that have not yet developed the insight, the will, or the ability to address the threat of Islamist ideology,' wrote Taylor. And that is where the attention should be focused, Taylor said. 'The most effective means to counter Islamist terrorism is to marginalize and discredit the ideology that motivates it. Without discrediting Islamist ideology among Muslim populations, there will always be a ready pool of new recruits eager to obtain martyrdom while committing acts of terrorism.' "

International Qur'anic Studies Association, "On the Qur’an and Authority, " by Dr. Ali Mabrook, Deputy Director of Academics at LibForAll's International Institute of Qur'anic Studies (IIQS), and head of its public policy division, the Center for Contemporary Islam (CCI). In this article, Dr. Mabrook describes how the Qur’an was transformed from a text open to the full range of human inquiry and participation into an instrument of political authority. This politicization of the Qur'an closed the text to free examination and made its interpretation both fixed and absolute. Mabrook argues that the first step in “re-opening” the Qur’an is de-politicizing it. This article first appeared (on April 17, 2013) in Al-Ahram, where Dr. Mabrook writes a twice-monthly column. Additional columns, essays and televised discussions by Dr. Mabrook can be found on al-Ahram's website and Dr. Mabrook's blog., "C. Holland Taylor: Discrediting Extremism," by Ryan Mauro. "Muslims who oppose the Islamist agenda are subject to enormous grief, intimidation and often blood-chilling violence. It is only natural that those who have the moral courage to accept these consequences are often associated with the profound spiritual traditions of Islam known as Sufism. Yet, it absolutely false to claim that Sufism is considered heretical by mainstream Muslim authorities, or even to assume that Sufism constitutes a distinct sect within Islam. Sufism is woven into the very fabric of Islam itself, for the inner, mystical dimensions of Islam complement its outer practice and give life to what would otherwise be mere, empty formalities, easily harnessed by ideologues to achieve their worldly objectives."

Notre Dame University, "Nahdlatul Ulama: Good Governance and Religious Tolerance in Indonesia," by Sumanto Al Qurtuby. Article provides useful information about the Nahdlatul Ulama as "one of Indonesia’s many Muslim groupings and religious associations that are ardently devoted to extend the very fundamental teaching of Islam and the Quran as rahmatan lil ‘alamin—“a source of love and compassion for all humanity,” and to ensure that this message is embodied on earth."

The Jakarta Post, "E. Java to promote Gus Dur’s grave as tourist attraction," by Indra Harsaputra. "Tapping into Indonesians’ penchant for spiritual enlightenment, the East Java administration said on Wednesday that it planned to promote the grave of Indonesia’s former president and prominent cleric of the largest Islamic organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Abdurrahman 'Gus Dur' Wahid, in Jombang, as a magnet for both domestic and foreign travelers. 'Between January and May 2012, the number of people visiting Gus Dur’s grave reached 2.75 million. It means that around 550,000 people visit the grave each month, or 18,333 people per day,' [East Java Tourism Agency chief Jariyanto] said."

This makes President Wahid's grave one of the ten most visited pilgrimage sites in the world.

Two of the many popular tributes to President Wahid, which emerged spontaneously in the years following his death in 2009: Gus Dur: Champion of the People and Gitu Saja: Koq Repot (That's Just How Things Are: No Problem).

Inter Press Service News Agency, "Mystical Islam Deters Fundamentalism," by Alexandra di Stefano Pironti.

Institute for Religion and Democracy/Family Security Matters, "The Anti-Islamist Texts the Free World Needs to Use," by Ryan Mauro. "The Illusion of an Islamic State is more of a policy paper than a book. It is the end product of a study where 27 academics traveled across Indonesia and interviewed nearly 600 extremists in order to define the motivations, strategies and weaknesses of Islamists. The authors' stated goal is to confront the Muslim Brotherhood, Wahhabism and Hizb ut-Tahrir and turn Indonesia into an ideological launching pad against them.... The book is young, only published in Indonesia in May 2009, but has had a tremendous impact. The project was funded by a single American donor and a Swedish government grant. The Gulf governments, on the other hand, spend billions promoting Islamism. The success of The Illusion of an Islamic State is frustrating in a way. If a relatively small expense could do so much good, then what would happen if real money and support was put behind it?"

Democracy Digest, "Indonesia’s civil Islam under threat?" "The rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and resurgence of Wahhabi/Salafi groups in the wake of the Arab awakening highlights the urgent need for 'a renaissance of Islamic pluralism, tolerance and critical thinking,' according to two leading commentators."

Foreign Policy, "God needs no defense," by Endy Bayuni. " 'Those who claim to defend God, Islam, or the Prophet are thus either deluding themselves or manipulating religion for their own mundane and political purposes,' wrote Wahid, who died in 2009. Wahid, in his article, addressed the issue of freedom of speech, which many Muslim leaders say has been abused to encourage insults of their God, religion, and the Prophet Mohammed: 'Defending freedom of expression is by no means synonymous with personally countenancing or encouraging disrespect towards other's religious beliefs, but it does imply greater faith in the judgment of God, than that of man.' "

de Volkskrant, "Interview: Gus Mus, Spiritual Leader of Millions of Indonesian Muslims: 'Radicalism Flourishes Under Democracy,'" by Michel Maas. "The [Illusion of an Islamic State] appeared in Indonesia in 2009, and immediately ignited a firestorm in the Muslim world. The authors received death threats and were painted as 'enemies of Islam' by the very people who defend terrorist attacks, and refer to terrorists as 'martyrs' and 'heroes.' This is noteworthy and significant, because the book is directed against precisely these radicals, and against the irredeemable version of Islam they wish to impose on others. The book'’s title is derived from Abdurrahman 'Gus Dur' Wahid's introductory text: 'Their dream of an Islamic state is merely an illusion, for the true islamic state is not to be found in the structure of any government, but rather, in hearts which are open to God and all his creatures.' In other words: God and politics have nothing to do with each other."

New Europe, "The Illusion of an Islamic State: A book that makes history," by Dionyssios Kefalakos. "There are very few books that can be called 'the book'. Undoubtedly 'The Illusion of an Islamic State' is one of them."

Terong Gosong, "American Agents," by Yahya Cholil Staquf. "One of America's closest allies is Saudi Arabia. And yet the Saudis' own ideological allies, in Indonesia, spout venom and curse the United States every single day. And because we [of the Nahdlatul Ulama] are firmly committed to the path of moderation and tolerance, these same Wahhabi sympathizers denounce us as American agents. Even though America has no idea who we are!!!"


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