A "Musical Fatwa" Against
Religious Hatred & Terrorism
Ahmad Dhani/Dewa performing the song Warriors of Love
at SCTV studio (left) in Jakarta, Indonesia. This one-hour
television special was broadcast throughout the country with
the world's largest Muslim population and democracy on
Eid al-Fitr (October 23, 2006), the day on which the
fasting month of Ramadan ended.
Dewa typically perform 3-4
times a month on nationwide television concert broadcasts.
Radical Islamist groups viciously attacked rock superstar Ahmad Dhani
and his band Dewa for their best-selling album
Laskar Cinta ("Warriors of
Love"). It infuriated the radicals to see their
indoctrination of young Muslims into the culture of jihad threatened
by Dhaniís work. Tens of millions of Indonesians watch Dewaís
concerts on TV, and eagerly listen to their music throughout the
vast archipelago. Dewa's best-selling album Laskar Cinta presented Indonesia's youth with a stark choice, and
one easy for the vast majority to answer: Do they want to join the
army of jihad, or the army of love?
In response, the radicals accused Dhani
-- who is a devout Sufi, or mystically inclined Muslim -- of being
an infidel, an apostate (code words inciting violence) and a Zionist
agent. They hauled him into court on charges of defaming Islam and
sought to ban his use of rock music to promote a spiritual and
progressive interpretation of Islam that threatens the appeal of
their own Wahhabi-inspired extremism. Fortunately, with the
help of LibForAll board members Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid and
Abdul Munir Mulkhan, the radicals' attempt to portray Dhani as a
backfired in the eyes of the
Rather than retreat in the face of extremist threats, Ahmad Dhani composed a
new song called Laskar Cinta (the previous album did not have
a title track), using lyricsinspired by the Qurían and
sayings of the Prophet Muhammad to denounce religious
hatred and terrorism.
Warriors of Love became the #1 song in Indonesia
upon its release in December of 2005, while its music video soared
to #1 on MTV Asiaís hit program Ampuh in March of 2006.
Dewa's album Republik Cinta ("Republic of Love")
was released in Indonesia to blanket media coverage
in January, 2006 by recording giant EMI. Warriors of
Love is the album's lead song.
As implied by
its title, Republic of Love promotes the development of
civil liberty and democracy, both through the album's popular
music and the accompanying media campaign/artist interviews,
which promote a peaceful alternative to the ideologies of hatred
that underlie and animate terrorism.
The album's launch was accompanied by well over
100 separate print and television interviews. Here the group
performs in a live nationwide concert broadcast during prime
time on RCTI television network, Friday evening, January 6,
2006. The "musical fatwa" was broadcast on five separate
TV concerts in January alone, and has been heard by a majority
of Indonesia's 220 million inhabitants.
Disciples of Shaykh Hisham Muhammad Kabbani of the Naqshbandi
Sufi order with Ahmad Dhani (left) at Dewa's studio in
Jakarta. These and other Sufis attended the RCTI concert (above)
to express their support for Dewa's "musical fatwa" against
religious hatred and terrorism, and to perform the Mevlevi Sufi
order's "whirling" dance on national TV, during the "musical
LibForAll CEO Holland Taylor (left) discussing
the lyrics of Dewa's new song, "Warriors of Love," with the
group's lead vocalist, Once, in Dewa's studio
(see lyrics below).
Holland Taylor, Once (center) and Ahmad Dhani (right) setting
English lyrics to the music of Laskar Cinta ("Warriors of
Ahmad Dhani in his studio recording the lyrics to Dewa's new
song, "Warriors of Love," in English.
Holland Taylor (left, with Dewa's sound engineer, Simon),
providing feedback on the lyrics sung by Ahmad Dhani in the
recording booth shown above.
LibForAll CEO Holland Taylor with Kyai Haji
Muhammad Yusuf Chudlori ("Gus Yusuf"), who heads the renowned
Islamic boarding school Pondok Pesantren Asrama
Perguruan Islam in Tegalrejo, Central Java. Scion of a
leading family of Nahdlatul Ulama religious scholars, Gus Yusuf
is a widely-respected "Great Kyai," or Islamic leader, in his
Taylor and Gus Yusuf are discussing plans to
spotlight and counter radical Islamist (Wahhabi) inroads into
Indonesia, in conjunction with Libforall's, Abdurrahman Wahid's
and Ahmad Dhani's efforts in this regard. A concerted media
campaign will involve elements of popular culture, Islamic
scholarship and the mobilization of rural religious leaders villagers to convey a message of religious tolerance
and harmony to urban inhabitants, who are more vulnerable to
The support of religious figures such as
Luqman Hakim and Yusuf Chudlori
is critical to defend Ahmad Dhani in his efforts to marginalize
religious extremism and discredit the use of terrorism as
anti-Islamic and, indeed, "inspired by Satan."
In the words of Gus Yusuf, "ambitious men who are betting on
the triumph of radical Islam to assure their success have
misread Indonesian Islam."