Within the United
Foundation is engaged in a long-term
educational campaign to assist policy-makers, opinion leaders and the general public
to understand the
spectrum of views within Islam, so as to distinguish between the
religion of Islam and the
extreme agenda of those who
seek to manipulate and exploit Islam to achieve their own personal
and political objectives.
video of LibForAll founder and CEO C. Holland Taylor speaking in
Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
LibForAll itself has no proselytization agenda.
It is not our goal to convert Muslims to a different religion, nor to
convert non-Muslims to Islam. Rather, we work with people of good will of every faith and nation, to
support visionary Muslim leaders in their efforts to promote a
pluralistic and tolerant understanding of Islam, at peace with
itself and the modern world.
LibForAll's wide-ranging contributions
to public discourse in the West include such groundbreaking
work as co-founder Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid's article
Islam vs. Wrong Islam," which has inspired countless
public policy makers around the globe since its publication
in the Wall Street Journal in December of 2005,
and subsequent translation to many languages.
|Described by the Wall Street Journal as
"a seminal article for this newspaper" (February 25,
2006), the piece was praised by the Hudson Institute's
Center on Islam, Democracy and the Muslim World as "a
far-ranging and detailed account of what [Wahid] views
as 'the global struggle for the soul of Islam'... We
recommend this article, which we’ve re-published in this
Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, to very
serious reading and reflection."
In a July 2007 column entitled "Public Diplomacy for
Dummies," Wall Street Journal editorial board member Bret Stephens
"LibForAll itself is a model of what a competent public
diplomacy effort in the Muslim world should look like....
[I]f effective public diplomacy is really
as vital in the war on terror as everyone appears to agree it is, we
need better ambassadors, better administrators and a better sense of
who we need to engage and how. At least Mr. Taylor has a clue. The
[Bush] administration could stand to learn from him."
In April of 2008, Foreign Service
Journal published an article by LibForAll
co-founders K.H. Abdurrahman Wahid and C. Holland Taylor
A Tradition of Tolerance in Indonesia Offers Hope,
in which the authors shared LibForAll's experiences
countering radicalization, and their prescription for
inspiring "a similar renaissance of Islamic spirituality
and tolerance in other parts of our troubled world."
Published by the American Foreign
Service Association, Foreign Service Journal is
distributed to every U.S. embassy and consular office in
the world, and to over 80% of U.S. diplomatic staff
LibForAll Foundation is in the unique
position of having been praised by top U.S. government
officials ("the lodestar in
efforts to discredit the ideology of radical Islam"),
European leaders ("You are being received at such high
levels in Europe because LibForAll's reputation, and
word of its achievements, have preceded you") AND
world-renowned Muslim theologians and mass media
("LibForAll Foundation... an NGO which cares deeply
about Islam and Muslims... [striving] to express,
clarify and widely disseminate a true understanding of
Widely hailed for its expertise in the
difficult and confusing field of counter-extremism, LibForAll frequently briefs
Congress (right) and the Executive branch and their key
staff, from the various committees and departments that
oversee related policy areas.
accomplishments have been repeatedly recognized by the
U.S. Congress in its legislative reports.
The Senate Subcommittee
Report (SR 110-128) accompanying HR 2764 (FY08
State/Foreign Ops Appropriations Bill) states:
“Religious Tolerance.—The Committee recognizes the
need to counter Islamic extremism, and is aware of the
successes of LibforAll’s tolerance and moderation
programs in Indonesia. The Committee supports expansion
of these types of programs globally, particularly in the
Middle East, and recommends the Department of State and
USAID consider funding proposals from LibforAll for this
The House report
accompanying HR 2764 (HR 110-197) contained similar
language, encouraging “USAID to consider supporting
organizations such as Dosti and the LibforAll
LibForAll shares the strategy and
principles behind its counter-radicalization success
through expert presentations at key meetings, via
participation in working groups that are focused in this
arena, and by organizing events for policy makers and
the general public.
Venues organized and/or addressed by
LibForAll Foundation include the Dalai Lama's
anti-terror summit with Muslim leaders from around the
world, entitled, "A Gathering of Hearts Illuminating
Compassion" (upper right); the NORAD/Northcom-sponsored
National Homeland Defense Symposium in Colorado Springs
(lower right); the United Nations' Alliance of
Civilizations Foundation Working Group in NYC; the
Pakistan Working Group in DC; the Simon Wiesenthal
Center's annual tribute dinner; the American Jewish
Committee; the Philanthropy Roundtable; and various
university audiences, among others.
||Because of the international scope of its programs
and reputation, LibForAll activities in the U.S. can
also reach a huge international audience, as when al-Jazeera
(left) covered a U.S. conference dedicated to the
question of whether LibForAll's model can be
successfully transplanted to other parts of the Muslim
world. Al-Jazeera subsequently devoted an
hour-long program during prime time in the Middle East
to the question, "Is what President Wahid and LibForAll
Foundation are doing in Indonesia of value to the Arab
world?" The answer al-Jazeera provided to
over 20 million Arabic-speaking viewers: a resounding "Yes!"
Muslim Leaders in America
LibForAll recognizes that the vast majority of Muslim
immigrants to the U.S. have come in search of greater economic
opportunity, and to create a better life for themselves and their families,
while African-American converts to Islam have often been inspired by
the religion's message of equality; ancestral ties to Africa, and the profound values of Islam itself.
While the educational,
economic and social status of most Muslim-American immigrants is
quite high, one element of traditional Muslim society which has NOT
joined the flow of immigrants to the U.S. are its leading ulama
(religious clerics) and Sufi shaykhs, who have tended to remain in
their native communities, caring for the spiritual needs of their
followers, whether in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, South
Asia or elsewhere.
As a result, there is a vacuum of traditionally
pluralistic and tolerant Muslim leadership in America and the West
in general, which Wahhabi and Muslim Brotherhood proselytizers have
been quick to fill, often propagating a sense of isolation,
victimhood and supremacy among Muslims vis-a-vis their own fellow
citizens in the West. This creates a dangerous situation,
easily conducive to mutual misunderstanding and mistrust, on the
part of Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
In addition to advising key decision-makers
regarding issues related to Islam, LibForAll Foundation is actively
engaged in helping to identify, strengthen and network truly
pluralistic and tolerant Muslim organizations in the U.S. and
Europe, while bringing top ulama and other Muslim leaders from the
Islamic world to the West, where their example can help to counter
the influence of an increasingly vigorous and sophisticated
widely publicized visit by LibForAll co-founder
Abdurrahman Wahid to Los Angeles, Washington and New York in May of
2008 is one example of this effort. As reported by the
officials—from the Bush administration to Congress to the
Pentagon—have been struggling to build a strategy to
counter radical Islamists. So it’s no wonder that the former
president of Indonesia,
was much sought after by top lawmakers, senior White House
officials, and other policy makers when he visited Washington in
"Moderate Islam stands a greater chance of
triumphing over Islamic radicalism once Western leaders stop
trying to accommodate Islamic extremists....
Don't give any kind of recognition to the
fundamentalist view of Islam,' Wahid advised U.S.
policy-makers. "The Saudis
have a double-pronged thing: the first is to give assistance
to fundamentalists, on the other side to show the 'humanist'
side of Islam. These things cannot be reconciled."
||President Wahid (seated) and daughter Inayah
(standing, left) with Zaynab al-Suwaij of the American
Islamic Congress (red headcovering) at George Washington
University, following an event designed to
spotlight and support the AIC's Project Nur student
In addition to top religious leaders, LibForAll
invites members of its global network who are active in other
fields, such as education and pop culture, to help overcome Western
and Muslim misconceptions about Islam. One such visitor to the
U.S. was legendary Muslim rock star Ahmad Dhani, who in October of
2006 delivered the keynote address at the NORAD/Northcom-sponsored
National Homeland Defense Symposium, to an audience of high-level
U.S. military and government officials.
received a prolonged standing ovation for his
below) at this event, with many career military officers stating
afterwards that they had tears in their eyes at the vision of hope
conveyed by Dhani, and the courage of his example.
As reported in the
Denver Post, "A famous visitor from the Muslim world –
Indonesian rock star Ahmad Dhani, formerly a fundamentalist –
dropped into one of the U.S. defense industry’s main deal-making
forums Tuesday with a challenge.
"'The military-led war on terrorism will not
defeat emerging enemies,' said Dhani, 34, his long hair and untucked
shirt reminiscent of singer-activist Bono. 'You cannot defeat
the ideology of religious hatred and terrorism with weapons
"Dhani advocated promoting
'good aspects of Western culture,' such as 'love for knowledge,'
free speech, religious tolerance and the rule of law. He told of
how he uses his Western-inspired music to question extremism at
Dhani says that "attacking the ideology that
motivates terrorists is the key to suppressing radical Islam." –
LibForAll board member Ahmad Dhani with Admiral Timothy J.
Keating, Commander-in-Chief of NORAD/U.S. Northern Command,
which sponsored the National Homeland Defense Symposium.
Dhani praised the United States for its religious and
cultural diversity, and called on Americans to help
extinguish the fires of hatred raging in the Islamic world
by supporting Sufi Muslim leaders who promote love and
The Honorable Frances Fragos Townsend, Assistant to
President Bush for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism,
with LibForAll board members Ahmad Dhani and C. Holland
Ahmad Dhani and Holland Taylor were joined by
LibForAll co-founder H.E. Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid.
President Wahid, via videotaped address, encouraged the
audience of U.S. military and civilian officials to seek
"not to defeat Islam, but to help promote an Islam which can
live together with the West... so that understanding can
develop between the two sides for the benefit of all
C. Holland Taylor and Ahmad
Dhani with Admiral Thad W. Allen, Commandant of the U.S.
Ahmad Dhani and C. Holland Taylor with Wall Street
Journal foreign columnist and editorial board member Bret
Stephens, at the Journal's Manhattan
headquarters overlooking Ground Zero.
The following year,
Bret Stephens visited Indonesia for ten days in the
company of Holland Taylor, profiling key
LibForAll associates K.H. Abdurrahman Wahid ("The
Last King of Java") and Dr. Abdul Munir Mulkhan ("The
Exorcist"), and their work to preserve Indonesia's
traditions of religious tolerance and pluralism. Other
articles in the series describe President Wahid and
LibForAll Advisor Mustofa Bisri's defense of artistic
Don't Lie"), and dangers posed by
"The Arab Invasion."
As reported by Walter Ruby in
"Last year, after an extended visit to Indonesia to profile
the efforts of Taylor and Wahid, Stephens, who is known for
a staunchly hawkish stance on Israeli-Arab conflict and
relationship between Islam and the West, stated: “My visit
to Indonesia was an eye opener for me because for the first
time I encountered a huge (Muslim) movement in confrontation
with Muslim radicalism lavishly funded by Saudi Arabia.
I came back convinced of the need for the U.S. to pursue
public diplomacy more aggressively than in the past, to
identify genuine moderates in Muslim countries and to give
them the resources they need to prevail.”
Dhani's visit to the U.S. was widely covered by
Indonesia's print and
broadcast media, which praised him for advising
"America's generals" how to achieve peace with the Muslim
Keynote Address by
Muslim Rock Star
and LibForAll Board Member Ahmad Dhani
at the National Homeland Defense Symposium
Colorado Springs, Colorado
October 3, 2006
Assalamu'alaikum warrah matullahi wa
barokatuh. May the peace and blessings of God always be with you.
Perhaps I should begin my remarks by saying that I
was not born into a family that was tolerant of those who believed differently
from us. In fact, my grandfather was a leader of the Darul Islam guerilla
movement, which tried to establish an Islamic state in Indonesia during the time
of our first president, Sukarno. My father was the head of an Islamic
fundamentalist political party.
I grew up thinking that my mother’s Catholic
relatives would all go to hell, and I still remember, as a child, cursing a
cousin of mine who converted from Islam to Christianity. When I was old enough
to vote, I voted for that fundamentalist Muslim party, and despised those who
did not vote the same way.
Back then, I believed that Islam is the only true
religion, and you could even say that I was an embryonic radical Muslim.
But in my mid-twenties – I am now 34 – I changed course in ways that have had a profound
and lasting effect on my life.
Over a period of years, I grew tolerant of
cultural and religious differences. I stopped thinking that I had all the
answers, or that my understanding of Islam was somehow better and more perfect
than everyone else’s.
I think there were two basic factors in this
change. First, I have long been a fan of Western pop culture., There is no
doubt that pop culture offers young people a door through which to enter the
modern world and experience globalization first hand. Listening to Western
music, I found that I loved the albums of the Beatles, U2 and Queen, which
included a subtle but very clear message of spirituality, freedom and tolerance.
Actually, it is rare for Indonesians to say that
there are good aspects to Western culture, because we’ve been taught from
childhood that Western culture is perverse and dangerous. Muslims usually focus
on aspects of Western culture that they perceive as deeply threatening, rather
than on what we can learn from the achievements of America and the West. For
example, the love for knowledge that can be seen in your great libraries, and
the traditions of free speech, the rule of law, and education for everyone.
Perhaps one of the most inspiring and valuable
lessons that America can offer the world is to show how a nation of 300 million
diverse people can live in religious harmony – each practicing their own faith,
while accepting those who believe differently, without their differences leading
It is my dream for the people of Indonesia, and
for Muslims throughout the world, to learn this great lesson from America, and
to see how people here identify themselves first and foremost not by tribe or
ethnic origin, but as Americans.
Popular culture can play a role in this process,
through music, film and television. But I believe a second influence must also
come into play, in promoting the culture of liberty and tolerance to the Muslim
I mentioned before that two factors were
responsible for my own evolution from an embryonic fanaticism to tolerance. The
first was Western popular culture. The second was what we call, in Indonesian
and Arabic, “tassawuf,” or what you call in English “Sufism.”
Sufism is the inner, spiritual dimension of Islam
that focuses not on what separates people from one another or God; but rather,
on what unites us. Sufi Islam teaches Muslims to love and respect all of God’s
creatures, and not to unnecessarily harm anyone.
There are well over 1 billion Muslims in the world
today, most of whom are deeply attached to their faith. Radical Muslims play
upon this fact, and try to convince Muslims that they must hate… or even fight
and kill… anyone who believes differently from themselves.
I do not believe that the problem of religious
hatred and terrorism can be solved by trying to make all Muslims into secular
humanists, or Christians, like the people of the West.
But I do believe that it can be solved by helping
Muslims to understand the essence of Islam itself in the form of Sufism.
Perhaps 70% of all Muslims in the world today practice forms of Islam closely
linked to Sufism.
Leaders such as President Wahid, who personally
inspired me to change, are themselves the embodiment of Sufi teachings.
The radicals who fly planes into tall buildings,
or blow up trains, nightclubs, hotels and even other Muslims, hate and fear
Sufism. That is because they know that Sufism has a unique power to discredit
their ideology of hatred and violence.
In the words of another LibForAll Foundation
associate – the great Sufi leader Kyai Haji Mustofa Bisri – “You cannot put out
fire with fire. It takes water.” You cannot defeat the ideology of religious
hatred with weapons alone. Only Muslim leaders themselves can accomplish this –
encouraged and supported by those who understand the importance of this vital
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