Indonesia | 17 February 2022

Indonesia: Largest Muslim organization elects new leadership

Show: false / Country: Indonesia /
Indonesia"s Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), one of the largest Muslim organizations in the world, has elected Yahya Cholil Staquf‚ as its new leader, as reported by UCA News on 24 December 2021. According to Bayt Ar-Rahmah (accessed 7 February 2022), this distinguished Sunni scholar is known for being the co-founder of "Humanitarian Islam", a movement seeking to reform on a global basis "obsolete tenets of Islamic orthodoxy that enjoin religious hatred, supremacy and violence". World Watch Research analyst Thomas Muller comments: "Yahya Staquf is a reformist and has the potential to bring change to what he himself calls "˜orthodox doctrines". One example (which predates his election) is the 2019 decision at a national conference of NU scholars to drop the term "˜kafir" for non-Muslims due to it being viewed as divisive. It remains to be seen if and how potential reforms can be transformed into actual changes on the ground. One highly visible change in the ranks of NU is that, for the first time since the organization"s inauguration in 1926, several women have been appointed to its leadership board (Benar News, 14 January 2022). Since Yahya Staquf"s younger brother is Indonesia"s Minister of Religion, such changes propagated by NU may not only have consequences at a societal level, but in the political arena as well." Thomas Muller concludes: "Whether Yahya Staquf"s desire to reform Islam can serve as an antidote to the worldwide rise in Islamic militancy remains to be seen. Indonesia"s specific understanding of Islam, branded as Islam Nusantara ("˜Archipelagic Islam") by NU, will first have to stand its test at home where religious conservatism is growing and radical Islamic thinking, sometimes connected with violent action, is no exception. A recent example of the latter can be seen in a January 2022 press conference, when the country"s counterterrorism chief stated that 198 religious schools were known to be connected to "˜terrorist networks" (UCA News, 26 January 2022)."


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