Is this conference going to be effective at all? The idea that they have to preach a more ‘tolerant’ Islam is kind of scary, because that insinuates the real Islam isn’t tolerant at all and more extreme.
Muslim leaders from around the world met in Jakarta this week to address the religious aspects of extremism and terrorism. The International Summit of Moderate Islamic Leaders was hosted by Nahdlatul Ulama, an Indonesian Muslim organization that claims 50 million members worldwide.
More than 300 religious leaders from 33 countries attended the two-day summit, as well as President Joko Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla of Indonesia. On Monday, Kalla denounced what he called radical youths’ misinterpretation of the idea of jihad (a word with a range of meanings), saying that such extremists mistakenly view violence and terrorism as a “shortcut” to heaven.
“That’s why the role of Islamic clerics is needed to do more to correct the misinterpretation,” Kalla said. “We gather here today for that purpose, to produce the solution to curb radicalism in the form of terrorism, wars and conflicts.”
NU is a hybrid Sunni religious body, political party and charity that launched its anti-extremism initiative in 2014, in response to the rise of the militant group that calls itself the Islamic State.
Indonesia is home to the largest Muslim population in the world — 190 million people — but since they have nearly always coexisted with Hindus, Buddhists and Christians, Indonesian society has evolved a liberal, pluralistic brand of Islam. NU leaders think this approach, known as Islam Nusantara, or “Islam of the Archipelago,” could be a powerful force against radicalization.
The source of turmoil in the Middle East is the absence of a “harmonious relationship” between nationalism and Islam, Said Aqil Siroj, NU’s general chairman, said at the summit.