â??Moderation As The Pillar Of A Peaceful And Harmonious Multi-Cultural And Multi-Faith Society: The Indonesian Experienceâ? A Presentation By K.H. Hasyim Muzadi At The High-Level Conference On Inter-Faith Cooperation For Peace

 9/25/2006

Excellencies,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

 At the outset I would like to congratulate the Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace on the convening of this High-Level Conference. Indeed it is an honour for me to have been invited as one of the speakers in this august forum.

I wish to begin this presentation by expressing my gratification with the fact that actions exerted by various stakeholders at different levels to enhance inter-faith dialogue have been increasing in recent times.

In my view, inter-faith dialogue today is no longer a choice. It is a must. In the age of democracy like today, inter-cultural and inter-faith harmony is a necessary adhesive that could fortify societal cohesion and promote a robust democracy.

The key ingredient of a peaceful and harmonious multi-cultural and multi-faith society, in my opinion, is moderation (tawassut), which is the opposite of extremism (tatharruf).

Every religion teaches the importance of being moderate. In Buddhism, for example, it is taught that the path of enlightenment is in the middle, it is the line between all opposite extremes.

In Hinduism, Yajur Veda 40 – 5 teaches that for those who want to realize God the Supreme Reality, they have to follow the path of moderation, righteousness and His laws.

Islam venerates moderation and balance in every dimension of human conduct. The Koran says: “We made you to be the community of middle path (Al-Baqarah:143).

Excellencies,

 As far as Indonesia is concerned, Moderation is an inbuilt component of the societal bedrock of the Indonesians. The history of Indonesia is the history of moderation.

The archipelago which is now known as Indonesia has for long been pluralistic in terms of ethnicity, culture, and belief system. Under such a circumstance, Indonesians are inborn to always behave in a moderate manner and to share and care with each other.

 Before Islam came into Indonesia, the archipelago had been undergoing what historian George Coedés coined as indianization. Under such a process, Hinduism and Buddhism prevailed in most parts of the archipelago and they co-existed harmoniously.

 In the twelfth century or earlier, traders from Gujarat who traveled to the archipelago were carrying with them the teachings of Islam. Commercial interaction between those traders and local people facilitated the acculturation through which the local people embraced Islam.

 When Islam began to spread in Indonesia, an amalgamation of religious moderation and cultural moderation took place.  This mixture of moderation, in my opinion, is unique to Indonesia. This is also what makes Islam in Indonesia is somewhat different from Islam in the Middle East.
 
I do not mean that Islam in other parts of the world is less moderate. As I said earlier, moderation is the key feature in all spectrum of Islam.

But in Indonesia, the concordance between religion and culture makes our moderation doubled and self-fortified. This kind of moderation, in my opinion, will prevent the emergence of Islamic extremism in Indonesia and will ensure a viable pluralism.

 In Indonesia, there are groups serving as the vanguard of moderation and exerting deliberate efforts to institutionalize it in many pillars of the Indonesian society so that a community of moderation is continuously rejuvenated.

This is what the Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Moslem organization in the country, over which I have the honour to preside, has been doing since its inception in 1926. The guiding principles of our organization are peace, justice, freedom, moderation, tolerance, balance, consultation, and equity.

We put emphasis on substance and inclusiveness, not on formalism and exclusiveness, and we have been working very hard to mainstream those principles in the conduct of individual life as well as public sphere.

The Nadlatul Ulama believes that a community of moderation should also emerge at the global level. In this light, our organization has initiated an International Conference of Islamic Scholars (ICIS). The ultimate objective of this initiative is the creation of an epistemic community of moderation at the global level through which Islam could contribute to the construction of global peace and justice.

 Until now the Nahdlatul Ulama has organized two meetings of ICIS, in February 2004 and in June 2006 respectively. The first Conference adopted a Plan of Action whereas the second one agreed on a Programme of Action that focuses on specific implementation activities.

 At the forthcoming third ICIS in 2008, hopefully, we can step further by approving the roadmap for further implementation of the Programme of Action to Uphold Islam as Rahmatan Lil Alamin towards Global Justice and Peace.

Excellencies,

 In conclusion, I wish to reiterate our support for the work of the Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace, and also to connect our ICIS initiative with the Tripartite and other similar programmes.

  We can mutually strengthen our cause, harmonize our programmes, and complement our resources. Partnership is essential in the world that continues to globalize.

 We cannot go alone. We cannot be just an island of initiatives. We have to be an archipelago of initiatives, a web of cooperation.

Thank you.

Excellencies,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

 At the outset I would like to congratulate the Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace on the convening of this High-Level Conference. Indeed it is an honour for me to have been invited as one of the speakers in this august forum.

I wish to begin this presentation by expressing my gratification with the fact that actions exerted by various stakeholders at different levels to enhance inter-faith dialogue have been increasing in recent times.

In my view, inter-faith dialogue today is no longer a choice. It is a must. In the age of democracy like today, inter-cultural and inter-faith harmony is a necessary adhesive that could fortify societal cohesion and promote a robust democracy.

The key ingredient of a peaceful and harmonious multi-cultural and multi-faith society, in my opinion, is moderation (tawassut), which is the opposite of extremism (tatharruf).

Every religion teaches the importance of being moderate. In Buddhism, for example, it is taught that the path of enlightenment is in the middle, it is the line between all opposite extremes.

In Hinduism, Yajur Veda 40 – 5 teaches that for those who want to realize God the Supreme Reality, they have to follow the path of moderation, righteousness and His laws.

Islam venerates moderation and balance in every dimension of human conduct. The Koran says: “We made you to be the community of middle path (Al-Baqarah:143).

Excellencies,

 As far as Indonesia is concerned, Moderation is an inbuilt component of the societal bedrock of the Indonesians. The history of Indonesia is the history of moderation.

The archipelago which is now known as Indonesia has for long been pluralistic in terms of ethnicity, culture, and belief system. Under such a circumstance, Indonesians are inborn to always behave in a moderate manner and to share and care with each other.

 Before Islam came into Indonesia, the archipelago had been undergoing what historian George Coedés coined as indianization. Under such a process, Hinduism and Buddhism prevailed in most parts of the archipelago and they co-existed harmoniously.

 In the twelfth century or earlier, traders from Gujarat who traveled to the archipelago were carrying with them the teachings of Islam. Commercial interaction between those traders and local people facilitated the acculturation through which the local people embraced Islam.

 When Islam began to spread in Indonesia, an amalgamation of religious moderation and cultural moderation took place.  This mixture of moderation, in my opinion, is unique to Indonesia. This is also what makes Islam in Indonesia is somewhat different from Islam in the Middle East.
 
I do not mean that Islam in other parts of the world is less moderate. As I said earlier, moderation is the key feature in all spectrum of Islam.

But in Indonesia, the concordance between religion and culture makes our moderation doubled and self-fortified. This kind of moderation, in my opinion, will prevent the emergence of Islamic extremism in Indonesia and will ensure a viable pluralism.

 In Indonesia, there are groups serving as the vanguard of moderation and exerting deliberate efforts to institutionalize it in many pillars of the Indonesian society so that a community of moderation is continuously rejuvenated.

This is what the Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Moslem organization in the country, over which I have the honour to preside, has been doing since its inception in 1926. The guiding principles of our organization are peace, justice, freedom, moderation, tolerance, balance, consultation, and equity.

We put emphasis on substance and inclusiveness, not on formalism and exclusiveness, and we have been working very hard to mainstream those principles in the conduct of individual life as well as public sphere.

The Nadlatul Ulama believes that a community of moderation should also emerge at the global level. In this light, our organization has initiated an International Conference of Islamic Scholars (ICIS). The ultimate objective of this initiative is the creation of an epistemic community of moderation at the global level through which Islam could contribute to the construction of global peace and justice.

 Until now the Nahdlatul Ulama has organized two meetings of ICIS, in February 2004 and in June 2006 respectively. The first Conference adopted a Plan of Action whereas the second one agreed on a Programme of Action that focuses on specific implementation activities.

 At the forthcoming third ICIS in 2008, hopefully, we can step further by approving the roadmap for further implementation of the Programme of Action to Uphold Islam as Rahmatan Lil Alamin towards Global Justice and Peace.

Excellencies,

 In conclusion, I wish to reiterate our support for the work of the Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace, and also to connect our ICIS initiative with the Tripartite and other similar programmes.

  We can mutually strengthen our cause, harmonize our programmes, and complement our resources. Partnership is essential in the world that continues to globalize.

 We cannot go alone. We cannot be just an island of initiatives. We have to be an archipelago of initiatives, a web of cooperation.

Thank you.