Monday, April 9, 2007

Personal Asides: What Did You Do for Easter?...Is it Possible to be a Muslim Religious Leader and be for Israel?


For Easter we had a lot of the kids and their kids over…not all because the Milwaukee contingent couldn’t come (we’ll see them later)…and Mama prepared a sumptuous meal and baked a phenomenal pie. What did you do?

The World of Abdurrahman Wahid.

An editorial piece in the “Wall Street Journal” Saturday celebrated a man I never heard of, notwithstanding that he is the single most influential religious leader in Indonesia, a leader who says he is for Israel…believes not only in democracy but in the views of our own founders—Jefferson and Hamilton—speaks English fluently and dissects the totalitarian passions of the fundamentalists with candor and skill. He is Abdurrahman Wahid, a former president of Indonesia and is spiritual leader of the Nahdiatul Ulama (NU), an Islamic organization composed of 40 million members. A story like this written by Bret Stephens who is a fantastic analyst makes the “Journal” for me the most important reading in the world.

Here’s what Wahid, known by Indonesians as Gus Dur, a title of affection for this descendent of Java kings, believes: “For us, an Islamic party is not a thing to follow. Religion and morality is tied to a person not a party.” How did the radical Islam thing start? “In the second century of Islam, the Iman-al-Shafi’I began remodeling the religion. He put into place the mechanism of understanding everything through law [Shariah]. Now people can’t talk about that anymore. We can’t attack al-Shafi’i.” Another: “The only solution” to the challenge of Islamic radicalism in Indonesia is more democracy.” Wise man.

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