Why NU is important – Editorial



Editorial Board (The Jakarta Post)

Jakarta ●
Mon, December 27, 2021

2021-12-27
09h00
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56e7e6cab961fcf1e14f31817c0891a3
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Editorial
Indonesia, NU, Yahya-Cholil-Staquf, Islam, pluralism
To free

When journalists and analysts refer to Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) as the largest Islamic organization in Indonesia, they are essentially trying to show in the least controversial way how influential it is in Indonesian political and cultural life.

There is no denying that the core Islamic group is the most influential mass organization in the world’s third largest democracy, home to the world’s largest Muslim population. For nearly a century, she has been a political and cultural force to be reckoned with. While control of Java is essential, it makes sense that it is essential to have a strong influence within NU, with which the majority of Muslims in Java identify.

The organization’s national congresses have thus traditionally been mired in political intrigue, with competing factions within the group often seen as representing certain political or oligarchic interests. It reflects the power of the group.

It’s only natural that some of its members are asking the organization to go back to its original promise to stay away from politics, known as khitta. The appeal was initially made in the 1950s, but only gained traction at the start of the New Order in which NU chose to voice its political opposition to the Soeharto regime.

It was not until the era of reform that the UN ‘returned’ to practical politics, with many of its members forming political parties to participate in the first democratic elections since 1955. One of them was the National Awakening Party (PKB), which succeeded in securing the most charismatic cleric and president of NU, Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid, was elected president.

In the decades since reform, the UN has become even more politically engaged than the political parties claiming to represent its members. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who chose the UN cleric Maruf Amin as running mate in the 2019 presidential election in the face of strong Islamist opposition, owed his re-election to the group.

The group is so powerful that the president had to rectify his decision to appoint a former general to the post of minister of religious affairs – a post traditionally reserved for UN figures – after facing a backlash from the establishment of the United Nations. NAKED. The post is now held by Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, the former head of the youth wing of NU, the Anshor Youth Movement.

But all of these political victories should not prevent NU from playing its leading role in providing the religious and cultural foundations of Indonesian democracy. Such a critical role requires it to move beyond factional politics to promote democratic Islamic values.

We therefore welcome the election of Yahya Cholil Staquf as the new leader of the UN at its 34th National Congress in Lampung last week. Yahya, who has left politics to become the international spokesperson for Indonesian Islam in world forums, is an intellectual figure who we hope will not only return the UN to its roots as a socio-cultural movement, but will also promote its brand of Islam and expand its influence. beyond national borders.

As a political force, the UN is probably only important in Indonesia. As a cultural force, NU has the potential to become a force of civilization in the Islamic world.



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