Gus Dur has asked members of his group to protect Christian churches from Islamist attacks, and they have done so, at the risk of their lives. He and LibforAll co-founder C. Holland Taylor, an American former telecom entrepreneur who speaks fluent Indonesian and is very familiar with Islam, have launched what they hope will be a worldwide effort to counter radical Islam by enlisting moderate Muslims. Not all of the moderates are from Indonesia. Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd, an Egyptian Koranic scholar who had to flee his home country, holds a Ph.D. from Cairo University.
In 2007, LibforAll sponsored a conference on religious tolerance in Bali to counter the Holocaust denial conference Ahmadinejad convened in Tehran. Gus Dur called Ahmadinejad "my friend" but then forthrightly declared that the Iranian president had "falsified history" by claiming that the Holocaust was a myth.
Taylor believes passionately that we can affect the internal war now being waged for the soul of Islam. Admittedly, the extremists have a big head start. The Saudis have spent roughly $70 billion over the past 30 years to propagate their Wahhabi form of Islam (Question: What do you call an imam in a Mercedes? Answer: a Wahhabi.) And the threat the jihadists pose is dire for the Muslim world and for the West.
On the other hand, of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims, 85 to 90 percent are traditional, non-radical believers. They are the target audience. LibforAll is hoping to translate "Warriors of Love" into Arabic, Urdu and other languages and distribute it to as wide an audience as possible. They are also launching educational, research and grass-roots activities, including translating the work of moderate Indonesian imams into other languages.
In the 16th century, radical Muslims attempted to impose their radical version of Islam on the island of Java. For a hundred years, the island was riven by conflict. But in the end, a Sufi Muslim named Senopati ing Alogo was able to defeat the extremists and inaugurate an era of religious tolerance and quiet spirituality.
That's the inspiration. The spadework remains.
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