Yahya Cholil Staquf says traditional Islam has a problem.
Among Indonesia’s most influential Islamic leaders is Yahya Cholil Staquf, 51,advocates a modern, moderate Islam. He is general secretary of the Nahdlatul Ulama, which, with about 50 million members, is the country’s biggest Muslim organization. Yahya. This interview, notable for Yahya’s candor, was first published on Aug. 19 in German in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Here are excerpts translated from the original Bahasa Indonesia into English.
Many Western politicians and intellectuals say that Islamist terrorism has nothing to do with Islam. What is your view?
Western politicians should stop pretending that extremism and terrorism have nothing to do with Islam. There is a clear relationship between fundamentalism, terrorism, and the basic assumptions of Islamic orthodoxy. So long as we lack consensus regarding this matter, we cannot gain victory over fundamentalist violence within Islam.
Radical Islamic movements are nothing new. They’ve appeared again and again throughout our own history in Indonesia. The West must stop ascribing any and all discussion of these issues to “Islamophobia.” Or do people want to accuse me — an Islamic scholar — of being an Islamophobe too?