Indonesia's Largest Islamic Organization Has New Leader

Diana Mariska
Nahdlatul Ulama's newly elected general chairman Yahya Cholil Staquf. (Photo:
Nahdlatul Ulama's newly elected general chairman Yahya Cholil Staquf. (Photo: - Members of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), world’s biggest Islamic organization, has just elected their new leader. Yahya Cholil Staquf, or more famously known as Gus Yahya, is officially the general chairman for 2021-2026 period.

During the 34th national congress held by Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board (PBNU) in Lampung, Cholil was chosen by voting on Friday, December 24. He went head-to-head with incumbent Said Aqil Siradj, and because agreement wasn’t reached in discussion, the leader was decided through voting.

Staquf won with 337 votes while Aqil received 210 votes.

During the selection process, central board, regional board, and branch board were asked to submit their candidates for general chairman. The five names proposed by muktamirin, or members of congress, were Gus Yahya, Said Aqil, As'ad Said Ali, Marzuki Mustamar, and Ramadhan Bayu. 

Who Is NU’s New Leader?

Yahya Cholil Staquf was born in Rembang, Central Java, 55 years ago. He is the brother of current Indonesian Ministry of Religious Affairs, Yaqut Cholil Qoumas. His father, Cholil Bisri, was one of the founding members of the National Awakening Party (PKB).

He grew up and studied in Islamic boarding schools before continuing his education in Gadjah Mada University where he studied social and political science.

He was once appointed as spokesperson by Indonesia’s fourth president, the late Abdurrachmad Wahid – or Gus Dur as most Indonesians call him. Gus Yahya was also former member of the Presidential Advisory Council (Wantimpres) after being inducted by President Joko Widodo in 2019.

Back in 2018, he was criticized for attending the American Jewish Community (AJC) Global Forum in Israel. The move was seen as one against the commitment to support independence for Palestine.

However, NU defended the decision, calling it a diplomatic effort and one that would’ve been endorsed by former chairman Gus Dur, as he himself participated in the same forum in the United States in 2002. .

Staquf became of the candidates to become NU’s next general chairman after getting the majority of support from all level of NU’s boards.

The Islamic organization, with over 90 million members, is the largest, not only in Indonesia, but also in the world.  Founded in 1926, the organization is considered ‘moderate’ as it encourages values like religious tolerance and democracy. It also allows its members to carry out cultural traditions as long as they aren’t against Islamic principles.

NU is also against terrorism and extremism, and there have been a number of efforts done by the organization to contain the spread in Indonesia. In 2014, NU clerics were engaged in dialogues with radical groups to prevent future acts of terrorism. It has also worked with a number of state agencies like National Intelligence Agency (BIN) and National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT).

“NU’s stance is that we are against radicalism and extremism. [For NU] those are not the form of a fight [for Islam]. Let there be no more [IS and radicalism] supporters,” former chairman Said Aqil has sadi.

Tag # nahdlatul ulama # religious # terrorism # islam # islamic organization # extremism

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