Yahya Cholil Staquf is a prominent Muslim cleric and secretary general of the world’s largest Islamic organization, Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), which has 60 million members. He attended the Global Forum of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in Jerusalem last month and met with Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, and then received a wave of criticism for advocating dialogue with Israel.
Deutsche Welle-Germany reports that in an interview, Staquf was asked: Can Islam inspire peace between Israelis and Palestinians? Staquf replied: “Maybe, as long as Islamic thinkers are willing to re-contextualize. Why is Islam functioning as the justification for conflict today? It is the fruit of an Islamic interpretation coming from the Middle Ages. If Islam wants to function more constructively in the present age, there must be contextual adjustment, because reality has fundamentally changed.
“Muslims must be aware that conflict will continue to prevail if we are not willing to change our mindset….I am sure there must be a reference that we can use to understand the present reality with a more constructive point of view.
“First, we must want peace. That’s it. Do we want to keep fighting until everything is destroyed or do we want peace? If you choose peace, then there should be dialogue. But dialogue alone is not enough. Dialogue must be accompanied by social movements, so that aspirations for peace become consensus at the community level. Then political leaders will build policies based on the aspirations of peace….Unfortunately, though, the current thought does not offer any solution other than destruction.”