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Indonesians mourn death of pluralist Muslim cleric

Ahmad Hasyim Muzadi was known for commitment to promoting interreligious dialogue

Indonesians mourn death of pluralist Muslim cleric

Ahmad Hasyim Muzadi, who passed away on March 16, was a respected figure in Indonesian religious and political circles. ( photo)

Ryan Dagur, Jakarta

March 17, 2017

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Indonesians are mourning one of the country’s most highly respected clerics, Ahmad Hasyim Muzadi who died on March 16 at age 72.

Muzadi, known for his unceasing commitment to promoting interreligious dialogue passed away at the boarding school he founded in Malang, East Java.

A state funeral was held in Depok, West Java, later the same day.

President Joko Widodo described Muzadi as a great scholar and teacher of the nation who was always at the forefront of safeguarding diversity.

"He was a great ulema [scholar] who was always able to calm situations, comforting our hearts," Widodo said in a statement.

Muzadi, was a former chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization, and recognized as moderate and pluralist leader.

He also helped establish the International Conference of Islamic Scholars, a forum for world Muslim scholars to find solutions to various conflicts involving Islam. He was also president of the World Conference of Religion for Peace.

Bishop Henricus Pidyarto Gunawan of Malang, described Muzadi as a man who "was very open, loved harmony and broad-minded."

"He often came to our church for friendly visits and to exchange ideas," he said.

With Indonesia’s current situation clouded by religious conflicts, Bishop Gunawan said Muzadi could have been an inspiration for any religious adherent.

Gomar Gultom, general-secretary of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia said Muzadi advocated religious dialogue at all levels.

Muzadi initiated dialogue with Muslims in Bogor, West Java, who reject the establishment of the Yasmin Indonesian Christian Church, which was sealed off for nine years, he said.

Last month, members of the church reached a compromise with local authorities by accepting an offer to build a mosque inside the grounds of their church compound.

"He communicated with all levels of society, " Gultom said, and often reminded people that religion should not be a reason for conflict.

As well as religious activities, Muzadi was also involved in political affairs.

He was a vice presidential candidate who stood with Megawati Soekarnoputri in the 2004 presidential election which was eventually won by Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

In 2015, President Widodo chose Muzadi as a member of the Presidential Advisory Board.

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