Abdurahman Wahid

From his youth, the man before us was destined for greatness - the descendant of his renowned grandfather, who established throughout Indonesia the traditional NU educational network that was to become the largest of its kind in the Islamic world, resulting in the traditional, popular Islamic movement numbering 40 million people. His grandfather Kiai Hasyim Asyari was famed, not merely as an important religious scholar of his time, but also as a national leader during the historic moments of his nation's self-renewal.
 
He set out to fulfill his important duties under tragic circumstances -- after his father had been killed in a road accident -- resolutely encouraged by the noble and prestigious lady who accompanied his early life -- his mother.
 
He acquired his extensive education in institutions of higher education in Java and subsequently at the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, from where he continued to the University of Baghdad. His preoccupation with the study of Islam and Islamic Philosophy notwithstanding, he also displayed an interest in all aspects of Western culture. When he returned to his homeland, he took up his diligent work in its institutions. He also published various articles that made his name a byword in Islamic scholarship. He joined the political leadership of NU, and headed that organization for 15 years, promoting intellectual culture and instituting major reforms in NU, which existed at the time of Suharto's rule over Indonesia. The economic crisis in 1998 led to the collapse of the Suharto regime and its unbridled military rule. Throughout all those years, his was the voice of reform, and his intellectual call resounded strongly, leading all the other calls for reform.
 
His proven leadership notwithstanding, his ascent to the Presidency was amazing and meteoric, in light of his relatively sparse representation in parliament.
 
He was granted this leadership in tribute and esteem for the inner strength, the profound knowledge and great intellect reflected by him; these qualities also appear in his articles promoting various reforms.
 
 
Many of his compatriots miss the insightful resolve and warmth of his leadership, and look back longingly to the era of his presidency over the world's largest Islamic country.
 
He is one of the major leaders of the future world, for he has the capacity to represent a religious heritage steeped in long years of scholarship and thinking on the one hand, and of tolerance and love of mankind that lights up Islam and its ability to contribute on the other, reflecting the world's ability and desire to live in mutual     understanding and dignity with all the religious concepts believed in by the world as a whole.
 
In recognition of his nobility of spirit, his warm heart, the countless number of his accomplishments too many to list here -- we have resolved to confer upon him an honorary degree - HONORIS CAUSA
 
 

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