Indonesians Make a Mark As ‘Influential Muslims’

Notable Indonesian figures, including President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and former President Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid, made it into “The 500 Most Influential Muslims — 2009,” a book that lists and provides short biographies of outstanding Muslims from the fields of politics, religion, women, the media and radicalism.

The book, edited at Washington’s Georgetown University, is the first in what is planned to be an annual survey of top Muslim personalities worldwide.

Having steered Indonesia toward a strong democracy while working toward eradicating terrorism, Yudhoyono made the list’s most influential in the political category.

Gus Dur was also mentioned in the same category, as the cleric who rallied against the formation of an Islamic state in Indonesia.

Scholar Azyumardi Azra, a prominent Indonesian academic who serves as advisor to the vice president, was also included on the list.

Indonesians who made it into the top 50 were Hasyim Muzadi, chairman of Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization, the 40-million-strong Nahdlatul Ulama, who ranked 18th on the list.

Abdullah “AA Gym” Gynastiar, Indonesia’s most popular preacher, ranked 48th.

Indonesian women also made their mark.

Tuti Alawiyah, the nation’s former women’s empowerment minister, is dean of As Syafi’iyah University, Indonesia’s oldest institution of Islamic education. Siti Musdah Mulia, who chairs the women’s arm of the NU, helped produce the Counter Legal Draft, aimed at revising the Islamic legal code on the banning of polygamy and child marriages.

Lily Zakiah Munir, the only woman and sole Muslim to serve on the monitoring commission for the Afghan elections, is founder of the Center for Pesantren and Democracy Studies, an organization that educates Islamic boarding schools about rights and political participation.

Maria Ulfah, the first woman to win the international Qur’an recitation competition, serves as director of the women’s department at the Institute for Qur’an study in Indonesia.

Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, considered the philosophical leader of the terror group Jemaah Islamiyah, made it in the radicals category.