Indonesia: Musicians successfully say “No to the warriors of jihad”



Sufi musician successfully say “No to the warriors of jihad”

Ahmad Dhani and his band Dewa are on the front line of a global conflict, defending Islam from its fanatical hijackers. They seek to rescue a generation from extremists, writes the former president of Indonesia in an unusual column in the American newspaper the Washington Post

Leader of the popular Indonesian rock band Dewa, Ahmad Dhani, uses music to influence his millions of fans to resist the tide of religious extremism. In response to the atrocities in Bali — the bombing in 2002, and now again on October 1, 2005 — and to discredit the appeal of fundamentalist ideology, Ahmad Dhani composed the best-selling album ‘Laskar Cinta’ (‘Warriors of Love’). Released in 2004, it quickly rose to the top of the charts as millions of young Indonesians embraced its message of love, peace and tolerance.

In the first month following its release, the album shipped over 150,000 copies.  Not to mention that after the protests concerning its cover — which resembles calligraphy forming the name of Allah — the album leapt back into the public spotlight and its rate of sales doubled. An estimated two million copies of ‘Laskar Cinta’ are currently in circulation.

In October 2005, Ahmad Dhani received new international attention when the former president of Indonesia, Abdurrahman Wahid, wrote a column praising his courage in the Washington Post in USA. He had written it together with C. Holland Taylor who is the chairman of Libforall Foundation, a nonprofit organisation that works to reduce religious extremism and discredit the use of terrorism.

The authors described how Ahmad Dhani and the other members of Dewa have presented the youth of the world’s largest muslim population with a stark choice: Do they want to join the army of jihad, or the army of love?:
“The cult of death has proved its ability to recruit misguided fanatics and incite them to violate Islam’s most sacred teachings in the very name of God. (…) For every young Indonesian seduced by fanaticism, countless others see through the web of lies and hatred, in no small part thanks to the courage of people like Ahmad Dhani. As they listen to Dewa’s music, the hearts of millions of young Indonesians have been inspired to declare: “No to the warriors of jihad! Yes to the warriors of love!” ”

In response, reports the columnists, radical Muslim groups have accused Dhani — a devout Sufi, or mystically inclined Muslim — of being an infidel, an apostate (code words inciting violence) and a Zionist agent. They have hauled him into court on charges of defaming Islam and seek to ban his use of rock music to promote a spiritual and progressive interpretation of Islam that threatens the appeal of their own Wahhabi-inspired extremism. Dhani, father of three children, was hauled into a Jakarta police station on a complaint issued by the Front for the Defense of Islam (a radical Islamist group), and he was denounced before the High Court by a Jakarta native named Ridwan Saidi who accused him of religious heresy.

Rather than be intimidated, Dhani recently announced to launch another “ideological smart bomb” — a song that uses the revelatory tone of the Koran to declare: “Truth dwells in the hearts of those who love and are free of hatred; the hearts of those who hate … are possessed by Satan.”

The Washington Post, October 7, 2005:
‘In Indonesia, Songs Against Terrorism’
(Also published in Sydney Morning Herald on October 14, 2005 under the title: ‘Warriors of love stand up to the jihadists’)

Nyata Magazine, June, 2005:
‘Religious Tolerance ala Dewa’

Libforall – a page on Popular Culture, with song clips:
‘No to the warriors of jihad! Yes to the warriors of love!’

Video clips of the Libforall Award presented to Dewa

Libforall Foundation

Dewa’s website

Click to go to Dewa's website
Ahmad Dhani

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