KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: The International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) Press recently released a Malay edition of The Wisdom of Tolerance: A Philosophy of Generosity and Peace, a dialogue between former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid (1940–2009) and Daisaku Ikeda. This is the sixth language edition of the publication, following Japanese, Indonesian, English, Chinese and French translations.
Mr. Wahid was Indonesia’s first
democratically elected president, serving from 1999 to 2001 after decades of authoritarian
rule. In 1984, he assumed leadership of the Nahdlatul Ulama, one of the largest
independent Islamic organizations in the world, which provides funding for
schools, hospitals and poverty alleviation.
A champion of peace and interfaith dialogue, Mr. Wahid sought to engage Mr. Ikeda in order to cast a bridge between Islam and Buddhism. The former Indonesian President and his wife, Shinta Nuriyah, first met Mr. Ikeda in Tokyo in April 2002. The meeting came amidst a heightened sense of global crisis and fears over of a “clash of civilizations” following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US the year before.
At the time of their first meeting, Mr. Ikeda affirmed, “Religion exists for people’s happiness. Though differing religions cannot be expected to compromise their respective teachings, they can cooperate for the sake of peace for all humanity.” This, he said, was the overarching theme he hoped to explore with Mr. Wahid.
Thereafter, the two dialogue partners
continued their conversation through correspondence. In December 2009, just as
they completed the project, Mr. Wahid passed away. The Wisdom of Tolerance
was published the following year in Indonesian.
The book’s chapter titles provide a sense
of the authors’ exploration of the role and mission of religions. These
include: “The Mission of All Religions—Peace,” “Cultural Exchange is the Source
of Creativity,” “The Spirit of Tolerance,” and “The Vital Roles of Women and
In their dialogue, the former Indonesian
“There is no necessity
for civilizations to clash just because they are different. And if they do
clash, it is usually the result of misunderstandings or prejudices rather than
their actual differences. . . . The important
thing is to respect our mutual differences and accept the diversity and
plurality of the existing reality.”
In the Afterword, President Ikeda comments:
“A united movement of
conscientious global citizens will certainly choose the path of peace,
friendship and harmonious coexistence, refusing to succumb to and inevitably
prevailing over every form of violence, prejudice, and disparity. That the
paean to the victory of human life will ultimately resound throughout the
future of our global society—I joined President Wahid, a great educator in
humanity, as we shared this common cause. . . . My
heartfelt hope is that this work—which is infused with President Wahid’s
stirring call assuring us of that victory in the years to come—will, in turn,
spawn further encounters like ours, inspiring others with renewed hope.”
[Adapted from an
article in the November 2, 2022, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]