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January 25, 2023

Arabic Edition of Wahid-Ikeda Dialogue Published

Arabic edition of Wahid-Ikeda dialogue
Arabic edition of Wahid-Ikeda dialogue

Cairo, Egypt: The publishing house Egyptian Cultural Assembly has released an Arabic language 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 seventh translated edition of the work, following Japanese, Indonesian, English, Chinese (traditional and simplified), French, and Malay language versions.

Mr. Wahid was Indonesia’s first democratically elected president, serving from 1999 to 2001 following 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.

Former Indonesian President Wahid and Mr. Ikeda meet in Tokyo
Former Indonesian President Wahid and Mr. Ikeda meet at the Tokyo Makiguchi Memorial Hall in Hachioji (Tokyo, April 2002)

Mr. Wahid and Mr. Ikeda met in Tokyo in April 2002. Mr. Wahid remarked at the time that he had wanted to meet and speak with Mr. Ikeda since reading Choose Life, the latter’s dialogue with the British historian Arnold J. Toynbee. The dialogue between Mr. Wahid and Mr. Ikeda was subsequently carried out through correspondence until just before Mr. Wahid’s passing in December 2009. The eight-chapter book was published the following year.

The authors, grounded in a common perspective that the purpose of religion is human happiness, draw from their respective traditions to illuminate a range of subjects, including a shared history of cultural and commercial interaction and exchange that went into the making of Japan and Indonesia.

On the key theme of tolerance, the former president shares an Indonesian phrase, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika: “though there is diversity, in essence all is one.” “This idea,” he says, “that, though our opinions may differ, we are all in it together, has been fostered throughout Indonesia’s history.”

Mr. Ikeda remarks that “diversity, when prized, serves as a source of dynamism and a driving force for prosperity. This is one of history’s essential lessons.”

This is a rare dialogue between Islam and Buddhism oriented toward uncovering the conditions for a global society of peace and coexistence.

 [Adapted from an article in the January 25, 2023, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]

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