A young Indonesian Shia Muslim leader pledges to join Ambassadors for Peace's fight for religious tolerance

Source:  www.assistnews.net

Date:  2014-09-30

He says that he is 'sick' of all the killings

By Dan Wooding in Jakarta, Indonesia
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

JAKARTA, INDONESIA (ANS) -- A young Indonesian Shia Muslim, who has just attended a three-day gathering in Jakarta convened by Ambassadors for Peace, a Southern California-based organization that promotes religious tolerance between different faiths, has pledged himself to join the group's fight for worldwide religious tolerance.

Muhammad Hadi Yahya

Muhammad Hadi Yahya, a leader of FOSIL (Forum Silaturahmi), a well-known Indonesian student academic organization based in Jakarta, made his pledge after participating in the gathering led by Dr. Garry T. Ansdell, co-founder of Ambassadors for Peace (www.am4peace,com ), and Javier Aguayo, a board member and California businessman.

During this unique gathering, Ansdell and Aguayo, both Christians, shared their views on how it might be possible that people like themselves could live in peace with others, especially Muslims, "with complete free and open dialogue" despite not having the same beliefs.

Dr. Ansdell, senior pastor of Hosanna Christian Fellowship in Bellflower, California, who already has shared the AM4Peace distinctive message in many countries such as Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait, Syria, and Morocco, founded the group with the late Ameal Haddad, an Arab pastor originally from the Middle East, who sadly had passed away shortly before this trip, that he had helped to plan, could take place. (His photograph was on promine nt display during the meeting of these mainly Islamic leaders from various groups within Indonesia, which just happens to be the world's largest Muslim nation.)

Each day, the delegates who were almost all drawn from the various Muslim communities, were asked for their comments and once it had all ended on Sunday, September 28, 2014, I was able to chat with Muhammad to get his input on what he had heard and where he planned to take the ideas that had been shared.

Dan Wooding interviewing
Muhammad Hadi Yahya

He began by explaining that he was from the Shia branch of Islam, which represents a small minority in this largely-Sunni Muslim country.

"Around one million Indonesians are Shias, who are concentrated around Jakarta. Indonesian Shia are found in areas of Java, Madura, and Sumatra," he explained. "Sunni is the majority of here with up to some 80% of the population of about 253 million people and Shia is among the 10 percent of others, including, Ahmadiyya and Baha'i.

"Shia people are being attacked here in Indonesia and also in Iraq [by Islamic State] and other countries in the Middle East and we need much prayer to protect us as we have many enemies."

I then asked Muhammad him why he had come to the conference, and he replied, "Because I'm a representative for Shia and I want to sign up for religious rights. We need to make a difference and in that way, help to vanish all the violence in the name of religion."

He added that, like to many others around the world, he had become "sick of the all the killing s" that were being done in the name of religion particularly by the IS terror group, also known as ISIS.

"All they seem to want to do is to demolish everyone and everything that they don't agree with," he told me. "It is a terrible crime that they are doing. It is just bad."

Muhammad said that he had enjoyed talking with people from various different groups at the conference and learning their perspectives.

 

Three of the leaders of the conference --
left to right Ismail Alatas, Dr. Garry Ansdell
 and Javier Aguayo

"The message of Ambassadors for Peace is very important," he continued. "Actually, it isn't just important, it is also urgent. Their message should be everybody's mission -- to create universal peace."

When asked if he felt he could share what he had learned with his friends, he said, "Sure, I will share it I will not be afraid to do so."

It may surprise some around the world that Indonesia is in fact the fourth largest country on earth (behind just China, India, and the US). Far from being small, Indonesia is in fact a vast archipelago that comprises over 17,000 Islands, which go to form a land mass equating to 1,919,440 square kilometers (735,355 square miles). This means that Indonesia is the 19th largest country in terms of land mass and it has a high population density, too. As the 4th most populous country on earth, Indonesia's 2014 population is estimated at 253,899,536, an increase from 2013's estimate of 250,585,668.

Christianity is the country's second-largest religion, after Islam. About 7% of th e population of Indonesia are Protestants, 3% are Catholics, with the rest various branches of Islam

So, if this gathering is the start of Indonesia leading the way with religious tolerance, that would be a great start and then it could spread out around the entire world. What a thought -- the world becomes Ambassadors for Peace -- instead of hate!

Note: I would like to thank Robin Frost for transcribing this interview.

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