Tuesday, February 8, 2011


The Aga Khan IV, 49th Imam of the Ismaili Muslims

Shah Karim al Hussayni, also known simply as the Aga Khan (Imamate: 1957-present), is the leader of the Shi‘a sect of Muslims known as the Nizari Ismailis. For 5 million Nizari Ismaili Muslims the Aga Khan is the 49th hereditary Imam, with lineage descending back to Ali, the cousin of the Prophet Muhammad. He is only the fourth Aga Khan, a hereditary title bestowed upon the Imam by the Shah of Persia in the mid-nineteenth century.

Hereditary Leader of Ismailis
The Aga Khan derives his position of authority from his lineage. He has a direct line of ancestry going back to Imam Ali. For Nizari Ismaili Muslims this ancestry is directly attached to the idea of an Imamate starting with Imam Ali. However Nizari lineage differs from the larger sect of Ithna’Ashari‘a (Twelver) Shi‘a. Twelver Shi‘a heritage derives from the younger son of the sixth Imam Jafar al Sadiq, whereas Ismaili heritage derives from the elder son. The Aga Khan’s influence stems from his obligation to lead the community and to find solutions to the ever-changing issues facing his followers. At the age of 21 the Aga Khan bypassed his father and uncle to become the 49th Imam, a choice that his grandfather made because he felt the community needed a leader ‘who has been brought up and developed during recent years and in the midst of the new age, and who brings a new outlook on life to his office.’

Unparalleled Philanthropist
The Aga Khan is also an influential philanthropist on the world stage. His influence on development is very significant and disproportionate to the size of the Nizari Ismaili community, which is one of the smaller Muslim sects. To fulfill the Imam’s responsibilities in the contemporary world, the Aga Khan set up the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). The AKDN is a collection of development and humanitarian agencies working in areas of poverty. The network is widely known for its architectural and cultural work, including projects that revitalize historic cities. These initiatives aim to show the greatness of Islamic civilization through projects such as the renovation of the Old City of Aleppo and the Al Azhar Park in Cairo. The Aga Khan’s foundation maintains a strong and enduring presence in developing countries - building health care capacity, promoting economic development in rural areas and helping improve educational opportunities. The AKDN is particularly influential in Central Asia, where it works in areas that are often neglected by other organizations.


Chairman of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama

Dr KH Said Aqil Siradj is the newly-elected leader of Indonesia’s largest independent Muslim organization and one of the world’s most influential Islamic organizations, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), or ‘Awakening of Scholars’. Succeeding former chairman Dr KH Hasyim Muzadi, Siradj guides millions through his work with the NU.

Head of Expansive Network
The Nahdlatul Ulama boasts an expansive network that covers 30 regions with 339 branches, 12 special branches, 2,630 representative councils and 37,125 sub-branch representative councils across Indonesia. This network practices the doctrine of Ahl as Sunnah w’al Jama’ah, which is Arabic for ‘people of the Sunna (practices of the Prophet Muhammad) and the community’. They base their practices on the traditional sources of Islamic jurisprudence - mainly the Qur’an, Hadith, and major schools of law.

Among its aims are the propagation of Nahdlatul Ulama’s message and also an expansion of its already extensive network of members in Indonesia. This is the basis of many of the organization’s social reform efforts. With a solid structure of central and regional boards, branch and special branch boards, and various advisory councils, Siradj sits at the top of this increasingly influential Sunni movement.

Model of Traditionalism
With a mainly rural membership base, the Nahdlatul Ulama distinguishes itself from other Islamic organizations in Indonesia by positioning itself as a premier organization of traditional Islam - with an emphasis on education and political engagement based on Islamic principles.

Social Service
The Nahdlatul Ulama has made substantial charitable contributions to Indonesian society in the fields of educational development, health care, and poverty alleviation. Siradj, like his predecessors, propagates the Nahdatul Ulama as an organization that is geared toward establishing a secular nation-state based on a body of modern and moderate Muslims - with agenda items such as anti-corruption laws and social reform measures that are deeply rooted in Islamic principles.

Human Rights Activism
Prior to his role as Nahdatul Ulama chairman, Siradj served on Indonesia’s National Commission for Human Rights. Only a few weeks into his position as chairman of the country’s largest Muslim political party, and after violent clashes erupted in different churches across the country, Siradj made strong statements condemning the discrimination against Christian minority groups in Indonesia.

Educational Reform
Siradj has an extensive academic background in the Islamic sciences, and regards education as a tool for development. He founded the Said Aqil Centre in Egypt, a study centre that focuses on developing Islamic discourse, particularly in the Arab world.


Secretary General of Hezbollah

Seyyed Hasan Nasrallah is serving his sixth term as the third Secretary General of Hezbollah (the Party of God). Hezbollah is a Twelver Shi‘a Islamic political party and paramilitary organization based in Lebanon. Hezbollah’s ideology is based on seeking social justice through Islamic ideals. Political and military successes have made Nasrallah a vastly influential figure in Lebanon, and in the Middle East more broadly. Nasrallah and Hezbollah are also controversial; the US and Canada list Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

Military Power
Nasrallah has immense importance in Lebanon as a figure of military power. He gained this influence by leading Hezbollah during the time that Israeli forces withdrew from southern Lebanon. The withdrawal resulted in huge popularity for Nasrallah, giving him increased recognition at home and abroad as a powerful figure. Hezbollah remains a de facto security force in southern Lebanon, and its military presence is felt throughout the country, with a force of around 300,000 fighters.

Lebanon’s leading Twelver Shi‘a Figure
Under Nasrallah, Hezbollah has gained in popularity and in political stature. As Syria and Israel have withdrawn from Lebanon, Hezbollah has begun to position itself as a Lebanese nationalist organization, with revolutionary Shi’ism as the guiding line. Nasrallah was educated at the Hawza Shi‘a seminary in Najaf in Iraq, where he met Abbas Musawi, his predecessor as leader of Hezbollah. Nasrallah took over leadership in 1992 and has popularized the party among the Muslim population of Lebanon, and also among non-Muslims. Hezbollah has gained wide popular appeal by providing social services, health care and also running Al Manar - an influential television station.

Social Services
Hezbollah has also won significant grassroots support by cultivating a social welfare system that provides schools, clinics, and housing in the predominantly Shi‘a parts of Lebanon, and also in others. These welfare activities are run with efficiency and rival those carried out by the state, giving the organization even broader appeal.

International Symbol of Resistance Against Israel
Nasrallah has broader influence in the Muslim world as a figure of defiance against Israel. Israel remains a key issue for the Muslim world and Hezbollah’s aim to achieve social justice in Palestine is central to its activities. The military successes Nasrallah had in the late nineties are seen as the main factor for Israel’s withdrawal from South Lebanon in 2000. Moreover, the staunch defense put up by Hezbollah forces against Israel in July 2006 earned Nasrallah many more supporters. In February 2010 he openly criticized Arab states’ lack of involvement in the opposition against Israel, while at the same time praising Syria and Iran for their support.


Leading Islamic Scholar in Syria

Sheikh al Bouti is the leading Islamic scholar in Syria. He is the head of the Theology Department in the faculty of Islamic Law at Damascus University. Al Bouti preaches very often and is highly respected by many of the leading scholars in the Muslim world. In the past year, his influence has grown significantly in the Muslim world and particularly with young Muslims.

Traditionalist Scholar
Al Bouti is the scholar’s scholar, and the bulk of his influence comes from his position of respect and authority among the leading thinkers in Islam today. Bouti has written close to 50 books that have garnered considerable critical acclaim.

Passionate Advocate of Madhabs
Al Bouti is a keen supporter of madhabs (traditional Islamic schools of law), and is one of the leading critics of the significant movement to abandon these schools. He is particularly influential because this movement has led to groups in which extremist behavior is condoned as Islamic. Al Bouti has referred to the abandonment of madhabs as the ‘most dangerous bid’a [innovation] threatening the Islamic shari‘a.’ His view is critical because he says it gives individuals without knowledge the ability to decide what is and is not Islamic.

A Critic of Salafism
Al Bouti has considerable sway over the theological and legal merits of Salafism versus traditional Islam. He has held important debates with leading Salafi scholars and has performed well, highlighting to his audience the importance of knowledge in Islam. In one of his most noteworthy books on this issue - Jihad in Islam: How to Understand and Practice it - Al Bouti shows how a poor understanding of the term jihad has led to its abuse by both Muslims and non-Muslims. His view is that those who are unaware of the basis of fiqh have manipulated the idea of jihad for their own benefit, underlining that jihad must be conducted, according to the basis of Islamic fiqh.

Prolific Writer
Shiekh al Bouti has made an impact on the Muslim world, in particular through his scholarly outreach. He writes for news publications and journals. He has also developed a reputation for his ability to address and respond to queries regarding Islamic jurisprudence, and personal issues from visitors to his comprehensive website, bouti.net.


Amir of Tablighi Jamaat, Pakistan

Leader of the Pakistan chapter of the Tablighi Jamaat - a transnational Islamic organization dedicated to spreading the message of religious conservatism and renewed spirituality - Hajji Abd al Wahhab is a prominent Pakistani scholar with a significant following in South Asia and the United Kingdom. Although the organization does not have a central authority, Abd al Wahhab has been increasingly influential in his leadership of the throngs of Muslims that follow the international movement in Pakistan and abroad.

As Amir, or leader of Pakistan’s Tablighi Jamaat, Hajji Abd al Wahhab’s influence spans globally due to the organization’s emphasis on missionary work. Considered a foremost da’ee, or inviter to the faith of Islam, Abd al Wahhab has spoken about the need to return to the correct beliefs and practices of Islam in numerous countries and congregations.

Champion of Conservatism
Abd al Wahhab urges Muslims to repent for their sins and to emulate the life of the Prophet Muhammad by adhering to the sunna - the Prophet’s teachings and deeds. Among these is an exhortation to partake in the act of da’wa or spreading the message of the faith. The Tab lighi Jamaat has gradually acquired a massive membership base owing to this core tenet. Abd al Wahhab’s work is derived from close ties to the founder of the Tablighi Jamaat, Maulana Muhammad Ilyas Kandhelvi, and stems from the prominent Islamic institution Darul Uloom Deoband, in India, where the latter studied before establishing a following in Pakistan.

Mass Appeal
Among the throngs of Pakistanis, diaspora South Asians, and others who carry the flag of the Tablighi Jamaat are notable Muslim leaders. In Pakistan alone, Abd al Wahhab’s influence has won the allegiance of prominent politicians, actors, and athletes. Despite his influence over key Muslim leaders from various fields of social power, Abd al Wahhab is consistent in his assertion that the organization is wholly apolitical - identifying the work of the Tablighi Jamaat as a spiritual revivalist movement.

Advocate of Non-Violence
In light of heightened incidences of violence by fringe Islamic militant groups, Abd al Wah hab has publicly stated the importance of non-violence in bringing people closer to the faith of Islam. This comes after the tragic Mumbai attacks which investigations found were linked to the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba; a militant organization Abd al Wahhab has made a point of distancing the Tablighi Jamaat from.


Preacher and Social Activist

Amr Khaled has been a televangelist to the Islamic world since 1998. Khaled was described as the ‘world’s most influential Muslim television preacher’ by The New York Times Magazine, and ranked as the 13th most influential person in the world by TIME Magazine in 2007. He communicates through his TV shows and web campaigns using Islamic ethics as a way to inspire, and foster community development, tolerance and inter-cultural relations.

Popular Media Figure
Part of Khaled’s influence derives from the fact that he appeals to the common person. He holds a degree in accounting, and has no formal religious education; he wears suits and ties, not flowing robes; and has a clean-shaven face except for a trimmed moustache - every thing you do not expect from a Muslim preacher. His everyman appeal has led to immense popularity. Khaled’s television shows are broadcast by four Arab satellite stations but air primarily on Saudi-based religious channel Iqraa. Khaled’s speeches are published online, on bestselling cassettes and CDs. His website is translated from Arabic into nearly twenty languages and it rivals Oprah Winfery’s in terms of traffic.

Voice for Youth
Amr Khaled is a pioneering Muslim preacher and effective social activist who is revered by many as the leader of a revival in the Muslim world, but his influence stems largely from the fact that he engages young people. Youth in the Middle East and North Africa face disproportionate challenges, such as unemployment and social exclusion - obstacles, which make it difficult to compete with development in other areas of the world. Faith is important to young people in the Middle East, but they do not connect with the majority of preachers whose teachings do not speak to the problems in their lives. Khaled is credited with the launch of the first “Muslim reality TV show” Mujaddidun on Dubai Television, where 16 young participants from all over the Arab world compete over who can make the most morally-conscious contributions to their societies.
Community Development
Khaled’s goal is to encourage community development in the Muslim world by its own people with religious faith as the guiding inspiration - something he believes should be linked to interfaith dialogue, tolerance and moderation. The break up of communities is something Khaled sees as responsible for the malaise in the Muslim world, and something he believes puts the future of young people in jeopardy. One program he has launched to realize this objective of community development is Life Makers, which has a stated goal of producing a renaissance for the Arab and Muslim world.


Head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars

Yusuf al Qaradawi is an Egyptian scholar. Articulate and widely read, he is one of the most widely commented on scholars of Islam. Al Qaradawi is a founder of the website IslamOnline, one of the intellectual leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, and the most influential leader associated with the movement since Mahdi Akef stepped down from his position as Supreme Leader in January 2010.

Leading Figure of the Muslim Brotherhood
Qaradawi is incredibly influential as an intellectual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood - one of the most important modern movements in Islam. He has twice turned down offers to be their leader - in 1976 and 2004 - preferring to be free of institutional restrictions. Qaradawi grew up and matured with the Muslim Brotherhood but has distanced himself from the movement in recent years. As early as 1997 he went out of his way to explain his independence from any organization, stating categorically that he was not a member of the Brotherhood. Earlier in his life Qaradawi was jailed three times for his relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood and subsequently stripped of his Egyptian citizenship in the 1970s - driving him to seek exile in Qatar. The Muslim Brotherhood remains the main opposition force in Egypt. Although he has no formal relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, his writings make him an important intellectual figure in the Muslim Brotherhood movement.

Popular Influence
Qaradawi is incredibly influential as a vociferous voice of criticism of the West and of Israel. Much of Qaradawi’s influence over the past decade has been a product of his forthright views on combating social injustice, especially concerning Israeli-Palestinian relations. His view that suicide bombing is a legitimate form of self-defense has landed him in trouble, especially in Western Europe, but is reflective of an underlying sentiment among many in the Middle East that oppression deserves such a response - however Qaradawi goes against the grain of most leading Islamic thinkers by supporting suicide bombing as a tactic of war.

Scholar for Modern Times
Qaradawi’s ability to combine the traditional knowledge of Islamic law with a contemporary understanding of the issues that Muslims face today, has led him to become one of the best known and most influential contemporary Muslim clerics of our time. He uses a variety of means to connect with people. He is well known for his popular Al Jazeera program 'Ash- Shari‘ah wal-Hayat' (Islamic Law and Life) that is watched by an estimated 40-50 million people worldwide. Despite his popularity, Qaradawi is often criticized by fellow scholars regarding his methodology and his occasionally unusual opinions. He does, however, continue to be respected as a knowledgeable scholar and has been praised for his condemnation of the September 11th attacks.


Turkish Muslim Preacher

Fethullah Gülen is a preacher, thinker and educator, who having assumed the leadership of the Nurcu religious movement- started by Said Nursî (1878- 1960 CE) -has gone on to become a global phenom­enon in his own right. His popularity and authority in Turkey has been the driving force of the movement that is widely thought to have brought about the social and, eventually, political changes of which politician Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been the ultimate heir - that is the enfranchisement of Muslim politics in Turkey. Despite his peaceful means of preaching and community orga nization, Gülen is hated by the secularist establishment in Turkey and has been living in the US since 1999.

Humanitarian Reformer
Gülen and his followers have devoted considerable energy in recent years on interreligious dialogue with tens of interfaith centers in Europe and the US being opened to foster better relations between faiths. Gülen is also the head of a series of socially oriented philanthropic efforts. His teaching emphasizes that there are no material shortages in the world, and that there is no justification for starvation. Gülen has established many charities to distribute wealth to the needy.

Catalyst for Educational Change
When Gülen began preaching in Izmir - in his youth - a network of pupils began to unite around his teachings - as a ‘social movement’ inspired by Gülen’s example. This movement has culminated in the development of around 300 schools in Turkey and hundreds more worldwide. Graduates from these private schools around the world are coached in ethics and philosophy that are inspired by Gülen’s teachings, and continue to take top honors in university placement tests.

Influence in the Media
The Gülen movement has opened hospitals and charities, a TV and radio station, as well as a bank- Asya Finans - that operates on Islamic principles. Gülen also has two major mass-circulation daily Turkish newspapers that are affiliated with his movement: Zaman and the English-language Today’s Zaman. The Gülen network has also initiated a Journalists and Writers Foundation and a Teachers Foundation - providing an umbrella organization for a host of dialogue groups and charitable organizations.

Gülen is one of the most important thinkers and writers from Turkey, and among the most effective activists in twentieth-century Turkey. The Gülen movement is one of the best connected and therefore one of the most powerful networks competing to influence Muslims around the globe, making it likely to have an enduring impact on the modernization of Islam and its engagement with Western ideas.

Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood

Dr Mohammed Badie succeeded Mohammad Mahdi Akef - who became the first Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood to step down from his post - as the 8th Supreme Guide in January 2010. Badie is a pro fessor of veterinary pathology at Beni-Suef University in southern Egypt, but has been elected due to his work with the Administrative offices, Education Association, and subsequently, the International Guidance Bureau of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the largest Islam ic political party in Egypt.

Leader of an Expansive Muslim Network
Dr Badie heads the oldest and largest Muslim social, religious, and political organization in existence. The Muslim Brotherhood forms the leading opposition party in many Muslim countries and has branches in most of the Muslim world, besides its base in Egypt. Members of the organization can be found in Bahrain, Syria, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Al geria, Sudan, Somalia, Tunisia, and Libya, as well as the United States. In light of its expanse, Dr Badie is a strong advocate of internal unity within the Brotherhood as well as globally, between all Muslims.

Reformist Leader
Dr Badie represents a conservative shift in the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood. Due to his background in education and religious conservatism, analysts predict that he will empha size the Brotherhood’s social work, moving away from an overly political and activist program. Though he has been imprisoned in the past on multiple occasions due to political activities, Dr Badie stressed in his inaugural address the need for gradual reform based on dialogue and non-violence. This is seen as a response to recent arrests of Muslim Brotherhood members, and increasing pressure from the Egyptian government.

Head of a Leading Islamic Reform Movement
The Brotherhood has historically advocated political activism and charity work with a dis tinctive take on Islamic law, stating that apostasy should not be punishable, rather permitted as a freedom to all Muslims. With a firm belief that constitutional reform is possible in Egypt, the Brotherhood encourages Muslims to be more proactive in staking their claims to a more representative and more Islamic government. The Muslim Brotherhood’s mission of political activism and economic development in Muslim countries is meant to be an internal process, without the interference of foreign entities. What makes the organization's work distinct and far more influential than other Islamic political parties is the emphasis on making faith a guidepost in all political endeavors and, importantly, neither a hindrance to political progress nor a deficiency. This has been both a source of massive support, and also criticism - critics saw that the use of 'Islam is the Solu tion' as a campaign slogan took away from the Brotherhood’s legitimacy as a political organization.


Grand Mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

As the Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz ibn Abdullah Aal al Sheikh has the highest position of religious authority in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He is an Islamic scholar based in Mecca - the seat of Sunni Islam - and has influence as a leading cleric of the expansive global movement of Salafi Muslims.

Head of Sunni Jurisprudential Committees
Sheikh Abdul Aziz Aal al Sheikh is chairman of the Council of Senior Scholars, a scientific consultative commission composed of leading Sunni specialist scholars of shari‘a (Islamic law). He has been behind fatwas that call for more rights for women and children. Al Sheikh is also chairman of the Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and fatwas (religious rulings), a special committee designated for the researching and issuing of religious rulings on jurisprudence, Hadith, and Aqida (creed) for the Sunni world.

As head of the Presidency for Scientific Research and Religious Edicts (Dar al Ifta), al Sheikh is often the spokesperson for controversial rulings issued from the Kingdom. He is recognized for his influence in enforcing a distinct view of Islamic tradition. In 2008, he publicly criticized Muslim televangelists who encouraged Muslims to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries- stressing, instead, that only the two occasions of 'Eid and the weekly Friday observations are valid occasions to celebrate. In this, and also in his condemnation of Turkish soap operas sweeping the Arab World, al Sheikh has stressed the importance of eliminating distracting practices. He is also ardently opposed to the practice of marrying off very young girls to older men, emphasizing its incongruence with human decency and Islamic tradition.

Central Figure of Global Salafi Movement
As Grand Mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, al Sheikh is the leading religious figure of the Saudi-based network of Salafi Muslims. He stresses the importance of adhering to a literal interpretation of the scripture and following Islam as it was practiced by the early generations of Muslims. The rulings derived by al Sheikh are based heavily on a literal reading of the Qur’an and emphasize the need to strip away innovative cultural practices that have become a part of Muslims’ lives across cultures. The movement he leads is characterized by an authoritative stance on Islamic religious practice.

Eminent Scholarship
Grand Mufti al Sheikh is recognized as a leading contemporary scholar of Islam. He has lever aged this influence by openly speaking out against Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda as forces that push a dangerous ideological terrorism. He spoke for the need for a war - to be fought by academics, the media, religious leaders and even parents - against deviant thought that leads overzealous Muslims toward extremism and violence.


Grand Mufti of The Arab Republic of Egypt

Sheikh Ali Gomaa is the Grand Mufti of the Arab Re public of Egypt. He is the second highest Sunni authority in Egypt after Sheikh Ahmad al Tayeb and one of the foremost Islamic scholars in the world. Gomaa is responsible for the Daral Ifta al Masriyyah, a leading institute for Islamic legal research, and the legal arm of the Egyptian Ministry of Justice, which is responsible for passing official religious rulings.

Egypt’s Weight in Islamic Scholarship
Gomaa’s scholarly influence is derived from his position at the center of many of the most significant institutions of Islamic law in the world. Before becoming Grand Mufti, Gomaa was a professor of jurisprudence at Al Azhar University - the second oldest university in the world, founded in 975 CE - Gomaa also served as a member of the Fatwa Council. He is currently a member of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy, the highest institute of Islamic law in the Organization of the Islamic Conference - an inter-governmental organization for Muslim-majority countries.

Personal Popularity
Gomaa has become incredibly popular as a mufti since he began to appear on popular broad cast and satellite television. Part of his appeal is due to the revival of the old Islamic practice of informal ‘knowledge circles’ at the Al Azhar Mosque, and very well attended Q&A sessions after his Friday sermons at the Sultan Hasan Mosque, where Gomaa makes a point of taking on anyone who tries to simplify or distort Islamic teachings without knowledge of its traditions. This has made him extremely popular with those who are uncomfortable with extremism.

Popularized and Simplified Fatwas
Gomaa has immense legal influence through his advocacy of Islamic legal rulings (fatwas). Since he was appointed Grand Mufti of Egypt in 2003, Gomaa has modernized the process of issuing fatwas in the country. He has done this by overhauling the Dar al Ifta organization into a dynamic institution with worldwide reach, based on a fatwa council and a system of checks and balances. Gomaa has been outspoken on environmental sustainability - speaking in November 2009 about plans to make Medina the first “green” Islamic city.

Technological Influence
Gomaa has authored over 50 books, as well as hundreds of articles. He now uses the Dar al Ifta to disseminate his scholarly opinion. His office issues some 5,000 fatwas a week, with official ones on important issues written by him and the routine ones dealt with via phone and the Internet by a team of subordinate muftis. Gomaa believes that respect for traditionalism is growing in the Muslim world, partly because of the immense demand for fatwas issued by his office.


President of Indonesia

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is the politi cal leader of the most populous Muslim country in the world. Commonly referred to as SBY, he has had marked influence over the country as the first directly elected president of Indonesia and over the world as a champion of anti-terrorism efforts and a beacon of democracy in the Muslim world.

Beacon of Democracy
President Yudhoyono came to power after a success ful career with the Indonesian National Army as a four-star general - when he was dubbed “the thinking general” for his efforts toward military reform. This reputation, and a pristine political career with the administrations of former Presidents Ab­durrahman Wahid and Megawati Sukarnoputri are the bases upon which the Democratic Party was founded in 2001. This new political party was founded on the pancasila or five basic principles (belief in the Oneness of God, just and civilized humanity, the unity of Indonesia, democracy, and social justice) with the goal of launching Yudhoyono’s candidacy for the 2004 elections. Since then, he has become increasingly influential as a beacon of democracy for a country historically marred by corruption and political instability. He was re-elected for a second and final five-year term in October 2009.

Popular Reformist
Besides proposing military reform, President Yudhoyono has been recognized for his efforts to establish regional autonomy laws and resolve the separatist conflict in the Aceh and Papua provinces. He has also been credited for reviving the economy, and for his market-friendly approach to reform. He works closely with the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to clean up graft and corruption in Indonesia. The resulting economic and political stability has been attributed to his unique influence and the power of his personal leadership.

Force for Anti-Terrorism Initiatives
Yudhoyono’s increasing popularity is also due in part to the sincerity with which he actualizes his promises to the Indonesian people such as the promises for anti-terrorism enforcement made during his 2004 election campaign. Indonesia has worked closely with Australian intel ligence and security forces to quell extremist threats. In response to the July 2009 hotel bomb ings in Jakarta, President Yudhoyono has been vigilant about openly condemning the perpe trators as agents of terrorism and simultaneously voices his dedication to establishing peace and security in Indonesia through programs that target education and poverty-alleviation in key areas where militants may prey on youth.