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Dr. Nurcholish Madjid (March 17, 1939 – August 29, 2005), in his homeland affectionately known as Cak Nur, was a prominent Indonesian Muslim intellectual. Early in his academic career, Nurcholish was a leader in various student organizations. He soon became well known as a proponent for modernization within Islam. Throughout his career he continued to argue that for Islam to be victorious in the global struggle of ideas, it needs to embrace the concepts of tolerance, democracy and pluralism.

Born in Jombang, East Java, Madjid received his early education in religious institutions in Indonesia, so called pesantren. He later received his doctorate in Islamic Studies from the University of Chicago in the United States where he studied under the noted Pakistani-American scholar, Fazlur Rahman. In 2003 he participated in Indonesia's national elections as a candidate for the presidency. He served as Rector of Paramadina University in Jakarta from 1998 up until his death. Madjid was married and had two children.

In the 1970s, Cak Nur coined the slogan: 'Islam, yes; Islamic parties, no', which became very popular. The slogan helped combat the view that it was sinful for Muslims to vote against Islamic parties.[1] The two most successful Muslim parties in Indonesia's 2004 general elections, the moderate National Awakening and United Development Parties, received 10.6% and 8.1% of the vote, respectively.


  • “The Issue of Modernization among Muslims in Indonesia: A Participant’s Point of View”, in: Gloria Davies, ed. What is Modern in Indonesian Culture, Athens, Ohio, Ohio University, 1978
  • Islam in Indonesia: Challenges and Opportunities, in: Cyriac K. Pullapilly, ed., Islam in the Modern World, Bloomington, Indiana: Crossroads, 1982
  • “The Necessity of Renewing Islamic Thought and Reinvigorating Religious Understanding”, in: Charles Kurzman, ed. Liberal Islam: A Sourcebook, New York: Oxford University Press, 1988
  • “In Search of Islamic Roots for Modern Pluralism: The Indonesian Experiences” in: Mark Woodward ed, Towards a New Paradigm, Recent Developments in Indonesian Islamic Thought, Tempe, Arizona, Arizona State University, 1996


  • Abdullah Saeed (1997) “Ijtihād and Innovation in Neo-Modernist Islamic Thought in Indonesia”, Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Vol. 8, No. 3, 1997, p. 279-295
  • Greg Barton (1997) Indonesia's Nurcholish Madjid and Abdurrahman Wahid as intellectual Ulama: The meeting of Islamic traditionalism and modernism in neo‐modernist thought, Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Vol. 8, No. 3, 1997, p.  323-350.
  • Ensiklopedia Nurcholis Madjid, Budhy Munawar-Rachman, Feb 2007.


External links[edit]

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145 news items

Gatestone Institute

Gatestone Institute
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 02:02:38 -0700

The problems that verses and utterances like these cause for reformist Muslims have been tackled by a range of modern intellectuals and religious scholars such as the Indonesian Nurcholish Madjid, and the Algerian philosopher and theologian, Mohammed ...
The Conversation
Wed, 09 Jul 2014 20:18:46 -0700

This can be seen in the tagline popularised by the late Islamic scholar Nurcholish Madjid: “Islam Yes, Partai Islam No” (“Islam Yes, Islamic Parties No”). From then until the fall of Suharto, Indonesian Islam no longer promoted formal and legal ...


Fri, 05 Sep 2014 06:07:30 -0700

“Muslims have different interpretations of the Koran, including of the chapter that talks about marriage,” Zainun Kamal from the Paramadina Foundation, a religious and social institution founded in 1986 by late Islamic scholar Nurcholish Madjid, told ...
Jakarta Post
Tue, 15 Apr 2014 19:59:12 -0700

The last institution is HMI, the largest student organization in Indonesia. An Indonesian liberal thinker, Nurcholish Madjid, who is also former HMI chairman, wrote a document on the basic values of HMI. This progressive document has become the key at ...
Sun, 05 May 2013 06:46:41 -0700

Nurcholish Madjid adalah sosok yang tidak bisa dilepaskan dari perkembangan pemikiran Islam di Indonesia. Cak Nur, sapaan pendakwah legendaris ini juga sering disebut sebagai seorang pembaharu. Sebutan ini tidak berlebihan jika melihat ...
Jakarta Post
Thu, 09 Jan 2014 19:45:00 -0800

In her Nurcholish Madjid Memorial Lecture (NMML) in December 2013, Sidney Jones's unanswered questions were: How can you teach tolerance in schools if there are strong countervailing influences at work, and how and by whom can religious teachers ...
Common Ground News Service
Tue, 16 Apr 2013 16:14:24 -0700

Jakarta – When Christians celebrated Good Friday on March 29 in the Cathedral church, Central Jakarta, the Istiqlal mosque next door happily provided its parking space for the church's congregation members. Standing next to each other, it's hard to ...
Middle East Forum
Mon, 05 Aug 2013 13:37:30 -0700

Rather than directly challenge the authorities for political power, moderate reformists such as Dawan Rahardjo, Djohan Effendi, and Nurcholish Madjid focused on building a strong and dynamic Islamic community based on education and social welfare.

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