A Mormon’s Encounter with Gus Dur, The Indonesian Muslim Leader

Ponderit has an instructive story about a Mormon’s encounter with a Muslim cleric in Indonesia, Gus Dur, who would fly to Salt Lake City and receive a blessing from President Hinckley and later become President of Indonesia. If any of you are familiar with details of this story and care to comment or can verify, I’d appreciate hearing from you. I would also like to learn more about the relationship between Muslim leaders and the Church. In today’s tense climate of religious misunderstanding and anxiety over Islam in particular, I welcome anything that might lead to mutual respect.


Author: Jeff Lindsay

10 thoughts on “A Mormon’s Encounter with Gus Dur, The Indonesian Muslim Leader

  1. I read the story. Great stuff. I wish the author had evidence to substantiate it and lift it ouy of the realm of Mormon faith-promoting rumors. But I wouldn’t deny something like that could happen.

  2. As far as Gus Dur, I do not know.

    However, I do know with absolute certainty that Alwi Shihab, the former minister of foreign affairs in Indonesia is a personal friend of President Packer’s. Elder Packer personally introduced him at a recent BYU forum (I’ve never seen an apostle introduce somebody at BYU–and I’ve been here for a while). Furthermore, one of my professor’s was asked by Shihab to attend Shihab’s daughter’s wedding at BYU. BYU denied travel, Shihab contacted Elder Packer, and travel was immediately granted.

    Understanding is not only possible, but real.

  3. Parley Pratt seemed to be particularly enamored with Islam:

    “I should rather incline, of the two, after all my early traditions, education, and prejudices, to the side of Mahomet, for on this point he is on the side of truth, and the Christian world on the side of idolatry and heathenism.”
    – Apostle Parley P. Pratt, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3, p.38

    “So far as that one point is concerned, of worshipping the one true God under the name of Mahometanism, together with many moral precepts, and in war only acting on the defensive, I think they have exceeded in righteousness and truthfulness of religion, the idolatrous and corrupt church that has borne the name of Christianity.”
    – Apostle Parley P. Pratt, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3, p.41

  4. I don’t care if he’s Elder Packer’s friend. I’ll start respecting Islam when it gives up it’s goals of a caliphate and world sharia.

    These views are not limited to Islam’s radical wings. Here’s the big question:

    We keep hearing about how this huge, rapid-spreading religion is so peace-loving, and how the radical movement is but a very small minority.

    If that’s true, why can’t the ‘peaceful’ majority simply stamp out these teency groups of radicals? Think about it.

    It either cannot or will not. I don’t know which is scarier.

  5. It’s not thhe first time, Indonesia president Gus Dur have personal relation with Mormonism. In May 1956, President Soekarno of Indonesia have greeted by Mormon when he visited Salt Lake City. In the Grand Mormon Church, Soekarno has spoken to the world as one of his famous epithets on religions. “We have One God!”. I’m muslim. But I like Mormon. The way of life of Mormon is absolutely same as Muslim’s. We are same barricade.

  6. A member of the Church, a businessman by the name of Jensen facilitated the introduction of Gus Dur to Elder Packer and subsequently to President Hinckley. Jensen met Gus Dur while considering a venture in Indonesia. Their relationship developed, trust was established over time and Gus’s eye operation facilitated in Utah.
    Gur Dur’s election as President has nothing to do with President Hinckley’s blessing – that was for the operation on his eyes. Gus knew he would be elected President in an vision he had in the early 80’s.
    The remarkable and very spiritual story was related first-hand during a fireside I attended in 1999. I sat beside Jensen’s parents at the back of the church and pestered them with questions. The relationship all started because Jensen was offered coffee by Gus and Jensen said “I don’t drink coffee, I’m a Mormon”.
    Some of the results were two trips to the US for Gus, both times staying with the Jensens; a trip to Indonesia for the Prophet and entourage complete with 23 pages of protocol Jensen had to handle; influence by Gus to the World Council of Churches regarding the Church; missionaries in Indonesia; a blessing from Neil Maxwell given in Arabic(?); and all the magic that happened to have all this come off.
    It was the best fireside I’ve ever been to!

  7. Interesting story…I just know that Gus Dur had visited Utah for medical purposes. Anyway, Gus Dur is very open minded, therefore he does not have any problem with people from other beliefs. He respects all religions. I wish all Indonesians were tolerant like him.

  8. Late to the party, but it's all true (except it was tea and not coffee). Like Ken Macrae, I was also at the fireside that night. Hal Jensen is from Valley Center, CA, and the fireside was in the LDS building on Washington Street, in Escondido, CA. I distinctly remember sitting in the front right-hand side of the room listening, and wondering if maybe I would be called as a missionary to Indonesia (I was 18 at that time). That didn't end up happening, but I have never forgotten Hal's story that night. And like Ken said, the best fireside I have ever been to.

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