Abdurrahman Wahid Biography

(Former President of Indonesia)

Birthday: September 7, 1940 (Virgo)

Born In: Jombang Regency

Abdurrahman Wahid, the 4th President of the Republic of Indonesia, was born in a prominent family, and represented Indonesia’s modern and moderate views. Equipped with religious education and modern thinking, he became the Chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), and founded the National Awakening Party (PKB). Following Dictator Suharto’s resignation, he was elected President by the Assembly. As the head of a coalition cabinet, he faced a lot of political constraints. During his 20-month tenure, he tried to reduce the dominance of the army in political and social matters. Two ministries, the Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Welfare, were methodically dismantled because of their poor records. A firm believer in pluralism, he reached out to ethnic Chinese, and participated in peace talks with separatists in East Timor and Aceh. Internationally, he became respected for his promotion of peace and understanding. Despite being the leader of the world’s most populous Muslim country, he had great respect for Israel, and visited the country 6 times. His reforms did not go down well with the army and some vested interests in his cabinet and this slowly and gradually fanned the growing unrest. Following his impeachment, he continued to serve the country as an opposition leader.
Quick Facts

Nick Name: Gus Dur

Also Known As: Abdurrahman Addakhil

Died At Age: 69


Spouse/Ex-: Sinta Nuriyah

father: K. H. Wahid Hasyim

mother: Ny. Hj. Sholehah

Presidents Virgo Leaders

Died on: December 30, 2009

place of death: Jakarta

Notable Alumni: University Of Baghdad

More Facts

education: Al-Azhar University, Karachi Grammar School, University of Baghdad

  • 1

    What was Abdurrahman Wahid's role in Indonesian politics?

    Abdurrahman Wahid, also known as Gus Dur, was the President of Indonesia from 1999 to 2001. He was the first democratically-elected president of Indonesia following the fall of Suharto's regime.

  • 2

    How did Abdurrahman Wahid contribute to Indonesian democracy?

    As a prominent Muslim leader and intellectual, Abdurrahman Wahid played a crucial role in the democratization of Indonesia. He advocated for pluralism, tolerance, and the protection of minority rights.

  • 3

    What were some challenges faced by Abdurrahman Wahid during his presidency?

    Abdurrahman Wahid faced various challenges during his presidency, including political instability, economic turmoil, and tensions with the military and political elites. These challenges ultimately led to his impeachment in 2001.

  • 4

    How did Abdurrahman Wahid promote interfaith dialogue in Indonesia?

    Abdurrahman Wahid was a strong advocate for interfaith dialogue and cooperation in Indonesia. He believed in fostering harmony and understanding among different religious communities in the country.

  • 5

    What was the legacy of Abdurrahman Wahid in Indonesian politics?

    Abdurrahman Wahid's legacy in Indonesian politics is marked by his commitment to democracy, pluralism, and social justice. He is remembered as a progressive and inclusive leader who sought to build a more inclusive and tolerant society in Indonesia.

Childhood & Early Life
Abdurrahman ad-Dakhil Wahid was born to Abdul Wahid Hasyim and Siti Solichah. Named after Abd ar-Rahman I of the Umayyad Caliphate and nicknamed "ad-Dakhil" ("the conqueror"), he became popular by the name Gus Dur.
The oldest of five siblings, he belonged to a very prominent family in East Java. His father participated in the nationalist movement and was Indonesia's first Minister of Religious Affairs.
He attended KRIS Primary School and Matraman Perwari Primary School in Jakarta. In 1957, he passed Junior High School, in Yogyakarta, Java region. He shifted to Magelang to obtain Muslim Education at Tegalrejo Pesantren.
He enrolled at the Higher Institute for Islamic and Arabic Studies in 1965, but did not like the rote learning method used by the University. He also began to work at the Indonesian Embassy.
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In Egypt, when he was working at the Indonesian Embassy, the 30 September Movement, a coup led by Communist Party of Indonesia, happened and Wahid was charged with writing the reports.
He transferred to the University of Baghdad and moved to Iraq, but continued associating with the Association of Indonesian Students and writing articles for Indonesian readers. He returned to Indonesia in 1971.
He joined the Institute for Economic and Social Research, Education and Information (LP3ES), whose members were progressive Muslim intellectuals, and as an important contributor to its magazine Prisma, toured the pesantren and madrasahs across Java.
In 1977, he became the Dean of the Faculty of Islamic Beliefs and Practices at the Hasyim Asyari University, and served well in that capacity. He also delivered speeches to the Jombang Muslim community.
He joined the Nahdlatul Ulama’s (NU) Religious Advisory Council. Before the 1982 Legislative Elections, he campaigned for the United Development Party (PPP), formed by the union of four Islamist parties including NU.
In 1983, the NU agreed with President Suharto on the implementation of Pancasila as the basic ideology for all organizations. The NU decided to focus on social issues, by withdrawing the NU from politics.
In1984, he was elected Chairman of NU, and sought changes in the pesantren education system so that it could compete with secular schools. He became close to Suharto as his Pancasila indoctrinator.
He continued as Chairman of NU for two more terms. He refused to join the Reform Committee proposed by Suharto who resigned as President of Indonesia in 1998, amidst growing discontent and student protests.
He supported the formation of PKB, a new political party, and became the Chairman of its Advisory Council in 1998. He also became their presidential candidate for the forthcoming elections.
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In 1999, the People's Consultative Assembly of the Republic of Indonesia (MPR) elected him Indonesia's fourth president defeating Megawati. He convinced a disheartened Megawati to stand for vice-presidential election, which she won.
As president, he won the hearts of the Chinese minority by declaring the Chinese New Year an optional holiday, lifting curbs on the use of Chinese characters and giving official religion status to Kongfucu.
In 2000, he faced two scandals – the Buloggate related to the disappearance of $ 4 million from the inventory of Bulog (state logistics agency), and the Bruneigate, of embezzling $ 2 million donated by the Sultan of Brunei.
During his presidency, he visited the ASEAN countries, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Jordan, China, Saudi Arabia, India, South Korea, Thailand, Brunei, Pakistan, Egypt, the United States, and many European countries.
His relations with TNI, the country’s armed force, deteriorated over his efforts to reduce military dominance in politics. He also did not like the fact that they were arming Laskar Jihad in Maluku.
Indonesia seemed headed for anarchy as the country faced terrorist attacks, and the cabinet members became openly diffident. The MPR impeached him, and Megawati became President in 2002.
He formed a political coalition called United Awakened Archipelago in 2005, and criticized the Yudhoyono Government. He was also involved in the activities of the nonprofit organization, The Wahid Institute, founded by him.
Major Works
Wahid’s National Unity Cabinet, in 1999, abolished the Ministry of Information, which controlled the media during the Suharto regime. He also dismantled the corrupt Ministry of Welfare for extorting money from the poor.
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Faced with separatist movements, he offered East Timor autonomy, instead of independence. He held peace talks with the Free Aceh Movement’s commander Abdullah Syafii and achieved a ‘humanitarian pause’ in 1999.
In 1993, Abdurrahman Wahid received the prestigious Magsaysay Award for his efforts to promote inter-religious relations in Indonesia within a democratic society. The award is referred to as ‘Asia's Nobel Prize’.
In 2003, he received the Friends of the United Nations Global Tolerance award for promoting the principles of the United Nations, and the Appeal of Conscience Foundation Award, four years later.
He was conferred honorary doctorates by the Netanya University (Israel), Konkuk and Sun Moon universities (South Korea), Soka Gakkai University (Japan), Thammasat University (Thailand), Pantheon Sorborne University (France), and many other universities around the world.
Personal Life & Legacy
Wahid married Sinta Nuriyah and fathered four daughters: Alissa Qotrunnada Munawaroh, Zannuba Arifah Chafsoh (Yenny Wahid), Annita Hayatunnufus, and Inayah Wulandari.
He died due to diabetes-related complications, and was buried at his birthplace, Jombang.
Facts About Abdurrahman Wahid

Abdurrahman Wahid, also known as Gus Dur, was an avid collector of traditional Indonesian puppets known as wayang.

He had a deep appreciation for the art form and often incorporated it into his speeches and public appearances.

Wahid was known for his sense of humor and wit, often using jokes and anecdotes to connect with people from all walks of life. He believed in the power of laughter to bridge divides and foster understanding.

Despite being a prominent figure in Indonesian politics, Wahid remained humble and approachable, often engaging in conversations with everyday citizens and listening to their concerns with genuine interest.

Wahid had a passion for promoting interfaith dialogue and understanding, urging people of different religious backgrounds to come together in peace and harmony. He believed in the importance of respecting all faiths and working towards unity.

As a strong advocate for social justice and human rights, Wahid was dedicated to fighting for the rights of marginalized groups in Indonesia, including ethnic minorities and the economically disadvantaged. His commitment to equality and fairness was a defining aspect of his leadership.

See the events in life of Abdurrahman Wahid in Chronological Order

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