Nurcholis Madjid, 66, Indonesia’s foremost liberal Muslim thinker, died of liver disease Monday, Associated Press reported.
Madjid, better known as Cak Nur, was an advocate of pluralism and tolerance in the world’s most populous Muslim nation, which in recent years has struggled against an increasingly vocal hard-line fringe.
Madjid was born in East Java to a preacher’s family in 1939, and spent most of his early years at Islamic boarding schools.
In 1984, he received a doctorate in Islamic studies from the University of Chicago before returning to teach at Indonesia’s Islamic Institute.
Madjid taught a pluralistic and inclusive brand of Islam, emphasizing its oneness with other faiths and its traditions of tolerance and diversity.
“Cak Nur was the man that brought enlightenment to Islamic thought in Indonesia,” said Ulil Abshor Abdala, chairman of the Islamic Liberal Network, a nongovernmental organization that supports religious moderation. “He created a solid base” for religious harmony.
Although his liberal views were criticized by hard-line Muslims, Madjid was well-respected by Indonesians and members of the country’s intellectual, political and religious elite.