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The Biography of Abdurrahman Wahid

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Abdurrahman Wahid is the fourth president of Indonesia who served from 1999 to 2001. He was born as Abdurrahman Adakhil, which means the Conqueror, on September 7th 1940 in Jombang, East Java, Indonesia. His popular nick name, Gus Dur, is derived from two words, Gus: the honorific for a son of Kyai (Holy People in Islam) and Dur: from his name Abdurrahman.


Gus Dur was born to a prominent family in Moslem society in East Java. His paternal grandfather, K.H. Hasyim Asyari, was the founder of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the biggest Muslim organization in Indonesia, and his maternal grandfather, K.H. Bisri Syamsuri, was the first Muslim who introduced classes to women by founding Denanyar Islamic Boarding School. His father, Wahid Hasyim was Indonesia's first Minister of Religious Affairs.

In 1944, Abdurrahman Wahid moved to Jakarta because his father was chosen to be the Leader of Majelis Syuro Muslimin (Masyumi) Party. After the declaration of Indonesia’s independence in 1945, he went to Jombang and stayed there before finally came back to Jakarta in 1949 because his father was appointed to be the Minister of Religious Affair. In 1953, his father died in a car accident.
In 1954, Gus DUr’s mother sent him to Jogjakarta to continue his study because he failed a class in his Junior High school in Jakarta. Gus Dur started to study in a Pesantren, an Islamic Boarding School, in Magelang when he graduated from junior High in 1957 and moved to a Pesantren in Jombang two years later.

In 1963, Gus Dur got a scholarship to study in Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt. While studying, he also worked in Indonesian Embassy there. He took his master degree in Baghdad University in Iraq. Graduated from the University, he wanted to continue his study in Leiden University in the Netherlands but was not accepted because there was no recognition from the University for the Master Degree he had taken in Iraq. He then went to Germany and France before coming home to Indonesia in 1971.

In 1987, Gus Dur was appointed to be the leader of Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI), Indonesian Muslim Assembly and his career has rocketed since then. Two years later, he became the member of the Parliament and finally appointed to be the president of Indonesia in 1999 replacing BJ. Habibie.

As a president, Gus Dur had a distinguished approach to overcome problems in the country. He made a more sympathetic approach to GAM (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka), a separatist group seeking for independence for Aceh, a province in Indonesia, showed more tolerance to Chinese decedent living in Indonesia (TiongHoa), apologized to PKI (Communist Party) members’ family who got killed and tortured in the past, etc. He was also famous for his controversial statements such as saying that the members of the Parliament in Indonesia were the same as kindergarten students in terms of their attitude and behavior. Gus Dur served as the president of Indonesia for only 20 months before finally got removed by his political enemies and parliament in 2001.

In December 2009, Gus Dur, at the age of 69 years old, died because of a heart attack, diabetes and kidney problems. He was buried in his hometown, Jombang, East Java.

Name: Abdurrahman Wahid
Date of Birth: September 7, 1940
Place of Birth: Jombang Regency, East Java, Indonesia
Died: December 30, 2009, Jakarta
Buried: December 31, 2009, Maqbarah family cemetery, Jombang
Presidential term: October 20, 1999 – July 23, 2001
Books: The Wisdom of Tolerance: A Philosophy of Generosity and Peace
Wife: Sinta Nuriyah
Children: Yenny Wahid, Inayah Wulandari, Alissa Qotrunnada, Anita Hayatunnufus

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