Prague, 22 December, Caucasus Times. A simultaneous prayer for peace in the whole world was uttered by representatives of different religions in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. The prayer lasted only a few minutes, but the message sent by the clergy is clear.
Nowadays, dozens of countries on the planet need peace and stability, but the situation is getting worse every day. And the term “terrorism” has already firmly penetrated into the history of even economically developed European countries. The number of problems related to religion is also increasing. Anti-Islamic sentiments are growing in Europe due to the mass migration of refugees and, as a result, social problems are emerging too. Many people associate Islam with religious intolerance and extremism.
The Orthodox Church is about to split, especially after Constantinople provided autocephaly for Ukraine. It seems that none of the six Congresses was conducted in such conditions. Official Astana managed to put the clergy at the negotiating table despite the differences.
At the plenary session, speeches were made by the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Islamic University Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad al-Tayeb, the Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilus III, the Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for external church relations Metropolitan of Volokolamsk Hilarion, the President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, the High Representative of the UN Alliance of Civilizations Nasir Abd al-Aziz Al-Nasser, the Secretary General of the World Assembly for Rapprochement of Islamic Madhabs (Schools) Ayatollah Mohsen Mohammadi Araki, the Sephardic and Ashkenazi Rabbis of Israel Yitzhak Joseph and David Lau, the Vice-President of the World Buddhist Community Lama Choyzhilzhavyn Dambajav, the Chairman of the Chinese Taoist Association Li Guanfu, the OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger and the Secretary General of the World Conference of Religions for Peace William F. Vendley.
In total, Kazakhstan gathered more than 80 delegations from 45 countries of the world. Obviously, leaders of world religions need such meetings and platforms of equal opportunities and negotiations.
While opening the Sixth Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev voiced the main idea: “Despite rapid technological development and growth of global wealth, the scale of social disasters continues to expand. According to the UN, 14% of the world’s population is chronically hungry. The total number of unemployed exceeded 190 million people. This increases social inequality as a breeding ground for radicalism. Therefore, the key issue is security and justice.”
But every year the world community seems to be moving away from the just world. According to Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Islamic University, political forces spent about $ 1.5 billion on the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria from 2001 to 2018 while 750 million people in the world can neither write nor read. Sometimes a religious leader is the only source of education and upbringing, and a role model. And it is very important that a religious leader could convey thoughts of peace and tolerance to as many parishioners as possible, and this requires new approaches and technologies. That is why an information website will be created following an initiative of President Nazarbayev. Its task is to help study and apply methods in order to strengthen resistance to any manifestations of religious radicalism and violence in general.
The task is topical as the events of the last few years have shown that religious radicalism threatens both prospering countries and low GDP countries.
Therefore, nowadays “correct” religious education in all senses too is on the list of the foundations of stability and security of the state. Therefore, the matter is about conflict resolution and opportunities which representatives of different confessions have in this context.
Certainly, it is impossible to solve all problems even by six Congresses, but no one expects that problems accumulated over the years can be solved at once.
The Congress has a very important agenda and hundreds of journalists accredited to access the event and who wrote gigabytes of interviews is one of the indicators of the urgency of the problem. The speakers of the Congress unanimously agree that peace and love will help the humanity.
Ravil Gainutdin, the chairman of the Council of Muftis and the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Russia, says that such an interfaith dialogue is a real practice of peace calling for moral deeds on the part of the participants. The religious leaders are ready to accomplish such deeds, using the main principle of all religions: tolerance and respect for other races and confessions. This time the focus in Astana was put on neutralization and prevention of Islamization in the world.
The fact that Astana is becoming the capital of world and traditional religions for the sixth time is also very symbolic. But against the background of other post-Soviet countries, the first thing that strikes in Kazakhstan and serves as a basis for respect for its leader is religious tolerance.
President Nazarbayev emphasizes that Kazakhstan is a secular state, but religion and its traditions serve the stability of the country by developing the national identity of the people. That is why Kazakhstan became the initiator of the creation of the Center for development of inter-confessional and inter-civilizational dialogue. And today, the world needs such a dialogue more than ever.