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First congress of world and traditional religions in Astana Print E-mail

ImageMain priorities of the I Congress:

- statement of peace, concord and tolerance as stable principles of human existence;
- achievement of mutual respect and tolerance between religions, confessions, nations and ethnoses;
- oppositions to trials to use religious senses of people for escalation of conflicts and military actions.

Political tasks of the I Congress:

-  strengthening of traditions of interfaith and interconfessional dialogue in form of interfaith congresses;
- establishment of continuously acting agency of the Congress for coordinated, objective and competent preparation of ideology and concept of future congresses;
- establishment of Secretariat of the Congress located in the Republic of Kazakhstan.     

The following theses were defined as the subject of the Congress:

-  every human shall have possibility to follow its religious views;
- religious postulates and differences between religions shall not be used to justify violence, cause hate and discord;

- origins and reasons of the terrorism are outside the religion and religious postulates;

- the dialogue of civilizations is the process aimed to prevent conflicts based on cultural and ethnic ground, which is especially significant in conditions of globalization;

- it is necessary to try to obtain global consensus on elaboration of universal formula of human interrelations, based on moral and ethic values of modern civilizations.   

   Great preparation work preceded the congress. Some bilateral meetings with leaders of world religions, who discussed questions of forthcoming Congress, were held on February-June, 2003. There should be noted the meetings of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan N.Nazarbaev with His Excellency Pope of Rome John Paul II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Aleksiy II, General Secretary of Islamic League sheikh Abdallah ben Abdel Muskhin At-Turki (Saudi Arabia), Chief Rabbi of Israel Jonah Metzger, Secretary of State of Vatican cardinal Angelo Sodano.

  Interconfessional headquarter actively cooperated with papal councils of Vatican, World Islamic League and other religious centers in the process of the preparation for I Congress.  Plan of preparation for the Congress was developed and affirmed.

17 delegations, representing Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Daoism, Shintoism and Hinduism, took part in the Congress.   

  The Result of the First Day of I Congress

The President of the Republic of Kazakhstan N.Nazarbaev opened with his welcoming address the I Congress of World and Traditional Religions at 10.00 a.m. on September 23. The President also specified welcoming telegrams of the heads of countries and the leading world politicians: the President of the USA, G.Bush, the President of Russia, V.Putin, The President of France, J.Shirak, the President of Egypt, H.Mubarak, the President of European Committee, R.Prodi, the king of Saudi Arabia, Fahd bin Abdul Aziza Al-Turki, the Prime-Ministers T.Blair, S.Berlusconi, UN General Secretary, K.Annan, Ex-Premier-Minister, M. Tatcher, Ex-President V.Giscar d'Esten, and religious leaders: Pope of Rome John Paul II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Aleksiy II, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rouen Williams, the Patriarch of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Varfolomei, etc. 

Then the Head of the State paid special attention to insolvency of existing discussions for the theme of "conflict of civilizations" and "crisis of the religions" in his speech. The President marked that mankind tries to find the answers in religious truths in the period of globalization on the background of difficulties of people's adaptation to technological innovations. At the same time, unfortunately, we witness how ability of religion to mobilize people for political actions is exploited in modern society in sake of bad purposes; the sense of sanctity itself and its natural interpretation are distorted. All this leads to defiance of human laws, permissiveness, to the actions incompatible with morality, humanism, which are main postulate of all the religions. The President of Kazakhstan drew participants' attention to the fact that it is time to declare absolutely that it is not admissible to attach ideological, political sense to existing cultural and civilization and religious differences.   

Abdallah ben Abdel Muskhin At-Turki, sheikh, General Secretary of the World Islamic League (Saudi Arabia) suggested an idea to establish a raw of committees for defining generalized concept "terrorism" pursuant to the regulations of international law, elaboration of criticism of the theory of "collision of civilizations" in his report. The sheikh called the participants to take firm position for the purpose to prevent the forces breaking the human unity.   

 Joseph Tomko, the cardinal, the President of the Congregation for the Evangelization of the Nations (Vatican), declared in his report the Address of the Pope John Paul II to the Congress, which the participants perceived with great interest. Joseph Tomko reminded all the leaders of the responsibility imposed on them for keeping peace on the Earth, demonstrating the position of Sancta Sedes aimed to establish positive dialogue with all the religions of the world.  

Tsamun Losantszumei Tudantsyuetszinim, the Deputy Chairman of Association of Buddhists of China, noted that "modern world is many-coloured and we shall respect variety and differences of nationalities, religions and civilizations, tend to tolerance instead of discrimination and communication instead of confrontation".

The report of Jonah Metzger, the Cief Rabbi of Israel, was well-wishing and open for the representatives of all the religions in the world. He marked special friendly atmosphere between nations in our republic, addressed many kind words to the President of our country, people of Kazakhstan and new capital. Having declared that enmity, hate, terror are prohibited things for religious people, when the person finds himself at dangerous line of firing, Jonah Metzger said we can put out  this fire, as the God created people not for the purpose they eliminate each other. 

The Metropolite of Astana and Almaty Methodius acquainted the participants of the Congress with the address of Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, having underlined that the position of Russian Orthodox Church is directed to establishment of cooperation of religions, creation of peace and concord on the Earth, and is solidary with other religions relatively blame of terrorism, fanaticism, trials to use religious senses for improper purposes. 

Tszhan Tsiyui, the first Deputy Chairman of Chinese Daoism Organization, opened in his speech humanistic purposes of ancient Chinese religion of Daoism,      preaching the idea of search and achievement of harmony between body and soul, individual and society, as well as nature and human. With it, such qualities like patience and amicability may become main elements of success.   

Nicolas Baines, the Bishop of Croydon (London), proclaimed address of Doctor Rowen Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, which was received with great interest and understanding in connection with its aiming to solve problems concerning the threat of spreading of conflicts and religious extremism. Nicolas Baines noted that "politicians very often see the connection of conflicts with religious reasons, though this is surface statement". He told this Congress has potential of peaceful coexistence, which would permit in the result conflict-free peace. 

Shantilal Karamshi Somaya, the Chairman of the Institute for Research of  Study of Indian Culture and Interreligious Dialogue (India), paid attention to community of values for all world religions, similarity of views to the problems of        good and evil, justice and equality of people, which are stated in a fundamental in Indian religious and philosophical thought, especially in the notion "violence". 

Mehdi Hadavi Mogaddam, the Chairmant of the Committee of Jurisprudence and Law at the Ministry of Science and New Technologies of Islamic Republic Iran, declared that mankind paid more attention to the development of natural sciences in ĠIĠ - ĠĠ centuries. ĠĠI century showed scientific achievements and new technologies are insufficient for sustainable development of the world. He also paid attention of the participants of the Congress that material security does not ensure security of people, and more often leads the mankind to the search of spiritual guidelines. He called to revive spiritual values, which are initially laid in all the world religions.   

Mahmud Zakzuk, the Minister on Waqf Affairs of Arabian Republic of Egypt, paid attention to the fact that interconfessional dialogue is integral part of the dialogue of civilizations. And this fact, in turn, may play critical role in liquidation of many forms of opposition. Interreligious dialogue may be successful, if it will be based on mutual respect and full equality of rights of the parties. Such dialogue will positively influence on social development and enhancement of welfare of all the nations.   

In a whole, the result of the first day of the Congress, where 11 reports were heard, including welcoming speech of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan N.Nazarbaev, the Chairman of the Congress, demonstrated matured necessity of direct, open and alive dialogue, and proved the fact millions of people are concerned with deteriorating situation on the planet in connection with sharpening of conflicts on the religious ground. The dialogue of religions was recognized as one of optimal variants to prevent disagreements, prejustices and wars in addressed directed to the I Congress from the leading politicians of the world and in the reports of the participants. All the delegates of the Congress marked the need to appeal to spiritual and moral elements of religions, establishment of interreligious confidence, concord and cooperation. 

The Results of the Second Day of the I Congress

  The I Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions continued its work at 10.00 a.m. on September 24. The Chairman of the Congress, the President N.Nazarbaev, on behalf of the delegated greeted the Metropolitan of Frence Emmanuel, arrived one day later. The Chairman of the Congress also informed that of telegram received from the President of Islamic Republic Iran M.Hatami with greeting of the participants of the I Congress, the leaders of world and traditional religions.    

10 participants made a speech at the second day of the Congress.  

Muhammad Said Al-Tantaui, the sheikh and Supreme Imam of the University Al-Hazar (Egypt), dedicated to the principles of conduct of the dialogue, caused great interest of all the participants and guests of the Congress. The sheikh called participants to conduct positive dialogue based on strong arguments and evidences, true not false facts, which will be founded on objectivity, modesty, that will give its positive results. Such dialogue receves the blessing of the God. Differences of religions does not deny possibility of cooperation and mutual enrichment.     

Minoru Sonoda, the Director of the Chief Management of Shintoistic Churches (Japan), focused attention of the participants of Congress on the communal direction of Japanese religion and its centuries-old syncretism with Buddhism. Description of views to spiritual life, especially relatively questions of crisis prevention and rescue of the Earth, change of "cultural cover of materialism" and establishment of new civilization, based on respect of life.  

 Ishmail Noko, the General Secretaty of World Lutheran Federation (Switzerland) paid attention to the fact that World Lutheran Federation have been already over 40 years conducts active dialogue with the representatives of other religions, as the dialogue is the process, which is deeply rooted to nature of absolutely all the religions. To deny the dialogue means to commit act contradictory to the religion, destroy very fragile bridges, which cannot be constructed at once. Mr.Noko noted, time, patience, humility, trust, skill to listen to each other are required to conduct the dialogue.   

Salman Al-Khusaini Al-Navdi, the President of Muslim Organization "Jammaat-u-Shabab-eIslam" (India), said in his report: "Islam does not permit to use force or extremism. It can be used only when other party attacks Moslemin." Islam permits to use force just with the purpose to rebut aggression and only with need. "If there are people who engage in quarrels without excuse and reason, this opposes to Islam", Al-Navdi stressed. With it guilty shall be responsible for their actions, and Islam does not relate to such people. Speaker noted, the fact today many politicians tries to cover their own mercenary interests and aggressive purposed with Islamic values causes anxiety. In the end he called to rebut such actions.            

Tumeekhuu Bulgan, the General Secretary of "Asian Buddhism Conference for Peace" (Mongolia) declared the process of globalization lead the world to recognition of mutual dependence but not to overcoming of the conflicts. Development of interreligious harmony is one of variants to solve the problem of conflict prevention without use of force. It means many problems and difficulties shall be solved through the dialogue, Mr. Bulgan said. All the great religions of the world shall work together, in order to overcome differences of both cultural and social character to reach harmony among the nations. Exchange of opinions of various religious and philosophic studies, traditions is main purpose of interreligious dialogue to overcome existing barrier between religions.    

Mahmud Akhmad Gazi, the Vice-President of International Islamic University (Pakistan), focused attention of the participants to the fact Muslim nations always welcomed cooperation and dialogue between religions and civilizations. The Koran calls other religions to act jointly to promote common values and spiritual release of the human. He also thanked the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan for the initiative of calling of the Congress, this shall serve to better understanding and cooperation between the religious. The speaker said Muslim world stays to be civilization during many centuries, which is able to accept and admit various points of view to the world and integrate them into one universal civilization. Universality of Islam is hidden in its comprehensiveness, Islamic civilization always was interethnic and multinational. He stressed that Islam never refused to learn from ancient Greeks, Mesopotamians, Hindu and other nations. This flexibility provides Islam with universal nature. 

Shri Shri Sugendra Tirtkha Svami Madhavacharia, the President of UN World Council of Religious Leaders, the head of school "Shri Madhavacharia" (India), spoke that cruelty, indifference to the suffering of other people, and lack of respect to their rights never shall be accepted by Indian philosophy.  He also said religious leaders shall establish and support amicable climate all over the world, otherwise, terrorism may become vast threat. "Time came to mobilize our spiritual possibilities to struggle against the terrorism. In connection with this, we shall express our blame to any act of terrorism wherever it occurred, as the terrorism is directed against the God."  

Absattar kazhy Derbisali, the Chairman of the Muslim Religious Board for Kazakhstan, the Chief Mufti, Professor, paid attention in his report to the fact the world community has to reap the benefit of interethnic conflicts, and this is why the affirmation of interreligious dialogue to keep stability and security is topical task.  The dialogue shall be constructed on the base of equality, mutual understanding and love. Islam does not make differences basing on national belonging and tends to strengthen international concord. Religion as part of social structure shall not stay aside social and political activity.  

Tsutoma Khata, Ex-Prime-Minister of Japan, noted that intolerance to people of other confessions sometimes causes conflicts. In his opinion, poverty and uncertainty in the future are main sources of arising disputes in the world. This is why, overcoming of poverty in the world and faith in bright future shall be laid down in the basis of international cooperation to keep peace on the earth. He also suggested relatively organization of school education, introduction of subject "study of peace" to educational standard, implementation of idea "human security", what would contribute to the refuse from use of military force and terror.    

Thomas Geremek (father Ioakim) - general minister (OFM conv.), Assizi city, in its report noted, that he is a representative of Minorites, who find inspiration of Assizi spirit, place of birth and peace of Francis - Saint of Roman Catholics. He has briefly acquainted participants with bases of doctrine of Francis Assizi's, who recognized the unity based on equality of all members of one family, did not count himself above others and « never killed others for the sake of belief, as against of his some christian contemporaries ». From here, as it was expressed Thomas Geremek, personal freedom for Francis who is simultaneously a sample of obedience to the God and freedom of worship without any contradictions proceeds.

Simultaneously Geremek has noted, that he offers evidence of  Francis from Assizi as model of perfection which the religion can offer for the resolution of conflicts and strengthening of the world on our planet.

On results of the second day of Congress delegates came to opinion, that dialogue of religions should be profound and to be based on dialectics. The problems connected to revealing of the reasons of conflicts on religious ground, on necessity of perfection of interreligious harmony, mutual respect to each other, skill to study on traditions of other peoples were brought up.    

On I Congress of world and traditional religions the decisive step for a way of strengthening of the consent and an establishment of meaningful dialogue between civilizations, faiths, the countries and peoples was made. It was marked, that interreligious dialogue is one of key ways of social development and improvement of well-being of all peoples. On the I Congress forum the Declaration and Decision were accepted.

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