A simultaneous prayer for peace throughout the world for representatives of different religions was held in Astana – the capital of Kazakhstan. The prayer lasted only a few minutes, but the message sent by the clergy is understandable. Dozens of states on the planet now need peace and stability, the situation is getting worse every day. And the term “terrorism” has already firmly entered the history of even economically developed European countries. The number of problems related to religion is only increasing. In Europe, anti-Islamic sentiments are growing due to the mass migration of refugees and, as a result, the growth of social problems. Islam is associated by many with religious intolerance and extremism. Scandals in the Catholic Church, connected with accusations of clerics of molesting minors. On the threshold of a split, the Orthodox Church, especially after Constantinople provided autocephaly for Ukraine. And none of the six Congresses, it seems, has not yet passed in such conditions. But official Astana managed to put the clergy at the negotiating table, despite the differences.
The plenary session was addressed by the supreme imam, Sheikh Al-Azhara Muhammad Ahmad al-Tayeb, and the Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilus III, and the chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for external church relations, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk, Hilarion; of UN Civilizations Nasir Abd al-Aziz An-Nacer, Secretary General of the World Assembly for the Rapprochement of Islamic Madhabs Ayatollah Mohsen Mohammadi Araki, Sephardic and Ashkenazi Israeli Rabbis Ichak Joseph and David Lau, Vice-President of the World Buddhist Community Lama Choyzhilzhavyn Dambajav, Chairman of the Chinese Taoist Association Li Guanfu, OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger, Secretary General of the World Religions for Peace Organization William Wendley. In total, Kazakhstan gathered more than 80 delegations from 45 countries of the world. And it is obvious that the leaders of world religions have a need for such meetings at the platform of equal opportunities and negotiations.
Opening the work of the participants of the 6th Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan voiced the main idea: «despite the 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 reinforces social inequality as a breeding ground for radicalism. Therefore, the central issue is a safe, fair world». But every year the world community seems to be moving away from the fair world. According to Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Al-Tayeb – the supreme imam of the Al-Azhar Islamic University, the political forces spent about 1.5 billion USD on the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria from 2001 to 2018. And this is despite the fact that in the world 750 million people can neither write nor read. And sometimes a religious leader is the only source of education and upbringing, a role model. And it is very important that the priest could convey the thoughts of peace and tolerance to the largest possible number of parishioners, and this requires new approaches and technologies. That is why, at the initiative of President Nazarbayev, an information portal will be created. Its task is to help the study and application of methods to strengthen resistance to any manifestations of religious radicalism, violence in general.
The task is topical, the events of the last few years have shown that neither successful states, nor those whose GDP level is given only in anti-ratings are insured against religious radicalism. Therefore, “correct” religious education in every sense is now also included in the list of the foundations of the stability and security of the state. Therefore, we are talking about conflict resolution and the opportunities that representatives of different faiths have in this context. Of course, it’s impossible to solve all problems at once even at the sixth Congress, but no one says that problems accumulated over the years can be solved at once. At the Congress, and this is also one of the indicators of the urgency of the problem, hundreds of journalists were accredited; during the event, gigabytes of interviews were written off, a very important agenda. The speakers of the Congress are unanimous: peace and love will help humanity.
The chairman of the Council of Muftis and the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Russia, Ravil Gainutdin, is convinced that such an interfaith dialogue is a true practice of peace, which demands from its participants a moral feat. The priests are ready to accomplish such a feat, using the main principle of all religions: tolerance, tolerance and respect for another race and faith. And this time the focus in Astana was made on the 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. The President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, cited the following figures in his speech: there are more than 3.5 thousand religious subjects and 18 different confessions registered in the country. Polyethnicity of Kazakhstan is the basis for a unique model of interfaith and inter-ethnic world, official Astana, having gained independence after the collapse of the USSR, found itself in the same conditions as the rest of the CIS countries.
But against the background of other post-Soviet states, the first thing that strikes Kazakhstan and serves as the basis for respect for its leader is religious tolerance, Kazakhstan, as President Nazarbayev emphasizes, is a secular state, but religion and its traditions serve the stability of the country by developing the people’s national identity. That is why Kazakhstan became the initiator of the creation of the Center for the development of inter-confessional and inter-civilizational dialogue. And such a dialogue is now more necessary than ever to the world.