14-16 Eylül 2000-ÖZBEKİSTAN
The Paper To Be Presented At The Conference On "Reciprocal Knowledge And interaction Between Religions And Spiritual Traditions". 14-16 Eylül 2000 By Prof. Dr. Ali OZEK INTRODUCTION WHAT IS RELIGION? Din, an Arabic Origin word, means, in a general sense, to belive in what is true and false and then to adopt it and die for it. The meaning, according to the experts of the subjet, has been derived from another Arabic word which comes to mean " As you put fath in, so will you will be rewarded (or punished). But Qur'an says " In the sight of Allah The only true faith is Islam7' (Al-i imran-The Imrans/19) the relationship between religion and man It is a true fact that religion is for the man. Man, as a living creature who can think and make judgement, has inherently right to believe or not to believe. The power and the capacity that man has are much. As is known, man has also a spiritual or a psychological environment besides his physical conditions which he is in. In this regard, since .the first man Adam, human-being has always given much emphasis on religion and faith which governs the spiritual and/or psychological environment. There have been many religions and faiths among people. It is hard to pick out certain criteria, which help to measure the truth *■ si h Rout" of a religion or a faith. The authenticity of a faith system according to the Heavenly Books, can be determined by the three basic principles. In fact, there are three main principles of faith which prove it to be a true religion or not: 1. Believing in one God, 2. Believing in the prophets sent by Allah, 3. Believing in the Hereafter, Resurrection after death andbeing a second life. Allah who created mankind sent prophets to teach them how to worship. The most distinct characteristic of the prophetic religions is the believing in the Resurrection after death and man's accountability before Allah for his actions. In fact It is beyond the man's mind to understanmd and then accept the Hereafter. Therefore, In the religions invented or introduced by the mankind there isnt the belief of Hereafter. There are two verses in the Qur'an which state that Allah sent prophets for everybody: 1. " whoever picks out the Divine Guidance, it is for hisgood; whoever goes astray, it is for his loss. No soul canbear another's burden of sin. Nor do we punish anybodyunless we send a messenger". (17 Isra-The NightJourney/15) 2. "We heve sent you with the truth as an herald and awarner; for there is no nation that has not been sent awarner (a messenger). (35 Fatir/24). What is meant by these two verses is that there is no nation but hasa Messenger. And yet, most of the nations have changed thesystems of faith that the Messengers introduced, through theircomments made mentally. , .* v To sum up, having had two main component elements, material and spiritual, man followed different routes to satisfy his spiritual needs. As a result of this, many separate faiths arose. If ,jnankid did not swerve from the path of Islam which messengers showed them, there would be two main courses to go on earth. One is the course of the believers of messengers; the second is the course of unbelievers. As a matter of fact these two courses are exist among people today in the general sence. a) The people who believed in the principles thatmessengers introduced. They are the ones who believedin Allah, the messengers, and the Hereafter. b) The people who did not believe in the Messengers. Theyare the atheists and/or the ones who believed extra-religious ideas or thoughts. TO THINK DIFFERENT Having had the brain that God gave them, men have the power to sense, to think and to believe different. As a matter of fact in the Qur'an there is an implication on that matter. Allah enjoins addressing to Hz. Mohammad: "0 Mohammad ! Had your Lord pleased, He would have made all mankinmd into one nation as regards thinking and believing. But only those to whom your Lord has shown mercy will not cease to differ. For this end He has created them. The word of your Lord shall be fulfilled: "I will fill the pit of Hell with jinns and men. (11 Houd/118-119) In addition to this verse we can add some others. 1. O Mohammad! Tell them that The Divine Religion,Islam, was sent by your Lord. Whosoever wishes maybelieve it. Whosoever wishes not to, may deny it. (18Kehf/29). To believe or not to belive is the man'schoice. 2. "O Mohammad! If it had been your Lord's will, thewhole mankind would have faith in Him. Will you,then, force the man to become believers ? Don't dothat". (10 Yunus-Jonah/99) 3. There shall be no compulsion in religion, what is rightis distinct from what is wrong. He who renounces idol-worship and puts fath in Allah will grasp a firm handlethat will never break. Allah hears all and knows all. (2Al-Baqara/256) 4. " O Mohammad! you cannot guide whom you like, butit is Allah who guides whom He will. Truly, He best . knows those who yield to guidance, (28 el-Kasas/56) What we make out from these verses is that man will follow differet path in their ideas, thoughts and faiths. This is normal. Because every individual, on his own, is an independent reality (presence); for Allah wished the man that way. The duty of the messengers is to let the man know and invite him to the straight path of Islam. There is absolutely no compulsion and oppression on man. This is what the mankind wish for. For the realization of freedom of faith, conscience and thought, of democracy, of human-rights, of the priciple of supremacy of law, of justice and fairness^ of tolerance, and of love, all depend on these basic standards. VIOLENCE AND TERROR None of the religion have violance or terror in their essence, but it is possible to see people among the devotees of many religion who involved in the actions of violence and terror. The reason of that is because of the wrong interpretations of the individuals who tried to render the religion (faith) and the actions of the people who believed in these interpretations. Here are some examples: In the past, for Zoroastrians', in order to be forgiven from their sins, coming to the fire- temple at Baku by creeping away for hundreds of kilometers; for some again, in order to be forgiven from their sins, lying naked on to the quicklime with their back and, when sweated, burning their bodies... Did Zoroaster order them to do so? No, He didn't ! But interpreters of that religion commentated people on the warnings made to rein back nasty desires like that. So did the people believe them and applied. That's not all! According to a commentary made about Zoroastrianism, The wealthies were giving money to the poor derwishes and, in return, they suffered the pain on behalf of the rich, thus the rich were believed to be forgiven from their sins. Did Zoroaster instruct that? No, that's wrong. Another example: Did Budha ask his people after he died, to do his idol and worship it? No, he didn't. That's another wrong interpretation and application as seen in all religions. A few years ago, in America , some members of a religious order set up by American Christians committed a collective suicide. What has it got to do with Christianity? Recently, In Uganda, a group of Christians burned themselves. The loss they caused went to them, but the opposite might happen. The man who told the people to kill or burn themselves might also say to kill other people, thus causing to die of the innocent people. In the wake of discovery of America, the Christians who went there killed the natives cruelly. Did the Christianity order it? In an incident mentioned in the Qur'an as Ashab-i Uhdud, allegedly a Jewish ethnic group burned the people of a different faith aliver. Did Mose order them to do that? The Khawari Sect martyred Hz. Ali. Did Islam order this to them? Shiite is a comment as well. Moreover it is a political comment. In the world, it is possible to see these patterns in every religion. That is atrue fact that none of the messengers have set up a sample of terror and violance. In the essence of the religions or faiths there is no violence and terror. But due to the wrong understandings or interpretations or for the requirement of their economical and political benefits, the members of a certain religious group have abused the riligion or the faith. Therefore, goverments have to make the necessary arrangements for the right teaching of their religions. INTERFAITH DIALOGUE The issue of interfaith dialogue is rather important. At the bottom of this dialogue lies tolerance and love of man. Tolerance is based on justice. So long as political rulers do not serve end/or treat people with justice, it will become hard to realize the tolerance among individuals. In the Qur'an there is a mention concerning dialogue: Say: " O People of the Book! Let us come to an agreement between us that we will worship none but Allah, that we will associate no partner to Thim, and that none of us will take others for lords beside Allah. If they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are the surrenders (to Allah) (3 Al-i imran/64) Some particuler points at this notice of dialogue are important: 1) Those who are called "The people of the Book" areJews, Christians and Sabeans. Into them, other religionswhich have a book and a belief in Hereafter can also beincluded. 2) This shows that in all of these religions, there is thebelief of Allah. In fact all the Messengers invitedpeople to believe in one God and pay servitude to Him. 3) It is the main point to have a belief in one God in oilreligions with prophet. 4) That wording of Allah is very meaningful: "None of uswill take others for lords beside Allah" It is because ofsome people's being sanctified and their religiousinterpretation having been accepted as the origin of thereligion that the religions began to deginerate and theconflicts of interfaith to happen. In fact, that's why,today, religions are antithetical to themselves and theothers as well. Particularly, the fact that almost everyreligion have been divided into different sects, ordersand communities result from this lack of diologe. FAITH Faith is a very important thing in one's life. A man of strong faith is always ready to die for it. In regard to what and how the people should believe, a sound and right education is required. From that point of view the way that the messengers showed is the most sound and right way. All the messengers invited people to believe in only one God and be of good conduct, thoughtful, just and tolerant and love the people. In the meanwhile, messengers have strictly pointed out what would be the fate of those who believed and/or disbelieved. This is very closely related with the faith in Hereafter and the resurrection after death and man's accountability before God. Hereafter is a sanction toward the future. This is an answer to the question which comes to the minds of the ones spoken to by the messengers during when they were inviting them. As if a disbeliever asks: What would the result be if I don't believe? Likewise a believer asks: In case I believe what would be my fate? The answer for the two question is the same: Hereafter.Since everybody, in Hereafter, will be accounted for his deeds in the world, the goods ultimately will go into the Heaven, and the bads into the Hell. Therefore the religions which do not have a concept of faith in the Hereafter are classified as false. One of the causes which prevents the dialogue needed to exist among religions in general, and among people in particular is mainly the offcial ideologies. Ideological governments destroy dialogue, tolerance, love, justice and the supremacy of law. For that reason governments have to be purified from that sorts of ideologies and become the governments of justice and tolerance. Otherwise all the efforts of tolerance, love and dialogue will become in vain. For instance in Communist regimes, dictatorships, chauvinisms and in similar ideologies, it would be in vain to look for dialogue, love and telerance. If we try to make some emphasis on faith we can add to it the following examples. If you ask a woman who wears a veil and /or a dress with veil if there is a need to dress like that, she will probably say: "I believe that way. If I show up my skin strangers, I'll be punished in Hereafter" If the woman believes in this, you can never stop her wearing that way. In that case there should be two practices to follow: 1) The essence and the truth of the religion should beexplained her tenderly and within the limits ofscientifical methods, that is, she should be approachedin tolerance and love. 2) If that woman becomes insistent in her belief yet sheshould be treated with love and tolerance; be respectedand a dialogue should be maintained. Otherwise aconflict will arise. CONCLUSION 1) There is not any conflict among religions . We see thatreality easily when we fully go through the primaryprinciple of all religions and the intellectual bases onwhich they depended. 2) As the atheists maintain, it is not possible to constituteunbeliving communities, for need and the sense ofbelieving is exist inherently in the creation of the man. 3) As Qur'an states, man has the capacity to think differentand to believe different. Important thing is that we shouldaccept that reality natural and try to solve the conflictsand mis understandings with love, tolerance, justice anddialogue. 4) Particularly, political regimes should keep away fromideologies and the rule of the people shold be rested onjustice, love and tolerance. 5) The governments, in particular, should give specialemphesis on the religions teaching and training in the fullsense in order to pravent divergences in the religiousideas and the diffent interpretations of the religious menand /or to facilitate the making of their commentsaccording to the essence and the purpose of the religionthey believed. Because at the base of everthing liesteaching and training. Thank you. Prof. Dr. Ali OZEK President of iSAV
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