The international conference on spirituality entitled "The Islamic Rationality and Spirituality to Fight against Extremism" was held in the Kyrgyz National Academy of Sciences in Bishkek with the presence of scholars from Kyrgyzstan and Iran.
According to the Public Relations of Islamic Culture and Relations Organization, this international conference was held with the support of the Cultural Center of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Bishkek and in cooperation with the International University of Kyrgyzstan and the Kyrgyz National Academy of Sciences.
The importance of this international conference was on the need to investigate the global issue of extremism and terrorism in the form of fundamental, academic-theoretical, practical, interdisciplinary and international studies as well as to review the importance of spiritual and intellectual tradition of Islam as the main and effective factor to counter apparently religious extremism and determine violence prevention solutions.
This international conference aimed to create an academic platform and establish cross-cultural dialogue for the collaboration between researchers, politicians, clergymen and social activists and governmental institutions and NGOs to provide suggestions and comprehensive spiritual and practical programs to eliminate the threat of terrorism in the region.
In this international conference native and foreign prominent scholars, academics, Iranian researchers, public figures, social activists, the representatives of the clergy and educators presented their academic papers.
At the beginning of the conference the issues of extremism and the need to plan and review them were raised and the Cultural Center of the Islamic Republic of Iran was appreciated for the initiative to suggest the topic. Then the speakers presented their papers. The main topics of the conference included theoretical- philosophical and theoretical-applied issues of extremism and terrorism in the world, historical-civilizational and cultural-social dimensions of spiritual and intellectual confrontation with extremism and terrorism, the spread of Islam in Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan and spiritual and humanitarian message of the Islamic world, the Islamic rationality and spirituality as factors contributing to the fight against extremism and terrorism, spiritual surveys of Attar Neishabouri and their reflection in the contemporary world, dialogue between Kyrgyz and Iranian cultures to consolidate peace in the region, the role of intellectuals in the revival of spirituality in the contemporary society, social and functional aspects to deal with extremism and terrorism as well as legal basis for the fight against terrorism.
Events Warn Us to Be Alert
Asylbek Heydar Aliyev, an academician at the Kyrgyz National Academy of Sciences, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the International University of Kyrgyzstan and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kyrgyz Republic opened the conference and stated: "The topic selected for the conference and holding it at this time was appropriate and timely. More important is that Iran raised this issue and was the initiator of holding this conference with this topic".
In this conference, Ahmad Aliyev, with PhD in Linguistics and the Vice-President of the Kyrgyz National Academy of Sciences, delivered a speech and stated: "The subjects of rationality, spirituality and extremism are something that not only have received attention of philosophers and politicians, but also are important for all people as all of us are responsible to save the lives of each other and preserve this planet".
He added: "Bitter events that we encounter in many parts of the world once again warn us that we should become alert and make efforts to create understanding between nations and countries".
Religions Promote Noble Human Values
In this conference, Ali Mojtaba Rouzbahani, the Iranian ambassador to Kyrgyzstan delivered a speech and stated: "Today violent extremism is one of the most acute challenges and perhaps the most important challenges that not only threaten our region but also the entire world. Universal claims on extremist groups and their prevalence given the destruction and devastation created in recent years in Iraq and Syria show that these extremist groups are destructive for the social environment and the geopolitics of the world and especially for our region".
He added: "Widespread crimes including murders, sexual rapes, forced change of religion, torture and enslavement of human beings and the destruction of mosques, historical sites, holy places, churches and graves all indicate the type and range of threats committed by extremist groups, especially ISIS. Takfiri tendencies of these terrorist groups has led these groups justify and indecently promote invasion politics, oppression and crimes against broader groups of society".
The Iranian ambassador continued: "It should be noted that these acts and crimes committed by extremists have nothing to do with Islam or any other religion. Islam and other divine religions throughout history have always called for and promoted noble human values such as kindness, humanity and love for other human beings, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness. However, over the past two centuries, a small group with suspicious records, under the demagogic pretext of refining religion, has shown an unrealistic and distorted image of Islam and has made efforts to eliminate the elements of kindness and mercy from religion".
He emphasized: "Accordingly, these Takfiri groups and their followers believe that those who refuses to accept such a violent interpretation for religion are worthy of punishment and are outside of religion. The problem of the human society stems from the existence of such a group that seriously took shape when some wealthy and powerful figures with political purposes supported and promoted such an ignorant interpretation of religion in the Islamic countries, especially in the communities that suffered from poverty and lack of awareness of the true religion".
Rouzbahani continued: "Over the last one or two decades, a coalition is observed between some governments and those with state power and wealth, on the one hand, and Takfiri, terrorist and extremist groups, on the other hand, which leads to the achievement of significant political and military advances by these violent groups and thereby makes the region and the world face with a serious threat".
In another part of his speech he stated: "The Islamic Republic of Iran to deal with such security threats considers the issue from the perspective of the principle of neighborliness and believes that our region needs cooperation and convergence. From this perspective, if there is insecurity in the region, the Islamic Republic of Iran does not have a sense of security as well and thus considers important and critical not only the security of the entire region, but also the security of every single country in the region".
The Iranian ambassador to Kyrgyzstan added: "In addition, the Islamic Republic of Iran invites to a broad consensus at the international level to fight with violent extremism focused on identifying the criminals of ISIS and other Takfiri groups and defeat them. In this regard, we invite all of our neighbors to participate in a joint program through which have serious, supportive and necessary cooperation to deal with threats created in all aspects by oppressive regimes in the region in the past and today by extremist groups, especially ISIS and in this way we can provide a better future for the region and deal with the dangers that threaten the present and future generations".
Extremism Knows No Geographical Boundaries
In this conference, Osmon Togusakov, the director of the Institute of Philosophy and Political and Legal Studies at the Kyrgyz National Academy of Sciences, also delivered a speech and stated: "The phenomena of extremism and terrorism know no geographical boundaries in practice and are not limited to one country or one region. These phenomena have global scope".
He added: "Today terrorist operations are done in Britain, Turkey, Russia. According to the recent information one of the people who committed the act of suicide in St. Petersburg, Russia, was born in Kyrgyzstan, however he had Russian citizenship, but he has casted a negative shadow on Kyrgyzstan".
Togusakov continued: "According to recent statistics, about two thousand people from Russia were attracted by ISIS in 2015 that this number reached to five thousand people in 2016. In addition, 600 Kyrgyz people have been attracted by ISIS many of whom are fighting against Syria as militants. Extremism and terrorism are as cancer and we as intellectual community should give recommendations and suggestions that this tumor will not become metastatic".
In this conference, Ms. Isawa, the state commission representative on religious affairs in Kyrgyzstan stated: "Today, many are facing with the spread of extremism and radicalism and experts have concluded that forceful and armed struggle are not effective alone. Comprehensive and preventive measures should be taken and Kyrgyzstan also will take step in this way".
She added: "Governmental organizations, including defense organizations cannot fight with extremism alone; thus a comprehensive approach is essential to attract elites, intellectuals, clergymen, social activists and the media".
Resorting to Moderation Prevents Going to Extremes
In this conference, referring to the coincidence of this conference with the anniversary commemoration of Attar Neishabouri, Ali Hakim Pour, the Iranian cultural attaché in Kyrgyzstan, talked about the Islamic rationality and spirituality against extremism. He stated: "As sometimes nature gets out of balance with tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc., we humans also get out of balance in various forms and cause many problems for ourselves and other people. One of the obvious forms for getting out of balance is the incidence of extremes meaning going to extremes".
Hakim Pour continued: "Some believe that extremism is merely the result of ignorance and prejudice; but with a little attention it can be seen that a variety of factors, including striving for superiority, injustice and self-interest are involved in the development of extremism overtly and secretly. A conflict may be created between rationality and spirituality and as a result of this conflict, a phenomenon called going to extremes may occur; but the question is that why such a contradiction arises between them?".
He added: "In response, it can be said that wisdom does not have a single emergence. In other words, sometimes wisdom is negatively affected by striving for superiority, self-interest and selfishness that certainly cannot have an honest interaction with wisdom that loves truth and thus the division between selfish wisdom and truth-seeking wisdom would cause conflict between wisdom which is striving for superiority and is self-interested with spirituality, forgiveness and tolerance".
The Iranian cultural attaché in Kyrgyzstan also stated: "The holy Quran calls Muslims as a median nation, And thus we have made you a just community (al-Baqarah, verse 143). According to commentators and philologists the word of median means just which is totally consistent with ethical spirituality. Hence, there is no doubt that extremism will have no room with the emergence of moderation. If the Islamic communities will make efforts to observe moderation in all of their affairs that has an overt link with truth-seeking wisdom and spirituality, they will not go to extremes".
Then, stating that going to extremes unfortunately overshadows many of our relations in Muslim countries and this brings about horrible problems, Hakim Pour added: "Today, the duty of all countries against extremism is that they should not fail to fight with it, otherwise, they will develop negligence and carelessness. The logical consequence of opposition without action is negligence and carelessness".
In another part of his speech, the Iranian cultural attaché in Kyrgyzstan stated: "With sorrow and regret it should be said that today extremism in our region has become a tragic crisis and has made a lot of damage to Muslim communities which may not be compensated easily. Prosperous buildings and cultural heritage in the region preserved for centuries were destroyed by the bombs of extremists".
He continued: "The question is that who will be responsible for all of these material and spiritual damages? As verse 26 in Surah At-Takwir says Where are you going?. How will all of these murders, disease, displacement, asylum application and other disasters in the region which are due to extremes be compensated?".
Hakim Pour also emphasized: "Organized extremism which is more in ideological form attracts a large number of Muslim youth and families. I believe that today ISIS may be apparently wiped out in Iraq and Syria; but extremism will not be eradicated when its causes and factors are not destroyed. There is no doubt that ISIS is at the zero point of extremism, but its headquarters are located elsewhere and the lack of information about the plans of those who design at the extremism headquarters is the main problem in fighting with this painful and ominous phenomenon".
At the end of his speech, Hakim Pour re-emphasized: "Now, the Islamic Republic of Iran as a country with abundant experiences is ready to share its experiences with friend and brother countries on the investigation of the roots of extremism and fighting with it. Undoubtedly, benefiting from the experiences of Iran in the fight against extremism is very useful and productive and it is hoped that with consultation and holding various meetings and the effective exchange of ideas and views we can achieve less expensive, more successful, more informed and easier solutions in the fight against extremism directed by think tanks in the crisis-making countries and slightly reduce the suffering of Muslim nations".
According to this report, other figures who presented their papers in this conference included Tokon Mamytov, the chairman of the Peoples Assembly of Kyrgyzstan and the Advisor to the Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan, Orozbek Moldaliyev, the former Director of the State Commission for Religious Affairs, Ms. Isawa, the head of the State Commission for Religious Affairs affiliated to Kyrgyzstan presidency, Hassan Armoshov, Advisor to Chairman of the Eastern University, Mahmud Kashgari, Goudarz Sadeghi, the President of the University of Mohaghegh Ardabili, Iran, and a group of Iranian and Kyrgyz scholars.