Excerpts from the speech delivered by Prof. Mehmet Görmez, President of Religious Affairs, at the 31st Provincial Imams Consultation Meeting held in Ankara on August 17, 2015.
Today, not only the Muslim world, not only Muslims; but the very entity of Islam is under threat. Today, the genes of Islam and the fault lines of the Islamic territory are being distorted. Today, Islam as a religion, a culture and a civilization, is forced to wage a struggle of existence. The conscience of the silent majority has been wounded by this ever destructive situation, and the hearts could not bear this suffering any more. The memory of the Ummah has been damaged, and the consciousness of Muslim generations has been injured.
What are the dynamics underlying the process that turned the Muslim world into a sea of blood and fire? It seems hard to reverse this process unless we ask this question and find objective answers. According to the report prepared by the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, among other international institutions; 11 million Muslims were killed, and 60 million Muslims were disabled in the Muslim world between 1979 and 2010. Between 1990 and 2009, 34,906 government officials, 127,000 businessmen, and 2411 opinion leaders were killed. 23,000 large scale commercial enterprises were bankrupted. From 1979 to date, 4 million Afghan Muslims were reported killed during the occupations in Afghanistan alone.
2.147 people died during the latest extensive Gaza assault by Israel, casualties dying in time not included. Around 23.000 Gazans spent the holy month of Ramadan on the streets without even a tent. Tens of schools and hospitals were destroyed. Despite all the time that has elapsed; aid, repairs and improvement cannot be done because of the siege of Gaza has been intensified, let alone being lifted. According to the latest data, global child population is 2.2 billion, and 150 million of them are orphaned, devoid of care and protection. The ongoing wars especially in the Islamic territory have orphaned countless children.
The destruction of the social, cultural and religious fabric of Iraq and Damascus have turned this territory into a hotbed of bigotry and violence, whereas it used to house various religious cults since the Abbasids, standing as an example for the whole Muslim world.
The spirit of Baghdad, the cradle of Islamic interpretation of Abu Hanifa (died 767) and Abdul-Qadir Gilani (died 1166) - who melted Islamic jurisprudence and mysticism in the same pot- was destroyed. The universal city of Baghdad had enabled the merger of the Greek philosophy and the divine wisdom of Islam at the House of Wisdom (Bey-tul Hikmet) established during the rule of Caliph al-Mamun (813-833).
Kazimiyah and Najaf al-Ashraf Shia movements, which succeeded in creating a common language with their Sunni brothers, faded into history. The same catastrophes also troubled the historical, religious and cultural fabric that had been dominant in the Bilad-al Sham throughout the history. This is the most important reason that paved the way for the rise of DAISH and similar groups and accelerated their development.
All these incidents have created a culture of violence, and it does not conform to any kind of truth to ascribe it all on a religion. I regret to state that yesterday’s al-Qaeda and today’s DAISH are nothing but a result of this. Mainly DAISH and similar movements took hostage all the religious sensitivities of Muslims based on a weird and strange collage of different interpretations of Islam. Besides, they know no limits in presenting Islam as a bloody religion at global scale with the unpleasant images they generate.
The sole capital of these movements is the instrumentalization of religion and the merciless use of weapons. However, actions that do not promise people grace, tranquility and peace, and alienate people from religion, have no value. We should bear in mind that Islam is a grace for both believers and disbelievers.
The new religious structure emerging in modern times has shadowed Islam’s understanding of worldwide fairness and justice, and its message of love, compassion and grace. It halted the march of civilization, incited Islamophobic fears in the Western world, and became an instrument at the hands of interest circles wishing to produce a clash of civilizations.
This irregular and marginal approach, which failed to dominate the civilization of Islam throughout the history, used to mean an exclusive commitment to the Salaf (Pious Predecessors) and religious text; but it adopted a field of action and movement after the Mongol invasions.
Later on, it continued to exist on a political platform supported by internal and external factors during the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire; and even became the ideology of some states.
In the aftermath of torments shaking religious and cultural fault lines of Muslim world such as the colonization of Africa, occupation of Afghanistan, Bosnian and Chechen wars, Gulf Wars, occupation of Iraq and the tragedy in Syria, this understanding has turned into a salvation ideology for “wounded minds” and “deadly identities” grown in the shade of colonization, violence, war, occupation and oppression, even for young generations whose existence and identities are ignored and marginalized in the West. They died for and brutally slaughtered humans for this ideology. Rising in the problematic areas of the Muslim world, this mentality, combined with the ideas, attitudes and language of external elements that appeared in the initial incidents of unrest in Islam, has become the biggest problem for Muslim communities and the survival of Islam today. This movement has extended promptly with the influence of regional dynamics and has currently taken aim at Muslims as part of international strategies.
According to this mentality, the truth is only possessed by the first three generations called “salaf (pious predecessors)”. However, they unknowingly attribute the truth they created themselves to the first three generations with the influence of modernity. This mentality easily declares those who do not believe their truths and religious notions disbelievers, ignoring the principle saying “people of the Kiblah cannot be declared disbelievers”. This has been the main principle of Islam throughout history. However, this mentality started to regard it as jihad to fight against all beliefs and sects other than itself. Besides, it is clear that no war that is waged without morality and law can be called jihad. For them, the methods to comprehend religion followed by the successors -or namely next generations- adopting the wisdom, opinions and ideas not included in the Quran and the Sunnah are null and void.
This mentality terrorized the people of the Book and other religious minorities, who are considered the legacy of Islamic civilization all along, intertwined with the ethics and law of coexisting with the Muslims, and it slaughtered and exiled Yazidis who saw nothing but kindness from the Muslims for centuries. Due to this mentality, Islam -the religion of peace and harmony- was unfortunately associated with violence and terrorism, and Islamic territory was no longer the homeland of peace and safety.
Therefore, the Ummah should concentrate on the intrinsic reasons of this situation despite all external factors, all kinds of plots and manipulations, and focus on the ideas that gave birth to DAISH and similar groups. Such trends built on the idea of “declaring others as disbelievers” appear under different names in almost every corner of the Muslim world. They are set to make the lives of Muslims miserable and cannot be evaded by describing as “a plot by foreign powers.” Let us assume it is a plot, and then we need to ask “Isn’t there any weakness of us for this plot to be successful?” All Muslims, all Islamic scholars and all religious institutions have a responsibility to assume and a duty to fulfil against this mentality. We need to revive our providence, address the problems rooted in us thoroughly without any delay and take cautious steps with a high level of awareness against treacherous plots. We have to pave the way for and extend the sound paths of information and to include them in our lives in a way to set an accessible example for all. We are renowned for mercy; our perception of justice is based on understanding. We cannot risk losing these values.
The most urgent and rooted problem of our country today is terrorization of ethnic and sectarian demands.
Against the terrorist acts of the “bandits”, who put the unity and solidarity of our country at risk and never feel a twinge of conscience to discard peace and felicity for their invasive goals, we will not abstain at all to pursue the way the Holy Quran and Rasul-u Ekrem (pbuh) taught us. It is certain how insurgents will end up, the fate of those going after unrest and disorder are not unbeknown.
It must be remembered that those who embrace violence, atrocity, intimidation and terror; feed on and find support in these concepts will not find legitimacy in the conscience of community and be brought before the holy justice no matter what their intention was to carry out terrorist acts.
Above all, it deeply hurts every merciful and conscientious person that our children and youngsters, instead of being preoccupied with knowledge, science and learning, are kidnapped for the sake of a cause that would never be approved by Islam, sent to death with a gun in their hands, turned into fratricides and doomed to an illegitimate and non-Islamic life.
We should reconstruct our minds and hearts through Islam’s messages of mercy and grace, namely, the religion of peace and harmony. Let us consider our differences not as a cause of conflict and destruction, but as an opportunity for development and enrichment. We need to reestablish the atmosphere of peace, tranquility, serenity and confidence in cooperation. Let us come together around our common culture and values, establish the morals and law of living together in peace and harmony, draw lessons from previous and present sorrows, promote human dignity at every opportunity, protect our liberties and build our future confidently and all together.
We should not forget that peace is not a need only for our country and nation, but also for all those aggrieved and oppressed people who set their hopes on this country and nation. If this country took fire, all the people living in this land and also all the oppressed throughout the world would suffer. We should never forget that.
Islam is the name of peace, justice, mercy and love. Mercy is the most sacred and productive seed sown by Allah in the heart of all creatures. Humanity has led a peaceful and equitable life on earth, whenever this seed of mercy has turned green.
Peace could be strengthened only through real love. Islam stipulates not to kill, but to nurture; not to destroy, but to construct; not to inflame, but to extinguish; not to make others cry, but to make them happy, and not to lose, but to find.
Islam heralds us with the mercy of the Holy Creator, who surrounds all beings with His divine light, rules them with His justice and blesses them with His compassion
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