By Mirsaid Ibrahimzade
Throughout the long history of Azerbaijan, many nationalities and different ethnic groups with various religious beliefs have lived together in peace and harmony in the country.
Modern Azerbaijan has achieved great success in regulating ethnic-cultural diversity through the policy of multiculturalism. This is evidenced by the absence of any conflict or disorder on ethnic, religious or racial grounds in Azerbaijan.
The Second International Symposium "Islamic Civilization in the Caucasus" was held in Baku on July 11-12. The event was organized by the Azerbaijan Institute of Theology, Research Center for Islamic History, Art and Culture, and the Institute of Oriental Studies named after Academician Z. Bunyadov.
Addressing the event, rector of Azerbaijan Institute of Theology, Ph.D. in theology Jeyhun Mammadov stated that Islam plays an important role in the life of the peoples of the Caucasus, as well as spoke about the contribution of Caucasian scientists and thinkers to Islamic civilization.
He brought to the attention that at the initiative of national leader Heydar Aliyev who was deeply committed to Islam, the First International Symposium "Islamic Civilization in the Caucasus" was held in Baku on December 9-11, 1998.
Mammadov emphasized that Azerbaijan is known as a model country that promotes and encourages the ideas of tolerance and multiculturalism in the world. He highlighted the merits in this area of the First Vice-President, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Mehriban Aliyeva.
Noting that there are exemplary state-religious relations in Azerbaijan, Mammadov brought to the attention that numerous mosques, churches and synagogues were built and repaired in Azerbaijan at the expense of state funds. He underlined the Heydar Mosque which is the largest mosque of the Caucasus.
Then, speaking at the Symposium, Halit Eren, Director General of Research Center for Islamic History, Art and Culture, stated that xenophobia in the period of globalization is a serious threat to the development of dialogue between cultures and religions. Emphasizing Azerbaijan’s role in strengthening tolerance, expanding dialogue and cooperation, he said that all these aspects must be involved in the work to prevent this threat.
Then, Mubariz Gurbanli, Chairman of State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations, emphasized the valuable contribution of Islamic civilization to the history of the peoples of the Caucasus. He noted that the majority of the peoples of this region profess Islam.
Gurbanli noted that presently, Azerbaijan is known as one of the significant spaces in terms of preserving Islamic cultural heritage and bringing it to the world in the true form. He said that President Ilham Aliyev’s announcement of 2016 the Year of Multiculturalism in Azerbaijan is a call for peace, friendship, mutual respect and coexistence on the planet.
Through the example of Azerbaijan, the world has been shown that representatives of various religions, nationalities, ethnic groups can live in peace in the country, Gurbanli said.
Afterwards, Salman Musayev, Deputy Chairman of the Caucasian Muslims Office, stressed that state-religious relations in Azerbaijan are at a high level. He said that the work carried out today in the field of preservation and promotion of national and spiritual values, the struggle against religious radicalism in Azerbaijan, the successes achieved have become possible as a result of cooperation and joint activities of the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations and Caucasian Muslims Office.
The symposium continued work at the panels. Scientists, researchers and experts exploring Islamic civilization in Turkey, Russia, Georgia, Iran, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Moldova, the U.S., Germany, Australia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Caucasus spoke at the panels.
The rector of the Moscow Islamic Institute of Russia, Professor Damir Mukhetdinov read a letter of Rawil Gaynetdin, chairman of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Russia and the Russian Council of Muftis, to the participants of the symposium.
The two-day symposium covered the panels “Impact of Islamic Culture on Religious and Cultural-Social Life in the Caucasus”, “Development of Islamic Sciences in the Caucasus”, “Islamic Architecture, Art and Literature in the Caucasus”, “Role of President Ilham Aliyev in Strengthening the Traditions of Tolerance and Multiculturalism in Azerbaijan", "Spread of Islam in the Caucasus", "Multiculturalism in the Caucasus", “Role of Mosques, Madrasas and Kanagahs in Religious Education in the Caucasus”, “Islamic Policy of Tsarist Russia in the Caucasus”, etc.
Azerbaijan is a secular state that managed to build strong relations with all religious communities. This is why safety and stability were easily achieved in the country. State policy on religions reflects the will of the people and the atmosphere created in the country allows representatives of various ethnic minorities to feel comfortable in Azerbaijan.
It is noteworthy that Azerbaijan hosted the fourth Islamic Solidarity Games in 2017, which was a significant event not only in sports terms, but also in terms of Islamic unity and religious alliance.
Mirsaid Ibrahimzade is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @MirsaidIbrahim1
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