Grußwort bei der Konferenz „“Russland und die islamische Welt““ in Moskau – anläßlich des 50. Geburtstag des russischen Mufti Ravil Gaynutin:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honour to have been invited to participate in this event, as a European Muslim, in this wonderful city. And it is not only an honour, it is also a tremendous intellectual challenge to be part of defining the positive role of Islam and the European Muslims on the Eurasian continent. I believe that all of us, whether Muslim or not, are grateful that the age of Europe’s division is over.
It is very clear that the new Eurasian order can only succeed and can only lead to lasting peace if the great continental nations – especially Turkey, Russia and Germany – work closely with one another. All of these countries are home to significant numbers of young Muslims.
The EMU has successfully linked together Muslims from the East and West, from Western Europe, Turkey, Russia and the Balkans. Its programme involves youth exchange, coordinated media work, economic projects and cultural projects. We see a growing cultural and economic potential in the Muslims of this region.
We very much welcome Russia’s recent efforts to acknowledge its ‘Islamic’ side, and we are very glad that Moscow is becoming an increasingly sought-after venue for encounters between Muslims.
The question of Islam represents one of the great challenges of this century. Europe has become more and more aware of the presence of Islam over recent years. Let us begin by defining briefly who the European Muslims are, from Kazan to Cordoba, and from Moscow to Birmingham.
European Muslims don’t just include those generations of younger Muslims born in Europe whose parents immigrated to Europe, but also the native Muslims of the Balkans, Russia and Andalusia, along with a steadily growing number of indigenous Europeans. All of these Muslims speak European languages and are fully fledged European citizens.
These European Muslims, when considered together, show that while Islam may filter cultures, it is not itself a culture. Being a European and a Muslim is therefore not a contradiction. From our point of view, Huntington’s theory of a Clash of Civilisations is simply wrong.
As European Muslims we do not suffer from a crisis of cultural identity, and we do not define our identity in terms of an enemy, rather we think in absolutely positive terms. As well as being Islamically educated, we European Muslims continue to admire Europe’s cultural heritage, from Goethe to Tolstoy.
Goethe himself “did not reject the suspicion that he himself was a Muslim,” while Tolstoy provided an impressive study of one of the most fundamental insights common to all religions: belief in Destiny.
At the beginning of the ninth part of his masterpiece War and Peace, Tolstoy explains how Destiny draws together the complex strands of historical event, with his timeless summation of the actions of those in power:
<b>“Every act of theirs, which appears to them an act of their own will, is in a historical sense involuntary and is related to the whole course of history and predestined from eternity.”</b>
One of the concerns of the EMU is that the new generations learn to understand the treasure of the knowledge that has been handed down to them from our great thinkers and poets. And it is in this cultural endeavour, among others, that we would like to work together with Russia.
But of course, the role of the European Muslims is not restricted to Europe alone. European Muslims are also a bridge between Europe and the Islamic world. As correctly practising Muslims our influence in that world is growing.
In the wake of the terrible historical experiences of the previous century, the European Muslims are in a position to make clear the profound difference between Islam and modern ideologies.
Drawing on these negative experiences in Europe, we reject the idea of an ‘Islamic’ ideology outright. And as Muslim jurists we are obliged to reject modern terrorism absolutely. Suicide attacks are categorically forbidden in Islam. Unfortunately there are Muslim terrorists, but there is no basis for Islamic terrorism.
To us the intellectual challenge facing Islam lies in the field of economics. It is there and not in the secession of small independent nations that the actual freedom of peoples is decided.
Islam never needed to have an ‘Enlightenment’ about the nature of economic transactions. Islam defines the middle path between capitalism and communism. Islam permits the ownership of property but rejects the limitless amassment of capital.
We are all aware that the financial crisis represents the real threat to peace and that it was caused by the irrational multiplication of money. President Medvedev’s courageous support to introduce authentic gold-backed currencies is an admirable vision and contains the key to the solution to these problems.
Allah has permitted trade and forbidden usury. This prohibition of interest now seems more current than ever given the global financial crisis, and it is the starting-point for an exciting discussion about the role of Islam in the coming century.
In conclusion I would therefore like to present the following plan of action for collaboration between the Muslims of Europe and Russia:
In the fields of CULTURE and EDUCATION we propose regular symposiums dealing with the relationship between Islam and European philosophy and poetry. Furthermore, as part of the EMU youth programme, we would like to encourage regular visits by Russian Muslims to Weimar, and by Western European Muslims to Russia.
In the field of economics we would propose a regular international exchange on the possibilities of a halaal economy in Russia. We can also assist Russian companies in making contacts with the steadily growing global halaal market.
We propose a forum of Muslim jurists, scholars and lawyers who can make known and make accessible the Islamic arguments against suicide attacks and terrorism. We can also offer governments a mediatory function in order to improve political relations with the Islamic World.“