MOSCOW, OCT. 3, 2001 (ZENIT.org–Avvenire).- Sheikh Ravil Ghainuddin, grand mufti of the Muslims of the Russian Federation, has called an international conference on “Islam Against Terrorism,” to condemn all forms of terrorism.
Ghainuddin, a Muslim consul whose decisions have the weight of law, represents 22 million Muslims who live, primarily, in two regions: the Volga-Urals and the northern Caucasus, where Chechnya is situated. His flock is larger than the number of Muslim faithful in Tunisia and Syria combined.
The conference — no dates have been established yet — was suggested by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who met with Ghainuddin a few days ago.
“I hope that the entire Muslim world will support our initiative and that respected and authoritative theologians, religion scholars and experts in Islamic studies of various countries will attend,” the grand mufti said.
Such a conference, he added, will show “there are Muslims in the world who want peace, [and] condemn extremism and terrorism.”
“I have already received a message from Abdullah at-Turki, secretary-general of the World Muslim League, which states that this organization condemns all forms of extremism and terrorism,” he continued.
Asked about the terrorists who struck New York and Washington and considered themselves martyrs, the grand mufti said: “Let´s take, for example, the concept of martyr.
“The Koran says: If the threat of the disappearance of your religion exists, an attack on your freedom of conscience, you must defend your religion. And, if you die in this holy struggle, you become a martyr, you will go to paradise. However, the jihad is defense, not attack; it is not terror. Evil must be rejected, not committed.”
Ghainuddin was then asked about Shamil Basaev, the principal guerrilla leader in Chechnya, who said he supports the Taliban regime and is in solidarity with Osama bin Laden.
Ghainuddin responded: “Basaev is not a Muslim theologian; he is a terrorist. I think the United States is studying the situation very carefully and will not punish the innocent indiscriminately. I do not think bombings will succeed in eliminating the terrorists and bringing a lasting solution to the problem of terrorism in the world.”
“I think, in fact, that the opposite will happen,” the mufti continued. “If bin Laden dies, there will be another 10 ready to replace him. If the bases of extremists organizations are bombed, others will surface in secrecy. We hope that there will be increasingly fewer such organizations in the world.”
Ghainuddin said he was “dismayed” over Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi´s statements on the supposed superiority of Western culture over Islam.
“Each people has its traditions, its history,” he observed. “And each people must respect its neighbor, other cultures and traditions. Allah says: ´Peoples and tribes, collaborate in the good and in the fear of God, but do not assist one another, do not collaborate in evil and enmity.´”
Ghainuddin also quoted the prophet Mohammed, who said: “The Most High created all peoples like flowers in the meadow.”
“In the ninth to 13th centuries, Islamic civilization gave Europeans the concept of dignity and liberty, in addition to scientific discoveries,” the mufti concluded. “Later, sadly, as a consequence of different historical circumstances, Islamic civilization went through a crisis.”