RELIGIONS DENOUNCE TERRORISM
The conference entitled 'Religions Denounce Terrorism' has been successfully accomplished in Istanbul on June 23, 2003. About 200 invited guests, all prominent members of various religious communities and organizations, from a wide range of countries like Turkey, Russia, Bulgaria, Israel, The United States, Italy or France were present at the meeting. Several Turkish MP's and politicians were also among the audience to set out their views and send a joint message. By stressing the twisted nature of the concept of “terror in the name of religion,” the SRF aims both to give an effective reply to a radical and aggressive idea which threatens our world and also, by stressing the shared values of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, to contribute to understanding, tolerance, dialogue and cooperation between the members of these three divine religions.
A Common Attitude Against Materialism
The Science Research Foundation (SRF) sets out in the belief that erroneous worldviews and moral concepts lie at the root of a great many problems in Turkey and the world. Political conflict, war and injustice within societies are in fact closely related to people’s moral values. When we look at the moral understanding which gives rise to these problems we come face to face with materialism.
This philosophy assumes that life on Earth is totally the product of chance. It proposes that man is a living species descended from animals and that he only progresses by means of conflict. It is inevitable that someone who subscribes to this philosophy will be selfish. He will regard his life as a ruthless struggle for self-interest in which virtues such as sacrifice, compassion and honesty have no place. This false worldview, which claims to be a scientific one by virtue of Darwin’s theory of evolution, enjoys enormous influence today, despite being erroneous. The destructive effects of materialism can be seen both in such totalitarian ideologies as communism and fascism and in the moral degeneration plaguing modern societies.
Since materialism directs people towards material values alone and turns them away from spiritual values, it also destroys national sentiment and thus represents a major threat to nations’ perpetuity.
It is for these reasons that the SRF has been engaged in a wide-ranging cultural service for many years in order to reveal the mistaken nature of materialism and its intellectual foundation, Darwinism, to the people of Turkey and the entire world. To that end the SRF has held some 1500 conferences, inside and outside the country, all of which have met with enormous interest and support.
One of the important facts emerging in the course of this intellectual struggle against materialism is that believers in all three divine religions are united against materialist philosophy. Jews, Christians and Muslims believe that God created us and that we need to live by the truths revealed by Him, which are very important shared values. The SRF believes that the members of the three divine religions should act together on the basis of these shared values.
It is also essential that members of the divine religions cooperate not just against materialism, but also in the intellectual defeat of such harmful ideologies as racism and fascism, and also to resolve such problems as poverty and social injustice.
THE SRF’S OTTOMAN VISION
One important element providing the SRF with inspiration and perspective in this area is the Ottoman vision, which occupies a fundamental place in the worldview of our foundation community. At a time when the world was riddled with intolerance and religious oppression the great Ottoman Empire, whose inheritors we are, went down in history as displaying enormous tolerance to Christian and Jewish communities. The way the Jews who were wronged and expelled from Spain were accepted and looked after by Sultan Bayazid II is an important historical lesson which should never be forgotten.
The Jews within the Ottoman community always remembered with gratitude the tolerance shown them by the Sublime Porte. The contribution they in turn made to the Ottoman Empire is an indisputable fact of history. Jews and Christians who served at Court or came to occupy important positions in the Ottoman society contributed greatly to the development and strengthening of this great world empire.
The SRF is of the opinion that the way the Ottoman Empire allowed the members of all three divine religions to live together in an atmosphere of peace and tolerance sheds important light on the problems of the today's world. For example, the Ottoman administration established a centuries-long environment of peace and tranquillity in Palestine, which has been in a state of conflict and chaos since the early 20th century. In Jerusalem under Ottoman hegemony, Jews worshipped in their synagogues, Christians in their churches and Muslims in their mosques, and the three religions lived together in peace. The bloodshed in Palestine today can be stopped and the atmosphere of peace and brotherhood which existed in the region in Ottoman times can be re-established if the Ottoman vision is adopted anew.
THE SRF VISION OF COOPERATION BETWEEN RELIGIONS
Within the approach described here, the SRF has initiated a wide-ranging cultural service campaign on the subject of dialogue and cooperation between religions, and is determined to continue with this.
The members of the SRF are ready to assume all kinds of responsibility for this mission and to make all necessary sacrifices. Some principles assumed as duties by the SRF community can be set out as follows:
• In the light of the truths and values shared by all three religions, the SRF community is ready to engage in all forms of cultural cooperation with Jews and Christians. It particularly wishes to make all kinds of arrangements in order to offer its cultural work, which explains the existence of God, the false nature of atheistic philosophies and the beauty of religious moral values, to the service of Christians and Jews.
• The SRF is a prominent supporter of the rights of Jewish and Christian Turkish citizens, and will continue to be so. The SRF community is ready to give Jewish and Christian Turkish citizens all kinds of intellectual and social support in order for them to live in peace and security and to live by and represent their religions in the manner they choose. One of the SRF’s aims is to contribute to social development so that shameful measures as the Wealth Tax, now a thing of the past, and tragedies such as the events of September 6-7 should never be repeated.
• The SRF is totally opposed to words or actions intended to harass Jewish and Christian communities, whether in Turkey or anywhere else in the world. It fiercely opposes anti-Semitism, or the hatred of Jews, a barbaric ideology of hatred. It similarly defends the rights of Christians who are the subject of fictitious accusations of being “Crusaders” or “missionaries” for living by their beliefs.
The SRF believes that the development of mutual tolerance and understanding between the members of the three religions and cooperation built on common values will be an important step capable of changing the world in the 21st century. The last two centuries were full of the bitter fruits of mankind’s deception by materialist philosophy. One can see the traces of this philosophy in the World Wars, in genocide, in ethnic conflicts, in communist or fascist totalitarianism and in moral degeneration and corruption. The fact is, however, that advances in thought and science are demolishing materialism and its derivatives and are showing man that he is not in this world by chance but exists by the grace of God.
Rather than a “clash of civilisations” between Jews and Christians who accept this basic truth and Muslims, there must be peace and cooperation.
The SRF is determined to work for this peace and cooperation, both in Turkey and in the world at large. The following verse from the Qur’an sums up the essence of the way SRF members regard Christians and Jews,
“We believe in what has been sent down to us and what was sent down to you. Our God and your God are one and we submit to Him.” (Qur’an, 29: 46)
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