The Middle East is a special geography with its past of witnessing the birth and spread of three great religions and serving the shaping of the world, albeit indirectly.
The territory is identified with the Abrahamic religions, especially Islam. Unless this particular fact is taken into consideration, none of the political models that are imposed on the region will be realistic, successful and permanent. Any new model that isolates religion will bring along several new and complex problems and conflicts.
From past to present, Islam has influenced all sorts of aspects of the Middle East such as politics, socio-cultural life, economy, law, education, science, and art. That is to say, it has been fundamental in the shaping of the region, as well as in the composition of the existing worldviews.
For centuries millions of people of various religions, sects, races and faiths have fraternally lived in the region together as neighbors. This fraternity is rooted in the secularism principle of Islam.
Islam is based on freedom of speech and faith, giving freedom to people of other religions, and even to non-believers. Sense of compassion, mercy and freedom that are the pillars of Islam constitute the basis of secularism.
Being a concept that holds all kinds of faith together, and treats them equally, secularism has become more of an issue in the Middle East. In referring to the freedom of all religions, and the non-believers’ rights in the societal and individual spheres, this concept points to the equality of different religions and non-religious ideas before the law.
The concept of secularism also highlights the significance of abstaining from precluding religion’s contribution to political opinion by the non-believer citizens. In a democratic country, it is clear that the contribution of one side will not be less valuable than the other. The helping hand of the religious leaders as well as religious citizens to the improvement of democratic values is also evident. This help becomes more crucial in the Middle East. In a region like the Middle East, the role of religious leaders is just as substantial as the role of political leaders. It is therefore impossible to separate religion from the structure and the dialectic of these societies. Obviously people in these societies pay attention to their religious leaders and repudiate people and systems that they see as threat to their religious values.
Even though politicians claim that they are against violence, and call on societies to love and peace, it has come to be known that in situations of increased tension, people become indifferent to politicians, and no one is able to bring a permanent solution to problems. This is because a politician most definitely has like-minded supporters, as well as an opposition group that contradicts him/her. In that case, the presence and general acceptance of a political leader with enough force to embrace everyone, and to influence all walks of life with his/her opinions does not seem plausible.
Political problems cannot be settled with unspiritual, inhospitable meetings, and decisions on paper. Peace cannot be built merely with statements and political impositions. A spiritual training is necessary to prepare societies for such situations. However, this spiritual education shall be absolutely based on the Qur’an. This education of love and soul by spiritual leaders will establish the underlying structure of a moral culture required for peace. Building of a peaceful society is possible as long as this education is properly offered starting from childhood within the family, at schools, at mosques, in the media, and in politics, that is in every possible setting and situation.
Neither international organizations and peacemakers, nor politicians can stop the bloodshed, selfishness and injustice, nor can they fully prevent moral corruption and indifference. They cannot provide assertive solution to conflicts and tensions among people. Violence continues breeding violence unless there are lasting solutions. The sole path to ending social disorders and conflicts is to strengthen the bond among people, elevate their moral sensitivities. A scrupulous person with a strong sense of love, compassion and mercy, who is well aware of the significance of cooperation and sharing, cannot be deaf to the problems of the world. Then the real problem we are facing is the disappearance of love, and the moral weakness in the world.
Spiritual leaders may play an efficient role in the ideological struggle with the radical groups. However it is of utmost importance that such a spiritual leader capable of handling this struggle must principally be above fanaticism himself/herself. It is clear that people who have adopted a religious understanding full of superstitions that are not dependent on the Qur’an cannot persuade radical groups into understanding the fallaciousness of their ways.
Numerous problems that have allegedly arisen from Islam originate from the extremist and ignorant perspectives of those who in reality are ill informed about Islam, even though they say they are Muslims. Consequently, elimination of radicalism can only be achieved by education through the Qur’an.
It is the righteous Muslims experiencing Islam as it is described in the Qur’an who can assist political leaders in the fight against radical terrorism. Explaining the Qur’an in the most correct way will rid people’s minds of non-Islamic illusions, superstitious beliefs, as well as superstitions rooted in deviant thoughts. Therefore, help in the fight against terrorism can only be requested from reliable collaborators who experience the morality of the Qur’an most properly with wisdom, love and compassion. Contrary to what people are led to believe, the only way to show the world that the source of terrorism is not Islam, and that the only permanent solution to terror is in fact Islam, is to overcome ignorance through education based on real morals of the Qur’an.
Let’s not forget that there is always a place for love in everyone’s soul. A world without love and mercy does not benefit anyone. It is extremely natural and essential that politicians collaborate with such teachers of love who can address love, mercy, the beauty of forgiving, and the peacefulness that kindness brings to the soul. We will never benefit from solution attempts that drive away religion from the Middle East. An understanding of Islam based on the Qur’an will set up the groundwork for the long-awaited concepts like freedom, democracy and secularism.
Adnan Oktar's piece in Diplomacy Pakistan: