Role of Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in the Dialogue of Civilisations

The Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in Astana, a forum widely recognized by the international community, has become a true trademark of Kazakhstan and evidence of the efforts of our country and its first President Nursultan Nazarbayev in promoting the ideals of peace, harmony, humanism, tolerance and religious tolerance.

All of these issues are extremely important and urgent to our country. The future of our society, peace and stability in Central Asia depends on their successful solution.

Metropolitan of Astana and Kazakhstan Alexander
Head of the Astana Metropolitan District in the Republic of Kazakhstan

The Congresses of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, initiated by President Nazarbayev, have already been held four times in Astana. The congress is an interactive platform for representatives of world religions.

Of course, the congresses cannot solve all global problems. Clerics are not able to make political decisions. However, the congresses teach people of different nationalities and religions how to exist together and follow the path of dialogue. They teach respect and responsibility before God and history for the betterment of the ever shrinking global village.

Archbishop Tomasz Peta
Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese in Astana

Over the years, the Congress has made major and positive developments. At the fourth Congress in 2012, a big step forward was made when the Council of Religious Leaders was established, a body whose name embodies the spirit of the congress.

Now, there is painstaking and difficult work to be done. The task of the Congress and all of its participants is to encourage the leaders to enter into direct dialogue and there is no doubt of a need for this. There is growing inter-religious tension, new military conflicts are arising, including those with religious overtones. The number of terrorist attacks is growing, the number of refugees and those suffering from hunger is multiplying. In this situation, religious organizations and religious leaders have no right to step back and fall silent. They have to be peacemakers and their voices must be heard. Kazakhstan provides such an opportunity by organizing and conducting dialogue among different religions.

Yury Novgorodov
Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is the only state which has created a unique Palace of Peace and Accord, where leaders from different parts of the world gather for interreligious dialogue. This conference, in which the surrounding atmosphere is permeated with thoughts of peace and harmony, encourages us to make a commitment to overcome wars and violence by dialogue between religions, between leaders and peoples.

Elinechi Wandelei Paes Miller
Deputy Chairman of the National Council of Christian Churches in Brazil

We have come to Astana from around the world and represent different faiths. We must maintain global peace in order to secure best for future generations. Our message is important in the creation of a peaceful and harmonious world community.

Such forums will serve the achievement of mutual understanding among participants and the development and exchange of bright ideas that will lead us to achieving our goals. I would like to wish the Republic of Kazakhstan success in the organization of future effective forums such as the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. Let us maintain peace all over the world, regardless of religious differences.

Doctor Dato Zulkifli bin Haji Mohd Yusuf
Director of the Center of Quran Research at Malaysia University

Today Kazakhstan, headed by a recognized leader of the Kazakh nation – President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who is a harbinger of development and progress of the state, is carefully preserving its rich spiritual heritage.

Nursultan Nazarbayev’s role in the history of independent Kazakhstan is great. Thanks to his outstanding merits, Kazakhstan is at the forefront of inter-religious dialogue. Undoubtedly, Kazakhstan’s contribution to the development of inter-religious dialogue has increased its authority on the world stage.

Sheikh-ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazade
Head of the Caucasian Muslims Office

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, which was first held in 2003. Over the years, the Congress has underlined the great responsibility religious leaders, representatives of mass media and politicians have in bringing peace to the world.

The initiative of President Nazarbayev to hold the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions was supported by the politicians and presidents of the world’s largest countries. Annually, the number of participants and delegates of the Congress increases. At the 2012 forum, about 100 representatives from 40 countries gathered at one table. This is evidence of the effectiveness of the Congress and its impact on the preservation of international security.

Supreme Mufti Yerzhan Hadzhi Malgazhiuly
Chairman of the Spiritual Administration of Kazakhstan Muslim

The first 10 years of the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions opened the potential for reconciliation in our world. This is the place where we are ready in accordance with our religious traditions to listen to each other, love each other and protect each other, so that all currently existing facts of violence and division may change. We have just started and the first 10 years have shown us how difficult it is to talk about the issues that really divide us.

Richard Atkinson
Bishop of Bedford, the Church of England

The dialogue of religions, cultures and faiths is the most important event that contributes to peace and preservation of harmony in the world. The purpose of the dialogue is to build familiarity with representatives of various communities. All of us, without exception, receive information from different believers or opponents of one or another doctrine or religion. Direct meetings are able to melt 80% of an iceberg of false and distorted ideas formed by information acquired this way.

Ali Djuma
Former Supreme Mufti of Egypt

People from dozens of different ethnic groups and many religions live in Kazakhstan. But despite this, all of them perfectly co-exist and live in peace and harmony. It is known that the majority of Kazakhstan’s citizens are Muslims and Sunnis of the Hanafi Madh’hab, Aqidah Matrudiya, who respect other religions and faiths. There is no suppression of religious ceremonies or worship of different faiths.

Sheikh, Doctor Muhammad Al-Jarad Halfa Issawi
Adviser to the President of the Republic of Iraq on Religious Affairs
Imam-Khatib of the Sheikh Abdul Kodir Kilyani Mosque

The 10th anniversary of the first Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions is not only an opportunity to look back. We also all look forward to further achievements of better mutual understanding and peaceful resolution of conflicts through dialogue. Despite existing conflicts, we can base our optimism on the willingness of leaders of world and traditional religions, not only to dialogue, but also to adhere to the common values and conclusions understood by politicians and public figures that dialogue is the best way to overcome problems. And we want to praise the contribution of President Nursultan Nazarbayev to this successful process and to express our appreciation for his initiative to intercultural and inter-religious dialogue.

Walter Schwimmer
Secretary General of the Council of Europe 1999-2004,
Chairman of the International Steering Committee of the “World Public Forum – Dialogue of Civilizations”

The establishment of a dialogue among leaders and followers of different religions is the most effective tool in the formation of sacred and human values, such as respect for human dignity, peace, the security of all people, peaceful co-existence, social justice, the avoidance of critical statements on issues that cannot be solved and commitment to moral values that were preached by the Prophets and founders of various religions in their pursuits to resolve all conflicts in the world.

Dr. Ali Mohammad Helmi
Chief Executive Officer
Center for Interreligious Dialogue
Organization of Islamic Culture and Relations

The Congress has become an effective driving force that promotes peaceful coexistence among the leaders of different traditions worldwide through cross-cultural studies and interreligious dialogues.

The Congress does not try to mix all religious traditions into one undifferentiated and uncharacteristic religious group, but rather helps preserve the identity of traditions and gives a seat at the table where anyone can sit freely with a sense of security and in accordance with their religion. Tolerance is a cornerstone of the Congress in its effort to preserve peace in all areas, including religion.

Dr. M. Dzhayotindra Dave
Director of the Akshardham Center for Applied Research in Social Communal Harmony

Dialogue among leaders and followers of different religions can enhance the status of religion in the international system and be a most effective tool in promoting the highest of human values. Dialogue can be an excellent tool of the international community in solving problems that in the past have led it to crisis. It can eliminate problems, based on mutual understanding and will make the world a better and safer place for humanity as a whole and for the followers of religion in particular.

Dr. Mohammad Bager Horashmad
Head of Organization of Islamic Culture and Religion

Evidence of the quest for the organization of interreligious dialogue can be found in many other countries besides Kazakhstan, but still, none of the initiators of such forums were able to unite the most respected leaders of world and traditional religions in the same manner. Therefore, the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, which takes place once every three years in Astana, is a unique event that attracts the attention of the world community.

Alikber Alikberov
Head of the Center for the Study of Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Volga-Ural Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences