ASTANA – Kazakhstan is home to more than 130 ethnic groups and the nation’s prosperity is only possible when there is peace and harmony, said Serikbay kazhy Oraz, Chairperson of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Kazakhstan (SAMK) and the Kazakh Supreme Mufti, in a recent interview with The Astana Times.
“Surely, Islam is a religion of kindness and peace. There is one saying by Prophet Muhammad, ‘The Muslim ummah (community) is like one body: if one organ complains, the rest of the body develops a fever.’ Therefore, special attention is paid to helping the people around, especially those in need,” he said.
SAMK, mosques and zeket (charity) funds actively participate in the country’s social life by providing families with many children, the elderly, widows and people with disabilities with necessities such as food, clothes and coal for heating in winter months. Each mosque also organises charity dinners during the holy month of Ramadan. Other initiatives include contributing to building houses, purchasing apartments for the needy and preparing children for school.
The Supreme Mufti, however, also stressed the importance of unity and friendly relations between different nationalities and religions.
“Approximately 70 percent of the population in Kazakhstan, a home for more than 120 nationalities of different religious views, are Muslims. The religion, one of the main components of the nation’s spiritual culture, which traditionally highly valued nobility, tolerance and hospitality, in my opinion contributes to the stability and peace. Moreover, the prosperity of the country and its nation is only possible when there is unity, peace and harmony. At the same time, care for peace and contributing to its preservation is a moral and civic duty of every Muslim,” he added.
The mufti highly values the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions’ contribution to peace.
“Surely, this year the congress will also be remembered for its richness and content, making a real contribution to ensuring mutual respect, understanding and harmony on the planet,” he said of the event slated to take place in Astana Oct. 10-11.
SAMK works to create the proper conditions for preaching and disseminating Islamic teachings. Its other goals include maintaining the unity of Kazakh Muslims, promoting family values, organising trainings for Islamic clerks and controlling rituals, ceremonies and mosque activities, as well as promoting religious education using mass media.
The organisation also focuses on religious literature, textbooks and websites. Daily activities include meetings, speeches and discussions on relevant topics, such as spiritual harmony, tolerance and real Islamic values.
During the first forum of imams, SAMK adopted four documents including two stipulating its activities, such as Platform of Kazakh Muslims and Norms and Ethics of the SAMK Worker. The other documents, Personality of a Muslim and Portrait of the Imam, illustrate the personality of modern Muslims and determine the requirements for education and qualification level of religious clerks.
“First of all, Islam is a science; therefore, I pay significant attention to the qualification of imams. A highly educated population demands educated imams capable of answering their questions. For that purpose, we regularly check the knowledge of imams in local mosques and send some of them for short-term trainings to Muslim countries,” he said.
The Supreme Mufti believes the spirituality of the Kazakh people should not be neglected.
“As President Nursultan Nazarbayev points out, the spiritual component of the personality is of high significance since it gives strength and power to world civilisations. Therefore, the Kazakh nation faces an important task of modernising its consciousness. As regards the personality of the modern Muslim in Kazakhstan, I perceive him/her to be an educated, kind family person, adhering to religious standards and being a patriot of the nation,” he added.