Shahin Hasanli : In Azerbaijan there is no ground for the establishment of any religious order

Interview of Turan with Jamaat Mosque imam, Meshedi Dadash, head of the Spiritual World Public Association Shahin Hasanli

Question: Haji, how do you assess the current state of the religious community in the country?

Answer: After Azerbaijan gained independence in the 90th of XX century, the country has had a growing interest in religion .  Increased interest in religious values is especially prevalent among young people. In the whole country there is a process of orientation towards religion .

Some foreign forces resort to various methods of influence in order to use this to their advantage. One of the main problems of the religious community at the present stage is the lack of educated religious leaders.

Externally, there are many religious figures. However, the clergy capable to satisfy the religious needs to meet modern standards is small.

This lack of religious leaders is one of the factors increasing religious influence from abroad.

People interested in religion, unable to satisfy their religious needs with the local actors, are forced to look abroad.

A lack of awareness and a low level of religious enlightenment contributes to the growth of radicalism, but in general, the situation in the religious community can be considered positive.

Question: How do you see the role of religion in society? Should religion be separate from the state, or should there be a religious state? If there should be a religious state, what model would you support - the Turkish or the Iranian model?

Answer: The place of religion in society determines people's attitude towards religion.

Separation of religion and state in Azerbaijan is the people's choice. Creation of a Sharia state in Azerbaijan seems to me impossible. In Azerbaijan, there is almost zero presence of forces whose goal is the creation of a Sharia state.

Even forces engaged in political activities under the banner of religion, say that if they came to power they would not change the political system .

The existing model of religion and state relations in Azerbaijan is acceptable .

Faith plays an important role in the life of the Azerbaijani people. Azerbaijani people are more believers in comparison with other Muslim nations. In Azerbaijan there is a great attitude to faith and religion.

Even though religious rites are irregular, people are believers. Nevertheless, I do not believe in the possibility in the near future of establishing a religious system in Azerbaijan. There are no grounds for this.

Therefore, Azerbaijan should develop as a secular state, but at the same time it must develop its religious values. Religion must satisfy the moral needs of the people.

Question: There is an opinion that religion will sooner or later turn into policy; even the Turkish state is gradually turning to a religious management framework. That is, Islam as an absolute force must subordinate all to itself. How do you feel about this?

Answer: The influence of Islam on political processes can not be denied . Islam is a factor in politics and political relations. However, within Islam there are groups of different orientations.

Some of them are aggressive, radical movements, considering all the others to be wrong. They cannot be attributed to Islam. But, unfortunately, they operate under the name of Islam.

Therefore to be distinguished from true Islam, Islam is a tool in someone's hands .

Radical movements and nihilistic groups have no connection with Islam. The Prophet's life has many examples of how Islam is tolerant of other beliefs.

Today there is a group that calls itself "takfirs" who consider all others infidels (unbelievers), and furthermore, there are states that are interested in the development of these flows.

These currents spread among people terrible things about Islam, fomenting hatred between different Muslim mazhabs.

As for Turkey, it is still a democratic state, but right now it is in the grip of religious people. If this is the people's choice, there is nothing dangerous about it.

However, the arrival of religion in the state is different from the concept of the coming to power of the faithful. If a politician is a believer, then society will benefit from this. A society formed by believers is more progressive. I think normal people should trust in such a society of their own destiny.

However, there are destructive courses abusing the trust of people of faith and the Muslim society should insure itself against such flows. In this regard several measures should be taken.

Question: What should be done to ensure that such processes do not occur and religion and state perform their own functions? Where are these boundaries? where do they start and end and which should not be allowed?

Answer: Radicalism sometimes generates inappropriate restrictions .

The relationship between state and religion should be based on law.  Freedom of conscience and religion should be ensured.

However, there is a need for curbing the activities of certain religious trends with administrative methods. In Azerbaijan, there are currents, trying to commit terror under the guise of religion. They must be fought with administrative methods, but at the same time there should be necessary educational work.

People need to know what is religion and what is not religion.

The state in these matters should be an assistant to the theologians and religious leaders.

Only when creating freedom for religious activities can we be insured from harm posed by radical currents.

In recent years, in the relations between the state and religion there hae been positive trends . Recently religious communities have been involved in social projects. Therefore, the state should take care of religion. If not, someone from the outside will take care of religion.

As a religious community, we are interested in the development of relations between the state and the religion in a peaceful way and in an atmosphere of mutual understanding. For this, some people criticize and even accuse us.

Religion is an integral part of society and the state must be interested in protecting the rights of believers.

Question: In the country there is the question of Salafism, what threat comes thereof, and the reasons for the spread of it?

Answer: Salafism is a broad concept. Within it there are divisions of Salafism .

Within these there are also people and groups that are configured as loyals and radicals.

There is a Salafi group "Takfir" whose followers believe all others are infidels (unbelievers). Their destructive activity is manifested in many states. The bitter consequences of their activities can be seen in the examples of Syria and Iraq.

This is evidenced by explosions and daily attacks on pilgrims.

Naturally, some forces are interested in the expansion of such destructive activities. Religion is a sensitive issue. When religion is not well understood, it becomes more dangerous than non-belief .

There are many examples of this in history. In particular, in the past there was the Khawarij flow. They fought against Hazrat Ali.

In the afternoon they kept Oruc, all night they did Namaz, and their clothing was also religious . However, they resorted to the murder of Hazrat Ali.

And they did it in the name of pious purposes. The Khavarij flow remained back in history. However, its spirit has come to the present day.

To suppress this, religion should be promoted with the mind, in a rational plane. Such flows put faith, spirituality and morality against reason . They argue that religion cannot be known in the mind. They accept any hadith without analysis. Therefore religion must promote itself in the plane of the mind.

Secondly, we should focus on Irfan (philosophy that encourages excellence). That Turkey and Azerbaijan has no sectarian radicalism is associated with the construction on the basis of religious Irfan.

If religion is promoted on the basis of Irfan amd humanism, it will comply with the spirit of Islam. These directions in Azerbaijan should be strengthened.

Religious groups, based on Irfan, never focus on issues madhhabs ( flows ) in Islam.

That is, Irfan supports a fight only if it comes from the love of man . Even if a person knows that he is right, he should be able to tolerate when another is wrong.

If there is love of man,  sometimes violence may be appropriate. A perfect example is the Prophet Mohammed; Even those who threw stones at him, he asked God to send to the right path. He rose to fight against idolatry only because it posed a threat to humanity. However, no one pursued the idolaters themselves.

Question: Are there ways to resolve the conflict between Sunnis and Shiites?

Answer: Having  Sunni and Shiite madhhabs is reality. It is impossible to create a common madhhab and combine it all.

Between people, there are different approaches and it is their right. The existence of different religious madhhabs is not a tragedy .

Today the relevant question is of peaceful coexistence between madhhabs.

For stability in the religious sphere, exclusion of religious conflicts is the responsibility of religious leaders.

Over-emphasis of attention on MAZHABS constructing propaganda criticism of another madhhab is the wrong approach .

Today, we must deal with the representation of Islam.

In the history of Azerbaijan there have been serious conflicts between mazhabs .

We accept this as a national value .

This is clear confirmation of the presence in the country of an atmosphere of religious tolerance.

Despite the differences between mazhabs there is a tolerant attitude towards this.

There are those who are trying to destroy this atmosphere of tolerance in Azerbaijan.

Sometimes youth in social networks are observed insulting saints of the opposite side. Sometimes some religious leaders even encourage such things. This is unacceptable.

Despite the differences in MAZHABS, there must be Islamic solidarity . We should be able to treat each other with humanity.

Religious leaders and theologians should take a cautious stance on this issue. 

Question: Some individuals and structures suggest declaring Ashura an official day of mourning in Azerbaijan. What is your attitude to this?

Answer: In Azerbaijan, religious holidays such as Ramadan and Qurban are observed at state level.  Worship of Ashura is one of the most widespread among the people.

Ashura, although not confirmed at state level, is a nation-wide day of mourning . If people are celebrating it as a day of mourning, the state could approve it as a day of mourning.

Such steps would contribute to mutual understanding between the state and believers. The people have preserved this day for centuries, even during Soviet times, but now, given that Ashura is increasing in scale every year, the State may declare this day a day of mourning .

Q: In that case, will Sunnis or unbelievers not regard it as a violation of their rights?

Answer: Well, in that case the unbelievers may protest the celebration of Ramadan and Qurbanat the state level.

Regarding the impact of this on the relationship between mazhabs, most of the believers in Azerbaijan are Shiites. This is not about recognition of Shiism official madhhab and ad Ashura mourning day.

The question is about the design of what has already become a reality among the people. On the other hand, Ashura refers not only to one madhhab .

Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, suggests Ashura be a worldwide Muslim day of mourning .

In Turkey on Ashura, ceremonies are attended by heads of state.

The uniqueness of Azerbaijan is that in Ashura ceremonies, Shiites and Sunnis are involved together.

There is a  practice of Sunni religious leaders attending the ceremony and madhhab are preaching .

Ashura should not separate,  but unify muslims.

Imam Hussein is dear to all Muslims and no madhhab has a right to affiliate Ashura with one madhab. 

Q: What is your attitude to the issue of hijab; whether the child understands why don the hijab ?

Answer: Our religion believes that a  girl who has reached 9 years of age is able to understand religion. Performance of religious rites is mandatory for the believer. In developed countries, there is a practice that until adulthood decisions relating to children are made by a parent .

Wearing the Hijab is important to a believing family.

We in the family use no propaganda, but our children will have shown sympathy by wearing the hijab. At this point, we take more from the standpoint of human rights than of the religious right.

In addition to human rights there is the right to education.  It is wrong to deny children the right to education because of a headscarf .

The ban on the hijab is not enforced in all schools. Sometimes some abusing it, inflate the issue.

This is a problem and ways must be found to solve it. It is necessary to come to some common ground. The sooner this issue is resolved, the sooner the decrease in the level of  dissatisfaction of believers in the context of this question .

Q: What is your view on the establishment of religious schools ?

Answer: If a religious school will give a secular education in accordance with modern requirements , then we do not mind. Especially if it is a school for girls. In Europe, there is such a practice, and we endorse this principle. The main issue of the discontent associated with the hijab, would be eliminated .

In connection with this issue, we are sympathetic to the position of the believers, but sometimes in this issue we see some foreign influence.

I do not deny external influence, but in some cases, if a citizen requires his own right, it is wrong to seek foreign views.

Q: There is a common belief that one of the reasons for the attractiveness of religion for young people is a socio-political discontent. What do you think about this?

Answer: There can be certain socio-political reasons in the spread of religion. However, I no longer attribute this to Fitrat - innate human attachment to religion.  Faith is a factor fueling the spirit.

In Azerbaijan there is no polarization of the believer and the atheist. We promote the faithful  can not be considered  only those who pray.

Sometimes people, who just for a few days, perform namaz, begin to look down on others.

No-one wants this polarization in society.

Most of society is religious people. Believers are not only those who perform religious rites. There are different categories of faith.

There are people who believe in Allah and the Prophet, but don't perform religious rites . It should not be treated as the belief of sectarianism .

In orienteering religion social factors are not denied.

However, it is necessary to prevent the transformation of such grievances into destructiveness .

In some cases, there are people coming to religion with an aggressive spirit. In religion there is hadith, expressing attitude towards injustice.

The Koran has verses, and some guided by these verses, to take hasty steps . Radical movements try to take advantage of such grievances.

Question: Is it possible to reform Islam? Does it make sense, for example, in performing namaz five times a day?  Maybe we should  relaxed and simplify the requirements. How do you feel about this?

Answer: There is no need for reforms in the foundations of Islam, and in the thinking of believers.  There must be a serious change in attitude of Muslims to Islam. In religion there are certain stable, unchanging values. There are sacred values??.  The main task of religion is to stand on their guard. Time passes, and the demand for justice always remains. Time cannot change the fact that repression is bad, and justice is good. There are certain fundamental values ??on which the religion rests. These values ??do not change over time or in accordance with the time.

There is just a need to change the attitude of Muslims towards religion.

Some beliefs have to do with Islam. A believer does not have to be conservative, because religion does not mean conservatism .

Religion is against any negative trends. Religion encouraging progressive national traditions do not contradict divine values??. Religion does not reject the new, so it is necessary to promote the true Islam.

As for the daily rituals, the practicality of religion, expression against Gd - person contact line are the Most High, and served ( bend) .

In fact, everyday ritual - the mechanism of practical connection between Allah and served.

Unable to change the fundamental rules of religion. In Islamic thinking Muslims have the same need for major changes. To do this, religious leaders should be able to become intellectuals.

One of the problems of religious leaders is a dismissive attitude to knowledge in other areas. Such clergymen can not conduct religious propaganda in accordance with the requirements of the modern period. Therefore, there is a serious problem of representing religion at the present stage .

Q: What comes first , human rights, or religion ? Why  is the question of change of religion painfully perceived ? Why, for example, is someone converting to Islam welcomed,  yet someone converting  to another religion is condemned?

A: I see no contradiction between human rights and religion. There are differences in the approach to human rights. Religion has its own concept of respect for human rights. With pressure to  change religion can be and should be treated naturally. It is perceived as a betrayal, but in a wider sense, religion is different from ethnicity. Many of us consider ourselves Muslims, but our Muslim ethnic Islam. That is, the people, the nation to which we belong, is Islam , and we consider ourselves Muslims.

In fact, in the choice of belief , man is free.  Our religion rejects coercion .

However , Islam is among the most perfect religion and that is my belief as a Muslim .

Everyone, if you will treat religion properly, may see its perfection. Islam is the only religion that does not reject the teachings of any prophet. Islam is the only religion that recognizes all the prophets .

Q: Do the younger generation of religious leaders from among Sunni and Shiite mazhabs get together to discuss common religious questions?

A: Recently, on the initiative of the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations was held such an event.

It was devoted to the spiritual heritage of Sayyid Yahbi Bakuvi and it was attended by representatives of both madhhabs . Indeed this event was of great positive significance . They discussed issues of concern in the madhhabs . On the agenda was a question of restraint of radicalism. There were very sincere and helpful discussions. There is a need to continue such activities, but it would be better if such events were held in mosques .

There was a meeting of religious leaders at different madhhabs of believers , a joint commission of prayer religious communities

In this regard, initiatives were of Caucasian Muslims Office Allahshukur Pashazade Sheikhulislam himself.

In particular , this year in all the mosques of the country Unity Week has been widely noted , announced on the occasion of the birthday of the Prophet, held in mosques preaching brotherhood between mazhabs.  There was a special performance by Sheikhulislam and a scientific-practical conference on the theme of unity of Islam in CMD .

If religious leaders follow suit , the youth will intensify the mood of unity.

Q: Have you received support from representatives of the Sunni community in connection with threats to your address ?

Answer: From the brothers on Ahli - Sunnah there was a severe reaction .

Many believers and religious leaders have written about your position on our page in Facebook. We have even received letters of support from Turkey. These people raised their voice of protest against radicalism. In this matter I have seen the presence of unity.

Q: Why was the target chosen in the Meshadi Dadash mosque?

Answer: Probably because in the mosque " Meshedi Dadash " most believers gather . This was done to create a confrontation between mazhabs and was not directed against me personally .

Azerbaijan has not been such that there has been a fatwa was to kill a religious leader . This happened for the first time. I do not exclude this, and external influences . Apparently, someone is interested in creating conflict in the country.

Question: Is the expansion of those arrested in connection with the planned attack on you ?

Answer: One can only assume that even can be extended the circle arrested . After the arrest of two people , one more was arrested .

I myself have also testified in the investigation. Efforts are under way to establish other possible participants. I can't rule out that the number of arrests may increase, but it is the competence of the investigation and it may establish who else in the circle. -0 -


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