Kazakhstan Seeks Role of Religious Leaders for Maintaining Interfaith Harmony

OpinionKazakhstan Seeks Role of Religious Leaders for Maintaining Interfaith Harmony

By Raza Syed

In recent years, Kazakhstan has emerged as a prominent peace-loving nation in the world arena. Since the time of its independence, the country has been a supporter of a peaceful, constructive foreign policy and an initiator of providing platforms for negotiations on the settlement of various international issues.
The world order imposed by the United Nations to bring peace and stability in the post-WW II era is being challenged by the emergence of divisive blocks. These new blocks are undermining the authority of the UN. This may lead to disastrous consequences leading ultimately to the increase in the arms race worldwide. One way to avert this situation is to resort to diplomacy.
Diplomacy doesn’t work in all situations. So an alternative way of maintaining global peace has to be devised. It’s estimated that 85 percent people in the world identify themselves with a religion, making religion a potent force in world affairs. Religious leaders, therefore, have an important role to play in maintaining global peace and harmony. Moreover, all the religions share some fundamental values, guaranteeing sanctity of human life, mutual support and rejection of destructive tendencies. These principles can be used as cornerstones of a new world order.

President Tokayev has assigned three spheres to religious leaders where they can assert their influence. Firstly, they can contribute to the healing of wounds, using the power of religion in societies that have endured long periods of conflict.
Secondly, given the situations where individual acts of hatred may sabotage world peace, the targeted communication of religious leaders may not prevent the situation from getting out of hand.
Thirdly, in view of the radical changes occurring in all spheres of human life as a result of new technologies, religious leaders can inculcate spiritual values and set moral standards to face the challenges of digital reality.

Lately, the traditional religions, once excluded as pillars of modernity, have regained their influential status globally. To underscore the importance of religion in contemporary human life, Kazakhstan established the platform of Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in Astana. The Congress plays a vital role in shaping the country’s international image. During its almost 20-year history, it has made a significant contribution to the global process of interfaith dialogue.

In view of the far-reaching advantages that can be gained from the Congress, the convening of it on regular basis becomes important. It can play a positive role in bringing various religions closer together thus promoting peace and respect for others in society.

President Tokayev rightly noted during the opening of the last Congress, that the people of Kazakhstan have absorbed the traditions of different civilizations and religions, the spirit of tolerance and openness.
“Currently, representatives of more than 100 ethnic groups live in harmony in Kazakhstan, and about 4,000 religious associations representing 18 confessions operate freely. We believe this is an invaluable wealth and an inherent advantage of Kazakhstan. The Congress is an important part of Kazakhstan’s policy to strengthen dialogue and cooperation in our country and worldwide,”he further stated.

This confirms the place of Kazakhstan as a global center of inter-civilizational, interreligious and interfaith dialogue.
It is important to promote the ideas of the congress globally, attract foreign politicians, experts, and journalists to the dialogue, and call on leaders of the world and traditional religions and prominent political figures to achieve long-term stability.

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