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I. Abant Platform "Islam and Secularism Symposium"

by fgulen.com on . Posted in The Abant Platform

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Final Declaration:

Today, Turkey appears to be passing through a deep crisis tied to the axis of religions and secularism. As a group of Turkish intellectuals, we came together at Abant and concluded that agreement regarding the following points would be beneficial:

1) According to Islam the basic goal of revelation is to guide man as to how to attain goodness, beauty and happiness in this world and the afterlife. Revelation addresses the intelligence and requires comprehension and interpretation from it. Although in the history of Islamic thought there are some conceptions that belittle the importance of the mind, there is no conflict between revelation and intelligence in the dominant line of thought. The responsibility for comprehending and interpreting revelation falls on every believing person to the degree of his strength and knowledge. Every believer must use his intelligence. No individual or class can claim divine authority on the matter of understanding and interpreting revelation.

2) In the first periods of Islam the relation between revelation and life was much more concrete and importance was given to functional intelligence. In fact, in spite of the clear expression of some Qur'anic verses, and taking into considerations the main objectives and necessities of religion, different interpretations of rules were able to be made and implemented. In this framework today's Muslims have the authority to bring solutions to the daily problems of the Islamic world.

3) Recently one of the concepts that cause confusion in the Islamic world is the concept of "sovereignty". When looked at from the perspective of the Qur'an, undoubtedly God is the absolute sovereign of the world with His knowledge, will, mercy, justice and power. All creatures are under this universal sovereignty. For believers, God is the teacher's and guide to moral and social values. However, this concept of sovereignty shouldn't be confused with the concept of sovereignty in the principle. "sovereignty belongs to the nation without limitations or conditions." The expression, "sovereignty is the nation's" means that is not the natural or divine right of any individual, class or group; politically it means taking "national will" as basic and not recognising any power superior to it.

4) In the metaphysically or political sense, state means a human institution that doesn't posses sanctity. The state exist to fulfil natural human interests and needs and it finds its purpose and function in these interests and needs. Life, security, justice and freedom are the most basic and natural of these interests and needs. The state should keep the same distance from every kind of ideology, belief and philosophical view. The state can not have a totalitarian, authoritative and forceful official ideology. All state officials responsible for carrying out the above mentioned main state duties must act with the consciousness that the duties are under the command of the nation and without causing abuse of their authority.

5) We don't see values and requests like democracy, human rights and living in freedom and peace as elements of a particular ideology. The state removes all obstacles from religions,

beliefs and religious interpretations; it guaranties everyone freedom of religion and freedom of conscience and the freedom to fulfils the requisites of religious beliefs.

6) We think that other than the universal and basic values and principles of Islam's democratic state based on law, the organisation of details of political regimes is left to the society.

Within a legal framework. The state should be unbiased regarding religious belief's and philosophical views. It should protect the citizens' rights to believe or not believe and remove obstacles to the implementation of beliefs. Secularism is essentially an attitude of the state and secular state cannot define religion or pursue a religious policy. Secularism should not be used as a restricting principle in the definition and enumeration of basic rights and freedoms.

7) Interference in the lifestyle of citizens and sensitive points in this issue lie at the source of a number of current difficulties in Turkey . Secularism is not in opposition to religion and it shouldn't be understood as interference e in people's lifestyles. Secularism shouldn't broaden the field of individual freedom. Especially it should not lead to discrimination against women, and shouldn't deprive them of rights in public.

8) To overcome Turkey 's difficulties, democracy based on freedom must take root and obstacle preventing non-governmental organisations from growing stronger must removed. Citizens should forego the habit of expecting everything from the government, and the state should refrain from seeing the citizen as in need of guardianship.

9) People should use their rights to live according to their religious or philosophical beliefs and views. As long as there is no clear public law to the contrary that takes it legality from the principle of legal supremacy. No one should be punished, removed from their public duty or be deprived of education and other public services because of it. The principle of secularism should be constitutionally defined to the effect that no concession of religious or philosophical views should be made in the unbiased implementation of the principle of absolute equality of human rights and the principles of justice. As a second step, the body of laws should be reviewed and the citizens' anxiety that has reached serious proportions should be alleviated.

10) We who gathered at Abant meeting believe: People having different views and inclinations and preferring different lifestyles is not an obstacle to their making sound decisions that take the country's welfare into consideration. However big our problems might be they can be solved with the initiative of the people. We believe the conclusions that we have arrived at after three days of discussions on religion-state-relations will help answer Turkey 's common aspirations and expectations.

Participants:

Prof. Dr. Mehmet Aydin
Prof. Dr. Suleyman Ates
Prof. Dr. Ahmet Arslan
Prof. Dr. Salih Akdemir
Prof. Dr. Hayreddin Karaman
Prof. Dr. Bekir Karliga
Prof. Dr. Mustafa Erdogan
Prof. Dr. Omer Faruk Harman
Prof. Dr. Ali Goren
Prof. Dr. Ersin Nazif Gurdogan
Prof. Dr. Huseyin Hatemi
Prof. Dr. Mehmet Hatiboglu
Prof. Dr. Burhan Kuzu
Prof. Dr. Ahmet Yuksel Ozemre
Prof. Dr. Yasar Nuri Ozturk
Prof. Dr. Cemal Sofuoglu
Prof. Dr. Serif Ali Tekalan
Prof. Dr. Yunus Vehbi Yavuz
Doç. Dr. Mehmet Pacaci
Doç. Dr. Gulper Refig
Doç. Dr. Sami Selcuk
Doç. Dr. Omer Ozsoy
Doç. Dr. Mehmet Celik
Doç. Dr. Ilhami Guler
Doç. Dr. Durmus Hocaoglu
Doç. Dr. Hayri Kirbasoglu
Doç. Dr. Atilla Yayla
Dr. Mehmet Ali Kilicbay
Dr. Nebahat Koru
Dr. Cuneyt Ulsever
Dr. Ali Bayram
Dr. Gaffar Yakin
Av. Kezban Hatemi
Av. Abidin Sungur
Melih Yurusen
Riza Zelyut
Namik Kemal Zeybek
Nevval Sevindi
Halit Refig
Sukru Ozbugday
Cemal Ussak
Riza Akcali
Levent Korkut
Fehmi Koru
Ali Bulac
Huseyin Gulerce 16-19 July 1998