Friday, 14 December 2018
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Articles > News > 13th International Muslim Forum in Helsinki

13th International Muslim Forum in Helsinki On 11th December Helsinki hosted the 13th International Muslim Forum "Qur’anic Humanism and Global Challenges of the Modern World: Strategies and Solutions", which was organized by the Secretariat of the International Muslim Forum, Religious Board of Muslims of the Russian Federation, Russia Muftis Council, Moscow Islamic Institute, Islamic organizations of Finland, The World Association for Proximity of Islamic Madhabs. The forum is supported by the Muslim Council of Britain and the International Foundation for Interreligious and Intercultural Education (Italy).

The work of the 13th International Muslim Forum started with recitation of the Qur’an and welcoming speeches delivered by Finnish representatives: the chairman of the Tatar Muslim community of Finland Atik Ali, pastor for interreligious dialogue and cooperation of the Helsinki Union of Lutheran Communities Heidi Rautionmaa; as well as the report of the Chairman of the Religious Board of Muslims of Russia and the Russia Muftis Council, Mufti Sheikh Ravil Gainutdin.

Role of dialogue and cooperation of religions in solving problems

The Executive Director of the National Forum for Cooperation of Religions of Finland, Anya Toivoli-Stambuli (Helsinki), reported on the activities of the Forum for Cooperation of Religions, which was founded in 2011 by 5 religious organizations representing the Evangelical and Lutheran churches, Judaism and Islam. The founders include the Tatar Muslim community of Finland. She said that 30 thousand refugees received by Finland in recent years have influenced the cultural landscape of the country, and in these conditions the Forum’s duty is to work for harmony and mutual understanding in the society.
Head of the Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland Tarja Mankkinen (Helsinki) emphasized that the agenda of the 13th International Muslim Forum was aimed at finding solutions to the problems faced by the humanity. Ms. Mankkinen also noted that Islam had appeared on the territory of the modern Finland before the Republic of Finland declared state sovereignty.

Adalberta Bernardini (Rome), founder and vice-president of the International Foundation for Interreligious and Intercultural Education, explaned the meaning of the concept of "humanism" in Christian theology and expressed confidence that cooperation between Christianity and Islam was needed in order to maintain the values of peace and mercy.

International Agenda

Following the chairman of the Religious Board of Muslims of the Russian Federation, Mufti Sheikh Ravil Gaynutdin, a number of speakers expressed their attitude towards the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the transfer of the American embassy to this city. In his report Mufti Gaynutdin drew the audience’s attention to the situation and emphasized that Jerusalem should remain the spiritual centre of all three religions, the capital of humanism, and it can not be dragged into political conflicts by unilateral unreasoned actions. He expressed gratitude to the President of Russia for his participation in the settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and his firm stance regarding the recognition of the Palestinians' right to establish a state with a capital in East Jerusalem.

According to the founder and ex-chairman of the Muslim Council of Britain, Sir Iqbal Sacranie (London), the Muslim community of the United Kingdom was shocked by the decision of the American president regarding Jerusalem. A similar idea was expressed by the President of the Muslim Association of Greece (Athens) Naim Elghandour.

The Forum participants also expressed their thoughts on the crisis phenomena that struck the Middle East region. Thus, the president of the Federation of Islamic Organizations of Europe, Abdallah bin Mansour (Brussels, Paris) cited a contrasting example: while the Islamic world is swept by violence and Muslims are killed, in Europe Muslims feel safe, despite existing Islamophobia. He noted that while taking part in the inauguration ceremony of the Moscow Cathedral Mosque in 2015, he was impressed by the fact that after a period of atheistic persecution, mosques were being revived in Russia. According to Mr. Ben Mansur, the Muslim communities of Europe should support the Islamic world in overcoming its problems, which can be considered as a metaphorical payment of zakat.
The President of the Federation of Islamic Organizations of Europe suggested conducting the next International Muslim Forum in Paris.

The future of Islam in Europe

Representatives of about 30 countries are taking part in the 13th International Muslim Forum, namely Albania, Belarus, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Iran, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Oman, Portugal, Spain, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Sweden, Estonia, and others.

In their speeches many participants voiced their concern about the future of Muslim communities living as religious, linguistic and ethnic minorities in secular European countries. This concern is caused by two major groups of factors. The first one is that young Muslims mostly born in European countries do not have a holistic idea of Islam, their representation about religion is distorted, and they also face the conflict of religious and civil identity, which makes it easy for radical propagandists to influence them . The second group of problems concerns legal and cultural integration, recognition and respect for the rights of Muslims.

In this regard, the European participants expressed their views saying that traditionally Muslims were mostly focused on performance of religious rituals, and paid more attention to rites, while working for the sake of the to society and establishment of harmony and mutual understanding was not considered as a part of religious practice and spiritual life.

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