14 august 2012, 16:40
Ilham Aliyev participated in the Iftar ceremony on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan
The Chairman of the Caucasus Muslims Office, Sheikh ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazadeh, hosted the Iftar ceremony in his residency on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan.
President Ilham Aliyev participated in the ceremony.
Sheikh ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazadeh introduced the religious figures from the North Caucasus republics of the Russian Federation and guests from Turkic-speaking countries to the head of state.
President Ilham Aliyev congratulated and wished them all the best on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan. Then Sheikh ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazadeh informed the President about the new residency.
It was noted that the residency was built in one year and meets the latest standards. Unique patterns of global, Oriental and Azerbaijani architecture and different schools of calligraphy have been extensively used in the construction. The new residency, as well as the shrines built or reconstructed in our country, are a clear indicator of the sensitive attitude of our people and the state of Azerbaijan to the national and spiritual values, freedom of religion and conscience.
President Ilham Aliyev was informed that the new residency can host Iftar ceremonies for 300 people at a time. The residency is also well suited for prayers and other religious rites. The new residency, opened in the month of Ramadan, the Sultan of 11 months when the holy book of the Muslims, the Koran, was heaven-sent and the gates of heaven are opened, is a precious gift to the Muslims of Azerbaijan.
The Iftar ceremony started with the recital of ayats and a prayer on the occasion of the month of Ramadan.
In remarks at the ceremony, Sheikh ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazadeh expressed his gratitude to President Ilham Aliyev for accepting the invitation to attend the Iftar ceremony being conducted on the occasion of the Sultan of 11 months, the Holy Month of Ramadan, when the Holy Koran was heaven-sent. He said it was evidence of the reverence for Islam and our national and spiritual values. Sheikh ul-Islam said Ramadan was a month of solidarity, brotherhood, love, mercy and grace.
The Iftar ceremonies organized in Azerbaijan demonstrate traditional tolerance and strong unity in the country.
The Chairman of the Caucasus Muslims Office stressed that the stability, development, unity, freedom of conscience and tolerance in Azerbaijan were made possible through the wise policies the foundation of which was laid by great leader Heydar Aliyev and successfully continued by President Ilham Aliyev. He noted that the rapid socioeconomic development of our republic and the exemplary tolerance in the country are also recognized by the international community. Sheikh ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazadeh regarded the election of Azerbaijan as a member of the UN Security Council with the support of 155 states as further evidence of the country’s growing international reputation.
Pointing to the special contribution of the President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva, to the preservation and strengthening of national and spiritual values, Sheikh ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazadeh said that the state was taking consistent steps to restore historical mosques and shrines, synagogues and churches. He said that while there were only 18 mosques in Azerbaijan in Soviet years, their number currently stands at 2,000.
Sheikh ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazadeh expressed his best wishes to President Ilham Aliyev and the people of Azerbaijan on the occasion of the month of Ramadan.
The Head of the Baku and Caspian Eparchy of the Russian Orthodox Church, Alexander, said that the tolerance observed in Azerbaijan was highly appreciated worldwide. He noted that Azerbaijan was rapidly developing in all areas.
The Muftis of the Karachay-Cherkessia and Chechen republics of the Russian Federation, Ismail Berdiyev and Sultan Mirzayev, communicated to President Ilham Aliyev and the ceremony participants the best wishes on behalf of the peoples of the North Caucasus on the occasion of Ramadan. They said that they were witnessing a rapid socioeconomic development on every visit to Azerbaijan.
Then President Ilham Aliyev addressed the ceremony.
Remarks by President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev at the Iftar ceremony on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan
- Your Holiness Sheikh.
Dear religious figures.
ladies and gentlemen.
I sincerely salute you all. Our meetings in the holy month of Ramadan have already become a wonderful tradition.
This tradition was initiated by great leader Heydar Aliyev and His Holiness Sheikh. This tradition is ongoing. Every year I am very pleased to participate in the Iftar ceremony organized by His Holiness Sheikh.
The participation of muftis from the North Caucasus in our meeting today is of special importance. I warmly welcome our brothers. They often come to Azerbaijan. Every time they are here we try to meet and spend some time together. They have participated in our activities. They have participated in the opening of the Tazapir and Ajdarbay mosques after reconstruction. We will be glad to see them at the opening of the religious and historical complex Imamzada after reconstruction and the renovated Shamakhi mosque, which is the oldest mosque in Azerbaijan.
The Caucasus is a single organism. The people of Azerbaijan have been close to the people of the North Caucasus for centuries. This unity continues today. Leaders of North Caucasus republics have repeatedly visited Azerbaijan. We all want peace, stability, calm and accord in the Caucasus. To achieve these objectives, the activity of religious leaders is particularly important.
The muftis of the North Caucasus enjoy great respect in their republics. Their ties and friendship with His Holiness, our respected Sheikh, further unite our peoples.
This ceremony is also attended by economy ministers of Turkic states. The economy ministers of Turkey, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are our guests today. A meeting in this format is quite symbolic because Azerbaijan is a Caucasian country and a Turkic state. Azerbaijan is a country where ethnicities, peoples and religions meet, unite and live like one family. It is a reality that Azerbaijan has secured a place in the Caspian basin, in the Turkic world, in the Caucasus.
Azerbaijan is a country enjoying great respect worldwide. Clear evidence of this was the election to the UN Security Council in October last year when 155 countries supported Azerbaijan and demonstrated their confidence in us. We will justify their confidence. Our activities in the Security Council are very serious and sincere. As a member of this authoritative organization we uphold international law and justice.
Today, His Holiness Sheikh spoke about the relations between religion and the state. The foundation of these relations was laid by great leader Heydar Aliyev and His Holiness Sheikh. Great leader Heydar Aliyev is the founding father of the modern state of Azerbaijan. At the same time, he is the author of our public policy. Today, the course of Heydar Aliyev continues in all directions – foreign and domestic policies, relations between religion and the state, social issues.
Life goes on, Azerbaijan develops. New challenges emerge before us, new issues are resolved.
Azerbaijan is developing very dynamically. But the main directions of our development were set forth by the great leader. I think that the relations between religion and the state in Azerbaijan are exemplary. The stronger these relations, the more peaceful, stable and developed our society will be. A very important role in the development of these relations is played by His Holiness Sheikh. His Holiness Sheikh enjoys great authority both in Azerbaijan and abroad – in the Caucasus. I mentioned this in our previous meeting. During my meetings with the heads of state and government of various countries, the activities of the His Holiness Sheikh are always appreciated and praised. This, of course, makes us happy. Today, His Holiness Sheikh plays a major role in the positive developments unfolding in the Caucasus.
Islamic values are an integral part of our national and spiritual values, and the holy month of Ramadan has always lived in the hearts of Azerbaijani people. After the restoration of independence, it is celebrated as a public holiday.
As a country relying on national and spiritual values, as a developing, young and independent republic, Azerbaijan has made great strides in economic and political spheres and in foreign policy. But for the sake of our future and for a further development, our national values should always be in the spotlight, they should be safeguarded. The young generation should be raised on the basis of national values, especially now. The borders in this globalizing world are sometimes erased. Sometimes the borders between countries, spiritual boundaries are violated and crossed. This is unacceptable.
We have survived as a nation thanks to our national and spiritual values, Islamic values, our language and literature. If we want our country to continue to successfully develop, these issues have to be given attention. Economic reforms may go faster or slower. This will not create much of a problem. But if there is emptiness in our national values or if our national and spiritual foundations are harmed, then the country will face great difficulties.
We are an independent country. We have already marked the 20th anniversary of our independence. As an independent country, we conduct an independent policy. Our policy is one of good will. We have built equal relations with all countries, have succeeded in establishing good relations with all countries.
Our domestic reforms have led Azerbaijan forward. From an economic development standpoint, Azerbaijan is the world’s fastest growing economy. At a time when the world is experiencing a second wave of the financial crisis, development continues in Azerbaijan. The results of seven months of this year are already known. Our economy is growing, our non-oil economy has grown by more than 10 per cent.
To conduct independent policies, there must certainly be strong economic support and a strong ideological foundation.
These factors are available in Azerbaijan. Our ideological foundations consist in the philosophy and ideology of Azerbaijanism. At the heart of our economic reforms are the principles of market economy. And underlying our social policy is the human factor. We have proclaimed a policy of transforming oil into human capital. This policy is already bearing fruit.
A quality and worthy young generation is emerging in Azerbaijan. Young people are brought up in the spirit of patriotism. Azerbaijan holds a leading position worldwide in the field of sports.
The development of sports facilitates and defines the overall development of the country. It is no coincidence that countries somewhat compete with each other in the Olympics Games. The more medals a country wins, the higher its image.
Our Olympians have demonstrated again that the young and independent Azerbaijan is a strong state also in the field of sports. It is particularly gratifying that those who have won gold, silver and bronze medals are young people who grew up in the years of independence. Thanks to the attention paid to sports in recent years, they have become professional athletes. It was in their honor that the national flag of Azerbaijan was raised 10 times and our anthem played twice.
As in any other field, development manifests itself in sport too. As regards spiritual issues, it should be noted that we are paying special attention to them in Azerbaijan. All religious sites are renovated and restored. The Tazapir, Bibiheybat, Ajdarbay, Imamzada, Shamakhi and other mosques are restored and renovated. The temples belonging to other religions are also renovated.
Azerbaijan is a country in which representatives of all religions live like one family, this is our greatest asset. Archbishop Alexander recalled the saying of the great leader that Azerbaijan is a multiethnic state, which is our greatest asset. This is true. Our public policy in this area remains unchanged. I believe that Azerbaijan’s recent achievements in this area are fully communicated to the world, because the various forums, religious conferences and summits of religious leaders conducted in our country demonstrate again that representatives of all ethnicities and religions live peacefully like one family in Azerbaijan.
Representatives of all religions are our dear citizens. Azerbaijan is ready to share its experience in this area. I believe that there is a great need for that because the situation is not like ours everywhere. Unfortunately, there are still conflicts, clashes and confrontations on religious grounds in different parts of the world. In some cases this confrontation is violent, which is very alarming because religious conflicts are the most dangerous. Their consequences can be very serious and bitter.
All of us, the international community, the progressive mankind must strive to ensure that there are fewer religious conflicts. To achieve this, we must be very careful and responsible. All of us – heads of state and government, representatives of the media, religious and public figures – must be careful and responsible, because erroneous and offensive utterances can sometimes have serious implications. A lot is said about a dialogue between civilizations, but steps are taken to disrupt it. We can’t tolerate and turn a blind eye to that. These events – the burning of the Holy Koran somewhere, setting mosques on fire – should be condemned by the international community. We can’t remain indifferent to such events. Not only the Muslims but also representatives of all religions and world leaders must raise their voice. I think we need to think seriously about these issues. In order to take concrete steps, there is a need for serious words on the part of prominent political figures of the world.
Another issue of concern for us is the spread of Islamophobia. It can’t be tolerated because this approach will not lead to anything good. It may lead to a major confrontation. We are outraged by the unfounded accusations against Islam, the growing trend of Islamophobia, the facts of linking Islam to terrorism in some foreign media outlets.
Islam is a religion of peace, brotherhood and charity. By calling a terrorist an Islamist, people insult our religion, the whole Muslim world. Islamist is not a terrorist. Islamist is a person who belongs to the Islamic religion. Besides, terrorists have no nation or religion. There is a lot of talk about that, but it is time to take practical steps.
In the first years of our independence and afterwards, Armenian terrorists committed over 30 terrorist attacks against us, killing more than 2,000 innocent people. But we don’t link these acts of terror to any religion. Therefore, issues of responsibility, especially the responsibility of politicians, should be in the foreground. Indifference can sometimes lead to the development of an issue not in a positive but in a negative way.
While analyzing these issues, we in Azerbaijan see again that our country has really gained unique experience. This experience, of course, has a strong foundation. Because for centuries, in different periods and under various public and political systems, all the ethnicities living in Azerbaijan demonstrated tolerance and lived in the atmosphere of multiculturalism. There was no such concept as “multiculturalism” at the time but our way of life was multiculturalism. On this strong foundation and thanks to the judicious policies of nationwide leader Heydar Aliyev, we further strengthened these trends in the period of independence. Azerbaijan chose this path. We did not pursue the policy of self-isolation, our course was one of openness to the world, shared interests with the world and use of the most progressive practices in Azerbaijan. Today, through our way of life, outlook and practical steps, we are showing our experience to the world.
I think that in the holy month of Ramadan we should speak out and express our thoughts on these issues. I want to repeat that there are no concerns in this regard in Azerbaijan. As President, I have no concerns because all these issues are regulated properly.
I am sure that ethnic relations in Azerbaijan will be exemplary at all times. But we do not live in a vacuum. We want this to be the case everywhere. We don’t want to see stand-offs on religious grounds anywhere else. Sometimes we witness such confrontations within the Muslim world. This is unbearable. So I can say that we will continue our efforts to address these issues.
Through our work and deeds we will strengthen international cooperation and solidarity and contribute to the development of inter-religious relations. Yesterday I met with the ambassadors of Muslim countries. Such meetings are also traditional. They are here today. I want to repeat that Azerbaijan is a part of the Islamic world. Our ties with Muslim countries are developing and strengthening. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation appreciates the religious developments taking place in Azerbaijan. This further encourages us.
I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the people of Azerbaijan and Muslims all over the world on the upcoming Ramadan holiday. Thank you.
Then Iftar was served.
Then Iftar was served.
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