Address by Chairman of the Senate of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev at the Ulemas’ Forum of Eurasian Muslims

Your Excellencies, dear guests! 
Over a thousand years our people has been part of the Muslim community. Islam has affected the development of religion, culture, education and science in our country. Prominent scholars of eastern Rennaisanse Abu Nasr Al-Farabi, Zhusip Balasagun, Mahmud Kashgari made a significant contribution to spreading noble values of Islam. Thanks to teachings of Abai, Shakarim, Mashkur Zhusip the spiritual world of the Kazakh people has been shaped through Islamic enlightenment.
According to the Constitution, Kazakhstan is a secular state. At the same time, nowadays there are more than 2.5 thousand mosques in the country, 75% of the population are the followers of Islam.       
At present our state puts much effort to address pressing economic, political as well as ideological issues. Against the background of global transformation and robust changes the role of religion and its values need to be reevaluated.  
As a result, new forces emerge at the forefront that reject the noble cause of Islam and the virtues of peace and religious tolerance. Radical groups calling for jihad and resorting to extremism and terrorism have turned into a powerful political force. Apparently, they forgot that Muslims throughout history have always been willing to cooperate with representatives of other religions and never made harm to anyone. Unfortunately, they make the Islamic world more isolated and backward.    
There is a need to focus on promoting advanced science and cultural traditions of Islamic civilization. In my view, this should be considered a matter of priority. Still some Muslim countries are facing challenges of poverty, illiteracy, poor healthcare system, worsening demographic situation, terrorism threats, illegal drug trafficking and corruption.      
All these challenges require effective mechanisms, ideological and moral support that may drive the country out of themoral crisis as well as military and political confrontation. Muslim scholars, Ulemas, should make their contribution to addressing pressing issues. To this end they need to speak about the Quran teachings that preach love towards knowledge and peace. In this cause Ulemas need to сounter false interpretations of dubious preachers with the holy Quran teachings.     
As to the fundamental principles of Islam I would like to refer to the words by President Nursultan Nazarbayev who called on politicians and scientists of the Muslim Ummah “to jointly shape positive image of Islam as a religion of peace, kindness, tolerance and justice”.    
While rejecting extreme and fanatic actions Islam strives to reconcile opponents and find compromise solution. Quran declares tolerance towards other faiths, respect to other cultures that don’t go against the teachings of Islam.     
In our view overallIslam not only teaches respect for national traditions and love for your motherland, but is also a crucial element   of our nation’s spiritual revival.
The programme “Course towards the future: spiritual modernization” outlined by the Head of State presented a roadmap of state development. The programme is aimed at modernizing the mindset and preserving national identity and code. It is of vital importance to align them with global values and make good use of it to the welfare of Kazakhstan. Moreover, the programme envisages to preserve spiritual values of the nation such as customs and traditions, language and music, literature.  
Dear participants of the forum!
Kazakhstan spares no effort to unite the Muslim world on the way to progress and development.  
Hosting international exhibition “EXPO-2017” our country offered its venue to exchange best practices in the field of energy and ecological technologies. A number of Muslim countries also participated in the exhibition. 
Astana International financial center was opened on the premises of “EXPO”. One of its key dimension will be focused on cooperation in the field of Islamic financing. I am confident that the Islamic banking and financing will have a positive impact on global financial security environment in general and alleviate poverty and ensure access to financial resources.   
The OIC summit held on September 10, 2017 in Astana was devoted to the achievements in science and technology. Addressing this summit President of Kazakhstan proposed to create OIC-15, like the G-20, an informal community that will unite 15 leading countries for scientific and economic development in the Islamic World.  
Kazakhstan has been consistently promoting the idea of dialogue of cultures and civilizations, fostering mutual understanding between different nations and religions. The VI Congress of the leaders of world and traditional religions will be an important event this year. Having initiated this forum President Nursultan Nazarbayev widened the notion of existing mechanisms for promoting peace, security and justice. The Congress of religious leaders is also a permanent venue for heads of states, UN leadership and other international organizations. The Congress brought together not only religious leaders, but also prominent politicians engaging in a fruitful dialogue for the sake of common welfare.   
To ensure peace and security it is vital to promote an ideology of tolerance, mutual understanding and cultural diversity. Kazakhstan is willing to share its own experience of building interreligious accord in a multinational and multi-ethnic society.     
Kazakhstan has ample opportunity to become a land for boosting enlightened Islam. We may serve as a model for building a society based on the principles of progress, peace and justice, respect for beliefs and moral values, tolerance and good neighborhood with representatives of other faiths.
Today the Muslim Ummah is facing the task to renew approaches to key teachings and law, to rid ourselves from dogmatism, radicalism and extremism in all its manifestations. Spiritual leaders, Ulemas, theologists and religious scientists, most of whom you are representing here today, should become the key driving force of revival of the great Islamic heritage. This forum offers an opportunity for prominent intellectuals of the Muslim world from different countries to join efforts to contribute to the common cause. 
I am confident that the Ulemas’ Forum of Eurasia will generate open dialogue of Muslims from all over the world as part of common effort to revive noble traditions of Islam and unite multimillion Ummah to counter radicalism and extremism.   
Wish you fruitful work and every success in your noble mission.