Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro:
THE RESPONSIBILITY OF MAN TOWARDS HIMSELF
Global Forum on Environment and Development for Human Survival
MOSCOW, U.S.S.R. "formerly"
JANUARY 15 - 19, 1990
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful, the Lord of all mankind and created beings.
I pray Him to bless and grace all His Prophets and Holy Messengers including the last one Muhammad, who says:
All the creation is God's dependents and He loves most whoever is the most beneficial to them.
and who also has told us that God says:
I have created the creation so that they may benefit from Me and not I from them.
I have the honor to speak, at this world conference, as the representative of the spiritual leaders who stand for all revealed religions and wisdom, in regard to development, survival and environmental concerns.
My brothers and sisters, Allah, the Creator of the universe and the Maker of its marvelous laws, destined man to live on this planet within glorious panoramic surroundings of endless beauty and delightful treasures that endow mankind with happiness and luxuriant welfare. He says, in the Quran, the Holy Book of the Muslims:
It is Allah Who has subjected to you what the heavens and the earth contain; all is from Him. T.Q., Sura 45, Bowing the Knee, verse 13.
God made man and sent forth prophets and messengers with heavenly commissions, judicious reason and wisdom for the sake of establishing a virtuous human society. In building that society, each prophet laid a stone of the building until it was completed except for the space of one brick, of which Prophet Muhammad said that he was that brick.
Muhammad with that single brick unified half of the world in half a century by means of primitive resources. Thus, half the world became one family, or one body, so compact that if one member was diseased the whole body suffered in wakefulness and vigilance. All lived in an environment of love, fraternity, international cooperation. Equality, justice and freedom were guaranteed for all human beings.
Indeed it was an ideal, spiritual, literate, moral environment, free from all sorts of pollution or stains that infest morals, spirit and learning. All of this is a real historical fact and not a fanciful, poetic, utopian existence.
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe that the essence of true religion lies in the fraternity of the prophets. Furthermore, I am quite certain that later prophets made the laws and religious teachings of the earlier ones complete. I also believe that all human beings are brethren, seeking truth everywhere and waging war against myths, legends and all sorts of self-delusions and erroneous fancies, wherever they exist.
I encourage activity for the sake of every beneficial good and fighting all sorts of harmful evil. I stress the fact that learning should be fully developed for the benefit of man's advancement and well-being. The wisdom of sagacious people should be appreciated and utilized.
From the point of view of the oneness of religion, whose sole aim is to make mankind happy through the brotherhood of the prophets and the fraternity of humanity, I would like to illustrate and elucidate what I mean by development.
The essence of all revealed religions and the core of the canonical laws of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, and other prophets and philosophers, all had one sole objective: to improve human existence from the state it was in, then to bring it to an even higher level of well-being. Each sought to promote mankind from ignorance to enlightenment, from misery to happiness and from injustice, or oppression, into justice, love and sympathy.
Did not Jesus Christ say in his great commandment: . . . love thy fellow men as thou love thyself. ? Was Prophet Muhammad any less clear regarding the importance of loving one's fellow man, when he said: Men are brethren of each other, and None of you has full belief unless he loves for his fellow men what he loves for himself. ? Abraham, Moses and other prophets sought the same objective, as the Quran describes this joint heavenly goal as:
All this is written in earlier Scriptures; the Scriptures of Abraham and Moses. T.Q., Sura 87, The Most High, verse 19.
Thus, the missionary work of Buddha and all the philosophers and social reformers of all ages and societies has, in truth, been a concerted movement, or evolution, towards improving mankind's excellence and his circumstances, in pursuit of the benefits of increased learning and wisdom. Prophet Muhammad says: A loser is the man whose two consecutive days are equivalent; he suffers privation whose morrow is not better than his previous day; who lacks increase is in deficiency; and whoever is in deficiency is better be dead.
Religion, in truth, is not only content to make the earth a heavenly paradise for man, but seeks to design it in the light of commonsensical faith, wisdom, learning and good deeds. This is confirmed in the Quran:
Be they men or women, those that embrace the faith and do what is right We will surely grant a happy life; We shall reward them according to their noblest actions. T.Q., Sura 16, The Bee, verse 97.
God also says: Good is the reward of those that do good works in this present life; but far better is the reward of the life to come. Blessed is the dwelling-place of the righteous. T.Q., Sura 16, The Bee, verse 30.
Religion does not only guarantee for man a secure life on this planet. He is not like animals, made up of dust and to dust they shall return. For faith and true belief guarantees for man, in addition to the earthly paradise, an everlasting and immortal heavenly paradise.
Therefore, in accordance with what I mentioned earlier, whosoever injures man or kills him is doing this to all mankind. God says in the Quran:
Whoever killed a human being, except as a punishment for murder or other wicked crimes, should be looked upon as though he had killed all mankind; and that whoever saved a human life, should be regarded as though he had saved all mankind. T.Q., Sura 5, The Table Spread, verse 32.
Consequently, we can say that the world today is on the verge of committing suicide and destroying itself, for certain groups of people have caused mischief to the environment and polluted beautiful nature, when we are unaware. Does religion, or a free, conscious mind permit such a suicide?
Our planet is like a spaceship, roving in the spacious universe, and all its passengers are responsible for its safety and maintenance. What a beautiful image the revealed religions depict through the prophet of Islam regarding this issue. Prophet Muhammad says in the parable: The heedful followers and observers of God's laws and those who infringe them are like the passengers on the higher and on the bottom decks of a ship respectively. Those on the bottom want to make a hole in order to get water without offending those above. Muhammad goes on to say: If they are left and allowed to do this, all the passengers on board will perish, but if they are prevented, all will be safe.
We conclude from this that those who make holes in our planetary ship will harm all those who dwell on it. Therefore, all people must keep our ship safe from danger. Its preservation and our safety lie in not causing harm or injury to nature and our environment, which the laws of the Creator of this universe has exquisitely accomplished and perfected. This universe is God's gift with which He has entrusted us. Should we not then be responsible and trustworthy? How can we be helpful to one another, while trying hard to cause injury by piercing the ozone layer and polluting our environment. Likewise, we hurt ourselves, each other and the planet we live on by immoral acts, by staining our souls and characters by egotism, avarice, indifference to other people's adversity, or destiny, or fate, by believing in superstitions and self-delusion, and by obscuring truth and reason.
It is with utter ingratitude that man destroys the civilized society our noble ancestors created in the past, under the leadership of God's prophets and messengers. These leaders of earlier civilizations heralded the news of the blessed advent of their successors, who completed their work. Now, it is this work that we are destroying today.
For the sake of peace, for achieving the happiness and ease of mankind, and in order to preserve the beauty of nature from which we sustain our lives, we must put an end to all wars, end the pollution of souls and minds, so as to stop the pollution of the environment, desertification, and to resolve the population crisis. Such a condition of harmony that supports justice, charity and benevolence, and which calls for brotherly cooperation between man, requires that three forces should meet and collaborate. They are:
1- honest statesmen and politicians.
2- virtuous scientists and scholars.
3- regeneration of rational leaders for the revealed religions, and men of wisdom.
Such eminent personalities should be aided in their work by all the media, allowing the education of all people even those who live in the most remote areas of the world. In this way, we can create a peaceful environment, a harmonious coexistence and an international fraternity, conducting dialogues between science and reason, on the one hand, and faith and religion on the other.
To sum up this humble speech, I have to say that the only danger man is exposed to comes from man himself. There is no peace without the struggle to improve man and his status. Man can attain goodness only through his being restored to the essence of religions and their true nature which agrees with mature minds and rational mentalities. It is only when sincere and fair-minded persons realize that heavenly missions came with God's revelation for the sake of man's best interests, bliss, happiness and safety, that this can happen. Collaboration is essential for restoring to heavenly religious missions their pure nature and genuine quality, which are scholarship, wisdom and the purification of the soul. When the internal circumstances of the soul are purified under the guidance of reason, scientific truths and of sublimity of the spirit, the external environment will be cleansed and purged of all harmful elements. Consequently, man will live thereafter in circumstances of love and peace
Finally, I express my thanks to the United Nations and to its Secretary General in recognition of its taking this Global Forum under its auspices and patronage for the sake of human survival. I also extend my thanks to all those who helped to hold this conference as well as to the Soviet Union, the host country, under the leadership of the regenerating revolutionary Mikhail Gorbachev, the patron of peace, freedom and moral integrity.
Thank you all and Peace be upon you.