Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro:
The Eternal Values
Global Forum on Changing Values for Human Survival
April 17-23. 1993
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, the Lord of all creation.
Presidents, Eminencies, Scholars, Ladies and Gentlemen, I greet you with the greeting of Islam, 'Peace be on you all.' As the spiritual co-chairman of the Global Forum, I express my joy and optimism in meeting you in this beautiful city of Kyoto, the spiritual, cultural and historical center of Japan.
Despite the dazzling advancements of human society in the fields of science, technology, culture and art, man is still a victim to misery and suffering everywhere. We see examples of hunger and homelessness in the most advanced nations where many live below the poverty level. We see examples of this all over the world today in every nation, including the industrialized nations of Europe, Asia and the Americas.
We see oppression and persecution in the form of regional wars motivated by outdated norms of fanaticism, of which true divine religion is absolutely innocent. As major world organizations formed to promote peace and safeguard the world community, the United Nations, the United Nations Security Council and the European Community stand powerless. This brings into question the real value of these agencies and, specifically, whether they are really working for world peace, or for the sole interests of the powerful.
We see the ease and speed with which these organizations implement some resolutions, while on the other hand we see their procrastination in the execution of other resolutions which remain on paper only, as though they have two sets of values. On occasion, the Big Powers resort to the veto on important measures in the Security Council, which makes us ask if it really is for the sake of international peace.
My dear audience, the man of the twentieth century faces serious dangers from epidemics such as AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, ethnic disruptions and misuse of the environment. In so far as the latter is concerned, the earth's atmosphere, water, and soil have become so polluted, that man is facing the very real threats of desertification and global warming, as a result of the emission of greenhouse gases and the depletion of the ozone layer.
There is, however, an even greater danger that confronts man, which is the loss of love and compassion in the hearts of most people. The de-nucleation of the family structure, the intrinsic unit of any society, is due to the lack of emotion which creates the sense of responsibility of the individual towards his family. As a result, we find in our time an increase in the divorce rate, children running away from homes, brothers fighting with each other, the misuse of intoxicants and drug addiction. This disintegration is not limited only to the family, but is seen in the general distancing of man from his fellow man.
If we ask ourselves the reason for this deterioration which has befallen modern man and threatens his very existence, we must acknowledge its origins in individual, nationalistic, or religious egotism, which have weakened mankind's link with the divine law. This situation has allowed man's baser self to dominate his rationality, crippling his very humanity. We see him uttering the wisdom of the prophets and sages without putting it into action.
There is a group of people in the world today who consider themselves superior to the rest of mankind. They believe this gives them the license to commit atrocities such as rape, enforced migration of peoples from their homeland and persecution to the point of genocide in the name of ethnic cleansing. Thus, in the struggle for material dominance man has adopted for himself a new set of values that have spread in the form of aggression, terrorism and organized crime, which controls arms, sex and drugs. Is this the New World Order with its global justice that humanity aspires for?
In order to rescue the ship of humanity from sinking and thus save mankind, it is necessary to resort to the heavenly laws which have no bias towards anyone, be he a prophet, or a man of power, except to the truth whatever it may be. Furthermore, it is necessary to liberate man from ignorance and immorality. Such noble values, however, require from us a complete and total dedication, self-sacrifice, and coordinated willing efforts for the good of all mankind.
There is no peace so long as there is the oppressor and the oppressed, the over-fed and the hungry. We must return to the essence of religious values, which were perfected by the teachings of Muhammad, the messenger of Islam, who described himself in the following words: The likeness of me and the Prophets before me is that of a building which they completed except for the last stone, and I am that last stone.
It is the values adopted by a man of reason, knowledge, wisdom and the purification of the soul, that instills in him the love for his fellow man, a love so comprehensive and sincere that he prefers his fellow being over himself. As Muhammad, in concert with all the Prophets, says: None of you is a believer until he loves for his brother (man) that which he loves for himself.
It is these values that liberate man, freeing him from the worship of his fellow being, from ignorance, superstition, and from sectarianism and religious fanaticism. They liberate him from the worship of his baser self to the worship of God, the Creator, Whose justice does not discriminate between white and the black, strong and the weak, or rich and the poor.
Muhammad, the messenger of Islam, describes the justice of the Creator in the following terms: Should you not side with those who have rights! Verily they have the right to proclaim them.
The Quran of Islam says:
Be just and fair and witnesses for God even against yourselves, parents, or next of kin. T.Q., Sura 4, The Women, verse 135.
It also says:
God enjoins and commands justice, benevolence and the help of relatives and forbids inequity wrong doing and transgression. T.Q., Sura 16, The Bee, verse 90.
Muhammad further emphasizes this by saying: God does not regard a people who do not do justice by taking the rights of the weak from the powerful among them.
In this we see Muhammad calling for high moral values and standards, applying them first to himself, perfecting them to the point that if he wronged someone he hurried to compensate him, and if he distributed charity he did do so unbiasedly.
He condemned the maltreatment of any person on the grounds of color, race or religion. He called people to regard the revealed religions with respect and commanded adherence to them by their respective followers. All this was done in order to create a productive human society in which the individual was favored on the basis of his piety, the observance of duty, the protection of rights, and the shunning of evil.
Should not the international organizations protect these rights and values assiduously, or should they follow the example of the fabled judge? The fame of this judge grew, when his neighbors visited him complaining that their ox had run into his field trampling his vegetables, flowers, and killed his chickens. Upon hearing this, the judge grew furious, and started yelling abuse at his visitors demanding compensation and the immediate slaughter of the rampaging ox. At this point, his guests replied: Your honor! sorry, it seems we have made a mistake it is not our ox that has marauded your field but it is your ox that has actually entered our field and done the damage. The judge paused for just a moment, coughed politely, and then bellowed for the books of law and new world order to be brought to him. At the same time, he turned to his visitors and said: We must study the case more closely and consult the legal body and specialists in such matters. Perhaps he stammered, We may find an explanation as to what our ox has done.
I wonder at the wisdom of the Powerful in the world organizations as to why they act like this judge who measures with two scales of justice? Can this bring about peace?
Man now fears his fellow man and is more at home with the beast of the jungle, which only attacks its prey when hungry. As for man today he devours his prey despite his satiety. He has infected himself with the viruses of lust and greed. Through the bitterness of his plight, he spreads his disease broadcasting promiscuity and pornography throughout the world by use of satellites, as if he aims to eradicate any remnants of purity and virtue left in mankind.
The Arab poet says:
The wolf howled and I found company. A man spoke and the world narrowed in my fright of him.
All of us know that our world is now but one global village, or a ship that ploughs the seas of the universe. In order to avoid the wreckage of this ship upon the rocks of egotism, corruption, and oppression, it is necessary for men of wisdom, heralders of justice and those who dedicate themselves to the cause of high ideals and values, to join together with the men of religion and lay down a blue-print for a building furnished with the best values of all the revealed religions. Thus, they will create a building which welcomes men of all nations to enter, live under its security, and roam freely through its rooms.
Hence, I call for the use of a book, each chapter of which specializes in each religion, to be taught by qualified and sincere teachers in schools throughout the world. It should express the brotherhood of mankind, the importance of knowledge, wisdom and self purification. It must be an advocate of justice, equality and instill in the reader compassion towards the creation of God. Muhammad says: All creatures are God's dependents, the most loved by God are those who are most helpful to them. In short, this book must represent the mission of the Prophets of all revealed religions. God defines this mission addressing Muhammad in the Quran:
We have not sent you except as a Mercy to all the Worlds. T.Q., Sura 21, The Prophets, verse 107.
Peace be upon you all.