From whom did you learn your religious tolerance? Could you tell us something about your teachers?
Tolerance and understanding lie at the heart of Qur’anic moral values. Anyone who lives as the moral values of the Qur’an demand will be full of love, compassionate and understanding. The Prophet Muhammad (saas) is the most peerless example of how someone living by Qur’anic moral values should be, and is a blessed individual most beloved of and valued by all Muslims, in whose footsteps they follow with joy. In his time people of all faiths, with all kinds of different ideas, all lived together in peace and security. The Prophet (saas) established a climate in which Jews and Christians could worship as they saw fit and live in liberty and freedom. He resolved disputes between communities in the most rational and reconciliatory manner possible. He was compassionate and kind. I take superior moral values of our beloved Prophet (saas) as my model.
Why, in your opinion, do people worldwide have a false idea of Islam? Why is so-called moderate Islam so weak?
All Muslims have a responsibility to live fully by the moral values commanded in the Qur’an and to teach these to people who are unaware of them. A Muslim who fully abides by the Qur’an and who takes our Prophet (saas) as a role model will be highly enlightened, clean, noble, polite, well-spoken, tolerant and understanding. The fact that some people today may hold incorrect views regarding Muslims may stem in part from a lack of knowledge and in part from insufficient exchanges of ideas. This deficiency can easily be overcome through dialogue and joint cultural activities. An excellent atmosphere of friendship can be established between truly devout Muslims, Jews and Christians. Non-believers and even atheists can also live in peace in such a climate of love and friendship.
What can protect Turkey from extremism?
The moral values and nature of the Turkish people are ill-suited to extremism. Extremist, radical ideas and movements find no place in Turkish society. In addition, there is no room for extremism and radicalism in the moral values of the Qur’an. Allah commands Muslims to be moderate, rational, pacifist, and reconciliatory. Righteous Muslims are most scrupulous when it comes to the moral virtues commanded by Allah. That fastidiousness protects believers from all forms of extremism.
You talk about the Turkish-Islamic Union. What kind of union should that be: religious or political? How many Islamic countries from the FSU are willing to join? Are your people working to that end in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan… or only in Turkmenistan?
In the Turkish-Islamic Union I have in mind, all states will remain as nation states; it will be a union of hearts, a union of love. It will be a union of common reason. When an atmosphere of terror and anarchy arises somewhere, a joint decision will be taken and the problem resolved. When there is an economic dilemma, for instance, a joint decision will be taken to resolve it. Or when a country is economically distressed, a joint decision will be taken to save it. It will not be a selfish, colonialist union. It will not be based on the superiority of any race or belief. The beliefs and practices of all faiths will be respected in the Turkish-Islamic Union. Everyone will regard his own faith as best. That is quite normal, but preventing or disparaging other people’s forms of worship is unacceptable. The conception of Islam enshrined in the Turkish-Islamic Union makes life easier for those who hold different beliefs and encourages them towards faith. It will encourage them to live by their own faiths in the best manner possible.
The objective of the Turkish-Islamic Union will be to serve all mankind. It will be a union of mutual aid, tolerance, understanding and moderation. In the same way that charitable foundations work together for a common cause, Turkic Muslim states will work together to serve mankind. It will be a union that gives help and support rather than receiving them, whose word will prevail in disputes, a force that places love above all else. It is essential that this union be established on a laicist foundation. Nobody will be able to oppose such a union provided it is laicist, peaceable and pro-democracy. An atmosphere of friendship and brotherhood spanning a huge area, from Africa to China, will be constructed. Most important of all, it is not just Turkic and Muslim societies that will benefit from that climate, but also Russia, China, Israel, Armenia, the USA and the countries of Europe. In short, the whole world. There are societies today that are suffering enormously. Their burdens will all be lifted with the establishment of the Turkish-Islamic Union. Iraq is suffering, Palestine is suffering and Israel is suffering. America is suffering. People in these lands are constantly ill at ease and trying to carry on their lives in an atmosphere of unease. The Turkish-Islamic Union will eradicate all that unease. Love and friendship will tear down all barriers and eliminate all oppression. Terror, anarchy, dispute and conflict will all come to an end.
What is your attitude to the Arab Peace Initiative? Do you expect Turkey to come up with a peace initiative?
Every step in the direction of peace is valuable. Anyone leading the way to peace must be supported. However, the only lasting peace is a just peace. A just peace can only be successful if it is the work of a union of forces. The peace and stability established in these lands by Ottoman rule is a significant measure. As the successor to the Ottoman Empire, Turkey has a deep-rooted tradition and a natural quality of leadership. The peace initiatives and regional partnership initiatives taken under Turkish leadership of late have elicited wide responses, and Turkey has signed up to some major successes. The peace talks between Israel and Syria, held in Istanbul under Turkish mediation, the U.S.-Iran negotiations held in Ankara, the African Union Summit in Istanbul, the reconciliation between Azerbaijan and Armenia that has recently begun under Turkish leadership, and the Caucasian Alliance under Turkish leadership are all major developments. These are also very important in regard to the establishment of the Turkish-Islamic Union and, inshaAllah, they will all be brought to excellent conclusions with the establishment of this union of brotherhood.
Which Jewish spiritual leaders do you respect most? And which politicians?
I respect all Jews who believe in the one God, who sincerely love the prophets Moses, Abraham, David and Solomon (peace be upon them all), who follow in the footsteps of these blessed individuals, who obey their laws and maintain the bounds set by Allah. For me they are all very valuable and worthy.
How many times have you been to Israel? Which meeting was most impressive?
I have never had the opportunity to visit Israel. But it would be a great honour to see the lands where the prophets lived and stand where these blessed individuals stood, and I strongly desire to do so. InshaAllah, Allah will soon make it possible for us to come together with true Jewish, Christian and Muslim brothers in these holy lands, to recall His blessings in a spirit of joy and fervour, and remember the blessed prophets there.
You oppose the idea of joining the EU. Why? Do you believe in an Islamic Union rather than the EU?
The European Union is a very good and necessary one. Turkey must join it, but not in this form. It must join as the leader of the Turkish-Islamic world. It must join as a super-state acting as a bridge to Europe. That will make the EU a thousand times greater than what it is now. America will be twice as great. It will grow enormously. Russia will be relieved, and China, too. The whole region will be relieved. Israel will bask in sunshine. The Middle East will be a paradise for members of all faiths. The Turkish nation has remained largely untouched. In terms of moral values, Anatolia has been preserved and is largely unaltered. Its hospitality, cleanliness, moral virtues, pleasantness, humanity, conception of good neighbourliness, compassion and altruism have remained just as they always were. Europe has lost these. It will be a liberation for Europe because the future Turkish-Islamic Union will act like Europe’s policeman. It will be a very powerful institution that protects Europe and the world, that brings the world peace and security. Europe will enjoy well-being and peace. So why should it be at all reluctant? Nothing else will change. This system will support both NATO and the EU. It will be a great blessing for the EU. The love and compassion of the Turkish-Islamic Union will enfold them too and let them live in peace.
You are strongly opposed to Darwinism and the theory of evolution. But democracy is also the product of evolution. So how are we to reconcile these?
Firstly, and this is very important, there is not a single piece of evidence to show that Darwinism has any scientific validity. The face of the Earth has been dug up all over and more than 100 million fossil specimens have been discovered. But not one of these fossils shows that living things developed in stages, in other words that they assumed their present forms by way of evolution. All these hundred million fossils show that living things always remain the same, that they came into being suddenly, with all their characteristics, in other words, that they were created. To insist, in the face of this crystal clear state of affairs, that Darwinism is true is an insult to science. If we had seen any evidence of evolution when we looked at these fossils then we would have said “So Allah created life in that way.” Yet there are no such fossils. Evolution does not exist. It never happened. It is meaningless to insist on something non-existent.
If democracy were the product of Darwinism, then Darwinists should be highly democratic, favour the open expression of all ideas and espouse freedom of belief and expression. But what they are actually doing is trying to ban discussion of Creation and to prevent books being read. They cannot even bear the idea of a conference in which a different idea would be set out, and immediately try to have such a conference, intended to talk about Creation, stopped. What kind of freedom of ideas is that? But, as I always say, everyone must be free to express his own beliefs. Let Darwinists come up with their own evidence, if they have any, and we will produce ours. Then let the public freely decide between them, decide which is true. They cannot get anywhere by banning books and stopping conferences, as in the days of Stalin and Hitler.