The Role of Republic of Kazakhstan in Bridging Gap between World Religions


Professor Dr. Muhammad Zia-Ul-Haq


Increasing religiosity has made faiths very important in global affairs. Faith has become a

significant force in the global society. Religion is a force of conflict resolution but it has

been portrayed as a reason for conflict creation. In contemporary international

circumstances religion has returned as a powerful force for construction or destruction.

The effectiveness of religious is particularly felt in the area such as Kashmir, Bosnia,Iraq,

Afghanistan, Kosovo, Chechnya, Pakistan,India, Northern Ireland, the Middle East, sub-

Saharan Africa, and other parts of world which are acute zones of conflict.It is reported

that Muslims, Catholic Croats and Orthodox Serbs of Balkan all are from same ethnic

background and all three speak the same language and share the same race but divided by

the religion. Religion is often considering at the fault-line along which the sides divide in

global conflicts. The reason for tensions on the name of religion is its role in defining the

identity. The twentieth century was dominated for ideology while the 21 st century will be

famous by the identity. The turn of focus from ideology to identity brought religious

affiliations at the center stage of contemporary world.

Various types of regional, economic and ethnic conflicts are oftenturning towards

religious dimensions which help exclusivists and extremist to use ‘them and us’ mentality

for controlling attitude of the people on the name of religion and kilning the innocents on

the name of religion. No theology is legitimizing their actions but the causes and

consequences of their action determining that how and where religions will be dealt in

twenty-first century. Incidents such as 9/11 have illustrated us the ability of a few persons

to bring their entire civilizationinto a conflict with other civilizationswhether their fellow

majority agrees or does not agree with their thinking or actions.Present circumstances

disclose that extremism is not limited to any specificrace, religion, or region. It is a global

phenomenon and extremists are present everywhere. Some theorists are of the view that


religions are as they were before and contemporary religiosity is simply a modern version

of the old theory of despotism and some fanatical religious subscribe this theory. In our

view the real dichotomy is not among world religions, but between exclusivistsand

extremists, on the one hand, and pluralistsand inclusivists on the other.

Due to this dominating position of religions, Professor Hans Kϋng has rightly observed

‘No peace among the nations without peace among the religions. No peace among the

religions without dialogue between the religions. No dialogue between the religions

without investigation of the foundation of the religions.’

First time in the historyon this scale and frequency, there are the serious effortsat a global

level for mutual understanding among world religion. In these global efforts the most

effective and serious consideration to world religions was given by the HE Nursultan

Nazarbayev, Founding President of Republic of Kazakhstan. After the independence, in

the formative period of the republic of Kazakhstan, he realized that sustainable economic

development is dependent on peace and pace is not passable without bringing world

religions closer and bridging gap among their followers.For this great task President

Nursultan Nazarbayev invited leaders of world and traditional religions to Astana in

2003.The First Congress of Leaders of world and traditional religions was held

on September 23-24, 2003 in Astana. Leaders and eminent representatives of religions as

well as honorable guests from 13 countries of Europe, Asia and Africa participated in the

forum. It was decided in this first congress that a permanent secretariat of the congress of

world and traditional Religionscomprises of representatives of leaders and eminent

personalities of religions should be established to promote following goals and


 promoting global dialogue among religions and cultures

 deepening and strengthening mutual understanding and respect among

different religious communities

 development of the culture of tolerance and mutual respect as opposed to the

ideology of hatred and extremism;


 cooperation and interaction with all international organizations and structures that

pursue the goals of promoting dialogue between religions, cultures and


To achieve these goals and objectives the Secretariat has organized up to know several

congresses.As already mentioned first Congress of Leaders of world and traditional

religions was held on September 23-24, 2003 in Astana. The participants of the First

Congress decided to hold inter-religious summit on a regular basis and set up a working

body. The Second Congress of leaders of world and traditional religions was held

on September 12-13, 2006 in Astana on the theme of ‘Religion, society and international

security.’ This Congress was held at the state of the art purposely built forum’s

permanent venue ‘Palace of Peace and Harmony’. The second congress, which brought

together 43 delegations from 20 countries of Europe, Asia, Africa and Americas, adopted

‘The Principles of Inter-religious Dialogue’ as core theme. On the basis of the

recommendations the second congress International Centre for Cultures and Religions

was established. ‘The Role of Religious Leaders in Building a World of Tolerance,

Mutual Respect and Cooperation’ was theme of third Congress which held on July 1-

2, 2009 in Astana. In this congress visionary leader of Republic of Kazakhstan proposed

creation of a Council of Religious Leaders that would coordinate the activities of the

Congress, engage in interaction and cooperation with other forums and

international organizations that pursue the goals of promoting dialogue among cultures

and religions. The Fourth Congress of leaders of world and traditional religions, was held

on May 30-31, 2012 in Astana with the theme ‘Peace and harmony as the choice of

mankind.The Council of Religious Leaders – which brings together leaders and eminent

representatives of world and traditional religions was set up in this congress.The

members of the Council have founded an alley called ‘Rukhanijarasym’ (Spiritual

harmony) in the capital city of Kazakhstan.5 TH Congress of Leaders of world and

Traditional Religions held on 10-11 June 2015 at Astana, Kazakhstan. It acknowledged

the important role of the Congress and the contribution of the Republic of Kazakhstan to

the promotion of inter-religious and inter-civilizational dialogue to build a peaceful, just

and safe world in the XXI century. The VI Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional


Religions in Astana officially ended on October 11,2018. The Congress united

representatives of more than 80 delegations from 46 countries, including politicians,

religious leaders of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism,

Zoroastrianism, as well as representatives of international organizations. The participants

adopted the final declaration outlining the role of the political and religious leaders in the

maintenance of peace and stability.

All the initiatives of the republic of Kazakhstan through secretariat of world and

traditional religions under the patronization of HE Kassym-Jomart Tokayev , President of

Kazakhstan are contributing to bridge gap among the followers of world religions. It has

not only created instructional framework for peace among world religion but also

engaged religious leaders from all over the world representing all major religion in this

great task. The substantive achievement of the secretariat is mutual respect and friendly

relationship among the representatives of the world religions. The achievements of the

pioneer work of the Republic of Kazakhstan are contributing in changing the differences

into diversities.

The themes and sub themes that have been adopted in various interfaith meetings affirm

that the present developments in science and technology require parallel progress in the

relationship of followers of various religious and cultural traditions. The time has

acknowledgedthe need for joint efforts by all major civilizations to promote a culture of

dialogue on the basis of diversity,difference, plurality tolerance, freedom of

expression,mutual respectand sincere readiness at the grass root level. Agreement on the

agenda on the basis of common interests such as trans-cultural norms,spiritual

satisfaction, justice and submission to the creature of the universe will lead dialogue to

succeed. The dialogue is the only hope for saving the world from clashes and conflicts

among world civilizations; otherwise, hatred, violence andworldwide conflicts will

continue taking religious dimension after feeding from misunderstandings,

misconceptions, and misrepresentations. Confidence of human beings on the movement

of dialogue lead us ahead and we will be able to talk on other matters that are important

to all nations, such as holy places, ecology,food technology, medical ethicsetc.

Worldwide efforts against hunger, disease and natural disasters can be unified only after a

better understanding, harmony and peace among the faiths through dialogue.