IAS Director Participates in UNESCO International Congress On Inter-religious Dialogue and the Culture of Peace in Uzbekistan

TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN — UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, in association with the government of Uzbekistan, presented a significant international conference entitled “The UNESCO International Congress on Interreligious Dialogue and the Culture of Peace” in Uzbekistan in September, 2000. The conference was chaired by Mr. Karimov, President of Uzbekistan, and the Director General of UNESCO.

Leaders of all of the religions of the world from all across the planet were invited to participate in this important conference focusing on peace. Shah Nazar Seyyed Dr. Ali Kianfar, co-director of the International Association of Sufism, was invited to attend as representative of Sufism.

The first day, the international conference was held at the Islamic University in Tashkent. The second day the meetings were in Samarkand with visits to holy Sufi sites. The third day the conference centered on Sufism and was devoted to a meeting on “Sufism and Interreligious Dialogue” in Boukhara where Shah Nazar Seyyed Dr. Kianfar made a presentation. Another member of the International Association of Sufism, Sahazadeh Seyyed Mainuddin Maizbhandari of Bangladesh accompanied Shah Nazar Seyyed Dr. Kianfar at the conference.

Shah Nazar Seyyed Ali Kianfar was the guest of the government of Uzbekistan throughout his week-long stay and experienced their gracious hospitality throughout his visit.

In his opening statement at the conference, Shah Nazar Seyyed Dr. Ali Kianfar gave those assembled from around the world, representing every religious tradition, the following message:

“We are here in Boukhara, the land of the Sufis; Sufism is in the blood of the people of Boukhara and we came here to share our practices with you.”

Following is a summary of Shah Nazar Seyyed Ali Kianfar’s presentation:

“The meaning of Sufism from the beginning to the end is wrapped within the holy verse from the Qur’an: “La illaha illa Allah” — “There is nothing but the Divine.” We must practice this verse with an emphasis on “illa Allah” — ” nothing but the Divine.” It is because of this emphasis on experiencing the Divine within the heart that Sufis are known as people of love and wisdom. The path of the heart is the way of receiving and obtaining true knowledge.

This meaning arises from the heart of Islam. We must grow according to the rule of Islam. The secret of this path is love — love for Allah and the Holy Prophet and his family. (Ahl-ul-Bayt) This is the true meaning of Islam, because Islam means “loving submission to the Divine.”

At the end of his talk, Shah Nazar Seyyed Dr. Kianfar offered five scholarships for students from Uzbekistan, including tuition, accommodations and food, for one course at the International Association of Sufism’s Institute for Sufi Studies. In this way, it will be possible to continue intercultural dialogue beyond the time and scope of the conference.

It was a truly memorable week of friendship and sharing among people of different religions and cultures with the focus on understanding and peace.

Download the complete report from UNESCO in rich text format.
image iunesco_tashkent_report(288 MB)

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