Candidate of Historical Sciences
Candidate of Philosophical Sciences
The International Scientific and Practical Conference "Islam: Tradition and Ethics"was held in Egypt in May 2007. The initiative to hold the Islamic Studies forum was put forward by the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, based on scientific developments in the framework of the Program of Fundamental Research of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences "Adaptation of peoples and cultures to changes in the natural environment, social and technological transformations". The conference was co-organized by the International Association "Peace through Culture-Europe", the Eurasia Dialogue Platform, and the International Institute for Peace in the Caucasus. The idea of holding it was supported by the Ministry of Culture of Egypt and the Egyptian Foreign Policy Council (EEAS) Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Egypt, Cairo University, Ain Shams University, Al-Ahram Center for Strategic Studies.
Egypt as the host country of the conference was not chosen by chance. Egypt occupies a special place in the Arab world, being its cultural and scientific center. Here you can recall the following Arabic proverb:"Syria is the heart of the Arab world, Egypt is its head."
Preparations for the conference were carried out throughout the year. In May 2006, two cooperation agreements were signed between the Institute of Oriental Studies and the Russian Centers of Science and Culture (RCSC) in Cairo and Alexandria. In November 2006 and February 2007, preparatory trips to Egypt were made by members of the organizing committee of the conference. Meetings and consultations were held with Deputy Minister of Culture of Egypt Ibrahim Fahmy, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Arab Republic of Egypt Mikhail Bogdanov, Consul General of the Russian Federation in Alexandria Dmitry Kurakov.
The conference was a significant event in the scientific and cultural life of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences. This was the first and so far only conference organized and held by him abroad. At the same time, for the first time, the Institute was not an invited party, but an inviting party. It was attended by about 30 of our employees. These are specialists who study the development of Islam and cultural traditions in different countries of the world - the Arab East, North Africa, India, Southeast Asia, Turkey, Afghanistan, and the Caucasus. Among the speakers were representatives of the Higher School of Economics (Russia), the University of Alexandria (Egypt), the University of Marmara (Turkey), the Center for Islamic Studies (Turkey), and the University of Regensburg (Germany).
On the eve of the opening of the conference, Russian experts met with representatives of diplomatic circles, public organizations and the media at the Egyptian Foreign Policy Council. The seminar, organized by the ERU and the Institute of Internal Affairs of the Russian Academy of Sciences, covered the topic "Modern conflicts in Eastern countries: causes and ways to solve problems". The questions asked by the participants of the seminar to Russian experts related to the most important problems of our time, including the growing influence of the United States in the region, Israeli-Palestinian relations, and the war in Iraq. ERU Executive Director Dr. Al-Sayyid Amin Shalibi put forward a proposal to hold similar annual Egyptian-Russian seminars both in Egypt and in Russia.
Alexander Grachev, Minister-Counsellor of the Russian Embassy in Egypt, Rostislav Rybakov, Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the conference, Director of the Institute of Information Technology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Wilhelm Augushtat (Austria), Chairman of the International Association "Peace through Culture - Europe", and Head of the Eurasia Dialogue Platform delivered speeches at the opening ceremony of the conference in Cairo
(Turkey) Aitav Erkam Tufan, Chairman of the Board of the International Institute for Peace in the Caucasus Yuri Sidakov, Head of the representative office of Rosarubezhcenter in AR Nikolay Yakhontov.
Academician Yevgeny Primakov, head of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, sent a welcome telegram to the conference participants, in which he stressed the importance of holding such an event, since Islam and its culture are an integral part of world culture and global civilization.
On the same day, the conference participants left for Alexandria, where the work took place on the basis of the Russian Center for Science and Culture. The fact that the governor of the city and the rector of the University of Alexandria were present at the plenary session also spoke about the importance of the event. The conference was attended by delegates of the Islamic Center of Alexandria, headed by its head Sheikh Zein Al-Samak.
Even before the start of the conference, a collection was published based on the materials of the announced reports under the stamp of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences "Islam: tradition and ethics" in three languages: Russian, English and Arabic. These languages were the working languages of the conference.
The range of issues discussed at the conference was very wide: political science, sociology, religious studies, cultural studies. Starting with global problems, for example, the report of the Director of the Institute of Information Technology of the Russian Academy of Sciences R. Rybakov 's "The Era of Ethics and the Era of Globalization" and V. Augushtata's "On the Way to Planetary Ethics", ending with more narrow and specific ones.
The scientific program included more than 40 reports in the thematic sections "Islam, tradition and culture in the context of globalization", "Ethical principles in social and religious relations"," Cultural heritage of traditional societies of the East","Regional Islam and problems of Oriental studies".
It is symbolic that such an event was held in Alexandria - a place of connection of many cultures. Numerous responses to the conference in Russian, Egyptian, Turkish, European mass media, and Online publishs1 show that this event attracted huge public attention also because it was held by representatives of Russia , a country that has been very wary of the Muslim world for some time.
For Russia, the relevance of the conference is determined by the growing role of Islam in the modern world. The Islamic world is one of the most significant poles of power in the context of globalization and the dominance of one superpower. Moreover, according to some sources, there are about 20 million people in Russia. 2 Muslims, and it has recently been granted observer status in the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). It is unfortunate that Russia's image in the Muslim world is very damaged. This was facilitated by the entry of Soviet troops into Afghanistan and the Chechen military campaign. In the Muslim East, there is still an opinion that Russia is at war with Muslims in Chechnya, and by helping Chechen militants financially, Muslims all over the world help all (!) Muslims in Russia. This attitude was reflected in the remarks made by representatives of the Muslim world on the ground and in conversations with them on the sidelines of the conference. At the same time, it should be noted that these were not extremist radicals, but respectable and respected representatives of the scientific teaching elite. They found it hard to believe that the overwhelming majority of Russian Muslims, according to our research, are loyal to the central government.
This, of course, is the result of the powerful propaganda machine of not only Islamic radicals, but also certain Western forces. It is simply surprising that Russia does not oppose anything (or almost nothing) to this. It came as a surprise to one of the authors of the article that his own report "Some Features of Russian Muslims" on the traditional loyalty to the authorities and patriotism of Russian Muslims, as well as the reports of the Russian Foreign Ministry, were published in the journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Baderkhan on Sufi traditions in the North Caucasus and D. Mikulsky on the traditions of military valor of the Muslim peoples of imperial Russia will be a counterbalance to the generally accepted opinion in the Muslim world.
A rich cultural program was prepared for the conference participants: Visit the Giza Pyramid complex and Old Cairo, the National Museum of Egypt, museums and ancient monuments of Alexandria.
At the end of the conference, the forum delegates visited the Library of Alexandria, where a ceremony was held to present the library with books published by the Institute of History of the Russian Academy of Sciences over the past two years.
Already in Moscow in mid-June, at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the results of the conference were summed up at a meeting of the Academic Council. Director R. Rybakov assessed the event as the most important and still unprecedented event in the life of the Institute. In particular, he noted: "It is particularly gratifying for us to emphasize that this conference was the first event of its kind organized by the Institute of Information Technology of the Russian Academy of Sciences in a foreign country."
In its address to the head of Roszarubezhcenter, E. V. Mitrofanova, the Scientific Council of the Institute of Information Technology of the Russian Academy of Sciences expressed its deep gratitude to the employees of the RCSC in Alexandria and Cairo.
Contacts between Russian Orientalists and their Egyptian colleagues, including the universities of Egypt, established during the preparation and holding of the conference promise to be promising. I would especially like to mention the preparations for signing a cooperation agreement with the Egyptian-Russian University.
There is no doubt that a successful conference will contribute to the formation of a positive image of Russia in the Islamic world.
1 http://www.egypt.kp.ru/2007/06/04/doc180563/, http://www.viperson.ru/wind.php?ID=306262&soch=1, http://www.ras.ru/news/shownews.aspx?id=7e470977-cdd2-49e2-a015-1a2e3dff75dd&_Langua ge=ru, http://www.rian.ru/science/20070520/65778370.html и др.
2 This figure was announced, for example, by the President of the Russian Federation V. Putin. Putin (http://www.kremlin.ru/text/news/2003/08/50480.shtml) and Chairman of the Council of Muftis of the Russian Federation Sheikh Ravil Gainutdin (http://www.maranatha.org.ua/cnews/index.php?id=21631).
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