Could you comment on the fact that religion in Turkey is separate from the state? What are your views of secularism, democracy and freedom of speech?
Laicism is an excellent system when implemented as “democratic laicism” in which people can freely espouse their ideas. Islam is a faith that teaches tolerance, love and brotherhood. Laicism is part of the essence of Islam, is in its very body. According to Islam everyone, no matter what their faith or what beliefs they hold, is free to live as they wish according to that faith and beliefs. That is the beauty of laicism: It eradicates hypocrisy, there is no hypocrisy when there is laicism. In other words, an atheist openly and honestly declares “I am an atheist,” while a believer says, “I am a believer.” Laicism brings that about and eliminates hypocrisy, and that is why it is so important. Believers and non-believers and people of different faiths must all be respected, their rights to life and a decent standard of living must be respected and serious guarantees provided. No problems remain once that has been ensured. There are devout people in Turkey and others who do not live by the faith. It is important all such people’s lives be guaranteed, their peace is most important. In the same way that the peace of believers is important, so is that of those other people.
Islam is opposed to extremes and violence. Beauty, love and peace are vital needs for devout Muslims. Nobody wants to see this blackened by a fanatical interpretation incompatible with religious moral values, and that is not permitted. The whole problem lies in people being honest. I am an honest person. I like happy, smiling people; I want children to run around happily in the streets, I want people to have nice homes, for everything to be nice. It is obvious that, like any other Muslim, I will dislike a despotic system, because such a thing is not espoused in the faith, in Islam.
How do you evaluate the rise of Islam in Turkey? How will this change Turkey and its relations with other countries like Russia?
There is love in Islam, and compassion, and tolerance and understanding. These moral virtues bring societies closer together, strengthen the bonds of friendship between them and put an end to anarchy, terror and chaos, and economic problems disappear of their own accord. Solidarity and co-operation are reinforced. The Turkish nation is one that has always been loyal and devoted to its beliefs and national values. But the total collapse of Darwinism in Turkey over the last 20 years is of course a most significant development. In the 1970s some 70 to 80% of people believed in Darwinism, whereas more than 80% today reject it. Turkey has the lowest level of belief in Darwinism in the world.
What can you say about the future of relations between Muslims and Christians? What are the ways to improve the dialogue between the two civilizations? What is Islam’s approach towards other religions?
According to Islam, Christians and Jews are the Peoples of the Book. We all believe in the one God, love and obey the prophets He sent and believe in the angels and the Day of Judgment. We are all brothers, friends. The Qur’an’s command to us is to live in love and friendship with the People of the Book. That was how it was in the time of the Prophet (saas). Our Prophet (saas) always treated them with love and understanding. According to the Qur’an, a man can marry a woman from the People of the Book; Muslims can eat their food and live alongside them in friendship and closeness. Muslims feel affection for Christians and Jews, and if a truly devout Christian wishes to live according to his faith this is respected and every opportunity is provided to allow him to live as he chooses. The same thing applies to Jews. The People of the Book being happy, living comfortably and in security makes me happy. If they have problems or difficulties, that distresses me enormously. But it is essential that the Turkish-Islamic Union be established in order for this climate of friendship to be fully constructed. It is impossible for such a climate of friendship to be founded in the absence of the Turkish-Islamic Union and without the Islamic world having a just, rational and moderate leader. In the absence of that union there will be terror, and radical strife and extremism and economic disputes, though there will be none of these under the union. When the Turkish-Islamic Union is founded our Christian and Jewish brothers will live at ease, by Allah’s leave, and will find peace and security under the affectionate system of the Turkish-Islamic Union.
How can the radicalism be kept under control? What can stop terrorism?
Every organization or belief system that perpetrates bombings, encourages suicide attacks and aims to wreak destruction and devastation is opposed to Islam. This is a system unacceptable to Islam, and therefore unacceptable to me. There is no extremism in Islam. Rather, there is moderation, tolerance and understanding. Those who seek to give the impression that violence is part of Islam are making a grave mistake. The best path is winning people’s hearts, convincing them, talking to them. We know that the Prophet (saas) walked around the market and preached to people. Thorns and dead animals were thrown in his path. He continued to preach the word, even under the most difficult conditions, despite being mocked and pressurized, despite being insulted, and they never wore him down. He sent letters and envoys to a great many places. For example he sent the blessed Dihya (ra) to Istanbul to preach. Missionaries even went as far as Spain. And they never resorted to force as they preached Islamic moral values. They preached the faith by causing people to love it, by living it, with a loving joy. Philosophy is highly important in our century. Whenever we look at the roots of the present troubles, suffering and difficulties we see Darwinism and the materialism supported by it. For that reason, anyone wanting to eliminate these troubles must do all in his power to bring about the intellectual collapse of Darwinism. Darwinism is the greatest idol of the age. In the same way that the Prophet Abraham first smashed the largest idol, so we must totally demolish this one. And that is what we have done. We have broken the Darwinian idol, Allah willing. My book the Atlas of Creation has created a massive shock in Europe. All the papers in France, Britain, Italy and Germany have reported this defeat of Darwinism with astonishment and amazement. We really have obtained a massive and definitive result. Public opinion polls show that Darwinism has been demolished in Europe. Thanks be to Allah, He has made such a success possible. This means that if people are determined in their intellectual, philosophical struggle, in their preaching the word, Allah will grant them success. We can see that.
Should Turkey admit the genocide of up to 1.5 million Armenians? Could you please comment on that? How do you think the problems with Armenia can be solved? What do you suggest?
A great many things happened 100 years ago, 200 years ago or 500 years ago. It ill-becomes us to constantly investigate and research these. What does become us is to approach one another with love and compassion, to set the past aside and build a bright future. Those days were the early 1900s, when there was no culture or knowledge or research. What there was, was Darwinism and the propaganda of communism and fascism. It would be wrong to ground ourselves in the climate of violence established by the Freemasons of the time. In addition, it is not at all clear what actually happened at that time. It is the people living then who are responsible for the events of that time. What matters is that we love the Armenians as a nation. We want to see the barriers lifted. We want them to unite with Turkey. Let us forgive everything that happened in the past and renounce our claims. Let us waive our rights and put the matter to rest. The best thing is to consign those days to the pages of history. Many Turks lost their lives in the Hocali incident and others, but it would be wrong for any of us to make a vendetta out of it. We waive our rights. There was a climate of war in the 1900s, and people were killed on both sides. Armenians should renounce their claims too.
We cannot get anywhere with the mindset of the 1900s. We must abandon the mindset of the 1900s and act with the excellent, loving and unifying logic of the 2000s. Those dark days belong in the past. We must not allow ourselves to be tricked by Masons, atheists, fascists, communists, neo-Nazis or atheist Zionists. Freemasonry has its own designs, it wants to set nations against one another, for which reason they cause them to spill blood by inventing a spurious pretext and thus initiate a blood feud. We must not let ourselves become a party to that. Armenians are a People of the Book. They are good natured, cultured, rational and spotless brothers of ours. We want a climate in which we can live together as brothers, by Allah’s leave.
What should Turkey’s policy toward Russia be? How can relations be developed? How can the Turkish Islamic Union that you are planning benefit Russia?
Turkey is active on America’s behalf and on Russia’s behalf in the region. It is also active in favor of China. And everyone is happy. America is pleased with Turkey, and Europe, and Russia, and China. That will continue when Turkey unites with Azerbaijan, when the Turkish-Islamic Union is established, and there will be nothing new. The Turkish-Islamic Union is one from which Russia will benefit. It means a wealthier Russia. It means new factories and plants in Russia. It means Azeri petrol, Turkish petrol and Turkish minerals being easily sold in Russia and a further increase in all their possibilities. Its markets will expand, trade will expand. In military terms threats will decline because Turkey has no hostile attitude to Russia, but rather a friendly one. We regard Russia as a friendly country, a noble country. Therefore, Russia will be very pleased with such a unification, which will be very much in its interests. There must never be a policy of exclusion. The Turkish-Islamic Union will always follow a unifying, amicable course. Exclusion leads to strains and unease. A logic that constantly unites, that says, “Let us be brothers,” is most important. Polarization, separate camps, is not pleasant. We must say, “You Russians must develop as you please in economic, scientific and political terms, and we can also develop in economic, scientific and political terms, and we can enjoy all kinds of good things.” What should not be said is, “We don’t care whether you are poor, so long as we are rich.” What we must say is, “We want to be rich, and want you to be rich, too.” For example, if Russia is poor when the Turkish-Islamic Union is set up, is that a real Turkish-Islamic Union? Is that a union of peace? Can it bring us happiness? We will obviously be uneasy, because we want them to be wealthy, too. A happy Russia will make us happy.
What is your opinion of the Georgia-Russia war?
It is obviously a Masonic ruse. Bloodshed and setting brother against brother is something Masons have always resorted to. However all disputes can be resolved by peaceful means. It is of course most upsetting to see, thousands of people have lost their lives, elderly people have been thrown onto the streets and left homeless. These are things that should never have happened. Russia is a major, modern state, of course. One must respect the Russian state. I do not believe that Russia has an imperialist, occupying policy. But one must also respect communities’ wishes. Everyone must adopt a peaceful, well-intentioned and respectful attitude towards everyone else. Georgia says, “We want to leave this community,” and the question is put to the people. They can leave if they so choose. I do not think that Russia will then intervene with force. But if the Ossetians and Abkhazians say, “We want to act with Russia,” they must be able to do so. But the aim here is not to leave Russia alone or push it towards isolation. The logic of “do what you want” is unacceptable. In other words, in separating from Russia, that must happen in the light of a plan that also takes into account Russia’s well-being, wealth and prosperity. The logic of “Everyone must abandon Russia, withdraw their support and leave Russia isolated, and in the end it will be ruined” comes to mind, but this is unacceptable. Let anyone who wants to leave do so, of course. But this means doing so while still regarding Russia as a friend and striving to improve their position, as well. People have now begun talking of the idea of the Caucasian Union as the initial stage of the Turkish-Islamic Union. This is most excellent. But no state in Asia must be excluded. It must be predicated on their all being strong, and it is most important that all states be respected. Anything else would be a disgrace. I think that all problems can be solved on the basis of love and affection, by maintaining one’s rationality, and protecting and looking out for one another.
What do you think about Iran’s policy in the region?
Iran is a powerful and important state. The important thing is to adopt a unifying policy in the region, in which case there will be no problem. And as far as I can see Iran does want to play a unifying role. President Ahmadinejad showed this on his recent visit to Istanbul. He issued messages of brotherhood. He issued statements indicating the importance of the Turkish-Islamic Union, and more importantly he performed the Friday prayer behind a Sunni imam. That was a most significant message. This action by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reveals the Islamic brotherhood, the Islamic bond between Sunnis and Shiites, and that a Sunni can pray behind a Shiite or a Shiite behind a Sunni. It is therefore apparent that Ahmadinejad looks extremely favorably on Islamic brotherhood and an Islamic Union under Turkish leadership.
What do you think about Russian leaders such as Putin? And what do you think of the Russian people?
I think that Putin is sincere. He is a noble individual, as is the Russian nation. As a nation, the Russian nation are pleasant and virtuous people. I know several Russians and they are really very moral, immaculate people. They are spotless and excellent in moral and personal terms. They are very delightful people, and Russian children are really lovable. Why should they be unhappy or uncomfortable? What happiness could that bring us? We have lived as brothers alongside the Russians for hundreds of years. So why should they be divided from us now? You are our brothers. Let us enjoy close relations. Let our commercial, artistic and cultural activities be inter-related. We need one another. Let us found universities together. Let art and science progress. The days of iron curtains and brick walls are over. Let them be torn down. They are grave mistakes. Russia has a considerable technological strength, and is strong in terms of scientists and scientific means. Russia is not a country to be isolated or excluded. That is why I regard a policy of polarization as wrong. Russia behaved well and warmly towards Muslims for a very long time. The freedoms that Russia gave to Muslims are still plain to see. Its policies supporting Islam and the Qur’an are plain to see, and I have seen this for myself. It would be wrong to isolate such a state, as if throwing it out to die. There must be a policy inclusive and protective of Russia in all regards. In that case everything will be fine.
Is your group active in Russia? How much interest is there in your Russian publications?
Thanks be to Allah, we are seeing excellent developments in Russia. My books, CDs and articles are widely read and enjoyed, masha’Allah. Dozens of my works have been translated into Russian. We have a web site on which Russian versions of my works are published: http://www.harunyahya.ru. People can access all my works in Russian from that site, free of charge. I would like to tell my Russian brothers that the future is very bright, Allah willing. With intense love and dialogue, all problems, injustice and want will be eradicated, by Allah’s permission. When the Turkish-Islamic Union is established, our Russian brothers will also be under its protection and will fully enjoy the security, peace and comfort prevailing within it.