1. Maintaining religious identity in a modern society
Prof. Dr. Qazim Qazimi, Kosovo
One of the most notable manifestations of the Muslims social life throughout Europe today, without doubt, is the free expression of religious awareness, which was so hampered in many European states ruled by communist regimes and this free expression of religious awareness is a precious fruit of the development of democracy in our lives after the collapse of communism.
Today, Europeans, in overwhelmingly majority, have very clearly and convincingly defined their religious, national and state identity, where interethnic equality, interfaith tolerance and multiculturalism have been and still remain indispensable. And it is not difficult to notice that sometimes the expression of religious consciousness, is emerging from time to time and place to place through the process of overqualifying, overwhelming, overestimating any beliefs against other religions. Multifaceted affiliation, besides making the religious identity richer and more colorful, may sometimes manage to make it even more pliable, of course, if one of these religions would be favored especially by political and state institutions, as is happening from time to time in some European countries. Islam strongly rejects this idea and it refuses be a subject to inferiority, by losing its individuality or identity in any society or any modern state.
2. Mustafa Ceric, Ph.D.
Grand mufti Emeritus of Bosnia
Although, the external or global and internal or domestic affairs in the Muslim societies are strongly converging, and despite the fact that it is not always clearly recognizable as to which one of them is more influential on the overall Muslim social political development, I would say that the internal or domestic affairs are more challenging to the Muslim soul and mind today than the external or global ones. And, contrary to a common perception that the lack of a strong Muslim unity is the biggest obstacle to an overall Muslim stability and prosperity, I would say though that the lack of the clear notion of diversity in the Muslim theological and political thought is the key cause for a disturbance and even bloody violence in the Muslim societies. By far the Muslim faith and the Muslim faithful are more united in their basic creeds than any other religious group in the world. Indeed, without exception all Muslims around the world have the same belief in the divine origin of the Qur’an, in the authenticity and eligibility of the last Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, in the right direction in Muslim prayers towards the Kiblah, in the right and same day of Arafat of the Hajj pilgrimage, etc. So, there is no Muslim disunity issue here in regard to their basic faith creeds. Hence, the Muslims should spare time talking about unity which is obviously there. Instead, the Muslims should start talking about the fact of their diversity, which is obviously there as well, but which is not rightly recognized in the sense of a creative and enriching way as it should be and as it has always been. Therefore, the biggest challenge of the Muslim societies today, as I see it, is to learn how to live the unity in diversity of their ethnic, national, racial, cultural and political background, indeed, their creative potentialities. In short, the Muslim societies today must learn how to respect each other’s differences as much as they love each other for the sake of having the same faith of Islam. This, indeed, is more challenging than anything else, namely, it is more challenging today to appreciate the Muslim diversity than to insist on the Muslim unity as an empty propaganda that leads us to a cheap populism and demagogy.
And the second challenge that is on the Muslim mind today is somewhat a new phenomenon but an old pattern of an intentional mis-interpretation and mis-presentation of Islam and Muslims in the world. Therefore, this new phenomenon got a new name as well – islamophobia. It is not entirely clear what islamophobia means, but it is, no doubt, aimed to embarrass Islam and Muslims around the world in whatever way possible. It is similar to anti-Semitism, but it is not the same. It is not racial, but it has something to it; it is not cultural, but it has something to it. It is like bigotry, but it is not fascist. It is simply antagonistic to the presence of Islam in certain places in the world. Indeed, islamophobia is a fear from unknown, which is known as Islam, and which is labelled as islamic, islamist, jihadist, salafist, wahhabist, terrorist, etc.
Again, contrary to a common perception that islamophobia is meant to frighten or terrorize or even to proselytize Non-Muslims around the world, especially in the West, I would say that the islamophobia is primarily meant to frighten and inflict a kind of pain on the soul and mind of Muslims around the world.
3. The ethics of work in the Islamic viewpoint
Dr. Naser Ramadani, Faculty of Islamic Sciences – Skopje
Islam encourages people in general and believers in particular to work and search for material goods. In the Qur’an it is said: “And when the prayer is completed, then disperse in the earth, ask for His bounty …” It (Qur’an) also says: “He has made the land usable, so walk throughout its areas and eat what He (Allah) has granted you. ” While Muhammad a.s has said, “No one can eat better food than what stems from his own hand (work).”
Work is related to another ethical value – the efficient use of time. The believer truly strives to maximize his time, because the concept of time involves his life. If he allows himself to waste time without doing any useful work, he has therefore commited “suicide”. The believer has to account for the time he spends. He knows that time is his most expensive capital and he will be questioned about his life, especially about his youth. Omar bin Abdulaziz once said, “Day and night are working on you, you also work on them.” The believer should be afraid to not pass the days without acting good or producing anything useful. He should not, in any way, leave today’s work for tomorrow, because tomorrow’s day is burdened with other works.
Islam encourages the believer to be a diligent worker, to perform his role in society, and to implement Allah’s command for the sake of the development of life on earth, by saying: “He created you from the earth, and made you live in it and rebuilt it “.
4. Seven types of reciting the Qur’an
Adnan Merja, USA
A human being gains value thanks to what he knows, earns the virtues as he reasonates and ennobles himself with what he accompanies. Since the Qur’an is the greatest revealed book, then the man who has been sent down that book is the most honorable Prophet among all God’s messengers, his community is the best among all communities, the bearers of this book are the most noble ones, as well as his readers and teachers are the most valuable people of this community.
The science of Kiraeth is the most special among religious disciplines. There is no work done in it, or man’s hand, because it is revealed by the Lord of the universe, and is guarded by Himself. The themes of this article will be issues like: the seven letters of the Qur’an, the cause of the revelation, its objective, its meaning and some specifics about them.
5. Globalism, dialogue, religion, and metaphysics
Dr. Genti Kruja
Editor-in-Chief of the Scientific Journal “Zani i Naltë”
According to social science researchers, the basic values of the 21st century are modernism, pluralism, individualism, and religion. Some claim that modernity has made one’s own and social life, creating new forms of religious, cultural, and political pluralism. Though viewed according different perspectives, modernity has created two ideological sub-phenomena: development and globalization. Many theorists have described modernity from the perspective of increasing human sovereignty beyond its frontiers and the advancement of science. This direct link between science on the one hand and abilities and sovereignty on the other hand has highlighted the opportunity given to powerful states to bring new forms of domination to other nations and peoples.
Since globalism has such an ideological understanding, many consider it as simply a classic imperialism under another name. Ideological or not, globalization has caused a fundamental change in all areas, from economic and social sciences, to political relations, the field of law, history and geography of state administration. In fact, globalization has vulgarized wealth, technology, democratic pluralism, production and consumption. And thereafter, again, it has helped reveal all kinds of desecration: human, environmental, or political. Poverty, ecological pollution, weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and violence have been globalized as well.
6. The duties of imams and callers towards Muslims and others
Dr. Jamal Al-Safarty, Department of Islamic Sciences, University College Bedër
The model of Prophet Muhammad’s leadership a.s. is an outstanding example for all. It was the person who carried the importance of the call on his shoulders, and he began this mission together with his noble companions, to communicate the message of kindness and love through the path of guidance, light and mercy. This noble Prophet began his call based on two basic pillars:
The pillar on which it relies is the cooperation with people who are content with his passion and confident in his message based on God’s word. “Surely the believers are brothers,” and “if you were rude and hard-hearted, they would stay away form you.”
From here we see and understand that it is not permissible for any imam, caller, scholar, thinker, researcher, judge or judged, to do something contrary to what has been established and decided the first Imam, Muhammad, and to explain and comment his tradition built on the foundations of justice, mercy and love among people as it should be, in the way he thinks it is right and proper.
7. Legal-Constitutional Rights Guarantee of Religious Communities in Albania
Dr. Saimir Shatku, Law Faculty, University of Tirana
The efforts to shed light on the up-to-now multi-year journey of the rights of religious communities, relations and links between the religion, the state and its institutions in the area ofpublic and private freedoms and rights consists of a quite modest commitment, which retrospect enables a clearer prospectiveof their new future, profits, prosperity and use of such private goods.
Historical documents demonstrate that since the very first Constitutional Acts of Albanian Independence, the principle of having religion separate from the state was affirmed, the freedom of conscience and belief, and the right to exercise it, including the real rights that religious communities are entitled to, as sanctioned in the “Organic Statute of Albania”. During the period 1920-1939, the Albanian Government’s policy aimed at establishing new legal-private principles of national character relevant to the activity of religious institutions. It aimed at removing anydependence relations and foreign influence on them, therefore supporting the interests of national unification and eliminating religious disruption.
The relationship between freedoms and rights of belief during the communist regime is a story of atheistic, persecutory, denigrating and denying policy towards religion, clergy and religious institutions. The 1976 Constitution finally sanctioned the principle of atheism/mistrust, therefore declaring Albania as the only atheistic country in the world. Thus, no property rights and other real benefits could be assumed or claimed to the account of religious institutions.
The evolution of democratic events in the country re-established the freedom of religion and the right of belief, therefore redefining the relationship between the state and religion in the context of the rule of law. Throughout this long journey, new legal dimensions were attributed to the right of ownership and the ways to obtains such rights. The transfer of such rights has been legally expanded, however the legal relationship between the state and religion has increased accordingly. (Let’s mention the interreligious agreements entered between the Albanian state and the 4traditional religious communities in Albania, February 2007). During this transition period, religious institutions have been reorganized. The freedom of conscience and belief has been reaffirmed based on the international standards established in the 1998 Constitution, and incompliance with the general principles established by law.
Albania, the country of tolerance, harmony and inter-religious coexistence (refer to Article 3,10,24,121 of the Albanian Constitution) is a country which has recognized and is still harmonizing the cooperation to the benefit of the human community. Such relationships closely relate to real rights, patrimonial and property rights and free economic initiatives to which religious communities are entitled to, making referenceto the 2007 agreements between the Albanian government, the State Committee of Cults and religious communities.
Key words: transition; real rights of religious communities; legal-private relations, concordat; statute; organic laws; state-religion agreements.
8. History of the Albanian personalities from Vilayet of Ioannina (1859-1909)
Syrja bej Vlora
The book of Syrja bej Vlora “The story of the Albanian personalities from Vilayet of Ioannina (1859-1909)” is an encyclopedic work of an indisputable value for the Albanian historiography. This because firstly, it was the first attempt made on this issue, at a time when our scientific institutions were not established yet; and secondly, the information provided in it regarding some historical personalities constitutes a novelty.
In a footnote of the preface of the manuscript in Albanian regarding these biographies, the translator Jonuz Tafilaj writes that they were prepared as an annex to the work of Syrja bey Vlora previously translated by Ali Asllani. However, based on their volume, these biographies constitute a separate book. Therefore, given that they have not previously been integrated into any version of the already published book of Syrja bey Vlora, we are bringing it for publication for the first time in the scientific journal “Zani i Naltë”.
This script is written in the Ottoman language and, together with the translation into Albanian, is found in the Central State Archive of Tirana. He has in total 78 pages in Ottoman and 120 pages in Albanian, translated by the renowned Orientalist Jonuz Tafilaj. In the inventory compiled by the head of the Ottoman manuscript sector in the historical archive, the orientalist Haki Sharofi, it is writen the date of receipt of this translation (June 26, 1963). As for the time when it was written by Syrja bey Vlora, we still have no data.
Although this manuscript translation is in the northern (Gheg) dialect and contains a considerable amount of errors, we have tried to intervene only where it was indispensably necessary. This, because the dialects, in addition to the translations done in a given period, are a tremendous asset and bear the stamp of the time.
The book provides information on the most prominent personalities of Southern Albania, who, from an administrative point of view, were included in Vilayet of Janina at that time. Here is briefly written, and sometimes even longer, about the formation, role and contribution of the famous personalities of the Albanian world. Furthermore, in this book one can find a lot of details, which, given that they are written as an integral part of a memorial book, cannot be found in any other book. This enriches and makes it more beautiful to the reader, but also more valuable as a historiographical source for scholars.
Despite the level of translation and mistakes, we think that publishing this part of the book at the “Zani i Naltë” magazine, is necessary. This is a homage to the forgotten and unjustly anathemaed author, to the honored translator, orientalist Jonuz Tafilaj and, finally, to Albanian historiography and memorialistics. Dr. Hasan Bello
9. Review on the book:
“Religious leaders in the Albanian National Movement in the Vilayet of Kosovo (1878-1912)” of the historian, Dr. Nuredin Ahmeti
Dr. Ilirjana Kaceli, University College Bedër
Religious leaders, as well as other figures of the Albanian people – not only in Albania, but also in Kosovo – have made a significant contribution to the Albanian National Movement. Some of these personalities, especially those of Muslims background, were very active with their work throughout the wars of the Albanian people against the Ottomans, especially during the culminating period of this war, the era of the National Renaissance. Then it would grow even further from the Albanian League of Prizren until the proclamation of national independence in 1912. In this work, for the first time the author provides the reader with a different perspective from what we learned to read so far on various figures of scholars and religious patriots, as well as gives us very important data for one of the main Albanian vilayets – the Vilajet of Kosovo. This monograph is important because the author approaches very extensively this issue, based on authentic documents. The life and work of many of the religious leaders who contributed to the struggle for independence of the Albanian people, have served as a source of inspiration for future generations throughout the entire Albanian territory.
10. Hafiz Halid Bushati
From the writings survived so far, we learn that Hafiz Halid Bushati has given numerous ijazaa’s (religious advices) during his life. In short, he has been a pernonal school of imams and devout people closely related to their religion, the religion of their ancestors, Islam.
As an imam-hatip teacher, he became acquainted with children and their parents, with the content of the program and the textbooks, with the traditional methods of teaching and education at the time.
A positive thing for the new teacher was his use of Albanian language during the teaching and education process as well as his constant care that the students gained not only knowledge, but also skills, abilities and practical skills for spiritual education and their implementation in everyday life.
During his lifetime as a scholar and as a jurist who was familiar with many languages such as Arabic, Turkish, and Persian, he likewise other Islamic scholars, owned a very rich library with many Albanian and foreign books, with religious, scientific and literary tematics.
In 1905 he resigned from education, because the mufti and the ulama of the city chose him as a specialist in deciphering and extracting the fatwas, a position that he held until the end of his life.
11. “A dream of mine”, H. Ibrahim Dalliu
by Dr. Genti Kruja
By researching for years in archives and especially at the Central State Archives of Tirana (AQSH), we have found rare documents, part of the Albanian Muslim Community Fund but not only, where in most cases they are documents, books and photographs, never published before and therefore unfamiliar to the researchers of the respective fields themselves.
After more than two years of work in the framework of a digitalization project of the MCA Fund in the AQSH, it was possible to scan about half a million documents from 1912 to 1967 – documents seized by the communist regime – but which fortunately have been stored in the Central State Archive. These documents are of special importance because they contain the institutional memory of the Albanian Muslim Community, i.e. the history of Islam in Albania during the 20th century until its official closure by the totalitarian state in 1967. It contains the official correspondence with other religious communities in the country, documents on congresses held during the 20-30’s, real estate inventories, documents providing the financial state with detailed data, documents on human resources, etc.
Along with this fund we have managed to find other important data, such as a satirical poem written by the scholar, leader, teacher and publicist Hafiz Ibrahim Dalliu. The poem written in 1922 is titled “A dream of mine”.
Hafiz Dalliu’s satirical poem contains in total 681 verses, written in a single column, with triple but inseparable verses.
This unknown poem is an artistic creation that has been liberated from the dogmas and limitations of time; it is a poem where time, culture, belief, philosophy, myth and mindset are interspersed; it is a poem where the reality is mixed with fantasy, where contrasts and powerful antitheses are encountered, where symbols are embraced and transmitted in time, where they get a meaning and humanity is challenged with everything that constitutes his social life.
The satire of this poem written by Hafiz Ibrahim Dalliu, is also valid for today’s social and political situation that Albania is experiencing.
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