Buddhism, Islam and freedom of religion - ATILLA YAYLA

Buddhism, Islam and freedom of religion

An interesting incident had been experienced in the Istanbul Technical University in the sense of understanding and sustaining freedom of religion. The rectorate, which had been giving affirmative replies to the religious Muslim students who demanded a prayer room or small mosque, is now mobilized to build a masjid. Some students felt uncomfortable about this and objected to it. After the rectorate stated that a masjid is a necessity, almost 1500 students stated that they are Buddhists and with a written application, they stated that they needed a place on the campus for praying, they've applied to the administration to open/build a Buddhist temple. The students who are against a masjid pleaded arguments that there is no place for a sanctuary in the “house of science”.

We can evaluate this event from the point of mind, heart, communal reality and freedom of religion. If we are to take the shortcut, it's clear that the attitudes of students who are objecting to the masjid are against the mind, heart, communal reality and freedom of religion. As for the claims that there is no place for a sanctuary on the campus; it's the resurrected state of a rough 19th Century positivism. I guess that these students do not know that every important university in the West possesses a chapel.

The ones who had given a written application to open a Buddhist temple may think that they've done something witty, but their behavior is full of disrespect and indecency. Since they don't know what freedom of religion is, they think that they can suppress a demand with another. The use of freedom of religion by someone or a segment does not harm another person's or segment's freedom of religion. The opening of a masjid does not prevent a Buddhist temple from opening. Those two are not alternatives to each other.

On top of that, we all know that the Buddhist Temple demand in ITU does not have a communal base; in other words, there is no necessity. Trying to invalidate an actual necessity with an imaginary necessity is an immoral attitude. Besides, this is also reflecting the state of being unaware of the Islam religion's features and the impassivity towards them. In comparison to other religions, Islam is more intense and has more time-related prayers. This is the main reason why the mosques and masjids are this intense and extensive.

Since the topic is opened, it's beneficial to say that Sunni and Alevi Muslims have their unique handicaps in the sense of freedom of religion. It's sufficient to draw attention to a Sunni attitude that is against the freedom of religion. Some Sunnis are objecting to accepting Cemevis, or djemevis, as a sanctuary. Their main justification is that Islam has a sole sanctuary and that is the mosque. They say that if djemevis are given the status of sanctuary, Muslims will be divided. The first mistake in this view is; confusing the horse and a car. Muslimism must be already divided if there is a demand to have a different venue as a sanctuary. Thus, rather than dividing Muslims, as the djemevis become a sanctuary; it will prevent potential tensions and alienations between divided Muslims. The second mistake is; to overlook what's more important. Freedom of religion is more important than the division of a religion's congregation. It's all related with the freedom of religion to have an idea or religious comment to live a healthy and free life in the absolute plan. Freedom of religion points at a general humane situation, while being Muslim or being Muslim in this or that sect points at a special situation. Finally, it would be more accurate to read “the subjecting of religions to many different comments” as the potential to answer to different environments and necessities, rather than that religion's weakness.

Freedom of religion is not a pool that possesses a consumable amount of water. Everyone can benefit from this pool without damaging others' rights and freedoms. The freedom of religion should be cared about and we should show respect towards demands that enter the context of freedom of religion.


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