Dr. Satardein's message and insights are vital not only for Ireland, but surely for Europe, and in fact the essential guidelines offered by Satardein are applicable on a global scale.
As we see the wisdom in Sheikh Satardien's prescriptions, we should always be reminded that these grow from an explicitly Muslim worldview and lifestyle.
When we find the unique good in the thoughts of notable peace-makers, it is important to know that the impulses reflect not only their special gifts and talents, but the ideals and spiritual traditions in which they are nurtured.
Sheikh Satardien points out in the early part of his essay:
Many of us believe that God created humanity, some believe that God created a process by which humanity eventually evolved, but which ever way we have arrived; we are here now! ....and we are here in many different ways, with different coloured skin pigmentations, with different cuisines, with different ways of dressing and different ways of speaking; with different habits, cultures and religions.These differences are magnificent, but difference always runs a risk of being treated as an outcast. The more different a community is the greater this risk and the more difficult it is to integrate with the wider community. So the greater the difference, the greater the effort towards integration would be required.
Sheikh Dr. Satardein seen here with
The Revd Andrew Orr, Rector of Castleknock
Please read the full remarks of Sheikh Satardein, which point the way, and offer important guidelines not only for Ireland, Irish Muslims, and European Muslims and nations, but also for life in the world at large.
Good morning Respected, Colleagues, Chairperson, Ladies & Gentlemen.
Thank you very much indeed for the invitation to speak a few words on
Faith, Race & Integration.
The majority of people in the world do have a faith in God. We may differ on our interpretation of God or Allaah, and we may differ in how we express our faith. But it is mostly our faith in people that unifies us. We believe for example, that whatever our creed, human beings can live together; we believe that despite all our differences, our shared humanity can overcome obstacles to peaceful co-operation.
However, we are not naive, we understand human frailty; and that our belief in peaceful co-operation is difficult to achieve; and will therefore not happen by accident or inaction.
Many of us believe that God created humanity, some believe that God created a process by which humanity eventually evolved, but which ever way we have arrived; we are here now! ....and we are here in many different ways, with different coloured skin pigmentations, with different cuisines, with different ways of dressing and different ways of speaking; with different habits, cultures and religions.
These differences are magnificent, but difference always runs a risk of being treated as an outcast. The more different a community is the greater this risk and the more difficult it is to integrate with the wider community. So the greater the difference, the greater the effort towards integration would br required.
So how integrated must one be in order to be regarded as "integrated"?
Every community has a level of shared values, cultural and otherwise. In order to be integrated it is not necessary to share every single aspect of the wider community's values. Indeed many in the wider community do not share all aspects of life. But, there are key aspects that must be participated in, such as language - one simply cannot integrate or be regarded as integrated in any serious manner unless one speaks the local language.
If one does not make the effort to learn the local language, then what does that indicate about our attitude towards the locals and towards integration? At a minimum it is disrespectful; and disrespect is a violation of our respective faiths. There is absolutely no religious belief that advocates disrespect towards other people.
Faith in people demands that one respects other people, that one respects their humanity; and their rights and responsibilities.
We all have responsibilities, and one of those responsibilities include the creation of harmony amongst communities. Does your faith call for harmony between people or not?
In order for communities to have harmony they must interact. Communities that are completely separate or isolated from each other are not harmonious, far from it. My experience in Apartheid-era South Africa made that very clear to me. Such a society in unhealthy and cannot survive in the long run.
There are many ways in which different communities can interact, for example:
- in commerce,
- in sport,
- in entertainment,
- in shared experience
Paul McGrath is a very famous Irish soccer player. He is of mixed race, and growing up in Ireland during his youth in the 1970's could have been isolating for him. But he embraced sport, and sought excellence therein as sport is very popular in Ireland. This embedded him in the community and has enabled him to be one of the best loved sportsmen in the country.
The late Phil Lynott of the Irish rock band Thin Lizzy had a similar experience. He was a man of mixed race origin who embraced music and excellence. Music is very popular in Ireland so his choice of career interacted so much with the wider community that his difference was irrelevant or exotic.
Both of these men were so-called outsiders of the community, but their chosen method of interacting with the community brought them very much inside the community.
Our religious beliefs thus demand that we create harmony. In order to create harmony we must interact. We must teach, by experience, our religions and customs to the wider community, not on the basis of conversion or proselytising, but on the basis of achieving a greater understanding. Let us remember that harmony flows from understanding and not from ignorance which causes apprehension.
How many of us have spoken to local schools about our beliefs and customs? How many of us have introduced an understanding of our differences to community groups?
For the wider human community our different races, our different tribes, are still exotic, and interesting. We can use that interest to create an understanding of who we are, what we believe in and how we live. But we can only do that if we interact, only if we make the effort to share and communicate.
Some of use here are Irish citizens, some of us are not. But all of our children are. Ireland is their home and this is where they will make their lives. We have a religious responsibility and we have a parental responsibility to make the best possible future for our children.
That future must be an integrated future, if it is to be a successful future.
So let you and I, him and her, they and us all rise to the occasion of building that great future.
Thank you very much/ Gora ma agaibh
Sheikh (Dr) Shaheed Satardien
* Secretary General of the International Islamic
Leadership Justice and Peace Conference (IIL-JPC)
* Chairman of the European Muslim Council for Justice,
Peace and Equality (EMC-JPE)
* President of the Muslim Council of Ireland (MCI)
* Director of the Intercultural Peace Centre (IPC)
* Co-ordinator of the Interfaith Roundtable (IFRT)
* Director of the Ideal Business College (IBC)
15 Westmoreland Street, Temple Bar,
Republic of Ireland
Tel: 00353 1 6729038 Fax: 00353 1 6729146