Mohammad Abdul-Sattar al-Sayyed is Syria’s Minister of Awqaf. Awqaf means “assets which are donated or purchased for the purpose of being used for charitable causes that are socially beneficial.” Rossiya Segodnya spoke to Mr. Mohammad al-Sayyed about Muslim universities, psychological tricks of ISIS, and building an anti-terror cooperation between Syria and Russia.
Would you please tell us about the purpose and schedule of your visit.
Mohammad Abdul-Sattar al-Sayyed: We came at the official invitation of the Supreme Mufti of Russia Talgat Tadguddin (the Head of the Central Muslim Spiritual Directorate) to sign an agreement on religious cooperation, including the ideological fight against extremism and terrorism. Russia has also filed an official request to send Russia’s Islamic scientists and theologians to Syria to study genuine Islam, without the religious fanaticism which is now spreading all over the world.
We visited Russia’s Islamic University in the city of Ufa with a lecture and the students were genuinely interested in the situation in Syria, eagerly asking questions. We were mostly asked about the essence of extremism, which is attempting to take hold in the Middle East using military means. The students were also interested in the methodology of the ideological fight against extremism. We are set to sign a number of agreements with the Central Muslim Spiritual Directorate and are scheduled to meet with Muslim scientists and theologians in Bashkortostan and Kazan. Then we will travel to Moscow.
Next Friday we have a meeting with Patriarch Kirill.
How do you think is it possible to fight religious extremism and terrorism, with ISIS for example?
Mohammad Abdul-Sattar al-Sayyed: ISIS gets not only military support from the two sides, which prefer to stay in the background; they have also been taught to work with people psychologically. They deceive people, substituting the genuine study of Islam with their own deformed interpretations. Thus they operate with the power of weapons and the power of ideas.
Therefore the fight against them must happen through the education of people. We should convey Islam to people in the form it was originally sent down. And thus, we see the leaders of all the religious confessions in Syria unite in their appeal to religious peace and cooperation. Every imam, preacher and theologian should expound a religion of peace, without essential distortions and false interpretations of the sacred texts. Religious radicals are in fact uneducated by definition. Therefore education is a solid antidote against the spread of radical ideas in religion.