Azer Aliyev, coordinator of the Interreligious Council in the CIS, told Interfax-Religion about his recent visit to Iran and today's sentiments of the Iranian people and leaders.
- You attended the conference on the Mahdiitic Doctrine that took place in September in Iran. How relevant is it, in your view?
- First of all, I would like to note that it was the largest international conference to be held in Iran after the Islamic Revolution. It was attended by delegations and guests from over 60 countries. The conference was held from September 6 to 12 in several stages - in Tehran, Kum, Isfahan and Meshhed. The teaching on the Mahdi, the leader of the umma of the last times and expected restorer of religion is a pillar of the Muslim eschatological ideas and crown of Islamic religious doctrine. It is in this area that the metaphysical parallelism and eschatological aspiration of both Islam and Orthodoxy are most vivid. The common struggle of Jesus Christ and the Mahdi with Dajjal (Antichrist) leads to the ultimate victory of good over evil. Papers presented at the conference, with all the breadth of questions involved, can be eventually reduced to this basic idea.
- During the conference you met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. What questions did you manage to discuss during that meeting?
- The Iranian President's participation in the conference was another confirmation of the doctrinal significance of the teaching on the Mahdi and that not only from the viewpoint of the Islamic theology but also in connection with the actual political context. It was what he spoke about in his longer than 30 minutes-long address at the opening on September 6. In the evening of that same day, the president received in audience a group of participants, at his residence. Answering questions, sometime very sharp, the president stressed with his characteristic straightforwardness that 'Iran does not accept any diktat, neither with regard to its domestic or foreign policy, wherever this diktat may come from, and Iran is guided by spiritual guidelines alone, for the sake of which the Iranian Revolution was made. He answered to a question concerning Russian-Iranian relations that 'these are developing well and we can see their excellent prospects'.
- What are the general views of the Iranian leadership and religious elite on the situation in the world? What are the prognoses made in Iran with regard to the development of the situation in the Middle East?
- The present situation is described by the Iranian leaders as confrontation between the secular world and the world confessing traditional values, with antagonism visible not only between Judaism, Christianity and Islam but between the Western political elites who have appropriated the right to speak for these religions and the Muslim community. 'We do not consider the peoples of Israel and the USA to be our enemies, for our enemies are a narrow group of people exercising political leadership exclusively in their selfish interests', President Ahmadinejad said during the meeting. The victory of Hezbollah in Lebanon, in view of Iranian religious authorities, is first of all a victory of the spiritual over the material power and a victory over a much more powerful military machine. Iran looks to the future with confidence and is ready to make any sacrifices in the name of Islamic ideals. This is a common attitude of not only the elite but also the people of the country.