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   Conferences / The Twelfth General Conference:Islam and Mutations of the Epoch
 
The Possibility of an "Agreement" between Islam and Italy

The Possibility of an "Agreement" between
Islam and Italy
Shaykh Abd Al- Wahid Pallavicini
As President of CO.RE.IS., the Italian Islamic Religious Community, I
have been asked to discuss the issue of the "Agreement", and I would first of all
like to clarify some essential issues, which may be obvious to the experts we
have heard so far, but which the general public may be unaware of. The
agreement is stipulated between the Italian Government and Islam, which is
considered as a religion like Christianity and Judaism, respectively represented
in their agreement by the Church or by the Vatican State, and by the Union of
the Jewish Communities in Italy.
It was obvious for the Church to represent Christianity, since this is the
only religion based on a specific institution, and it was also obviously easy to
unite the Jewish communities, since they do not have only their religion in
common, but also their ethnic group and the history of their people.
The case of Islam is different, though it is universal, just as Catholicism.
Since it addresses all people of the earth, and comprises different ethnic groups
and origins in its community, it cannot be limited to a single geographical area,
nor can it be confined within the borders of a single country or institution.
However, the agreement with the Italian State can be stipulated only
with Italian citizens, and CO.RE.IS., whose "religious" aims are specified in
its denomination, is the Islamic organization with the largest number of
religious and Muslim Italians, among those operating in the Italian territory. I
would not like, though, to limit myself to a mere quantitative evaluation, which
is the focus of some other organizations, I also want to state that the Muslims
affiliated with CO.RE.IS., are those nearer to the original Islamic doctrine,
which has always been the only basis for representation, since it was revealed.
Furthermore, CO.RE.IS. Muslims, all of whom are Italian citizens by
birth, are for this very reason, loyal, as all good citizens should be, to the
principles and to the institutions of their Country; the Italian State shall always
remain their Country, even though they are, or have become, Muslims.
The fact of being Muslims should not, in fact, entail participation to
fundamentalist tendencies, even though they currently exist in some would-be
Islamic countries from which some immigrants may originate, nor the
sponsoring or confutation of their policies.
Religion can never be used as a tool to foster ideological hegemony or
personal power, through the clericalization of a revelation which has no clergy;
nor can any religion be demonized, in order to justify eventual ethnic cleansing.
We know that Islam requires us by law to behave according to the system
of the country in which we live, be it our own or the one which we have
adopted, even though such country is not officially Islamic, and we say
"officially", since the problem of defining what an Islamic country really is,
exists.
But what we are sure of is that our sincere allegiance to Islam has not
altered in any way our identity as Italian citizens, and that we can, be for our
immigrant brothers in the faith an example of true "integration", due to our
religious integrity.
I would also like to clarify that our claim to represent Islam in Italy does
not certainly prevent other organizations, in agreement with the system of the
State, from joining our initiative, as indicated in the agreement draft submitted
to the Government.
On the contrary, we hope that Islamic institutions such as those
represented here, can uphold our legitimate request, which is not intended to
be put forward also in their name, and also not only in our name, but in the
name of all the Muslims residing in Italy.
Today, Italy, being part of Europe, and Europe being on the search for an
entente with the countries on the other side of the Mediterranean, this
agreement between Italy and Islam, reached in a Country which has already
recognized Judaism and Christianity (as compared with France, which does
not recognize any religion, or with England which recognizes them all without
exception) can be an example of discrimination, in the sense of a careful
discernment between secular extremism, and demagogic permissiveness.
The point is to acknowledge at last, with a million Muslims living in Italy
(a number likely to increase in the near future), also the third and final
Abramic monotheistic revelation, which is more widespread in the countries
facing the other shore of the Mediterranean, which have in common with its
third side, the spiritual meeting place constituted by the city of Al-Quds
(Jerusalem), a true symbol not only of a non-belligerent and earthly peace, but
of a heavenly one.
It is worth remembering that Italy, the only country to host the centrality
of Christianity, is the last country in the world where the first Mosque was
finally built in Rome, and we as representatives of the Italian Islamic Cultural
Center with the Vatican, have tried for twenty years, to reach the long hoped-
for mutual recognition of the truth leading to salvation of these last two
revelations, which not only have in common the Only God of Abraham's
monotheism, but also, though in different forms, the figure of Christ.
We can therefore hope that, in the third millennium from the birth of
Sayidduna `Isa `alayhi-s-salam (our lord Jesus, may Peace be Him), this
agreement, though stipulated on one side by a secular state, though
maintaining a special Pact with the Church, and on the other side by Italian
religious citizens, who are, nevertheless, no less respectful of other people's
secular or religious identity, can finally be a first step towards the peaceful
coexistence, not only among people, but also among the true believers in God,
the Merciful, the Forgiving, Whom we all strongly invoke.
Abd Al- Wahid Pallavicini
President of CO.RE.IS. (Islamic Religious Community) in
Italy




 
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