Radicalism, in various forms, has made significant inroads in several countries of Central Asia and in the Caucasus - in particular the three countries that share the Ferghana Valley, namely Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikstan, Chechnya, and the Russian Republic of Daghestan. Known as fundamentalism or "Wahhabism," it poses a direct challenge to the ideal vision of a state that the newly founded nations of the region have embraced.
It cannot be over-emphasized that Islam upholds the values of reason, balance and responsibility in the conduct of its worldly affairs. There is nothing arbitrary about its legal provisions relating to matters of war, peace, international relationships and the rule of law. In this area there is considerable agreement between Islamic law and the legal systems currently practiced throughout the world. In addition to the real possibility that these legal systems were profoundly influenced by the legal heritage of Islam, this commonality can be explained by the fact that the protection and endorsement of basic human rights form the cornerstone of Islamic legislation.
Through the Sufi emphasis on the figurative, art became a metaphor for the Path to the Divine, and in its various forms took on a life of their own, expressing the yearning of the seeker, the satisfaction of the benign self, and the passion of the lovers. Poetry, an art form dear to the early Arab Muslims, grew into a particularly potent vehicle for expressing the Sufi devotions. Sufism’s social calling found expression in the sciences, particularly in alchemy, astronomy and in seeking to heal, through medicine, massage and natural healing methods.
As with all things, the openness of the Sufis allowed the variety and diversity of the many cultures it encountered to enter, expand and decorate the expressions of Sufi art and works of social welfare. Similarly, in the field of philosophy and intellect, the teachings of Plato, Aristotle, the Jewish sages, the Zoroastrians and the Buddhists all found a “second home” within the Sufi camp. It was in this spirit of acceptance that an eclectic milieu emerged that allowed individuality to flourish while, at the same time and under the careful guidance and wisdom of the Sufi masters, maintaining society’s focus on a common, final goal.
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