Asia and Eurasia
Religious Polyphony and Political Stability

Religion is linked to politics and the state plays a positive role in ensuring political stability and religious freedom. The state has a responsibility to ensure religious polyphony, but religious groups also have an obligation to cooperate and abide by existing laws, and promote mutual harmony in order to build an efficient and functional society, writes Muhammad Athar Javed, CEO of Pakistan House - International Think Tank. The article was prepared following the results of the Valdai Discussion Club conference, titled "Religious polyphony and national unity".


The religious diversity significant influences social constructs, politics, and hence global societies face challenges of cohesiveness and legislation to contain any type of social conflict. A general assessment refers to almost 84% of the world population is associated with their respective religious groups. Despite historical contestation between different religions, the world is home to numerous cultures, ethnicities, religious beliefs, mostly subscribe to harmony and peace. There is a need to comprehend the power of diversity because it demonstrates the coexistence of two or more religions within a society or a region at the same time. 

A multi-ethnic society and religious diversity are interconnected and render political stability. It is this direct connection between freedom to profess ones’ values and beliefs and serve the collective purpose of national development and counter external threats. In today’s Russia, the religious diversity is a foundation to preserve the common values as well as help strengthening statehood. Regardless of ethnic and religious diversity, Russian society is tolerant and flexible which in turn promotes the internal political stability. Moreover, religious diversity brings awareness about other religions’ values, beliefs, and practices. 

A diverse society also directly economic activity. It has been observed the countries with high levels of diversity results in better investments as well as economic growth and cooperation which are potential sources for preserving statehood. Religious freedom is not only important as a basic right, but it is also crucial for having correlation with other social rights which help societies to establish better defence and security mechanism. In the case of Russia all elements of national power spring from co-existence of all major religions and ethnicity. This is the salient feature and strength of Russian Federation, and thus holds vital place in economic and political stability.

Asia and Eurasia
Symphony of Harmony and Peace by All Religions in Valdai
Nourhan ElSheikh
Faith is power, and it is necessary to use this force for good. The politicization of religion is very destructive. Our will to move together toward prosperity and development can bring about peace, stability and national unity, writes Nourhan ElSheikh, Professor of Political Science at Cairo University. The article follows up on the Valdai Club’s conference Religious Polyphony and National Unity.

Religion and Politics

The intersection of religion and politics has remained of great importance for maintaining social order, political stability. In a wide conceptual scheme of statehood, dynamics of politics, religion has executed positive, negative, and neutral roles depending upon the circumstances and political system. Due to the mutual interests and common concerns, politics and religion can cooperate and coexist. They both are responsible to work for a society where the needs and wants of individuals can be achieved in the most equitable and feasible manner.
For a variety of reasons, religion is still a significant political phenomenon in the world.

Peace and conflict are both influenced by religion, threats to religious freedom increase the possibility of sectarian violence within a state. Also, the risk of extremism and terrorism strife may spread to neighboring nations or beyond international borders, particularly among the people having same religious beliefs and sentiments resulting in interstate conflict leading to political instability. The enemies of a state (internal and external) may design to attack ethnic/religious diversity through raising controversial social issues, and thereby create dissent between the people and a state. The counter design to terminate enemy’s operational methodology hinges upon how religious diverse groups use their freedom of religious practice. Any framework of cooperation challenging state’s writ and use of violence to achieve political ends must be discouraged and the way to dialogue and mutual respect must be adopted.    
Basic Doctrine:

A state is responsible for ensuring religious polyphony, but it is the duty of religious groups as well to cooperate and associate with existing laws, and help implementing mutual harmony for a positive and functional society Therefore, in several ways religion is linked with politics and demands the positive role of a state to ensure political stability and religious freedom. In the case of Pakistan for instance, the basic doctrine to establish a social harmony was described by the founder of Pakistan, “You are free to go to your temples; you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed, that has nothing to do with the business of State”.  (The founder of Pakistan, Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s Presidential Address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan 11 August 1947).

To conclude, it is crucial to identify matters of discontent and social differences and resolve them in the larger national interest. Respecting one’s religious figures and sites (e.g., Prophets and places of worship) is considered a maiden step to recognize the high level of diversity, and therefore averting any internal instability and political disaster. The past decades have marred the controversial actions of a few and created a remarkable issue of anti-Sematic and Islamophobia and suppression of specific religious groups in several countries. The idea of clash of civilization had been inculcated in the service of coercive diplomacy and hate syndrome. However, most of the global societies have rejected the notion of clash of civilization Diversity is the best solution to comprehend religious pluralism i.e., respecting the existence of multiple religions in a society.
Religious Diversity and National Stability: The Experience of Russia and the World
On November 24, Kazan hosted a Valdai Club conference, “Religious Polyphony and National Unity”. The participants discussed the secret of the sustainability of multinational and multi-confessional societies and tried to determine how having a number of ethnic groups and religions can promote international cooperation in the face of geopolitical tensions.
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Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.