Below is the full text of President Hassan Rouhani's address at the summit:
In the Name of Allah, the most Compassionate, the most Merciful
Your Excellency Nursultan Nazarbayev, the Honorable President of the brotherly Republic of Kazakhstan,
Honorable Heads of Islamic Countries,
The Honorable Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation,
Ladies and gentlemen,
At the outset, I would like to appreciate the government and people of the Republic of Kazakhstan for their warm hospitality and thank His Excellency Nursultan Nazarbayev, the honorable president of the Republic of Kazakhstan, for proposing this idea and organizing this meeting. I hope that this conference, which is held under the theme “Science, Technology, Innovations and Modernization in the Islamic World” in the beautiful city of Astana, in line with other valuable efforts, would lead to promotion of constructive cooperation in different fields among Muslim countries.
We have all reached consensus that “World of Islam” is a crucial and effective part of the global system and having a capable, developed and stable World of Islam would lead to universal capability, development and stability. It is clear that if the World of Islam is weak, lagged behind and disintegrated, it will be impossible to realize sustainable peace, inclusive development and effective conversion in the world. Therefore, ensuring coherence, solidarity and cooperation among us, as the members of the great world of Islam, to enter the developed world, is in fact a collective effort to make a world free from ignorance, poverty, war and violence.
Promoting cooperation on science and technology has strategic political and social importance, because first of all it is forerunner of development in different economic sectors, thus; it is determining for progress and convergence of Islamic countries and secondly, it deals with youth and universities and through creating space of hope, construction and employment, it roots out any inclinations to extremism and terrorism.
Holding consultation among the Heads of the Islamic countries on this issue and at the current time is important in two special respects: firstly, its significance is due to the great development which has been made in providing cross the border access to scientific texts and technological cooperation in the age of communications without any restrictions as well as scientific innovations introduced by scientists and inventors from different Asian and African countries which dedicate an increasing share of registering inventions and scientific research to itself, and secondly, running and managing “the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, which is a technological revolution and brings about a fundamental change in the modern relationship among humans, artificial intelligence and human ties in new social structures. It requires a culture that enjoys the power of attracting variable technological and environmental elements and at the same time, like the Islamic civilization, while getting the knowledge and experience of others, it manages convergence and synergy among the extended human family.
Yesterday, in the World of Islam it was the era of scientific, cultural and civilizational progress. Is it not possible today for the World of Islam to move toward innovation, creativity and progress beside rationality and ethics and create a world free from violence and extremism?
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am honored to represent a nation which has been the pioneer of knowledge and culture in two civilizational eras of pre-Islamic and post-Islamic human history. Iran in Achaemenid and Sassanid periods was cradle of generating knowledge and culture and it was a hub for expansion of knowledge, literature and management in the world. Iranian spirit attracted scientists, businessmen and architects from different parts of the world through creating a political and social environment based on ethics and human rights and paved the way for creation of vivid sites of human civilization in Persepolis and a treasury of sciences and technics in Asian libraries.
Having witnessed shinning of the sun of Islam, the Iranian society which had welcomed the divine message of freedom and justice, made a new leap forward. In this magnificent period, Iranians beside other Muslims, not only benefitted the insightful source of revelation, but they also encouraged religious teachings, wisdom and rationality and learned from other humans’ experience.
Muslims, resorting to Holy Book of Quran and teachings of the Great Prophet of Islam from the beginning of the formation of Islamic civilization, acquired numerous sciences from different parts of the world. What brought them material progress in that era was in fact the spirit of leniency and tolerance which was derived from the unequivocal teachings of the religion which substituted the previous prejudice.
One of the manifestations of this leniency and tolerance in the World of Islam was freedom and comfort of followers of other religions in the Islamic society. This broad-mindedness and leniency not only enabled holding discussions on religion and beliefs in the Islamic territories but it also led to interaction and partnership among the followers of other religions and Muslims to develop and expand human civilization and translate and transfer knowledge of other civilizations into Arabic language, which was the official language on those days. Gradually, Islamic civilization was turned into an heir and architect of East and West old cultures which complemented them and did not only follow previous cultures.
It was based on this approach and spirit that such a progress and growth was realized in the World of Islam in different sciences, including medicines, pharmaceutics, astronomy, mathematics, physics, chemistry, geography, philosophy and discourse, gnosticism, literature and art and it got superiority over others and even in some of these sciences Europe was indebted to the World of Islam from medieval centuries up to the 16th century.
But the bitter reality is that this era of progress and development did not last and in recent centuries Islamic society has stopped making progress and realizing achievements and whenever facing the western culture in science and technology competitions it lagged behind. Ethnic and local intolerance inflicted the Islamic civilization with recession and degeneration and its unity and leniency was destroyed. Dividing knowledge into decent and indecent ones at the beginning of the 6th century paved the way for the decline of the Islamic civilization and Mongol’s invasion expedited it. Muslims’ indolence and lethargy in recent centuries not only prevented them from making further development, but at the same time blocked them from saving their previous assets. In fact, there were two elements that decreased the progress and development pace of the modern Islamic civilization and even sometimes stopped it. The first one was the fact that scientific and technological growth in west was coincided with the political and cultural aggressive actions of the western leaders and the other reason was weakness of the Islamic governors and lack of self-esteem among some of the elites in the Islamic territories.
Today, once more the Islamic Ummah is facing a modern stage of mutation in human civilization and is fronting a historic choice at the eve of great developments made by knowledge based economies: to choose between “an active, authentic and participatory approach” which, while keeping the cultural authenticity, in a constructive interaction learns from other’s experience and achievements and “a passive approach” which in its extremes comes to isolation and lack of self-esteem.
Instead of being frightened by continued growth of science and development and fleeing from it, we should increase power of choice and adaptation of Muslim societies. The most significant requirement to develop new sciences and technics is to create safe political, social, cultural and economic conditions to attract and absorb them. We should not restrict ourselves to science and technology, but instead we should find ways and means of achieving them.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In order to be owners of science and technology, we as Muslim countries should prepare our societies from inside and at the same time we should start a new movement among Islamic countries in this regard.
Each of us in our own countries have thought on big question of relationship between knowledge and economic and social development with concern and compassion and now that we are determined to strengthen our actions by creating a space of cooperation, the first step is to get familiar with each other’s experience and explore the achievements of this extended Islamic family. The Islamic Republic of Iran, during the past decade, has been able to make significant achievements in science, technology and innovation. In the past 5 years, Iran promoted its rank in generating scientific papers from 34 to 16. 1100 Iranian universities accommodated previously 2.4 million students and today their number is 4.8 million. Today, Iran is among the top five countries with the highest number of engineering graduates.
Iran’s participation in developing new technologies, including biotechnology, nanotechnology, cognitive sciences, renewable energy, aerospace, microelectronics and stem cells has increased significantly. Iranian government’s active policy in supporting knowledge-based corporations has led to growth and development of thousands of corporations in area of new technologies and exporting high and medium technology products from Iran has increased from 1.5 billion U.S. dollars to 12.1 billion U.S. dollars which had a positive impact on our positive trade balance.
Despite enjoying the greatest oil and gas resources, our policy is to shift our economy from one based on natural resources to an economy based on efficiency and innovation.
It is based on such capacities that I would like to state on behalf of the Islamic Republic of Iran that we have gathered here for the sake of peace, coexistence and ensuring further cooperation with you friendly and brotherly states.
We are here to tell you that under the title of science and technology and depending on scientific diplomacy, we can and we should explore our common grounds to further enable our capacities in the World of Islam and create complementary ones as well.
Strong participation of Muslim countries in environments of competition and partnership in the field of new sciences and technologies and their constructive role-playing in forming the upcoming relations between wealth and power requires national and transnational policy making and prioritizing. Twelve priorities which have been proposed in the 2026 Agenda in this meeting include main issues. In this regard, paying attention to “human agent and social capital” is very pivotal. People are the most important capitals. They should realize that outcome of our investments on science and technology benefits them, roots out poverty and promotes their level of health and welfare.
The Honorable Heads of States,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This meeting is capable of being a turning point in the history of scientific cooperation in the Islamic world. Let’s put aside divisions sowed by enemies of Islam and war mongering powers who see their benefit at disintegrating us, and let’s open new grounds of scientific and technological cooperation to further renovate our countries. Let’s develop common political, economic and cultural environments in the world of Islam as far as possible.
In conclusion, on behalf of the great people of Iran, I would like to express the readiness of the Islamic Republic of Iran to ensure inclusive cooperation with all Islamic countries and nations on science, technology and innovation. Let’s be assured that any step taken for the sake of convergence and integration will certainly bring about divine assistance, as we have been bespoken: If you help [the cause of] God, He will help you, and will make firm your steps (47:7)
Wa salamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.
Below is the full text of President Hassan Rouhani's address at the summit: