Azmayesh: What is happening today in the world in the name of Islam has nothing to do with the teachings of the Koran. I oppose the false Muslims and the people who pretend to be Muslims but know nothing about the teachings of the Koran. These extremists extract eight verses from the Koran about jihad, for instance, to form their own religion and world view, with the aim of conquering other countries and persecuting other peoples.
So what in your view is the true message of the Koran?
Azmayesh: Muhammad′s main message was much the same as the message of previous prophets: how to develop the capacities of the soul, how to become a spiritual advocate and how to control your own ego. This is the true message of the Koran. God sent his messengers to create a model of society and civilisation in which social relations are based on equality. The aim of each prophet was to recreate the same model which was first established at the time of David and Solomon. When we speak of respect for human rights, many people think they are modern values, but respect for human rights clearly exists in the Koran.
Interview conducted by Ulrich Schwerin
© Qantara.de 2016
The religious scholar and human rights activist Seyed Mostafa Azmayesh was born in 1952 in Tehran. He studied Arabian literature and law in Tehran, before continuing his studies in theology, the history of law and comparative religious science in Paris and Lyon. His latest book, "New Researches on the Quran: Why and how two versions of Islam entered the history of mankind" was published in 2016.