Fethullah Gülen: An Islamic Ethic for Contemporary Society 10
Fethullah Gülen and Fr. Basil Moreau: Sowing the Seeds for Religious Tolerance and Dialogue 15
How Universities Can Promote Social Cohesion Between Cultural Communities 24
A Muslim and Christian Interfaith Imperative: Stewardship of Creation 28
The Color of God 34
Ethics in Engineering and Science: Fethullah Gulen’s Model 42
Seeking The Lower Place: A Dialogue Between Fethullah Gulen’s Understanding Of Sufism And Franciscan Spirituality 47
"Weaving Spiritual Diversity to Enhance Personal and Community Growth." 54
Ottomanism and Fethullah Gülen : From Utopia to Reality 60
The Way of Dialogue and the Gulen Movement 65
“Fethullah Gulen and western feminism: friends or foes?” 73
Peace Begins with You and Me 81
Dreaming for a Better World: Contributions of the Gülen Movement
Carleton University, October 24th, 2009
Concepts in social science develop and assume meaning over time in proportion to the intensity of the literature produced. "The Gülen Movement" is just such a phenomenon. Originating in Turkey in late sixties, this phenomenon refers to an educational movement that is associated with hundreds of private schools worldwide. Although the exact number is unknown and more are opening every year, it is estimated that there are over a thousand of these schools in more than a 110 countries. As a civil society movement it has also been active in interfaith-intercultural activities for almost two decades through institutes, think-tanks, cultural centers, and publications. Before the production of certain publications and before international conferences started to be held in 2005, this phenomenon was referred to by various names. As of the first conference, held at Rice University, Houston, Texas, in 2005, there has appeared a growing consensus on a name for this phenomenon: the Gülen Movement.
Fethullah Gülen, whose writings are known to inspire millions of people in Turkey and around the world, does not accept that the movement is identified with his name alone as the huge scale of activities all over the world means there are many thousands of individuals—most of them unknown to Gülen—who back these activities with their voluntary participation in terms of personal efforts, professional contributions, and funding. The independent nature and experience of each activity in the respective countries is also evidence that the volunteers of this movement act according to their personal situations, using the available means. The common point is perhaps that all such volunteers are motivated by Gülen's incessant call to peace, education, and dialogue through his sermons, which he conducted throughout his career as an official preacher, through the books he has produced as a prolific writer, and through his selfless teaching and life style as a sincere believer. For Gülen, this movement is no different than the gathering of Muslims on Friday; when they hear the call, they all come to the prayer of their own volition, without anyone leading or organizing them. Nevertheless, in order to be able to refer to this social phenomenon, it needs a name, so in line with the titles of the conferences, we use the term "the Gülen Movement" in this symposium for the sake of brevity and convenience.
As the organizers, we draw your attention to the fact that these conference papers are still in the form submitted by their authors. Thus, the papers are edited in any way and reflect their authors’ views. With all due respect to the contributors, we, as the organizers of the symposium, are not endorsing all the views therein. A civil society movement such as the Gülen Movement certainly cannot easily be covered in all its dimensions; the observations of many researchers are normally limited to their personal readings and to what they are able to perceive at the few institutions they had the opportunity to visit. In any case, the series of conferences on the Gülen Movement in recent years has opened new gates for researchers to explore a remarkable social movement. We applaud the presenters who contribute with papers, questions, and research, and those who help realize these events with funding and professional assistance. By publication and distribution of these symposium papers we hope to play a part in facilitating scholarly research in this field.
Intercultural Dialogue Institute
Dreaming for a Better World: Contributions of the Gülen Movement
Foreword to Proceedings
Angela Sumegi, Assistant Professor of Humanities and Religion, was born and raised in Jamaica, West Indies, immigrating to Canada with her family in 1962. She completed a B.A. degree in Art History (1976) and an M.A. in Religion (1984) at Carleton. Her area of academic expertise is in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism and the interface between Buddhism and Shamanism. She lived and studied in south India for five years (1981-86), two of which were devoted to Sanskrit Language study as a Fellow with the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute.
During that time she completed the work for her Master’s degree and was introduced to traditional Tibetan styles of scriptural study and meditation at Namdroling monastery. On returning to Canada, she combined the duties of raising three children with work in the corporate world as a film producer and sessional teaching at Carleton, the University of Ottawa, and St. Paul’s University. Sumegi’s doctoral thesis on the relationship between Tibetan Buddhism and Shamanism was completed at the University of Ottawa in 2003 and published in 2008 by SUNY Press under the title “Dream Worlds of Shamanism and Tibetan Buddhism.” Her current research interests focus on religious approaches to death as well as Indo-Tibetan Buddhism and its interface with indigenous shamanic practices and beliefs. Outside of academia, she teaches Buddhist meditation and is the founder and director of a Canadian charity that supports Tibetan refugee children in India.
On the morning of October 24th 2009, I had the honor and pleasure of welcoming, on behalf of Carleton University and the College of the Humanities, the scholars, delegates, audience, and participants of an international symposium entitled Dreaming for a Better World: Contributions of the Gülen Movement, the first such symposium to be held in Canada. Others had been held in Britain and the United States, and we were pleased to be the first to host such a gathering in Canada. The following is the brief opening address that I gave on that occasion.
This program addresses the movement inspired by Fethullah Gülen from a variety of perspectives, sociological, theological, ethical, political, and one could also say, spiritual. This multidimensionality, in itself, is perhaps representative of the man himself and the movement he has inspired. I am a scholar neither of Turkish history nor of modern Muslim movements, so I am here today to listen and to learn from the eminent scholars who will address these issues.
Although my scholarship in this particular field may be lacking, however, my powers of observation I think are not so bad. From my reading, I am able to observe that Fethullah Gülen is a figure who inspires great admiration in some and strong criticism by others. I have not studied Gülen’s work or that of his critics sufficiently to make statements on the man himself.
However, while the founders of great movements are the inspiration and the catalyst for organization and action, it is the people who carry the movement into the future and who ensure that its ideals remain true to the original inspiration. So then, I can say that I have been associated with, and have had the opportunity to observe, the people of this movement; and very simply, to use a Biblical metaphor, the tree is known by its fruit. So what are the fruits of this movement? As far as I observe, they are a desire for tolerance, for dialogue, for sharing and respect, and ultimately an appeal to our common humanity. In the writings of Fethullah Gülen, I read:
. . . the essence of all created things is present in humans, and in a way, with their characteristics, in one respect it is possible to understand existence by knowing humanity, while, in another respect, knowing humanity is possible by understanding existence. In truth, understanding humanity is the principle mission of humanity, since humanity is also the window that opens on understanding the Creator (Gülen 2006, 367). In a monotheistic context, such as Islam, the centrality of humanity is placed in the context of knowing God, but even those secular individuals who do not adhere to belief in God would be able to resonate with the above statement that understanding ourselves as human beings is our principle mission as human beings.
Gülen also writes:
Each individual is like a unique realm unto themselves; therefore the desire for all humanity to be similar to one another is nothing more than wishing for the impossible. For this reason, the peace of this (global) village lies in respecting all these differences, considering these differences to be part of our nature and in ensuring that people appreciate these differences (Gülen 2006, 391). Here I find it very heartening that the emphasis is not only on respect and acceptance of our differences, but also on active appreciation of difference as a path to peace. Finally, the emphasis on tolerance that I have observed among the members of the Gülen movement that I have encountered is reflected in the following statement by Gülen, “Tolerance should be rewarded, it should be given precedence at every opportunity, and those who behave with forgiveness to others should have a chance to express themselves”( Gülen 2006, 88).
We all know from the media that the vocal minority, those who promote violence and hatred, chaos and destruction, have lots of opportunity to express themselves. It is time now for all like-minded people to become a vocal majority, to express loudly and persistently the ideals of tolerance and forgiveness, which is our only hope for world peace. I am glad to be among those who express such ideals through their scholarship and through their lives, and I wish you all a most successful and fruitful day.
Gülen, M. Fethullah. Love & Tolerance. New Jersey: The Light, Inc. 26 Worlds, 2006.