Thursday, April 29, 2010

“Why don’t they believe?"

“They won’t believe,” he said. “They won’t believe that we work for peace and the salvation of humanity. They won’t believe that we endeavor to create an island of peace where all of humanity can live in brotherhood. They won’t believe that you do not have expectations for this world or the next. They won’t believe that you do not want anything other than securing God’s contentment.”

As he said this, his body was extremely tired and his voice so low that only a few people near him could hear, but his logic and reasoning was, as can be understood from the integrity of what he said, quite solid and whole, and his determination and commitment were, as usual, apparent with their customary calm, and his spirits and enthusiasm were as fervent as what would be expected from a young person.

He then turned and asked, with an air of self-questioning: “Why don’t they believe? Why do they, inside and outside, enter a process that can explained only with reference to the psychological disease called paranoia? Why can’t they get rid of their doubts and qualms? What has been said and done is evident, and despite there being nothing adding substance to their suspicions, why do they still look suspiciously at us?”
At this point, he looked around, glancing appraisingly at every person in the room. Who knows what he had in mind? Apparently, he was worried that his words might be misunderstood as he resumed, saying: “But we should not be desperate. Yes, we should not develop despair. ..."
He then came back to the beginning: “Even if they do not believe and continue to be suspicious, you will not change your way. You will go on with your plans and projects for revival and the strengthening of universal values. Your attitude and behavior will continue to show that you are unfazed by worldly wants or goals. ..."

For the full article by Ahmet Kurucan, please visit:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Kofi Annan Praises Gülen Institute

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has praised the efforts of civil society institutions such as the Gülen Institute to bring people from all walks of life together and make them feel that they are working to achieve the same goals.
Annan said it is important to have institutions like the Gülen Institute that gather people from different backgrounds and remind us of the fact that we are all in the same boat. His remarks came during a gathering organized earlier this week by the Gülen Institute at the Hyatt Regency Houston hotel.
Indicating that he is working on serious problems the world faces such as human rights, education and solidarity, Annan said the Gülen Institute has similar ideals.
The former UN secretary-general also said all religions, including Islam, Christianity and Judaism, teach about social morality. Noting that Islam teaches of a merciful God, he asked how some people can kill others in the name of God and claim that they support the religion. Annan said that such people want to use religion for their own interests.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Road to Saylorsburg - Gülen and the Golden Generation

For more than a decade, one of the world's most influential and controversial Muslim leaders has been convalescing on 26 acres in the Pocono Mountains.
In Ross Township - not far from the Blue Ridge flea market, a giant corn maze dubbed Mazezilla and a go-kart speedway - you will find a small metal sign bearing the name of the Golden Generation Worship and Retreat Center.
It is here that Fethullah Gülen, 68, lives.
Gülen is an ailing Turkish cleric whose vision of an Islam that embraces science, education and interfaith dialogue has earned him millions of followers - and the suspicion of many in Turkey's secular establishment.
To his supporters, Gülen is the face of a more contemporary and tolerant Islam.
But his critics perceive Gülen's benign face as a mask - one disguising an Islamist wolf in a moderate sheep's clothing.
"To his detractors," wrote Piotr Zalewski, a journalist who lives in Turkey, "he is the second coming of Ayatollah Khomeini, his avowedly peaceful movement hiding a nefarious secret agenda to transform secular Turkey into another Iran."
But does Gülen truly pose a threat to national security? And what is so prominent a figure - he was named one of the most influential Muslims alive by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center and the world's leading public intellectual by the readers of Foreign Policy magazine - doing in northeastern Pennsylvania?
To read the full article by Dan Berrett (Pocono Record Writer), please click here:

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Gülen Movement Discussed in a Conference at University of Southern California

The “East and West Encounters: The Gülen Movement” Conference was held on Dec. 4-6 and was organized by the Pacifica Institute, a Turkish-American institution established by the Turkish community in the Los Angeles area. The conference was sponsored by the University of Southern California's Office of Religious Life, the International Education Center at Santa Monica College, the department of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University, the department of religious studies at Humboldt University and the department of religious studies at Whittier College. The conference was held on the USC campus.

During the conference, various topics about Gülen and his movement were discussed, including the characteristics of the Gülen movement, which were described as hizmet (service), the functionality of the movement in contrast to the organizational structure, the contribution of the movement in dialogue between Muslims and Christians, the personality of Gülen and his reflections on hajj, gender issues and the Gülen movement, and hijra (migration) for the sake of God by admirers of Gülen. Some other topics that were discussed included the education of young men as practiced in Gülen-inspired schools and a comparison between educational and spiritual foundations of Gülen schools and Jesuit schools in specific contexts, such as Gülen schools in Australia and Kosovo.

Again, among the topics that were discussed was a comparison between Gülen and Alasdair MacIntyre, who is a contemporary philosopher at the University of Notre Dame, and the contribution of Gülen to public life through the promotion of virtues and spirituality, as well as another paper that dealt with the critiques of Gülen and his movement in political, economic and ideological contexts. Dr. Kathleen Moore of the University of California at Santa Barbara spoke of Turkey's secularism and the Gülen movement. Dr. Juan Campo spoke on Gülen's reflections of hajj, which led me to think once again of the importance of studying Gülen from a religious perspective and not only from a political or sociological perspective.

For more information about this conference and the discussed topics, please visit the conference web site:

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Growing up in the turbulent Turkey of the 1980s

Growing up in the turbulent Turkey of the 1980s, Muhammed Çetin knew how to hate and he had tangible reasons for doing so. Like others in his home, he had to serve two-hour shifts keeping vigil in the night, because if a bomb were tossed into the house, someone needed to be awake to throw it back.

“At that time the basic attitude was if anybody was in a different camp, they had no right to live,” Çetin recalled. But then Çetin heard Fethullah Gülen preaching about Islam’s demand for mutual respect, caring and cooperation — ideas that would change the direction of a teenager’s life.

Today, Çetin, an internationally educated scholar, spends his life promoting Gülen’s teachings through translation work, books and speeches, such as the one he gave Thursday during the annual Community Prayer Breakfast organized by the Interfaith Federation of Greater Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

More than 200 people attended the morning event held this year at St. George Catholic Church in Baton Rouge. For years the federation was known as the Greater Baton Rouge Federation of Churches and Synagogues, but in 2007 it changed its name and opened its membership beyond Christians and Jews to include Muslims and followers of other faiths.

Çetin, serving as the first Muslim speaker for the breakfast, talked of how Gülen helped Turkey through a time when political and religious strife threatened to pull it apart. “(Gülen) exerted all his scholarly, intellectual and practical efforts to convince individuals and university students that they did not need violence, terror and destruction; they could establish a progressive and prosperous society without such terrible acts,” Çetin said. “Instead, they could avoid violence, ignorance, moral decay, and corruption by conversation, interaction, compassion, education and collaboration.”

Education and altruism are at the heart of Gülen’s message, Çetin said. “Only if they receive a sound education can individuals and their society respect the supremacy and rule of law, democratic and human rights, diversity and other cultures,” Çetin said. Gülen talked to people all across Turkey and convinced many to fund new schools, where children from a variety of factions could not only learn, but also become friends, Çetin explained. “The education at the schools and institutions accepts differences and renders them valuable,” he said.
“We may be powerless as individuals, but when we work together, we have the power to shape our community and history; we can all leave our mark for good because we all can serve humanity,” Cetin said.

For the full article, please visit:

Monday, October 26, 2009

Gülen Movement an Inspiration for all

Dalia Mogahed, appointed by US President Barack Obama and the first Muslim woman to be a member of the White House Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, has said the Gülen movement, a faith-based social movement named after Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, is a model and inspiration for all those working for the good of the society.
Specifically drawing attention to the movement's emphasis on intercultural and interfaith dialogue activities, Obama's advisor said this initiative is "highly admirable and impressive," adding that the "followers of this movement have done a phenomenal job by working on interfaith dialogue."
"I think the Gülen movement offers people a model of what is possible if a dedicated group of people work together for the good of the society. I also think that it is an inspiration for other people and Muslims for what they can accomplish," Mogahed said, commending the movement. She noted that "this initiative has a lot to teach to other people and Muslims, but it needs to broaden its membership profile." She then elaborated on her advice to the movement. "It has moved beyond Turkey in its very benevolent projects and it serves people from all around the world of all backgrounds, but it is still made up mostly of Turks. That is what I feel is in need of expanding," she said.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Christians, Muslims forging new bonds in United States

After the Sept. 11 attacks, Muslims and Muslim Americans across the country were subjected to threats and derogatory remarks, investigated by law enforcement and had their faith characterized as a "terrorist religion."
A new effort is unfolding among Christians and Muslims to build additional bridges at a time when President Obama has made reaching out to the Islamic world a national priority.

"So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, those who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity," Obama said in a major speech in Cairo in June. "And this cycle of suspicion and discord must end."
The challenges are formidable. For decades, interfaith talks here have produced soaring rhetoric and polished statements. But polls have indicated that despite the intentions and efforts of religious leaders, a good deal of ignorance and misunderstanding about other faiths remain in the pews.

"We have a lot of work to do," said Father Alexi Smith, the ecumenical and interreligious affairs officer of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

The stakes could not be higher in the view of the Rev. Canon Gwynne Guibord, co-founder of the Christian-Muslim Consultative Group. Guibord is the ecumenical and interreligious concerns officer for the Los Angeles Episcopal Diocese and a prominent figure in such efforts by the National Council of Churches.

"I believe that we will either perish together or we will survive together," Guibord said in a recent interview. "In order to survive together we really need to be more than tolerant of one another. We need to grow in understanding of one another."
This is an excerpt from an article published in Los Angeles Times by Larry B. Stammer on August 3rd, 2009. For the full article, please visit: