Aug 27

Muslims Must Combat the Extremist Cancer

fethullah-gulenOp-ed by Fethullah Gulen in Wall Street Journal

As the group that calls itself Islamic State, known as ISIS, continues to produce carnage in the Middle East, Muslims must confront the totalitarian ideology that animates it and other terrorist groups. Every terrorist act carried out in the name of Islam profoundly affects all Muslims, alienating them from fellow citizens and deepening the misperceptions about their faith’s ethos.

It isn’t fair to blame Islam for the atrocities of violent radicals. But when terrorists claim the Muslim mantle, then they bear this identity, if only nominally. Thus members of the faith must do whatever possible to prevent this cancer from metastasizing in our communities. If we don’t, we’ll be partly responsible for the smeared image of our faith.

First, we must denounce violence and not fall prey to victimhood. Having suffered oppression is no excuse for causing it or for failing to condemn terrorism. That the terrorists are committing grave sins in the name of Islam is not merely my opinion; it is the inevitable conclusion of an honest reading of primary sources: the Quran and the accounts of the life of Prophet Muhammad. The core principles of these sources—relayed over the centuries by scholars who devoted themselves to studying the Prophet’s sayings and practices, and to the “author’s intent” in the Holy Book—dispels any claims terrorists make of religious justification.

Second, it is important to promote a holistic understanding of Islam, as the flexibility to accommodate the diverse backgrounds of its adherents can sometimes be abused. Islam’s core ethics, however, are not left to interpretation. One such principle is that taking the life of a single innocent is a crime against all humanity (Quran 5:32). Even in an act of defense in war, violence against any noncombatants, especially women, children and clergy, is specifically prohibited by the Prophet’s teachings.

We must demonstrate these values by showing solidarity with people who seek peace around the world. Given the nature of human psychology and the dynamics of the news, it’s obvious that mainstream voices are less likely to capture headlines than extremist ones. But instead of blaming the media, we should find innovative ways to ensure our voices are heard.

Third, Muslims must publicly promote human rights—dignity, life and liberty. These are the most basic of Islamic values and no individual, nor any political or religious leader, has the authority to snatch them away. Living the essence of our faith means respecting diversity—cultural, social, religious and political. God identifies learning from one another as the primary goal of diversity (Quran 49:13). Respecting each human being as a creation of God (17:70) is respecting God.

Fourth, Muslims must provide educational opportunities to every member of their communities, where the study of sciences, humanities and arts is embedded in a culture of respect for every living being. Governments in the Muslim world must design school curricula that nurture democratic values. Civil society has a role in promoting respect and acceptance. This is the reason participants of the Hizmet movement have set up more than 1,000 schools, tutoring centers and dialogue institutions in more than 150 countries.

Fifth, providing religious education to Muslims is critical to depriving extremists of a tool that they use to spread their twisted ideologies. When religious freedom is denied, as it has been for decades in parts of the Muslim world, faith grows in the shadows, leaving it to be interpreted by unqualified and radical figures.

Finally, it is imperative that Muslims support equal rights for women and men. Women should be given opportunity and be free from social pressures that deny their equality. Muslims have a great example in Prophet Muhammad’s wife Aisha, a highly educated scholar, teacher and prominent community leader of her time.

Terrorism is a multifaceted problem, so the solutions should address the political, economic, social and religious layers. Approaches that reduce the problem to religion do a disservice to at-risk youth and the world at large. The international community would do well to realize that Muslims are the primary victims of terrorism—both literally and symbolically—and they can help marginalize terrorists and prevent recruitment. That’s why governments should avoid statements and actions that result in the alienation of Muslims.

Violent extremism has no religion; there will always be people who manipulate faith texts. Just as Christians do not endorse Quran burnings or the actions of the Ku Klux Klan, and Buddhists do not endorse atrocities against Rohingya Muslims, mainstream Muslims do not endorse violence. Muslims have historically added much to the flourishing of human civilization. Our greatest contributions were made in eras when the faith cherished mutual respect, freedom and justice. It may be immensely difficult to restore the blotted image of Islam, but Muslims can be beacons of peace and tranquility in their societies.

*Mr. Gulen is an Islamic scholar and founder of the Hizmet civil-society movement.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, Aug 27, 2015
http://www.wsj.com/articles/muslims-must-combat-the-extremist-cancer-1440718377

Jul 14

Religion should be a unifying force and accepting each other really works…

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On July 11, 2015 Multicultural Mosaic Foundation hosted a book signing and discussion event followed by a fast breaking dinner. About 85 people participated in the event. The moderator of the program was religious studies researcher and academician Dr. Sophia Arjana, and the discussions were the authors of the book Undivided, Patricia Raybon and Alana Raybon. The night started with a presentation of the foundation and an interview that was conducted with the authors earlier on Today TV show.

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Author-journalist and retired academic Patricia Raybon belongs to a Christian family whose daughter Alana later converted to Islam during her college years. The book is based on the development of the couple’s relationship after Alana’s conversion. Alana met with Islam at the University of Northern Colorado and found Islam’s monotheistic approach convincing against the backdrop of her questioning the concept of trinity in Christianity. One day she called up her mother and told her about her conversion to Islam. This decision was at first devastating to her mother, and their relationship remained shallow and conflictual for about ten years due to the shocking effect of this unexpected event. Patricia was worried about her daughter’s new life style with new practices such as covering of her head, praying and fasting. At the beginning, Alana was defensive towards her mother, trying to convince her about how Islam is similar to Christianity. Later they both realized that this confrontational relationship did not work well. They started to accept each other as they are, and gradually their relationship became more peaceful.

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“Religion should be a unifying force” and “accepting each other really works” they said, adding their hope about their book becoming an inspiration for people like themselves. Even after ten years, they still experience difficulties especially around holidays when, as Muslims Alana and her family, do not celebrate Christmas and their parents do not celebrate Eid. Alana is married to a Muslim American and lives in Tennessee, and their children feel the absence of their grandparents who live in Colorado.

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After the interview ended, participants enjoyed a video about fasting and Ramadan. Muslim participants broke their fast with the call to prayer sharing their dinner table with followers of different religions and felt the happiness of sharing the blessings of Ramadan. Participants enjoyed the delicious Turkish food and tea. After the fast breaking dinner, the authors signed their book and answered questions from the participants.

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Apr 21

He (Jesus) is one of the great prophets along with prophets Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Muhammad

Another exquisite dinner with speaker took place at MMF on April 19, 2015. It was a night of interfaith dialog with full of quality conversation, intellectual thought and academic knowledge. Delicious Turkish food and Turkish tea were inseparable components of the event as usual. The keynote speaker was Zeki Sarıtoprak, Professor of Islamic Studies, and the author of the book Islam’s Jesus.

Saritoprak talked about his research on the place of Jesus (peace be upon him) in Islam that led to the writing of the book and signed his book at the end of the program. Accordingly, Jesus is mentioned more than 90 times in the Qur’an and more than 100 times in the hadith of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), and is considered as the miracle of God in Islam. He is one of the great prophets along with prophets Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Muhammad.

Sarıtoprak also talked about the miracles of Jesus in Islamic texts, his descent, the relations between Muslims and Christians, and the importance of dialog among Abrahamic faiths. He underlined the interpretation that Jesus’s descent to earth is an indication of cooperation between Muslims and Christians that will bring peace and justice to the world. He asserted that the coming together of the members of the Abrahamic religions under the belief on oneness of God, is a very important goal that can help solve world’s problems and injustices.

At the end of the program, the participants had a chance to ask questions. Among the questions Sarıtoprak answered was a question regarding extremist groups who interpret Qur’anic verses selectively and out-of-context in justifying their political agenda. He emphasized that Christians and Jews are People of the Book and have a special status in Islam. Further conversation with the speaker took place while he signed his book for the interested participants.

Apr 10

Fethullah Gulen Awarded 2015 Gandhi King Ikeda Peace Award

Islamic preacher honored for his commitment to humanitarianism

Atlanta, April 9, 2015 – Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College awarded its prestigious 2015 Gandhi King Ikeda Peace Award to Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen in recognition of his life-long dedication to promoting peace and human rights. The chapel has been giving a community builders prize and a peace award since 2001. Past recipients of these awards include leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, Andrew Young and Archbishop Desmund M. Tutu.

In a statement presented today, Mr. Gulen said he was humbled by the honor and accepted this award on behalf of the Hizmet participants from different nations, religions and ethnic backgrounds who have devoted themselves to serving fellow humans.

“These educators keep schools open in places like Iraq despite the ISIS threat; they provide education opportunities to girls in Nigeria and Afghanistan; doctors, nurses and humanitarian relief workers serve under dire conditions in places like Somalia and Sudan; entrepreneurs donate to charitable causes despite economic hardship.” He said in his statement: “You were kind enough to recognize their efforts and I simply accept this award on their behalf.” For his full statement, please visit: Fethullah Gulen Statement Accepting the 2015 Gandhi King Ikeda Peace Award.

The Gandhi King Ikeda Peace Award was designed to promote the importance of positive social transformation by honoring those who demonstrate extraordinary global leadership toward reconciling differences. Although Mahatma Gandhi was a Hindu from India, Martin Luther King Jr. a Christian from the U.S., and Daisaku Ikeda a Japanese Buddhist, the overwhelming ethical consistency in the global reach of their philosophies and influence serve as an inspiration to all the world’s citizens.

The chapel’s dean Dr. Lawrence Carter said that the chapel will recognize Gulen alongside photos of Gandhi, King and Ikeda in the chapel, as a Muslim representative of the same spirit. For details on the award, please visit: http://www.morehouse.edu/mlkchapel/our-work/college-of-ministers-laity/.
About Fethullah Gulen

Fethullah Gulen is an Islamic scholar, preacher and social advocate, whose decades-long commitment to education, altruistic community service, and interfaith harmony has inspired millions in Turkey and around the world. Described as one of the world’s most important Muslim figures, Gulen has dedicated his life to interfaith and intercultural dialogue, community service and providing access to quality education.

About Alliance for Shared Values

Alliance for Shared Values is a non-profit that serves as a voice for dialogue organizations affiliated with Hizmet in the U.S. (also known as Gulen movement). The Alliance serves as a central source of information on Fethullah Gulen and Hizmet. For more information, please visit www.afsv.org.

Mar 23

Regardless of which religion the disrespectful acts are against, the religious leaders have the responsibility to condemn such acts openly

Aurora, Colorado: March 15th.

Multicultural Mosaic Foundation organized on Sunday, March 15th, 2015 an interfaith panel discussion on respect for the sacred. The panelists were Rabbi Stephen Booth-Nadav, Reverend Paul Kottke, Imam Abdur-rahim Ali, and Attorney Dan Recht who discussed the recent events in Europe and the U.S from religious and secular perspectives. The moderator was Reverend Amanda Henderson. A diverse audience of about a 90 people attended the panel and the preceding dinner with a taste of Turkish food.

The religious leaders’ statements indeed showed the audience that the approaches of the Abrahamic religions to the issue are not very different from each other. They emphasized that regardless of which religion the disrespectful acts are against, the religious leaders have the responsibility to condemn such acts openly. Also, the panelists stated that congregations should demand such reactions from their leaders.

Further, the panelists pointed out that respect for other religions’ members need to be taught in the places of worship, and that religious leaders need to pay attention to this deficit.

On the other hand, prominent lawyer Dan Recht approached the topic from freedom of speech and constitutional rights perspective. Recht stated that the state’s intervention in press is not constitutional in the U.S, and highlighted the importance of peaceful and coordinated reactions coming from religious congregations against offensive acts to their beliefs.

Feb 12

Statement on Chapel Hill Shootings

Denver, February 12, 2015 – The Multicultural Mosaic Foundation strongly condemns the slaying of the three Muslim students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It is heartbreaking to see the loss of young, innocent lives and to see the assault on peace and tolerance we so cherish in the U.S. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the deceased.

We urge the state and federal authorities to investigate the motives behind these killings. We also urge the media to show the same level of sensitivity for crimes against Muslims as it does otherwise.

Jan 16

Denver Area Religious Leaders Affirm Muslim Statement That Condemns Violent Actions in France

January 15, 2015

For Immediate Release:

Denver Area Religious Leaders Affirm Muslim Statement That Condemns Violent Actions in France
Denver, CO

As faith leaders, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Bahai, Buddhist and others, we affirm our strong working relationships that we have nurtured here in Denver, CO, over the past decade.
On Monday, January 12, 2015, Multicultural Mosaic Foundation (MMF), a non-profit organization dedicated to help cultivate moral and cultural values in our society by promoting tolerance and dialogue, published this letter:

MULTICULTURAL MOSAIC FOUNDATION CONDEMNS THE ACTIONS OF GUNMEN IN FRANCE

Denver, January 12, 2015 –
Multicultural Mosaic Foundation abhors the actions and motives of three masked gunmen, who attacked the office of a French satirical newspaper in Paris on January 7th. The gunmen killed at least 12 people and left more injured.

The publication, called Charlie Hebdo, recently published several cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The gunmen are suspected to have been responding to these images with an atrocious act of self-radicalized retaliation.

Multicultural Mosaic Foundation also condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist attack on the Jewish grocery store in Paris on January 9th. Such horrific actions represent an assault on human values and can never be justified.

There is no way to justify the killing of or violence against innocent people.

Members of the Multicultural Mosaic Foundation vehemently condemn the attack of these gunmen. Their actions are wholly incompatible with the values and work of the Multicultural Mosaic Foundation, which seek to promote unity, understanding, compassion and peaceful dialogue.

Multicultural Mosaic Foundation sends its thoughts and encouragement to the families and friends of those killed or injured, the staff at Charlie Hebdo, the Jewish community in Paris and the whole of France as they unite against such acts of terror.

Though we do not support the public denigration of any religion or sancta of any religion, we stand united against such violent actions. We are fervently opposed to any such heinous acts that attempt to divert the world from the truth that all of our faith traditions are based on…. that there is one Creator of us all, and that we are called as people of faith to increase love and understanding in the world.

The following faith leaders wish to affirm in the strongest terms our support of this response to the tragic events in Paris of this past week, including the attack and massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, the murder of four hostages at a Jewish establishment, and the subsequent closing of the main Paris synagogues on the Sabbath, for the first time since WWII.

Ismail Akbulut, President, The Multicultural Mosaic Foundation
Paul K. Alexander, Ph.D., Director, Institute on the Common Good, Regis University
Imam Abdur -Rahim Ali, Greater Denver Interfaith Initiative
Carroll Watkins Ali, Ph. D, Greater Denver Interfaith Initiative
Msgr., Robert L., Amundsen, Pastor, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Lafayette, CO
The Baha’i’ Spiritual Assembly of Denver
Rev. Bonita Bock, ELCA (Lutheran)
Rabbi Stephen Booth-Nadav, Director, Wisdom House Denver
The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Cearley, Pastor, Presbyterian Church USA
Fr. Patrick Dolan, Pastor, Most Precious Blood Catholic Church
Rev. Dr. Jonathan Ellerby, Executive Director of the Althea Center
Kathy Escobar, Co-Pastor, The Refuge, Broomfield CO
Rabbi Brian Field, Judaism Your Way
Barbara Ford The Rev. Jann Halloran, Prairie Unitarian Universalist Church
Rev. Amanda Henderson, The Interfaith Alliance of Colorado
Pastor Douglas A. Hill, Lead Pastor, Abinding Hope Church
Mohamad Jodeh, Colorado Muslim Society Past President and current Board Member
Iman M. Jodeh, Associate Director & Co-Founder, Meet the Middle East
Rev. Paul Kottke, United Methodist, Senior Pastor of University Park UMC.
Sr. Magdalit, Catholic Liaison to the Jewish community
Rev. Dr. Kay Palmer Marsh, Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church of Fort Lupton
Rev. Julia McKay, Minister, Columbine Unitarian Universalist Church,
Greg Movesian, Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Iliff School of Theology
Doshin Michael Nelson, Roshi , Integral Zen
Manu Raval, Representative of Universal Hinduism.
Rev. Dr. Vernon K. Rempel, First Mennonite Church of Denver
Anne V. Roth, former Global Trustee, United Religions Initiative
Rev Dr Scott J Schiesswohl
Rev. Diana Thompson, Tri-State Denver Buddhist Temple
Rev. Thomas V. Wolfe, Ph.D., United Methodist, President, The Iliff School of Theology
The Rev. Ruth Woodliff-Stanley, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Denver, CO
Art Ziemann, Church World Service

Contacts:
Rabbi Stephen Booth-Nadav, Wisdom House Denver, 303 881-2800, boothnadav@gmail.com

Ismail Akbulut, Multicultural Mosaic Foundation, (303) 323-5273, akbulut@mosaicfoundation.org

Rev. Paul Kottke, University Park UMC, (303) 722-5736, pkottke@universityparkumc.org

Jan 12

Multicultural Mosaic Foundation Condemns the Actions of Gunmen in France

Denver, January 12, 2015 – Multicultural Mosaic Foundation abhors the actions and motives of three masked gunmen, who attacked the office of a French satirical newspaper in Paris on January 7th. The gunmen killed at least 12 people and left more injured.

The publication, called Charlie Hebdo, recently published several cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The gunmen are suspected to have been responding to these images with an atrocious act of self-radicalized retaliation.

Multicultural Mosaic Foundation also condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist attack on the Jewish grocery store in Paris on January 9th. Such horrific actions represent an assault on human values and can never be justified.

There is no way to justify the killing of or violence against innocent people.

Members of the Multicultural Mosaic Foundation vehemently condemn the attacks. Their actions are wholly incompatible with the values and work of the Multicultural Mosaic Foundation, which seek to promote unity, understanding, compassion and peaceful dialogue.

Multicultural Mosaic Foundation sends its thoughts and encouragement to the families and friends of those killed or injured, the staff at Charlie Hebdo, the Jewish community in Paris and the whole of France as they unite against such acts of terror.

Jan 07

Multicultural Mosaic Foundation Condemns the Actions of Gunmen in France

Denver, January 7, 2015 – Multicultural Mosaic Foundation abhors the actions and motives of three masked gunmen, who this morning attacked the office of a French satirical newspaper in Paris. The gunmen killed at least 12 people and left more injured.

The publication, called Charlie Hebdo, recently published several cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The gunmen are suspected to have been responding to these images with an atrocious act of self-radicalized retaliation.

There is no way to justify the killing of or violence against innocent people.

Members of the Multicultural Mosaic Foundation vehemently condemn the attack of these gunmen. Their actions are wholly incompatible with the values and work of the Multicultural Mosaic Foundation, which seek to promote unity, understanding, compassion and peaceful dialogue.

Multicultural Mosaic Foundation sends our thoughts and encouragement to the families and friends of those killed or injured, the staff at Charlie Hebdo and the whole of France as they unite against such acts of terror.

Dec 15

Statement on Journalists Arrests

New York, December 14, 2014 –

The raids on Turkey’s top selling newspaper Zaman and prominent TV organization STV are profoundly disturbing to all of us who value democracy, tolerance and the role of a free press in safeguarding both. Journalists who report about the suppression of human rights are not enemies of the state; rather they are documenting the actions of those who undermine the safeguards of a democratic Turkey.

Whether driven by a desire to shift public attention from the anniversary of corruption probes, or by public criticisms of systematic nepotism and excesses of the presidential palace, these raids and arrests are politically motivated. Such actions taint Turkey’s image around the world and raise the growing authoritarianism of the Erdogan regime to a new level.

Participants of Hizmet civic movement remain committed to democracy, fundamental human rights and freedoms. Accusations or arrests against people simply based on their worldviews, without any evidence of wrongdoing, reflect a new level of repression by Erdogan’s regime.

We urge democratic countries and organizations to strongly condemn these actions.

About Alliance for Shared Values

Alliance for Shared Values is a non-profit that serves as a voice for dialogue organizations affiliated with the Hizmet in the U.S. (also known as Gulen movement). The Alliance serves as a central source of information on Fethullah Gulen and Hizmet.

For more information, please visit www.afsv.org.

Contact:
Safiye Embel
Tel: +1.212.682.4278 or media@afsv.org

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