Feb 08

One such principle is that taking the life of a single innocent is a crime against all humanity

“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.” 2016 Around the Fountain series started with a compelling argument from Fethullan Gülen. Fethullah Gülen in his article “Muslims Must Fight Extremist Cancer” makes six suggestions for Muslims to take action against the extremist terror in the name of Islam:
a. First, we must denounce violence and not fall prey to victim-hood.
b. Second, it is important to promote a holistic understanding of Islam
c. Third, Muslims must publicly promote human rights—dignity, life and liberty.
d. 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.
e. Fifth, providing religious education to Muslims is critical to depriving extremists of a tool that they use to spread their twisted ideologies.
f. Finally, it is imperative that Muslims support equal rights for women and men.

The January session of the Around the Fountain discussion that took place at Mosaic focused on various aspects of extremism and its relationship with Islam. About 35 participants from different backgrounds had the opportunity to seek answers to their hard-pressing questions. In agreement with Mr. Gülen, the participants contended that violent extremism has no religion as there will always be people who manipulate faith texts. Also participants asserted that mainstream Islam is a way of moderation as Islam’s core ethics are not left to interpretation.

According to Mr. Gülen, “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.”

Jan 14

Love is A Verb Screening in Colorado Springs on Feb. 11th

Love is a Verb

Story
Love Is A Verb is an examination of a social movement of Sufi inspired Sunni Muslims that began in Turkey in the l960s and now reaches across the globe. The group is called Hizmet, the Turkish word for service or The Gulen Movement after its inspiration, leader and beloved teacher Fethullah Gulen, a man that Time Magazine named as one of the most influential leaders in the world in 2013.

Through a co-operation with the people inspired by Fethullah Gulen, we had an unprecedented access to the ideas and actions of the movement around the world. We met teachers who crawled through a tunnel to open a school in Sarajevo during the war and the students whose lives they changed. We met a Sufi conductor whose orchestra is composed of children whose parents were once at war. We got a glimpse of the interfaith work the movement provides in Turkey, including a visit to Rumi’s exquisite shrine. We went to their schools in Turkey, in Somalia, in Iraq. We meet a Kurdish teacher in Iraq who credits everything she is to her former Turkish teachers who stayed during the bombings, and a Kurdish woman who had also gone to one of the Turkish schools in Iraq and is now working as an engineer to bring water to the dessert. Finally, in Somalia we follow two Turkish doctors putting their lives at risk in a place where other relief organizations have deemed too dangerous, a place where they sleep under armed guard.

SCREENING
Colorado Springs, CO, US, 80922: Thursday, February 11 6:30PM – 7:25PM at Cinemark Carefree Circle and IMAX 3305 Cinema Point, Colorado Springs, CO, US, 80922 – CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS AND TRAILER

Jan 04

The Gulen Movement: A Shared Bridge between the U.S. and Islam by Peter J. Mehl

A lively Around the Fountain program took place at Multicultural Mosaic Foundation on

September 19, 2015. There were about fifteen participants, and they discussed the Fountain

Magazine article The Gulen Movement: A Shared Bridge between the U.S. and Islam by

Peter J. Mehl. Dr. Mehl is a Professor of philosophy and religion at the University of Central

Arkansas, and shared his views on the Gülen Movement’s intercultural and educational

endeavors in his article. The participants enjoyed Turkish tea, cake, and various snacks during

the program.

The excerpt “Life is a shared bridge of ‘passing over’ and ‘coming back.’ It is a passing

over to other cultures and faiths, not to disown one’s own heritage, but to come back to

incorporate new wisdoms and insight into one’s own worldview. The Gülen Movement is one

such bridge,” summarizes the main idea of the article that the participants of the discussion

pondered on. Participants also reflected on their experiences with the Movement, and drew

parallels between the social relations in the United States and Turkey. Some of the participants

had visited Turkey multiple times and expressed how the two visits differed and how the

representation of minorities in Turkey presented problems in interfaith relations. Others

expressed the need to act on shared interfaith/intercultural vision to make a difference in society

and how the Movement accomplished this, while emphasizing there is still a lot of space for

improvement. The Movement’s potential for building social capital, integration of migrants to

the U.S. culture and various processes that enabled or makes integration difficult were also

discussed. The humanitarian assistance programs the Movement engaged with locally Colorado

and worldwide were also mentioned along with how Muslim groups work to help the homeless

in Colorado. Various perspectives on interfaith and interracial relations were also mentioned

during the discussion.

Dec 17

Muslims, we have to critically review our understanding of Islam.

Words fall short to truly express my deep sadness and revolt in the face of the carnage perpetrated by terrorist groups such as the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
I share profound frustration with a billion-and-a-half Muslims around the world at the fact that such groups commit terrorism while dressing up their perverted ideologies as religion. We Muslims have a special responsibility to not only join hands with fellow human beings to save our world from the scourge of terrorism and violent extremism, but also to help repair the tarnished image of our faith.

It is easy to proclaim a certain identity in the abstract with words and symbols. The sincerity of such claims, however, can only be measured by comparing our actions with the core values of our self-proclaimed identities. The true test of belief is not slogans or dressing up in a certain way; the true test of our beliefs is in living up to core principles shared by all major world faiths such as upholding the sanctity of life and respecting the dignity of all humans.

We must categorically condemn the ideology propagated by terrorists and instead promote a pluralistic mindset with clarity and confidence. After all, before our ethnic, national or religious identity comes our common humanity, which suffers a setback each time a barbaric act is committed. French citizens who lost their lives in Paris, Shiite Muslim Lebanese citizens who lost their lives in Beirut a day earlier and scores of Sunni Muslims in Iraq who lost their lives at the hands of the same terrorists are first and foremost human beings. Our civilization will not progress until we treat the suffering of humans regardless of their religious or ethnic identity as equally tragic in our empathy and respond with the same determination.

Muslims must also reject and avoid conspiracy theories, which have so far only helped us avoid facing our social problems. Instead, we must tackle the real questions: Do our communities provide recruitment grounds for groups with totalitarian mindsets due to unrecognized authoritarianism within ourselves, domestic physical abuse, neglect of youth and lack of balanced education? Did our failure to establish basic human rights and freedoms, supremacy of the rule of law and pluralist mindsets in our communities lead those who are struggling to seek alternative paths?

The recent tragedy in Paris is yet another reminder for both theologians and ordinary Muslims to strongly reject and condemn barbaric acts perpetrated in the name of our religion. However, at this juncture, rejection and condemnation are not enough; terrorist recruitment within Muslim communities must be fought and countered by an effective collaboration of state authorities, religious leaders and civil society actors. We must organize community-wide efforts to address all factors that aid terrorist recruitment.

Ways of expressing support and dissent within democratic means

We need to work with our community to set up the necessary framework for identifying at-risk youth, preventing them from seeking self-destructive paths, assisting families with counseling and other support services. We must promote a proactive, positive government engagement so that engaged Muslim citizens can sit at the table where counterterrorism measures are planned and share their ideas. Our youth should be taught ways of expressing support and dissent within democratic means. Incorporating democratic values into school curricula early on is crucial for inculcating a culture of democracy in young minds.

In the aftermath of such tragedies, historically strong reactions have surfaced. Anti-Muslim and anti-religious sentiment as well as security-driven treatment of Muslim citizens by governments would be counter-productive. The Muslim citizens of Europe want to live in peace and tranquility. Despite the negative climate, they should strive to engage more with their local and national governments to help work toward more inclusive policies that better integrate their community into the larger society.

It is also important for us Muslims to critically review our understanding and practice of Islam in light of the conditions and requirements of our age and the clarifications provided by our collective historic experiences. This does not mean a rupture from the cumulative Islamic tradition but rather, an intelligent questioning so we can confirm the true teachings of the Quran and the Prophetic tradition that our Muslim predecessors attempted to reveal.

We must proactively marginalize decontextualized reading of our religious sources that have been employed in the service of perverted ideologies. Muslim thinkers and intellectuals should encourage a holistic approach and reconsider jurisprudential verdicts of the Middle Ages that were issued under perpetual conflict where religious affiliation often coincided with political affiliation. Having core beliefs should be distinguished from dogmatism. It is possible, indeed absolutely necessary, to revive the spirit of freedom of thought that gave birth to a renaissance of Islam while staying true to the ethos of the religion. Only in such an atmosphere can Muslims effectively combat incivility and violent extremism.

In the aftermath of the recent events I am witnessing, with chagrin, the revival of the thesis of the clash of civilizations. I do not know whether those who first put out such a hypothesis did so out of vision or desire. What is certain is that today, the revival of this rhetoric simply serves the recruitment efforts of the terrorist networks. I want to state clearly that what we are witnessing is not a clash of civilizations but rather the clash of humanity with barbarity in our common civilization.

Our responsibility as Muslim citizens is to be part of the solution despite our grievances. If we want to defend the life and civil liberties of Muslims around the world and the peace and tranquility of every human regardless of their faith, we must act now to tackle the violent extremism problem in all its dimensions: political, economic, social and religious. By setting virtuous examples through our lives, by discrediting and marginalizing the extremist interpretations of religious sources, by staying vigilant toward their impact on our youth, and by incorporating democratic values early in education, we can counter violence and terrorism as well as totalitarian ideologies that lead to them.

*This article by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen was first published in Le Monde on Dec. 17, 2015.
English Version: http://www.todayszaman.com/op-ed_muslims-we-have-to-critically-review-our-understanding-of-islam_407253.html

Dec 02

Turkish group supports democracy: Objections

We object to USA TODAY’s uninformed depiction of Hizmet (aka Gulen movement) (“Turkish faith movement secretly funded 200 trips for lawmakers and staff” and “U.S. lawmakers got suspect Turkish campaign cash”). Hizmet is a pro-democracy movement whose supporters have set up schools, medical centers and disaster relief agencies around the world. Mr. Fethullah Gulen, the inspiration behind the movement, simply advocates for values.

If USA TODAY’s assertions are true that individual participants of the movement have breached the laws or the rules of their institutions, then those individuals would indeed have contradicted the core values of Hizmet. We are not defending those actions, and they should be subjected to legal or institutional investigation. But associating individual actions with the movement or Mr. Gulen is wrong.

POLICING THE USA: A look at race, justice, media

Mr. Gulen’s contributions to interfaith understanding have been praised by world leaders such as President Clinton, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew and Armenian Patriarch Mesrob Mutafyan. He also received an audience with the late Pope John Paul II. Time magazine’s 100 most influential people list in 2013 described him as “the most potent advocate of moderation in the Muslim world.”

Without this background, your articles simply echo the rhetoric made by an authoritarian Erdogan regime in Turkey.

Y. Alp Aslandogan, executive director, Alliance for Shared Values; New York

Source: USA Today, http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2015/11/30/turkish-group-gulen-movement-your-say/76588894/, November 30, 2015

Nov 15

Fethullah Gulen Statement on Paris Terrorist Attacks

masood_gulen_big[1]

New York, November 14, 2015 – I strongly condemn the brutal terrorist attacks across Paris, France in the evening of Friday, November 13, that resulted in the deaths and dismemberment of hundreds of innocent people.

Every terrorist activity, no matter where they occur, is a blow to the peace and tranquility of humanity everywhere. These revolting acts of terrorism are attacks not only against people of France but against universal human values that we all share and against human solidarity.

On this occasion I reiterate my categorical condemnation of all forms of terror regardless of its perpetrators or their stated purposes. No terrorist activity can ever be condoned on any grounds.

I send my deep condolences to the victims’ families, loved ones and the people of France.

I pray that God leads all humanity to a world of peace and tranquility. I invite everyone to join me in this prayer and act in solidarity against all forms of terrorism and in the effort to establish peace around the world.

About Fethullah Gulen

Fethullah Gulen is an Islamic scholar, preacher and social advocate, whose decades‐long commitment to interfaith tolerance and altruism has inspired millions in Turkey and around the world. Gulen is the honorary chairman of the Foundation of Journalists and Writers, Istanbul, Turkey.

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…

IMG_3625

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.

IMG_3602

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.

IMG_3598

“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.

IMG_3617

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.

IMG_3611

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.

Older posts «