Goodness and Mercy
Are Following you all the days of your life.
Which is why the Gulen Movement and the Rumi Forum are in America. It's the other side of Islam- the side that built civilizations before Europe existed as we know it. There is an Islam which is kind, merciful, peaceful and nothing like the screaming Islam of 'terrorists' neocons wanted us to associate with the word 'Muslim' There are Muslims who are deeply devoted to peace, peace-making, inter-religious dialogue and building bridges of hope, prosperity and Love between all peoples. Gulen is a guy who has been accused of being too much muslim for the Secularist Turks who revere Attaturks Secular reform. They fear he has engineered a secret coup from a wooden bunker in the Poconos. Gulen apparently advocates a model for higher educational advancement, building schools of higher learning all across the world. He appears to be a new prophet (small "p" because they believe Mohammed was the last legitimate prophet and there are no more) of a new Islamic Enlightenment which is friendly to democracy and capitalism. In fact beating capitalism at its own game.
The Rumi Forum in Washington, DC is a think tank of religious reconciliation and inter-religious dialogue and cultural exchange. It is an Embassy of Enlightenment and Hospitality, inviting Congresspeople, dignitaries, Ambassadors, Scholars, Authors and Religious figures who have one goal: mutual understanding, loving co-existence and peace-building through dialogue. The Rumi Forum has honored Priests, Diplomats and Congresspeople, heads of NGOs and Foundations and Professors. It is a brilliant organization founded on something so exceptionally simple it evades modern life: Loving Kindness.
Leslie Stahl recently did a 60 minutes episode on the Gulen Movement [here] and the President of the Rumi Forum (www.RumiForum.org) filled in the gaps of her interview [here]on their website regarding what it is all about. It is a remarkable movement that embraces all faiths and people and is the clearest expression of God and holiness outside a church I have ever seen. click: RUMI FORUM
In the last two days they have had two speakers, both Jewish, who were welcomed graciously to discuss their ideas, theology, books and missions. One was a Professor of Conflict Resolution at George Mason's School for Conflict Resolution and the other, the son of an Iraqi Kurdistan Jewish immigrant who was a Professor in Aramaic (the language of Jesus he reminded us) at UCLA. He has recently written a book called "My Father's Paradise" about his journey discovering his father's early childhood in the mountains of Kurdistan. This son, a former journalist, spoke about how the Muslims and Jews in Kurdistan before a mass exodus of Jews from that region in the 1940s were so close as to be considered family or brothers, living in harmony and peaceful mutually protective co-existence. Harmony is a good word, and the name of the Charter schools the movement has set up. Harmony is something musical that comes from a spiritual realm that resonates a balance, a beauty and a reverberating joy. If Rumi was the poet of Love, Gulen is the poet of Harmony-
and his presence in America is a tribute and honor to us. We have an angel among us, one who prefers the quiet of a Pennsylvania mountain stream perhaps to TV interviews or a spotlight.
While his presence may be hidden the fruits of his harmony are not- and you can glimpse some of them at the Rumi Forum in downtown Washington, DC and several other states now. The President of the Forum in America is a jovial Australian of Turkish background (ever meet a Turk with an Australian accent?) who opens his heart and his kitchen to everyone he meets. Lectures often come with lunch because breaking bread together in every tradition builds bonds of friendship and family. Truly, this is a piece of God in a sometimes dark place.
God is Great, God is Merciful and God Loves Us All. On that, we can all agree.