Rumi Forum's blog on Hizmet, Fethullah Gulen, peacebuilding, education and interfaith efforts.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Jewish businessman Alaton: Fethullah Gulen (and Movement) enlightens people and transmits knowledge. I cannot see anything more magnificent than teaching people knowledge that will serve as a life-long capital

Ishak Alaton, a Jewish businessman in Turkey speaks about his respect for Fethullah Gulen.

Ishak Alaton praises Turkish schools abroad

İshak Alaton, one of the most respected businesspeople in Turkey, praised Turkish schools abroad during one of his book talks in İstanbul on Thursday.
The event, organized by the Florya Businessmen's Association and Horizon Dialogue Association, hosted Alaton and Mehmet Gündem, the author of Alaton's biography, “İshak Alaton: An Unnecessary Man.” In reference to the section about Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen and the movement inspired by him, Alaton said that in the 90-year history of Turkey, the educational activities of the Gülen movement are noble and bring prestige to Turkey.

Talking about people working abroad in Turkish schools, Alaton, chairman of the board of the business conglomerate Alarko Holding, said the following: “Our brothers enlighten people and transmit knowledge. I cannot see anything more magnificent than teaching people knowledge that will serve as a life-long capital. We will witness the real benefits of this process in the decades to come. Many people are learning Turkish [through the schools] and beginning to really like Turkey. Well-educated students of these schools are the ministers and the prime ministers of tomorrow, and they will have the love of Turkey in their hearts, which will contribute to Turkish people's prestige.”

‘The Kurdish conflict should end'

Speaking on the most recent peace process initiated between the government and terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Alaton said that he believes in peace and the necessity of ending the Kurdish conflict. “I believe we should grant our people equal rights of citizenship,” said Alaton, underlining that everyone is free to express his or her opinion, including opposing ideas, on Turkey's most significant conflict.

‘You need to try extra hard to fail in today's Turkey'

Commenting on the current economic outlook of the country, Alaton projected a very bright future. The veteran businessman said that in today's conditions, one needs to show extra effort in order to fail, in a comparison with less advantageous conditions in the country in the past.
Alaton also praised Turkey's increasing role in health tourism, thanks to successful hospitals and medical staff in the country. Alaton added that he is trying to “brainwash Ankara” to place more importance on investing in the health sector.


Friday, January 25, 2013

NIGERIA PRESS Fethullah Gulen: There Is No Compulsion In Religion

Fethullah Gulen's articles are now appearing weekly in the Nigerian Newspaper,  'Leadership'

There Is No Compulsion In Religion


Compulsion is contrary to the meaning and purpose of religion, which essentially is an appeal tobeings endowed with free will to affirm and worship their Creator. Intention and volition are necessary bases of all actions (including formal worship), attitudes, and thoughts for which the individual is religiously accountable. Without that basis, accountability has no meaning.

According to Islam, actions are not considered religiously acceptable or valid unless they are done with the appropriate intention. Compulsion also contradicts the religious–legal principle that actions are to be judged only by intentions.

Islam does not allow Muslims to be coerced into fulfilling its rites and obligations, or non-Muslims to be forced into accepting Islam. Under Islamic rule, non-Muslims always are allowed full freedom of religion and worship.

The Islamic way of life cannot be imposed or sustained by force, for faith (iman) is essential toit. And as we know, faith is a matter of the heart and conscience, both of which are beyond force. In the absolute sense, therefore, compulsion is impossible, for one can believe only withand from the heart.

From the time of Adam, religion has not coerced anyone into unbelief or forced anyone to stray from righteousness. However, the powers of unbelief always seek to coerce believers away from their religion and their faith.

In other words, Islamunderstands and practices the principle of "there is no compulsion in religion." Muslims had theconfidence and self-assurance to understand that once that principle becomes part of thecollective ethos, people will recognize Islam's truth and enter it of their own will.

Tolerance and letting-be will be replaced bypersecution, which calls for force to re-establish religious freedom. At other times, the attitudeexpressed in: To you your religion, and to me my religion (109:6) will be more appropriate.

The present is a period of the latter sort, one in which jihad is seen in our resolution, perseverance, forbearance, and devoted, patient preaching. And so we teach and explain. We do not engage in coercion, for there would be no benefit in our doing so.

The misguidance and corruption of others is niether the target nor the focus of our efforts. We provoke, target, or offend no one. But, we try to preserve our own guidance in the face of misguidance. And in our own lives, we strive to establish the religion.

Just because a particular Qur'anic command is not applicable in present circumstances does mean that it is no longer applicable or relevant. Rather, it means that the command can be applied correctly or properly only in certain circumstances. We do not know when such circumstances will recur, only that they will. Meanwhile, the principle underlying the command remains relevant and applicable: religious persecution is abhorrent at all times and in all places.

Religious tolerance is, in some sense, a sociopolitical characteristic special to Islam, one derived directly from the Muslims' understanding of and commitment to the Qur'anic principle of "there is no compulsion in religion."Even in modern times, Western political constitutions typically make space for individualreligious freedom, as opposed to collective and communal religious freedom. The Islamic polityrecognizes the relevance and importance of community to the practice and continuance ofreligious beliefs and traditions.

Islam also applies Muslim-specific deterrent sanctions to maintain the Islamic social order andethos. An analogy may clarify this point. Most states have armed forces. These forces arecomposed either of volunteers or conscripts. Both types of soldiers are governed by the same disciplines (and sanctions).

There is no "conscription" into Islam, for you can enter only by repeating the shahada. To be valid and acceptable, this declaration must be voluntary and sincere. After that, the duties and obligations of Islam apply equally to all Muslims.

Collective action must be taken to prevent or undo widespread corruption within the social body. While such action includes positive efforts to educate the community in the corresponding virtues, it also must accept the negative action of imposing appropriate penaltieson those who wilfully and systematically introduce vices into society that will destroy its discipline and Islamic character.

"There is no compulsion in religion" because we have free will and because "Truth stands clearof falsehood." Truth has an absolute authority within the human conscience, which calls iturgently to affirm its Creator and Sustainer. In both individual and collective life, the Truth's absolute authority demands a flexible but strong and steady discipline.

Discipline and forbearance, as well as compassionate understanding and patience, are the proper responses to all breaches—but only up to and until the discipline itself is threatened with destruction. Like every discipline, the discipline of Islam imposes its burdens. But unlike any other, the rewards for carrying those burdens with sincere devotion are sanity, serenity, and ease in this life and in the life to come.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

CALL FOR PAPER: International Symposium on Peace-building and Hizmet/Gulen Movement

International Symposium – Call for Paper

Rumi Forum and major academic centers in Washington area will hold an international symposium on the Hizmet Movement and peacebuilding, in Washington, DC, on October 24-26, 2013.  


The symposium will address the peacebuilding efforts/impact of the Hizmet (Gülen) Movement institutions worldwide. Peacebuilding, broadly defined, include activities like education, inter-faith and intra-faith dialogue, advocacy, conflict resolution, and peace education which can create trust and cooperation over ethnic, religious and other divisions. The Hizmet Movement established hundreds of educational and communal organizations and institutions in over 140 countries, most of which suffer from internal conflicts and communal divisions, such as Sudan, Philippines, Kosovo, Northern Iraq, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Tajikistan, South Africa, and Nigeria. These organizations and institutions engage in various peacebuilding initiatives that foster inclusiveness, build capacity, and create shared spaces. The symposium will assess the societal impact of these initiatives under thematic and regional categories.


The symposium seeks to engage the societal impact of the Hizmet Movement and invites contributions from across the social sciences, humanities, and fields of professional and community practice that critically explore the intersection of the movement and peacebuilding. We encourage paper proposals in these two broad topic areas:
(1)  Regional focus: Peacebuilding initiatives of Hizmet organizations and institutions in different parts of the world such as Turkey, the Balkans, Central Asia, Middle East, Africa, North America, Australiasia, and  comparison of such initiatives across regions
(2) Thematic focus: The Hizmet movement’s approach to peacebuilding as it compares and contrasts with other secular and faith-based, ethnic and non-ethnic, global and regional, and governmental and non-governmental initiatives around the world


Proposals should include the title of the paper, biographies of the authors, and an abstract not to exceed 300 words in length, which describes the substance of the paper and relation to symposium theme. All proposals should be sent to the program committee ( by March 1, 2013. Accepted authors should submit complete papers by September 1, 2013. Accepted papers will be published in the conference proceedings.


Muhammad Abu-Nimer (Professor and Director of Peacebuilding and Development Institute, American University); Gertrude Conway (Professor of Philosophy, Mount St. Mary’s University); Rev. Ian S. Markham (Dean and President, Virginia Theological Seminary); Thomas Michel, S. J. (Research Fellow, Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University); Wilhelmus Valkenberg (Ordinary Professor of Religion and Culture, The Catholic University of America); Qamar-ul Huda (United States Institute of Peace ); Emre Celik (President, Rumi Forum)



For more information contact the program committee at
Rumi Forum was founded in 1999 with the mission to foster interfaith and intercultural dialogue, stimulate thinking and exchange of opinions on supporting and fostering democracy and peace all over the world and to provide a common platform for education and information exchange.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Strategic Defamation of Fethullah Gulen: Turkish vs. English - Dr. Dogan Koc

Strategic Defamation of Fethullah Gulen: Turkish vs. English - Dr. Dogan Koc

Who is Gulen? Fethullah Gülen is a moderate Turkish Muslim scholar who is known mostly for his education and dialogue activities. The Hizmet Movement, inspired by Gülen, has established hundreds of education and dialogue institutions throughout the world. Several books and hundreds of articles and news reports have been written about Gülen himself and the movement. In recent years, a defamation campaign has been launched against Gülen and the Hizmet Movement. Although these defamation articles may seem random, this book shows that the articles are written strategically in a campaign manner. In Strategic Defamation of Fethullah Gülen, close to 500 defamation articles, books, and other forms of writings are analyzed according to their languages. Koç concludes that these defamations differ from each other and appear according to their respective audiences.

Dogan Koc is the executive director of the Gulen Institute at the University of Houston. Before his work at the institute, Dr. Koc worked at the Cairo University as a visiting scholar, and taught at the Austin College in Sherman, TX. He received his PhD degree in Political Science from the University of Texas at Dallas. Dr. Koc also holds degrees in chemistry, education, and sociology. In his studies, he focuses on conflict resolution, international relations, and social movements. He conducted one of the first and most extensive quantitative researches on Turkey's Kurdish conflict, in which he analyzes the strategies of military, government and civil society applied in the resolution of the conflict. He is also the author of the recent book "Strategic Defamation of Fethullah Gulen: Turkish vs. English."

Friday, January 18, 2013

Who is Gulen ? Introduction to Hizmet Movement and Fethullah Gulen

Who is Fethullah Gulen?
M. Fethullah Gulen is one of the most influential scholars in the Muslim world today. His ideas have inspired millions to take part in a movement of intercultural and interfaith dialogue and educational activism, which produced hundreds of quality schools and dialogue organizations in more than 110 countries.

Gulen was born in 1938 in Eastern Turkey to a humble and pious family. His father was an imam at a local mosque and his mother took unto herself to educate the children in her village along with 6 of her own.  Fethullah Gulen completed his elementary education in the village of his birth and started a traditional religious education. He studied all Islamic disciplines in a short time and started preaching at the age of 14. He did not neglect keeping up with the contemporary issues and maintained a keen interest in the western world as well as the well being of his countrymen.

Shortly after completing his military service, Gulen started preaching in the Agean region of Turkey. He was a very passionate and eloquent speaker; he delivered sermons to which tens of thousands attended every time. People didn’t mind traveling long distances to listen to him speaking on the pulpit.
Gulen gained a countrywide fame because of his extraordinary style. Not only did he speak about faith and religious issues, but also touched on social issues such as education, poverty, social justice and peace. Gulen placed a great deal of emphasis on education because he believed that Muslims in particular and humanity in general could come out the current social crisis by spreading high quality education. To this end he encouraged his congregation to invest in education from elementary schools to colleges and universities worldwide. Today Gulen (or Hizmet) movement’s volunteers have opened and currently operate more than 1000 schools in over 100 countries.

What distinguished—and still does– Gulen from other religious figures in Turkey was that he always advocated a marriage between science and religion. Gulen said that science was one of many languages through which God spoke to people and to understand it Muslims should know the language and its rules. He urged educators to put more emphasis on math and science education despite the general tendency towards a religious education that was prevalent among Muslims. Gulen showed his people that the religious values could be taught along with natural sciences and math. Moreover it was necessary to keep up with scientific developments to survive in the modern world.

As his ideas evolved, Gulen embraced modern paradigms as democracy, tolerance and dialogue. He stressed the importance of human dignity, peace, human rights, social justice, women’s right and many other values.