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

Saturday, November 30, 2013

LUNCHEON : Living Where You Don’t Make the Rules - Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool

Living Where You Don’t Make the Rules (Part I)

Faith and cultural change in the age of globalization.

This is part one of a three-part series on Muslims, faith and cultural change in the age of globalization.
One of the touchiest issues in the world today is the Muslim disquiet, especially in countries where Muslims are minorities. We often miss it and call it all kinds of names.
We call it Islamism. We call it radicalism, we call it extremism, we call it fundamentalism and we call it violence. We claim it springs from conflict-driven communities.
Those labels have a semblance of truth in them, because on any given day, some Muslims may display some of those characteristics.
But those labels don’t tell the story about what the causes of the disquiet really are. They don’t even begin to describe how to deal with it and how to manage it. In particular, they don’t tell how to bring peace to the soul of a community that is often uncomfortable in the context of the disquiet.
The existing disquiet, in turn, invites fear, suspicion and often hostility among non-Muslims. In some way, we have to tackle the issue head on. How do we deal with this problem? The way in which I have come to understand it is that the key lies in the theological assumptions of the Muslim community that were formed in times of dominance.
When Islam was an empire, when Muslims were the rulers and when they moved into Spain, they made theological assumptions about how they could live. They created the rules for how to engage with those who are non-Muslim (and how those others could live). That set the tone of the lifestyle that they could lead....


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Rumi Forum’s Silent Auction Benefits Habitat For Humanity Of Greater Charlottesville

On Tuesday, November 14, 2013, Rumi Forum brought over one hundred people together to discuss the “Ending Poverty” at its Annual Peace and Dialogue Dinner. Participants helped raise money for Habitat for Humanity with a silent auction at Omni Charlottesville Hotel.
Local middle and high school students contributed to the auction by participating Peace and Dialog Art Contest organized by the Rumi Forum. Award winning artworks were included in the auction. Rumi Forum also reached out to individuals and local businesses/organizations to support the auction. American Turkish Friendship Association, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello Museum, Coach Mike London of University of Virginia Football Team, Coach Joanne Boyle of University of Virginia Women Basketball Team, Coach Tony Bennet of University of Virginia Men Basketball Team supported the auction by donating auction items.
All the proceeds collected from the silent auction were presented to Ms. Katie Geisshuesler, Development Manager at Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville by the end of the night. Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville works to create simple, decent, affordable housing in partnership with low-income families, volunteers and the communities of greater Charlottesville. The organization aims to build at least 20 homes annually in partnership with hard-working local families.



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

NEW BOOK: Gulen's Dialogue on Education: A Caravanserai of Ideas

Professor Tom Gage portrays eight modern educators and the development of their theories viewed from personal, cultural, and historical perspectives. He links their ideas to those of Fethullah Gülen, a highly influential educator of today who draws on an entirely different tradition. 

AMAZON:  click here

About Dr. Thomas Gage
Professor Emeritus in English at Humboldt State University, Dr. Tom Gage’s degrees are from the University of California at Berkeley. He is author of Gulen’s Dialogue on Education, a Caravanserai of Ideas and a dual-award winning iBook, American Prometheus: Captain Bill Jones, the Steel Genius who Made Andrew Carnegie (Silver for history & Silver for eLit Illuminated Excellence, Independent Publishers). Upon retiring in 2006, he originated Cross-Cultural Fluency (“CCF”), a secondary school curriculum in international education. His CCF work earned his team at Humboldt a California grant for curriculum development and invitations to address State and National Conventions of the National Council of Teachers of English. He is chair of the Youth Platform of the Gulen Institute at the University of Houston, which recognizes and awards international contest winners in writing. He was a feature speaker in 2012 at a regional assembly in Syracuse of the Two Year Colleges, a conference entitled From the World Desk: Situating Our Practice within a Global Context. He is a charter member of the board of directors of the Consultants for Global Programs (“CGP”). He was Fulbright Senior lecturer at the University of Aleppo, Syrian Arab Republic. He has been a guest lecturer at the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity at Claremont Graduate School and at the Institute of Interfaith Dialog of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He was awarded his university’s Certificate of Recognition for dedication to international programs. In 1991 the California Association of Teachers of English awarded him a certificate for excellence in classroom teaching. He has served as dean or director of summer academic programs in Greece, England, France, and Italy. In the last three years, Gage has delivered papers on four continents, twice in Morocco, once in The Netherlands, Turkey, and now Canada.

NEW BOOK: Embracing the World: Fethullah Gule's Thought and Its Relationship with Jelaluddin Rumi and Others

This book is not a comprehensive study of Rumi and Gülen, but it seeks to explore the places where the thought of the one is echoed in the thinking of the other, either overtly or indirectly—and to note ways in which the opposite is true: that Gülen diverges from Rumi. The book is also seeking to suggest some of the larger contexts in which the thinking of both resides. Given the wide-ranging aspects of their respective writings, it should not be surprising if, minimally, we can find important foundation stones in both philosophy and theology in the edifices that they each construct.

AMAZON: more book details here 

Rumi Forum President speaks at Baptist Convention in Dallas, Texas

Rumi Forum President Emre Celik spoke on the Hizmet Movement and Fethullah Gulen at the Baptist Convention in Dallas, Texas in November 2013.

Baptist - Muslim dialogue

Baptist - Muslim dialogue over Ashura sweets in Dallas, Texas.

Roundtable with African American leaders

Rumi Forum hosted  a roundtable discussion with African Americans leaders and community members discussing community service amongst other topics. 

Rumi Forum co-hosted Dinner and Discussion at the Embassy of Azerbaijan

Rumi Forum and the Embassy of Azerbaijan held a discussion dinner on the future of Azerbaijan at the Embassy of Azerbaijan in November 2013. Alex Vatanka from MEI moderated while Emre Celik and Ambassador Suleymanov welcomed the guests. 

Hizmet and Fethullah Gulen lecture at Goucher College, Maryland

Emre Celik was a guest lecturer in a Social Movements course at Goucher College, Baltimore, Maryland speaking on Fethullah Gulen and the Hizmet movement in November 2013. 

Numerous 2013 Turkey Trip Reunions

Rumi Forum organized various reunion gatherings with 2013 trip participants hosted by one of the group members.

Roundtable with Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan

Rumi Forum organized a VIP roundtable with Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan in October 2013.

NEW BOOK: The Muslim World and Politics in Transition: Creative Contributions of the Gulen Movement

In recent times, many countries in the predominantly Muslim world moved into a time of promise for transition and of opening to democratic development, of which the so-called Arab Spring formed a part. Despite the recent reversals of these processes in Egypt and the ongoing tragedy of Syria - and perhaps even more so by way of contrast to these, notwithstanding the recent civil unrest in Turkey itself - there has been a developing interest in the "Turkish model" of transition from authoritarianism to democracy.

As a leading movement in contemporary Turkey with a universal educational and inter-faith agenda, the Gülen movement aims to promote creative and positive relations between the West and the Muslim world and to articulate a critically constructive position on such issues as democracy, multi-culturalism, globalisation, and interfaith dialogue in the context of secular modernity.

The Muslim World and Politics in Transition includes chapters written by international scholars with expertise in relation to the contexts that it addresses. It discusses how the Gülen movement has positioned itself and has sought to contribute within societies - including the movement's home country of Turkey - in which Muslims are in the majority and Islam forms a major part of the cultural, religious and historical inheritance.

Biography of Paul Weller

Paul Weller is Professor of Inter-Religious Relations at the University of Derby, where he is Head of Research and Commercial Development in the Faculty of Education, Health and Sciences. He is a Visiting Fellow in the Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture at Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford and a founder and Trustee of the Multi-Faith Centre at the University of Derby. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Dialogue Society and a Trustee of the Interreligiöse Arbeitsstelle in Germany. He was a founder member of the Joppa Group of Baptist Christians engaged in inter-faith dialogue and is currently a member of the Baptist Union of Great Britain’s Inter-Faith Working Group. On a European level he has been a consultant to Belieforama, a community of practice based around the development of a prize-winning training programme in religious diversity and anti-discrimination.

Biography of Ihsan Yilmaz

Ihsan Yilmaz is Associate Professor of Political Science at Fatih University, Istanbul. He is the author of Muslim Laws, Politics and Society in Modern Nation States: Dynamic Legal Pluralisms in England, Turkey and Pakistan, (Ashgate, 2005) and co-editor with John L. Esposito Islam and Peacebuilding: Gülen Movement Initiatives (Blue Dome, 2010). Together with Paul Weller, he is also co-editor of European Muslims, Civility and Public Life: Perspectives on and From the Gülen Movement (Continuum, 2012).

He is the editor of Turkish Journal of Politics (TJP), and has published his work in international scholarly journals such as British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Middle East Journal, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, International Law and Politics Journal. He is a regular columnist of Today's Zaman, an English language daily published in Turkey. His current research interests are Islam-constitutional law-human rights; and Federal Sharia Court of Pakistan.

Biography of Amina Yaqin

Amina Yaqin is Senior Lecturer in Postcolonial Studies and Urdu and Chair of the Centre for the Study of Pakistan at SOAS, University of London. She has recently edited a special issue of the Pakistani poet, Faiz Ahmad Faiz for the journal Pakistaniaat. She is co-editor of a book on Culture, Diaspora and Modernity in Muslim Writing (Routledge, 2012), and is co-author (with Peter Morey) of Framing Muslims: stereotyping and representation after 9/11 (Harvard University Press, 2011).

She has published widely on themes of gender, sexuality, Urdu poetry, communal politics and South Asian English literature. She is working on her next book Twentieth Century Women’s Poetry from Pakistan: feminist resistance and gendered subjectivities. She has also been Co-Director of the International Research Network on Framing Muslims from 2007-2010 and is currently working on a major research project that looks at matters of ‘Muslims,Trust and Cultural Dialogue’ with Peter Morey.

Biography of Carool Kersten

Carool Kersten is Senior Lecturer in the Study of Islam and the Muslim World at King’s College London. He also is a Research Associate at the Centre for South East Asian Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

He is the author of Cosmopolitans and Heretics: New Muslim Intellectuals and the Study of Islam (2011) and of Islam in Indonesia: The Contest for Society, Ideas and Values(forthcoming), as well as the co-editor of Demystifying the Caliphate (2013) andAlternative Islamic Discourses and Religious Authority (2013). In addition, he is the editor-in-chief of the book series Contemporary Thought in the Islamic World for Asghate.

Carool Kersten has a PhD in the study of religions from SOAS, University of London, a MA in Arabic Language and Culture from Radboud University Nijmegen (the Netherlands) and a Certificate in Southeast Asian Studies from Payap University in Chiang Mai (Thailand). He has held a fellowship of the Arts and Humanities Council (AHRC) and received research grants from the British Academy, European Science Foundation, Higher Education Academy (HEA), and University of London.

Rountable with Prof. Ihsan Yilmaz, Fatih University

Rumi Forum hosted Ihsan Yilmaz of Fatih University in for a roundtable discussion in October 2013. Mr Yilmaz is also a columnist in Today's Zaman.

Abrahamic Discussion Series - Concept of a Just War According to the Teachings of Judaism, Christianity & Islam

Rumi Forum and ATFA hosted Abrahamic Discussion Series - "The Concept of a Just War According to the Teachings of Judaism, Christianity & Islam" in October 2013

Meeting with the President of Turkey Abdullah Gul

Rumi Forum President Emre Celik attended a meeting with the Turkish Diaspora Leaders in US where President of Turkey Abdullah Gul was also in attendance.

Advisory Board members come together at Rumi Forum

Rumi Forum Advisory Board convened in November 2013.

Roundtable discussion with Pew Research Scholars

Rumi Forum met with Pew Research Scholars led by Brian Grim on issues local and international for a roundtable discussion in October 2013

Rumi Forum Organizes a Discussion about Turkey with Open Society

Rumi Forum organized a discussion in DC with Open Society and past trip alumni on Turkey in October 2013.

Trekking trip with Rumi Forum Interns

Rumi Forum executives went trekking with interns at Cunningham Falls in Maryland.

Rumi Forum sponsors EWI Awards Ceremony

Rumi Forum was one of the contributing sponsors at this year's East West Institute Awards Ceremony.

Meeting with the Vatican's Ambassador to US

President Emre Celik met with Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, Papal Nuncio to the United States at the Embassy of the Vatican in September 2013.

Rumi Forum Donates to DC Central Kitchen

Rumi Forum donated meat to DC Central kitchen in November as part of its community service projects.

Rumi Forum Donates to Martha's Table

As part of community service projects Rumi Forum donated meat to Martha's Table while our volunteers participated in helping to distribute food and other items.

Meeting with Ambassador of Russia

President Erme Celik met with His Excellency, Sergey Kislyak Ambassador of Russia to US in October 2013.

New Turkish language students

New Turkish students in our September 2013 courses. Enrolments for the next set of courses have started. Visit for more details.

Hudson Institute Dinner and Discussion

Rumi Forum  hosted Hudson Institute Scholars for a dinner and discussion in September 2013. Issues relating to the US, Muslim world  and the region were discussed with participants.

Egyptian Delegation Visits Rumi Forum

Rumi Forum hosted a delegation of Egyptian Christians and Muslims in October 2013. The delegation learned about the Rumi Forum, Fethullah Gulen and the Hizmet Movement. The issue of interfaith dialogue was discussed during the meeting.

Rumi Forum hosts Intercultural dialogue workshops with Australian leaders

Rumi Forum hosted Directors of various 'intercultural dialogue' organizations for a workshop based on Rumi Forum's activities and approaches to social harmony and projects of inclusion

Rumi Forum Chapters and ATFA Dialog and Friendship Dinners 2013

Rumi forum and American Turkish Friendship local branches hosted dialog dinners in Hagerstown MD , Charlottesville VA, Richmond VA, Baltimore MD, Wilmington DE, Blacksburg VA and Norfolk VA.


Dinner In Richmond

Dinner in Charlottesville

Dinner in Baltimore

Dinner with friends and colleagues in Blacksburg.

Dinner with friends and colleagues in Blacksburg.
Hagerstown MD
Senator Tom Carper in Wilmington DE

Rumi Forum organizes trips during August and September 2013

Rumi Forum brings together various sectors in the wider Washington DC area in small groups to travel to Turkey. Cities such as Istanbul, Ankara, Gaziantep and Izmir (amongst others) are visited. During August and September 2013 Rumi Forum organized 3 trips. Thinktank and university scholars, Government departments, Members of Parliament, NGOs, journalists and numerous others were visited.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Fethullah Gulen on Political Participation

On Political Participation

Q: Nowadays some say it is imperative to support a political philosophy. What do you say?

Sometimes political participation may be imperative. Every believer should vote and participate in the decision making process regarding the general public as it is a duty of any citizen. A believer would be responsible if she or he does not fulfill this assignment. Not only that, one should also inform their parents and other close relatives about the importance of this matter.

However who should vote for what party is not my business. Throughout my life, I always found it essential to avoid not only publicly commenting on it but even making a slightest bit of an innuendo. I am not saying “Vote for this party, or do not vote for that party!” All I am saying is, “Voting is a duty for every citizen, so everyone should do their job, or otherwise they will be responsible”. That is as much as I participate in politics…

On the matter of supporting a specific party; our interest in the elections start only a week before the election date. People like us can talk among themselves and discuss what party they should vote for and then they go and vote on the Election Day. After that, they don’t discuss it a bit. In the real democratic countries this matter is handled like that. As an example, when a citizen of the US arrives at Turkey, and asked about what party he did support, “Are you a republican or a democrat?” He replies as “I don’t support either!” When asked, “Have you not voted? Who did you vote for?” he says “I voted for Kennedy, but I don’t think about the rest, as my business and interest in elections is just that, nothing more!”

As such, we have very important duties in our own life that we need to focus on. While we are doing our own job, this or that political thought should not interfere with that. This very important duty is related to our spiritual life. We mostly keep ourselves busy with that.

These principles are important for every believer. Because believers have very important duties within the domain of heart and soul; duties like performing the daily prayers regularly, cleansing one’s heart, paying close attention to one’s connection with the Almighty and considering any disconnection in that regard a fatal failure. These are continuous ongoing duties of a believer that should not ever be interrupted. But elections come only every four years. The campaigns last and get intensified within the last week. Then people vote and the fight is over. That’s what smart people do. Others, who are foolish, keep talking about after everything is over, badger others, keep singing the same tune –of disunity, and promote hatred and waste their lives in this fight.

Let’s think about the Messenger (peace be upon him). Before Uhud he recommends to stay in Medina and not go out to Uhud. In response to this, especially the youth say “No lets go out and fight and stop them all!” The results of the consultation come out as the way the young wanted. They all go out to Uhud, but right before the fight, the hypocrites leave the front. At this point anyone in the position of the Messenger could have got mad. Although he never gets mad about that, the Almighty warns the believers in the Holy Quran (3:159) “It was by a mercy from God that (at the time of the setback), you (O Messenger) were lenient with them (your Companions). Had you been harsh and hard-hearted, they would surely have scattered away from about you. Then pardon them, pray for their forgiveness, and take counsel with them in the affairs (of public concern); and when you are resolved (on a course of action), put your trust in God. Surely God loves those who put their trust (in Him).” This is the way taught to the Messenger (peace be upon him). Now we should evaluate our own situation accordingly and try to understand what I am trying to say in my above comments.

This is a partial translation of an excerpt “Siyasete Bakis” from Cizgimizi Hecelerken by Fethullah Gulen.

SOURCE: Who is Fethullah Gulen

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