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

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Rabbi Dr. Lawrence Arthur Forman: The Importance of Multi-faith understanding and the dangers of religious intolerance


The below talk was present by Rabbi Dr. Lawrence Arthur Forman, William & Mary, Feb. 3, 2013
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D.Min, D.D., Rabbi Emeritus, Ohef Sholom Temple, Norfolk, VA
Founder, Institute for Jewish Studies and Interfaith Understanding, Old Dominion University, Norfolk
Intermittent Chaplain, Veteran’s Hospital, Hampton, Virginia


Leonardo daVinci, perhaps the most significant figure of the Italian Renaissance, told his disciples: “ the more you know of men and things, the more you love them. From great knowledge, great love springs. To know a man or a thing deeply, profoundly, inwardly, is to learn to love all human life.”

Today we know the truth of what Da Vinci taught his disciples: that knowledge of the “other” brings understanding and compassion, and that most hate springs from ignorance and fear.

Today, I want to share with you my understanding of the blossoming dialogue that is emerging here in the United States among the different faith groups, why it has been successful here, and what we each might do to foster its growth globally.

(Because of our time constraint I’m limiting my remarks to the Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.)

Most of us are more familiar with Judaism and Christianity than we are with Islam. This afternoon, I would like to share a bit of my own experience with interfaith work among Christianity, Judaism and a particular facet of Islam, Turkish Islam.

In the late 1990s, after serving our community for some three decades, it became obvious to me that great accomplishments in the area of human rights and human services would in the future have to come from the impetus of our main-stream religions. In order for that to happen, I believed, that we in our respective Churches, Mosques and Synagogues, would not only have to study and know about our own faiths, but also, we would need to learn about the faiths and beliefs of our neighbors.


History has much to teach us. Allow me a few moments to catch us all up on a few key points.

Not all of the world’s religious systems have had a long-standing commitment to respecting the integrity, the worth and total value of every human being. That concept is a modern one. But neither did the ancient religions lack any manner of ethical life. They each have had some truth to speak to the world. Even the pagan world was not so morally corrupt that it was waiting only for a new revelation to teach it ethics and morality. Plato and Aristotle, Plotinus and Seneca, had molded the thought of the Mediterranean world long before Christianity or Islam appeared on the scene, and gave them exalted moral codes of living. But there is one thing which they did not do: their morality lacked a driving impulse; it was not dynamic. The Stoic, for example, who was a truly moral person, was content to be moral in and by himself, to lead a calm, disassociated life, and to perfect the self; he was concerned with self-culture and self-improvement. That there was evil in the world, that there was sin in the world, that there was slavery in the world, that there was poverty in the world, that other people were weak and did not have the strength that he possessed, that seemingly did not concern him. Christianity brought into that world the Jewish ideal of service, that the highest goal in life is not self-culture but human helpfulness. The Roman knew what it is to be a master, but did not know what it is to be a servant of humankind; and the Christian brought to him the Jewish message of the servant of God, that the highest type of person is not the masterful man, but the person who subjects himself, and works unceasingly for social justice and civil rights for all citizens, even for all humankind; to be a light unto the nations.

The ideals and virtues of humility, of meekness, of forgiveness, of mercy, kindness and love were not admired by the Romans. Those ideals came from Jerusalem. But it was through the channel of Christianity that these Judaic ideals entered into the world and became part of it. Christianity taught the Goths and Huns, the Franks and Saxons, the Visigoths and Teutons a new definition of civilization…that we are our brother’s keepers and we must take care of each other because we’re all we’ve got.

These were the ideals that first leaped from the lips of Isaiah and Jeremiah, from Amos and Micah, and they infused Islam through the influence, primarily of Christianity, but also through the impact of Jewish civilization on the desert Arab tribes. If our Bible today is translated into every living language and dialect, it is due primarily to Christianity. If the Jewish heroes, the spiritual giants, Abraham, Moses, Samuel, David, the Prophets—if they are known to the world, if they have become part of the speech and thought of mankind, it is due to Christianity, and if the basic Jewish ideal of the kingdom, the Messianic ideal, the hope that some day justice will flow over the world like a mighty stream, the hope that some day men will beat their swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks, the hope that some day each person may live under his vine and under his fig tree with none to make him afraid. The hope that some day all oppression will disappear, the hope that some day each child of God will inherit his divine patrimony…if that Messianic ideal is today the goal toward which civilized peoples are moving, then it is due, to a large measure, to the work of education and teaching which the Enlightenment carried into the world, and it is due to the liberalization of religion which has both its roots and fruition in our Democratic society, here in the United States of America.


Here in America there is the bright light of hope to promote the values we hold dear. Often we find that different faith traditions hold opposing views on important issues that affect not only the specific faith community, but because those values have implications that will necessarily affect others, they also spill out into the wider community. We might not all embrace those values and ideologies. Concepts of when life begins, the role of women in religious leadership, the origin of sacred texts and their authority within our lives, the appropriateness of dissention and diversity, the legitimacy of choice and the meaning of words like marriage and truth…these are but some of the realms where our religious traditions might find conflict. And yet, here in the U.S. we have seen time and time again, that for nearly all of us, the highest value we each hold in our diverse religious communities is discovering how to live in peace and harmony together – despite our differences. Yes, we all try to get our social agenda accomplished, but we do so in an environment of mutual respect. Even when we don’t agree with one another, most of us respect each other’s fundamental right to dissent.

Over the centuries, Judaism developed the concept of Pikuak Nefesh, that the saving of a life, takes precedence over all; This means not shedding blood over ideology; saving a life is the most crucial value. Thus, in Judaism, one can even violate the holy Sabbath, or any rite or ritual to rescue a person from harm. This means that if someone burns your sacred text, you don’t respond by destroying him; If someone denigrates your Prophet or Holy figure, you don’t shed his blood. If someone engages in a behavior that your religion finds abhorrent, you don’t resolve the matter by resorting to bloodshed. There is a line in Genesis, that all 3 Abrahamic faiths are predicated upon; and that is no matter how greatly we might be annoyed by our fellowman’s behavior, we are still our brother’s keeper, and we are responsible to ameliorate that behavior without resorting to the destruction of our brother.

It is primarily here in the United States where people have learned to differ peacefully and respectfully. People have come to understand that just as it is a sacred right of a human being to work toward shared values, so too is it a sacred right to protect our fundamental differences. And in this Democratic atmosphere of greater freedom and tolerance which has come to America, and through America is exported throughout the world, Judaism, Christianity and moderate Islam are becoming more courteous to one another.

There are today, people like ourselves, Muslims, Christians and Jews, who have inherent within them the post-enlightenment liberal spirit of Democracy, tolerance and understanding which has come into the world. It does not, of course, mean that Islam, Judaism and Christianity are becoming ONE. It does not mean that all our differences, are whitewashed. All three religions retain their distinctive coloring, their characteristic emphases, and all three are giving definitive direction to their faithful ones. But it does mean that these differences need not necessarily lead to hate and antagonism. By accepting these differences in the American spirit of Democracy, adherents of these three great faiths may yet, in a spirit of helpfulness, mutual cooperation and respect, work for common ideals, and the realization of those shared goals which benefit the common good.


The way to begin this process is precisely in forums such as this, among open-minded individuals, where presentations can be made to discuss the various possibilities to support and uphold those shared human values that can bring about healing, hope, happiness, prosperity and peace among these diverse faith groups.

For years, I have spoken in Churches and Temples about this interfaith idea. Everyone seemed to agree, but each individual Church and Synagogue, because of its primary purpose in advocating its own religious orientation, initially balked at putting the idea of an Inter-faith coalition as a primary agenda item.

But, the tragedy of 9-11 made this idea ever more relevant and crucial for our very survival as a freedom-loving nation based on Jeffersonian values and the principles of our Constitution.



I’ve worked in the interfaith community all my adult life. I have very dear and special friends in all of these religious systems. We have shared the microphone both on radio and television. But it was as faculty advisor to the Turkish-Muslim Better Understanding Club of Old Dominion University, that I learned of the broader ramifications of the Rumi Forum and Turkish Islam. In that advisory position I was invited to travel to Turkey to get a first hand experience of the excellent science and math schools being built in the Middle East and Africa by the Turkish Philanthropist, Philosopher and Scholar Fetullah Gulen, a man who continues to work for open dialogue and understanding among all races, religions and ethnicities.

With the direct assistance of individual supporters and ODU Presidents Jim Cook and Roseann Runte, we created the INSTITUTE FOR JEWISH STUDIES AND INTERFAITH UNDERSTANDING. The Institute was designed to coordinate lectures, symposia and reading groups related to Jewish history and thought, as well as continue our dialogue with Christian, Muslim, and Asian faith traditions. We believed that by presenting information about the world’s religious and ethnic diversity in a University setting, through open dialogue, we would have an ever deepening understanding of one another, and perhaps even be able to set aside some of our stereotypes and prejudices. Our target groups included the students enrolled in the University and individuals and groups from all religious denominations from the community at large. We visited a variety of Churches and Temples in Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

Mustafa Canan, a nuclear scientist and magnificent humanitarian, became the President of the Better Understanding Club, and he contacted many of the Priests, Ministers and Rabbis of our community. With his dedicated Turkish families, he prepared and served tasty dishes of Turkish Delights to the crowds who came to hear our message. Our purpose was to enrich our overall understanding of each other, as well as examine the issues and challenges that confront us as we move forward through the 21st century.

We learned that much of modern Turkish Islam is based on the philosophy and poetry of Mawlana Jalal al-Din al-Rumi, a 13th century Sufi Saint, and the 20th century scholar and philosopher, Fethullah Gulen.

An outspoken advocate of dialogue, Gulen writes: (and I quote)“(We are all surrounded ) by enemies. Given this, we cannot afford to argue among ourselves. Moreover, we must temporarily forget some focal points of controversy between Christian and Jewish spiritual leaders and us, and seek dialogue with them. The uncivilized may think they will accomplish something by hitting and fighting, while noble and enlightened spirits believe they will realize their goals by thinking and talking. I pray we have left the period of brutality far behind. Victory in civilization and acceptance of truth will be accomplished through persuasion, discussion, debate and dialogue….”(end quote)

The Rumi Forum, an organization in Washington, DC, based on Gulen’s teachings and principles, recognizes and acknowledges all of the great religions, Eastern and Western, which ask the eternal human questions and seek answers to these dilemmas: As Gulen asks (with us): “Where can we find purpose and meaning in our brief days on earth?” “How can we live more in touch with what is real?” “How can we continually renew our quest for freedom, social justice, democracy and peace in an often torn and struggling world?”

The Rumi Forum emphasizes that dialogue will infuse our ethical actions, that through dialogue we will long continue to celebrate each other, so that we might see the future as an opportunity to be transformed, and to make our world worthy of redemption.

So where then is our energy to be spent if we are to encourage such dialogue?

In the 12th and 13th centuries Islam flourished; it created science and poetry, literature and art. But because there was no concomitant development in the area of modern scientific Biblical (or Koranic) higher criticism, there was backsliding and regression. As long as people remain locked in a dogmatic, authoritarian, fundamentalist position, claiming that only they have the right and correct way to God and exclusive rights to “the keys to the kingdom of heaven”, then it is almost a vain effort to propose dialogue toward mutual understanding.


Gulen’s movement, based in the Secular Government of modern Turkey, is the nearest thing we have to anything that might be called: “Liberal Islam.” Just as the Bible and the Torah have been interpreted in a modern, analytical way, thus leading to the development of Liberal Judaism and Liberal Christianity, so too must Islam, if it is to further a partnership in our Post-modern world, develop a Liberal Islam, with modern reformist ideas, addressing gender equality, human authorship of sacred texts with its accompanying fallibility, and full complement of modern religious hermeneutics to remain the vital faith that resides within its great history?

The nearest thing to Liberal Islam today, are the schools of science, math and technology that are being built around the world by the Gulen movement. This is a shining example of modern Islam in action! There are glimmers of light because of the work of Fethullah Gulen and his disciples! For example, here in America there is a movement in Islam to reclaim “jihad” as an inner personal spiritual struggle, a self-imposed battle for personal improvement, a “jihad” of the heart! “Jihad” is not to be interpreted exclusively as a physical battle, but the term has been appropriated for this exclusive negative meaning by extremists and terrorists. The word “Jihad” literally just means to struggle - and like Jacob struggling with the Angel to find his best self and his place in the world, so each of us must struggle in our quest for the divine to find the meaning we so desperately seek.

It was only in our Democratic Country that Judaism and Christianity were able to integrate science and liberal thought into their religious systems. Just as the United States originally imported liberal Christianity and liberal Judaism from Germany, then reworked them over and over again, finally exporting American Liberal, reformist, progressive Christianity and American Reform Judaism back to Europe, Israel and other lands, so it is in America that we can best foster a more Liberal Islam; and building upon the Gulen movement, encourage that faith community to share its new-found sense of openness, and consequently perhaps even influence Islam around the world.

And so we are met at this forum, in dialogue and friendship, to reaffirm those core ethical values in our own respective faiths, and to grow toward a better understanding of one another; and as one loving family, come together with the reaffirmation to heal and repair this wonderful world of potential that God has given us.

The great 12th century Jewish philosopher, Judah Halevi, in his famous text, the “Kuzari”, speaking of Christianity and also of Islam, said: “These people, these religions, are the preparation for the Messianic day which is to come. Just as a seed must break up and separate into parts in order that it might absorb the fruits of the soil; the rain and the sun, so that it might become reintegrated later on in a fruit and a flower, true to itself and its nature, so Judaism had to separate, in a sense, disintegrate, into other faiths besides itself, so that it could absorb the strength of the whole of mankind for its own ultimate growth in the fulfillment of its destiny.”

Great and eternal is the debt that these great religions owe each other. Now it is up to us to learn and to teach, to understand and to share, to speak and to show by the example of how we are living our lives, that the grand humanistic teachings of these three ancient yet modern faiths can yet be carried out, so that together, we might tap the mind of the One God of us all, and see the future as an opportunity to be transformed, and to make our world worthy of redemption!


Thank you.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Rumi Forum welcomes Ramadan

Rumi Forum is dedicated to dialogue and increasing understanding between all communities. Ramadan plays an important role in increasing this dialogue. Rumi Forum organizes numerous institutional Iftar dinners and similarly dinners in homes to be a catalyst for increased dialogue and social harmony, information exchange and education. The forum wishes that Ramadan is a means for personal development and peace for all World communities.

see Ramadan events from previous years:
http://www.rumiforum.org/iftars/
http://www.rumiforum.org/virginia/rumi-forums-fairfax-chapter-welcomed-guests-at-ramadan-iftar-dinner.html

photos:
https://picasaweb.google.com/110222538312634006729/RUMIFORUM#5518747310009477602
https://picasaweb.google.com/110222538312634006729/RUMIFORUM2#5769197577317480898

videos:
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=iftar+rumiforum&page=1

follow Rumi Forum via:
http://twitter.com/rumiforum
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rumi-Forum/270743316210
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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

MEDIA: Mandela and Gulen by Ibrahim Ozdemir

Mandela and Gülen by İbrahim Özdemir *


Illustration, Cem Kızıltuğ


1 July 2013
(This story was written during the darkest days of the so-called Feb. 28 process and was published in the Zaman daily on Dec. 21, 1999. Today the whole world is focused on Nelson Mandela who has been in hospital for the last few days. I think it is time to rethink the message given by two great leaders of our time, Mandela and Fethullah Gülen, a decade ago at the Parliament of the World's Religions. We join in the prayers for Mandela and wish these two great leaders health and peace.)


The Parliament of the World's Religions held its largest and final meeting of the century on Dec. 1-8, 1999 in the South African city of Cape Town.


As is known, this parliament held its first meeting in Chicago in 1893. The second gathering was again held in Chicago a hundred years later. Approximately 8,000 people from various religions and beliefs participated in the latter event and accepted the Declaration of a Global Ethic.

Search for solutions to mankind's problems

This point made by Parliament President Dr. Howard Sulkin was very important: The 20th century was the stage of two World Wars and many smaller ones. Emphasizing that approximately 200 million people had lost their lives in these wars, he said: “The scientific and technological advances in the 20th century caused many problems, the environmental crisis in particular. For this reason, it can be seen that many people are turning once again to spiritual traditions and religion as they enter a new century. All religions and their members have a great responsibility to make the 21st century an age of peace, tolerance and love. As was clearly seen in Communist Russia, it's not possible to destroy religious belief by using violence and force. In addition, taking a lesson from religious wars in history, an opportunity should not be given to those who want to make the 21st century a stage for a war of civilizations. For this reason, we all have to take on great responsibility. Protecting our differences and taking strength from our spiritual traditions, we must find solutions to mankind's problems.”

New turning point


As a result, the meeting held at Cape Town was very important and it appears that this will be a new turning point for all religions. Just like UN decisions, all decisions made here will be announced to the world and those acting contrary to these or those infringing on them will be publicly criticized and exposed. The most important aspect of this meeting, in which more than 6,000 people from different religions participated, was the fact that it was held in a spirit of civil initiative.


This meeting carried a unique meaning and Cape Town was specially selected. South Africa is not only a country of people whose people are black, but at the same time it is a country where one of this century's darkest, most dictatorial, racist and oppressive regimes came to power. For many years people had been segregated into groups according to color, language, race and religion and were ruled by a white, racist regime that comprised only 13 percent of the population. When you take into account the fact that South Africa's hero Mandela spent 28 years in prison and that the country had turned into a prison, the nature of the oppressive regime can be better understood. In addition, people had been divided into three categories: whites, mulattos and local blacks. Non-whites being able to enter white residential areas and certain districts in the city was dependent on “permission.”

However, all this oppression and persecution didn't stand for long against man's belief, honor and human rights and freedoms. The end came in 1994 when Mandela was elected president. Thus the underlying spirit of the Parliament of the World's Religions gathering here was: It is not possible to eliminate man's rights and freedoms and religious beliefs by means of force, oppression, violence or terror. In addition, one of the basic goals of the meeting was a discussion of religions' contribution to man's peace, security and a sustainable world.

Mandela: My belief kept me going


Participating in the meeting, Mandela made some very interesting points about the power of religion. Mandela is known by the slogan, “The Struggle Is My Life” and he endured unthinkable kinds and amounts of torture. “If I didn't have religious belief, I could not have endured oppression and torture. My faith was the basic motivation of my spirit of struggle. In other words, if I'm addressing you here today, it's a result of my religious faith and God's grace. Without this kind of faith it wouldn't be possible to withstand this kind of inhumane torture. As a result, many of my friends met ruin because they didn't have such faith,” he said. Concerning the role of religions, Mandela said: “While we were in prison, our connections with the outside world were cut. However, Muslim, Christian and Jewish religious people and groups didn't leave us all alone. With their help, we left prison as educated people. For this reason, in order for the 21st century to be a time of peace and not confrontation, great duties and responsibilities face religious people. In this respect, the significance of this parliament is even greater.”

Hocaefendi, Mandela and Dalai Lama


Everyone gave these views a standing ovation. Like Mandela, world-famous Tibetan monk the Dalai Lama was another leader who attracted a lot of attention. He was the center of attention, especially for Western youth and other groups. Pointing out the mission that awaits religions in the new millennium, the Dalai Lama emphasized the importance of dialogue among different faiths and civilizations. Even though he didn't attend the meeting, Fethullah Gülen Hocaefendi was another person who attracted attention with the message and presentations he sent in his stead. Hocaefendi was personally invited to the parliament, but he was unable to attend due to poor health. In spite of this, he sent a message of greetings and two presentations. In my opinion, this shows the importance and support Hocaefendi gave to the meeting, on the one hand, and to efforts for peace and tolerance among religions and civilizations on the other. Because of this, both the message and presentations were received with great interest. The West knows him not only for his wisdom and educational efforts, but also for his initiatives to build “Peace and Dialogue” on the foundations of love, mercy, accepting everyone as they are, mutual respect, human rights and justice. The image of his being received as a Muslim scholar by the Pope at the Vatican is preserved in Westerners' memories. The interest in him shown by international communities is interesting in light of the fact that despite all these constructive efforts, some people in Turkey persist in not recognizing Hocaefendi or in misinterpreting his message. For this reason, I believe it's necessary to underscore some of the points in Hocaefendi's presentations.


The first point Fethullah Hoca made regarding the parliament was the meaning the 21st century has for all religions. “Every new dawn, every new day, every spring, every new century and millennium in human history means a new beginning and new hope. In this respect, within the wheel of time that turns regardless of our will, man has always sought a new breath in the freshness of the dawn and a new breath of life, especially in moments of difficulty, and with the ease of stepping out of the cradle, he felt hope and desire to step out of the darkness and into the light.


It can only be estimated how much time has passed since our first ancestors walked on this earth, which is mentioned together with the vast skies in the Quran and held as their equal in respect to its divine artistry and ontological meaning. It appears that it will always be only an estimate on man's part. However, according to the calendar we use to measure time since Jesus' (p.b.u.h.) birth, we are at the threshold of the third millennium. Actually, just as time is perceived by the individual's perspective, the dimension in which he exists, according to its position in the universe, it turns in spiral relativity as well. For this reason, because of its meaning and date and social value, which is going from one condition to another, from tribalism to civilization, from belief to action, from the individual to society, the Hijra was accepted as the beginning of Islam's calendar. Along with this, time measurement has gained an international character, and the world is at the threshold of a new millennium. At this point it is beneficial to mention that there is a situation of relativity here. It is a point to consider that in the history of man, just as a century is measured as 100 years, an average lifespan of 60 years could be considered a century as well. Approaching the matter from this angle, we are already in the fourth millennium A.D. and the third millennium A.H. On the other hand, using the measurement of 100 years as a century, we are already in the eighth millennium according to the Judaic calendar. In the Hindu historical line we are living in the “Kali Yuga” period. I especially wanted to mention this issue in view of the fact that frightening events that are expected in the third millennium by the Western world have already begun to have their effect on people's spirits.”


In the following text, Hocaefendi emphasizes the importance of faith and belief, which were underscored in the previously mentioned words of Mandela, “I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for my religious faith.”


“Man always lives with hope; he is the child of hope. When hope is extinguished, his life is finished, even if it continues physically. Hope is in direct proportion to faith. Just as the winter season comprises one-fourth of the year, the periods similar to winter in an individual or society's life are always less. The wheel of divine activity is so magnificent; Divine Unity, which surrounds all of existence and individual existence at the same time, turns with the wisdom of change. Just as each day the revolution of night and day constantly gives hope to man and life to his spirit, every year the purity of spring, the maturity of summer and the austerity of fall lead us to say ‘hello' to winter. Similarly, in the full wheel of life, whether on the basis of individuals, nations or all mankind, the expectations of dawn, spring and summer make us smile at the winter snow. This wisdom-filled ‘period of Allah' revolution is a vehicle for contemplation, insight and gratefulness rather than fear and pessimism for those who possess faith, foresight and the sensitivity to feel the truth, or, in other words, people whose hearts are clear and whose ears are open. Just as day develops in the bosom of night and just as winter serves as the womb of spring, in this evolution life becomes clarified, matures and gives the expected fruit. Within this evolution, the aptitudes latent in man become skills; like rose petals opening, knowledge weaves technology on the loom of time and, parallel to the advancement of time, mankind draws closer, step by step, to the result that is destined for it.”


At this meeting attended by members of all the world's major religions and where discussions were held on what religion could contribute to resolving the problems facing mankind in the 21st century, Hocaefendi summarized what was required as follows: “It is necessary to neither close our eyes to reality nor to leave it as it is. Man mirrors all of Allah's attributes and names and he has the honor of being the means for the task of construction on this Earth in His name and he has the responsibilities this entails. If he doesn't see the wisdom in events which are absolute good in respect to creation and the Creator, but contain evil in some aspects respective to man, then he cannot be saved from the despair and pessimism that man usually falls into, like the existentialists who expressed themselves in the most spectacular way of the century. Thus, life becomes a meaningless process; existence is an emptiness without substance; nonsense is the only criterion; suicide has value and death is the only inevitable truth. In this respect, in the awareness and acceptance that one spoke of the wheel that moves history forward is tied to man, it is necessary to see and pinpoint the realities of life and mankind. On the other hand, it is necessary to give direction to these realities in line with the purpose and ideals based on that which has existed since the first day without changing and which will continue to exist in the foundation of universal values based on faith. This is a necessity of being a man and the only way to sustain life within an orbit of hope, love, excitement, enthusiasm and joy.”

Hocaefendi described the meaning and importance of inter-faith dialogue and tolerance for mankind as follows:

“I hope and believe that the new millennium, contrary to what the West fears, will promise at least a happier, more just and more merciful world than the previous one. Although Islam, Christianity and Judaism come from the same root, possess the same basic principles and are fed from the same source, they have existed for centuries as rival religions. Now, we witness that efforts for dialogue among these religions, efforts that extend to even the ancient Hindu and Chinese religions, are having positive results. As was briefly mentioned previously, in a world that has become a global village, this dialogue will develop as a necessary process and members of the great religions mentioned will inevitably draw closer to one another and find ways to help one another.”


Pointing out that even the conflict between religion and science has lost its attraction and that a more compatible atmosphere has developed between them, Hocaefendi underscored the important role of the Risale-i Nur in this as follows:


“The word of God, which is a ladder of light taking man to God, is manifested in historical form in the Qur'an and the Old and New Testaments. Nature and, on the micro plane, man are manifestations of the will and might of God. Thus, there can be no real conflict between religion and science which examines nature and man. However, previous centuries have painfully witnessed that science has led to a positivist and materialist denial of religion. Christianity has been most affected by this. Efforts made on this issue whether by Christian theologians and scientists or by Muslims, especially the book, Risale-i Nur, taking up this subject in a wonderful way, have enabled this conflict to be resolved. I am hopeful that this centuries-old conflict between religion and science will come to an end, or at least that the futility of such a conflict will be verified.”


As can be seen, a culture of peace, tolerance, acceptance of differences and living together in harmony has met wide acceptance all over the world. In spite of those who see their interests and gains in conflict, genocide and war, mankind wants to enter the new millennium in peace, harmony and justice. It is suggested that national funds spent on arms, conflict and war be spent in the solution of problems that affect us all, especially education, health, poverty and the environment. The most joyful point is that people and groups of different religions and beliefs are showing the will to work together and cooperate on these issues. There is no reason not to hope that the coming century will be better than the previous one.