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The Turkish “Great Teacher” ─ Fethullah Gülen and his Amazing Social Reforms 2017-06-06T11:38:11+00:00

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The Turkish “Great Teacher” ─ Fethullah Gülen and his Amazing Social Reforms

Posted on 15/10/2012

The Turkish

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Hence, there is no doubt that a person who is armoured with love needs no other weapon. Indeed, love is strong enough to stop a bullet or even a canon [sic] ball.

──Fethullah Gülen, Love Towards Humankind (p. 6)

We all live in this world and we are passengers on the same ship. In this respect, there are many common points that can be discussed and shared with people from every segment of society.

── Fethullah Gülen, Understanding Fethullah Gülen (p. 22)
M. Fethullah Gülen was born in 1941 in Korucuk near Erzurum, in Turkey. He is a devout Muslim and Sufi teacher. He is also an important contemporary thinker, educator and poet.

Since the 1960s, besides preaching about the Islamic faith, Gülen has also been actively campaigning on behalf of understanding and tolerance. Strongly opposed to violence, his work has been a conduit of social cohesion and harmony for many different people. Since 1970, Gülen has been very active and he often advocates intercultural dialogue ─ through dialogue and communication people can reach understanding and tolerance. He has long been working on the pursuit of social reforms and continuous moral education. His ideas are spread through teaching, writing, and interviews, as well as through meeting different people, especially religious figures and politicians. His ideas have a wide impact on people all over the world.

Gülen’s ideas have attracted many followers who regard him as a spiritual leader and teacher. His followers have implemented his thoughts to help others with different practices, which has developed into a social  movement called the very vibrant Hizmet (Service) Movementis or the Gülen Movement.

The Gülen Movement

Gülen has inspired a worldwide network of members who came together to initiate the Gülen movement. All the members are voluntary and there has never been a leader or anyone in charge behind the scenes. This movement is based on the Islamic faith that also forms the backbone of the Gülen ideology. There are clear goals to do good altruistic deeds but there are no time limits, planning or targets. People can just work together because of shared values and they can contribute what they can best offer, and they can always withdraw from activities any time. The exact number of members of the Gülen Movement is not known but it is estimated that it varies from one million to eight million.

Although admired by millions of people, Gülen refuses to be the leader or the person in charge of any organization and he just wants to remain a spiritual teacher. He points out that the true essence of Islam, in addition to faith in Allah, is to cherish and spread to humanity goodness, kindness, forgiveness, honesty, generosity, the pursuit of inner peace and social harmony etc. And people should use “intercultural dialogues” to understand and accept each other’s social, ethnic and cultural differences, including differences of beliefs and practices. He advocates that people of different religions, from different countries and with different ideologies and cultures should use intercultural dialogues to seek consensus and mutual care. He believes that humans have more in common than differences, and that all should live in harmony and work together to pursue the ideals of mankind.

The Civil Society Movement to Promote Peace

In 1980, Turkey experienced political instability. The military took over the government and implemented martial law. As more stringent laws were passed, Gülen resigned from preaching. After the parliamentary elections in 1983, martial law was phased out and Gülen could resume his work. Although he was later arrested, Gülen was soon released and he was able to continue and once again actively promote “intercultural dialogue to spread compassion, peace, and the use of gradual social reforms to facilitate social construction.

Since 1990, he has met with Turkish Prime Ministers, members of Congress, various religious groups, including religious leaders like Pope John Paul II, some minority religious representatives, as well as other thinkers, teachers, businessmen and professionals. Gülen has also repeatedly talked about different religious, social, educational, political issues through media interviews to promote his ideas. Because of his far-reaching impact, Gülen was named the “great teacher (Khodjaefendi). As he promotes the doctrine of Sufi Benevolence and Fraternity, he is also known as the modern-day Rumi. Gülen’s books about Rumi and Sufism are used by some universities as textbooks on the research of world ideologies.

The day after 9/11, Gülen immediately issued an open letter to publicly condemn any kinds of terrorism for whatever motivations. He accused terrorism of undermining world peace and destroying the reputation of Muslims, and that they were completely in violation of the Islamic beliefs.

The Multidimensional Construction of a Spiritual Society

In 1994, Gülen helped set up the Journalists and Writers Foundation and served as the Honorary President, which was aimed at promoting “intercultural dialogue” for people from all walks of life. It further established a platform known as the Abant Platform (1998) to organize in-depth discussions on political and cultural issues. Almost every year thereafter they have different topics of discussion.

Gülen has written more than sixty books and hundreds of articles. There are thousands of recordings of his speeches, which are well received by millions of domestic and foreign readers. Some of Gülen’s books have become bestsellers and have been translated into English, French, Arabic, Russian, German, Spanish, and Urdu, Bosnian, Albanian, Marathi, Indonesian, Chinese, Japanese, and more.

Education is a very important aspect of the Gülen movement and Gülen’s followers have built many middle and primary schools and universities. There are about three hundred schools in Turkey and thousands more overseas, including in southeastern Turkey, Central Asia, parts of Africa, East Asia and Eastern Europe. These schools are funded by private companies, philanthropists and parents, and the educational mission is to promote Muslim love and peace as well as to encourage sincere dialogues and exchanges between people. In war-torn areas such as southeastern Turkey and Afghanistan, these schools provide precious opportunities for students to continue studying.

The Gelan movement also inspired numerous media and organizations, such as the Zaman Newspaper, Samanyolu TV, and the international humanitarian organization Kimse Yok Mu.
Websites on the Gülen Movement:

English              http://en.mfethullahGülen.org/
Chinese Simplified http://ch.mfethullahGülen.org/
Chinese                 http://sch.mfethullahGülen.org/

Original Chinese text: Elsa Lam
Translation: Brenda Leung
English Editing: Raymond Lam

Buddhistdoor International Elsa Lam
2012-10-15

一個穿上愛之甲冑的人不再需要任何武器。愛的的確確有如一道堅固之牆,足以擋住子彈,甚至炮彈。

──法土拉.葛蘭,〈對人類的愛〉

我們活在這世間,坐著同一條船。大家有許多共同點值得分享,可以有商有量,一起改善社會。

愛是存在於每個人之中的種子。

──法土拉.葛蘭,Understanding Fethullah Gulen

法土拉.葛蘭(M. Fethullah Gulen),1941年生於土耳其埃爾祖魯姆省(Erzurum)的科魯柱克(Korucuk),是虔誠的伊斯蘭教徒及「蘇非」(Sufism)導師,土耳其當代重要思想家、宗教家、教育家、詩人。

打從1960年代青年時期起,葛蘭在弘傳伊斯蘭信仰之餘,積極宣揚仁愛、諒解與寬容的重要性,到處提倡落實到生活、教育、社會各層面去關懷他人,極力反對任何形式的暴力。他在1970年代以來便非常活躍,經常來往各地鼓吹「對話」──通過對談、交流而了解彼此,追求溝通與包容。他長期致力於柔性的社會改革和持續的德育教化,其思想通過講學、著作、接受訪問,以及與不同人士特別是宗教人物、政要等對談的方式而廣泛流佈,影響了國內外數百萬人。

他的思想吸引了很多追隨者,視他為精神領袖、心靈導師,更組織起來做各種利他的信仰實踐,發展成一個稱為Hizmet(至善無私的公益,altruistic service to the “common good”)的社會運動,或稱為葛蘭運動(Gulen Movement),至今不輟。

領袖從缺的葛蘭運動

葛蘭運動是人們在葛蘭思想的感召下,自發地走在一起而誕生的,每個人或團體都是自願參與和協作,從來沒有最高領袖或幕後指揮。這「運動」以伊斯蘭信仰為基礎,以葛蘭思想為骨幹,有清楚的行善利他目的,卻沒有期限、規劃或指標,人們可隨著互相介紹關係因志同道合而協作起來,隨力貢獻,成員也可隨時退出活動,完全是開放而鬆散的運作;所謂「成員」並不固定,也沒有一定的數目,據說粗略估計介乎一百萬至八百萬間。

雖然有數百萬人愛戴,葛蘭卻拒絕作任何組織的負責人、領導者,只要當個精神老師。他指出,真正的伊斯蘭信仰,除了信主外,還要珍惜和發揚人類共有的至善,如仁愛、寬恕、誠實,樂意分享,追求內在的平安、社會祥和……等;而不同社會、民族、文化之間的差異,包括信仰和習俗的分歧,都應該透過「對話」而彼此接納和包容。他主張不同宗教、不同國家、不同意識形態、不同文化之間的人應該互相多作「對話」,尋求共識,互相關懷。他認為,人類擁有共通的地方遠比差異多,所以應該和諧共處,一起追求人類的共同理想。

推動和平的柔性社運

1980年,土耳其國內政治不穩,軍隊接管了政府並實行軍事管制法;由於法令越來越嚴苛,葛蘭也辭去講道之職。1983年經過議會選舉,軍事管制法逐漸取消;而葛蘭在1986年也重新站上講台宣道。雖然他未幾又遭拘捕,但很快獲釋,並繼續他的弘法事業,再次積極推動「對話」,宣揚慈悲和平,以柔和手段改革和建設社會。

1990年代以來,他先後與土耳其總理、國會議員,不同宗教人士包括天主教教宗約望保祿二世、國內屬少數派的宗教代表,以及多位思想家、教育家、商人、專業人士等進行「對話」,並多次透過傳媒訪問而公開談論宗教、社會、教育、政治等不同議題,藉此提倡其理念。由於影響深遠,因此而得到「大老師」(Khodjaefendi)的尊稱。因為弘揚「蘇非」的慈悲博愛教義,又被譽為「現代的魯米」(modern-day Rumi)。其有關魯米與蘇非思想的著作更被大學採用作為研讀世界思想的課本。

在美國「九一一」事件發生後翌日,他立即發出公開信,第一時間站出來公開反對無論任何動機的恐怖主義。他指責恐怖主義行為破壞世界和平,摧毀真正伊斯蘭信徒的聲譽,徹底違背了信仰。

多向度建設精神文明

1994年,葛蘭協助成立了「記者與作家基金會」(Journalists and Writers Foundation),並擔任榮譽主席,藉此推動社會各階層不同團體的「對話」。更進一步成立了一個稱為Abant Platform的討論平台(1998),組織不同界別人士進行有關政治、文化融和的深入討論,其後幾乎每年都有不同重要議題的討論。

他擁有超過六十本著作、數百篇文章,和成千的演講錄音,國內外讀者人數達數百萬;其多本著作都成為暢銷書,又先後被翻譯為英文、法文、阿拉伯文、俄文、德文、西班牙文、烏爾都文(Urdu)、波斯尼亞文、阿爾巴尼亞文、馬拉文、印尼文、中文、日文等流通。

教育是葛蘭運動極為重視的一環,葛蘭的精神追隨者在土耳其國內外建立了很多大、中、小學:國內約有三百家,外地更數以千計,分佈於包括土耳其東南部、中亞、非洲部分地區、東亞及東歐等地。這些學校的辦學經費都由民間企業、商紳及家長合資贊助,教育宗旨就是宣揚愛與和平的伊斯蘭信仰,以及鼓勵人類的真誠對話和交流。這對一些經常發生武裝衝突的地區,如土耳其東南部、阿富汗等深具意義,亦為當地人士提供在恐襲動盪中珍貴的讀書機會。

因葛蘭運動而催生的媒體和組織不勝枚舉,如《時代報》(Zaman Newspaper)、 銀河電視台(Samanyolu TV)、國際人道救援組織Kimse Yok Mu,還有醫院等等,都秉持相同的公益理想,希望克盡己任幫助他人,攜手改善社會,締造世界和平。

關於法土拉.葛蘭的網頁:

英文   http://en.mfethullahgulen.org/
中文繁體 http://ch.mfethullahgulen.org/
中文簡體 http://sch.mfethullahgulen.org/

圖、文:林苑鶯
2012-10-15

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