Born in Erzurum, in eastern Turkey, in 1941, M. Fethullah Gülen is an Islamic scholar and thinker, and a prolific writer and poet. He was trained in the religious sciences by several celebrated Muslim scholarsand spiritual masters. Gülen also studied the principles and theories of modern social and physical sciences. Based on his exceptional skills in learning and focused self-study, he soon surpassed his peers. In 1959, after attaining excellent examination results, he was awarded a state preacher’s license (in Edirne), and was promoted to a post in Izmir, Turkey’s
third largest province, in 1966. It was here that Gülen started to
crystallize his theme and expand his audience base. In his sermons and speeches he emphasized the pressing social issues of the times: his particular aim was to urge the younger generation to harmonize intellectual enlightenment with wise spirituality and a caring, humane activism. Gülen did not restrict himself to teaching in the inner cities. He traveled around the provinces in Anatolia and lectured not only in
mosques, but also at town meetings and corner coffee houses. This enabled him to reach a more representative cross-section of the population and to attract the attention of the academic community, especially the student body. The subject matter of his speeches, whether formal or informal, was not restricted explicitly to religious questions; he also talked about education, science, Darwinism, about the economy and social justice. It was the depth and quality of his speeches on such a wide range
of topics that most impressed the academic community, and won their attention and respect. Gülen retired from formal teaching duties in 1981, having inspired a whole generation of young students. His efforts, dating from the 1960s, especially in educational reform, have made him one of the best-known
and respected figures in Turkey. From 1988 to 1991, he gave a series of sermons as preacher emeritus in some of the most famous mosques in major population centers, while continuing to deliver his message in the form of popular conferences, not only in Turkey, but also in Western Europe.
In his speeches and writings Gülen envisions a twenty-first century in which we shall witness the birth of a spiritual dynamic that will revitalize long-dormant moral values; an age of tolerance, understanding, and international cooperation that will ultimately lead,through intercultural dialogue and a sharing of values, to a single, inclusive civilization. In the field of education, he has spearheaded the establishment of many charitable organizations to work for the welfare ofthe community, both within and without Turkey. He has inspired the use of mass media, notably television, to inform the public, of matters of pressing concern to them, individually and collectively. Gülen believes the road to justice for all is dependent on the provision of an adequate and appropriate universal education. Only then will there be sufficient understanding and tolerance to secure respect for the rights of others. To this end, he has, over the years, encouraged the social eliteand community leaders, powerful industrialists as well as small businessmen, to support quality education. With donations from these sources, educational trusts have been able to establish many schools, both in Turkey and abroad. Gülen has stated that in the modern world the only way to get others to accept your ideas is by persuasion. He describes those who resort to force as being intellectually bankrupt; people will always demand freedomof choice in the way they run their affairs and in their expression of their spiritual and religious values. Democracy, Gülen argues, in spite of its many shortcomings, is now the only viable political system, and people should strive to modernize and consolidate democratic institutionsin order to build a society where individual rights and freedomsare respected and protected, where equal opportunity for all is morethan a dream.
I wonder whether we have fully recognized the most beloved of
hearts. Even I, who have been performing five daily prayers since the age of 5 and striving to be a servant at his door, wonder if I can recognize him. Have we been able to enthuse love into the hearts of our recent generations by describing the ultimate source of all love and enthusiasm?
If only humanity had known Muhammad, they would have fallen in love with him as Majnun fell in love with Layla.3 Whenever his name is mentioned, they would tremble with joy in anticipation of entering the ethos that surrounds him and those following his way wholeheartedly. We can love only those whom we know and only to the extent of our knowledge. Our enemies have tried to make us forget him, to ensure that his name is no longer mentioned. Since he is supported by God, all obstacles have been torn down, and the younger generation submits to him as joyfully as one dying of thirst does upon finding water. His mighty tenderness and compassion will embrace every “thirsty” person who comes to him. You must have noticed that when you come to the Friday prayers, the congregation consists mainly of young people. Have you ever asked why, despite the prevalence of misguidance and rebellion, young people come to mosques and sit despite cold and other difficulties? There is only one attraction: Muhammad. Whether we can grasp it or not, souls and hearts rush to him as moths to a candle. Even those “winter flies” who have not been so fortunate will soon turn to him. Scientists and great thinkers will study him. Those who are currently enemies will soon be bosom friends, and will take refuge in his warm welcome. In his time, even his enemies admired him. He once related a dream: “They weighed me against ten people of my community, and I outweighed them. Then they weighed me against a hundred and then a thousand, and I outweighed them all.”4 He also related: “I was weighed against my whole community, and I outweighed it.”5 He outweighs all peopleof intellect, piety and spirituality, and faith and knowledge, for all other beings were created because of him. It is reported that God said to him:“But for you, I would not have created the spheres.
HKUST MBA East and Southeast Asia Business Professional Awards in Hong Kong
Kiel University international awards to Study in Europe, Asia and North America, 2021
Japanese Government (MEXT) Scholarships for Young Leaders Program at GRIPS
EPFL Excellence Fellowships
University of Geneva Excellence Masters Fellowships
finduddannelse.dk Sustainability Scholarship
Rotary Foundation Global Scholarship Grants for Development
Schwarzman Scholars Program at Tsinghua University
University of Melbourne Graduate Research Scholarships
Australia Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarships
Subscribe to get the updates