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Preventing Violence and Achieving World Peace

The Contributions of the Gülen Movement

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Edited By Ori Z. Soltes and Margaret A. Johnson

How can we address the seemingly endless conflicts in the world, particularly those arising from misunderstandings of Islam by both Muslims and non-Muslims? Preventing Violence and Achieving World Peace: The Contributions of the Gülen Movement presents the essays of eight scholars who consider the diverse ways in which the Gülen Movement or hizmet («service to others») – inspired by contemporary Turkish social philosopher Fetullah Gülen – has worked to answer this question. Drawing from various intellectual and theological sources, particularly Sufism, these essays indicate multiple instances of positive interfaith and/or multicultural dialogue. In addition, they consider how the writings of Gülen and the works of the Gülen Movement, through an extensive program of education and communication, have contributed significantly to efforts that oppose violence and shape universal peace.

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Introduction: Education, Preventing Violence, World Peace, and the Gülen Movement Ori Z. Soltes & Margaret A. Johnson 1

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• I N T R O D U C T I O N • Education, Preventing Violence, World Peace, and the Gülen Movement Ori Z. Soltes & Margaret A. Johnson uman beings are a dynamic and complicated combination of reason and emotion. Over the course of the millennia, these two aspects of what we are have both interwoven and contended with each other. Violence as one particularly strong expression of negative emotion has competed both with positive emotions and with rational thinking, which serve as mechanisms that can temper violence. Toward the beginning of formalized Western religious and philosophical thought, the question of how we might most effectively temper violence has been discussed. Plato’s Republic and the Academy that sought to embody the ideas expressed in that work had as part of their goal to do this: to shape a society governed by leaders whose clear-headed powers of reason, honed by a lengthy and well-rounded educational process, would champion the most positive side of human possibility and reduce its ugliest aspects to a minimum. Education—training leaders for their role and other citizens for theirs in the ideal, peaceful state—would be the primary instrument in reducing violence and other negative emotion-based human features. From Plato’s day to our own there have been any number of individuals who have stood out as pursuers of this same goal, and many have articulated a similar method: we can raise our children from the beginning and educate them as we continue to educate ourselves toward...

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