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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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Chapter 5: Fethullah Gülen and the Education of Peace: How Shared Jewish and Muslim “Teaching Tales” Echo the Contemporary Movement Thomas Block 67

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• C H A P T E R F I V E • Fethullah Gülen and the Education of Peace: How Shared Jewish and Muslim “Teaching Tales” Echo the Contemporary Movement Thomas Block ethullah Gülen, a source of ongoing interfaith work, dedicates himself to education as a tool of understanding and peace. Contrary to authoritarian and narrow readings of religious texts and practice, he emphasizes ethical interaction among different peoples, as well as honest and open dialogue to help bring morality to the center of interfaith interactions, as well as a person’s individual path. Gülen considers education the ultimate means through which we can improve the world. As such, Fethullah Gülen operates in the world of Prophetic Activism: that is, he translates a spiritual belief into specific social action. Following in the legislative prophetic tradition of such great medieval thinkers as Muhyiddin ibn Arabi (d. 1240), Moses Maimonides (d. 1204) and St. Francis of Assisi (d. 1226), Gülen believes that prophetic understanding without action is little more than an academic exercise, affecting few and leaving no lasting impression on the world. Therefore, he has marshaled healing energies through varied educational curricula, traditional media outreach, and Internet programming to positively influence society. In this way, he disseminates the curative energy of interfaith understanding and education. Moreover, the Gülen Movement seeks peace through constant effort and struggle (Greater Jihad, in the Islamic tradition— striving to make oneself a better submitter to God’s will and the world a better...

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