Table of contents for Muslim citizens of the globalized world : contributions of the Gulen movement / edited by Robert A. Hunt, Yuksel A. Aslandogan.

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Preface v 
Contributors viii 
Introduction Challenges in Understanding the Muslim Citizens of the Globalized 
World Robert A. Hunt 1 
1.	The Regulated Potential of Kinetic Islam: Antitheses in Global Islamic Activism 
Joshua D. Hendrick 11 
1	The Educational Philosophy of Gulen in Thought and Practice Yuksel A. 
Aslandogan and Muhammed Cetin 29 
2	The Gulen Movement and Turkish Integration in Germany Jill Irvine 51 
3	Fethullah Gulen, Religions, Globalization and Dialogue Paul Weller 71 
4	The Most Recent Reviver in the Ulama Tradition: The Intellectual 'Alim, 
Fethullah Gulen 
Ali Bulac 85 
6.	Democracy and the Dialogue between Western and Islamic Legal Cultures: Fethullah 
Gulen's Efforts for Tolerance 
Leonid Sykiainen 103 
1	The Juxtaposition of Islam and Violence Ismail Albayrak 113 
2	Leaving Footprints in Houston: Answers to Questions on Women and the Gulen 
Anna J. Stephenson 123 
9.	Women and Their Rights: Fethullah Gulen's Gloss on Lady Montagu's "Embassy" to 
the Ottoman Empire 
Bernadette Andrea 137 
10.	Gulen and Sufism: A Historical Perspective Mustafa 
Gokcek 155 
References 165 
Index 177 
 This volume brings together essays exploring the response and contributions of 
Muslims in general and Turkish Muslims in particular to the waves of democratization, 
scientific revolution, changing gender roles, and religious diversity in an increasingly 
globalized world. The book explores the thought of Fethullah Gulen, Turkish Muslim 
scholar, author, and education activist, known by some as "a modern-day Rumi," and his 
impact on the millions of participants in a social phenomenon called the Gulen movement. 
Originating in Turkey but becoming increasingly transnational, the movement represents 
novel approaches to the reunification of faith and reason, peaceful co-existence in liberal 
democracies with religious diversity, education and spirituality. 
 The essay by Hendrick entitled "Transnational Muslim Social Movements and the 
Movement of Fethullah Gulen, A Comparative Approach" analyzes transnational Muslim 
social movements and seeks to show how the Gulen movement fits in the broader world 
of Muslim social movements. 
 Aslandogan and Cetin's essay on the educational philosophy and activism of 
Gulen considers the various dimensions of a comprehensive approach to private secular 
education that aims to educate responsible citizens and empathetic human beings who are 
open to science and rationality, as well as the spiritual dimension of being human. 
 Jill Irvine's essay, which is based on a field study, explores Gulen movement 
activities in Germany and how the movement is contributing to the integration of people 
of Turkish origin into German society. 
 Paul Weller's essay explores the thought of Fethullah Gulen on religion, 
globalization, and dialogue. He analyzes Gulen's response to modernity as one between 
Herodian compromise and Zealot reaction using the perspectives of the British historian 
Arnold Toynbee, an extremely controversial writer from the Turkish point of view. 
 Ali Bulac discusses Gulen as a Muslim scholar with an intellectual dimension and 
a representative of what he calls Civil Islam, as opposed to State Islam. He sees many 
elements of the Islamic ulama tradition in Gulen, including the legitimacy and credibility 
coming from civil support. Bulac sees Turkish 
 Leonid Sykiainen discusses various perspectives on the relationship of democracy 
with Islam. He positions Gulen with those scholars who point to the flexibilities in Islamic 
political theory and its compatibility with democratic principles. Sykiainen underlines 
Gulen's stance against the domination of a religious clergy and his belief that secular and 
religious values and ideas can live peacefully side by side in the same society. The 
augmentation of the principles of consultation, equality, and justice with new ones such as 
tolerance, dialogue, positive activism, education, and co-operation against common 
concerns is a significant contribution of Gulen as a thinker in Sykiainen's perspective. 
 Albayrak's article considers the use of violence for political ends from an Islamic 
perspective. He examines the views of violence and terror in major Islamic texts and the 
notion of jihad in Islam. He discusses the fallacies in false justifications of war in the 
modern world, including suicide attacks. Finally, he outlines the positive role of dialogue 
and love of humanity as expressed in Gulen's thought and activism as providing a basis for 
overcoming the global calamity of terror. 
 Stephenson's essay provides evidence about the perspectives of women 
participants in the Gulen movement on social issues as demonstrated by their daily 
practices. Through qualitative research on the life histories of Turkish women living in the 
Houston area who are inspired by Fethullah Gulen's teachings, she shows some of the 
ways they make major life decisions. 
 Andrea traces Gulen's views on women, their rights and roles, starting with his 
gloss on the letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. The wife of a British ambassador to 
the Ottoman Empire in the eighteenth century, Lady Montagu made many interesting 
observations on the rights and roles of Ottoman women and carried her observations back 
to her native country as a basis for her efforts to gain greater rights for women there. 
Andrea's analysis aims at correcting Western discourses on women's rights and roles in 
Islam, including mainstream Western feminist discourses, while challenging Muslim 
communities on customs that may have curtailed the full expression of women's rights 
according to the Qur'an and the prophetic example. 
 Gokcek positions Gulen's understanding of Islamic spirituality as firmly based on 
the Qur'an and the Sunna. He sees Gulen's understanding as exemplified in the second 
generation of Sufi masters, a generation marked by the presence of concepts and practices 
aimed at the purification of the heart without the traits of the 
 The Graduate Program in Religious Studies at Southern Methodist University and 
the Boniuk Center for the Study and Advancement of Religious Tolerance both helped 
make this project possible by co-hosting conferences on the Gulen movement in Houston 
(November 2005) and Dallas (March 2006) respectively. The essays in this book are based 
on papers presented at these conferences. 
 We would like to thank Kudbettin Aksoy for his help and for providing valuable 
criticism in preparing the manuscript, Hakan Yesilova for his translations from Turkish, 
without which a truly transnational project would not have been achieved, Ruth Woodhall 
of IID Press for her support in preparing the manuscript. 
Yuksel A. Aslandogan 
 Robert A. Hunt was born in Dallas, Texas, in 1955. He majored in history at the 
University of Texas in Austin. After completing a master's degree in theology at Perkins 
School of Theology (SMU), he served the Bethany United Methodist Church in Austin, 
Texas. In 1985, he and his wife Lillian moved to Kuala Lumpur, where they taught at the 
Theology Seminary, Malaysia. From 1993 to 1997, he taught at Trinity Theological College 
in Singapore. From 1997 to 2004, he was pastor of the English-speaking United Methodist 
Church of Vienna, and an adjunct professor at Webster University in Vienna. Dr. Hunt is 
presently Director of Global Theological Education at the Perkins School of Theology, 
Southern Methodist University. 
 Yuksel A. Aslandogan is an adjunct faculty member at Prairie View A&M 
University and Vice President of Academic Programs at the Institute of Interfaith Dialog in 
Houston, Texas. He is an author and an editorial board member for the Fountain magazine 
and has translated and compiled scientific articles for a popular scientific-spiritual magazine 
in Turkey since 1986. He has published articles and given seminars on topics including the 
relationship of science and religion, Islamic spirituality, comparative analysis of theories of 
learning and the prophetic tradition, and common cultural values among the world's major 
 Muhammed Cetin is a visiting scholar at the Religious Studies Department of 
the University of Houston. He was a visiting scholar at the Sociology Department of UT 
Austin from 2003-2004. He is currently a doctoral candidate in sociology at the School of 
Education, Human Sciences and Law of the University of Derby, UK. He has a master's 
degree in education from the University of Leicester and also holds diplomas in social 
sciences and ELT, and a bachelor's degree in English language and literature from the 
University of Ankara. He has previously worked as lecturer, vice-rector and ministerial 
adviser in Turkmenistan, and in 2001 he received an award for cultural service to 
Turkmenistan. He is the President of the Institute of Interfaith Dialog, Houston. 
 Jill Irvine, formerly a faculty member of the Political Science Department, 
rejoined the University of Oklahoma in 2005. She teaches courses on Religion and 
Violence; Religion, Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict; Women and World Politics; 
Women, Religion and Secularism; and Feminist Theory. Dr. Irvine is the author of The 
Croat Question: Partisan Politics and the Formation of the Yugoslav Socialist State (1995) 
and co-editor of State-Society Relations in Yugoslavia, 1945-1991 (1997). She has 
published articles in East European Politics and Societies, Problems of Postcommunism 
and Politik and contributed chapters to The Extreme Right in Western and Eastern 
Europe (1995), Women in the Politics of Postcommunist Eastern Europe (1999) and The 
Dissolution of Yugoslavia (2005). Her research interests focus on gender, democratization 
and ethnoreligious conflicts worldwide. 
 Paul Weller is Professor of Inter-Religious Relations at the University of Derby 
and Visiting Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture at Regent's Park 
College, University of Oxford. He is editor of Religions in the UK: Directory 2001-3 
(2001). Weller also contributed to a UK Government Home Office report entitled 
Religious Discrimination in England and Wales, Home Office Research Study 220 (2001) 
and is the author of Time for a Change: Reconfiguring Religion, State and Society (2005), 
which drew on resources from the Baptist tradition of Christianity to argue against the 
establishment of the Church of England and for alternatives that are neither a defense of a 
"one-dimensional" Christendom nor the adoption of a secularist disestablishment. 
 Ali Bulac graduated from the Istanbul Institute of Islamic Sciences in 1975 and 
from Istanbul University with a degree in sociology in 1980. He established Dusunce 
Journal and Publishing Company in 1976 and Insan Publishing Company in 1984. He co-
founded the award-winning daily Turkish newspaper Zaman in 1986 and continues to 
contribute articles. He has published over thirty books including titles such as Ortadogu 
Gercegi (The Reality of the Middle East) (Istanbul, 1988), Din-Felsefe Vahiy-Akil Iliskisi 
(Religion-Philosophy, Revelation-Intellect Relationships) (Istanbul, 2000), Avrupa Birligi ve 
Turkiye (The European Union and Turkey) (Istanbul, 2001), Din, Devlet ve Demokrasi 
(Religion, State and Democracy) (Istanbul, 2001), Din ve Modernizm (Religion and 
Modernism) (Istanbul, 2006). 
 Leonid Sykiainen is Professor of Russian Studies at the Higher School of 
Economics, Moscow, Russia. 
 Ismail Albayrak graduated from the School of Divinity, Ankara, in 1991. With a 
scholarship from the Turkish Higher Education Council he completed his Ph.D. at Leeds 
University in the United Kingdom in 2000. Since then he has been working as Associate 
Professor of Qur'anic Interpretation at Sakarya University, Adapazari, Turkey. He teaches 
and writes on Qur'anic studies, classical exegesis, contemporary approaches to the Qur'an 
and orientalism. He is the author of Klasik Modernizmde Kur'an'a Yaklasimlar 
(Approaches to the Qur'an in Classic Modernism) (Istanbul, 2004). His articles in English 
include "The Qur'anic Narratives of the Golden Calf Episode," Journal of Qur'anic 
Studies, 3 (2001); "The Classical Exegetes' Analysis of the Qur'anic Narrative," Islamic 
Studies, 42 (2003); "The Notions of Muhkam and Mutashabih in the Commentary of 
Elmali'li Muhammed Hamdi Yazir," Journal of Qur'anic Studies, 5 (2003); and "Turkish 
Exegeses of the Twentieth Century: Hak Dini Kur'an Dili," Islamic Studies, 43 (2004). 
 Joshua D. Hendrick received a master's degree in anthropology at the Northern 
Arizona University and in sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he is 
now a doctoral candidate. His research focuses on the sociology and politics of religion, 
faith-based social movements, and issues of ethnic and religious nationalism. He is a 
research assistant on a research project funded by the Carnegie Foundation and entitled 
"Global Islam: State capacity and Islamist responses to globalization in seven countries." 
For the past four years he has researched the historical and contemporary development of 
Muslim politics in the Middle East and in Muslim-majority states. Currently, he is working 
on the impact and significance of the transnational movement of M. Fethullah Gulen. 
 Anna J. Stephenson is a graduate of the University of Houston with a master's 
degree in cultural anthropology. Her interests include using life histories to explore culture 
as experienced in everyday life as well as to encourage understanding between people of 
diverse backgrounds and viewpoints. Her research in the United States and Turkey focused 
on Muslim use of transnational spaces to influence the development of Muslim activism in 
Turkish society and national identity. 
 Bernadette Andrea is Associate Professor of English at the University of Texas 
at San Antonio, where she is also Chair of the Department of English, Classics, and 
Philosophy. Her research focuses on women's writing from the sixteenth through the 
eighteenth century, with a particular emphasis on Western European interactions with the 
Ottoman Empire. Her recent publications also focus on twentieth-century Algerian, 
Egyptian, and Turkish women writers. Her book Women and Islam in Early Modern 
English Literature is to be published by Cambridge University Press in 2007. 
 Mustafa Gokcek is a doctoral candidate at the University of Wisconsin- 
Madison. He received his undergraduate and then his master's degree in International 
Relations at Bilkent University, Turkey. His dissertation addressed Russian-Ottoman 
intellectual relations at the beginning of the twentieth century. His current research 
interests include the relationship between nationalism and Islamism, the development of 
Muslim communities in modern Turkey, and the Gulen community. 
Challenges in Understanding the Muslim Citizens of the 
Globalized World 
Robert A. Hunt 
The engagement of Muslims with the modern West has been the subject of increasing 
study by both Muslim and non-Muslim scholars. Muslim scholars have written for over a 
century about the appropriate response of Muslims to the West, and how Muslim 
engagement with modernity should shape an understanding of Islam. By the early 20th 
century Muslims understood themselves as part of intellectual, political, and social 
movements that sought either a restoration and renewal of the Islamic civilization of the 
11th and 12th centuries, a return to the purity of the period of Muhammad and his 
immediate successors, or even a thoroughgoing "modernization" of Islam.1 The names and 
self-understandings of these movements have changed through time and in relation to the 
rapidly changing circumstances of the Muslim community. As this introduction is being 
written, scarcely a week goes by without a new analysis of developments in the Muslim 
world and a new approach to just which Muslim group is advancing which theory of how 
Islam should relate to modernity. Often these analyses are simplistic and politically 
motivated. Thus, "political Islam" is rather simplistically distinguished from 
1 Muslims themselves had several typologies to describe these various movements, and these have since multiplied 
with the addition of scholarly analysis from the West. Nineteenth and twentieth century Muslim reformers, such 
as Al-Afghani, Rashid Rida, Muhammad Abduh, Hassan al Bannah, Said Nursi and others consciously placed 
themselves within various traditions of Islamic reform and renewal beginning with Muhammad himself. Later, 
writers such as Malik Bennabi, Said Nursi, Fazlur Rahman, Ismail Faruki, and Western scholars ranging from 
Bernard Lewis to John Esposito to John Voll and others would seek to further refine this analysis of reform 
movements. The result has been multiple typologies of such movements, as well as the recognition that reform 
and renewal have always been part of the Islamic tradition. 
"religious Islam" and "moderates" are distinguished from "fundamentalists," "radicals," or 
"terrorists." It is not uncommon for the whole Muslim world to be painted with a broad 
brush, with writers like Shelby Steele willing to say "the Islamic World long ago fell out of 
history," as if there had never been a serious engagement of Islam with modernity.2 The 
threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon and the Israel-Hezbollah war in 2006 have turned 
attention to the differences between Shi'ites and Sunnis in relation to reform and 
engagement with modernity, although that point has been made for decades. 
 While all simplistic analysis of the engagement of Islam with modernity should be 
rejected, some sympathy should be offered to both pundits and scholars. Four factors 
make it particularly difficult to analyze modern Muslim movements. The first is that the 
global reach of rapid communication has allowed charismatic Muslim leaders with new 
ideas about Islam to take those ideas from the margins to center stage with unprecedented 
speed. The media often add fuel to this fire, giving otherwise obscure leaders celebrity 
status and access to the whole world with their ideas. 
 A second factor problematizing any analysis of the Muslim world is the realization 
that new ideas are emerging from Muslim societies long overlooked by both Muslim and 
non-Muslim scholars. Turkey, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, and Iran have often 
been treated as peripheral both to the Islamic world and the Muslim engagement with 
modernity-the historic importance of leaders from the sub-Continent like al-Afghani in 
the 19th century and Mawlana Mawdudi in the 20th century notwithstanding. Now 
terrorist links with Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Malaysia have brought Islam in 
these areas into the public consciousness, although the media seem to be scarcely aware of 
the full vitality of Islamic debate in those societies. Pakistan is seen as home to some 
"fundamentalist" movements to be sure, but it is also home to other prominent voices 
from across the spectrum of Muslim self-understanding. Indonesia and Malaysia are both 
home to intense and varied debates on the meaning of Islam in the contemporary world. In 
these Muslim societies one is as likely to find a discussion of postmodern thought and the 
future of Islam as a discussion of purifying Islam from foreign influence. Turkey and 
Europe have emerged more slowly as recognized centers of Islamic engagement with 
modernity, perhaps because Turkey has long been a secular society by law and Islam in 
Europe is usually seen in terms of poor migrant workers. Yet, given the now 
2 Wall Street Journal (week of August 24, 2006) Life and Death, by Shelby Steele. 
longstanding interplay of Turkish Islam and Europe's growing Turkish minority, this 
should perhaps be reconsidered. And scholars both charting and seeking to guide the shape 
of contemporary Islam are emerging within both the European and the American 
contexts.3 The case of Turkish Islam will come to the fore in the essays of this book. 
 The third factor which makes any analysis of contemporary Islam difficult is the 
rapid change in the environment with which Muslims are engaged. The works of Malik 
Bennabi and Fazlur Rahman could focus on Islam's engagement with modernity. Since 
they wrote, much of the West has moved (self-consciously, from an intellectual 
perspective) into post-modernity and new modes of self-understanding and religious and 
political engagement. Muslims engaged with the West, whether politically, economically, or 
intellectually, have been forced to adjust to these changes in the West.4 Globalization in all 
its dimensions has led to a Muslim engagement with the non-Muslim world that is intense 
and multi-faceted. There are no mediators, except perhaps for the media, between most 
Muslims and the non-Muslim world. Widely varying cultural influences, technologies, 
political ideologies, and economic possibilities come directly to the doorstep of most 
Muslims with an implicit demand for an Islamic response. And Muslims themselves, as 
they have throughout history, are seeking out such engagement with the prospect of 
material, intellectual, and spiritual enrichment. The result is a world of ferment in which 
Muslims pioneer new responses of varying degrees of adequacy not merely to the non-
Muslim world, but to globalization itself. 
 The fourth and final factor making it difficult for many Westerners to fully 
understand contemporary Islam is the refusal of Muslim scholars and the movements they 
inspire to distinguish between the renewal of intellectual, political, and social movements in 
Muslim society. Thus, leaders like Mawdudi and Al-Afghani would both write on the 
renewal of the life of worship and belief, while founding enduring social institutions and 
political parties. In the highly integrated concept of an Islamic way of life held by most 
reformers, obligations to prayer, spiritual nurture, and social justice are of equal concern-as 
is the integrity of the life of the mind and the congruence of theology with the natural 
sciences. Rarely have Muslim reformers lived in ivory towers allowing their ideas to be 
parsed from their actions. 
3 Tariq Ramadan and Tarik Mitri in Europe, for example, and Muzzamil Siddiqi and Khaled el-Fadl in the 
United States. 
4 See the work of Ernst Gellner, Postmodernism, Reason, and Religion and Akbar S. Ahmed, Islam, 
Globalization, and Postmodernity, for example. 
 This collection of essays seeks to articulate some of the responses that have 
emerged from the Turkish milieu in the last half century. In one form or another the 
articles explore what has been called the Gulen movement, which is manifest in a growing 
body of intellectual discourse as well as a substantial social movement involving by some 
estimates over five hundred schools, a university, publishing and television outlets, and a 
growing network of institutions around the world devoted to interfaith dialogue. The 
movement takes its impetus from the works and teaching of Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish 
scholar and spiritual leader. Gulen's approach to Islam defies easy categorization, and part 
of his appeal is that he integrates the indigenous Sufism of Turkey, and in particular the 
teaching of Rumi, with a strong emphasis on orthodox Islamic belief and practice. In the 
tradition of Said Nursi, whose students make up a significant Muslim movement in Turkey 
and Europe, Gulen both recognized and sought to integrate with Islamic teaching the 
intellectual promise of modern science. Participants are not comfortable with militant 
laicist practices, but with him believe that Muslims can live fruitfully in and contribute to 
secular and religiously plural democracies. 
 While the Gulen movement is clearly significant within the Islamic world, and 
deserves more scholarly attention than it has yet received, it does face a number of 
challenges related directly to globalization. The articles in this book address some of these. 
In particular, it reflects the priorities of the Gulen movement in addressing gender issues, 
the need for interfaith dialogue, the relation of Islam to secularism and democracy, and the 
application of Islamic principles in the realm of social and business life. Other important 
topics, outlined below, await more sustained attention by Gulen and those in his 
movement, and may be regarded as a future agenda for scholars seeking to understand fully 
the unique contribution of Turkish Islam to modern Muslim movements. 
 First, it remains for researchers to explore the Gulen movement experience of 
modern Islam as a multi-cultural, multi-linguistic phenomenon, and indeed as a civilization. 
There is a need for writing on the contemporary Islamic world comparable to Hodgson's 
work on Islamic civilization during the period from C.E. 800 to 1800, or the more recent 
work of Lapidus. With regard to the Gulen movement this will require several things, 
including (1) a further exploration of the role of non-Muslim religious minorities in 
dominantly Muslim societies, and (2) an exploration of the role of Muslim minorities in 
dominantly non-Muslim societies. 
 This will in turn entail a more serious study of the legacy of the Ottoman Empire, 
and how it was part of both the Islamic and European worlds. In particular, this 
exploration needs to be de-linked from the aspirations of contemporary Turkish national 
identity so that all aspects of Ottoman relationships with non-Turks and non-Muslims in 
its realms can be objectively explored. 
 It will also be necessary to place the Gulen movement in its social milieu and in 
particular in relation to Turkish social movements, both religious and otherwise. In 
particular, there is a need to understand better the relationship of the Gulen movement to 
the class of entrepreneurial businesspersons who provide financial backing for its 
institutions, have a strong interest in European integration, and play a distinctive role in the 
delicate interplay of society, state, and government in Turkey. 
 Finally, the movement will need to explore more fully Gulen's contribution to the 
dialogue of religion and science, taking more seriously the problem of a scientific 
worldview that completely denies the legitimacy of revelation as a way of comprehending 
the nature of the natural world and humanity. At this stage neither Gulen nor his followers 
have truly engaged scientists who are also philosophers of science. Scholars like Richard 
Dawkins, Steven Weinberg, Carl Sagan and others pose a serious challenge to any religious 
approach to understanding. The legacies of Said Nursi and Fethullah Gulen will help 
Muslims meet this challenge but are not themselves sufficient. Closely related to this must 
be an exploration of Gulen's teaching to post-modernity. 
 In addition to these general challenges to placing the Gulen movement in context, 
there are particular needs with regard to the proven commitment of Gulen's followers to 
engage the multi-religious dimension of globalization through interfaith dialogue. The 
problem of interfaith dialogue in the contemporary world is largely the problem of 
competing meta-narratives. It is the problem of Western civilization claiming to provide 
the paradigm within which it can understand all other civilizations better than they 
understand themselves. It is the notion that science can understand religion better than 
religion understands itself. It is the notion that Christianity understands other religions 
better than they understand themselves, or that Islam understands Christianity and other 
religions better than they understand themselves. In the face of such meta-narrative claims 
all dialogue essentially ceases because from within a meta-narrative there is no need to 
listen to the other. At the same time, globalization is rapidly making dialogue between 
holders of meta-narrative claims a near existential necessity. Western scholars have been 
working diligently on this problem for some decades. A distinctly Islamic contribution 
would be of great value in understanding how Muslims can fruitfully relate to globalization. 
 In a positive way the essays in this volume remind us of how globalization can 
broaden scholarly horizons. In them one finds the intersection of three rather different 
worlds of scholarship, worlds which need to learn from each other before they judge each 
other. In addition to Western and Turkish scholars who have contributed to this volume, 
there is a contribution from Russia. The contribution from Russia reveals both 
presuppositions and experiences that are different from those of the West or the Muslim 
world. Both relative cultural isolation under communism and different ways of 
appropriating the inheritance of the Enlightenment have affected their approaches to the 
social sciences and the relationship between science and religion. It seems to me that at the 
very least scholars need to take these perspectives seriously. Dialogue is always enriched 
when it brings together two very different approaches to understanding the same problem 
or issue. 
 This volume of essays brings into view a mix of Muslim and non-Muslim 
approaches to comprehending reality. For example, and at the root of all authoritatively 
Islamic thought, is the approach to understanding the Qur'an and Hadith. Western 
scholars have not resisted the temptation to approach the study of the Qur'an and Hadith 
with so-called "literary-critical" methodologies. After all, this is the way that most 
contemporary Christian scholars approach the study of their scripture. Such an approach 
either doesn't acknowledge or it discounts the fact that Muslims developed an equally 
rational, one could say scientific, approach to interpreting the Qur'an and Hadith many 
centuries ago. Like literary critical approaches it is based on certain presuppositions about 
the nature of reality and how best to understand it. Christians have rarely sought to learn 
and appreciate this methodology, or that of the classical Islamic jurisprudence. They want 
to judge Muslim scripture from within their own post-Enlightenment framework. To fully 
grasp the contribution of Muslims to an understanding of the world it must be recognized 
that there is integrity between the scripture, the study of scripture, and the interpretation of 
scripture in each religious tradition. 
 There is a similar problem in discussions about democracy and society. The term 
democracy is often used as if it were a well-defined concept that transcends both differing 
worldviews and historical frameworks. In fact it is not. Contemporary American 
democracy has complex roots that are somewhat different from those of European 
democracies. It is marked by suspicion of all authority structures, almost total freedom of 
personal expression, confidence in a limitless capacity for human growth, a belief that some 
kind of religious commitment underlies all morality, and a number of other characteristics 
that arise out of our complex relationship to a particularly Protestant-Puritan, particularly 
post-Enlightenment, particularly post- European, frontier experience. All the institutional 
aspects of democracy, such as elections, political parties, a balance of power in 
government, rule of law, and so forth, make sense only within the larger worldview of 
Americans. The same is true of democracy in Europe, which resembles American 
democracy, and yet is very different. Just one example: Americans talk about a "two party" 
system. Third party candidates are considered strange and somewhat threatening to 
democracy. But in Europe and most of the rest of the world countries often have dozens 
of political parties. The reasons for these differences come from vastly different historical 
experiences in the last 200 years, but also from very different sets of religious ideas and 
ideals, and quite different worldviews. 
 This idea can be extended to something much closer to home for the Gulen 
movement. Numerous Muslim writers have found in central Muslim concepts of 
government-such as shura5-the basics of a democracy. And the constitution of Medina 
is seen by Muslims as a model of constitutional government. Clearly these are resources 
that will shape future Muslim understandings of democratic government. Yet, scholars 
must bear in mind that Muhammad and those whom he ruled in Medina lived within a 
historical experience and worldview so different from the modern West, or even the 
Muslim world, that it is hard to apply a single term like "democracy" to both. This does not 
mean, however, that talk about democracy between Muslims and non-Muslims is 
impossible. Rather, the whole of the lived human experience will need to be a resource for 
seeking out a shared human future. Recreating Athens, or Medina, or the Ottoman Empire, 
or the American founding fathers is not possible. But rediscovering and sharing the 
wisdom and insights that developed in those places is absolutely necessary if humans are to 
live and flourish together. And here there is a genuine resource in the study of Gulen and 
his place in modern Turkish political and religious discourse. The path toward democracy 
that Turkey has taken is substantially different from that of other nations, and it is shaped 
by a very distinctive cultural and religious heritage. Although Gulen is not a politician, he is 
shaping the consciousness that will determine the future of Turkish democracy. At the very 
least there is much to learn from that through interfaith and intercultural dialogue. 
 This kind of dialogue that brings the whole of human experience to the service of 
the whole of humanity will require that people move beyond some well
5 Collective consultation 
worn ideas. Interfaith dialogue needs to embrace, but also to move beyond, the concept of 
tolerance. Islamic societies have generally tolerated non-Muslim minorities, but a society 
can tolerate others without actually engaging them or giving them a place as stakeholders in 
societal development. The same can be said of contemporary European and American 
societies. They are relatively tolerant, but remain disinterested in dialogue, learning from 
others, or in granting non-Westerners and non-Christians a significant voice in the 
unfolding transformation of civilization. The language and politics of tolerance is 
inadequate for Christian minorities in Muslim lands and Muslim minorities in Christian 
lands. And it seems that Gulen understands this when he invites non-Muslims to the table 
even though they are such a small minority in Turkey as to be politically insignificant. He 
gives them political significance in a way suggestive for the development of Turkish 
society, and Islam more generally 
 Gulen's approach to not merely tolerating, but empowering, religious minorities 
comes out of the Sufi tradition, which respected and learned from non-Muslim spirituality. 
The generous assumption that God is present in all religions and religious traditions is a 
basis for fertile dialogue. And here it must be mentioned that even as scholars turn their 
attention to Gulen's writings, it would behoove them to consider the writings of Christian, 
Jewish, Buddhist, and Hindu religious leaders who have been similarly generous in their 
appreciation of other religious traditions. 
 But to return to the Muslim Sufi tradition, it also offers a rich resource for 
overcoming the problem of competing meta-narratives. A hallmark of the Sufi tradition, 
and indeed almost all mystic traditions, is that they recognize transcendence beyond all 
religious conceptions of the Absolute. The Great Ocean of Being, the Absolute, the Real, 
all of these are understood in the Sufi tradition as provisional terms for Allah, Who is 
beyond the human capacity to understand or name. Gulen, like other great and generous 
saints and mystics, allows this humbling truth to guide him into interfaith dialogue. It 
allows him, and it can allow those inspired by him, to come to fellow humans not just as 
bearers of truth, but as seekers of truth. 
 There is a good deal of work yet to be done. This book and others like it have 
started to explore in a serious way, for the English-speaking world, the ideas of Gulen and 
the influence of the Gulen movement. The challenge for the future will be to explore how 
a genuine scholarly discourse can develop that is equally part of a lively interfaith dialogue. 
That will involve tackling some serious methodological issues that have not yet been 
addressed. The challenges mentioned above, and the ways in which they are addressed in 
the articles that follow, are only the beginning of placing this academic endeavor within a 
framework that is comprehensible both within and beyond the West. Still open to question 
is the larger problem of how scholars, coming from very different backgrounds and pre-
suppositions, seek truth together. 
 As one of the co-editors of this work I find that this is of most interest to me. 
Rumi, the great inspiration of Gulen and his movement, wrote of the sighing of a reed flute 
that longed to return to the stream-bed from which it was plucked. I am not a mystic, and 
personally I do not feel a sense of loss and longing for the reed bed from which I was 
plucked. Were I a reed flute, I would be more interested in making music with a very 
human orchestra. This work, and those that undoubtedly will follow, are hoped to be the 
first efforts at making that kind of scholarly music. 

Library of Congress Subject Headings for this publication:

Gáeulen, Fethullah.
Islam -- 20th century.
Islam -- 21st century.
Globalization -- Religious aspects -- Islam.
Islam and world politics.