Patrice Riemens on Sun, 27 Dec 2015 03:48:30 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Fethullah Gülen: Muslims, we have to critical

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Muslims, we have to critically review our understanding of Islam
By Fethullah G??len

Words fall short to truly express my deep sadness and revolt in the face 
of the carnage perpetrated by terrorist groups such as the so-called 
Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

I share profound frustration with a billion-and-a-half Muslims around 
the world at the fact that such groups commit terrorism while dressing 
up their perverted ideologies as religion. We Muslims have a special 
responsibility to not only join hands with fellow human beings to save 
our world from the scourge of terrorism and violent extremism, but also 
to help repair the tarnished image of our faith.

It is easy to proclaim a certain identity in the abstract with words and 
symbols. The sincerity of such claims, however, can only be measured by 
comparing our actions with the core values of our self-proclaimed 
identities. The true test of belief is not slogans or dressing up in a 
certain way; the true test of our beliefs is in living up to core 
principles shared by all major world faiths such as upholding the 
sanctity of life and respecting the dignity of all humans.

We must categorically condemn the ideology propagated by terrorists and 
instead promote a pluralistic mindset with clarity and confidence. After 
all, before our ethnic, national or religious identity comes our common 
humanity, which suffers a setback each time a barbaric act is committed. 
French citizens who lost their lives in Paris, Shiite Muslim Lebanese 
citizens who lost their lives in Beirut a day earlier and scores of 
Sunni Muslims in Iraq who lost their lives at the hands of the same 
terrorists are first and foremost human beings. Our civilization will 
not progress until we treat the suffering of humans regardless of their 
religious or ethnic identity as equally tragic in our empathy and 
respond with the same determination.

Muslims must also reject and avoid conspiracy theories, which have so 
far only helped us avoid facing our social problems. Instead, we must 
tackle the real questions: Do our communities provide recruitment 
grounds for groups with totalitarian mindsets due to unrecognized 
authoritarianism within ourselves, domestic physical abuse, neglect of 
youth and lack of balanced education? Did our failure to establish basic 
human rights and freedoms, supremacy of the rule of law and pluralist 
mindsets in our communities lead those who are struggling to seek 
alternative paths?

The recent tragedy in Paris is yet another reminder for both theologians 
and ordinary Muslims to strongly reject and condemn barbaric acts 
perpetrated in the name of our religion. However, at this juncture, 
rejection and condemnation are not enough; terrorist recruitment within 
Muslim communities must be fought and countered by an effective 
collaboration of state authorities, religious leaders and civil society 
actors. We must organize community-wide efforts to address all factors 
that aid terrorist recruitment.

Ways of expressing support and dissent within democratic means

We need to work with our community to set up the necessary framework for 
identifying at-risk youth, preventing them from seeking self-destructive 
paths, assisting families with counseling and other support services. We 
must promote a proactive, positive government engagement so that engaged 
Muslim citizens can sit at the table where counterterrorism measures are 
planned and share their ideas. Our youth should be taught ways of 
expressing support and dissent within democratic means. Incorporating 
democratic values into school curricula early on is crucial for 
inculcating a culture of democracy in young minds.

In the aftermath of such tragedies, historically strong reactions have 
surfaced. Anti-Muslim and anti-religious sentiment as well as 
security-driven treatment of Muslim citizens by governments would be 
counter-productive. The Muslim citizens of Europe want to live in peace 
and tranquility. Despite the negative climate, they should strive to 
engage more with their local and national governments to help work 
toward more inclusive policies that better integrate their community 
into the larger society.

It is also important for us Muslims to critically review our 
understanding and practice of Islam in light of the conditions and 
requirements of our age and the clarifications provided by our 
collective historic experiences. This does not mean a rupture from the 
cumulative Islamic tradition but rather, an intelligent questioning so 
we can confirm the true teachings of the Quran and the Prophetic 
tradition that our Muslim predecessors attempted to reveal.

We must proactively marginalize decontextualized reading of our 
religious sources that have been employed in the service of perverted 
ideologies. Muslim thinkers and intellectuals should encourage a 
holistic approach and reconsider jurisprudential verdicts of the Middle 
Ages that were issued under perpetual conflict where religious 
affiliation often coincided with political affiliation. Having core 
beliefs should be distinguished from dogmatism. It is possible, indeed 
absolutely necessary, to revive the spirit of freedom of thought that 
gave birth to a renaissance of Islam while staying true to the ethos of 
the religion. Only in such an atmosphere can Muslims effectively combat 
incivility and violent extremism.

In the aftermath of the recent events I am witnessing, with chagrin, the 
revival of the thesis of the clash of civilizations. I do not know 
whether those who first put out such a hypothesis did so out of vision 
or desire. What is certain is that today, the revival of this rhetoric 
simply serves the recruitment efforts of the terrorist networks. I want 
to state clearly that what we are witnessing is not a clash of 
civilizations but rather the clash of humanity with barbarity in our 
common civilization.

Our responsibility as Muslim citizens is to be part of the solution 
despite our grievances. If we want to defend the life and civil 
liberties of Muslims around the world and the peace and tranquility of 
every human regardless of their faith, we must act now to tackle the 
violent extremism problem in all its dimensions: political, economic, 
social and religious. By setting virtuous examples through our lives, by 
discrediting and marginalizing the extremist interpretations of 
religious sources, by staying vigilant toward their impact on our youth, 
and by incorporating democratic values early in education, we can 
counter violence and terrorism as well as totalitarian ideologies that 
lead to them.

This article was first published in Le Monde on Dec. 17, 2015.  


Muhammed Fethullah G??len (born 27 April 1941) is a Turkish 
preacher,former imam, and writer. He is the founder of the G??len 
movement (known as Hizmet meaning service in Turkish). He currently 
lives in self-imposed exile in the United States, residing in 
Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania.

G??len teaches an Anatolian (sort of Hanafi) version of Islam, deriving 
from Sunni Muslim scholar Said Nurs??'s teachings. G??len has stated that 
he believes in science, interfaith dialogue among the People of the 
Book, and multi-party democracy. He has initiated such dialogue with the 
Vatican and some Jewish organizations


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