I would like to share an article written by the prominent scholar and intellectual Fethullah Gulen. Fethullah Gulen is a well-known Muslim scholar who was born and raised in Turkey but has been residing in the US since 1999. He is recognized for his ideas that emphasize the importance of interfaith dialogue and promote intercultural interaction and cooperation. His ideas inspired many people around the globe to form civil-society movement known as Hizmet or Gulen movement.
Fethullah Gulen has always been known to oppose violence and religious extremism. In August 2015 he has wrote an article titled Muslims Must Combat the Extremist Cancer in which he expressed his stance against ISIS and other radical religious movements.
Fethullah Gulen On Extremism
In his article Fethullah Gulen explains why religious extremism should be fought against. “Every terrorist act carried out in the name of Islam profoundly affects all Muslims, alienating them from fellow citizens and deepening the misperceptions about their faith’s ethos.” Therefore people should stay vigilant and do what they can to prevent extremism and violence. Fethullah Gulen elaborates on several important steps explaining how to deal with extremism. The first and foremost one is to openly denounce and condemn any form of violence and terrorist activities. Even if pious believers are being oppressed and accused undeservedly, they should stand straight and not fall prey to victimhood. Second step is to promote holistic understanding of Islam which means spreading core ethics of Islam which are not subject to different interpretations. For example, one of the main principles of Islam is that killing one innocent person is equal to murder of all humanity (Quran 5:32). Moreover, killing women, children, ill and elderly is considered especially heavy sin. Third step is promoting of fundamental human rights such as dignity, life and liberty. These are basic rights of every individual regardless of one’s origin, religion, culture, language and social status and not anyone, even leaders can take them away. Fourth, it is important to provide access to education to all members of society. School curriculum must be designed in the way to teach children not only natural science, social sciences and arts, but also human rights, democratic values, moral principles and respect for others. Fifth, it is very important to provide Muslims proper religious education since in parts of the worlds where religious freedom is oppressed people may adhere to false interpretations of religion taught by unqualified and radical groups. Fethullah Gulen also explains that governments play big role in fighting against terrorism. One of the most important acts governments should make is to select proper language when describing the problem of terrorism in order not to alienate or offend innocent Muslims that can become mistreated by becoming society’s scapegoats.
The article is concluded by the following statement: “Muslims have historically added much to the flourishing of human civilization. Our greatest contributions were made in eras when the faith cherished mutual respect, freedom and justice.” Therefore, it is our responsibility, as Muslims, to represent our religion as religion of mutual understanding, tolerance, peace and love.