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Living the Love

“You have to live your Love or else you’ll only end in words.”
Rumi

Human problems and contemporary terminology

The world that we live in today is full of pressing dilemmas and unsolved puzzles. Academics, intellectuals, policy-makers as well as opinion leaders struggle to define and find a permanent solution to the spread of nationalism, the challenges of democratization, the perils of globalization, and many other social concerns of deep importance.  However, the lack of a common terminology hinders communication among the people and delays resolution of the disputes. Even when we seem to agree upon conceptual frameworks the lack of implementing power prevents us from delivering the positive results. Yet, our hope for a better future has never really died. At different points in history, people have been able to mobilize for good inspired by historical lessons and prominent ideas.

This essay is going to focus on the work of Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish Muslim scholar whose messages of love and peace have inspired millions to embrace the humanity. He belongs to the type of people whose ideas have changed the world. Gulen does not only teach people to speak the common language of love and understanding, he is the one who shows practical ways to carry out the projects through public service and working for the common good.

Power of persuasion and convincing

Throughout the history, quite often people have relied on brutal physical force to achieve their goals. Gradually, the notion of power took a central place in the definition of a modern state. While the presence of an armed authority has always been important to maintain the basic order, hardly ever has it been sufficient to address social problems. At the stage in history when, according to some intellectuals, the humanity has reached the “end of history,” leaving no alternative to the freedom of thought and liberal regimes, the reliance on physical force to solve contemporary dilemmas tends to loose its legitimacy. Persuasion and convincing are gaining ground as a method of addressing mushrooming challenges.

From this perspective, Fethullah Gulen’s vision of the modern age is highly relevant. One of his major arguments is that persuasion and the use of convincing arguments are much more effective and sustainable in the long run than the physical pressure. Gulen believes that civilizing of individuals and society depends on moral action and nonviolent techniques of interacting and getting messages across to people. This perspective puts his view in line with a psychological standpoint, which teaches to communicate and listen to each other.

Towards shared moral and social values

People have long debated the secret of mutual understanding. While some insisted that cultural distinctions define the fault lines between civilizations, others put forward economic or a social class as a threshold for meeting of minds. The history has developed along these lines in the past few decades. On rare occasions alternatives have been proposed with the goal of filling the existing gaps, but they soon faded away and social pressure continued to mount over the years.

Gulen calls attention to the basic concepts of human value, freedom of thought, education, and dialogue to deliver the message that shared morals and social values are the foundations of mutual respect, long-term affinity, and social harmony.

Human value by itself is central to Gulen’s philosophy. For him, human beings are the center and meaning of the universe. He values people because they are mirror reflections of the names and attributes of God. Seeing a person involved in charity reminds him of generosity of God; witnessing a mother taking care of her child reminds him of God’s mercy and loving-kindness. On the other hand, he is sure that a killing of a human equals to destroying all the humanity.

Education is considered to be the foundation of any society and a prerequisite for progress. We all come to this world helpless and it takes us almost two decades of schooling to learn the basics of this complex world. Throughout the rest of our lives we study to reach an intellectual, physical, and spiritual perfection. Seeking understanding unites people and we feel closer as we begin to share values and morals. Gulen has understood this basic need of humanity and devoted his life to education. From early years of his career as a preacher he invested his time and energy to help people raise themselves spiritually, morally, and intellectually and lead the humanity, through their service and the example of their own lives, into a new epoch. His sincere efforts brought crowds of supporters to the voluntary civil society movement known as “Hizmet” or “Service,” which embraced the idea of spreading the knowledge around the globe through new schools and universities.

Gulen’s contributing efforts to make the world a more peaceful and safer place are not limited to a secondary and higher education. If to think of interfaith dialogue as a systematic way of developing shared moral and social values, Gulen has made a sizable contribution to this process by inventing a new language – language of tolerance. In the aftermath of 9/11, this language became an urgent necessity. Today, there is no doubt that demand for Gulen’s “language of dialogue and tolerance” exists. The question is how fast we can learn it in order to be able to have a constructive intellectual and ethical conversation. As Gulen puts it, “dialogue is not a superfluous endeavor, but an imperative and is among the duties of Muslims.”  

Finally, a true happiness, for many of us, is hidden in the emotional, ethical, spiritual, and emotional domains. Similar to the difference in utility between having a cup of coffee in the morning and having it in the evening, our satisfaction from many other goods and services depends on emotional signals and the lifestyle that we follow. For Gulen, a criterion for achieving a real pleasure is the freedom of thought. Freedom of the spirit and thinking, rather than freedom of muscles is what can give a real joy and happiness.

An example of a profound love

It is difficult to say whether an institutional basis can be created for interfaith dialogue. However, we all have a language to learn and the field to explore. It is the language of shared moral and social values and the field of dialogue that can elevate us to a higher level of understanding.

It’s no secret that the success in learning any language is hidden in practice and living. Looking at Gulen, we can see how one can master in dialogue and love of humanity. By living his Love, Gulen has shown that fondness and respect bring about social harmony and sympathy; openness and sincerity generate better understanding and more trust; hard work and generosity lead to prosperity and well-being; patience, mercy and forgiveness result in peace and tranquility.

Isn’t it better to learn the language by living its beauty than having to live painful consequences of ignorance?

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