My name is Lawrence Arthur Forman and I am the Faculty Advisor of the Turkish-Muslim Better Understanding Club of Old Dominion University, where I am an adjunct Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion. I am also the rabbi-emeritus of Ohef Sholom Temple in Norfolk, Virginia, where I served as senior rabbi for 30 years, and my wife, a clinical psychologist and I, have been affiliated with the Rumi Forum in Washington, D.C. for many years.
I was privileged to take a trip to Turkey 3 years ago. There I met with prominent business leaders, educators, scholars and many average citizens. We toured and examined Gulen schools and Universities, and we learned much about Turkey and especially, about Fethullah Gulen, scholar, philosopher, educator and brilliant intellectual and moral guide for his people and our world.
Fethullah Gulen’s progressive ideas of pluralism, mutual respect, science, education, social and political justice, the economy and finding a place for the Islamic people in a post-modern world, are a monument to the enormous humanity and spirituality of the man. Mr. Cagaptay has totally distorted Mr. Gulen’s perspective and teachings. He seems to have been influenced by negative and underhanded forces that would discredit our teacher and leader, F. Gulen. In American democracy, we vote our conscience as individuals, we do not allow military coups to run rampant. The Gulen philosophy and theology is totally opposed to getting one’s way through intimidation and repression.
Harmonizing many Western ideas of democracy, freedom and justice for all, educational opportunities for women, men, and all children, Gulen’s ideas of bringing together all peoples for the common good through the creation of schools that teach democratic values and his interfaith work through dialogue and non-violence have never been more needed than they are today.
At a time when the Islamic world itself is filled with misunderstandings of the Koran and the Taphsir, when dictators and petty tyrants attempt to subvert decency and justice for their own people as well as for us in the West, when perverted misinterpretations of Islamic literary source documents are used to vilify Mr. Gulen, those of us who have been privileged to learn and read his excellent and enlightening works must speak out on his behalf.
F. Gulen, a true man of peace, devotes his time to healing and reconciliation between religions, cultures and peoples of every race, creed and color. He is an avid reader who bases his understanding of service upon the Turkish guiding principle, ‘living to let others live.’ Gulen, his philanthropy, his philosophy and his ethical actions and influence reassure us all that a Muslim cannot be a terrorist and a terrorist cannot be a Muslim.
Please be aware there are many others like myself, who represent strong coalitions, who support and understand the greater mission of love, peace, understanding and Shalom that M. Fethullah Gulen represents.