Thursday, August 9, 2012

Followers of Fethullah Gulen seek to build up the human community

(Video Duration: 4 mins. 31 secs.)

Leo Lefebure, Ph.D.
Prof. Leo Lefebure of Georgetown University speaks at Annual Intercultural Shared Iftar (fast-breaking Dinner) held by Rumi Forum of Washington D.C.

According to him, we all can get so used to routines, and fasting exerts a call to attention for not only Muslims, but followers of other religious paths as well. He shares how Islamic faith calls him to stop and think "what do I worship functionally in my life?"

"In fasting, Muslims both give honor to God, they recall the events that led to the Qur'an, celebrate the Night of Power which took place during some evening in this month; and they also extend concern for others.

The Second Vatican Council, the leaders of the Catholic Church, expressed their respect for the Islamic tradition, and they singled out three practices of Muslims that resonate very deeply with the Catholic tradition: Prayer, fasting and almsgiving. And I like to think of those three together. We pray towards God -both Muslims, Catholics, followers of many many other traditions as well-, we fast both in relationship to God and also in relationship to the needs of those who do not have enough to eat and drink -another theme that unites Muslims and Catholics.

In the opening of the document Church's Relation to the Other Religions, fathers of the Second Vatican Council said something that seems rather shocking, that seems completely counter-factual, they say 'There is one community among nations, among peoples.'… And on the one hand that is a deep theological affirmation that we share with Muslims and again with many other traditions as well. We have a common origin in God and a common final destination in God. But it is also a challenge: If we are this community in relationship to God, then we should live that way.

So the leaders of the Council pleaded with Muslims and Christians alike to forget the animosities of the past, and work together. This is what I've seen in practice with the members of Hizmet, followers of Fethullah Gulen, around the world in various places where I've been welcomed and hosted. In one situation after another, they are reaching out, looking for what values we share which are so much important than the areas which we differ, seeking to build up the human community."

Prof. Lefebure concluded his remarks sharing how witnessing Muslim community around the world is a "profound challenge to him as a Catholic to reflect upon [his] own faith, and to work in shaping this one community in which we all share."