Monday, December 17, 2012

Fethullah Gulen & Peacebuilding: Gulen Movement builds Peace through Education and Dialogue

(Video Duration: 8 mins. 22 secs. )

Eileen Eppig, Ph.D.
Prof. Eileen Eppig of College of Notre Dame speaks on the contributions of Fethullah Gulen to peacebuilding at the 5th Annual Dialogue Dinner with the theme Peace Through Education and Dialogue, held by Marti in Pikesville, Maryland on Nov. 29, 2012:

Starting her remarks with reciting the opening chapter from the Qur'an, Dr. Eppig stated that "peace is something that we all desire" and that Fethullah Gulen "is a wonderful Turkish example":

Fethullah Gulen "is a humble, influential and outstanding scholar, writer, lecturer and peace activist. Fethullah Gulen is a Sufi-inspired Muslim, and is known for creating schools of tolerance and peace and also hospitals, TV station and a newspaper dedicated to promoting peace.

Gulen has chosen two means for peace, education and dialogue." Education in Gulen's thought "is not only transmitting knowledge but also communicating a way of life, a way of living that will build unity among people. The Gulen movement has built hundreds of schools of tolerance in over 80 countries of the world with the help of volunteers." For instance, Filipino-Turkish schools operate in Philippines since 1995, which "are bridging a gap" and schools operate in Iraq since 1999, which serve as "islands of peace".

Dr. Eppig later mentioned dialogue as a second means: Gulen says the very nature of the religion demands dialogue. Religious dialogue can be a road to bringing everyone together under one tent. Gulen says the first step is to forget the hurts of the past, something that is not easily achieved, the second is to ignore polemical arguments, and the third to get precedence to what we have in common. An example for peacebuilding dialogue would be The Gulen Institute Youth Platform.

She concluded her remarks as follows: "We cannot all do the work of Fethullah Gulen, but we can each do something. We can first of all be aware of our prejudices and try to overcome them, we can educate ourselves about religions other than our own and we can seek any opportunity for interreligious dialogue; even if we accomplish one of these, I think we'll be one step closer to achieving peace for ourselves and for world."

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