Gülen is well-known for his ardent endeavor to strengthen bonds among people. He maintains that there are more bonds bringing people together than those separating them. Based on this belief, he works tirelessly for a sincere, strong dialogue and tolerance. He was a founder of the Journalists’ and Writers’ Foundation, a group that promotes dialogue and tolerance among all social strata and has received a warm welcome from almost all walks of life. He regularly visits and receives leading Turkish and international figures: the Vatican’s Ambassador to Turkey, the Patriarch of the Turkish Orthodox community, the Patriarch of the Turkish Armenian community, the Chief Rabbi of the Turkish Jewish community, as well as leading journalists, columnists, television and movie stars, and thinkers of varying views. Fethullah Gülen asserts that if you wish to control masses, simply starve them for knowledge. They can escape such tyranny only through education. He believes that the road to social justice is paved with adequate, universal education, for only this will give people sufficient understanding and tolerance to respect the rights of others. To this end, he has encouraged society’s elite, community leaders, industrialists, and business leaders to support quality education for the needy.
Applaud the good for their goodness; appreciate those who have believing hearts; be kind to the believers. Approach unbelievers so gently that their envy and hatred melt away. Like a Messiah, revive people with your breath.
His tireless efforts have begun to bear fruit, as graduates from private schools in Turkey and Central Asia, established by private donations and run as trusts, have taken top honors in university placement tests and consistently finished at the top in International Knowledge Olympics. They have produced several world champions, especially in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology. In fact, as recently as July 1997, a chemistry team from Izmir’s Yamanlar High School took the top honors in the Chemistry Olympiad held in Calgary, Canada. Gülen maintains: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and will never be.” He has inspired the use of mass media, notably television, to inform those without a formal education of pressing social matters. “As a political and governing system, democracy is the only alternative left in the world,” he maintains. In spite of its many shortcomings, he states that no one has yet designed a better governing system. We must make it work. People shall always demand freedom of choice in their affairs, especially in their expression of spiritual and religious values. There is a mutually supportive and perfective relation between an individual’s actions and inner life.
We may call it a “virtuous circle.” Attitudes like determination, perseverance, and resolve illuminate such a person’s inner conscience; the brightness of one’s inner conscience strengthens one’s will-power, and one’s resolve stimulates one to higher horizons.
“Do not despair in the face of adversity, and do not yield to those without direction,” he emphasizes, lest we give up hope. He views hopelessness as a quicksand that buries human progress and kills the will to succeed, a noose that chokes and drowns people. With his acute perception, Gülen perceives that the world’s spiritual climate is undergoing a positive change. He envisions a twenty-first century in which we shall witness the sprouting of a spiritual dynamic that will revive the now-dormant moral values. He envisions an age of tolerance and understanding that will lead to cooperation among civilizations and their ultimate fusion into one body. The human spirit shall triumph in the form of an intercivilizational dialogue and a sharing of values. Gülen successfully bridges the past with his image of the future. His deep desire to find solutions for contemporary social problems has resulted in gem-like sentences set one after another in his writings and speeches, like priceless pearls on a string. In his inimitable style and choice of vocabulary, he offers a way out of the “material quicksand” in which humanity finds itself today:
A soul without love cannot be elevated to the horizon of human perfection. Even if such a person lived hundreds of years, he or she could make no advances on the path of perfection. Those who are deprived of love, entangled in the nets of selfishness, are unable to love anybody else, and die unaware of the love deeply implanted in the very being of existence.
“Today’s men and women are searching for their Creator and the purpose of their creation,” Gülen contends. He gives practical, convincing answers to such questions as: Why was I born? What is the purpose of my living? What is the meaning of death, and what does it demand from me? In his speeches and writings, one encounters statements like: “Humanity has come to a crossroads: one leads to despair, the other to salvation. May God give us the wisdom to make the right choice.” His works represent a search for the truth. He does not believe that there are any material shortages in the world, and sees no justification for starvation. Inequitably distributed wealth should be channeled through private charities to the needy. He has spearheaded the establishment of many charitable organizations to do just that. A unique social reformer, Gülen has synthesized the positive sciences with divinity, reconciling all “apparent” differences between the two. In his writings and oral presentations, he brings the ideologies and philosophies of our part of the world and those of the West closer together.
Compassion is the beginning of being; without it everything is chaos. Everything has come into existence through compassion, and by compassion it continues to exist in harmony. The Earth was put in order by messages coming from the other side of the heavens. Everything from the macrocosm to the microcosm has achieved an Extraordinary harmony thanks to compassion.
“As for getting others to accept your ways,” Fethullah Gülen tells us, “the days of getting things done by brute force are over. In today’s enlightened world, the only way to get others to accept your ideas is by persuasion and convincing arguments. Those who resort to brute force to reach their goal are intellectually bankrupt.” In their daily lives, people must maintain the delicate balance between material and spiritual values if they are to enjoy serenity and true happiness. Unbridled greed must be guarded against. As a student of hadith (traditions concerning the Prophet’s life), tafsir (Qur’anic commentary), and fiqh (Islaic jurisprudence), as well as Sufism and philosophy, Gülen occupies his rightful place among his contemporaries in the Islamic sciences. Love is the most essential element in every being, a most radiant light and a great power that can resist and overcome every force. Love elevates every soul that absorbs it, and prepares it for the journey to eternity. Souls that have made contact with eternity through love exert themselves to implant in all other souls what they receive from eternity. They dedicate their lives to this sacred duty, for the sake of which they endure every kind of hardship to the end. Just as they pronounce “love” with their last breath, they also breathe love while being raised on the Day of Judgment.
Only those who overflow with love will build the happy and enlightened world of the future.Their lips smiling with love, their hearts brimming with love, their eyes radiating love and the most tender human feelings— such are the heroes of love who always receive messages of lovefrom the rising and setting of the sun and from the flickering light of the stars.