M. Fethullah Gülen as One of the Most Important Contemporary World Ethicist
Prof. Dr. Kiril Temkov
Relations between different people, cultures and religions was real facts in human history, and today intercultural and interfaith connections, dialogue and understanding are very important issue and trend in all humankind for build trust and harmony of living and for saving the nature. So the pionners of the new interfaith and intercultural progres are the best representatives of the recent universal morality.
Ethics is in fact the most interesting and important science in contemporary humanity. First at all, there are problems of human negative behaviours against the other human beings as well as large complex of violence, war, exploitation and enemy ambitions, the continuously fairs for health and security, and many others negative realities and tendencies, which disturb the human conscience and turn up the positive feelings. As a right distinction between Good and Evil ethics is a source of inspiration for creative human positive thinking and acting.
So philosophy, religion, science, pedagogy, social thought are today united in searching for good intentions and steps in human paths, which can provide the existence of human race, the good status of Nature as well as progress of the world. Many ideas are proposed, a number of thinkers and human benefactors are in action for this noble tasks. From every side of the world are coming the theoretical or practical proposals for good moral practice, at least for correct human behaviour. Mostly of them now have the eastern roots as potentials which can give large and productive moral concepts and inspirations for good acts. Also, and especially, the noble values of great religions stormed again the human mind, after the age of misunderstanding and unfair critic of faith. All capacities of human thinking and axiological creativity are rising in this renovelation of morality in modern age.
One of the most active and important thinkers and builders of the modern world and ethics is M. Fethullah Gülen, who connects the ideals of Islamic faith with contemporary social critic as well as the explications of large universal/global ethics with productive pedagogy. Half century this great man, one of the most important personn in the whole world, proposes very nice construction of the moral system of modern human behaviour, based on the best traditions of Islamic ideas as well as on the prospect of th recent and the future humanity neediness. However M. Fethullah Gülen is actually one of the most important contemporary world ethicist. He gave to the ethics new impulses in the explication of moral values and he explained successful universal method of its construction.
I have honour and pleasure to make a book “The Ethical Views of Fethullah Gülen” (Skopje 2011). This work, which honoured Gülen as authentic ethicist of our time, contents in Introduction the explication of the development of ethics in recent age, in the chapter Fethullah Gülen and Us story of our Turkish tradition and spiritual connections with Gülen ideas, than presentation of life, works and, especially, of the ethical books of Fethullah Gülen, analysis Contemporary world and ethics, and after that large text Creative potentials and ethical essence of the Islam with explication of the role of F. Gülen in today renaissance of religion and ethics as well, in chapter The Perfect person and The Goodness the story of searching of moral perfection in Islam, with introduction of the main role of Prophet Muhammad in development of Islam and the world ethics, so in chapter Main ethical values by Fethullah Gülen particulr analysis of Love, Mercy and Forgiveness, as well as Tolerance, as three most important values seen by Gülen. In Conclusion we explain why we can say that M. Fethullah Gülen is a Teacher of the united world.
As collaborator of Macedonian edition of newspaper “Zaman”, which promotes the idea of mutual respect and collaboration of the people and the high neediness of tolerance, I wrote few articles on Gülen’s approach to religion, the philosophy, and the social and pedagogical aspects of life. I putted this original thinker in my choice and presentation of 100 greatest world ethicists ever. In their M.A. and Ph.D. dissertations some of my students investigated Gülen’s thought in ethics generally and in some special questions (on Peace, on Global Ethics etc.). Our common opinion is that contribution of M. Fethullah Gülen to the recent development of ethics is authentic and very, very important.
Renaissance of the ethics today intends to universalization of the world as unique living space as well as to raise the responsibility and the brotherhood of all human beings. Special aspect of this spiritual activity is building the new values needed for real creative human relations – such as Dialogue, Tolerance, Conflict resolution, Social equality, World unity, Solidarity, Collaboration, and also large introduction and essential reconstruction of the best contents of the old religions as well as the social and moral great values as Love, Friendship, Mercy, and mutual Help. All this we can find in works by Gülen, just the new ideas of ethics of care, general utilitarianism, and consequentialism as well.
The ethical thought by M. Fethullah Gülen is connected with his excellent theologian presentation of roots, sense, and the best qualities of Islamic faith. He investigated especially the life and moral acts of Prophet Muhammad, person with the greatest moral ability, the real example of excellent personality. Also Gülen investigated and gave to the world his subtle image of Sufism (Tasavuf), which is very popular in Turkish culture. Those are his first class contributions for world ethics, putting this knowledge to service for all people to learn how is good to think and act. The other important contribution by Gülen concerns the advancing the position of people in this age of democracy, where everyone must have autonomic possibility to decide for his spiritual orientation, to work freely as well as to do good for all. Obligation of the modern society, said Gülen, is to give chance to every young people to study and to promote their self as responsible human beings.
Ethics is a creative work, creation of the greatest minds in humankind. M. Fethullah Gülen gives significant contribution towards development of the faith and the moral. Gülen is turned upon the depths of the human beings, he afirmates the spirituality, in which he founds the justification for the ethics, and with it he explains the true human’s source for making goodness. Gülen belongs to the group of modern ethicists who showed that the religious ethics has the most important power for positive
world and spiritual living. The most famous ethicist in the modern epoch, Erich Fromm (1900-1980) said that the great world religions offer most important ethical values for the humankind. Great humanist Albert Sweitzer (1875-1965) had spoken about ethical importance of different religious experiences. Greatest statesmen with ethical capacities in the modern epoch, Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) made a social and political concept over the religious basis. The pioneer of the contemporary humanity Lew Tolstoy (1828-1910) teached that the religious idea for good, love, and peace is most important for building the best ethics. Pakistani philosopher and poet Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1948) offered to the world knowledge about the uniquity of love and goodness. Mother Teresa practiced good acts on the basis of religious views. A positive approach to the life, as a popular variant in activist life morality, was build and explained by religious prophets (Napoleon Hill, Norman Vincent Pill), South American priests fight for equality and freedom of the people, and priests from different religions care to build a Universal ethics of the mankind, and for that distinguished cause they unite and act together in united way. Religious leaders are also powerful contemporary moral inspirators, such as Pope John Paul II, Dalai Lama, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Korean creator of Unification church San Miong Moon, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, great Indian moral teachers Jidu Krishnamurti,
Sai Baba and Sri Chinmoi… Among them on same level, with same importance for humankind and its moral development, with same spiritual and ethical inspiration, with similar as well as with authentic contribution, illuminates Fethullah Gülen.
For Gülen religious ethics connects both spiritual and material aspects of living. The moral crisis, big life problems in the conditions of the Nature, human conflicts and multiple forms of fears among the people demands over and over deep re-examination exactly for understanding of Good and Evil. The reborn, renewed ethics directs that in the symbiosis with religion, it can found meaningful values and paths – which must look for as a neediness of humankind.
Fethullah Gülen created ethical approach which correspond to our time and can be greatly available for the humans. His ethical system, based on unique Islam concept for the world and human living, for the spiritual and material aspects of human existence, has given explanations of the ethical crisis of contemporary humankind and offered necessary ethical values for today and tomorrow’s epoch of the humanity. It isn’t remains just as an ethical project – his ideas and instructions are still now accepted by millions and actively influencing on spirit and the human engagement, confidence and cooperation. Gülen wants people to connect and to act together in one world, where rules goodness, love and tolerance. That’s how Gülen became teacher of many believers and common citizens which are teached by him on first-class morality, simultaneously everlasting and actual.
The moral advices by Fethullah Gülen are giving a new strong charitable contribution for whole humankind. His ideas and words offers a fine understanding of life, exhibits the highest human’s tasks, showing what is a true humans nature and bravely establishing new human goals – for the good for all people on Earth. He is one of the biggest new humanists, one of the leaders of new wave of common human care, one of the most important contemporary creators of knowledge for quality human existence and cooperation. He asks from us to ensure the human’s survival on Earth, to reconcile with the Nature, to listen to the good God, to live in peace and copperation with all people. Gülen shows us how the next period of tolerance in humankind can be introduction in clever common living for all.
The thought of Fethullah Gülen isn’t just original words in the sense of history of ideas. He lives in the contemporary, he connects antiquity with modernity due to our needs and spiritual demands; he illuminates the classical thought as methodical base for actual good values, which should be turned towards today and tomorrow, as a creative and human task of every man. Today, every one of us must fulfil the life tasks; that’s why we are here on the Earth. We cannot be unconscious for the obligations; also we must do goodness for the life of others. “Equipped with the good moral and virtues that make them truly human, this new man and woman will be altruists who will embrace humankind with love and will be ready to sacrifice themselves for the good of others when necessary”, teaches Gülen in Toward a Global Civilization of Love & Tolerance.
Challenges in our time are big. They can be compared with the issues in the heavy epochs when the prophets roused, as carriers of great messages from God. In every epoch solutions for the problems must be found – and the prophets and thinkers are in that purpose. Directing a human thoughts and acts towards improving life, it means affirmation of grateful God’s idea for creation of the world and the people. “Today’s man is in search after his Creator and after the cause for their creations”, illuminates Gülen in Emerald Hills of the Heart. People search which is purpose of their lives. Gülen gives practical, appropriate answers on such dilemmas: “Mankind is on crossroad, one path leads towards falling, other towards salvation. God can give us instruction to make a right choice”. That how in life are encouraged those who believe, but with them and their knowledge can be also connected those who don’t believe, but are good people.
Common goal for all people, of course, must be humanism and mutual understanding. That will encourage existence towards higher levels and values. The people should live in peace, with understanding, without violence, tolerantly and taking dialogue. Gülen’s creative ethical contributions are instructions for basic values which should became base in life of a human today. We are trying to explain his ideas to the people, because we want those clever and distinguished thoughts to spread forward for the benefit and happiness for all people, learn them and to accept them in their hearts, to start believing in them, to adjust their behaviours towards that charitable spirit. If they act according teachings and messages of the great thinker and ethicist M. Fethullah Gülen, that will lead them towards good mutual existence.
Many initiatives and actions trough the world for peace and collaboration have source in the thoughts of Fethullah Gülen. They insist on basic Gülen’s idea – tolerance and dialog, inter-religious, international, inter-civilization. Goal is ethical, as the basis is ethical – the world must become a place for human virtue residence, human living must reach the noble intentions and characteristics of God, we must cherish the wishes to make good for ourselves and for others, and we have duty to be best to fulfil the God’s demands. The Gülen’s philosophy of morality is one of the most creative in modern age. He gives a view on destiny of the world and on humankind, he teaches for correct massive moral. He educates all people how to imagine and execute their life with quality and dignity, pointing to everyone what are basic values and what
should touch all people in the deepness of their soul and to lead their activities from there. Gülen’s ethics is a kind of Universal ethics of humankind, explanation for best orientation and acts for all and everyone in the world.
The list of main moral values for modern world explained by M. Fethullah Gülen contents many human important norms, but mostly there are the ideas of Love, Understanding and Forgiveness and, especially, of Dialogue and Tolerance. The value of Tolerance has in all modern world its best representation by Fethullah Gülen. His activity of human collaboration is based on his idea of Tolerance.
The ideas of M. Fethulah Gülen, theologian and ethicist from Turkey, have a global meaning for the ethics and for other areas of human living and thinking today. Fethullah Gülen is worthy teacher of recent humanity in large and the most important field of ethics. Its ideas are moral active, also possible, so this Turk thinker is one of the best ethicists of modern world.
Gülen, M. Fethullah: Belief and Understanding: The Essentials of Islamic Faith, Kaynak, Izmir, 1997.
Gülen, M. Fethullah: Criteria or Lights of the Way, 1, Second edition, Kaynak, Izmir, 1998. Gülen, M. Fethullah: Emeralds Hills of the Heart: Key Concepts in the Practice of Sufism, 1-2,
Light, New Jersey, 1(2006), 2(2004).
Gülen, M. Fethullah: Interview (to Nuriye Akman), “Zaman”, 2004.
Gülen, M. Fethullah: Muhammad – the Messenger of God. An Analysis of the Prophet’s Life,
Light, New Jersey, 2005.
Gülen, M. Fethullah: Mevlana Jalal al-Din Rumi. Foreword to the Fundamentals of Rumi’s
Thought by Sefik Can, Light, New Jersey, 2005, pp. IX-XXIII.
Gülen, M. Fethullah: Pearls of Wisdom, vol 1, The Fountain, Fairfax (Virginia), 2000.
Gülen, M. Fethullah: Toward a Global Cuivilization of Love & Tolerance, Light, New Jersey, 2004.
Gülen, M. Fethullah: Towards the Lost Paradise, Kaynak, Izmir, 1998.