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Gülen’s Ideas For Tolerance And Dialogue In The Actual Context

Prof. As. Milazim Krasniqi

This conference in Tirana concerning the all inclusive tolerance and dialogue becomes more special due to the fact that Albania is one of the European countries suffering from the lack of political and social tolerance during these last twenty years, which could be more productive and at a higher level of understanding, after the terrible suffering of half century under the tenebrous communist dictatorship. Thus, the message of this conference for the exigency of overall tolerance and dialogue, is addressed to the right context.

Gülen’s ideas for tolerance and dialogue in the context of his unique project for raising a worldwide harmonious civilization outline the most obvious sign of his cultural and human identity. The approach of these ideas in many papers and texts, as well as in his Movement’s activities worldwide, has transformed this personality in a symbol of dialogue, tolerance and understanding. The affirmation of these ideas that flow naturally from the idealist interpretation of the tolerant Islam, has happened in a very difficult ground, first of all in his own country, going through a long period without finding its equilibrium between religion, nation and geography, history and future. The trauma of Turkey even after World War I, when it was for real victim of a dissolution complot, has left signs in this state, creating a schismatic society, even in essential issues, such as the role of religion and army. Gülen himself has been a victim if these religious, ideological and political disequilibria. But he has understood the context and at the same time, has been aware that the confrontation and revenge don’t bring change, but on the contrary, from the inner tolerance and dialogue. His pacifist ideas in a state gone through a military regime, in the beginning seemed mostly utopist, as a kind of Fata Morgana of the tormented man in a desert. But, in his case either was proved that God is on the side of the enduring: today his nation has made its own many of his ideas of tolerance, dialogue, social cohesion, religions’ freedom and human rights and on these very values it’s experiencing a general and impressive development for the entire world.

Even more difficult has been the ground on international level, to accept the ideas of a Muslim personality on tolerance, dialogue and raising a unique civilization, especially after the attacks of 9/11, when there was a total lack of patience for such arguments. The concentration with all possible means and ways in the battle against terrorism, misleading the grief with an aggressive propaganda against Islam, narrowed painfully the space for raising any rational argument. The publishing of thousands anti-Islamic articles even in the most liberal papers, the production of many anti- Islamic subject movies, the use even of the caricatures in this irrational reprisal, was unbelievable for some good-willing intellectuals. It was difficult to try to prove the elementary truth that what had happened hadn’t to do with Islam, but with a cruel misuse of its interpretations. The lapidary saying of Gülen that a Muslim cannot be a terrorist and a terrorist cannot be a Muslim has been one of those things that forced many people blinded from hatred to calm down and try to think with rationality. In this difficult ground of counterpointing the irrational Islam phobia with racist elements, Gülen’s ideas started to acquire an international feature as a serious alternative of explaining complex and tragic phenomena in the actual world.

The key of success of clear and persuasive explanations of Gülen is that he leans on the Divine source in his argue to humanity need for love, tolerance, dialogue and understanding as a supreme instance which unmistakably gives to humanity the path of salvation future. Meaning that he doesn’t fabricate confuse and incoherent arguments, unadoptable to the social reality and the human mental capacities, but uses merely the instructions of the Divine source, applicable and understandable for every each person and human generation having the good will to think with no prejudices.

After this axiomatic instance of the truth, we have the exemplary experience of the prophets, especially the last one, who has been and still is the most prominent and excellent personality in proliferating these values. Gülen acknowledges that “tolerance was introduced in this world from the prophets who were guided from God” (Gülen: 76).

But tolerance results to be in the very genes of humankind: “Tolerance (…) is the most essential element for the moral systems, the most important source of spiritual discipline and a human virtue for the perfect individuals” (Gülen: 72). In this context, concerning the Islam believer, Gülen says that “a Muslim could never be fanatic” (Gülen: 93), carving though a strong separation between Islam belief and its radical versions that are always excluded from it.

Gülen’s ideas for tolerance, understanding and love between human kind often go beyond the limits of a doctrinaire interpretation and become universal, as though a reaffirmation of the integrating universality of Islam. For example, when he appeals: “Respond to evil by doing good, to indecent behavior done to you don’t act”, he unifies the Confucian experiences, who says that don’t do top the others what you don’t want them do to you, and then from Christianity, that predicates that if someone slaps you in the face, you turn to him the other cheek. These mutual references of great religious experiences suggest for sure a mutual experience of humanity as well as a mutual future of it that could be harmonious and peaceful, if these postulates should be respected. On these premises this could be not anymore an utopist project – the global civilization based on love, tolerance, democracy and justice.

When he applies his ideas for tolerance and dialogue on the concrete level of our actual society, Gülen believes that the XXI century will be the century of the tolerance worldwide. But he warns explicitly that “we cannot talk about democracy in a place where tolerance doesn’t exist”. It results that the democracy has been jeopardized continually from intolerance, having it the destructive power to fail down the democracy – something we clearly and often see in our times. Thus, the dialogue comes also as a mean to cultivate tolerance, to soothe the misunderstanding and to strengthen the peace.