Issue 70 / July - August 2009
"There were no lovers left for me in the world, I used to think,
Then I took leave of my self and saw all were nothing but lovers.â€ť
The above couplet from Niyazi MĂ˝sri describes the state of a â€śperfect human,â€ť or insan al-kamil in Sufi terminology. Departing from glorifying our own virtues at the expense of fair judgment of others, is an important challenge for anyone who seeks truth in this transient life. For a true believer who has managed to â€śtake leave ofâ€ť the carnal self, the universe is a palace, all things in existence are servants welcoming him or her in, and every event in the cosmos is an entertainment glorifying its Owner, Who deserves all praise. For those who cannot attain this level, this life is a horrifying tunnel of darkness, and far from being a true lover, every object and person is a potential threat to their security. The recent Gulen conference in Germany in May, the Turkish festival in Turkey in June, and the coming conference in Melbourne this month have made me ponder this couplet once again. An attraction on this scale with such wide-reaching global reach could only be possible for a person if he can represent insan al-kamil, in the true sense, with an all-embracing love for the whole of humanity.
Reflecting this summerâ€™s busy schedule of activities related to the Gulen Movement, this edition of The Fountain features articles by two scholars who study this civil society movement. Kerim Balci of Todayâ€™s Zaman shares with us his observations of the conference â€śMuslims between tradition and modernity-the Gulen Movement as a bridge between cultures,â€ť jointly organized by the University of Potsdamâ€™s Institute of Religion and the Forum for Intercultural Dialogue, Berlin. He mentions the paper of Dr. Bekim Agai of Halle University, Germany, who commented that thanks to the activities of the Gulen Movement, Turkish migrants in Europe are no longer a part of the problems of Europe, but are problem solvers, and not only on issues relating to migrants themselves.
The second article comes from Maimul Ahsan Khan, a professor of law in Bangladesh, who introduces Gulen as a â€śmodern-day Rumi.â€ť For Khan, â€śGulen has brought [Rumiâ€™s] glorious tradition [that cut across the lines between nationalistic and sectarian differences] back to the minds of millions of modern and religious Turks.â€ť Professor Khan notes that for Gulen the question is how well Muslims can represent the universal message of Islam to build a global society based on equality, tranquility, and humane treatment for all.
Also in this issue comes a thought-provoking interview with Dr. Lynn Mitchell, a Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Houston. Having taught a course titled â€śThe Bible and Modern Scienceâ€ť for many years, Dr. Mitchell offers noteworthy insights into the history of the relationship of science and religion.