The Fountain participated in several international events in the first two months of 2015. The first one was in Abuja, Nigeria, for a conference titled “Love and Tolerance: Two Dynamics for Personal and Social Reform” (January 21). Organized collaboratively by the Ufuk Dialogue Foundation, The Fountain, and the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), the conference featured many scholars, writers, and clergy like Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, the Archbishop of Abuja; The Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, Metropolitan Archbishop and Primate; and Dr. Khalid Abubakar Aliyu, Secretary General, JNI. The conference aimed to touch on some of the pressing problems facing our world, including violence, corruption, hatred, ignorance, religious intolerance, and tribal conflict. Unfortunately, these problems are particularly prevalent in religiously diverse countries like Nigeria. The conference’s theme was inspired from Fethullah Gülen’s Toward a Global Civilization of Love and Tolerance. The book first came out more than a decade ago, yet it covers themes unbound by time and that sweep across national borders.
The second event The Fountain participated in was the Second Interfaith Conference at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT, US. Aimed to be a friendly conversation among Jews, Christians, and Muslims, the conference was hosted by Fr. Anthony Ciorra of Sacred Heart University and featured speakers from the three Abrahamic faith traditions in each of two panels: “Unity and Peace through Music” and “Love and Dialogue through Literature.” It was a thoughtful event with live and recorded mystic music and where we felt the word’s power to evoke divine beauty in some of the best works of Rumi, Tolstoy, and Dostoyevsky.
The third event was the book launching of Moon Queen by Katharine Branning. Hosted by the Turkish Cultural Center in Manhattan, Branning spoke about her motivations behind writing this novel about Mahperi Hatun, the wife of one of the most notable Turkish Seljuk Sultans. While the novel’s center is a vigorous woman and her hunger for truth, wisdom, and honor, the book unveils many historical events during a tough period in Asia Minor, when its people were being beaten by the Mongols from the east and the Crusaders from the west. It was also a time which witnessed the birth of spiritual giants like Rumi and Yunus Emre, whose rays of hope still illuminate our world.
“Hope is not a feeling,” said Fr. Ciorra of Sacred Heart University. “It is a manifestation of belief.” In this issue, the story of Hassan Fofana from Togo is one such manifestation. Inspired by the generosity of his devout parents and of the people he met after migrating to America when he was a teenager, Fofana formed a foundation connecting student-athletes in West Africa with prep schools in the United States and Europe.
Karl Marx left an indelible mark in world history with his revolutionary ideas and social theories. Two articles in this issue by Mustafa Uzun explain the foundation of Marx’s ideology, his approach to religious thought, and how his views accurately diagnosed some of our current problems but were mistaken in their solutions. Marx failed to see the hope that a broad world view offers, choosing the narrowness of ideology instead.
Lastly, Mr. Gülen’s lead article reads like a manifesto on the hope offered by education. Gülen’s entire life is living evidence of his fight against ignorance, but in this article, he lays bare the danger ignorance poses to our world – but he also finds possibility in the devoted efforts of teachers to combat ignorance. With such teachers, our hopes for the future will always be high.