Fethullah Gulen’s Prominence in Indonesia

Turkish Islamic Scholar Fethullah Gülen. (Photo: Cihan)
Turkish Islamic Scholar Fethullah Gülen. (Photo: Cihan)


Date posted: February 10, 2014

 

DR. ALI UNSAL*

Indonesia is a brotherly country, home to world’s largest Muslim population having potential to find a place for itself among the most developed countries in the world.

For the past few years I have spent in this country, I have had the chance to witness the exceptionally positive views of intellectuals, scholars, opinion leaders, community leaders and academics regarding Fethullah Gulen. Many of these people haven’t met Gulen in person. They have come to hold Gulen in high esteem only by reading his translated works or listening to excerpted clips of his dubbed sermons.

I was involved in promotional seminars and conferences on Gulen’s “Messenger of God: Muhammad” held in some 20 universities and academic circles over the past year. Each gathering was enriched by the participation of prominent figures. Emha Ainun Nadjib, a leading Indonesian scholar, attended our conference at Yogyakarta State University as a speaker. The 7 hundred-capacity conference hall was overflowing with over one thousand, as a result of his popularity. In his reflection on the book, Nadjib said, “Fethullah Gulen, the author of this book, is a true lover of the Prophet Muhammad and man of heart. It’s worth attention that such a person was born in Turkey. With its history, potentials and location, Turkey is treasured to the Muslim world. In this respect, Gulen was born in the most suited place. I would like you to know that he is the scholar of not only Turkey but the entire world as well. The fact that he’s from Turkey doesn’t exclude us from being his students. As the hadith ‘Wisdom is the lost property of a believer’ encourages, I would like you to benefit to the fullest from his works.”

Another remark was from Prof. Ahmad Syafi’i Ma’arif, a leading intellectual and the former president of Muhammadiyah which is one of the largest Indonesian religious organizations with over 30 million members, 14 thousand schools, 456 hospitals, 114 universities and institutes. In our visit to his home, he greeted us at the door with these notable words: “Come on in. You, the young people who are going to lead the world, come on in!” In a later promotional event of the book, he gave his remarks: “The Honorable Gulen is a scholar whose horizon has transcended Turkey’s borders. He is a prolific mind who perfectly marries his thoughts to his words. The tenderness and elegance in his words captivate not only the mind but also the hearts of the reader.”

Prof. Din Syamsudin, president of Muhammadiyah, earlier attended the Ijma and Collective Awareness Symposium in Turkey participated by scholars, religious authorities and academics from some 84 countries. He spoke to us later in a visit: “I fully support the Honorable Gulen and his educational and dialogue initiatives. There have been outstanding efforts. We have launched a new TV channel. We can air “Messenger of God: Muhammad” discussions or any other joint programs. We are willing for any cooperation.” The book is presently being studied as a course book at several middle and high schools and a university. Through the annual contests participated by thousands, as a part of the Blessed Month activities at universities, it allows the Indonesians to love the Prophet Muhammad even more.

Another renowned Islamic community in Indonesia is Nahdat’ul-Ulama with nearly 50 million followers, in their own words. Its president is Prof. Said Aqil Siroj. He met with Gulen’s works through “Messenger of God: Muhammad” and attended one of its promotional events. “Fethullah Gulen embodies the characteristics of a charismatic leader. He is a true scholar who encourages us to be strictly attached to the Quranic principles and prophetic traditions besides cherishing the technology and modernity. He is a preacher, thinker and an advocate of international peace, tolerance and dialogue,” Siroj said.

Salahaddun Wahid, who is the grandson of Nahdatu’l-Ulama’s founder Hasyim Asy’ari and presently one of its leading figures, had earlier been to Turkey and said, “The Honorable Fethullah Gulen and his followers have perfectly shown to the entire world that Islam has been sent as a mercy to the world. Initiatives of the Hizmet have been a source of inspiration and crucial role model for Indonesia.”

Yusuf Mansour, a prominent preacher in the country, was deeply impressed by Gulen’s sermon on the Prophet Muhammad when he listened to its dubbed version for the first time. “I’m still under that sermon’s influence, despite all this time.” Moved to tears, he continued, “Thanks God that I have been lucky to listen to Gulen preaching about our prophet. Oh my God, what a love is his! Not only the congregation in the sermon clip, but the Muslims in my company as well were crying. But we weren’t watching him live. I fell in love with the Honorable Gulen on that very day. He’s virtually become my master. I started to read his books and research his teachings, life and actions. Subhanallah! I’ve discovered countless pearls in his works. I have discovered a sharing and loving soul, but not a conventional one, in his works embracing the entire world. It’s great to be a big family. Some directly, some –like us–indirectly are able to benefit from his life, teachings and knowledge. You can’t imagine how much I wish to visit him, kiss his hands and hold him close and hope that I can love the Prophet as much as he does. I would wholeheartedly like to participate in his and his adherents’ efforts in Indonesia or elsewhere.”

Aceh is the northernmost city of Indonesia which we have friendly ties with dating back to the Ottoman period. Prof. Yusny Saby, the former rector of Aceh Islamic University, is someone we frequently meet with. He is very familiar with the Hizmet efforts and Gulen. Speaking of Gulen, he said, “The Honorable Fethullah Gulen is a true follower of the Prophet. He’s been an inspiration to millions in terms of selflessness.” “Why can we not mobilize our circles in line with his teachings?” he lamented.

Prof. Amin Abdullah, the former rector of Yogyakarta Islamic University and a close friend of mine, is a scholar who had the chance to visit Fethullah Gulen, though in a very limited time. He expressed his impression as follows: “The Honorable Fethullah Gulen is a modern, forward looking Islamic scholar whose ideas have transcended the national borders. He has provided inspiration and a role model to many around the globe as to how to integrate into the modern world and preserve their Islamic identity at the same time.”

How dare they try to discredit Gulen when he has impressed scholars and intellectuals halfway around the world so much with his knowledge, views and efforts? How I wish that those in a futile effort to hide the truth could realize the mockery they put themselves in!

*Director of Fethullah Gulen Chair at Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University in Jakarta, Indonesia

Published [in Turkish] on Zaman, 7 February 2014, Friday

Source: HizmetMovement.com , February 10, 2014


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