Gülen offers more explanations of his views on continuing slander

Date posted: March 21, 2014

Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who has inspired a worldwide network active in education, charity and outreach called the Hizmet movement, has responded to manifestly ill-intentioned comments about an interview he gave to Today’s Zaman, saying that he cannot remain silent in the face of injustice.

“What have the members of the Hizmet movement done so far, other than defending themselves against assaults, responding to insults and placing emphasis upon the rule of law and noninterference in the judicial process?” he said.

Gülen accused the Erdoğan government of “trying to justify a political style that is getting more authoritarian by making references to Islamic notions.”

“In a democratic order, if you are not allowed to express your views, then even the minimal requirements of being a democracy are not fulfilled. Imposing a type of rule with reference to religious notions will have serious political and legal repercussions,” he said.

He also rejected claims that he is the Messiah. “I am not claiming to be the Messiah or Mahdi; I am just an ordinary man. As long as I live, I am a loyal subject of the Quran and the dust on the foot of Prophet Muhammad. If anybody attributes any other quality to me, I would reject it,” he explained.

Today’s Zaman posed additional questions to Mr. Gülen after pro-government papers, unable to offer any grounded criticism vis-à-vis the content of the interview, made unreasonable allegations.

Here are Mr. Gülen’s responses to comments about his published remarks.

‘Constructive response’ doesn’t mean silence in the face of injustice and unfair treatment

Some argue that the attitude of the Hizmet movement is not consistent with Bediüzzaman’s philosophy of “constructive response.”

In his works, Bediüzzaman also specifies the conditions and framework of this style and approach: acting consistently with the will of Allah, serving the interest of religion and faith, noninterference in the divine service, protecting the safety of the people and remaining patient. Constructive response does not mean silence and powerlessness against injustice. Bediüzzaman never remained silent in the face of illegality and unfair treatment just because the political authority was responsible for that treatment. He responded to blasphemous remarks and defended himself in the courtrooms. There are examples of this in his works. What have the members of the Hizmet movement done so far, other than defending themselves against assaults, responding to insults and placing emphasis upon the rule of law and noninterference in the judicial process? The media outlets affiliated with the Hizmet movement have not gone beyond reporting the corruption allegations that were taken to the judiciary and informing the people on these matters. Instead of responding to the corruption allegations and addressing the charges, they [pro-government media] make improper and unsubstantiated remarks and claims.

They either do not understand the movement or insult its members out of hatred

Some former members of the movement attributed some remarks to you. They claimed that you had told them you had spoken with Allah or declared yourself the Messiah or the “İmam of the universe.” What would you say about these allegations?

The issue of Messiah or Mahdi has been a matter of controversy in Islamic societies for a long time. Whether or not this is a scholarly issue is a whole different matter. Some scholars said this is a verified part of the Islamic faith, whereas some others argued Islam does not recognize the coming of the Messiah or Mahdi. But this issue has always been exploited and manipulated. Some circles have attributed similar remarks to Bediüzzaman in the past. They exploited his comments and views on the return of the Messiah or Mahdi, arguing that he considered himself the Mahdi or Messiah.

However, I am at all times mentoring students; so they would testify that I would consider such allegations and remarks blasphemous. They have heard me many times saying, “You know my father and mother; being an ordinary man and a subject of Allah is more than enough for me.” I have not seen anybody around me attributing such qualities to themselves. In addition, I always regarded such accusations as the most offensive curses directed at me. Those who make these allegations are not aware that they actually insult the people.

On this matter, I would follow in the footsteps of Mevlana. I am not claiming to be the Messiah or Mahdi; I am just an ordinary man. “As long as I live, I am a loyal subject of the Quran and the dust on the foot of Prophet Muhammad. If anybody attributes any other quality to me, I would reject it.”

As for the other allegation; I wonder how they can make such grave, delirious remarks. Those who raise these arguments are actually aware of my sensitivity. The Quran states: “It is not given to any human being that Allah should speak to him unless (it be) by Inspiration, or from behind a veil, or (that) He sends a Messenger to reveal what He wills by His Leave. Verily, He is Most High, Most Wise.” Even the most basic tenets and precepts of Islam set some boundaries. We have been trained in a cultural environment where we were taught to bow when hearing the name of Allah. I was born into such an environment, where you cannot possibly identify even a single person making such allegations.

The claims that I consider myself an Imam of the universe cannot be taken seriously. Even men of reason and conscience remain silent and unresponsive to such allegations. They are referring to a fabricated hierarchy of the Hizmet movement that never once entered my mind. What kind of mentality is this? They are fabricating things and insulting the intelligence of millions of people who consider themselves affiliated with this movement.

Those who refer to such a hierarchical structure and some higher positions in this movement do not understand Hizmet; or they are making deliberate insults because, as Bediüzzaman notes, the foundation of our movement is brotherhood. This is a relationship between biological father and son, or a sheikh and his follower. This is a genuine bond of brotherhood. Those who know me will confirm that I consider my students colleagues with whom I make deliberations and have discussions.

‘Furuat’ (nonessentials) is information for beginners in Islamic teaching

It is alleged that you consider the headscarf issue insignificant because you refer to it as “furuat” (nonessential). What would you say about this?

The obligations regarding faith and acts in Islam are divided into two groups: “usul” (essentials) and “furu” (nonessentials). Those regarding faith and belief are called usul and those regarding acts and prayers furu. Compared to the usul, nonessentials are considered of secondary importance. For this reason, the headscarf is of secondary importance because it is considered part of furuat under Islam. It should be recalled that considering the headscarf part of furuat is a general approach held by Islamic scholars. Some journalists may not be able to discern this detail in their reports and interviews. But the clerics and Islamic scholars should know this matter better, because a person cannot be regarded a scholar if he fails to make a distinction between usul and furu. This is not an advanced matter. From the perspective of classical Islamic teaching, it is basic information for beginners. I do not think that those who exploit this matter and raise this discussion on whether headscarf is part of furuat in Islam are unaware of its meaning in Islamic literature. This campaign has always been raised deliberately. Moreover, I made specific reference to furuat; but the papers published this as teferruat (details). This implies that the headscarf issue is insignificant.

I should also note that wearing the headscarf is not obligatory under Islam just because it is part of furuat. Wearing the headscarf is a must for women. There are many other tenets and obligations that are part of furuat. If I were a person who didn’t pay attention to the headscarf issue and who didn’t consider wearing the headscarf a must under Islam, I would not have asked the prime minister in a letter I addressed to him in 2006 to resolve this matter immediately. Those who are curious about this may find this letter and analyze its content.

 Those who urge us not to cause turmoil should also hear what is being said in the political rallies

Some theologians argue that the movement rioted against a legitimate government; what would you say to this?

Obeying rulers does not mean that we should remain silent and indifferent to the wrongful acts of the government and not pay attention to what is right. The obligation to promote the good and discourage people from doing wrong applies to all. The sphere of politics is not an essential part of religion. It does not refer to the faith or belief part of the religion. Holding different views in such a sphere is pretty natural. Even members of the Hizmet movement may hold different opinions on different matters. In a democratic order, if you are not allowed to express your views, then even the minimal requirements of being a democracy are not fulfilled. Imposing a type of governance with religious references will have serious political and legal repercussions.

They are trying to justify a political style that is getting more authoritarian by making references to Islamic notions; unfortunately, matters that would not be significant other than discussions on different approaches and exploitations and manipulations were taken to a different stage. In the end, they declare a state of war or social mobilization. They now even rely on methods of destruction and an organized attempt by which they declare members of Hizmet movement as infidels.

Should not those who urge us not to cause turmoil make similar remarks and suggestions to those who are in power and those who make grave insults? Otherwise, remarks by those who are unable to make even a single suggestion will mean nothing but attempts to destroy the Hizmet movement, which is nowadays a popular thing to do.

Source: Todays Zaman , March 21, 2014

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