Date posted: August 29, 2013
One of the best-selling weeklies of Turkey, Aksiyon, made Fethullah Gülen’s meeting with Pope John Paul II a cover story on February 2, 1998 and published an published an interview with him. Gülen visited the Pope on February 9, 1998. A summarized excerpt from that interview follows:
Q: At a time when theories of the clash of civilizations are being discussed and NATO has declared [the] Islam[ic world] the chief enemy, you make attempts for a world-wide dialogue. What factors urge you to make such attempts?
A: The idea that the world is on the threshold of new clashes is the expectation of those whose power and continued domination depend on continuous conflicts. However, as the Qur’an puts it, man is a noble creature and in pursuit of good things. While searching for the good and beautiful, sometimes we may encounter undesirable things. What urges me to make attempts for a world-wide dialogue is the innate nobility and beauty of man.
Q: Do you attach importance to the relevant commandments or rules of the Qur’an the Prophet in your initiatives?
A: The Qur’an urges peace, order and accord.
It aims at universal peace and order, and opposes conflicts and dissensions. It is interesting that the actions acceptable to God are called in the Qur’an actions to bring peace and order (‘amali saliha). Our Prophet upon him be peace, described fighting in the way of God as minor jihad. Because it is undertaken only to remove obstacles before perfecting man morally and spiritually, and to bring about peace and order in human society. The real aim is to perfect man and to bring about peace and order. When this cannot be achieved by desirable ways such as education and when you are exposed to unjust attacks, only then minor jihad can be resorted to. Therefore, the minor jihad is not a rule, it serves only as a last resort.
Q: How did the process leading to the meeting with the Pope begin and develop?
A: It is not possible to achieve something positive in an atmosphere where enmities prevail and through reactionary measures. As social, civilized beings, especially in our day when human values are given prominence even though rather verbally, men can and should solve the problems between them through dialogue. It is our belief- a belief shared by sociologists and political analysts – that religions will have greater word in the next century. Islam and Christianity are the two religions with the largest following. Buddhism and Hinduism also have considerable following. Judaism has influence of its own. If we expect a universal revival toward the end of time, then this requires, as a preliminary condition, the co-operation of these great religions on the essentials common to them.
We have no doubt about the truth of our values. We urge no one to join us and I think that no one conceives of urging us toward their religion. The Qur’an made a universal call of dialogue to the followers of other heavenly religions. Unfortunately, however, the centuries following the call of the Qur’an witnessed conflicts and quarrels rather than dialogue and mutual understanding. Our time is the time of addressing the intellects and hearts, and this requires a peaceful atmosphere with mutual trust and respect. The conditions of the Hudaybiya Treaty seemed unacceptable to the Companions at first glance. However, the Qur’an described it as an opening, because, in the peaceful atmosphere following the Treaty, the doors of hearts were opened to Islamic truths. We have no intention to conquer lands or peoples, but we are resolved to contribute to world peace and a peaceful order and harmony by which our old world will find a last happiness before its final destruction.
Source: Fountain Magazine , Issue 23 / July - September 1998