Date posted: October 1, 2013
Zeki Saritoprak is the Nursi Chair in Islamic Studies at John Carroll University and delivered an Interfaith Lecture on Gülen and his Hizmet movement. Saritoprak also gave a brief outline of Turkish history, from the start of the Ottoman Empire to the founding of the Republic of Turkey.
“Muslims have to establish … not religious schools, but just regular, secular high schools,” Saritoprak said, “because [Gülen believes] mathematics is talking about God, physics is talking about God, chemistry is talking about God.”
Among Gülen’s critics are Turks who feel he is not enough of a nationalist, Saritoprak said. Because of Gülen’s emphasis on interfaith dialogue and his connections with leaders of other religious traditions, some Muslims have accused him of secretly being a rabbi or a cardinal.
“In the generation that [is being] educated in these schools … I think we have a good promise of our future,” he said.
He noted that the Hizmet movement has also opened hospitals and has been involved in relief efforts; for example, those in Haiti and New Orleans. The movement’s newspaper is one of the most widely read in Turkey, Saritoprak said.
Gülen has held meetings with figures such as the chief rabbis of Israel and Pope John Paul II, and he is generally respected among the Jewish and Christian communities for bringing Muslims into dialogue with those of other faiths, Saritoprak said.
“I think the most visible part — and sometimes criticized part — of this movement is interfaith dialogue,” Saritoprak said.