A road less traveled


Date posted: October 29, 2007

Fehmi Koru – LONDON

As if my seeing Dr. Qameruddin at the International Conference on the “Muslim World in Transition: Contributions of The Gülen Movement” had not been surprising enough, his first sentence also caught me off guard.

“I liked what I heard at the conference, and I came to appreciate what the people of this movement have been doing,” he said, adding, “Could you please introduce me to their local representative?”

You do not know my old friend Qameruddin; if you did, you would have been as surprised as I was. Dr. Qameruddin is not his real name; I’m afraid to disclose his real name for the simple reason that I did not ask his permission. I can vouch for his religious sincerity and personal integrity. He has devoted his life to what he believes in and never expected anything in return. His education prepared him for a world of scholarly endeavors and could have allowed him to earn a decent living; but after a brief stint as an academic at London University, he never considered furthering his academic career. Instead he took up journalism and became a man of action.

Even his faults and fallacies during the last 25 years that I have been observing him have not been of his own creation, but rather the results of the circumstances into which he falls so easily because of his sincere devotion.

A two-day conference in London, co-organized by the Dialogue Society and Middle East Institute, both London-based inter-faith groups, attracted many academics and religious people as well as laymen with an interest in the way our world is being evolving. As a side benefit, the conference provided me with an opportunity to re-establish my friendships with old friends from my time spent in London.

Curiously enough, my friendship with Dr. Qameruddin did not start while I was living in London some 30 years ago, but rather took off when I moved to Boston five years later. He was the deputy editor of an Islamic bi-weekly with the proud claim of being the flagship of the “Global Islamic Movement” and I was sending him my pieces on Turkey under military rule.

Those were the days when the Islamic revolution in Iran had become a rallying point for many Muslims all over the world. Dr. Qameruddin and his close circle of friends had turned their faces from the strain which was not too distant from the traditional Sunni understanding of Islam and had become supporters of the Islamic revolution in Iran. They produced a magazine, published books and organized international conferences, all of them meant to praise the newly emerged version of “revolutionary Islam.”

Seeing him come to an event which he had always despised in the past and appreciate a totally different approach to all things Islamic was like a condensed history of the disappointed Muslim intellectuals who put too much credence in the Iranian experience, never discovering its uniqueness to Iranian history.

My friend Dr. Qameruddin must have traveled a long road on which he has finally reached the maturity of appreciating a grass-roots Muslim movement rather than a revolution from above.

At the London Conference on the Gülen movement, we, together with local attendees like Dr. Qameruddin, listened to papers of learned academics who covered topics from “Euro-Islam” to “Islam as Social Capital.” Many speakers tried to shed light on the Gülen movement’s platform of non-violence and civility; some praised it as an example worthy of emulation by other countries in the Islamic world.

The idea that a group of people can devote their time, money and resources for other people’s children — to provide them with the best education available, to travel to far-away places for that dream and never expect any reward from anybody but Allah — is not easy to internalize by politically minded people like my old friend Qameruddin.

When Fethullah Gülen, the spiritual leader of the movement, sends them to the other side of the world, people who consider him their mentor don’t hesitate to leave everything behind and establish themselves in a new environment.

The teachings of Gülen are guidance to many inside Turkey and out, and his followers have not left anywhere in the world untouched. They have set up schools and institutes in the four corners of the globe. Now, the movement has more than 100 private schools in Turkey and at least 200 schools in other countries, including China, the Philippines and Cambodia in Asia; Tanzania in Africa; Bosnia and Herzegovina in Europe; several in the US and three in Britain. The movement allocates financial as well as human resources for each school.

Education is only a part of the movement’s activities; its main attraction to large segments of Turkish society is its willingness to engage in dialogue with other religions and ideologies. It is an inclusive movement which has adopted a standing consultative body consisting of people from all inclinations. The movement is always the first to condemn violent activities whenever and wherever they occur, regardless of who the perpetrators are.

It is quite a success story as a social movement of humble beginnings in the 1970s with a small group of people dedicated to following a man of religion they revered; today it has a deep influence on many societies where it has an established presence. The movement attracts attention not only from Muslim societies but also from the scholarly circles of the West. The London conference that I attended certainly made an impact on first-time attendees.

“I am terribly impressed,” were the last words my old friend Qameruddin said when we parted.

Source: Today's Zaman , October 29, 2007


Related News

Enforced Disappearance: Cases of Hizmet Movement members and International Law

Moldavian Intelligence Service (SIS) in coordination with Turkish intelligence service (MIT) unlawfully and forcefully detained and kidnaped six educator Turkish nationals in Moldova on September 6, 2018. The detainees have been teachers in private schools opened in 1993 a sign of goodwill friendship between Turkey and Moldova.

Turkish PM heads to Brussels for tough talks with EU

Although the prime minister argues that an ongoing corruption and graft probe engulfing his own ministers is simply a plot hatched by an “illegal gang” that he describes as “parallel state” operated by Fethullah Gülen, a cleric in self-exile in the U.S., EU officials have made clear that such rhetoric has not been bought in Brussels.

Turkey’s Gulen supporters flee to Greece – BBC World

Hundred of members of Turkey’s Gulenist network have sought refuge in neighbouring Greece. Turkey accuses the network of being behind the failed coup in July 2016. And in recent months, the number of lives in exile appears to be increased as the BBC’s Cagil Kasapoglu reports from Thessaloniki.

Turkish newspaper ‘Zaman’ shuts down in Germany amid ‘threats’

The Turkish-language newspaper “Zaman” will stop operations in Germany after “threats” to readers, a staff member has said. The Turkish government took over the paper in Turkey itself in March. “Our subscribers are being visited; they are being threatened that if they continue to subscribe, they will have problems,” Bag said. He added that the current situation in Turkey, where the government is carrying out a wide-ranging media purge, was spilling over into Germany.

Switzerland: Number of Turkish asylum-seekers more than doubles

The SEM says many Turkish asylum-seekers are very well documented for their asylum procedures and submit numerous documents, which is why Switzerland grants asylum to an above-average number of Turkish nationals.

Scholars: The major problem of the Muslim World is shortage of educated people

The conference titled “Ideal Human and Ideal Society in the Thoughts of Prophet Muhammad” organized jointly by the International University of Sarajevo (IUS) and the journal Hira came to an end after the day-2 sessions on April 14. One of the speakers of the day, International African University Rector Prof. Hasan Mekki put an emphasis […]

Latest News

This notable Pocono resident has been living here in exile since 1999

Logistics companies seized over Gülen links sold in fast-track auction

That is Why the Turkish Government could Pay 1 Billion Euros

ECtHR rules Bulgaria violated rights of Turkish journalist who was deported despite seeking asylum

Fethullah Gülen’s Message of Condolences in the Wake of the Western European Floods

Pregnant woman kept in prison for 4 months over Gülen links despite regulations

Normalization of Abduction, Torture, and Death in Erdogan’s Turkey

Turkey’s Maarif Foundation illegally seized German-run school in Ethiopia, says manager

Failed 2016 coup was gov’t plot to purge Gülenists from state bodies, journalist claims

In Case You Missed It

Peace Valley Foundation recognizes reporter, teacher, preacher for community work

Canadian Globe Editorial- It just gets worse in Turkey

Ongoing tussle: Students, parents protest closure of Pak-Turk School in Khairpur

The Turkish Connection: Pak-Turk Schools

Gülen movement acted ‘courageously’ when gov’t-involved graft revealed, Altan says

Ahmet Altan has shown which side he’s on

Fethullah Gülen’s Statement on the Shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada

Copyright 2021 Hizmet News