Date posted: April 9, 2013
One book, one contest, one excitement… An interesting campaign was organized in India, in order to better understand the messages from Prophet Muhammad, the messages which transcend time and space. 80 thousand Muslims in India read the book ‘The Infinite Light’, written by Fethullah Gulen, and were tested over the book. Very well, but what was the real story behind this?
In the months of autumn of the last year, a film that directed insults towards Islam and Prophet Muhammad had induced many violent protests throughout the world. The short film shot by Sam Becile, a man born in Israel and currently living in the United States, had been the subject of many incidents including bloodshed in countries like Libya, Egypt, Yemen, and Tunisia.
Fethullah Gulen had been one of the first to react to the violence. In an article written for the Financial Times, Gulen had explained in summary that Islam would not approve of violence of any kind and that a Muslim should protest in a way fit for a Muslim, without resorting to violence. He explained this by pointing out examples from our Prophet’s life. Gulen’s article was widely accepted among the Muslims in India as well. With inspiration from Fethullah Gulen, 8 scholars, serving as opinion leaders of nearly 200 million Muslims, came together to discuss and contemplate on “How should a Muslim-like reaction be?”
An interesting reaction arose from the Muslims from India towards this film that had been highly-criticized for its insult of Islam and Prophet Muhammad. A book-reading contest was organized in order to learn about our Prophet’s life and to better understand him. The interest was phenomenal.
MESCO (a university and foundation which embodies more than one hundred thousand madrasahs like Dar-ul Uloom Deoband Foundation, Dar-ul Uloom Nadwatul Ulamah, Dar-ul Uloom Sewa us Sabil, Imam Waliyullah Institute, and Jamiah Nuriyah), Hamdard University and Aligarh Muslim University brought in something completely new. They decided to teach our Prophet’s, peace and blessings be upon him, exemplary life to the youth through a contest. Many Hindu, Christian, Sikh and Buddhist leaders who heard of the Muslims’ positive action applauded the project through their support. The committee took action to choose a prophetic biography that would allow the youth to get to know and love our Prophet but, at the same time, would not tire them out while reading. Many books in the market were examined and the scholars decided on the English, Urdu and Hindi translations of Fethullah Gulen’s work, ‘The Infinite Light’.
Dr. Fakruddin, one of the masterminds of the contest and the secretary general for the organizational committee, is a doctor of medicine. He is the secretary general for MESCO, the Muslim Educational Social and Cultural Organization. Fethullah Gulen’s article in the Financial Times had impressed him greatly, and after reading the English translation of ‘The Infinite Light’ in a short period of time, he had the rest of the committee read the book also. The book was very well liked, and the Hindi translation was added to the already existing Urdu translation.
There was one question on everyone’s mind: How many people would enter the contest?
Because MESCO had organized similar events before, after a preparatory period of about 3-4 months, they predicted that the number of sold books would be 10-20 thousand. The interest was a surprising turn-out. The love for the Prophet spread out in waves and, in two months, 110 thousand books had been sold. More than 80 thousands readers entered the preliminary exam. The tests were conducted in two different categories. In the high-school division, Muhammad Salih Khan from Kashmir came in first, while in the second category, the university and public division, Ragib Ikbal from Calcutta came in first.
Fethullah Gulen’s book, ‘The Infinite Light’ was translated into Hindi. The plan had been to publish 10-20 thousand copies of the book, but, in two months, 110 thousand copies were sold. There had been over 80 thousand participants in the preliminary exam. This process had started in November 2012 and was completed with the elimination rounds in the January of this year and the final rounds taking place in February. It was crowned with a glorious award ceremony in the middle of March. K. Rahman Khan, the Minister of Minorities in India, Burak Akcapinar, the Turkish Ambassador, all opinion leaders in the organizational committee, and the representatives of Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist and Zoroastrian religious leaders were among those who attended the award ceremony. The awards ceremony was carried out in an atmosphere of dialog, uniting under the common denominator; “The message which the Prophet of Islam, peace and blessings be upon him, has brought is the truth.” It was possibly the first time that so many opinion leaders and Islamic scholars from India had come together.
“We are all servants of God”
Swami Agnivesh, leader of the Arya Samaj Act, is one of the leading civil rights advocates and social activists in India. Following the reprehensible film incident, Swami Agnivesh expressed that as advocates of civil rights, they condemn both the film and the acts of violence that came after. Agnivesh pointed out that the most enlightened idea on the issue had come from Fethullah Gulen. Loved by many in India, Agnivesh underlined that Fethullah Gulen had very well advised that, in the face of provocation, a Muslim must react with tranquility and wisdom, and, more importantly, in a way that befits a true Muslim.
Also a religious leader, the Hindu Arya Samaj Act leader, Swami Agnivesh, gave a touching speech at the awards ceremony. Starting his words with the basmalah, the Muslim way of starting an action, he received a standing ovation to his words, “For some of us He is God, for some He is Ram, and for others He is Huda, yet, even if we give Him different names, we are all the servants of one God. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, is His servant and messenger.” Emphasizing that Prophet Muhammad was a messenger, Agnivesh stated that Prophet Muhammad had conveyed the message of God to the people. Agnivesh congratulated the ‘The Infinite Light Contest’ organization committee and presented the awards to their recipients.
Leader of the Catholic Christians in India, Father Thomas Kunnunkal, was also among the prominent names to attend the program. Kunnunkal expressed the fact that a book-reading contest had been a very positive way to react. Mentioning that he had conveyed this activity in India to the Vatican with praise, Kunnunkal said that such a beautiful approach truly suited the “enlightened man”.
As representative of the “Golden Temple”, the holy temple of Sikhism, which is another religion that flourishes in India, the Sikh leader Giyani Gurbachan Singh also shared his thoughts about the program. Noting that no religion carries violence or evil in its nature, Singh stated that no religion should be held accountable for the mistakes that people make. “In this respect, the effort of the Muslims in India to teach the younger generation about the life of the noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, in order to show them the essence of the religion, and the fact that they have accomplished an organization of such great scale, is truly praiseworthy,” said Singh.
Touching on his recent opportunity to visit Turkey, Gurbachan Singh mentioned that after seeing the educational endeavors, dialog activities, and social aid projects there, he wanted to speak out to Fethullah Gulen, as being the inspiration for all this work, and say, “I greet Hocaefendi with respect.” Stating that Gulen’s effort to reach out to everyone regardless of language, religion, ethnicity or school of thought and his serving as inspiration to millions was a sign of his inner depth, Singh added that this was the true side of Islam.
The message sent from Fethullah Gulen, during the ceremony, can be summarized with these words: “I congratulate with all my heart this praiseworthy initiative carried out by the honorable people, scholars and wise men of such a great country as India. This great community of wise men have always been like the stars in the sky while living on the abundant soil of India. To this day, there has not been a branch of science in which a scholar or wise man from India has not shone like a star. What we have done to make our source of pride, our beloved Prophet’s name, peace and blessings be upon him, heard through such efforts may be mere drops of water in the vast ocean, single beams from the sun’s light. But, every single effort made in his footsteps is worthy of praise.”
Sufyan Kasimi (Dar-ul Uloom Deoban Foundation University – Vice Chancellor): As a committee, we examined many books on the life of our Prophet. Gulen’s ‘The Infinite Light’ was selected. I regard Hocaefendi’s insistence on “education” as cure for the afflictions that the Muslims are facing today as foresight and discernment.
Nikhilenanda Saraswati (Leader for the Hindu Chinmaya Act): I saw it with my very own eyes when I had the opportunity to go to Turkey. The houses of education that have been opened through the inspiration of Fethullah Gulen also serve as islands of peace. The broad-scoped, enlightened and bright youth I met there are also going to be the architects for a future full of peace and serenity.
Swami Agnivesh (Leader for the Hindu Arya Samaj Act): The message sent out by Fethullah Gulen is being accepted throughout the world, today. We believe that all forms of violence whatsoever are wrong. This contest is an indicator that we can come together and unite around the message that God’s Messenger Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, wanted to convey to the world, the message of love and peace.
Father Thomas Kunnunkal (Leader of the Catholic Christians in India): Millions who have been inspired by the sermons and heart-warming talks of Fethullah Gulen, are making an effort for world peace today. Gulen guides all those around him to reviving and educating humanity and enabling all to live in peace and serenity.
Hamidullah Lone (Dar-ul Uloom Sewa as Sabil University Chancellor): I had the opportunity to visit Turkey not too long ago. While I was touring one of the universities there, I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I sat in a corner for some time and shed tears of joy. I was thankful to God for the wonderful services provided by such beautiful people.
Seccad Numani (of the grandsons of noble Shibli Numani): I, too, am one of the millions who love Hocaefendi dearly. I feel sorry that I do not know Turkish. That way I would have been able to directly understand the sermons which Fethullah Gulen delivered in tears. I think that Turkish people are not aware of what they have in their hands.
“Wait son! I am late!”
An invigilator in Calcutta notices an old man on the stairway before the examination. He is exhausted and drenched in perspiration. Apparently he’s come from afar. He’s in search of something. Thinking to himself, “He probably brought a close relative to the exam,” the invigilator approaches the old man in order to help him. The 72-year old Uncle Husain holds out his entrance documents to the exam, and asks, “Where do I need to go?” As he asks, “Son, am I too late?” it’s obvious that he’s also asking himself whether he was too late in getting to know the Prophet.
What about the conclusion, you say? Uncle Husain passed the eliminations and earned the right to enter the finals.
Even Sickness Wasn’t an Obstacle
The love of the Prophet knows no limitations. From the young to the old, all are determined, all are set on their goal and are preparing for The Infinite Light contest. Auntie Tevhide Aktar and Uncle Gulam Muhittin are also among them. Out of misfortune, both are hospitalized on the day of the exam. As both sensitive souls think with distress and full of tears, the organizers of the contest do not let these beautiful people’s efforts go to waste. Someone is given the duty of bringing the exam papers to the hospital and these two sensitive souls take the exam in their hospital beds.
A Love of the Prophet with Eyes that Do Not See
Hala is an 8th grade student who entered the exam in the city of Hyderabad. One of her eyes can see very poorly while the other cannot see at all. When she hears about The Infinite Light contest, she has the people around her read the book to her. When she can’t find anyone to read for her, she tries to read through her own efforts. Surpassing the hardships one by one, she finally enters the exam. But, there’s no one to come with her and read her the questions during the exam. This does not daunt her. With what little light that her eye catches she holds on to the light of the beloved Prophet, rests the paper to her face and lets the light inside her flow onto the paper.
I Do Not Lie Anymore
Sukmani Ashok is a female student whose family is Hindu. Right now she is a junior in high school. Because she attended the Turkish school until the 8th grade, she speaks Turkish very well. She and her other sibling for the exam together. She says that a lot of thing changed in her life after that. Sukmani explains with excitement that after learning about how Prophet Muhammad came to be called Al-Amin, she hasn’t told a single lie. Sukmani recommends the book ‘The Infinite Light’ to her friends at school and adds that many of her non-Muslim friends have also acquired the book to read.
Tags: Fethullah Gulen |