Dr.Â B.Â JillÂ CarrollÂ
GulenÂ conferenceÂ paperÂ
GulenÂ inÂ Dialogue:
FethullahÂ GulenâsÂ IdeasÂ inÂ theÂ ContextÂ ofÂ theÂ LargerÂ HumanitiesÂ
AnÂ increasingÂ amountÂ of recentÂ researchÂ placesÂ GulenâsÂ thoughtÂ inÂ the contextÂ of Sufism,Â the Nursi movement,Â TurkishÂ Islam,Â IslamÂ inÂ general,Â and inÂ the intellectualÂ climate andÂ culture of interfaithÂ dialogue.Â Â WhatÂ hasÂ yetÂ toÂ be done isÂ toÂ place GulenâsÂ ideas intoÂ theÂ muchÂ largerÂ contextÂ of general humanisticÂ discourse.Â Â HumanismÂ is, among otherÂ things,Â any philosophy,Â theology orÂ viewpointÂ thatÂ prioritizesÂ humanÂ flourishment,Â development,Â achievement,Â beauty,Â responsibility,Â and value.Â Â Many varietiesÂ of humanismÂ have existed forÂ milleniaÂ inÂ all partsÂ of the world.Â Â These varietiesÂ include,Â butÂ areÂ certainly notÂ limited to,Â the ideasÂ and writingsÂ of:Â Confucius; theÂ classicalÂ GreeksÂ including Socrates, PlatoÂ andÂ Aristotle;Â many medievalÂ theologiansÂ andÂ philosophers;Â EnlightenmentÂ thinkers suchÂ as Locke,Â Â Kant,Â and Hume;Â modernistÂ thinkersÂ like NietzscheÂ and Mill;Â existentialistÂ scholarsÂ suchÂ asÂ JeanÂ Paul Sartre;Â andÂ others. While noneÂ of these writersÂ approachÂ theirÂ humanisticÂ work fromÂ anÂ IslamicÂ perspective,Â aÂ close look atÂ their work and theÂ ideas of GulenÂ indicate broad themesÂ of resonance.Â Â Specifically,Â GulenÂ andÂ several of these otherÂ humanisticÂ thinkers, inÂ turn,Â concernÂ themselvesÂ withÂ the importance of educationÂ inÂ bothÂ skill and virtue,Â the necessity of freedomÂ inÂ the domain of conscience,Â theÂ moral value of humanÂ dignity toÂ all justÂ andÂ decentÂ society,Â the individual cultivation of virtuesÂ asÂ central toÂ bothÂ aÂ happy life and aÂ truly civil society,Â and the responsibility and possibility of creating anÂ everÂ progressing humanity forÂ the future.Â Â ThisÂ paperÂ briefly will reviewÂ twoÂ of these topics asÂ they appearÂ inÂ theÂ worksÂ of Gulen,Â KantÂ and Mill in orderÂ toÂ broadenÂ the parametersÂ of the dialogue forÂ whichÂ GulenÂ hasÂ become soÂ famous.
ThisÂ paperÂ isÂ aÂ summary of partÂ of aÂ book lengthÂ work of the same title currently inÂ progress.Â TheÂ goal of thisÂ paperÂ isÂ toÂ explain the basicÂ premise of the book,Â andÂ thenÂ toÂ articulate the analysesÂ foundÂ inÂ twoÂ of the majorÂ chaptersÂ of the book.Â Â ReadersÂ (orÂ listeners, inÂ the case of the conference session) are encouraged toÂ read the entireÂ book forÂ detailed quotesÂ and more indepthÂ developmentÂ of the analysesÂ presented here;Â thisÂ paperÂ will provide only aÂ survey of the mainÂ pointsÂ of twoÂ sectionsÂ of the book,Â andÂ aÂ sense of theÂ generalÂ direction of the argumentsÂ IÂ have developed.Â
My task inÂ the book isÂ toÂ place the ideas of FethullahÂ GulenÂ intoÂ the contextÂ of the largerÂ humanities. Specifically,Â IÂ seek toÂ create aÂ textualÂ dialogue betweenÂ printed versionsÂ of selected articles, sermonsÂ or speechesÂ by Gulen,Â onÂ theÂ one hand,Â and the textsÂ of selected thinkers,Â writers,Â philosophersÂ orÂ theoristsÂ fromÂ general humanitiesÂ discourse,Â on the other.Â These individualsÂ fromÂ the humanitiesÂ include:Â Confucius,Â Plato,Â ImmanuelÂ Kant,Â JohnÂ StuartÂ Mill,Â andÂ JeanÂ PaulÂ Sartre.Â Â My conviction inÂ thisÂ paperÂ (andÂ inÂ the book)Â isÂ thatÂ the work of bothÂ GulenÂ andÂ these humanisticÂ thinkersÂ hoversÂ aroundÂ central issuesÂ of humanÂ existence.Â InÂ otherÂ words,Â these thinkersÂ are concerned withÂ basicÂ questionsÂ aboutÂ humanÂ life,Â the state,Â and morality.Â Â Moreover,Â theyÂ reachÂ similarÂ conclusionsÂ regarding many of these issuesÂ and questionsÂ afterÂ deliberatingÂ aboutÂ themÂ fromÂ withinÂ their ownÂ traditionsÂ andÂ culturalÂ contexts.Â
InÂ claiming similarity here,Â IÂ amÂ notÂ asserting âsamenessâ.Â These thinkersÂ come fromÂ aÂ vastÂ diversity of backgrounds, time periods,Â cultural/nationalÂ contexts, religious/spiritualÂ traditionsÂ andÂ more.Â Â TheyÂ differÂ fromÂ eachÂ otherÂ inÂ significantÂ ways,Â toÂ the pointÂ thatÂ inÂ certain passagesÂ of theirÂ respective work,Â theyÂ denounce eachÂ otherÂ (inÂ the case of the more recentÂ writers)Â or,Â one could imagine,Â theyÂ would denounce eachÂ otherÂ onÂ many pointsÂ if they were inÂ aÂ realÂ dialogue (notÂ merely aÂ âconstructedâÂ one).Â GulenÂ critiquesÂ outrightÂ Sartre,Â existentialists, andÂ otherÂ âatheistsâÂ many timesÂ throughoutÂ hisÂ work.Â Â Mill arguesÂ forÂ aÂ kindÂ of freedomÂ thatÂ PlatoÂ would find abhorrentÂ inÂ hisÂ idealÂ republic;Â conversely,Â Mill probably would findÂ PlatoâsÂ idealÂ republicÂ anÂ oppressive tyranny inÂ mostÂ ways. SartreâsÂ work blastsÂ any notionÂ of aÂ âheavenÂ of idealsâ,Â utterly universalÂ and transcendent,Â whetherÂ itÂ be articulated by Plato,Â KantÂ orÂ Gulen.Â Â Confucius,Â coming fromÂ aÂ sixthÂ century Chinese perspective,Â hasÂ little inÂ commonÂ withÂ ideas fromÂ WesternÂ EnlightenmentÂ orÂ postEnlightenmentÂ thinkersÂ like KantÂ orÂ Mill.Â
Dialogue betweenÂ people withÂ vastly differentÂ worldviews,Â however,Â isÂ whatÂ interestsÂ me.Â Â Moreover,Â IÂ believe thatÂ suchÂ dialogue isÂ vitalÂ inÂ todayâsÂ world whereÂ globalization,Â massÂ communicationsÂ and technology have pushed individualsÂ and groupsÂ of individualsÂ togetherÂ inÂ waysÂ neverÂ before seenÂ inÂ humanÂ history.Â Â People livingÂ inÂ the 21stÂ century interactÂ withÂ and areÂ impacted by otherÂ people andÂ groupsÂ very differentÂ fromÂ themÂ more thanÂ everÂ before.Â Â We increasingly areÂ confronted by people and groupsÂ whose worldviewsÂ are utterly differentÂ fromÂ oursÂ â andÂ these people are our neighbors, coworkers, schoolmatesÂ of ourÂ children,Â ourÂ inlaws, ourÂ clients, ourÂ employers,Â and more.Â Â Often,Â we may try toÂ minimize our contactÂ withÂ these âothersâÂ soÂ thatÂ we doÂ notÂ have toÂ feel theÂ âstretchâ thatÂ their very existence requiresÂ of us. We may isolate ourselvesÂ and craftÂ theÂ arcÂ of our livesÂ intoÂ familiarÂ orbitsÂ of people whoÂ look,Â think,Â speak,Â believe and pray like us. But,Â suchÂ isolationÂ orÂ minimizingÂ of difference isÂ notÂ workable overÂ time âÂ notÂ now,Â withÂ our weaponsÂ of massÂ destruction,Â ourÂ increased capability toÂ notÂ only end millionsÂ of lives,Â butÂ toÂ endÂ life itself,Â or life as we knowÂ it.Â Â InÂ todayâsÂ world,Â we mustÂ developÂ theÂ capacity toÂ dialogueÂ andÂ create relatednessÂ withÂ people vastly differentÂ fromÂ us. PartÂ of thatÂ projectÂ involvesÂ findingÂ ideas, beliefs, purposes,Â projects,Â etc.Â on whichÂ we canÂ achieve resonance withÂ eachÂ other.Â Â NotÂ sameness,Â butÂ resonance.Â Â ThatÂ is, similarÂ justÂ enoughÂ that, forÂ aÂ certainÂ lengthÂ downÂ the road,Â we canÂ hold handsÂ asÂ fellowÂ travelersÂ inÂ thisÂ life all the while mindful of our differencesÂ inÂ myriad ways.
Gulen,Â inÂ hisÂ careerÂ as anÂ official imamÂ inÂ Turkey and as anÂ inspirationalÂ scholarÂ and teacherÂ toÂ nearly aÂ generation of young people throughoutÂ Turkey andÂ beyond,Â hasÂ championed dialogue asÂ aÂ necessary commitmentÂ and activity inÂ the contemporary world.Â Therefore,Â itÂ isÂ appropriate toÂ place Gulen,Â viaÂ hisÂ texts, âinÂ dialogueâ withÂ otherÂ thinkersÂ and writersÂ coming fromÂ very differentÂ perspectivesÂ thanÂ his. SuchÂ aÂ projectÂ modelsÂ forÂ usÂ asÂ readersÂ aÂ way of becoming comfortable withÂ difference.Â Â More importantly,Â though,Â suchÂ aÂ dialogueÂ amongÂ individualsÂ renownÂ forÂ theirÂ knowledge and giftsÂ canÂ help all of usÂ whoÂ care aboutÂ suchÂ thingsÂ toÂ focusÂ moreÂ deeply onÂ the enduringly greatÂ issuesÂ of humanÂ life.Â Â While humanÂ livesÂ inÂ theirÂ particularitiesÂ change eraÂ toÂ era, the deep natureÂ of humanÂ life âÂ and the questioning andÂ anxiety itÂ provokesÂ â hasÂ notÂ changed.Â Â We ask today the same questionsÂ as our ancestorsÂ aboutÂ theÂ meaning of existence,Â the value of humanÂ life,Â howÂ we are toÂ setÂ upÂ society and whatÂ the limitsÂ of freedomÂ are.Â Â My hope isÂ thatÂ thisÂ mock dialogue betweenÂ GulenÂ and theÂ othersÂ listed above providesÂ anÂ opportunity forÂ those of usÂ today,Â on whose shouldersÂ the futureÂ rests, toÂ take seriously our charge toÂ create ourselves, society and the world according the highestÂ andÂ bestÂ possibleÂ ideals.Â
IÂ have organized the dialoguesÂ betweenÂ GulenÂ and otherÂ humanisticÂ thinkersÂ around five majorÂ themesÂ thatÂ captureÂ central issuesÂ and concernsÂ aboutÂ humanÂ life inÂ the world.1Â These themesÂ are:
InherentÂ humanÂ value andÂ moral dignity
FreedomÂ of Thought
IndividualÂ cultivation of virtue
Importance of Education
These themesÂ areÂ wellknownÂ toÂ any studentÂ of general humanisticÂ discourse,Â whetherÂ fromÂ the ancientÂ periodÂ orÂ the modern,Â whetherÂ fromÂ Europe,Â AsiaÂ orÂ Africa,Â whetherÂ fromÂ aÂ religiousÂ or secular worldview.Â Â InÂ eachÂ theme,Â IÂ have identified aÂ primary thinkerÂ toÂ pair withÂ GulenÂ inÂ aÂ textualÂ dialogue.Â Â IÂ have chosenÂ theÂ primary thinkersÂ based onÂ theÂ resonance theirÂ particular expression of the specificÂ theme has withÂ GulenâsÂ expressionÂ of thatÂ same theme fromÂ withinÂ hisÂ IslamicÂ perspective.Â Â IÂ could have chosenÂ otherÂ humanistsÂ and fared justÂ as well probably,Â inÂ termsÂ of finding powerful expression of classicÂ humanisticÂ ideas and resonance withÂ Gulen.Â Â IÂ chose the onesÂ belowÂ because IÂ feltÂ theyÂ were particularly adeptÂ inÂ theirÂ expressionÂ and,Â frankly,Â because of my deep admirationÂ and respectÂ forÂ their work havingÂ taughtÂ theirÂ ideasÂ inÂ college classroomsÂ nowÂ forÂ 15 years.
InÂ the remaining pagesÂ of thisÂ paper,Â IÂ developÂ the firstÂ twoÂ themesÂ listed above asÂ Gulen,Â KantÂ andÂ Mill addressÂ themÂ inÂ theirÂ respective works. These sections, as IÂ indicated earlier,Â are shortened versionsÂ of the chaptersÂ of the book.Â Â InÂ shortened form,Â however,Â they provide examplesÂ of the type of âconversationsâ IÂ wishÂ toÂ constructÂ betweenÂ GulenÂ andÂ otherÂ humanisticÂ thinkers. Moreover,Â these conversationsÂ discuss themesÂ whichÂ IÂ believe are of the utmostÂ importance forÂ our scholarly and civicÂ consideration.
ThemeÂ #1:Â Inherent HumanÂ ValueÂ and MoralÂ DignityÂ
TheÂ very word âhumanismâÂ placesÂ the humanÂ â the individual,Â theÂ group of individuals,Â theÂ species, theÂ formÂ of beingÂ âÂ inÂ theÂ centerÂ of itsÂ concerns.Â Â Therefore,Â humanismâsÂ long claimÂ isÂ thatÂ humanÂ life inÂ general,Â andÂ humanÂ livesÂ inÂ particular,Â have some formÂ of inherentÂ humanÂ value.Â Â Moreover,Â respectÂ forÂ thisÂ inherentÂ humanÂ value, inÂ many humanisticÂ systems, formsÂ the starting pointÂ orÂ groundingÂ forÂ fundamentalÂ morality.Â Â InÂ my view,Â noÂ oneÂ articulatesÂ thisÂ moreÂ powerfully and coherently thanÂ 18thÂ century GermanÂ philosopherÂ Immanuel Kant.Â Â InÂ hisÂ Grounding forÂ the MetaphysicsÂ of Morals,Â firstÂ published inÂ 1785,Â KantÂ attemptsÂ toÂ articulate
1IÂ categorizeÂ GulenÂ asÂ aÂ humanisticÂ thinkerÂ despiteÂ thefactÂ thatÂ heperhapswouldÂ rejectÂ theÂ termforÂ himself.Â Â InÂ muchofhisworkhe differentiatesWesternÂ humanism fromÂ the visionÂ ofÂ Islam,Â sayingÂ the formerÂ isÂ aÂ mereÂ ideology orÂ philosophy whiletheÂ latterÂ isÂ divinelyÂ inspired. IÂ viewGulenÂ asÂ anÂ IslamicÂ humanistÂ becauseÂ Islam,Â inhisÂ iterationÂ ofÂ it,Â isÂ aÂ comprehensiveworldviewÂ forÂ allÂ ofÂ humanÂ lifeÂ andexistence.Â Â ThefocusonÂ theÂ humanÂ definesbothÂ Islam,Â andGulen,Â ashumanisticÂ inÂ thebroadestÂ possiblesense.
âthe supreme principle of morality.âÂ 2Â He intendsÂ toÂ articulate thisÂ principle inÂ completely rational,Â notÂ empirical,Â termsÂ inÂ orderÂ toÂ preventÂ moralÂ actionsÂ fromÂ being dependentÂ onÂ circumstances,Â humanÂ feelings,Â whimsÂ or conditions. Time and space here doÂ notÂ suffice toÂ considerÂ the meritsÂ of KantâsÂ methodÂ or conclusions, orÂ toÂ adequately summarize the bulk of hisÂ argumentsÂ inÂ thisÂ work.Â Â Therefore,Â IÂ will simply summarize those pointsÂ mostÂ relevantÂ toÂ hisÂ discussion of humanÂ beingsÂ asÂ endsÂ inÂ themselves and,Â asÂ such,Â possessorsÂ of inherentÂ value thatÂ mustÂ notÂ be maligned.Â
KantâsÂ argumentÂ inÂ the Grounding centersÂ onÂ three coreÂ concepts:Â reason,Â will,Â and duty.Â Â InÂ short,Â he arguesÂ thatÂ humanÂ beingsÂ differÂ fromÂ animalsÂ inÂ that, unlike animals,Â humans have theÂ capacity of reason.Â Â ReasonÂ isÂ given toÂ usÂ by nature notÂ toÂ make usÂ happy,Â orÂ toÂ help usÂ secure our welfareÂ or preservation;Â onÂ theÂ contrary,Â KantÂ says,Â instinctÂ aloneÂ inÂ usÂ would provide forÂ those thingsÂ muchÂ betterÂ thanÂ reason,Â as itÂ doesÂ inÂ animals.Â Â Instead,Â reasonâsÂ functionÂ inÂ usÂ isÂ toÂ developÂ the will.Â Â TheÂ will,Â particularly aÂ good will,Â isÂ indispensable toÂ any notionÂ of morality.Â Â NothingÂ good isÂ evenÂ possible withoutÂ aÂ good will,Â regardless of whateverÂ otherÂ talentsÂ or capacitiesÂ aÂ personÂ may possess. TheÂ good will isÂ good inÂ itself,Â and isÂ indispensable forÂ moral action.Â Â Moreover,Â KantÂ argues,Â the goodÂ will isÂ identified chiefly by the ability toÂ actÂ fromÂ duty alone and notÂ accordingÂ toÂ any circumstancesÂ or sentiment.Â Â KantÂ spendsÂ mostÂ of hisÂ treatise explaining these three core conceptsÂ of reason,Â will and duty,Â and theirÂ operation inÂ aÂ metaphysicsÂ of moralsÂ fromÂ which humanÂ beingsÂ canÂ codify aÂ supreme principle of morality toÂ guide all deliberationsÂ and actions.Â Â ThisÂ supreme principle isÂ called the categorical imperative,Â whichÂ takesÂ severalÂ formsÂ inÂ the treatise,Â the mostÂ commonÂ being âIÂ should neverÂ actÂ exceptÂ inÂ suchÂ aÂ way thatÂ IÂ canÂ alsoÂ will thatÂ my maximÂ should become aÂ universalÂ law.âÂ 3Â
ForÂ Kant,Â then,Â humansÂ possessÂ reasonÂ inÂ orderÂ toÂ developÂ inÂ themselvesÂ aÂ good will thatÂ will actÂ fromÂ aÂ sense of duty toÂ the moralÂ lawÂ regardless of circumstances, sentiment,Â whimÂ orÂ personal advantage.Â Â Humans, asÂ rationalÂ beings,Â areÂ possessorsÂ inÂ theirÂ nature of the very groundingsÂ of morality and,Â as such,Â have inherentÂ value.Â Â Outside of humanÂ beingsÂ as rational agents,Â thereÂ isÂ noÂ practical notionÂ of the moral good,Â since there isÂ nothingÂ thatÂ canÂ determineÂ itÂ rationally and apply itÂ universally otherÂ thanÂ humanÂ beings. KantÂ arguesÂ thatÂ humanÂ beingsÂ â asÂ humanÂ possess inherentÂ value,Â notÂ marketÂ value.Â Â HumanÂ value isÂ notÂ negotiable;Â itÂ isÂ notÂ aÂ thingÂ boughtÂ orÂ sold,Â or somethingÂ relative inÂ value depending onÂ marketÂ conditions. KantâsÂ formulationÂ of humanÂ being allowsÂ theÂ humanÂ dispositionÂ toÂ âbe recognized as dignity andÂ putsÂ itÂ infinitely beyondÂ all price,Â withÂ whichÂ itÂ cannotÂ inÂ the leastÂ be broughtÂ intoÂ competitionÂ orÂ comparisonÂ without,Â asÂ itÂ were,Â violating itsÂ sanctity.âÂ 4Â He goesÂ toÂ say â[r]ationalÂ natureÂ isÂ distinguished fromÂ the restÂ of nature by the factÂ thatÂ itÂ setsÂ itself anÂ end.â5Â Therefore,Â anotherÂ dimensionÂ of the categoricalÂ imperative isÂ thatÂ âaÂ rationalÂ being himself mustÂ be made the ground forÂ all maximsÂ of actionsÂ and mustÂ thusÂ be used neverÂ merely as means butÂ as the supreme limitingÂ conditionÂ inÂ the use of all means, i.e.,Â alwaysÂ atÂ the same time asÂ anÂ end.âÂ 6
2 Immanuel Kant,Â Grounding forÂ the MetaphysicsofMorals,Â third edition.Â Trans.Â JamesÂ W.Â EllingtonÂ (Indianapolis,Â IN:Â Hackett PublishingÂ Company,Â 1993):Â 5.Â
3 Ibid.,Â 14.Â
4 Ibid.,Â 41.Â
5 Ibid.,Â 42.Â
6 Ibid.,Â 43.
HumanÂ beingsÂ are endsÂ inÂ themselves, notÂ merely aÂ means toÂ someone elseâsÂ end.Â TheyÂ cannotÂ be used only as aÂ tool toÂ secureÂ anotherâsÂ goal,Â agendaÂ or ideology.Â Â While humans may be employed inÂ those efforts,Â they cannotÂ be treated as only orÂ merely employeesÂ of aÂ project. They areÂ alwaysÂ atÂ the same time anÂ end inÂ themselves, bearersÂ of inherentÂ value and dignity,Â regardlessÂ of any advantage orÂ benefitÂ they provide toÂ anyoneÂ elseâsÂ projectsÂ or agendas.Â
TheÂ WesternÂ Enlightenment,Â of whichÂ KantÂ wasÂ aÂ part,Â championed these notionsÂ of inherentÂ humanÂ dignity,Â whichÂ broughtÂ aboutÂ radical societalÂ changesÂ inÂ the 18thÂ century andÂ beyond.Â Â OfÂ course,Â these ideasÂ are notÂ unique toÂ the WesternÂ Enlightenment;Â thinkersÂ and writersÂ fromÂ many partsÂ of theÂ world articulate suchÂ notionsÂ fromÂ withinÂ theirÂ ownÂ cultural,Â religious,Â or philosophicalÂ rubrics. IslamicÂ scholars, forÂ example,Â forÂ centuriesÂ and fromÂ withinÂ many partsÂ of the world,Â have interpreted theÂ QuranÂ as expressing suchÂ notionsÂ aboutÂ inherentÂ humanÂ value and moralÂ dignity.Â Â GulenâsÂ work isÂ anÂ example of IslamicÂ scholarship thatÂ emphasizesÂ theÂ QuranicÂ âvoiceâ insistingÂ uponÂ the distinctÂ beauty andÂ worth of humanÂ beings.Â Â GulenÂ repeatedly referencesÂ andÂ expositsÂ suchÂ portionsÂ of the QuranÂ whenÂ fieldingÂ questionsÂ aboutÂ jihad,Â violence,Â terror,Â andÂ respectÂ forÂ humanÂ life inÂ generalÂ (notÂ justÂ MuslimÂ life).Â InÂ these sectionsÂ of hisÂ work,Â GulenâsÂ resonance withÂ the ideasÂ of KantÂ become clear,Â althoughÂ they mostÂ certainly develop theirÂ respective expressionsÂ of inherentÂ humanÂ value and moral dignity fromÂ entirely differentÂ perspectives.Â
Gulen,Â inÂ aÂ piece entitled âHumanÂ BeingsÂ andÂ TheirÂ Nature,âÂ speaksÂ of the transcendentÂ value of humanÂ beings.Â Â He beginsÂ the piece withÂ anÂ extravagantÂ statement:Â
Humans,Â the greatestÂ mirror of the names,Â attributesÂ and deedsÂ of God,Â are aÂ shining mirror,Â a marvelousÂ fruitÂ of life,Â aÂ source forÂ the whole universe,Â aÂ sea thatÂ appearsÂ toÂ be aÂ tiny drop,Â a sunÂ formed asÂ aÂ humbleÂ seed,Â aÂ greatÂ melody inÂ spite of theirÂ insignificantÂ physicalÂ positions,Â and the source forÂ existence allÂ contained withinÂ aÂ smallÂ body.Â HumansÂ carryÂ aÂ holy secretÂ thatÂ makesÂ themÂ equalÂ toÂ the entire universeÂ withÂ allÂ theirÂ wealthÂ of character;Â aÂ wealthÂ thatÂ canÂ be developed toÂ excellence.Â 7
He continuesÂ by claiming thatÂ â[a]ll of existence becomesÂ aÂ legible book only withÂ theirÂ [human]Â understandingÂ andÂ foresightÂ .Â .Â .Â humansÂ â togetherÂ withÂ everything inÂ and around themÂ âÂ .Â .Â .Â areÂ the royalÂ witnessesÂ of theirÂ Master.â8Â He finishesÂ thisÂ lineÂ of thinkingÂ inÂ the section by saying â[w]henÂ thisÂ entireÂ boundlessÂ universe,Â withÂ all of itsÂ riches, components,Â and history,Â isÂ connected toÂ humanity itÂ becomesÂ clearÂ why the value of humankind transcendsÂ all .Â .Â .Â According toÂ Islam,Â humansÂ are superiorÂ merely because they are humansâ9Â So,Â inÂ these passages, GulenÂ claimsÂ the greatest, mostÂ superiorÂ value forÂ humanÂ beingsÂ because of theirÂ capacity as witnessesÂ and interpretersÂ of theÂ universe.Â Â AsÂ suchÂ witnesses,Â they areÂ theÂ mirrorsÂ of God,Â the reflectorsÂ of the divineâsÂ book of the universe.Â WithoutÂ them,Â the universe isÂ notÂ known,Â norÂ isÂ there anyone toÂ knowÂ it.Â
InÂ anotherÂ piece,Â GulenÂ reiteratesÂ thatÂ humanÂ beingsÂ areÂ the centerÂ and meaning of the universe and that, as such,Â they possessÂ value higherÂ evenÂ thanÂ angels. Humans, throughÂ theirÂ activitiesÂ andÂ understandingsÂ give life itsÂ essence:
7 FethullahÂ Gulen,Â âHumanBeingsÂ andÂ TheirÂ NatureâÂ TowardÂ aÂ GlobalÂ Civilization ofÂ LoveÂ andÂ Tolerance,Â Ed.Â M.Â EnesErgeneÂ (NewÂ Jersey:Â TheÂ LightÂ Publishing,Â 2004),Â 112.Â
8 Ibid.,Â 112.Â
9 Ibid.,Â 113.
Taking intoÂ accountÂ allÂ the honorÂ thatÂ hasÂ beenÂ granted toÂ humanity,Â compared withÂ allÂ the restÂ of creation,Â humanity mustÂ be seenÂ asÂ the voiceÂ thatÂ expressesÂ the natureÂ of things,Â the natureÂ of eventsÂ and,Â of course,Â the natureÂ of the AllÂ PowerfulÂ One WhoÂ isÂ behind everything,Â asÂ wellÂ asÂ being understood asÂ aÂ heartÂ thatÂ encompassesÂ allÂ the universes.Â Â WithÂ human beings,Â creationÂ hasÂ found itsÂ interpreterÂ and matterÂ hasÂ beenÂ distilled throughÂ the cognitionÂ of people,Â finding itsÂ spiritualÂ meaning.Â The monitoring of thingsÂ isÂ anÂ ability peculiarÂ toÂ human beings,Â theirÂ being ableÂ toÂ read and interpretÂ the book of the universeÂ isÂ a privilege,Â and theirÂ attributionÂ of everything toÂ the CreatorÂ isÂ anÂ exceptionalÂ blessing.Â TheirÂ quietÂ introspectionÂ isÂ contemplation,Â theirÂ speechÂ isÂ wisdom,Â and theirÂ conclusive interpretationÂ of allÂ thingsÂ isÂ love.Â 10
So,Â whereasÂ KantÂ arguesÂ forÂ the inherentÂ value of humanÂ beingsÂ based onÂ theirÂ being rational agentsÂ throughÂ whomÂ the moralÂ lawÂ comesÂ intoÂ practicalÂ beingÂ inÂ the world,Â GulenÂ arguesÂ forÂ the value of humanÂ beingsÂ based onÂ theirÂ positionÂ as theÂ only agentsÂ throughÂ whomÂ GodâsÂ book of creationÂ canÂ be knownÂ and the wondersÂ of existence expressed.Â Â InÂ bothÂ instances, humanÂ beingsÂ â as individualsÂ and as groupsÂ â are indispensable toÂ fundamentalÂ constituentsÂ of existence,Â inÂ oneÂ case morality,Â inÂ the otherÂ all knowledge,Â wisdomÂ and love.Â
Moreover,Â Gulen,Â like KantÂ takesÂ humanÂ value and dignity as theÂ basisÂ forÂ definingÂ legitimate and illegitimate behaviorsÂ towardÂ people in society.Â InÂ aÂ piece addressingÂ humanÂ rightsÂ inÂ Islam,Â heÂ arguesÂ thatÂ IslamÂ has the highestÂ conceptionÂ of universalÂ humanÂ rightsÂ andÂ thatÂ itÂ has notÂ beenÂ surpassed by any otherÂ religion,Â systemÂ orÂ commission.Â Â He says,Â âIslamÂ acceptsÂ theÂ killingÂ of one personÂ asÂ if all of humanity had beenÂ killed,Â forÂ the murderÂ of one personÂ allowsÂ the ideaÂ thatÂ any personÂ canÂ be killed.âÂ 11Â Elsewhere,Â he saysÂ thatÂ inÂ the IslamicÂ view:
A human being,Â be they manÂ orÂ woman,Â young orÂ old,Â white orÂ black,Â isÂ respected,Â protected and inviolate.Â TheirÂ belongingsÂ cannotÂ be takenÂ away,Â norÂ canÂ theirÂ chastity be touched.Â They cannotÂ be drivenÂ outÂ of theirÂ native land,Â and theirÂ independenceÂ cannotÂ be denied.Â They cannotÂ be prevented fromÂ living inÂ accordance withÂ theirÂ principles,Â either.Â Moreover,Â they are prohibited fromÂ committing suchÂ crimesÂ againstÂ othersÂ asÂ well.Â Â They doÂ notÂ have the rightÂ toÂ inflictÂ harmÂ onÂ thisÂ giftÂ [of humanity]Â thatÂ isÂ presented toÂ themÂ by God,Â forÂ they only are inÂ temporary possessionÂ of thisÂ bounty;Â God isÂ the true ownerÂ of everything .Â .Â .Â HumansÂ are toÂ defend and keep safe thisÂ gift.Â ItÂ isÂ holy forÂ them;Â they willÂ notÂ harmÂ it,Â norÂ allowÂ itÂ toÂ comeÂ toÂ any harm.Â WhenÂ necessaryÂ they willÂ fightÂ forÂ itÂ and dieÂ forÂ it.Â 12
Clearly,Â GulenÂ echoesÂ the spiritÂ of KantianÂ analysisÂ despite comingÂ fromÂ aÂ completely differentÂ framework,Â namely,Â theÂ religiophilosophical worldviewÂ of Islam.Â Â TheÂ inherentÂ value,Â evenÂ holiness,Â of humanity demandsÂ universalÂ protectionÂ of itÂ and categorically forbidsÂ any
10 FethullahÂ Gulen,Â âTheÂ InnerÂ Profundity ofÂ Humankindâ TowardÂ aÂ GlobalÂ Civilization ofÂ LoveÂ andÂ Tolerance.Â Â Ed.Â M.Â EnesÂ Ergene.Â (NewÂ Jersey:Â The LightÂ Publishing,Â 2004),Â 117.Â
11 FethullahÂ Gulen,Â âHumanÂ RightsinÂ Islam,â TowardÂ aÂ GlobalÂ CivilizationÂ ofÂ LoveÂ andÂ Tolerance,Â Ed.Â M.Â EnesÂ ErgeneÂ (NewÂ Jersey:Â TheLightÂ Publishing,Â 2004),Â 169.Â GulenqualifiesÂ thisÂ statementÂ inÂ aÂ waycommonÂ tomostÂ religiousÂ andphilosophicalÂ thinkers,Â namely,Â thatÂ itÂ perhapsÂ isjustifiedÂ toÂ killÂ thosewhoÂ areÂ killingothers,Â thoseÂ tryingÂ todestroysociety,Â etc.Â Â IntheseÂ instances,Â the killing isnotÂ murder;Â itÂ ispunishmentÂ orÂ selfdefense.Â
12 âHumanÂ BeingsÂ andÂ TheirÂ Nature,âÂ 114.
transgression of it.Â Â ForÂ bothÂ KantÂ and Gulen,Â humanity as aÂ formÂ mode of being andÂ humanÂ beingsÂ and individualsÂ are literally aweinspiring.Â
ClaimsÂ of the inherentÂ value of moral dignity of humanÂ beings,Â whetherÂ made by thinkersÂ of theÂ WesternÂ Enlightenment,Â by IslamicÂ scholarsÂ interpreting the Quran,Â or by othersÂ fromÂ any traditionÂ whatsoever,Â areÂ vitalÂ inÂ todayâsÂ world.Â Â TheÂ claimsÂ themselvesÂ accomplishÂ nothing.Â Â WhenÂ humanÂ beingsÂ commitÂ themselves,Â however,Â toÂ suchÂ claimsÂ and determineÂ their actionsÂ by suchÂ claims, cultureÂ and society becomesÂ lessÂ savage,Â bloody and brute.Â Â History showsÂ usÂ thatÂ societiesÂ thatÂ keep inherentÂ humanÂ value atÂ the forefrontÂ of theirÂ political and cultural existence allowÂ aÂ measureÂ of peace andÂ stability forÂ all residentsÂ and citizens. WhenÂ those same societiesÂ fall intoÂ persecutionsÂ andÂ genocides, mostÂ oftenÂ itÂ isÂ because they have abandoned the principlesÂ of inherentÂ humanÂ value and moral dignity.Â Â May we, withÂ GulenÂ and Kant,Â renewÂ ourselvesÂ toÂ these claimsÂ soÂ as toÂ avoid evenÂ greaterÂ atrocitiesÂ thanÂ we have already committed inÂ the humanÂ family.
ThemeÂ #2Â âÂ FreedomÂ ofÂ Thought
HumanisticÂ thinking,Â especially inÂ itsÂ modernÂ forms,Â placesÂ freedomÂ of thoughtÂ andÂ expression of ideasÂ asÂ aÂ centralÂ plank of itsÂ platform,Â bothÂ philosophically and sociopolitically.Â Â Free press, free andÂ peaceful publicÂ protest,Â the rightÂ toÂ assemble and otherÂ suchÂ institutionsÂ all stemÂ fromÂ the idealÂ of freedomÂ articulated inÂ modernÂ humanisms.Â Â Philosophically,Â the idealÂ of freedomÂ extendsÂ backÂ toÂ the ancientÂ world as philosophersÂ challenged themselvesÂ and othersÂ withÂ all mannerÂ of ideas, and satÂ debating themÂ inÂ the marketplace withÂ anyone whoÂ would listen.Â Â Some of the greatestÂ of our classicalÂ learningÂ inÂ the WestÂ comesÂ fromÂ these philosophersÂ who,Â evenÂ if putÂ toÂ deathÂ orÂ exiled forÂ theirÂ ideas eventually,Â allowed themselvesÂ toÂ think and speak freely,Â refusingÂ toÂ shackle theirÂ minds and voicesÂ evenÂ whenÂ theÂ State commanded it.Â
InÂ the modernÂ West, several philosophersÂ and writers powerfully expressÂ thisÂ idealÂ of freedom.Â Â InÂ my view,Â however,Â noneÂ expressesÂ thisÂ idealÂ more exhaustively and more radically thanÂ 19thÂ century BritishÂ social and political theoristÂ JohnÂ StuartÂ Mill.Â Â InÂ thisÂ section,Â IÂ place Mill intoÂ aÂ dialogue withÂ GulenÂ around the ideal of freedomÂ of thought.Â Â Mill and GulenÂ areÂ vastly differentÂ fromÂ eachÂ otherÂ inÂ significantÂ ways. TheÂ kind of freedomsÂ Mill would allowÂ inÂ society probably farÂ exceed those withÂ whichÂ Gulen would be comfortable.Â Â ToÂ the extentÂ thatÂ eachÂ of themÂ articulate aÂ social vision,Â theirÂ respective âsocietiesâÂ would notÂ resemble eachÂ otherÂ inÂ many ways. OnÂ the otherÂ hand,Â bothÂ societies,Â atÂ leastÂ theoretically,Â would be tolerantÂ inÂ mattersÂ of religiousÂ belief andÂ practice,Â and bothÂ would allowÂ vigorousÂ inquiry and debate onÂ issuesÂ related toÂ truthÂ inÂ most, perhapsÂ all,Â domains.Â Â These similaritiesÂ betweenÂ theirÂ respective âsocietiesâÂ existÂ because of their commonÂ commitmentÂ toÂ the idealÂ of freedom,Â especially inÂ mattersÂ of thoughtÂ and conscience.Â
Mill isÂ perhapsÂ mostÂ famousÂ forÂ Utilitarianism,Â hisÂ work of ethical philosophy.Â I,Â however,Â wishÂ toÂ focus onÂ anotherÂ of hisÂ importantÂ works, OnÂ Liberty,Â published inÂ 1859.Â Â InÂ thisÂ text,Â Mill setsÂ hisÂ projectÂ asÂ anÂ articulation of socialÂ orÂ civil liberty,Â thatÂ is,Â âthe natureÂ and limitsÂ of the powerÂ thanÂ canÂ be legitimately exercised by society overÂ theÂ individual.âÂ 13Â He explainsÂ thatÂ aÂ recentÂ previousÂ generationÂ inÂ the WestÂ concerned itself withÂ the tyranny of magistratesÂ and,Â therefore,Â developed representative formsÂ of governmentÂ thatÂ threwÂ off the despoticÂ powersÂ of divineÂ rightÂ monarchsÂ andÂ the like.Â Â He and hisÂ generation are the
13 JohnÂ StuartÂ Mill, OnÂ Liberty,Â AÂ NortonÂ CriticalÂ Edition.Â Ed.Â AlanÂ RyanÂ (NewÂ York;Â W.W.Â Norton,Â 1997),Â 41.
beneficiariesÂ of thatÂ struggle and,Â forÂ the mostÂ part,Â noÂ longerÂ struggle againstÂ thatÂ kindÂ of tyranny.Â
Rather,Â Mill asserts, theÂ currentÂ generation,Â thatÂ is,Â hisÂ generationÂ inÂ 19thÂ century Britain,Â mustÂ fightÂ anotherÂ kindÂ of tyranny âÂ the tyranny of the majority.Â Â MillsÂ says:Â
Protection,Â therefore,Â againstÂ the tyranny of the magistrate isÂ notÂ enough;Â thereÂ needsÂ protectionÂ alsoÂ againstÂ the tyranny of the prevailing opinionÂ and feeling;Â againstÂ the tendency of society toÂ impose,Â by otherÂ meansÂ than civilÂ penalties,Â itsÂ ownÂ ideasÂ and practicesÂ asÂ rulesÂ of conductÂ on thoseÂ whoÂ dissentÂ fromÂ them;Â toÂ fetterÂ the development,Â and,Â if possible,Â preventÂ the formation,Â of any individuality notÂ inÂ harmony withÂ itsÂ ways,Â and compelsÂ allÂ characterÂ toÂ fashionÂ themselvesÂ uponÂ the modelÂ of itsÂ own.Â ThereÂ isÂ a limitÂ toÂ the legitimate interferenceÂ of collective opinionÂ withÂ individualÂ independence:Â and toÂ find thatÂ limit,Â and maintain itÂ againstÂ encroachment,Â isÂ asÂ indispensableÂ toÂ aÂ good conditionÂ of human affairs,Â asÂ protectionÂ againstÂ politicalÂ despotism.Â 14
InÂ otherÂ words,Â Mill detectsÂ aÂ subtle tyranny thatÂ existsÂ inÂ society evenÂ whenÂ representative governmentÂ isÂ inÂ place.Â Â ThisÂ tyranny isÂ aÂ social orÂ civil tyranny,Â aÂ pressureÂ thatÂ society exertsÂ onÂ itsÂ membersÂ toÂ conformÂ toÂ ânormalâ beliefsÂ and practicesÂ inÂ all partsÂ of life simply because those are the ânormâ and are practiced by the majority of people inÂ the society.Â Therefore,Â soÂ the logicÂ goes, everyone should âtowÂ the lineâ,Â orÂ be forced toÂ doÂ so.Â Â Mill rejectsÂ thisÂ tyranny and setsÂ aboutÂ toÂ determine the principle by whichÂ we canÂ determine the legitimate interference of the state orÂ societalÂ agentsÂ withÂ anÂ individualâsÂ freedom,Â since mostly these determinationsÂ are made based purely onÂ personalÂ preference orÂ custom.Â Â He statesÂ hisÂ principleÂ of civicÂ freedomÂ early inÂ the essay:Â
...[T]hatÂ the soleÂ end forÂ whichÂ mankind are warranted,Â individually orÂ collectively,Â inÂ interfering withÂ the liberty of actionÂ of any of theirÂ number,Â isÂ selfÂ protection.Â ThatÂ the only purposeÂ forÂ whichÂ powerÂ can be rightfully exercised overÂ any memberÂ of aÂ civilized community,Â againstÂ hisÂ will,Â isÂ toÂ preventÂ harmÂ toÂ others.Â Â HisÂ ownÂ good,Â eitherÂ physicalÂ orÂ moral,Â isÂ notÂ aÂ sufficientÂ warrantÂ ...Â OverÂ himself,Â overÂ hisÂ body and mind,Â the individualÂ isÂ sovereign.Â 15
ThisÂ isÂ aÂ radical principle of freedom.Â Â ItÂ makesÂ direct and measurable harmÂ nearly the only legitimate groundsÂ onÂ whichÂ the state orÂ civil authoritiesÂ canÂ interfereÂ withÂ anÂ individualâsÂ actions. While thisÂ principleÂ isÂ undoubtedly farÂ tooÂ liberal forÂ Gulen,Â resonance doesÂ existÂ betweenÂ GulenÂ andÂ Mill onÂ thisÂ ideaÂ of freedom,Â particularly inÂ the domain of thoughtÂ and discussion,Â to whichÂ Mill devotesÂ anÂ entireÂ chapterÂ inÂ hisÂ essay.16
Mill unequivocally supportsÂ freedomÂ of thoughtÂ and discussion,Â evenÂ if the ideas expressed andÂ discussed inÂ society endÂ upÂ being false.Â Â He saysÂ assertionsÂ made toÂ the community forÂ consideration are eitherÂ true,Â false orÂ somewhere inÂ betweenÂ âÂ aÂ partialÂ truth/partialÂ falsehood.Â Â Regardless,Â societiesâÂ bestÂ interests areÂ served whenÂ they allowÂ free expression andÂ discussionÂ of ideas.Â Â If the ideaÂ isÂ true,Â people will gain aÂ freshÂ appreciationÂ forÂ itsÂ truthÂ be discussingÂ it,Â revisitingÂ theÂ argumentsÂ forÂ itsÂ truth,Â and defending itÂ againstÂ its
14 Ibid.,Â 44.Â
15 Ibid.,Â 48.Â
16 Islam,Â like manyÂ religiousÂ philosophies,Â prohibitsÂ suicideÂ and other similar actionsÂ ofÂ selfharm onÂ theÂ groundsthatÂ onesbody orÂ selfisÂ aÂ gift fromÂ God,Â orÂ isÂ notÂ oneâsownÂ to harm.
detractors.Â Â InÂ thisÂ way,Â the true ideasÂ remainÂ alive andÂ vibrantÂ forÂ people instead of becomingÂ stale and dormantÂ fromÂ simply being accepted as trueÂ forÂ generations. If the ideaÂ isÂ false,Â society benefitsÂ fromÂ the publicÂ discussionÂ again.Â Â Evidence of itsÂ falsehoodÂ areÂ reviewed orÂ made clearÂ toÂ everyone involved and the truthÂ isÂ embraced more fully thanÂ before.Â Â MostÂ likely,Â Mill says, the ideaÂ expressed will be aÂ mixtureÂ of truthÂ and falsehood.Â Â Truly,Â no one hasÂ the full truthÂ aboutÂ anything;Â humanÂ mindsÂ cannotÂ conceive truthÂ inÂ itsÂ entirety aboutÂ anything because we doÂ notÂ knowÂ thingsÂ inÂ themselves, butÂ only our positional perceptionsÂ of things. Therefore,Â all ideasÂ should be expressed freely inÂ society soÂ thatÂ partialÂ truthsÂ canÂ be strengthened intoÂ fullerÂ truthsÂ throughÂ theÂ mechanismÂ of civil engagementÂ and debate.Â
TheÂ societalÂ benefitsÂ of free thoughtÂ and discussionÂ are clearÂ enough.Â Â But,Â Mill goesÂ deeperÂ intoÂ the actualÂ impactÂ thatÂ free thoughtÂ hasÂ onÂ individualsÂ whoÂ make upÂ society.Â SocietiesÂ mostÂ oftenÂ banÂ free thoughtÂ andÂ discussion inÂ anÂ effortÂ toÂ stop heresy,Â butÂ suchÂ bansÂ doÂ notÂ impactÂ theÂ hereticsÂ asÂ muchÂ as they doÂ everyoneÂ else.Â Mill says:Â
The greatestÂ harmÂ done isÂ toÂ thoseÂ whoÂ are notÂ heretics,Â and whoseÂ whole mentalÂ developmentÂ isÂ cramped,Â and theirÂ reasonÂ cowed,Â by the fearÂ of heresy.Â WhoÂ canÂ compute whatÂ the world losesÂ in the multitude of promising intellectsÂ combined withÂ timid characters,Â whoÂ dare notÂ followÂ outÂ any bold,Â vigorous,Â independentÂ trainÂ of thought,Â lestÂ itÂ should land themÂ in something whichÂ would admitÂ of being considered irreligiousÂ orÂ immoral?Â 17
MillâsÂ pointÂ hereÂ isÂ thatÂ overweeningÂ fearsÂ of heresyÂ stamp outÂ notÂ only heretics,Â butÂ alsoÂ those whoÂ have bold,Â freshÂ newÂ ideasÂ toÂ share aboutÂ anything,Â including received traditions, evenÂ those considered sacred.Â Â WhenÂ the threatÂ of punishmentÂ forÂ heresyÂ isÂ soÂ strong inÂ aÂ society,Â or whenÂ aÂ society threatensÂ civil penaltiesÂ onÂ those whoÂ express ideas otherÂ thanÂ those expressly allowed by the civicÂ âauthoritiesâ,Â all of society suffers. MentalÂ strengthÂ comesÂ withÂ practice and challenge.Â Â AÂ society thatÂ clampsÂ downÂ onÂ thoughtÂ and discussionÂ becomesÂ weak and atrophied.Â Â Mill continues:Â
NoÂ one canÂ be aÂ greatÂ thinkerÂ whoÂ doesÂ notÂ recognize,Â thatÂ asÂ aÂ thinkerÂ itÂ isÂ hisÂ firstÂ duty toÂ followÂ hisÂ intellectÂ toÂ whateverÂ conclusionsÂ itÂ may lead.Â TruthÂ gainsÂ moreÂ evenÂ by the errorsÂ of one who,Â withÂ due study and preparation,Â thinksÂ forÂ himself,Â than by the true opinionsÂ of thoseÂ whoÂ only hold themÂ becauseÂ they doÂ notÂ sufferÂ themselvesÂ toÂ think.Â 18
Again,Â true ideasÂ become stagnantÂ and weak whenÂ notÂ regularly challenged inÂ debate and discussion.Â Â Those whoÂ espouse trueÂ ideas doÂ not hold those truthsÂ honestly if they have notÂ allowed themselvesÂ toÂ think freely,Â whichÂ may meanÂ questioning longheld truths. Mill claims,Â however,Â thatÂ the pointÂ isÂ notÂ merely toÂ create individualÂ thinkers. He says:Â
NotÂ thatÂ itÂ isÂ solely,Â orÂ chiefly,Â toÂ formÂ greatÂ thinkers,Â thatÂ freedomÂ of thinking isÂ required.Â OnÂ the contrary,Â itÂ isÂ asÂ muchÂ and evenÂ moreÂ indispensableÂ toÂ enableÂ average human beingsÂ toÂ attainÂ the mentalÂ stature whichÂ they are capableÂ of.Â ThereÂ have been,Â and may againÂ be,Â great individualÂ thinkersÂ inÂ the general
17 Ibid.,Â 67.Â 18 Ibid.,Â 67.
atmosphereÂ of mentalÂ slavery.Â ButÂ thereÂ neverÂ hasÂ been,Â norÂ everÂ willÂ be,Â inÂ thatÂ atmosphereÂ anÂ intellectually active people.Â 19
Here we see Mill articulating the idealÂ of freedomÂ forÂ theÂ mostÂ humanisticÂ of reasonsÂ inÂ additionÂ toÂ theÂ utilitarian.Â Â Here,Â also,Â weÂ canÂ bringÂ GulenÂ intoÂ theÂ discussion,Â forÂ he mostÂ oftenÂ speaksÂ of the idealÂ of freedomÂ inÂ bothÂ humanisticÂ andÂ utilitarianÂ terms. GulenÂ speaksÂ oftenÂ inÂ hisÂ work of freedomÂ fromÂ tyranny.Â Â InÂ many contexts,Â heÂ isÂ referring toÂ theÂ tyranniesÂ variousÂ groupsÂ of MuslimsÂ have endured inÂ recentÂ yearsÂ underÂ powersÂ of secularismÂ and colonialism.Â Â InÂ otherÂ contexts,Â however,Â he speaksÂ in moreÂ universalÂ termsÂ aboutÂ the freedomÂ eachÂ individual has by virtueÂ of beingÂ human.Â Â He evenÂ echoesÂ MillâsÂ stated principle of liberty whenÂ he assertsÂ thatÂ â[f]reedomÂ allowsÂ people toÂ doÂ whateverÂ theyÂ want,Â provided thatÂ theyÂ doÂ notÂ harmÂ othersÂ andÂ thatÂ theyÂ remain wholly devoted toÂ the truth.â20Â TheÂ lastÂ phrase âÂ âthatÂ theyÂ remainÂ wholly devoted toÂ theÂ truthâ âÂ mightÂ cause Mill some pause atÂ first,Â butÂ he mightÂ argue thatÂ evenÂ those lostÂ inÂ orÂ committed toÂ falsehoodsÂ areÂ wholly devoted toÂ truth; they are justÂ wrong aboutÂ the truth.Â Â ToÂ speak orÂ actÂ inÂ aÂ way notÂ âwholly devoted toÂ truthâ could include,Â forÂ Mill and GulenÂ both,Â thingsÂ like slander,Â libel orÂ yellingÂ âfireâ inÂ aÂ crowded theaterÂ whenÂ thereÂ isÂ noÂ fire.Â
GulenâsÂ championingÂ of tolerance isÂ inconceivable withoutÂ aÂ commitmentÂ toÂ freedomÂ of thoughtÂ andÂ discussion,Â mainly because tolerance isÂ unnecessary if freedomÂ of thought,Â discussion,Â personalÂ choices,Â etc. areÂ notÂ allowed.Â Â Tolerance isÂ aÂ virtueÂ precisely because people are free and will choose differentÂ beliefs,Â religionÂ and pursuits. GulenÂ makesÂ thisÂ pointÂ many times, oftenÂ inÂ discussionsÂ of democracyÂ alone, orÂ democracy andÂ IslamÂ âÂ betweenÂ whichÂ he seesÂ noÂ incompatibility whatsoever.Â InÂ aÂ piece onÂ forgiveness, GulenÂ linksÂ tolerance and democracyÂ viaÂ theÂ conceptÂ of freedom.Â Â âDemocracy isÂ aÂ systemâ,Â he saysÂ âthatÂ givesÂ everyone whoÂ isÂ underÂ itsÂ wingÂ theÂ opportunity toÂ live and expressÂ theirÂ ownÂ feelingsÂ and thoughts. Tolerance comprisesÂ anÂ importantÂ dimensionÂ of this. InÂ fact,Â itÂ canÂ be said thatÂ democracy isÂ outÂ of the question inÂ aÂ place where tolerance doesÂ notÂ exist.âÂ 21Â
SuchÂ statements,Â however,Â doÂ notÂ carry the radical edge of MillâsÂ claimsÂ aboutÂ theÂ necessity of freedomÂ andÂ theÂ protectionÂ people need fromÂ social tyranny.Â Â Only whenÂ GulenÂ expositsÂ hisÂ notionsÂ of the idealÂ humanÂ beings, orÂ the âinheritorsÂ of the earthâ as he callsÂ themÂ inÂ oneÂ work,Â doÂ we see notÂ only the deep commitmentÂ toÂ freedom,Â butÂ alsoÂ the rationale forÂ suchÂ aÂ commitmentÂ âÂ aÂ truly humanisticÂ rationale.Â Â In TheÂ Statue of our Souls, he laysÂ outÂ aÂ broad vision forÂ aÂ society âÂ evenÂ aÂ world Â led by individualsÂ of spiritual,Â moral andÂ intellectualÂ excellence.Â Â He called these people âinheritorsÂ of the Earthâ andÂ goesÂ intoÂ some depthÂ inÂ describingÂ their charactersÂ and attributes.Â 22Â InÂ hisÂ enumeration of theirÂ centralÂ traits,Â the fifthÂ traitÂ heÂ identifiesÂ asÂ âbeingÂ able toÂ think freely and beingÂ respectful toÂ freedomÂ of thought.â23Â He continues:
19 Ibid.,Â 67.Â
20 M.Â FethullahÂ Gulen, PearlsÂ of Wisdom vol.Â 1.Â Â Trans. AliUnalÂ (NewÂ Jersey;Â TheÂ LightÂ Publishing),Â 55.Â
21 M.Â FethullahÂ Gulen,Â âForgiveness,Â ToleranceÂ and DialogueâÂ TowardÂ aÂ GlobalÂ CivilizationÂ ofÂ LoveÂ andÂ Tolerance.Â Ed.Â M.Â EnesÂ Ergene.Â Â (NewÂ Jersey:Â TheÂ LightÂ Publishing,Â 2004),Â 44.Â
22 M.Â FethullahÂ Gulen,Â TheStatueÂ ofÂ OurÂ Souls.Â Trans.Â MuhammedÂ CetinÂ (NewÂ Jersey;Â TheLightÂ Publishing,Â 2005),Â 510,Â 3142.Â IÂ will discussÂ thisconceptÂ ofÂ âinheritorsofthe earthâÂ aswellÂ asÂ GulenâsÂ socialÂ vision in more depthÂ inÂ aÂ later section.Â
23 Ibid.,Â 38.
Being free andÂ enjoying freedomÂ areÂ aÂ significantÂ depthÂ of human willpowerÂ and aÂ mysteriousÂ doorÂ throughÂ whichÂ manÂ may setÂ forthÂ inÂ toÂ the secretsÂ of the self.Â One unableÂ toÂ setÂ forthÂ intoÂ thatÂ depthÂ and unableÂ toÂ passÂ throughÂ thatÂ doorÂ can hardly be called human.Â 24
So,Â freedomÂ of thoughtÂ isÂ central toÂ being human,Â toÂ humanity itself.Â Â WithoutÂ freedomÂ of thought,Â notÂ only as aÂ socialÂ orÂ political principle,Â butÂ alsoÂ as anÂ ability inÂ oneself,Â oneÂ cannotÂ really be called aÂ humanÂ being.Â Â InÂ otherÂ words, one doesÂ notÂ reachÂ humanÂ capacity withoutÂ freedomÂ of thought.Â Â GulenÂ elaborates:Â
InÂ circumstancesÂ onÂ whichÂ restrictionsÂ have beenÂ imposed onÂ reading,Â thinking,Â feeling and living,Â itÂ isÂ impossibleÂ toÂ retainÂ oneâsÂ human faculties,Â letÂ alone achieve renewalÂ and progress.Â Â InÂ suchÂ aÂ situationÂ itÂ isÂ quite difficultÂ toÂ maintain evenÂ the level of aÂ plainÂ andÂ commonÂ man,Â letÂ alone toÂ raise greatÂ personalitiesÂ whoÂ leap withÂ the spiritÂ of renewalÂ and reform,Â and whoseÂ eyesÂ areÂ onÂ infinity.Â InÂ suchÂ conditionsÂ thereÂ existÂ only weak charactersÂ whoÂ experienceÂ deviationsÂ inÂ theirÂ personalitiesÂ and men of sluggishÂ soulsÂ and paralyzed senses.Â 25
HumanÂ developmentÂ and,Â by extension,Â societalÂ developmentÂ and growthÂ âÂ all reformÂ and progress âÂ depend onÂ freedomÂ of thoughtÂ and living. AÂ society withoutÂ suchÂ freedomÂ doesÂ notÂ nurture the people of spiritÂ and vision thatÂ lead itÂ forward intoÂ newÂ dimensions. EvenÂ worse,Â perhaps, isÂ thatÂ itÂ doesÂ notÂ nurture commonÂ people toÂ attainÂ their fullestÂ humanÂ capacities.Â Â Here,Â GulenÂ echoesÂ Mill inÂ championingÂ freedomÂ forÂ itsÂ usefulnessÂ toÂ society and forÂ itsÂ humanisticÂ value.Â Â Indeed,Â the formerÂ isÂ rooted inÂ the latter; thatÂ is, freedomÂ isÂ beneficial toÂ society because of theÂ âworkâ itÂ doesÂ inÂ creating andÂ developing humanÂ beingsÂ asÂ individuals.Â Â AsÂ we sawÂ inÂ the previousÂ section,Â humanÂ beingsÂ areÂ of the highestÂ value.Â Â ItÂ follows,Â then,Â thatÂ developingÂ humanÂ capacity,Â orÂ humanÂ âbeingnessâ,Â isÂ of the highestÂ value as well.Â
GulenÂ lamentsÂ the recentÂ history of Turkey and otherÂ MuslimÂ regionsÂ where the populationsÂ have undergone,Â and sometimesÂ continue toÂ endure,Â societalÂ structuresÂ inÂ whichÂ freedomÂ of thoughtÂ and learningÂ are forbiddenÂ eitherÂ throughÂ outrightÂ censure,Â or throughÂ dominantÂ state sponsored ideologies.Â RegardingÂ theÂ world of MuslimÂ learningÂ inÂ particular,Â he speaksÂ of aÂ vibrantÂ pastÂ of scholarship and learning thatÂ was openÂ toÂ differentÂ fieldsÂ of knowledge andÂ scientificÂ inquiry.Â Â ThatÂ spiritÂ of scholarship,Â however,Â gave way toÂ narrownessÂ and rote memorization of approved works. AtÂ thatÂ point,Â all humanÂ potentialÂ beganÂ itsÂ slowÂ decay,Â easyÂ prey forÂ opportunisticÂ tyrants, ideologues and colonialists.
He longsÂ forÂ aÂ renewal among MuslimsÂ soÂ thatÂ IslamicÂ civilizationÂ canÂ again take aÂ place atÂ the helmÂ of globalÂ leadership,Â asÂ itÂ did inÂ pastÂ centuriesÂ whenÂ muchÂ of whatÂ constituted âcivilizationâ came fromÂ the IslamicÂ world. InÂ orderÂ forÂ thatÂ toÂ happen,Â he says,
...Â we have toÂ be moreÂ freethinking andÂ freewilled.Â We need thoseÂ vastÂ heartsÂ whoÂ canÂ embraceÂ impartialÂ freethinking,Â whoÂ are openÂ toÂ knowledge,Â sciences,Â and scientificÂ research,Â and whoÂ canÂ perceive the accord betweenÂ the QurâanÂ and the SunnatullahÂ inÂ the vastÂ spectrumÂ fromÂ the universeÂ toÂ life.Â 26
24 Ibid.,Â 3839.Â
25 Ibid.,Â 39.Â
26 Ibid.Â 40.Â SunnatullahÂ refersÂ totheÂ unchangingpatternsÂ ofÂ God'sÂ actioninÂ theÂ universe.
WithoutÂ renewingÂ aÂ capacity forÂ freedomÂ of thought,Â bothÂ individually and collectively,Â IslamicÂ civilizationÂ Â indeed all civilizationÂ âÂ isÂ lost.Â Â NoÂ possibility of authentic, robustÂ humanity existsÂ withoutÂ freedomÂ of thought.Â NoÂ possibility of greatness inÂ civilizationÂ existsÂ withoutÂ authenticÂ humanity.Â
AsÂ IÂ stated earlier,Â GulenÂ and Mill come fromÂ very differentÂ social,Â political and religiousÂ contextsÂ and,Â therefore,Â envision societiesÂ very differentÂ fromÂ eachÂ other.Â Â Mill would allowÂ freedomsÂ of lifestyle and pursuitÂ inÂ hisÂ idealÂ society thatÂ GulenÂ would find dangerousÂ andÂ corrosive toÂ society as aÂ whole.Â Â Mill would viewÂ GulenâsÂ idealÂ society asÂ tooÂ religiously based and therefore,Â tooÂ susceptible toÂ the âtyranny of the majorityâ thatÂ he isÂ determined toÂ keep atÂ bay.Â Â BothÂ of them,Â however,Â agree onÂ aÂ pointÂ that is, inÂ my view,Â muchÂ more fundamentalÂ toÂ humanÂ life and flourishing âÂ freedomÂ of thoughtÂ and expression.Â Â People mustÂ be able toÂ think freely and expressÂ those thoughtsÂ inÂ the world withoutÂ fearÂ of punishment.Â Â NoÂ harmÂ isÂ done toÂ anyone fromÂ the simple expressionÂ inÂ speech orÂ writingÂ of ideas.Â Â OnÂ the contrary,Â greatÂ healthÂ and benefitÂ come toÂ individualsÂ and society as aÂ whole whenÂ society itself isÂ structured toÂ allowÂ free thought,Â inquiry and expression.Â Mill and GulenÂ are committed equally toÂ thisÂ idealÂ of freedomÂ withinÂ theirÂ respective contextsÂ primarily because bothÂ of themÂ are humanists, inÂ the broadestÂ sense of theÂ term,Â and the idealÂ of freedomÂ isÂ centralÂ toÂ humanisticÂ thinking. Anyone whoÂ lovesÂ humanity and believesÂ inÂ humanÂ greatness mustÂ also,Â by definition,Â be aÂ championÂ of humanÂ freedom,Â especially inÂ the domainÂ of thought,Â inquiry and expression.
TheÂ above discussion of GulenâsÂ ideasÂ âinÂ dialogueâ withÂ those of KantÂ and Mill areÂ examplesÂ of the type of analysisÂ IÂ provide inÂ the book lengthÂ work.Â Â TheÂ book providesÂ the complete discussionÂ of all five central humanisticÂ themes, andÂ placesÂ GulenÂ inÂ dialogue withÂ Kant,Â Mill,Â Confucius,Â PlatoÂ and Sartre.Â Â IÂ believe these conversationsÂ are valuable toÂ scholarsÂ inÂ the humanitiesÂ asÂ well as toÂ concerned citizensÂ inÂ todayâs globalÂ world.Â Â We mustÂ findÂ waysÂ forÂ people of divergentÂ views, religions,Â perspectivesÂ and beliefsÂ toÂ peacefully coexist.Â Â We will neverÂ live inÂ aÂ world where everyone isÂ aÂ MuslimÂ orÂ a Christian,Â or practicesÂ democracy inÂ the same way orÂ evenÂ atÂ all,Â or believesÂ inÂ the same God orÂ inÂ aÂ god atÂ all.Â Â AlwaysÂ andÂ everywhere people will differÂ inÂ theirÂ viewsÂ aboutÂ myriad things.Â Â By honing inÂ onÂ core valuesÂ vitalÂ toÂ humanÂ life and flourishing,Â however,Â we canÂ findÂ pointsÂ of contactÂ and resonance amidstÂ our differencesÂ thatÂ canÂ serve asÂ aÂ the glue thatÂ canÂ bind usÂ togetherÂ asÂ aÂ humanÂ family.Â Â We mustÂ articulate andÂ live inside theÂ domain of these coreÂ valuesÂ â valuesÂ thatÂ IÂ have here identified as broad humanisticÂ values. Our very livesÂ areÂ atÂ stake.Â Â Life as we knowÂ itÂ isÂ atÂ stake.