UniversityÂ ofÂ CentralÂ Oklahoma
GivenÂ the currentÂ politicalÂ climate,Â itÂ isÂ especially important,Â and especially challenging,Â toÂ teachÂ AmericanÂ studentsÂ toÂ become informed and openminded aboutÂ Islam.Â WhenÂ all they regularly experience are the storiesÂ reported onÂ theÂ television and inÂ otherÂ media,Â they have noÂ conceptÂ of IslamÂ as itÂ isÂ experienced by theÂ majority of the worldâsÂ Muslims,Â norÂ itsÂ long history of peace and tolerance.Â ToÂ be sure,Â violence exists among some Muslims, andÂ sometimesÂ inÂ the name of Islam,Â butÂ the same canÂ certainly be said aboutÂ Christianity,Â Judaism, Hinduism,Â andÂ theÂ majority of the worldâsÂ greatÂ religions. WithinÂ the contextÂ of teaching the basicsÂ of Islam,Â and aÂ viewpointÂ of tolerance,Â toÂ AmericanÂ college students, IÂ outlineÂ aÂ methodology whichÂ presentsÂ the basicÂ tenetsÂ of Islam,Â thenÂ introducesÂ studentsÂ toÂ IslamicÂ artâparticularly TurkishÂ traditional artsÂ within the contextÂ of aÂ largerÂ programÂ of study whichÂ includesÂ analysisÂ of the artsÂ asÂ aÂ means toÂ understand cultural viewpoints. Once studentsÂ have beenÂ exposed toÂ religiousÂ fundamentalsÂ and recognize the beauty inÂ the art,Â whichÂ stemsÂ inÂ large partÂ fromÂ religiousÂ belied,Â appropriate writingsÂ by FethullahÂ GÃ¼lenÂ become anÂ importantÂ confirmationÂ forÂ studentsÂ thatÂ IslamÂ has,Â atÂ itâsÂ core,Â anÂ appreciationÂ forÂ love,Â beauty,Â andÂ tolerance,Â particularly withinÂ the mysticÂ traditionÂ of Sufism.Â
InÂ the classroom,Â teaching tolerance isÂ oneÂ of theÂ goalsÂ of the humanitiesÂ coursesÂ whichÂ IÂ instruct.Â One method of understanding and learningÂ toÂ respectÂ othersÂ isÂ by understanding theirÂ history,Â beliefs, andÂ artisticÂ achievements. AsÂ aÂ teacherÂ of lowerlevel coursesÂ inÂ generalÂ humanities, as well as upperÂ level coursesÂ inÂ folkloreÂ and religion,Â IÂ have aÂ vested interestÂ inÂ leadingÂ studentsÂ toÂ understandÂ something aboutÂ Islam.Â WhenÂ whatÂ they see onÂ the television isÂ uniformly negative,Â itÂ isÂ important toÂ presentÂ aÂ more balanced viewÂ inÂ classes.
FethullahÂ GÃ¼len,Â the sometimesÂ controversial butÂ generally wellregarded theologianÂ fromÂ Turkey,Â espousesÂ aÂ viewÂ of IslamÂ thatÂ hasÂ rootsÂ inÂ SufismÂ andÂ theÂ study of the IslamicÂ propheticÂ tradition and theology.Â Some authorsÂ trace hisÂ viewsÂ mostÂ recently toÂ the NurÂ (Light)Â movementÂ led by SaidÂ NursiÂ (Agai,Â 2002),Â althoughÂ thisÂ may notÂ representÂ anÂ entirely accurate understandingÂ of theÂ influencesÂ onÂ GÃ¼len.Â TurkishÂ artists, especially those whoÂ practice the TurkishÂ traditionalÂ arts,Â have anÂ ethicÂ of work and connectedness toÂ God/AllahÂ and theÂ largerÂ community whichÂ canÂ be traced,Â inÂ part,Â toÂ SufismÂ and toÂ some of the religiousÂ guildsÂ underÂ the OttomanÂ empire.Â (Glassie, 1993)Â The relationship isÂ notÂ as directÂ asÂ itÂ isÂ inÂ the case of GÃ¼len,Â butÂ itÂ doesÂ seemÂ toÂ be presentÂ inÂ theÂ way artistsÂ have described theirÂ love forÂ God/Allah,Â community and humanity throughÂ their art,Â theirÂ work,Â andÂ theÂ way theirÂ livesÂ areÂ lived inÂ anÂ extensive studyÂ published by Henry Glassie inÂ 1993 called TurkishÂ Traditional ArtÂ Today.Â AtÂ nearly 1000 pagesÂ inÂ length,Â GlassieâsÂ study presentsÂ aÂ decade of observationsÂ and interviewsÂ withÂ TurkishÂ traditional artistsÂ inÂ many differentÂ communities.
FethullahÂ GÃ¼len,Â of course,Â has had many thingsÂ toÂ say aboutÂ the importance of teaching and modelingÂ moral behaviorÂ as aÂ meansÂ of preventing aÂ clashÂ of civilizations,Â promoting interfaithÂ dialogue,Â and raising aÂ âgoldenÂ generationâ inÂ aÂ largely secular world.Â (Agai,Â 2002) HisÂ commentsÂ are addressed toÂ Muslims,Â and arise fromÂ the unique situation whichÂ exists inÂ Turkey.Â There,Â education mustÂ be secularÂ inÂ deference toÂ governmentÂ regulationsÂ thatÂ came aboutÂ as aÂ resultÂ of the secular movementÂ of KemalÂ Ataturk.Â (Agai, 2002)Â While itÂ isÂ clearÂ thatÂ GÃ¼lenÂ and hisÂ community have reservationsÂ aboutÂ the secularÂ education system,Â theyÂ have chosenÂ toÂ work withinÂ itÂ toÂ ensure thatÂ studentsÂ receive aÂ firstÂ rate education,Â particularly inÂ the sciencesÂ and technology.Â AlthoughÂ one hour of religiousÂ instructionÂ isÂ nowÂ permitted perÂ week inÂ TurkishÂ schools, educatorsÂ whoÂ adhereÂ toÂ GÃ¼lenâsÂ theoriesÂ of educationÂ chose toÂ provide moral,Â and inÂ a sense religious, instructionÂ throughÂ theÂ modelingÂ of moral behaviorÂ whichÂ emphasizesÂ generosity,Â duty,Â and adherence toÂ IslamicÂ idealsÂ of behavior.Â AsÂ theÂ GÃ¼lenÂ educationÂ movement becomesÂ global,Â studentsÂ inÂ schoolsÂ outside of Turkey whichÂ areÂ largely supported and staffed by those inspired by GÃ¼lenÂ doÂ notÂ alwaysÂ teachÂ MuslimÂ students.Â (Balci,Â 2003)Â TheÂ secularÂ emphasisÂ of aÂ curriculumÂ whichÂ wasÂ developed toÂ conformÂ toÂ TurkishÂ educational guidelines isÂ suited toÂ aÂ globalÂ studentÂ body.Â Still,Â morality and valuesÂ are still modeled and are based uponÂ Islam.Â
âFrom GÃ¼lenâsÂ perspective,Â knowledge itself becomesÂ anÂ Islamic value whenÂ itÂ isÂ
imparted by teachersÂ withÂ IslamicÂ valuesÂ and whoÂ canÂ showÂ studentsÂ howÂ toÂ
employ knowledge inÂ the rightÂ and beneficialÂ IslamicÂ way.âÂ
(Agai,Â 2002,Â p.p.Â 4041)Â
These IslamicÂ valuesÂ are tolerated inÂ secularÂ and diverse religiousÂ environmentsÂ inÂ whichÂ schoolsÂ are established due inÂ partÂ because they canÂ alsoÂ be seenÂ as universalÂ valuesâÂ those whichÂ canÂ be found toÂ aÂ greaterÂ orÂ lesserÂ extentÂ inÂ Judaism,Â Islam,Â Christianity as well as inÂ the EasternÂ religiousÂ traditions, suchÂ as BuddhismÂ and Hinduism.1Â TheyÂ are alsoÂ presentÂ inÂ aÂ numerousÂ secularÂ ethical philosophies. ThisÂ emphasisÂ onÂ modeling valuesÂ ratherÂ thatÂ directly preachingÂ themÂ isÂ knownÂ as temsil,Â asÂ opposed toÂ teblig whichÂ isÂ anÂ âopenÂ declarationÂ and/orÂ persuasionÂ throughÂ preaching.âÂ (ÃzdalgaÂ 2003,Â p.Â 68)Â ToÂ take thingsÂ aÂ step further,Â inÂ GÃ¼lenâsÂ philosophy,Â theÂ selfless actÂ of teaching and nurturingÂ theÂ youngÂ generation itself becomesÂ and actÂ of worshipÂ whichÂ isÂ suited toÂ the dutiesÂ of aÂ Muslim.Â
ItÂ canÂ be argued thatÂ GÃ¼lenÂ and hisÂ movementâsÂ emphasisÂ onÂ dialogue isÂ related toÂ hisÂ educationalÂ ideasÂ inÂ some respectâeducationÂ and understanding fosterÂ dialogue,Â and dialogueÂ fostersÂ educationÂ and understanding.Â TheÂ idealsÂ of GÃ¼lenâsÂ followers,Â while having beenÂ compared toÂ the ideasÂ of WeberÂ and the ProtestantÂ idealÂ of educationÂ and hard work,Â flowÂ fromÂ aÂ firmÂ foundationÂ inÂ TurkishÂ identity and Islamic religion.Â (ÃzdalgaÂ 2003) HisÂ emphasisÂ onÂ understanding and dialogueÂ seemsÂ toÂ avoid shading overÂ toÂ secular humanismÂ and complete relativism.Â EquivalentsÂ canÂ perhapsÂ be found inÂ modernÂ ecumenicalÂ movements, butÂ seemÂ somewhatÂ disassociated fromÂ WesternÂ secular education withÂ itsÂ emphasisÂ onÂ philosophy andÂ ethics, ratherÂ thanÂ religionÂ perÂ se as a guide forÂ moralÂ behavior.Â
TheÂ reality of teaching inÂ anÂ AmericanÂ secular institution,Â however,Â isÂ aÂ betterÂ fitÂ withÂ GÃ¼lenâsÂ ideas thanÂ may seemÂ apparentÂ atÂ first.Â AsÂ aÂ teacherÂ inÂ aÂ statefunded university,Â IÂ doÂ notÂ espouse my religiousÂ viewsÂ inÂ the classroom.Â IÂ teachÂ religiousÂ studies, ratherÂ thanÂ theology.Â Many of my students,Â generally atÂ leastÂ half,Â are notÂ especially secular inÂ orientation.Â TheyÂ understandÂ religiousÂ faith,Â atÂ leastÂ fromÂ theirÂ ownÂ ProtestantÂ ChristianÂ perspective.Â The frequently doÂ notÂ respond well toÂ anÂ education whichÂ emphasized solely secularÂ elementsÂ and the WesternÂ secular,Â âpositivistÂ and materialistâ culturalÂ history.Â
GÃ¼lenâsÂ ideas aboutÂ tolerance and dialogue springÂ fromÂ hisÂ religiousÂ convictions. He isÂ aÂ manÂ of faith.Â StudentsÂ are mostÂ accustomed toÂ associating personsÂ of IslamicÂ faithÂ withÂ terrorismÂ and intolerance.Â ThisÂ message comesÂ throughÂ the media, andÂ sometimesÂ throughÂ theirÂ ownÂ churches.Â Conservative Christianity,Â as some of themÂ learnÂ it,Â doesÂ notÂ make room
1 TheauthorÂ wishes tothankcomments from theconference committee for clarifyingÂ this point.
forÂ otherÂ âpeople of the bookâ asÂ doesÂ Islam.Â They alsoÂ arrive inÂ the classroomÂ withÂ theÂ mindsetÂ thatÂ they mustÂ defendÂ theirÂ faithÂ inÂ whatÂ they perceive as aÂ secular andÂ faithless world.Â
WhenÂ instructingÂ these studentsÂ aboutÂ the basicÂ tenetsÂ of Islam,Â emphasisÂ onÂ the importance of Jesus/IsaÂ inÂ the IslamicÂ faithÂ isÂ oftenÂ the firstÂ step toÂ getting studentsÂ toÂ setÂ aside theirÂ prejudicesÂ andÂ preconceived notionsÂ about Islam.Â Many studentsÂ withÂ little orÂ noÂ understanding of the teachingsÂ of IslamÂ assume thatÂ MuslimsÂ believe inÂ the divinity of Muhammad and completely rejectÂ JesusÂ asÂ having any religiousÂ significance (asÂ theyÂ alsoÂ assume noÂ connectionÂ atÂ all toÂ the prophetsÂ of theÂ Torah).Â They are surprised toÂ learnÂ thatÂ JesusÂ isÂ considered aÂ prophetÂ and thatÂ Muhammad,Â while revered as theÂ sealÂ of the propheticÂ traditionÂ and anÂ example toÂ all believers, isÂ notÂ considered divine.Â
WhenÂ IÂ teachÂ aboutÂ Islam,Â whatÂ usually comesÂ nextÂ isÂ aÂ slide showÂ of IslamicÂ art,Â withÂ particular emphasisÂ uponÂ TurkishÂ traditional artsÂ (asÂ well as the basicÂ structure of the mosque and examplesÂ of the mosque,Â suchÂ as the Blue Mosque orÂ the Sulimanye mosque).Â ThisÂ parallelsÂ lessonsÂ aboutÂ the culturalÂ history of the WesternÂ world.Â By the pointÂ inÂ the class whenÂ weÂ discussÂ Islam,Â studentsÂ areÂ accustomed toÂ lookingÂ aÂ artwork andÂ learning itsÂ meaningsÂ withinÂ theÂ contextÂ of Greek and RomanÂ religions,Â and have learned theÂ basicÂ iconography of Christianity.Â TheyÂ understand the connectionÂ betweenÂ religiousÂ belief and artisticÂ subjectÂ matterÂ and aesthetic. SometimesÂ thisÂ understanding doesÂ notÂ come naturally toÂ those studentsÂ withÂ noÂ backgroundÂ inÂ the arts, orÂ those fromÂ CalvinisticÂ ProtestantÂ Christianity,Â where religiousÂ artÂ isÂ notÂ partÂ of the faith traditionÂ due toÂ the rejection of the CatholicÂ ChristianÂ heritage.Â ArtÂ isÂ aÂ means toÂ cultural understanding thatÂ studentsÂ come toÂ appreciate asÂ anÂ alternative toÂ simply memorizing the importantÂ datesÂ and eventsÂ of history.Â
WhenÂ TurkishÂ traditional artsÂ are introduced the studentsÂ are,Â atÂ first,Â simply pleased by the beautiful objects. InÂ aÂ carpet,Â or aÂ painted plate,Â the studentsÂ recognize dedication,Â skill,Â andÂ beauty.Â We discuss the restrictionsÂ thatÂ IslamÂ putsÂ onÂ artÂ whichÂ make itÂ differÂ fromÂ WesternÂ artâparticularly the IslamicÂ teaching against the figurative artÂ whichÂ loomsÂ soÂ large inÂ the WesternÂ tradition.Â ThenÂ throughÂ theÂ viewingÂ of many examples, studentsÂ beginÂ toÂ explore the richnessÂ inÂ TurkishÂ IslamicÂ artâanÂ aestheticÂ thatÂ tendsÂ towardÂ theÂ geometric,Â the complex,Â toÂ flowersÂ and calligraphy and patterning thatÂ reflectÂ the infinite nature of God/Allah.Â InÂ calligraphy theÂ namesÂ of AllahÂ and Muhammad are setÂ inÂ beauty whichÂ echoesÂ their importance.Â TheÂ bismillahÂ remindsÂ theÂ faithful of the infinite compassion andÂ mercyÂ of Allah.Â StudentsÂ come toÂ appreciate the aestheticÂ throughÂ the fineÂ work whichÂ isÂ presented.Â (Glassie,Â 1993)Â
AfterÂ coming toÂ understand something of the aestheticÂ represented inÂ the art,Â IÂ talk aboutÂ the artists themselves, whenÂ IÂ knowÂ something aboutÂ them.Â Generally speaking, inÂ theÂ history of the WesternÂ fineÂ artsÂ tradition,Â artÂ has become divorced fromÂ religiousÂ meaningÂ inÂ the lastÂ twoÂ orÂ three centuries, althoughÂ religiousÂ artÂ canÂ still certainly be foundÂ inÂ the folk artsÂ traditions. WhenÂ oneÂ looksÂ globally,Â thisÂ isÂ certainly notÂ the case inÂ all locationsÂ and withinÂ all traditions. MoreÂ oftenÂ thanÂ not,Â religionÂ isÂ one of theÂ majorÂ guidesÂ toÂ artisticÂ traditionÂ andÂ process. Individuality and novelty are alsoÂ primarily WesternÂ characteristics of fineÂ art.Â ThatÂ isÂ alsoÂ notÂ the case globally.Â ToÂ understandÂ the nature of art,Â community and religionÂ itÂ isÂ helpful toÂ knowÂ whatÂ the artists themselvesÂ say aboutÂ theirÂ work.Â
GlassieÂ (1993) findsÂ thatÂ religionÂ isÂ importantÂ toÂ many TurkishÂ artists whomÂ heÂ interviews. âInÂ Istanbul,Â notÂ all the artisansÂ are Muslims, there are aÂ fewÂ Armenians amongÂ them,Â norÂ areÂ all deeply religious.Â Still,Â IÂ would generalize thatÂ the role of masterÂ artisanÂ isÂ filled by menÂ whose religiosity exceedsÂ thatÂ of the generalÂ populationâsÂ and whose belief in socialÂ orderÂ isÂ deep and constant.âÂ (p.Â 71) He findsÂ thisÂ asÂ he travelsÂ toÂ otherÂ citiesÂ inÂ Turkey as well.Â For many artists,Â theirÂ creation of beautiful things isÂ done as work whichÂ isÂ pleasing,Â work whichÂ canÂ be done inÂ the name of Allah.Â ThisÂ alsoÂ holdsÂ trueÂ forÂ women,Â particularly those whoÂ weave carpetsÂ duringÂ theÂ winterÂ whenÂ work inÂ the fieldsÂ isÂ minimal.Â HardÂ work thatÂ resultsÂ inÂ beautiful and useful thingsÂ isÂ anÂ activity thatÂ isÂ rightÂ forÂ aÂ believerÂ
âUsefulÂ toÂ another,Â the fine strong objectÂ becomesÂ a giftÂ toÂ socialÂ unity,Â toÂ the joy of brotherhood,Â aÂ brotherhood thatÂ expandsÂ fromÂ the heartÂ toÂ include allÂ of humankind.Â We belong,Â they tellÂ me [Glassie],Â toÂ differentÂ nationsÂ ,Â butÂ we are allÂ one people.Â ThereÂ isÂ atÂ lastÂ the singleÂ nation of humanity,Â and love isÂ itsÂ governing power.Â The craftsmanâsÂ love isÂ materialized inÂ the immanentÂ excellenceÂ and patentÂ utility inÂ the thingsÂ he makes.â (p.Â 72)Â
While individuality isÂ notÂ largely emphasized inÂ theÂ TurkishÂ traditional arts, atÂ leastÂ notÂ inÂ termsÂ of the radical innovationÂ whichÂ isÂ soÂ valued inÂ the WesternÂ fine arts, recognitionÂ of the skillsÂ of individualÂ mastersÂ is.Â MastersÂ become teachers, and theÂ traditionsÂ isÂ continued onÂ toÂ anotherÂ generation.Â MastersÂ alsoÂ have the responsibility toÂ lead livesÂ whichÂ areÂ aÂ guide toÂ youngerÂ artisans, andÂ toÂ look outÂ forÂ the welfareÂ of theirÂ students.Â InÂ thisÂ the social orderÂ isÂ confirmed and maintained while the traditionÂ isÂ continued.Â According toÂ Glassie, religionÂ and TurkishÂ identity areÂ atÂ the centerÂ of the social order,Â andÂ artistsÂ are deeply enmeshed inÂ all theirÂ stability.Â (pp.Â 4950)Â Art,Â inÂ itsÂ creation,Â usefulness, andÂ enjoyment,Â maintainsÂ the social orderÂ and demonstratesÂ individualÂ love and cleanlinessÂ of heart.Â
According toÂ carpetÂ repairerÂ Hagop Barin,Â whomÂ GlassieÂ interviewed extensively,Â appreciating the examplesÂ of artÂ helpsÂ one toÂ appreciate theÂ creator,Â the bestÂ of theÂ creator.Â
âHagop had told meÂ [Glassie]Â thatÂ âinÂ every carpetÂ thereÂ isÂ a differentÂ hand.Â Every hand isÂ different.âÂ Later,Â he shifted fromÂ the hand toÂ the heart.Â âItÂ isÂ hard toÂ explain,â he said.Â âInÂ every carpetÂ thereÂ isÂ a personâsÂ heartânotÂ the personâsÂ dirtiness,Â butÂ theirÂ thoughtsÂ and feelings,Â theirÂ extreme cleanliness.Â BecauseÂ of that,Â I see them,Â I love them.ââÂ (pp.Â 100,Â 103)Â
TheÂ recurring theme of love inÂ GlassieâsÂ conversation withÂ traditional artists heÂ believesÂ (as doÂ others)Â canÂ be traced,Â atÂ leastÂ inÂ part, toÂ the affiliation of artisanÂ guildsÂ goingÂ backÂ toÂ the 13thÂ andÂ 14thÂ century withÂ Sufi orders. (GlassieÂ 1993,Â p.Â 916)Â The conceptÂ of love,Â saysÂ Glassie,Â isÂ notÂ theÂ only conceptÂ whichÂ canÂ be traced toÂ SufismÂ thatÂ isÂ partÂ of the vocabulary of the TurkishÂ artisan.Â AÂ partialÂ setÂ of these conceptsÂ includes:Â brotherhood,Â service,Â acceptance,Â discipline, balance,Â unity,Â love,Â heart,Â and the chain of masters.Â These areÂ some of the same conceptsÂ thatÂ we see inÂ theÂ writings of FethullahÂ GÃ¼lenÂ whoÂ isÂ alsoÂ influenced by Sufism.Â
GÃ¼lenÂ himself tracesÂ virtue,Â morality,Â and love toÂ the bestÂ formsÂ of art,Â particularly TurkishÂ achievementsÂ inÂ theÂ artsÂ whichÂ were unaffected orÂ little affected by theÂ trendsÂ and excessesÂ of egotismÂ inÂ WesternÂ artÂ of the 19thÂ and 20thÂ centuries.Â (GÃ¼lenÂ 2005,Â p.Â 35,Â 39,Â 120) InÂ TheÂ Statue of our Souls:Â RevivalÂ inÂ IslamicÂ ThoughtÂ and ActivismÂ (2005,Â EnglishÂ translation),Â GÃ¼lenÂ callsÂ forÂ aÂ renaissance of the bestÂ elementsÂ of TurkishÂ culture,Â those thatÂ espouse virtue and morality,Â religionÂ and belief.Â He citesÂ specifically some of the greatÂ architects, suchÂ as Sinan,Â whose work reflects aÂ deep understandingÂ of faithÂ and embodiesÂ itÂ inÂ beauty and greatness. Those WesternÂ influencesÂ mostÂ antithetical toÂ TurkishÂ achievementsÂ inÂ artÂ have derailed the effortsÂ of TurkishÂ artists,Â and thingsÂ need toÂ be setÂ backÂ onÂ track.Â ThisÂ isÂ possible,Â evenÂ likely,Â accordingÂ toÂ GÃ¼lenÂ givenÂ theÂ revivalÂ and returnÂ toÂ importantÂ values takingÂ place today.Â ArtÂ canÂ be aÂ touchstone of virtueÂ and aÂ rock of religiousÂ truthÂ andÂ understanding.Â
âAsÂ long asÂ we canÂ recoverÂ ourÂ thoughts,Â feelings,Â methods, and philosophy,Â itÂ willÂ sufficeÂ toÂ bring themÂ togetherÂ toÂ find thatÂ heavenly and immortalÂ style of ours.Â ThatÂ isÂ why,Â asÂ I see it,Â we should firstÂ of allÂ reexamine allÂ the roadsÂ thatÂ we are going toÂ take and repairÂ and reinforce themÂ onceÂ again.Â QuintessentialÂ toÂ ourÂ renaissanceÂ are the inspirationÂ and fruitfulnessÂ of religiousÂ zeal,Â aÂ reassuring atmosphere,Â firmness,Â gravity,Â sobriety,Â and wisdomÂ inÂ ourÂ reasoning and logic;Â stability and humanismÂ thatÂ give usÂ the freedomÂ toÂ be ourselves;Â philosophicalÂ depth,Â refinementÂ and contemplative abstractionÂ inÂ ourÂ artsÂ and philosophy;Â and thatÂ allÂ theseÂ should have the quality of being logicalÂ atÂ the core and inspired by revelation.âÂ (GÃ¼lenÂ 2005,Â p.Â 29)Â
GÃ¼lenÂ goesÂ soÂ farÂ as toÂ listÂ understanding of artÂ asÂ the eighthÂ attribute of those whoÂ will inheritÂ the earth.Â GivenÂ hisÂ focus onÂ science and logic,Â itÂ isÂ significantÂ thatÂ he considersÂ artÂ toÂ be of vitalÂ importance.Â GÃ¼lenÂ himself isÂ aÂ poet,Â anÂ artistÂ of words,Â and severalÂ of hisÂ poemsÂ published inÂ TheÂ BrokenÂ PlectrumÂ (Kirik Mizrap)Â have beenÂ setÂ toÂ musicÂ by popularÂ TurkishÂ singers.Â 2Â
Once studentsÂ have seenÂ the artÂ and learned some of the very basicÂ conceptsÂ of Islam,Â some of the philosophy of GÃ¼lenÂ beginsÂ toÂ become moreÂ understandable.Â InÂ suchÂ accessible worksÂ forÂ WesternÂ readersÂ as Toward aÂ GlobalÂ CivilizationÂ of Love andÂ Tolerance (2004),Â oneÂ canÂ introduce AmericanÂ college studentsÂ toÂ ideasÂ of tolerance and love thatÂ spring fromÂ Islam,Â ratherÂ thanÂ operatingÂ inÂ contradistinctionÂ toÂ Islam.Â GÃ¼len,Â as aÂ deeply religiousÂ manÂ whoÂ usesÂ thatÂ faithÂ distinctly as aÂ foundationÂ forÂ dialogue and tolerance.Â For studentsÂ whoÂ are notÂ especially religious, GÃ¼lenâsÂ ideasÂ aboutÂ tolerance and understandingÂ fitÂ well withinÂ the contextÂ of aÂ pluralisticÂ society suchÂ as the United States.Â ThisÂ isÂ familiarÂ territory forÂ some of them.Â ForÂ the religiousÂ student,Â particularly aÂ studentÂ whoÂ comesÂ fromÂ aÂ conservative ChristianÂ background,Â they recognize inÂ GÃ¼lenÂ aÂ personÂ whoÂ hasÂ notÂ abandoned hisÂ religiousÂ faithÂ inÂ orderÂ toÂ make compromisesÂ withÂ theÂ secular world.Â Unlike the message thatÂ studentsÂ sometimesÂ getÂ inÂ the United StatesÂ (orÂ atÂ leastÂ misconstrue liberalÂ politicalÂ discourse asÂ advocating)âthatÂ relativismÂ needsÂ toÂ be takenÂ toÂ the pointÂ of noÂ setÂ moral code of behaviorÂ inÂ orderÂ forÂ oneÂ toÂ functionÂ inÂ aÂ modern,Â pluralisticÂ society,Â GÃ¼lenÂ providesÂ aÂ model forÂ behaviorÂ guided by religiousÂ principlesÂ thatÂ alsoÂ advocatesÂ understanding.Â This, inÂ my opinion,Â givesÂ hisÂ ideasÂ credibility withÂ religiousÂ studentsÂ thatÂ heÂ would notÂ otherwise have.Â
Beauty canÂ be seenÂ inÂ art,Â and inÂ the conceptsÂ of love and tolerance.Â StudentsÂ are relieved toÂ findÂ bothÂ inÂ Islam.Â IÂ say relieved because eachÂ semesterÂ studentsÂ tell me thatÂ they donâtÂ understand why âMuslimsÂ hate us,âÂ as if all MuslimsÂ lived theirÂ livesÂ inÂ angerÂ and hatred.Â InÂ my experience,Â while aÂ history lessonÂ inÂ the relationship betweenÂ the MuslimÂ and ChristianÂ world isÂ inÂ orderÂ inÂ forÂ themÂ toÂ understandÂ theÂ politicalÂ and culturalÂ grievancesÂ thatÂ existÂ inÂ the Middle EastÂ andÂ otherÂ partsÂ of the world thatÂ are largely IslamicÂ inÂ belief,Â the lessonÂ isÂ betterÂ absorbed whenÂ studentsÂ understandÂ the foundationsÂ of love,Â peace,Â andÂ tolerance whichÂ are alsoÂ aÂ longstandingÂ partÂ of the IslamicÂ faith and cultural tradition.Â
Toward thatÂ end,Â essaysÂ inÂ Toward aÂ GlobalÂ CivilizationÂ of Love and Tolerance by M.Â FethullahÂ GÃ¼lenÂ (2004) provide anÂ nderstandable and clearÂ statementÂ of thatÂ faithÂ tradition.Â TheÂ essays, while notÂ alwaysÂ writtenÂ expressly forÂ nonIslamicÂ readers, are concise andÂ doÂ notÂ assume aÂ greatÂ depthÂ of understanding of IslamÂ inÂ orderÂ toÂ be valuable.Â There are alsoÂ essays
2 Again, theauthorÂ isindebtedÂ tothecomments bytheconference committee for thisinformation.
whichÂ are addressed specifically toÂ AmericanÂ and nonIslamicÂ audiences. ForÂ firstÂ andÂ second yearÂ studentsÂ whoÂ are taking aÂ broad HumanitiesÂ survey,Â GÃ¼lenâsÂ âMessage ConcerningÂ theÂ SeptemberÂ 11thÂ TerroristÂ Attacksâ providesÂ aÂ short,Â simple,Â andÂ unequivocalÂ statementÂ condemning the attacksÂ fromÂ aÂ MuslimÂ viewpoint.Â While itÂ isÂ clearÂ thatÂ the situation surroundÂ the SeptemberÂ 11Â attacksÂ isÂ complex,Â and arguments canÂ andÂ should be made forÂ atÂ leastÂ attempting toÂ understand globalÂ dissatisfaction toward the politicalÂ and culturalÂ hegemony propounded by the United States, andÂ itsÂ relationship toÂ the MuslimÂ civilizationsÂ inÂ particular,Â studentsÂ oftenÂ cannotÂ move beyondÂ their angerÂ atÂ the eventÂ toÂ understandÂ itsÂ causes. SuchÂ aÂ directÂ statementÂ as whatÂ followsÂ softensÂ the heartÂ and opensÂ itÂ toÂ understanding:Â
âI [GÃ¼len]Â would like toÂ make itÂ very clearÂ thatÂ any terroristÂ activity,Â noÂ matterÂ by whomÂ itÂ isÂ carried outÂ orÂ forÂ whatÂ purpose,Â isÂ the greatestÂ blowÂ toÂ peace,Â democracy,Â and humanity.Â ForÂ thisÂ reason,Â noÂ oneâand certainly noÂ MuslimâcanÂ approve of any terroristÂ activity.Â Terror hasÂ noÂ placeÂ inÂ aÂ questÂ toÂ achieve independenceÂ orÂ salvation.Â ItÂ takesÂ the livesÂ of innocentÂ people.Â â¦Please letÂ meÂ reassure youÂ thatÂ IslamÂ doesÂ notÂ approve of terrorism inÂ any form.Â Terrorism cannotÂ be used toÂ achieve any IslamicÂ goal.Â NoÂ terroristÂ can be aÂ Muslim,Â and noÂ realÂ MuslimÂ can be aÂ terrorist.Â IslamÂ demandsÂ peace,Â and the QurâanÂ demandsÂ thatÂ every realÂ MuslimÂ be aÂ symbolÂ of peace andÂ work toÂ supportÂ the maintenanceÂ of basicÂ humanÂ rights.Â â¦Moreover,Â ProphetÂ Muhammad stated thatÂ aÂ MuslimÂ isÂ aÂ personÂ whoÂ doesÂ noÂ harmÂ withÂ eitherÂ the handsÂ orÂ withÂ the tongue.âÂ (GÃ¼len,Â 2004,Â p.Â 261)Â
OtherÂ essaysÂ fromÂ Toward aÂ GlobalÂ CivilizationÂ of Love and Tolerance are appropriate forÂ higherÂ classÂ levels, whenÂ topics canÂ be explored in moreÂ depth.Â âAsÂ aÂ NewÂ World isÂ Being Builtâ offersÂ some of the same ideas withÂ more background.Â âHumanÂ RightsÂ inÂ Islamâ assuresÂ studentsÂ thatÂ advocacyÂ of humanÂ rightsÂ isÂ notÂ only foundÂ inÂ aÂ democraticÂ governmentÂ (althoughÂ IÂ doÂ acknowledge thatÂ thereÂ areÂ timesÂ whenÂ oneÂ mightÂ argueÂ persuasively thatÂ humanÂ rightsÂ are sometimesÂ notÂ aÂ central feature of U.S.Â politicalÂ policy).Â âIslamâAÂ ReligionÂ of Toleranceâ andÂ âIslamÂ AsÂ aÂ ReligionÂ of UniversalÂ Mercyâ help studentsÂ withÂ aÂ more nuanced understanding of the foundationsÂ of tolerance and mercy inÂ the IslamicÂ faith.Â The articles onÂ SufismÂ help lead interested studentsÂ toÂ wantÂ toÂ learnÂ moreÂ aboutÂ the mysticÂ traditionÂ of SufismÂ andÂ itsÂ emphasisÂ onÂ love of Allah/GodÂ and itsÂ inevitable positive consequencesÂ inÂ love forÂ all humanity.Â
OfÂ course,Â GÃ¼lenâsÂ writingsÂ are aÂ vastÂ seaÂ and IÂ doÂ notÂ pretendÂ toÂ have aÂ sophisticated enoughÂ understanding of IslamÂ toÂ claimÂ anÂ inÂ depthÂ understandingÂ of some of hisÂ moreÂ complex ideas. Still,Â anÂ emphasisÂ onÂ love,Â tolerance,Â andÂ beauty inÂ Islam,Â introduced throughÂ the accessible vehicle of TurkishÂ traditionalÂ artÂ andÂ thenÂ some of the writingsÂ of theologianÂ and philosopherÂ FethullahÂ GÃ¼lenÂ have beenÂ useful teaching tool inÂ my classroom.Â InÂ orderÂ forÂ studentsÂ toÂ realize theirÂ potential,Â they mustÂ be educated.Â InÂ orderÂ forÂ themÂ toÂ become responsibleÂ globalÂ citizens,Â they mustÂ strive toÂ understand.Â ThisÂ technique isÂ one means toÂ thatÂ understanding.Â EachÂ semesterÂ studentsÂ return to tell me thatÂ evenÂ theÂ very simplisticÂ understanding of IslamÂ and the intentsÂ of Muslims, the eternalÂ wordsÂ of the Holy QurâanÂ and the life of the ProphetÂ Muhammad lead themÂ toÂ questionÂ whatÂ theyÂ see inÂ the media,Â and lead themÂ toÂ engage inÂ productive dialogue withÂ MuslimÂ classmates. My thanksÂ toÂ Mr.Â GÃ¼lenÂ forÂ hisÂ reaching outÂ toÂ nonMuslimÂ readersÂ withÂ hisÂ wordsÂ of faithÂ and tolerance.
Agai,Â BekimÂ (2002) âFethullahÂ GÃ¼lenÂ andÂ hisÂ MovementâsÂ IslamicÂ EthicÂ of Educationâ inÂ Critique:Â Critical Middle EasternÂ StudiesÂ Vol.Â 11,Â No.Â 1,Â Spring 2002.Â pp.Â 2747.Â
Balci,Â BayramÂ (2003) âFethullahÂ GÃ¼lenâsÂ Missionary SchoolsÂ inÂ Central AsiaÂ andÂ their Role inÂ the Spreading of TurkismÂ andÂ Islamâ inÂ Religion,Â State & Society Vol.Â 31,Â No.Â 2,Â 2003.Â pp.Â 151177.Â
GÃ¼len,Â M.Â FethullahÂ (2004) TowardÂ aÂ GlobalÂ CivilizationÂ of Love and Tolerance.Â Somerset,Â N.J.:Â The Light,Â Inc.
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Glassie,Â Henry (1992) TurkishÂ Traditional ArtÂ Today.Â Bloomington: IndianaÂ University Press.Â
Ãzdalga, ElisabethÂ (2003) âSecularizing TrendsÂ inÂ FethullahÂ GÃ¼lenâsÂ Movement:Â Impasse orÂ Opportunity forÂ FurtherÂ Renewal?â inÂ Critique:Â CriticalÂ Middle EasternÂ StudiesÂ Vol.Â 12,Â No.Â 1,Â Spring 2003,Â pp.Â 6173.
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