Contacts with Different Segments of Society

What was the first thing you saw as a result of contacts you made with various social segments?

I saw that there are countless people with whom we have countless things in common to share. There are so many things we have in common to emphasize. Instead of struggling with each other over our differences, instead of exaggerating and deepening them, we should emphasize our common points. Kurdish-Turkish, Sunni-Alawi, right wing-left wing let's not use such differences as subjects of debate. Let's insist on ideas that will lead us to dialogue. We have as great a need for a big leap to greatness as we do for unity and solidarity. Let's not get bogged down by small things and lose our way.

As a method, has tolerance been useful here? In Turkey, where there's a cultural clash, how can peace be attained?

Some well-established customs and behavior can be eliminated only gradually. Some sociologists and psychologists see our Prophet's greatness here. Eliminating the bad morals and characteristics of wild and primitive tribes in such a short period of time seems to be a miracle. Tolerance already exists in our people's spirit. Everyone in society, from artists to academia, must insist on this trait's surfacing. Hostility doesn't disappear immediately. Here, a very important task falls to the media. We have to be careful, because it's easy to destroy but difficult to mend.

Restoration will not take place immediately. A change of feelings and an increase in trust, a change in perspective and everything settling into its rightful place will take a long time. Society has to uphold tolerance. If we don't announce jihad for anything else, we should announce it for tolerance.

People don't like differences and are biased against them. There is a desire for others to be just the way oneself is. All fronts in Turkey want this.

You're very right. Maybe this is what we're trying to overcome with the spirit of tolerance. Different positions mean different understandings. Once you accept that, you can benefit from others' thoughts and ideas.

There are some very beneficial aspects of Western thought. For example, systematic thinking is and must be a believer's attribute. A believer cannot always be a believer in every attribute. If this is a believer's attribute, those believers who don't have it are carrying an attribute that does not issue from belief. Whether you're a Christian, a Jew, a Buddhist, or of another creed, if you have that attribute you're carrying a believer's attribute. There's a very fine point here. At least in this world, God treats people according to their attributes. In other words, your attributes and behavior are important.

For example, I'm amazed by one thing here in America. There's a perfect, functioning system. In the hospitals, all the doctors handle everyone's problems all at once and don't hurt you. I saw at least 20 doctors and 30 nurses at the hospital. Their faces don't look anything like the cross faces of some of our doctors. They behave warmly and sincerely with smiles on their faces. This is a believer's attribute. If another believer spends all of his or her time in the mosque, but lacks a believer's attributes and doesn't grasp the spirit of the matter, then he or she cannot be successful in the worldly life. I think this is very important. August 13-23, 1995

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