Does Fethullah Gülen value art?

by Doğu Ergil on . Posted in Fethullah Gülen and the Gülen Movement in 100 questions

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Fethullah Gülen

Fethullah Gülen sees art as part of culture. For that reason, every society should develop its own culture, producing new forms and new expressions, in addition to those already in existence, that adapt to new developments in the country or in the world, as cultural stretch. He does not consider art separate from the societal changes. In other words, he is of the opinion that a developing country would have a developing culture. In his words,

Cultural values have the same meaning and worth for a people as blossoms and fruits have for a tree. A community that has failed to produce a distinctive culture, or has lost or forsaken it, may be likened to a barren tree or to one whose fruit has dropped off. Today or tomorrow, that tree will be cut down and used as wood.[1]

According to Fethullah Gülen, art is the soul of development; it is a phenomenon developing one’s senses and his capacity to discover. Through art, one does not only develop the inherent talents and the capacity to understand, but, at the same time, he arranges anew life and the world. With the power of imagination, he could establish new worlds. He can transcend time and space, becoming eternal through his works. He believes that one can become a fountain of beauty, through the unification of faith (religion) and art, generating energy, which in turn creates enthusiasm and excitement in his imagination and creative faculties:

It was by means of art combined with faith that, with its most magnificent places of worship, slender minarets pointing to the realms beyond, sacred designs and intricate patterns carved in marble each of which served as a distinct message, diverse kinds of calligraphy, brilliant gildings, and embroideries as beautiful and fine as butterfly wings, this once magnificent world of Islam became a gallery of invaluable beauty.[2]

Fethullah Gülen notes that art does not reach perfection only through emotions, but also through the accompaniment of science, which is more durable and through it, mature works will come into existence.

Fethullah Gülen does not attribute the beauty of the human to its material existence. He views the matter like a work of an artist:

Man’s height, form the cohesiveness and compatibility and geometry between the members, are as beautiful and perfect as to generate admiration in everyone watching. This is comprehended by the artistic genius of the Romans but since they could not orient themselves to the unity of God, they confined these sense to the narrowing geometry of the concrete.

I have been expressing my admiration for the human all along with the statements like: “If there was the permission to worship anything other than God, the human must have been worshipped.” This expression seems to be supported by the angels being asked, in a sense with the order to prostrate Adam.[3]

The artist takes the sentiments of our inner world in its relation with the existence under close surveillance, and interprets effervescent emotion, excitement and vocalizes them. After vocalizing them, he would present them to us in different combinations in which he pictures for us to see that everything leaps forward to return to its origin. In other words, in the face of any elements from the existence and any color from the universe, the artist by tying together and mixing up the inspirations running into his senses and enveloping his soul, he would bring together the phenomenon and noumenon. He is a hero of metaphysics in presenting everything together in a holistic form.[4]

But even the artist should have his own share from science.

Because if he starts from the parts, if there is no real scientific references, he would be devoid of inspiring in others real vision of an art. In terms of our recent history, our inconsistencies, and murmurings in artistic thoughts, somehow never being ourselves, being monotone, therefore our dissatisfaction and non-contentedness must have been based on such a narrowness of a perspective.

... For those reason, we can state that the nations who do not have a horizon of a spirit, and hence could not establish their own metaphysical system of thought can never escape from fixed molds, they could not be themselves and can never feel their sense of belongingness.[5]

[1] Fethullah Gülen 2005a, 55.
[2] Fethullah Gülen 2005a, 66.
[3] Fethullah Gülen 2010j, 164–165.
[4] Fethullah Gülen 2010e, 82.
[5] Ibid., 82–83.