The concepts of jihad and terror from the perspective of Fethullah Gülen

by İsmail Albayrak on . Posted in The art of coexistence: Pioneering role of Fethullah Gülen and Hizmet Movement

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Fethullah Gülen


Islam and terror are now generally debated together. Regrettably, it is extremely common to identify terrorism with Islam—as if the two were natural allies—thus we feel that we are under an obligation to bring these two different terms together in this article. The aim of this article is to show that this association is not very relevant due to the subject matter of the discussion. To do this we focus mainly on the questions: what is the meaning of terror? We examine what Islamic teachings say about terror; what is the relationship between the notion of jihad and Islam; what status does Islam confer on suicide attacks; and with a focus on the false justification of war in the modern world, which can only pave the way for more terrorist actions. We will address these issues from the perspective of the distinguished and eminent Turkish scholar and thinker Fethullah Gülen. At the end of the article, I will conclude with a summary of the positive effects of the interfaith/cultural dialogue meetings that Fethullah Gülen has initiated both inside and outside Turkey in order to promote national and international tolerance, peace and mutual understanding.

What is terrorism?

Although terrorist activities are defined with great difficulty today, terrorism’s cruel and ruthless disregard of laws and ethics was shown by the attacks of 9/11. In addition, terrorists or their organizations potentially have access to chemical, nuclear and biological weapons, making the possibility of killing large numbers of innocent people and the causingof mass destruction to a frighteningextent. Now everybody is vulnerable to a terrorist attack and many live in a continual state of fear. Today we know very well that these crimes are perpetrated across borders and cause global unrest and create anarchy, fear and uncertainty. Unfortunately, it is observed that the terrorists, who have unleashed this global calamity against all humanity, do not see themselves as guilty. Furthermore, their attacks on innocent people only serve to increase their internal solidarity, resistance, unity and conviction of their own righteousness. Consequently, these organized activities produce in our modern world polarity between ‘us’ and ‘them’. It is a great pity that, similarly to the terrorists, some media members, scholars, politicians, strategists and other institutions must be held responsible for this polarization. We see sadly that in recent years people easily associate our common problem, namely violence and terrorism, with Islam and Muslims, and thus Muslims are quickly categorized as ‘them’. The approach of Fethullah Gülen to this complex problem is extremely important due to the difficulty of formulatingand sustaininga balanced view. Fethullah Gülen’s approach to terror stays away from easy emotionalism and prejudice and seeks to embrace all humanity.

Islamic principles against the violence and terror

As noted above, Islam and terror are nowadays indissolubly linked together; nonetheless, when we carefully analyze the Islamic sources and tradition acutely it will be seen that there is no relationship between terror and Islam. In fact, there is no religion in the world which condones terror. Religions actually aim to promote peace, happiness and prosperity, both in this world and the next, therefore, violence and terror are incompatible with basic religious tenets. It is therefore not reasonable to attribute a terrorist act to the religion of a particular terrorist. The terrorist may be a Muslim, a Christian or a Jew, but this does not mean that his or her act is an Islamic, a Christian, or a Jewish act. Therefore, people of good intention must avoid generalizations about terms such as ‘Islamic terror’. To speak in such terms, is an insult to pious, sincere and innocent Muslims all over the world. A small percentage of uneducated, discontented, misled, deceived, brainwashed fanatics should not be taken to represent countless sincere believers.

Clearly the association of Islam—which is etymologically derived from the Arabic root s-l-m meaning ‘peace,’ ‘submission,’ ‘deliverance’ and ‘safety’—with terrorism is a grievous mistake. From the Qur’anic perspective, attention should also be paid to the relationship between the concept of sulh (peace) and the concept of amal salih (good deeds). Salih, like sulh, comes from the same root and means ‘to cleave to peace or move towards peace.’ Fethullah Gülen holds that this peace is a result of tawhid (Unity of God/Oneness of God) and that Islam, beinga religion of Unity (tawhid), ensures universal unity, equality, peace and cooperation among humankind.[1] Briefly, Islam is a religion of peace and safety and ‘Muslim’ means a trustworthy, peaceful and reliable person. Thus when Prophet Muhammad describes the Muslim he says that the people are safe from his hand and tongue.

It should first be emphasized that one of the greatest sins in Islam is to kill an innocent person. Allah says in Surah Nisa (4:93) ‘If one kills an innocent person intentionally, his reward is Hell forever. Allah’s wrath is against him and He has cursed him and prepared for him an awful doom.’ The eminent companion Abdullah ibn Abbas interprets this verse to mean that the repentance of those who kill innocent people purposefully will be denied, and they will be doomed to eternal Hell.[2] In fact the Qur’an promises not only the punishment of the killer in the hereafter but also the reward and punishment of the smallest (good and bad) action in the hereafter: ‘Whosoever does an atom’s weight of good shall see it, and whosoever does an atom’s weight ill shall see it.’[3] Interestingly, when we look at the Qur’an, we see that killing of innocent people is mentioned alongside associating partners or other gods with Allah.[4] If the Qur’an and the life of Prophet Muhammad are examined deeply it will be seen that both offer a strong condemnation of violence and terrorism, which is the most catastrophic calamity facing humanity today.

Also, while killing a person is considered a mortal sin in Islam, Islam also strictly prohibits suicide. According to Islamic law, one has no right to end one’s own life or damage one’s body. Therefore, the argument that one is the owner of one’s life or body is erroneous. The reason for this lies in the Qur’an: ‘Verily We have honored the children of Adam. We carry them on the land and the sea, and have made provision of good things for them, and have preferred them above many of those whom We created with a marked preferment.’[5] The Qur’an, thus, gives honor and glory to all humankind equally, and considers the killing of one innocent person equal to killing the whole of humanity.[6] This point is crucially important because it demonstrates that Islam considers killing to be a crime committed against not only Muslims but also all of humanity. Moreover, the Qur’an places great emphasis on the virtue of peace.[7] Peace is actually one of God’s names (53:23) and thus the Qur’an forbids a person from responding to an evil deed with one which is worse; instead, it says ‘Repel the evil deed with one which is better...’[8]. Sound reason also suggests this teaching. Injustice should not be resisted by sowing the seeds of revulsion and hatred amongthe people. The Qur’an and the life of the Prophet show us various peaceful methods in the solution of this problem.

The concept of jihad in Islam

Another important Islamic concept is jihad. Islam regards human life as most honorable and issuing many rules for the preservation of human happiness and dignity in this world and the hereafter. Islam acts with proper prudence to prevent war, terror, injustice and anarchy. Nevertheless, it is known that Islam allows Muslims to fight in particular situations, which, however, it regards as arizi (unnatural) and secondary. Peace, however, is essential in Islam. War is justified only to prevent chaos (which leads to wars), anarchy, tyranny, mischief, rebellion and so on. The Qur’an explains this issue in Surah Baqarah (2:191) by stating‘tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter’. Thus, war is justified in these exceptional circumstances. Islamic law acknowledges that Muslims have the right to protect their religion, life, property, progeny, and their honor and sacred values. But Islam was the first religion in human history to codify regulations of war on the basis of rights and justice. In Surah Maida, Allah says ‘O those who believe! Stand out firmly for God as witnesses to fair dealing and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just; that is next to piety; and fear God for God is well acquainted with all that youdo’. Attention should be paid to the issue that Islam allows war only to prevent anarchy; it does not sanctify war undertaken in order to compel people of other religions to convert to Islam or to bring the whole world under Islamic sovereignty, Dar al-Islam. In other words, Islam contains no concept of ‘holy war’ in this issue. If a Muslim country is secure, war is not obligatory. In addition, it is not legitimate to declare war against any people only on the basis of their belief or disbelief (kufr). There is also no claim in Islam to make the entire world Muslim.[9]

It is therefore a great pity that some Muslims and non-Muslims simplify the term jihad by associating it with war, offering shallow arguments concerning its meaning. Viewing Islam through the lens of jihad or continual mixture of jihad with terror and violence allows them to support the hypothesis that teachings of the Qur’an are fundamentally aggressive, has terrorism at its core and pose threats to peace rather than offering solution to conflict. The frequently used and abused term jihad has gained commercial attractiveness in the modern period: however this reductionist approach to the term narrows the comprehensiveness of the notion of jihad, because this key Qur’anic term is one of Islam’s most important concepts, which embraces both the material and the spiritual life of humankind. Jihad does not mean simply a holy war. Although the word jihad and its cognates are repeated some 34 times in the Qur’an, only four of these usages relate directly to war.[10]

Jihad, as Fethullah Gülen defines in general terms, is every kind of effort made by believers to obtain God’s approval and to satisfy Him. There are various dimension of jihad (strife, endeavor and fighting). It is possible to categorize them as physical, psychological, spiritual, sociological, and intellectual jihads. For instance, the Messenger of God equates those who work for widows and the poor with those who make jihad for God.[11] In another place the Prophet informs that the greatest jihad is a jihad made against one’s self.[12] As Fethullah Gülen explains: Jihad is purification and seeking perfection to please God; it is a cleansing of the mind from false preconceptions, thoughts, and superstitions—by means of Qur’anic verses; it is an expellingof impurities from the heart through prayer; it is asking for forgiveness; austerity (riyada); and studyingthe Book, wisdom, and other knowledge with a purified heart and mind.[13] In brief, jihad for Fethullah Gülen is a contemplative spiritual struggle; it is a ceaseless, continuous, conscious and affective struggle. Fethullah Gülen draws attention to jihad as paving way for outer peace, which in turn leads to inner peace. Interestingly, the Prophet’s description of war as a minor jihad shows clearly the object of the major jihad: in Islamic understanding jihad means an individual’s struggle against Satan. In short, jihad is a form of worship, which embraces the material, and spiritual dimensions of humankind. War is limited to the external/physical aspect of this struggle and constitutes only a small part of jihad. Islam fixes the boundaries of both major and minor jihads and it should be remembered that these boundaries and dimensions are not only legal but also humane and ethical.

Rules in war according to Islam

We should now examine the Islamic principles concerning the rules of war. First of all, Islam states clearly that individuals cannot start a war on behalf of Muslims. One cannot issue a fatwa (legal pronouncement) to fight against another country, nation, group or individuals. The reason for this is quite simple: according to Islamic law, the declaration or initiation of a war is the duty of a State in accordance with certain principles. No companion during the lifetime of the Prophet declared a war individually. When the state initiates a war it must obey certain principles. Accordingto Fethullah Gülen, in war Islam defines the limits that constrain the treatment of the enemy. We see the best example of this at a time near the death of the Prophet. When he was ill, news came that the Northern Arabs, along with the Byzantines, were preparingan attack on Medina. The Prophet ordered the preparation of an army under the command of Uthama ibn Zayd, and gave the following instructions to Uthama: Fight in God’s way. Do not be cruel to people. Do not go against your covenant. Do not cut down trees bearing fruits. Do not slaughter livestock. Do not kill the pious who are secluded in monasteries, engaged in worship, or children and women…[14] The instructions of the Prophet were enshrined in Islamic legal literature, to the effect that the killing of non-combatants such as women, children, the elderly, the disabled is expressly forbidden.[15] There is no Islamic text, which allows the killingof innocent civilians in war, because they are held to be not combatant (muharib). The Qur’an states clearly ‘Fight in the cause of God those who fight you (who are liable and able to fight, and who participate actively in the fight) but do not transgress the limits; for God loves not transgressors’ (Baqarah 2:190). The Arabic verb yuqatiluna in the verse is of extreme importance. To explain this in grammatical terms, the mood (reciprocal form) in Arabic denotes ‘participation’ which, in this sense, means ‘those who fall under the status of combatant’. Thus non-combatants are not to be fought against. This must be obeyed rule in war and applies equally stringently when war has not been declared. In addition to this, according to Islamic law, Muslims may not start a war without informing their enemy, and if the enemy calls on them to negotiate a settlement Muslim forces must cease fighting.

Indeed, the Qur’an (Baqarah 2:190) warns Muslims not to transgress the moral limits of war against the enemy. The meaningof ‘transgression’ here is not to kill civilians, not to torture enemy’s warriors, to respect the dead bodies of the enemy, to meet the basic needs of the enemy and to obey the rules of war. It is important to note that Islam prohibits reprisal. For example, if the enemy’s soldiers rape Muslim women, Muslim soldiers should not rape the enemy’s women; this prohibition also applies to the torture of captured warriors, to attacks on civilians, and so on. It is well known that when the Muslims in Andalusia (Spain) were expelled from the peninsula, some Muslims asked the Ottoman Sultan to expel his Christian subjects from İstanbul as retaliation for the Christians’ attacks on the Andalusian Muslims. However, the Ottoman Shaykh al-Islam objected, arguing that this practice was against Islamic law concerning the rights of non-Muslim subjects.[16] In brief, Islam forbids reprisal and the frame of every action in war is defined by Islamic law, which nobody may transgress.

As stated above, Islam insists on the legal rights of the enemy soldier in war, even though it is difficult to maintain a balance in a combat situation. If the enemy warrior is protected by Islam, the civilian is protected even more stringently. No one may touch an innocent person; no one may be a ‘suicide bomber’ who rushes into crowds with bombs tied to his or her body; no one may kidnap innocent civilians and behead them, no matter what their religion. Moreover, just as it bans attacking civilians in war, Islam also considers attacking civilians in peace as a most grievous sin. The Qur’an, as has been mentioned above, equates killing innocent people with unbelief (Furqan, 25:68; An’am, 6:151). Thus those who attack the lives of innocent people in the name of religion will lose their happiness in this world and salvation in the hereafter. Islam is a true faith and it should be lived truly. As Fethullah Gülen pointed out, faith cannot be attained by the use of untrue methods. In Islam, just as a goal must be legitimate, so must all the means employed to reach that goal. From this perspective it is clear that one cannot achieve Heaven by murdering another person.[17] Considering that human life is the most precious thing in Islam, the gravity of the present situation is obvious. Clearly, Islam rejects every kind of violent act unconditionally and discourages all kind of extremism. Fethullah Gülen, who openly cursed the terrorists behind the attack of 9/11, calls upon everybody to curse the terrorists who are darkening the bright face of Islam, and to take collective action against them. As an Islamic scholar and an expert in this field, Fethullah Gülen finds it unacceptable to associate Islam with terrorism. He declares that a Muslim must not be terrorist and a terrorist cannot be a true Muslim.[18] As it is seen in his approach, Fethullah Gülen is very critical of the instrumentalization of the religion in daily politics. The individuality of a crime is basic principle in Islam; whoever commits a crime is the only person to be called to account. As repeatedly stated in the Qur’an ‘no bearer of a burden can bear the burden of another’ (An’am, 6:164; Nahl, 16:15; Fatir, 35:18). Therefore it is not permissible in Islam to issue a fatwa allowing a crime against civilians to be carried out. It is obvious that such attacks are indiscriminate except in the sense that civilians rather than military personnel are deliberately targeted. Such indiscriminate attacks are totally incompatible with one of the general principles of Islamic law.[19] The proposition that any action is legitimate in order to achieve an undefined goal is contrary to Islam. The example used by Fethullah Gülen is as follows: if there are nine guilty persons and one innocent on a ship, this ship should not be sunk; the innocent should not be sacrificed to punish the guilty majority.[20]

As we stated above, individual cannot declare war; only the state can do so. Today, those who carry out suicide attacks are acting contrary to the principles of their religion, and perpetrating irreligious acts in the name of religion. Fethullah Gülen insists that Islamic principles should be tested by the consensus of the Muslim community (scholars). This shows his reliance on and trust in Islamic sources and the tradition, which has carried these sources and their interpretation from age to age up until today. Thus a few unqualified extremists’ fatwas approving suicide attacks which are not confirmed by the Muslim community do not represent the view taken by Islam and its true followers. Havingsummarized the status of suicide attacks in Islam, we will focus on the causes of these activities, their historical background and some solutions in the light of Fethullah Gülen’s evaluations.

Fethullah Gülen’s critical re-evaluation of terrorist activities in the name of religion

At the beginningof this article it is noted that Fethullah Gülen approaches the problem from various angles, considering religious, political, social, psychological and economic dimensions. At this juncture we place great stress on his critical re-evaluation of the approaches to terrorist activities adopted by both Muslims and non-Muslims. Fethullah Gülen states that both Muslims and non-Muslims are responsible for the instability of the world today. Concerning Muslims, he argues that some thoughtless people who lack the power of discernment narrow the broad scope of Islam. For this reason Fethullah Gülen argues that such people must first change the image of Islam in their mind. Because they have no comprehensive understanding of Islamic sources, they take as reference only some sections of the Islamic sources without exploringthe Qur’an and the Prophetic tradition, or the understandings of prominent Muslim scholars. They read these texts literally and mostly out of context without examiningwhat precede or follow them. The results are disastrous: they misinterpret their religious teachings and then put this mistaken understanding into practice; consequently they are misguided and they misguide others. Muslims should, Fethullah Gülen says, begin to re-evaluate the fatwas of the people who claim that they represent Islam today, because today everybody experiences directly or indirectly the damage of the terror which directly results from this intolerance and misinterpretation. Furthermore, Fethullah Gülen emphasizes the danger of the idea that carrying out terrorist acts against the innocent people of other nations under the pretense of ‘representing the oppressed nations of the world’. This notion is by no means compatible with Islam. Terror does harm to Islam, to Muslims and to humanity at large. As an example, it is sufficient to look at the reports about 9/11 and the London bombings. These reports confirm that in the period immediately after the attacks, there was a sharp increase in faith-related hate crimes against Muslims across the globe. Unfortunately, this has resulted in many people, especially Muslims, fearing for their safety.

Moreover, Fethullah Gülen thinks that a real Islamic world does not exist today, as Muslims are divided and scattered throughout the world. He means that there is no any Muslim country which follows all Islamic principles. Currently, Muslims are not able to maintain good relations with one another, and therefore cannot constitute a union or collaborative work in order to solve common problems. Thus, he believes that currently, one does not expect from Muslims an effective contribution to the world peace.[21] There are several ossified problems in the Muslim world and the existences of these problems make it easy for some evil powers to manipulate the vulnerable. Additionally, the ongoing problems of poverty, the lack of education for the poor, the states’ inability to be one with their citizens, a deficient understanding of the notion of the social state, a lack of democratic governments which give priority to the rights and freedoms of their citizens, various types of internal and external frustrations and, most importantly, the neglect of the spiritual and ethical life of the people have led to a deterioration of the general condition of the Muslim world.[22] Besides these factors, some experts say that uneducated youths might be brain-washed or even controlled by drugs to carry out terrorist attacks. All these explanations show clearly that war waged against the terrorist organizations by police or military forces will not be sufficient to stop them. No amount of wealth, military muscle or technological superiority could erect an effective shield against the actions of desperate terrorists. Fethullah Gülen has stated that to fight against the ideology of the terrorists we need the arguments of the intellectuals. He also notes that one cannot establish order on the basis of rude power; military measures can only result in disorder and injustice. It is also generally acknowledged that an order achieved by mere force and rude power cannot last long. Fethullah Gülen expresses his dissatisfaction with the explanation that the reason behind these terrorist activities is religion, and points out that when religion is held to be the source of violence, the actual major factors and powers, goes unnoticed.[23] Because no human was born as a terrorist and the process of terrorism has a historical background, the root cause of terrorism is enormous.

Anti-dote of terrorism: Education and dialogue

We will consider now Fethullah Gülen’s approach to the problem of overcoming the global calamity of terror. It is important to note that, in contrast too many observers, Fethullah Gülen, acknowledges certain negative developments yet thinks that the world situation is not deteriorating and there will be no clash of civilizations. Accordingto Fethullah Gülen, those who are looking forward to a catastrophic future for the world and a clash of civilizations, are evil individuals or groups who are unable to impose their world view on the people and hope that global antagonisms will ensure the continuation of their power in the world.[24] Nonetheless, the global political situation does not look hopeful, and we should not be complacent. Fethullah Gülen argues that the true clash in today’s world is not ‘between civilizations’ but within each civilization, culture and religion. That is a clash between the forces of ignorant, fundamentalist or extremist and those of mainstream, moderate or true believingcommunities. Fethullah Gülen emphasizes that education must play a central role in helping to resolve the world’s problems. His experience has taught him that the key problem of our modern civilization is education.[25] Today, many schools and other educational institutions established on his advice and initiative, both within Turkey and outside Turkey, are making significant progress to achieve this aim.

Besides education, another important activity initiated by Fethullah Gülen in the cause of world peace is ‘dialogue meetings.’ As Ergene pointed out, these meetings are an extension of Fethullah Gülen’s global educational activities which serve to educate people. Although he has been severely criticized by some ultra-nationalists, hardcore secularists and religious radicals, he bravely argues that these dialogue meetings are primarily concerned with religion and are thus a religious duty. Fethullah Gülen constantly insists on the religious nature of these meetings, being the primary Islamic sources that encourage Muslims to engage in dialogue with adherents of other faiths. Thus, Fethullah Gülen says that dialogue is not his invention or innovation, but a revival of one of the most neglected aspects of Islam. His constancy in this regard is very sincere: he states that even if the sensitive political balance of the world changes a thousand times, he would never quit the dialogue meetings; the Islamic sources do allow him only to do so. For Fethullah Gülen, dialogue and tolerance mean accepting every person irrespective of their status and learning to live together. He is concerned to show that the rights of religion, life, travel, trade, property, free speech and so on are guaranteed by the Prophetic tradition, the best examples are beingthe document of Medina and the farewell speech of Prophet Muhammad. Although there are ten years between these two events, Fethullah Gülen says, there is no difference between them in their approaches to the rights of non-Muslims (Jews, Christians) and even of unbelievers. For Fethullah Gülen this indicates clearly the religious imperative to continue in dialogues. Fethullah Gülen also accepts that due to a lack of dialogue, some mistakes have been made by Muslims in the history of Islam, but Fethullah Gülen argues that the history of Islam is also full of good examples of dialogue.

The key word in Fethullah Gülen’s dialogue meetings is love, and this love derives from his understanding of Islam and Sufism practiced in Anatolia. Those who seek to profit from chaos, violence and terror will doubtless fail to understand the conception of love in Fethullah Gülen’s philosophy, and will consequently fail to understand Fethullah Gülen’s worldview. Philosophically speaking, Fethullah Gülen considers love to be the essence of creation: according to Fethullah Gülen, love is the most essential element, the brightest light, and the greatest power in every creature in the world. If one is grounded in love, every kind of difficulty in the world can be overcome.[26] Thus, Fethullah Gülen introduces love as an unquestionable condition for being human. Without love, it is almost impossible to create an atmosphere conducive to dialogue and tolerance. Fethullah Gülen’s love is not an empty conceptualization; it is directly related to his religion, whose commandments he sensitively tries to put into practice. Fethullah Gülen says that religion commands love and peace; love makes people truly human and the spirits of the true will rise to Heaven.[27] Clearly, then, love lights the fuse of dialogue and global tolerance; it paves the way to global peace. For Fethullah Gülen, man can only communicate actively with all humans and other creatures through love, which leads him to help others.[28] Unlike ideologies based on social Darwinism, which suggest that only the powerful are fit to live and the weak should not survive, Fethullah Gülen, as a Muslim scholar, holds that love derived from Islam has a great capacity to embrace every person in the world irrespective of their beliefs. Relying on his own conviction and tradition, and on the global transmitters of love such as AbuHanifa (d. 150/767), Ahmad Yasawi (1093–1166), Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi, Imam Ghazali, and Imam Rabbani (1564–1624), Fethullah Gülen describes love and tolerance as ‘the roses and flowers of our hill’.[29] But this love must be expressed in its practical and livingdimension, and so Fethullah Gülen has inspired the organization of many meetings, in which different people with different religious and cultural backgrounds, come together to discuss the common problems of humanity. The participants of these meetings have initiated various projects and offered many solutions to ameliorate the chaotic situation in our world. Most importantly, these meetings show the people that dialogue is the real remedy for terror, chaos, and intolerance. Fethullah Gülen, as a sincere believer in the importance of dialogue, has asked his close friends not to name this unfinished process of dialogue (emphasizes that this process is a longway from completion). This also shows his optimistic view of the future.


We have tried to show that Islam and terror are radically opposed even though some manipulative, uneducated or misguided individuals commit terrorist crimes in the name of religion. We have also drawn attention to the mistaken association of jihad with war. We then pointed out that Islam considers killing innocent people in the name of religion to be the greatest sin, and has never legitimized suicide. We also focused on Fethullah Gülen’s emphasis on the importance of dialogue in our world. Despite the ravages of terrorist activities and many wars, Fethullah Gülen’s strongand sincere call for dialogue increases our hope that peace may be achieved. Love is situated at the very heart of his understanding of dialogue, and this love is mainly nurtured by faith in Islam and his mystical understanding of religion. Ali, the cousin of the Prophet, declared that he saw Muslims as his brothers in faith and non-Muslims as his brothers in humanity; Fethullah Gülen agrees. This love necessitates dialogue not only with human beings but also with all of God’s creation. When humanity reaches such a level of dialogue, then God’s will on earth is achieved. Accordingto Fethullah Gülen, this is the very purpose of our existence on earth. Clearly, Fethullah Gülen’s discourse provides a welcome antidote to the militancy of much of what passes as Islamic discourse in today’s world.

[1] Davut Aydüz, 2005:227.
[2] Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Jami al-Bayan an Ta’wil Ay al-Qur’an, IV, 295; Ergün Çapan, ‘Suicide Attacks and Islam,’ An Islamic Perspective: Terror and Suicide Attacks, 2004, 82.
[3] Zilzal, 99:7–8.
[4] Furqan, 27:68.
[5] Isra, 17:70.
[6] Maida, 5:32 (whoever kills a soul, unless it be for manslaughter or for mischief in the land, is like one who kills the whole of mankind; and whoever saves a life, is like one who saves the lives of all mankind).
[7] Nisa, 4:128 (…peace is better…).
[8] Fussilet, 41:34.
[9] Ali Bulaç, ‘Jihad,’ An Islamic Perspective: Terror and Suicide Attacks, 56.
[10] Tawba, 9:41, 73; Furqan, 25:52; Tahrim, 66:9. See Bekir Karlığa, ‘Religion, Terror, War, and the Need for Global Ethics,’ An Islamic Perspective: Terror and Suicide Attacks, 2004, 39.
[11] Abu Abd Allah Muhammad b. Ismail al-Bukhari, al-Jami al-Sahih, Nafaqa, 1; Muslim b. Al-Hajjaj, al-Jami al-Sahih, Zuhd, 41; Karlığa, 2004:40.
[12] Muhammad b. Isa al-Tirmidhi, al-Jami al-Sahih, Fadail al-Jihad, 2.
[13] Fethullah Gülen, in an interview with the Italian Journalist Michele Zanzucchi, 2.
[14] Muhammad b. Umar b. Waqidi, Kitab al-Maghazi, III, 117–118; Hamza Aktan, ‘Acts of Terror and Suicide Attacks in the Light of the Qur’an and the Sunna,’ An Islamic Perspective: Terror and Suicide Attacks, 26.
[15] Tahawi, Sharh al-Ma’ani al-Athar, III, 224; Çapan, 2004:83.
[16] Bekir Karlığa, Kültürlerarası Diyalog Sempozyumu, 16.
[17] Fethullah Gülen, in an interview with the Italian journalist Michele Zanzucchi, 4.
[18] Rainer Hermann, Fethullah Gülen Offers Antidote For Terror, Fethullah Gülen Web Site, 1.
[19] Çapan, 2004:89.
[20] Gülen, İnsanın Özündeki Sevgi, (prepared for publication by Faruk Tuncer), İstanbul: Da Yay. 2003, 200. Said Nursi talked about this issue before Gülen and said that the wild principle of modern civilisation sacrifice the rights of the individual without hesitation for the sake of society. However, the pure justice of the Qur’an does not spill the life and blood of an innocent, even for the whole of humanity. The two are the same both in the view of Divine Power, and in the view of justice. But through self-interest man becomes such that he will destroy everything that forms an obstacle to his ambition, even the world if he can, and he will wipe out mankind.
[21] Gülen, ‘In True Islam Terror Does not Exist,’ An Islamic Perspective: Terror and Suicide Attacks, 2–3.
[22] Gülen, İnsanın Özündeki Sevgi, 202.
[23] Ibid., 202.
[24] Aydüz, 2005:237.
[25] M. Enes Ergene, Geleneğin Modern Çağa Tanıklığı, 47. Similar to Said Nursi, belieing Islam to be the middle way, Gülen placed great emphasis on the importance of moderation and keepingaway from want and excess saying‘too much or too little of anythingis not good. Moderation is the middle way.’ (Said Nursi, The Flashes, 43).
[26] Gülen, İnsanın Özündeki Sevgi, 17; Said Nursi says ‘the thing which is most worthy of love is love, and that most deserving of enmity is enmity. It is love and loving—that render people’s social life secure and that lead to happiness which are most worthy of love and being loved. Enmity and hostility are ugly and damaging...’ (Nursi, The Damascus Sermon, 49–50).
[27] Gülen, İnsanın Özündeki Sevgi, 17.
[28] Ibid., 47.
[29] Ibid., 78.

The first version of this article is published in Muslim Citizens of the Globalized World: Contribution of the Hizmet Movement (eds. Robert A. Hunt-Yüksel A. Aslandoğan). I would like to thank editors for their kind permission.