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Michael Starzinski's Review on Pearls of Wisdom

by Michael Starzinski on . Posted in Book Reviews

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This work by M. Fethullah Gülen is a continuation of a long tradition of books and articles promoting the cause of serving society through the advancement of universal education. Fethullah Gülen is a widely known and respected Turkish scholar, religious leader, educator, and social reformer, whose values stem from his Islamic faith, and whose overriding interest is in the well-being of Muslims as well as all of mankind. Fethullah Gülen's many life experiences including a teaching post in Edirne Turkey, and those acquired throughout his life within his faith, have contributed to his understanding of the role of education in shaping the world we live in. His corresponding beliefs that tyranny can be eliminated and justice achieved through education for all mankind are copiously illustrated in this and all of his former works.

Readers in the United States and other western countries will discover many comments, shaped by Fethullah Gülen's wealth of knowledge and experience that are colored by the filter of his own education, culture, religious beliefs, and national origin. These readers can best benefit from his breathtaking perspective, and depth of understanding, by exercising tolerance and acceptance of his background and life experiences. Indeed, Fethullah Gülen has much wisdom to offer those who are truly willing to contemplate his message.

Obvious to any reader familiar with the works of Fethullah Gülen, the overall intent of this book is to both inform and guide readers in their daily lives Some chapters of this book are titled; The Spiritual Life; The Personal Life; Family; Society; Social Interaction. Fethullah Gülen divides each chapter into several subject areas, and in each subject area he provides several short and to-the-point comments (pearls) designed to provoke thought and shape the understanding, and resultant actions, of his readers.

For an example related to politics; in chapter seven, "Government", in the subject area of "Republic", Fethullah Gülen writes: "The Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, did not claim kingship, and his four immediate political successors followed his example. Kingship appeared when people grew remote from the Islamic spirit, and eventually this digression became a vehicle for oppression and despotism." This is indeed an interesting pearl, for it contains wise commentary regarding the his- torical development of politics in the Islamic world, and helps us understand the root cause of many of the problems faced by modern day Muslims. It may also help guide some modern day Islamic countries in developing policies and practices that will lead them out of the political, economic, and cultural quagmires they may be experiencing at this time.

Another example, this time related to the science of metaphysics, can be found in chapter nine, "Ideal People", in the subject area of "Pearls of Wisdom": "Matter has no comprehension, consciousness, feeling, or will. It is comprised only of some laws and particles (used to form things). What an embarrassing mistake it is to count it as the essence of existence." Fascinating insight that encourages us to critically examine the values we and our cultures have adopted regarding the worth and value of property and objects.

In Pearls of Wisdom Fethullah Gülen has assembled an awesome collection of wise thoughts and arranged them in logical subject areas in order that we can use them to examine our lives and benefit from his wisdom. There are literally hundreds of pearls in this book, and every one of them requires our immediate attention.

The Fountain, January-March 2004, Issue 45