Honorable Chief Minister, Vice-Chancellor, academics, and dear guests,
I am very honored for your kind invitation to this conference. It is with regret and bitterness in the heart when I say I will be missing this great opportunity of visiting a sister nation and its people as dear as my own, due to my present health conditions.
Raising a generation of ideal humans is not only a civic duty we have to shoulder; it is an indispensable one-way road for those of us who hold high hopes for the common future of humanity. It was these high hopes that gave birth to The Fountain magazine first published in Turkish in 1979. It was these hopes for the future generations of nations that made the "crying boy" the cover image of its first issue accompanied with the byline, "Even if you don't have mercy on yourself, would you not have mercy on your child?"
Over the last four decades, it was these high ideals that brought the devoted souls of the Hizmet volunteers movement seeking God's good pleasure by means of a humble educational project built upon peace, dialogue, tolerance, and human dignity. It was from these sincere efforts that blossomed a long-awaited spring, extending its branches to 140 countries, and providing the world with life-enthusing energy and zeal.
I believe it is around these high ideals that this conference convenes, rather than around the ideas of this poor brother of yours, for I believe my role was nothing more than encouraging a potential in volunteers that was hidden but ready to sprout. It is my hope that the spirit of solidarity, friendship, compassion, and love that your presence exemplifies today are combined with due scholarly endeavor, sound thinking, and dedicated research. I pray that this conference will be a witness to the first blossoms of an ideal society that our eyes have patiently been fixed on for many seasons.
I am very thankful to the organizers The Fountain and Rumi Forum for their efforts in bringing this conference together in partnership with the University of the Punjab, Government of the Punjab, the Education Department, and the Higher Education Commission. Finally, it is a special honor to have the support of the Honorable Shahbaz Sharif, the Chief Minister of the Punjab for this event.
M. Fethullah Gülen