Moderator des Engelwerkes
Thank you for your kindness in encouraging dialogue among the great religions of the world in the interests and for the benefit of humanity.
I wish to express my thanks also for the questions you have asked. I have tried to answer them as briefly as possible.
With warm regards
1. For the convenience of labelling, some people have indeed called our way 'the Movement of Light'. Personally, I am not in favour of giving our way any specific label; such a label can give the erroneous impression that we are some kind of separatist or exclusivist group, which we are not. Also, the word 'movement' can bring to mind political activities, another association that has nothing to do with our way.
The opening verses of the Book of Genesis impress upon the mind the notion that light is the primordial, essential form of creation. In the Qur'an's 24th Chapter (called 'Light') the Verse of Light contains the sentence: God is the Light of the heavens and the earth. Also, in many different verses, the Qur'an says that God is the Guardian and Protector of believers guiding them out of the darkness into the light. This is most significant for a Muslim's way of thinking as it teaches that the best service to be undertaken for the benefit of humankind is to enlighten them. However, if, as has happened in recent centuries, enlightenment is understood only in relation to man's reasoning faculties, it can bring about a neglect and consequent degradation of moral and spiritual faculties. It is our belief that the moral and spiritual dimensions of human beings are essential to their nature, to their being human, and that, therefore, spiritual and moral training is essential. While the sciences can educate the reasoning faculties, moral and spiritual enlightenment, without which there can be no enduring contentment or peace, needs a religious awakening and guidance. I am profoundly convinced that happiness and salvation are attainable by a way that combines spiritual with intellectual enlightenment, and I pray for guidance in such a way.
2. The Qur'an commands us to believe in all of the Prophets without making distinctions among them. Belief in all of the Divine Scriptures as revealed to the Prophets is another pillar of Islamic faith. This means that to be a Muslim is also to be a follower of Jesus, Moses and other Prophets, upon them be peace. Besides the pillars of faith you mentioned, which are common to Islamic and Catholic teaching, the moral values held by both are also held in common. Morality is a fruit of the religious life; Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace, declared: 'I have been sent to perfect the virtues.' The teaching of Jesus, upon him be peace, gives the most prominent emphasis to love and compassion, to forbearance and forgiveness. This emphasis is echoed in the most repeated of all the Qur'anic formulas used by Muslims - bismi-llahi r-rahmani r-rahim-wherein God introduces Himself to humankind as the Most Merciful and Most Compassionate. Also, in the Qur'an God addresses to the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace, the words: Surely We have not sent you but as a mercy to all the worlds (or all the kinds of creation). Islam and the Catholic faith are also agreed that we must all worship God. Indeed, there are many points of common ground between the two faiths, but to list all would take much space.
3. Those among the Turkish people who have chosen to serve in our way of Light have established day and boarding schools in many countries, as well as in Turkey; also dormitories and hostels for the accommodation of students, especially the needy ones. And they publish a daily newspaper, some magazines, occasionally books, and run a TV channel.
4. We are ready to do whatever we can in order to promote dialogue and understanding between the world's peoples, and especially between the world's great religions. It is our conviction that Muslims and Christians will increasingly co-operate against atheistic trends and for a better, peaceful world. Islamic traditions narrate from the Prophet Muhammad that Jesus Christ, upon them both be peace, will descend to the world before the end of time and establish a universal justice. Some contemporary Muslim scholars interpret this tradition to mean-and this is my own conviction-that there will be a coming together between Islam and Christianity on common ground for the sake of fundamentals of faith and against anti-religious, atheistic trends and other destructive, divisive tendencies.
5. I hope that the answer to Question 4 will serve by way of answer to this question also.
6. I think it is better to discuss face to face how we might co-operate to promote our shared goals effectively. Here, let me say that we can persevere in our work of service with sincerity and good intention to help achieve a better world, and do so without raising issues of controversy or conflict between us-in any case, these are very few-and by emphasizing the common ground.
1. It is service for humanity's welfare in both worlds, this one and the next.
2. Our purpose is to secure God's approval and good pleasure. We believe that this is possible by serving humanity by enlightening their intellects with sciences and their hearts with religious and moral values. If the atmosphere which we believe to be brought up by this way is accepted as beautiful and smooth as a rose, it may be called as 'Gül Devri'. You may also call it 'Golden Age' or how you wish or conceive of it.
3. By concentrating on education by means of schools - primary, secondary, high and university - and media, we are trying to enlighten people both intellectually and spiritually and promote the moral standards in society, and to bring about an atmosphere of peace and brotherhood among the different strata of community.
4. Islam has banned all the ethnic, colour and racial discriminations. We have a long history during which many peoples of different beliefs, races, colours and languages existed together in peace. Without giving priority and prominence to such 'natural' differences and by being awakened to the common factors which they share to live together, we hope different ethnic groups can live together. Besides, they should be alert to the instigations of big powers to manipulate for their benefits the differences between.
5. Political parties in Turkey have arisen from among the same people together whom we live and who share the same history, country, fate, climate etc. with us. As citizens of the same country, despite differences of opinion on some matters which must be regarded as quite natural, political parties and we share many common values. However, we have no direct contact with any of the parties and we are in the same distance to all of them as we are near to them equally.
6. Gigantic development in transportation and tele-communication technology have made the world into a big village. In these circumstances, all the peoples of the world must learn to share this village among them and live together in peace and mutual helping. We believe that peoples, no matter of what faith, culture, civilization, race, colour and country, have more to compel them to come together than what separates them. If we encourage those elements which oblige them to live together in peace and awaken them to the lethal dangers of warring and conflicts, the world may be better than it is today.
7. The Qur'an explicitly states that man and woman are created of the same essence. Except for some slight differences between them in religious duties coming from physiological and physical differences, man and woman have the same responsibilities and rights. Therefore, it is not possible to approve the viloation of women's rights in the name of any ideology or for the sake of the advantages of some powerful groups.
8. Our Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, declared that he was sent to perfect the moral virtues. The purpose of religions is to make men perfect in morality, to make them perfect men. Most of the moral standards by which a man can be perfected are universal and common to all peoples. By practising these standards and values in our lives and set good examples to students, without teaching a minimal amount of religion, students can be brought up as good, useful members of society. Additionally, man is noble by creation. His inner senses or faculties such as conscience urge him to virtues. If we can arouse these senses or faculties of him, and incite his potentials to function in accordance with his primordial nature, he will be able to follow true guidance.
9. Language is a means of communication among peoples. As is known, English is the most widely spoken language in the world. It is also possible to find materials and sources necessary, especially, for teaching sciences, in English. Sciences had once flourished in the Muslim world. Now the West is far ahead in science and technology. Our Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, declared that knowledge is the lost property of a believer. So he must take it wherever he finds it. No one must be indifferent to adopting what is good and necessary just because it is in the hand of his opponents. Besides, we do not regard no one,no people, no civilization, as an enemy or opponent to us. Peoples have much to share among them. We support dialogue and rapproachement among world peoples. Therefore, we have no complexes to adopt what we have find in others beneficial to humanity and their wellfare.
Thank you for your questions.