Fethullah Gülen: Pope's Statement Most Unfortunate, Apology Muslims' Right

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Messages

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Fethullah Gülen, Prominent Muslim scholar from Turkey, has issued the following written statement on the Pope's recent comments on Islam in his speech at the University of Regensburg.

Gülen called the Pope's language most unfortunate, at a time when tolerance and understanding should be preached by men of religion.

The following is the full text of Gülen's statement:

All of the differences between the messages of all prophets and messengers, from Adam to Muhammad, the Last Messenger of God, are concerned with secondary matters, and these differences do not harm the essence of the real message, peace be upon them all. The dissensions, disputes, clashes, and wars which have taken place among the members and communities of the celestial faiths have never stemmed from religious grounds, but from misguided interpretations and distortions, and from the ambitions of unsophisticated individuals or groups who have failed to stay faithful to the essence of the religion and who were essentially inspired by wrath, hatred, or self-interest.

A political-ideological approach to Islam has always yielded imprudent views which are the outcome of prejudice; add to this the inconsistent and deplorable example of some so-called Muslims and the method of examining matters through the currently dominant systems of thought and ideology. Similarly, degrading Islam to a reactionary philosophy that is in favor of violence is an incorrect view that stems from the same distorted standpoint. It is further regrettable that such an erroneous view is articulated by "men of religion" as it leads to the adoption of a position that will most likely instigate provocation and public anger.

Each and every message of Islam is intertwined with universal peace, social congruence, tolerance, and dialogue. Insolence, cruelty, enmity, and hatred are nothing but the retching from the souls of those who are pre-determinedly biased towards Islam; at the same time these reflections cannot be digested by some uneducated Muslims. Yet in a heart where Islam has truly settled in, there is nothing but love, affection, and the understanding that is owed to the Creator for the sake of the created.

On the other hand, we still can observe a tendency for the world, exhausted from centuries of wars and conflicts, to become a stage for new conflicts in the face of human nature's insatiable thirst. Every person who feels responsible, in particular the clergy of diverse faiths, should become an ambassador of peace and dialogue in order to make peace and togetherness prevail in the world, making it a cradle of love and friendship. For this purpose, the Vatican has felt the need to announce an apology in recent past for what it did in the past and for its role in the Crusades. Yet Pope Benedict XVI's speech at the University of Regensburg takes as its basis the understanding of a fourteenth-century Byzantine emperor, Manual II Paleologos, which was one of the original reasons for the Vatican's acknowledgment of a need for the apology. I believe that this speech is only an expression of an individual opinion. My sincere hope is that this speech, given by a man in such an influential position as the Pope, will not cause any provocation or other tragic incidents.

Underestimating Islam's concept of divinity-while laying unbecoming and offensive accusations on the beloved Prophet of Islam-the Pope's speech has hurt Muslims. If the grassroots welcome the motivation that underlies such unfortunate words, pronounced by the top-most authority in the Catholic world, then this will have the potential to hearten radical groups that are willing to shed blood in the same proportions as that shed during the Crusades.

It is my hope that Muslims, who expect an apology as their due, will react to this unfortunate event in a civilized manner, and behave in a way that is in keeping with the principles of Islam as taught by the Prophet of peace and mercy, so that we may avoid the likes of the cartoon crises of the not-so-distant past.

This episode of the Pope's talk once again reminds us that all of humanity, as a family, needs dialogue today more than at any other time. Having become neighbors who share, or perhaps who have to share, the same globalized world, it is of the utmost significance today that we should do our best to go beyond the distances that result from religious, political, cultural, and ideological differences, and that we share with everyone the most distinguished principles brought by the Messenger of God and Islam with regards to pursuing a life lived in harmony.

M. Fethullah Gülen