What Did Gülen Say Concerning the Situation in Turkey?
Turkey is living through a time of tension. However, perhaps it's necessary to dwell on why this is so. One influential factor is Turkish society's general make-up. No one should get upset, but according to this our society has not yet found its right course.
In an age of enlightenment like this, Turkey has not produced that which is required by enlightenment or fully digested democracy. Politics is based more on self-interest. A great thinker of our time has said: "Politics revolving around interest is a monster." I think some people are making a monster out of politics and basing it on self-interest. Turkish society needs reconciliation and agreement. If the powers and those representing power in Turkey would act democratically, we could overcome these troubles. If emotions replace logical judgments and embraced by the media, government officials, or political leaders, many mistakes can be made. Every social segment must be very balanced.
It is dangerous to politicize religion, but it's even more of a danger for religion than for the regime, because religion belongs to everyone. Everyone must be able to respect religion and find worldly peace with it, and the heart must be able to attain tranquillity within it. Religion is the name of the connection between God and humanity.
At this moment in Turkey, there is a very serious discussion about whether or not secularism is endangered. If reconciliation is being sought between Islam and secularism, then according to some views of Islam, in fact according to some Qur'anic verses like Your religion for you, mine for me, there's no big problem. If secularism is understood as not basing the state on religion, not interfering in religion or in the believers' religious life, and acting in an unbiased way, there's no problem at all. I don't think secularism is in danger now or that it will be in the future.
Towards Tomorrow's Turkey
Do you see any parallel between your coming into view and Turkey's flight from the "cocoon" it has woven around itself?
If the people and government are not ready to step forward, if circumstances are not favorable, you cannot do anything worthwhile. You might encounter some government members who oppose what you've done because of your ideas. But in general, Turkey's internal and foreign policies have begun to change. You can't see your own government as an enemy. This would be a big mistake, for compatibility between the state and the people is a very important factor, especially at this time.
Can it said that a new image is appearing?
I think that developments observed in the political arena and among the people as a whole are a source of hope. What I have seen in my contacts shows that our society sees the new trend as expressing the collective conscience and collective sentiment, the common thoughts and feelings. Until now there has been a different Islamic image. There are efforts to perpetuate and manipulate this image for their own interests. But I see that this image is on the way to change, and that the rulers and people are open to change and renewal.
Where does this mistaken assumption come from?
It might be intentional or because of ignorance. Change needs time. Some individuals might act roughly in the name of Islam, but that's still an individual action. People's make-up and way of thinking affects this, but Islam absolutely doesn't allow it. Islam came to give peace and happiness to humanity. Now Islam has the image that if someone doesn't think just like you, he or she can lose his or her head. Everyone must think and live like you. So far, this has been the attitude of the West toward the Islamic world. And this is like a hump on our back. Muslims in Algeria and Sudan have been on trial for terrorism because of this view. A very bad image has been aroused. I think that our nation, which has interpreted Islam for 9 centuries in line with the perfect, flexible, broad understanding of love and tolerance in the Qur'an and the Sunna, will remove that hump from Islam's back via our broad vision, consideration, and tolerance.
Transformation of Paradigm to Enigma
When the paradigm becomes an enigma, does it lead to a common dogmatism?
Yes, I think they produce new dogmas against dogmatism. Saying this may bother some friends. Our current problem is a war of dogmas. One dogmatic front is fighting with another dogmatic front. They are tied to rigid things and insist on their own way. Even though they are extremists and in the minority, they affect a broad public base. Their voices are loud and effective. The majority, who remain in the middle and are not part of either extreme, should be moderate, for they can balance the extremes and thus continue to push for the tolerance, dialogue, and forbearance that we need today. [Eyup Can, Zaman daily, August, 1995]