Principles of Dialogue in Fethullah Gülen’s Thought

Principles of Dialogue in Fethullah Gülen’s Thought

Züleyha Keskin

1. Be sincere in dialogue

  • “True understanding of the ‘other’ and thereby cementing trust and genuine appreciation of the ‘other’.”
  • “Deeds are judged according to intentions” (Hadith)
  • “One must be sincere in one’s intentions and seek the approval of God.”
  • “If people direct their actions with sincerity and with good intentions, then they may be winners even if others should consider them losers.”

2. Dialogue with everyone

  • “Religion is a system of belief embracing all races and all beliefs, a road bringing everyone together in brotherhood.”
  • “Even if we have different feelings and thoughts, we are all people of this society. Even though we may not have common grounds on some matters, we all live in this world and we are passengers on the same ship. In this respect, there are many common points that can be discussed and shared with people from every segment of society.”

3. Focus on common points

  • “An aspect of establishing and maintaining dialogue is the necessity of increasing the interests we have in common with other people.”
  • “Say: ‘O People of the Book! Come to common terms as between us and you: That we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, lords and patrons other than Allah.’ If then they turn back, say ye: ‘Bear witness that we (at least) are Muslims (bowing to Allah’s Will).” Qur’an 3:64.

4. Show gentleness, consideration and tolerance

  • “Be so tolerant that your heart becomes wide like the ocean. Become inspired with faith and love for others.”
  • “Judge your worth in the Creator’s sight by how much space He occupies in your heart, and your worth in people’s eyes by how you treat them.”
  • “We must be as if without hands against those who strike us and without speech against those who curse us.”
  • “While the Prophet of Mercy was inordinately sensitive when it came to respecting others, some Muslims today justify their abrasive behaviour on the basis of religion. This shows that they do not understand Islam which has no place for malice and hatred.”

5. Love should be at the forefront of dialogue

  • “Prophet Muhammad was a man of love and affection. One of his names was Habibullah (the Beloved of God).”
  • Love is the essence of creation. (Said Nursi)
  • “Sufi masters state that love is the ultimate station of the spiritual journey.”
  • “A soul without love cannot be elevated to the horizon of human perfection.”
  • Understanding “disliking in the way of God.”
  • “Being an opponent of the paintings of an artist like Picasso will hurt both Picasso and those who admire him.”

6. Highlight the pious values inherent in all religions

  • “Today there is an interest for religion all over the world. In my opinion, representing faith with its true values has gained an even greater importance than ever before.”
  • Characteristics needed for a better future;
  • Virtuous
  • Sincere and pure of heart
  • People who do not steal
  • People who do not think too highly of themselves
  • People who prefer the well-being of others to their own
  • People who have no worldly expectations

7. Accept and appreciate diversity

To each among you have We prescribed a Law and an Open Way. If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues.

  • Respect differences, considering these differences to be part of our nature and appreciate these differences
  • Desire to unify all people under one religion will cause unlimited net of conflicts
  • You can benefit from others’ thoughts and ideas if you accept differences
  • Be like Mawlana’s compass
  • Gülen likens diversity of religion to a symphony and names all religions as “a symphony of God’s blessings and mercy.”


Note: This paper was presented at the conference entitled “From Dialogue to Collaboration: The Vision of Fethullah Gülen and Muslim-Christian Relations” that was held on 15-16 July 2009 at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne. You an reach the conference program here.

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