Ramadan Iftar Dinner with African-Turkish American Communities


The Inaugural Turkish-African American Friendship Iftar Dinner was held Tuesday, July 7th at the American-Turkish Friendship Association (ATFA) in Fairfax, Virginia. The first meeting of these diverse communities was warmly received as the Turkish community and the African American community gathered around the same table to break bread during the holy month of Ramadan.                            

The room was full at the Association, drawing those from academia, government agencies, NGOs, interfaith groups, etc. Imam Taleb Shareef was the first up to the podium to speak upon his experiences during his time in Turkey and the lessons he wanted to share with the audience that he had learned while he was there. Through his studies of Islam for example, he learned that if we order our lives by beginning with what God gave us first, then that can be the foundation on which we can build upon when we gather together therefore, we will possess the ability to recognize our diversity and our common origin. Imam Taleb Shareef speech then centered on a reflection of the simplicity of nature and the connections human beings have with it during the month of Ramadan. 



The next speaker of the evening was from the Somali Association of the Greater Washington Area who thanked ATFA and the Rumi Forum for bringing everyone together so that the different communities within African American society can see each other and exchange thoughts or ideas with one another when normally (especially in today’s busy society) they wouldn’t have the opportunity to do so. His speech centered on Turkish and Somali relations through history up to present day relations. He highlighted the struggles his country, which has been riddled with civil war and instability, has faced and how grateful he is of the Turkish government and its people for aiding the Somalis in their time of need. They distribute aid, and assist in startup infrastructure projects. —- ended his speech on a high note saying, “It is also fitting to come to this meeting in the blessed month of Ramadan…it is a wonderful spiritual experience, that is not only about denying food and drink during the day, but has many other benefits like perseverance and self control, concern for others, feeling hunger so you can help the hungry and the poor. This month is a perfect time to come together to talk and experience and pray together. Ramadan is for everybody whether you’re Muslim or not.”

Kimse Yok Mu (KYM) is an international humanitarian aid organization and development organization that has branched out to one hundred and thirteen countries since its founding. The main focus of the organization has been particularly concentrated in African countries, as the Former General Director of KYM Metin Cetiner said in his speech during the first Turkish-African American Friendship Iftar Dinner. Metin Cetiner gave examples of his organization’s work in Somalia, serving hot meals to hundreds of thousands of people and providing emergency aid in the form of tents, clothes etc. “We constructed social aid buildings, schools and hospitals in [Kenya, Uganda, Somalia etc.]” He then touched upon the various American aid that his organization provides during the month of Ramadan, including the current projects the organization is tackling.

NAACP leader Jamiah Adams was the last of the speakers that evening, given her warmest thanks to the hosts. Her speech centered upon dialogue between communities. Beginning her address she quote a few words from the poet Rumi, “‘This being human is a guest house, every morning is a new arrival, a joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor–welcome and entertain them all. Treat each guest honorably , the dark thought, the shame, the malice, leave them at the door laughing and invite them in, be grateful for whoever comes because each has been sent as a guid from the beyond.’ I share these words because we as humans are kin in one family, desireable to be kind and welcoming to one another. Ramadan is one of my favorite time of year because it embodies that approach. We as Muslims have an opportunity to share our faith, our food with a greater American uma during this time. It is time for us to come together and break bread. It is time for us to reflect upon the words of a God, a contemplate being better persons and better Muslims.”     

Jamiah Adams as well discussed her current works at the NAACP, the oldest and largest civil rights organization founded over one hundred and six years ago. She commented on the diversity that is included in the organization, especially during its founding and saying that, “History has dictated that when we work together across cultural lines, across faith, we resolve collectively our movement. It is time for us to come together dialogue among races and faiths to achieve dialogue that is common, conductive and strategic. It is time for us to smash the ills both at home and abroad.”  

 

Source: Rumi Forum

Rumi Forum Organizes Ramadan Iftar Dinner for South Asian-Turkish American Communities

Members of the South Asian and Turkish American communities attended a Ramadan iftar dinner organized by the Rumi Forum and held at the American Turkish Friendship Association in Fairfax on July 1st, 2015.
Shuja Nawaz, a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council started his remarks with the importance of Ramadan, which marks a precious holy month for all Muslims, or as Mr. Nawaz said, “God sent the Quran on this month and made it an exclamation point on the Muslim calendar.” He said that the things suggested by God must not only be confined to the one month of Ramadan but must be extended above and beyond. He stressed on the criticality of doing withouton a daily basis. God chose Ramadan to make fasting and giving obligatory but the lesson that he wants to pass along to his children and grandchildren and onto others is that the lessons of life in moderation and sharing with others must not be restricted to this one month. “We assume too many things, we assume that because we have them we should eat well and take advantage of our riches on this earth but what God is reminding us in Ramadan is, I believe, living a life of moderation and then, looking after others.” For those who can afford it, weekly and monthly contributions to those in need must become a regular habit, he believes.

Another poignant remark made by Mr. Nawaz was the growing intolerance within the Muslim world towards accepting differences in points of view. He believes there seems to be a desire in the Muslim community not to compromise or not to recognize when others have a different way of observing religion. “Enforcement of religion is not religion. It is not the business of the state to impose religion or the business of fellow citizens to impose religion on you. It’s a contract between you and Allah. There shouldn’t be any other constraint or obstacle in this relationship”, he said expressing his personal views. He stressed on the vital importance for Muslims to recognize their own link with God far above reliance on official diktat and to observe the ritual rather than the real meaning of Islam, as the Prophet advised his followers. The questions he raises for himself and others during this holy month are: What kind of world do we want to create for ourselves, for the Muslims, for our children and grandchildren?
In closing Mr. Nawaz’s urged the wider audience to consider the inherent and intrinsic concepts of Islamic society, such as creating democracy instead of accepting rulers who impose their will upon the populace in the name of God. He said, “I think it is incumbent upon all Muslims, and I consider myself equally engaged in this fight, to try and speak up for the individual and the right to observe religion the way you believe it should be observed and how you interpret it from the Quran.”  

Dr. Sayyid Syeed, National Director for Interfaith and Community Alliances, one of the pioneers of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), reminded those present of the struggles and successes of the Muslim community in America. Fasting during Ramadan, the invisible act of worship that pays homage to Islamic practice, has become the most popular pillar among the new generation of Muslims in America. “It’s amazing how Muslims, men and women from coast to coast, have been able to create such a respectable, visible institution – from White House to different federal departments to governors and mayors of different cities – they are all holding Iftar parties.” Mr. Syeed says fasting enhances the spiritual aspect of ones being and every religion, by definition, has to have fasting as one of its components. Islam, particularly, elevated fasting to the status of one of the fundamental pillars of the faith. Fasting helps to build communal solidarity and provide for those in need. Ramadan has been instrumental in helping people understand the true essence of Islam.

Aisha Rahman, Executive Director of Karamah, shared a personal story that tied in with the evening’s theme of encouraging dialogue and celebrating diversity. Her father taught her the importance of recognizing her identity as a Muslim over other concerns whether it be of belonging to Sunni or Shia sect, being Urdu or Arabic speaking, or coming from different countries like Pakistan or Turkey. She takes heed to not simplify anybody’s faith, heritage or background but adds, This evening we are here to celebrate intra-cultural relationships. We may not all be Muslim. We may be coming from different nations and tribes. But God says in the Quran: “I created you unto nations and tribes so you can know one another.” And that is what we’re doing here this evening. We are knowing one another.” She believes that God’s message of creating bonds of harmony and dialogue is clear. So even if the world presents constant forces that try to divide and cause schisms between communities and within the Muslim community, it is always imperative to fight against that.
Tariq Shafi, addressing the guests on occasion of the South Asian-Turkish American Ramadan iftar, laid out the historical relationship between Pakistan and Turkey. There are several overlapping commonalities between the two communities that in culture, geopolitics, military, trade, religion, food and others. Former President Pervez Musharraf once said, ““Pakistanis have always occupied a special place in the hearts and minds of the people of Turkey.” Mr. Shafi believes that these common bonds are the building blocks to what the two countries can achieve together at the local grassroots level to promote good relations and cooperation. He presents his own ideas and hopes that Turkey and Pakistan may continue collaborating and expand, learn and reinforce ideals that make us all better citizens.
IMF’s Mumtaz Hussain spoke towards the critical value of interacting and engaging with other communities, learning different cultures and being part of each other’s lives. He addressed two main points: the importance of putting humanity over all other forms of identity and focusing on learning and education endeavors. He expressed his happiness and pride of being part of organizations like Rumi Forum and ATFA, which tirelessly promote inclusivity. Speaking of such kinds of organizations, he says, “It is shocking they don’t ask you – what’s your identity? They simply ask you: you are a human being. Not even Muslim. That’s the important thing. Their relationship is beyond that and that is humanity.” The Rumi Forum and ATFA have been organizing spaces that bring together different groups to unite and celebrate each other’s diversity. Mr. Hussain believes that this kind of inclusivity, that includes people from Muslim countries like Somalia and Azerbaijan, and also different religions, makes people feel part of a close-knit united community.
Rumi Forum and ATFA, with the help of sister organizations, runs schools in all parts of the world including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Africa etc. Their focus on learning, knowledge and education is tremendous and this is reflected in the quality of these learning institutions. Citing the personal example of his children going to one such school in Virginia, he says, “In a school where there are only 160 students, there are children representing 30 nationalities. It is a small globe within a small community of a school. The kids growing up are interacting constantly with many different cultures and communities. Imagine their learning when they grow up. They have all these assets and skills to deal and be part of the world – not part of a small group, but of the whole world. And that’s what really excites and amazes me.” In closing, Mr. Hussain reiterated the value of the work being done by inclusive societies that give precedence to human dignity, human culture and values.

Source: Rumi Forum

Rumi Forum Hosts Arab-Turkish American Ramadan Iftar

President of Rumi Forum, Emre Celik, welcomed friends, community leaders and guests to the inaugural Turkish Arab American Iftar dinner held in Fairfax on July 3rd, 2014. Speaking on behalf of the American Turkish Friendship Association (ATFA) and Rumi Forum, he extended his warm invite to friends in the Arab community. “The Rumi Forum, since its inception in 1999, has been bringing together communities of different backgrounds, particularly focusing on interfaith understanding and dialogue. But we wanted to broaden this beyond interfaith to include intercultural dialogue and include people of different culture and race backgrounds”, said President Celik. He hoped this event would be the first step among many to understanding and collaborating between the Arab and Turkish community. He also took this opportunity to inform the guests of the various engagements Rumi Forum was undertaking in the busy month of Ramadan, including the organization of iftar dinners and Sahur meals. Warmly inviting the friends and guests to these shared meals, he concluded that the Rumi Forum and ATFA “look forward to continuing the dialogue” with their friends in the Arab community. The speakers at this friendship dinner included community leaders Azizah al Hibri and Muna Zahr.

Azizah al Hibri gave a powerful speech urging her fellow community members to use the blessed spiritual month of Ramadan as a time to reflect critically and introspect deeply on the conditions of Islam and the meaning and significance of diversity and community. To begin the process of reflection, she picked two ayahs (verses) from the Quran: Oh humankind, indeed we have created you from male and female and made you into people and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed the most noble of you in the sight of God is the one who is most righteous amongst you.” This verse is addressed not only to Muslims but also to everybody. God made the divine choice to create diversity so that we need to get to know each other. Diversity exists because God wanted us to communicate across cultures and religions and get to know each other better. Variety is the spice of life, as they say, and human beings need to enjoy this diversity. But is that really happening in our world?

Muna Zahr also talked about importance of friendship and dialogue while drawing the attention of audience to significance of fasting.
Source: Rumi Forum

Rumi Forum Hosts Truman Natioanal Security Project over Ramadan Iftar Dinner

Rumi Forum hosted guests from Truman National Security Project along with Turkish-American community leaders for Ramadan Iftar on 26thJune, 2015. President for Center for National Policy, Scott Bates, delivered a short speech, followed by Truman Fellows Joshua Walker and Jen Nedua.
President Scott Bates addressed the attendees of the Ramadan dinner, delivering a short message on the power of believing in hope and ultimate justice. “The arc of history bends slowly to justice”, he said, echoing the words of Martin Luther King. Despite the deep tragedies and sorrows of our time, in the United States and elsewhere in the world, there are always new opportunities for healing and new birth of freedom for our nations. 
Truman Fellow Joshua Walker touched upon the value of loyalty and friendship in the relationship between America and Turkey. Despite the “difficult” friendship, he considers Turkey their closest allies and puts his faith and hope in continuing a healthy partnership with the Turkish people at large. Citing his love for Turkish culture and hospitality and Ramadan as one of his favorite holiday periods, he says, “To just be embraced regardless of peoples’ political views – this shows us the real future of the relationship. Its’ going to be done by people like us, by future leaders, who can look past political differences, challenges of the situation, difficulties of geography and the bridging of worlds by doing it one person at a time, one meal at a time.”
Mr. Walker advises friends of Turkey to be both critical and skeptical of the euphoria and also skeptical and cautious of extreme pessimism, when dealing with news of the ever-changing political landscape of the country. The history of all countries has been to take one step forward and two steps back, and so it is with Turkey. He believes that the senseless violence pervading the Middle East, the ongoing conflicting wars in Syria and Iraq, the tendency towards authoritarianism in the region can only be countered when diverse groups of people come together to engage in dialogue and discussion. Even though the volatile political period in Turkey promises a difficult road ahead, it is a struggle that can be overcome if embracing diversity is marked as the way to move forward.
“Thinking about the future and where we go as a progressive community focused on national security, we have to speak to our own populations…Just like many of us in this [American] community, we don’t fit into a nice box.” Mr. Walker emphasizes the problem of categorizing people into boxes, instead urging the U.S. government and Turkey to move beyond bigotry and myopic visions and learn how to broaden perspectives and adapt to each other. Turkey’s great challenge in the current period is to move towards a truly people’s driven democracy. In a world that is deeply interconnected, Mr. Walker believes it is America’s responsibility to “reach out and be our brothers’ keepers” across the waters.

Source: Rumi Forum

Fethullah Gulen's Oped in New York Times: Turkey's Eroding Democracy

SAYLORSBURG, Pa. — It is deeply disappointing to see what has become of Turkeyin the last few years. Not long ago, it was the envy of Muslim-majority countries: a viable candidate for the European Union on its path to becoming a functioning democracy that upholds universal human rights, gender equality, the rule of law and the rights of Kurdish and non-Muslim citizens. This historic opportunity now appears to have been squandered as Turkey’s ruling party, known as the A.K.P., reverses that progress and clamps down on civil society, media, the judiciary and free enterprise.

Turkey’s current leaders seem to claim an absolute mandate by virtue of winning elections. But victory doesn’t grant them permission to ignore the Constitution or suppress dissent, especially when election victories are built on crony capitalism and media subservience. The A.K.P.’s leaders now depict every democratic criticism of them as an attack on the state. By viewing every critical voice as an enemy — or worse, a traitor — they are leading the country toward totalitarianism.

The latest victims of the clampdown are the staff, executives and editors of independent media organizations who were detained and are now facing charges made possible by recent changes to the laws and the court system. The director of one of the most popular TV channels, arrested in December, is still behind bars. Public officials investigating corruption charges have also been purged and jailed for simply doing their jobs. An independent judiciary, a functioning civil society and media are checks and balances against government transgressions. Such harassment sends the message that whoever stands in the way of the ruling party’s agenda will be targeted by slander, sanctions and even trumped-up charges.Turkey’s rulers have not only alienated the West, they are also now losing credibility in the Middle East. Turkey’s ability to assert positive influence in the region depends not only on its economy but also on the health of its own democracy.

The core tenets of a functioning democracy — the rule of law, respect for individual freedoms — are also the most basic of Islamic values bestowed upon us by God. No political or religious leader has the authority to take them away. It is disheartening to see religious scholars provide theological justification for the ruling party’s oppression and corruption or simply stay silent. Those who use the language and symbols of religious observance but violate the core principles of their religion do not deserve such loyalty from religious scholars.

Speaking against oppression is a democratic right, a civic duty and for believers, a religious obligation. The Quran makes clear that people should not remain silent in the face of injustice: “O you who believe! Be upholders and standard-bearers of justice, bearing witness to the truth for God’s sake, even though it be against your own selves, or parents or kindred.”

For the past 50 years, I have been fortunate to take part in a civil society movement, sometimes referred to as Hizmet, whose participants and supporters include millions of Turkish citizens. These citizens have committed themselves to interfaith dialogue, community service, relief efforts and making life-changing education accessible. They have established more than 1,000 modern secular schools, tutoring centers, colleges, hospitals and relief organizations in over 150 countries. They are teachers, journalists, businessmen and ordinary citizens.

The rhetoric used by the ruling party repeatedly to crack down on Hizmet participants is nothing but a pretext to justify their own authoritarianism. Hizmet participants have never formed a political party nor have they pursued political ambitions. Their participation in the movement is driven by intrinsic rewards, not extrinsic ones.

I have spent over 50 years preaching and teaching the values of peace, mutual respect and altruism. I’ve advocated for education, community service and interfaith dialogue. I have always believed in seeking happiness in the happiness of others and the virtue of seeking God’s pleasure in helping His people. Whatever influence is attributed to me, I have used it as a means to promote educational and social projects that help nurture virtuous individuals. I have no interest in political power.

Many Hizmet participants, including me, once supported the ruling party’s agenda, including the 2005 opening of accession negotiations with the European Union. Our support then was based on principle, as is our criticism today. It is our right and duty to speak out about government policies that have a deep impact on society. Unfortunately, our democratic expression against public corruption and authoritarianism has made us victims of a witch-hunt; both the Hizmet movement and I are being targeted with hate speech, media smear campaigns and legal harassment.

Like all segments of Turkish society, Hizmet participants have a presence in government organizations and in the private sector. These citizens cannot be denied their constitutional rights or be subjected to discrimination for their sympathy to Hizmet’s ideals, as long as they abide by the laws of the country, the rules of their institutions and basic ethical principles. Profiling any segment of society and viewing them as a threat is a sign of intolerance.

We are not the only victims of the A.K.P.’s crackdown. Peaceful environmental protesters, Kurds, Alevis, non-Muslim citizens and some Sunni Muslim groups not aligned with the ruling party have suffered, too. Without checks and balances, no individual or group is safe from the ruling party’s wrath. Regardless of their religious observance, citizens can and should unite around universal human rights and freedoms, and democratically oppose those who violate them.

Turkey has now reached a point where democracy and human rights have almost been shelved. I hope and pray that those in power reverse their current domineering path. In the past the Turkish people have rejected elected leaders who strayed from a democratic path. I hope they will exercise their legal and democratic rights again to reclaim the future of their country.

Fethullah Gulen is an Islamic scholar, preacher and social advocate.

Source: New York Times
Source: Rumi Forum

NEW BOOK: Renewing Islam by Service, Pim Valkenberg, Catholic University of America

Renewing Islam by Service offers a theological account of the contemporary Turkish faith-based service movement started by Fethullah Gülen, and placed against the backdrop of changes in modern Turkish society. The life and works of Gülen are analyzed against the background of developments in Turkish society, and of spiritual Islamic tendencies in the transition from the Ottoman empire to the secular republic. Pim Valkenberg includes stories of his personal experiences with supporters of this movement, in a number of different countries, and analyzes the spiritual practices and the faith-based service of this movement that is also compared to some important Christian religious movements.

Available for purchase here.

Fethullah Gülen (born 1941 in Erzurum) is sometimes mentioned as one of the most influential Islamic scholars of the twenty-first century. During his work as a scholar-preacher in Izmir in the 1970s he started to provide learning opportunities for his students. He attracted many supporters and inspired them to form communities that put their Islamic faith into practice by serving others. When the political and economic situation of the Turkish republic improved, Gülen and the Hizmet (service) Movement began to take initiatives in order to overcome ignorance, disunity and poverty.

At the beginning of the 21­st century the Hizmet Movement ormed one of the most influential networks of Muslims, not only in Turkey but in Europe and the United States as well. Gulen now lives in the United States where he still inspires many groups to engage in dialogue initiatives, excellent schools, public media and service organizatons. However, these initiatives are often met with suspicion by a number of different groups – secularists as well as radical Muslims. While the Hizmet Movement has thus far mainly been studied from a social scientific perspective, this book claims that Gulen and the Hizmet can best be understood by researching the religious drive that empowers them. Since this book has been written by a Christian theologian, this is done in a comparative theological approach that not only shows how Gulen and the Hizmet Movement renew Islam by service, but also how Christians can be inspired by such a religious renewal movement.
Source: Rumi Forum

Rumi Forum's Ramadan Iftar Dinner with Friends of Anatolia


The Iftar dinner with friends of Anatolia was attended by more than 60 people ranging from academics to NGO leaders. Most of the participants were previous attendees of Rumi Forum’s Turkey trips.
Todd Theringer, part of the Harvard Club of DC, began the talks by sharing his experiences of the trip to Turkey. Explaining that “prior to the trip, if you had mentioned Turkey to me, I would have thought Thanksgiving”, Mr. Theringer described how his visit of the country significantly changed his perspective. He gave an example of this awareness through his eagerness to meet Kurds when traveling around Cappadocia, before realizing that everyone around him was Kurdish. As a result of these experiences, he explained that “my whole concept of Turkey vs. Kurdish and East vs. West started to blend together” and that his curiosity regarding the region has grown. He finished by thanking Rumi Forum for organizing the trip. 
Jennifer Cate followed upon Theringer and positively described her visit to the Middle-Eastern country. Although she “for years had a crush on Turkey”, it turned into “full-blown love” after the visit with the Rumi Forum. She praised the wide-range of Turkish individuals they were able to meet, from journalists to politicians, and the many activities they were able to embark on. Their trip coincided with the upcoming parliamentary elections, and Ms. Cate explained her resulting growth in knowledge of the political landscape of the country, even though she realized “with each meeting how little we know”. She applauded the Turkish sense of hospitality and the unforgettable experience she went through. 
Paul Wee, a lecturer at George Washington University, built on the remarks of the previous speakers. He began by explaining that he has learned that breaking bread with others “allows people to see things they did not see before.” Describing a pleasant meal with a family who welcomed him into their home in Ankara, Wee emphasized how important the value of sharing truly is. Mr. Wee also praised Mehmet’s ability to introduce the members of the trip to personalities of the Turkish parliament and media, providing a “great learning experience”. He then briefly addressed his concerns for “the direction of the country”, mentioning the detainment of journalists and the government’s shift towards more rightist policies. He emphasized his fears of the country’s changing politics, drawing a comparison with Germany in the 1930s which eventually turned to Hitler’s Nazism. Focusing on the Gulen movement, he congratulated “the fantastic work that is being done” while criticizing the pressure on Hizmet in Turkey.  Mr. Wee then discussed the theological aspect of his trip, highlighting the importance of values of love and forgiveness. Rather than contrasting faiths, Wee emphasized focusing on the common principles of these religions, therefore “transcending differences.” Having such discussions, he explains, created a closer personal relation between him and Islam. Paul Wee expressed his hope that “this dynamic may overcome the hostilities and bring us together in a world of peace” to conclude his remarks. 
Speaker Videos: 
Paul Wee, George Washington University
  
Todd Theringer, Harvard Club of DC
Jennifer Cate, HANDS
Photos: 
2015 Ramadan Iftars

Source: Rumi Forum

Rumi Forum Organized 2nd Annual Ramadan Suhoor


The 2nd Annual Ramadan Suhoor, organized by the Rumi Forum took place on the 11th of July, 2015. Various ambassadors, members of the media, intellectuals from think tanks, scholars, NGO leaders and other professions all shared a meal together, forming a crowd of more than 80 people. 
Laurie Fulton, former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark, and Earl Rasmussen, from the Eurasia center gave a few remarks regarding Ramadan and addressed the concept of sharing meals. Although she hosted many Iftars as Ambassador, Mrs. Fulton explained that this was her first Suhoor. She discussed the importance of shared meals in the 3 Abrahamic religions, explaining that more than religious events, “they are now part of our culture.” In fact, she emphasized their positive aspects by describing a study that found a correlation between sharing meals and traits of “generosity, altruism and the ability to interact.” She therefore concluded that communal meals are significant because they allow us to “get acquainted, to know more about each other and to enjoy life.”
Additionally, Earl Rasmussen explained that sharing a meal is indeed “much more than preparing your body to go on for the rest of the day.” Sharing a meal gives the opportunity to share thoughts, ideas and feelings. More than a biological necessity, sharing a meal builds relationships. He emphasized that “we are not just nourishing our bodies, but our minds and souls.” This is particularly important in today’s society where working days have become “so busy”. Rasmussen ended his remarks by citing a quote from the prophet, “Eat together, and not separately, for the blessing is associated with the company.”
Speaker Videos:
Ambassador Laurie Fulton
Earl Rasmussen, Eurasia Center
See Photos of the event here:
2015 Ramadan Iftars

Source: Rumi Forum

Fethullah Gulen Awarded 2015 Gandhi King Ikeda Peace Award

Atlanta, April 9, 2015 – Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse Collegeawarded its prestigious 2015Gandhi King Ikeda Peace Award to Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen in recognition of his life-long dedication to promoting peace and human rights. The chapel has been giving a community builders prize and a peace award since 2001. Past recipients of these awards include leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, Andrew Young and Archbishop Desmund M. Tutu.
ikeda-ghandi
In a statement presented today, Mr. Gulen said he was humbled by the honor and accepted this award on behalf of the Hizmet participants from different nations, religions and ethnic backgrounds who have devoted themselves to serving fellow humans. “These educators keep schools open in places like Iraq despite the ISIS threat; they provide education opportunities to girls in Nigeria and Afghanistan; doctors, nurses and humanitarian relief workers serve under dire conditions in places like Somalia and Sudan; entrepreneurs donate to charitable causes despite economic hardship.” He said in his statement: “You were kind enough to recognize their efforts and I simply accept this award on their behalf.” For his full statement, please visit: Fethullah Gulen Statement Accepting the 2015 Gandhi King Ikeda Peace Award.

The Gandhi King Ikeda Peace Award was designed to promote the importance of positive social transformation by honoring those who demonstrate extraordinary global leadership toward reconciling differences. Although Mahatma Gandhi was a Hindu from India, Martin Luther King Jr. a Christian from the U.S., and Daisaku Ikeda a Japanese Buddhist, the overwhelming ethical consistency in the global reach of their philosophies and influence serve as an inspiration to all the world’s citizens. The chapel’s dean Dr. Lawrence Carter said that the chapel will recognize Gulen alongside photos of Gandhi, King and Ikeda in the chapel, as a Muslim representative of the same spirit. For details on the award, please visit: http://www.morehouse.edu/mlkchapel/our-work/college-of-ministers-laity/.

Fethullah Gulen is an Islamic scholar, preacher and social advocate, whose decades-long commitment to education, altruistic community service, and interfaith harmony has inspired millions in Turkey and around the world. Described as one of the world’s most important Muslim figures, Gulen has dedicated his life to interfaith and intercultural dialogue, community service and providing access to quality education.

Alliance for Shared Values is a non-profit that serves as a voice for dialogue organizations affiliated with Hizmet in the U.S. (also known as Gulen movement). The Alliance serves as a central source of information on Fethullah Gulen and Hizmet. For more information, please visit www.afsv.org.
Source: Rumi Forum

NEW REPORT – Turkey’s Kurdish Question and the Hizmet Movement

The Kurdish question is one of the major issues that have dominated the Turkish political landscape. In the aftermath of the corruption scandal in December 2013, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Justice and Development party (AKP) officials have frequently accused the Hizmet movement of impeding the negotiations between the government and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). A new report by Washington DC based Rethink Institute attempts to provide an overview and assessment of where Hizmet stands on the Kurdish issue.

Download the report here

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Source: Rumi Forum