Hizmet academic set to visit Taipei

Staff writer, with CNA

Fri, Nov 30, 2012 - Page 4

An international conference on the Hizmet Movement, a civic movement inspired by Turkish Islamic academic Fethullah Gulen, is to be held in Taipei to promote its teachings and practices in Taiwan, organizers said yesterday.

The conference entitled “The Hizmet Movement and the Thoughts and Teachings of Fethullah Gulen: Contributions to Multiculturalism and Global Peace,” is scheduled to take place on Dec. 8 and Dec. 9 at National Taiwan University’s College of Social Sciences.

Academics from Taiwan, Turkey, the US and Japan are set to discuss issues including faith-inspired social movements and their structures; the development and financing of such movements; Gulen’s contributions to democracy; and modern Islamic theology, science, education and charity, said the Taipei-based Formosa Institute, which is jointly organizing the event with the Taiwan Association of Islamic Studies.

They are also set to discuss the philosophy of Hizmet (the Turkish word for “service”), to compare Gulen’s philosophy with Confucian thinking and discuss the movement’s stance on gender issues, the institute said.

Similar conferences have been held in the US and Britain, said the institute, an organization inspired by the teachings of Gulen, and other intellectual and spiritual leaders.

Gulen, an academic, educator and author who advocates a moderate brand of Islam, has millions of followers around the world.

He is known for his remark “a terrorist cannot be a Muslim, nor can a true Muslim be a terrorist,” following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the US.

In July 2008, the 71-year-old, who now lives in the US state of Pennsylvania, was voted by readers of the US’ Foreign Policy magazine and Britain’s Prospect magazine as the world’s top public intellectual.

Gulen has inspired the founding of hundreds of schools, hospitals and businesses around the world, including schools in 140 countries.

His teachings advocate tolerance, peace and intercultural and interfaith dialogue, as well as mutual understanding of different religious and ethnic groups.

The work done by Gulen’s followers focuses on issues ranging from democracy, multiculturalism and globalization to civil society and intercultural dialogue, the institute said.