Oct 7, 2019
On October 7, 2019, Rumi Forum hosted author Dr. Jon Pahl for a book talk and discussion on his recent biography of Rumi Forum's Honorary President Fethullah Gulen. The event was moderated by Ori Z. Soltes from Georgetown University.
In this first critical biography of Fethullah Gülen in English,
historian Dr. Jon Pahl took us on a journey where we discovered
wisdom and controversy, from 1940's Turkey to the U.S. in the
twenty-first century. Dr. Pahl told the story of a pious Muslim boy
from a tiny and remote Turkish village who on the one hand has
inspired a global movement of millions of individuals dedicated to
literacy, social enterprise, and interreligious dialogue, but who
on the other hand has been monitored by Turkish police, seen as a
threat by autocrats, and recently declared number one enemy by the
current Turkish government. With lively prose and extensive
research, Dr. Pahl traces Fethullah Gülen's life and thought in its
contexts, states clearly his own positions, and then lets readers
draw their own conclusions from the evidence about this undeniably
significant historical figure.
In his book, Dr. Pahl weaves this fascinating life into a narrative marked by five key elements, patterns, or relationships in Gülen’s life: integrity of participation in the nonviolent practices of Islam; principled pluralism—manifest in a commitment to dialogue; engaged empathy—deep feeling for the suffering of the world, and willingness to engage on behalf of alleviating that suffering; a commitment to spiritual and scientific literacy; and an organizational model of social enterprise.
Dr. Pahl, a strong believer of religions as catalysts for peace, crafts through the story of Gülen and the Hizmet Movement an introduction to Islam for non-Muslim readers, for the questions he brings to Gülen’s life story are also the questions others bring to Islam more broadly.