Indialogue: An Indo-Turkish Activism of Peace, Pluralism and Dialogue in India

By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi

An article in the Firstpost has noted,

Indian scholars and students of all faith backgrounds, along with the Turkish activists of the Hizmet, are engaged in dialogue activism at the Indialogue Foundation ushering in a culture of dialogue and co-existence among scholars of all faith traditions with major focus on shared spiritual values.

(http://www.firstpost.com/world/india-must-understand-erdogans-ideological-motives-for-seeking-extradition-of-gulenists-2975676.html)

The Hizmet Movement, reached out to Indian Diasporas in 2005 with the name of Indialouge Foundation. Since its inception, the organisation has been widely noted among the Indian intellectual circles for its endeavour to enhance interfaith, inter-civilisational, intercultural, inter-communal and interethnic dialogue. The activists of the Hizmet Movement in India channelize different means to stress the dErdogan_Turkey_Reuters_825ire need of co-existence, tolerance, inclusiveness, mutual understanding, reconciliation, peace, national solidarity and social integration. They organise conferences, symposia, seminars, exhibitions, award functions, workshops, visits and trips, publications and engage with other intellectual, academic and social activities to achieve the noble cause of dialogue.

Embracing universal values, the Indo-Turkish communities share many values with one another. We have scores of common references that the members of all faiths unanimously espouse while still adhering to myriad precepts and practices. Imbued with this universal message, The Indialouge Foundation strengthens the Indian secular fabric with an intellectual fraternity exploring the possibilities to work for dialogue, peace and pluralism.

At a time when clashes between the claimants of different belief systems and even within the ideologies are on the rampage, India needs the activism of peace and dialogue more than ever before. We need a profound strategy to maintain our age-old inclusivsim. And the very pressing need calls for developing amicability, familiarity, tolerance, respect, and social integration among different groups, religious communities through dialogue and mutual understanding.

If anywhere in the world Muslims could be seen as epitome of the above universal values, it is the spiritually-inclined and Sufi-oriented Turkish Muslim community. At a time when other parts of the Muslim world seem to be engaged in violence, sectarian and Takfiri wars, exclusivistic and totalitarian leadership, Turkish Muslims embraced universal values of peace, tolerance, inclusiveness, harmony, multiculturalism and interfaith dialogue.

In fact, it is a result of the harmonious Sufi traditions deeply entrenched in the cultural consciousness of the Turkish Muslim society. The lofty ideals of the great Sufi luminary Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi (r.a) and the Naqshbandi Sufi traditions have deeply impacted the Turkish culture and society. Maulana Rumis ideas of Islamic mysticism and spirituality (Sufism) are imbued with a human touch. They exhorted innate passion for divine love, sympathy, compassion and generosity for humanity regardless of caste, creed or faith.

Mr. Fethullah Gulen, a renowned Turkish Muslim intellectual and spiritual luminary par-excellence, draws inspiration from Maulana Rumis humanism and breadth of outlook. He is also an ardent advocate of interfaith dialogue and his views on this subject emanate from Maulana Rumis ideas and teachings. His lofty spiritual and scientific ideas inspired an Islamic community that is one of the most significant religious and social movements in contemporary Turkey with several million followers worldwide. Although he received his education in traditional Islamic seminaries and initially served as an Imam of a mosque, he believed that modern science and logic would be the way of the future and, therefore, reinforced the idea of teaching religious sciences in secular schools and modern sciences in religious schools.

Since Gulen was endowed not only with scholastic temperament but also with an inner spiritual spark, he was filled with passion to save Ummah from the looming crisis. To meet this end, he stressed the revival and renewal of the universal values of Islam among Muslims. With his unshakable faith and courage, vast experience and wisdom, scientific temperament and a deep insight into the Qur’anic exhortations and worldly affairs, he exerted all possible efforts to provide the global Muslim community with remedy to many problems in the modern age.

This is precisely why the great epithet of the modern-day Rumi has been attributed to him by many intellectuals and analysts. Just as Rumi’s Sufi traditions brushed aside the distinctions of caste, creed, sect, and nationality, Gulen preaches the true Islamic principles full of compassion for all, and none of his writings peddles any kind of hatred or disdain against any community or tradition. While progressive Muslims called Gulen the modern-day Rumi some Western authors hold him in high regard calling him Muslim Gandhi.

Since Fethullah Gulen is particularly inspired by the two great humanitarians and Sufi mystics Jalaluddin Rumi, Bediuzzaman Saeed Nursi of Turkey and Shaikh Ahmad Sarhindi Mujaddid Alf-e-Sani of India, Gulen followers from Turkey have established an action and research-oriented dialogue and peace foundation in India, Indialouge Foundation. Following in his footsteps, they have embarked on a gigantic mission of transforming the world by selfless and untiring service to humanity at large.

The most important of the foundations clearly stated objectives is to be in dialogue with all faith communities fostering a culture of dialogue and co-existence with major focus on shared spiritual values. The volunteers of the Indialouge Foundation are adherents of love, tolerance, dialogue and peace, committing themselves to live the broader essence of Islam and bear witness to the shared universal values.

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