The Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, winner of our intellectuals poll, is the modern face of the Sufi Ottoman tradition. At home with globalisation and PR, and fascinated by science, he also influences Turkish politics through links to the ruling AK partyby Ehsan Masood / July 26, 2008 / Leave a comment
Published in July 2008 issue of Prospect Magazine
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Is it possible to be a true religious believer and at the same time enjoy good relations with people of other faiths or none? Moreover, can you remain open to new ideas and new ways of thinking?
Fethullah Gülen, a 67-year-old Turkish Sufi cleric, author and theoretician, has dedicated much of his life to resolving these questions. From his sick bed in exile just outside Philadelphia, he leads a global movement inspired by Sufi ideas. He promotes an open brand of Islamic thought and, like the Iran-born Islamic philosophers Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Abdolkarim Soroush, he is preoccupied with modern science (he publishes an English-language science magazine called the Fountain). But Gülen, unlike these western-trained Iranians, has spent most of his life within the religious and political institutions of Turkey, a Muslim country, albeit a secular one since the foundation of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s republic after the first world war.