Gülen’s Contribution to a Middle Way Islam in Southeast Asia

Abstract

This paper aims to demonstrate the relevance of the Gülen movement as a counter to extremist ideology and an encouragement to inter-religious dialogue in the Southeast Asia region. The movement presents a Middle Way Islam, which can accommodate local cultural differences and make a hospitable space for positive relations between Muslims and non-Muslims. Following an account of Fethullah Gülen’s views on extremism and inter-religious dialogue, the paper turns to case studies of Gülen-inspired organisations in Singapore and Indonesia to show how they have applied his ideas to enable inter-religious dialogue and offer an effective alternative to legalistic teaching of Islam. The case studies allow for comparison of the movement’s approach to a Muslim-majority and Muslim-minority context. The paper concludes by charting the trajectory of the movement’s role and contribution to the development of a Middle Way Islam in Southeast Asia.

by Dr. Ali Ünsal