The Importance of Dialogue in a Rooted Conception of Cosmopolitanism Fethullah Gülen and Mohammad Mojtahed Shabestary

The importance of dialogue in a rooted approach to cosmopolitanism is growing in recent philosophical debates. Relying on the ancient idea of the ‘citizens of the world’, cosmopolitanism basically grants the ultimate significance to individuals and contrasts all particularistic political/moral barriers in formation of the community of mankind. Turning into a rooted insight, and in light of the impact of the process of globalization on social relations, a more recent version of cosmopolitanism celebrates the cultural differences among individuals, groups, and nations and draws on the dialogue among them as the corner-stone of the political community of mankind. The rooted conception of cosmopolitanism, indeed, highlights a terrain of exchange for the historically constructed identities extending across cultural, moral, and political boundaries. This patently cross-cultural insight into cosmopolitanism appreciates the underlying significance of dialogue in a recognition-based community of mankind in which deep diversity is celebrated as the crux of a peaceful life-world.

Fethullah Gülen and Mohammad Mdjtahed Shabestary, although belonging to different traditions of thought, respond to the emerging account of cosmopolitanism that has been facilitated and empowered by the process of globalization. Their responses rest on the appreciation of inter-cultural dialogue as providing the fertile ground necessary for a pluralist world of cultures. In his work Toward a Global Civilization of Love and Tolerance, Gülen opens a new perspective on a highly tolerant Islamic faith by adroitly reconciling religious ideas with the requirements of modern life. His enthusiasm for a plural tie among different believers through inter-faith dialogue accounts for an intellectual movement which effectively addresses tranquility and stability in a time of mistrust, conflict and turbulence. Interestingly, his ideas are similar to the hermeneutics of Iranian theologian reformer, Shabestary, who favors a humanist understanding of the Islamic faith where the appreciation of tolerance and dialogical act as the foundations of the modern Islamic society. Among other works, Shabestary’s Faith and Freedom, promotes the idea that religious liberty ought to be considered by Muslims as the precondition in their believes and understanding the true path to God.

This article explores how these two thinkers similarly place the dialogue at the center of a pluralist world of cultures. The thematic order of the article is as follows: The first part is dedicated to a brief analysis of the impact of globalization on the fundamental transformations in social relations and the emergence of the rooted conception of cosmopolitanism. I will argue that this concept is interrelated with the notion of dialogue and signals an emerging sense of a ‘we’; the rooted global demos. The second part covers a comparative analysis of the appreciation of dialogue as the building block of the global demos. I will argue how these two thinkers are vigilantly aware of the importance of dialogue in a highly pluralist world of cultures. While highlighting Gülen’s approach to dialogue as imperative to having the sense of being of human, this part follows an analysis of dialogue in light of Shabestary as well. In conclusion I will argue that the appreciation of dialogue would promise an all-encompassing peaceful life in an accelerated world of violence and conflicts.

I. Globalization, Cosmopolitanism, and Dialogue

It seems inconsistent to speak philosophically of cosmopolitan ethics by a reference to the contested conception of globalization. Generally speaking, cosmopolitanism is an ancient ideal desiring a borderless world of citizens[1], and takes its source of inspiration form the idea of ‘rational humanity’ – the worth of reason in each and every human being[2]. The modern version of cosmopolitanism traces back to Kant’s proposal for a world order in which moral values are appreciated universally. This approach assumes a gradual diffusing democratization of international relations resulting in the formation of a peaceful federation of liberal nations; the perpetual peace[3]. Having been impartial toward the particular interests of different individuals and nations, this liberal version of cosmopolitanism is applied to the whole world and to all preferred policies and needed institutions. Cosmopolitanism, in this sense, is only concerned with the matters that “are acceptable when each person‘s prospects, rather than prospects of each society or people, are taken fairly into account”[4]. It embraces a diffusion of individualism and democratic values that diminish the importance of boundaries and effectively leads policies and citizenship toward a cosmopolitan appreciation of the right and the good[5]. However, this vision of cosmopolitan ethics is mainly associated with the Western appreciation of individualism, universal liberal values[6] and the spreading process of liberal internationalism[7]. Accordingly, it turns a blind-eye towards cultural differences and inter-cultural communication[8].

By contrast, globalization, in the context of this paper, refers to a highly contradictory process of growing global interconnectedness of the world’s social transactions and transnational cultures giving rise to a growing transnational demographic,[9] cultural flow,[10] heterogeneity,[11] and more importantly, supraterritoriality and de-territorialzation. Globalization, in this sense, is more than the institutionalization of capitalism and homogenization[12], the triumph of modernization and westernization[13], and/or assimilation[14]. Rather, it is a challenge to liberal reading of cosmopolitanism. It breeds diversity, disparity, and fragmentation and affects the patterns of identity formation, community, and the modes of production of knowledge[15]. Having understood these consequences of globalization, we can draw on an emerging epoch in which cultural differences accurately matter. We have to understand how the process of globalization gives rise to emergence of the new forces of fundamental changes that are taking place in almost all corners of the world. From this perspective, globalization is conceived as having potential dynamisms for developing and flourishing cultural identities in global settings, either in terms of new cultural identities, new patterns of nationalism, and even threats of the fundamentalism and terrorism[16]. Understanding these transformations compels us to explore how our world is constantly re-ordering, and how this re-ordering gives rise to a new epoch in which cultural differences either conflict or proceed in a course of mutual understanding and dialogue.

Globalization is a condition of heterogeneous transnational cultural steam that results in an opportunity for the cultural identities to come to the global forefront. Therefore, the world can no longer be seen culturally homogeneous, but rather it is to be regarded as a scene for the emergence of diverse cultures and the forces of change that, due to a high level of awareness, can potentially challenge the political domination, economic exploitation, cultural assimilation, and social exclusion. In other words, by raising the levels of consciousness and intensifying the mutual interdependence of universalism and particularism, globalization gives rise to a much more pluralistic world with multiple ethos and channels of interaction[17]. This pluralist ethos increases the awareness of the cultural differences and encourages us to transcend the narrow scope of liberal cosmopolitanism, and instead search for a pluralist ethos of the life-world. Such an account must provide us with a more inclusive insight that addresses the multiplicity of cultures, communities of fate, and the possibility of dialogue with different others and their life-style. Any failure to take the identity awareness into consideration may result in the possible collision among cultural identities, and consequently give way to the forces of violence and false hostility among nations[18].

Accordingly, in an era of heterogeneity and cultural awareness – or a spring time as Gülen puts it[19] – a new form of political community extends beyond the narrow scope of liberal cosmopolitanism and instead draws on a rooted version of world citizenship and cosmopolitan ethics[20]. In this community the cultural identity is consolidated further, civic participation and mutual respect are enhanced, different others are included, and justice is promoted[21], while the identity and cultural authenticity is preserved. As a matter of fact, in the political community of heterogeneous cultural differences no dynamism is followed. Rather, all the different voices are conferred the right to exit or enter into the political community. Indeed, the gap between those who are in and those who are out becomes tenuous[22]. Consequently, a more just, happier, and more compassionate world in which “humanity will discover its real essence” is promised[23]. Since the rooted cosmopolitanism by its nature entails a global-wide community, the cultural identities which have been depicted as different, and hence excluded and oppressed, are provided with the opportunity to hold, as Gülen argue, the reins of their fate in their own hands[24]. In this sort of political community, not only are differences appreciated, but more importantly they are nurtured, cultivated, and enabled to act and interact within the countless possibilities of actions facilitated in the interconnected globalizing world.

However, enhancing a rooted model of cosmopolitanism depends on the levels of awareness and consequently the efficiency of resistance against the dynamism of exclusion on the one hand, and the will of excluded identities for change on the other[25]. It should be noted here that since the form and the scope, as well as the directions through which the resistance is directed against the homogenizing forces of globalization, cannot simply be elaborated; it would not be plausible to simply recognize all types of resistance as the forces of the embedded depiction of cosmopolitanism. It is true that the resistance highlighted by fundamentalist movements or violent anti-capitalist activities, and more particularly those of violent Islamism and terrorism, cannot be considered as the voices of the embedded political community of mankind, because of the very fact that they are “the greatest blow to peace, democracy, and humanity”[26]. These types of resistance tend not to share the dialogical experience and communicative reason with others. Nor do they respect the principle of humanity as the canonical belief in the cosmopolitan community of mankind. Rather they are colored by backward-looking and non-emancipatory ideologies that crack the foundation of the political community. Gülen, then, rightly maintains that the violent behavior reflects a false narration of the Islamic faith due to the fact that it disregards the principle of humanity.

It should be difficult to reconcile with humanism the strange behavior of championing “pity and mercy” for those who are involved in anarchy and terror to demolish the unity of country, for those who have heartlessly murdered innocent people as a part of centuries-long activities that are aimed at destroying the welfare of nations, and even more horribly, for those who do this in the name of religious values, and those who recklessly accuse Islam of allowing terrorist attacks[27].

It follows from this particular relationship between globalization and cosmopolitanism that globalization gives way to the formation of infused horizon of cultural identities[28]. In fact, it is a possibility provided by means of communication to transfer into a global village of accelerated interactive relations, where we share a concern for human’s well-being. In the cosmopolitan world of cultural difference, we are bound together because we are different. The crucial idea in such a depiction of this rooted conception of cosmopolitanism, as Charles Taylor puts it, is that people are bonded together not in spite of, but because of their difference[29]. Accordingly, we are encouraged to acknowledge that cultural and identity differences form the constituting ingredients of a rooted global community. Within this perspective, cultural attitudes of societies matter because they are gradually and harmoniously bound together. Consequently, when we take a look at our life-world we see how different feelings, tastes, sentiments, and cultural identities endure eternally[30]. This assertion of global community, as Gülen argues, promises “a happier, more just and more compassionate place”;[31] that is to say a mutually trusting and secure place where different cultures engage in dialogue with others who aspire to share their own discourses of life.

The crucial insight into a rooted cosmopolitanism is that the discourse of cultural identity can no longer be dependent on the taken-for-granted assumptions of the national model of social relations. This model takes cultural identity as given and fixed, and it disregards the important context through which identities have formed and consequently behave differently. In times of flux when identity is moving away from the mere ‘being’ in geographical locations toward a state of ‘becoming’ across boundaries, there is a certain kind of creative achievement, and none of the assumptions of the national model of social relations and defined identities remain valid[32]. Indeed, in a globalizing world the most appropriate insight on cultural identity is the one that revolves around the question of what we might ‘become’ in terms of our identity; how we are represented, and how we relate and fit into the rest of the complex world. There is no wonder then that Gülen comprehends the implications of the complicated globalizing world and calls for a new construction of Turkish identity in which the main cells of national culture are being preserved while the “remaining parts are open to impulses resulting from new and contemporary changes”[33]. He is well aware of the fact that we are living in a world that is being re-defined and re-constructed in accordance with the globally interconnected and tied events. Hence, cultural identities can hardly be conceived in the previous ways. Under this scheme, the territorial-based narration of cultural identity comes to be obsolete. In truth, the state of flux questions the territorial assertion of the self and the older sense of belonging, and challenges the culture of the market place. Instead, a new social life appears that is marked by appreciation of diversity, or what I interpret as the ‘rooted cosmopolitan’ community of mankind. Gülen agrees with this point of view when he depicts the face of the ideal man saying that:

Indeed, all believers through the thoughts which follow in the depths of their identity and in accordance with the degree of their faith, become boundless within their bounds; even though they are bound by space and time, they become paragons of unrestricted beings, reaching the ranks of beings that are above and beyond the concerns of space, listening to the angels’ melodies[34].

Alternatively, a well-defined and re-constructed conception of cultural identity is to be the thrust of the interconnectedness of diverse identities and social relations, institutional networks, and transnational cultural stream. This concept transcends the global-local and/or us-them dichotomous narration of identity, and instead draws on the multiple patterns of identity construction and definition. This path to a definition of cultural identity signals an eventual emerging global demos; a ‘rooted cosmopolitan’ sense of a ‘we’ which seriously interrogates the older assertions of cultural identity. This sense derives partly from the global interconnectedness and demise of the territorialized model of social relations and identity definition, and partly from the raising levels of consciousness. But, more importantly, the crucial implication of such sense of a ‘we’ is that it reflects the importance of the process of globalization from within; a process through which we are being rediscovered by ourselves as the internalized global selves[35]. In this sense the identity, either individually or in group, is not defined in the abstract sense depicted in liberal cosmopolitanism perspective; an unencumbered self abstracted form the social context. Rather, it is a multi-dimensional agent who is constantly being constructed and reconstructed through its interaction with fellow agents within the social context. “People achieve a better existence by living within society and this requires that they adjust and limit their freedom according to the criteria of social life”[36]. This idea convinces us to acknowledge the multiple channels of interaction through which the socially derived global demos appear.

The sense of a ‘we’ — the global demos — binds us without being abstracted us from our cultural differences. In this sense, the global demos have influential political implications for the life-world. It inspires and mobilizes social movements and transnational civil society to challenge the old patterns of politics either nationally or internationally. By rendering the conception of political power into a more inscrutable and enigmatic sense, the global demos empowers civil society to challenge nondemocratic political systems in both national and international spheres. Having gradually been disembedded, the already well-bounded political unites, further embedding a global demos that crosses territorial boundaries. Consequently, a more heterogeneous life-world becomes visible; one that recognizes the existence of cultural differences as the building blocks of the global demos.

In a time which is “a period of interactive relations” and “nations and people are more in need of and interdependent on each other”[37], the sense of a ‘we’, prompts us toward new communicative directions in the life-world to know who the different members of this rooted cosmopolitan world are, and how to define our interrelationships in accordance with our distinctiveness. One of the crucial characteristic of the emerging global demos, as it is observed by appearance of anti-war transnational social movements for example, is the dissatisfaction of people within the existing mutual distrust, reciprocal accusation, and the patterns of interaction. Instead, there is an eagerness for learning between one another, and a mutual trust and promotion of inclusive policies through dialogue. To put it another way, the emerging global demos reflects an eagerness for deliberation over the critical importance of the ‘fusion of horizons’ of cultural identities through which the language of violence is replaced with a culture of dialogue and mutual learning and understanding.

II. Gülen and Shabestary on the Importance of Dialogue

Like a compass, dialogue directs citizens of the rooted cosmopolitan world toward mutual recognition of cultural identities and modes of peaceful interaction and coexistence. Through dialogue, the relationship between cultural identity and change, unity and plurality, and politics and agency is accommodated and directed toward a process of cross-cultural understanding. Dialogue, indeed, derives from the awareness, willingness, and openness of the global demos for mutual learning and reconciliation. It is, in turn, a mode of reciprocal recognition among different cultural identities over the critical importance of a shared horizon of meanings with no condition except the one that admits participatory parity among all dialogical participants. That is to say that the dialogical agents are committed to mutual recognition and cooperation among themselves for a rooted model of global community with no cultural, rational, geographical, and national restrictions; a commitment to understand and practice the political and ethical implications of unity within plurality; a cosmopolitan, but situated life-world for all.

Accordingly, the importance of dialogue in the evolution of a rooted frame of global community is undeniable. I suggest looking at such inalienability from the perspective of our two thinkers by referring to two categorically depicted aspects of such a rooted cosmopolitan community of mankind.

1. Gülen and Dialogue as the Prerequisite to be Human

Dialogue is more than communication or negotiation since the latter two are the modes of interchange between already depicted given identities, thus disregard the background in which those identities are formed through dialogue over the sense of being human. Dialogue, in the context used here, is a prerequisite for developing the sense of the selfhood; the sense of being human. Dialogue is, indeed, a framework for how we identify who we are, as human beings. Dialogue is indeed a path to discover our potential as humans, and develops and shares it within the social context with others who aspire to develop their own sense of being human. Therefore, the sense of being human and dialogue are mutually reinforced. The former forms our sense of selfhood, in the intimate sphere, and the latter develops this sense in the social sphere, where we are conferred our social identity. Dialogue then is imperative in defining of identity; a categorical imperative to gain the sense of personhood both in the authentic way of being human – the sense of the selfhood — and in the social depiction of it, where we share our sense of the selfhood with others through dialogical relations. More particularly, dialogue in the latter sense reflects the reasonable presumption that we tend to construct and share a horizon of social life, where all participate. Charles Taylor argues this is because we are dialogical selves. Since “the critical feature of our human life is fundamentally dialogical character”[38]. We tend to have our sense of the selfhood by sharing it with others who follow the same approach in understanding of who they are. Therefore, the dialogue never stops. It continues throughout the life with no pause to attain a backdrop of selfdefinition and self-realization. Without dialogue we cannot make a sense of our living.

This approach to dialogue meets the requirements of living in a rooted cosmopolitan world, where necessity of sustaining deep diversity requires dialogue over various conceptions of the good life among different people. Dialogue allows different others to understand one another, accommodate misperceptions, and approach a process of mutual learning, and ultimately, reciprocal recognition. Indeed, through dialogue different people remain respectful to the acts and thoughts of one another. Dialogue binds people together and, as Gülen puts it, enables them “to live harmoniously and to share, developing common projects. They struggle to replace the world ‘I’ with the word ‘we'”[39]. Gülen further draws on importance of dialogue when he laments that “if Ottoman tolerance existed today in the world, I believe there would be a very good basis for dialogue not only among Muslims but also humanity. In a world that is becoming more and more globalized, being open to dialogue is very important”[40]. In this assertion, he adroitly draws on the conception of ‘humanity’ in its rooted sense, because he sets tolerance — the appreciation of difference — among people of different cultures and their diversity as the prerequisite for dialogue. The portrayal of the people who are characterized by their different ideas and cultures is different from the vision of human beings who have been abstracted from their roots in the real world of diversity. Since the relationship between different peoples has been facilitated and accelerated by the process of globalization, the opportunity has been provided to them to stand in a dialogical position to know about one another and develop a common sense of human being. “In a world that is becoming more and more globalized, being open to dialogue is very important”[41].

Without dialogue over recognition of difference, no sense of being human can be developed, hence no response to question of ‘who we are’ can be given. We remain rootless caricatures at the superficial level of a meaningless life in which no dialogue over a life worthy of living takes place and no attempt is made to achieve a shared horizon of trust and confidence among different cultural identities. The Qur’an obviously confirms such interpretation of the importance dialogue over the appreciation of dialogue over mutual recognition[42]. Gülen draws on this highly appreciated Qur’anic value of dialogue as the substantive factor in depiction of the personhood, when he argues that true Muslim is a person who believes in the Islamist’s Ecumenical call for dialogue:

Fourteen centuries ago, Islam made the greatest ecumenical call the world has ever seen. The Qur’an calls the People of the Book (Christians and Jews primarily):

This call, coming in the ninth year of the Hijra, begins with the “la (no!)” in the statement of faith “La ilaha illa Allah (There is no god but God)”. More than a command to do something positive, it is a call not to do certain things, so that followers of the revealed religions could overcome their mutual separation. It represented the widest statement on which members of all religions could agree. In case this call was rejected, Muslims were to respond: Your religion is for you; my religion is for me (109.6) That is, if you do not accept this call, we have surrendered to God. We will continue on the path we have accepted and let you go on your own path[43].

Without the appreciation of difference and dialogue over its recognition, human values remain hollow since the admirable appreciation of the values needs a life of difference; an ethical life. This situated interpretation of values in ethical life of diverse people takes its roots from the appreciation of difference in Qur’an that “everyone acts according to his own disposition”[44], hence display his own character”. According to the Qur’an, therefore, nobody is to be forced to enter into Islamic faith. People are absolutely free in their disposition toward God: “There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct from error”[45]. Respecting people’s freedom of will is so important that even the Prophet has not been permitted to prevent them from their own authentic sense of being human: “The duty of the messenger is only to convey (the message)”[46]. A true Muslim then is the person who refrains from following one sided language of monologue, which equals rejection of the other’s identity, and instead respects the diverse view of different others and more importantly behaves with tolerance, soft speak, and love in order to pave the way of formation of the community of mankind. Gülen argues:

Those who consider themselves addressed by these verses, every guardian of love who dreams of becoming a special servant of God just because they are human beings, those who have declared their faith and thereby become Muslims and perform the mandated religious duties, must behave with tolerance and forbearance and expect nothing from the other party. They must have the approach of Yunus: not striking those who hit them, not replying in kind to those who curse them, and not holding any secret grudge against those who abuse them[47].

Dialogue, as the fundamental component in having the sense of being human, results in a colorful truth about the community of mankind. In this community dialogue is the instrument of love and love is a path way to true peace on earth. The true Muslim is the person who draws only on God’s blessing and mercy and withdraws from narrowmindedness in respecting of other’s distinct way of being human. This approach goes far away from the traditional scope of the idea of tolerance by appealing to the mere respect of different others. Rather, it takes dialogue as the true way of life ending in the safe heaven of an all-encompassing love that is to love all fellow human beings, even your enemy. Love defeats antagonism and turns your enemy into friendship and peace. Gülen says, “There is no weapon in the universe stronger than the weapons of love”[48]. Love derives from the free will of true Muslims who take a look at the world of creatures as a colored paradise of different but beautiful flowers with different shade and smell. A true Muslim confirms that we are all different persons, each of whom looks at our Lord differently, and hence no differences such as ethnicity, race, sex, culture and language should prevent us from loving one another: “God created humanity as noble beings, and everyone, to a certain degree, has a share in this nobility”[49]. God Almighty, Who is the most compassionate and the most merciful, has created us in different ethnic, language and cultural groups to stay in a dialogical relationship over understanding and recognition of our differences. If truth be told, Muslims are required to acknowledge that human beings are the mirrors of one another; hence they should try to understand and appreciate the riches hidden within every person. Understanding true dialogue removes the sources of misunderstanding and mistrust among different cultural identities, and instead spreads seeds of love and peace among them on earth. Gülen argues:

There is nothing more real or more lasting than love in any nation or society in this world. Wherever the sound of love, softer and warmer than a lullaby, is heard, all other voices, all instruments, are muted, and they all join together in a contemplation of silence with their most melodic strains[50].

Accordingly, the love-inspired dialogue confirms difference as the truth of existence. But more importantly, takes difference and its recognition as the true bedrock for cultivation of a peaceful spirit of social beings. Within this perspective, the acknowledgement of difference is the sources of the coherent social relations, and not any hypothetical contractarian account conceiving the social life as an aggregation of individuals agreed to pursue their own interests in light of the social contract. In other words, the social realm is formed because of the difference and struggle for its appreciation and recognition[51]. In fact, recognition of difference is an acknowledgment the fact that each person has his own personal attitude and own authentic path to a worthwhile personhood. In fact, we are independent selves insofar as we determine our sense of the selfhood authentically[52]. This sense makes us different from one another, but simultaneously bonds us together and enriches our sense of being human. In his account of tolerance and its importance for a peaceful life, Gülen shares with Taylor the idea that recognition of difference is the core idea in community of mankind:

Tolerance does not mean being influenced by others or joining them: it means accepting others as they are and knowing how to get along with them. No one has the right to say anything about this kind of tolerance; everyone in this country has his or her own point of view[53].

Correspondingly, the sense of a need to be together makes the lives of different people more meaningful. When we are associated with those peoples who follow their own paths to life, we enjoy our fully-fledged achievement and capacity. Living in difference — diversity — is like an orchestra; everyone plays a different instrument, but all in a harmonious and attractive way. It is like a symphony in which “we show compassion to all living beings, for this is a requirement of being human”, Unal and Williams argue[54]. Even self-understanding would be possible, insofar as, in spite of being different, we are bound together harmoniously[55]. Indeed, the coherent sense of being a person arises only when we respond to the existential truth that we, different persons, define ourselves in relation to others and by this communal tie we give meaning to our vocabulary of social existence. Gülen admits such assertion of acknowledgment of difference saying that:

Islamic thought sees each one of us as a different manifestation of a unique ore, as different aspects of one reality. Indeed, the people who have gathered around common points, such as the Oneness of God, the Prophet, and the religion resemble the limbs of a body. The hand does not need to compete with the foot, the tongue does not criticize the lips, the eye does not see the mistakes of the ears, the heart does not struggle with the mind[56].

Accordingly, dialogue turns into a new interpretive mode of social life; living together in line with the appreciation of the deep diversity. It is a path way in achieving the sense of being human, to love one another as different creatures of God, and an approach to a just social relations in which all different others are counted as human beings. Because of the very fact that we are different but equal creatures of God, nobody is permitted to set his/her vision of life as true and excludes the others’ belief as false. Nor any privilege is to be given to any particular person at the expense of disadvantaged others. Defending a deliberative conception of democracy in which difference is appreciated. Gülen argues that the true form of living together is the one which has been grounded based upon tolerance and recognition of difference. He says that “advocates of democracy should be able to accept even those who do not share their views, and they should open their hearts to others”[57]. We, no matte how different we might appear, are masters of the earth and the most honorable of all other creatures because we are humans. We are superior because we are all conferred humanity as a gift by God with no difference. Therefore, we secure this honor as long as we surrender to God: “Therefore remember Me, I will remember you”[58]. Otherwise, we drop into the vortex of the selfishness and hence we loose our honour.

In this vein, Gülen equals dialogue over recognition of difference as a mode of democratic life in which no prejudice is to be tolerated: “Democracy is a system that gives everyone who is under its wing the opportunity to live and express their own feelings and thoughts”[59]. Rather, everybody is included so long as the Islamic principles of equality, tolerance, and justice form their social beliefs. Gülen believes that this approach is compatible with Islamic faith in which all different people are respected:

A human being, be they man or woman, young or old, white or black, is respected, protected and inviolate. Their belongings cannot be taken away, nor can their chastity be touched. They cannot be driven out of their naïve land, and their independence cannot be denied. They cannot be prevented from living in accordance with their principles, either. Moreover, they are prohibited from committing such crimes against others as well. They do not have the right to inflict harm on this gift that is presented to them by God[60].

Accordingly, such account of dialogue is to be counted as a series of attempts made by Islamic thinkers to frame a rooted cosmopolitan vision of the world in which the voices of difference are being heard. Since in such vision of the world different others are included, we are admitted to take the dialogue over recognition of difference as the most important component of the political community of mankind. Such conception of community is depicted in Shabestary’s hermeneutical account of dialogue of God with man.

2. Dialogue in Hermeneutics of Shabestary

The most known figure in today’s Iranian new theology, Shabestary approaches the importance of dialogue through a humanist interpretation of religious faith and places it at the centre of modern individualism, democracy, and human rights. His goal is to highlight the humanist reading of Islam from within the Islamic tradition; a project similar to German theologians with whose works he became familiar during his eight years of residence in Hamburg as the spiritual leader of Imam Ali Mosque. He starts with the interpretation of the living Islamic faith to advocate the free act of conscious choice and commitment. For this reason, within his account, freedom of thought is an imperative for the living faith.

Drawing on free will, Shabestary argues that faith is a belief freely achieved through a relationship with God. It is neither a gift from God nor is fed by tradition. Rather, it is the consequence of one’s spiritual striving to know one’s God. It is achieved through the establishment of a vividly living relationship with God and is truly subject to the individual experience and understanding of anyone from the divine revelation. If truth be told, faith is achieved freely when the individual Muslim finds himself/herself honored to be the interlocutor of God. And it is this experience — to be the interlocutor of God — that is the core of the living faith[61]. Accordingly, true submission to religion depends on the individual’s striving to become the interlocutor of and hence the recipient of God’s words. The mere conviction and the knowledge of religious ideas are just the expressions of faith, not the true faith itself[62].

A true faith derives from acting from free will. True believers — the faithful persons – are those who lucidly and continually reflect whether their actions are done in accordance with faith or not. They are attentive of the necessity of the coincidence of their stands in social life with their spiritual experience of true faith. Since a true faith is achieved through a conscious decision and inner freedom, Muslims are those who incessantly transcend the established religious traditions for the purpose of gaining their faith through personal experience in the changeable condition of their life[63]. Accordingly, to act from a true faith — i.e. from the work of righteousness[64] — we need first of all to free ourselves from the obstacles that hiders truly achieved faith.

Shabestari’s approach to freely achieved faith reflects a self-critical and highly emancipatory aspiration with the concept of faith: “In order to achieve such awareness, one must seriously and openly come to terms with contemporary criticisms of religious thinking – whether coming from Muslim or non-Muslim quarters”[65]. A true faith in this sense empowers intellectual independence of Muslims and orients them toward a critique of power. However, Muslim intellectuals are advised to be vigilant and to do not be organized under political banners of whatever sort, since if their political movement fails, the whole intellectual background behind it becomes questionable[66]. He laments then why Muslim intellectuals in Iran today search for the questions of a true faith in reformist political language[67]. A true faith is achieved from the free standpoint of individuals and their innate struggle and not by virtue of their movement for a particular political discourse.

Resting on freedom of thought as the most important factor in achieving a true faith and righteous action, Shabestary argues that freedom of thought is to be interpreted in light of the changeable social context. Indeed, in order to be free persons, our thoughts should always be critically evaluated from within. This evaluation is possible when the believer consciously struggles to be the interlocutor of God. Indeed, the faithful person is a good listener of God’s words[68]. Otherwise, our faith turns into fanaticism, prejudice, and religious zeal. Once stopped in its internal self-evaluation, free thought as the prerequisite of a true faith turns into religious dogmatism and hence prone to selfannihilation and death, Shabestary argues[69]. But, self-evaluating thought as a priori condition for a true faith remains always alive since it reflects the individually experienced vivid relationship of a Muslim with God. In the Islamic theology the meaning of “submission to the divine will”, which is the basis of being Muslim, is not the submission to the ideas that formed in the past and continue in the future. Nor does it mean to follow blindly what is said as Islamic belief. Rather, a true faith is achieved through “submission to the institutional and genetic volition of God which is vivid and active in all ages”, Shabestary argues[70].

Within his perspective, faith is not the same as religious convictions derived from the current body of knowledge in Islamic societies, for example to believe that God has created the whole of existence. Nor is it like the intuitive truth or even philosophical achievements. Rather, it is the “experience of man’s innate thought”[71]. It, indeed, means to be released from dogma and prejudice; to be free from all fore-knowledge. It is achieved through our struggle to love God and become the beloved creature of God. To love God and to be loved by God gives us identity and hope and the sense of self-reliance and security. Faith then deserves to be offered by God “the Trust to the Heavens and the Earth and the Mountains”[72].

If the true faith is achieved through free experience of innate thoughts, then everybody is allowed to choose his/her own religion. Being free is a social right, and is part of human rights. In his defense of human rights, Shabestary argues that freedom of thought as an underlying idea in modern doctrine of human rights reflects a need to define the peaceful social relations; thus it takes its roots from the relationship among men and not from the relationship between man and God[73]. These are two different categories. The former is an issue of socially made truth. It is the product of modern times, while the latter is the question of submission to God. The latter is true, but it is irrelevant to human rights[74]. The idea of human rights advocates freedom of thought which is the precondition of having a true faith itself. Indeed, the truth behind the “freedom of thought, conscience and religion” and freedom to change religion or belief is to prevent any forceful imposition of religious belief to free human beings. Therefore, the non-religious language of the Universal Declarations of Human Rights does not reflect a position against God and religious thought. Nor does the Declaration connote a negative or positive religious tone. It is rather an expression of the importance of freedom of individuals. Hence, it is not a counter-religious declaration challenging the religious beliefs. The Universal Declaration truly reflects the Islamic principle that “There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the right path has become distinct from the wrong path”[75].

In the Muslims should Accept Human Rights, Shabestary further develops the idea that freedom of religion is the undeniable right of individuals. Hence, Muslims should accept it. He argues that everybody should enjoy freedom of thought in order to achieve a true faith. In other words, the true faith derives from individuals’ deep innate struggle and cannot be the question of exogenous factors forcing us to believe. Since the true faith drives from our free thought, it can never be the subject of dried religious formalism and dogmatism. Religious formalism is the impediment of a true faith[76]. More importantly, the forceful imposition of religious convictions to people is a threat, and worse than that, a violation of the dignity of a human being which has highly been recommended in the Qur’an. Since such dignity has fundamentally been confirmed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Muslims are recommended to accept this Declaration regardless of whether it has been developed from a secularist perspective or not. In an interview with Qantara he says that:

I always say that these ideas and standards that we need to take care of first are nothing other than universal human rights. We need, first of all, to put things right by means of justice and human rights. Societies are made up of Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists – all sorts of people. They need to find a way of living together before they need to know what is in the Koran. And the formula for living alongside one another can only be found in human rights[77].

In order to further encourage Muslims to accept the modern human rights, Shabestary distinguishes the eternal Islamic truths from the new social conceptions that are the products of modern times. He argues that these concepts cannot be contained in the Islamic law (Figh’h) and need particular interpretations that are beyond the context of the body of knowledge in Islamic society[78]. Indeed, he suggests separating religious values from the issues such as human rights and democracy. These issues are the fruits of the modern movement for human rights, and Qur’an and Sunna remain mute about them. It would hermeneutically be naïve and realistically unworkable then to try to frame these socially produced new issues within the taken-for-granted religious convictions. Instead, we should look at them from the perspective of the true faith and recommends freedom of thought and not through the lenses of formalism:

The meaning of perfection of religion (Ekmal-e-Din) is not that it contains everything under the sun, so that if we were unable to find a specific item in it, we could go off calling it imperfect. It is not perfection for religion to function as a substitute for science, technology, and human deliberation[79].

Accordingly, freedom of thought takes priority over the religious convictions. We are responsible Muslims as long as we enjoy freedom of thought in the establishing our political systems. This priority of political freedom over religious responsibility in community of believers should always be taken into consideration in all aspects of political life. Therefore, Shabestary argues that it is a wrong religious discourse by advocates of political Islam to urge people to follow the Islamic law (Figh’h). Within his perspective, giving priority to religious responsibility over freedom has provided many irresolvable problems for the society of believers[80]. Freedom of thought accounts for openness in both mind and heart of people to carefully listen to others and stay in a dialogical relationship over understanding of the true faith. Dialogue encourages people to transcend their own predispositions and move toward a wider horizon of understanding. From this perspective, dialogue means living faithfully; that is a life developed dialogically for deeper understanding of religious faith. Shabestary, then, suggests Muslims to extend beyond formalism and try for a critical re-reading of their beliefs on the one hand, and re-definition of their relationships with non-Muslims, on the other[81]. To cope with the requirements of modern world and addressing democratic appeals Muslims have an urgent and inalienable task. We should follow a dialogical relationship with others for the purpose of resolving the newly emerging social and political problems. But, more importantly, we should follow an interpretive approach in reading of our own beliefs in order to keep a vividly alive faith.

III. Concluding Remark

We are living in a culturally networked global village in which social relations extend beyond national assertion of identity. In the globalizing world of networks cultural issues and more importantly questions of identity turns into a rooted cosmopolitan mode indicating the emergence a new globally rooted demos. That is to say that by virtue of networking and a high level of awareness an unprecedented opportunity has provided for new forces of change to challenge the taken-for-granted foundations of political discourse, the oppressive frameworks, and social exclusion. If not critically analyzed and understood, such situation gives rise to cultural and identity collisions, and false hostility and widespread violence among nations.

Fethullah Gülen vigilantly draws on the importance of this critical condition and appeals for a dialogue among different civilizations. However, for him dialogue is not just a mere negotiation among different cultures. Rather, it is the prerequisite of a harmonious life in which people dialogue for their common projects, and hence become a globally rooted ‘we’. In this sense, dialogue is the pathway to love among peoples and the major source of social bonds and solidarity, because dialogue is an appeal to recognition of difference. Dialogue is a great source of inspiration for a truly loveinspired interchange among human beings, and thus is a response to misunderstanding and mistrust among different cultural identities. Indeed, dialogue, as Gülen argues, has its roots in hundreds of Qur’anic verses, hence is to be taken as the true method of social life[82].

Shabestary also appreciates the central importance of dialogue in mutual understanding and recognition. However, his account of dialogue is grounded on the reinforcing relationship of the true faith and freedom. He starts by analysis of freely achieved faith that deserves Muslims to be the interlocutor and the recipient of God’s words. Since the true faith is achieved through the individual innate struggle and not by religious conviction, no imposition of religious ideas to others is legitimate. By the same token, none of the appeals to Islamic law or the claims of the Islamists is to be taken as the issue of the true faith. He suggests dialogue to be embarked for having a vivid faith, on the one hand, and for re-definition of the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims, on the other. Both thinkers, in spite of belonging to two different traditions of Islamic thought, i.e. Sunnism and Shi’ism, enjoy the richness of the Islamic culture of tolerance, love and respect for expressed frequently in the Holy Qur’an. Both are dissidents and dissatisfied with narrowness of political Islam and its negative consequences for both the Islamic and the non-Islamic worlds. Also, both are the vanguards of a humanist interpretation of the Islamic faith and the precursors of a social movement for human rights and freedom. Gülen’s legacy is well developing in the United States, while Shabestary’s heritage has roots in Europe. There is, then, an urgent intellectual need to investigate how these two movements can complete one another, and how they can bring a new spirit in academic debates as well as civil society of peace-loving people.

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Footnote[1] Diogenes Laertius, Diogenes: Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Vol. 2, R.D. Hicks trans. (London: William Heinemann), p. 65.

[2] Martha Nussbaum, “Kant and Stoic Cosmopolitanism,” Journal of Political Philosophy 5, issue 1 (1997): 1-25. For a similar account see Harold Caparne Baldry, The Unity of Mankind in Greek Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965).

[3] Immanuel Kant, “Perpetual Peace,” in Perpetual Peace and Other Essay, Td Humphrey trans. (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1983).

[4] Charles Beitz, “Social and Cosmopolitan Liberalism,” International Affairs 75, no. 3 (1999): 519. Charles Beitz, “Social and Cosmopolitan Liberalism,” International Affairs 75, no. 3 (1999): 519.

[5] Thomas Pogge, “Cosmopolitanism and Sovereignty,” Ethics 103 (1992): 48-75.

[6] Fred Dallmayr, “Cosmopolitanism, Moral and Political,” Political Theory 31, no. 3 (June 2003): 421-28. Also see: Paul Hirst and Graham Thompson, Globalization in Question: the International Economy and the Possibilities of Governance (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press; Oxford, UK; Cambridge, MA, USA: Blackwell Publishers, 1996); Jan Aart Scholte, Globalization: A Critical Introduction (Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, UK: Macmillan Press; New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000).

[7] See for example Joseph Nye and J. Donahue ed., Governance in a Globalizing World (Washington, DC: Brookings Institutions Press, 2000); Robert Keohane and P. Hass and M. levy ed., Institutions of the Earth (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1993); and Michael Doyle, Ways of War and Peace (New York: W. W. Norton, 1997).

[8] Andrew Linklater, “Distant Suffering and Cosmopolitan Obligations,” International Politics 44 (2007): 19-36; William E. Connolly, “Speed, Concentric Cultures, and Cosmopolitanism,” Political Theory 28, no. 2 (2000): 596-618; and A. Tourraine, Can We Live Together? (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000).

[9] William Grinder, One World, Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997); David C. Korten, When Corporations Rule the World (West Hartford, Conn.: Kumarian Press, 1995).

[10] Michael Kearney, “The Local and Global: The Anthropology of Globalization and Transnationalization,” Annual Review of Anthropology, 24 (1995): 547-66; Saskia Sassen, The Mobility of Labor and Capital (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998); Saskia Sassen, Losing Control? Sovereignty in an Age of Globalization (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996).

[11] One of the best accounts of this sort is that of James N. Rosenau. Rosenau, who advances the idea that globalization reflects a mixture of the implications of integration and fragmentation in a time of turbulence or ‘fragmegration in the world. In this condition there is seen an endless series of tensions in which the forces pressing for greater globalization and those inducing greater localization interactively play themselves out. James N. Rosenau, “The Drama of Human Rights in a Turbulent world,” in Globalization and Human Rights, Alison Brysk ed. (Berkeley : University of California Press, 2002); James N. Rosenau, “Beyond Post-Internationalism,” in Pondering Post-internationalism: A Paradigm Shift for the Twenty-First Century, Heidi H. Hobbs ed. (Albany: State University of New York, 2000), p. 228; Rosenau, “New Dimensions of Security: The Interaction of Globalizing and Localizing Dynamics,” Security Dialogue 25 (September 1996): 255-82; James N. Rosenau, “The Challenges and Tensions of a Globalized World,” American Studies International 2 (2000); and James N. Rosenau, Distant Proximities: Dynamics Beyond Globalization (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003).

[12] Advocates of the ‘world system theory’ take globalization as the continuation of the old age capitalism with large access to the glob. In this Marxist-laden perspective globalization is, indeed, the expansion of the centerless capitalist system. See: Immanuel Wallerstein, “Globalization or the Age of Transition? A Long-Term View of the Trajectory of the World-System,” International Sociology 15, no. 2 (June 2000). Also Immanuel Wallerstein, “The Rise and the Future Demise of World-Systems Analysis,” Paper delivered at 91st Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, New York 16 (August 1996), available at:

[13] Samuel P. Huntington, The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991), pp. 76–7.

[14] See: Richard J. Barnet and John Cavanaugh, Global Dreams: Imperial Corporations and the New World Order (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994).

[15] For a full content of this account of globalization see Jan Aart Scholte, “Beyond the Buzzword: Towards a Critical Theory of Globalization,” in Globalization: Theory and Practice, Eleonore Kaufman and Gillian Young ed., (New York: Pinter, 1996); Jan Aart Scholte, “The Geography of Collective Identities in a Global Age,” Review of International Political Economy 3, no. 4 (Winter 1990): 577-593; Jan Aart Scholt, Globalization: A Critical Introduction (New York: St Martin’s Press, 2000); and Jan Aart Scholte, “Globalization: Prospects for a Paradigm Shift,” in M. Shaw ed., Politics and Globalization: Knowledge, Ethics, and Agency (London: Routledge, 1999).

[16] For a full account of this assertion see: Charles Taylor, “Alternative Future: Legitimacy, Identity and Alienation in Late Twentieth Century Canada,” in Constitutionalism, Citizenship and Society in Canada, A. Cairns and C. Williams ed. (Toronto University Press, 1985), pp. 183-229.

[17] William Sweet, Globalization, Philosophy and the Model of Ecumenism,” in Cultural Identity, Pluralism and Globalization, Volume II, John P. Hogan ed. (Washington DC: The Council for Research in Values and Philosophy, 2005), p. 415.

[18] See: Samuel Huntington, Clash of Civilizations (New York: Simon & Schuster, c1996); Benjamin Barber, Jihad versus Mc World (New York: Ballantine Books, 1995); Benjamin Barber, “Can Democracy Survive Globalization,” Government and Opposition 35, no. 3 (2000): 275-301.

[19] Fethullah Gülen, Toward a Global Civilization of Love and Tolerance (New Jersey: The Light Inc., 2004), 232.

[20] See Andrew Linklater, Transformation of Political Community: Ethical Foundations of Post-Westphalian Era (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1998). Also see David Held, “Cultural and Political Community: National, Global, and Cosmopolitan,” in Conceiving Cosmopolitanism, Steven Vertovec and Robin Cohen ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. 48-58.

[21] Gülen, Toward a Global Civilization of Love and Tolerance, p. 232.

[22] Some thinkers argue that a rooted approach to political community fits the requirement of a grass-root model of globalization or globalization from below. See Jeremy Brecher, Tim Costello & Brendan Smith, Globalization from Below: The Power of Solidarity (Cambridge, Mass.: South End Press, 2000); Fred Dallmayre, “Globalization from Below,” International Politics 36, no. 3 (September 1999); Allan Hunter, “Globalization from Below: Promises and Perils of the New Internationalism,” Social Policy 25, no. 4 (Summer 1995).

[23] Gülen, Toward a Global Civilization of Love and Tolerance, p. 232.

[24] Ibid., p. 222.

[25] See Ronal Robertson and H. Khondker, “Discourses of Globalization,” International Sociology 13 (1998): 25-50; Benjamin Barber, “Jihad versus McWorld,” The Atlantic 269 (1992); Peter Buchanan, The Great Betrayal: New American Sovereignty are being Sacrificed and Social Justice to the Gods of Political Economy (Boston: Little and Brown, 1998).

[26] Gülen, Toward a Global Civilization of Love and Tolerance, p. 261.

[27] Ibid., pp. 8-9.

[28] I borrowed the idea of the fusion of horizons from Charles Taylor’s reading of Gadamer who developed this idea in his hermeneutics. See for example: Charles Taylor, “Understanding the Other: A GadameriaVMiaelwpa osn, UC.o Anrcnespwtuaaldl Sacnhde mJeenss, “K ienr tGsahdcaemr eedr’.s ( CCeanmtubrryid: gEess, aMyAs :i nM HITo nPorre sosf , H2a0n0s2) G. e org Gadamer, J. n

[29] Charles Taylor, “Living with Difference,” in Debating Democracy’s Discontent: Essays on American Politics, Law, and Public Philosophy, Anita L. Allen and Milton C. Regan ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 214.

[30] I owe this account of recognition of difference as the cornerstone of the rooted conception of cosmopolitanism to Herderian inspiration of Taylor’s account of recognition of difference. See Johann Gottfried Herder, “Treaties on the Origin of the Language,” in Forster N. Michael ed., Herder Political Writings (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002). Also see Charles Taylor, “The Importance of Herder,’ in Charles Taylor, Philosophical Arguments (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995), pp. 79-99; Charles Taylor, “Democracy, Inclusive and Exclusive,” in Meaning and Modernity: Religion, Polity, and Self, Richard Madsen ed. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), pp. 181-194; and, Taylor, “Living with Difference,” op. cit., pp. 212-226.

[31] Gülen, op. cit., p. 231.

[32] For a full content of this account of cultural identity see Ulrich Beck, “The Cosmopolitan Perspective: Sociology of the Second Age of Modernity,” British Journal of Sociology 51, no. 1 (2000) and Stuart Hall, “Old and New Identities, Old and New Ethnicities,” in Culture, Globalization and the World-System Anthony D. King ed. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997)

[33] Daily Milliyet, August 12, 1997, quoted in Berrin Koyuncu Lorasdagi, “Globalization, Modernization, and Democratization in Turkey: The Fethullah Gülen Movement,” in E. Fuat Keyman, ed., Globalization, Alternative Modernities, and Democracy: Remaking Turkey (Lanham, MD.: Lexington Books, 2007), p. 160.

[34] Gülen, Toward a Global Civilization of Love and Tolerance, p. 96.

[35] Ulrich Beck, “Cosmopolitan Society and its Enemy,” Theory, Culture & Society 19, no. 1 (2002): 23.

[36] Gülen, Toward a Global Civilization of Love and Tolerance, p. 220.

[37] Gülen, Toward a Global Civilization of Love and Tolerance, p. 230

[38] Charles Taylor, “The Politics of Recognition,” in Philosophical Arguments (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995), p. 233.

[39] Fethullah Gülen, Toward a Global Civilization of Love and Tolerance (Somerset, New Jersey: The Light, Inc., 2004), p. 86.

[40] Cited in Ali Unal and Alphonse Williams, Advocate of Dialogue, Fethullah Gülen (Fairfax, VA: The Foundation, 2000), p. 56.

[41] Ibid.

[42] In chapter 49 verse no. 13, the Qur’an expresses the existence of difference as the necessity of the social life and for the goal of mutual understanding: “O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made `you nations and tribes that ye may know one another”. In chapter 16, verse no. 125, the Qur’an recommends Muslims to stay in a dialogue over the appreciation and recognition of difference: “Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation, and reason with them in the better way. Lo! thy Lord is Best Aware of him who strayeth from His way, and He is Best Aware of those who go aright”.


[44] The Holy Qur’an, 17.84: “Say: “Everyone acts according to his own disposition: But your Lord knows best who it is that is best guided on the Way”.

[45] The Holy Qur’an: 2.256. Also see the Qur’an: 39.14-15; 10.99; and 18.29.

[46] The Holy Qur’an: 5.99. Also see the Qur’an: 2.272; 3.20; 5.91; 16.35; 24.54; 36.17; and 42.6.


[48] Cited in Zeki Saritoprak and Sidney Griffith, “Fethullah Gulen and the People of the Book: A Voice from Turkey for Interfaith Dialogue,” The Muslim World 95 (July 2005): 334.

[49] Gülen, Toward a Global Civilization of Love and Tolerance, p. 60.


[51] There are many verses in Qur’an recommending Muslims to recognize the existing differences as the solid path way to a peaceful life for all. See for example the Holy Qur’an: 3.64; 19.46; and 4.90.

[52] Charles Taylor, The Ethics of Authenticity (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991), p. 27.

[53] Gülen, Toward a Global Civilization of Love and Tolerance, p. 42.

[54] Unal and Williams, op. cit., p. 253.

[55] Taylor, Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), p. 15.


[57] Gülen, Toward a Global Civilization of Love and Tolerance, p. 44.

[58] The Qur’an: 2.152.

[59] Gülen, Toward a Global Civilization of Love and Tolerance, p. 44.

[60] Ibid., p. 114.

[61] Mohammad Mojtahed Shabestary, A Critique of the Formal Reading of Religion: Crises, Challenges and Solutions (Tehran: Tarh-e-no Publications, 2000), pp. 323-25.

[62] The Qur’anic evidence of this claim is the verse number 5 from Chapter 62 (Al-Jumua) stating that blind faith is like carrying the books in shoulders without understanding their contents and messages: The similitude of those who were charged with the (obligations of the) Mosaic Law, but who subsequently failed in those (obligations), is that of a donkey which carries huge tomes (but understands them not).

[63] Mohammad Mojtahed Shabestary, Faith and Freedom (Tehran: Tarh-e-no Publications, 2000), pp. 33-36.

[64] The Qur’an: 19.96, “On those who believe and work deeds of righteousness will the All-merciful bestow love”.

[65] Quoted in Qantara: Dialogue with the Islamic World at:

[66] Interview with Mohammad Mojtahed Shabestari: “Islam Is a Religion, Not a Political Agenda”, at:

[67] Mohammad Mojtahed Shabestary, “Interview: Not Religious Intellectuals, rather Believer Intellectuals,” Shahrvand Emroos, September 29th, 2007.

[68] Shabestary draws on verse 83 of Chapter five as one of the Qura’nic evidence in accordance to which true Muslims are true listeners: And when they listen to the revelation received by the Messenger, thou wilt see their eyes overflowing with tears, for they recognise the truth: they pray: “Our Lord! we believe; write us down among the witnesses. Quoted in: Shabestary, A Critique of the Formal Reading of Religion, p. 328.

[69] Shabestary, Faith and Freedom, p. 25.

[70] Mohammad Mojtahed Shabestary, “Being a Muslim in the Modern World,” at:

[71] Mohammad Mojtahed Shabestary, “Being a Muslim in the Modern World,” at:

[72] Qur’an: 33.72.

[73] Shabestary, A Critique of the Formal Reading of Religion, p. 226.

[74] Shabestary, A Critique of the Formal Reading of Religion, p. 253.

[75] The Qur’an: 2,256.

[76] Shabestary, A Critique of the Formal Reading of Religion, pp. 284 -288.

[77] Interview with Mohammad Mojtahed Shabestari (Part 2), “Muslims Can Have Democracy without Having to Leave Islam,” in Qantara, op. cit, at:

[78] Shabestary, A Critique of the Formal Reading of Religion, pp. 50-53; 161-183; and 367-380.

[79] Mohammad Mojtahed Shabestary, Hermeneutic, the Scripture and Tradition (Tehran: Tarh-e-no, 1998), p. 232.

[80] Shabestary, A Critique of the Formal Reading of Religion, p. 262.

[81] Shabestary, Faith and Freedom, pp. 173-174.

[82] Gülen, Toward a Global Civilization of Love and Tolerance, pp. 74-76.

by Dr. Ali Ünsal