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HomeExpertsChallenging Misconceptions: The Truth About Fethullah Gülen's Identity and Beliefs

Challenging Misconceptions: The Truth About Fethullah Gülen’s Identity and Beliefs

For a long time, I’ve been wanting to read a book thinking, ‘I wonder what they’ve written’, and finally, I got my hands on it. As you know, where we are, it’s not always possible to immediately access books published in Turkey…

The name of the book is ‘The Belief in the Awaited Savior’. It’s from a two-day symposium. All participants are theology professors. They’ve thoroughly examined a subject of Islam that has indeed been misunderstood, through papers and discussions prepared in fields like exegesis, hadith, kalam, history of sects, and Islamic history. This comprehensive study is what drove me to read the book.

However… While I gained a lot from the book academically, there were so many moments when I wished I hadn’t read it! I said “This can’t be true!” several times.

I asked in astonishment and horror, “How can a person be so ideologically blind? How can someone be so cowardly?” Especially since they are lecturers at theology faculties, shouldn’t they have a critical and questioning approach to the events of July 15, which took place on a ground where they themselves live as mature and grown individuals?

Alas! It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack!

I hear you asking, “What’s the topic?”

The subject is the claim that Fethullah Gülen Hocaefendi has been called ‘Imam of the Universe, Mahdi, Messiah’, or that he sees himself as such. Some presenters claim, without citing any sources, that Mr. Gulen himself referred to himself as “Imam of the Universe, Mahdi, Messiah”. This is more than a claim; it’s a blatant slander and lie, especially coming from people who haven’t met Hocaefendi even once, never attended his talks, don’t have any personal acquaintance or human relations with him, and haven’t read any of his books or listened to his sermons beyond their research for their presentation.

If those individuals can show a single line of writing or a sentence from Mr. Gulen’s own mouth or pen where he refers to himself as “Imam of the Universe, Mahdi, Messiah”, I am ready to apologize to them and, within scholarly limits, criticize Hocaefendi. I say, bring it on…

I mentioned ‘ideological blindness’ and ‘fear’ above. Ideological blindness can exist in a person, but it should not lead to slandering another. A person can feel fear. They might genuinely fear due to the autocratic environment they live in, the state’s disproportionate use of power against anyone opposed to their ideology, ending their jobs, putting them in prisons, but this fear should not necessitate lying about another person. I believe that if they do not seek forgiveness from Hocaefendi in this worldly life, they will face a harsh reckoning in the Supreme Court of Allah.

To those who ask how I can be so sure; I have 40 years of association with him. When I started studying at Hocaefendi’s feet, it was the year 1984. To this day, I have never heard him utter such a phrase, neither directly nor indirectly.

On the contrary, I know he didn’t speak to two people who called themselves the Mahdi for a full six months.

Not only he but no one else spoke. There was an outright boycott. When he heard that people were calling him ‘Messiah’, he got angrier than I had ever seen and explained why that approach was wrong with evidence.

Claiming to be the Messiah is disbelief! And in his writings too. It might be a long quote, but it needs to be read patiently. Look what he says: “….Or does that person really think he is ‘assigned’? If he thinks so and means Mahdi by it, that’s a delusion. If he’s claiming Messiahship, that’s disbelief….

On the other hand, even if he doesn’t believe that, but tolerates the good opinions of those around him, their nonsense, and remains silent against those claims, he is also silent against disbelief and misguidance. To say about such a person, using a phrase derived from the sayings of our Prophet, ‘a mute devil’ would be appropriate. If people around someone are calling him ‘Messiah’, and he knows it but remains silent and doesn’t warn them against this misguidance, then he is a mute devil. If he accepts that claim, he himself is an infidel. If he roams around claiming to be the Mahdi, then he is a pitiful person led astray. It’s impossible for a Muslim to accept such claims. (…)

I’m deliberately not providing sources. In an era where access to information is so easy, those people, enslaved by their ideological blindness and fears, might take the trouble to spare a couple of minutes and find the written source.

Actually, they should have done this before writing those papers, before making those slanderous accusations, but anyway, better late than never.”

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Dr. Ahmet Kurucan is a an author and scholar focusing on Islamic Studies and Law.

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