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The Journey of the Word to the Printing Press: Traces of Mr. Fethullah Gülen’s Mission

Enes Ergene once made an observation about Mr. Fethullah Gülen: “Mr. Fethullah Gülen’s mission is based on words.”

You can also call it a conversation instead of words. Osman Şimşek told me in 2004-2005, “Mr. Fethullah Gülen spends around 9 hours a day, whether with his students or with visiting guests, actively engaging in conversation.”

From my own witnessing between 1985 and 1988, I know that he spent not 9 but sometimes up to 12 hours a day with us and the guests.

One of the products of this mission is a meeting of words with printing ink. The 20th book in the Kırık Testi (Broken Pitcher) series has been published. These are from the conversations in America that began in 1999. The conversations from the years before 1999, during Mr. Fethullah Gülen’s time in Turkey, are well known, with series like “Fasıldan Fasıla” and “Prizma” meeting the readers. When it comes to mosque sermons and conversations, they have found their place on the shelves with many books extending from “Kitap ve Sünnet Perspektifinden Kader”, (Fate from the Perspective of the Book and Sunnah) to “İrşad Ekseni, (Axis of Guidance) from “İnancın Gölgesi (The Shadow of Belief).”

Yes, I call it a blessed life. I want to draw your attention to the term “life,” not “existence.” If you insist on using the term “existence,” then I can say that it contains five or ten lives within one. Indeed, Mr. Fethullah Gülen has lived the lives of not just five or ten but many more people with the books he wrote, the conversations turned into books, and the oral discussions that were not compiled into books.

Let me add something that many may have overlooked over the years: If you were to collect the lines he wrote in the book signatures over the years, you would find the equivalent of 2-3 volumes of Sonsuz Nur, (Infinite Light).

Anyway, let me return to this book. In the “Introduction” bearing the signature of the publishing house, some main topics from the book are mentioned, and it is assumed that the reader establishes a mental connection between these headings and the content, and it continues as follows:

“In addition to these topics, the work you are holding has taken into account the lessons to be learned from the story of Cain and Abel, emphasized the work that needs to be done in the field of jurisprudence in today’s world, emphasized the duties we must fulfill towards the Messenger of Allah as the ummah of Muhammad, explained what the essence of ease in religion means, clarified that criticisms of Muslims forming a neighborhood pressure on others are baseless and unnecessary, discussed the requirements of brotherhood in religion, warned Muslims against the love of the world, and provided guidance on how to act in the face of the oppression and persecution witnessed in today’s world.”

As I read the book, I looked for a conversation that specifically addressed the topic given the name “Işık-Karanlık Devr-i Daimi” (Light-Dark Permanent Era). I couldn’t find it. My expectation was this: Mr. Fethullah Gülen explained the wisdom of the Ali ‘Imran verse 140, which can be called the Divine purpose of the defeat experienced after the Uhud battle, which pointed to both the laws of the universe and the Divine purpose behind the defeat, to the Sahaba who were disheartened after the Uhud battle. I was looking for a conversation that interpreted this verse along with its context before and after, and I thought this conversation had been given the name of the book.

In that verse, Allah says: “If a wound should touch you – there has already touched the [opposing] people a wound similar to it. And these days [of varying conditions] We alternate among the people so that Allah may make evident those who believe and [may] take to Himself from among you martyrs – and Allah does not like the wrongdoers.”

But I couldn’t find it. Then I changed my perspective and adopted a metaphorical approach. That’s when I found it, and I saw that almost the entire book talks about a permanent era. It deals with almost every issue in individual and social life, sometimes with examples from life, sometimes by taking a journey into the inner world of human beings, and sometimes by delving into the veins of society from this perspective. Therefore, my recommendation is to read this book with a focus on this perspective.

I also have a criticism for the publishing house and the editorial team. It has come up many times before: the inclusion of the dates of the conversations. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been done this time either. However, one of the most important elements that empowers words is not only who said those words but also when and under what circumstances those words were spoken. We are all children of our time. Of course, we can utter profound words in our time, especially someone like Mr. Fethullah Gülen, who does this in many conversations and writings. However, balance is necessary. If we say that he does this in every conversation and every writing, we make a mistake.

Personally, I believe that including the dates of the conversations would trigger the reader’s curiosity to better understand the content. They would ask questions like, “What was the atmosphere like at that time? What had happened that he said or had to say this?” and I believe this would make the content more comprehensible. Let me conclude by saying, think about future generations.

In my opinion, this is a beautiful work, despite this shortcoming. I thank the publishing house very much for bringing us thoughts and interpretations that we could have reached with great effort by digging through the oral discussions.

But the greatest thanks, of course, go to Mr. Fethullah Gülen. May Allah grant you a long life. May He grant you health, well-being, and blessings, and may He grant us the opportunity to listen to, watch, and read many more conversations like these.

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

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