Imam Fethullah Gulen
I try really hard not to be political.
Around my kids, I try to encourage them to think for themselves, and not to mimic someone else’s opinions.
And although sometimes the rhetoric can be difficult to stomach (and it’s completely coincidental this thought comes to mind as the RNC and DNC conventions are going on), I am very grateful for the democratic process at large. We are fortunate in the US to have a voice in governing ourselves – sometimes it is entirely true that the shrillest voices are heard over the most reasoned, still if we do not like the people voted into power we can always vote them out next election cycle.
This is also a blessing for which many, many Muslims around the world are thankful. “Having a voice in your own governance is truly a gift from Allah,” an instructor from one of my Islamic theology classes told me. “The Prophet taught that consensus is the best way to make decisions in a community, and democracy gives us that opportunity.”
Whether or not I agree with the person speaking, whatever he or she has to say, I am always very grateful I live in a country where they have the right to say it – and that I have the right to say my piece, too. And then we can vote on it and live with, enjoy, or endure the results of our voting until the next election!
I was excited as Turkey revamped their government and constitution years ago, securing their right to self-governance. I have been very concerned at the actions of their president as he veered away from the Turkish constitution (setting up his on extra-constitutional “courts” and judges, declaring illegality through fiat rather than the rule of law, and more).
And with his reactions to the badly reasoned, poorly planned, and failed coup recently, the president of Turkey has placed himself soundly with some very bad company. He has trampled the constitution of Turkey, and is holding the US ransom in the fight against ISIS for all the world, in his efforts to punish one man. A man the Turkish president blames for the failed coup, but a man who has spent every moment of his adult life in inviting people to support the rule of law, exercise their democratic rights, and in all situations to act peaceably, lawfully, and with respect for authority.
He is a man the US House Committee on Foreign Relations considers possibly the most important moderate Islamic voice in the international fight against ISIS and the terror that group incites.
His name is Fethullah Gulen. A man of peace and learning.
And this is his reaction to the Turkish president’s accusations – “Government should be won through a process of free and fair elections, not force. I pray to God for Turkey, for Turkish citizens, and for all those currently in Turkey that this situation is resolved peacefully and quickly.”
Not the sentiments of a coup mastermind, but a God-loving man of peace.
In this country, he deserves a voice too.