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Defining tolerance and tolerant according to Gulen

In a compilation book of his essays, perspectives and opinions, “The Necessity of Interfaith Dialogue”, Fethullah Gulen puts emphasis on respecting human values even vis-à-vis those who perform acts that violate those values, and on never ceasing to ally one`s self with justice: “Our tolerance should be so broad that we can close our eyes to others` faults, show respect for different ideas, and forgive everything that is forgivable. Even with our inalienable rights are violated, we should respect human values and try to establish justice…”

Gulen`s ultimate source for this statement comes from the Qur`an itself (64-16), which reads as: “If you behave tolerantly, overlook, and forgive (their faults)…”

According to Dr. Soltes in “Embrace the World”, in the context in which Gulen uses the term, tolerant/tolerance, its Turkish equivalent offers a more positive nuance, so that we are dealing with a level-field intention, more equivalent to embrace. Here, Gulen is referring to the full acceptance, and love, of diversely configured humanity.

In addition, Dr. Soltes clarifies that, Gulen intends the term to be understood in opposition to the term “intolerant”, so that it does not merely stand on its own as a concept but is specifically intended to be the anti-concept to intolerance.

In summary, Gulen`s intentions through the use of this word are broad and even-looking rather than narrow and downward-looking and intended to be understood in opposition to those who are not only intolerant but who speak loudly and act forcefully, even violently, on behalf of non- tolerance.