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“Implications of Global Rise of Democracy for Today from a Rumi Perspective” by Dr Ori Soltes

Dr Ori Soltes

Part 2 – 9:25 – 14:30


Like ibn-Arabi, Rumi lived during the period when Christians and Muslims are slaughtering each other in the era known as the Crusades. It`s an era when within the Muslim and within the Christian worlds people are slaughtering each other over religious issues. And like ibn-Arabi, Rumi is both an intense and unequivocal Muslim, a Sufi but also a universalist, someone who recognizes that there are infinite paths to the one God, that those paths are as diverse as humanity is and as the universe is.


So I said, I wanted to talk about five things this evening. The first was just a brief comment about mysticism and the desire to be in contact with the mysterion, to be filled with God, and the paradox of being both intensely what you are, a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew…whatever, and yet universalist because to be otherwise is to be too preoccupied with one`s own ego.


And secondly, to speak about very briefly of ibn-Arabi as an example of that way of thinking. And thirdly, to think of Rumi as an even better known example of one who thinks along those sorts of lines. The fourth issue, as it were, that I would bring up of course, is a contemporary, heir to these traditions and heir to the tradition of ibn-Arabi and Rumi, as well as an heir to the tradition of Socrates and Plato, as well as an heir to the tradition of Einstein as well an an heir to the tradition of Nursi. And the man whom I speak of course is Fethullah Gulen, who emulates this model of seeking oneness with God by seeking oneness with all of humanity because as Gulen says love of humanity is love of God, love of God is love of humanity. And Gulen demands from those who follow him, that they be tolerant of all humanity. As he puts it: ”have hearts wide like the ocean and to seek to become more perfect human beings.” He writes, and now I am quoting from Gulen: ”those who do not embrace all of humankind, with tolerance and forgiveness, have lost their worthiness to receive forgiveness and parson, those who curse will be cursed, those who beat will be beaten, if true Muslims observe such Qur`anic principles as the following, and were to go on their way and tolerate curses deep in their breasts, then others would appear to implement the justice of destiny on those who curse us.”


Muslim is a term that Gulen defines as someone who conforms to his description of being tolerant. His view of Islam simply is of a faith that exemplifies the principles that he embeds in the word tolerance. Being tolerant he writes, does not mean forgoing the tradition that comes from our religion or our nation or our history, in his terms, it`s not to be un-Muslim or un-Turkish or not to be un-Turkic, tolerance is something that has always existed. In the name of dialogue we can unite on common ground and shake hands with all. This is because the things that God gives most value to are human beings, love and compassion.


Gulen`s understanding of tolerance is expressed in a number of ways in his essay, “Love of humankind”, he summarizes in the broadest possible terms what this is about. He connects love with humanity for an even more encompassing love, love of the planet, in all of its components, not just humanity but the plants and the animals that are around us and he reminds the reader of the place of Rumi as a key foundation stone in such thinking.

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