December 4, 2012

Taipei conference to explore Islamic social movement

An international conference to be held in Taipei next weekend aims to explore the impact of an Islamic scholar's thoughts and approaches to education, dialogue, peace and charity work, organizers said Monday.

Fethullah Gulen
Fethullah Gulen
The conference, slated to take place Dec. 8-9, will focus on the impact of the Hizmet (the Turkish word for "service") Movement, a civic movement initiated by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen in the late 1960s to address problems of educational system in the world.

Scholars from Taiwan and abroad will also discuss the movement's contribution to democracy, religious peace and interfaith and intercultural dialogue, and compare the thoughts of Gulen with Chinese Confucian thinking.

Gulen, a scholar, educator and author, has millions of followers, mostly Turkish, around the world, said the Formosa Institute, which is co-organizing the conference with the Taiwan Association of Islamic Studies.

The Hizmet (Gulen) Movement involved a few university students and small-business owners when it was first initiated. Its first project was to build dormitories for students studying away from their hometowns and to fund their tuition and living expenses, the institute said.

From 1983, volunteers of the movement began building schools in Turkey and other countries and so far, over 1,000 schools have been built in some 140 countries, said the institute, which follows the teachings of Gulen.

The movement expanded into the ex-Soviet republics in Central Asia with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1994, and from 1997, began advocating interreligious and intercultural dialogue, as well as humanitarian aid, it said.

Charities such as "Helping Hands" and "Kimse Yok Mu" (Is Anybody There) were established to bring aid to needy people around the world, it said.

Kimse Yok Mu, for example, has raised funds and has built some 20 schools for victims of the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia, flooding in Bangladesh and earthquakes in Pakistan, Peru and Haiti, it added.

Gulen's thoughts also inspired the founding of Zaman newspaper, the largest circulating daily in Turkey, the weekly magazine Aksiyon and Turkey's Cihan News Agency, which is active in more than 50 countries, the institute said.

The conference, held under the banner "Hizmet Movement and the Thoughts and Teachings of Fethullah Gulen: Contributions to Multiculturalism and Global Peace," will take place at National Taiwan University's College of Social Sciences.

Published on Focus Taiwan News Channel, 03 December 2012, Monday

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