March 23, 2013

Indians gather around “Infinite Light”

The Messenger of God: Muhammad by Fethullah Gulen
Gulen's book has been
translated into many languages
On February 15, the award ceremony of “Infinite Light” contest organized by Islamic Educational, Social and Cultural Foundation brought together diverse ethnic and religious groups of India. A total of 15,000 dollars was awarded to top 20 winners of the contest attended by 110 thousand people initially having read the book “Infinite Light” by Fethullah Gulen.

Besides the prominent opinion leaders of India, Indian Minister of Minority Affairs K. Rahman Khan and Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Zoroastrian and Sikh leaders attended the ceremony held at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. The common message in all the statements made by the faith leaders was that Prophet Muhammad spoke the language of love for the liberation of humanity and that Islam is not a religion of violence. In their remarks, the leaders underscored that the provocations that sparked in Muslim world upon an insulting movie attack on the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) last year cannot be attributed to the entire Muslim world. Their consensus was that Prophet Muhammad is a role model to the entire humanity.

Fethullah Gulen called for a peaceful response, criticizing the violent reactions of Muslims to the insulting movie. In response to Gulen’s call which prescribes a better understanding of Prophet Muhammad’s life by the youth as a prerequisite, leading Indian scholars having examined Gulen’s book pioneered “Infinite Light” contest. The book was translated into Urdu and Indian languages in advance thanks to the contest. Thousands sweated out the preliminary steps of the contest hosted by the most prestigious universities of India. The jury alike consisted of leading Islamic scholars of India.

The award ceremony started out with a Qur’an recitation by Hafiz Muhammad Serafettin on March 15, in the capital New Delhi. Next was the Indian leader Swami Agnivesh who said, “The heinous movie attack aimed to provoke the ignorant to resort to violence in return and to taint the name of Islam. Fethullah Gulen’s immediate press release upon the incident inspired Muslims. Indian Muslims- as they are supposed to do- pleased everyone by organizing such an event. The fact that both Muslims and other faith believers attended the contest indicates that Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) message is read accurately. The Zoroastrian faith leader Homi Dalla stated that “It is admirable that our Muslim brothers are following a non-violent protest method as they read Gulen’s message accurately.”

A message by Gulen was also read aloud at the event. His message briefly reads, “I would like to wholeheartedly congratulate the admirable initiative carried out by the esteemed scholars and intellectuals of such a big country as India. These great people have always resembled the stars in the sky of the prosperous country India. There has been no field in which an Indian scholar didn’t excell. Such initiatives to convey the message of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) might be a mere drop in the ocean or a beam from the sun. However, every effort following his footsteps is meritorious.”

The secretary of the organizing committee Dr. Muhammad Fakruddin, drawing the attentions to the significance of bringing diverse faith leaders around a table, said “We are honored by Fethullah Gulen’s message which added even more to our happiness. The whole contest process proved us that the youth is eager to understand and learn more about our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). They have strived to achieve that too. We as Indian Muslims will hopefully continue with producing TV series, documentaries and to enlighten the youth.”

Turkish Ambassador to New Delhi Burak Akcapar said that “We have been indebted to Indian Muslims since past. We need to pay it through such organizations. It is crucial to encourage them to read and educate through projects. With such a contest, Indian Muslims proved that there are ways to protest without resorting to violence. I would like to congratulate the organizers on that.”

Whole family participation in contest

An engineer Ragip Ikbal, the top place winner awarded 1,000 dollars, stated that “I have read numerous books on our Prophet Muhammad’s life. However, “Infinite Light” by Gulen practically takes us to our Prophet’s time. Its detailed and simple narration enables us to better understand his life. I got the first place but I believe the best award is to be able to personally understand him first and then spread his name to others as well. I am thankful to those who gave us this opportunity.” Another winner Syed Muhammad Mahmood who participated in the contest with his wife and got the 9th place said, “My wife and I prepared for the exam together. We sometimes reviewed the past questions. But above all, we could learn about our Prophet’s life better. What we are awarded here is a worldly gain but to know him better is the most rewarding.” His wife Fariha Afreen similarly commented, “Happily we could learn his life better. We could witness his relations with his wives, children and grandchildren. We are so thankful to the author Fethullah Gulen for that.”

The contest broadcast from India to 52 countries

In addition to a group of journalists from Turkey, international media representatives also followed the event closely. The event was broadcast globally to 52 countries by an Indian channel. Meanwhile some TV channels launched TV program and documentary projects about the contest covered by many media outlets. The organizer Indian committee aims to hold similar contests on other books by Gulen in the coming years.

One of the event’s guests from Turkey a retired preacher Mustafa Ozcan noted that the idea to hold such a contest is exemplary for the whole world. He went on to say that Fethullah Gulen explains the legacy the prophet Muhammad left for the whole world.

Published [in Turkish] on Cihan News Agency, 16 March 2013, Saturday

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