Hizmet has adopted an approach of values rather
than identities and slogans. And it invites people to come to those values
rather than to identities, because identities will create conflict My name is Inamul Haq, and, as you can see
from my physical features, I’m from South Asia, specifically from the country of Pakistan. That is where I was born and raised. I received my education in various religious
institutions, at the University of Karachi and at the International Islamic University
in Islamabad. I came to the United Stated in 1982 and I
taught courses at Benedictine, at UIC, at Loyola. And, currently, my main job is at Elmhurst
College, where I teach courses on Islam. I’m also Muslim co-chaplain. I also work with Niebuhr Center for Faith
and Action, which is our institute for social work and interfaith work. Hizmet has adopted an approach of values rather than identities and slogans. So, Hizmet is not saying that; here is only
one group, if you join them then it is Islam, otherwise, it’s not. That is not what they are doing. What they’re asking to every Muslim that;
why don’t you go back to the core of your belief? Why won’t you look at the values
of Islam and stick to them? So, I think this discreet style of Hizmet
is very good, and it makes them more flexible, and it creates possibility for them to work
in a very different and sometimes very difficult environment because they are not generating
conflict. They’re saying; these are the values, these
are the goals, and do you agree with us or not. And it invites people to come to those values
rather than to identities, because identities will create conflict; values will create relationships. Nobody can disagree with honesty, integrity,
truth, knowledge, education, generosity, social justice, interfaith peace and harmony and
relationships. Everybody can see the good in these values. But if I just shout, ‘Islam, Islam, Islam!
’ then he will say; I am Christian, I have nothing to do with you. Another will say; I am Hindu, I have nothing
to do with you. So, it will necessarily create walls and boundaries. The movement has capacity to build relationships
across the board, and that is very important. I gave you the example that now Pakistan has—I
don’t know how many, 25 or some—Pak-Turk schools, and they are highly popular in the
country. I don’t see any other Muslim organization
in the world who could come to Pakistan and build a school and that school should attract
people. I don’t see that. There are 22 Arab countries, the whole Middle
East, we do not find one single group there, Muslim party, group, ideological movement
that they could come to Pakistan and build a school which should attract. Now, that is not criticizing them… not criticizing
them but showing the limitation of certain thought, that the thought is so parochial
that it is virtually impossible for that thought to go in a foreign and different culture and
operate there because it is so colloquial And I think that Hizmet has this capacity. It can go in a very foreign culture, in a
totally different culture, sometimes a culture which is not Islamic, sometimes a culture
which is hostile—and they do feel hostility sometimes—but still they may build something
and say, this is our school; this is our interfaith activity; this is our social justice, social
welfare network. I think it is also based on Fethullah Gulen
and Hizmet’s long-term vision, because school really represents long-term vision, because
whatever you are doing through school will not be seen today, it will be seen after a
long time. A true education; you are cultivating the
future, and I think that the benefit of these schools is being felt now and it will be felt
in the future more. When you have a generation of young people
who will come out of these schools and these people have learned, first of all, their capacity
in modern sciences is not weak so they harbor no inferiority complex because they are well
versed in modern sciences, modern technologies. And they have inculcated the values. So the way they will connect with other people,
the way they will look at the problems of the world is going to be very different than
we who went to parochial schools, German schools… understood issues always with a narrow, limited
sense. So, I think that you are creating a global
elite here. You’re really creating a global elite who
will play an important role in tomorrow’s world. If you look at the United States and the Muslim
world in general, you will see that Muslims have come to interfaith pretty much after
9/11, before 9/11 activities extremely small and limited. So, it was more of a survival instinct and
social response to a tragedy rather than a very well-considered philosophy and policy
for the long term. Hizmet and Fethullah Gulen realized this much
earlier, and they realized its value in the context of globalization. In the modern world, we cannot afford to be ignorant of the other; we need to know our neighbor. We have to exist with this neighbor; we have
to have a relationship with this neighbor. And I think that, as I said, it goes back
to the way Fethullah Gulen looks at the core of religion. He really did not look towards the religion
as identity politics but he looked at religion in terms of universal moral values. We have Muslim community here for the past
40 years, and there are very strong communities and mosques, that they are nicely built proper
mosques in the Chicago area and some of them are 20-25 years old. But when Niagara came about 10 years ago,
the way Niagara quickly connected with everybody in the city amazed all of us, because these
people did not need to start from zero as we were starting. They already had maybe 20 years of experience
and teaching and writing coming from their leader versus a teaching and writing which
was always telling them that Christians are enemy and Jews are enemy and this is false
and that is wrong. And here, another teaching was coming to these
people that you are here to love the whole humanity, to serve the whole humanity and
build the relationships. So, the thing is that the reason you succeeded
is because you did not have psychological impediments which other people had. To take care of those who are destitute is
one of the religious and moral obligations, and I think it is this perspective from which
Hizmet is operating in various parts of the world. By doing that, they’re bringing out the
humane aspect of Islam also, that if there is Islam which comes in the news because of
violence and terrorist activity, there is also another Islam of generosity and humanity
and compassion which people are seeing is working and operating through these charitable
institutions when you reach out to the people and help them. So, I think it’s very very commendable job. We are living in a world which is really broken
and we are facing two huge problems; one is natural catastrophes which are coming because
of the ecological crisis which we have, and the second is human catastrophes: the wars,
the civil wars, the sectarian conflicts, ethnic conflicts which are also creating huge population
of refugees, orphans, widows… So, to take care of them is an obligation for everyone. And I think Hizmet’s work is commended in
that respect. I’m not very familiar with the Turkish political
scene because I don’t study it or observe it very closely but whatever little bit comes
out… you know, it shows a typical pattern of human capacity to go wrong, human folly
which always comes, which comes with success, which comes with power. Like there is a poor man he becomes rich you see as soon as he becomes rich how his attitudes have changed, and now he is
starting to insult everyone who was yesterday’s friend, his relative…
So, these are actually human follies which we always encounter. And, as I said that if man is not vigilant
and very careful, he becomes the victim of that. And I find this criticism very… I should
say extremely unjust and mean-spirited, coming from very mean sentiments of human self, that
you… when you have problems with, even if you have problems with your friends, you don’t
act in a way as they are your enemies and ignore everything, that how in the past you
worked together and you cooperated with each other. But, again, this is the problem of power. This is the problem of power… that when
some people get the power, it’s hard for them to keep the balance. The Muslim world is so deprived of good leaders
and strong leaders that sometimes, if some leader comes, people tend to give him an unconditional
obedience and appreciation. We saw that in the case of Gamal Nasser, we
saw that in the case of Saddam Hussain, we saw that in the case of Kaddafi also in the
70s and 80s. And what happens that, because of this hunger
for a strong leader, sometimes the societies fail to see that the ultimate strength of
society is not in the person but in the institutions. And it’s very dangerous… I mean, Hitler
was a popular leader… And I hope and pray that Hizmet manages it
with wisdom and with care so that this enormous good which has been achieved and built, that
it is not damaged. What Hizmet is doing here is, in my opinion,
is very beautiful. What they’re doing, that they’re not creating
the authority of clergy but they’re saying, what are the moral principles on which Islam
wants to build a society and community? I have experienced Fethullah Gulen of an
imam deeply committed to his faith, deeply committed Muslim that is helping the faith
be real in this 21 century