LONDON – 09th March 2017
On International Women’s Day, 8th March 2017, Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen broadcast a video message on women and International Women’s Day. Below is a summary and response to the salient points made in the interview.
The key points in his video message are:
- Women should be able take any role and work in any desired profession and take part in every aspect of society.
- From the Islamic faith perspective, there is no obstacle preventing women from participating in any aspect of social life. She can assume any role she wishes including roles of President and Chief of General Staff.
- A global effort needs to be exerted promoting women’s rights in particular through the lens’ of faith traditions. Worldwide conferences and interfaith symposiums can be the catalyst to raising awareness and change.
- Promotion of equal rights and women’s rights needs to be embedded as a mindset and internalised from a very early age. Desired attitudes on women’s rights can only be achieved through education and through its integration into the school curricula from as early as nursery education through to secondary education.
- It is essential that women receive an education that puts her on a par with her male counterparts and family members. Rumi has a beautiful saying: “Not the ones speaking the same language, but the ones sharing the same feeling understand each other.”
Our interpretation of what this means:
Gülen does not speak about topical issues very often, however this was much needed. The message contains strong points about achieving women’s rights and equality from the perspective of the Islamic tradition. It also encourages the Hizmet movement to become more proactive in this sensitive topic.
Dr Ismail Mesut Sezgin, Executive Director of CHS said:
“The video message is timely and important. Gülen didn’t only celebrate the importance of the topic but also brought the issue back to its original theme; the rights of women. He in fact reminded us of the role Hazrati Aisha played as Staff General, which is often ignored by many Muslim scholars when it comes to addressing women’s rights.
I find his message particularly important coming from an Islamic scholar at a time when we see huge violations of women’s rights across the Muslim world. However, I am expecting him to lead the way within the wider Muslim community by encouraging the implementation of those thoughts into practice as well. There are many women active within the Hizmet movement, yet very few in leadership roles and that requires an active intervention if Gülen means what he says on this topic.”
Notes to Editors
About the Gülen-inspired Hizmet movement:
Fethullah Gulen is a Turkish Islamic scholar and the initiator of a global civil society grass roots movement originating out of Turkey and now active in over 160 countries, generally referred to as the Gulen or the Hizmet movement. Hizmet (literally, ‘service’) focuses on education, dialogue and relief work and is connected by the shared ideals and principles of its participants. A preacher since 14 and author to over 60 books, his contemporaries consider Gülen a significant scholar focused on social action and practical impact. The movement is particularly noteworthy because many of its participants are motivated by their Islamic faith with an inclusive mode of practice that is deeply respectful of diversity.
About Centre for Hizmet Studies:
London-based and founded in 2014, the Centre for Hizmet Studies provides access to reliable information and resources for serious study of Hizmet. The Centre aims to facilitate, as well as present, critical analysis of Hizmet for both academic and popular audiences. Its activities include research, resource development, online support, discussion forums and print publication.
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