Turkish Muslim scholar, opinion leader and peace activist, Fethullah Gülen, was awarded an honorary doctorate by Leeds Metropolitan University for his contribution to education, peace making and intercultural dialogue on 15th July 2010 at the University's Summer Graduation celebrations.
Fethullah Gülen, who topped the July 2008 Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines' poll of 100 hundred most influential public intellectuals, has initiated and inspired a worldwide civil society movement to invest in nondenominational education and intercultural dialogue which aims to contribute towards durable peace and greater understanding. Loosely connected via shared ideals and principles, the movement is now active across the world through schools, universities, dialogue centres and other charitable organisations.
A prolific scholar, Fethullah Gülen has developed a readership and the movement now attracts participants from among those of other backgrounds, faiths or no faith, demonstrating that his teachings and the movement's works are received as universally inspiring and cut across all faiths and cultures.
After stating that "the modern world needs the Gülen movement", internationally renowned John L. Esposito, professor of Georgetown University, praised the movement for its educational activities "What impresses me most about this movement is the methods it follows in education. Gülen schools around the world offer first-class education. We see the impact of these schools not only in Turkey, but also from Central Asia to Europe and the United States."
A preacher since fourteen, Fethullah Gülen has authored over 60 books and is a significant Islamic scholar. Paul Weller, professor of Inter-Religious Relations at the University of Derby and Visiting Fellow at Oxford University dedicated his most recent book 'A Mirror for our Times' (Continuum 2009) to Fethullah Gülen saying: "Gülen does not teach a "liberal" or "modernist" version of Islam. Rather, his teaching offers a robust renewal of Islam that is engaged with the contemporary world. It is rooted in a deep knowledge of authentically Islamic sources."
Fethullah Gülen teaches that we are human first, Muslim or of any other religion and culture next. A supporter of democracy, diversity, equal access to human rights, freedom of belief for all, loyalty to the law of the land and the non-instrumentalisation of religion in politics, Gülen was one of the first Muslim scholars to publicly condemn the attacks of 9/11 and 7/7 claiming that "No Muslim can be a terrorist and no terrorist a Muslim".
Professor Elspeth Jones, International Dean at Leeds Metropolitan University said, "Gulen's conciliatory approach originally motivated by faith, yet geared to serving all people regardless of faith, is both uncommon and refreshing." She quoted Professor Greg Barton as saying, "his example is one that speaks loudly not just to the Muslim world, but also to the West."
Ozcan Keles, Executive Director of the Dialogue Society charity, accepted the honorary doctorate on behalf of Fethullah Gülen. He said: "Our government is now encouraging the notion of 'Big Society' and social responsibility. Fethullah Gülen has been putting this into practice for over forty years and at a transnational level. If we are serious about encouraging individuals and communities to work together then there is something for all of us to learn from Fethullah Gülen's discourse and example."