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European Muslims, Civility and Public Life: Perspectives on and From the Gülen Movement

Thu, 31 May 2012 17:30 in Discussion Forums

Where: Regent’s Park College, Oxford University, Pusey St, Oxford, OX1 2LB

Speakers: Prof Paul Weller (Speaker), University of Derby
Prof Nicholas Wood (Chair), Director of the Centre for Christianity and Culture
Dr Martin Whittingham (Panellist), Oxford University
Ziya Meral (Panellist), Cambridge University

Abstract

Paul Weller will provide an overview of key themes drawn from within the chapters of his new co-edited (together with Ihsan Yilmaz of Fatih University, Istanbul) book on European Muslims, Civility and Public Life: Perspectives on and From the Gülen Movement, that were written by a range of authors, including Professor Weller himself.

The book, overall, deals with the challenges and opportunities faced by Muslims and the wider society in Europe following the Madrid train bombings of 2004 and the London Transport attacks of 2005. Paul Weller's talk will highlight how the book's chapters explore the challenges to the concept and practice of civility in public life within a European context, together with the evidence presented and arguments made by the authors about how far the thought and practice of the global movement inspired by the Turkish Muslim scholar Fethullah Gülen can make a contribution in these matters.

Professor Weller's overview of the book will touch on key perspectives from Fethullah Gülen on Muslim identity and public life in Europe; on civility, co-existence and integration; on the movement's development in a variety of different European contexts, especially in the Netherlands, France, Germany and Northern Ireland, and on the movement's role in challenging terrorism. He will also provide some insight into the position adopted by Fethullah Gülen in relation to Turkey's possible future membership of the European Union.

Biography of Paul Weller

Paul Weller (Cert Ed, MA, MPhil, PhD, DLitt) is Professor of Inter-Religious Relations at the University of Derby and Head of Research and Commercial Development in its Faculty of Education, Health and Sciences; Visiting Fellow in the Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture at Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford; and a Trustee of the Multi-Faith Centre at the University of Derby. His current research interests involve issues in the relationships between religion, state and society, and religion or belief, discrimination and equal opportunities, in relation to which he is heading up a national research project within the Religion and Society Research Programme on "Religion and Belief, Discrimination and Equality in England and Wales: Theory, Policy and Practice (2000-2010):" (see http://www.derby.ac.uk/religion-and-society).

His recent publications include:

  • Time for a Change: Reconfiguring Religion, State and Society ( London: T. & T. Clark, 2005)
  • Religious Diversity in the UK: Contours and Issues (London: Continuum, 2008)
  • A Mirror for our Times: 'The Rushdie Affair and the Future of Multiculturalism (London: Continuum, 2009)
  • He has previously also published on "Fethullah Gülen, Religions, Globalisation and Dialogue", in R. Hunt and Y. Aslandoğan (eds.), Muslim Citizens of the Globalized World: Contributions of the Gülen Movement (Somerset, NJ: The Light Inc. and IID Press, 2006).

Biography of Nicholas Wood

Dean, Director of the Centre for Christianity and Culture; Director of the MTh; Tutorial Fellow in Religion and Culture

The Revd Nicholas J. Wood BA (Manchester), MA (London), D.Phil (Oxford), PGCE (Warwick) taught Religious Studies and Sociology in secondary schools in Coventry and South London before training for the Baptist Ministry at Regent’s Park College, Oxford, where he completed his doctoral research in mission and inter-religious relations. He was a local Baptist Minister in two Oxfordshire churches for eleven years, where he also served as the Chair of Oxford Council of Churches and as President and subsequently Moderator of the local Baptist Association. He was until recently the Chair of Churches Together in Oxfordshire.

Since May 2000 he has been Fellow and Tutor in Religion and Culture at Regent’s Park College and Director of the Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture. As only the second director of this important initiative he has been responsible for the organization of termly lecture series and occasional study days and conferences in the area of theology and culture and arranging associated events and publications.

Within the University of Oxford he has been a member of the Faculty of Theology since 1995 and has played a major role in the implementation and development of the M.Th in Applied Theology Degree. He has served on the M.Th Studies Committee since its inception and has twice been its chairperson. In 2005 he was appointed by the Faculty to the part-time role of M.Th Co-ordinator. He also contributes to the teaching of both the M.Th and B.Th degrees within the OPTET colleges. He is an active member of the Study of Religions teachers’ group within the Faculty and has contributed to the development of the area within Oxford, speaking at study days within the Faculty and to staff and students studying the subject at A Level.

He is Chair of the Joppa Group, the Baptist Inter-Faith Network, and contributed to and edited the Joppa publication ‘A Baptist Perspective on Inter-Faith Dialogue’ (1992). Among other publications, he contributed a chapter Inculturating Christianity in Postmodern Britain to ‘Faith in the Centre’ (ed P.S. Fiddes, Oxford 2001), and gave the Whitley Lectures (Manchester, Oxford, London and Cardiff) for 2002 on ‘Confessing Christ in a Plural World’ and has twice delivered the McCandless Lecture at Georgetown College, Kentucky, ‘Faith in the Future? Secularization and Society in Europe and the USA’ (2004) and ‘Playing with God? Rediscovering a Theology of Play’ (2008). He has contributed several articles to the forthcoming ‘Dictionary of European Baptist Life and Thought’. His research interests include the Study of Religion, especially Hinduism; Interfaith Relations, especially development of a Christian Theology of Religion; Christology; Contextualisation, Culture and Missiology.

He has served on both the Baptist Union Council and the BMS General Committee and is currently a member of the council of the Southern Counties Baptist Association. He has been active in inter-faith relations for over fifteen years in local inter-faith initiatives, in national arenas such as the Churches’ Commission for Inter-Faith Relations of CTBI and now as a President of the Christian Muslim Forum under the patronage of the Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr Rowan Williams).

He has preached and lectured in Eastern Europe, the USA and India. He has been a speaker on several occasions at the annual Baptist Assembly and has given training sessions for both BUGB and BMS in the fields of mission and inter-faith relations. He currently teaches Contextual Theology, Study of Religion, Theology of Mission and Inter-Faith Relations for Regent’s Park College, for the University of Oxford, and for Oxford Centre for Youth Ministry.

Biography of Martin Whittingham

Martin Whittingham has degrees in English Literature and Christian Theology, and a doctorate in Islamic Studies. He has taught at undergraduate and post-graduate level at the University of Edinburgh, and is now a supernumerary research fellow and tutor at Regent's Park College, Oxford. He has been involved in Christian ministry amongst international students in the U.K., and has taught Islam and Muslim-Christian interaction in a number of Christian colleges. He is the author of 'Al-Ghazālī and the Qur’ān' (London: Routledge, 2007 (Hardback), 2011 (Paperback)).

Biography of Ziya Meral

He is a London based Turkish researcher, analyst and writer. He holds a 1st Class BA Hons from Brunel University in London, MDiv from International School of Theology in the Philippines and MSc in Sociology from the London School of Economics. He has undertaken short-term studies and research in a wide range of countries, including Iran, Israel, China, Canada, USA and Jordan. He is a PhD candidate in Politics at the University of Cambridge.

He is a Research Associate at the Foreign Policy Centre. During 2010-2011, he was a Joseph Crapa Fellow at the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in Washington DC, conducting research on ethno-religious violence with a focus on Nigeria and Egypt.

He has published opinion editorials and academic essays on Turkish and Middle Eastern politics and foreign policy, religion, human rights, philosophy, social theory, comparative literature and theology.

He worked as a human rights advocate with a focus on religious freedom in the Middle East and North Africa, ran advocacy campaigns and lobbied various governments on individual cases and thematic issues. He delivered talks and lectures in leading academic institutions and conferences around the world, spoke at briefings and consultancies at the UK House of Commons and House of Lords and the U.S. Congress.

He is a frequent commentator on the Middle East issues in international and British media, including live interviews on Al Jazeera and BBC World TV programs such as World News Today with Kirsty Lang and Zeinab Badawi, and GMT with George Alagiah; BBC World Service radio programs including Europe Today, World Have Your Say and Reporting Religion; BBC Radio's Jeremy Vine Show, the Today Programme and various other international broadcasts such as Australian Broadcasting Corporation's National Radio, Vatican Radio and Radio New Zealand. His personal journey was featured on BBC's popular TV program, Songs of Praise.

Note

The book will be made available for purchase at the event from reduced fee. Professor Paul Weller will be signing copies of his book following the event.

Book Launch: European Muslims, Civility and Public Life

Photos

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