In recent times, many countries in the predominantly Muslim world moved into a time of promise for transition and of opening to democratic development, of which the so-called Arab Spring formed a part. Despite the recent reversals of these processes in Egypt and the ongoing tragedy of Syria – and perhaps even more so by way of contrast to these, notwithstanding the recent civil unrest in Turkey itself – there has been a developing interest in the “Turkish model” of transition from authoritarianism to democracy.
As a leading movement in contemporary Turkey with a universal educational and inter-faith agenda, the Gülen movement aims to promote creative and positive relations between the West and the Muslim world and to articulate a critically constructive position on such issues as democracy, multi-culturalism, globalisation, and interfaith dialogue in the context of secular modernity.
The Muslim World and Politics in Transition includes chapters written by international scholars with expertise in relation to the contexts that it addresses. It discusses how the Gülen movement has positioned itself and has sought to contribute within societies – including the movement’s home country of Turkey – in which Muslims are in the majority and Islam forms a major part of the cultural, religious and historical inheritance.
An introductory overview of the book’s chapters and themes will be provided by one of its co-editors, Paul Weller, Professor of Inter-Religious Relations at the University of Derby, leading into discussions with respondents to the book as well as wider participants in the event.
Biography of Paul Weller
Paul Weller is Professor of Inter-Religious Relations at the University of Derby, where he is Head of Research and Commercial Development in the Faculty of Education, Health and Sciences. He is a Visiting Fellow in the Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture at Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford and a founder and Trustee of the Multi-Faith Centre at the University of Derby (http:// www.multifaithcentre.org). He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Dialogue Society and a Trustee of the Interreligiöse Arbeitsstelle in Germany (http://www. interrel.de). He was a founder member of the Joppa Group of Baptist Christians engaged in inter-faith dialogue and is currently a member of the Baptist Union of Great Britain’s Inter-Faith Working Group. On a European level he has been a consultant to Belieforama (http://www.belieforama.eu), a community of practice based around the development of a prize-winning training programme in religious diversity and anti-discrimination.
Biography of Alison Scott-Baumann
Prof Alison Scott-Baumann is a senior researcher in the University of Derby Centre for Society, Religion and Belief. Alison is an experienced teacher, doctoral supervisor and examiner. She is also Visiting Research Fellow at Lancaster University and a member of the Fonds Ricoeur Conseil Scientifique. She works on two interrelated and also distinct research strands: philosophy and social justice, both of which have recently been recognized and rewarded by world class research grants (Leverhulme and ESRC). She currently holds a Leverhulme Emeritus Research Fellowship, to complete archive based research on Paul Ricoeur’s negation papers in Paris. She also applies philosophy to social justice issues, and has developed, over fifteen years, research and practical support to improve collaborative partnerships between Muslim colleges and universities. This has been recognised by a recent Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) award to a colleague and herself. In such a conflicted field, the philosophy of Paul Ricoeur is invaluable for challenging preconceptions and conducting research that is ethically sound at the intersection between faith and secularism.