Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen has unequivocally rejected terrorist attacks and bombings committed in the name of Islam, adding that a terrorist cannot be branded a real Muslim Today`s Zaman reported.
In a speech he delivered to his students at his house in Pennsylvania, Gulen spoke at length about attacks on behalf of Islam, stressing that a real Muslim could never commit a terrorist attack. His speech was published on Thursday on herkul.org, a website that frequently broadcasts his messages.
Gulen's remarks came shortly after a deadly shooting and hostage crisis in a Nairobi mall in which more than 60 people were killed. This week has been particularly bloody across the Middle East, with church and mosque bombings in Iraq and Pakistan killing scores of civilians.
"The most brutal scenes are at play in the name of Islam in a wide geography from Syria to Pakistan and Kenya," Gulen recalled, noting that perpetrators bomb mosques and churches, slitting throats after alleging that the Quran, holy book of Muslims, orders it. Gulen said the picture in the Middle East is also a shame for Muslims and that it stains the face of Islam.
Gulen, who is commonly known as Hojaefendi by his followers, said the terrorist attacks attributed to Muslims are sometimes being undertaken by what he called "raw souls" who fail to fathom Islam with its depth, sometimes by extreme provocation of feelings of young men, sometimes by people disguised as Muslims and sometimes by criminals under the influence of drugs.
Gulen stated that everything is being codified in Islam during both times of peace and war. He said while individuals cannot declare war by themselves and decide to kill a person during the peace time, those during a hot war also cannot kill women, children or the elderly. According to Islam, he said people also absolutely cannot attack houses of worship of others even during war. "Considering all these things, it is never possible to justify suicide attacks, suicide bombers or similar terrorist attacks," he underlined.
Gulen said the Prophet Muhammad tolerated exceptionally harsh torture during his 13-year life in Mecca and that he only prayed for those who stoned him to find the right path. He said the Prophet Muhammad never resorted to violence despite all the oppression Muslims suffered and that the battles of Badr, Uhud and Kandaq were only defensive in nature.
The Islamic scholar, who is well-known for his inspirational speeches on interfaith dialogue, said the Prophet Muhammad did his best to solve issues without shedding blood, breaking hearts or causing the enmity to unfold. He said his way of settling issues transformed sworn enemies into his companions, citing Ikrimah ibn Abi Jahl, a companion of the Prophet and a leading Islamic commander, who was initially one of the chief opponents to the Prophet Muhammad even during the conquest of Mecca.
Gulen also cited early Islamic scholar Abdullah ibn Abbas as saying that those who unfairly kill an innocent human will stay in hell forever and said terrorism is a crime the holy Quran threatens with the punishment of hell.
"Suicide [bombers] would go to hell forever and they will be called to account for innocent people they killed," Gulen added.
Saying that conflicts of interest, party and clique rivalry, anti-democratic implementations and human rights abuses in the Islamic geography have resulted in many "dissatisfied groups," Gulen said some of these groups are ignorant enough to be fooled by "certain services" and use them for their goals.
Gulen said he doesn't see violence perpetrated in the name of Islam as one-sided, also blaming Muslims for the degradation of values which are then being used by others for terrorism purposes.
Gulen said lack of spiritual and fundamental humanitarian values are at the root of ignorance that leads to terrorism and that some youth are being manipulated and exploited to "be the actors of scenarios written by others."
He also urged those who have a representative position to be cautious in their actions and speeches and that calling on people to destroy churches means inviting others to destroy mosques and bomb mosque attendants.
"What you sow is what you reap," Gulen said. "People should sow good things."
Gulen pointed to what he described as "world paranoia" in reference to Islamophobia, and said it has been renewed due to recent terrorist attacks. In a moment of self-criticism, Gulen said Muslims also have made mistakes causing the spread of this problem. Saying that acknowledging these mistakes and rectifying them will play a very important role in solving the problems, Gulen recalled the mass deportation of Armenians from eastern Turkey during World War I as an example.
Gulen cited a story of Caliph Umar bin Khattab, who asked a patriarch in Jerusalem to show him a place to perform his prayer. When the pastor told him he could pray anywhere in the church, Caliph Umar rejected this and preferred to pray outside the church. After finishing his prayer, Umar told patriarch that he deliberately avoided praying in the church because other Muslims may follow the suit and transform the church into a mosque.
"This was us," Gulen highlighted. "Either from inside or outside, some spoiled us, our genes, they changed us, they made us savages." Gulen recalled famous remarks he made earlier -- a terrorist cannot be a Muslim and a Muslim cannot be a terrorist -- and said it is impossible for a Muslim who has fully perceived and digested Islam become a terrorist and that real Muslims would never intentionally commit an act of terror and a terrorist cannot be considered a real Muslim.
"Can't a terrorist come out of Muslims?" Gulen asked. "There could be [one] but they would lose characteristics of a Muslim; they cannot be called a healthy Muslim," Gulen said in response to his own question.
He said even a war has its own rules and that one cannot fight against those who don't fight. Whenever the Prophet Muhammad prepared his troops for a defensive war, Gulen said, he ordered them not to do anything to those who took refuge in houses of worship, or to women and children.
He said it is impossible to reconcile the rules of the Prophet Muhammad with the acts of terrorists.