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Belıevers as They Stand Before God

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The Challenge of Peaceful Coexıstence

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ISSUE 83

SEPTEMBER • OCTOBER 2011

The Spırıt of Norway

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A MAGAZINE OF SCIENTIFIC AND SPIRITUAL THOUGHT Rush to stop tears, Transform weeping to laughter, Moaning to praise, and storms of fire to breezes of pleasure.

9/11

A DEcade to learn from, decades to come In peace September / October 2011

The Fountain Magazine

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TABLE OF CONTENTS ///// The Rt. Rev. John Bryson Chane

The End of Fear, the Beginning of Understanding Robert A. Pape

9/11: Before and After Ahmet Kurucan

Masallah Katharine Branning

Does the Qur’an Sanction War? Eren Tatari

Jihad Amy Wilson

The Art of Living Together Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos

Rocks or Rainbows: Lessons for Interreligious Dialogue Frances M. Leap

The Challenge of Peaceful Coexistence Jill Carroll

Geography of Friendship: Two Poems and Some Thoughts Sumeyra Tosun & Kelli Angelone

America’s Potential for Peace Fatma Yilmaz

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Emerald Hills of the Heart Sabr (Patience) Book Review Prayer and Healing in Islam Mahshid Turner

Q&A Divine Support and Ensuring Its Continuation

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ISSUE SEPTEMBER • OCTOBER 2011

The Spirit of Norway Dr. Gunnar Stålsett

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An Opportunity to Heal and Make Whole

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COVER

Lead Article

Believers as They Stand Before God M. Fethullah Gülen

SCIENCE

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Environment Drinking Water from the Sea

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Botany The Life and Journey of a Leaf

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See-Think-Believe It’s Us Peter, Your Blood Vessels

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Kamil Ezgin

Sebnem Unlu

Irfan Yilmaz

Science Square 1. Epidermal electronics 2. Searching memory engines 3. Lasers come to life 4. The smallest farmers of the world

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EDITORIAL /////

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A DECADE TO REMEMBER, DECADES TO COME IN PEACE ho would not prefer to remember the turn of the millennium with a hopeful memory, such as the dream below: At the turn of the millennium, a delegation from Iraq comes to the World Trade Center in New York to strike a deal with their American partners for an emergency relief organization for the famine in Africa. On the itinerary is paying a courtesy visit to the President in return for his celebrating the new coalition government in Iraq after the recent elections. They will also attend an interfaith gathering to pray with members of different religions for lasting peace and prosperity for the entire world. It did not happen like that. And we have been doomed to reflect over and over again for a decade on why and how the 9/11 attacks happened. Before the year 2000, Y2K seemed like a would-be doomsday; thankfully it was not, but it was regretfully replaced by terrorism and war. As many contractions of anger, pain, and revenge as we have suffered, the past decade also laid before us opportunities to learn about the “other.” No less intense than the destructive plots and crimes breathlessly aspiring for a “clash of civilizations” have been the efforts for peaceful coexistence in dialogue. Perhaps unprecedented at this scale in the history of humankind, many devotees of dialogue from different cultures and religions have dared to commit themselves to overcome all prejudices and psychological boundaries in order to sit around the same table and respect one another. This edition brings to your desk special coverage of the decade after 9/11. You will read striking memories and analyses from Branning and Kurucan, whose words help us find our own perspectives. Bishop Chane of America and Bishop Guntar of Norway—the most recent victim of brutal terrorism—are emphasizing the fact that religions were hijacked at 9/11 and in Norway ten years later. Tatari and Wilson explore Islam, the most defamed and misrepresented religion, vis-à-vis terrorism and war, which are often wrongfully attributed to it. Does the Qur’an sanction war, and how should we interpret certain verses that sound as if it does? What is the truth about jihad, is it really holy war? The Fountain also features in this issue contributions expressing our need to promote dialogue for peaceful coexistence. Dr. Leap shares with us her positive engagement in dialogue with other religions. Bishop Demetrios reminds us of the good example of reconciliation between the Turkish and Greek communities in the U.S. Dr. Carroll is rightfully bringing in questions to ponder over: Can we revive historical incidents of dialogue, and how can we adapt them today? Are religions tolerant enough to respect other religions? Are we personally ready to embrace others as they are? Tosun and Angelone reveal a sincere friendship in poetry that cuts across wide distances and differences. Can America inspire peace and freedom after 9/11? Fatma Yilmaz believes it can, and explains why she is hopeful. The darkest phase of the night is followed by the dawn.

www.fountainmagazine.com


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he believer is one who believes and trusts, one with prospects for a secure future who is trustworthy to others. S/he is a monumental figure marked by a special distinction imbued with contrasting colors, one within the other. Throughout their lives, believers bind all their actions to the consideration that God is watching them; they always act in a refined and courteous manner—whether in the presence of God alone or in the company of others—which is enviously admired by all. Their feelings are vast and deep, and they stand with politeness; good conduct, respect, and kindness are their main attributes. Even if their lives are at stake, or they face oppression or slander, they never deign to behave crudely and act only in lawful self-defense. Believers are exceptional, for they display an elegance and profundity that arises from the awareness of their status as servants of God—they are kind as much as they are cautious, fully conscious of what they say and do; they avoid frivolity in all matters, while maintaining calm and lenience with a generous heart open to all. Believers have hearts that are rich and spacious—with room and prosperity enough to welcome all, offering bowls of love and embracing others with compassion. They share the blessings of their closeness to God with those with whom their paths cross, and strive to inspire their souls. One can see them at times joyous, even intoxicated with dreams of the day they will encounter the Real; other times, they are anxious in fear of the Divine, shivering in the thrill of such a splendid reunion. They see through the mist and smoke of hatred and revenge; they do not feel the thunder, gusts and waves of jealousy or slander that hit their soul and disperse, nor are they depressed by palpitations from the misery caused by adverse circumstance. They are in a lofty Presence, and all incompatibilities are deleted from their imaginations and thoughts—their hearts, spirits, and feelings are purified and clear. Verily, there can be no other condition for those who cleanse 4

The Fountain Magazine September / October 2011

BELIEVERS As They Stand Before God Lead Artıcle M. Fethullah Gülen

themselves of impurities several times a day. There can be no rips in the canvas of their graceful souls as long as their inner spheres have been filled with bliss that descends from beyond; their behavior corresponds to the affluence and wisdom thereof. Their path is well-set, their destination lofty, and none of these are to be bartered for. With commitment to their faith, they acknowledge the great ones as great, and the smaller ones as a rose to be smelled with compassion. Everything is classified properly in the taxonomy of values. Believers maintain their distance from plans and projects that are unrelated to their high ideals, confused thoughts that do not ultimately lead to the Supreme One, profane behavior, or empty words and considerations. They are active in thinking when they are silent; their speech is remembrance and all of their outward and inward faculties are locked onto the One. They are complaisant, as deep and pure as an angel ready to soar. Their motivation is head-spinning, but respectful toward the Exalted Station to which they have turned; they are judicious enough not to prioritize their personal plans or projects as highly as an ideal. Their eyes observe the horizons; their endeavors are powerful enough to pierce mountains. Believ-

ers are men and women of insight, and while they are stimulated by an intense desire to introduce the beautiful patterns of belief to others, they are also aware of the necessary subtlety their works involve. Believers make their brief lifetimes long enough to build this world and to invest in the next. They do not waste even the smallest of the many innate blessings bestowed upon them; they do not busy themselves with useless things that promise nothing for this world or the world to come. They can give away all that has been bestowed on them for the pleasure of the One while scrupulously making sure a single penny is not wasted. They pay strict attention to righteousness and to what is lawful and what is forbidden. All that they do, they do within the framework of raising the glory of the One’s name, so that all their actions become heavenly waterfalls and rivers. They live cautiously and thoughtfully, searching for possible means to convert one drop into an ocean or claim the sun with an atom. They strive to eternalize transient things. Believers love for the sake of the One; they breathe love and kindle love all around. They rush to stop tears and agony, they apply antidotes to pain, they transform weeping


Believers’ feelings are vast and deep, and they stand with politeness; good conduct, respect, and kindness are their main attributes. Even if their lives are at stake, or they face oppression or slander, believers never deign to behave crudely and act only in lawful selfdefense. Believers are exceptional, for they display an elegance and profundity that arises from the awareness of their status as servants of God.

to laughter, moaning to praise, and storms of fire to breezes of pleasure. They scream to stop the screams of the world and their tears flow like rivers. They develop self-esteem only if it means something to others, thus preferring “us” over “me.” They are not selfish but altruistic; they are not drowned in corporeality, but are soulful and absorbed in the truth that lies beyond. They do not allow their hearts to be hidden in their bodies or their spirits trampled under their corpses. They seek a prophetic dignity and protection from sin. Champions of discipline, believers are content with the pleasures and tastes within the lawful domain—they outperform their carnal selves and sensuality, reach the respective horizons of their spirit and overcome each obstacle with one single move, God willing. Believers are so firmly determined to represent good conduct and prevent mischief and hideousness that they race beside the angels, who say, “All-Glorified You are (in that You are absolutely above having any defect or doing anything meaningless, and Yours are all the attributes of perfection). We have no knowledge save what You have taught us. Surely You are the All-Knowing, the All-Wise” (The Qur’an 2:32). Such believers never abuse the blessings that are innately bestowed in contradiction to the purpose of their creation; they are loyal and God honors them with His company in turn. Existence per se is a trust to every individual, and it is to be equipped with noble human values. Aspiring to Heaven, having the capacity, realizing the method to attain the same, and potentially being able to encounter the beauty of the One—these are each a trust bestowed

to human beings in order to set them on the path determined by the Almighty Creator. Committing sins, straying from the path, and leading a life of sensuality are treacherous acts that crush such innate blessings; they delight the devils and embarrass the residents of the Divine Abode. Believers of mature faith use their initial gifts as a means to attain further blessings of servanthood to God, His proximity, and His good pleasure, as an indication of their true identity. Those with weak or nonexistent faith cannot comprehend the gifts or their meaning, and thus cannot benefit from them in the course of belief, divine knowledge, and love; they will be deprived from secondary and eternal favors. The latter group not only neglects the afterlife, but its constituents are discontent in this life as well. They must endure many additional problems and their lack of faith leads to depression. They destroy their own peace with hysteria and paranoia, and transform this world, which is an aisle to the illuminated realms beyond, into Hell. They cannot truly love others; they hate them and hatred is what they receive in return. They agonize with avarice and lament with longing for what they cannot obtain. They tremble out of fear of death and undergo many tribulations in order to live longer, frequently leading to health problems and mental disorder. White becomes black, good becomes bad, and vice versa. Those who do not think like them are enemies and traitors. Nightmares of betrayal engulf their sleep, causing even more suffering, as the seeds of the Hell in their conscience bring about the experience of the actual Hell in advance. True believers, on the other hand, ameliorate each favor in abundance, like an ear of grain producing as many as seven, seventy, or seven-hundred more grains. Each of these favors becomes a staircase ascending to the One, a ramp to attain His good pleasure. Then believers march to their destination together with the inheritors of the Heavens. September / October 2011

The Fountain Magazine

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The Fountain Magazine September / October 2011


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ow can anyone residing in the United States, or for that matter living in any other part of the world, forget the horror of September 11, 2001.

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An Opportunity to Heal and Make Whole

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eptember 11, 2001 was so devastating largely because it was a suicide attack in which 19 hijackers killed themselves in the course of killing 3,000 innocent people. So the key to tracking the threat is to focus on suicide terrorism, especially those inspired against Americans.

John Bryson Chane

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t is indeed a tremendous challenge to come to terms with the perplexity of religion and politics in our time. As acts of terrorism are wreaking havoc in many parts of the world, people turn to religion both to find the cause and the healing.

U 9/11: Before and After Ahmet Kurucan

remember the day very vividly, perhaps like each and every person who has been affected by it does. I remember the trauma, panic, and tears in the café of my English language school…

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The Spirit of Norway Gunnar Stålsett

Robert A. Pape

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Masallah Katharine Branning

nbelievably, about an hour out, the Kaptan came back on the intercom and stated in Turkish that we needed to return to Istanbul yet again.

The End of Fear, The Beginning of Understanding

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Does the Qur’an Sanction War? Eren Tatari

n Islamic jurisprudence, no divinely ordained clergy rule on religious matters. There are only scholars, learned people that undertake the extensive study of the Islamic sciences.

Jihad Amy Wilson

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ince the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States of America there is not an Islamic word used more commonly in daily life than jihad.

September / October 2011

The Fountain Magazine

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///////////////////////////////// John B. Chane The Right Rev. John Bryson Chane, D. D. is the eighth Bishop of Washington serving at Washington National Cathedral.

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An Opportunity to Heal and Make Whole pg.8 Because of the reflexive need to immediately “strike back” at the perpetrators and planners of the 9/11 attacks, we never really had the opportunity to grieve as a nation.

ow can anyone residing in the United States, or for that matter living in any other part of the world, forget the horror of September 11, 2001, when commercial airliners, piloted by terrorists posing as religious followers of Islam, intentionally crashed into New York’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and into an open field in rural Pennsylvania while trying to fly to Washington on a mission to destroy the White House? Each of us remembers with impeccable detail where we were when it happened. As Americans, our psyche as a nation was attacked. We began to feel, maybe for the first time, that as a country we were no longer 8

The Fountain Magazine September / October 2011

immune to acts of religiously or politically fueled terrorism and violence that often raised their ugly heads in other parts of the world. September 11, 2001 was the day when America lost its innocence. The date has been forever etched in our history and as a nation we will be forever scarred by it. And as a nation, we will never forget. If on occasion we are able to block out the horror of September 11, those who travel by air are brought back to the reality of it whenever we go through the intensive and intrusive airport security screening now required at every airport in this country, and for that matter throughout the world. Immediately following 9/11, questions and uninformed, insufficient answers were too often offered in hate-filled newspaper articles and on radio and television stations. Too often, the conversations were by their very nature laced with Islamophobia. The content too often demonstrated our collective ignorance as a people and nation about Islam, the Holy Qur’an, imams, mosques, and what really was the definition of Jihad? As a counterweight, and spurred primarily by religious leaders in the three Abrahamic faiths, interfaith dialogues and summits began to appear first in America and then throughout the world. As a result, Islam, which had pretty much been a foreign word in America’s religious vocabulary, was now on the lips of everyone.


But in truth, ignorance about Islam continues to drive our reactive behavior toward one of the three great Abrahamic faiths. It is hard to believe, but in a recent poll conducted by the Pew Foundation, 40 percent of Americans still believe that President Barack Obama is a Muslim, because of his name. There continue to be concerns expressed in this country by American Muslims about their place in American culture and society. Where do they belong, and can they ever really belong, without being under a microscope all the time? My friend Eboo Patel, founder of the Inter Faith Youth Core in Chicago, has said, “I am more afraid now than I was after 9/11.” And yet, within this capsule of ignorance and fear of the “other,” I believe that as a nation there is another reason why we as Americans have had such a hard time dealing with the horrors of September 11. As a nation, we have never had the opportunity to grieve over the horrible loss of life, the indelible visual experience of all that was attached to that fateful September morning ten years ago. Ten years ago as a nation we were embraced quite frankly by almost every nation in the global community, offering help, prayers, and whatever support was needed at this time of national crisis. And yet, our immediate response as a nation was to seek retribution and frontier justice. Wanted “dead or alive” was a regrettable pronouncement offered by some. And the taunt to those who were religious terrorists was “bring ’em on.” As the nation gathered in prayer at Washington National cathedral, President Bush unfortunately misspoke and used the word “crusade” in his speech to the nation—a word

that was frightening, and historically painful and confrontational to millions in the Muslim world. Because of the reflexive need to immediately “strike back” at the perpetrators and planners of the 9/11 attacks, we never really had the opportunity to grieve as a nation. When we do not grieve over a great loss, we tend to have overly emotional, often unhelpful knee-jerk responses. Anger and aggression can be the first response to significant loss in one’s family, or in the larger human family. And without time to grieve, think and process, responses can be illogical and result in bad decisions. For much of the last decade, we have not found the time to grieve over the horrors of September 11, 2001. Yet the hard work of interfaith conversation and interaction emanating from religious scholars, denominational leaders, and theologians of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have led the way to places where people of faith have had wonderful opportunities. Through the discipline of prayer, the blessings of shared compassion, and the core teachings of their religious traditions, they have had a significant impact on moving not only America, but many other nations, from retribution to reconciliation, from theological illiteracy to literacy, from xenophobia to respect, tolerance, and acceptance of the “other.” 9/11 scarred the psyche of America, but also the public image of Islam. And yet the Jesus of Christianity reminds his followers that at the very center of their belief system is the word reconciliation—embraced by unconditional love and the quest for a peace that passes all understanding. And it is no accident that Islam has as its radius the word salam (peace). The teachings of both Jesus and Muhammad have much in common regarding care for the “other.” Peace and divine love is at the heart of both Christianity and Islam. And it is that quest that now leads us to contin-

ue the healing process that must move forward between the brothers and sisters of Abraham. For it is the promise of the one God that true holiness can be found within the unity of our diversity. It is now time, ten years later, to embrace the moment and make whole that which has been broken by the ignorance, fear, and illiteracy that too often define our understandings of religion. Much of that work has been undertaken in Washington D.C. through the creative efforts of the Rumi Forum, Washington National Cathedral’s Center for Global Justice and Reconciliation, Georgetown University, and the Brookings Institution through the U.S. Islamic World Forum. Many efforts have begun in other parts of the world to engage in work that promises to positively impact the present opportunity— to seek the path of wholeness and reconciliation rather than division and violence. This is a journey begun by both Jesus and the Prophet Muhammad that now defines a new decade, a decade not solely focused on the 9/11 tragedy, but one that must become part of the global community. It is a journey made sacred by all those who lost their lives in New York City, Pennsylvania, and Washington and by the efforts of interfaith leaders throughout the world. It is a new time, a new decade, where life promises to overcome the sting of death, where hate is trumped by the power of God’s love, and where people of faith have the courage to speak out against those who use religion for their own selfish desires for control and power, rather than as a means through which all can experience the reconciling love of God. As a country, and as people of faith, we cannot make this journey alone. We will need partners and colleagues of other faith traditions that believe that this is the moment when we stand together, shoulder to shoulder, and proclaim that no one has the right to take another person’s life in the name of God. September / October 2011

The Fountain Magazine

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////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// ///////////////////////////// Dr. Gunnar Stålsett Dr. Gunnar Stålsett is the Bishop emeritus of Oslo, Former Vice Chair of the Nobel Peace Prize committee and Moderator of the European Council of Religious Leaders, Religions for Peace.

pg.10

t is indeed a tremendous challenge to come to terms with the perplexity of religion and politics in our time. As acts of terrorism are wreaking havoc in many parts of the world, people turn to religion both to find the cause and the healing. Questions abound. Can religion be a source for tolerance and reconciliation in the 21st century, or is it a breeding ground for hatred and violence? Is religion being hijacked from inside by misguided believers and by cynic political extremists? Grand theories of conspiracy against specific religions or political systems instill anxiety among ordinary people. 10

September / August / October 2011 2011 The Fountain Magazine July

The Spirit of

Norway

A model of reconciled diversity is the only way to the future in our globalized world.

As the 9/11 tragedy in the USA is indelibly inscribed as a watershed in world history, so will 22.7.2011 for ever be remembered as a massacre that changed Norway. The first was a heinous act of people who misrepresented Islam to punish and humiliate a world power seen to be responsible for the suffering of millions of Muslims around the world. The other was directed against the State itself and the political leadership of Norway, by a person who used Christian imagery to express his hatred of Muslims. The perpetrator sees Norway’s multiculturalism and open society as submission to a dangerous and foreign religion. He saw himself as true crusader for a Christian Europe. I believe it is fair to say that none of the perpetrators of these tragic events genuinely represent the religion they profess. Their unspeakable acts of violence against fellow human beings constitute a crime not only against humanity, but against God under whatever name. These watershed events are reminders that to unravel the perverse mindset of extremists one has to go beyond personal faith and beliefs and look to other constitutive factors of psychological, social, cultural and political nature. Such factors do not provide an excuse for the horrendous acts of terror, but they indicate the com-


The reaction of official Norway sets a standard for others to follow in countries where far-right ideologies and fundamentalist religious movements and individuals threaten to destabilize society.

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Norway Crown Prince Haakon and Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre attended a ceremony of commemoration in the Oslo mosque on July 26. Photo: Haakon Gløersen, MFA

plexity that needs to be addressed in curing this cancer in the body of humanity. But also collective and individual perceptions of oppression, marginalization and disrespect, feed a legitimate sense of loss and betrayal that offers a breeding ground for fanaticism and revenge. No single historic religion is without a history of inbred violence, be it Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, or others. While the reaction in the USA and some European countries after 9/11 was crusader language and large-scale cancellation of fundamental civil and political rights, the reaction in Norway, eloquently and consistently expressed by the Prime Minister and other political leaders,

and hailed by the vast majority of the population, has been to call for an even more inclusive democracy, and more respect of human dignity and human rights for all. The message was clear; the way forward is not revenge, nor curtailing of fundamental freedoms, but increased openness to a more multicultural and multi-religious society. Religious leaders and communities have reacted in unison against the exploitation of their faith and spirituality using hatred and fear. They join the call for tolerance and mutual respect. In all honesty, it has to be added that some pockets of conservative Christians have expressed sympathy for the opinions of the terrorist, although not for his

criminal acts. The same goes for some politicians on the far right of the political spectrum. It is my humble opinion that the reaction of official Norway sets a standard for others to follow in countries where far-right ideologies and fundamentalist religious movements and individuals threaten to destabilize society. A model of reconciled diversity is the only way to the future in our globalized world. This is the message of our youth, those who lost their lives and those who barely escaped. They are the victors. Terrorists will always be the losers. This is the spirit of Norway. The political battle to sustain this legacy will show the strength of our nation. July / August 2011 2011TheThe Fountain Magazine September / October Fountain Magazine

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Robert A. Pape

Dr. Pape is Professor and Director of the University of Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism and author of Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and How to Stop It (2010).

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9/11

Years After

The End of Fear, The Beginning of Understanding

Have what America has done after 9/11 – which some have called, “World War IV” – made America safe?

n the decade since 9/11, the United States has: ·

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conquered and occupied two large Muslim countries (Afghanistan and Iraq) compelled a huge Muslim army to root out a terrorist sanctuary (Pakistan) deployed thousands of special forces to numerous Muslim countries (Yemen, Somalia, Sudan etc.) imprisoned hundreds of Muslims without recourse waged a massive war of ideas involving Muslim clerics to denounce violence and new institutions to bring Western norms to Muslim countries killed Osama bin Laden, the inspirational leader of Al Qaeda who carried out the 9/11 attacks.

September / August / October 2011 2011 The Fountain Magazine July

Have these actions – which some have called, “World War IV” – made America safe? In a narrow sense, America is safer and justice has been served. There has not been another attack on the scale of 9/11. Our defenses regarding immigration controls, airport security, and the disruption of potentially devastating domestic plots have all improved. This is the positive side of the ledger. In a broader sense, however, America is not safe enough. Anti-American suicide terrorism rose rapidly around the world in the decade since September 11, 2001. In 2003, then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld famously asked, “Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrasas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?” As even a casual glance at the facts shows, the answer is a disappointing no. The negative side of the balance sheet is daunting. September 11, 2001 was so devastating largely because it was a suicide attack in which 19 hijackers killed themselves in the course of killing 3,000 innocent people. So the key to tracking the threat is to focus on suicide terrorism, especially those inspired against Americans. Look at the numbers. In 2000 – the year before 9/11 – there were 20 suicide attacks around the world and one – against the US Cole in Yemen – was anti-American inspired. By contrast, in 2010, there were well over 200 suicide attacks and about 90 percent were anti-American inspired – against US troops or those


working with America – a ten-fold increase over the past decade. Each month, there are more suicide terrorists trying to kill Americans and its allies in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other Muslim countries than in all the years before 2001 combined. Yes, these attacks are mostly (although not exclusively) focused on military and diplomatic targets. However, so too were the anti-American suicide attacks before 2001. It is important to remember that the 1995 and 1996 bombings of US troops in Saudi Arabia, the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and (as mentioned) bombing of the US Cole in Yemen in 2000 were the crucial dots that showed the threat was rising prior to 9/11. Today, such dots are occurring by the dozens every month. American military policies have not stopped the rising wave of extremism in the Muslim world. The reason has not been lack of effort, lack of will among the American people, lack of bipartisan support for aggressive military policies, lack of funding, or lack of genuine patriotism. No. American military policies are not failing for the standard excuses. Something else is creating the mismatch between America’s effort and the results.

What went wrong America has been waging a long war against terrorism, but without much serious public debate about what is truly motivating terrorists to kill us. In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attack, this was perfectly understandable. If toppling the Taliban was necessary to take out Al Qaeda’s sanctuary in Afghanistan, so be it. But, in an instant, there was also a great need to know, or perhaps better to say, to “understand” the events of that terrible day. A simple narrative was readily available and a powerful conventional wisdom began to exert its grip. Since the 9/11 hijackers were all Muslims, it was easy to presume that Islamic fundamentalism was the central motivating force driving the 19 hijackers to kill themselves in

American military policies have not stopped the rising wave of extremism in the Muslim world. The reason has not been lack of effort, lack of will among the American people, lack of bipartisan support for aggressive military policies, lack of funding, or lack of genuine patriotism.

July / August 2011 2011TheThe Fountain Magazine September / October Fountain Magazine

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The United States started to draw down military forces from Iraq in 2008, has already removed 100,000 troops, and is on schedule to end its commitment of heavy combat forces there next year. Since their peak in 2007, suicide attacks in the country have fallen by over 80 percent. order to kill us. Within weeks after the attack, surveys of American attitudes show that this presumption was fast congealing into a hard reality in the public mind. Americans immediately wondered, “Why do they hate us?” and almost as imme14

The Fountain Magazine September / October 2011

diately came to the conclusion that it was because of who we are, not what we do. The narrative of Islamic fundamentalism did more than explain why America was attacked. It also pointed toward a simple, grand so-

lution – one whose ambition only made it seem all the more worthy in light of the trauma of that terrible day. If Islamic fundamentalism was driving the threat and if its roots grew from the culture of the Arab world, then America had a clear mission: to transform Arab societies – with Western political institutions and social norms as the ultimate antidote to the virus of Islamic extremism. The only problem: Islamic fundamentalism is not the main driver of suicide terrorism. What drives this phenomenon more than any other single factor is foreign military presence – which inspires wave after wave of individuals to join terrorist groups in order to carry out suicide attacks in the hope that these would end the foreign presence in their lands. On September 11, 2001, the United States had deployed over 12,000 combat forces to countries on the Persian Gulf (5,000 in Saudi Arabia and 7,000 in other countries along the rim). We now know that these troops were the principle rallying cry of Osama bin Laden in his efforts to mobilize volunteers for suicide attacks against the United States and that the martyr videos of the 9/11 hijackers – their last video will testimonials – prominently justify their actions as in response to Western military control of the governments on the Arabian peninsula. Further, escalation of American combat forces in the region for the Iraq war directly fueled still further anti-American suicide terrorism. Hence, the grand solution became the grand catalyst for more anti-American inspired suicide terrorism than ever before.

What we know Vast new research on suicide terrorism has produced important new knowledge. Here is a summary of what we know: · Occupation causes suicide terrorism Over 95% of all suicide attacks are in response to foreign occupation


· The more occupation, the more suicide terrorism As America has occupied two large Muslim countries, Afghanistan and Iraq with a total population of about 60 million, total suicide attacks worldwide have risen dramatically – from about 300 from 1980 to 2003 to 2000+ from 2004 to 2010. Further, 90% of all suicide attacks are now anti-American. · Indirect occupation is the equivalent of direct occupation The US compelled Pakistan to deploy 100,000 troops against the Taliban in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Pakistani suicide attacks escalated dramatically. · Ending occupation can end suicide terrorism even without transforming Muslim countries Since Israel withdrew its army from Lebanon in May 2000, there has not been a single Lebanese suicide attack. Since Israel withdrew from Gaza and large parts of the West Bank, Palestinian suicide attacks are down over 90%. Since America and its allies began withdrawing from Iraq, suicide attacks are also falling fast. · Empowering local groups can reduce suicide terrorism In Iraq, the surge’s apparent success was not the result of increased US military control of Anbar Province, but rather quite the reverse – the empowerment of Sunni tribal leaders for their own security, commonly called the Anbar Awakening. · Taking power away from local groups can escalate suicide terrorism In Afghanistan the ISAF’s expansion strategy, designed to exert more central government control over the Pashtun tribes in the Western and Southern provinces, caused a resurgence in the Taliban and an increase in the number of suicide attacks.

The tide is turning The oxygen for America’s strategy

is, fundamentally, how we understand the root cause of the terrorist threat we face. In recent years, the intellectual climate has begun to change. In January 2010, a Zogby poll found that 27% of Americans now believe that the “most important factor” motivating terrorists to attack the United States is that they “resent Western power and influence” compared to 33% who still think the main motive is “make Islam the world’s dominant religion.” American military policies are also changing. The United States started to draw down military forces from Iraq in 2008, has already removed 100,000 troops, and is on schedule to end its commitment of heavy combat forces there next year. Since their peak in 2007, suicide attacks in the country have fallen by over 80 percent and the country is more stable today than at any point since America conquered the country in 2003. In Afghanistan, President Obama announced in July his plan to remove about a third of US forces from the country over the next year and to continue drawing down thereafter. If so, there is good reason to expect that suicide attacks will soon begin to decline significantly there as well.

Fortunately the US does not need to station large ground forces in either Iraq or Afghanistan to keep them from being a significant safe haven for Al Qaeda or any other anti-American terrorists. This can be achieved by a strategy called “Off-Shore Balancing” that relies on over-the-horizon air and naval forces and rapidly deployable ground forces, combined with empowering local groups to oppose the terrorist groups. No matter what happens in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US will maintain a significant air and naval presence in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean for many years, and those forces are well-suited to striking terrorist leaders and camps in conjunction with local militias – just as they did so successfully against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in 2001. Above all, to truly move beyond the war on terror, it is important for scholars, policy intellectuals, government leaders, and the public at large to continue to educate themselves about the factors that lead to suicide attacks like 9/11. The more we know, the fewer mistakes and the better our policies – and the more we can all live our lives in peace. September / October 2011

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Ahmet Kurucan

Dr. Kurucan has a PhD in Islamic studies. He is currently a Senior Advisor to IDC, Interfaith Dialog Center, New Jersey. He is also a columnist in Zaman daily newspaper.

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9/11

pg.16

Before After

&

In the same way that we cannot relate what Breivik did in Norway to his religious identity as Christian terrorism, we cannot do the same with 9/11 as Islamic terrorism. remember the day very vividly, perhaps like each and every person who has been affected by it does. I remember the trauma, panic, and tears in the café of my English language school… and the same frames kept rolling on the TV screen which we could not turn our eyes from, hoping that what we saw were not real. Anyone who has managed to maintain a modicum of humanity and conscience feels saddened, mournful and full of pain due to what happened on that day. The following day journalists, writers, columnists, newscasters, academics, 16

September / August / October 2011 2011 The Fountain Magazine July

members of think-tanks, and politicians announced that this day had been a milestone. The term “milestone” marks the beginning of new things; what was about to begin now? As time passed we understood what they meant. Nothing in America was the same as before. On September 10, 2001 it had been the land of liberty; on September 12 the situation totally changed. Due to the religious identity of the members of Al Qaeda, who were declared to be the perpetrators, the USA, indeed almost the entire world, had become uninhabitable for anyone with the same religious identity. Liberty had been replaced by constraints and accusations. Not only the USA, but indeed the entire world had shrunk for Muslim people. It is possible to understand the anger of Americans who lost their loved ones in this tragic incident, one in which almost 3,000 people died. It is also possible to understand people insulting Muslim women wearing headscarves and Muslim men in their beards and turbans. Attacks on mosques during this time could even be considered tolerable. However, what is difficult to understand is the long-lasting discrimination against Muslims and the perception of each and every Muslim as a potential terrorist. For


the USA, a country with multicultural politics it cannot be reasonable to formalize changing attitudes with legislation. Something was happening to this country, one which had been advocating peace not war, one that had been known as the land of freedom and diversity. However, all this has happened because America was undergoing a period in which wisdom had been abandoned, something noted by many people. I want to tell you about two of my memories. One of them occurred in 1999. I and several friends were going to the southern region of New Jersey. When we landed at JFK, we had another 2 hours to drive to our destination, if the traffic was light. Because it was time to pray and we would not be able to get to our destination before the time to pray, we decided to pray on the way. We performed ablution in a rest area. We laid our prayer rugs on the ground and we prayed in public, on the grass. We did not notice anyone glaring at us. We did not encounter any quizzical expressions nor were we treated in any disparaging manner. People in the USA would ask Muslims to mention them in their prayers when they came into contact with God. They also used to show us places to pray. But today? Although some claim that attitudes have not changed, Muslims cannot pray without worrying about somebody calling 911. This is not just an empty claim or remote possibility. There have been many examples of this kind of situation. Another memory is from the USA of 2002. I was at an airport, getting ready to fly to another state. Although I passed through a number of security checkpoints along with other passengers, the security officer pulled me over. This had happened many times after 9/11, but this time I could not resist asking, “Why?” I had become exasperated with such acts of discrimination. I was fed up with being treated like

a terrorist and a man to pity under scornful eyes. Angrily I asked “Why me?” I suppose he had undergone training in psychology. He held my arm, smiling, which made me feel comfortable. He showed me my boarding pass and the 3 S on it. He explained that it means extra security check. He said that the computers put these letters there because I have a Muslim name. He also told me that I should not take it personally because the computer program adds this to all names entered into the system. I realized that my name, which I have always been proud of, was now a reason for discrimination. I am sure that this was only because of 9/11 and Al Qaeda. Are such precautions appropriate? Many authorities, in particular, politicians at that time agreed they were necessary. There were some people who did not agree, but their number was less and they could not speak up. 10 years after this horrific incident many people now say that all such actions were inappropriate. The past stays in the past. It is ridiculous to try to carry yesterday’s issues to today. However should we not learn from the past? Religion, language, ethnicity, creed, and profession are our secondary identities, coming after being human. These were differences that gave us a sense of belonging. In the same way that capital has no religion, terrorism cannot have any religion. If there is a list of words that cannot go together, “religion and terrorism” takes first place. We can neither relate to religion nor explain by religion what the Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh or the Norwegian terrorist Behring Breivik did. In the same way that we cannot relate what they did to their religious identity as Christian terrorism, we cannot do the same with the events on 9/11 as Islamic terrorism. However, sadly this has not been the case. All rational Muslims have exclaimed that it is in no way justi-

fied to identify Islam and Muslims with terrorism. Many authorities, scholars, politicians, academics, and opinion leaders have also said that this was a grave mistake. Even though a terrorist may have a Muslim identity, you cannot generalize and scrutinize such behavior from an Islamic perspective. On that day the newspapers published full-page condolence messages. Muslim scholars and academics also penned letters that condemned terrorism. This period, as it was one in which wisdom did not exist, prevented people from seeing all this, perhaps because it was Islam being accused and they didn’t really care about it, or because they did not want to change their foreign policy which they based on these attacks, or because they were prejudiced, or because they wanted to ease public opinion. What did happen was that common sense was ignored and people behaved as they wanted to. Thank God, this lack of wisdom did not last long. As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, the mood has changed. Not all Muslims are considered to be potential terrorists anymore. People who have Muslim names do not get extra security checks at airports. The terrible slaughter in Norway has made the authorities start to reconsider their policies. Religious and cultural diversity projects and models for living together with peace are being reviewed. Projects that cover all areas of life, such as world brotherhood, coexistence while preserving differences, making the world a place for togetherness, preventing the otherization of other people have all started to take place despite the existence of some people who still see “others” as the enemy. We sincerely hope that those who are for peaceful coexistence will dominate over the second and the world will never experience a new 9/11, Oklahoma, Madrid, London, or Oslo attacks again. July / August 2011 2011TheThe Fountain Magazine September / October Fountain Magazine

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///////////////////////////////// Katharine “Kadriye” Branning, MLS, is Vice-President of the

French Institute Alliance Francaise in New York City, where she serves as the Director of FIAF’s Library. Taken from her book Yes, I Would Love another Glass of Tea: An American Woman’s Letters to Turkey, the following is one of her imaginary letters to Lady Mary Montagu who lived in Turkey three centuries ago. ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Maşallah Branning was one of the passengers on a Turkish Airlines flight to New York on September 9, 2011, a flight which could not reach its destination that inauspicious day.

pg.18

Unbelievably, about an hour out, the Kaptan came back on the intercom and stated in Turkish that we needed to return to Istanbul yet again. The entire cabin groaned and grumbled, and I began to doubt that I would ever get home that day. Only this time, his voice sounded odd, and he said, very vaguely, that we needed to return because “All American airspace has been closed.”

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The Fountain Magazine September / October 2011

Dear Lady Mary, ou certainly survived some dangerous scrapes on your travels, both on route to Turkey and on the return trip home to London. In one of your early letters, you relate a hair-raising crossing of the Alps, where your carriage almost plummeted over the precipice into the Elbe. The hazards of snow and Tartars awaited you at every turn on the road after that, and your boat almost capsized during your Channel crossing on your return home. I would like to relate to you the story of a difficult travel experience I had, one of an eventful return to my homeland after a stay in Turkey. This trip started out on a warm and crisp late summer morning in Istanbul. It was the last day of a glorious voyage to eastern Turkey, where I saw some of the wildest beauty known to man: from the white snowy peak of Noah’s Mount Ararat to the deep cobalt blue of Lake Van and to the intense dark emerald green of the Kaçkar Mountains. It was a day when I felt particularly blessed because I had been lucky enough to witness such stunning examples of nature, God’s most loving gift to man. It was a day with a crystal clear sapphire sky and bright sun. It was the morning of September 11, 2001. The return trip home announced itself like so many others before it. I traveled the familiar road to the airport filled with an infinite sadness to be leaving Turkey at the end of an intense time of learning, joyful play and living history, mixed with anticipation of the happiness of being reunited with loved ones at home. Candy, halvah, bonjuk blue bead trinkets, lokum, and Turkish coffee were purchased in the duty-free shop; and the last copies of the newspaper Hürriyet were tucked into my carry-on bag. As I passed through the first, second, and third


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security checkpoints, I commented to myself how thorough these Turks were when it came to ensuring security in this often volatile point of the world. I felt safe. There was a delay of almost 2 hours before we could leave, due to the proverbial and mysterious “engine problems.” Finally we took off, but after only one hour out in flight, the pilot (“Kaptan”) came on the intercom to tell us that we needed to head back to Istanbul because the pesky problem was apparently still not cleared up. The stewardesses stored away the food service carts, seatbelts were fastened, and we returned, deplaned, and waited another two hours in the same embarkment area. A Turkish Airlines (THY) employee finally announced that a new plane had been found and that we would be heading out shortly. Once again, off we took, convinced that surely this time, all problems were behind us. Unbelievably, about an hour out, the Kaptan came back on the intercom and stated in Turkish that we needed to return to Istanbul yet again. The entire cabin groaned and grumbled, and I began to doubt that I would ever get home that day. Only this time, his voice sounded odd, and he said, very vaguely, that we needed to return because “All American airspace has been closed.” I was immediately seized with panic, for I knew that something very, very terrible must have happened, for American 20

September / August / October 2011 2011 The Fountain Magazine July

airspace has never been closed in our entire history. About a half an hour later, the Kaptan came back on, still in Turkish, and said that it looked like the problem was that a “big building in New York City has suffered some kind of attack.” And then I knew in the pit of my stomach what that “big building” had to be: it could be none other than the one I see day and night from my window of my apartment, standing like a sentinel for the whole world to see: the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. And I knew somehow that the assault was not a mere accident, but had to have been a terrorist attack. At last the plane landed back in Istanbul. The cabin hostess made an intercom message requesting that everyone remain in their seats. The Kaptan came on and gave a message in Turkish, and then made another one in English so that the few Americans on the plane would be able to finally understand what was going on. He spoke very clearly and slowly, not because his command of English was weak, but because he was searching for the right words to communicate his message as gently and carefully as possible. In a voice obviously trembling with emotion, he said: “Dear Ladies and Gentlemen. I must inform you of some very sad news. There has been a terrorist attack on the big building in New York City, the World Trade Center. It is very, very bad, and many people

have been hurt. To all the American people on this plane, I want to say I am so so sorry for you and your country today.” And then we heard him sob. To hear that sob made me realize how intense it must have been for him, an ever-gracious Turkish host, to announce that news to us, his “guests” in his aircraft home. The Kaptan must have felt devastated that a plane, object of his livelihood, had been used as an instrument of destruction. He was surely heartbroken, too, because he already knew the terrorists were fellow Muslims. His soft sob made the imagined bang of the crash in my ears all the more loud, and the whole incident became very real for me, although at the time, I had no idea that the Towers were to fall and that the terrorists were allegedly Muslims. Because of those engine problems, we had been saved the fate of so many others who were flying home to America that day. Instead of being stranded, the few Americans on that Turkish Airlines flight that day had the great fortune, in the midst of all the ensuing chaos, to be returned to a country that would open its arms and take care of them. When we stepped off the plane and came into the airport terminal, there stood in front of us a platoon of people of all kinds, lined up in total silence. The entire airport staff had gathered there to wait for us: some were officers dressed in suits and ties, some wore THY service uniforms and ties, some were baggage handlers in their grey tunics; there were the char women in their pink aprons standing attention next to their cleaning carts, police officers with their thick black leather belts, food service attendants in their white paper hats, security clerks in their black blazers, and so many others in a blur of colors and clothes. It seemed as if the full airport had come forth to form this very human wall to surround us with their protection. After that point everything became a slow motion blur, as if I were about to faint or as


if I were underwater, with people moving towards us but no sounds coming from their mouths. But I do remember clearly all the hands coming forth – those famous magic Turkish hands that appear whenever there is a need – taking us by the elbow and guiding us to the baggage claim area. I do not recall what was said to me at this point; all I remember were their eyes – and it was the sadness that I saw in those eyes that made me realize the gravity of the situation. I distinctly remember, however, a grey-haired, handsome man in a charcoal suit with a walkie-talkie in his hand, who came up to me. In perfect English he said, “Please do not worry, you are being taken care of. We will be taking you by a van to a nearby hotel to stay. It is very beautiful and nice, do not worry. You will stay there for the time it takes for things to normalize and for you to go home again. Do not worry. We will take care of you. But know that when you go into your room and turn on the television, you will see images of a brutality never before seen, and that you will be very upset. There will be someone at a table in the lobby, a health worker, who will be there for you to speak with if it all becomes too much for you. Good luck and God bless you.” And to this day I can still see the sharp dark features of the unshaven face of the skinny man in a ragged black suit coat who stuck out his hand to whisk away my suitcase and to load it in the van for me. When the few Americans on that flight arrived at the hotel, we were ushered to our rooms with the hushed consideration usually reserved for funeral services. After I entered that room, in that indeed very beautiful hotel, sat down on the edge of the bed and saw those images on the television screen, I knew that the grey-haired man had not exaggerated. I learned of the story of the “attack on the big building in New York.” I learned that it was done in

the name of Allah, the most Merciful and the most Compassionate. I stayed there for a week, unable to get personal news of the tragedy, with only the droning reports of CNN and those never-ending images of the impact of the crash played over and over as if one time was not enough to gouge it in your memory forever. Was my husband safe? Was my assistant, who crossed under the Towers every morning on her commute in from New Jersey, lying flattened under the tonnage? How was everyone in my downtown neighborhood, now closed off from the world, coping with the tragedy? Over and over again as I saw those images of that hole ripped in the sky, I felt as if a hole had been ripped in my heart.

When we stepped off the plane and came into the airport terminal, there stood in front of us a platoon of people of all kinds, lined up in total silence. It seemed as if the full airport had come forth to form this very human wall to surround us with their protection. July / August 2011 2011TheThe Fountain Magazine September / October Fountain Magazine

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When I saw those crushed beams, I felt as if my own bones had been crushed. I clearly remember the next morning when I went out of the hotel to get some air, there fluttering in front of me on a giant flagpole was the Turkish flag – its red color symbolizing the blood of its own fallen – at half mast. It was then that I understood that this tragedy was not one that had just struck my city, but it was affecting the entire world as well. One night that week when I couldn’t sleep I got up to write a letter. I did not know exactly to whom I should address it, but I just felt that writing a letter would help me in that moment of stress, for putting emotions to paper seemed the only possible outlet for my grief, as the shock of it all had pushed my tears way down deep inside of me. At least for that moment in time, I could control something in the world: the flow of words onto paper in my own proper universe. One morning about eight days later, the hotel staff called to say that we were to be ready to leave in an hour: the US airspace had opened and that we were being sent home. We were to be picked up at the hotel by a special THY van and taken to the airport. Before leaving, I went to the front desk of the hotel to ask what I owed them for all the expenses I had incurred staying there: the luxurious room, the breakfasts, the vain phone calls, and faxes home. I did not know the protocol of such a situation, but I wanted to make sure I had taken care of everything. The young woman at the front desk just looked at me, bowed her head, and whispered, “You owe us nothing.” I could not bear to look at her, overwhelmed by the hotel’s charity, the intensity of this tragic event and my incapacity to thank her for the role she played in my well-being. I could not speak but handed to her the envelope with the letter I had written on that night I was unable to sleep. She looked at the addressee, visibly moved, and then back at me, and quietly said “Thank you.” And it was only then that my tears started to fall, as if all the immeasurable solace and tender consideration provided over the past week made the horror of the event suddenly too much to keep inside. 22

The Fountain Magazine September / October 2011

We piled in the busses and arrived at a still-hushed airport and boarded the flight to New York City, mirroring the same steps of a week prior. No one talked much on that 11-hour flight home: everyone was either too frightened to be in the cursed skies, in one of these apparatus now associated with an instrument of mass destruction, or quite simply because we were all apprehensive about what we would find once at home. The city I found when I arrived that night was as quiet as the plane. The former glorious view onto the World Trade Center from my Greenwich Village apartment was now filled with a billowing, yellowgrey cloud, glowing in the day from the sun reflecting off all its dust and in the evening from the giant highintensity lights set up at the site. The furnishings of my home were covered, that day and for many months to come, with the pulverized dust of those fallen Twin Towers and the ashes of its 3,000 victims. Each day as I cleaned it away, day after day for months, I ceremoniously repeated prayers and recited Scripture for all of those innocent souls reduced to the dust I was wiping away. New York City healed, the United States healed, and I healed. We are still living the consequences of that ignominious event up to this day, some small, some large, some local, some international. In many ways, I wonder if the recovery from that day was for me harder than most Americans. Although I personally suffered no loss of life in the crash, I still felt a tremendous loss to my city and in my faith in my fellow man. I felt betrayed by Islam, this faith that had earned a special respect in my heart; I felt betrayed that several fanatics of this religion I considered so pure and so noble had tarnished it beyond apparent forgiveness. I could not believe that the Islam I knew, through my studies, through my life shared with Muslims, through the many Muslims I had met in Turkey, those who believed in a God, the most merciful, the most compassionate – could be anything like those who had done this act. When I saw the dangerous turn my grief was taking – veering towards doubt, bitterness, and deception – I knew it had to stop. It was

then that I made a vow. I perhaps could not control the outcome of all the events in the world, I reasoned, but I could control my immediate sphere, the orbit around me that I influence. It is said that perhaps everything in life happens in order to help us live. And so from the horror of that day, I told myself that I needed to recommit my efforts to support understanding between people and religions and that I needed to continue more than ever my dedication to fostering cross-cultural relations. It made me realize that if a person like me, who had such respect for Islam, was feeling such negative emotions against Muslims, what must the average American be thinking? I needed now to be a bridge-builder more than ever. The Turkish part of my 9/11 story has one last chapter. About five months after the incident, I returned to work after my lunch break one day, and the front desk receptionist handed me a very large wooden box. A THY envelope with my name on it taped to it. The letter was from the New York director of Turkish Airlines, extending his wishes for my well-being and telling me that he desired to offer this token of appreciation on behalf of the THY staff for my letter, the one I had addressed “to Turkish Airlines and the People of the Republic of Turkey” and left at that hotel desk months before and which had finally come into his hands. It was inconceivable to believe that after all that had already been done emotionally and materially for me, that the warm arms of the Turks were continuing to surround me with compassion and goodness. Inside of that giant box, encased beautifully in an elegant walnut and glass frame, was a large, oval plaque in silver. On this plaque, inscribed in fine cursive calligraphy, was the iconic message “Maşallah” which translates as “how beautifully God created” and is used by Turks to mean “may God protect you from all evil.” Yes, Turkey – this magnificent and most generous of nations – has shown me that I must never doubt the infinite goodness of my fellow man. Sincerely, Kadriye Branning


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Eren Tatari

Dr. Tatari is Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science, Rollins College, FL. She is the author of Being a Muslim.

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Does the Qur’an Sanction War? pg.23

n Islamic jurisprudence, no divinely ordained clergy rule on religious matters. There are only scholars, learned people that undertake the extensive study of the Islamic sciences. No official post decides who is eligible to be considered a scholar qualified to give opinions on religious matters. Although believers are encouraged to consult others, especially scholars, everyone is individually responsible for their beliefs and actions. Like law in the United States, historically Islamic jurisprudence is based on precedence. Each ruling or reform was based on the decisions and interpretations of previous jurists and scholars. But many movements that emerged in the last century disregarded this practice, and

There is no “holy war” but only “just war” or “unjust war” in Islam. Jihad does not mean war or fighting; rather it means “to strive hard in the righteous cause.” invented brand-new interpretations and rulings that were at odds with centuries of accumulated knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence and theology. Moreover, they refute all other interpretations. The most controversial among these questionable views concerns the meaning of jihad. The soundest method of discerning the meaning of this much-debated word is to refer back to the original text that is the source of all Islamic jurisprudence and theology. What is jihad, according to the Qur’an? What does the Qur’an say about war? According to the consensus of classical and contemporary exegetes, the following Qur’anic verses indicate that there is no “holy war” but there is only “just war” or “unjust war” in Islam. The verses also clarify that jihad does not mean war or fighting; rather it means “to strive hard in the righteous cause.”

Some Qur’anic principles The science of hermeneutics requires that the interpretation of any text should take into account the writer, the intent of the writer, the addressee, and the context. This is the method we will apply to understanding the message of the Qur’an. Taking a single verse out of context, and interpreting it without taking into consideration the entire text, would inevitably distort the meaning of the verse. The following are some general Qur’anic principles that should underlie the interpretation of individual verses. “There shall be no coercion in matters of faith.” (2:256) “And had your Lord so willed, all those who live on earth would surely have attained to faith, all of them: do you then think that you could compel people to believe…” (10:99) September / October 2011

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“And say: ‘The truth [has now come] from your Lord: let then him who wills believe in it, and let him who wills reject it…” (18:29) “But [since] good and evil cannot be equal, repel you [evil] with something that is better and lo! He between whom and yourself was enmity [may then become] as though he had [always] been close [unto you], a true friend!” (41:34) “…and [they who] repel evil with good. It is these that shall find their fulfillment in the hereafter.” (13:22) “…for peace is best…” (4:128) “…if anyone slays a human being—unless it be [in punishment] for murder or for spreading corruption on earth—it shall be as though he had slain all mankind; whereas, if anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he had saved the lives of all mankind.” (5:32) “Nor take life—which Allah has made sacred—except for just cause. And if anyone is slain wrongfully, we have given his heir authority (to demand qisas or to forgive): but let him not exceed bounds in the matter of taking life; for he is helped (by the Law).” (17:33)

“Just war” in the Qur’an Here are some verses dealing with fighting (qital) on the battlefield. All these verses should be read and understood only when there is a “just war” already in progress. “And fight in God’s cause against those who wage war against you, but do not commit aggression—for, verily, God does not love aggressors.” (2:190) This verse makes war permissible only in self-defense and even then, aggression is not permitted during the fight. “Permission [to fight] is given to those against whom war is being wrongfully waged and, verily, God has indeed the power to succor them.” (22:39) 24

The Fountain Magazine September / October 2011

Again, fighting is declared permissible against a “wrongfully waged war.” “As for such [of the unbelievers] as do not fight against you on account of [your] faith, and neither drive you forth from your homelands, God does not forbid you to show them kindness and to behave towards them with full equity: for, verily, God loves those who act equitably.” (60:8) Believers are asked here to be kind to any people who do not fight against them regardless of their faith. “God only forbids you to turn in friendship towards such as fight against you because of [your] faith, and drive you forth from your homelands, or aid [others] in driving you forth: and as for those [from among you] who turn towards them in friendship; it is they, they who are truly wrongdoers!” (60:9) As clearly listed in the verse, fighting is permitted only when a) a war is waged against the believers because of their faith, b) the believers are driven away from their homelands, c) aid is given to those who drive the believers away from their homelands. “Fight you, then, in God’s cause— since you are but responsible for your own self—and inspire the believers to overcome all fear of death. God may well curb the might of those who are bent on denying the truth: for God is stronger in might, and stronger in ability to deter.” (4:84) Inspiring the believers to overcome all fear of death is valid only during a “war already in progress” to deter the oppressors, not as an incitement to war. “But when you are greeted with a greeting [of peace], answer with an even better greeting, or [at least] with the like thereof. Verily, God keeps count indeed of all things.” (4:86) The aim of war must be to prevent the oppression, not to be triumphant. When peace is offered, it is to be accepted with no reserve.

“unless it be such [of them] as have ties with people to whom you yourselves are bound by a covenant, or such as come unto you because their hearts shrink from [the thought of] making war either on you or on their own folk—although, if God had willed to make them stronger than you, they would certainly have made war on you. Thus, if they let you be, and do not make war on you, and offer you peace, God does not allow you to harm them.” (4:90) Fighting is allowed only when a war is waged against the believers. Otherwise, there is no permission to declare a war unilaterally. “…Hence, if they do not let you be, and do not offer you peace, and do not stay their hands, seize them and slay them whenever you come upon them: for it is against these that We have clearly empowered you [to make war].” (4:91) During a war already in progress, if the aggressors do not stop attacking the believers and do not offer them peace, then the believers are given permission to seize and slay those who insist upon attacking them. “If you find them at war [with you], make of them a fearsome example for those who follow them, so that they might take it to heart.” (8:57) The aim is again not to be triumphant in war, but to prevent the continuation of war. “Hence, make ready against them whatever force and war mounts you are able to muster, so that you might deter thereby the enemies of God, who are your enemies as well, and others besides them of whom you may be unaware, [but] of whom God is aware…” (8:60) The purpose of these preparations is to avoid potential future wars. “But if they incline to peace, incline you to it as well, and place your trust in God: verily, He alone is all-hearing, allknowing!” (8:61)


“And should they seek but to deceive you [by their show of peace]—behold, God is enough for you! He it is who has strengthened you with His succor, and by giving you believing followers.” (8:62) According to the well-known Qur’anic exegete Fahruddin Razi (1149–1209), this means that even if they offer you peace to deceive you, this offer of peace must be accepted, because all judgment of their intentions must be based on outward evidence alone. In other words, mere suspicion cannot be an excuse for rejecting an offer of peace. “And slay them wherever you may come upon them, and drive them away from wherever they drove you away—for oppression is even worse than killing. And fight not against them near the Inviolable House of Worship unless they fight against you there first; but if they fight against you, slay them: such shall be the recompense of those who deny the truth.” (2:191) The prerequisite for the permission to slay the oppressors is their persistence to fight against the believers and not incline toward peace. Fahruddin Razi states that the injunction in this verse is valid only within the context of hostilities already in progress, not when there is no physical hostility between the believers and the non-believers. A more recent commentator, Said Nursi (1877–1960), interprets such verses that give permission to “drive them away from wherever they drove you away” as “crush the idea of denial of God in the same field where it has originated or emerged. For example, crush the materialism by bringing the evidences for the existence of its Creator from the matter itself.”1 “But if they desist—behold, God is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace.” (2:192) “Hence, fight against them until there is no more oppression and all worship is devoted to God alone; but if they desist, then all hostility shall cease, save

against those who [willfully] do wrong.” (2:193) Fighting is allowed again until God can be worshipped without fear of persecution and no one is compelled to bow down in awe before another human being. If persecution stops then all hostility shall cease. “…those who have been driven from their homelands against all right for no other reason than their saying, ‘Our Sustainer is God!’ For if God had not enabled people to defend themselves against one another, [all] monasteries and churches and synagogues and mosques—in [all of] which God’s name is abundantly extolled—would surely have been destroyed [ere now]. And God will most certainly succor him who succors His cause: for, verily, God is most powerful, almighty.” (22:40) Fighting against oppression is not confined to defending the mosques only, all the places where God’s name is extolled—monasteries, churches, synagogues—are to be protected. “And if any of those who ascribe divinity to aught beside God seeks your protection, grant him protection, so that he might [be able to] hear the word of God [from you]; and thereupon convey him to a place where he can feel secure: this, because they [may be] people who [sin only because they] do not know [the truth].” (9:6) This verse emphasizes granting protection to mushrikun (those associating partners with God)—not only the People of Book—when they seek protection from the believers. They can be accepted as “neighbors” of the believing community. Should they want to leave the community of the believers, it is the responsibility of the believers to convey them to a place where they can feel secure.

when doing so would harm their interests, and must consent to all peace offers. It is not permissible to wage war against any people unilaterally. Fighting is not desirable and should be avoided whenever possible. Permission to fight is given only in self-defense. When a believer has been attacked and is fighting in self-defense, his aim must be to stop the oppression, not to be triumphant. Fighting is permitted only against people who have: a) waged war against the community of believers because of their faith, b) driven the community of believers out of their homelands, c) aided others in driving the community of believers out of their homelands, d) threatened the security of the community of believers. This judgment about the “threat” must be based on outward evidence alone, not on suspicion, which is subjective. Fighting is permitted in the Qur’an only for the sake of defending the truth and its followers (including defending the monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques where God’s name is extolled). The believers can only engage in war against oppressors who are clearly marked and designated as a military force. This military force must not be mixed in with a civilian population. A prohibited method of fighting is the use of weapons of mass destruction which indiscriminately kill civilians along with the intended target. Even then, fighting can only be declared by a Caliph, who is elected by the community of believers from among themselves, not selfappointed kings, rulers, or authorities. Individuals cannot declare war or try to bring about justice by their own means. This is vigilantism, which is prohibited by Islamic law. Only the state has the authority in such issues.2

Notes 1.

Conclusion The contextual analysis of the above Qur’anic verses elucidates that the utmost priority in all circumstances is achieving permanent peace. Believers are enjoined to accept peace, even

2.

Colin Turner, “Reconsidering Jihad: The Perspective of Bediüzzaman Said Nursi” in Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. Vol. 11, No. 2 (November 2007), pp. 94–111. Aboul-Enein, H. Yousuf; Zuhur, Sherifa, Islamic Rulings on Warfare, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College, Diane Publishing Co., Darby PA.

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///////////////////////////////// Amy Wilson

Amy Wilson is from Seattle, Washington, and has completed her BA at Monash University in Melbourne, Victoria. She is set to begin her Masters in International Relations at Monash University and hopes to pursue a career at the United Nations focusing on the Middle East. ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

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JIHAD Jihad encompasses many types of struggles that Muslims are meant to overcome throughout their daily life in different forms.

ince the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States of America there is not an Islamic word used more commonly in daily life than jihad. Jihad has appeared regularly in news broadcasts and everyday conversations with the connotation of “holy war.” This widespread understanding of jihad is inaccurate and has unfortunately bred a fear of Islam in many different people. Jihad has a far more complex meaning than the simplistic phrase, holy war. While one element of jihad may involve the use of physical force, jihad does not mean holy war in translation, nor is war the most common form of jihad among Muslims. To understand how holy war is an element of jihad but not jihad itself, jihad’s 26

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origins in the Qur’an must be fully understood, and the application of physical jihad in history and modern times must be analyzed. In this concise study, we discover that there is an element of holy war within jihad that differs greatly from both the general perception of jihad and the attacks in recent years that radical Muslims have deemed jihad. Physical jihad, or a holy war, is allowed by Islamic law in certain cases but it must follow the strict rules and guidelines of the Qur’an. Not all physical aggression in the name of Islam can be classified as jihad, and there are many examples today of attacks claimed as jihad by Muslims that are not permitted by the boundaries of the Qur’an and Islamic law. Therefore, holy war can be an element of jihad, but is restrained by strict rules. Many modern interpretations of jihad are not congruent with classical jihad and many physical aggressions by Muslims today cannot be classified as the specific kind of holy war that is legitimized by the Qur’an. The Prophet Muhammad described jihad as the “apex of lofty Islam.” Jihad literally translates to struggle or striving in English and it is derived from the root Arabic word jahada—to strive, strain, or exert oneself to the utmost. Jihad is a very important duty of Islam; some even consider it the sixth pillar of Islamic faith. Jihad encompasses many types of struggles that Muslims are meant to overcome throughout their daily


life in different forms. In the Qur’an, jihad is striving in the name of Allah through four stages: jihad against the soul, jihad against Satan, jihad against disbelievers, and jihad against dissemblers. Jihad against the soul is meant to solidify firm belief within a person while jihad against Satan will create tenacity. For jihad against disbelievers, Muslims are meant to strive by pen, tongue, hand, media, and only if inevitable, with arms. Jihad against disbelievers is not purely peaceful and at times, the use of arms is inevitable in this stage, described in the Qur’an as qital, or fighting. Contrarily, jihad against dissemblers is by the tongue, through educated

Jihad literally translates to struggle or striving in English and it is derived from the root Arabic word "jahada"—to strive, strain, or exert oneself to the utmost. Jihad is a very important duty of Islam; some even consider it the sixth pillar of Islamic faith. arguments and persuasion. Therefore jihad is much more than physical aggression, and far greater emphasis is placed on striving by all other means before war. The most important struggles for Muslims will come from inside themselves, which will be a lifelong jihad of following Allah and living by his way. Jihad should then be described as the striving journey of Muslims to become aware and learn the injunctions of Islam, teach them to others, and make constant practice of them in their life while encouraging others to do September / October 2011

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Without background knowledge of jihad’s origins in the Qur’an, most people would believe that jihad is a holy war without rules or guidelines, based on modern scholars and media portrayal.

the same. It is also the act of calling others to Islam and dealing with any obstacles that may arise from fulfilling this journey. This journey will encompass many obstacles that do not relate to physical violence and emphasize the importance of striving by other means throughout one’s life. Jihad with the tongue is viewed as very important because Muslims are meant to be peaceful in their struggle if possible and it is important to be expressive verbally rather than resorting to violence immediately. However, when words are not sufficient and qital, physical fighting, is necessary within jihad, there are strict guidelines that must be followed in the aggression. Not every war fought by Muslims can be defined as jihad; not every jihad can be generalized as holy war. In order for physical jihad to be legitimate, the opposing side receiving the aggression must be in a state of war against Islam, or a large group of Muslims, or non-Muslims who have had their personal freedoms and civil rights violated. A classical interpretation of jihad from the Qur’an clearly outlines that any physical jihad must be conventional warfare, with ambush fighting and the killing of civilians prohibited. There have been many examples of physical jihad in history that were legitimate in the eyes of the Qur’an, and exemplify the rules that limit aggression, as well as the circum28

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stances necessary for a holy war to be considered jihad. In Islamic history there are many instances when jihad was a holy war. This can partially be explained by the era. Arabia was engulfed in constant warfare throughout the Prophet Muhammad’s time, and for the centuries of empire rule that followed. Muslim tribes were often provoked by aggression and forced into numerous defensive jihads with their surrounding neighbors. The original physical jihad originated from Muhammad’s migration from Mecca to the city of Yathrib, modern day Medina, in 622. The Prophet and his Muslim followers were met with violent pilfering by the Meccans and Muhammad delivered verses from the Qur’an authorizing the Muslims to fight against the Meccans. The Muslim war with the Meccans began Muhammad’s career as military commander, a title that he had to carry in the remaining years of his life. This jihad follows the rules outlined by the Qur’an because it was in defense of Muslim land that was being physically threatened; it also follows the rules of jihad by keeping the warfare traditional and targeting only those directly involved in the aggression. Muhammad had decided physical jihad was necessary and fought in the name of Islam. But upon returning from battle he said, “We have returned from the lesser jihad to the greater jihad,” underlining the importance of a believer’s internal struggle against his or her carnal self. While the time demanded physical jihad from the Muslims for their very survival, the significance was placed on the other forms of jihad, most importantly those within the hearts of each Muslim. In addition to Prophet Muhammad’s own view of physical jihad, Muslim scholar Said Nursi supported physical jihad in response to physical aggression but also believed in continuing jihad through the written and spoken word. When he was required to fight, his jihad was with his pen. Nursi highlighted the shift between pre-modern civilization and modern civilization and believes jihad should follow this shift. Pre-modern

civilization was plagued by violence and conquests from Islam’s neighbors and required defensive war in response. Modern civilization has seen the rise in science and reason, secularism and materialism, and therefore the most appropriate jihad is one that persuades hearts and minds. Muslims are called to fight a cultural and economic war through ideas and thoughts, not arms. The battles fought by Muhammad and Nursi are historical examples of jihad as holy war used to protect Islam and guarantee its growth within the world. There is a physical aspect in battle, but the focus on Islamic law as derived from the Qur’an is never ignored in jihad. Jihad includes, but is not encompassed by, legitimate, defensive warfare against aggressive enemies, which contrasts with the modern usage of jihad among a minority of Muslim laymen and mainstream society. Most conflicts engaged in by some Muslims today are a crime under Islamic law, and jihad is defined solely as war, with its other aspects ignored. Today in Muslim-majority countries, and in non-Muslim media and discussion around the world, jihad means war. The usage in Muslim countries can be interpreted as rationalization, that all wars their governments involve themselves in are just, similar to the justification most countries do that any war they are involved in is just. Though it is debatable whether a war is just and follows Islamic law, the more troubling factor is the shift of the entire meaning of the word jihad. Jihad has evolved from meaning struggle, usually internal, sometimes external by the written or spoken word, to simply being a synonym for war. This semantic evolution has perpetuated misunderstandings of Islam as a violent religion, with war and physical aggression central to its tenets. Jihad has evolved from struggle in classical Islam, with the occasional legitimate war, to representing necessary, continuous physical aggression within modern Islam. This linguistic shift has created a grave misunderstanding of jihad around the world, and its sole definition as holy war in popular culture.


Jihad has come to hold a new meaning with the general population because of the differing interpretations of jihad by classical and modern Muslim scholars. Without background knowledge of jihad’s origins in the Qur’an, most people would believe that jihad is a holy war without rules or guidelines, based on modern scholars and media portrayal. Most laymen are not aware that classical jihad explicitly prohibits aggression towards civilians, and must be limited to conventional war tactics. This misconception of jihad is a result of the rise in world terrorist attacks carried out by Muslims who claim their actions as jihad in the name of Allah and the Qur’an. The misinterpretation of jihad by a small group of Muslims has spread around the world because of globalization and effective media coverage. This misinterpretation has resulted in the current perception. Some modern Muslim scholars and popular figures within Islam who have catalyzed this new definition, refer to jihad as, “war against oppressors, particularly those who oppress Muslims.” Osama bin Laden said in many of his speeches that Americans resemble the medieval Crusaders, with the desire to subjugate the Muslim world in a colonial war. Therefore, bin Laden believed that Muslims are currently fighting a defensive jihad against the West in response to their actions. The West as an enemy is described as similar to the Christian knights of the Crusades who also attacked Muslim civilization. Egyptian Islamist Adb al Salam Faraj called for a new jihad against the subjugation of the Muslim world, and Osama bin Laden has expanded on the ideas of a new jihad to legitimize terrorist attacks against the West that result in the death of civilians. In addition to Faraj, the Muslim scholar Maududi’s thesis on the change in Muslim society has also been viewed as spawning the modern interpretation of jihad. Maududi believed that because not all Muslim societies were ruling based on Sharia law, there was a decline in the society as a whole, and the only viable response was to wage a jihad against this dark age. In order to

confront the decline of Muslim society and loss of Muslim lands, Sharia law and the doctrine of jihad had to be reinterpreted and applied both internally within Muslim societies as well as externally to the West for its role in seeking Muslim land and fighting against Muslim civilization. Muslim countries have witnessed an internal “jihad” through the removal of leaders classified as un-Islamic based on an unwillingness to impose Sharia law within their nations. This internal “jihad” has taken place historically with the Iranian Revolution’s removal of Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat, and the overthrow of Sudanese President Jaafar Nimeiry. External “jihad” against foreign occupiers of Muslim lands has taken place many times throughout history, recently in the Afghan fight for independence against Soviet occupation and Palestinian and Lebanese liberation movements against Israeli-occupied territories. Modern “jihad” has become a war with the goals of reshaping Islamic society by ridding it of Western influence and presence, economically and politically. What has been described as jihad, and then reported by worldwide media, is far removed from classical jihad described in the Qur’an. Terrorist attacks that aim at killing large numbers of civilians, including women and children, are unilaterally condemned under Sharia law. Their fights do not comply with the rules outlining when physical jihad can take place and how it may be fought. It is not wrong for people to believe jihad can be violent, but it is wrong to only hold this belief without an understanding of the other aspects of jihad. Some modern Muslims have provided this misinterpretation and perpetuated the fear that Islam as a violent religion able to wage wars at any time, on any grounds. Jihad is popularly misunderstood in today’s world as a synonym for holy war. This misunderstanding has been prevalent for decades but has become more widespread because of a handful of terrorist attacks being labeled as jihad

against America and Europe by radical Islamists. By examining jihad, as defined by the Qur’an, and analyzing historical accounts of jihad, it becomes clear that jihad can involve physical violence if all the rules outlined by the Qur’an are followed, including only the use of conventional warfare and killing of combatants. The modern interpretation of jihad does not consider the context of the Qur’an or classical Islamic law, and it ignores the other aspects of jihad. Jihad is the internal struggle Muslims face to fight off evil, the striving effort to become a better person, a more pious follower of Islam. Jihad focuses primarily on internal struggles, with external struggles such as warfare being secondary, and only if physical force is necessary and legitimate. It is very unfortunate that the true meaning of jihad has become lost in today’s society. Jihad is one of most admirable and good-natured duties within Islam, from which many could learn from to better themselves and their lives.

References Ali, Afroz. Overcoming Misunderstandings: Understanding Jihad http://alghazzali. org/resources/articles/jihad.pdf, accessed 20 May 2010. Bonner, Michael. Jihad in Islamic History, Princeton, 2006, p. 39. Bonney, Richard. Jihad: From Qur’an to Bin Laden, New York, 2005, p. 27. Chittick, William and Murata, Sachiko. The Vision of Islam, St. Paul, 1994, p. 21. Esposito, John L. “Violence and Terrorism.” In What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam. Oxford Islamic Studies Online, http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com.ezproxy.lib.monash.edu.au/ article/book/islam-9780195157130/islam9780195157130-chapter-5 accessed 25 May 2010. Gerges, Fawaz. The Far Enemy, New York, 2009, p. 43. Greenberg, Karen. Al Qaeda Now, New York, 2005, p. 213. Kelsay, John. Arguing the Just War in Islam, Boston, 2007, p. 41. Muhammad, Noor. “The Doctrine of Jihad: An Introduction,” Journal of Law and Religion, vol. 3, no.2, 1985, p. 395 Napoleoni, Loretta. “Modern Jihad: The Islamist Crusade,” SAIS Review, vol. 23, no. 2, 2003, p. 53. Tibi, Bassam. Political Islam, World Politics, and Europe. New York, 2008, pp. 41-42. Vahide, Sukran. Jihad in the Modern Age: Bediuzzaman Said Nursi’s Interpretation of Jihad, at http://www.nur.org/en/nurcenter/nurlibrary/Bediuzzaman_Said_Nursi_s_Interpretation_of_Jihad_168, accessed 22 May 2010. September / October 2011

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RIDA (ResIgnatIon)

R EMERALD HILLS OF THE HEART Resignation means that an initiate feels no resentment against or displeasure with whatever issues from God’s Divinity or Lordship. Rather, the initiate welcomes it gladly and is ready to accept or endure his or her fate without complaint.

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esignation means showing no rancor or rebellion against misfortune, and accepting all manifestations of destiny without complaint and even better peacefully. In other words, one should welcome all things and events, even those normally associated with distress and terror. Another beautiful definition of resignation is having or showing pleased acceptance of God’s treatment whether it seems agreeable or disagreeable to us. Even though believers must adopt resignation of their free will at the beginning of the spiritual journey, in reality it is a direct gift of God to those whom He loves. For this reason, unlike patience, neither God Almighty nor the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, commanded it; they only recommended it. Although there is a narration attributed to the Prophet—Let him who does not endure misfortunes and show resignation to Divine decrees find another Lord for himself—the scholars of Traditions did not accept it as an authentic Prophetic Tradition. Some saints have considered resignation a higher station than reliance and surrender, while others have regarded it, like other states, as a divine gift or radiance that sometimes appears and then disappears. Still others, like Imam Qushayri, have seen it as connected with or dependent upon the servant’s free will in the beginning, and as a state or condition of the heart in the end. Resignation is a divine gift that can be acquired only by an individual’s conscious decision to exercise free will at the beginning of the journey. One can attain the rank of resignation through depth of belief, solemnity in religious


actions, and profound consciousness of worshipping God as if seeing Him. To be favored with the rank of resignation, one also must transcend the ranks of reliance, surrender, and commitment. Since it is extremely difficult to attain the rank of resignation by free will, God Almighty did not order it; He only advised it and highly praised those who attained it.1 If one sets out on the journey to attain the rank of resignation at the end, he or she must be solemn in his or her relations with the Lord; gratefully accept all bestowed (and unsought) Divine gifts as His blessings; remain silent about any deprivation; fulfill all religious obligations even in times of distress, loneliness, and hardship; and pray in the presence of God Almighty as if entering a bridal chamber. The most essential foundation of resignation is a continuous feeling of His company in one’s consciousness and experience, discovering Him afresh at every moment in one’s heart. Fear and hope relate to one’s worldly life, for they render impossible all feelings of despair and security against God’s punishment while in this world. They have no relevance to the Hereafter, except for the reward they cause to be bestowed in the Hereafter. By contrast, being pleased with God and loving Him continue eternally, and resignation to His judgment and being pleased with Him is a source of spiritual peace and happiness in both worlds. This does not mean that those who have obtained resignation and God’s pleasure or approval are free of anxiety, hardship, and suffering, for there remain many annoying and displeasing things along their way. However, champions of resignation regard them as pure mercies, for resignation or God’s pleasure changes the “poison” they drink into “elixir,” and the troubles they encounter cause them to fall even deeper in love with the Beloved.

The way of resignation, although difficult to follow, is safe and direct. It sometimes leads the wayfarer to the summit of human perfection after a single attempt. Just as a believer can reach that summit by strenuous effort in the way of God or by studying the universe (as if it were a book) in order to feel and find God everywhere (although He is contained in neither time nor place), the summit can also be reached through one’s inner suffering and sorrow arising from personal shortcomings and helplessness upon encountering difficulties while searching for a way to progress on the path. Resignation results in a thrilling joy or a heavenly breeze from God’s being pleased with the believer that is proportional to the depth of one’s fear and hope. It does not come from feeling God’s nearness, worship and devotion, the struggle against sin and the temptations of one’s carnal self and Satan. Rather, it is a spiritual delight merged with hope and expectation, regulated by self-possession, a direct gift from Him, and a breath of mercy associated only with this station of being pleased with God. This station requires the self-regulation of one’s thoughts, considerations, plans, hopes, expectations, feelings, and actions according to God’s Will. Thus, seeing it as a way to experience pleasure and delight in the expectation of acquiring that pleasure and delight shows one’s disrespect of this station, which is based on the purity of one’s intention and sincerity. In reality, this applies to all other states and stations attained through actions of the heart, or which are themselves actions of the heart. One must love and pursue His approval or pleasure for His sake only. Heroes of the spiritual life have expressed their views about resignation and being pleased with God since the early days of Sufism. According to Dhu al-Nun al-Misri, resignation means preferring God’s

wishes over one’s own in advance, accepting His decree without complaint based on the realization that whatever God wills and does is good,2 and overflowing with love of Him even while in the grip of misfortune. ‘Ali Zayn al-’Abidin describes resignation as an initiate’s determination not to pursue anything opposed to God’s Will and pleasure.3 According to Abu ‘Uthman, resignation denotes welcoming with the same mood all divine decrees and disposals, regardless of whether they issue from His Grace or His Majesty or Wrath, and having no conscious preference for one or the other.4 God’s Messenger referred to this when he said: I ask You for resignation after You have decreed something.5 Being pleased in advance with God’s decree means being determined to show resignation, while resignation signifies enduring calamity when it occurs. In short, resignation means that an initiate feels no resentment against or displeasure with whatever issues from God’s Divinity or Lordship. Rather, the initiate welcomes it gladly and is ready to accept or endure his or her fate without complaint. The initiate does not upset the balance of his or her heart. Rather, he or she preserves personal integrity and straightforwardness even when confronted with the most distressing and shocking events, considers God’s predestination recorded in the Supreme Preserved Tablet,6 and thus feels no regret or sorrow for what happens.

Notes 1. See 3:15, 89:28, 98:8. 2. Al-Qushayri, ar-Risala, 311. 3. Ibid. 311. 4. Ibid. 5. An-Nasa’i, “Sahw,” 62; Ibn Hanbal, alMusnad, 5:191. 6. The Supreme Preserved Tablet (Lawh Mahfuz) is where the divine principles that determine the archetypal “plan and program” of creation, and the future lives of all beings, including all their deeds, are kept recorded. September / October 2011

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The Art of Living Together Rocks or Rainbows: Lessons for Interreligious Dialogue

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The Challenge of Peaceful Coexistence Geography of Friendship: Two Poems and Some Thoughts

Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos

Jill Carroll

Frances M. Leap

Sumeyra Tosun and Kelli Angelone

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America’s Potential for Peace

Fatma Yilmaz

July / August 2011 2011TheThe Fountain Magazine September / October Fountain Magazine

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///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// ///////////////////////////////// Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos Bishop Demetrios is the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Art Living of THE

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Together

t the onset of the twentyfirst century, a new relationship is being forged between my own Greek Orthodox Christian community and the Turkish Muslim community of the United States. That such a dialogue occurs at all surprises some within and beyond these communities, not understanding that such a dialogue has a long and complicated history in Turkey itself. Still, the stereotyped, traditional conflict between the Greeks and Turks has always been more complicated than what is portrayed outside of Greece and Turkey. The fact that the nascent American version of this dialogue between two communities has developed largely following the events of September 11, 2001, is therefore somewhat coincidental; that it has evolved in a society coming to terms with cultural and religious realities largely ignored by the majority prior to those events has only created an atmosphere where our work is increasingly perceived as necessary within both communities. 34

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As representatives of our respective cultures and faiths, we are the inheritors of a vast wealth of knowledge, beauty, and pain.

When coming “face to face” in dialogue, it is always an honor to be with so many people of like mind, who, for the sake of peace and justice and the higher ideals of their individual professions of faith and spiritual law, seek what St. Paul calls “a more excellent way.” Surely we “religious types” and others whose intellectual currency is the exchange of ideas between cultures, are in our day and age (a tense time of fear and resentment) unique stewards of a special and exceptional place in history. As representatives of our respective cultures and faiths, as representatives of what our individual culture’s legacy has shaped each of us to be, we are the inheritors of a vast wealth of knowledge, beauty, and pain. Surely, even though we are inheritors of history’s conflicts—which admittedly, sometimes color our more noble attempts to turn mere tolerance into understanding—we should be able to find some purpose and


The mosaic at the Greek Patriarchate in Istanbul depicting the Patriarch Gennadios receiving a document being handed to him by Sultan Mehmet II in 1453. It is the Firman, the legal document guaranteeing that the Orthodox Church would continue its traditions and mission among its people during Muslim Ottoman rule. Photo courtesy of John Feister

encouragement in that same history. This is not an easy thing in our time, in this age of constant media noise and lack of historical context. The Greek Orthodox Christian and Turkish Muslim communities share a unique past; hence, our dialogue emerges from a complex, and, at times, painful history that Orthodox Christianity and Islam, Greece and Turkey have suffered and shared. Yet we have come a long way. We have traveled a difficult road filled with many obstacles, physical violence, and the metaphorical obstacles

of our intellectual insecurities that have perhaps hampered our higher aspirations even more than the former darkness of our historical conflicts. The influential and intellectually challenging Muslim thinker Fethullah Gülen puts it in another way, in broader terms, when he writes: Negative feelings and attributes often defeat people, pulling them under their domination to such an extent that even the religions that guide people to goodness and kindness are abused, as well as the feelings and attributes that are sources of absolute good.2

How truly these words reflect the experience for so many of us and for our ancestors. And struggling with religion’s truths—perhaps too weighty for us to comprehend fully and therefore abused by all of us, each of us misapplying our own ideals to baser human endeavors—we have suffered. What we did not understand was that we were suffering together. In retrospect, our shared history contains hope for our shared destiny. Allow me to depict an image from our shared past, to recount an event shared by Greek Orthodox Christians and Turkish Muslims that is often overlooked. However, it has silently brought a message to us through the ages. In Istanbul, there are two images in the Patriarchate at the Phanar, two mosaics. They grace the foyer at the entrance of the main office building. On the one side is a depiction of St. Andrew, the First Called of Jesus’ Apostles and the first Bishop of Byzantium. With him is Stachys, Andrew’s successor (from 38–54 ce) in a long line of bishops who have made Byzantium, Constantinople, and Istanbul their home to the present. On the other side of that foyer at the Phanar is a mosaic that depicts the Patriarch Gennadios. He stands with his hand open, receiving a document being handed to him by Sultan Mehmet II in 1453. It is the Firman, the legal document guaranteeing that the Orthodox Church would continue its traditions and mission among its people during Muslim Ottoman rule. The first image depicts the beginning of one of our peoples’ faith traditions. The next image depicts the inherent understanding of tradition that the progenitors of the Turkish nation had and would continue to keep. Our shared history is, obviously, something less than perfect. It is a human story about human people. Nevertheless, time and the tides of numerous historical fortunes have brought us to this moment in the United States. And we are together at this moment, in yet another time, in ways that could have only occurred because of this culture’s strengths. Imagine what this dialogue might mean to our anSeptember / October 2011

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cestors if they were to see us now— Turks and Greeks together, sharing freedom, sharing meals at banquets, working together in a common cause and, most importantly, hoping for a still better future. I, a Greek Orthodox bishop, one born in the United States, whose spiritual ties are to that great city on the shores of the Bosphorus, have stood before Turkish audiences and the people of America’s multicultural, multi-ethnic faith traditions, as an honored guest. We have been together at a table laden with the true food of human being—of human existence: understanding, mutual respect and hope. Our future is contingent upon our acknowledgment of the past. History is always the greatest teacher. And after the long, difficult history of our interactions, we have something else that can and must help us become even greater witnesses: each of our own cultures and of the shared experiences we still remember. It is perhaps a difficult truth to embrace, but those who have been enemies quite often understand each other better than those who have never been part of their conflict. In the film, The Matrix Reloaded, one character says to another, whom he has just fought: “You never really know who someone is until you fight him.” At this point in our history, when the need to fight has long passed, we have an opportunity to look at each other in a unique and intense way, and seeing one another in truth and love, we may yet see ourselves in the other. And this then may become the key to our common future and works of righteousness done in shared hope for a better world. So, perhaps we have even managed to give goodness to the world together, to save what was the best of our respective histories, and allow the future to be a mirror, worthy of the deepest truths of our faiths, in which to see the truest reflection of our humanity. Turan Oflazoğlu says, “What we need is to enrich ourselves with those aspects of foreign culture which are not congenial to 36

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our nature.”3 We must seek the “other” amongst us and invite them into our lives. We must share our hopes our fears, our joys, and our sorrows. We must find ways of transcending our conflicts, both historical and intellectual, and create a new future together. My reflection on this dialogue is that, “We are the world in small.”4 May we may now truly praise the Creator’s gift of life in all its diversity, and walk together into the future in a new way. I hope that we will take the second step with the same sense of warmth and respect that we have experienced the first step. To quote the late, great prophet of reconciliation, Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras— ἐλάτε

νά κοιτταχθούμε – “come, let us look into one another’s eyes.” Notes 1.

Portions of this article have been taken from remarks delivered October 11, 2005, in Atlanta, GA, at an event sponsored by the Istanbul Center for Culture & Dialogue. 2. M. Fethullah Gülen, Essays, Perspectives, Opinions, (New Jersey: The Light, 2002), 26. 3. Turan Oflazoğlu, Making Use of Traditions, Türk Dili (July, 1991: 475: 1-10). Accessed online at http://www. turkishlit.boun.edu.tr/popup_print. asp?ID=1537&CharSet=English. 4. Eleanor of Aquitane in the stage play and film, The Lion in Winter: William Goldman (author), Avco Embassy Films, 1968. This echoes Greek Orthodox spiritual authors who frequently refer to humanity as a microcosm.


A Panorama of

Dialogue in Action

Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew

Late Pope John Paul II

Fethullah Gßlen, prominent Turkish Muslim scholar, has met with spiritual leaders of major world religions to initiate interfaith dialogue as a venue for peace. Late John O’Connor, Cardinal of New York

Eliyahu Bakshi Deron, Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel

David Aseo, Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Community in Turkey

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Frances M. Leap is associate professor

of religious studies at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

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Rocks or Rainbows: Lessons for Interreligious Dialogue

Enthusiasts for religious dialogue bring a desire for mutual enrichment and learning, and a confidence that coming to know one another better will bring benefits for all.

ore than two decades ago, as a new professor at a small college, I was assigned a course that included a unit on nonChristian religious traditions. Since I had little background myself in this area, my students and I learned together through our own research and field visits. We encountered Judaism at the local synagogue, Hinduism at a Vishnu temple in a nearby city, and Islam at a mosque in the suburbs. We could also have studied Buddhism, Sikhism, and two other branches of Hinduism since there was a meditation society, a Gurdwara, and Shirdi and Jain temples in the city, as well as five additional mosques. Religious pluralism surrounded us, but 38

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we knew nothing about it because religious dialogue was not an ordinary activity. Since taking students on such interfaith field visits was not common practice at the time, it stirred a mix of reactions. Many students approached the project with eager curiosity; they were rainbow optimists, following an arc of hope and expecting good at its end. Other students were reluctant, apprehensive, and afraid of the unknown; they armed themselves with intellectual rocks of protection for their worldview. Some parents even called my office to express their concern about the nature and purpose of such study for their children. Could curiosity weaken their child’s faith, the parents wondered. Even though religious pluralism has been a reality throughout human history, and is certainly an element of our societies today, for many people, then as now, it has remained a distant reality, remote from the routines of daily life. When the opportunity for an interreligious encounter is offered, it can evoke both curiosity and fear. As human beings we are equipped to wonder about and seek the new or unknown, but we are also endowed with a certain caution about, even fear, of what is different. Both of these reactions have characterized the debate about religious dialogue today, often to the irritation of one another, as students have encountered in classes. But both of these approaches have something important to share and should be heard. Enthusiasts for religious dialogue bring a desire for mutual enrichment and learning, and a confidence that coming to know one another better will bring benefits for all. The rock-wielding cautious fear that interreligious dialogue is a dangerous and misguided endeavor brings a deep sense of what is treasured and unique in our own traditions that must not be lost or sacrificed to the inevitable encounter. In listening to the concerns and hopes raised by both voices, it can become clearer what interreligious

dialogue is not and also what it is intended to be; caution and enthusiasm together can shape encounters among various believers that are fruitful and inspirational.

The mirror of dialogue A frequent concern raised about dialogue is that it will be a disguised effort at proselytizing for conversions to one faith or another. This is certainly not the intention of genuine interreligious dialogue, and this approach should not be brought to the table of dialogue. Faithful and committed believers of a religious tradition are asked to respect the faithful believers of other religious traditions who share a similar devotion and joy in their commitments. The holy Qur’an states, “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one September / October 2011

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another.” (49:13) The Roman Catholic Church also exhorts her members that “through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions…they recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among them.” (Nostra Aetate, 2) Of course, believers engaged in dialogue will explain with great enthusiasm the faith that they hold dear, but the primary goal of interreligious dialogue is simply to listen to and come to know others. Far from converting believers away from their faith, interreligious experiences usually deepen original commitments. It has been suggested that “those who know only one, know none.” In comprehending another faith, we come to a far deeper understanding and appreciation of our own belief. In our reflection in the Other, we come to see ourselves anew. In my own experience over the years, leading dozens of classes on field visits to various houses of worship, I observe similar outcomes each time. Though the fear of parents that their children might be lured into a conversion by a persuasive speaker would seem to 40

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have even more ground today, since students often have very little religious knowledge when entering the classroom, the common response of students is not conversion to a new tradition but rather a renewed interest in the faith traditions of their own families. Even when students have been raised by their parents to make their own choice, as if a faith tradition were simply a matter of consumer preference in the marketplace, I have found that they want to “come home.” If home does not provide much religious substance, to find spiritual roots students are more likely to turn to their grandparents than to convert simply because of exposure to a new tradition.

Not the baking method Sometimes the cautious question if interreligious dialogue is aiming to bring religions together in a way that creates a new and improved religion, a combination of the “best of all,” so to speak. The technical term for this is syncretism, but it is also (derisively) known as the “baking method”—take a little of this and a little of that and a little more of something else and bake it into a new tasty religion for all to follow.

This approach, too, is certainly not an element of genuine interreligious dialogue but rather is an attitude born in the individualism of consumer culture—finding something that suits my taste. True interreligious dialogue takes places among faithful and committed believers of established religious traditions who intend to remain that way. It is not a casual comparison of recipes, but a sincere effort to know one another as we are. Again, in my own field visit experience with classes, it is precisely when faced with the devotion of a believing community at worship that students are inspired to look at their own tradition to see what they have missed. The prayer practice of Islam has led students to discover the Angelus and the Liturgy of the Hours in the Catholic tradition, or the practice of daily scripture devotion in other Christian traditions. This is not syncretism, but rather interfaith inspiration that strengthens.

But can we disagree? Two other objections I have heard raised about dialogue seem to be from opposite sides of the same coin. First, some fear that par-


The old city of Jerusalem ticipants from other traditions will judge our beliefs or practices and condemn them unfairly because they are based in a different set of values or cultural apprehension. The second worry is that as we listen to others we may hear some things with which we profoundly disagree but, prevented from expressing this by the “etiquette” of dialogue, be reduced to tacitly supporting relativism. I believe the question raised by both objections is essentially the same—where is Truth to be found and how do we act upon it? Can we truly listen to one another without discovering all the places we disagree? And what then do we do with that disagreement? In response to these foundational questions, two points must be kept in mind. One is that each of us has the human obligation to sincerely seek for Truth, for the objective reality at the heart of the universe. This will necessarily entail that we must make judgments for ourselves in regard to various Truth claims. However, it is important to be clear that the basic purpose of interreligious dialogue is simply coming to know and understand those varied claims made by religious

traditions; we are not expecting to reach agreement on them in regard to religious doctrine or practice. The second point clarifies this further. In coming to know one another we may find real and significant differences in the lived moral consequences of our beliefs and practices. It is very important to remember that we do not grapple with these differences in interreligious dialogue. Rather, the proper sphere for that work is in political debate. In a multicultural democracy we engage one another in political discussion, convincing one another of the value and efficacy of our moral vision and why it should prevail in law. It is at the table of interreligious dialogue that we come to understand one another, but it is at the table of political discourse that we try to persuade one another, not for a religious conversion to our Truth claims, but for a moral consensus regarding lived values. The conversation at each table is better because of the work of the other.

Wisdom of the heart With these cautions and clarifications in mind, we are better able to hear the enthusiasts in explaining the benefits of dialogue. At center is the inspiration that dialogue can renew our own spirituality. I certainly see this result in the classroom. Most parents have encountered a stage in their adolescent children’s development when they listen to advice with greater openness if it comes from someone other than their parents. Interreligious experience is a similar inspiration, and not just to questioning teens, but to developed believers as well. Hearing others share their deepest convictions about the Divine can renew the vigor of our own quest for holiness. Often in dialogue our hearts meet before our heads agree and we find that it is in the wisdom of the heart that God’s presence is made known. Understanding one another and how very much our traditions hold in common can bring mutual enrichment on local and global levels as well. Citizens in society are better equipped to live in peace and work for justice when they have had in-

terreligious encounters to share and learn about one another. Prejudice is exposed and broken. In the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy, I received several email messages from former students who expressed their gratitude for the field visits they had made to mosques in earlier years. Having met Muslims as prayerful, welcoming human beings was helping them, at that difficult national moment, to share with others that Islam is not a religion of terrorism and all Muslims were not responsible for, nor rejoiced in, the events of that tragedy. They were able to be voices of peace in the midst of great national confusion.

Sustained encounters When it is possible for interreligious dialogue to become a sustained encounter among individuals or groups, over time it can begin to reshape those who participate in profound and beautiful ways. Though most of my students are only able to have one or two field experiences during their study, I am privileged to be on every trip, returning year after year and building friendships with the generous believers who host our visits. The encounters have gradually ceased to be between “us” and “them,” learning about their ways and teaching them our ways. Instead, as we have continued to listen and share, we find ourselves becoming a “we” in our common humanity, a commonality that honors, and yet also transcends the differences of culture and faith, of geography and economics. I am deeply grateful to my dialogue partners for the depth and strength they have added to my own faith journey. Religious pluralism is a reality; it surrounds us and permeates the culture. But interreligious dialogue is a choice. Burying our heads in the sand and throwing rocks when we come up for air will not change anyone’s heart, including our own. Instead we can choose to move toward a mind of greater perception, a heart of greater love, a world of greater peace, by accepting the invitation to know one another, carefully and respectfully crossing the arc of dialogue into mutual understanding. September / October 2011

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Jill Carroll Dr. Carroll is a scholar, writer and speaker who specializes in world religions, religion and world politics, religion in public life, and applied life philosophy. She is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Rice University.

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The Challenge of Peaceful Coexistence Peaceful coexistence is the most important project of our era. But we cannot do it alone or in isolation; we must do it together.

he world has become very small. Mass communications, mass travel, and economic interdependence have created a contemporary world in which we as individuals and groups no longer can live in isolation from other groups as well as we could have in previous periods. Nations and groups of people who barely knew of each other now see each other’s lives and worlds in living color and in real time through television and the internet. Governments who counted on secrecy and submission just a few years ago now find themselves humbled, bewildered, and even overthrown through mass communications that broadcast 42

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their tyrannical deeds—and the bravery of those who resist them— to the entire world. Regions who thrived in their own prosperity in isolation from the poverty and stagnation of other regions now find their economies racked by volatility as globalism ties the purse strings of world commerce together into complicated knots. The world has become small, and we are with each other— knowing of, affecting, and interacting with each other—more than we ever have in the history of the world. And we are not the same. Yes, we are all human beings. Yes, all of us are subject to the universal conditions of human existence like uncertainty, change, loss, and death. But how we deal with those conditions and what we make them mean depends in large part on our distinctive cultures, backgrounds, languages, and histories. Herein lie the differences in the human family. We do not think the same. We don’t pray to the same gods. We don’t choose the same cultural values. We don’t share specific histories. We interpret the world, and ourselves in it, in very different ways. Given these differences, how can we all live together? Is peaceful coexistence possible globally, regionally, or even within one family? If so, what are the necessary components that create it? In other words, what are the preconditions—philosophically, socially, politically, culturally, or otherwise—for peaceful coexistence


among different people? These are powerful and complex questions that require asking even more questions in order to answer.

First we must ask questions of history. Have we as human beings ever lived together peacefully? Have people of very different faiths, for example, ever lived with each other for a sustained period of time without seeking to oppress or eradicate each other? Answering these questions requires a significant and thorough study of world history. If we determine that sustained peaceful coexistence has been achieved in certain situations—for example, under the Ottomans in the fifteenth century, or in thirteenthcentury Spain—we must further determine what factors allowed that coexistence to occur. What were the specific conditions—economic, political, social, cultural, etc.—that made that coexistence possible? These conditions and factors are myriad; to distinguish them so that they can be meaningful to us today requires intensive analysis from highly skilled and knowledgeable individuals.

Once distinguished, can the conditions that made peaceful coexistence possible elsewhere and in a different era be transported to the present time, into a current situation of conflict and violence? Can the conditions be recreated today, the present time, although taken from the past? This may seem simple, but it is not. People change from era to era. Notions of what is permissible, moral, and just change over time even within one culture, much more across cultures. What worked in a previous period, in terms of a conception of societal harmony and justice, cannot simply be picked up and moved into a new era with different notions of morality, truth, society, etc. Things must be translated first, and even before being translated, we must determine if the factors in question can be translated at all. Worldviews may have changed so much in the intervening centuries that they no longer work as viable concepts for today. If certain conditions and factors that generate peaceful coexistence can be translated from the past into today’s world, they must then

be implemented socially, culturally, politically, economically, and legally. In many instances, this will require a fundamental overhaul of current socio-political systems. Transformations of this nature are daunting simply because of their sheer magnitude. Moreover, such societal transformations contain within them the seeds for violence and injustice. They rarely happen without conflict. Implementation of new societal structures must happen in a way that minimizes or omits opportunities for breakdown, violence, and retribution from those who may feel left out or trampled upon by the changes. Otherwise, the implementation of a new system for peaceful coexistence ends up perpetuating yet more violent conflict. These are the questions we must ask of history. But we cannot stop there. We must also ask questions of the religions. What is the general stance of our religious traditions to those who do not share its beliefs and commitments? Does it demand eradication of all contrary belief systems and the people who propagate them? Or does it request accommodation of “the stranger,” or those who believe and live differently? In short, do people of faith ground themselves into patterns of tolerance or intolerance as they root themselves in their faith traditions? These are difficult questions to answer because the religions themselves, as historical entities that grow and change over time, sometimes seem to have multiple ways of being with regard to peaceful coexistence. Over the centuries, adherents of the largest two religions in the world—Christianity and Islam—have lived both peacefully and non-peacefully with each other, and with people of other religions they encountered. Certainly, the teachings of both religions encourage peaceful coexistence in their respective sacred texts and traditions. However, both these religions also have suffered violent expression in the hands of those who either ignore the teachings of coexistence, or twist the teachings to justify violence and terror. September / October 2011

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Whatever our religious traditions were intended to be, the fact is that historically they have been used to perpetrate some of the worst imaginable violence ever created in the human family. And we have to face this hard fact with courage, and with resolve to enlist our religious traditions as major players in the project of peaceful coexistence. The potential for religious conflict in society is the chief reason why societies that have achieved peaceful coexistence to any extent champion religious tolerance as a chief civic virtue, and they actually implement that virtue into society culturally and legally. Given the diverse and absolute claims of many religious and moral traditions, tolerance is really all we can ask of people. We cannot, in a truly pluralistic society, expect morally committed or devout persons to embrace or to celebrate practices that they, due to their faith or ethics, consider to be sinful, heretical, or abhorrent. We cannot expect them to acknowledge the legitimacy of gods, or modes of worship, or ways of life they consider to be false. To expect this in the realm of religion is to be fundamentally intolerant. We cannot advocate, in the name of tolerance, a society that tolerates everything but certain forms of traditional religious or moral conviction. Tolerance, then, is the capacity to put up with or to accommodate ideas, beliefs, and behaviors that one finds deeply problematic, and is society’s most essential civic virtue, especially in societies as ethnically, religiously, and racially diverse as many countries are becoming in this period of globalization. Daily life in such societies simply will not move along if the citizenry cannot practice basic tolerance. Of course, simply gritting our teeth and grudgingly putting up with others we don’t like or with whom we disagree is the low-water mark of societal growth. Ideally, we would grow to a place of greater understanding and appreciation for those who are radically different from us, even if we still do not accept or agree with their beliefs or practices. Sometimes, however, basic tolerance, 44

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especially in matters of religion, is the best we can do. These are the questions we must ask of our religions. But we cannot stop here, either. We must also ask questions of ourselves. We must search ourselves and examine our hearts. Are we really committed to living together with people who are different from us? Do we really accept the fact that we as people will never all believe, think, pray, live, or act the same— and that we just have to deal with it? Or do we resent these “facts on the ground” and spend our efforts trying to coerce others or force them into changing to be more like us? Or, having given up on making other people like us, do we isolate ourselves into enclaves of sameness and construct the daily arc of our lives so that we don’t have to encounter many people who are different from us? Part of the reason why achieving peaceful coexistence is so challenging has to do with individuals. All the legal, cultural, and societal structures that support peaceful coexistence may be in place; however, they will fail to show results unless one thing is true—people genuinely must want to live in peace. This is not a given. While we may think, and commonly say, that all people really want is to live in peace, this is not true. Not everyone wants to live in peace. Often people put qualifiers to the prospects for peace in their lives and worlds. For example, they say, “I want peace in my region, but not if it means giving up any of our land.” Or, “I want peace in the region, but we cannot allow attacks on our national honor.” In other words, we say we want peace, but not if it means we have to give up something that we deem more important than peace. Many of us value other things more than peace. Even in our personal lives, in our relationships with family and friends, we often keep grudges and enmities in place for years and years despite many opportunities to do away with them and create peace. Why? Because we would have to give up something that we value more than peace, in order to achieve peace in that situation—a feeling of

being right, a sense of superiority, the perverse joy we take in condemning other people or groups, and other things. We have to let go of these types of things to create peace, yet we often prefer them to peace. So, the conflict and tension endure year after year, and all the while we are saying, to ourselves and to others, that we want peace. We are not being honest about the situation. We value other things more than peace. Ultimately, achieving peaceful coexistence at the individual, interpersonal level has to do with a person’s capacity for difference. How comfortable are we with people who are different from us? Do we feel threatened by them? Do we feel nervous around them? Or, can we be relaxed and comfortable within ourselves even when surrounded by people who believe, look, and act differently than us? Today’s global world demands all of us to expand our inner capacities for difference, so that we are not easily threatened by people who are not exactly like us. All of us must stretch our comfort zones beyond their current boundaries.

These are the hard, searching questions we must ask ourselves. Only when we give ourselves authentically to these questions with a view toward creating sustained, peaceful coexistence will we have a future worth living for. Moreover, all of us must do this work together— religious and secular, liberals and conservatives—all of us. Otherwise, the forces of globalization that have made our world smaller will bring with it new and more barbaric forms of hatred, oppression, and violence. Achieving peaceful coexistence is, then, the most important project of our era. And we must give ourselves to it wholly, with our fullest capacities for knowledge and understanding, with our truest intentions for truth and justice, and with our bravest strengths in order to journey through the challenges and difficulties that the process entails. We most certainly can do it. But we cannot do it alone or in isolation; we must do it together.


REFLECTIONS

REFLECTIONS

REFLECTIONS

REFLECTIONS

REFLECTIONS REFLECTIONS

REFLECTIONS

REFLECTIONS

A major inducement for divine guidance and assistance is sincere cooperation and alliance and to avoid disunity and dissociation. *** September / October 2011

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Sumeyra Tosun and Kelli Angelone

Sumeyra Tosun is a forensic psychologist and graduate student at Texas A&M University, Department of Psychology. Kelli Angelone has a BA in Environmental Studies and minors in Creative Writing and Philosophy. She currently works as an air quality/ transportation planner in the Houston area. ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Geography of Friendship Two Poems and Some Thoughts Two poems to give you a taste of two worlds and to be fascinated about how different we are and how much we have in common.

pg.46

Where I’m from By Sumeyra Tosun I am from the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve and from the nomads of the Toros Mountains and the grandchildren of Mawlana Jalal ad-Din Rumi. I am from a specially sifted extract of clay in the very beginning, then from a clot clinging, then from a chewed lump, and then from created bones and clothed flesh.1 I am from impassable mountains, cranes that are dignified as well as shy, tireless horses, from the daystar to find my way, wisdom, hospitality, and righteousness, and from kismet,2 not luck.3 I am from Istanbul, the city of dialectics, the city that is born every day and dies every day, and the city that stands in limbo from the scent of narcissus in winter and baby’s breath in summer. I am from sweat, blood, elbow grease, 46

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ecently I was reading a book called The Geography of Thought. To my surprise, the author claimed that Eastern and Western people had different types of cognition, meaning that they think differently, perceive the world differently, explain relations of causality differently, and solve their problems differently. As I was pondering all these differences, a friend of mine, Kelli, ebulliently came up with an idea. We would each separately write a “Where I’m from” poem and compare them. Since I was born in the East, and she was born in the West, we would see the differences between us, as well as the similarities, helping us to understand each other better and enrich us culturally and informatively. In order to write the poem I began to think about my roots and heritage and also my personal experiences. The experience made me dive deep in my thoughts and feelings, and explore myself again. Writing this poem was helpful and good for me psychologically. Here is the final product: and honor, not easy money. I am from a coffee thermos that is actually for drinking tea. I am from “Down with Big Brother.”4 from freedom and equality, but not, “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”5 I am from the eyes of Edgar Allen Poe, who saw much sorrow, cruelty, disappointment, and craziness. I am from a grizzled mind, rather than from white or black or even from gray.6 So I am from “both/and” instead of “either/or.” I am from the timeless adage, “serving people, serving God.” All in all, after living this long, I am in the phase of giving up Leyla in the way of finding Mawla.7, 8 ***


The fact that Sumeyra and I come from such different backgrounds continues to astonish me. There are many American cultural references that she does not understand or has never heard. Since we both live in America right now—I have lived here my whole life and Sumeyra is here for school—I get to play teacher. I love English so I teach Sumeyra and other Turkish friends of ours American phrases, mannerisms, customs, and vocabulary. She comes to me with words she does not understand and I explain. At the same time, when I am in her home with her roommates from Turkish-speaking parts of the world and different regions of Turkey, I am the one left in the dark about cultural practices and sayings, especially when everyone begins speaking Turkish. I am learning, but it is slow because here in America I have the advantage—more people speak my language.  I found this poem called “Where I’m from” by George Ella, and I thought writing a similar poem would help me learn more about where Sumeyra is coming from. She speaks softly but likes loud music. She loves to learn and cares about people. We are both so proud of our heritage, a pride that I sense comes from an appreciation of the gifts our predecessors have given us. Sumeyra has a head-start on me: English literature is taught in many places, and American culture—movies, music, customs—is more widely known throughout the world. Before Sumeyra, the last significant thing I had heard about Turkey was Constantinople and the Ottoman Empire. But she can talk to me about American movies, American books—she’s read and seen many of them as well. She educates me about Turkish music and tells me about Turkish politics and history.

Where I’m from By Kelli Angelone   I am from the soft hills of Texas, cactus flowers, and the smooth stone bed of the Frio River. I am from sunlight through autumn leaves and the scent of rosemary. I am from cheerfulness, ingenuity, and pragmatism, from seamstresses9 and survivors of the Depression and World War II, from the ones who shared with neighbors and the ones who happened to come back. I am from the South, the sweltering heat that envelops you, sometimes comforting, sometimes suffocating. I am from this place, these people, but I am also from the world of books, from dragon riders and shapeshifters10 and Bilbo the Hobbit.11 I am from the Birmingham jail: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”12 And I am from compassion and defiance: “What kind of world do you think is suitable for love?”13 But most importantly, I am made from a messaged delivered on white wings: “Sing for Me a new song.”14 We were hoping with these poems that we could give you a taste of two worlds, so you could be as fascinated as we are about how different we are and how much we have in common.

Notes 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Holy Qur’an 23:12-14. Kismet means fate or destiny. Schrödinger’s Cat, by Alev Alatli. 1984, by George Orwell. Animal Farm, by George Orwell. Schrödinger’s Cat, by Alev Alatli. Mawla means protector, master, or friend, and is used for God.

8. 9.

Layla and Majnun, by Fuzuli. Seamstresses are people who sew for a living, usually clothes. 10. Shapeshifters are fantasy creatures/ people that can make themselves look like other creatures, even humans. 11. Bilbo the Hobbit is a character from JRR Tolkien’s novel, The Hobbit. Hobbits are shorter-than-average people (actually fantasy creatures) with big hairy feet that

live in houses underground and have extra mealtimes and tea-times. 12. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote this in a letter from jail during the Civil Rights Movement. 13. A quote from Azar Nafisi’s book, Reading Lolita in Tehran. 14. A quote from the Holy Bible, Psalms. September / October 2011

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Fatma Yilmaz Yilmaz holds a PhD in mathematics. She currently works as an instructor at a college in Ohio. She is also the director of the Women’s Club of a nonprofit organization. /////////////////////////////////

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America’s Potential for Peace pg.48

On the evening of September 11, 2010, nine Christian women gathered in a prayer circle in the basement of a small Midwest church, and were asked to reflect on where they have been spiritually since 9/11. Heavy glances crisscrossed the darkened, candlelit room. More than a few sighs filled the air. It was not a prayerful moment, although it was planned to be one. Thousands of Americans soldiers were dead, and more than tens of thousands were wounded. Hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths and injuries were reported in Afghanistan and Iraq. And the po48

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Every year Americans are exposed to many cultures, languages, and faith traditions, and hardly anyone is jumping down anybody’s throat for being different.

larization between people of different faiths was growing mountainous. Overall, it was a mournful nine-year anniversary of 9/11. As the only Muslim woman in the room, outside their prayer circle, I was there to observe their prayer session by the invitation of my friend C. As they sighed and tried to find words to console and inspire one another, I could feel their despair about creating a more peaceful and understanding world. They were truly concerned about America’s position in maintaining peace in the world, but after the events of the last decade, they ran out of hope. When they don’t have hope, what could they pray for? Pitched into this darkness, I heard myself say, “Well, actually, I am feeling hope.” There was an uneasy creak of folding chairs and tired faces. Their looks said, “Please, not another voice of denial…” but they were kind enough to listen to what I had to say. “I think America has the greatest potential for peace,” I continued. Glimmers of candlelight played across the eyes in the room. Having heard a Muslim woman say this was new for them. “Well, I think so because…” I paused for a moment to search for the right words, and continued, “… because it all began with French fries.” Once I saw their puzzled faces and the half smiles playing on their lips, I knew I had caught their attention to tell


Before coming to America, I had never spoken to a person who was not Muslim, much less shared a meal with them. But here, in America, I experienced first-hand that we could all live and eat in our own unique ways, learning side by side, and live in peace. My tolerance grew.

them my story. When I saw, for the first time, people calmly dipping individual fries into cups of ketchup with bare fingers, I had just arrived in America to go to the graduate school. I couldn’t believe that they used no forks, no toothpicks—just eating greasy fries with their bare hands. How crude, I thought. But then another foreign student from Morocco shared with me that in her country, people ate with their hands, too, and that eating with one’s hands enhances the flavor of the food. I saw her, also for the first time in my life, enjoy chicken biryani with her fingers. It was my first glimpse of just how wide the world was. It was the fragrance of my own budding tolerance. After I saw how eager they were to hear about it, I continued my story. I told them I had come to the United States ten years before, on a college scholarship from Turkey. I’ll be honest. Before coming to America, I had never spoken to a person who was not Muslim, much less shared a meal with them. But here, in America, where I met fellow graduate students from India, China, Africa and Europe, I experienced first-hand that we could all live and eat in our own unique ways, learning side by side, and live in peace. My tolerance grew. Then I walked in to the Islamic Center of the city I lived in. I saw different Muslims, from around the world, in different clothing, of different races, speaking different

languages, bowing down in reverent prayer side by side. All those differences seemed like jewels and beads on an elegant dress, enriching and beautifying the fabric in harmony. It was a vision, and witnessing it, I felt such a profound peace. I thought, though they, my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters, dress or talk and eat differently, we all bow down in front of God the same way. We are all the same in the important stuff, and only different in the minor issues. What significance does it have if one eats with their hands, with a fork, or with a couple of chopsticks? In later years, I was blown away when I witnessed how Christians worshipped at my friend B’s church. They sing, listen to the sermon, read passages from the Bible, which is considered a holy book in Islam and to be respected, and they get connected with the God. And when I noticed how the stories, values, and traditions we claim as ours were also shared by them, my first image of Americans collapsed completely. Before I came to this country, the only Americans I knew were from the movies and soap operas. Naturally, I thought all American women were blond, tall, and beautiful, and all the American men were tall, rich, and handsome. They didn’t have any financial problems, health problems, or any real-life problems; they had only relationship problems and cared about no one but themselves. This was the image in my head about Americans. How wrong I was! I was surprised and fascinated when I observed my friend B’s church worship, when I came together with other families from my son’s school for play dates, or when our neighbors invited us to their Thanksgiving dinner, and also when they came to ours for a Ramadan iftar. It came to me in a flash: September / October 2011

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America has long been a mixed salad. Its unique blend of people from around the world, stirred together with mingling flavors, develops a taste for tolerance, for freedom, for the savory experience of diverse cultures living together. Americans have similar family values, religious values, holiday traditions, and love and compassion for their neighbors, just as we do. They are not actors in a soap opera! What is more, they welcome thousands of foreign students, scholars, refugees, and immigrants from many different countries around the globe each year. Every year Americans are exposed to many cultures, languages, and faith traditions, and hardly anyone is jumping down anybody’s throat for being different. Of course, there are occasional negative comments toward what is different, but even then, most people come together to neutralize that negativity with support and compassion. Different is viewed as richness, as variety, and as interesting. My own tolerance and appreciation of other cultures blossomed because of these experiences. The United States can have a great ability to bring about peace, as I shared with the ladies that night, because American culture is already open, tolerant of religious 50

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freedom, and welcoming to people around the globe. These are the perfect ingredients for peace. America has the power to wage peace in other countries, not with war or fear, but with goodness, faith, acceptance, and aid, to build hospitals and schools, and create jobs and programs that acknowledge human rights and generate good will. America has long been a mixed salad. Its unique blend of people from around the world, stirred together with mingling flavors, develops a taste for tolerance, for freedom, for the savory experience of diverse cultures living together. May our prayer in this post-9/11 world be this: that we move beyond the ineffectual and destructive politics of warfare and fear, and hold fast to the goodness and power of this nation’s moral tolerance, constitutional freedoms, and potential for peace. God has created us with this potential. More powerful than any military force, I hope my experiences of tolerance and good will in the United States offered a recipe for hope for my friends that night.


REFLECTIONS

REFLECTIONS

REFLECTIONS

REFLECTIONS

REFLECTIONS REFLECTIONS

REFLECTIONS

REFLECTIONS With a cup of coffee comes friendship for forty years! ***

September / October 2011

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DRINKING WATER FROM THE SEA POLYMERIC MEMBRANES FOR DESALINATION

One billion people in the world live in water-stressed areas, and RO membrane technology is the leading desalination technology to overcome the problem of insufficient clean water.

ENVIRONMENT Kamil Ezgin PhD candidate in chemistry in USA.

Membrane-based separations are the main choice of producing potable water in countries outside the Middle East. More than 50 percent of the newly installed desalination plants have been using reverse osmosis (RO) membrane technology (since 2001). 52

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oday, more than 1 billion people are suffering from the lack of potable water. About 2.3 billion people (41 percent of the earth’s population) live in regions with water scarcity; this number is estimated to be 3.5 billion by 2025.1 96.5 percent of the world’s water is found in seas and oceans, and the remainder is found as ice caps, brackish water, and fresh water sources (e.g. lakes, rivers, and ground waters). To overcome water shortage problems, methods such as water conservation and dam construction have been applied for several years, but they are not enough against increasing water demand and decreasing fresh water sources.2 Water is also very important for generating energy, and vice versa. The largest portion of U.S. electric production is provided by thermoelectric power generation, where steam-driven turbine generators are used to generate electricity. In 2000, thermoelectric power plants used 39 percent of all fresh water sources in the United States.3 All these reasons make the production of drinking water a worldwide issue.

Desalination Since most of world’s water supply is found in oceans and seas, desalination is the process of re-


moving salts and minerals from either ocean or brackish water to make it safe for human consumption and use. The most widely applied desalination processes are divided into two main categories, thermal distillation processes and membrane processes. Desalination via thermal distillation methods, which separate liquid mixtures based on their boiling points, mainly fall into three categories: multi-stage flash (MSF), multieffect distillation (MED), and me-

chanical vapor compression (MVC). Thermal distillation processes require the evaporation of water while leaving the salt in a concentrated brine. Middle Eastern countries mainly use thermal-based desalination plants to produce fresh water because of their easily accessible fossil fuel sources.2, 4 Membrane-based separations are the main choice of producing potable water in countries outside the Middle East. More than 50 percent of the newly installed desalination plants have been using reverse os-

mosis (RO) membrane technology (since 2001).2

Membrane separations A membrane is an interphase between two adjacent phases acting as a selective barrier, regulating the transport of substances between the two compartments. It is a very thin film that allows passage of some types of substances while preventing the passage of other substances, depending on their sizes. Membranes used for separation technology gave rise to an interdisciplinary area including many fields of science and engineering such as chemistry, chemical engineering, material science, process engineering, environmental science, ecology, and economics.5, 6 Today, the membrane industry is impressively large. The membrane separation technology market is quite diverse and ranges from medicine to the chemical industry, and the most important markets are medical devices and water treatment. There was a $2 billion sale of synthetic membranes worldwide in 2003.6

Water purification membranes Water treatment processes employ several types of membranes. They include microfiltration (MF), ultrafiltration (UF), nanofiltration (NF) and reverse osmosis (RO) membranes. They are designed to remove materials of increasing sizes. MF membranes have the largest pore size and typically reject large particles and various microorganisms. UF membranes have smaller pores than MF membranes and, therefore, in adSeptember / October 2011

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dition to large particles and microorganisms, they can reject bacteria and soluble macromolecules such as proteins. RO membranes are effectively nonporous and therefore exclude particles and even many low molar mass species such as salt ions, organic substances, etc.7 NF membranes are relatively new and are sometimes called “loose” RO membranes. They are porous membranes, but since the pores are ten of angstroms or less, they exhibit performance between that of RO and UF membranes.8 Of these membranes, NF and RO membranes constitute the dominant technology for desalination of water.9

2.1 Nanofiltration Membranes Membranes for nanofiltration (NF) are usually comprised of cellulose acetate or aromatic polyamides. NF allows diffusion of organic compounds, and rejects some salts with low pressures being applied. NF itself cannot purify seawater to drinking water standards, but it is a process that can be used to produce mildly salty water, or as a water-softening technique.2, 4 When NF is coupled with RO, then it can be used to turn seawater into drinking water.10 Nanofiltration membranes usually have negative charges (e.g., carboxylate groups, sulfonate groups, etc.), and as a result, ion repulsion is a major factor in determining salt rejection. More highly charged ions, such as sulfate, are more highly rejected than monovalent ions, such as chloride, by a negatively charged nanofiltration membrane. In particular, NF membranes are used to remove divalent ions such as calcium and magnesium, which are mainly responsible for water hardness. These membranes also usually display good rejection of organic compounds with molecular weights above 200 to 500 grams.2,11,12

2.2 Reverse osmosis membranes

Osmosis is a natural process in which water molecules move across a semipermeable membrane from a lower solute concentration area to the higher solute concentration area. Water flows until a chemical potential equilibrium of water is established. When equilibrium is reached, the pressure difference 54

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between the two sides of the membrane is equal to the osmotic pressure of the solution.12 Reverse osmosis (RO) is the process of forcing water from a region of high solute concentration through a membrane to a region of low solute concentration by applying a pressure that is greater than the osmotic pressure. As a result, separation of water from the solution occurs as pure water from the high concentration side to the low concentration side. The RO process includes a feed water source, feed pre-treatment, a high-pressure pump, RO membrane modules and post-treatment steps. RO membranes are capable of rejecting monovalent ions such as sodium and chloride, which makes the RO process a valuable method for desalination. Membranes used for RO processes have salt rejections of more than 99 percent. RO membranes do not have distinct pores, but rather rely on free volume within the polymer film. RO membrane separations depend highly on the properties of the polymer film such as the chemical and physical structure of the membrane material. Desired RO membranes should be resistant to chemical substances and microbial organisms, stable over a long time both mechanically and structurally, and have ideal separation properties such as high water flux, high salt rejection, chlorine, and fouling (clogging of membrane pores) resistance. Approximately one billion of six billion people in the world live in water-stressed areas, and RO membrane technology is the leading desalination technology to overcome the problem of insufficient clean water and estimated to continue its leadership in the near future.13 Scientists and engineers are extensively investigating the development of the most efficient membrane desalination technology to produce the cheapest potable water. On the other hand, cells use membranes, though scientists do not try to further develop them, since they were already designed in a perfect manner. Cellular membranes have a phospholipid structure with embedded proteins. They control many different kinds of transportations of substances

in and out of cells (e.g. sugar, drugs, ions). They are so well designed that they know which substances are helpful or harmful for the cell, and decide on the passage of substances based on that. Many researchers have tried countless times for many years to produce an equally wonderful membrane technology for making clean water. But cellular membranes, consisting of hundreds of functions in living organisms, do not form spontaneously.

References 1.

R.F. Service, Freshwater resources, desalination freshens up. Science, (2006). 313, 1088- 1090. 2. L.F. Greenlee, D.F.Lawler, B.D. Freeman, B. Marrot, P. Moulin, Reverse osmosis desalination: Water sources, technology and today’s challenges. Water Research (2009), 43, 2317-2348. 3. T.J. Feeley, T.J. Skone, G.J.Stiegel, A. McNemar, M.Nemeth, B. Schimmoller, J.T. Murphy, L. Manfredo, Water: A critical resource in the thermoelectric power industry. Energy (2008), 33, 1-11. 4. G. A. Tularam, M. Ilahee, Environmental concerns of desalinating seawater using reverse osmosis. J. Environ. Monit.(2007), 9, 805–813. 5. P. Vandezande, L. E. M. Gevers, I. F. J. Vankelecom, Solvent resistant nanofiltration: separating on a molecular level. Chem. Soc. Rev.(2008), 37, 365–405. 6. M. Ulbricht, Advanced functional polymer membranes. Polymer (2006), 47, 2217–2262. 7. R.H. Perry, D.W.Green, Eds., Perry’s Chemical Engineers’ Handbook, 7th ed., McGraw-Hill: New York, 1997. 8. Sagle, A., and B. Freeman, “Fundamentals of Membranes for Water Treatment,” in The  Future of Desalination in Texas: Volume 2, Report Number 363, Texas Water Development  Board, Austin, TX, pp. 137154 (2004).  9. H.B.Park, B.D.Freeman, Z.Zhang, M.Sankir, J.E.McGrath, Highly Chlorine-Tolerant Polymers for Desalination, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. (2008), 47, 6019-6024. 10. N. Hilal, H. Al-Zoubi, N. A. Darwish, A. W. Mohammad, M. Abu Arabi, A comprehensive review of nanofiltration membranes: Treatment, pretreatment, modelling, and atomic force microscopy, Desalination (2004), 170, 281-308. 11. A. Gorenflo, D. Velazquez-Padron, F.H. Frimmel, Nanofiltration of a German groundwater of high hardness and NOM content: performance and costs. Desalination (2002), 151, 253-265. 12. M.E.Williams, A Brief Review of Reverse Osmosis Membrane Technology,EET Corporation and Williams Engineering Services Company, Inc., Harriman, TN, 2003. 13. K. P. Lee, T. C. Arnot, D. Mattia, A Review of Reverse Osmosis Membrane Materials for Desalination – Development to Date and Future Potential. J. Membr. Sci. 370 (2011) 1-22.


I

was created as a small bud on the dry branch of a huge oak tree. The oak tree is a great entity that protects me from being stepped on or eaten by animals. I serve life in many ways: I provide shade and privacy for nests and homes, I add beauty to flowers when various creatures look at them, and I was created green, so when human beings look at me, they feel delighted and invigorated. Green is the hue of life, activity, and strength. It is springtime, and soon I will expand and open up to see the bright face of the sun. Sunlight is a source of my food and the service I do. The more sunrays that hit my surface, the faster I grow, and will generate a great need of life on Earth: oxygen. To the unappreciative eye, I am just a leaf, but the complexity of my reactions are still a great puzzle to scientists who work in large institutions trying to understand the processes going on inside me. It takes them many years to fully comprehend a single step in the process of oxygen generation that takes place within me. Although I am very simple, thin, and fragile, I have been charged with a great service. During the entire summer, I endure the heat of the sun without drying up or wilting. This is because I am constantly fed with a flow of water and minerals from my branch, which was soaked up from the tree’s roots embedded deep in the Earth. This constant flow of water enables me to keep upright, sturdy, and open. Most of the water is evaporated through my thin surface, but a small part of it is broken up to provide you with the oxygen that you need to survive. Although this sounds very simple, it requires a great deal of energy. This energy is provided to me through the sun and the sugars that are made in me during this process. When no water falls from the clouds, I suffer. I cannot keep upright to provide you with the oxygen that you need. When it is too hot and there is no rain, I suffer again. Were it not for the babies, the old, and the weak among you, I would dry out completely. When human beings oppress each other, I suffer, because under these conditions water does not fall to Earth despite the clouds in the sky. These clouds also block the sunshine that I need to serve you with oxygen. Right now it is autumn in many places and although I did not dry up in the hot months of the summer, I am now ordered to wither and fall. My color changes from green to yellow, orange, red, and finally brown. As I drop to the ground, people step on me. I get crushed and grinded to pieces as I return back to Earth. The matter used to create me mixes with the soil, until next spring, when I will be high up on the branch looking at you one more time, reminding you of a new beginning after death.

leaf The life and journey of a

BOTANY

Sebnem Unlu Research Faculty at University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, USA.

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Book review Mahshid Turner Member, Theology and Religion Department, Durham University, UK

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n the past few decades many studies and articles on the subject of religion, spirituality and health, from both Western and Muslim perspectives, have been published. In this book, Salih Yucel’s quantitative and qualitative studies support previous research findings which suggest that religion and health

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are not mutually exclusive and that there is clearly a positive correlation between prayer and wellbeing. This book comprises a research study taken from the author’s doctoral thesis, The Effects of Prayer on Muslim Patients’ Well-being. Also included in this book is a qualitative study which contains examples of many case histories and anecdotal evidence from Muslims who have

benefited from the healing power of prayer, which includes salat (Islamic ritual prayers), dua (formal and informal supplication to God), and dhikr (remembrance of God, based on the Sufi concept of connectedness to the universe. Also included are Bediuzzaman Said Nursi’s “twenty-five remedies” for the sick which explains the concept of illness and how Muslims should view it in the light of belief.


Author: Salih Yucel Tughra Books 2010 ISBN: 978-1-59784-242-6

The aim of this research has been to investigate the physical and spiritual effects of prayer on Muslim patients. Sixty adult Muslim in-patients, consisting of equal numbers of women and men from different educational backgrounds and nationalities, were recruited from the patient population at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a Harvard Medical School-affiliated institution in Boston, Massachusetts. The research included a pre-test questionnaire in order to assess the spiritual level of the patients and a post-test questionnaire after prayers were completed. The surveys were based on Islamic sources, with the second survey split into two sessions: the first contained readings from the Qur’an while the second consisted of texts from a non-religious source, serving as a control in order to determine the effect of prayers on the patients. Unlike previous studies, this research has provided guidelines for prayer which is based on the Qur’an, the Prophetic Traditions and the works of a number of Muslim scholars. The guidelines are a reminder that prayers should if possible be carried out under certain conditions, which include both physical and spiritual preparation prior and after prayer. Examples include taking ablution and ensuring clothes are clean prior to prayer and so on.

Prayer and Healing in Islam Also some of the spiritual advice is extremely helpful, such as the understanding that prayer will always be answered but not necessarily in the way that individuals may expect it, thus reducing the disappointment patients may feel if they do not get exactly what they have asked for after prayer. However, other conditions, such as offering prayer “sincerely,” may not be so easy to ensure. The findings of the preliminary survey were used to determine the level of religiosity/spirituality of patients from an Islamic perspective. These findings were consistent with previous studies, showing a strong correlation between religiosity/spirituality and hopefulness/ confidence. The post-test survey based on self-report measures of religiosity and wellbeing following the prayer session also showed higher scores in comparison to the control group. With regard to vital signs and the positive physical effects of prayer on health, however, the data was not considered to be clinically significant. The author admits to some of the limitations of the study such as the hospital environment itself which is not conducive to prayer conditions. One of the main limitations has been the omission of compulsory prayers (salat) from the survey, as many bed-ridden patients were unable to take part in this activity. A longitudinal study with a

The guidelines are a reminder that prayers should if possible be carried out under certain conditions, which include both physical and spiritual preparation prior and after prayer.

larger participant group and a more convenient environment might possibly have produced better results. However, the qualitative study included in this book, which consists of many case studies of people who have benefitted from the healing power of prayer, provides further support for the importance of including prayer as part of treatment. The main strength of the book lies in its approach, which is based mainly on Said Nursi’s ideas of remedies for the sick. These remedies enable patients to move away from reliance on the realm of causality and are able potentially to empower them to try to understand their condition in a much broader context that includes the concept of the Hereafter. September / October 2011

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IT’S US PETER YOUR BLOOD VESSELS see-thınk-belıeve Irfan Yilmaz Professor of biology in Dokuz Eylul University, Izmir.

D

ear Peter, the heart functions as a fabulous pump, but it is nothing by itself. We find our value in cooperation; nothing is created to do everything on its own. The heart naturally makes itself noticeable by its constant movement, sound, and considerable size. On the other hand, we do not get much attention since we do our job quietly. And yet, all the movements of the heart would be in vain without us, and it immediately dies if no vessels feed it. Because all tissues and cells need to be fed, we are the ones who deliver food inside the body. The act of pumping the blood is merely an efficient conveyance for a closed system like ours. We vessels can be divided into three main groups in terms of structure and function. The ones with thicker walls, which bring every organ the blood they need from the heart, are the arteries. The pressure inside us is higher and we easily carry blood to the organs. The ones with thinner walls, lower pressure, and

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Our total length is about 120,000 kilometers. Try to imagine if a fisherman’s net were made from a rope of this length and how wide it would be! And yet, such a vast network of blood vessels is located in your body, and capillaries take blood to areas as tiny as the head of a pin. larger inner space are called veins. As a matter of fact, both arteries and veins have a three-layered structure that is very suitable for holding a fluid like blood. Since our walls are strengthened with both connective tissue and smooth muscle layers, we bear the pressure coming from the heart and help blood proceed by contracting and relaxing. Since arteries are directly subjected to the strong pressure from the heart, our walls were created in a thicker and stronger form. Since the veins return blood to the heart and thus have lower pressure, we have valves that close after blood passes, so it does not flow backward due to gravity. This is a serious challenge for the blood passing through your legs. Varicose veins might develop due to weight gain from pregnancy or obesity, which increases pressure on the legs, or to hours of standing, walking, or running on hard surfaces. Capillaries are the most delicate blood vessels, with walls made of a single layer of epithelium, which enables us to exchange substances between blood and tissues. As blood vessels, our total length is about 120,000 kilometers. Try to imagine if a fisherman’s net were made from a rope of this length and how wide it would be! And yet, such a vast network of blood vessels is located in your body, and capillaries take blood to every part, without neglecting an area as tiny as the head of a pin. The well-being of your organs is directly related to us. If our interiors begin to narrow, because of fatty cholesterol plaque for instance, then we begin to lose our flexibility. This means malnutrition for that organ, since a lesser amount of blood than expected can come. If a blood clot sticks to our wall and blocks the blood flow, the relevant organ

may be in terrible trouble. If other arteries supply blood to that organ, then it can handle this, but if a main artery is blocked and if secondary channels do not exist or are insufficient, you experience infarction. Taking this into consideration, you need to be careful what you eat and lead a physically active life. When you get old, if sufficient blood does not pass through us in your brain, failures with brain activities appear and you go senile. As the walls of veins and arteries have a rich network of nerves, we let the suitable amount of blood flow according to the need of the organ we’re serving, under the control of the autonomous nervous system. While blood vessels that are connected to an organ not currently requiring much blood contract to reduce the amount supplied, those that are connected to currently more active organs expand. And dear Peter, the greatest blessing here is that none of these activities require any conscious effort from you; everything works smoothly without your even being aware. This wonderful network of ours finds its value in the vital fluid we carry. If it weren’t for blood, we would have no value at all, and such a perfect means of distribution would be unnecessary. Even the duty of the heart is to make this fluid circulate throughout the body. Now, let us step aside and allow blood to have the floor. September / October 2011

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Question: God Almighty has graced us with a great deal of possibilities to serve humanity. What would you recommend so that this holy grace and benediction upon us shall not be stopped?

Divine Support and Ensuring Its Continuation

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think we all are aware that God has taken each of us— while we were wandering here and there—and made contact at a particular point with His holy grace and favor. This is an undeniable fact, and that we have existed under this blessing should be well comprehended. Throughout the past, certain groups of people have assumed services of education, charity, and relief with profound sincerity. Now, the task that falls on our shoulders is to proceed with carrying the flag inherited from them with the same good intentions. It may be useful to state the following points so that the favor pouring down upon us will not cease: 1. We have to persuade ourselves that we have had no role to claim within these services. It must be accepted that all takes place because of God’s holy grace, benediction and favor; due to this, we must not claim partnership with Him and commit a grave sin, and must stay away from the egotistical delusions perpetrated by our carnal self. 2. We should conceive that if we were not involved in these good works, it probably would be done by far better people, and much further

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distances would have been covered than those covered so far. And we should say, “God’s holy favor does not reflect the service as it comes from its fountain, instead it hits the evils of our egotism and corporeality

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS and is fractured; because of this, our acts of service stay far behind the point they should have reached.” Long ago, our elders used to say, when someone comes to a devotee of truth: “So, my friend, how many souls have you killed?”—that is, “How many people have been nipped by you and could not find the truth?” Today’s devotees, too, should bear this concern in their souls, so that God’s holy favor might not cease. 3. Our spiritual meekness and worship should multiply as much as our worldly activities and success, so that we do not become overwhelmed by our own egos. Imam Rabbani does not show himself even the deference of a dog; moreover, he even states that he doesn’t have the worth of a donkey. This consideration should be fastened to our souls, become our everyday state. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, used to say, during his day-and-night prayers with his forehead on the ground in repentance: “O! The All-Living! The Self-Subsisting! I beg for Your grace! Please do amend all my states, and do not leave me alone with my carnal self, for even as long as a blink!” We, too, must repeat this prayer often, and should strive to leave behind the brutality of our carnal selves. 4. We should attribute any sort of deficiency to ourselves, see our egos as an obstacle to service, and attribute every single success as a divine favor. Korah attributed the blessings bestowed upon him to himself and said, “All this has been given to me only by virtue of a certain knowledge that I have” (Qur’an 28:78). All kinds of Korahs and Pharaohs have said such things. In contrast, all saints and Prophets have said, “I can neither bring benefit to, nor avert harm from, even myself” (Qur’an 7:188). Thus, the thought “I have known/ I


Our spiritual meekness and worship should multiply as much as our worldly activities and success, so that we do not become overwhelmed by our own egos.

have done/ I have held/ I have constructed” is the arrogant thought of Pharaohs. The account of the Qur’an on this issue is crystal clear: “It is God Who has created you and all that you do” (37:96). So, what is our share in goodness? Only our inability and poverty. If we turn to His might through our helplessness, to His wealth through our neediness, we are further motivated with gratitude, and serve with enthusiasm, divine blessings will progress ever after. 5. The awareness and comprehension of the fact that all goodness and success come from God shall be exposed by our resolution and vigilance to talk of Him with others. But there are implicit forms of Pharisaism, as well. For instance, people sometimes say, “We have been blessed with this success; God has made us do this, for we are so unable,” with secret sanctimoniousness. Some people slyly talk of their own selves all the time, “We’ve read this and that with many friends, many intellectuals attend our programs.” But we are called to communicate about God Almighty, and must be ever so vigilant on this point. For example, children are greatly loved. When children are mentioned somewhere, we too would like to mention our own kids, and remain on the lookout for the opportunity. Likewise, people sometimes feel that way about the eloquence of their writing or speech. But these kinds of attitudes are surely indecent, perhaps even inconsiderate. We must speak of God at every single opportunity. When fidelity or loyalty among friends is mentioned somewhere, we should say, “is there a friend more loyal than God?” When rights are spoken of, we should say, “if there is someone Whose right has to be given, it is surely God Himself who has raised September / October 2011

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us from non-existence to existence, then not abandoned there and animated us; then not left alone and raised us up to humanity, then honored us with faith, moreover made us involved in good deeds.” That is, we should feel jealous if someone other than our Lord is given credit somewhere. When someone says something like, “I’ve given a speech, and people were exuberant and offered this and that,” we should feel uneasy enough to become ill, and writhe with pain, thinking, “Have a look at him; he is talking about himself instead of my Lord.” Yes, if we wish to learn our state with God, we should look at the state of God with ourselves. How much interest do we have for Him, what kind of association do we have with Him? We should ceaselessly remember, and be always on the alert. As a matter of fact, if our contact with Him is firm, we will find a way toward Him, to communicate with others about Him. In consequence, we will see only Him, know only Him, think only about Him, move with Him, blink our eyes only for Him, and close all other considerations except Him. 6. Another major inducement for divine guidance and assistance is sincere cooperation and alliance. To reach this requires to conserve cooperation and alliance, and to avoid disunity and dissociation. If we are unified and together, we may be bestowed favors that exceed the human imagination, and we may become able to carry loads heavier than a mountain. In contrast, if our unions and alliances are destroyed, and we remain alone or with only a few friends, we will have detonated our essential force and caused the discontinuation of divine assistance. No matter how hard we try, it will not mean much, if we are without helpers. To this end, we must use all our resolution and effort to conserve the quality of being as strong as a building made of steel. Indeed, Qur’an decrees “God’s hand is over their 62

The Fountain Magazine September / October 2011

Another major inducement for divine guidance and assistance is sincere cooperation and alliance. To reach this requires to conserve cooperation and alliance, and to avoid disunity and dissociation.

hands” (48:10). I believe that the favors bestowed upon a congregation belong to a far-distant dimension, that even some of the holiest individuals, with the aptitude to guide all of humanity, may not be granted. To be a human being is hard, but servitude is a still harder. The obligation of performing a great mission, in the end times of the world, is perhaps the most difficult one of all. And we have applied for the hardest duties. We have taken a difficulty upon ourselves by assuming the self and willpower that the mountains and heavens have abstained from.1 Therefore, we will enhance our sense of self and willpower in a transcendent way, by sheltering under God’s divine might and supremacy, in order to overcome those difficulties. Note 1.

A reference to the verse in 33:72: “We offered the Trust to the heavens, and the earth, and the mountains, but they shrank from bearing it, and were afraid of it (fearful of being unable to fulfill its responsibility), but the human has undertaken it.”


IS HUMANITY DEAD?

A MOMENT FOR REFLECTION

Ihsan Orhan Staff Editor

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once-in-a-lifetime event” or “the worst for 60 years” is how the drought in Africa today is being described. Among the most affected countries are Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya. Over 30,000 children under the age of 5 are already dead and toll is on the rise—at least 1.5 million people are starving. According to the United Nations tens of thousands of people have died in the drought, 640,000 Somali children are acutely malnourished, and 3.2 million Somalis are in need of immediate lifesaving assistance. New Jersey-based Helping Hands

Relief Foundation (HHRF) is one of those relief organizations that have quickly responded to the call for help from the Horn of Africa. Many volunteers of HHRF have already taken off to Somalia to deliver donations and food to the victims. The world is undergoing several major tests. The problems caused by economic crises one after another, terrorism, global warming, and others have to be tackled with immediately. But the emergency of the current famine has no comparison, and we have to act now. It is time to delay our own needs today and rush for help to the victims of the famine. This is the greatest test we as the human family have to pass.

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E

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We often see patients in hospitals with many cables attached to their bodies. Now there is hope to replace these mobility-limiting settings with something very portable. Engineers have developed an ultrathin, stretchy, and flexible synthetic skin that consists of electronic components such as sensors, antennae, and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Embedded solar cells or wireless power transfer can be employed to power the patch. The device is thin enough to stick to skin using only the short-range van der Waals forces without the addition of any adhesives, and it can be applied and removed like a temporary tattoo. As a result, electronic skin is much more comfortable than traditional electrodes and gives the user complete freedom of movement. These devices have many potential applications in medical diagnostics, including EEG and EMG sensors to monitor nerve and muscle activity. Gathering patient data during normal activity is especially beneficial for continuous monitoring of health and wellness. During the tests, the patches collected data accurately for up to six hours, and showed no signs of degradation or irritation to the arm, neck, forehead, cheek, or chin after 24 hours. In addition, the researchers used electronic skin to control a video game by collecting electrical activity of muscles from the user’s throat, demonstrating the potential for human-computer interfacing. In the near future, patients with muscular or neurological disorders could use this technology to communicate with computers. There is one major obstacle for long-term use. The patch falls off after a few days due to the continual shedding of skin cells. Researchers are looking for ways around this so they can be worn for months at a time.

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Searchıng memory engınes

Original Article: Sparrow, B. et al., Science 333, 776 (2011)

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Original Article: Kim, D-H et al., Science 333, 838 (2011).

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What is the capital of Liberia? Which year did Edison invent the light bulb? Are your fingers itching to “Google” the answers? Evidently, the answer is yes. Researchers led by Betsy Sparrow of Columbia University cleverly designed four experiments to investigate how we process information in our memory. In one experiment, participants were presented with trivia-like statements, e.g. “An ostrich’s eye is bigger than its brain,” to which they immediately thought about computers or accessing the Internet. In another experiment, participants were asked to type answers to trivia questions. The computer would either save or erase their answers. When participants thought their answers were saved, they remembered information less as opposed to the erased-from-the-computer-condition. In the other experiments, participants were given statements along with the names of the folders where one can reach that information (e.g. DATA, INFO, ITEMS). They remembered where to find the information (i.e. folders) more accurately than the information itself. To sum up, this research showed that we come to utilize computers or Google as external or transactive memory. In the 1980s, Daniel Wegner of Harvard University first coined the term “transactive memory.” Dr. Wegner, co-author of this article, suggested that people relied on others such as spouses or friends to remember various things. However, it seems like the duty is all on Google now.

The Fountain Magazine September / October 2011


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Lasers come to lÄąfe

Original Article: Gather, M.C. & Yun, S.H., Nature Photonics 5, 406 (2011).

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3 Since its invention in 1960, the laser became an invaluable device that found uses in numerous applications in many segments of today’s world, including science, medicine, industry, electronics, and entertainment. Laser, an acryonym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, works through a process where light amplifies by bouncing back and forth between two mirrors. Sandwiched between these mirrors, lasers utilize a gain medium made of non-biological materials such as dyes or crystal. Two physicists at Harvard Medical School, Seok Hyun Yun and Malte Gather, were able to replace gain medium with a living cell. The cells used in this study produce green fluorescent protein (GFP)—the material that makes jellyfish fluoresce. When illuminated with relatively weak blue light, GFP amplified the light and the cell produced a visible green laser. Even though their biolaser is currently in the development stage, the researchers predict that it will be very useful in science and medicine in the future. For example, they suggest that biolasing may be used for unraveling the structure of living cells. Yun and Gather are now trying to integrate a nanoscale cavity inside the cell rather than using external mirrors. Such self-lasing cells may allow medical applications where cells can be specifically targeted for disease treatment.

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Original Article: Brock, D. A. et al., Nature 469, 393 (2011).

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The smallest farmers of the world

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A social amoeba, Dictyostellum discoideum, lives independently and feeds on bacteria, but when the food becomes scarce, many amoebas bond and form a slug-like organism that can move around to find more resources to feed on. It was thought the amoeba exhausts all its resources by eating all nearby bacteria before forming the slug structure. Surprisingly, scientists from Rice University found that these single-cell organisms use a very simple form of agriculture in the form of bacterial husbandry. Agriculture in the general sense includes the scattering of food seeds, farming of crops, and harvesting. Humans have used agriculture for thousand of years and it was one of the transforming forces behind our switch from nomadic to settled lifestyles. Researchers showed that a group of amoeba, called farmers, eat less and engulf bacteria into their migratory systems instead of consuming all food they encounter. The slugs of the farmer amoeba travel slowly because of packed food, and one-third of Dicty found in nature turns out to be farmers. Apparently, being a farmer is a genetic trait but it comes with a cost: farmers produce less spores during feasts, but more during famine, which explains why there are both farmers and non-farmers still present. There are still many mysteries, yet this article shows the principles of frugality even in the single-cell realm. September / October 2011

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Raise breakwaters of understanding and dialogue against destructive waves of conflict

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The Fountain Magazine September / October 2011


The Fountain # 83  

Sep.-Oct.2011 A decade from Sept.11 Special Issue

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