• Issue 114 / November - December 2016

    Establishing Perspective

    The Fountain

    In this issue, we are celebrating Black History Month with
    Laila Muhammad. The grandchild of Elijah Muhammad, the founder of the Nation of
    Islam, and the daughter of Warith Deen Mohamed, she is recognized more by
    association with her family, but she has continued her family’s incredible
    legacy of community work. In our interview with her, you will not only read
    about her family, but you will also encounter a social activist with common
    sense and compassionate vision. Anyone who is involved in any type of community
    work will benefit from her words. “We have to move forward,” Muhammad says,
    adding “collectively” at the end, with emphasis. This message is more relevant than
    ever at a time when our society is growing more polarized on multiple axes of
    race, religion, and gender.

    Laila Muhammad’s message resonates with a book Justin Pahl
    reviews in this issue: Peace and Dialogue in a Plural Society, by Fr.
    Thomas Michel. Fr. Michel is a Catholic priest and a professor at Georgetown
    University who has been involved in interfaith dialogue with Muslims for many
    decades. He’s traveled and lived with Muslims in many countries including
    Indonesia, the Philippines, Turkey, the United States, and Europe. His research
    in this book focuses on the Hizmet Movement and how the movement’s educational
    and dialogue efforts around the world are contributing to peace in the plural
    society of the twenty-first century.

    A complementary piece to the above themes is “The Age of
    Self-Awareness” by Caroline Halford. Halford writes, “The world became
    connected very quickly and with that came not only conflict, secrecy, and fear,
    but also progress, growth, and knowledge, or at least, attempts at these
    things.” This global plural society has stepped into an age of self-awareness
    in the twenty-first century, Halford argues. Whether our self-awareness will
    diminish into self-obsession or will allow us to be great, continuing the
    legacy of those who came before us, is up to us.

    This issue’s lead article “Chaos and Flourishing Hopes” redefines
    our relationship with the past, the present, and the future. While some of us
    delve into the glorious days of our past, others, especially younger people,
    submit themselves to fanciful thoughts of the future, Fethullah Gülen writes. Yet
    according to Gülen, the best path is to implement “what
    is required in every stage of life,” after which we will perceive the
    past-future-present as “the three angles of a single unit, and we will be able
    to experience each period of time with its own depth. The golden ages of human
    history have always been experienced when the concept of time has been
    perceived as such.”

    he defines a perspective as a concept of time, Gülen also establishes a
    prescriptive approach to misfortunes and ordeals: “Going through such ordeals
    is how we can overcome the weariness caused by monotonousness. This is how we
    can always sense the pleasures and enjoyment to the same extent in the positive
    sense. This is in fact the transformation of difficulties and afflictions into
    spiritual prosperity.”


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