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The Fountain

Jan 1, 2011

Everything has a price; in particular, things as precious as peace always come at a heavy cost. Peace is a constructive effort. And building is a gradual activity, one brick after another; it takes time. Destruction, however, is much easier. One match is enough to destroy an entire house, a house that took months, perhaps years to build, a house that was built with effort and expense. Well, how about building peace? Rife with conflicts, the world seems to be very much in need of such a process. What is the price we have to pay for a sustainable peace? And who will maintain the peace to make it long and lasting, as history reveals that peace is so easy to lose? Quoting "[h]umankind is bound together in a community of fate. In such a community, a right violated anywhere is felt everywhere. Such a world engenders an ethos of responsibility and solidarity," from Kant, Y&#305lmaz and Esposito refer to our times and argue that "... the state centrality of peacekeeping has been transcended by Kant's cosmopolitan ethics of caring for the stranger" in their book Islam and Peacebuilding, reviewed in this issue. If the state is no longer managing things, then who is in charge of making peace possible and lasting in our world? The answer Y&#305lmaz and Esposito provide in their book is civil society, and in particular, "transnational religious and faith-based movements [which] can play crucial roles in peacebuilding with their strong faith-based motivation, long term commitment, religious, spiritual and moral authority and ability to facilitate constructive social relations between different groups of population." This argument is explored in the book edited by Y&#305lmaz and Esposito, which was made possible thanks to the contributions of many scholars who have studied the Hizmet Movement, inspired by Fethullah Gulen, a prominent Turkish Islamic scholar. The review is written from a respected professor, Stanley Ridge, emeritus professor of English and retired Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Western Cape, South Africa. We are thankful to him for sharing his analyses of the papers presented in this book.

Dr. Colin Turner's contribution in this issue relates to the above-mentioned peacebuilding concept and he gives us an example to follow. Turner is critical of most of the twentieth century Islamic movements for their "resurgent identity" which has "little affiliation to the faith beneath Islam." He criticizes them for advancing "their own political and ideological agendas," and for having no other goal but overcoming the "perceived backwardness of the Muslim peoples." However, there is an exception: Bediuzzaman Said Nursi. In "Renewal in Belief: A Model for Modern Times" Dr. Turner shares with us a brilliant description of his understanding of this unique person, aka "wonder of the age," one who transcended all other contemporaries owing to his primary and overriding concern: the "renewal of belief and the reform of the individual." Human beings must be truly human and seek vicegerency, which engenders worship, "namely the nurturing of each individual soul into its true state." In other words, Turner teaches us that peacebuilding starts with the individual.