Rev. Mark Macaulay
Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford
A prevalent, frequently media fuelled, view is that religion leads naturally to violent encounter with the “other”, particularly between adherents of the Abrahamic faiths, and that external ethical criteria need to be applied or adopted in order for religious people to move towards peaceful encounter with one another. One, not uncontroversial, scholar, Fethullah Gülen, has reflected that “true Muslims are the most trustworthy representatives of universal peace” (https://fgulen.com/en/fethullah-gulens-works/toward-a-global-civilization-of-love-and-tolerance/the-ideal-human/25233-the-ideal-believer-the-ideal-muslim) and proposed that “only those who overflow with love will be able to build the happy and enlightened world of the future” (https://fgulen.com/en/fethullah-gulens-works/toward-a-global-civilization-of-love-and-tolerance/the-ideal-human/25234-ideal-spirits-and-heroes-of-love).
This seminar arises from a sub-chapter of a thesis which challenges the notion that religion needs something that is outside itself to facilitate peaceful encounter and, through the writings of a number of not-unrepresentative protagonists, including Fethullah Gülen, explores that possibility that the Abrahamic traditions individually already contain within themselves the necessary and sufficient criteria to offer the possibility of peaceful encounter with the “other” and the accommodation of difference, rather than being characterised by an overarching propensity for conflict.