07 May 2008

Gülen schools promote moderate Islam in Pakistan

The Fethullah Gülen movement, led by a Turkish neo-Sufi, has been gaining international prominence in recent years due to its promotion of interfaith dialogue and moderate, apolitical Islamic practice. Apart from dialogue meetings with representatives of other religions, such as priests and rabbis, one of the movement's main activities is a network of schools that now covers over 80 countries.

The Gülen movement now has seven schools in Pakistan, where they are becoming increasingly popular with parents because of the way they promote Islam without preaching intolerance. Only one official, government-approved course on Islam is taught at the Gülen schools in Pakistan. However, the teachers encourage the practice of Islam in the student dormitories, and themselves act as an example of peaceful, practising Muslims. This is an approach that large numbers of Pakistani parents have been receptive to, given their frustrations with collapsing government-run schools, private Western-style schools that do not adequately teach Islam, and Islamic seminaries that are often tied (at least on the level of perception) with intolerance or even violence (New York Times).

I wonder how the recently opened Gülen school in Montréal is doing.

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