Dr. Philip Clayton is the Ingraham Professor of Theology at Claremont School of Theology. He received dual PhDs from Yale in philosophy and theology and held posts at Williams College and the California State University, as well as guest professorships at the University of Munich, the University of Cambridge, and Harvard University. He is a leading advocate for interreligious dialogue, comparative theologies, and the internationalization of the science-religion dialogue. He authored or edited 22 books.
In his speech, Dr. Philip Clayton acknowledges both the “geopolitical significance of Turkey as a cultural and political bridge” and “the extreme importance of Islam for the shape of the world in the 21st century”, going on to state his opinion that, “until Fethullah Gulen, there has not been a single figure who could represent that attractive face of the teachings of the Prophet, for the entire West.”
Speaking of Islam as a priceless gem that holds the Qur’an at the core and ‘builds out upon layers of deeper understanding’ from classical Islamic philosophers to Sufi mysticism, leading to what all ‘this’ means to the entire planet. Dr. Clayton comments, “What Fethullah Gulen has done, what the movement has done, is to take that understanding, that classical tradition of Islam, and to make it relevant to the 21st century.”
“This gentle teaching,” he says, “this teaching of the Prophet without violence, comes as an antidote to a very small minority of Islam which seeks violent routes…” He commends the Movement’s “global reach” adding that, “No movement has been as organized and as devoted to the project of service itself, as has the Hizmet movement.”
Fascinated by the schools in some 160 countries, Dr. Clayton comments, “This is a way for followers of the Prophet, for Muslims, to take a position of leadership in every country of the world, to bring the teachings of the Prophet to the 21st century, to make them relevant to the world’s situation.”