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Islamic scholar among TIME’s 100 most influential people for 2013

70-year-old Islamic scholar, Fethullah Gülen, has been named as one of TIME Magazine’s “World’s 100 most influential people” for 2013.

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Gülen, according to TIME, is recognised for “preaching a message of tolerance that has won him admirers around the world.”

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The ‘2013 TIME 100’ includes other noted world leaders such as Pope Francis, Aung San Suu Kyi, Malala Yousafzai and President Obama.

This is the 10th year the magazine is presenting “its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, from artists and leaders to pioneers, titans and icons that have changed the face of the earth. In the past, TIME has honoured global leaders such as the Dalai Lama and Pope Benedict XVI.

Gülen is an Islamic scholar, preacher and social advocate who dedicated his life to interfaith and intercultural dialogue, and reinterpreted aspects of Islamic tradition to meet the needs of contemporary Muslims. He has initiated dialogue with the Vatican and some Jewish organizations.

Gülen is the inspiration behind a civil society initiative, Hizmet, which advocates for the ideals of human rights, equal opportunity, democracy, non-violence and the emphatic acceptance of religious and cultural diversity.

Hizmet brings to life these principles through the work of its participants in community service, intercultural dialogue and education.

Over the years, Hizmet volunteers have established more than 1,000 schools, dormitories and tutoring centres, taught college preparatory courses, mentored students, and provided financial aid to those in need.

With a focus on science, math, social science, art and literature, Hizmet‘s award-winning schools have been set up in more than 100 countries around the world – from Eastern European and Eurasian countries to Afghanistan and Pakistan; from South East Asian countries to Australia as well as in the United States and in 49 countries across Africa.

Doctors who respond to Gülen’s wishes work without pay in disaster-afflicted countries.

Seen as a man of mystery by some, Gülen currently lives in a self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, USA. His influence in his native Turkey is described as immense, exercised by graduates of his schools who have reached key posts in the government, judiciary and police. “This makes him seem like a shadowy puppeteer, and he is scorned by almost as many Turks as love him,” said Stephen Kinzer, author of Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds.

Alp Aslandogan, president of Alliance for Shared Values stated: “Mr. Gülen has taught us to not only emphatically accept religious, cultural, social and political diversity, but actually celebrate diversity because he considers this diversity divine will,” adding, “Mr. Gülen has dedicated his life to interfaith tolerance and peaceful coexistence with people of all faiths and backgrounds.”

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