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Biography

Fr. Thomas Michel was born in St. Louis, U.S.A., in 1941.  He was ordained a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of St. Louis in 1967.  In 1969, he entered the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in  Yogyakarta, Indonesia.  After studying Arabic and Islamic studies in Egypt and Lebanon, he completed his studies and received a doctorate in Islamic theology at the University of Chicago in the U.S.A.  His doctoral thesis was directed by Professor Fazlur Rahman and entitled “Ibn Taymiyya’s Al-Jawab al-Sahih: A Muslim Theologian’s Critique of Christianity.” In 1978, after a year teaching at Columbia University in New York, he returned to Indonesia where he taught Islamic studies at the Catholic Faculty of Theology in Sanata Dharma University and Christian theology at Islamic theological institutes.

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Fethullah Gulen: Following in the Footsteps of Rumi

1. The need for a modern spirituality

Among the medieval mystical poets, the one who speaks most clearly and directly to the modern world is Jalaluddin Rumi, known simply in the Muslim world as “Mevlana,” Our Master.  The depth of his spiritual experience, his original and arresting poetic images, his obvious sincerity and openheartedness, and his ability to transcend cultures, time periods, and religions, all go together to make Mevlana one of the most accessible and influential of Muslim thinkers who speak to us from the past.

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What are the Paths to Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue

The Gulen Movement in the Interreligious Context

1. Where do we begin?

Many people see the need for interreligious and intercultural dialogue but are not sure where to begin. I have often been asked, “How do you go about starting up dialogue with others?” Especially because I am a Christian who has lived and shared life with Muslims for many years, they ask, “How do you go about beginning a dialogue with Muslims? Where do you start?”

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The Gülen Movement: Its Contribution at a Time of Global Tensions

It has become a cliché to say that we live in an age of globalization.  It is more difficult to see how this reality impacts upon a religious movement like that of Fethullah Gulen. The phenomenon of globalization provides us with stories both inspiring and brutal.  I thought that I would begin with one of each, to set the stage for looking at the contribution being made by the modern Muslim movement associated with the name of Fethullah Gulen.

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Two Frontrunners for Peace: John Paul II and Fethullah Gulen

We live in a strange world. So many people are in favor of peace, and yet many people around the world suffer because they live in situations of conflict and war. I was at an international conference not long ago, with many speakers from various countries, religions, and ideologies. It will not surprise you to learn that all the speakers affirmed the firm desire of their group for peace and offered quite convincing arguments to show that these were not just empty words. They noted that they and their colleagues not only wanted peace, but they were working actively to bring it about. Some cynical part of our makeup might ask, with so many committed and talented persons and organizations working for peace, why peace is so difficult to achieve, why does the lack of peace seem to be an ever-present part of the human experience.

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Peace and Dialogue in the Plural Society: Common Values and Responsibilities

20-21 April, Melbourne, 27-28 April, Sydney

I would like to begin by congratulating the Australian Intercultural Society for organizing and holding this conference on the theme of “Peace and Dialogue in a Plural Society: Common Values and Responsibilities.” This is exactly the kind of initiative that is urgently needed around the world today, as we try, through dialogue, to build communication and respect as an alternative to suspicion and violence.

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Muslim Peace Leaders, Medieval and Modern: Rumi and Gulen

Rumi's invitation

Among the medieval mystical poets, the one who speaks most clearly and directly to the modern world is Jalaluddin Rumi, known simply in the Muslim world as “Mevlana,” Our Master. The depth of his spiritual experience, his original and arresting poetic images, his obvious sincerity and openheartedness, and his ability to transcend cultures, time periods, and religions, all go together to make Mevlana one of the most accessible and influential of Muslim thinkers who speak to us from the past.

Read more... [Muslim Peace Leaders, Medieval and Modern: Rumi and Gulen]