Niagara Foundation annually awards individuals and organizations who have contributed their time, energy, leadership, and dedication to the cause of dialog, peace, understanding, and community service on a special program called “Niagara Peace & Dialogue Awards”.
M. Fethullah Gulen
Honorary President, Niagara Foundation
M. Fethullah Gulen was born in the small village of Korucuk, in Erzurum Province, Eastern Turkey, in November 1938. Known by his simple and austere life style, Mr. Gulen has been from his earliest years a gifted Islamic scholar and thinker, and a creative writer and poet. His father taught him Arabic, and initiated in him his profound love of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and his Companions. Later he continued his studies under the guidance of some of the most prominent Islamic scholars in Eastern Turkey. He received further training in the religious sciences.
Mr. Gulen, so distinguished himself that he was asked to begin teaching when he was only fifteen. He did so while continuing his studies in the religious sciences. Blessed with extraordinary oratory skills, even at young age, Gulen was recognized as one of the more accomplished Islamic preachers in the early 1950s, mentioned in the same breath with some of the more learned scholars, many years his senior, in Eastern Anatolia.
Gulen devoted his life trying to solve society’s ills and spiritual sufferings, and inspired the establishment of many charitable organizations to serve the welfare of the underprivileged. He published a number of well-known books, most of which remain on the best seller list in Turkey, and have also been translated into English. These include The Infinite Light, Questions, Towards the Lost Paradise, and Truth through Colors.
At a time when humanity is in a desperate need of leaders and role models, we find a true innovator and an inspirational leader as well as a deeply good man in M. Fethullah Gulen.
When he retired from formal teaching studies in 1980 he had inspired a whole generation of young students, many of whom are leaders in their communities today and of course, Niagara Foundation itself, especially they are the purpose of this evening, all based upon the work of this man.