I was treating QuakerQuaker (Q2) as my platform awhile back, in my project to reach out to Sufis, the Gulenists in particular, as I was wanting that Turkish service-oriented franchise of subsidized schools to hookup with Quakers more. Hizmet is like the AFSC in a lot of ways (Hizmet means service).

You know, the liberal Islam meets liberal Christianity theme was pretty big in recent memory. For awhile there, it looked possible. I attended the Parliament of World Religions in Cape Town in 1999, our family among the Friends present (parents, wife, my kids), and caught the vibe. This we pre-911 and at the turn of the millenium. Lots of people were optimistic, and not afraid of Y2K.

Well, I made some new friends as a result of this work, not all Gulenist by a long shot. Indeed, the Gulenists seem more underground than ever these days, fearful of persecution and a hostile press. 

Nowadays, my scholarship is following a somewhat different track:  Quakerism as influenced by Mithraism.

A lot of us here, likewise scholars, already know the Mithraic religion was big in Roman imperial times, but fewer know of it's Persian origins, later filtered through Hellenism and also Gnosticism.  The lineage predates Judaism by a long shot, and even Zoroastrianism.

One of the hallmarks of Mithraic practice was the notion of Friend. A common translation of Mithra is, in fact, Friend. Another testimony of Mithraism was equality and seeing through titles as part of the vanity of this world.

That Quakers espouse pacifism without necessarily expressing a lot of vitriol towards soldiers and soldiering (George Fox was well liked by militia men in many cases) bespeaks of the deeper teachings that go beyond good and evil (mere moralizing). 

The sacrifice of one's own ego becomes a goal of one's journey.

I'll be continuing to converse with Sufis about our common origins. Christianity and Islam both owe a lot to their common ancestor.  I welcome discussion from other Friends as well.

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In case you want more autobio, for a sense of my background, I added this new story to Medium just minutes ago, adding to my already considerable archive.

https://medium.com/@kirbyurner/musings-of-a-curriculum-writer-ffe5a...

This is a Friend link (appropriately) meaning it doesn't count against your free allotment of cookie-tracked Medium reads. Initiates pay a yearly dues for unlimited access and more publishing opportunities.

More recent update. Link to my online journals ("blogs"):

https://mybizmo.blogspot.com/2020/06/more-esoteric-studies.html

You mentioned Turkish service-oriented franchise of subsidized schools. I am curious to know if that phrase is as sort of expansion or definition of the term Gulenists. Neither the Gulenists nor the Mithraists are part of my lexicon.  I please ignorance, and would like to know more, especially if those sects, if that is what they are, have a historic connection to Friends, or if they share similar beliefs to present-day Quakers (of which there are all sorts).

I came to this website wanting to learn more about Quakers, Quaker beliefs and practice. Having been an attender for some 15 years at various Meetings, an occasional visitor at Friends Churches, and a member of an unprogrammed Meeting for only about 18 years, I read and listen to as many sources as I can to gain better understanding.

Religions seem to intrinsically develop a mystical wing and a doctrinal one. Mystics from different religions & their sects tend to understand each other better than their co-religionists of doctrinal persuasions. It's not so much about similar "ideas" (although they certainly do develop ideas about what they're doing, often similar to those found in other religions) as emphasising being attentive to the Source over supporting ideas-about.

Hi Marcia. 

Yes, the Sufi Gulenists as one might call them (are Quakers Foxists?) have or have had a service wing called Hizmet, which fanned out around the world, giving Turks opportunities to share their culture, domestically as well. Lots of idealism.  Echoes of the Peace Corps.

In the Americas, they became known for their charter schools, where professionally educated Turks would help otherwise underprivileged children.  You could also learn Turkish.  Here in Portland we have Japanese immersion in the public school system, but that's not standard. 

However some newspapers choose to portray Hizmet in a dark light, as some kind of infiltrating network.  Negative lighting is popular in journalism, especially noir type journalism, which seems to be most of it these days. Charter schools are out of favor with teacher unions and casting them as potentially run by a dangerous cult certainly helped whip up some more anti-charter fervor.

Anyway, lots of current news tangentially connects to Gulenists. For example we were told the Turkish president wanted to extradite Gulen back to Turkey to face trial. As the Trump administration was taking office, his future national security advisor, Michael Flynn, was being courted by Turkish factions hoping he could facilitate this happening.  But then Flynn ended up not being national security advisor, per Russiagate scandal. If I were a high school history teacher, I'd be using this story to connect a lotta dots.

Regarding Quaker interactions with Ottomans and/or Turks or... lots of nomenclature.  Two stories get passed down, one about a Quaker woman going to visit the Sultan and tell him what's what. He found her interesting and did not do anything bad to her.[1]  Another involves Quakers captured on the high seas by pirates, and befriending them, such that by the time they got to Istanbul they were friends and a way opened to get them back home.[2]  Now I need to go Google and get some footnotes.

So you have Islam here to stay, as a part of the American experience, and Quakerism.  You also have a chapter people seem to be forgetting, with stars such as Muhammad Ali (truly one of the greatest), outspoken against the Manifest Destiny mindset (as have been Friends) that leads to what today we call Endless Wars (a subculture of Americans were already at war when I was born in Chicago, apparently ever since Roman times at least, and haven't ever really let up in my sixty plus years).

[1] http://www.quakersintheworld.org/quakers-in-action/187/Mary-Fisher

[2] OK, I couldn't find the story about the kidnapping pirates. I believe it was in Friends Bulletin a long time back.

Marcia P Roberts said:

You mentioned Turkish service-oriented franchise of subsidized schools. I am curious to know if that phrase is as sort of expansion or definition of the term Gulenists.

Indeed I agree and Jorjani goes into that in his Perisian Renaissance interviews, contrasting the exoteric with the esoteric aspects of a religion. One could say "outside face" versus "inside face" (convex and concave).

Mithraism connects to Friends etymologically, as Mitra translates as Friend. Quakers don't go for degrees or secretive rituals, per the Masons, but a Mithraic feast was all about egalitarianism. On the surface, we're of different social classes, but here underneath, in our sanctum, we're more friendly and treat one another as equals. That's one reading of the records, of why the religion was so successful, I accept not the only reading.

You likely know all this, as a scholar, or at least a lot of it. 

News to me that Christianity might have been declared the official Roman religion by Constantine in part to preempt the troubling popularity of Mithraism, sort of a Falun Gong to the Chinese establishment communist party (a fun analogy).

Mithraism had always been identified with Persia, today's Iran.  My thought is to follow the Christian strand (through Santa's Mithric hat, through December 25, through Christmas in July), back to pre Christian origins, and there meetup with Sufis making a parallel convergent pilgrimage, back through their own pre-Islamic heritage.

Forrest Curo said:

Religions seem to intrinsically develop a mystical wing and a doctrinal one. Mystics from different religions & their sects tend to understand each other better than their co-religionists of doctrinal persuasions. It's not so much about similar "ideas" (although they certainly do develop ideas about what they're doing, often similar to those found in other religions) as emphasising being attentive to the Source over supporting ideas-about.

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