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Recurring History
Oct 1, 2006

Regardless of how one defines global religious revival, theological and political debate over religion makes its presence felt on a global scale. This reality came to the surface with vitality after the Pope’s unfortunate speech on Islam (September 2006) and after last year’s cartoon offense. The whole world witnessed once again how long-established prejudices continue to affect our intellectual make-up. Such incidents reminded us once again that the most challenging issue facing our present circumstance is that societies have unexpectedly found themselves to be neighbors to an increasing variety of “other.” There is still a long distance we have to cover on the road to peace. Willingly or otherwise, we have become global neighbors of one world, and learning about one another is of necessity. In this respect, “Issues Raised in the Aftermath of the Cartoon Offense” in this issue portrays the Prophet of Islam, who was unfairly treated in recent events, in a comprehensive way.

In our previous issue we attempted to sneak a look through the door that opens to the essence of “time.” From Aristotle to Einstein, from Ibn Arabi to Imam Rabbani, many philosophers and scientists commented on the nature of this phenomenon. One definition of time is that it is a progressive linear occurrence; its beginning was when God created the universe. Another definition suggests “time” as something without an absolute nature; it consists of only what we perceive. Still others contend that while time moves forward, it does so through series of historical recurrences. In this sense, a helical flow of time does not suggest a “returning back;” it argues that certain phenomena in history re-occur in a way that is relatively compatible with a certain period of time. Events do not come into existence exactly as they happened in the past; they take on a contemporary form.

In this issue, we will study how this cyclical/helical flow of time serves as a reason for many to be hopeful for the future. In the lead article to this edition, Fethullah Gulen contends, “We all know well that worry and despair can no longer stand firm. And when the horizons are bright to help us distinguish good from evil, all the hardships endured on the road will be immediately mitigated.” This is not a fate-blind approach. Gulen appreciates the significance of human willpower and hard work in the shaping of our future: “Distances will readily submit to endeavors and efforts.” We all-heartedly share his lengthy wish for a happy future.

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