This is neither a comprehensive study of Fethullah Gulen nor is it a comprehensive study of Jelaluddin Rumi. What I am seeking to do is to explore the places where the thought of the one is echoed in the thinking of the other, either overtly or indirectly—and to note ways in which the opposite is true: that Gulen diverges from Rumi.
I am also seeking to suggest some of the larger contexts in which the thinking of both resides. Given the wide-ranging aspects of their respective writings, it should not be surprising if, minimally, we can find important foundation stones in both philosophy and theology in the edifices that they each construct. Given the important role of Muslim thinkers in the era leading to and beyond the time of Rumi in preserving and transmitting the thoughts of the ancient Greeks, it should not be surprising to find traces of Plato in Rumi, together with important influences from prior Muslim and in particular prior Sufi thinkers. Given Gulen’s wide interests it should not be surprising to find echoes from the same array of thinkers that have come both through his own study of them and through his engagement of Rumi.
Moreover, Gulen’s intellectual interests extend beyond the era of Rumi, and thus others—notably Bediuzzaman Said Nursi—have added to the foundations of his edifice of thought. In the long run, this narrative evolves primarily as a focus on Fethullah Gulen as one, inspired by Rumi and others, who has been a scholar of Islam who has transformed the theory of universalism into a concerted and successful plan of action on various levels.