Fethullah Gülen and the ‘People of the Book’: A Voice from Turkey for Interfaith Dialogue

The term “People of the Book” or Ahl al-kitab is mentioned in the Qur’an twenty-four times, referring to Christians and Jews in particular. The context of these Qur’anic references varies. Some of these verses praise the People of the Book for their righteousness and good deeds and faith in the Afterlife (Qur’an 3.113). Others rebuke the People of the Book for not following the way of God (Qur’an 3.99). A group of these verses invite the People of the Book to a common ground between Muslims and themselves (Qur’an 3.64). Another group of these verses indicates an intimate relationship between Muslims and Christians (Qur’an 5.82). The relationship between Muslims and the People of the Book, Jews and Christians, has been a subject of discussion among Muslims throughout the centuries. Islam’s long-time ecumenical roots are easily traced to the famous verse in the Qur’an:
Say (O Prophet Muhammad): Oh People of the Book! Come to an agreement between us that we will not worship other than God, and that we shall ascribe no partner unto him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside God…(Qur’an, 3: 64)