A Turkish couple inspired by a modern Islam movement spends their wedding day helping Syrian refugees in need.

Instead of hosting a lavish party for family and friends, a Turkish couple in Kilis chose to celebrate their wedding by feeding 4,000 Syrian refugees. Fethullah Uzumcuoglu and Esra Polat pooled the monetary gifts they received for their wedding and invited all the refugees in and around the city to feast with them on their special day.

The idea came from the groom’s father Ali Uzumcuoglu whose only wish is for the couple to share that special day with the less fortunate, their “Syrian brothers and sisters.” It was surprising news for the bride, but was she was pleased to have such a wonderful experience. The groom said, “Seeing the happiness in the eyes of the Syrian refugee children is just priceless. We started our journey to happiness with making others happy and that’s a great feeling.”

The couple, family, and friends made it possible by using food trucks to distribute the meals. The bride and groom, still dressed in their wedding attire, actively took part in giving away the meals.

All the 4,000 refugees invited currently rely on the organization Kimse Yok Mu for their daily food needs. These refugees are just a small number compared to the two million Syrians that consider Turkey as their temporary home away from danger.

Aside from the civil conflict in Syria, these victims are also fleeing from ISIS persecution. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS/ISIL) is a radical Muslim group which proclaimed itself as the worldwide caliphate or the supreme power and government for all Muslims in the world. The group wants to be recognized by force.

ISIS took advantage of the civil conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa to conquer and occupy territories. It was even associated with most of the terrorist attacks which extended across Turkey and Europe. Turkey became more active in the fight against ISIS when the radical group became a visible threat to its borders with Syria and recently when dozens of people died in a suicide bombing within the Turkish territory wherein responsibility was claimed by ISIS.

Inspired by the Gulen Movement

The couple’s altruistic act was commended by the Kimse Yok Mu group which also shares the same principles. Kimse Yok Mu is affiliated with the Gulen or Hizmet movement which is considered to be the modern version of Islam. Hizmet means “the service” which is congruent with the movement’s idea of selfless service.

The movement was founded and inspired by the teachings of Muhammed Fethullah Gulen. Gulen is a Muslim imam, preacher, and a writer. After retiring from his preaching career, he now lives in the U.S. under self-imposed exile. He became prominent because of his unique views in politics, business, and most especially religion.

Compared to conservative Muslims, Gulen wants to see Islam become intertwined with science and technology. He believes in interfaith and intercultural dialogue and multi-party democracy He has been described as “an imam who promotes a tolerant Islam which emphasizes altruism, hard work, and education.” He was noted to have positive views towards Christians, Catholics, Jews, and even the secular community. Because of this, he has met with several religious and cultural leaders from the Jewish Head Rabbis up to the Catholic Pope John Paul II.

Gulen also believes that the Muslim community has that duty of service for the common good. Muslims should be of service to Muslims and non-Muslims alike at home and across the world.

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