Prof. Pim Valkenberg
Fethullah Gülen, if we stop using the convenient but theologically problematic term “Gülen Movement”? The only term that should certainly be included, would be the term “service”, derived from the Turkish word hizmet, and used by Fethullah Gülen himself.
Although social scientists seem to agree on using the word “movement” to describe the organization of the supporters of Fethullah Gülen, this term may give a wrong impression if it is seen as an organization with a central authority. But one of the things that everyone studying the movement agrees on is that there is no central authority: Gülen does not decide what is to be done, nor does he own the movement or one of its parts. Bekim Agai suggests that we should speak about a network of closely related small organizations in which personal relations determine the coherence of the network. I often observed how the members of the oldest generation of Gülen’s students, for instance in İzmir, are highly respected in Hizmet. They are the “elder brothers” whose stories about the beginning of Gülen’s ideas and activities form important frames of reference for the discourse of the community.Since the hizmet network does not have formal positions of authority, it is not correct to speak about Gülen as its leader or its president. Some of the organizations, such as the Rumi Forum in Washington D.C., for instance, call Fethullah Gülen their “honorary president”, but this is only an honorary title indeed. Gülen does not govern one of these organizations, nor does he have any financial interest in them. The same holds true for the schools founded by the Hizmet movement. One will not find any reference to his name, apart from the stories that some of the older hizmet educators will tell. But, as Agai noted in his research, only some of the teachers in the schools that adhere to the hizmet network are aware of the role that Gülen's ideas played in the foundation of these schools.
From the article titled "The Gülen Movement as “Network of Faith-based Service Communities” in the Dialogue between Muslim and Christian Religious Traditions" which was presented by Prof. Pim Valkenberg at the conference "East and West Encounters"