Hello, I am Pastor Bob McKee**. I'm a Lutheran pastor here in Sunnyvale, California, here in the United States.
The Hizmet Movement, I love the name. Hizmet, it means “service.” And the people I've met in the Hizmet Movement really live out the name of their organization. They do serve. You can tell in all the people that are part of Hizmet, they love to serve. Whenever called upon, they will do their best to help their neighbors, help friends, and even people they haven't met before, so I have a positive view of the Hizmet Movement. I have read some of Mr. Fethullah Gülen's books, and I like what he has to say. And the people that I've met who follow his teachings seem to exemplify the method of peace that he encourages. And I see him following in the spirit of the poet Rumi, and he encourages people to get beyond their differences. With the use of dialog, interfaith dialog, intercultural dialog, people are able to learn from one another, and Mr. Gülen, I believe, encourages his followers to interact with others, to learn from others, and so I think this has a very positive influence on society.
I believe some of the significant contributions of the Hizmet Movement are that the group provides an opportunity for peoples of different faiths, of different cultures, to listen to one another, and learn from one another. In our day, it's become very difficult for people of differing views to sit down respectfully and hear where the other person sees the world from, what their point of view is. And so I believe God is using the Hizmet Movement to bring people together.
I believe inspiration takes place when people learn about other cultures, when they hear about other faiths, how people practice their faith, and I believe also, it provides an opportunity to dispel some of the myths and misunderstandings about different faiths.
The Islamic faith, I believe, in our country, in the United States, many people have a lot of misconceptions about Islam. And I believe, through the Hizmet Movement, there are opportunities for people to come together, and understand that we are all human, and we have so much in common. And God wants to teach us through each other, and inspire us through one another.
I believe that the Hizmet Movement represents the true spirit of Islam; Islam, meaning “peace”. And, certainly, the Hizmet Movement and its followers are interested in peace. And that's what Mr. Gülen teaches as well. So I believe this is a positive and true expression of the Islamic faith, from what little I know, and the people that I have met are interested in living out the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed, and the other prophets.
And I believe all those who have been sent by God have encouraged people to connect with one another. I believe God wants people united, rather than divided. And so, whatever can bring us together to learn from one another, I believe that has the spirit of God in it. Because I really sensed the same spirit that I believe Jesus imparts to his followers and Mohammed imparts to his followers. And so I believe when each of us practices our faith in a way that is sincere, and true, and open to the spirit, then our divisions fall away. And that's what the poet Rumi taught, and I believe Mr. Gülen has carried on that tradition, and now it's wonderful to see many other people carrying on the same spirit.
The interfaith activities of the Hizmet Movement, I believe have great value. People who come together and share their differences enlighten one another, and today it has become very difficult for people to share differing views. People who come from extremist ends of any religion will often demonize the other side, people who think or believe differently than they do. So, to have a group which encourages our commonalities is very beneficial to our world.
We live in a time when people have the power to destroy one another quite easily, and quickly. So, to have people come together and learn how to live in harmony is of great value, not only to this generation, but to future generations. So, I believe it is a wonderful thing that the Hizmet Movement is doing in bringing people together to share how they have things in common.
We all want to care for our children. We want our youth to have good education. We want our neighborhoods to be safe. We want to feel safe in the world ourselves. And so when someone is first perceived as an enemy, and then later becomes a friend, I believe that causes Heaven to rejoice.
Well, the Hizmet Movement has a great emphasis on education, and I believe that is so valuable. We have found in working with different countries, the United States working in different parts of the world, and people are trying to make a difference in the world. They move into a troubled area and it becomes clear within a short time that education is the key to making a difference for the long term. And what the Hizmet Movement is doing in focusing on schools and the education of young people is going to be of great benefit in the long run, as these young people are trained up to be world citizens, to understand various cultures, and to be very respectful of all peoples.
As I visited Hizmet schools in Turkey, I was so impressed with the level of education, a very high level of education, and yet a spirit of fun and joy in the students, they seemed to enjoy what they were doing, and they liked the camaraderie, and they were studying hard, and learning how to do that with joy and rigor. And so I see a great value to the education aspect, the education wing of the Hizmet Movement. As I talked to administrators in the schools, I could see that there was a high level of intelligence and professionalism. In each of the schools, they had kind of a wall of honor, of all the students who had gone on to great universities, the best universities in the world. And it became clear that the students were interested, and having fun vying for those top spots, and I think that is a great goal.
When we visited Turkey, we also visited the headquarters of Kimse Yok Mu, the relief effort wing of the Hizmet Movement. And we were impressed with all the different places where Hizmet is involved in the world, helping people who have gone through disasters, people who are in impoverished areas. And I believe this is part of what Islam teaches, part of what Christianity teaches, the world's great religions, to care for the least of these. And that was certainly Jesus's main emphasis, was caring for those who were forgotten by most of society. And I see that the Hizmet Movement is looking, they have their eyes out, looking across the world for where God wants to reach out with his hand, to bring relief to those who are hurting, to bring food to those who are hungry, to bring clothing to those who need it, and a visit, a caring visit from someone who can bring some comfort. And so I am impressed with the sincerity, and the degree to which efforts are put into relief around the world. It certainly matches with the name, Hizmet, service, and so people are called upon to serve in all kinds of ways, and I know people are taking large amounts of time, and using a large amount of their resources to serve in various ways. And that's impressive. I think that is important for people to see that faith makes a difference. So when a doctor takes time away from his practice to go and care for those who are hurting in another land, it helps people to wake up, to see that people do care. And people of faith are living out their faith. We met a dentist who had worked in Africa, and he talked about his experience there, and showed us pictures, and the joy as he talked about it was really fun to see. And there is great joy in service. And I think Kimse Yok Mu and the Hizmet Movement are making a difference, as people connect, even in the midst of great tragedies, to bring relief and support and to lift up those who are downtrodden.
**Profile: Robert M. McKee is a Senior Pastor at St. Luke Lutheran Church Sunnyvale, California. He received his Master of Divinity at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1992. He completed his Doctorate of Ministry at the Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California, 2013.
*Produced by Spectra Media exclusively for Irmak TV, Atlas of Thoughts (Fikir Atlasi) connects the scholars, politicians, jurists, religious figures, journalists, and academics reflecting on Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen and the Hizmet Movement with the audience. Each episode features a person from a different segment of the society with diverse experiences regarding the Hizmet activities and its volunteers. If you are interested to hear about the Hizmet and Mr. Gulen from these people’s perspectives, do not miss this show!