April 8, 2015

The Hizmet Movement and its contribution to the global peace and tolerance

İsmail Albayrak

This article will summarize some important features of globalization briefly, and then will provide the general description of the Hizmet Movement, its main characteristics in the formation of an ideal person who is capable of internalizing the qualities of self-discipline, dialogue and the notion of khidmah (service for humanity/hizmet). The question of how the formal and informal educational activities of the Movement contribute to the solution of local and global problems is the second concern of this article. Finally, as an extension of the Movement’s global educational activities, the article will deal with Gülen’s approach to cultural and religious diversity and their relationship in modern communities.


Globalization has multidimensional aspects therefore it is not easy to define. This undefined character of globalization is strongly related to economic, political, social, cultural and ethical values of the globe. For some, the process of globalization is a real nightmare which causes various types of problems. They consider it a great threat to local traditions and cultures by weakening the conventional borders or internal cohesion of communities to create super economic and social structures.[1] This homogenization is seen by many critics of globalization with great anxiety that the local is losing its meaning, values and is melted into the global. They strongly believe that if it continues uncontrolled, the powerful effect of globalization will eliminate various rivals. Shutting down many big firms or factories, undefined business and marketing laws and daily loss of jobs in great numbers are part of the usage of this unavoidable instrument, namely globalization.

The main reason for this mistrust lies in the economic imbalance among the nations of the world. For rich and developed countries, globalization is a revolution, a great success of Western civilization to be spread all over the world but for others, it is an ideology to be prevented. According to second group, this ideology accelerates the speed of change in societies and increases violence and war to seize power, control or impose authority over others. The underdeveloped countries seem to have no role to play in this one way project of globalization.

For others, globalization is a unique way to go forward. It is enough to look only at the development in information and mass media technologies to realize how people are involved in this inevitable process. Today, people are now communicating in a global language.[2] Via the internet, they daily transact large amount of money from one country to another. The impact of intergovernmental relations grows rapidly. This great potential of globalization makes people aware of their common problems. People who are very optimistic about globalization believe that this process, with its great technological progress, will bring wealth, freedom, good political arrangements and democracy for all beyond the local concern of nation states. It should also be remembered that people who are longing for globalization argue that contemporary common problems can only be solved by global initiative and enterprise.

Between these two radical understandings of globalization, there are various discourses which pronounce more cautious approaches. Glocalization[3], I think, is one of the important representatives of this middle way. While the society preserves its own local values, it also supports, actively participates in and contributes greatly to global values. When we take a Muslim’s discourse of globalization into account, it will be seen that it is not very different from the modern discussion of globalization. There are extreme sceptics who consider it as a major threat to Islam and a conspiracy against Muslims all over the world. Especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the vast tragedy of 9/11, criticism and attacks on Islam everywhere lead many Muslims to mistrust global discourse of globalization. In addition, because the Muslim world in general is weak, powerless and quite passive in front of the globalization process, they display no significant contribution to either contemporary problems or the globalization process. Consequently, they prefer to stay away from the process where they have no influence. They also express their dissatisfaction with a globalization which lacks spiritual and ethical dimensions. This understanding makes many Muslims focus on only their own localities or societies in the globe. I think, because of its inability to embrace all the world in this global age, many activities and policies of this insufficient approach would not be able to continue for long.

There are also other Muslim intellectuals who welcome globalization without any hesitation. In contrast to above mentioned group, these intellectuals express their complete trust and appreciation of Western cultures and values. Because they believe that their present situation is not compatible with modernity, they zealously prefer a form of globalization from above to modernize their own communities. This confidence allows them to accept what they can get from the leading countries in globalization. However, it seems that their unquestioned acceptance of globalization marginalizes them among their own community.

Living in a world which is in constant and rapid change, it is easy to guess that there will be many other approaches too. Now we are not in a position to say which of these approaches will dominate on the basis of this changeable nature of our globe. However, when we talk about the Muslim world it is important to note that there are different versions of these approaches to globalization. Unfortunately, the disgrace brought about by occupation and the fragile nature of the war against terrorism creates many reactionaries to globalization among Muslims. The situation also forces many Muslim movements to establish political or military powers which do not seem to last long. The Gülen Movement,[4] in this respect, is unique in their approach to globalization. They are open to change but also respect their own traditional values and identities. In other words, the Gülen Movement does not display an anti-globalist reflection (not reactionary) but it has produced a counter-globalization (proactivist) view which bears its own seal. Before moving to the analysis of the Movement it is important to give brief information about Fethullah Gülen and the Movement.

Fethullah Gülen and His Movement

Fethullah Gülen is a Muslim intellectual, thinker and religious scholar. He was born in Turkey in 1941. He grew up in a very religious environment. His first teachers were his parents. He mastered the Qur’an and its language at a very early age and then continued his traditional madrasa (school) education in different villages of his home town. While in school, he met students of Bediüzzaman Said Nursi and was introduced to the Risale-i Nur collections, in one respect a ‘complete’ and ‘contemporary’ Islamic school that contributed a great deal to his intellectual and spiritual formation. Meanwhile, he privately continued his ‘modern’ education in science and philosophy, literature and history.

In 1959 Gülen moved to Edirne to work as an imam. Following his years in Edirne he was appointed as a Qur’anic teacher to İzmir, the third biggest city in Turkey, in 1966. These years were very fruitful for him. Besides teaching the Qur’an and Arabic he also traveled a lot in the Aegean part of Turkey to deliver speeches concerning religious, social and ethical issues. In the 1970s he became very well known as a preacher and respected scholar in Turkey. He was sent to different cities and finally to Bornova, İzmir, where he worked until September 12, 1980. After his retirement in 1980, he re-started his regular sermons unofficially in 1986 and continued up until the beginning of the 1990s. In 1994 he initiated the ‘Foundation of the Journalists and Writers’ Organization,’ a group that promotes dialogue and tolerance among all social strata and has received a warm welcome from almost all walks of life. He visited the Vatican and had a meeting with the Late Pope John Paul II in 1998. In 1999 he went to the United States for medical treatment. Since then he continues to live in the USA.

A small group that started to form around his opinions served people in the light of his advice. Now, many people from all walks of life participate in this service. They continue to serve without thought of material reward. They preach, teach and establish private educational institutions and intercultural dialogue centers all over the world. They also publish books and magazines, as well as daily and weekly newspapers, participate in television and radio broadcasts, and fund scholarships for poor students. The companies and foundations set up by people of different world views who agree about serving people, especially in the field of education, have founded and are operating about 2,000 secondary and high schools and over 20 universities from England to Australia, the United States and Russia, and South Africa. Gülen’s understanding of service permits no expectation of material or political gain. Sincerity and purity of intention should never be harmed or contaminated by these expectations. This picture indicates clearly that, with thousands of followers inside and outside Turkey, the Gülen Movement has already become a part of globalization.

Main characteristics of the Gülen Movement and the importance of education

As we have mentioned, many movements among Muslim countries in the modern period did not last long due to their short sighted dominant political engagement. Bearingin mind the colonized and oppressed position of many countries during the 19th and 20th centuries, Muslims generally produced various types of anti-Western and anti-modernity discourses in reaction to Western powers. Thus, liberation from the West was the primary requirement and many have tried to be sealed off from Western influence.[5] The case in the Gülen Movement is quite different. As many researchers have pointed out, the Movement originated in Turkey where the cultural and religious (together with mystical) richness of the uncolonized Ottoman state have still been preserved.[6] Although religion and culture play significant roles in the Gülen Movement, it is neither a fundamentalist reaction to the West and modernity nor a complete acceptance of it. As will be discussed further, the Gülen Movement represents middle and more balanced way in many respects. They are open to recognize the contribution of others. In fact, they are extremely positive about the use of mass communication technology in human service and very conscious of how globalization removes the borders among nations and brings people frequently together. The question of how Muslims can be involved and contribute to this process lies in their understanding of humanity and in their understanding of serving humanity in a global way. In order to summarize their overall approach to humanity we have to first look at Fethullah Gülen’s philosophy and its perception.

For Gülen, the value of our ancient earth originates from its noble inhabitants, namely humankind. To serve this honorable resident is our most honorable earthly duty.[7] The question of why the human being is very important, according to Gülen, lies in his full trust in and dependence on God. Because we love God, we should love and respect His best creation. If a person loves God, they feel a deep inclination towards His every creature.[8] This love is not a static proclamation or an abstract notion; it is in fact a transcendental immersion which come directly from Gülen’s understanding of Islam. He believes that love is the strongest and most powerful weapon in the universe.[9] The dream of this universal love can only be realized by the ‘person of ideals.’ The ‘person of ideals’ constitutes the ideal society, this is a virtuous circle. Gülen says that their common feature is to love God fervently and to ask themselves questions about the meaning of life, existence, death, servanthood, their relationship with God and other creatures, the nature of sin, reward, why humanity is suffering, where humankind is going? Ultimately these are the ones who will serve humanity truly by their distinctive morals, spirit and reason.[10]

Gülen sees the realization of the person of ideals as the ultimate aim of human existence. Actually he calls them a ‘Golden Generation’ and sees their activities on a global level as a sign of hope for the salvation of all humanity. Because they equip themselves with values such as faith, love, a balanced view of science, freethinking, freedom, consultation etc.[11] Gülen believes that they will do their best, until finally the world becomes paradise.

The key term in the realization of the Golden Generation as a whole is education. Gülen has spent more than forty years encouraging and inspiring the people around him to invest materially and spiritually in education. For Gülen, education is a sublime duty that manifests the Divine name Rabb (Pedagogue, Upbringer, Sustainer).[12] This is a very important piece of notion which connects human beings with God. Real life, says Gülen, is only possible by knowledge. Whoever neglects teaching and learning could be considered dead. For Gülen, the reason we are created is to learn, communicate and teach.[13] Gülen, in his many writings, draws attention to the differences between humans and animals by underlying the importance of education. He says that animals are created with potential talent but a human being’s journey in the world starts with impotence and a miserable position and they must wait for everything from others.[14]

Gülen is so insistent on education for several reasons. Not only does it train individuals but it is also the most vital factor for positive social change. In addition, he sees education as the most effective tongue for relations with others. Education is the aim of the aims. In his own words, the people who are educating their young today are actually investing in the next 25 years.[15] Nonetheless, despite the existence of a wide range of schools everywhere, Gülen, like his predecessor Said Nursi, expresses many times his dissatisfaction with the existing system of schooling. There are numerous state and private schools but they fail to take the whole need of children into consideration. Gülen frequently repeats that people who are responsible for the education of youth in the modern period have not developed a holistic approach to education. This failure results in the creation of a young generation with no ideals, as if they were animated corpses.[16] The pressure of globalization in this process cannot be denied. Educational institutions have come under pressure to focus more on meeting the demands of the economy rather than more sublime aims; the education for employment blinds many people to raising spiritually and bodily healthy children.

This is the gist of Gülen’s educational philosophy. For Gülen, training the body of children is easy but very few train the minds and hearts of the pupils at the same time.[17] For him the distinction made between the mind and heart of students in modern school system is a calamity for all. Today, according to Gülen, this mistake is still being repeated. Despite the production of many great scientists from contemporary schooling systems, modern men and women fail to establish real happiness in the globe. In fact, this one sided education increases the crises in societies and produces only youth with no ideals. Thus, there is a great need for new and fresh approaches to current education systems.[18] It is also urgent to redefine the frame of knowledge. Gülen thinks that in the modern period, knowledge is limited to empty theories and unabsorbed pieces of learning, which arouse suspicion in minds and darkness in hearts, is a heap of garbage around which desperate and confused souls flounder.[19] Nonetheless, he sees Nursi’s approach as a sole prescription for this dilemma. The purpose of education is to make knowledge a guide in oneself and in others. To achieve such an aim is to see education as the illumination of the mind in science and knowledge and the light of the heart in faith and virtue.[20]

This is the middle way that Gülen wants to promote everywhere. He takes this heritage directly from the teachings of his predecessors and he also finds Qur’anic references to this concept.[21] He wisely interprets the Qur’anic term al-sirat al-mustaqim (straight path)[22] as a middle way to use in a wide variety of social and ethical issues. This middle way can be described as an extreme emphasis on avoidance of excesses and deficiencies while finding a balance between materialism and spiritualism, rationalism and mysticism, worldliness and asceticism, heart and mind, tradition and modernity.[23] This is the sole way to prevent young people from fanaticism and atheism. However, for Gülen, the acceptance of the middle way on the above mentioned issues is not a blind action. This understanding has been based on both religious and scientific knowledge. There are two laws (law of nature/religious law) which come from the Eternal which do not conflict between them. Actually, one aspect of the notion of taqwa (performing what God has commanded) is to learn how God’s true religion and natural law (sciences) can be combined. In brief, both advise moderation and balance.[24] This middle way opens the doors of education for many hesitant, conservative parents who face great difficulties in allowing their children to receive a modern education at the risk of losing their faith or keeping their faith but suffering from losing their chance to achieve a high standard of education in modern secular schools. Moreover, Gülen’s philosophy of education also prevents Muslim students and others who live as a minority outside Turkey from experiencing cultural shock or complete assimilation, and also from alienation or ghettoization from the dominant cultures.

To fulfill such an important goal, Gülen, in contrast to many Muslims, has chosen education with a special emphasis on ethics at the center of his own Movement. Education is the most significant tool to compete with others on a global scale. His educational model does not exclude anyone from participation. In fact, its universally accessible nature empowers many marginalized groups to continue their education in this model. This is one way to bring an equal and just educational system to everyone in the growing inequality and unjust nature of global education for improvement of the conditions of the poor. Bearing in mind the existence of schools in nearly every part of the world and in various environments and different social conditions, as stated above, their main focus is on the development of ethical understanding of the global issues rather than teaching religion.

This stress on the universal dimension of humanity’s common virtues allows the Movement’s educational model to be more globalized and embrace a diverse number of nations. For this reason the Gülen Movement has prioritized schools rather than the mosque, which is chosen by many Islamically oriented movements. This shift from mosque to school also enables the Movement to see the world as a whole place of service (dar al-khidmah—in Turkish: hizmet), where one can serve for the common good of humanity. In other words, serving the community is a kind of worship and the school in modern period is the best place to serve the community, so the content of the mosque as a place of worship is transferred to the school where the lost soul is being saved. In this context, teachers replace the imams of the mosque and they (teachers) are understood by Gülen to be subjectively the equivalent of saintly men or women.[25] Furthermore, in order to elevate the job of the teacher to a very noble status, Gülen associates the profession of teaching with the task of the Prophets and many other Muslim saints.[26] Like the Prophets, the teachers of the Movement focus on communal salvation rather than individual happiness. So teachers, according to Gülen, become major figures in building the happiness of our globe.

It is also important to note that he makes a clear distinction between the educator and the teacher, stating that educators are very limited number in our modern world.[27] Despite their openness to new development and the contribution of others, educators in the Gülen Movement also share a common pedagogic vision, similar curriculum[28] and human and material resources[29] based on networks of advanced information and communication infrastructure. This collective consciousness is the unique attempt to respond and confront the challenging nature of globalization. The adoption of self-mission is of prime importance in this educational project, therefore teachers consider every individual as a different world and try to find a way to their heart.[30] In this process, the notion of tamthil (representation; temsil in Turkish) comes to the fore. Tamthil means to teach values through examples. Gülen believes this is the most effective way to prepare students for the future. The need for proper action is influential more than the words. In this way, he believes, both the teacher and student internalize the core values of education. Put another way, they not only teach but also show how to use knowledge.

Once again, in Gülen’s project this interaction is not one or two sided (teacher-student) but is multidimensional and includes family, school environment and mass media etc. Gülen argues that the desired result can only be achieved by the cooperation of these different sides. Otherwise, the existence of opposing tendencies among these vital institutions will subject the students to contradictory influences that will distract them and dissipate their energy. In particular, mass media should contribute to the education of the young generation by following the education policy approved by the community.[31] This is the dream of Gülen therefore, as a inspirer of a giant movement; he guides his followers to establish various institutions to satisfy this global need. This is an ongoing process and the institutions never stop. Within this process, teachers as well as parents and other people need to be educated constantly. Every stratum of the community should be taken into consideration and real energy should be expended for the salvation of the community. Interestingly enough, Gülen interprets being a good (taqwa) person not only on the basis of avoidance of sin but also as active participation in the improvement of society.[32] Thus in this global educational project not only men but also women have a great role to play.

Towards global peace and tolerance

Besides education, another important activity initiated by Gülen in the cause of global peace is his emphasis on the notion of tolerance, dialogue and intercultural and interfaith relations. Dialogue activities are an extension of Gülen’s global educational struggle; they also serve the education of humanity. Although he has been severely criticized by some people, he bravely argues that dialogue is primarily concerned with religion and is thus a religious duty.[33] Gülen constantly insists on the religious nature of the meetings because the basic Islamic sources advise Muslims to engage in dialogue with representatives of other faiths. Thus, Gülen says that dialogue is not his invention or innovation, but a revival of the most neglected aspect of Islam. His constancy in this regard is very sincere: he has said that even if the sensitive political balance of the world changes a thousand times he will never stop the dialogue meetings; the Islamic sources do allow him only to do so.

First of all, he believes that the pluralism in our modern society is a fact not a problem. Religiously speaking it is the duty of believers to preserve this tension between the sameness and difference in the emergence of global homogeneities. A Qur’anic verse[34] clearly rejects cultural homogeneity propagated by dominant globalization: ‘O mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that you may know one another. Lo! The noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct (taqwa)…’ It is safe to assume that one of the essential words of the Qur’an concerning plurality lies in this verse. In fact, the Qur’an sees diversity as one of the most important human strengths. Taaruf (knowing each other) should be reconsidered in the context of the need to find common grounds for the coexistence of diverse religious and cultural varieties. It is a key that could open the door to interfaith dialogue. Here the Qur’an draws attention to equality in regard to biology and to a dignity common to all. Thus no one can be justified in boasting of an inherent superiority over others.

Thus for Gülen, one of the prime functions of education is to foster intercultural understanding. Failure to take into account the diverse nature of society in education feeds the homogeneous and monocultural dominance in many host cultures. Denial or disregard of the diversity which already exists in society leads to misrepresentation of the others. This partisanship is the root of every turmoil and social conflict. In a world becoming more and more globalized, one has to know who will be his future next door neighbor. Furthermore, like neighbors, nations also need each other in global scale. One of the most important factors here is to eliminate causes that separate people, such as discrimination based on color, race, belief and ethnicity. Education, Gülen says, can uproot these evils.[35] Having held firmly to this belief, the Gülen Movement works very hard to promote tolerance both inside and outside Turkey. For Gülen, dialogue and tolerance mean accepting every person, irrespective of their status and learning to live together. In this regard, education is considered as an island of unity. Tolerance and dialogue need to be taught in school. Teaching differences and giving the accurate picture of the unfamiliar other give opportunities to move on. Gülen thinks that this is a key for the improvement of relationships among the world’s nations. Religiously speaking, in the understanding of Gülen, what is good for all is also good in Islam (and other religions). Education is the way to transmit these universal values. Education about tolerance also contributes to the solidarity of nations and their willingness to live together.

In Gülen Movement schools, education of tolerance is being practiced vividly and it is fair to say that diversity is part of their existent schooling system. In many countries students from different ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds study in the same peaceful atmosphere of these schools. For example, in Bosnia, Croatian and Serbian students—even though their numbers are small- study peacefully alongside Bosnian students, in spite of the brutal war. This is a powerful indication that the Gülen Movement’s schools have succeeded in establishing a non-sectarian atmosphere in their educational system without neglecting to respect cultural and religious differences.

Today’s global discourse teaches us that one’s happiness depends on the other’s happiness and many crises in the globe can be overcome only by the promotion of tolerance and dialogue. For Gülen, dialogue is a must. But it does not mean that it is a compromise or negotiation. Dialogue and tolerance are also not passive acceptance of others. For Gülen, tolerance is religious duty and a virtue to be gained. It is an indication of sincerity in the engagement of cultural relation. Gülen repeats several times the importance of forgetting revenge for the past, disregarding the polemics, elimination of hatred from the vocabulary. Gülen asks his followers to see their own mistakes and be blind the mistakes of others.[36] It is not wise to dictate what you believe, but it is meritorious to listen to others to understand them or learn from them. So respecting cultural, religious and social differences is crucial in the education of tolerance. Gülen sincerely believes that the existent cultures and religions have this potential to contribute to world peace provided that modern men take education of tolerance seriously.

Today, in every school of the Movement, the education of tolerance is being taught in a comprehensive way, including the interaction of both students-teachers and their families. Similarly, it is being taught through good examples which pave the way to mutual and respectful relations. Having internalized the value of tolerance education, teachers transmit this understanding to their students. In addition to schools, the last ten years have seen a great explosion in the establishment of cultural and interfaith centers to promote dialogue and tolerance. Bridge-builders of Gülen Movement have felt the need for general training in intercultural activities and have gone beyond schools to meet this need. These centers play a complimentary role to school education and have had a great impact on the internal cohesion of societies. In addition, these centers also contribute to the integration of minorities in different countries without losing their own identities and cultures.

Gülen is optimistic for the future of these activities and their contribution to global peace. However, he is also very cautious not to name the dialogue activities of his followers. He argues that this is an unceasing process and the future will show how beneficial it is. He is also confident that people will be very hopeful to see the future, common work of the three Abrahamic religions which come from the same root.[37] So, for Gülen this is a global responsibility and the followers of these great traditions should come together and try to build common ground among diverse societies. This common ground, tolerance, dialogue and peace, will heal most of our present wounds as a global nation. Like his predecessor, Gülen sees three great illnesses in front of humanity: ignorance, poverty and internal schism. Knowledge, capital work and unification can struggle against these. However, among them ignorance is the most serious sickness; it must be opposed with education, which has always been the important way of serving one’s country. Now that we live in a global village, education is the best way to serve humanity and to establish a dialogue with other civilizations.[38]

Today, despite many good works of self-sacrificing people all over the world, there are still many who control by force, intolerance among different intra and international groups. After 9/11, I think, Islam and Muslims have been greatly affected by this global disinformation. The war against terror is being transformed into a war against Muslims and most Muslims are being seen as terrorists or most terrorists are being seen as Muslims. Similarly, Islam becomes a subtitle of terrorism and associated with violence. The efforts of some mass media and the mistakes of some individuals further diminish the image of Muslims and Islam around the globe. What we are facing today is a really clash of ignorance rather than the clash of civilization. Gülen sincerely believes that if one wants to win the hearts of suppressed people, wants to solve the conflict, the most secure shelter is education and dialogue. Unfortunately, violence nourishes violence. This is an experimentally proven fact. It is easy to destroy but it is very difficult to rebuild. Today our multicultural societies’ cohesion depends on this mutual understanding, engaging proactively in cooperation between communities and respecting each other. According to Gülen, this is a religious duty and we are responsible for the preparation of our future world in this regard. In the hundreds of schools and many intercultural centers the Gülen Movement tries to establish a common language for better understanding.


It is now an accepted fact that the last two centuries have brought people together to communicate more actively. This formation is known today as globalization. Because of incredible development in various fields in our modern world, everybody has to take the notion of globalization seriously. On the Muslim world, the Gülen Movement represents one of the best examples in this regard. Being aware of the importance of globalization, they also prepare themselves against the danger of fallacies in the understanding of globalization. Thus they are not reactionaries to any global or modern development and equally they are not passive on easily influenced under the dominant nature of global activities.

As summarized briefly above, the middle way is the main characteristic of the Gülen Movement. The Movement is aware of global issues and problems and they believe sincerely that these problems can be solved only by global cooperation. Here, they try to develop a sense of culture based on Turkish Islam and Anatolian Sufism to preserve their own identity, but at the same time they are ready and open to new changes. At this juncture, education, moral development, spirituality and tolerance-dialogue play a significant role. A lack of any of these concepts may lead a very civilized movement to power or tyranny. Unfortunately, many authoritarian programs could not bring peace and material-spiritual developments to the societies. Systems which recognize no ethical values and depend solely on power have nothing to contribute to the global progress of all humanity. Continuing wars at the beginning of the third millennium have shown that it is impossible to control people by killing or suppressing them. Thus what is needed is the development of a global movement which covers or surrounds a person’s every dimension. To do so, there is no instant solution. Gülen and his followers have chosen education and intercultural gatherings in the formation of a new man and woman (ideal human/al-insan al-kamil). This is not a rigid educational movement. Laying prime stress on representation (tamthil), teachers in the Movement expend great effort on showing students how to internalize values of morality and tolerance. Because lack of faith and ethical values are the cause and root of every conflict and problem in the world, Gülen Movement’s raison d’être is to establish an environment where the student’s heart and mind are simultaneously satisfied. So the Movement tries to domesticate excessive positivism with emphasis on the inner and spiritual dimensions of Islam. But this is not an exclusivist approach though it takes its power from Islamic faith. As regards globalization, their motto ‘Because we love the Creator we love all His creatures’[39] is the starting point and every Muslim is considered a religious brother and representatives of other faiths are considered as brother in creation. So the number of sister schools and dialogue centers in more than one hundred fifty countries, together with various interactions, are the best way to serve the citizens of the globe. They are practicing globalization vividly and contributing to contemporizing and modernizing Muslims without losing their faith in any detail and without any hidden political or ideological agenda. Because human beings are potentially respected creature and they are able to achieve, the Gülen Movement is very optimistic for the future of the globe. As long as we preserve a civil, just and free atmosphere to pave the way for the education of advantaged and disadvantaged people, there is no barrier to transforming the world into paradise.

[1] M.B. Steger, Globalisation: A Very Short History, 64.
[2] It is important to note that today 80% of internet content is in English. This is good for understanding each other but this is alarmingly dangerous for the pres­ervation of local cultures and languages.
[3] Erik Swyngedouw, ‘Globalisation or glocalisation,’ Cambridge Review International Affairs, 33.
[4] I come across different naming of the Movement in recently written books and articles. Some describe the Movement as a civil-society, social conservative or Anatolian Islam of faith based movement (Greg Barton, ‘Progressive Islamic Thought, civil society and the Gülen Movement in the national context: parallels with Indonesia,’ Proceedings from Islam in the contemporary world: The Fethullah Gülen Movement in thought and practice, Rice University/Houston, 2005, 2, 9), pietis­tic activism (Elisabeth Özdalga, ‘Worldly Asceticism in Islamic Casting: Fethullah Gülen’s Inspired Piety and Activism,’ Critique, 17 (2000) 83–104), civil cosmo­politan movement (Joshua D. Hendrick, ‘The Regulated Potential of Kinetic Islam: Antithesis in Global Activism,’ Muslim Citizens of the Globalized World: Contributions of the Hizmet Movement, (eds.), Robert A. Hunt and Yüksel A. Aslandoğan, New Jersey: The Light Pub. 2006), while others name them as an ethic oriented or text based movement (M. Hakan Yavuz, ‘Islam in the Public Sphere: The Case of the Nur Movement,’ in Turkish Islam and the Secular State: The Hizmet Movement, (eds.) M. Hakan Yavuz and John L. Esposito, New York: Syracuse University Press, 2003, 2–3). There are others who describe the Movement as educational Islamism (Bekim Agai, ‘The Hizmet Movement’s Islamic Ethic of Education,’ in Turkish Islam and the Secular State: The Hizmet Movement, (eds.) M. Hakan Yavuz and John L. Esposito, New York: Syracuse University Press 2003, 50), or a desec­ularisation and glocalisation or recularisation movement (John O. Voll, Fethullah Gülen: Transcending Modernity in the New Islamic Discourse,’ in Turkish Islam and the Secular State: The Hizmet Movement, (eds.) M. Hakan Yavuz and John L. Esposito, New York: Syracuse University Press 2003, 242). I think none of these descriptions do justice to the broad definition of the Movement. Gülen’s own def­inition ‘A movement originating its own model’ (Gülen, Toward Global Civilization of Love and Tolerance, New Jersey: The Light Pub. 2004, 210) seems better than others’ description.
[5] Even many Muslims who live in Western countries try to resolve their own pro­lems on the basis of ethnic identity. American Muslims, who are mainly composed of Arabs, South Asians and Africans, are good illustration of this. Each group has political and social agendas which are quite different from others. (Oliver Roy, Globalized Islam) The fear of assimilation makes people live in a globalized world extremely locally.
[6] Barton, 2005:5.
[7] Gülen, Toward Global Civilization of Love and Tolerance, 225.
[8] Gülen, İrşad Ekseni, 168–169.
[9] Camcı and Kudret Ünal, Hoşgörü ve Diyalog İklimi, 132.
[10] Gülen, Zamanın Altın Dilimi, 10–13.
[11] Ahmet Kuru, ‘Fethullah Gülen’s Search for the Middle Way Between Modernity and Muslim Tradition,’ in Turkish Islam and Secular State: The Hizmet Movement (eds. M. Hakan Yavuz and John L. Esposito), 2003, 119.
[12] Gülen, Essays, Perspectives, Opinions, 71–72.
[13] Gülen, 2004:217.
[14] Gülen, 2002:67–68.
[15] Gülen, 2004:205.
[16] Thomas Michel, ‘Fethullah Gülen as Educator,’ in Turkish Islam and the Secular State: The Hizmet Movement (eds. M. Hakan Yavuz and John L. Esposito), 74.
[17] Gülen, 2004:202.
[18] Ibid., 255.
[19] Ibid,, 205.
[20] Ibid., 197.
[21] Gülen, Prophet Muhammad: The Infinite Light, 200–201.
[22] Qu’ran 1:5.
[23] Kuru, 2003:116–119.
[24] Hendrick, 2006:19.
[25] Gülen, 2002:72.
[26] Yüksel Doğan and Muhammed Çetin, ‘The Educational Philosophy of Gülen in Thought and Practice,’ in Muslim Citizens of the Globalized World: Contribution of the Hizmet Movement (eds. Robert A. Hunt and Yüksel Aslandoğan), 37.
[27] Gülen, Criteria or the Lights of the Way, 36.
[28] Every year many meetings are being held by teachers to develop and bring new material to their teaching. It is observed that the curriculum they use has never been static.
[29] Michel, ‘Fethullah Gülen as Educator,’ 70.
[30] Gülen, 2004:209.
[31] Gülen, 2004:206.
[32] Yavuz, 2003:25.
[33] Enes Ergene, Geleneğin Modern Çağa Tanıklığı, İstanbul: Yeni Akademi, 2005, 47.
[34] Qu’ran 49:13.
[35] Ali Ünal and Alphonse Williams, Fethullah Gülen: Advocate of Dialogue, 330.
[36] Gülen, Key Concepts in the Practice of Sufism-1, 98.
[37] Gülen, 2004:231.
[38] Ibid., 198.
[39] Ergene, 2005:17.

This article was published in International Handbook of Inter-religious Education, (eds. Kath Engebretson, Marian de Souza, Gloria Durka). I would like to thank Prof. Engebretson for her cordial permission to republish it with some modifications.

Published on fgulen.com, 13 March 2015, Friday