On July 15, Turkey had a failed coup against the government which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed on an exiled Islamic leader living in rural Pennsylvania.
Gulen Movement leader Fethullah Gulen is at the center of Erdogan’s crosshairs. Accusers say that the movement is run by top officials just like any other cult, and the leader has semi-divine powers hence receiving much support. However, the Gulen movement is not a cult, rather it is a movement that has done a lot to help the people of Turkey. It is one of the most encouraging faces of Islam today.
The Gulen movement is a sect that was formed in the 1970s by Gulen, who was a supporter of an Ottoman-Kurdish scholar, Said Nursi. Until 1983, it operated primarily as a political group instead of teaching the Koran and performing religious prayers. Gulen’s main aim was to train courageous, selfless men of the society and also planting them in various levels of the government. Businessmen donated a lot of money to the movement, and it became a political player among the religious and conservative groups in Turkey.
However, most people don’t understand how the movement operates and how many members it has because everything is a secret. The movement is estimated to have over a million supporters and it continues becoming wealthier, but Gulen denies having a network. Unlike the assumption that it is a cult, the movement focuses on practicing temsil: living an Islamic way of life always, being a good example for others and embodying the ideals in their way of life.
The Gulen movement has worked hard, have good manners and has funded a lot of charities. Gulen followers have built a number of charitable institutions, educational establishments and other associations in the last thirty years. Gulen's main focus is slow and profound social change and also which includes the secular higher education. He has also embraced the dignity and importance of the state in the Ottoman tradition and has offered support to the Turkish government against the Islamist movement which earlier on had raised Islam over the state. The movement basically supports democracy over the military rule in exchange for them having freedom to exist and conduct their mission.
The movement doesn’t support or engage in any terrorist activities. Although an Islamic movement, it is a social movement rather than a political movement that focuses on the growth and change of education as a way to empower the Muslims for the future. They are open to dialogue, tolerant, moderate and non-violent. So for anyone to say that the Gulen movement is a cult, doesn’t know that they emphasize on dialogue and peace.
Hizmet Movement Blog reaffirms its non-endorsement policy of the
various viewpoints expressed throughout the articles that are solely
shared for the convenience of the readers.
Published on World Religion News, 26 July 2016, Tuesday