January 2, 2017

Hizmet Movement is a 21st century global approach to what's best in Islam

Prof. Gregory Baum: Every religion is challenged by modernity. This is an enormous problem for all the religions. And they have to wrestle, how to react to it. And one reaction is to cling in a rigid way to the past and to say “no” to the modern society. And this is a kind of fundamentalist choice. And you find this in all religions. In Christianity you find this, in Judaism you find this, in Islam you find this. Another reaction is a creative reaction. That you listen to what is taking place in modernity, you are critical of the destructive potential of modern society, but you recognize the insights, the dimensions of humanization, the positive elements, and you support these positive elements. And therefore Mr. Gülen is an example of the creativity of religions in the response to modernity.

Prof. Philip Clayton: What Fethullah Gulen and the movement have done is to offer a model for Muslims around the entire planet of how to be thoroughly world citizens, thoroughly citizens of the 21st century, and, at the same time, deeply Muslim. It’s hard to overestimate how important that task is. I mean, I think the organization is important, the schools are important, the various features of his teaching and writing is important, but, even more important is that sense that I can be proud to be a Muslim in the 21st century, as a contributor to global culture, and in no way do I need to distance myself from the Prophet, distance myself from the Holy Qur’an, distance myself from the great teachings of the history of Islamic thought and law.

Prof. Muzammil Siddiqi: I see that it is an Islamic movement. It has its roots Islamic, its principles are Islamic, and on this basis... but at the same time, this is a movement in the modern times. So you have to understand your relevance to the time in which you are. Everything that we do, we human beings are not universal human beings. We human beings are particular. Particular to our time, particular to our space, the situation, the conditions surround us, so if you look from that perspective, yes, it is addressing the issues and the challenges and the problem that Muslims are facing today.

Prof. Eve Levin: I think that Fethullah Gülen, from what I have read of his works, has very interesting ideas. I particularly like his advocacy of a form of Islam that is compatible with the modern world, that is promoting peace, equality, and justice, and freedom in the world. And I think that that's a voice that many Americans have not heard out of the Islamic movement, even though Fethullah Gülen and others like him have been saying it for a long time.

Dr. Loye Ashton: For me, the most important contribution of the Hizmet Movement has been for Americans, and I think the rest of the world, to see that Islam is not disabled by modernity. I think Hizmet has helped us to see that you don't have to be a fanatic, you don't have to be a fundamentalist. You certainly don't have to be a terrorist. You don't have to be violent in any way for Islam to be able to stand on its own in the modern world. Islam has a great deal to say about human life and about the natural world, and about how human beings in the natural world can interact in healthy ways. And that can be done without resort to authoritarianism, and without resort to control, and without resort to indoctrination, and I think one of the things that he [Mr. Gulen] has helped people to see is that democracy is completely compatible with Islam, and that human rights are completely compatible with Islam.

Dann May: Hizmet Movement, if I was thinking about it in terms of Islam, it is a twenty-first century, global approach to what's best in Islam. In thinking about the Qur'an or the Hadith, what I always was impressed with was its emphasis on human rights, on education, on respect for other people and religions. When I think about the early history of Islam and the great civilization and sciences and so on it created, I see all that in the Hizmet Movement, the emphasis on education, on women's rights, on quality education for all. To me, it's the best of Islam. It's Islam at its best.

Published on Spectra Media, 25 May 2016, Wednesday