Civil Rights, the Hizmet Movement, and the Liberative Power of Education


Date posted: September 4, 2015

Scott C. Alexander

One of the foundational principles of the teachings of M. Fethullah Gulen, and thus one of the animating principles of the Hizmet movement, is the notion that education is one of the primary means by which the human person becomes most authentically human and thus reaches her or his full potential.

This brief essay has three basic aims. The first is to offer a general definition of the Hizmet movement. The second is to highlight some of the major characteristics of the movement that relate to its emphasis on education. The third is to convey the extent to which the teachings of Fethullah Gulen embody an understanding of, and commitment to, education as a liberative force, a commitment which resonates deeply with the role of education in the ongoing struggle for civil rights in the United States.

1. Definition

I define Hizmet (Turkish for “service”) as a global spiritual renewal and social reform movement, rooted in traditional Islamic spirituality, observance, and teachings, but appealing to people of diverse faiths and backgrounds who share its universal values. These values center around the importance of family, education, and personal responsibility for the welfare of others–all within a context of a life lived in loving submission (islam) to God. Such values are oriented towards dialogue and cooperation–both within and across societies and cultures–for the purpose of pursuing greater justice and thus greater peace and solidarity in the human family.

In this respect, Hizmet stands in contrast to other contemporary so-called “Islamist” movements which are primarily political in nature, seeking to pursue a reformist agenda by overtly “Islamizing” the governmental and legal structures of existing Muslim majority nation-states.

2. M. Fethullah Gulen’s teaching of Hosgoru as the dominant ethos of Hizmet

As many of the readers of this publication are well aware, the human spiritual inspiration behind the Hizmet movement is an elderly Turkish gentleman, who mows the lawn and washes the dishes, by the name of M. Fethullah Gulen. He is also known respectfully and affectionately to the millions who deeply admire and love him as a true man of God and eminently wise teacher, myself included, as “Hocaefendi” or “beloved teacher.”

There are many things one could say about this extraordinary man. Indeed multiple volumes could be written about his incredible life story of selfless service to God in the humble service he has always striven to render to others. Countless pages could be written exploring the insightful and profound ideas he shares in his scores of books translated into scores of languages.

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Source: The Fountain Magazine , October 2015


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