Oxford Analytica: Gulen Inspires Muslims Worldwide

M. Fethullah Gulen
M. Fethullah Gulen


Date posted: November 9, 2010

Fethullah Gulen is a provincial Turkish preacher who has inspired a worldwide network of Muslims who feel at home in the modern world.

The chief characteristic of the Gulen movement is that it does not seek to subvert modern secular states, but encourages practicing Muslims to use to the full the opportunities they offer. It is best understood as the Islamic equivalent of Christian movements appealing to business and the professions. Like them, it is feared by some for its ability to mobilize considerable resources and for its influence among decision-makers.

Gulen was born in 1938 in a village near Erzurum in eastern Turkey. His father was an imam, and Gulen learned from him the elements of Islam as well as some Persian and Arabic. His first appointment in 1957 was to a mosque in Edirne. At roughly the same time, he was introduced to the teaching of Said-i Nursi (1876-1960), a politically active Kurdish preacher.

Nursi influence: Nursi, whose name comes from the village of Nurs but brings to mind the word Nur, meaning “light” in Arabic, became the founder of the Nurcu (Followers of Light) movement. Although Nursi’s roots were in the strictly orthodox and conservative Naqshabandiyah Sufi order (tarikat), his message was that Muslims should not reject modernity, but find inspiration in the sacred texts to engage with it.

Izmir base: Gulen put Nursi’s ideas into practice when he was transferred to a mosque in Izmir in 1966. Izmir is a city where political Islam never took root. However, the business and professional middle class came to resent the constraints of a state bureaucracy under whose wings it had grown, and supported market-friendly policies, while preserving at least some elements of a conservative lifestyle. Such businessmen were largely pro-Western, because it was Western (mainly U.S.) influence, which had persuaded the government to allow free elections for the first time in 1950 and U.S. aid, which had primed the pump of economic growth.

From his base in Izmir, Gulen organized summer camps where the tenets of Islam were taught and started a network of student boarding houses known as “lighthouses.” He sought to transfer the loyalty of Muslims from the Ottoman empire to the Turkish secular republic, even when the republican regime put pressure on the Muslim community. This explains his support for the military coup of 1980 and for the soft coup in 1997, which forced Necmettin Erbakan, the Islamist prime minister, to resign.

Official toleration allowed Gulen to concentrate on what became his life-work–the creation of a network, first of private schools and residences, then of universities, media outlets and civil society groups as centers of excellence promoting a modern, Islam-based ethical framework. Starting with the wealthy businessmen of Izmir, Gulen mobilized resources allowing him to control one of Turkey’s leading newspapers, Zaman, a television channel and a radio station, as well as a university with campuses in Istanbul and Ankara. Like his schools, Gulen’s other activities try to be self-financing, competing on quality.

Over the years, Gulen extended his reach from Turkey to the Turkic republics of the former Soviet Union (Zaman runs a successful edition in Azerbaijan), then to other successor states of the Soviet Union, the Balkans and finally the West. His embrace of globalization became more pronounced after his move to the United States in 1997, in order to escape harassment at home, seek treatment and influence his followers throughout the world.

It is not yet clear whether the Gulen movement will, like Opus Dei, outlive its founder. In any event, it is a unique and highly successful manifestation of flexible, modern Islam in a globalized setting, and it is likely to have a lasting impact on the modernization of Islam and its opening to engagement with Western ideas.

Oxford Analytica is an independent strategic-consulting firm drawing on a network of more than 1,000 scholar experts at Oxford and other leading universities and research institutions around the world. For more information, please visit www.oxan.com.

This article may be found at http://www.forbes.com/2008/01/18/turkey-islam-gulen-cx_0121oxford.html


Related News

Turkish investors To Inject Capital Into Ghana’s Economy

The President of the Ghana-Turkey Cooperation and Development Association (TUDEC), Mr Yusuf Temizkan, has disclosed that a prospective investors from Turkey would be arriving in Ghana within the year to inject their capital into the country’s economy. “More Turkish investors have expressed their interest in investing in education, the real estate, construction and manufacturing sectors […]

Representatives of Abrahamic religions meet in Iftar in Antioch

Antioch Intercultural Dialog Association (AKADIM) and Kimse Yok Mu relief organization brought together representatives of three Abrahamic religions in a fast breaking event in Hatay (Antioch). The representatives gave messages of peace and brotherhood. Mayor Assoc. Prof. Lütfü Savaş noted in his talk that unless someone from outside comes and asks, in Antioch they do not know who is Muslim and who is Christian, “We are all tolerant to each other.

Hizmet-affiliated schools removed from private school incentive list

The Hizmet schools were in the original list of those institutions which met all the criteria for eligibility to receive financial incentives to accept these students. Announced on Monday, the schools were listed on the ministry’s website until Thursday afternoon, when they were taken off without any explanation. However, an official written notice sent from the ministry to governorates on Thursday said: “It was not deemed proper to give such incentives to education institutions whose managers are under fiscal investigation and interrogation within the scope of the Law No. 5549 on the Prevention of Laundering of Crime Revenues and those that had received punishments fiscal irregularities after due inspections before,” and asked the governorates do what the notice requires.

Turkish community in Springfield area to host Turkish bazaar, conference

The first event is a Turkish Bazaar, which will take place at the Turkish Cultural Center of Western Massachusetts, 540 Meadow Street Extension, Agawam. All profits from this event will be distributed to the “Raise an Orphan” in Haiti charity in conjunction with Embrace Relief, non-profit organization that brings together teams of volunteers to collaborate on humanitarian aid and disaster relief efforts.

Journalist: I was threatened over not supporting government

Seasoned journalist Cüneyt Özdemir has said he was threatened by two members of pro-government media outlets and pressured to jump on the bandwagon by lashing out at the Hizmet movement and hosting a commentator who Özdemir said is a staunch supporter of conspiracy theories.

Shocking change and disappointed hearts…

Since Dec. 17, Erdoğan’s discourse has become more and more strict and a major smear campaign has been initiated by the pro-government media against the Hizmet movement, which has been active in education activities all around the world. The Hizmet movement and the followers of Hizmet have never been affiliated with violence or any other crime-related issues. This was proven as a result of a judicial process.

Latest News

Fethullah Gülen’s Condolence Message for South African Human Rights Defender Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Hizmet Movement Declares Core Values with Unified Voice

Ankara systematically tortures supporters of Gülen movement, Kurds, Turkey Tribunal rapporteurs say

Erdogan possessed by Pharaoh, Herod, Hitler spirits?

Devious Use of International Organizations to Persecute Dissidents Abroad: The Erdogan Case

A “Controlled Coup”: Erdogan’s Contribution to the Autocrats’ Playbook

Why is Turkey’s Erdogan persecuting the Gulen movement?

Purge-victim man sent back to prison over Gulen links despite stage 4 cancer diagnosis

University refuses admission to woman jailed over Gülen links

In Case You Missed It

Reps urge Federal Govt to intervene in Nigerian students’ detention in Turkey

“Like a Storm”: Deportations Stun Turks in Kosovo

Erdogan’s Private Youth Army

Fethullah Gulen — His Vision, Our Response

Gülen condemns Pakistan attack, asks Muslims to protect minorities

[Political Scandal a la Turca] What is happening in Turkey right at this moment?

Fethullah Gulen will be awarded the prestigious Manhae Grand Prize

Copyright 2024 Hizmet News