Turkish Islam and Fethullah Gulen

Date posted: January 30, 2004


Many studies concerning Fethullah Gulen, the Turkish religious leader scholar and his movement have been published. The book published by Syracuse University in the United States last month is, however, the most important academic study so far. The book entitled “Turkish Islam and the Secular State: The Gulen Movement” is edited by John L. Esposito and M. Hakan Yavuz. Editor-in-chief of the “Modern Islam World Encyclopedia” published by the Oxford University, and a faculty member of the Georgetown University, Esposito is a well known social scientist who is distinguished with his opposition to the Orientalist tradition in his approach towards Islam and the Islamic world. There probably is no one interested in the subjects of religion, politics, Islam and Islamism who has not read any one of Esposito’s works. Hakan Yavuz, on the other hand, is a professor at the University of Utah, who at his young age has distinguished himself as one of the leading names in his field. His “Islamic Political Identity in Turkey” was published last year by the Oxford University Press. (See my review in Zaman, November 8, 2003.)

“Turkish Islam and the Secular State: The Gulen Movement” starts with the introduction written jointly by Yavuz and Esposito, and ends with a general assessment of the book by John O. Voll, another American social scientist as well known as Esposito in the field of studies on religion. The contributions by Turkish and Western social scientists mainly focus on the different aspects of Gulen and his movement. One of the most interesting articles is the one written by Ahmet T. Kuru, who is writing his doctoral thesis at the University of Washington in Seattle. In the article entitled “Fethullah Gulen’s Search For a Middle Way: Between Modernity and Muslim Tradition”, Kuru analyses Gulen’s thoughts on the relationship between four features of modernity and four aspects of the Muslim tradition: modern science and Islamic knowledge, reason and revelation, the idea of progress and conservation of tradition, and free will and destiny. Kuru concludes that Gulen has brought a dynamic interpretation to Islam, which is compatible with both tradition and modernity, but at the same time approaches both of them critically.

Hakan Yavuz’s article entitled, ‘The Gulen Movement: The Turkish Puritans,” which deals with the evolution of Gulen and his movement, is especially significant because of its critical approach to the movement. According to Yavuz: The Gulen movement appeared on the scene as a “religious-conservative community” between the years 1970 and 1983. Between 1983 and 1997, it turned into a “market – friendly religio – educational movement”, and after 1997 it abandoned its former “nationalist and statist” attitude to adopt “a more liberal and global” one. The Gulen movement while influencing Turkish society strongly on one hand, was itself deeply influenced by social change the country went through.

The virtue of the contribution by Ihsan Yilmaz, a lecturer at the University of London, entitled “Ijtihad and Tajdid by Conduct: The Gulen Movement” lies in its emphasis on the new path opened in the Islamic thought by Gulen’s interpretation, and its significance for the entire Islamic world. This article examines the role Gulen and his movement have played in moderating polarizations and eliminating radical tendencies in Turkish politics, and especially in the evolution of the Turkish Islamist movement towards adopting principles of secularism (in the meaning of separation of state and religion) and democracy.

Undoubtedly, this book will not constitute the last word on Gulen and his movement. It is, however, an extremely valuable study in terms of explaining from where did this movement start and where it has arrived, the main features of the interpretation of Islam it has developed which responds to the necessities of the modernizing, democratizing and globalizing Turkish society (and the world at large), and also why this interpretation appeals to millions of people. I sincerely hope that it will be translated into Turkish as soon as possible.

Source: Today's Zaman , January 30, 2004

Related News

A Hizmet Approach to Rooting out Violent Extremism

The Centre for Hizmet Studies is delighted to launch its latest report titled ‘A Hizmet Approach to Rooting out Violent Extremism.’ This is the second publication in the ‘thought and practice’ series, the first being ‘Gulen on Dialogue’. The series aims both to contribute to a more nuanced understanding of Hizmet’s thought ad praxis on significant contemporary issues such as tackling violent extremism, the Kurdish issue or political Islam.

Fethullah Gulen and His Movement: A Brief Introduction

KASHIF HASAN KHAN July 1, 2012 We often talk about revivalism in education system so as to change the direction of our young generation, who seems to have forgotten the very fundamentals. Undoubtedly, our leaders have played a vital role and contributed a lot to it, but we can’t live up to that forever; we […]

Ambassador says US having difficulty in seeing clear criterion in anti-Gülen operations

Speaking to a group of reporters in Istanbul on Friday, Bass said although the Turkish government insists that the anti-coup measures it has taken against followers of the Gülen movement are proportionate, it is difficult see that the Turkish government is taking its actions based on a clear criterion. Bass said the US was having difficulty in assessing whether the measures are proportionate and reasonable.

Fethullah Gulen’s Message of Condemnation and Condolences for St. Petersburg Terrorist Attack

Fethullah Gulen: I strongly condemn the brutal terrorist attack Monday on the metro in St. Petersburg, Russia, which cost the lives of 11 people and injured dozens more. Words fail to express my sorrow at the loss of innocent lives and suffering of their loved ones.

Junior Coalition Partner Demands Explanation Why Bulgarian Govt Turned over Abdullah Buyuk to Turkey

Right-wing Reformist Bloc, the junior partner in Bulgaria’s minority coalition cabinet, has demanded that Interior Minister Rumyana Bachvarova explain to Parliament why the government turned over Turkish businessman Abdullah Buyuk to Turkey last week. “The Reformist Bloc expresses disagreement with the violation of basic principles that guide the coalition; for us these are the rule […]

Assassination plot against Fethullah Gülen

According to a new book, the Turkish Revenge Brigade planned an assassination against Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen during the days surrounding the Feb. 28, 1997 military coup, when Gülen was closely followed by the West Study Group (BÇG), which was established by the Turkish Armed Forces to carry on the fight against reactionaryism and kept records of the ideological and religious background of academics and universities during the Feb. 28 military intervention process.

Latest News

This notable Pocono resident has been living here in exile since 1999

Logistics companies seized over Gülen links sold in fast-track auction

That is Why the Turkish Government could Pay 1 Billion Euros

ECtHR rules Bulgaria violated rights of Turkish journalist who was deported despite seeking asylum

Fethullah Gülen’s Message of Condolences in the Wake of the Western European Floods

Pregnant woman kept in prison for 4 months over Gülen links despite regulations

Normalization of Abduction, Torture, and Death in Erdogan’s Turkey

Turkey’s Maarif Foundation illegally seized German-run school in Ethiopia, says manager

Failed 2016 coup was gov’t plot to purge Gülenists from state bodies, journalist claims

In Case You Missed It

Nubuwwat symposium starts with rejection of suicide bombing, terrorism

Gülen’s lawyers refute justice minister’s statement likening Gülen to Iran’s Khomeini

Woman sent to prison on coup charges hours after surgery

Ministry of Defense and Orizont High School to Cooperate in the Educational Area

Turks and Egyptians tight-knit at Turkish Olympiads Egypt Finals

Is the AK Party turning into the old CHP?

President of Zambia Mr. Rupiah Banda thanks Turkish investors in education

Copyright 2021 Hizmet News