Fethullah Güllen – Turkey

Linked with Islamic Revivalism in Muslim World, and with The Fethullah Gülen Movement in Thought and Practice.

Upcoming: The Fifth International Conference on Islam in the Contemporary World: The Gülen Movement in Thought and Practice, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S.A. – March 6-7, 2009.

Fethullah Gülen is a Turkish writer, former Islamic preacher and the leader of the Gülen’s movement, one of the largest Islamic movements in Turkey. As the author of more than 60 books, Fethullah Gülen advocates tolerance, acceptance of others, and dialogue for peace. He sees the solution to many of the world’s problems in a return to religious faith, and advocates that in true Islam, terrorism is murder and is strictly forbidden. Gülen’s followers have formed more than 500 educational institutions in over 90 countries around the world (on Better World Heroes).

He says: “Today, people are talking about many things: the danger of war and frequent clashes, water and air pollution, hunger, the increasing erosion of moral values, and so on. As a result, many other concerns have come to the fore: peace, contentment, ecology, justice, tolerance, and dialogue. Unfortunately, despite certain promising precautions, those who should be tackling these problems tend to do so by seeking further ways to conquer and control nature and produce more letal weapons … and: interfaith dialogue is a must today, and the first step in establishing it is forgetting the past, ignoring polemical arguments, and giving precedence to common points, which far outnumber polemical ones … and: tolerance, a term which we sometimes use in place of the words respect, mercy, generosity, or forbearance, is the most essential element of moral systems; it is a very important source of spiritual discipline and a celestial virtue of perfected people … and: it is impossible for people who have given their heart to seeking forgiveness not to think of forgiving others. Just as they desire to be forgiven, they also desire to forgive … and: altruism is an exalted human feeling, and its source is love. Whoever has the greatest share in this love is the greatest hero of humanity; these people have been able to uproot any feelings of hatred and rancor in themselves … (see all quotes).


Fethullah Güllen – Turkey

His official website.

Watch these videos on  YouTube:
Gülen seems a controversial figure for some secularists in Turkey. While his followers and a significant part of Turkish society respects him as a humanistic figure at the service of Islam, a large fraction of society perceives him as a significant threat who aims to transform the country’s secular system. On the other hand, some radical groups severely criticize his actions, especially interfaith dialog efforts, as a diversion from Islam. Controversies over Gülen are even enhanced by his interfaith dialog activities including meeting with the Pope John Paul II … (full text on wikipedia /controversies).

Gülen Movement Becomes Best-linked Muslim Network.

Who is the number one public intellectual in the world?  Umberto Eco?  Garry Kasparov?  Salman Rushdie, Vaclav Havel, Christopher Hitchens?  EO Wilson (I thought he went to the big anthill in the sky)? If you chose Fethullah Güllen, you’re not alone.  Prospect Magazine and Foreign Policy Magazine have published the results of their survey, and the Turkish Islamic religious leader topped the poll … (full text, 15 July 2008).

Find him on the spanish wikipedia.

The Turkish Islamist movement of Fethullah Gulen is one of the most interesting examples of liberal Islamist thinking in the Middle East. Gulen and his followers have tried to produce a religious-political movement favoring modernism, Turkish nationalism, tolerance, and democracy without sacrificing religious precepts. The structure and philosophy of this movement and its leader have been manifested in many groups and educational institutions. Part of the Turkish secularist elite views Gulen as a progressive development, though others see him as a threat in moderate garb … (full long text).

Find him and his publications on wordpress.com; on alibris; on wikipedia /works;
on Google Video-search (all in turkish language); on Google Book-search; on Google Scholar-search with one result; on Google Group-search; and on Google Blog-search.

NEW YORK: Two Indians now settled in the US — Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen and acclaimed journalist Fareed Zakaria — are among the top 20 intellectuals in the world today, according to a poll conducted by a US magazine … Fethullah Gullen, an Islamic scholar from Turkey with a global network of millions of followers, is at No.1 on the list and Nobel Prize-winning microfinancier Muhammad Yunus from Bangladesh is at No 2 … (full text).

Turkey is engaged in a bold and profound attempt to rewrite the basis for Islamic sharia law while also officially reinterpreting the Qur’an for the modern age. The exercise in reforming Islamic jurisprudence, sponsored by the modernising and mildly Islamic government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, is being seen as an iconoclastic campaign to establish a 21st century form of Islam, fusing Muslim beliefs and tradition with European and western philosophical methods and principles … (full text).

Islam in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan: Understanding Fethullah Gülen, part I.

Could this be what we have all been waiting for? Possibly. It will be interesting to see its content, and what reception it receives from Islamic authorities outside of Turkey. My guess would be that that reaction will be hostile, because to accept this would be to assume that Islam has gone drastically wrong almost from its inception – militating against all the claims of Allah’s careful protection of his umma. But we shall see … (full text).

Fethullah Gülen and the Media, in turkish language.

Ya se conocen los 100 intelectuales más influyentes del mundo.

Você conhece os 10 mais importantes intelectuais de 2008?

… 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 … (full text).

Two articles on The Economist, March 6, 2008:

… This is the 640-pupil school run by followers of Fethullah Gulen – a Turkish Muslim preacher who advocates a moderate Islam rooted in modern life, and whose teachings have inspired millions of Turks to forge a powerful socio-religious community active in publishing, charity and above all education. But if the Gulen movement is seen by outsiders as a moderating force in an increasingly fundamentalist Muslim world, it rings alarm bells for some Turks because it encapsulates the tensions between secular state and religious power. Gulen, 67, has a reputation abroad as a Muslim who preaches tolerance and engagement with other faiths. But many in Turkey’s secularist establishment say he has a political agenda and wants to create a religious state and a cadre of people to run it, a charge his followers vigorously deny … (full text).

One of the reasons for the difficulty in understanding Fethullah Gülen is the term “community” itself. Unfortunately, the meaning attached to this word connotes a group of people closed to and isolated from the outside world. It is also used to refer to illegal organizations. Both approaches are tendentious … // … A unique approach: What renders Gülen an enigma for certain segments is his pluralistic and participatory approach. His life should be looked at from this angle. We see a man who was brought up in the Korucuk village of Erzurum with strict family discipline by his parents. He pioneered the foundation of the Association for the Struggle Against Communism. He invited Necip Fazil Kisakürek – a poet and writer cherished by devoted Muslim Turks as the greatest of the 20th century – to Thrace for a conference and he accompanied him wherever he went. He was introduced to the “Risale-i Nur” – a six-thousand-page commentary on the Quran written by Bediuzzaman Said Nursi – later in his life. He loved the poet Sezai Karakoç to the point of founding a “Revival” Association in his honor in Izmir. He loves Mehmet Akif, the poet of our national anthem, to the point of having memorizing the “Safahat,” the collection of his poems, in his childhood. Despite the opposition from his immediate surroundings, he supported the Sule magazine of Kemal Ural and distributed it himself. Is it not injustice to condemn such a great thinker, who has been open to all sorts of thoughts in his life to “isms” and “ists”? He has achieved one truly unique thing at a time when communal fanaticism has reached unbelievable heights, thereby drawing a distinctive line between being a conscious member of a community and being an imitator. He has always maintained his attitude of approaching everybody with love and respect. Nowadays, he says that the term “Fethullahist” upsets him much. This is also what he said in the past … (full long text, Understanding Fethullah Gülen, part 2).

Gullenism: The face of new Islam:

  • … The Pennsylvania-based sage, Fethullah Gullen, who stands at the centre of a new network that is set to revolutionize Mohammedanism has become one of the world’s most important Muslim figures not only in his native Turkey, but also in a quieter way in many other places: Central Asia, Indochina, Indonesia and Africa.
  • With his stated belief in science, inter-faith dialogue and multi-party democracy, Mr Gullen has also won praise from many non-Muslim quarters. He is an intensely emotional preacher, whose tearful sermons seem to strike a deep chord in his listeners; but the movement he heads is remarkably pragmatic and businesslike.
  • As a global force, the Gullenists are especially active in education. They claim to have founded more than 500 places of learning in 90 countries. A conference they staged in London last October was co-hosted by four British universities, plus the House of Lords. Its organizers produced a slick 75O-page volume that included all the conference papers.
  • In its homeland, the Gullen movement is seen as a counterweight to ultra-nationalism. But in places far from home, the movement has rather a Turkish nationalist flavour. In the former Soviet south, it fights the “Turkish” corner in areas where the cultures of Russia, China and Iran co-exist uneasily. “If you meet a polite Central Asian lad who speaks good English and Turkish, you know he went to a Gullen school,” says a Turkish observer.
  • Amazingly enough, the Gullen movement has built up a significant presence in northern Iraq, through schools, a hospital and (soon) a university.
  • … (full text).

… HIS IDEAS: Gülen does not favor the state applying Islamic law, the Shari‘a. He points out that most Islamic regulations concern private life and only a small portion of them concern state and government. These latter need not be enforced because religion is a private matter and its requirements should not be imposed on anyone. He looks at the Islamic regulations bearing directly on government (such as taxation and warfare) in light of contemporary realities. This leads him to the conclusion, for example, that the democratic form of government is the best choice, an outlook that causes Gülen to oppose strongly the regimes in Iran and Saudi Arabia. Gülen seeks to accomplish two intellectual feats: the Islamization of Turkish nationalist ideology and the Turkification of Islam. He hopes to reestablish the link between religion and state that existed in the Ottoman era, thereby reversing one of the most clear-cut features of the state established by Atatürk. This widens the state’s base of legitimacy and enhances its ability to use Islam to mobilize the population. In Gülen’s view, the virtues of Turkey are many: its Ottoman heritage, secularism, economy, and democracy. Gülen holds that the Anatolian people’s interpretations and experiences of Islam are different from those of others, especially the Arabs. He frequently emphasizes that there should be freedom of worship and thinking in Turkey. He writes of an “Anatolian Islam” based on tolerance and excluding harsh restrictions or fanaticism. He proposes two keys to provide peace in society: tolerance and dialogue. “We can build confidence and peace in this country if we treat each other with tolerance.”6 In his view, “no one should condemn the other for being a member of a religion or scold him for being an atheist.”7 His professed tolerance and respect for others needs to be proven vis-à-vis all segments of society, including the followers of the former Refah Party. These ideas about tolerance and dialogue are not restricted to Muslims but extend to Christians and Jews. Gülen met twice with Patriarch Bartholomeos, head of the Greek Orthodox Fener Patriarchate in Istanbul. He also came together several times with Christian and Jewish religious leaders to promote inter-religious dialogue. In February 1998, alone, for example, he visited the pope in Rome and received a visiting chief rabbi from Israel … (full long text, Turkish Islam’s Moderate Face, September 1998).


This dance is the joy of existence: Serendipitous consequences of the Turko-Islamic Gulen Movement, 30 pdf-pages;

Women shouldn’t have to fight for their rights, 12 November 2008, and the same in italian: Le donne non dovrebbero essere costrette a picchiare per i propri diritti;

The Gülen Movement: a modern expression of Turkish Islam – Interview with Hakan Yavuz, 21 Jul 2004;

The Gülen Institute;

The Nurcu Movement and the Hizb ut Tahrir, Revised on December 23, 2003;

The Journalists and Writers Foundation;

Sermon 4 – The Uniqueness of Jesus: Jesus alone meets our deepest hunger, 5 pages, May 19, 2002

Find on wikipedia:

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