Apart from altruism, do The Gülen Movement participants have any other reasons for providing services?

Fethullah Gülen

Voluntary action in the Gülen Movement is justified for the participants by the belief that to act for the benefit of others is right and good and that one has a moral duty to treat others fairly. This moral or philanthropic feature comes from religious inspiration, “serving people, serving God”[1] or “the best amongst you is the one who is the most beneficial to human beings”[2]. Being charitable is a way of life, a way to purify one’s intentions, wealth and life.

In addition, Turkish Muslims are undoubtedly inspired by their faith to implement sadaqa (charity) and zakat (the prescribed annual alms) and set up vakifs (endowments, charitable trusts). According to their faith, it is the duty of the affluent to help others and assist the weak, unfortunate, under-privileged, wayfarers, orphans, widows and students. The rich person must concern himself or herself with the poor because he or she is responsible for them before God.

Fethullah Gülen teaches that the path to earn eternal life and the approval of the Giver of Life passes through the inescapable dimension of servanthood to God by means of serving, first of all, one’s family, relatives, and neighbors, and then one’s country and nation, and finally humanity and creation are the object of one’s efforts: “This service is our right; conveying it to others is our responsibility.”

As the Gülen Movement is now transnational and cooperates with people of many backgrounds and beliefs, participants may have differing motives for their altruism. That is, apart from being a religious duty, altruism is also an act of generosity, an innate feature of being a true human.

Altruism, in general, is a kind of behavior which a) benefits another person, b) must be performed intentionally, c) the benefit must be the goal itself, and d) must be provided without expecting any external reward. With respect to the Gülen Movement, altruistic service outweighs the other dimensions and thus gives the Gülen Movement its particular character.

[1] A universal religious maxim
[2] A hadith

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