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Ijtihad and Tajdid by Conduct: Gülen and His Movement

by Dr. Ihsan Yilmaz on . Posted in Review

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Law is a socio-cultural construct and local knowledge. Thus, it can be studied by sociological methods. Since law and socio-cultural phenomena are interlinked and there is no absolute autonomy, any change in law or culture inevitably would influence the other. Thus, in a plural society the issue of legal pluralism arises where normative heterogeneity is an undeniable socio-legal fact. In this situation, different normative orderings overlap in their application to a certain society or community. In Muslim jurisprudence, an internal diversity of legitimate opinions is a socio-legal reality. The different types of Muslim legal pluralism pose both challenges and opportunities regarding neo-ijtihad and renewal (tajdid) of Islam in the decades to come. In this regard, the movement evolved around the ideas of the charismatic figure of Fethullah Gülen provides an example of a renewal with a potential for influencing the Muslim world.

Muslim advocates of renewal have argued for a return to the use of ijtihad to facilitate reinterpretation of the Islamic heritage. The question no longer is whether the gate of ijtihad is open [1] but which ijtihads are necessary and can be followed. Many individuals and institutions claim a right to exercise ijtihad, and they indeed exercise it. If a state makes ijtihad, it could end in civil disobedience as in the case of Pakistan. [2] If ijtihad is civil, then some people will freely adopt it and some not. However, at this point the problem of postmodern fragmentation arises. To prevent this fragmentation and at the same time to implement new changes and ijtihads without confronting civil disobedience, to renew religious thought and practice, and to transform society, faith-based movement leaders have a role to play. [3]

In this context, the present study suggests that Gülen has reinterpreted Islamic understanding in tune with the contemporary times and has developed a new Muslim discourse both with respect to some traditionally sensitive issues and in terms of putting this discourse into practice. His discourse and practice seem to be in tune with the Zeitgeist. It is suggested in this essay that Gülen's case consists of renewed Muslim discourses and practices on religion, pluralism, jurisprudence, secularism, democracy, politics, and international relations. The Gülen movement, appealing to an increasing number of people, Muslims and non-Muslims, all over the world is a successful example of neo-ijtihad and tajdid with its origins in Turkey where the encounter between modernity and traditional Islam has been experienced most deeply.

I mainly argue that the Gülen's discourse's transformative influences firstly and primarily can be observed in the movement that he has inspired. At a secondary level, this transformation would affect the surrounding wider society. In this regard, I briefly highlight Gülen's ideas on ijtihad, neo-ijtihad, diversity, pluralism, secularism, democracy, politics, international relations, and dialog and elaborate on what Gülen does and achieves in practice with respect to these issues.

Ijtihad and Tajdid

In a plural society other than political, cultural, religious or structural pluralism, the issue of legal pluralism arises where normative heterogeneity exists. Legal pluralism can be found within the most sophisticated polity as well as the less developed; it is a global phenomenon. The theory of legal pluralism tries to define legal pluralism not in terms of state but of authority and institutions. This theory envisages competing, contesting, and sometimes contradicting orders outside official law and their mutually constitutive relations to official law. The very nature of Islam as encompassing an individual's life in ethical and legal normative orderings paves the way for Muslim legal pluralism in modern and secular milieus regardless of state recognition.

Islam demands full allegiance from a person, once he has chosen to embrace it. Law is an essential and a central part of a Muslim's religion. Thus, many Muslims in both Muslim and non-Muslim polities relate themselves to the shariah rather than to legislation of particular countries. Shariah is a source of legal pluralism in our age. Furthermore, legal pluralism inherent within Islam maintains such a legally plural society even within a Muslim environment. Law in Muslim understanding is a system of meanings and a cultural code for interpreting the world. It "represents an order which governs all spheres of life, in which... even the rules of protocol and etiquette are of a legal nature." [4] Scholars such as Lawrence Rosen thus conceive Muslim law as culture. [5] As Muslim legal pluralism is inevitable, even in non-Muslim spheres, regardless of any official non-recognition and as non-recognition does not make Muslim law disappear, discussions regarding ijtihad and tajdid will still be relevant wherever Muslims live.

Ijtihad is not a source of law. It is an activity, a struggle, and a process to discover the law from the texts and to apply it to the set of facts awaiting decision. There is no ijtihad within an explicit rule in the texts. In Islamic legal theory, ijtihad has been seen indispensable as it is "the only means by which Muslims could determine to what degree their acts were acceptable to God". [6]

Since culture must be conceived as law in Muslim understanding and life, any discussion of change, transformation or renewal inevitably would be intermingled with the discussions surrounding ijtihad. Thus, any new discourse is directly or indirectly a result of a new ijtihad and this does not have to be in the field of 'law' only, as strictly defined and understood by legal modernity. That is why, especially after the decline of Muslim power and advance of the West and its hegemony, Muslim advocates of renewal and reformers have argued for a return to the right to exercise ijtihad to facilitate reinterpretation and renew the Islamic heritage. [7]

Most of these responses in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to the impact of the West on Muslim societies resulted in substantial attempts to reinterpret Islam to meet the changing circumstances of Muslim life. Because of the centrality of law in Islam, Islamic modernists often focused their energies on these areas. The purpose of ijtihad was a return to a purified Islam. [8] Modernists, revivalists and Muslim activists stress the dynamism, flexibility, and adaptability that characterized the early development of Islam. They argue for internal renewal through ijtihad and selective adaptation (Islamization) of Western ideas and technology. Several Muslim scholars have sought to demonstrate a clearer understanding of the origins and development of shariah that provides grounds for ongoing reinterpretation and renewal to meet the needs of changing Muslim societies.

Esposito argues that even though earlier reformists and advocates of the new ijtihad "attracted a circle of followers, these reformers were not succeeded by comparable charismatic figures, nor did they create effective organizations to continue and implement their ideas." [9] It is for this reason that the role of intellectual leaders, especially faith-based movement leaders, gains importance.

Intellectual Leaders, Neo-ijtihad and Tajdid

The Sunan-i Abu Davud hadith that says, "At the beginning of every century God will send to this community someone who will tajdid (renew/revive/restore) religion" is generally accepted as authentic. [10] According to this hadith, every century an individual will be sent by Allah to renew the understanding and practice of religion by the ummah. [11] This person with the mission of tajdid is called mujaddid. In the words of Algar, "there is broad agreement that the function of the mujaddid is the restoration both of correct religious knowledge and of practice, and act as its corollary the refutation and eradication of error." [12] The essence of tajdid is in the traditional understanding that "the revival of Sunna and the eradication of bid'a; it is not part of the responsibility of the mujaddid to bring about comprehensive change on the political plane." [13] In view of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, mujaddids "fulfill their duties by employing new methods of explanation, new means of persuasion that are consonant with the age, and new forms of detailed instruction." [14] In every century there is at least one mujaddid, with the possible existence of a number of them. There is also "the possibility of legitimate plurality of opinion concerning the identity of the mujaddid". [15] Al-Suyuti puts that the key element in defining a mujaddid is "palpable and broad influence attested by one's contemporaries". [16]

Muslim scholarly interest in the hadith has focused almost exclusively on personalities, that is, on the identity of the mujaddidîn. [17] Seyyid Reza Vali Nasr analysis of the role of individual leader-intellectuals in contemporary developments in Islamic thought suggests the reason:

It is they who advanced the formative ideas, spoke to the concerns of various social groups, shaped public debates by selecting the ideas that would be included in them and those that would not, and related individual and social experiences to lasting questions and concerns about freedom, justice, good, evil, and salvation. It is they who initiated the process of interpretive reading of the Islamic faith with the aim of leading the struggle with Western thought, and helped give it a role in rapidly changing Muslim social life. In short, they articulated the foundational ideas that are associated with contemporary Islamic thought, which uses social impulses to make a new discourse possible. [18]

Because of the over-concentration on personalities, the concept of tajdid, its nature and necessity, rarely, if ever, have been discussed. [19] In the view of Colin Turner, the true meaning of tajdid is that whenever necessity dictates, God inspires a person or persons who, through their lives and works, present the realities of belief and Islam to the people as they were meant to be presented. The mujaddid thus re-reveals the Qur'an to the people of his own time just as it was intended to be revealed, and indeed as it was revealed by the Prophet some fourteen hundred years ago. And he does so in a way that is accessible to the level of thinking of people in his own time. [20] As noted, Muslim advocates of tajdid have argued for a return to the right to exercise ijtihad to facilitate reinterpretation and renew the Islamic heritage. Yet, the question, now, is no longer whether the gate of ijtihad is open but which ijtihads are necessary and which ones are to be followed.

With the exception of Abu Yusuf none of the great imams was an official of the state apparatus. On the contrary, they refused all kinds of requests, orders, and oppression to make them official servants of the state. These mujtahids [shariah experts qualified to exercise ijtihad] were totally independent and nobody was required to follow them. People who came to ask questions went to several mujtahids. In a sense, there was a 'free-market economy' and in this medium there were a number of 'competing' fatwas and ijtihads for people to 'consume.' [21] The interpretations that endured the test of time became the rule and practice.

In the postmodern age, people are more inclined to be independent, to judge for themselves and to select from different views. Thus, it seems that, from a sociological point of view, in the future, there will be a number of 'competing' fatwas and ijtihads in the 'market' and people will choose from them. Already, we see many people and institutions claiming a right to exercise ijtihad. Whether these are legitimate in the eyes of the people has to be tested. If a state makes ijtihad, it could end in civil disobedience as in the case of Pakistan. [22] If the ijtihad is civil then some people will freely adopt it and some not. However, at this point we encounter the problem of postmodern fragmentation as a result of activities of postmodern Muslim surfers on the inter-madhhab-net and micro-mujtahids. [23] In addition, in the light of Esposito's aforementioned remarks, it is more essential to implement new discourses and ijtihads with effective organizations and followers, rather than to produce them. [24]

To prevent any possible postmodern fragmentation but at the same time to implement new changes and ijtihads without confronting civil disobedience, it seems that NGO or civil movement leaders or faith-based movement leaders with effective organizations to implement their ideas have a role to play. [25] Faith-based movement leaders exercise or advocate ijtihad and most importantly they have means to implement their ideas in the civil realm, even though in most cases they do not label or flag this as ijtihad or tajdid for different reasons. As people follow faith-based movement leaders at their own wills, and nobody, including the state and it's laws, forces them to follow a faith-based movement leader, ijtihad activity of a faith-based movement leader is in the domain of civil ijtihad. People will follow it or not. However, it seems that in most cases they will follow it. The reason is simple: Individuals are not forced to follow a faith-based leader. Before they start following a certain faith-based movement leader, they more or less judge the leader with different criteria, changing from one individual to another, such as piety, appearance, honesty, knowledge, sincerity and so on. Whether these criteria are relevant, scientific, or correct is not relevant for the simple reason that for the individual's conviction and conscience, they are enough to legitimize a faith-based leader and his discourse and practice. After the individual reaches the conclusion that a certain faith-based movement leader is credible, then, the new follower will put his/her trust in the leader and will start following the leader in all sorts of ways; the ijtihads of the leader or the leader's attitude toward new ijtihads are no exception.

A faith-based movement leader has three functions. First, the leader is a mujtahid himself and makes ijtihad. Second, he follows some ijtihads of certain individuals and, institutions. Then in the eyes of the followers, these ijtihads will be legitimate and they can be followed. Third, the leader can set up an ijtihad committee, consisting of some followers and/or some others. Then, ijtihads of this committee will be followed first by the leader then by the followers. Thus, postmodern fragmentation of Muslim socio-legal sphere could be avoided whilst Muslim plurality and diversity are maintained. The case of Gülen is illustrative in this regard.

Gülen's discourse and its influence on the public spheres

This study agrees with some scholars that "Gülen is the engine behind the construction of a 'new' Islam in Turkey" [26] and that his discourse has had and will have major influences on the future shape of Turkey and its region. His discourse's transformative influences firstly and mainly could be observed in his movement. At a second level, this transformation would affect the surrounding wider society in la longe duree. Whilst it is obvious that his discourse has directly influenced his followers and this influence has brought in the emergence of his movement, it is difficult to formulate a direct correlation between his discourse and the Turkish society at large. My observations as I will briefly outline below suggest that his discourse has been transforming the Turkish society and has also a potential to have deeper influences on a more global level as well in the future. Yet the evidence is only suggestive neither empirical nor compelling as it is almost impossible to find direct correlations in social phenomena that are under so many complex interrelated and intermingled influences. The point that needs to be made is that there has been a change in Turkish society on certain issues and this change has been towards the discourse of Gülen that he has been advocating for the last three decades.

Changing Times and Ijtihad

Gülen's perception of Islam is not based on an abstract model that excludes re-interpretation and thus other interpretations; but it is open to experiences, to the cultural accumulation of this world. Gülen believes that there is a need for ijtihad in our age. He says that he respects the scholars of the past but also believes that ijtihad is a necessity as to freeze ijtihad means to freeze Islam and imprison it to a given time and space. [27] He argues that Islam is a dynamic, universal, over time-space religion, renews itself in real life situations, changes from a context to another and ijtihad is a major tool for this.

Taking the Qur'an and Sunna as our main sources and respecting the great people of the past, in the consciousness that we are all children of time, we must question the past and present. I am looking for laborers of thought and researchers to establish the necessary balance between the constant and changing aspects of Islam and, considering such juridical rules as abrogation, particularization, generalization, and restriction, who can present Islam to the modern understanding. During Islam's first 5 centuries Islam (sic) were the period when there were, a time when the freedom of thought was very broad, many researchers and scholars were involved in such an undertaking. [28]

He also puts that

The issues brought forth by time and changing circumstances are referred to as secondary methods (furuat) of jurisprudence. For example, when sea trade was not so complex, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism had no specific rules for it. Such matters are to be referred to ijtihad in the light of basic principles of Islamic belief, morality, and lifestyle. Time and conditions are important means to interpret the Qur'an. The Qur'an is like a rose that develops a new petal every passing day and continues to blossom. In order to discover its depth and obtain its jewels in its deeper layers, a new interpretation should be made at least every 25 years.

Yet he also underlines that sometimes the discussing ijtihad is luxurious as there are many more serious problems challenging Muslims and everybody could claim to be a mujtahid under today's circumstances. Thus, he puts a strong emphasis on raising and educating strong believers. Gülen emphasizes that in the name of maslaha and darura, people are inclined to follow the easiest option at all times; if everything is permitted under the name darura, then the essence of religion will not remain and he puts that if the earlier generations gave permission to everything and relax the requirements, then, today we would not have anything remaining. [29] Thus, he is of the opinion that it is important to raise individuals who would meet the criteria of a mujtahid.

It is asserted that in the age of specialization, the possibility of any individual possessing all the qualification of a mujtahid is doubtful, thus a collective group of mujtahids become specialists in the required fields. [30] In this regard, Gülen also strongly advocates ijtihad committees, in principle. He is of the opinion that it is no longer possible for individuals to be mujtahid-i mutlaq; ijtihad committees could perform this task instead. In Gülen's opinion, it is quite possible that in future these people from all sorts of disciplines could come together in research centers and constitute ijtihad committees. He argues that these committees should be consisting of scholars from different subject areas and consult on particular issues. They should also use all technological advance of the age, including computers, inter-net, CD-ROMs and so on. [31]

In his view, even today scholars can come together to try to answer some contemporary questions put to them. In the future, he says, if more suitable mujtahids emerge, they can come up with their own better solutions and ijtihads. For ijtihad committees, theology faculties could be suitable bases or the Directorate of Religious Affairs could set up such a committee or could evolve its already existing fatwa committee to an ijtihad committee. The state can espouse one of these ijtihads and can enact it. Then Muslims should follow this official law as they are ordered to obey ulul amr, their rulers, as long as they act within the realm of shari'a and are not against its spirit. In Gülen's view, normally, states should establish these committees as a service to society, giving as an example of such a committee the Directorate of Religious Affairs in Turkey. [32] Yet if a state fails to do this, Muslims should employ civil ijtihad. In this regard, he says that he encourages his followers to work on issues such as genetic engineering, organ transplantation, music, art, secularism, modern law etc and to formulate possible Muslim responses to these issues in this age. [33]

Religious and Legal Pluralism of Turkish Islam and Secularism

Gülen sees diversity and pluralism as a natural fact. He wants those differences to be admitted and to be professed explicitly. He believes that the dissemination of faith through persuasion is the only method to spread it to the civilized world. Tolerance is the magic word and practice. [34]

He is of the firm opinion that Turks have interpreted and applied in a certain way so that it could be called Turkish Islam. [35] He states that:

The Hanafi understanding and Turkish interpretation dominates more than three-fourths of the Islamic world. This understanding is very dear to me. If you like you can call this Turkish Islam. Just as I see no serious canonical obstacle to this, I don't think it should upset anyone. [36] The Turkish nation interpreted Islam in the areas open to interpretation it attained a very broad spectrum and became the religion of great states. For this reason, I think the Turkish Muslimness is appropriate. Another aspect of this is that in addition to profound devotion to the Qur'an and Sunna, the Turks always have been open to Sufism, Islam's spiritual aspect. Turkish Islam is composed of the main, unchanging principles of Islam found in the Qur'an and Sunna, as well as in the forms that its aspects open to interpretation assumed during Turkish history, together with Sufism This is why Turkish Islam always has been broader, deeper, more tolerant and inclusive, and based on love.

By making reference to the Turkish-Islam of Seljuks and Ottomans and their practice of religious pluralism, he underlines that:

The Muslim world has a good record of dealing with the Jews: there has been almost no discrimination, and there has been no Holocaust, denial of basic human rights, or genocide. On the contrary, Jews have always been welcomed in times of trouble, as when the Ottoman State embraced them after their expulsion from Andalusia.

A legally pluralist system existed at these times as well. He is also tolerant of internal Muslim legal and cultural pluralism. In this context, for instance, he puts that "Alawis definitely enrich Turkish culture" and encourages Alawis to transform to a written culture from oral culture to preserve their identities. He stresses that "Alawi meeting or prayer houses should be supported. In our history, a synagogue, a church, and a mosque stood side by side in many places."

In Gülen's philosophy, secularism is not understood as a non-Muslim way of life. The separation between sacred and profane and its projection onto social life is accepted. The rejection of the sacred is not accepted. He claims that such an understanding of secularism existed in the Seljuks and Ottomans. Gülen makes a reference to Western type of secularism and argues that within the boundaries of this type of secularism, Islam and the secularity of the state could be compatible. He emphasizes that such an understanding of secularism existed in the Seljuks and Ottomans: they employed ijtihad in worldly matters, enacted laws and decrees to respond to challenges in their times. [37]

Politics

Gülen argues, democracy -in spite of its many shortcomings- is now the only viable political system, and people should strive to modernize and consolidate democratic institutions in order to build a society where individual rights and freedoms are respected and protected, where equal opportunity for all is more than a dream. According to Gülen, mankind has not yet designed a better governing system than democracy. [37]

Gülen also maintains that as a political and governing system, democracy is, at present, the only alternative left in the world. In his understanding democracy, in its current shape, is not an ideal that has been reached but a method and a process "that is being continually developed and revised." [38] He maintains that "it's a process of no return that must develop and mature Democracy one day will attain a very high level. But we have to wait for the interpretation of time." [39] Gülen powerfully states that:

Democracy has developed over time. Just as it has gone through many different stages, it will continue to go through other stages in the future to improve itself. Along the way, it will be shaped into a more humane and just system, one based on righteousness and reality. If human beings are considered as a whole, without disregarding the spiritual dimension of their existence and their spiritual needs, and without forgetting that human life is not limited to this mortal life and that all people have a great craving for eternity, democracy could reach its peak of perfection and bring even more happiness to humanity. Islamic principles of equality, tolerance, and justice can help it do just that.

He does not see a contradiction between 'Islamic administration' and democracy:

As Islam holds individuals and societies responsible for their own fate, people must be responsible for governing themselves. The Qur'an addresses society with such phrases as: "O people!" and "O believers!" The duties entrusted to modern democratic systems are those that Islam refers to society and classifies, in order of importance, as "absolutely necessary, relatively necessary, and commendable to carry out." People cooperate with one another in sharing these duties and establishing the essential foundations necessary to perform them. The government is composed of all of these foundations. Thus, Islam recommends a government based on a social contract. People elect the administrators, and establish a council to debate common issues. Also, the society as a whole participates in auditing the administration. [40]

Islam, for Gülen, is not a political project to be implemented but rather a repository of knowledge and practices for the evolution of a just and ethical society. [41] He strongly states that:

Islam does not propose a certain unchangeable form of government or attempt to shape it. Instead, Islam establishes fundamental principles that orient a government's general character, leaving it to the people to choose the type and form of government according to time and circumstances. [42]

He strongly reiterates that "Islam is the religion of the nation and should not be reduced to being identity of one party". [43] For him, "religion is primarily a private or a communal matter, not a political or state matter". Since he is critical of the 'instrumentalization' of religion in politics, he constantly, if implicitly, criticizes discourses, practices and policies of the 'political Islam' of Turkey. [44]

Thus, Gülen, while encouraging everybody to participate in elections and to vote, never spells any specific party or candidate. He gives the guidelines, such as honesty, being truly democratic, being suitable for the job, the socio-political conditions and so on. In any party, one could find such candidates. At the end of the day, if every voter behaves in this manner, all the elected will be in tune with Gülen's ideals, regardless of the party affiliation. Most importantly, as he does not categorically affiliate with any of the parties, they will always be hopeful and will try to earn his sympathy. Moreover, his supra-party discourse could easily attract everybody from all walks of life.

Regarding an Islamic state, it is obvious that he is in favor of a bottom-up approach and his desire is to transform individuals, an ideal which cannot be fulfilled by force or from the top. [45] As noted above, he advocates a Turkish-Islam or an Anatolian-Sufism that puts an emphasis on tolerance and Turkish modernity as an alternative to Saudi or Iranian versions or images, emphasizing that this discourse of Islam is not in contradiction with the modern world. His discourse represents a kind of 'moderate Islam', even though he strongly rejects such a definition as in his view Islam is already moderate. This discourse is based on "the synthesis of Islam and science; an acceptance of democracy as the best form of governance within the rule of law; raising the level of Islamic consciousness by indicating the connection between reason and revelation; and, achieving this-worldly and other-worldly salvation within a free market and through quality education". [46]

In a written response to questions from The New York Times, "he said he was not seeking to establish an Islamic regime but did support efforts to ensure that the government treated ethnic and ideological differences as a cultural mosaic, not a reason for discrimination". [47] He "does not seek to eliminate the legacy of Mustafa Kemal but rather seeks to redefine it by expanding its social bases, stressing the ghazi ('conquering Muslim hero') aspect of Mustafa Kemal and Islamizing Turkish nationalism". [48] Indeed, the discourse of Gülen utilizes Mustafa Kemal as a commonly appreciated Turkish value and polishes Kemal's aspects that are in tune with Gülen's ideal of golden generation.

The movement addresses people from all walks of life and does not cling to any political party, although mainstream right parties always have been close to Gülen and his movement. Former Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz, the leader of the Motherland Party, and former Prime Minister Tansu Ciller, the leader of the True Path Party, paid several visits to Gülen and publicly praised him and his movement. Late President Ozal and former President Demirel supported the schools as well, by sending letters to their colleagues in other countries, by visiting these schools, by attending their opening ceremonies and so on. They always publicly supported the movement. Muhsin Yazicioglu, the leaders of the Great Unity Party (BBP), is fully supportive of the movement too.

The National Outlook Movement (Milli Gorus) has been the notable representative of the 'political Islam' in Turkey. Until 1998, the movement was under the influence of Middle Eastern political Islam to a certain extent and its ideology was based on the binary opposition of West versus East. Yet, now, some members of Milli Gorus,(yenilikciler) established the AK Parti and declared the failure of political Islam that they confused the conditions of Turkey with the Middles Eastern experiences and that they were under the influence of the Middle Eastern political Islamists but not local Muslim intellectuals. These young renewers are much more liberal than their elders. Their discourse is more sophisticated and they have learned to avoid the confrontational rhetoric, opting instead for a message of democracy and human rights. The emergence of yenilikciler and AK Parti has shown that Muslim politics in Turkey is evolving from an instrumentalist usage of Islam toward a new understanding of practicing Muslims who deal with daily politics. Obvious at this point, this is what Gülen has been advocating over the last three decades.

There also has been a change on the left side of the political spectrum as well. Democratic Leftist Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit has been supportive of Gülen and his activities. On several occasions he praised these activities. When he attended the World Economic Forum in Davos last year, he emphasized, in his speech, the importance of Gülen schools all over the world and how these schools contribute to the Turkish culture. [49] When receiving the Journalists and Writers Foundation's representatives at his office, he reiterated that he supports these schools because he believes that they are spreading the Turkish culture, to an extent not succeeded by the 600 years old Ottoman state.

The atmosphere of tolerance and mutual understanding has influenced the founding party of the Republic as well, the Republican People's Party (CHP). This party has undergoing a transformation for the last few months. After losing at the elections heavily, Deniz Baykal quit as the leader of the party, some time later he returned to politics saying that he and his discourse have changed and was re-elected as leader. Now he defends an Anatolian tolerance, he pays respect to the Ottomans, to the religious scholars of the past, and employs a warm language regarding the issues of religion. He argues that "he wants to come to power in this world while desiring to go to heaven in the hereafter". [50] He says he admires the understandings of Rumi, Yunus Emre, Haci Bektas, and Yesevi and finds their ideas as progressive and revolutionary. Baykal calls his new politics 'Anatolian leftism' in an interview by liberal Hurriyet columnist Cuneyt Ulsever at a program of the Gülen movement's Samanyolu TV. [51] It is obvious that most of these ideas are what Gülen has been arguing for more than 30 years. Baykal, when asked if he had been saying these before, replied that "(the ideology of) social democracy has come to this point very recently." Indeed, this transformation process began some ten years ago at the grassroots level. The ordinary people had already left their ideological camps of the pre-1980s and have been tolerant of each other; this is what has forced Baykal to change as a receptive leader.

Most scholars agree that "Gülen continues a long Sufi tradition of seeking to address the spiritual needs of people, to educate the masses, and to provide some stability in times of turmoil. Like many previous Sufi figures (including the towering thirteenth-century figure, Jalal al-Din Rumi), he is suspected of seeking political power. However, any change from this apolitical stance will firstly harm his movement. [52] Even though Gülen consistently reiterates that he has no political claims; that he is against the instrumentalist use of religion in politics; that his emphasis is on individuals and so on, the militarist elite who see themselves as the staunch guardians of the regime regard Gülen and his movement as a potential threat to the state. Those fears seemed confirmed two years ago when television stations broadcast excerpts from videocassettes in which he seemed to urge his followers to 'patiently and secretly' infiltrate the government. [53] He had also made some vague statements that were somewhat critical of the Turkish establishment. Gülen said "his words had been taken out of context, and some altered; he said he had counseled patience to followers faced with corrupt civil servants and administrators intolerant of workers who were practicing Muslims". "Statements and words were picked with tweezers and montaged to serve the purposes of whoever was behind this," he said. The militarist elite remains suspicious and claims that he seeks to gain political power over state institutions, including the army. The reason why Gülen employs such a vague language on certain issues is understandable given that the authoritarian state does not tolerate any rivals in social sphere, one of the major reasons of Turkish civil society's immaturity and weakness in the face of the almighty state.

The militarist elite's and state's this attitude is not confined to Gülen. As liberal leftist intellectuals of Daily Radikal, Etyen Mahcupyan and Murat Belge wrote, like any other underdeveloped authoritarian country, civil society is something to be afraid of in Turkey. In the social realm, the state does not tolerate any rival in the name of authority, unity, national security or laicism. For instance, soon after the 18 August earthquake in 1999, many civil society institutions, from all walks of life, were very quick to respond to the crisis and arrived at the badly affected areas with all kinds of help. The state and the army were harshly criticized, as they were slow to react. Even in the media these criticisms could be aired which is very unusual in Turkey's case. Those wanting to help financially channeled their money to these civil society institutions saying that the corrupt politicians and bureaucrats would not give them to the needy. Fearing that the state's fatherly respect and authority would be harmed, the rulers prohibited and halted all the activities of the civil society. The accounts of some of these civil institutions, such as the highly respected non-ideological AKUT (Search and Rescue Team) were confiscated; the state got rid of its rivals. All the civil society institutions, from ultra-laicists to Islamists, got together and condemned this move of the state, by advertising in national dailies, first in Turkey's history.

To sum up, given that Gülen has achieved autonomy from state power and has been able to mobilize a large segment of society and that he is of an Islamic background with which the laicist state's policies has felt unease, he will always be depicted as a potential threat by some.

Jihad for Tolerance, Dialogue and Co-operation among Civilizations

As we already noted above, Gülen sees diversity and pluralism as a natural fact; he wants those differences to be admitted and to be explicitly professed. He puts that

The Prophet says that all people are as equal as the teeth of a comb. Islam does not discriminate based on race, color, age, nationality, or physical traits. The Prophet declared "You are all from Adam, and Adam is from earth. O servants of God, be brothers (and sisters)" [54]

Gülen is an adamant supporter and promoter of inter-faith dialogue. He underscores that:

Islam recognizes all religions previous to it. It accepts all the prophets and books sent to different epochs of history. Not only does it accept them, but also regards belief in them as an essential principle of being Muslim. By doing so, it acknowledges the basic unity of all religions. A Muslim is at the same time a true follower of Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus, and of all other Hebrew prophets. This belief explains why both Christians and Jews enjoyed their religious rights under the rule of Islamic governments throughout history. [55]

He argues that there is no rule requiring that the style used in the Qur'an (in order to express the obstinacy and enmity of some Jews and Christians toward 'truth') should also be used for every Jew or Christian in every era; "the verses condemning and rebuking the Jews and Christians are either about the some Jews and Christians who lived in the time of the Prophet Muhammad or their own Prophets". [56]

He believes that:

The Islamic social system seeks to form a virtuous society and thereby gain God's approval. It recognizes right, not force, as the foundation of social life. Hostility is unacceptable. Relationships must be based on belief, love, mutual respect, assistance, and understanding instead of conflict and realization of personal interest. [57]

In his view, a believer must communicate with any kind of thought and system; like Rumi's compass, "such a person is like a compass with one foot well-established in the center of belief and Islam and the other foot with people of many nations". [58] To this end, Gülen pioneered the establishment of the Journalists and Writers Foundation in 1994, the activities of which promote dialogue and tolerance among all strata of society. Gülen is the Honorary President of the Foundation. According to its president, Harun Tokak, the Foundation took as its principle the display of activities that develop and consolidate love, tolerance and dialogue, first among journalists and writers, and then throughout the society and even mankind. [59]

The Foundation organized a big Ramadan dinner (iftar) in a grand hotel in February 1995. In terms of diversity of the participants, it was first of its kind. Over one thousand guests attended that included the elite of several social groups. The Foundation organized another major event in the same year: 'Awards of Tolerance'95'. In 1996, the Foundation organized an international conference called "the Dialogue of Civilizations". The aim of the organization was explained as the replacement of the clash of civilizations thesis by the dialogue approach. Orthodox Patriarch Barthelomeos, The Istanbul Representative of Vatican Monsegnor George Marovitch, Leader of the Catholic Community, the Representative of the Community of Turkish Protestant Presbyterians and the Counsul General of Greece also attended the conference. The president of the Foundation underlines that they are against the idea, which presents the future as being determined by conflict among civilizations. [60]

In 1997, the Foundation organized an international inter-civilization congress, emphasizing the themes of tolerance and inter-cultural co-operation. In 1998, Fethullah Gülen met the Pope in the Vatican, and then the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem. Cemal Ussak, Secretary General of the Foundation, points out that "there were reactions from radicals and fanatics, but the majority of people, who support moderation, congratulated him." [61] In April 2000, the Intercultural Dialogue Platform of the foundation organized an international symposium in Sanli Urfa and Istanbul entitled 'Abraham: A Symbol of hope and a bond of Unity in dialogue for Jews, Christians and Muslims. [62] The Foundation also has a busy publishing program. Titles of the some books published by the foundation include: 'Islam and laicism', 'Science and technology in the Ottoman society', 'From the clash of civilizations to dialogue', 'Living together according to Eastern-Western sources', 'Religion, state and society, and tolerance in the Ottoman society'.

The movement tries to bring all scholars and intellectuals regardless of their ethnic, ideological, religious and cultural backgrounds. The Journalists and Writers Foundation also works as a think-tank in related issues. The Abant Platform is a result of the attempt at finding solutions to Turkey's problems by bringing together scholars and intellectuals of all colors. This platform is the first of it s kind in near Turkish history where intellectuals could agree to disagree on sensitive issues as laicism, secularism, religion, and reason relations. The Foundation organizes Abant Conventions annually. And, every convention ends with a declaration. In 1998, the theme was 'Islam and secularism', in 1999 'religion and state relations' and in 2000, the topic was 'the democratic state within the framework of rule of law'.

The 1998 Abant Declaration attempts to redefine the meaning of laicism in accordance with the way it is practiced in Anglo-Saxon cultures. Moreover, the Declaration reinterprets Islamic theology to respond to modern challenges. It was underscored in the declaration that revelation and reason do not conflict; individuals should use their reason to organize their social life; the state should be neutral on beliefs and faiths prevalent in the society; governance of the state cannot be based on the dominance of one religious tradition; secularism should expand individual freedoms and rights and should not exclude any person from the public sphere.

Gülen's discourse and practice have obtained the support of a number of well-known liberal intellectuals such as the journalists Mehmet Altan, Ali Bayramoglu, Mehmet Barlas, Etyen Mahcupyan, Mehmet Ali Birand, Gulay Gokturk, Taha Akyol, Cuneyt Ulsever and Cengiz Candar who argue that the solution to Turkey's problems depends on reaching a consensus.

Moreover, scholars such as Ali Unal who were deemed to be 'radical Islamist' now fully support Gülen's thought and practice. Such influential Muslim scholars as Ali Bulac and Fehmi Koru, who also are known to the Western academic audience, have modified their discourses in the line of Gülen and express ideas that are different from their earlier thoughts. For instance, Bulac now fully supports the idea that Islam does not a have a specific form of government. He affirms that "if the meaning of political Islam is to establish a theocratic state, it is finished", pointing out that being, once, a cause for conflict and polarization, Islam is now a base for conciliation. [63] He was against the idea of Turkey's entrance to the European Union, now he advocates Turkey's accession. Once perceived to be a 'Christian club,' Bulac now sees 'the Copenhagen criteria' as amr bil ma'ruf (ordering the good). Very recently, he wrote about immigrating to non-Muslim lands, referring to this as 'hijra'. [64] Ahmet Selim another respected Muslim scholar and intellectual once wrote "until Gülen came up with his dialog discourse we were not aware that there were so many verses in the Qur'an encouraging interreligious dialog and cooperation."

In spite of the raison d'etre of the Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs's mission of creating a tailor-made national modern Islam, suppressing the transnational links and roles, its role has been changing for two years. This is most observable in the issues of inter-religious dialogue, the European Union and the Turkic world. Put differently, although the main task of the Directorate has been to control and domesticate Islam in accordance with the needs of the secular nation-state [65] to the effect of creating a secular, modern 'Turkish-Islam' cut off from all international and transnational ties, specific and limited to the nation-state's official borders. Interfaith dialog was not on the agenda of the power elite of Turkey and thus it was not on the agenda of the Directorate either.

The Directorate has been 'encouraged' by the Kemalist establishment to play a transnational role to counter-balance the activities of the Gülen movement. Inter-religious dialogue has only started taking place on the agenda of the state after the criticisms made against the Directorate by the 'laicist' circles on the basis that while an unofficial leader with no authority, i.e. Fethullah Gülen, was dealing with inter-religious dialogue and even paying a visit to the Pope in Vatican, the Directorate was ultimately inactive. Underlying psychology of this reaction was that the laicist elite did not want the religion out of control. After a while, the Directorate totally renewed its discourse and started including elements of inter-religious dialogue, dialogue between Christians and Muslims and so on. Before, although there was not necessarily anything against these themes in the discourse of the Directorate, but there was not any mention of them either. These themes were irrelevant for the state-sponsored 'Turkish religion'. Only recently, the Directorate has established a unit for inter-religious dialogue.

Now, the Directorate's authorities voice their desire to reinterpret Islam in the face of the challenges of modernity, new developments of the age, Muslims living in non-Muslim western territories, inter-religious dialogue, and peaceful co-existence and emphasize that the Directorate's future activities will address such issues. The Director, Mehmet Nuri Yilmaz, also paid a visit to Vatican and in 16 June 2000, Mehmet Nuri Yilmaz had a private meeting with the Pope. This event attracted an impressive media attention in Turkey, with the headlines such as 'first ever in the history!' The columnists emphasized that this was a good idea to enter into dialogue with other religions, an idea that never bothered the Kemalist elite until Fethullah Gülen took the lead and threatened the fictive public monopoly of the state on religious matters.

Gülen has also been encouraging his sympathizers to work on issues such as genetic engineering, organ transplantation, music, art, modern theology, tafsir, Muslim-Christian dialog etc and Islam's possible opinions on these issues in this age. [66] The movement's publishing houses such as Nil, Kaynak, Tov, Truestar have been supporting and publishing these works. Now, many of his followers work on these issues, publish papers and books and write PhD theses on these issues. New fatwa books are published by these publishing companies too. The theology journal, Yeni Umit, has been disseminating these ideas for the last decade. A new intelligentsia on the lines of Gülen's discourse has been also evolving.

Living in Non-Muslim Lands (dar al-harb) and Cooperation with the West

In modern times, one of the areas that motivated ijtihad is the situation of Muslims in non-Muslim polities. The juristic discourse on Muslim minorities with regard to such issues as whether Muslims may reside in a non-Muslim polity and under what circumstances, the relationships of these Muslims to dar al-Islam, and the ethical and legal duties that these Muslims owe to Muslim law and to their host non-Muslim polity (dar al-harb) have been debated since the eighth century. The juristic discourse on the issue has not been dogmatic. Other than the mutually exclusive concepts of dar al-harb and dar al-Islam, the persistent existence of Muslim minorities voluntarily residing outside dar al-Islam challenged this dichotomous view. Islamic jurisprudence has developed several mechanisms and concepts that facilitate compromise, such as duress (ikrah), necessity (darura), and public welfare (maslaha). As a result, an understanding of dar al-ahd (country of treaty, covenant), dar al-aman (country of security), dar as-sulh (country of truce), and dar al-darura (country of necessity) in which they could live their religions maybe with difficulty but peacefully has come into operation.

Gülen's frequently used term, dar al-hizmet (the country of service), is a new concept in this regard, reflecting also his vision. If the intention is to serve Islam by presenting a good example, then, one can stay wherever one desires, says Abdullah Aymaz, the daily Zaman's former editor-in-chief and Gülen's close friend and colleague for more than 30 years. [67] Gülen stresses that wherever a Muslim is, even outside a Muslim polity, he has to obey the lex loci, to respect other's rights and to be just, disregarding the discussions of dar al-harb & dar al-Islam. The concept of ummah in Gülen's understanding is more of a transnational socio-cultural entity, not a politico-legal one. He hopes that this socio-cultural entity will be instrumental in bringing general universal peace.

He formulates a project of cooperation between Islam and the West to reach this desired, almost utopian, universal peace:

The West cannot wipe out Islam or its territory, and Muslim armies can no longer march on the West. Moreover, as this world is becoming even more global, both sides feel the need for a give-and-take relationship. The West has scientific, technological, economic, and military supremacy. However, Islam possesses more important and vital factors: Islam, as represented by the Holy Book and the Sunna of the Prophet, has retained the freshness of its beliefs, spiritual essence, good works, and morality as it has unfolded over the last fourteen centuries. In addition, it has the potential to blow spirit and life into Muslims who have been numbed for centuries, as well as into many other peoples drowned in the swamp of materialism. [68]

He further puts that:

I don't see any harm in joining the West and Western thought on points where it's necessary and where there's no danger I don't see any harm in taking things the West developed.

Gülen has been quick to respond to the challenges and opportunities of globalization and his dialog efforts should be evaluated in this context as well. He has been supportive of Turkey's accession to the European Union. He says, "If both Europe and Turkey could come to a mutually acceptable agreement, the future could be promising. But this demands intelligent people with one eye on the larger world and one eye on their own world."

He has also encouraged Turkish people to migrate to these countries in order to be honorary representatives and ambassadors of Turkey. In Gülen's discourse, realism has a substantial place. He frequently states that the USA is currently the leader in the international arena and it is a better alternative in comparison to other non-democratic countries such as Russia or China. [69]

The movement's global vision has been shaped along the lines of Gülen's thought that we summarized above. It is the only Turkish civil society entity that has established institutions in so many different countries. With Gülen's global vision in mind, Daily Zaman is published in 16 countries and some of them are bilingual. Also with this in mind, Samanyolu TV broadcasts to Europe, Central Asia and Caucasus. Gülen's books in English, Turkic languages, Russian, Albanian and so on are sold in different countries.

Interfaith dialogue all over the world is on the agenda of the movement. In the countries where they reside, by utilizing the concept of dar al-hizmet, they either establish interfaith organizations, associations and societies or they are in close contact with the men of faith. Thus, for instance, Turkish businessmen in Korea take the Buddhist priests to Turkey to visit historical places where believers of different faiths had lived peacefully. In Thailand, the administrators of Fatih College regularly visit Buddhist authorities and priests and report to them the progress of the Thai pupils. In Russia, Romania, Georgia, South Africa, Senegal, etc., the praxis is the same. They all believe that interfaith and intercultural dialogue is a must to reach a general universal peace and that the first step in establishing it is to forget past religious tensions, ignore polemical arguments, and give precedence to common values. The teachers, administrators, and businessmen who immigrated to these countries with the intention of hijra, all reiterate that their intention is "to prepare mankind for the birth of the century of tolerance and understanding which will lead to the cooperation of civilizations, and to strengthen bonds among all the peoples of the world; what people have in common, not only within a nation, but across national-political boundaries in the world as a whole, is far greater than what divides and separates them."

The movement's schools are virtually the only Turkish presence in many countries, a fact acknowledged by the Turkish intelligentsia. Ozdem Sanberk, director of the Economic and Social Studies Foundation and former Turkish ambassador to London, summarizes the liberal democratic Turkish intellectual approach to the schools: "Strategically speaking, the schools are something that should be supported by the state because you have a Turkish presence in these countries." It must be noted that until the movement established these schools, there was no mention of such an international project, even in theory, by the state, think tanks, research centers, or academics.

In the Gülen schools, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Shamans, etc. study together in peace. [70] In the larger Muslim world, this tolerance poses "a potential challenge to Islamism, for its ideas may find receptive audiences among those with access to the outside world." The schools all have been supportive of Turkey's accession to the European Union and have been aware that the United States is currently the leader in the international arena and is a better alternative as compared with Russia or China.

Conclusion

Gülen now is described as an opinion leader in Turkey. [71] Newspapers sometimes refer to him as the unofficial civil religious leader of Turkey. [72] Gülen's discourse is not only at a rhetorical level; in praxis he encourages all his followers to realize his ideals. As elaborated above, after espousing Gülen as an intellectual leader, his followers adapt themselves to his discourse and follow his ijtihads, even though he does not label them as ijtihad.

It is evident that a slow but steady process of a renewal in Muslim socio-political, jurisprudential, and educational discourses and practices is leading to a new Muslim politics and international relations, a renewed juristic discourse, and a renewal in Muslim educational practice, paving the way for a modern and harmonious society as a result of an evolving bottom-up approach. It goes without saying that more empirical research definitely is needed to substantiate the arguments put forward here.

Some elements, if not all, in the discourse of Gülen are not unique. There have been a number of Muslim thinkers, intellectuals and mujtahids who developed new ideas and understandings in the face of the challenges of the modern juggernaut, without making concessions to the Islam of the past, or the so-called 'golden age.' Yet, what makes Gülen unique is that he successfully has persuaded and mobilized many people--numbering up to a few million--to establish institutions and put into practice his discourse and realize his ideal of raising a golden generation and achieving general global peace.

Preliminary observations indicate that Gülen not only is renewing Muslim discourses and practices but also transforming the public sphere, without claiming or boasting that he is doing so. In this regard, the movement also is evolving into a school of thought based on the discourses of Gülen and is an example of a renewal with a potential for influencing the whole Muslim world. This transformation process is definitely a tajdid in the Turkish public sphere. As emphasized above, the reality of internal Muslim legal pluralism requires that there could possibly be different ijtihads taking place in different parts of the Muslim world at the same time, shaped by local conditions. Thus, it is quite possible that there might be other tajdids elsewhere. Yet with the increasing importance and weight of the Turkic world in global socio-politics, Gülen's tajdid will be more influential. The impact of this renewal effectively will be felt even in the distant corners of the global village. The Gülen movement already has been contributing to Turkey's potential leadership in the region and his followers in more than 50 countries have been spreading the 'renewed word' by conduct.


[1] Hallaq (1984) has already shown that the gate of ijtihad has never been closed, see in detail Wael Hallaq, 'Was the gate of ijtihad closed?', International Journal of Middle East Studies, vol. 16 n. 1, pp. 3-41; see also Hallaq, 'On thew origins of the controversy about the existence of mujtahids and the gate of ijtihad', Studia Islamica, vol 63, pp. 129-141.
[2] Ihsan Yilmaz, 'Limits of Law: Reform in Muslim Family Law and Civil Disobedience in Pakistan,' Die Welt des Islams, V. 42, Spring 2002, pp. 15-16 and 'Is Having A Personal Law System A Solution? Towards A Supra-Modern Law'. In: Journal for Islamic Studies. 2001. Vol. 20, pp. 98-122, pp. 113-118.
[3] I discuss this in detail elsewhere, Yilmaz, 'Muslim Legal Pluralism in Asr Al Darura, Surfers on the Inter-Madhhab-Net and Neo-Ijtihad'. In: Frank Vogel, Peri Bearman and Ruud Peters (eds) The Islamic School of Law: Evolution, Devolution and Proggress, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 2002, forthcoming, pp. 8-9.
[4] Murad Hoffman, Islam: The Alternative (Reading: Garnet Publishing), 1993, p. 126.
[5] Lawrence Rosen, Bargaining for Reality: The Construction of Social Relations in a Muslim Community (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984); Rosen, The Anthropology of Justice: Law as Culture in Islamic Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989). Before Rosen, Geertz have emphasized the same theme in his classical seminal works, Clifford Geertz, Islam Observed (New Haven: Yale Univeristy Press, 1968); Geertz, Interpretation of cultures, New York: Basic Books, 1973; Geertz, Local knowledge: Further essays in Interpretive Anthropology (New York: Basic Books, 1983).
[6] Hallaq, Was the gate of ijtihad closed?, p. 33.
[7] See Dale F. Eickelman, 'Inside the Islamic Reformation,' Wilson Quarterly, v. 22, no. 1 (1998): 89.
[8] Esposito, Islam, p. 125.
[9] Esposito, Islam, p. 145.
[10] Hamid Algar, 'The centennial renewer: Bediuzzaman Said Nursi and the tradition of tajdid', Journal of Islamic Studies (Oxford), V. 12 N. 3, pp. 291-311, p. 292.
[11] Algar, op. cit, p. 297.
[12] Algar, op. cit, p. 295.
[13] Ibid, p. 295.
[14] Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, Sualar, Istanbul, n.d., p. 670, translated and quoted by Algar, The centennial renewer, p. 304.
[15] Algar, op. cit, p. 296.
[16] Cited by Algar, op. cit, p. 310.
[17] Colin Turner, 'Renewal in Islam and Bediuzzaman,' paper presented at the Fourth International Symposium on Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, 20-22 September 1998, Istanbul, p. 1; see now also Hamid Algar, 'The centennial renewer: Bediuzzaman Said Nursi and the tradition of tajdid', Journal of Islamic Studies (Oxford), V. 12 N. 3, pp. 291-311, p. 292.
[18] Seyyid Vali Reza Nasr, 'Qur'anic commentary and social change: Modern South Asian Tafsir and Risale-i Nur in comparative perspective,' paper presented at the Fourth International Symposium on Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, 20-22 September 1998, Istanbul, p.1.
[19] Turner, 'Renewal', p. 1; for a short discussion on tajdid, see also Hallaq, Was the gate of ijtihad closed?, pp. 27-28.
[20] Turner, 'Renewal', op. cit., p. 2.
[21] Karaman, Yeni gelismeler karsisinda Islam hukuku (Istanbul: Nesil, 1992), p. 80.
[22] Yilmaz, 'Limits of law,' op. cit., 15-16; Yilmaz, The Dynamic Legal Pluralism and the Reconstruction of Unofficial Muslim Laws in England, Turkey and Pakistan. (London: SOAS, 1999), pp. 239-272.
[23] See in detail Yilmaz, 'Surfers on the inter-madhhab-net;, op. cit., pp. 6-7.
[24] Esposito, Islam, op. cit., p. 145.
[25] I discuss this in detail elsewhere, Yilmaz,'Surfers on the inter-madhhab-net', op.cit.
[26] Yavuz, 'Search,' op. cit., p. 121.
[27] Author's interview with Gülen., USA, 27 March 2000.
[28] Ali Unal and Alphonse Williams (eds) The advocate of dialogue: Fethullah Gülen, Fairfax, VA: 2000, p. 53.
[29] Author's interview with Gülen, USA, 27 March 2000; see also Gülen, Fasildan fasila I (Izmir: Nil, 1995), pp. 285-86.
[30] Esposito 'Perspectives,' op. cit., p. 243.
[31] Author's interview with Gülen, USA, 27 March 2000.
[32] See further TDV, Gunumuz meselelerine fetvalar (Ankara: TDV, 1999).
[33] Author's interview with Gülen, USA, 27 March 2000.
[34] See now in detail, Unal and Williams, The advocate of dialogue, op. cit ., pp. 256-258.
[35] For Gülen's thoughts on Turkish-Islam, see in detail ibid, pp. 54-58.
[36] Unal and Williams, The advocate of dialogue, op. cit., 52.
[37] Interview with Gülen, Haber Kritik, Osman Ozsoy, STV, 29 March 1997.
[37] Gülen repeated these points on democracy and secularism during an interview with the author, USA, 27 March 2000.
[38] Gülen, 'A comprative', op. cit., p. 134.
[39] Unal and Williams, The advocate of dialogue, p. 150.
[40] Gülen, 'A comparative', op. cit., pp. 135, 136.
[41] Yavuz, 'Searching', op. cit., p. 126.
[42] Gülen, 'A comparative', op. cit., p. 134.
[43] Yavuz, 'Searching', op. cit., p. 126.
[44] Yavuz, 'Searching', op. cit., p. 121.
[45] See, Ebru Altinoglu (1999) Fethullah Gülen's perception of state and society. Istanbul: Bosphorus University, p. 102.
[46] Hakan Yavuz, 'Cleansing Islam from the public sphere', Journal of International Affairs, Fall 2000.
[47] Douglas Frantz, New York Times, 25 August 2000.
[48] Yavuz, 'Search', op. cit., p. 121.
[49] Daily Zaman, 23 February 2000.
[50] Daily Zaman, 7 February 2001.
[51] Cuneyt Ulsever, Interview with Deniz Baykal, STV, 24 April 2001.
[52] See in detail Altinoglu, Fethullah Gülen, op. cit.
[53] Douglas Frantz, New York Times, 25 August 2000.
[54] Gülen, 'A comparative', op. cit., p. 134.
[55] Gülen, 'A comparative', op. cit., p. 137.
[56] Unal and Williams, The advocate of dialogue, p. 260.
[57] Gülen, 'A comparative', op. cit., p. 137.
[58] Unal and Williams, The advocate of dialogue, p. 206.
[59] Author's interview with Harun Tokak, Istanbul, 1 September 2000.
[60] Zaman, 2 November 1996.
[61] Author's interview with Cemal Ussak, Istanbul, 3 September 2000.
[62] Journalists and Writers Foundation (2000) Journalists and Writers Foundation. Istanbul: JWF
[63] Bulac, Zaman, 4 June 2000.
[64] Bulac, Zaman, 19 April 2001.
[65] Yavuz 'Cleansing Islam', op. cit.
[66] Author's interview with Gülen, USA, 27 March 2000.
[67] Author's interview with Abdullah Aymaz, Istanbul, 3 September 2000.
[68] Unal and Williams, The advocate of dialogue, p. 247.
[69] This understanding of Gülen has lead to personal attacks, such as suggesting that he is a CIA agent.
[70] Author's interview with Cemal Ussak, Istanbul, 3 September 2000.[71] Enis Berberoglu, Hurriyet, 10 August 2000.
[72] Avni Ozgurel, Radikal, 2 March 2001.

Dr. Ihsan Yilmaz (Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies), Georgetown Unv., 04.26-27.2001