Is there a model of an ideal society for Fethullah Gülen? If so, how do we create that society?

Fethullah Gülen

Fethullah Gülen reiterates that he yearns for a society that is made up of virtuous individuals, who have self confidence and a sense of solidarity with the rest of the society; they seek to elevate the quality of life for everyone with the things that they do; they are not fearful of opening up to the rest of the world, and they aim high, always reaching for excellence. He again notes that the spiritual values necessary to achieve these goals are found in the religion of Islam and in the Turkish culture. He then points out the importance of human effort and the determining character of it: One is whatever one does. To the extent he performs goodness, he is good. If he does not do anything, having no vision for the future, he is nothing. He can only be the object of history and politics, having no role in them.

In order to arrive at this ideal point, a society and the individuals in that society must have peace and prosperity. This peace begins with knowing oneself, increases with the discovery of the universe, and matures through the bonds of love and solidarity established with others.

Those who cannot comprehend the secrets of existence … those who are the prisoners of their base desires are to be confined to darkness and irritation.

For those who believe and are on the path of truth, absolute lack of tranquility is out of the question. They would receive good news of hope and security behind every discomfort and worry. The faith and hope are the first condition of peace. The peace first starts with the individuals, grows in the family, and finally reaches a point to dominate all sectors of society.

For that reason, our entire tooth and nail efforts, as a nation, should be aimed at forming our people into a society of peace. A society of peace, devoid of any base desires, carrying only lofty ideals... A society of peace with its conscientious individual members, with its families providing security and happiness, with its nation promising peace and quiet...

Then, if that is the case, while we are awaiting the arrival of hope and security, we should never forget the fact that we have to start with the individual. This is because it is the individual who would make up the family, and likewise it is the individual again who would be part of and a support for the society. A society, which is made up by sinful elements can have nothing to offer, in terms of goodness, hope, and happiness. All the goodness and happiness, security and peace are shaped around the individuals who have already reached a point to comprehend the secrets of self and the character, acquired spiritual and mental depth. At the same time the individual who has become such a healthy pillar would have been given the identity of a perfect citizen as well as a good part of the family.[1]

In this explanation, Fethullah Gülen is talking about an organic society. A perfect individual reaches this maturity in the family circle. The society, in turn, is made up of families, which protect the individual.

A harmonious and a durable family is also the essential element of a future-promising nation. The nation comes into existence through the virtue and courtesy of this element and obtains depth. When it loses this trait, it loses all its vitality. A nation which does not exist in the family [or a nation which is made up by the individuals who do not have the sense of belonging to a nation] would lose also the identity and character of being a nation. All the love, respect, solidarity, and mutual help would reflect from the family into the dignity of a nation and such a nation would be exalted to the point where it becomes a witness and an observer of the balance of power among the nations; it would rule over the things and the events.

The cohesion [appropriateness] of the building blocks, belonging to this society, the unity in good-manners and upbringing and the altruism in the hearts tie together the parts firmly. In such a society, the citizens, carry the state and the public figures on their shoulders. The state and the public figures in turn act as honorary servants for the citizens.

… In such a society, the boss stands next to the laborer, in his eating and drinking, and in all his other legitimate desires. Just like a member of the family, he would make him eat from the food he eats; he would dress the same as he dresses, and would not burden him with the load he cannot carry. On the other hand, the laborer would be on the side of the work and the employer, far from being an enemy of property and wealth; he would be on his way of becoming a model representative of the labor and the effort. While he performs the work in the best possible manner, while struggling with sweat and blood on his body, he would do his work in total peace of mind because he knows that he is applauded in the realm of the High and exalted and approved before Him.

In such a society, education with all its institutions develops the sense of virtue; opens the doors of love and goodness, teaches to have compassion towards the progeny and all humanity and how to be in harmony and reconciliation… And finally in such a society, the judiciary judges with a sense of fairness and a philosophy of justice, pursues the oppressor and the aggressor, becomes the protector of the innocent and the oppressed.[2]

Fethullah Gülen finds disagreements and conflicts, both among individuals and within the society, as rather objectionable. He calls our attention to the necessity, which cannot be neglected, of bringing together around common values and purposes those who are estranged from each other, those who are so much opposed to each other that when one says black, the other says white. For that reason, he says that it is inevitable for social peace to achieve the unities of mind, conscience, and heart which make a human a real human. The mortar of the bridge between individuals is “tolerance.” Tolerance is the essential element that must be adopted in individual and societal relationships. According to Fethullah Gülen, tolerance can be taught and learned.

Fethullah Gülen believes that cognitive dissonance, which is one of the major concepts of social psychology, is an important factor orienting and directing human and social behavior. Because of the sense of discomfort and dissonance, which is awakened by the state in which one finds oneself, one either wants to change that state or get out of it. In other words, people do not want to live under constant tension, discomfort, displeasure, and discontent. The inclination of both individuals and the society is in the direction of peace and stability.

According to Fethullah Gülen, the chaos and turmoil has descended on earth because of the lack of morality. For this reason, high quality education is needed to lift the seed of discord spreading in societies and to make the climate of love dominant again. It is necessary to teach goodness, beauty, and truth, in addition to knowledge, and what is needed for this are “men of ideals” (mefkure insanları).

Fethullah Gülen then names the people around him with this title and concludes:

We have been searching for the ways of how to form this ideal society [awaited for centuries] and we have been resorting to every possible avenue to bring this waiting to an end. In order to realize it, we have been struggling desperately and have been scratching the surface of every possible means that we think might lead to that end. Let us see how long more, we will?[3]

[1] Fethullah Gülen 2008c, 116–117.
[2] Ibid., 118–119.
[3] Ibid., 119.

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