What kind of individual and social needs is the movement responding to, such that in a short period of time it has spread to the entire nation and has even gone beyond the borders?

Fethullah Gülen

In Fethullah Gülen’s private conversations, writings and speeches, the emphasis is always on topics such as love, compassion, hope, tolerance, honesty, good morals and the wholeness of internal and external life, living for others, and letting others live.

With these aims, members do not expect in return anything worldly or other worldly. They simply want to contribute something positive to humanity, spreading the culture of tolerance and understanding, found in Islam. Fethullah Gülen remarks:

We have no eyes on anybody’s land or country, or no desire of dominating anyone. But our eyes and hearts are fixed on every corner of the world in terms of taking what God has blessed us with, sharing them with others, to breathe into the soul of everyone, to pour the inspirations of our soul into the bosom of others. Our hearts beat for the whole world. No place will be outside this point of focus. This is also the thought of our Prophet. He says: “My message will reach everywhere the sun rises and sets.” With the consideration of supporting life, we demand the whole world. I consider “demanding otherwise” as a flight from duty.[1]

Fethullah Gülen seeks to spread the virtues of Islam. His understanding of Islam meets the needs of modern times and the newly arising necessities in the lives of the people, without deviating from Islam’s basic principles. Fethullah Gülen is talking about a tabligh which is ready to take all his thoughts, not only to Muslims, but to all of humanity. This approach assesses individuals, not according to their religions, but to the values that they carry as part of humanity. It is evident from whom Fethullah Gülen derives his inspiration:

We move with the spirit our dear Prophet provided for us. ... Some people aim at establishing a state and the conquest of the whole world, we have none of that. No fruit of this world is expected, not even otherworldly rewards. Through the approach of the great thinker of this epoch [Said Nursi], I approach the matters: “I neither care for Paradise nor fear Hell. If I see my nation’s belief secured, I will not even care about burning in Hell, for while my body is burning my heart will be as if in a rose garden.”[2]

Despite his clear intentions, there are some in Turkey who worry that Fethullah Gülen seeks to establish a political order. As against this, there is such a principle in Fethullah Gülen’s system of thought: The Qur’an makes mention of the “fly”; it has made the bee, the spider, the ant a proper title for its chapters, because their structures and lives demonstrate the existence of God Almighty. But it makes no mention of the state.[3]

Fethullah Gülen, who appropriates the spread of Islamic principles and values to be disseminated as a directive of the Prophet Muhammad, has demonstrated that this tabligh could be carried out in every segment of the society and in every type of regime. The question then arises: If, as a result of all these efforts a common state structure and the institution of Caliphate-type rule are not the aim, then what is to be expected in the end?

According to Fethullah Gülen’s writings and the speeches, it can be inferred that he believes that we are faced with a utopia or an effort to construct a transnational community, the members of which have common sensibilities and common values through which they establish communicative action, and they support each other, hoping to meet the challenge of global problems through perfect solidarity. This community, which transcends nations and states, is a moral and ethical community, not political. We are now observing the advent of a movement in which are people whose passion to consume and love for the wealth and power are tamed and disciplined and who set out to meet the need for a network, based on mutual support and solidarity and who derive their inspiration from Fethullah Gülen. And we are witnessing all of these at a time when there is an erosion of values and diminished solidarity in the broader society.

[1] Can 1997, 65.
[2] Ibid., 14–15.
[3] “İslam, siyasal İslam ve Fethullah Gülen” (Islam, political Islam and Fethullah Gülen), Zaman, 10 April 1998, http://arsiv.zaman.com.tr/1998/04/10/kultur/12.html

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fgulen.com is the offical source on the renowned Turkish scholar and intellectual Fethullah Gülen.