How did Fethullah Gülen urge individuals to serve society constructively?
In Turkey up to the 1980s hyperpoliticization of all issues in society and artificial divisions between people were prevalent.
Extremist and ideological issues were raised between rightists and leftists, around the sectarian division between Alevis and Sunnis, around the ethnic distinction between the Turkish and Kurdish, and later around differing definitions of secularism between the laicists and the religious-minded. Such issues dominated society so much that tensions and fights began to undermine its security and stability, even indeed its survival. Thousands of people were killed.
Throughout this period, Gülen, as scholar, writer, preacher and civil society leader, strove to draw people out of societal tension and conflict. His message reached the masses through audio and video cassettes, as well as public lectures and private meetings. He appealed to people not to become part of on-going partisan conflictual issues and ideological fights. He analyzed the prevalent conditions and the ideologies behind the societal violence, terror and clashes. He applied his scholarship and his intellectual and personal resources to convince others (notably, young university students) that they need not resort to violence, terror and destruction to establish a progressive, prosperous and peaceful society.
He maintained that violence, terrorism, death, ignorance, moral decay, and corruption could be overcome through forbearance and compassion, through conversation, interaction, education and co-operation. He reminded them not to expect everything from the system because of its backwardness in some respects, its stifling bureaucratic, partisan and procedural stagnation, and its lack of qualified personnel. He urged people, instead, to use their constitutionally given rights to contribute to and serve society constructively and altruistically. In addition he convinced them that such service is both the means and the end of being a good person, a good citizen and a good believer.
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