What were Fethullah Gülen’s formative experiences in the development of his own leadership?

Throughout his service in Edirne Gülen maintained a devout asceticism while mixing with people and remaining on good terms with the civic and military authorities he encountered. He witnessed how the youth were being attracted to extremist, radical ideologies, and strove through his preaching to draw them away from such ideas. Using his own money he would buy and distribute published materials to counter atheistic communism and an aggressively militant atheism. He saw the erosion of traditional moral values among the youth and the educated sector of Turkish society. This erosion was feeding criminality and political and societal conflict. These observations and experiences were formative influences on Gülen’s intellectual and community leadership and reinforced his faith in the meaning and value of human beings and life.

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