Fethullah Gülen in His Own Words

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Introduction

Once seen as a rising star and a role model for other countries in the Middle East, Turkey has taken many sharp turns towards authoritarianism since 2014. Now leading the world in the amount of jailed journalists, Turkey is recognized with unprecedented human rights violations unprecedented in its recent history. While tens of thousands of academicians, doctors, teachers, businessmen, mothers, and even babies have been suffering behind bars for absurd terrorism charges, others are fleeing the country for their freedoms. Criticizing the government, even its economic policies, is enough to get a person labeled as a "traitor" or "terrorist."

The protection of basic human rights, such as free speech, an independent press, or the right to protest, has sharply declined in recent years. The ruling AK Party (AKP), and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, are swift to incarcerate any person or group that says, or does, anything that they consider a threat to their right to rule. This persecution has even included the leaders of prominent opposition parties, such as Selahattin Demirtaş, along with the leader of the humanitarian Hizmet Movement, Fethullah Gülen.

In 2017, Diyanet, the Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs, released a report to make the Turkish public, and even the greater Muslim community beyond, aware of their opinions of Mr. Gülen. In the report, Diyanet claims that Gülen presents himself as someone who speaks with God, who denies laws of physics, urges his followers with unreal dreams to steal national exam questions, who promotes interfaith dialogue to form a new religion with Christians and Muslims, etc. It was striking for such a report filled with such claims to come from the government's leading religious agency, a bureaucratic machine with a staff of over a hundred thousand employees and a budget exceeding a billion dollars, that is primarily responsible for monitoring all of Turkey's mosques and imams.

It is possible to question Diyanet's integrity, as the agency has fallen under much stricter control in recent years as authoritarianism increased throughout Turkey. Generally, all members of the Turkish High Council of Religious Affairs are civil servants and their academic freedom of expression is dependent upon how the government wants them to act. A sudden spike in the dismissal and/or arrest of approximately 6,021 academicians between 2016 and 2019, for speaking out against the government or exercising their basic human rights, is exceptionally concerning.

Diyanet's report cites various sermons and speeches through Gülen's life as the foundations for their claims. This booklet will juxtapose their arguments with the same sermons and speeches, along with additional ones, to argue that the report's claims are inaccurate, taken out of context, or simply incorrect.

One may then ask why scholars at a top religious and academic council of Turkey should write articles and reports that compromise their own scholarship and contradict proper research methodology. One plausible explanation is that the report was politically motivated in order to serve as "evidence" for a greater political scheme. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose statement on this matter can be found in the conclusion section of this booklet and can be watched in the provided Video link, has been a strong critic of Fethullah Gülen for many years.

Gülen condemns terrorism in all its forms and without condition. He published an ad in the Washington Post to condemn 9/11 terrorist attacks, making him one of the first Muslim scholars to do so.

SUMMARY

The Presidency of Religious Affairs of the Republic of Turkey prepared a report titled, "FETÖ in His Own Language: An Organized Exploitation of Religion." As the title suggests, the report's writers consider Fethullah Gülen, and the movement that began with his ideas, as a terrorist organization that exploits religion.

The report's writers say that they base their statements specifically on what Gülen says "in his own language." While this is technically true, many of the report's quotes are taken out of context in order to deliver a more narrowly construed message blaming Gülen to have hidden agendas and that he gains dignity and strength by skillfully using religion to achieve his goals.

However, we did not find anywhere in the report quotes from Gülen's Videos or books to prove the abuse of religion as they suggest. On the contrary, Gülen has repeatedly denounced the abuse of religion in quotes such as the following:

"Abusing religious values for worldly benefits is as grave a sin as unbelief."[1]

Gülen has the same clear attitude about terror: "A terrorist cannot be a Muslim. A Muslim cannot be a terrorist."[2]

The authors cite that they prepared the report by examining 80 books, all of the articles that Gülen wrote in different periodicals, and 670 hours of audio and Video records. But, quotes such as the above are omitted and simply ignored. Such an exhaustive academic effort should confront all of the facts and present a strong argument against each of them, yet this is not the case.

Fethullah Gülen's message on the terrorist attacks in London on July 7, 2005 and in Egypt on July 23, 2005:

BLOW TO THE DIGNITY OF HUMANITY

Terrorism incidents occurring in different parts of the world have struck the greatest blow to humanity's honor and dignity. Islam reveres right to life, and considers that killing of a person is equivalent to blasphemy. I want to repeat again that terrorism never serve a legitimate purpose.

A true Muslim cannot be a terrorist and a terrorist cannot be a Muslim. Dozens of people were killed in an abominable attack in Egypt, where the majority is Muslims, before the wave of terror against innocent people in London lost its effect. I condemn the terrorist attacks, no matter where they come from, as I openly condemned many times before, and I wish mercy from God to those who lost their lives in the attack, to their painful families and to the Islamic world.

  1. Fethullah Gülen

CHAPTER 1

HOW GÜLEN PRESENTS HIMSELF

(Sections and titles are the same as the sections and titles of Diyanet's report.)

The first part of Diyanet's report discusses how Fethullah Gülen presents himself in three main claims.

Claim 1: Fethullah Gülen implies that he speaks to God. (God forbid!) He cunningly conveys that he meets the noble Prophet, angels, and other prominent religious figures among the Righteous Predecessors all the time. In this way, he makes his community obey him blindly.

Diyanet claims that Gülen presents himself as a kind of prophet, or mystic with special abilities who uses these abilities to manipulate people. A person would have to have a lot of arrogance to think so much of themselves, however Gülen has consistently espoused that he sees himself as "nothing."

Video 1: "My signature is ‘Nothing.'"

It is best that we should always bend double before God. We must consider the being a servant of God the greatest rank. What is your name? What is your title? In consideration of the Hereafter, how would you sign your signature? "Nothing."... As for me, I would say, "Nothing less than nothing." My signature is "Nothing less than nothing."[3]

He has also repeatedly stated that he fears dying as an unbeliever, and that he considers making false religious claims (such as claiming prophethood) to be tremendous sins.

Video 2: "I am afraid of dying as an unbeliever."

I have never considered myself even as an ordinary human being! Others said about me things like, "He looks like an innocent man, protected from sins." Whereas I am afraid of falling upside down, just as Al-Aswad ibn Yazid an-Nakhai, or Bal'am ibn Ba'ura were afraid of. Every day when I go to bed, I say, "O my God! Do not take my soul as an unbeliever!" I repeat this prayer many times, until the moment I sleep, closing my eyes in supplication. "My Lord! Do not take my soul as an unbeliever!" I am terrified of dying as an unbeliever.[4]

Gülen has made these points in many other sermons throughout his life, and they are central to his existence and understanding of Islam. He has also consistently advocated for believers to strive for the following three things;

  • A perfect faith,
  • A sincere servanthood in full surrender to God,
  • A life of prayer and ethics of utmost devotion, so much so that one reaches a consciousness of "being seen by God."

Quotations, such as the ones above, were omitted from Diyanet's report.

Claim 2: By assuming God to be in a specific location, Gülen disobeys the principles of faith and does not hesitate to exploit the issues of faith in order to influence the community.

In the sermon[5] shown as a source in the report, Gülen describes the manners that should be adopted when visiting a mosque. He specifically highlights the following points:

  • Mosques were built to revere God
  • Believers should try to focus on the remembrance and exaltation of God with their minds, hearts, imagination, and, if possible, with all their senses from the moment they enter the mosque

Gülen begins covering this topic with the following sentences:

Video 3: Appreciation according to intention

"You may have come to listen to me. This could be a mistake. But God forgives such mistakes. But if your intention is to feel God's good pleasure in your soul, to take one more step towards attaining His good pleasure, then these will be sealed here to be opened before God in the Hereafter."

In response to the love that the community has shown him, Gülen says:

"You may have made a mistake by coming to listen to me.[6]"

"But if your intention is to hear the pleasure of our Lord and take another step in this path, you will be judged accordingly."

Even in the first sentence, he begins by turning the attention of the community from himself and directing it to the consent of God.

Gülen continues this sermon with a commentary on the content of a hadith narrated by Ibn Majah. In summary, the hadith states: "The angels saw a servant praying: ‘O my God! I praise You according to the requirement of the greatness of Your sovereignty and Your Majesty.' The angels wondered what to write as a reward for this prayer. They brought the matter to God. He said, ‘Write down exactly what My servant said. I will give him his reward.'"

The following is how Gülen commented on this hadith:

Video 4: The record of deeds

"I can't say anything about this sincere state of yours. My friends have told me that the mosque was full from midnight. First of all, the mosque is full; this is very important. When evaluating the issue, the angels will consider it as ‘the state of a community that fills the mosque.' A sincere embrace of one another and becoming one, expecting a certain thing... They will evaluate it accordingly. The issues will be recorded accordingly. And then God, The First (Whom there is none that precedes), The Last (Whom there is none that will outlive), The All-Outward, The All-Inward, may He be glorified and exalted, will judge with His great judgment: "Let Me judge the condition of my servant! If they are My servants, if I know what is in their hearts, if I know the feelings and thoughts that encircle their senses and spirits, and if treatment and evaluating My servants according to their feelings and thoughts belong to Me, then let Me do it!"

With this, it is my wish that you witness in your imagination face to face with this judgment. After this, let me proceed to a second matter, with your permission.

Gülen encouraged his congregation to remember God with complete sincerity. He inspired them to be like the servants God Almighty mentions in the following hadith qudsi: "Record the state of My servants as they are. I will judge them." Gülen then warns his audience not to focus on preachers and mentors, but to instead focus on God's revelation and the noble Prophet's words that preachers recite. He invited them to listen to the words of God and the ahadith of the Prophet as seriously as if they are listening to them coming out of its first source, i.e. the blessed mouth of the Prophet.

Video 5: "The congregation is our noble Prophet's congregation."

"These mosques, along with the first one on earth, were built in the name of God. These places have been built so that God may be exalted here. From the minarets of these mosques, the Blessed Name of God is expressed in the Word of Tawhid (which is the basis of our religion). May God make this blessed voice and breath in the minarets prevail forever.

From the moment when a believer steps in the place of worship, he will be under the awe and fear of the One, Who is to be exalted. In the chair of this gathering is God Who sees, hears, and knows all our states of being. If there is one who walks among our ranks, if he has permission from the heavens, he is the Sultan of your hearts, the master of humanity, the Prophet Muhammad Mustafa, who attends every meeting concerning him and honoring the meeting. I invite you to admire what you find in the mosque with such a consideration. I suppose your hearts appreciate this far above my understanding and comprehension. It doesn't matter whether a religious teacher, the head of state or the prime minister enters the mosque, you still need to (continue your prayers and) say, "God is here, may He be glorified and exalted, Who gazes at our hearts seventy times in a second. Prophet Muhammad Mustafa is here, who looks into His eyes and sees His Beauty and Perfection." For, the congregation is his congregation, because he is the Sultan, because he is the one who mints the coin, he is the one who seals with his signature; because he is the true imam of the mihrab. We and all our imam friends, we and all our preacher friends, we and all our mufti friends, we are no different from muezzins who repeat his voice behind him make him heard by those in the back! The imam of the mihrab, the leader in the Prayer, is the Prophet Muhammad Mustafa, peace and blessings be upon him. The preacher in the pulpit is the Honorable Muhammad Mustafa. And the mosque is equipped with this spiritually."

The writers of the report quoted only the first two red sentences in the text above and reached their conclusion that "Gülen claims that God is on the chair of the mosque he preached."

But they ignored the second red part that comes one sentence after in the sermon: "God, Who gazes at our hearts." Gülen does not attribute a specific location to God; on the contrary he points to the fact that God, "Who is closer to us than our jugular vein," gazes at our hearts. As a matter of fact, when the two chapters are considered together it is understood that the phrase "In the chair of this gathering is God … " is clearly metaphorical and that Gülen refers to the Qur'anic verses recited by preachers in the chair. Let's review the highlighted points once more and look at one of Gülen's clear statements about attributing location to God.

  • The Word is the Qur'an. It is the Word of God. Thus, the chair of authority belongs to the Qur'an.
  • The noble Prophet has been chosen and assigned to convey the Word and to declare its meaning.
  • He is the true owner of the mihrab and the pulpit of all mosques.
  • Believers should not cease exalting and glorifying God while praying in the mosque, even if an important figure or celebrity enters the mosque.
  • Don't just think about the hodjas (religious teachers). We preachers, religious teachers, and scholars are nothing more than muezzins, who repeat the words of the imam in a large mosque, in order to make the voice of the imam heard in the rear lines.
  • Push your imagination a little. Concentrate more deeply.
  • Try to feel like you hear the Word of God and the hadiths of our noble Prophet as if they are coming directly from them

Gülen is attempting first to urge the congregation to concentrate and visualize the subject in their imagination, and second get himself out of the way so to let them feel the pleasure of a deeper experience of worship all by themselves.

Should the writers of this report have found that Gülen really had incorrect considerations about a creedal subject such as attributing a location to God, shouldn't they have retrieved his direct statements in this matter instead of sufficing only with metaphorical ones?

Let us, then, give some of Gülen's statements about attributing a location to God from a speech where he explains "God's gaze on hearts."

Video 6: God is exempted from space.

The heart is the place at which God gazes. God manifests therein. They refer to this manifestation as His "descending down or establishing His throne"; these phrases are metaphorical. God, may He be glorified and exalted, is beyond and exempt from time, space, and a definite position. He does not eat, nor drink, nor is contained in time. He is exonerated from all such features. These are negative attributes. They cannot be referred to God."

"God, may He be glorified and exalted, is beyond and exempt from time, space, and a definite position."

The writers of the report did not include Gülen's hundreds of statements, including the above one that fully complies with the tenets of mainstream Sunni Islam. Had the writers considered these statements in their citations and analyzed all of the available data, they would have realized Gülen's metaphorical statement was in no way meant to attribute a specific location to God, but to the Qur'anic verses.

Claim 3: "Gülen, who said that some people can speak with God, declares that he is one such person who speaks with God in a poem he reads during his speech dated May 27, 1990."

As a preface, it is important to mention that the poem below is actually by Sayyid Nasimi.

If the authors of the report really read Gülen's books, magazine articles, and listened to his speeches then they would be expected to come to a conclusion that Fethullah Gülen's path was not like that of Sayyid Nasimi and others who have their own peculiar mystical paths.

After this reminder, let us look at what he said in his talk:

Video 7: Problems and people of willpower

All around us are flames of discord and dissension that must be extinguished. Three fourths of the Prophet Muhammad's lands are in darkness and confusion. Humanity is heedless, lacking light or direction, and waits for the people of willpower who can be residents of these honorable places. The heroes of willpower are being expected by the Hereafter with a slew of its unique problems that must be solved, and by this world with a host of its unique problems, and by the hearts who have their own problems. (Namely, there are many problems to be solved for our afterlife, for our world and for our hearts.)

The talk begins by drawing attention to problems and explaining the need for people who have the will to solve these problems.

Video 8: Be yourself

People of willpower are needed to stop the darkness.

اَوْ كَظُلُمَاتٍ ف۪ي بَحْرٍ لُجِّيٍّ يَغْشٰيهُ مَوْجٌ مِنْ فَوْقِه۪ مَوْجٌ مِنْ فَوْقِه۪ سَحَابٌۜ ظُلُمَاتٌ بَعْضُهَا فَوْقَ بَعْضٍۜ اِذَٓا اَخْرَجَ يَدَهُ لَمْ يَكَدْ يَرٰيهَاۜ وَمَنْ لَمْ يَجْعَلِ اللّٰهُ لَهُ نُوراً فَمَا لَهُ مِنْ نُورٍ۟ ﴿٤٠﴾

It's a terrible sea, the waves are enormous, and there's not a single breakwater. And you set sail to some destination with your sailing board in this endless sea. It is pitch black. Clouds are piled one after another. It is so dark that if you take your finger toward your eyes, you cannot see it. The darkness piling one after another for several centuries is waiting for the gallant people who will teach good conduct and behaviors. Heroes will come to teach them new ways and methods. Let us, you and us, be these heroes who are being expected. You can expect this from God's power. It can be expected from the might of Allah. It is not distant for the power of God who can make ants destroy Pharaoh's palace. (He may make you achieve this. So don't despair by seeing your helplessness. Ask, the Divine Power will come to rescue you.)

Gülen continues by encouraging his listeners to be the people who solve problems. He adorns his words with the art of poetry by reminding God Almighty's response to the small services of the community with great blessings to encourage the trust in God's grace.

Video 9: Sayyid Nasimi's poem: "A call has come to me from the Truth."

Gülen: "As I follow you in the most abject manner in this spiral you climb, I can assure you that I have seen (witnessed) most unexpected things." (Gülen quoting from Nasimi's poem:)

I have seen them one by one with my open eyes.

Let me describe them to you one by one

I have ascended to a constellation of the celestial sphere,

I have seen a welcome from the angel.

A call has come to me from the Truth:

Come, O you loving one, you are intimate,

This is the station of intimacy;

I have seen you as a loyal one."

(Sayyid Nasimi)

After the poem, Gülen expresses that he was referring to God's blessings upon the people with this poem. He is nowhere referring to any of his spiritual visions as described in the verses of Sayyid Nasimi.

Video 10: "Open your eyes with attention."

"I have seen God's favors upon you, such that were not yet uncovered to God's friends. I have witnessed Divine gifts coming to you in envelopes specifically addressed to you. They came like cascading waterfalls, each as a surprise. If you open your eyes with attention, look at the events that occur around you, compare yesterday with today, you will see that these bounties flow like a waterfall! You'll see them, in the face of the past surprises and beneficence. Let us maintain our patience a little more, and let us reinforce our resolution for things that our carnal souls dislike. And let us endure also against the things that may seem favorable to our carnal souls, but that are unfavorable to God and not beneficial to this country, to our people and to our religion."

This is what Gülen is saying in summary: If you'd just open your eyes carefully, look at the events that have been happening around you, compare yesterday to today, then you, too, will see how these favors flow to you like waterfalls.

Namely, what Gülen sees are the things that everyone can see by having a sociological perspective and paying attention to how God's laws manifest in nature.

Gülen tells his listeners to disregard all distractions, and by looking carefully they can see the truth.

The report's writers claim that Gülen "spills the beans and proclaims that he is one of those who speak to God" simply on the basis that Gülen recited a poem by Sayyid Nasimi. Gülen's statements were stripped of their context and were misinterpreted to fit this narrative.

CHAPTER 2

DREAMS

Claim: Gülen tells some unreal dreams, accepts those false dreams as evidence, practices with them, and encourages his followers to engage in forbidden acts like stealing national exam questions.

Below is the original text of Gülen's essay and its English translation quoted in the report in relation to the above claim:

Truth of Dreams

Dreams are reflections from the "world of symbols" where "tablets of destiny" are carved out and presented to us in the form of visions. When eyes are closed to this (physical) world, they are opened to the occurrences taking place in the other (unseen world). This world where dreams take place can also be called "the world of meaning." 

Everything may demonstrate a particular differentiation in the world of meaning. Some dreams seem very straightforward and clear, while others are presented with various symbols in a way that are open to interpretations. For instance, some people can see in their dreams a success that they will attain in the future, or the questions and other details of a particular test they would take in the future. Other dreams, however, come with symbols and are open to interpretation. For example, in Chapter Joseph in the Qur'an, fat cows and green ears of grain symbolize abundance while lean cows and dry ears stand for famine. It is not problematic for people like us with belief in metaphysical world(s) (to grasp these concepts). However, it is very difficult for those who are closed to the "world of meaning" and do not believe in other worlds than the present, material world that we exist in.    

Several works have been written so far on the truth of dreams. In my opinion, there are enough explanations about this truth in these works that have been inspired by hadiths of our Prophet (peace be upon Him).

However, dreams do not constitute a basis for judgment as do the Qur'an and ahadith. It is not right to consider them as fundamentals to build judgment upon. It is the choice of individuals whether to act upon dreams as they wish in their personal lives or not, and they can do so only to the extent of the legitimacy of the truths they perceived from the dreams. Doing so is not a sin and does not lay a responsibility on the person. But, one should not try to convince others with arguments based upon dreams. (Fasıldan Fasıla 4, İman Esasları Etrafında)

The first section above, colored in red shows the part quoted in the report. The last paragraph, also in red, which is from the same book of Gülen's, shows the state of dreams in religion. This last paragraph, where Gülen goes into a deeper explanation, was not included in the report.

Gülen also speaks about some people who claim that they see test questions in their dreams. From such a dream narrative, we couldn't figure out how the report writers reached the conclusion that "Gülen advises his followers to steal national exam questions."

Here is what Gülen says about dreams, wakefulness, the inner meaning of happenings, and inspiration:

Video 11: Objective evidences

… all events happen by the will of God. No event corresponds with another for no reason, or in vanity. Neither the inner meaning of happenings in the realm of meaning (or the realm of dreams) nor the inner meaning of happenings in wakefulness is in vain. But objectively, we cannot base our judgments upon them. We can base our judgments on the principles that God has determined. The Book (Qur'an), the Sunnah, and the consensus of Muslim jurisprudence (which is rooted in the previous two) ... The deductions are strong (when) based on these firm sources... Others are secondary.[7]

The above paragraph is what Gülen considers to be objective evidence. How would Gülen behave if something was inspired to his own heart? Here is how he responds to this:

Video 12: "I would check with the methodology of the religion (usul al-din)"

If I am someone who happens to know the methodology of the religion (usul al-din), I would know that I am not a man supported with divine revelation. If there is anything that comes to my ears, eyes, or heart, I test it with the Qur'an and the Sunnah. If it conforms to the Word of God and the authentic Sunnah of our noble Prophet, if it conforms to the rules of the righteous predecessors, it's fine. Otherwise, I would not lend it any importance. I would look to make sure that it is compatible with the Book (Qur'an) and the Sunnah. From that point of view, it is dangerous for those who do not know the methodology of the religion to guide people.[8]

Paragraphs such as these were conveniently omitted from Diyanet's report and are neither mentioned nor disputed.

This chapter on dreams can be closed with remembering some of the traditions of our noble Prophet in regards to dreams:

  • After the Morning Prayers (fajr), our noble Prophet used to listen to the dreams of his Companions and would interpret them. (Muslim, Jannah, 49; Ibn Maja, Niqah, 61; Bukhari, Ta'bir, 47; Abu Dawud, Iman, 10; Darimi, Ru'ya, 13)
  • Our noble Prophet stated: "The truthful dream of the believer is a forty-sixth part of Prophethood." (Bukhari, Ta'bir, 5; Ibn Maja, Ta'bir 1; Tirmidhi, Ru'ya, 2-3)
  • Our Glorious Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, stated: "The revelation has been stopped, but al-mubashshirat will continue. Al-mubashshirat are true, good dreams that give glad tidings." (Bukhari, Ta'bir, 6)

Unfortunately, the writers of the report only list a few dreams Gülen has told in some of his sermons and completely ignore the above Sunnah alongside Gülen's lifetime of teaching that spans more than sixty years.

CHAPTER 3

DIALOGUE

Claim: "The activities of interreligious dialogue are efforts to unify Christianity with Islam."

Fethullah Gülen illustrates the general framework of interreligious dialogue in his book Dialogue and Tolerance (Diyalog ve Hoşgörü) and his interview with Aksiyon magazine. He had been trying to institutionalize dialogue studies since 1994.

Why was he doing so? Samuel Huntington first introduced his explosive theory "The Clash of Civilizations?" in 1992, and argued that conflicts in post-Cold War world would be fought in between cultures and not countries. The outbreaks and continuations of wars in the Middle East seemed to be confirming his thesis. It was seen that Islamic countries would be the center of the conflict. In such a process, meetings with religious leaders were arranged and dialogue activities began. Specifically, dialogue activities aimed to convey the following truths:

  • Peace, not war, is essential in Islam.
  • Not only Islam, but all religious traditions that started with Prophet Adam and finally became perfected with Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) are established on the foundations of peace, not conflict.
  • Conflict is only incidental in all religious traditions.
  • Religions have a huge influence on people. This influence should be utilized to pursue peace.

The unification of religions, or the development of an eclectic religion, has never been in question, nor can it be, in dialogue activities.

Dialogue is an outreach effort by some practicing Muslims who try to live up to the ideals of Islamic faith. Their purpose is to have a positive impact on all people, and to change misinformed prejudices against Muslims. Dialogue activities are conducted to search for ways to develop respect for Islam and Muslims.

Here is another quote from Gülen where he explains the purposes of such activities:

Video 13: Dialogue 1

There are some projects that take half a century. Your project is a very expensive, very labor-consuming project. Your project is to establish faith, love, and enthusiasm for God in people's hearts; to make faith a part of human nature, to transform faith into a full conviction... Even if people do not accept Islam, we may make them like it. "Islam is as respected a religion as Judaism, Christianity and Buddhism, Brahmanism and Shintoism." People could acknowledge Islam at least this much. These efforts are, in a sense, steps taken to ensure global peace. This is your way, this is your method, and the arguments you need to use must be accordingly. It's such a big project that it concerns the whole world. You will go to everyone in the whole world. If necessary, you will exhibit your beauty to them in different exhibitions. They will know everything about you, including the depths of your hearts. You will be people who nobody feels worried about; they will have trust in you. You will demonstrate trust not just with your words, not with the reed you play, but with your behavior and actions. Your exhibitions will be decorated with your reassuring pictures. Wherever they visit, they'll always see your good actions. (They will see in you) people who are humble, bow before God, trembling with a complete consideration of servanthood... People with deep respect for humanity, people who do not wish evil upon anyone...

Despite these statements, the claimers saw no harm in taking the matter further. In addition to Diyanet's report, some people on TV shows said the following:

Claim: "His community considers Fethullah Gülen as Jesus Christ. He doesn't refuse it although he knows this. I asked him that, and he couldn't say, "I'm not.""

Video 14: Jesus is a Prophet

Jesus is a Prophet, peace be upon him. I consider it misguidance to say, "I am an apostle," let alone "I am Jesus Christ."

Gülen has categorically denied any association with prophethood, and has never claimed to be a messiah.

CHAPTER 4

THE COMMUNITY

Claim: Gülen suggests that his followers are some chosen community that is supported and heralded by God and His Messenger and all the past Islamic scholars, appreciated by even the Prophets, and pointed to by the Qur'an.

Chapter 4 of the report begins with the above sentence. The writers of the report are already very determined from the beginning with a clear judgement: "Gülen presents his community as a chosen community appreciated by the Prophets."

Let's see what Fethullah Gülen has said:

Video 14: The goal is to do what we needs to be done in this world

It is the trust of God and our noble Prophet to take the name of God and His Messenger to wherever the sun rises and sets, as an obligation and purpose of living in this world. Our noble Prophet stated: "My name (may my soul be sacrificed for his name) is going to reach everywhere the sun rises and sets." In this statement of the Prophet, there is a sign for what he sees in the unseen realm. (But) I understand one more thing from that sign.

Now, after we receive the glad tidings of our noble Prophet, "My name will reach everywhere on which the sun rises over and sets," why don't we go all the way to the Arctic? Why don't we bring our cultural values to them? Why don't we take whatever human values we will take from them? Why don't we announce our point of view on human values to the world? In this matter, if God is the guardian and the guarantor, and the noble Prophet is the guide, if the path is the path of the noble Prophet and the Companions, I think it is not necessary to worry about anything. We must strive to take this trust as far as we can, with remarkable perseverance, exertion, and diligence, with remarkable belief and spiritual alertness. We should keep this in our minds when we go to bed and get up. We should even decorate our dreams with this. We have to think about this all the time. Let our subconscious heritage come into our dreams. Let us wake up in the morning and experience joy with that dream.

According to Gülen, Muslims should spread the glad tidings that were given by our noble Prophet, not just by reporting them as a historical record, but by taking them as a call to action that should spur us to achieve a foreseen goal.

Gülen's approach has been the following: "If our noble Prophet has informed us, ‘My name will reach everywhere on which the sun rises over and sets,' we must strive with all of our being to achieve this vision as best as we can." Having been able to open up to 170 countries so far shows that Gülen's approach has been fruitful. In a nutshell, Gülen seeks the target that our noble Prophet has shown and he advises it to people around him.

The issue of "chosen-ness" is the claim of the writers of the report. Gülen does not consider people of the Hizmet Movement to be chosen or ordained by God, but instead urges them to use their free will to achieve noble goals. Gülen's advice to take action is an approach supported by the verses of the Qur'an, such as "Strive in good works" (Qur'an 5:48; 83:26).

Gülen does not only ask people to pursue the glad tidings the noble Prophet gave about future. He also sets other goals for his community to reach as explained in the following:

Video 15: Sincerity of intention and the Divine consent

The nature of your purpose is a projection of your greatness: (your purpose is) seeking the good pleasure of Almighty God with an ardent longing... Then I would like to address your conscience: make your faith an observatory in this world and look at this matter in this way. Can you say something equal to the desire to meet God with an ardent longing and purity of intention?

O my God, grant us to obtain the awareness of perfect faith, perfect Islam, perfect sincerity, and perfect consciousness of Your presence.

O my God, we want complete knowledge of God, love, and certainty of truth based on direct experience (I'll say this three times. Something I desire because I have many deficits).

O my God, grant us full loyalty, steadfastness, perfect reliance upon God, submission, commitment, and confidence.

O my God, give us a desire to meet You, our beloved Prophet and those whom You love with a pure ardent longing.

If you give us Paradise, Paradise will become a drop in an ocean compared to these phrases.

If you aspire to it, if you are seeking to go towards it on the route you are walking, it will also reflect your value.

Sincerity of intention, the consent of God, certainty of faith, the desire to meet God and His Messenger… These are the goals Gülen sets for himself and for those who are inspired by his ideas.

 

CHAPTER 5

UNREASONABLE STATEMENTS AND CLAIMS

Claim: Gülen invites people to act against the laws of physics. He says, "If a man jumps from the tenth floor of a building, the concrete will be broken into pieces and nothing will happen to him."

What Fethullah Gülen has said about the laws of physics, namely causality and laws of creation, is much larger than the text quoted in the report.

Video 16: With verbal prayers people surpass causality and can turn directly to God.

With verbal prayers people can surpass causality and turn directly to God. In addition to acknowledging the worldly causes, prayer is an expectation of extra grace from God Almighty.

Verbal prayer is, in addition to complying with the causes, surpassing causality and being in expectation of God's grace.

Video 17: Active prayer

The active prayer is that man confirms the worldly causes, and does not ignore them. Since God, the All-Mighty and the All-Compelling of supreme majesty, has made the causes a veil on His acts, confirming the causes is like revering God. Acting according to the causes means revering God.

Since God has made the causes a veil on His acts, it is out of revering God that one should act according to the causes.

Video 18: Be content with results

You have performed the verbal prayer, and the active prayer. You confirmed the causes properly in the active prayer. You managed your time very well, you set things up nicely, you got help from people you trust, you worked well, but you attained a result opposite to your expectation. Then you have to consent to that outcome you did not want. Saying, "I have worked, but this is the will of God," consenting to the Divine will is also an expression of respect to Him.

Active prayer is an expression of respect to Almighty God by observing these material causes. The verbal prayer is an expression of respect to Almighty God beyond the worldly causes. Being contented with an unexpected outcome is also an expression of respect to Almighty God. You will say, "We are pleased with God as our Lord."

That is how Gülen considers the correlation between the causes and prayer.

Now, let us compare these quotes with Diyanet's claim that Gülen invites people to violate the laws of physics.

Video 19: The correlation between the causes and the tenets of belief

Ignoring the causes is a kind of violation of tenets of belief, for it may lead a person to absolute determinism. Absolute determinism has been considered as one of the sects that have gone astray from the main path. You cannot say, "Causes are not important. What are they? I do what I want to do. I do not take the causes into consideration."

Gülen says, "Ignoring causality is a kind of violation of the basic tenets of belief in Islam."

What does Gülen mean when he said, "a person who jumps from the tenth floor will not die"?

If the report writers had tried to compare the information they had reached to resolve this contradiction, they would never have expressed the above claim.

Video 20: Our noble Prophet and conforming to the causes

Since our noble Prophet did not base his strategies, plans, and projects on miracles, wonders, or extraordinary Divine favors, it would be impertinent for the Ummah to base their plans on wonders and Divine favors. Not even any saint has ever done like that.

Since our noble Prophet does not build his strategies on miracles or extraordinary situations, it would be impertinent for the Ummah to do so.

In another Video, Gülen states that all creation belongs to God and that only He should be worshiped.

Video 21: God is the One Who creates

After all, it is God Who creates, may He be glorified and exalted; to ignore Him (may God forbid) means polytheism.

That is what it is all about: closing even the smallest holes that may lead to polytheism or atheism.

God has made the causes as veils, and He creates all things with a certain cause. This is a fact that Islam openly embraces.

Gülen has also argued consistently that God is not bound by the physical laws that He has created. Creating comes from God alone, and no other being can interfere in this process.

Let's see what Gülen says in the full quote mentioned in the report:

Belief in Prayer

The main thing in prayer is to believe and trust in its acceptance. More than opening hands, one should in fact open their heart while in prayer. …

The great scholar Gumushanevi said so many things about the virtue of prayer in his Majmuat al-Ahzab. Some of his statements may sound like exaggerations, but we need to consider them from the perspective of Bediuzzaman. That is, what may sound like exaggeration is a condition that relates to the state of the individual who is in prayer. This includes statements such as, "Whoever reads this prayer once will go to Paradise," which should be understood as "This is such a prayer that whoever reads it with full faith, devotion, and in the best manner it deserves, may deserve Paradise." It is my belief that if a person opens his or her heart fully and says "God!" with a perfect faith, and then throw himself from the tenth floor, the concrete will be broken into pieces and nothing will happen to him.

As can be seen in the text, Gülen says this phrase under the title "Belief in Prayer":

"The main goal of prayer is to believe and trust in its acceptance. More than opening hands, one should in fact open his heart while in prayer."

After the place quoted in the report, the subject ends with this sentence: "In these days when the Islamic world spits blood, it is necessary to pray with a burning bosom. This is needed."

If prayer is taking refuge to God beyond the causes, if it is not possible for the Islamic world to get rid of the terrible situation from the point of causality, shouldn't we need to make prayers by exerting ourselves?

From Gülen's narrative, it would be easier and more accurate to conclude that "If the causes are not sufficient, it is necessary to pray wholeheartedly." It seems really hard to understand what kind of method they used to deduce the statement: "He invites people to act against the laws of physics."

CONCLUSION

It seems that it is not possible to confirm that the report titled "An Organized Abuse of Religion" is composed of "the texts quoted from Hodjaefendi's books and speeches and brief studies on them."

Our study can be summarized with the following two key points;

1- The writers of Diyanet's report find sentences that are open for interpretation and interpret them according to their own purpose, not according to a sound interpretation methodology. Sometimes the sentence or the next paragraph just below where they quote elaborate the topic clearly, but they ignore it. This is an evidence that the writers had other purposes.

2- Then they interpret their interpretation again and again, making it contrary to some Qur'anic verses. Then, based on their own interpretations, they try to proclaim Gülen and his followers as a deviant group by making a judgment that his ideas are against the religion.

It is the order of Islam to tell the truth for those who are deemed as experts in a matter, as well as the requirement of the dignity of humanity and knowledge.

Ignoring the truth confirmed by their knowledge and experience and reaching judgments only to please those who assign them with such a task is a terrible choice that God dislikes. In this regard, the Qur'an gives the example of Walid ibn Mughira. Walid was a knowledgeable man and he was selected as an arbitrator by polytheists of Mecca to speak with our noble Prophet, hoping that he could convince him to give up on his mission. When they met, the Prophet read to him from the Qur'an.  Walid felt deep in his soul that the Qur'an was different and could not be a human discourse. Yet, he concealed his feelings and said, "This is sorcery" to please those who gave him his task.

The evil of Walid's choice is described in these verses:

"He pondered and he calculated (how he could disprove the Qur'an in people's sight).

Be away from God's mercy, how he calculated!

Yea, be away from God's mercy! How he calculated!

Then he looked around (in the manner of one who will decide on a matter about which he is asked).

Then he frowned and scowled.

Then he turned his back and (despite inwardly acknowledging the Qur'an's Divine origin), grew in arrogance.

He said: "This is nothing but sorcery (of a sort transmitted from sorcerers) from old times.

This is nothing but the word of a mortal." (74:18-25)

The atmosphere of fear in Turkey that has developed in light of recent political changes has influenced these scholars, causing them to deem their appointed task to be more important instead of interpreting Gülen's word correctly.

Below is a transcript of President Erdoğan's speech, where he publicly orders Mehmet Görmez, the President of Religious Affairs of the time, and Diyanet to prepare such a report.

Video 22: There are expressions against our religion

Mehmet Görmez: "We will translate the report into all foreign languages and share it with the world, God willing!"

President Tayyip Erdoğan: "Supposedly, he (Gülen) is writing some books. He's got some so-called books. Give the so-called works of this man to our High Council of Religious Affairs, so they can study them from A to Z. In these books, there are expressions that are incompatible with our religion."

Erdoğan, who gave the order as President, does not want them to examine Fethullah Gülen's books. He orders them to find statements "that are incompatible with our religion."

The writers of this report tried to fulfill this order, not by means of true scholarship, but by producing their own interpretations in a way that can never be reconciled with any scholarly principles.

Two Great Evil Acts

Since its publication (July 10, 2017), this report has been translated into many world languages, as Görmez said, and been delivered to many Muslim groups. It is possible to predict that by distributing such an unreliable report there are two goals in mind:

1- To accuse a group, whose goal is nothing but to represent Islam in a way as purely free from violence and open to dialogue as possible, of having deviated from their religion.

2- To deliberately deceive all Muslim groups that they reach, and to sow seeds of discord and hatred amongst Muslims.

We can conclude our study with one of Gülen's sermons where he clearly tells his listeners what to do.

Video 23: You look at your own way

"Look at your own way and method! Look at the Book and the Sunnah! Look at the philosophy of Seerah (the biography of the noble Prophet)! Look at the basic principles of the Religion! When you look at the hadiths, look as many as thirty books! When you look at the Qur'anic Commentary, look as many as thirty books! When you look at the basic principles of the Religion, look as many as the thirty books! Make discussions! Be concerned that you may make mistakes! And do not leave the path of the Righteous Predecessors, Abu Hanifa, Shaafi, Maliki, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, especially the path of the Noble Spirit of the Master of Humankind. O my God! Do not separate us from his path even a millimeter."

Gülen is actually providing his own method here.

For instance, in the days this Video/booklet was being prepared, Abu Dawud's Sunan was being studied in the Hadith lesson of Gülen.

13 different books and commentaries of Hadith were being considered with that book.

Each book was being studied by a different student.

Every hadith read from Abu Dawud was also compared with these 13 books, and discussed by various contributions.

This is how the day starts for Hodjaefendi's circle every morning.

Video 24: Gülen's study circle

In Gülen's study circle, Abu Dawud's Sunan is analyzed with the abovementioned 13 books.

[1] http://www.herkul.org/bamteli/bamteli-talebin-kiymeti-ve-niyetteki-derinlik/; http://www.herkul.org/tag/ruyet/

[2] http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/musluman-terorist-terorist-musluman-olamaz-63617; https://fgulen.com/en/press/messages/24826-fethullah-gulens-response-to-the-sep-11-terrorist-attack-on-us

[3] http://www.herkul.org/bamteli/mehdilik-iddialari-keramet-talepleri-ve-en-buyuk-paye/

[4] http://www.herkul.org/bamteli/bamteli-iman-muhabbet-ve-vazife-aski/

[5] (Görüntülü Vaazlar 1-Hisar 1, Kutsilerin Takvası, dk. 10:40-12:00). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkeUnDFtwvw

[6] Gülen is not using "me" during the sermon, but he humbly says "qitmir" when speaking about himself. Qitmir refers to the dog in the story of "seven sleepers" in the Qur'an. In the translation here, we used "me" instead not to cause confusion.

[7] http://www.herkul.org/bamteli/bamteli-gozunu-kapayan-yalniz-kendine-gece-yapar/ (Bamteli Video dated March 15, 2015)

[8] http://www.herkul.org/bamteli/ruya-kesif-ilham-degil-esas-olan-usuluddin/ (Bamteli Video dated May 23, 2011.

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