The Turkish "Great Teacher" Fethullah Gulen and His Amazing Social Reforms

Hence, there is no doubt that a person who is armored with love needs no other weapon. Indeed, love is strong enough to stop a bullet or even a cannon ball.

 ──Fethullah Gülen, Love Towards Humankind (p. 6)

We all live in this world and we are passengers on the same ship. In this respect, there are many common points that can be discussed and shared with people from every segment of society.

            ──Fethullah Gülen, Understanding Fethullah Gülen (p. 22) 

M. Fethullah Gülen was born in 1941 in Korucuk near Erzurum, in Turkey. He is a devout Muslim and Sufi teacher. He is also an important contemporary thinker, educator and poet.


A letter to Fethullah Gulen from a Catholic Priest

Priests in Istanbul, Turkey.

In Niğde, we visited the schools of the Sungurbey Education Foundation, established by by a private businessman-donor, Celal Afşar, whom we were privileged to have as our host.

He is also a close colleague of Fethullah Gülen and good friend of Fr. Alexei Smith. Mr. Afşar asked Fr. Alexei to write a letter to Mr. Gülen describing our group and the nature of our trip, which Mr. Afşar will deliver personally to him when he visits him next week in the USA.  Here are excerpts from the letter:

Can the Gulen Movement Considered Sect/Cult?

gulen movement
Gulen Movement cannot be considered a cult.
No, the Gulen Movement does not fit any of the criteria which are used to identify sects or cults. The Gulen Movement participants have never attempted to form a distinct unit within Islam. It is not a distinct unit within the broader Muslim community by virtue of certain refinements or distinctions of belief or practice. It is not a small faction or dissenting clique aggregated around a common interest, peculiar beliefs or unattainable dreams or utopia. 

The Gulen Movement is already a well-established and transnationally recognized diffused network of people. It has no formal leadership, sheikhs or hierarchy. There is no ritual or membership rite or ceremony to be a member, participant or a sympathizer for the Movement. Participants do not undergo any procedures, ceremonies or have to pass any initiation in order to be affiliated or to take part in activities.


In wider Turkish society, Gulen Movement participants are not viewed as and do not act as any kind of closed, special group. Movement participants, with their words, projects and actions, have proved that they do not have any strongly held views or ideology that are regarded as extreme by the majority in Turkey and abroad. The public, the media and the courts do not regard them as heretical or as deviant in any way. Movement participants have not been accused of practicing anything different from the generally accepted religious tradition.

The participants have always been in close connection with the society in which they live in. Their relations with the rest of the society is always positive and constructive.  


Dr. Greg Barton's Remarks about Gulen Movement

"If we want to understand the business dynamics of the Gulen Movement enterprises, so called the Hizmet enterprises, we can look at the model of the Nobel Prize winner Muhammed Yunus.


Fethullah Gulen Conferences Website

There have been several conferences about Fethullah Gulen on national and international level in the last decade. A number of distinguished and prominent scholars and academics wrote articles and essays about Fethullah Gulen and Gulen Movement. There is a specifically designed website to this end: Fethullah Gulen Conference. It is a simple but effective website where you can find almost all scholarly articles about Fethullah Gulen.


Teaching Peace in Schools

This week New York City hosts the United Nations General Assembly, the Clinton Global Initiative and the Education Nation conference. These massive events focus on international diplomacy and peace, societal problem-solving and improving classroom instruction. However, just a few blocks away from these grand assemblies, a smaller group met for the first time to tackle all these issues with a single, bold strategy.

Monday, an international group of educators and convened for the inaugural "Peacebuilding Through Education" summit sponsored by Fountain Magazine, the Peace Islands Institute and co-sponsored by regional universities as well as the Alliance for Shared Values, where I serve as president. The goal of the summit was to show how lessons of tolerance, understanding and intercultural respect can be woven into classroom curriculum or extracurricular activities. Throughout the day, speakers offered insights and strategies for building character in the classroom and creating a safe learning environment to incubate future leaders of more peaceful communities.

The first panel, featuring Ministers of Education from both the Philippines and Tanzania, focused on government's involvement in creating an environment for peace education. Later, I was fortunate to join a panel with fellow academics from Ireland and South Africa to discuss strategies for mobilizing civil society to achieve peace. Fellow academics from Ireland and South Africa spoke of peace education in an increasingly connected world. Another diverse panel including experts from UNICEF, Arigatou International and Fatih University in Turkey discussed the notion of peace as a shared ideal that can be reinforced through education.


Fethullah Gulen's Condemnation Message of 9/11

Below is an excerpt from a website about Fethullah Gulen in which Mr. Gulen's condemnation message about the unfortunate 9/11 attacks. You can also find out the authentic picture of Fethullah Gulen's message on "Washington Post" which was published ten days after 9/11.

... Fethullah Gulen was the first Muslim scholar who publicly denounced the 9/11 attacks, just a few days after these unspeakable acts. As far as we knew, his public condemnation message was published in the Washington Post. We searched the exact quote online -contrary to conventional media reporting, which is not famous with amplifying the tolerant voices, online resources have always been more diverse. Thus, we were sure that we’d be able to find the message in a few seconds, or just in a millisecond, as Google advertises, but to our surprise, nothing popped up! We looked for hours and could not find the exact quote of Fethullah Gulen’s condemnation message. There were many websites letting people know that a denouncement exists, but none could provide it to their readers. Some of the intellectuals in the room became curious about the statement. Could it be an urban legend that a prominent Muslim scholar had condemned the 9/11 attacks just a few days after the events and in Washington Post?


Fethullah Gulen Trial: The Gulen Legal Journey

Dr. James Harrington, the author of the book about Fethullah Gulen.

I found a website about Fethullah Gulen's legal journey. Based on Dr. James Harrington's book, the website provides legal documents as well as other materials that could prove useful about Fethullah Gulen's struggle with the ill-intentioned prosecutors. 


Russian Intellectuals Pen Essays on Fethullah Gulen

Dialog Eurasia praises Fethullah Gulen.

Taken from Fethullah Gulen ad Gulen Movement Videos website.

The people of Eurasia have now a better understanding of the teachings of Fethullah Gulen, who wants everyone to walk on the path of righteousness; the schools established through his initiatives teach friendship, peace and love.

Published in Russian and Turkish in Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, the journal DA (Dialogue Eurasia) became a printing body that promotes dialogue development between people and cultures. The same is repeated in the motto of the journal: “Dialogue begins with “DA” (means "yes", in Russian).


Response to Hatchet Job on Fethullah Gulen

When Fethullah Gulen published his article on Financial Times, I was expecting a response from the infamous Islamophobes or those who happen to be in close connection with them. My prediction came true with the latter. Stephen Schwartz, who always seems to attack the mainstream Muslims in the U.S., published a incendiary and biased article in response to that of Mr. Gulen. Mr. Schwartz was mostly busy with attacking Mr. Gulen than criticizing the content of Mr. Gulen's article. He even brought that fallacious Gulen Charter Schools concept to the table again. Anyway, a timely and nice response came from Dr. Scott Alexander.  

It is pretty ironic that Fethullah Gulen, a moderate Muslim, is defended by a Catholic, Dr. Alexander, and is attacked by a Muslim, Mr. Schwartz! You decide who is right. Here is Dr. Alexander's response:

I am puzzled by the fact that a man as seemingly intelligent and articulate as Mr. Schwartz appears to have deliberately misread the Op-Ed piece by Mr. Gülen. I say this because, in the very beginning of Mr. Schwartz’s critique, he clearly demonstrates that he has no intention of striving for even the least degree of objectivity and fairness in his analysis of Gülen’s remarks. In fact, I am saddened to say that what Mr. Schwartz attempts to offer as a trenchant critique of Gülen and the global Gönüllüler Hareketi (“Volunteers’ Movement”) amounts to little more than a hatchet job on a religious leader who has inspired thousands, perhaps millions, of men and women to a reawakening of their faith and a faith-based commitment to service.

Violence is not in the tradition of the Prophet

Fethullah Gulen studies in his room.

Fethullah Gulen penned an article for Financial Times. The article is simple and brilliant and it constitutes the proper answer for the Islamophobics.

Muslims pray each day: “O Lord! Keep us on the straight path.” It is a prayer to help us move away from the extremes and maintain balance in our lives. We must neither be hostage to our reactionary instincts, nor must we remain completely silent in the face of the systematic defamation of our values and beliefs. This balance has been upset by the violent response to the insults targeting the legacy of beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The violent response was wrong and strayed from the straight path.