Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen – threat or benefactor?

May 14, 2008

Fatih College in Istanbul, run by Gülen followers, 16 April 2008/Osman OrsalPerhaps the most influential Islamic leader that most non-Muslims have never heard of is a Turkish preacher named Fethullah Gülen. Now living in the United States, he stands at the head of a broad movement that runs schools in Turkey and abroad as well as businesses and a publishing empire. His group also actively conducts dialogue with other religions. His supporters praise him as an important modern and moderate Muslim thinker, but some people in Turkey suspect he is trying to infiltrate the secular state there.

Alexandra Hudson, an Amsterdam staffer who was recently on secondment to Istanbul, has written a feature about the Gülen movement — you can read it here.

Gülen has an extensive website (in English and other languages) with his writings, videos and articles from conferences about his movement. The New York Times has also done an article on his movement recently, about its work running schools in Pakistan.

28 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

He dedicates his entire life for peace in Turkey and abroad among everybody without distinction and classification of people. We appreciate and support his ideas.
Lets We live our limited time in this world in peace and happiness, respect to others and accept them as they are and make this world small heaven for everybody.

Posted by murat | Report as abusive

The Turks, who are sceptical about Fethullah Gulen’s activities in Turkey, should try to understand his ideas and evaluate his actions after they free themselves from phobias that are rooted in political schemes. they also should try to look at Turkey from abroad because only in that way they can judge him universally.
It’s strange that those who fear Fethullah Gulen and his followers do not believe him when he says he believes strongly in secularism and democrasy. He proves this with the schools around the world. All he and his followers want to say is we can live in a world where everyone, whether Muslim or Christian or Jewish or atheist, lives in peace and hand-in-hand. If only we listen and understand each other…

Posted by fatihesenboga | Report as abusive

I believe Fethullah Gülen is a good man who is interested in peace and democracy. But if he is so interested in Turkey, why is he living in America? If he trues to interfere with the secular nature of Turkey’s government he should be dealt with accordingly.

He is a big lier.
Why people believes him?
Who is he?
?s he a prophet?
He is nobody!He uses people by thier innocent religious beliefs.
Pepople believes him becouse of huge money!
He has a greate organisation based on money!
He tried to built an organisation as Opis deu which is in ?taly!

His idea= religion-money-politica

so simple!!!

Posted by Egemen Er | Report as abusive

I think that he is the one express anatolian islamic beliefs to the humanity by peace and education in this era. The world needs him ideas.

Posted by oguz | Report as abusive

First of all, people don’t believe him, or better said they are not following him as a prophet, they are believing in islam and prophet muhammed(pbuh), they believe in Fethullah Gulen’s guidance in understanding the Islam, which is the religion of dialogue and peace. And no one is following him for money because no one is getting money because they are the members of this movement, actually most of the teachers who are graduated from the best universities of the world and who could get a job which is paying thousands of dollars per month are accepting to get paid as little as 4-500 hunderds of dollars per month some of them are getting none. If you are suspicious about the movement, instead of accusing with things which are not true why don’t you try to spend a little bit time with them and see with your own eyes. I am sure all your bad opinions will change and you will believe that they believe in what they are doing which is trying to open muslims and non muslims eyes and make them accept each other the way they are. instead of having a war between each other we can live a peacefull life together…

Posted by Halil Yildirim | Report as abusive

This ages are very interesting.Because US can war against islamic world,also it can manage millions of muslims in same time.How can US do this?Because They have very `intelligent policies` which are `peace and dialogue`.Why they don`t use these `dialogue and peace` for islamic world?Because They want to create an islam which is `half islam` which is light islam.
Islam is a religion which already is way of peace and dialogue.Hey My friend who interested in islam or Muslim,please look for real islam.
God bless you.

Posted by neW | Report as abusive

I can not understand why he lives in USA and not in another Muslim country if he is really trying provide guidance to Muslim people. Why would a dervish seek comfort; instead of distress in the path to Allah?

Posted by Erhan | Report as abusive

Fethullah Gulen is realy important and necessary one for Future’s world.(The things he concentrates makes him important this much) This movement are doing perfect things and so soon the world will be a really lovely place insaallah.
Question: How does this movement develope or reach a big power like this???
Answer: The people in this movement are so self sacrifising and of course Allah helped them-will help insaallah.

Posted by Osmantan | Report as abusive

A few websites to get more info – Gulen Movement in action. For facts about Fethullah Gulen visit this Biography page in Gulen Institute

NY Times features Gulen. This was in the front page.
Interesting!

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/04/world/ asia/04islam.html

Everybody writes about Gulen, whether they know or they don’t. Fethullah Gulen offers a modern and also traditional interpretation of Islam. It is true that He is regarded as a Sufi, however, he does not accepts it (See article to understand why 1,2,3,4).
As an Imam (preacher) in western Turkey in 1960s he encouraged people to open schools which are teaching modern sciences. People around him (later called as Gulen Movement) opened close to a thousand schools in more than 90 countries (to learn about how the movement see the articles 5,6,7).
Do not read articles by anybody, check out scholars who realy study the movement. Lately, his teachings and the activities of the Gulen Movement are studied by academics and Gulen conferences are organized in many western universities.There is even an institute by the name of Gulen Institute at the University of Houston Social Work Department.
Several leading news papers and magazines ran cover page stories about Gulen and the Gulen Movement. For instance, New York Times covered the story of Gulen Schools in Pakistan. The Economist analyzed the Gulen movement under global Muslim networks. The Guardian also ran stories of Gulen and Gulen Movement. According to Guardian:

“Gülen, the author of more than 60 books, won a landslide triumph after the survey – which is organised by the British magazine, Prospect, and Foreign Policy, a US publication – attracted more than 500,000 votes.”

According to Foreign Policy poll Gulen was selected as the top intellectual of the world in 2008.
In addition to his encouragements in education, Gulen is also known for his promote of dialogue, especially interfaith dialogue. Gulen encourages Muslims to engage in dialogue by using Islamic sources(see articles 8,9,10).

Gulen condemns terror especially terrorist activities committed in the name of Islam, and teaches that terrorism has no place in Islam. He was the first Muslim scholar who condemned 9/11 attacks in public. On 1/12 he published articles both in New York Times and Washington Post and clearly stated that a real Muslim cannot be a terrorist (see articles 11,12,13,14).

Two main groups criticize Gulen and the activities of the Gulen Movement: radical religious fanatics (both Muslim, and Christian), and ultra secular interest groups both in Turkey and abroad. There are many hate blogs and websites published by radical religious fanatics in Turkish and English. Ultra secular interests groups are also (especially in Turkey) feel that their interests are threatened by the activities of the Gulen Movement (see articles 15,16,17,18).

1- A Modern, Mystic Ramadan by Washington Post
2-Gülen and Sufism (M. Gokcek)
3-Gülen’s Interpretation of Sufism (D. Koc)
4-Present and Potential Impact of the Spiritual Tradition of Islam on Contemporary Muslims: From Ghazali to Gülen (Dr. Y. A. Aslandogan)
5-An examination of Fethullah Gülen’s philosophy of education and the educational activities of the movement (R. Woodhall)
6-Pedagogical Model of Gulen and Modern Theories of Learning (Dr. Y. A. Aslandogan)
7-Phnom Penh’s Fethullah Gülen School as an Alternative to Prevalent Forms of Education for Cambodia’s Muslim Minority (Dr. P. Bruckmayr)
8-Advocate of Dialogue: Fethullah GulenAdvocate of Dialogue: Fethullah Gulen 9-Gülen and Al-Ghazzali on Tolerance (J. B. Schlubach)
10-“Gülen’s Approach to Dialogue and Peace: Its Theoretical Background and Some Practical Perspectives”, ( G.Celik, P. Valkenberg)
11- Islam and Terror: From the Perspective of Fethullah GÜLEN (Dr. I. Albayrak)
12-Terrorism in Britain and the Choice for Policy Makers: Gülen’s Ideas (Dr. A. Hussain)
13-Civilian Response to Ethno-Religious Terrorism: Gulen Movement ( M. Kalyoncu)
14- Fethullah Gülen and His Global Contribution to Peace Building (Dr. Z. Saritoprak)
15-Defamation as a Smoke Screen (Dr. A.Y. Aslandogan)
16- Defending religious diversity and tolerance in America today: Lessons from Fethullah Gülen (Dr. L. Ashton)
17- Secularism in America and Turkey and Fethullah Gulen’s Response (Dr. T.Boyd)
18-Fethullah Gülen: Kemalist and Islamic Republicanism and the Turkish Democratic Future ( Dr.L. Cantori)

Posted by Abdulhamid | Report as abusive

This helps to understand

Foreign Policy rankings and Fethullah Gülen

http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/detay lar.do?load=detay&link=145788

Posted by James | Report as abusive

Try this out in case u want to learn on this guy.

A modern Ottoman http://www.prospectmagazine.co.u k/2008/07/amodernottoman/

Posted by rachel | Report as abusive

NYTImes cover this man objectively.

Turkish Schools Offer Pakistan a Gentler Vision of Islam http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/04/world  /asia/04islam.html

Posted by fawaz | Report as abusive

Gulen Insitute About Gulen
http://www.guleninstitute.org/index.php/ Biography.html

Great mission for us. we need this guy.

Posted by chen weng | Report as abusive

Forbes publishes a nice piece

Gulen Inspires Muslims Worldwide

http://www.forbes.com/2008/01/18/turkey- islam-gulen-cx_0121oxford.html

Posted by fehmikoru | Report as abusive

NY Times publishes a new peice on him. Just read it.

TURKEY: Fethullah Gulen profile

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/18/world/ europe/18iht-19oxan-Turkishpreacherprofi le.9324128.html

Posted by jim | Report as abusive

Read the conference papers. I only care about academia and what they say.

Fethullah Gülen: A vision of transcendent education (C. Nelson) http://fethullahgulenconference. org/houston/read.php?p=fethullah-gulen-v ision-transcendent-education

Posted by nelson dumas | Report as abusive

UK has respect for this man. We had a wonderful conference on him.

Phnom Penh’s Fethullah Gülen School as an Alternative to Prevalent Forms of Education for Cambodia’s Muslim Minority Dr Philipp Bruckmayr

http://gulenconference.org.uk/userfiles/ file/Proceedings/Prcd%20-%20Bruckmayr,%2 0P.pdf

Posted by adam chaes | Report as abusive

Check this article from a great academia

“Funding Gülen-inspired Good Works: Demonstrating and Generating Commitment to the Movement
Dr Helen Rose Ebaugh & Mr Dogan Koc”

http://gulenconference.org.uk/userfiles  /file/Proceedings/Prcd%20-%20Ebaugh%20a nd%20Koc.pdf

Posted by elena tquen | Report as abusive

As an OKI I liked this man and look at our conferenece at
Gülen’s Interpretation of Sufism (D. Koc)

http://fethullahgulenconference.org/okl ahoma/read.php?p=gulens-interpretation-o f-sufism

Posted by oklahomanred | Report as abusive

I found this website about him, check out:

http://www.fethullahgulenforum.org/

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive

he is the most influential Turkish scholar nowadays. He has inspired many idealistic teachers to go al aorund the world as well as encouraged businessmen to make donations so that the schools can be established. Here is a very helpful web-site about him. Take a look at!

http://www.forbes.com/2008/01/18/turkey- islam-gulen-cx_0121oxford.html

Gulen Twits:
http://twitter.com/mfgulen

A chance for an islamic scholar :)

Posted by descartes | Report as abusive

I think, people who claims that Mr. Gulen is a threat have never visited one of the Gulen inspired school, have never met someone from the movement, have never read an article that is written by Gulen ( not one of those that has references from newspapers! such as Fethullah Gulen’s Grand Ambition ). In fact, there are quite number of intellectuals who support Gulen Movement. I would like to recommend following sites for accurate information:
Fethullah Gulen and the Gulen Movement

Posted by bukadar | Report as abusive

Mr. Gulen is the honorary president of the Rumi Forum, an interfaith dialogue community in Washington DC.

Posted by bukadar | Report as abusive

See how some people are trying to defame Fethullah Gulen by simply lying and changing the truth.

“Fethullah Gülen’s Grand Ambition”: A Biased, Selective, Misleading, Misrepresentative and Miscalculated Article

http://www.fethullahgulenforum.org/artic les/10/fethullah-gulen-s-grand-ambition- biased-selective-misleading-misrepresent ative-miscalculated-article

Posted by Abdulhamid | Report as abusive