Taking into account their contrasting roots and development in broader perspective, contending that Gulen and Erdogan were once close allies is not reasonable and accurate. Particularly, using this clause to justify the organized cruelty and tragedy in Turkey is completely unfair. Their ideology and viewpoints generally contradict. Hostility of and distrust by the National Outlook against Gulenists persists for decades.
For those who know Mr. Gülen personally or have had contact with the open-hearted and idealistic members of the Hizmet movement, claims of subversive “terrorism,” (in Erdoğan’s words) seem incongruous. I have known Mr. Gülen for over 20 years and find the retired, soft-spoken Qur’an-teacher to be preaching and living a particularly attractive interpretation of Islamic faith.
Gülen: God says “We have honored the children of Adam” (Quran, 17:70), all humanity is honored. The Qur’an describes taking the life of even one innocent person as a crime against all humanity (Quran, 5:32). Even in a legitimate defensive war, the Prophet’s teachings specifically prohibit violence against any noncombatants, especially women, children and clergy. The belief that one can enter paradise by killing others is a delusion.
The questions such as “What does the Hizmet movement want from the state?” “Why has Gülen been determinedly encouraging his sympathizers to accept state jobs?” and “Why are there several media outlets owned by Hizmet-inspired people?” cannot be answered convincingly without referring to modern Turkish political history.
The Turkish population already is strongly polarized on the AKP regime. A Turkey under a dictatorial regime, providing haven to violent radicals and pushing its Kurdish citizens into desperation, would be a nightmare for Middle East security. I probably will not live to see Turkey become an exemplary democracy, but I pray that the downward authoritarian drift can be stopped before it is too late.
The world into which Gülen was born in 1941 was one where, in his country of birth, the Ottoman reality with a staunchly proclaimed declaration of complete religious freedom had been succeeded by a secular republic in which religion would play absolutely no role within the administration of the state and religious practice was suppressed in the public sphere.
Why is the president of a country of 75 million so obsessed with pursuing a retired preacher who has been living in the U.S. since 1999? There are three main reasons for Erdogan’s obsession with Gulen: First, a desire to cover up massive and systemic corruption; second, the need for control over civic leaders and third, his need for a scapegoat to blame the country’s troubles and justify his authoritarian drive.
Basically the lesser jihad is to perform established religious duties while the greater one is to do them in a sincere and conscious manner. It is difficult to refrain (which is called al-jihad al-akbar) from immoral human qualities such as hate, enmity, jealousy, egoism, arrogance and so on, which are the deadly enemies in our spiritual development.
Gülen is well aware that generally speaking Islamism is a reactive and reactionary ideology that is formed by contemporary human and social needs rather than what actually religion dictates. Put differently, he strongly refutes the claim of the Islamists that what they advocate is indeed the true, authentic, original and pure Islam.
Gülen stresses that wherever a Muslim is, even outside a Muslim polity; he or she has to obey the law of the land, to respect others’ rights and to be just. He does not see the world not in terms of Muslims versus others. He also does not think that trying to revive the Caliphate is feasible.