Every social or spiritual group may have both institutional and non-institutional aspects. In relations between the individuals who have an institutional role and those who do not, the group must comply with the aforementioned principles of legal compliance, ethical legitimacy, transparency, and accountability.
What Hizmet also illustrates is the resilience of a truly paramodern spiritual movement. Despite sustained attacks over a number of decades the movement still exists. The Turkish government may be successful in closing down visible symbols of Hizmet like schools and media outlines, but as previous governments found with Nursi, destroying an idea and mindset is not so easy.
While it is an Islamic movement at its root, today the movement has become a strong network, able to successfully combine tradition and modernity in an authentic way, and embrace social life as whole. It is believed Gulen, as a visionary religious leader, opened doors for Turkish people in the modern world. And during last three decades he has become much more than a religious leader for many Turkish people who are inspired by Gulen’s thoughts.
The Gülen movement, as a moderate, liberal Islamic civil society group, has tried to prevent the radical Islamist Erdogan from taking Turkey to a political Islamist hell. However, despite all these efforts that led it to pay a very heavy price, the movement could not stop the country from becoming a complete hell due to the unconscious support given by the masses.
Gülen resembles earlier spiritual teachers in that he evaluates the human as a whole; he is concerned with human’s not only spiritual but also material well-being. This holds true not only on a personal, but also societal level. Gülen sets a spiritual map that begins with faith, leavens with knowledge and love of God, preserves its right state with enthusiasm and loyalty, and attains consistency with delights of the spirit.
Gulen proposes to grant Jerusalem a supranational and supra-religious status including visa-free access for the followers of all religions and to develop a unique administration for the city whereby it would be governed by a committee under the United Nations comprising the representatives of three Abrahamic religions.
Since July 15 attempted coup, women have been subjected to an uptick of a variety of intimidation strategies, including rape, the threat of rape, harassment, and other forms of violence—not only by Erdoǧan’s AKP-led (Justice and Development) government, but also by civilians emboldened by the new climate in which macho, hyper-masculinity and misogyny have become widespread.
Gülen was concerned with the state of Turkish youth, which he considered to be losing its way and its faith under the secular republic. However, he was not attracted to the growing calls for the establishment of conservative Sharia states around the Muslim world. Erdoğan has lost favour across the West because of the increasingly totalitarian policies of his regime. In such a climate, the Gülen movement will win the sympathy vote outside Turkey.
The most recent persecutions have destroyed livelihoods and lives. Our collective voices should oppose and resist the authoritarian actions of the Turkish government. We must organize to protect the innocent and to shelter them from ongoing harm, insofar as possible.
When looking at the evidence, it’s clear the Gülen movement is the furthest thing from a cult. It is a mainstream Islamic movement, its practices rooted deeply in the Qur’an and the Sunnah, but also confident to engage with members of other rich religious and intellectual traditions of many other cultures. Whereas cults generally disengage from wider society, the Gülen movement has gone out of its way to engage with the world through its schools, dialogue efforts, and businesses.