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.
Religiously, the Gülen Movement both reflects the long tradition of Turkish Sufi brotherhoods, and Gülen’s own emphasis on societal change through education, humanitarian activism, and interfaith dialogue. Gülen never sympathized with, or adopted, the AKP’s more conservative form of political Islam.
[Erdogan] has called Hizmet a state within a state, which to me is a strange characterization. To me, that’s like saying that the Catholics are a state within a state in America, or the Jews, a state within a state in America. Those kinds of statements are derogatory, they’re pejoratives. Catholics have a right to seek influence in America; Jews have a right to seek influence in America, that’s how we operate here.
I’m saddened to hear that the Hizmet Movement here is being categorized as a terror group. To classify them as terrorists in any form is a great misrepresentation. And I consider it a privilege and an honor to be associated with them and to be part of the brotherhood. They’re a benefit to the Muslim community and humanity as a whole.
Hizmet movement is a social movement that cherishes each and every human being as a unique creation of God while striving to achieve three overarching goals: (a) advocating for education; (b) struggling for justice and equality and equity; (c) eliminating poverty.
Gülen: “Members of minority communities should be allowed to live according to their beliefs. If these sorts of legislations are made within the norms of international law and international agreements, Islam will have no objection to any of these. No one can ignore the universal values that the Qur’an and the Sunnah have presented with regard to the rights mentioned above.”