Is the Gulen Movement a Moderate Group or a Cult?

Is the Gulen Movement a Moderate Group or a Cult?

Graham E. Fuller

The Gulen Movement Is Not a Cult — It’s One of the Most Encouraging Faces of Islam Today.

Gulen Movement, aka Hizmet, is hardly without its faults. Fethullah Gulen is an old-school figure, 75 years old, reclusive and often not in touch with daily aspects of the organization. Hizmet has not been a transparent organization — hence it’s viewed as “shadowy.” But in past decades, when membership in Hizmet (or any Islamic movement in Turkey) constituted grounds for possible prosecution, its members kept a low profile, often hiding their affiliation.

That changed after Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (known as the AKP) came to power in 2002. Many members of Hizmet then became free to seek positions in government (if qualified). In particular, they sought jobs in the police and judiciary, to a large measure to ensure that police powers would never be wielded against them (or the AKP) again, as in the past. The tide has now turned, and the full powers of the Erdogan-controlled police are being used against Hizmet members. Sadly, the police have regularly been a political football in Turkish politics over the years.

But in the end, this is not just politics. We are talking about a critical issue: what kind of movements will represent Islam’s future? ISIS? Al Qaeda? The Muslim Brotherhood? As Islamic movements go, I would rank Hizmet high on the list of rational, moderate, socially constructive and open-minded organizations. It is not a cult; it sits squarely in mainstream modernizing Islam.

Source: Excerpt from G. Fuller’s article published in Huffington Post, July 22, 2016

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