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Gülen discounts neither past nor modernity, concludes conference

Today's Zaman. Basri Dogan, October 13, 2010

A conference titled “Mapping the Gülen Movement,” which took place in Amsterdam on Thursday, witnessed a detailed examination by academics and experts of various aspects of the Gülen movement.

Organized by the Dialoog Academie in the Netherlands, the international “Mapping the Gülen Movement” conference was held at the famous Felix Meritix Congress Center in Amsterdam. The conference was attended by many social scientists and academics from various universities, with one of the speakers well-known Turkish professor Doğu Ergil, who noted in his presentation that the Gülen Movement was a civil movement that called for maximum participation and support from its members. “Just as he has never discounted the past, Fethullah Gülen has also never been someone to discount or exclude modernity itself. Unlike the politicization of Islam, or political Islam, the Gülen movement has always embraced a view that does not shut out Western society and that does not clash with modernity,” he said. Touching on Turkey’s particular situation, Ergil also noted that the Gülen movement had never been at odds with the various elected governments of Turkey and that it helped contribute to finding solutions to long-term national problems by casting wide social nets and using peaceful methods to generate answers. Ergil explained: “This method, which begins by initiating change within itself first then aiming to spread this change to society, is, unlike the Kemalist method that aims for a ‘top-down’ sort of revolution, a movement that begins to develop within society itself. In harmony with social ethics, the law, social contracts and universal law, this movement is involved in some very important work.”

Professor Thomas Michel of Georgetown University touched on the religious aspects of the Gülen movement, noting in particular Gülen’s propensity for references to Mevlana and the influence Sufism has had on him, with the importance placed on divine service and sincerity. Noting that it is not the bigness or smallness of any particular work that is important but rather the sincerity with which a person sets out to do that bit of work, Michel went on, “If good works are the body, their spirit is the sincerity with which they are approached.” With this, Michel connected the success of the Gülen movement to the sincerity backing the movement and its members. He underscored the vital aspect played by sincerity in all acts, regardless of size, and noted that once sincerity was present, the act itself gained value and importance. Also pointing to the importance of the act of service within this large movement of volunteers, Michel noted: “A teacher teaching physics in Kyrgyzstan and a businessman involved with charity in İzmir are both worshipping in fact.

Fethullah Gülen keeps the concept of worship quite wide. He notes that serving the people is serving the greater good, and he connects self-rescue to the rescue of others.”
‘I was curious, so I researched it’

Professor Helen Rose Ebaugh from the University of Houston noted for her part that when she first found out about the Gülen movement, she was curious about where the “water for this windmill was coming from.” She explained that she decided to research it herself, going on: “I went to İstanbul, Bursa and Mudunya, and I looked into the flow of money. I stayed as a guest at the homes of some businessmen in İstanbul. In Islam, the left hand is not supposed to know what the right hand has given. But what I really wanted to learn was who was giving what exactly. After our pleasant teatime chat, I asked my question, and numbers started to be explained to me. Everyone noted that they were giving away 10 percent of their earnings.

Just think about this network and strength. These are believable people. But in Turkey, I have never seen the state give over monetary support to all this. As for Azerbaijan, the state gives over some buildings and plots of land for schools.”


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http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/news-223853-100-gulen-discounts-neither-past-nor-modernity-concludes-conference.html





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