A Universal Islamic Phenomenon in Turkish Religious Practice: the Fethullah Gulen Case

Mar 11 ’12

From Gandhi to Gülen: The Habitus of Non-Agressive Action

New Social Movement theory regards all cultural movements as “expressive” and “confrontational” social movements. Instead, as proved in the Gandhian Chipko movement and the Gülen movement cases, cultural movements are more prone to combine strategic and expressive elements simultaneously when they are compared to political movements.

Both the Gülen movement’s understanding of hizmet and the Gandhi’s notion of satyagraha define collective action in a distinctive way: First, they are based on the assumption that truth and love have transforming power. This specific belief make movement activists focus on attributes rather than a physically objectified enemy. Second, the social movement success is not defined in terms of cost-benefit calculations; rather, the success is seen as cooperating with the opponent to meet a just end that the opponent is unwittingly obstructing. In this sense, the Gülen movement’s definition of a trio of enemies (i.e., ignorance, poverty, and disunity) is important to note. Third, bothhizmet and satyagraha see the means and the ends as inseparable in collective action. Therefore, use of violent, coercive, unjust means to eliminate the problems is rejected. In the final analysis, this paper maintains that the Gülen movement’s collective action that is based on notion of hizmet has distinguishing features, which makes it remarkably different from the passive resistance movements.

Use of non-violent methods of conflict resolution also contributes to the overall unity of a society. Research into social conflict has long indicated that violence between groups rigidifies boundaries between in- and out-groups. Non-violent conflict resolution, by its nature, promotes more permeable boundaries and a greater possibility of sustaining ties between groups. The success of the Chipko and Gülen movement is based partly on the ability of these movements to maintain loose networks among several sets of activists from a wide range of occupational and kinship groups. In societies with multiple cultures, leaders of disaffected groups frequently draw and strengthen factional identities as a way of garnering power. Non-violent methods, such as those described here, have the potential of bridging and/or minimizing some of these factions and diffusing emergent social cleavages.

Source: This text is conclusion of the article “From Gandhi to Gülen: The Habitus of Non-Agressive Action” by Mustafa Gurbuz & Bandana Purkayastha. Click here to read the full article.

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