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

Mar 11 ’12

Glocalization of the Gülen Education Model

Gülen Movement members believe with absolute certainty that in today’s world our global conflicts will not be solved through brute force or military might. Ultimately, it is only through persuasion, tolerance, and understanding brought about through dialogue that we might enjoy a peaceful coexistence in this world. As a basis for fruitful dialogue we must have an educated citizenry whose minds and hearts are open, and who have nurtured universal human values within themselves, including valuing diversity and all human beings. It is only then, that we can hope to achieve the ultimate goal of the Gülen Movement — for all human beings to live with each other in a peaceful coexistence while embracing their diversity. We must appreciate the long-range vision and time horizon of the Gülen Movement. In a world that has come to expect quick fixes for everything – even global conflicts, here we have a movement that is willing to take a multi-generational approach starting with our youth. We have much to learn about the hurdles to realizing this vision, and we can learn more as we study the process by which ideas get transmitted across a society as we see happening here with the Gülen-inspired schools in Indonesia.

We find that Gülen Movement members in Indonesia have been able to adapt the model with little alteration and have been able to share what could be called a 50-50 partnership with Indonesians in founding and running the schools. This successful adaptation could occur in part because, to some extent, Turkey and Indonesia are both considered moderate Islamic countries. Thus, to some extent their cultures and values overlap, although we do not want to minimize their differences, but at least they have a basis for understanding each other. Moreover, the legal requirements of Indonesian ownership and at least 50% Indonesian teachers forces a situation where from the beginning the schools are better able to adapt quickly to the specifics of Indonesian cultural and social norms – because the Indonesians are right there with them. These successful schools have arisen out of the partnership model, combined with the mostly wholesale application of the Gülen Educational Model, along with shared cultural values between Turkey and Indonesia.

Further research can help us better understand how the glocalization of the Gülen Education Model occurs in countries that are less similar to Turkey in terms of culture, religion, level of economic development, and type of governmental systems. As these schools are now in well over one hundred countries, it should be possible to continue this work on a comparative basis.

Note: This text is conclusion of the article “Glocalization of the Gülen Education Model: An Analysis of the Gülen-Inspired Schools in Indonesia” by Dr. Margaret A. Johnson. Click here to read the full article.


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