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

A major focus of the movement is the need to create bridges between the Muslim world and the West, between the poor and the wealthy by embracing and practicing certain values, spiritual and material, such as love, tolerance, human rights, democracy, synthesizing science and religion etc.

Gülen’s teachings, which the movement put into practice, are based on the belief that as we close the gap between the East and West, the poor and wealthy, the educated and less educated, etc. we will have a peaceful and prosperous world where everybody respects and accepts each other as they are.

Below are some of the values and views, in his words, Fethullah Gülen has advocated throughout his life, in all platforms. As you explore this site, you will find out more about the values and how they are put into practice by the participants of the movement.

Love

If we do not plant the seeds of love in the hearts of young people, whom we try to revive through science, knowledge, and modern culture, they will never attain perfection and free themselves completely from their carnal desires…

Even if we have different feelings and thoughts, we are all people of this society. Even though we may not have common grounds on some matters, we all live in this world and we are passengers on the same ship. In this respect, there are many common points that can be discussed and shared with people from every segment of society.

Tolerance

Be so tolerant that your heart becomes wide like the ocean. Become inspired with faith and love for others. Offer a hand to those in trouble, and be concerned about everyone. Applaud the good for their goodness, appreciate those who have believing hearts, and be kind to believers.

Remember that you travel the best road and follow an Exalted Guide, upon him be peace. Be mindful that you have his guidance through the most perfect and expressive revelation. Be fair-minded and balanced in your judgment, for many people do not enjoy these blessings.

Return good for evil, and disregard discourteous treatment. An individual’s character is reflected in his or her behavior. Choose tolerance, and be magnanimous toward the ill-mannered.

The most distinctive feature of a soul overflowing with faith is to love all types of love that are expressed in deeds, and to feel enmity for all deeds in which enmity is expressed. To hate everything is a sign of insanity or of infatuation with Satan…

Take note of and be attentive to any behavior that causes you to love others. Then remind yourself that behaving in the same way will cause them to love you. Always behave decently, and be alert…

Humanity

When interacting with others always regard whatever pleases and displeases you as the measure. Desire for others what your own ego desires and do not forget that whatever conduct displeases you will displease others. If you do this you will be safe not only from misconduct and bad behavior but also from hurting others…

There is no limit to doing good to others. Those who have dedicated themselves to the good of humanity can be so altruistic that they will even sacrifice their lives for others. However such altruism is a great virtue only if it originates in sincerity and purity of intention and if it does not define the “others” by racial preferences…

Those who regard even the greatest good they have done for others as insignificant while greatly appreciating even the least favor done to themselves are perfected ones who have acquired the Divine standards of behavior and found peace in their conscience. Such individuals never remind others of the good they have done for them and never complain when others appear to be indifferent to them.

Integrity

Those who want to reform the world must first reform themselves. If they want to lead others to a better world they must purify their inner worlds of hatred rancor and jealousy and adorn their outer worlds with virtue. The words of those who cannot control and discipline themselves and who have not refined their feelings may seem attractive and insightful at first. However, even if they somehow manage to inspire others which they sometimes do the sentiments they arouse will soon wither.

If we cannot accept the criticism of those we love and who love us, we may lose our friends and remain unaware of our defects. Do not remember the promises that others have failed to keep; instead, remember your own promises that you did not fulfill. Do not blame others because they are not doing good to you; instead, remember the chances you missed of doing good to someone else.

Education

Right decisions depend on having a sound mind and being capable of sound thought. Science and knowledge illuminate and develop the mind. For this reason, a mind deprived of science and knowledge cannot reach right decisions, is always exposed to deception, and is subject to being misled.

We are only truly human if we learn, teach, and inspire others. It is difficult to regard those who are ignorant and without desire to learn as truly human. It is also questionable whether learned people who do not renew and reform themselves in order to set an example for others are truly human. Status and merit acquired through knowledge and science are higher and more lasting than those obtained through other means.

Given the great importance of learning and teaching, we must determine what is to be learned and taught, and when and how to do so. Although knowledge is a value in itself, the purpose of learning is to make knowledge a guide in life and illuminate the road to human betterment. Thus, any knowledge not appropriated for the self is a burden to the learner, and a science that does not direct one toward sublime goals is a deception.

Bringing Up the Young

Educators who have not been apprenticed to a master and have not received a sound education are like blind people trying to light the way of others with lanterns.

A child’s mischief and impudence arises from the atmosphere in which he or she has been raised. A dysfunctional family life increasingly is reflected upon the spirit of the child, and therefore upon the society.

In schools, good manners should be considered just as important as other subjects. If they are not, how can children grow up with sound characters? Education is different from teaching. Most people can be teachers, but the number of educators is severely limited…

Our humanity is directly proportional to the purity of our emotions. Although those who are full of bad feelings and whose souls are influenced by egoism look like human beings, whether they really are human is doubtful.

Almost everyone can train their bodies, but few people can educate their minds and feelings. The former training produces strong bodies, while the latter produces spiritual people.

Freedom

True freedom is civilized freedom. It wears the diamond chain of religion and morals, and the golden collar of sound thinking.

True freedom is the freedom of the human mind from all shackles that hinder it from making material and spiritual progress, as long as we do not fall into indifference and heedlessness.

Freedom allows people to do whatever they want, provided that they do not harm others and that they remain wholly devoted to the truth…

True freedom, the freedom of moral responsibility, shows that one is human, for it motivates and enlivens the conscience and removes impediments to the spirit.

Efforts to suppress ideas via pressure or brute force have never been truly successful. History shows that no idea was ever removed by suppressing it. Many great empires and states were destroyed, but an idea or thought whose essence is sound continues to survive.

Democracy

Democracy has developed over time. Just as it has gone through many different stages in the past, it will continue to evolve and improve in the future. Along the way, it will be shaped into a more humane and just system, one based on righteousness and reality.

If human beings are considered as a whole, without disregarding the spiritual dimension of their existence and their spiritual needs, and without forgetting that human life is not limited to this mortal life and that all people have a great craving for eternity, democracy could reach the peak of perfection and bring even more happiness to humanity. Islamic principles of equality, tolerance, and justice can help it do just this…

Democracy is undergoing a process of development. It’s a process of no return that must develop and mature. I don’t know how true Darwin’s theory of evolution is, but we undoubtedly experience an evolution of thought in our spirit.

As a result, democracy will one day attain a very high level. But we have to wait for time’s interpretation.

Art

Art is the spirit of progress and one of the most important means of developing emotions. Those who cannot make use of this means are unfortunate indeed, and live a numbed, diminished life…

It is art, which manifests and defines the power and deepest potentials of the human psyche and soul. It is by means of art that the most profound emotions and thoughts, the most striking observations and discoveries, and the most heart-felt desires have been preserved as if recorded on a tape and gained eternity…

Art makes iron more valuable than gold and copper more valuable than bronze. Thanks to art, the most worthless metals become more valuable than gold, silver, and diamonds.

Environment and Nature

Nature is, in its particulars and as a whole, an exhibition of Divine miracles. However, rather than call it an exhibition, we prefer to call it a ‘book’. This ‘book’ or exhibition was once much more dazzling; like a magnificent vessel sailing in the ocean of love and ecstasy or a chandelier with one thousand and one light, it was beautiful beyond imagination.

What a pity it is that this magnificent book, this charming exhibition, which the infinitely Merciful One has created and presented to man to observe and study and to be exhilarated by, is no longer given any more care than is given to a heap of junk or rubbish. Worse than that, it is more and more becoming a wasteland and like a dunghill.

Like everything else entrusted to us, we have deplorably treated this ‘book’, this magnificent exhibition, which is an embodiment of Divine grace and mercy.

How deplorably and awkwardly we have treated plains and residential places, which we have changed into deserts and heaps of ruin. How deplorably and gracelessly we have treated seas and rivers, which we have polluted.

Unless we improve this world, whose order we have destroyed and which we have polluted, and restore it to its essential beauty and magnificence, it will inevitably collapse on us in heaps of wreckage.

Top