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Fethullah Gulen and the Gulen Movement in 100 Questions

by Dogu Ergil

Fethullah Gulen and the Gulen Movement in 100 Questions

: Jan 1, 2012 • 345 Pages • 15 x 22,5 • ISBN 9781935529150
: 9781935529150
: Backlist, Fethullah Gulen,
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Who is Fethullah Gulen? What is Gulen's world view and what are his fundamental ideas about society and the state? How does Gulen view history and what does he consider the most important events? What are the basic principles of the Gulen Movement? These questions and more are posed and answered in detail in this book.

Dogu Ergil served as a professor of Political Sociology at Ankara University for long years; he is currently teaching at the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Fatih University in Istanbul. Ergil has worked with various NGOs on developing more effective leadership, conflict management, and creative problem solving. He has won awards for his work in international organizations promoting peace and democracy.
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Introduction for the English Translationvii
Who is Fethullah Gülen?1
What is Gülen’s education, both official and unofficial?3
What are the primary teachings—religious, historical, political,
and social—which have greatly impacted Gülen’s worldview?5
What is Gülen’s understanding of history? Where does he place
himself in the flow of time?6
Who has influenced him the most in history?7
What changes took place regarding his world view and at what stages?
Namely, what are the mental and philosophical stages in his thinking
from the first days of his preaching until he became an opinion
leader and held the influence that he holds today?9
It is often noted that Gülen was influenced by Bediüzzaman Said Nursi
and the Nur Movement. To what extent has Gülen accepted the
teachings and social projects of Nursi? Can we talk about continuity
or are there points where he differs from Nursi?13
Is the Gülen Movement a continuation of any other previous movement?15
What are the basic principles of the Gülen Movement?18
While today there are many Muslim thinkers and practitioners in the
name of Islam, what is it in Gülen’s teachings that seem to be so
attractive to his followers?21
The ethical considerations of Gülen and his movement are made
up of what components?24
Does Gülen see himself as simply the representative of an Islamic
teaching, or is he the carrier of a philosophy centered on the “human,”
which is a larger mission that also includes the former?35
Compared to the Arab interpretation of Islam, does Gülen offer
a Turkish interpretation of Islam?38
What are the role and the function of Sufism in the teachings of Gülen?
Since this approach opposes fanatical traditionalism, the label which
religion is immediately imprisoned with under authoritarian regimes,
does it carry the seeds of democracy?46
Can the Gülen Movement be characterized as a Sufi order? Is it possible
to call it a Sufi order considering the teachings regarding the spiritual
realm and practices of daily life?49
In today’s world, fanaticism is becoming widespread and is overshadowing
Islam. Is this an interreligious, intercultural matter or something originating
from the Islamic world? If it is the latter, how can it be overcome?52
The early followers of Gülen sought a lifestyle that centered around
community and religious values. Solidarity and mutual support were
very important to them. How was the role of the individual determined
in the structure of community?54
It is obvious that the concept of consultation prevents the melting or
eradication of the individual within the society and contributes to the
composition of collective decisions. What kind of a role does Gülen
attribute to consultation in the framework of rulers and the ruled relationships?56
What is the view of Gülen on secularism?61
Secularism is a policy; it is interpreted according to the political force
behind it. There also is a process called secularization—as societies develop
and the educational level of the members and cultural diversity increase,
the religion leaves its position of being the only reference point for thought
and conduct. The references influencing the thoughts and behaviors of
members become numerous. Gülen’s teachings and influence came exactly
at this juncture in Turkey. For this reason, his inspiration, exhortations,
and conduct seem to represent the secularization of Turkey from within
and bottom up, rather than enforcing from top down, and they also
provide the intellectual basis for it. Does Gülen share this interpretation?64
In order to have an ethical society and an ethical human, do we have to
resort to religion? Isn’t it possible to have secular ethics?74
What is the place of the “state” in Gülen thought? How does he
interpret the never-ending debate about the concepts of “nation of law”
and the “deep state”?77
How does Gülen view the issue of multiculturalism?82
Does Gülen suggest that today’s Muslim has a duty to address those
distorting Islam from within or from without and, if so, what is that duty?84
How does he view those who find compatibility between Islam and violence,
and what is his thesis against the interpretations advocating violence?92
How does he view suicide bombings? Does he call the suicide
bombers “martyrs” in religious terms?95
How does Gülen explain the differences between those who interpret
Islamic teachings to justify violence and those who use the same
sources but derive peace, brotherhood, and tolerance from them?
How does he transcend this dilemma?102
Are the sources of inequality in life derived from social customs and
traditions, and does Islam condone and strengthen this inequality?109
Does Gülen defend the right of woman to enter every field of life as
equal to man and to struggle to achieve this end?120
How do Gülen and his followers view democracy? Do they see
democracy as a vehicle or as goal? If it is a vehicle, then to what
kind of social order or a regime do they aspire?125
What are Gülen’s views on human rights? Does he, like many others,
see these rights as “Western games” used to divide “our country and nation”?133
Are the religious institutions to be considered as a social phenomenon
and should be taken as independent from the political authority namely
the state? Or is there a role for the state in this field?137
How can the headscarf issue (banning of headscarves in the public
sector in Turkey) be resolved?139
There are various sects within Islam. Is it a matter of freedom
of religion and democracy for those adherents of sects to educate their
children in their own ways, using their own methods? If it is not, what
does Gülen propose?146
When was the Gülen teaching transformed into a social movement?147
What kind of individual and social needs is the movement
responding to, such that in a short period of time it has spread to the
entire nation and has even gone beyond the borders?149
What was the Gülen Movement at its inception and how
can it be described today?151
Which social groups did the Gülen Movement appeal to at the beginning?
Today which social groups does he see in the movement?153
What differentiates Gülen from other men of religion, enabling
him to become the inspiration source of an increasingly widespread,
modernizing movement?154
What were the original goals of the circle gathering around Gülen
at the beginning?156
How can Gülen explain the fact that the Gülen Movement resonates
in the large urban areas and with the recently urbanized and has
become a social movement?159
The Gülen Movement which is now international must coincide
with global realities. When looked at from this perspective, what are
the aims of the movement? How have the aims remained the same and
how have they changed since the beginning of the movement?160
What kind of spiritual, human, and material devices, vehicles, or means
did Gülen use in order to make a local Turkish reality an international one?165
In order for Turkey to have domestic peace and be regarded with
esteem from abroad, what kind of actions does Gülen propose and what
kind of a role does he assign to his followers in this regard?168
This movement has spread around the world and has displayed great
dynamism. Through what kind of process of exhortation or inspiration or
education has this movement inculcated its mission in its followers?173
The Gülen Movement provides educational opportunities to youth,
who otherwise could not attend higher educational institutions.
What inspires them to eventually volunteer as educators themselves
throughout the world?175
There are some who would like to see the Gülen Movement as
an alternative organization to the “state.” Is this realistic?177
How is this global division of labor within the Gülen Movement managed?179
The Gülen Movement, which originated in Turkey, has grown from
a small religious group to a community, from a community to a
movement, from a movement to a global organization. How did
this happen? What are the characteristics of the participants behind
this who transformed the spiritual inspiration “from virtual to actual”?181
If it is possible to make a schema of the areas of activities of the Gülen
Movement, what kinds of activities and groups of activities can be mentioned?183
Is there a model of an ideal society for Gülen? If so, how do we create
that society?184
Are there any groups targeted by the Gülen Movement?187
In the beginning, the movement was sustained by private contributions.
What are the financial resources of the movement today and how is
the global network of activities now maintained?188
Has the movement ever received any support from Muslim countries
or Islamic organizations? Does it currently receive any such support?193
If no material contribution is accepted from outside of the movement,
why are official circles so concerned with the Gülen Movement’s
outside connections, especially since between 1980 and 1985, Turkish
men of religion who were supposed to be paid by the Turkish
government, actually received their salaries from an organization
headquartered in Saudi Arabia?195
Has the movement ever been convicted of a crime?197
Is the opposition of the East and the West or the so-called
“clash of civilizations” a fantasy or a reality? If it is a reality, then
how can we transform this clash into a tolerated togetherness and
this togetherness into cooperation?200
Have Muslim societies succeed in coping with the challenges
of globalization? If not, why?208
In order to transcend the inertia or, in Gülen’s words “freeze,” that we
are observing in the Islamic world, is Ijtihad appropriate?210
Is the Islamic world unstable and backward because it forgot the humane,
unifying essence of religion, and made religion subordinate to politics?212
What is the reason which leaves Israeli–Palestinian problem at an impasse?
What does Gülen think should be done?217
How do you see the integration with European Union? What kind of
meaning and importance, the idea of “Turkish identity of Islam,” will gain
in relation to European Union and Turkey becoming part of the world?218
Will the political differences between the U.S. and Europe lead
to fracture between these two powers? Does Gülen believe they can
reconcile their differences?225
Is the anti-Americanism prevalent in Turkey and throughout the
world directed against the American public or the government?226
What is Gülen’s view on the “Greater Middle East Project?” Is this project
feasible to implement or have the developments in Iraq forced the
project to be shelved for now?227
What is the view of the Gülen Movement about the concept of an
“Islamic state”? Could there be such a state?230
Is there currently a political agenda of the movement?
Has there ever been?234
Does Gülen prefer a particular political movement or political party?
What is the relationship of the movement with politics?237
Can religion and politics have common goals, work together and overlap?240
Should religion enter every field of societal life?241
What is Gülen’s view of the market economy? Where would he place
the state and private enterprise in the economy?243
What is his view on projects such as “Islamic Common Market”
or “Union of Muslim Countries”?246
How does Gülen see the “individual”? To what extent should the
individual have freedom vis-à-vis the state and religion?248
What is his perspective on the environment and natural living?250
Does Gülen value art?255
Does he encourage his followers to take an interest in art? Is he
interested in any forms of art?257
What is his concept of culture? What are the sources of Turkish
cultural heritage?263
Does he have any interest in sports? For instance, does he watch
any games on TV? Does he encourage his followers to participate
in sports? Have any well known athletes arisen in the movement?266
Why does the Gülen Movement attach so much significance to
education? Why does it run an educational mobilization?269
What was the inspiration behind establishing schools and educating a new
generation? How did he convince his followers that this was a good idea?273
Where, when, and how were the schools first established?277
What are the goals of the schools? What were they at the beginning
and what are they now?280
What is the quality of education?282
In which countries are there schools? How many schools have
been established? How many are universities?286
Do the schools provide religious education, as well as secular education?289
What is the main language of instruction in the schools?
Are other languages taught? Is Arabic one of those?291
What is the benefit of teaching Turkish abroad?291
How are the need for teachers and administrators in the schools met?293
What are the qualifications required of teachers and administrators
in these schools?293
What kind of extracurricular activities are offered outside the formal
education in the schools?294
In countries where the majority of the population is are Muslim,
how are religious and ethical courses that are not taught in these schools
provided? How is religious education provided in non-Muslim countries?294
Do the schools charge tuition fees?296
How are the financial needs of students met?297
What is the relationship of the schools with national and local
In general, what sectors of the society are enrolling their
children in these schools?299
How is the curriculum of these schools decided?299
Are there mandatory projects required of the students, either during
the academic year or during the summer holiday? If so, what are they?300
(i.e., high schools), continue their education?300
and counselors) and the Turkish government view these schools?
Is there any contribution they make? If so, to what extent?301
in which to establish schools?304
If so, which ones? Have schools been established in countries experiencing
social or political problems, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Philippines,
and Bosnia Herzegovina? If so, have the schools made any positive
contributions in terms of peace and prosperity?304
achievements on the national and international levels?306

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Dogu Ergil
Dogu Ergil

Dogu Ergil served as a professor of Political Sociology at Ankara University for long years; he is currently teaching at the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Fatih University in Istanbul. Ergil has worked with various NGOs on developing more effective leadership, conflict management, and creative problem solving. He has won awards for his work in international organizations promoting peace and democracy.