Fethullah Gülen – Source of Inspiration
 

Félag Horizon’s source of inspiration is Fethullah Gülen who is a Turkish scholar and peace advocate. His worldview is based on the harmonious coexistence and the principal of the art of living. Fethullah Gülen assesses every individual for being unique and having a great potential to contribute constructively to a much more harmonic and peaceful common society.

 

One of the key bases for a harmonious coexistence according to Gülen is to maintain respect and to accept every kind of human being regardless of colour, culture, attitude or belief. Gülen considers to the democratic process as a form of a government that oversees the rights of the individual and maintains the right to live and practice the individual’s attitudes and outlooks. Democracy according to Gülen is an irrevocable necessity for the present social structure.

The incorporation of Gülen's ideology and worldview will discipline the individual to a state of responsible humanity which will inevitably lead to a constructive contribution of the social development.

Gülen initiated positive developments have occurred in the Scandinavian countries and in Turkey in relation to dialogue and appreciative initiatives. Hence, Félag Horizon wants to maintain Gülen as an inspiration for producing constructive initiatives.
 

Short about Fethullah Gülen

M. Fethullah Gülen (1941 -) was born in Erzurum in the eastern Turkey.
He is a Muslim scholar, thinker and writer who is trained and educated in
the traditional Muslim view on a madrasa, which educates people in Islamic
theology. His upbringing has given him a personal equality, which is
characterized by the essential characteristics of Islam, which has been a
reference point for his teaching and actions in particular.

Fethullah Gülen was among other things, one of the prominent actors
behind the establishment of dialogue between the then various factions
in the Turkish society. 
Gazeteciler've Yazarlar Vakfi (Journalists and Authors'
Foundation) was the federation in Turkey for the first time advocated

and started dialogue between cultures and religions,
including the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and the Armenian Patriarchate,
the Jewish community and the Muslim majority, which has proved to be an
excellent initiative.

 

Fethullah Gülen as an Educator

Gülen sees three forms of education (science, humanities, religious) that complement one another and that need to operate together to form the perfect and exalted human being.

Gülen traveled to numerous cities and towns across Turkey to give sermons in mosques and speeches at gatherings in various places, including theatres and even coffee houses. He focused on education in his speeches and tried to motivate the wealthier to give back to society more and channel their donations into education. His sermons and speeches were recorded on tape, distributed by volunteers all around the country, and enthusiastically embraced. In his thirties, Gülen was already one of the few religious intellectuals recognized nationwide.

As Gülen asserts, he simply thought to cultivate the public credit given to him by channeling good intentions and devotional energy toward a positive end. He encouraged people to set up student dormitories and hostels to promote better education for the youth. He also encouraged people to establish university preparatory courses to support children, especially the children of middle- and low-income families, in their preparation for higher education. People who shared Gülen’s service-ethic initiated local scholarship funds for needy students, from which thousands of students would benefit every year.

 

Since the ‘80s, Gülen-inspired entrepreneurs and educators have set up more than a hundred highly successful private schools in Turkey. As of the ‘90s, similar private schools have been started mostly in countries in Central Asia and Africa, and some in Europe and the Americas. In the meantime, participants in the movement have also established universities, hospitals, relief organizations, tutoring centers, business associations, media outlets, publishing houses, etc.

Peace Advocate

Gülen has convinced people at home and abroad that respectful dialogue with each other help mold peaceful communities, which are built on values that people share in common.

Gülen has been actively promoting interfaith and intercultural dialogue for over a decade, starting long before the tragedy of 9/11. In Turkey, he has been credited with bringing about a positive atmosphere in relationships between the majority Muslim population and the various religious minorities such as Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Catholic, and Jewish communities.

 

Outside Turkey, his ideas on interfaith dialogue have 
inspired many to establish organizations engaging in
dialogue with the same objectives of mutual
understanding, empathetic acceptance, peaceful
coexistence, and cooperation. His efforts for dialogue
and tolerance were recognized by a personal audience
with the late Pope John Paul II and an invitation from
the chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel, as well as meetings
with the leaders of various Christian denominations.

 

Cooperation of Civilizations: Gülen promotes the
cooperation of civilizations as opposed to clash, through
dialogue, mutual understanding and gathering around
shared values.

Public Stance against Violence, Terror and Suicide Attacks: Gülen has been recognized for his consistent stance against the combination of violence and religious rhetoric. More specifically, he was the first Muslim scholar to publicly condemn the attacks of 9/11 (in an advertisement in the Washington Post).

He unequivocally rejects suicide attacks. He helped publish a scholarly book on the Islamic perspective on terror and suicide attacks, condemning such acts on humanitarian and religious grounds.

He did not express these views only to Western readers but voiced them in mosque sermons with congregations of thousands of Muslims. He has given interviews to Turkish, Japanese, French and American newspapers in which he categorically condemned the use of political, ideological and religious reasons to justify acts of terror. He has appeared on numerous national television shows publicly condemning such acts.

Gülen: Dialogue is a Must

On the global stage, an outstanding Muslim leader promoting interreligious dialogue is Fethullah Gülen. The movement to which his ideas and recommendations have given inspiration is one of the primary advocacy groups for dialogue in the world today. Fethullah Gülen comes to the core point of his message: “Interfaith dialogue is a must today, and the first step in establishing it is forgetting the past, ignoring polemical arguments, and giving precedence to common points, which far outnumber polemical ones”.

Gülen also argue that the Qur’an urges Muslims to respect the followers of other religions and to accept former Prophets and their Books. So he will insist that an attitude of dialogue is not only required by modernity but also by the very source of Islam.

Based on the notion that Islam is an inherently open and tolerant religion, Mr Gülen advocates acceptance and dialogue with the non-Muslim community. To advocate this notion of tolerance, he has met important Christian and Jewish religious leaders such as Pope John Paul II (in 1998), Greek Eucumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos (in 1996), Sepharadic Chief Rabbi of Israel Eliyahu Bakshi Doron (in 1999) and others religious leader of Turkey in many occations to promote inter-religious dialogue.

Fethullah Gülen as an Intellectual

Gülen is a leader that possesses extraordinary competences such as foresight and persuasion. He has led a community successfully and transformed it to a global social movement.

Gülen is classified as an Islamic scholar and spiritual guide, he is also an example of a leader possessing such extraordinary competences such as intuition and foresight. Gülen has led his community successfully in the every field (at an intellectual, spiritual, and social level), and has transformed a great traditional social movement in Turkey to a worldwide community in touch with modernity. Some scholars describe him as a charismatic figure. Rather than having charisma he describes himself as a servant. He has been seen as a community leader of profound appreciation of the Islamic sciences and contemporary- modern thought and a passionate activist. Successful leaders represent and express what they desire to reach through their actions, and then translate their actions into words. In Gülen’s own words, “for us action precedes thought”, and this is a distinguishing characteristic of Gülen’s leadership style.

















 

Moreover, Gülen possesses two important leadership characteristics. He developed his own philosophy and knows his way very well (clear vision), and he is reliable and on the way (deliberate actions). It is commonly understood that “the whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going”. This leadership principle is also accompanied by the charm and grace needed to create followers. He is able to persuade other people to go with him. Gülen has a great population of followers, and the Gülen movement counts millions of sympathisers worldwide. People follow others that they personally admire. Leaders gather followers through dint of personality and charm, rather than any form of external power or authority.

Great leaders have various leadership qualities and are able to be leaders not only in one aspect of life, but they can-and-should lead their community or organization to success in every field. The greatest and most influential commanders, statesmen, community leaders, religious leaders, and spiritual guides in human history have done this. From this point of view, Gülen can be characterized as a servant leader of his community in particular and of the humanity in general.

In sum, Gülen’s leadership is based on a deep understanding of the faith and of the care values that drive his actions. Thus effective leadership requires the development of a compelling personal and spiritual vision that engages others by offering meaning, dignity, and purpose. He is a living example of a spiritual and religious leader, an Islamic intellectual scholar, and a pioneering activist in the contemporary world. One of the primary aims of his leadership is the building of the ‘golden generation’ (a generation equipped with universal values), more humane relationships, organizations, and societies. What can be learned from Gülen’s example is that effective leaders need to develop the dynamism and critical imagination required to embrace individual, organizational, and global change from a stance of action, hope and courage.

Fethullah Gülen as a Preacher

Gülen’s discourse was distinguished by his depth of knowledge and eloquence. His sermons were well-structured and systematic presentations that would extend over many months.
 

Working in Izmir, Turkey, was the turning point in Gülen’s career, as the city would be the cradle for the movement that crystallized around his discourse and activism. He maintained his ascetic way of life. He found only a couple of hours a day to sleep because of his daily commitments of reading, preaching, teaching, giving lectures and seminars, and meeting with community members. He attracted the attention of learned citizens, including the academic community and college students, as well as common people.
 

Gülen’s discourse was distinguished by his depth of knowledge, sensitivity and stellar eloquence. His topics ranged from religious practices to social justice, from child education to naturalism. His sermons were well structured, and the systematic presentation of some topics would extend over many months, which was uncommon at that time. He also expanded the function of the mosque by launching a Q & A series in which he responded to people’s concerns and curiosities, including those regarding the challenges of modern times.
 

In his endeavors, Gülen especially aimed at urging the younger generation to harmonize intellectual enlightenment with virtuous spirituality, and to serve fellow humans altruistically. During the years of political turmoil in Turkey, he witnessed many young Turks’ attraction to extremist ideologies via the violent polarization of socialism and nationalism. He strove to inspire the Turkish youth and lead them toward an apolitical way of service to society, based on a peaceful life-style.
 

Gülen traveled to numerous cities and towns across Turkey to give sermons in mosques and speeches at gatherings in various places, including theatres and even coffee houses. His sermons and speeches were recorded on tape, distributed by volunteers all around the country, and enthusiastically embraced. In his thirties, Gülen was already one of the few preachers recognized nationwide.

Fethullah Gülen as a Global Leader

Gülen is a leader that possesses extraordinary competences such as foresight and persuasion. He has led a community successfully and transformed it to a global social movement.
 

Gülen is classified as an Islamic scholar and spiritual guide, he is also an example of a leader possessing such extraordinary competences such as intuition and foresight. Gülen has led his community successfully in the every field (at an intellectual, spiritual, and social level), and has transformed a great traditional social movement in Turkey to a worldwide community in touch with modernity. Some scholars describe him as a charismatic figure. Rather than having charisma he describes himself as a servant. He has been seen as a community leader of profound appreciation of the Islamic sciences and contemporary- modern thought and a passionate activist. Successful leaders represent and express what they desire to reach through their actions, and then translate their actions into words. In Gülen’s own words, “for us action precedes thought”, and this is a distinguishing characteristic of Gülen’s leadership style.
 

Moreover, Gülen possesses two important leadership characteristics. He developed his own philosophy and knows his way very well (clear vision), and he is reliable and on the way (deliberate actions). It is commonly understood that “the whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going”. This leadership principle is also accompanied by the charm and grace needed to create followers. He is able to persuade other people to go with him. Gülen has a great population of followers, and the Gülen movement counts millions of sympathisers worldwide. People follow others that they personally admire. Leaders gather followers through dint of personality and charm, rather than any form of external power or authority.
 

Great leaders have various leadership qualities and are able to be leaders not only in one aspect of life, but they can-and-should lead their community or organization to success in every field. The greatest and most influential commanders, statesmen, community leaders, religious leaders, and spiritual guides in human history have done this. From this point of view, Gülen can be characterized as a servant leader of his community in particular and of the humanity in general.
 

In sum, Gülen’s leadership is based on a deep understanding of the faith and of the care values that drive his actions. Thus effective leadership requires the development of a compelling personal and spiritual vision that engages others by offering meaning, dignity, and purpose. He is a living example of a spiritual and religious leader, an Islamic intellectual scholar, and a pioneering activist in the contemporary world. One of the primary aims of his leadership is the building of the ‘golden generation’ (a generation equipped with universal values), more humane relationships, organizations, and societies. What can be learned from Gülen’s example is that effective leaders need to develop the dynamism and critical imagination required to embrace individual, organizational, and global change from a stance of action, hope and courage.