Rumi Forum's blog on Hizmet, Fethullah Gulen, peacebuilding, education and interfaith efforts.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Fethullah Gulen and the Hizmet Movement, Ori Soltes, Georgetown University

HERE is a transcript of the entire video…
Fethullah Gulen is one of the more remarkable people, whose writings over the last several years I’ve been studying rather carefully. He is an individual it seems to me who falls very much in line with the direction that Sufism takes, that is to say Muslim mysticism takes, particularly in the writings of people like Rumi and like ibn Arabi, in the following manner: one of the things that one recognizes as a mystic, I mean a true mystic not someone who vaguely talks about mysticism. A true mystic realizes that of his or her goal is in a certain fundamental way to become one for a moment with God with the innermost recesses of God. Then the only way that can happen is if he or she empties self of self. If I’m to fill with God, I’ve to empty myself of myself, or there is too much of me in the way. And so for example, if my intention is to gain enlightenment for myself, it won’t work. I won’t succeed as a mystic because that is too selfish. My intention has to be to gain enlightenment in order to come back from that experience and share it with the community around me, and improve community around me. So with that it mind, a Sufi like ibn Arabi or a Sufi like Rumi recognizes that being so certain that only my way of thinking in terms of religion or anything else for that matter, be speaks a kind of egotism which is overly filled with self. And I have to empty myself in order to be filled with God. So Gulen, it strikes me, commons from that kind of sensibility. He is a student of course of Islam in general. He is a student of the wider world of both religion and science; literature, and history, as broadly as one can imagine and thinking historically all the way back -let’s say- to Socrates. But he is also within the rhomb (2:22?) of Islam and a profound Sufi and a Sufi who is particularly aware of and has thought in a great deal about what people like an Arabi and Rumi have thought and written and so what that in mind he strikes me as a kind of perfect paradox. He recognizes that for him and for those around him the most perfect religion on the planet is Islam. But at the same time he also recognizes that for others who are Jews or Christians or Hindus for them their form of faith is the most perfect on the planet for them, and each and everyone of these forms of faith has something to contribute to a large conversation about faith about God and more important than that in a sense what with God or even without God in our minds we can do to improve the world. So the movement that sometimes bares his name, the Gulen movement or more recently -as I’m happy to report because it is important- has begun to be called simply the Hizmet movement and the word Hizmet in Turkish means service,is a movement that applies the theory of all of these, the thoughts and the words about all of this to action. That the Hizmet movement is about not just thinking and talking, but acting to improve the world, whether is in educating children or whether is in broadening the mindset of university students or whether it is in social action; a whole range of activities that benefit the community at large. The diverse community, by diverse I mean different religions, different ethnicities, different raises, different nationalities all that is part of the purview of the Hizmet movement which puts in action the thoughts that one can see in campus Socrates here and Rumi there and Einstein here and Rutherford there, all coming to focus in a particular way through Gulen’s writing and then his teaching and then those who follow him, those who admire him, those who are inspired by him to do the things they do, for the most par is volunteers, they are not being payed to do, many of they things they do. And as someone who for example has visited a number of the schools that have been inspired by Gulen and founded by the movement. One of the things that stroke me is that teachers in that schools, the administrators in that schools don’t just they talk to talk, they walk to walk. They are there all hours. They are available for their students, they help them grow, and kind of curricula that they shape are broad based curricula that deal with everything from the arts and sports to science, literature, philosophy, and theology. So this is a remarkable person who has inspired a remarkable series of developments for which that word Hizmet and the phrase Hizmet Movement I think it is a nice simple and concise statement.