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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

MEDIA: Why Gülen is indignant about corruption


SEE ALSO: Gulen in the Western media

One of the main reasons why Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen has been so disturbed by the massive graft scandal that was exposed during then-Prime Minister and now President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's regime is that he saw that his lifetime ideal of fostering greater connectivity among key areas of the country such as education, business and culture in order to contribute to the social, human and economic development of his nation had been severely undermined.

Born into a poor family in one of the less developed parts of Turkey, Gülen has long dreamt of seeing the impoverished eastern and southern regions of the country developed with trade, investment and improvement in educational and technological infrastructure. This has been dealt a huge blow because of endemic corruption, misuse of funds and patronage that has left millions in poverty; harmed the trust between citizens and the government; and in turn led to political instability, inefficient public services and even a surge in terrorism. The big dragnet set up by the crooks has drained the precious energy Turkey has in order to cope with immediate challenges. It has hampered the efforts of Gülen, who, through his numerous writings and speeches, inculcated the importance of modern education for the young generation and urged his followers to reach out and embrace all through intercultural and interfaith dialogue activities.

When Erdoğan deliberately relegated his understanding of democracy to merely winning the ballot box during elections, he made it clear that he wants neither political accountability for things that may go wrong during his rule nor the participation of civil society as a major stakeholder in the governance of the country. When he calls the Gülen-inspired social movement called Hizmet a "parallel structure," Erdoğan in effect complains about "institutional restraints” being placed on the government by a major civil society group that would otherwise be welcomed and encouraged in any normally functioning democracy.

Capitalizing on the new-found scapegoat right after the corruption exposé, Erdoğan broadened the definition of "enemy of the state" to include judges, police investigators, businesses, media, national political parties and even Turkey's foreign allies and partners.

That is why the corruption in the Erdoğan regime has now resulted in the flagrant human rights violations that we all are witnessing and experiencing in today's Turkey. The policies employed by Erdoğan and company in the government have effectively disrupted citizens' lives by provoking fears of a witch hunt among the population. The growing concern about media freedom in Turkey is just one of the indications of how corruption has shaken fundamental freedoms. If that cancer spreads to the judiciary as Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu's government tried to do with offerings such as a pay rise and government perks on the eve of critical judicial council elections, this will have a very serious impact on the judicial system, which may very well paralyze the whole Turkish democracy in the end.

In addition to the voluntary education drive that focuses on science and mathematics as well as moral values in order to lift people out of poverty, another tool Mr. Gülen has been advocating throughout his life is to institute open trade among nations as a way to not only develop economies, but also to increase interaction among them. Gülen believes that one can build to promote intercultural and interfaith dialogue in a much freer and effective way if trade, investment and business linkages are strong. Inspired by Gülen's teachings, thousands of Turkish businesspeople came together and set up the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON), the largest and one of the most influential trade advocacy groups in Turkey.

Since corruption destroys the level playing field by raising barriers for both national and foreign companies and undermines the development of a fair and competitive market economy, law-abiding businesspeople like TUSKON members will be at a disadvantage against pro-Erdoğan businesses, which enjoy advantages in terms of obtaining public procurement contracts and receiving preferential access to public services in exchange for the payment of kickbacks and bribery.

Adding insult to injury, TUSKON as well as members of the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (TÜSİAD), the wealthiest business club in Turkey, have been unfairly targeted with government audits and reviews of licenses and permits and subjected to heavy fines. On top of that, Gülen's interaction with leading TUSKON and TÜSİAD members as part of his ideal to use trade as an intercultural bridge has been publicly demonized by Erdoğan, who sticks to a long-running hateful discourse to divide the nation.

Therefore, Gülen believes both education and trade will contribute greatly to economic growth both in Turkey and in its partner countries, providing more equitable income distribution, improved government services and increased public trust in government. Considering that the corruption negatively affects education, it does have a domino impact on every aspect of citizens' lives, from access to the labor market to improved social and economic status.

Moreover, Gülen underlines that education is key for social cohesion in Turkish society, preventing people from falling into traps of radical ideologies on the extreme left and extreme right. He thinks the right education rather than political Islamist discourse will maintain the strong culture of tolerance and diversity found in Turkish history. In the end, Gülen thinks Islam's true and peaceful face can only prevail in stable and conflict-free environments that are no longer plagued by corruption.

Another important rule in Gülen's teachings is the focus on decentralization, which is also an important tool in the battle against corruption. It is acknowledged that decentralization has often proven to be instrumental in reducing corruption in government, especially in a large country like Turkey with a population of 77 million.

Provided that the capacity for governance, effectiveness, human resources and accountability are strong in local governments, decentralization is often a suggested method to improve the governance of the country with less graft activity. It is quite telling that the corruption scandal revealed the reasons why Erdoğan usurped so many powers of local government in leasing and selling public land and buildings starting in 2011. That is how Erdoğan's loyalists have started getting kickbacks from the sale of public properties that used to be managed by local officials.

As part of the decentralization, Gülen often talks at length urging his followers to go through an in-depth consultation process and reaching out to all stakeholders before starting to implement a policy decision. He says this is the way of the Islamic Prophet. In fact, Gülen himself leads by setting an example on decentralization. For example, Hizmet and Hizmet-affiliated institutions may have been inspired by Gülen, but none of them are governed by Gülen or his close advisers. They are all professionally managed with their own independent boards that are accountable to shareholders. They are completely transparent in terms of subjecting themselves to rigorous government laws, regulations and regular reviews. From banking to media outlets, from social charity groups to thousands of schools, none of them has had any interference by Gülen. If these institutions are outside of Turkey, the same principle follows. They have to respect the law of the land in any given country.

Unfortunately, by invoking the fallacy of "guilt by association," Erdoğan has declared a total war on all these companies, institutions and groups that may be considered to be sympathetic towards Gülen, who suddenly turned out to be the number-one enemy of Erdoğan because of his criticism about corruption and mismanagement. This misplaced battle has in the first place damaged Turkish economic and social structures, but Erdoğan does not seem to care about that at all because his priority is to survive personal legal troubles emanating from the corruption that incriminated him, his family members and close associates.

Erdoğan erroneously believes that as long as he keeps demonizing Hizmet and shifting the blame for his personal problems on members of Hizmet, he will be able to survive politically forever.

No doubt Gülen, a deeply religious person, is also troubled by the moral and religious implications of corruption as well. As a leading Islamic scholar, he witnessed how political Islamists have abused entrusted power by citizens of Turkey and exploited religious sensitivities of people for personal gains. This hurts the religion of Islam first and foremost, Gülen believes. The failed political Islamist experiment in Turkey has also spoiled the national education systen with ill-advised engineering from Erdoğan, who wants to raise a new breed of political Islamists to fuel his political campaigns. Gülen is considerably upset because education, the only way to transition Turkey into the broader world, has been squandered for petty politics and personal interests.

Therefore, fighting corruption and standing firm against intimidation and scaremongering tactics by Erdoğan is also a moral imperative for Mr. Gülen before anything else.


Foreign Affairs magazine published an important article by Victor Gaetan on Fethullah Gulen and the Gulen Movement. Below is an exerpt and link to...
Radio show host Rita Cosby discusses Fethullah Gulen's strong position against terrorism with Alp Aslandogan. Gulen was the first scholar in the...
It's imperative for those with an interest in today's Turkey to read the recent report prepared by the Washington. DC based Rethink Institute . In...
FBI Washington Field Office Citizens Academy Alumni Association held its annual general meeting at Rumi Forum on September 16,...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

FOREIGN AFFAIRS :The Muslim Martin Luther? by Victor Gaetan

Foreign Affairs magazine published an important article by Victor Gaetan on Fethullah Gulen and the Gulen Movement. Below is an exerpt and link to the orginal article.

...His commitment to education as the main solution to problems plaguing most Muslim societies is the most concrete expression of Gulen's religious teachings. Drawing on Islam's sacred texts -- the Koran, hadith (words of the Prophet), and Sira (biography of the Prophet) -- as well as Turkish and Ottoman cultural tradition, Gulen has developed a distinct form of Islamic theology that puts social engagement, not political engagement, at its center.... Read More

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fethullah Gulen's firm position against terrorism on Rita Cosby's Show

Radio show host Rita Cosby discusses Fethullah Gulen's strong position against terrorism with Alp Aslandogan. Gulen was the first scholar in the Islamic world to condemn 9/11 attacks by saying "no muslim can be a terrorist and no terrorist can be a Muslim."

Monday, September 22, 2014

REPORT Hate Speech and Beyond: Targeting the Gülen Movement in Turkey

It's imperative for those with an interest in today's Turkey to read the recent report prepared by the Washington. DC based Rethink Institute . In particular it addresses the hate speech used against Fethullah Gulen and the Gulen (Hizmet) Movement. The hate speech was perpetrated by former Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, currently the President of the Republic of Turkey.

On December 17, 2013, a graft probe alleging corruption among some members of the cabinet became public. Immediately thereafter, the Gülen movement (a.k.a. Hizmet), one of the largest faith-based communities in Turkey, became the target of offensive statements by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The paper argues that from the standpoint of human rights law, there is little doubt that some of the prime minister’s statements are fundamentally incompatible with the principles underlying the concept of human rights. Some of these expressions, indeed, amount toprima facie hate speech as understood by the European Court of Human Rights, the jurisdiction of which is already accepted by Turkey

According to the European Court of Human Rights, any language which spreads, incites, promotes or justifies hatred based on intolerance, including racial and religious intolerance, is considered to constitute hate speech and is unworthy of protection under the guarantees of freedom of speech. As a matter fact, if the element of hatred is detectable at first sight, the European Court of Human Rights defines such language as abuse of freedom of expression. In this regard, some of the language used by Prime Minister Erdoğan to describe the Gülen movement – i.e. “perverts”, “hashashins”, “traitors”, “spies”, “worse than Shiites”, “leeches” and “a terrorist organization” – do indeed constitute prima facie hate speech....

Read Full Report:

Friday, September 19, 2014

Rumi Forum hosts FBI Citizens Academy Alumni Association Meeting

FBI Washington Field Office Citizens Academy Alumni Association held its annual general meeting at Rumi Forum on September 16, 2014.



Original prints of Fethullah Gulen's statement in NY Times, Washington Post, WSJ

Please is the original print of the Statement that Fethullah Gulen had published in the NY Times, WSJ and the Washington Post
Original prints of Fethullah Gulen's message condemning ISIS in NY Times, Washington Post and WSJ.  The statement appeared on September 17, 2014.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Fethullah Gulen's statement on ISIS/ISIL appears in Huffington Post sections of 'Turkey' and 'Media'

Fethullah Gulen, a world renowned scholar, preacher and social advocate published his message of condemnation in today's New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, LA Times and Chicago Tribune. Fethullah Gulen is the Honorary President of Washington, D.C. based Rumi Forum.

Read more:

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

HISTORIC: Fethullah Gulen's ISIS message in NYTimes, WSJ, Washington Post, LATimes, Chicago Tribune

ISIS Cruelty Deserves Our Strongest Condemnation


As a practicing Muslim deeply influenced by tenets of my faith, I strongly condemn the brutal atrocities of the ISIS terrorist group. Their actions are a disgrace to the faith they proclaim and are crimes against humanity. Religion provides a foundation upon which to establish peace, human rights, freedoms and the rule of law. Any interpretations to the contrary, including the abuse of religion to fuel conflicts, are simply wrong and deceitful.

ISIS is not the first group to use religious rhetoric to mask its cruelty-Al Qaeda did so 13 years ago and Boko Haram more recently. What they all have in common is a totalitarian mentality that denies human beings their dignity.

Any form of violence against innocent civilians or prosecution of minorities contradicts the principles of the Qur’an and the traditions of our Prophet (upon whom be peace and blessings). ISIS members are either completely ignorant about the faith they proclaim or their actions are designed to serve individual interests or those of their political masters. Regardless, their actions represent those of a terrorist group and, as such, they should be brought to justice and compelled to answer for their horrific crimes.

I send my heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased in Iraq and Syria, and to the families of James Foley, Steven Sotloff, and David Haines. May God give them strength, patience and perseverance, and alleviate their suffering. I also pray for the immediate and safe release of hostages and ask God, the Merciful, to lead us all toward mutual respect and peace. I invite everyone around the world to join me in these prayers.

Fethullah Gulen
Islamic scholar, preacher and social advocate

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Fethullah Gulen's Maxim: Live So That Others May Live by Emre Celik, President, Rumi Forum

The above may in fact actually summarize the life meaning for those who participate in the Hizmet (aka Gulen Movement).
This is one of the most fundamental values Fethullah Gulen, preacher emeritus based in Pennsylvania and the figurehead of the Hizmet movement, who has played a role and helped mould the life direction of millions of Hizmet participants serve others across more than 150 countries.

It is also the main theme of a recent book exploring Gulen's discourse over four decades that has been the inspiration for a global network of philanthropy and positive activism. Its title: So that others may live.
Gulen places a great importance on the interdependence of individuals, communities, nations and systems on one another. Each fundamental unit within any system plays a role and has an inexplicable effect - small or great - on every other unit within such a system (similar to chaos theory in Mathematics).
This leads to a sort of responsibility within those systems. In particular systems that contain conscious beings with intellect have a greater responsibility - vis-a-vis humanity, the most 'intelligent' of beings holds the most honored and responsible position. The human being is obliged, if you will, to act in a moral and ethical way in regards to others. It is this ethos that has driven Gulen to personally partake and to also encourage others to take up their social and spiritual responsibility, that is, to assist their fellow human being. He also notes that each and every one of us plays a role in the lives of others and has a moral responsibility, to the degree that we are able and capable, of helping those in need and those in less fortunate social conditions.
In particular Gulen frames this social interdependence within the concept of 'love' , taken from the chapter 'Love of Humanity' in So that others may live by Fethullah Gulen:
Love is like an elixir that gives us life. We are happy with love, and with love we make those around us happy. For humanity, love is our life, and it is through love that we encounter each other. Love is the strongest bond that God has created among us; it is a chain that links all humanity together...
In order to care for our community, love humankind, and embrace all of creation with compassion, we must first know ourselves... And the more we know of our own inwardness and essence, the more we will appreciate the same inwardness in others... Our appreciation and respect for each other is tied to our recognition of these inner relationships.
A soul that can sense these depths can speak in the language of the heart, saying like Rumi: 
Come, come and join us. We are the people of love devoted to God! Come in through the door of love and sit with us in our home. Through our hearts, let us speak one to another....
Elsewhere in 'The Society of Peace' Gulen states:
We should direct our efforts toward helping people build a society of peace, on both a national and global scale. This society will be purified of all contemptible feelings and directed toward lofty ideals. Its individuals will rest in the serenity of their conscience... Peace begins in the individual, resonates in the family, and from there pervades all parts of society.
The book, So that others may live contains great insight into Gulen's thought and spiritual motivation that took him from the remote eastern province of Erzurum and onto the world stage.
To truly understand Gulen, his intellect, spirituality, motivation and passion, his works and writings need to be analysed and understood - particularly in these current times when those full of rancor and bigotry seem to be trying to persuade us to believe otherwise. I encourage you - those with subtle knowledge of Gulen or the movement or others who are more familiar - to delve into Gulen's thinking and further understand why Gulen preached and wrote so profusely to role model his maxim 'live so that others may live'
Fethullah Gulen concludes with a couplet from a Ottoman poem from his article "The Love of Humanity", I too also think it is apt:
Woman and man, youth and age, the bow and arrow:
each needs the other
Indeed, all parts of the world are in need of each other.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Fethullah Gulen Statement on ISIS

I deplore the brutal atrocities being committed by the ISIS terrorist group hiding behind a false religious rhetoric and join the people of conscience from around the world in calling for these perpetrators to immediately cease their cruel and inhuman acts. Any form of attack, suppression or persecution of minorities or innocent civilians is an act that contradicts the principles of the Qur’an and the tradition of our Prophet upon whom be peace and blessings.

ISIS members are either completely ignorant of the spirit of Islam and its blessed messenger, or their actions are designed to serve their individual interests or those of their political masters. Regardless, their actions represent those of a terrorist group and they should be labeled as such and be brought to justice.

The goal of religion is to establish peace based on universal human rights, rule of law and high human values in the world. Any interpretations to the contrary, including the abuse of religion to help fuel conflicts, are either false or deceitful. In true Islamic thought based on its core principles, every mean to a legitimate end should also be legitimate itself. To think or act otherwise is nothing but Machiavellism.
I send my heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the deceased in Iraq and Syria, and to the family and friends of the slain journalist James Foley. May God give them patience and perseverance, and alleviate their suffering. I pray for the immediate release of other hostages and ask God, the Merciful to lead us all into a world of mutual respect and peace. I invite everybody to join together in this prayer.