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Gülen-Inspired Hizmet in Europe

The Western Journey of a Turkish Muslim Movement


Gürkan Çelik, Johan Leman and Karel Steenbrink

The Hizmet Movement initiated by Fethullah Gülen in Turkey in the 1960s is today active in more than 160 countries. The participants of Hizmet are often less visible among the Muslim minorities in Western societies. They do not build mosques or hold regular prayer meetings like institutional Muslims or Sufi masters, but establish emancipatory schools without religious instruction, cherish networks of business people, publish the newspaper Zaman in various national editions, and run dialogue charities for intercultural and interreligious encounters. Small groups come together in private houses to hold sohbets, that is spiritual talks on faith, religion and society, and to discuss Hizmet-related projects in the light of teachings articulated by Gülen in his books and talks.
This book provides a broad presentation of Gülen’s thought and practice. These issues are discussed in the first part of this book. The second part presents six case studies from countries where the name of Gülen has been attached to a great variety of social activities in the field of education, media, business, dialogue, and the support of integration and defence of human rights. These countries are Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Albania as the centre of Muslims in the Balkans. Although the participants of Hizmet are quite small in number and work in an extremely decentralised way, they are among the best educated and most socially active of the Turkish-speaking communities in their countries. This is therefore an important study of a group of Muslims who cannot simply be categorized as «conservative» or «progressive», «pietistic» or «political».
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