Hermann takes close look at Hizmet movement, Gülen's life in FAZ article
Rainer Hermann, a respected writer for Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) daily, puts the Hizmet movement, which includes followers of Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen's principles, and Gülen's life under the spotlight in an article published on Friday.

The article, titled "Tue Gutes, und lasse es wirken" (Do good and let it unfold), includes Hermann's interview with Gülen -- who currently resides in the US and gives rare interviews -- as well as interviews with others within the movement.

Hermann says the interview with Gülen was scheduled to take place after Islam's midday prayer. "That is when Gülen receives guests. He specifically asks them about what is going on in the world outside and always has follow-up questions. After this he will read again, write and pray. It is astonishing how little sleep he needs. Every day is thoroughly structured. He preaches to his followers to use their time well, and that is exactly what he himself does. Almost on the assigned minute, he enters the room and sits down opposite the guest. His followers say that he combines humbleness with charisma," according to the English translation of the article published online at Gülen's official website fgulen.com on Saturday.

Stating that the "Hizmet movement" is active in the fields of education, media, dialogue, business and charity, Hermann writes in the article that entrepreneurs close to Gülen have built more than 1,000 private schools in more than 130 countries, including in Germany and the United States. "The most common accusation by the movement's critics is that it is secretly raising an Islamist elite that is preparing for a coup, e.g., in Turkey, as well as that the movement is not transparent and organized like a secret society. They are looking for organizational structures that do not exist. Gülen is rooted in the traditions of the mystic Islam of Sufism which does not know any hierarchical structures. Also at a time when military generals still had the say in Turkey, it would have been quite dangerous to form visible structures," he says.

In the article, Gülen is quoted as saying that the movement is being attacked from two sides. Gülen calls those who equate the activities of "Hizmet" with Islamism "ignorant." "When it comes to the others, he only shakes his head. They accuse him of being "a traitor to Islam, being a slave of the United States and Israel as well as carrying out propaganda for Christianity and Judaism," Hermann says, recalling that a public prosecutor in Turkey once called him even a secret cardinal in the service of the pope. "My life and my work are open for everyone," Gülen is quoted as saying. "Nothing is kept secret. ... I would like to know what is not transparent about that."

Gülen also reiterates the importance he attaches to education in the article, which quotes him as saying that it is through education that a human being contributes in a constructive manner to his or her family, society and humanity. "Besides, I am convinced that we as God's creatures will only achieve our full individual maturity through worldly and spiritually education," he says.

The article says Gülen tells his followers also to be successful entrepreneurs. "I always called people up to show the true spirit of entrepreneurship," says Gülen. He suggests companies to carefully take risks and encourages them to invest and expand abroad. "I always remind them about their social and societal responsibilities." And he reminds them to adhere to the following ethical principles: not to get involved in fraud, speculation or black-market trading, epitomize trust and reliability, not to exhibit greed or squander God's riches when enjoying them, show respect for the rights of employees, not to forget that the society they live in should also benefit from their benefits and to live life aware of the fact that ultimately everything is given by God.

As for Gülen-inspired Turkish schools around the world, the article says focus is given to teaching sciences at these schools. Cengiz Karabekmez, the principal of the Amity School in Brooklyn, says the Gülen schools are not faith-based.

The article concludes with remarks by Tevfik Emre Aksoy, a businessman acting according to Gülen's concept of pleasing God. "'God loves everyone,' that is how Aksoy sums up his faith. 'God loves in particular the good done by a person'."

Gülen is highly respected both in Turkey and in many countries around the world for the educational activities he has pioneered along with his efforts to promote intercultural and interfaith activities around the globe. He is in self-imposed exile in the US, although there is no legal obstacle that prevents him from returning to Turkey. Shortly after he went to the US in 2000, he was charged with establishing an illegal organization in Turkey but was eventually acquitted in 2008.

To an invitation to Turkey from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in June, Gülen said he prefers staying in the US to "avoid damaging positive developments in Turkey." (Cihan/Todays Zaman) CİHAN
Last Modified: 2012-11-11 20:00:01
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