Hodjaefendi Fethullah Gülen (Born: 27 April 1941) is a Turkish Muslim Preacher.Fethullah Gülen is a preacher, thinker and educator, who having assumed the leadership of the Nurcu religious movement—started by Said Nursî (1878-1960 CE)—has gone on to become a global phenomenon in his own right. His popularity and authority in Turkey has been the driving force of the movement that is widely thought to have brought about the social and, eventually, political changes of which politician Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been the ultimate heir—that is the enfranchisement of Muslim politics in Turkey. Despite his peaceful means of preaching and community organization, Gülen is hated by the secularist establishment in Turkey and has been living in the US since 1999.
Gülen and his followers have devoted considerable energy in recent years on interreligious dialogue with tens of interfaith centers in Europe and the US being opened to foster better relations between faiths. Gülen is also the head of a series of socially oriented philanthropic efforts. His teaching emphasizes that there are no material shortages in the world, and that there is no justification for starvation. Gülen has established many charities to distribute wealth to the needy.
Catalyst for Educational Change
When Gülen began preaching in Izmir—in his youth—a network of pupils began to unite around his teachings—as a ‘social movement’ inspired by Gülen’s example. This movement has culminated in the development of around 300 schools in Turkey and hundreds more worldwide. Graduates from these private schools around the world are coached in ethics and philosophy that are inspired by Gülen’s teachings, and continue to take top honors in university placement tests.
Influence in the Media
The Gülen movement has opened hospitals and charities, a TV and radio station, as well as a bank—Asya Finans—that operates on Islamic principles. Gülen also has two major mass-circulation daily Turkish newspapers that are affiliated with his movement: ‘Zaman’ and the English-language ‘Today’s Zaman’. The Gülen network has also initiated a Journalists and Writers Foundation and a Teachers Foundation—providing an umbrella organization for a host of dialogue groups and charitable organizations.
Gülen is one of the most important thinkers and writers from Turkey, and among the most effective activists in twentieth-century Turkey. The Gülen movement is one of the best connected and therefore one of the most powerful networks competing to influence Muslims around the globe, making it likely to have an enduring impact on the modernization of Islam and its engagement with Western ideas. Belgium’s Catholic University of Leuven established a ‘Fethullah Gulen Chair’ (for Intellectual Studies). In 2008, Gülen topped the list of “The World’s Top 20 Public Intellectuals” by the magazines Foreign Policy and Prospect.