The Gulen Movement (Hizmet Movement in Turkish) is a worldwide, non-political civic initiative rooted in the spiritual and humanistic tradition of Islam. Hizmet is inspired by the ideas and activism of Mr. Fethullah Gulen.
Love of all creation, sympathy for the fellow human, compassion, and altruism are the principles at the heart of the global movement. Free from association with states or government actors, it focuses on positive change in individuals for the betterment of society at large. Hizmet is distinguished for its support of democracy, its openness to globalization, and its progressiveness in seamlessly weaving tradition with modernity. Gulen describes Hizmet as “a movement of people united around high human values,” and disapproves of the attribution of the movement to his name.
Diverse service-oriented projects are initiated, funded, and conducted by people who are motivated to various extents by Gulen’s humanitarian discourse. Ranging from private schools to relief programs, these projects are independent of each other in operational terms – there is no hierarchy. Research shows that the average financial contribution of participants in the movement to the service projects is 5 to 10 percent of their annual income.
The Gulen Movement has paved an exemplary path of co-operation regardless of religious, ethnic or cultural differences. Although the movement’s origins are tied to the Turkish-Muslim identity, the Gulen Movement is now active in many non-Muslim countries. Members of the movement attract and include participants of diverse backgrounds, faiths, and cultures. Sociologist Helen Rose Ebaugh explains the reason being is that the infrastructure of the movement, in terms of organizational leadership, volunteers, financial donors and the inspiration behind the movement, is transported by the Turkish diaspora (i.e. Turkish immigrants settling in countries all over the world as students, professionals and businessmen). The result is that the movement is now transnational in its outreach and impact.