What is Hizmet Movement ?
“Hizmet” literally means service, serving fellow humans or community in Turkish, which has broader meanings of servant- hood,presenting the faith by example with humility and worship. Sometimes it has been referred to as Gulen Movement, by virtue of Mr. Fethullah Gulen, especially by the social scientists in the West. But that is not a preferred terminology, including Mr. Fethullah Gulen, because it puts too much emphasis on one person. The Movement participants would like to refer it to as “Hizmet Movement”, because that is more inclusive.
Where to put Hizmet Movement and how did it all start?
The Hizmet Movement started in Turkey as a community around a preacher and a scholar by the name of Fethullah Gulen. It transformed, and it is still transforming, itself into a social movement, especially during the 199 0s. Many social scientists see it as “trans-national faith-inspired” social movement right now, but some of the aspects of the early decades related to the community roots are still there.
First of all, the Hizmet Movement is not a reactionary movement. Second, Hizmet Movement is not an ideologically driven organization. Mr. Fethullah Gulen is against the use of religion as a political ideology. It would be wrong to perceive the Movement as akin to political Islamism. Third, Hizmet Movement has been organized by civil dynamics.
For English-speaking audiences who are familiar with the American History, the closest thing would be, in some senses, the Civil Rights Movement of Turkey. This movement is about some core principals and values, such as democracy, basic human rights, and respecting every human with dignity. It started out as a community of faithful people around the cause of education in an environment that where there was a political rivalry and anarchy, when there was an ongoing discrimination by the Government toward observant Muslim citizens of their country.
In this environment, Fethullah Gulen who is a very influential preacher, put out a project to focus on education and educate the people of Anatolia, that is mainland Turkey, to allow them to have career opportunities and also, to end political rivalry and anarchy and the discrimination that was ongoing at the time. What started out as a small pious community around him as a preacher, now has become a very large civil society movement that is still focused on education, interfaith dialogue and also humanitarian assistance.
What is the mission of Hizmet Movement ?
Hizmet Movement is a social movement, which seeks to combine personal spiritual growth with social action. Hizmet Movement is based on the premise that spiritually everyone can do better, grow and realize our potentials but that is not enough and we have to put in action in improving our societies. In terms of its founders and the vast majority of its participants they are Muslims but Hizmet Movement is not a religious movement. Hizmet Movement is open to all with the understanding of the high human values, where people of different backgrounds can gather. In an institutional sense, it is not a faith-based but a faith-inspired movement.
Through which concepts can you define the Hizmet Movement ?
The Hizmet Movement can be defined by modesty, togetherness, altruism, devotion and self-sacrifice, service without expectations, and by a depth of the spirit and heart with no anticipation for personal gain for any intention or deed.
These are all concepts of Sufi culture, and also among the intellectual and active dynamics of Hizmet Movement. But these concepts do not only relate to a person’s own inner world, as in some Sufi orders; they are also directed to the outside, to what is social, to the same degree. In that respect, the awareness of religious depth and servant- hood to God has more all-encompassing and social aims.
Fethullah Gulen and Hizmet Movement
Fethullah Gulen invites Muslims to fulfill the pillars of Islam (daily prayers, fasting, charity, pilgrimage) by taking modern conditions into consideration. He encourages a broad understanding of charity to include the gifts of time and effort, not just money; he similarly conveys the idea that prayer is not just for us, but also for others. Thus, taking these as his starting point, Fethullah Gulen’s definition of “service” becomes both broad and continuous, extending to national, human, moral and universal values.
When one speaks of a “person of service,” one refers to a person with a vast heart who can embrace a wide perspective, selfless service, and devotion. And this requires a transcending love for religion, for nation, and for humanity. That is why Fethullah Gulen frequently refers to those who are filled with such a transcendent love, and ready to face any challenges on this path, as “guardians of love”.
The individuals in Hizmet Movement are selflessly serving people mostly coming from urban areas, and have a high level of education, and have absorbed modern and contemporary values. The most basic dynamic of this movement has a religious, social, and cultural identity, which is totally independent of any political or ideological structure. Just as their goal is not driven by a political ideology, the individuals who comprise Hizmet Movement are not reactionaries against official state ideologies as in reactionary movements.