Maimul Ahsan Khan. the Vision and Impact of Fethullah Gulen: A New Paradigm for Social Activism

By Rashid, Razlan | Journal of Development Communication, June 2012 | Go to article overview

Maimul Ahsan Khan. the Vision and Impact of Fethullah Gulen: A New Paradigm for Social Activism


Rashid, Razlan, Journal of Development Communication


MAIMUL AHSAN KHAN. The Vision and Impact of Fethullah Gulen: A New Paradigm for Social Activism. Blue Dome Press, New York. 2011. 174 pages.

This 174-page book documents the ways of M. Fethullah Gulen and the supporters of the movement inspired by him presenting a new kind of social activism with a deeper sense of spirituality and altruism. It has been missing from many contemporary civic movements. The author shows a clear structure in the outline starting off with a brief introduction of Gulen, a household name in modern Turkey for several decades. The author indicated Gulen has become something of a center of gravity for millions of people from all walks of life throughout the world.

The book is clearly structured starting off with Gulen's Ideas on Rumi, sufism in theory and practice, methodology of schooling, approach to the Quran and ideal society and notion on Hizmet and public good. Towards the end, the authored covered topics on Gulen's thought on modern democracy and on jihad, tolerance and terrorism.

There have been some outstanding issues raised in the book illustrated by Maimul of the efforts of Gulen and his supporters in trying to balance spiritual life and social activism in order to inspire people from all segment of society. "How can Gulen walk such a fine line in his presentation of Islam as a mission of comprehensive social reform? Philosophically articulating Islam as a world vision for the whole of humanity, Gulen's call to all Muslims to become better human beings is very appealing. Instead of causing discomfort in atheists or Muslim secularists about Islamic ideas of social reform, Gulen has shown great sensitivity towards Turkish secular regimes as well as religious groups that are engaged in making the Turkish nation more "Islamic" (p.7).

The chapter Gulen Echoes Rumi with a Difference has outlined several relevant arguments that the rise of political Islam is a serious dilemma faced by most of contemporary Muslim countries. "Gulen has not taken sides in the feud in the Muslim world between secularists and Islamists who are locked in an ideological battle over the control of the rotten state machinery left behind by the European colonizers" (p.17).

In Sufism in the Theory and Practice: Gulen's Perspective, the author highlights that Sufism is mainly concerned with the enrichment of the inner world of human beings on their journey to the Absolute Truth. "To become a truly human being one needs to acquire good qualities in one's soul infused from heavenly sources and this is a never ending process of making oneself available for the well-being of others, a process which must be pursued to ots final fruition" (p.37).

The author asserts a person can truly be transformed and spiritually uplifted through works and talks of spiritual masters. …

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