The Hizmet (Gülen) Movement of Canada

The Hizmet (Gülen) movement has involved diverse people in Turkey and abroad, including Canada, by mobilizing inactive energies within a very short time over a large geographical area (over 180 countries including many provinces in Canada) and to achieve joint projects of service that millions of people are taking part in from different nations, and it provides peaceful solutions to oppose the clash of civilizations. The Gülen Movement has formed a large number of organizations operating across economic, political and cultural boundaries in which it circulates and diffuses ideas, information, a new pattern of action and cultures as it is able to transfer latency into visibility through collective action and services, which are then institutionalized (Cetin, 2009). I will study the Gülen Movement of Canada with a deductive quantitative research on its organization activities and qualitative a field research on participants and compare, with existing researches in Texas, the USA, questioning whereby if the movement promotes solutions to the three major problems of Canadian society: ―Ignorance (lack of education),‖ ―Poverty,‖ and ―Disunity‖ through its model of universal education, dialogue and human centered principle to pursue social justice in late modernity in the period of between 2005 and 2010.

Theoretical Framework

Up until the 1960s, major sources for the sociological understanding of social movements were: the Marxist theory, the Psychological theory, and the Collective theory. The Hizmet Movement is, however, a new non-contentious collective action and actors as a socio-cultural phenomenon. I will use three contemporary approaches, namely ‘the political opportunity structure,‘ ‘resource mobilization,‘ and ‘the frame theory‘ as multi-polar approaches. The Political Opportunity Structure studies the impact of structure on collective action, and vice versa. The Resource Mobilization Theory ignores ideology, origins, structure, and political style and sees the emergence and development of movement as arising from the availability and use of resources. The Frame theory focuses on the role of the shared assumptions and meanings held by actors in interpreting events and redressing problems. I will take sources from resource mobilization theorists who propose a social psychology perspective, including Gurr (1970); Turner and Killian (1972); Smelser (1963); Byrne (1996); Eyerman and Jamison (1991), whereby I will use the Organizational Commitment Theory, which was researched and concocted by the sociologist Rosabeth Kanter in the late 1960s and early 1970s (Ebaugh, 2010).

I will study the Weberian approach which shows that the spirit of modernity within capitalism impacts culture, economic behaviour as the capitalism of products, and unique cultural totality which is the most rhetorical objective of materialism that has established the superiority of idealism, trying to change the system. Weber states that the ―spirit of capitalism as Calvinist movement has ethnos and economic action that is peaceful profit pursuit. Acquisitiveness is maximum possible accumulation‖ (Weber, 1930). Weber says that capitalism comes from peaceful, rational pursuit and a pure religion, whereas the opposite idea of Marx sees religion as opium, stating it as acquisitive and the maximum possible accumulation. Marx theorized the economic base as being determined by the superstructure, which includes ideas, laws, politics, religions, etc., although Marx also recognizes that these institutions will turn in, become converted and then influence the base‘ within which there exists some “reciprocity” between the economic base and superstructure. ―In the history of primitive accumulation, all revolutions are epoch-making;‖ this is a secret in the political economy (Marx, 1978). Marxist ideas have been shifted under post modernity and converted by neo-Marxists such as David Harvey and Naomi Klein, who claimed that neo-liberalism -or the restructuring of globalism- is not offering more than the current capitalist economic mode of production and political economic system, which supports a few corporate elites to own and create media monopoly. Globalization is just promoting the homogeneity and sameness that is associated between Westernization and Americanization, or the new face of colonialism (Singh, 2009).The Hizmet Movement has emerged to challenge these current ideologies, values and structural forces.

Social Institution and Social Structure

A system of economic global interconnectedness, the culture and system of capitalism and technological interdependence has taken over what we used to call society. There is no one in charge or claim to the sole ownership of wrongdoing or control over self-regulating cultural, economic and political catastrophes (Friedman, 1999). Neither the developed countries from the West nor the third world countries from the ―Rest‖ are providing a sustainable solution to either of these problems. The collective action of the movement provides a new horizon and paradigm as a gross-root non-governmental organization has put pressure on the political market indirectly and symbolically with its soft power in democracy, challenging society through educational initiatives, media organs and network, opposition to violent and coercive means and methods, intercultural and interfaith dialogue, and cooperation on projects and services (Cetin, 2009). Also, education and media are also considered to be ‗state apparatuses‘ in neo-Marxist terms and perceived as tools for power and hegemony.

Operation, Strategy, Research, & Design Methods

My quantitative research will use the scientific and objective methods that rise in desirability, credibility and validity. I will operationalize with conducting a survey that contains structural interview questionnaires. The interview will be conducted across Canada in 2011 and 2012. The questionnaires, altogether 100, will be sent out to educational, cultural center and dialogue institutions set up by the Gülen Movement‘s participants in Toronto, Kitchener, Hamilton, Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary where they are more active. Through these questionnaires, I will be able to evaluate the perceptions and attitudes of administrators, employees and volunteers through the insiders‘ perspectives (in total from 300 respondents) and the disparity between their representation of the collective action and that of outside observers or opponents. I will also make interviews with three front-runner executives of the movement as a field study. I personally have belonged to this movement for 26 years as a student, journalist and volunteer. An advantage of the insider role has been that it enables me to obtain the collective actor‘s perspective through interviews, and, as a result of my insider privilege, such individuals are comfortably able to answer my questions. The survey will be conducted carefully with the avoidance of any ethical failure that relates to informed consent, deception, harm to participants and invasion of privacy. All participants will be informed orally and in writing, while their names will be protected. The cross-sectional design is the best option for my study with the usage of scientific approaches of both positivism and objectivism ―like snapshots taken of a social movement and compare with two variables‖ (Bryan et. al, 2009). This social reality can be measurable with the consistency of empirical study and a cross-sectional research design that focuses on sampling at a single point in time and preparing a comparison and analysis with other studies and documents.

Epistemology & Ontological Orientation

Fethullah Gülen is considered one of the most influential Turkish Islamic scholars of his generation with his Sufi-oriented (mystical Islam) message of love and compassion, is the number one contemporary role model in Turkey, as also in much of the rest of the Muslim world and even non-Muslim countries. He took first place in the Foreign Policy/Prospect poll of the World’s Top Public Intellectuals in 2008. The movement he initiated in the late 1960s now has millions of participants. It has founded and runs hundreds of modern educational institutions, as well as print and broadcast media outlets and dialogue societies. The author of more than fifty books, Gulen has dedicated a lifetime to promoting peaceful interrelationship within and between different communities, societies, cultures and religious traditions (Ahmed, 2009). The Gülen Movement is centered on human rights-centered godly work of love, compassion, justice, respect and an enhanced quality of life for all humanity, and it inspires people across the globe, for these are the values of the Divine that is, through this movement, being transmitted across the globe, as many objective individuals can find the work of Fethullah Gülen, much like the work of the Dali Lama or Mother Teresa, capturing the heart of many (Jolly, 2010). The relationship between the global economy and rebellion and resistance is the tragedy of the common practices of many anti-systemic protests such as those of peasants, ecology, indigenous and ethnic groups, and anti-colonial, anti-capitalist and anti-communist movements in peripheral countries (Robbins, 2008); but this is not the case for the Hizmet Movement which is unrelated to the power structure of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and other elite groups that Sedef Arat Koc (2009) mentioned in her article titled ―A Cultural Turn in Politics: Bourgeois Class Identity and White-Turk Discourses,‖ so-calling privileged elite group members ―White Turks‖ (Koc, 2009). The White Turks are seen as new paradigm challengers, as are the Black Turks who are part of a less privileged group.

Literature Review

It may be best to begin with defining what Gülen movement is: location, aim, theory, whichever would cover most briefly. There are numerous publications about the movement and the Gulen himself that were mostly designed for the popular consumption and regular audience, not for the academia. These publications lack objective positioning. Berna Turam (2001) studied the Gülen Movement in McGill University for her PhD that was based on an extended empirical research project undertaken in Turkey and Kazakhstan between 1997-1999 and explored ‗Between Islam and the State: The Engagements between Gülen Community and the Secular Turkish State.‘ Turam mentioned in her main findings of research contrasts the juxtaposition of Islam and the state in literature: that Gülen creates the alternative pathways of engagements with the state in which the engagement range is from domestic symbolic politics and negotiations to international alliances. Her thesis examined the engagements in three distinct spheres, i.e. national education, international undertakings and the gender order (Turam, 2001). Muhammed Cetin (2009) studied this faith-inspired movement in his research and had his book, ―The Gülen Movement: Civic Service without Borders,‖ published and which focused on motivation for participations that include spiritual resources and moral values like altruism, which constitute the social capital for the peaceful civil society movement and on how it developed volunteerism, dialog and relationships to achieve shared goals, competiveness and non-materialistic and non-contentious services in 9 countries (Cetin, 2009). The counter mobilization has made several accusations whether the Gülen Movement is a civic initiative or a civil society movement, debating that it had either arisen as a reaction to a crises or for the expression of conflict, and stating it as either a sect or a cult, and/or that it is a political movement or an altruistic collective action. Cetin concluded that the Gülen Movement is not established or struggled based on reactionary, political or antagonistic interest nor a sect or cult. It is a collective action as the frame theory for the collective consciousness because in its SMOs lies the ability to pursue general goals over the long term; additionally, they have insusceptibility to escapism, extremism or violence and in the simplicity of decision-making and mediation, in their efficiency and effectiveness, and in their work ethics in which a variety of interests collaborate (Cetin, 244, 2009). Altruism is elevated to a virtue of high standing as to be built in togetherness with others, towards common goals, personal sacrifice in the interest of collective actions, and working hard in the present for a happy future, while the movement gives hopes of achieving and preserving the meaning of human behaviour along with the richness of diversity in a global society (Cetin, 2009).

As an American professor specializing in the Sociology of Religion, Helen Rose Ebaugh (2010) examined the financial resources of movement in her book The Gülen Movement: A Sociological Analysis of a Civic Movement Rooted in Moderate Islam,‖ in which Ebaugh sees the movement founded by the controversial Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen as both an opportunity for the West and a serious alternative to religious extremism because helping others is the top priority in the movement. Ebaugh states ―A good person should be educated, uphold moral and ethical values, maintain a relationship to God and assume social responsibility‖ (Ebaugh, 2010). Ebaugh mentioned a wide array of financial contributors belonging to different segments of Turkish society, including industrialists, blue-collar workers, and graduate students. Individualism and individualistic human rights is very strong in the Western democracies and lead to egoism and self-centred behaviour, although they are promoted as universal values, and Orientalists still see the East as a collective culture of weak idealism. Zeki Saritoprak (2007) explained at the SOAS conference, which was held by the University of London, that Gulen believes in the integrity of the individual; his approach to social restoration and peace building, therefore, is one of “bottom-up” social change which is similar to the famous Muslim sociologist Ibn Khaldun’s understanding of building peace that philosophy, individual efforts and sacrifices remain essential, where he says, ―peace in society is possible through willingness of an individual to subordinate to the group. Without this, peace and social development are not possible‖ (Saritoprak, 2007).


In conclusion, my study focus and thesis is original, in other words it has never been studied before in Canada and abroad. In this research, I will answer the question: Can a Turkish-origined ―Hizmet (Gülen) Movement of Canada‖ promote transferable universal human centred moralities through non-politic, non-violent and a civic collective action across Canada? The Movement has already diffused now, all over the world, that empowers are to raise hope for justice and is the model for a new education with the cooperation of inter-cultural and interfaith dialogue. Is it relevant to Canadian multiculturalism? Does this collective action respond and offer workable realistic solutions to local problems in Canada such as ignorance, poverty and disunity, and issues arising from systemic inefficiencies and global concerns? Are its projects solving problems of individuals and the society as a whole? The Western civilization, for losing its monopoly, is now on the decline in the near future of the world, although its monopoly has been maintained since the 17th century through financial capitalism. Since communism had collapsed beyond the shadow of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, socialism has become a dead ideology, left out in Marxist‘s idea of a so-called ―Utopian,‖ whereas Weberian modernity can no longer deliver what it had promised during its beginning: the freedom of individuals, a rational society and steady scientific progress towards an infinite horizon (Kalın, 2010). It is clear that ―Globalization is Americanization‖ as a hegemonic power (Friedman, 1999), which caused inequality, poverty and injustice all over the world, while the global economy and globalization dangerously depend on a ―US based recovery of consumerism‖ as the hegemonic power claimed that the world‘s economic crisis and recession will be solved only within the  Americanization context (Harvey, 2005). Marxist‘s thesis concerns ―the crisis tendencies of capitalism‖ which emerges from under consumption, whereas the general sufficient effective demand now hits every one of our daily lives (Luxemburg, 1968). Capitalism and democracy, free markets and free people, do not go hand in hand; in contrast, America‘s ―free market‖ policies have come to dominate the world through the exploitation of disaster, shocking people and countries through there stages: swift regime change, changes to the economy and the repression of opponents (Klein, 2007). The ―capitalistic theory of class struggle, democracy, and the Communism Manifesto‖ has become irrelevant because of over accumulation (Marx, Engels, 1986). In this case, globalization, capitalism and neo-liberalism are restructuring the world economy through a financialization that cannot be an escape route either. Despite this, Turkey offers a new paradigm to the old world (the Western civilization) which may challenge the new future because the Third World Countries will seek justice, happiness and equality through Turkey‘s miracle model of human centred universal moralities‖ offered by the Turkish originated ―Hizmet Movement.‖ Neo-liberal and MNCs policies and globalism are still questionable because the culture of American consumerism has already been invading Turkey for over three decades. The consumption culture of capitalism leads to the increase of both the economic growth and destruction within the Turkish miracle, but the new Turkish model offers social altruism to alter any capitalist approach into becoming an escape route. The recent Turkish economic miracle is a state model and it is the Hizmet Movement that has been demonstrated as a civil, moral, holistic engagement model and non-governmental organization which completes the gap between national state goals; certainly, the Turkish phenomenon cannot exist without the Hizmet Movement‘s non-political and non-violent enforcements.




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