SWP Research Paper 2014/RP 02, January 2014, 31 Pages

The movement led by the preacher Fethullah Gülen is regarded as the fastest-growing religious trend within Turkish Islam. This accounts also for citizens and denizens with Turkish backgrounds in Western European countries, including Germany, where approximately 300 organisations close to Gülen operate 24 state-approved private schools and around 150 extracurricular tuition centres. Against the background of the diaspora, Gülen’s philosophy of adopting modern knowledge, modes of action and attitudes, climbing the social ladder and thus making an effective contribution to social moral reform assumes a new dimension. For one thing, in contrast to Turkey, personal social advancement cannot be linked with the undertaking regarding the conquest of the state. For another, and again in contrast to Turkey, to concentrate on the preservation of one’s traditional religious (Muslim) and national (Turkish) identity does not automatically create harmony with the majority of the population, but is indeed at least partially opposed to the same. As a result, the Turkish-Muslim diaspora is under pressure to develop a new understanding of religious and national identity compatible with attitudes prevailing in European societies. For the movement’s supporters, this is just as much a prerequisite for their individual advancement as the reconciliation of their religious world view with its scientific equivalent. Gülen’s prompt that service to society constitutes a significant form of a lifestyle justifiable in the eyes of God could prove to be the key to resolving the principal conflict of interest between Islam and the West both within the European diaspora and in the USA, repeatedly emphasised by him with insistence in his early writings.

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