Fethullah Gülen: A Life of Hizmet
by Jon Pahl
In this first ever life story of Fethullah Gülen, Jon Pahl explores the story of one of the most controversial figures of our times both as the personal biography of the person from Turkey to the United States and the public biography of the social movement he has inspired. The central question the book addresses is how did a pious Muslim boy born in a tiny and remote Turkish village come to inspire a global movement of millions of individuals dedicated to literacy, social enterprise, and interreligious dialogue? A related question follows immediately: how did Fethullah Gülen, that pious Muslim boy who became a global religious leader, also motivate animosity that has led him to be jailed repeatedly, to be monitored by police and intelligence agencies, and (most recently) to be slandered as a “terrorist?”
The answers Dr. Pahl has reached has led him to see Gülen’s life as marked by five key elements, patterns, or relationships: 1) integrity of participation in the nonviolent practices of Islam; 2) principled pluralism--manifest in a commitment to dialogue; 3) what I call engaged empathy--deep feeling for the suffering of the world, and willingness to engage on behalf of alleviating that suffering; 4) a commitment to spiritual and scientific literacy; and 5) an organizational model of social enterprise.
Dr. Pahl, a strong believer of religions as catalysts for peace, crafts through the story of Gülen and the Hizmet Movement an introduction to Islam for non-Muslim readers, for the questions he brings to Gülen’s life story are also the questions others bring to Islam more broadly.