Hizmet Travels: From Anatolia to Atlanta Open Access

Ahmad, Alizeh (2014)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/2n49t2181?locale=en
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Abstract

My senior honors thesis examines the transnational identity of the hizmet movement, otherwise known as the Gulen Movement, as it has traveled from the Anatolian region of Turkey into the American city of Atlanta. Combining a variety of multi-disciplinary approaches, such as history, sociology, and anthropology, I attempt to trace how the movement has grown from a small, piety based assertion of Islamic identity led by Fethullah Gulen within a modernizing, secularizing Turkey, to a transnational, educational, socio-civic movement that has incorporated neo-liberal discourses of human rights, dialogue, tolerance, and pluralism as Gulen has retreated into the United States in his old age. In portraying how hizmet travels, both through time, as a religious concept meaning "service," and place, as a transnational movement of over three million people, I demonstrate how the movement has established and expressed itself in different ways as it has localized into new communities, creating institutions with diverse mission statements catering to the distinct places in which it operates, yet retaining similar visions of a world beyond poverty, conflict, and ignorance based in Gulen's Islamic understandings.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction.........................................................................................................................................1

Methodology................................................................................................................................3

Chapter One: The Politics of Articulating Faith in Secular Turkey...................................................................8

Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire...................................................................................................9

The Tanzimat Period and Rise of the Young Turks...............................................................................10

The New Republic.........................................................................................................................13

The Rise of Faith Based Movements & Multi-Party Politics.....................................................................16

Neoliberal Reform of the 1980s: Islam in the Public Sphere .................................................................20

Hizmet as a Religiously Based Civil Society Project in Turkey................................................................23

Chapter Two: Fethullah Gulen and the Development of Hizmet.......................................................................25

Gulen's Formative Period (1941-1958)................................................................................................25

Said Nursi's Influence on Gulen.........................................................................................................28

Gulen's Theology in Action: Turkish Imam and Teacher (1959-1971)........................................................31

Political Persecution & Gulen's Developing Educational Philosophy (1971-80)............................................. 33

The Rise of Hizmet Inspired Schools and Institutions (1980-1999)............................................................38

American Exile and Globalization of the Educational Movement (1999-Present)...........................................42

Chapter Three: Hizmet Travels: Transnational Aspects of the Movement...........................................................45

An Educational Network Expanded......................................................................................................45

Hizmet Transnationalized..................................................................................................................48

Universalizing Hizmet through Dialogue...............................................................................................50

How Does the Movement Travel?........................................................................................................53

Central Asia: Berna Turam on Hizmet's Turkicness in Kazakhstan..................................................... 53

Germany: Jill Irvine on Hizmet Building-Bridges for Turkish Minorities............................................... 55

Northern Iraq: Haron Akyol on Hizmet's Cross-Ethnic Counter to Conflict............................................56

Southeast Asia: Osman portrays Hizmet's Efforts in Diverse Cultural and Islamic Contexts.....................57

Conclusion.......................................................................................................................................58

Chapter Four: Perspectives of Hizmet from Atlanta, Georgia.............................................................................61

Encountering Atlanta's Istanbul Center..................................................................................................61

Hizmet's Arrival in America................................................................................................................63

A History of the Istanbul Center..........................................................................................................65

The Istanbul Center for Culture and Dialogue.................................................................................66

The Istanbul Center: Its Educational Activities................................................................................67

Shifting Institutional Identities: The Arrival of the Atlantic Institute............................................................70

What about the Schools? Negotiating Identities in Atlanta.........................................................................73

Encountering Dialogue at Atlantic Institute Interfaith Events......................................................................77

Articulating Hizmet in the Public Sphere: Negotiating Tensions between Dialogic and Representative Identity.....80

The Shaky Bridge.......................................................................................................................80

Multigenerational Influences on the Movement.................................................................................82

Transatlantic Exchange................................................................................................................84

Hizmet: "Beyond Creed or Culture"........................................................................................................90

Conclusion.................................................................................................................................................93

Works Cited...............................................................................................................................................98

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