Sociology of Islam, Special Issue on the Gülen Movement

Sociology of Islam (SOI)
Special Issue on the Gülen Movement (“Hizmet”) in Turkey and the World

Sociology of Islam, a peer reviewed quarterly journal published by BRILL
plans a special issue on Turkey’s Gülen Movement to be published in October/November 2013 (Volume 1, Number 3).

Referring to itself as “Hizmet” (Service), the Turkish network of people and institutions also known as the “the Gülen Movement” (GM) aims to put into practice the teachings of Turkey’s most famous, and most controversial, faith-based community leader, M. Fethullah Gülen. Beginning in the late 1960s, the GM first emerged as a faith revival community whose attractants were inspired by Gülen’s applied articulation of Turkey’s most widespread twentieth century commentary on the Qur’an, the Risale-i Nur Külliyatı (The Epistles of Light) – the collected teachings of “Bediüzzaman” Said Nursi. Expanding throughout the 1970s, many young people of Anatolia were attracted to Gülen’s blend of science and Islam, and of the Islamic faith and national Turkish identity. Taking advantages of political and economic reforms in the 1980s, the GM has since emerged to become Turkey’s most influential faith-based identity community, and has become a primary organizational player in education, mass media, trade, and finance. Its organizational network now spans over 120 countries, and its affiliates now control one of Turkey’s largest media conglomerates, a number of the country’s most globally linked companies, and approximately 1000 math and science-focused schools throughout the world. Moreover, in 1998 Fethullah Gülen moved to the United States, where he now resides in self-imposed exile in Saylorsburg. Pennsylvania. Since Gülen’s move to the U.S., loyalists in the GM network have expanded their operations in that country, and are now highly active in intercultural and interfaith outreach, commerce and trade, political lobbying, and charter school education. For these reasons, in addition to assessing the GM’s impact inside the borders of “the new Turkey,” this issue also aims to account for the ways in which the GM’s transnational activities both complement and contradict the network’s collective identity and mission.

Considering its emergence as a source of social power in Turkey, the GM is not without its critics. Since the early 1980s, many news columnists, public intellectuals, and politicians have regularly declared that the GM’s real aims are to slowly and patiently initiate an “Islamic” overall of the “secular” Turkish Republic. Not surprisingly, correlated with the GM’s organizational expansion throughout the world, are the emergence of similar criticisms in Australia, the United States, Holland, Russia, and elsewhere. As they do in Turkey, in many other countries GM affiliates must wrestle with sometimes legitimate, sometimes outlandish, criticisms of their ambiguous organizational strategies and apparently contradictory social, political, and economic aims. In response, GM actors both in Turkey and elsewhere have strategically presented themselves as nothing more than “selfless,” “service oriented” democrats, peace activists, and headstrong advocates for interfaith and intercultural dialogue. To spread this message, they have actively sought to publicize Gülen’s teachings to eager foreign audiences. Their primary strategy has been to sponsor and organize a number of academic conferences that have all led to book publications, which, in turn, have saturated the academic marketplace on the topic of the GM’s growth and impact.

In an attempt to fill a glaring void in the literature on the GM’s collective mobilization, this special issue of SOI hopes to attract well-researched scholarship whose author’s intend neither to promote/praise the activities of actors inspired by Fethullah Gülen, nor to demonize them. Rather, the intent is to publish a volume that contextualizes the GM’s impact from a perspective that foregrounds academic skepticism, critical sociology, and social movements. Original, empirically informed, research-based articles from any discipline are welcome, but papers whose authors focus on the GM from the perspective of social movement studies, political sociology/anthropology, and global political economy will be given priority.

Submission Information: Please submit manuscripts for this special issue via MS Word attachment to the following address: The deadline for submissions is July 15, 2013. Length should be limited to 9000-10000 words including all notes and references (not including figures and tables). Because SOI follows a double blind peer-review process, authors should remove all self-references (in text and in the bibliography). Please include the paper’s title and the abstract on the first page of the text itself. Authors should submit a separate title page that includes full contact information. For initial submissions, all standard social science in-text citation and bibliographic forms are acceptable. All submissions will be evaluated upon receipt and, if judged appropriate, sent blindly to referees for review. Please direct questions and queries regarding this special issue to Dr. Joshua Hendrick (