A background for understanding the Gülen community

Şen M.

Soziale Welt, vol.58, 2007 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 58
  • Publication Date: 2007
  • Journal Name: Soziale Welt
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index, Scopus


This paper focuses on one of the most powerful, wealthy and influential religious communities of Turkey. The Gülen community, founded by Fethullah Gülen, is also known internationally due to its educational activities in the post-Soviet countries. In the existing academic and non-academic literature, the community is generally presented as a civil society organization. Challenging this approach, the author explores the community's organizational and hierarchical structure. The paper also examines the wider socio-political setting in which the community has emerged, strengthened and - during the last decade - trans-nationalized. The author shows how the community utilizes Sunni Sufism as a »technology of self« in order to shape its followers' inner self, and how the community attempts to create a new generation equipped with Islamic values and morality, which is supposed to change Turkish society and restore the power of Islam in the long run.