Thursday, April 26, 2012

An analysis of the Gulen Movement

(Video Duration: 24 mins. 6 secs.)

This is one of the first academic books about Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish scholar and preacher, and the civic movement he inspired in Turkey and ultimately throughout the world. The movement is rooted in moderate Islam and is committed to educating youth, fostering interfaith and intercultural dialog, assisting the needy in society and contributing to global peace. Based on interview data and visits to Gülen-inspired institutions, the book describes the movement from a sociological perspective, especially through the lens of social movement theory. It is the first book, grounded in empirical methodology, to describe the movement to a Western audience. It will be of special interest to social scientists interested in religious movements, religious scholars seeking information on Islamic movements and the general public eager to discover a moderate Islam that promotes humanitarian projects.

Helen Rose Ebaugh, professor, University of Houston, received her Ph.D. in sociology from Columbia University in 1975 with specialties in organizational sociology and the sociology of religion. In addition to five research monographs and two edited books, she has published numerous articles in scholarly journals, including The American Sociological Review, Social Forces, The Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Sociological Analysis and The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. She served as president of the national Association for the Sociology of Religion, helped organize and served as the first chair of the American Sociological Association’s Section on the Sociology of Religion and is past president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. Ebaugh received two consecutive research grants from the Pew Charitable Trusts to study religion and the new immigrants in the United States. With a major grant from the Lilly Endowment, she studied inter-faith coalitions and their provision of social services. She routinely teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in the sociology of religion and the study of world religions.

"I teach the Sociology of World Religions at the University of Houston, Houston, Texas, and after the events of 9/11 (bombing of the World Trade Center and Pentagon) and the negative stereotypes that many Americans had of Islam and Muslims after that event, I began to look for the moderate voice of Islam and Muslims who would come forward to challenge the so-called terrorists. I saw Mr. Fethullah Gulen's full page ad in the New York Times condemning the bombings and wondered who he was. Then, several years later, two Turkish-Muslim graduate students entered our Sociology Dept and sought me out to take my course and work with me on theses related to the Gulen movement. As a result of my academic work in the area of interfaith dialog, I was also invited to be a keynote speaker at the 3rd. Harran conference in Gothenburg, Sweden, co-sponsored by the Journalists and Writers Foundation. So gradually I began to learn more about the Gulen movement and realized that it promoted interfaith dialogue, education, modernization and peaceful co-existence."

Full version of this TV program [76 mins] is available at: