Let’s Learn About Cult Leader Gülen and his Jamaat
“A cult” is an ideological organization that is held together by charismatic relationships and demands a high level of dedication. Cults carry the risk of turning into structures that over manipulate and abuse their members.”
Gülen movement also carries characteristics of a cult community like, Branch Davidians, Aum Shinrikyo, People’s Temple, Scientology, Heaven’s Gate, The Arm of Lord or Osho, which we know in the West. In many cult organizations, we find the following basic features:
• An authoritarian and charismatic leadership,
• A totalitarian ideology shared within the group,
• Totalitarian, firm and precise boundaries between the group and the outside, • chosenness
• Demonizing outside the group,
• Emulation of violence, abuse of individual
Gülen community is neither a sect and a Sufi group, nor a traditional community as we know. A charismatic cult is a cult structure formed by a community that believes in its being chosen with high dedication around a charismatic cult leader. Now let’s try to explain this from Gülen’s own texts written in Turkey.
1. How Does Gülen Describe Himself and His Community?
a. The Whole Plan is God’s Plan
Just as a light is reflected in the mirror and the task of the mirror is to reflect the light,
likewise, Gülen thinks that this is his role in the universe. The prism name he gave to his books in facts includes a reference to it. Prism cannot choose not to reflect the Light. In the same way, Gülen thinks he is chosen. Gülen is only a prism chosen by God: “If God is breaking down some of the rays he has sent from his own presence and reflecting on others, shouldn‟t that person be bent over with a feeling of gratitude to his Lord, who has chosen him for this great and blessed work?”
M. Fethullah Gulen, Fasıldan Fasıla (Chapter to Chapter (Fasıl’dan Fasıl’a)) 4, İzmir 2009, p. 108
Why is it important to be Chosen in the Cults?
• The belief of being a community chosen by God and the prophet and being enlightened chosen souls and group that will guide humanity and save them from darkness makes individuals feel special, and this feeling connects them more to the
• People who feel special make concessions and work harder. Cult members not only
feel special with a divine chosenness, but also act in the belief that they have an important role to play in the historical process, that they will be recognized by the whole world in the future and that the whole world will witness their greatness.
• • Members of the Moon cult are often told that their statues and monuments will be erected in the future to honor themselves, their courage and sacrifice.
• • Another feeling of chosenness is to despise the outsiders, to see them as crowds in the illusion, brainwashed and waiting to be saved.
a. He meets in his dream with the religious figures who died and
receives their support
“I saw Ashab al-Badr a few times in my dream. So was the camp. I even dreamed once or twice that I was going to war with them. I was surprised wondering “ God! I am with Ashab al-Badr, but I came long after them, and how could I be with them?” I think I could know some of them, but in my observation at the camp, I could not fully distinguish the individuals. I think I could only know Hamza.”
M. Fethullah Gülen, Metaphysical Dimension of Being, İzmir, 2011, p. 76. Battle of Badr was the first battle that Muslims fought with the Meccan Polytheists and won victory. Hamza is the most heroic warrior in this war. Gülen interprets this dream as a sign that the police men who come to capture him will be punished with divine wrath. In the
continuation of these sentences, he says:
• “Then it turned out that at that moment, a group that wanted to raid the camp had a
traffic accident when they came to a crossroads and their cars were burned. Then we saw this car. He was already on our way. That is, the throwing of that iron pen pointed to this result in the realm of images (âlam al-mithâl). The appearance of the door was the sign of being under the grace. So in this short dream, as if the companions say to the people there: “You’re under grace and protection. When the cause, the thought and the feeling are the
same, when we are behind the same prophet, time and centuries cannot separate us from you. We are side by side, even if one of us is in the world, one in the afterlife, one in the east, one in the west.”
M. Fethullah Gülen, Metaphysical Dimension of Being, İzmir, 2011, p. 76.
Gülen says three things in these statements. The first is that they are in a camp. He doesn’t explain with whom and why the camp was made. The second is that he is a wanted person and that the camp will be busted. The third is the claim that both he and his community are protected by God. The signs that show the cult of protection and chosen by God are also reflected in the concepts in which Gülen defines his community and followers. All the names used for members of the organization are mystical, and interestingly, some contain militarist jargon:
“Blessings”, “spiritual teams”, “army of light”, “light cavalry ”, Allah’s aspired goal”, “manifestations of Allah’s grace”, “rabbanîs”, “second generation of companions”, “ endless light guides ”
2. How Does Gülen See Those Who Do Not Trust Him and Those Outside the Community?
“This particularity of ours makes the demon front uneasy. Perhaps, because of their sensitivity to us, one of them felt this situation and drew the attention of certain forces saying, „They are behaving like crops in front of the storm, don‟t let this deceive you.‟ ”
M. Fetullah GÜLEN, Chapter to Chapter (Fasıl’dan Fasıl’a) 2, 2. Edition, Nile Publications, İzmir (n.d.),p.273
The moderate cleric, who believes he is in fact the chosen one, calls those outside his community the “Devil Front”. The enemy is sometimes inside Turkey, sometimes outside Turkey. Gülen was constantly pumping the perception of the devil west to the domestic public before deciding to live in the United States in 1999. Now let’s listen to his own words:
“Today, all kinds of anarchy and terror come from outside. On this occasion the external forces want to turn this paradise homeland into a hell of chaos. There is nothing easier than subjugating any offer to a state weakened by anarchy and terror. This is what external powers desire. They want to make this country a country of exploitation. All anarchists are also servants to them. ”
M. Fethullah Gulen, Ila-yi Kelimetullah (Promoting God’s Word) or Jihad, p. 68.
In fact, Gülen has preferred a fascist and extreme right-wing rhetoric in domestic public opinion in Turkey for many years.
“...This cruel world we call the West has almost always committed the most embarrassing of atrocities, either personally or through some ignorant plunderers – and in the name of civilization –, on the pretext of bringing humanity to the light, it has constantly circulated the masses around black holes, played dark games all over the world that disrupt the international balance, and plotted intrigues.”
M. Fethullah Gülen, Çağ ve Nesil (Age and Generation) 4, Istanbul, 2011, p.21.
b. Gülen’s Anti-Semitic Sermons
The Jews are another community and belief group that Gülen marginalized. Using antisemitic elements, he is clearly hostile to Jews in his works before going to USA. In this respect, there is no difference between the anti-Semitic discourses of Gülen and the discourses of organizations such as ISIS and al-Qaeda. According to Gülen, one day the Jews will experience great embarrassment like the Nazis.
“This people, let alone their irreparable hostility towards Islam and Muslims, who despise even their own prophets and slaughter many of them, will one day fall into the position of the Nazis and seek a place to hide all over the world.”
It is especially problematic that Gülen declares all Jews guilty as a whole, not the wrong policies of Israel.
According to Gülen, Jews are representatives of an ontic evil. Instead of reading the Qur'an verses contextually, he makes extreme hate speech against Jews by making them objects of absolute evil:
“The Jews, according to the Qur‟an, will be in humiliation and misery until the day of judgment. However, as stated in the continuation of the relevant verse, this humiliation and misery depends on the fact that they are not under the protection of the people or God.”
Chapter to Chapter (Fasıl’dan Fasıl’a) 1, 302.
b. Gülen’s Misogynist Rhetoric
What the so-called moderate Islam leader Gülen says about women and the hate speech against women is truly an eclipse of reason. He sees the cause of the fall of civilizations as a sin of women. Cult Leader Gülen also makes an untrue interpretation of history:
“He said “what I fear most about my ummah is women‟s sedition.” In another hadith, he said, “I don‟t recall the fact that my ummah has been given a bigger sedition than the woman.” Women‟s sedition led many past nations to perish. Yes, many ancient communities and nations were devastated by women. Roman and Byzantine were crushed under lust and sensual emotions. So was my beautiful Andalusia... I think almost everyone who sees the embarrassing pictures in the baths of al-Hamra palace will accept it.”
M. Fethullah Gülen, Asrın Getirdiği Teredddütler (Hesitations Brought by the Century) 4, Istanbul, 2011, p. 152.
Therfore he sees it as great danger to see women on the street. He strongly rejects the sharing of public space by women:
“Should anyone get bored go out? What a distorted understanding! A breach where the devil can easily infiltrate and work in ... The person who thinks he will spend his boredom on the street is like a person who jumps out of the frying pan into the fire. He even praises the fact that there are young people who repent and give their allowance as charity just because they look at a woman on the street.”
In his another work, he also mentions three kinds of women:
“There are three kinds of women: street woman, pleasure woman, house and service woman. The immodest street woman is like a fallen ore in the mud, the pleasure woman is like the illusionist demons, and the house and service woman is like the Paradise houris who breathe eternity. ”
Fethullah Gülen, Ölçü veya Yoldaki İşaretler (Measure or Lights on the Road) 3, 8th Edition, Istanbul 1998, p.55 ff.
As can be seen, according to the Cult leader, the woman’s place is to wait for her husband at home. Rather, it is to serve and obey the chosen member of the community, who works to change the world, like a slave.
3. Hypocrisy in Gülen’s Discourses
a. West before the US West after the US
Gülen later describes being friends with the West, which he saw as the source of all kinds of evil and filth until he moved to the United States, and even being one with them as his most important goal. When he went to the United States, this time the far-right, fascist rhetoric he used in the Turkish domestic public opinion is replaced by a dialogistic discourse.
Gülen reaches a point in the face of the West, which he demonized, that the unification of the West and the East at the point of faith and becoming a one-world state becomes the whole purpose of his life:
Gülen reaches such a point that the unification of the West and the East in faith and becoming a one-world state becomes the whole purpose of his life: It has been one of the greatest goals and ambitions of my life that east and west mingle in the real faith and reach the unity of destiny. If they come to me and tell me, when I am on the verge of entering Paradise, that the East and the West are integrated, preserving their own values and respecting each other, I accept this as one of the greatest glad tidings given to me in my life.
Who knows, maybe I will stop entering Paradise in the face of such gospel. In fact, I think that if they put me in Heaven in the name of such a mission, as I once dreamed, and the heavenly tables came down from the sky and be placed in front of me; I said to myself, “I need to get out of here; Because there is much more I will knead my feelings and thoughts with my tears and tell people on the way to the reunion of East and West; I don‟t want Heaven for now to tell them these truths.”
• Chapter to Chapter (Fasıl’dan Fasıl’a) 5, p. 72.
4. Gülen’s Curiosity of Intelligence Against His Enemies
The books Gülen wrote in Turkey are full of militarist emulations. Gülen sees those outside his community as a counter-enemy front and says that counter-intelligence should be directed against them.
“On the one hand, while having information about the hostile front with the perfectly functioning Intelligence Organization, on the other hand, the adversary front should not be allowed to carry out the same activities within us... Yes, every dynamic that is important for the survival and vitality of the state and nation should be elaborated, these dynamics should be systematized and these activities should be carried out by taking advantage of today‟s technological opportunities... and, especially when it comes to intelligence, one should always be in front of the hostile front.”
M. Fethullah Gülen, Chapter to Chapter (Fasıl’dan Fasıl’a), I, pp. 113-114.
A moderate and so-called pro-tolerance religious leader’s interest in military jargon is inexplicable. The militarist emulation we see in cult organizations is a choice that Gülen frequently refers to.
“So those who embrace and plan the future should strive to train themselves as soldiers instead of sitting and waiting for him. So he can take over his soldiers who are ready when he arrives.”
M. Fethullah Gülen, Chapter to Chapter (Fasıl’dan Fasıl’a), I, p. 28.
«...the strategies, feasibility, plans and projects put forward by the chief leaders may be very faint. For example, during the war, the full generals and the lieutenant generals do not take the gun in hand and fight, although they are very good fighters. They stay behind the front and produce military strategies, the fate of a war, thousands of soldiers, even a nation, a state is determined by their decisions. Therefore, the work of these commanders cannot be underestimated.”
M. Fethullah Gülen, Chapter to Chapter (Fasıl’dan Fasıl’a) 3, 2nd Edition, İstanbul 1997, p.120-121
As has been seen, we’re dealing with a cult leader who believes that he is chosen by God; meets the dead and gets help from them; claims that those who believe in him are protected by God; demonizes the West and the Jews; sees woman as the cause of sin and “graces” her the role of servant to his chosen men; is interested in military and militarist jargon.