Hizmet needs to balance reason and faith

Prof Alam kindly responded to the questions regarding his book, and his analysis on Fethullah Gulen and Hizmet Movement.



While explaining the rationale behind the title of your book, you say that you wanted to underline the religious character of Hizmet. You repeatedly remind the readers that “Hizmet is a die-hard, orthodox, Sunni Islamic movement.” Why do you think this is important to emphasise?


Through criticising existing social group theories you conclude that existing social groups bring into dimension the “notion of other” and you argue that this “notion of the other” is missing in the Hizmet Movement. What exactly do you mean by “the notion of other” and how this is related to Hizmet? Is Hizmet an “otherless” movement?


Do you agree with those critics of Hizmet who understands events in Turkey leading to the persecution of the Hizmet Movement as a power struggle, merely, between the AKP and Hizmet?


You dedicate a considerable part of your book to discuss the Hizmet Movement within the context of the Mujaddidi, in other words, renewalist tradition of Islam. How is the Mujaddidi tradition different from the reformist traditions of Islam and contrary to some scholars who sees the Hizmet Movement just another reformist movement, why do you think Hizmet is a Mujaddidi Movement?


In discussing the meaning of the “political” in the Hizmet Movement, you argue that the Movement is neither political, non-politica, or apolitical, but is influencing political processes and public policies through various agencies and other formal and informal networks. Why do you think Hizmet is not political despite the fact that many of its critics see it as a powerful political actor? How do you define the term “political” within the Hizmet Movement?


Some would argue that the meaning of power has changed in today’s world and the fact that Hizmet has established schools, hospitals and charities inevitably makes Hizmet an actor in power politics.


You are critical of some of the compartmentalisations of the history of the Movement. You argue that there is a continuity between, say, pre-1997 Islamo-Nationalist phase and the post-1997 Islamo-globalist phase. What sort of dynamics of change and continuity do you observe in the Movement?


You identify two particular challenges that the Movement is facing right now: The underrepresentation of non-Turks and the lack of a written code of practices in the Movement. Do you think that the dynamics of change and continuity in the Movement are enough to overcome these challenges?


Do you observe conflicting, intra-generational, views within the Movement about the need for change?


You are critical of the Hizmet leadership’s islamic discourse amidst the ongoing persecution, which, you argue, breaks down the balance between reason and faith, which you describe as the very defining strength of the Movement. Can you explain what this Islamic discourse is and how it is related to the Hizmet participants’ ongoing persecutions?


You argue that Hizmet has been a movement of duties, not rights and it needs to develop a rights-based discourse. What’s a rights-based discourse for the Hizmet Movement?


You argue that Hizmet leadership sees Erdoğan as the main responsible actor in the Hizmet's persecution and fails to identify Turkey's structural issues. How does this contribute to Hizmet's need to develop a critical discourse about the state?


If the Movement didn’t recover from the persecution and the subsequent trauma – and the Movement as we know it ceased to exist; would you see a value in Hizmet practices that future generations could adopt to form their ideas or movements to contribute to the humanity? Will Hizmet practices be of any use for future generations?

© 2017 Centre for Hizmet Studies