Renewing Islam by Service: A Christian View of Fethullah Gulen and the Hizmet Movement
A new book, Renewing Islam by Service, by Dr. Pim Valkenberg has been published by Catholic University Press, which offers a theological account of the contemporary Turkish faith-based service movement started by Fethullah Gülen, and placed against the backdrop of changes in modern Turkish society. In the first two chapters, Pim Valkenberg includes stories of his personal experiences with supporters of this movement, in a number of different countries, when he focuses on the dialogue-minded Turkish Muslims in the Netherlands. Then he analyzes Turkey between the Ottoman Empire and the European Union and the life and works of Gulen against the background of developments in Turkish society, and of spiritual Islamic tendencies in the transition from the Ottoman Empire to the secular republic. He also analyzes the spiritual practices when he mentions the Qur`an, Rumi, Nursi and the renewal of the Anatolian Islam. In the following chapters, he focuses on the formation and different elements of faith-based service networks. He finalizes his book with a comparative study of some important Christian religious movements and Islam in light of life and service.
Gulen and the Hizmet Movement began to take initiatives in order to overcome ignorance, disunity and poverty. At the beginning of the 21st century the Hizmet Movement formed one of the most influential networks of Muslims, not only in Turkey but in Europe and the United States as well. While the Hizmet Movement has thus far mainly been studied from a social scientific perspective, this book claims that Fethullah Gulen and the Hizmet Movement can best beunderstood by researching the religious drive that empowers them. Since this book has been written by a Christian theologian, this is done in a comparative theological approach that not only shows how Gulen and the Hizmet Movement renew Islam by service, but also how Christians can be inspired by such a religious renewal movement.
Pim Valkenberg is a professor of religion and culture at the Catholic University of America. He previously worked for the Diocese of Breda as a specialist on adult education, and for the Netherlands School of Advanced Studies in Theology and Religion as research fellow. He was an assistant and associate professor of dogmatic theology and the theology of religions at the Catholic University of Nijmegen (1987-2007), where he studied Arabic and Islam as well. He contributed to the establishment of a new Department of Religious Studies in 1991 with a focus on interreligious dialogue, and as associate dean of education between 1999 and 2004 he was responsible for the development of new programs of intercultural theology and pastoral studies. Between 2006 and 2011 he was a visiting professor and an associate professor of theology at Loyola University Maryland with a focus on Christian-Muslim relations.