One important informal ‘institution’ or tradition within the movement are the cay sohbet’s(tea discussions). These sohbets are weekly or monthly gatherings that bring people together – almost like a book club or study circle where books are read, at least some text of Fethullah Gulen’s and usually various other sources- possiblyincluding magazines, poems or videos. These gatherings are very important as it allows people to become informed intellectually, spiritually and are where the seeds for service oriented projects planted and brainstormed. From such gatherings committees are formed and the ground work for institutions are laid.
Hizmet grew from such small sincere gatherings, other locals became involved, as hospitality was shown and friendships strengthened, role models and kindness won over individuals, families and communities, success of organizations gained attention in the community and media and projects mushroomed. Today Hizmet is active in more 140 countries mostly known for some 1500 hundred schools and the various forms of institutions mentioned above. In the United States, Hizmet Movement is active through more than 200 organizations in more than 40 states.
The resources of the movements comes through donations and people volunteering their time. Only 2-4 percent of the people involved are professional salaried staff.
In 2013 the movement has some of the most successful private schools globally. Fethullah Gulen has always espoused virtue and good character, a good spirit and upright morals, positive and constructive action and service to one and all – all within the framework of sincerity, fraternity, sacrifice, good will and armed with knowledge and the best education of the day.
From the hundreds of addresses Gulen has made and the thousands of pages penned I wanted to end with the following few sample paragraphs from a new Fethullah Gulen reader titled “So that others may live” which reflects Fethullah Gulen’s teachings and the values around which the movement participants aspires to uphold.
Virtue requires that we humbly recognize our finitude within this boundless universe and not exaggerate our own merit. Otherwise, we are likely to become unhappy once our insatiable ambitions are disappointed and our pride is hurt. A virtuous man is a man of reason. He does not despair over problems that have a solution, nor does he wail over those that have none. He avoids hardship when he can but chooses to submit to the divine will in the face of events beyond his control. Life’s unavoidable adversities do not surprise him and cannot spoil his joy, for he is already prepared to face them. His happiness is not compromised by egotism, base thoughts, or the desire for wealth or status. He is content with the pleasure he takes in the joys of love, compassion, and friendship.
As he refuses to indulge in feelings of betrayal, revenge, hatred and jealousy, the breezes of love and respect comfort and make him joyful. He will savor the spiritual pleasure that comes from sharing the joy of others, freeing them from their sufferings, and leading them to happiness. His concern for his family, his country, indeed for all creation, is like an ocean without shore. In this way, he experiences the limitless pleasure of Paradise without leaving this world.
A nation can also become like the family of peace, existing in perfect harmony. In a nation composed of such families, people will treat each other with compassion and respect. They will wish to see their neighbors succeed and work to eliminate evils. They think well of everyone, are not wary of anyone, and do not denigrate anyone’s honor. In such a nation, people are not pursued or arrested on mere suspicion. One part of society does not dedicate its life to the destruction of another. People do not resort to conspiracy, mendacity, and slander. In this society of conscience and peace, people are in constant battle against evils, for they have pledged to protect human virtue.