Morals and Ethics within a Community: Motivation, theory and practice of the Gülen principles at school
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This thesis is based on a six months fieldwork in Istanbul, Turkey. The thesis explores the Gülen movement in theory and practice. My interest was in how the followers of the movement interpret and translate the movement‟s ideas into practice, and what it means to be a follower of the movement. Furthermore, I looked at the reasons that govern the followers‟ choice to become a follower and what motivated them. As a follower they were part of the Gülen movement‟s closely connected community, which meant they also took part of the collective identity within the movement. The Gülen movement is founded by Fethullah Gülen, who is a Turkish Islamic scholar and preacher. It is a transnational civic society movement inspired from the teachings of Fethullah Gülen with interest in spreading interfaith dialogue, tolerance and a high quality education including science and ethics. He advocates a moderate Islam in interaction with a "modern" world. The movement has millions of followers worldwide and over 1000 schools in 120 countries spread on five continents. The schools do not give extra religious instruction at school, and in Turkey they follow the Turkish state curriculum for education. The schools offer a holistic education which includes activities outside the school and parent involvement. The teachers of the Gülen schools are seen to have the main role in translating the movement‟s ideas in practice. Teachers who embody ethical values are expected to set an example in lifestyle and prayer for the students at the Gülen inspired schools. They are expected to dedicate themselves fully to make the students not merely excellent students, but also sincere persons with moral and ethical values. That is why my choice of fieldwork went to a Gülen school. The fieldwork is based on information gathered from participatory observation, interviews and interaction with primarily Gülen teachers in a Gülen inspired school and preschool. This paper will first address how followers and Gülen teachers interpret and implement the movement‟s ideas in practice. Furthermore, it will discuss the motives behind being a follower and how they as a follower take part in a collective identity.