Fethullah Gulen: Honorary President of the Rumi Forum

Fethullah Gulen is a Turkish Islamic scholar, author & poet, education advocate, and preacher emeritus. Mr. Gulen was born in 1941 in the village of Korucuk, near Erzurum in the northeastern part of Turkey. His father, Ramiz Gulen, was an imam in the region and his mother, Refia Hanim, was the primary caregiver of the family and a major influence on Mr. Gulen’s spiritual and religious upbringing.

Fethullah Gulen attended his formal primary education in his home village, and after the family moved to a nearby village he began an informal religious education.

In 1959, Fethullah Gulen was awarded a state preacher’s license in Edirne, Turkey. He was then transferred in 1966 to a religious post in Izmir, Turkey. It was in Izmir that Mr. Gulen’s progressive ideas of education, science, the economy and social justice began to take shape and his supporters began to increase.

During this time, he traveled to various provinces in Anatolia giving lectures in mosques, coffee houses and other community meeting places. Fethullah Gulen spoke on important subjects ranging from peace and social justice to theoretical naturalism. His primary aim always remained, urging the younger generation to harmonize intellectual enlightenment with spirituality rooted in religious tradition, and to serve humanity.

Throughout his life and until today, Fethullah Gulen has been greatly influenced by the ideas and writings of many great Muslim scholars, amongst them: Said Nursi, Mawlana Jalaladdin Rumi, Abu Hanifa, Ghazali, Imam Rabbani, Yunus Emre.

In line with these great thinkers, Fethullah Gulen’s philosophy and writings embody ideas of altruistic service to one’s community and likewise to humanity in general; harmony between intelligence and heart; sincerity; a holistic view of the human; a profound devotion and love of creation. Throughout his life, Mr. Gulen has been noted for his support of democracy, science, dialogue and non-violence.

Fethullah Gulen is regarded as the founder and inspirer of the global social movement known as the Hizmet (Service) Movement, more popularly known as the Gulen Movement.

In 1994, Mr. Gulen co-founded the “Journalists and Writers Foundation” and was given the title “Honorary President” by the foundation.

In March 1999, upon the recommendation of his doctors, Fethullah Gulen moved to the U.S. to receive medical care.

In July 2008, Fethullah Gulen was voted the top public intellectual in the world by Foreign Policy Magazine.

In April 2013, Gulen was named among the TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people list.

Despite the high regard millions hold for him, Mr. Gulen considers himself a volunteering member of the civil society movement he helped found and does not accept any credit of leadership for the Hizmet (Service) Movement.

Fethullah Gulen devotes his time to reading, writing, and religious devotion. He has based his understanding of service upon this guiding principle, ‘living to let others live’ (‘yasatmak icin yasamak’ in Turkish).

Fethullah Gulen currently resides in Pennsylvania and continues to write and give talks on various subjects.

He has served as the Honorary President of the Rumi Forum since 1999. Over the past decade there have been many conferences focusing on the progressive ideas of Mr. Gulen and the individuals he has inspired.