|Birth Day:||April 27, 1941|
|Birth Place:||Erzurum, Turkey|
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With little formal education, he began preaching in Turkey in the 1970s, and moved into politics in the 80s, getting in trouble with the Turkish government over some remarks.
His father was an imam. His mother taught the Qur'an in their village, despite such informal religious instruction being banned by the Kemalist government. Gülen's secular formal education ended when his family moved to another village. He took part in Islamic education in some Erzurum madrasas and he gave his first sermon as a licensed state preacher in 1958, when he was in his teens. Gülen was influenced by the ideas of Kurdish scholar Said Nursî.
Gülen opened an ışık evler or "light houses" (students' hostel offering scholarships for poorer scholars) in 1976, with there being informal sohbets (Quranic discussions) available there for the students as well. Gülen encouraged like-minded individuals to follow suit, which became the genesis of the Gülen movement.
Gülen was In the Turkish civil service from his appointment as an assistant imam at Üç Şerefeli Mosque in Edirne, 6 August 1959, until he retired from formal preaching duties in 1981.
Despite Gülen's support for the coup, the military authorities issued an arrest warrant against him, which was revoked by a "state security court" in 1986.
From 1988 to 1991 he gave a series of sermons in popular mosques of major cities. In 1994, he participated in the founding of "Journalists and Writers Foundation" and was given the title "Honorary President" by the foundation. He did not make any comment regarding the closures of the Welfare Party in 1998 or the Virtue Party in 2001. He has met some politicians like Tansu Çiller and Bülent Ecevit, but he avoids meeting with the leaders of Islamic political parties.
In 1999, Gülen relocated to the United States for medical treatment. According to the Kemalist Turkish law of the time, intending to ensure modernity and secularism, non-state sanctioned religious endeavors were outlawed and Gülen could have anticipated being tried especially over remarks (aired after he immigrated to U.S.) which seemed to favor an Islamic state. In June 1999, after Gülen had left Turkey, videotapes were sent to some Turkish television stations with recordings of Gülen saying,
Gülen said his remarks were taken out of context, and his supporters raised questions about the authenticity of the tape, which he said had been "manipulated." Gülen was tried in absentia in 2000, and acquitted in 2008 under the new Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The Erdoğan government has said that the corruption investigation and comments by Gülen are the long term political agenda of Gülen's movement to infiltrate security, intelligence, and justice institutions of the Turkish state, a charge almost identical to the charges against Gülen by the Chief Prosecutor of Turkey in his trial in 2000 before Erdoğan's party had come into power. Gülen had previously been tried in absentia in 2000, and acquitted of these charges in 2008 under Erdoğan's AKP government.
Gülen has condemned terrorism. He warns against the phenomenon of arbitrary violence and aggression against civilians and said that it "has no place in Islam". He wrote a condemnation article in the Washington Post on 12 September 2001, one day after the September 11 attacks, and stated that "A Muslim can not be a terrorist, nor can a terrorist be a true Muslim." Gülen lamented the "hijacking of Islam" by terrorists.
Gülen applied for a green card in 2002. After 11 September 2001, the U.S. increased its scrutiny of its domestic Islamic religious groups. Objecting to Gulen's residency application were the FBI, the State Department, and the Department of Homeland Security. Gülen first based his claim to residency on his being as an alien of extraordinary ability as an education activist; the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services rejected it. Lawyers representing the Secretary of Homeland Security argued in that Gülen has no degree or training in the field of education and questioned laudatory opinions about Gülen, cited by his lawyers, that had been expressed by scholars at academics conferences funded by Gulenist foundations. CIA National Intelligence Council former vice chairman Graham E. Fuller, former CIA official George Fidas and former US Ambassador to Turkey Morton Abramowitz wrote endorsement letters for Gülen's green card application in 2008. The court ruled against the USCIS and in Gülen's favor, granting Gülen his green card.
In 2005, a man affiliated with the Gülen movement approached U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Eric S. Edelman during a party in Istanbul and handed him an envelope containing a document supposedly detailing plans for an imminent coup against the government by the Turkish military. However, the documents were soon found to be forgeries. Gülen affiliates state that the movement is "civic" in nature and that it does not have political aspirations. However, he was accused of being the mastermind behind the Ergenekon trials by secularists, who see the trial's objective as weakening of Turkish military. Those who publicly said that the trial was a sham were subject to harassment by Zaman, some examples being Dani Rodrik and İlhan Cihaner.
The Gülen movement, also known as Hizmet or Jamaat, has millions of followers, as well as many more abroad. Beyond the schools established by Gülen's followers, many Gülenists held positions of power in Turkey's police forces and judiciary. Turkish and foreign analysts believe Gülen also has sympathizers in the Turkish parliament and that his movement controlled the widely read Islamic conservative Zaman newspaper, the private Bank Asya bank, the Samanyolu TV television station, and many other media and business organizations, including the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON). All have been shut down following the coup attempt. In March 2011, the Turkish government arrested the investigative journalist Ahmet Şık and seized and banned his book The Imam's Army, the culmination of Şık's investigation into Gülen and the Gülen movement.
Despite Gülen's and his followers' statements that the organization is non-political in nature, analysts believed that a number of corruption-related arrests made against allies of Erdoğan reflect a growing political power struggle between Gülen and Erdoğan. These arrests led to the 2013 corruption scandal in Turkey, which the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)'s supporters (along with Erdoğan himself) and the opposition parties alike have said were choreographed by Gülen after Erdoğan's government came to the decision early in December 2013 to shut down many of his movement's private pre-university schools in Turkey.
Gülen was named as one of TIME magazine's World's 100 Most Influential People in 2013.
Rise Up (Colors of Peace) was a musical project to turn Gülen's poems and writings in Turkish language into songs. A total of 50 poems were sent to various Muslim and non-Muslim artists from various countries, who were free to pick, and then compose and vocalize the poem chosen, record it in their own country and send it back for inclusion in the planned album. Reportedly, no restrictions were put on the artists in using instrumentation, despite reservations by stricter Muslim interpretations about music and use of musical instruments. The album Rise Up (Colors of Peace) turned into an album of world music encompassing various genres like jazz, pop, flamenco, rai, Indian music among others. The artists appearing (in order of appearance on the track list) were: The Good Morning Diary, Maher Zain, Faudel, Cristelo Duo featuring Bruno Gouveia, Ryan Shaw, Natacha Atlas, Bon Bon, KK & Reet, Mazachigno featuring Ely Bruna, Bahroma, Carmen Paris, Kobi Farhi & Ruba Shamshoum. The project took more than two years to realize and the album was released in 2013 by Nil Production and Universal Music.
On 19 December 2014, a Turkish court issued an arrest warrant for Gülen after over 20 journalists working for media outlets thought to be sympathetic to the Gülen movement were arrested. Gülen was accused of establishing and running an "armed terrorist group."
In emailed comments to the Wall Street Journal in January 2014, Gülen said that "Turkish people ... are upset that in the last two years democratic progress is now being reversed", but he denied being part of a plot to unseat the government. Later, in January 2014 in an interview with BBC World, Gülen said "If I were to say anything to people I may say people should vote for those who are respectful to democracy, rule of law, who get on well with people. Telling or encouraging people to vote for a party would be an insult to peoples' intellect. Everybody very clearly sees what is going on."
In 2015, Oklahoma City Thunder basketball player Enes Kanter said that he was excluded from the Turkish national basketball team for his public support of Gülen. Kanter was disowned by his family in 2016 due to his support for Gülen.
On 19 July, an official request had been sent to the U.S. for the extradition of Fethullah Gülen. On 23 July 2016, Turkey formally submitted a formal extradition request accompanied by certain documents as supporting evidence. Senior U.S. officials said this evidence pertained to certain pre-coup alleged subversive activities.
In Egypt, MP Emad Mahrous called on the Egyptian government to grant asylum to Gülen. In the request, sent to Speaker of the House of Representatives Ali Abdel-Aal, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on 24 July 2016, Mahrous notes that "[Turkey] was a moderate Muslim country that has become an Islamist dictatorship at the hands of [Turkish president] Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his affiliated Muslim Brotherhood political party," arguing that it was highly distasteful that Erdoğan has requested Gülen's extradition from the United States while at the same time"... giving shelter to hundreds of leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist organisation and members of other bloody militant Islamist groups which attack Egypt by day and night."
Gülen's Sufism is greatly influenced by Sufi Kurdish Quranic scholar Said Nursi (1877–1960), who advocated illuminating modern education and science through Islam. Gulen expands on Nursi to advocate what has been described as a "Turkish nationalist, state-centered and pro-business approach" centered on service (hizmet, in Turkish). Some participants within Gülen's movement have viewed Nursi's or Gülen's works as that of mujaddids or "renewers" of Islam within their respective times. Others have opined in more eschatological terms, equating Gülen's work as assistance toward the prophesized Mahdi to come, albeit Gülen's spokespersons discourage broaching such speculation. and an official gülenist website hosts an article entitled "Claiming to be the Mahdi is Deviation". In 2016, Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), Mehmet Görmez, said Gülen's is a "fake Mahdi movement."
On 19 September, Turkish government officials met with retired US Army Lt. General Mike Flynn, former CIA Director James Woolsey, and others to discuss legal and potentially illegal ways such as enforced disappearance for removing Gülen from the US. In March 2017, Flynn registered as a foreign agent for his 2016 lobbying work on behalf of the government of Turkey.
Rudy Giuliani privately urged Donald Trump in 2017 to extradite Gülen.
In March 2017, former CIA Director James Woolsey told the Wall Street Journal that he had been at a 19 September 2016 meeting with then Trump campaign advisor Mike Flynn with Turkey's foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, and energy minister, Berat Albayrak, where the possibility of Gulen's abduction and forced rendition to Turkey was discussed. Although no concrete kidnapping plan was discussed, Woolsey left the meeting, concerned that a general discussion about "a covert step in the dead of night to whisk this guy away" might be construed as illegal under American law. A spokesman for Flynn denied Woolsey's account, telling Business Insider that no nonjudicial removal had been discussed at the meeting.
In July 2017, one year after the anti-Erdoğan putsch, Gülen wrote: "Accusations against me related to the coup attempt are baseless, politically motivated slanders." In the 1990s Gulen had been issued a special Turkish passport as a retired holder of the religious post, in the Turkish state religion of Sunni Islam, of mufti; in 2017 this passport was revoked. Unless Gulen travels to Turkey by the end of September 2017, he will be stateless. On 26 September 2017, Gulen asked for a United Nations commission to investigate the 2016 coup attempt.
On 28 September 2017, Erdoğan requested the U.S. to extradite Gülen in exchange for American pastor Andrew Brunson, under arrest in Turkey on charges related to Brunson's alleged affiliation with "FETO" (the Gulen movement); Erdoğan said, "You have a pastor too. Give him to us.... Then we will try [Brunson] and give him to you...." "You have a pastor too. ... You give us that one and we'll work with our judiciary and give back yours." The Federal judiciary alone determines extradition cases in the U.S. An August 2017 decree gave Erdogan authority to approve the exchange of detained or convicted foreigners with people held in other countries. Asked about the suggested swap on 28 September 2017, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said: "I can't imagine that we would go down that road. ... We have received extradition requests for him [Gulen]." Anonymous US officials have said to reporters that the Turkish government has not yet provided sufficient evidence for the U.S. Justice Department to charge Gulen.
In 2017, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch separately issued statements urging governments to avoid extraditions to Turkey.
As of 2018, Gülen resides at the Hizmet movement-affiliated Chestnut Retreat Center, a 25-acre wooded estate in the Poconos (within Ross Township, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, near Saylorsburg). About thirty people live and work on the estate, owned by the Golden Generation Foundation. Never married, Gülen's own living quarters and study are within a pair of small rooms, whose rent he pays out of his publishing royalties and which contain a mattress on the floor, prayer mat, desk, bookshelves, and treadmill, within one of the estate's several structures, among which is a hall used as a mosque. Gülen is reported to be in ill health. In 2017, reports identified four candidates to succeed Gulen, if necessary, in leadership of the Hizmet movement: Mehmet Ali Şengül, Cevdet Türkyolu, Osman Şimşek and Ahmet Kurucan.
In November 2018, the Trump administration asked the U.S. Justice Department to explore what legal justifications could be used, should it decide to seek for Gulen to be deported. On 17 December 2018, the US Department of Justice announced the indictment of two men, alleging that they acted "in the United States as illegal agents of the Government of Turkey" and conspired "to covertly influence U.S. politicians and public opinion against" Fetullah Gulen. The two men, former associates of ex-US national security adviser Michael Flynn, used the now-dissolved Flynn Intel Group in an effort to discredit Gulen dating back to July 2016, according to the indictment.
Currently, Fethullah Gulen is 82 years, 1 months and 13 days old. Fethullah Gulen will celebrate 83rd birthday on a Saturday 27th of April 2024.
Find out about Fethullah Gulen birthday activities in timeline view here.