The Hizmet community is aware of the social and political aspects of the principle of “encouraging good and forbidding evil” (emr-i bil ma’ruf ve nehy-i anil munker) as being some of the most important requirements and promises carried out by Muslims.
As a civil society organization, it will never shirk from calling on everyone (including politicians) to behave within the parameters mentioned above and making criticisms when they do not — within the framework of rights and democracy and without abandoning the principles that the movement is based on.
If one examines the legacies of figures like Imam-i Azam Ebu Hanife or Mevlana, one notes that they never hesitated to criticize political leaders, and instead encouraged and called on these leaders to act with justice, honesty, tolerance and the law. Many intellectuals and thinkers — such as Imam-i Azam — placed as much importance in their independence as they did their honor, in order to make sure these values could be maintained. It was for this reason that they rejected salaried state positions — even at the cost of being tortured in prison.
If the greatest losses faced by the world of Islam are wisdom and reason, the second greatest loss is the fact that leaders and states — and the communities that have followed them without objection — have weakened the functioning of the structure Islam over hundreds of years.
Fethullah Hoca and his students — as well as the intellectuals, academics, journalists and writers who come forward in this climate of reason — are essentially keeping alive the same tradition of maintaining a critical distance from powerful leaders that previous figures like Imam-i Azam, Mevlana and Bediüzzaman once did. In this, they are espousing the concept of “emr-i bil ma’ruf, nehy-i anil munker” (as mentioned above, encouraging good and forbidding evil.)
This is also the approach that has been taken for decades by media organs close to the Hizmet movement. Over the years, these media organs have of course focused on more than just popular culture or sports news; and yet, the attention they are paying now to politics and criticism in this arena seems to present a problem. The same principles that have shaped the criticism these media organs have issued to various politicians and leaders over the years are in play today. Fethullah Gülen noted in 1994 that “we can no longer turn back from the direction democracy is taking us”; in 2010, he said, “let even those lying in graveyards rise and cast a vote in the referendum.” Today, he is making the same sort of criticism, in his own way, as he did in the past against those who supported coups and other anti-democratic practices. For the Hizmet movement is today directing strong criticism at a government that — despite high-pitched objections from the EU, civil society organizations and intellectuals — seems bent on eliminating both democracy and the Constitution (and in the process dragging the country into a “one man” regime), which is the duty of citizens who are reasonable, honorable and good believers.
Throughout the past, the Hizmet movement has never formed alliances or been in a natural relationship with any political party. At the same time, the Hizmet movement has never asked any political party for anything that would be illegal, undemocratic or not fitting with Allah’s wishes. In fact, the Hizmet movement gets its strength from this independence. Because the movement gets money from no other sources than its own volunteers, it does not take orders. No doubt this is why certain people are made so uncomfortable right now by the Hizmet movement. And so it is that the Hizmet movement has never formed alliances with anyone, nor will it in the future, with the permission of Allah. But the volunteers of the Hizmet movement, who have never embraced the immoral philosophy of “he steals, but at least he works,” will always be able to differentiate between those who are honest and those who are corrupt, those who are moral and those who simply insult citizens with their own free will.
The Hizmet movement has arrived where it is today not because of the state or the ruling parties, but rather mostly despite a series of unjust and anti-democratic attitudes [of the government]. From now on, the Hizmet movement will continue to take the same stance toward states and governments that it embraces today. Certain circles who may now be desperate and panicked over their own position are clasping onto every lie they can manufacture about Gülen, who has served the people for 60 years, and who has never enriched himself or his relatives, and never embarrassed his followers. But these untruths will never, ever damage Gülen and his extraordinary conscience. For to wit, the people of Turkey have the powers of perception that make them capable of easily distinguishing the liars from the honest. As it is, even if there were a shred of truth in any of this evidence, none of it would be poured out like gossip in city squares, but it would rather be brought before courts with concrete proof.