Ebaugh, Helen Rose. (2010) The Gulen Movement: A Sociological Analysis of a Civic Movement Rooted in Moderate Islam.
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Subject:||Books (Book reviews)|
|Publication:||Name: Communication Research Trends Publisher: Centre for the Study of Communication and Culture Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Sociology and social work Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2012 Centre for the Study of Communication and Culture ISSN: 0144-4646|
|Issue:||Date: March, 2012 Source Volume: 31 Source Issue: 1|
|Topic:||NamedWork: The Gulen Movement: A Sociological Analysis of a Civic Movement Rooted in Moderate Islam (Nonfiction work)|
|Persons:||Reviewee: Ebaugh, Helen Rose|
Ebaugh, Helen Rose. (2010) The Gulen Movement: A Sociological
Analysis of a Civic Movement Rooted in Moderate Islam.
Heidelberg/London/New York: Springer Dordrecht, 2010. Pp. xiii, 134.
ISBN 978-1-4020-9893-2 (paper); 978-1-4020-9894-9 (e-book). US$29.95
Professor Ebaugh is based at the Department of Sociology of the university of Texas, Houston. The idea for this book came to her when she was asked to be a keynote speaker at the International Harran Conference (Sweden) on interfaith dialogue, sponsored by the Swedish Ambassador to Turkey. At this conference she was introduced to the Gulen Movement, a movement based on the philosophy of Fethullah Gulen, an Imam who is now based in the united States. Particularly after 9/11 people started to wonder where the voice of the moderate Muslims was. The Gulen Movement promotes itself as representing that voice.
I met Professor Ebaugh earlier this year at an event, organized by The Dialogue Society in London, at which she spoke. The Dialogue Society is run under the auspices of the Gulen Society, organizing events around interfaith dialogue, media, etc. Those who belong to the Gulen Society need not necessarily be Muslim and it is my experience that those who attend their events come from a variety of faiths or are without a faith at all. Professor Ebaugh notes that the movement is almost unknown among Americans (p. 6), although there are branches in America. The Movement funds a variety of educational initiatives worldwide, at least one television station in Turkey (Samanyolo), the newspaper Zaman, publishing, Fatih university, hospitals, a relief organization, and the Bank Asya. Professor Ebaugh has used resource mobilization theory to analyze this Turko-Islamic social movement. She notes (p. 7) that a variety of theorists have agreed that in order to have a successful social movement it is necessary to have money, legitimacy, and labor. Staff have to be paid, so money is needed to pay them and to provide all those other things that are needed in order to run something, e.g. office space, computers, etc. Taking a variety of sources, including interviews with members of the movement and its critics, she has studied how the circles that form the Movement are formed, where money comes from and so on.
Ebaugh notes that there are very clear patterns across all of the organizations, which is why she can call them Gulen focused and that Mr. Gulen's notion was to educate people in order to help Turkey towards modernization and also as an antidote to terrorism. While the Bank Asya was started as a business organization, most of the other organizations were funded by local supporters and even though the organizations themselves have state of the art equipment, many (including hospitals) are now self-supporting. According to Ed Stourton on BBC Radio 4's program "What is Islam's Gulen Movement" (5/25/2011 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-13503361 accessed 6/14/2011), it is now the world's biggest Muslim movement. Professor Ebaugh sets out clearly the answers to her research questions in summary (pp. 109-113).
More unusually, at the end of the book is a section that addresses the problems put forward by the movement's critics. It is strong not only in Turkey, but also in the Turkish diaspora. Through its outreach by its education and media works, as well as by its outreach to local non-Turkish residents, it has grown quite considerably. Ebaugh addresses these questions in this Appendix:
* The Fear of an Islamic State
* That the Gulen Movement is an agent of the CIA (many movements and organizations seem to have such accusations aimed at them)
* That they brainwash poor and illiterate people
* That it is taking Turkey backwards in its movement towards modernization
* That the Gulen Movement supports only its own supporters
* That there are problems with integration in society
* That there is a lack of visibility and transparency--which Ebaugh disputes, backing her findings up with evidence.
Ebaugh answers these questions honestly and with the benefit of solid research. Her final comment is that Mr. Gulen was invited to address the World Parliament of Religions in Melbourne, Australia in 2009, which Ebaugh suggests is a recognition of his work for peace and dialogue.
This is the first academic book on this movement and Professor Ebaugh is to be congratulated on taking on such a thorny topic and treating it so well.
University of Westminster, London
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