What does Fethullah Gülen mean when he speaks of a “renaissance”?

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Fethullah Gülen

Fethullah Gülen frequently talks about a renaissance, but by this he does not mean any sort of magical “rebirth.” On the contrary, this renaissance is an active process and involves toiling to “prevent illnesses like passion, laziness, seeking fame, selfishness, worldliness, narrow-mindedness, the use of brute force” and to replace them “with exalted human values like contentedness, courage, modesty, altruism, knowledge and virtue, and the ability to think universally”.

The Gülen Movement is attached to rationality through its acknowledgement of differences and multiplicity in society, the necessity of division of labor, and its recognition of power relationships within the larger community. Its rationality is geared toward assessing the relationship between ends and means, and toward protecting people from the imbalances and divisions created by the forms of power required to manage complexity. Far from teaching people to expect some kind of sudden, magical transformation, in his written and spoken words Fethullah Gülen constantly exhorts participants to greater effort, greater knowledge, and greater self-control and restraint.