Gülen’s Theory of ‘Adab’ and Ethical Values of the Gülen Movement


This paper seeks to explore and explain the prominent place of ‘adab‘ (roughly, good manners) in the description and building of Muslim identity and personality, and the implications for Muslim individual and collective behaviour in contemporary societies. In particular, the paper examines the role of ethical values in the formation of character, through Fethullah Gülen’s discourses addressed to, and successful in inspiring, Muslim youth: the definition of moral character on the basis of religion provides the movement’s members with the ideal and a roadmap to the ideal of the ‘perfected human being’ (insan-i kamil). Gülen seeks to reshape modernity through the concept of moral character informed and made stable by religious consciousness. As a result, attitudes to the ‘other’ and the frontiers between ‘outward’ and ‘inward’ are reconfigured. The concept of insan-i kamil encourages self-transcendence through service of others (hizmet), and the patient, peaceful resolution of tensions between different ideologies such as ‘Islamic’ and ‘secular’. The Gülen movement conceives of and, through the practice of its members, presents the ethical domain as the common ground of shared values.

by Dr. Ali Ünsal