In that second term of my stay in Edirne, I stayed with my superior Suat Yildirim, who was the mufti there. When I met with some pressure during my duty, I asked to be transferred to Kirklareli. I did not stay there long. During my yearly leave, I was transferred to Izmir. I went to KestanepazarI Qur’anic school in Izmir. At KestanepazarI, I was busy with students. My official duty was not limited to Izmir, for I was expected to travel in the Agean part of Turkey. From time to time I would go to coffeehouses to explain things to the men who were killing time there.
Most students at Kestanepazari were talented. I was not being paid there, because I did not want any payment for what I was doing. At night I would visit the dormitory and cover those who had become uncovered. After 5 years, I had to leave Kestanepazari for some reasons. [Fethullah Gülen My Small World, interviewed by Latif Erdogan, Zaman]
His service in the field of education, beginning in the KestanepazarI Qur’anic School and continuing while a travelling preacher throughout Western Anatolia, gained popularity in the 1970s. These were the days when his idea to serve Islam, Turkey, and humanity in the name of servanthood to God by raising “perfect” human beings—people who combine spirituality with intellectual training, religious and natural sciences; who marry mind and heart; and who find true happiness in serving others—began to sprout.
In Gülen’s dreams and imagination, even in his writings and poems, was a legendary purebred “horse” that only understood how tired it was when, stopping for a moment on the slope of a hill, its heart stopped beating and it died. A true human being had to be like that horse: his or her life was to be so dedicated to serving others that tiredness would be felt only when his or her heart stopped beating. With sad and deep looks, a heart burning with lofty ideals, a spirit intoxicated with breezes coming from the worlds beyond, with a heart crushed by troubles coming upon humanity, and with profound feelings, he or she had to be equipped with the diamond truths of faith, ruby knowledge, chrysolite love, emerald enthusiasm, pearl-coral contemplation, and consciousness of infinite servanthood, helplessness, and poverty before God.
Be so tolerant that your chest becomes wide like the ocean. Become inspired with faith and love of human beings. Let there be no troubled souls to whom you do not offer a hand and about whom you remain unconcerned.
After the military coup of March 12, 1971, Hodjaefendi was arrested under suspicion of “changing the social, political, and economic basis of the regime in Turkey; founding an association and secret community for this purpose and thereby taking advantage of the people’s religious feelings for this purpose.” Released 6 months later, without being punished by the court, he returned to his official position. He was sent to Edremit, then to Manisa, and finally to Bornova/Izmir, where he worked until September 12, 1980. During this time, he impressed people throughout the country with his sermons, private talks, and conferences on religious knowledge as well as social, economic, and philosophical topics. Especially impressive were his replies to university students who felt their faith questioned by modern philosophy and science. From students to teachers, public officials to workers, shopkeepers to traders and businessmen—many were influenced by him.
Fethullah Gülen pointed out that service to one’s country should be made in the framework of the following basic principles:
· Constant positive action that leaves no room for confusion, fighting, and anarchy
· Absence of worldly, material, and other-worldly expectations in return for service
· Actions, adorned with moral virtues, that build trust and confidence · Activities that bring people and society together
· Patience and compassion
· Positive and action-oriented people, instead of creating opposition or being reactionary.
In this way, a volunteer service “bazaar” was opened for God’s approval. The small group that started to form around his opinions served people in the light of his advice. Now, many people from all walks of life and different opinions participate in this service. They continue to serve without thought of material reward. They preach, teach, and establish private educational institutions all over the world. They also publish books and magazines, as well as dailies and weeklies, participate in television and radio broadcasts, and fund scholarships for poor students. The companies and foundations set up by people of different worldviews who agree on serving people, especially in the field of education, have founded and are operating about 300 high schools and universities from England to Australia, the United States and Russia, and in South Africa. Gülen’s understanding of service permits no expectation of material or political gain. Sincerity and purity of intention should never be harmed or contaminated. Tolerance, love, and patience have top priority, and avoiding reactionary activities and engaging in positive action are emphasized. The generation kneaded with this understanding of service has attracted broad attention in a short period of time.