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The Gülen Movement, Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama: progressive Islamic thought, religious philanthropy and civil society in Turkey and Indonesia
journal contributionposted on 2014-01-01, 00:00 authored by Greg BartonGreg Barton
This article looks at three Islamic movements, two (Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah) almost exclusively contained within Indonesia and the third (the Gülen movement, known amongst those associated with it as the hizmet or "service") originating in Turkey but now global in its extent. These movements are Islamically inspired and generally described as Islamic social movements, but much of their activity is concerned with the provision of social services, particularly education, and all three run extensive school systems. It is often insufficiently understood that these school systems are committed to teaching modern curricula in a secular fashion. Although these movements are very concerned with the development of character and the promotion of morality, and may be described as socially conservative, they are essentially progressive social movements, looking to the future with confidence and at plural society around them with an optimism that their understanding of Islam can thrive in modern society. The hizmet and NU share a similar traditional Sunni approach, strongly imbued with a Sufi sensibility, whereas Muhammadiyah is inspired by Islamic modernism. The hizmet, seen from an Indonesian perspective, combines the modern organizational competency of Muhammadiyah and the spirituality of the NU. All three movements share similarities with Western philanthropic religious movements committed to providing high-quality education.