The Hizmet movement comprises of volunteers, who with their profound sense of responsibility feel they need to contribute in solving the problems of their own societies and of the entire world. The ultimate objective in their contributions to the society is to attain God’s good pleasure based on the conviction that ‘service to humanity is service to God.’
People are attracted to the Gülen Movement by exemplary friends from the Gülen Movement, by people in their immediate environment, neighbors, and relatives and by their conduct and sincerity, by reading Gülen’s works and listening to his lectures, by the overall meaning and the message of the altruistic services, and by the worldview of the Gülen Movement.
The movement includes many Turks and respects Turkish culture and history. Yet it is not associated with ultra-nationalist ideologies such as pan-Turkism. It regards any xenophobic ideology as harmful for social peace and harmony. Although the majority of the movement’s current volunteers are Turkish Muslims, they increasingly include people from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
The overwhelming majority of participants are young university students. The next largest group (almost as numerous) consists of university graduates. The average age in the Movement is 25–30. Most of the students or people in the service-networks are middle or upper-middle class. They are from better-integrated backgrounds, urban, with a high level of academic achievement.
In the Gülen Movement, decisions on what to do are taken locally or in an individual project-network. The networks attract supporters or adherents who are often more committed than those who have formal membership of political parties, and the efficacy resulting from this commitment is what gives service-networks strength and efficacy.
In fact, the Gülen Movement is a successful combination of both informal service networks and institutionalized services, such as aid and relief organizations, schools and dialogue societies.
There are no entry or exit protocols. Participants actively and continuously choose to get involved in Hizmet activities. As participation is volunteered, one can easily abandon his/her involvement any time one wishes to do so. To start to get involved is also of the same nature. One can easily get involved in Hizmet related activities any time he or she wishes to do so. There is no membership in Gulen Movement.
There is not a single, prototypical kind of participant. There are those who actively support all projects and are involved in various ways with one project or another in addition to supporting ideas and principles of the movement. There are others who support ideas and principles, but do not get involved with any of the activities. There are those who support some ideas and principles of the movement, and get involved only in such related projects. There are for instance, participants who are volunteering for dialogue activities, but do not even consider the schools project worthwhile. There are those who only support some of the principles, and do not get involved in any activities.
The Gülen Movement facilitates and thus increases an individual’s willingness to get involved in service-projects through her or his relationship with a larger group of like-minded, similarly intentioned people. The rewards to be expected as a result of services provided are strictly from God. The Gülen Movement does not offer selective incentives (atomized cost–benefit calculations) to attract participants in the pursuit of collective goals. Direct participation in the services itself provides the motivation. Participants choose to embody highly cultural, ethical and spiritual values, rather than to accrue worldly goods and material gains. Fethullah Gülen is against the kind of rationalism that focuses on egoistic self-interest and pure materialistic cost–benefit analysis.