Tittensor, David, The House of Service. The Gulen Movement and Islam’s Third Way, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014, 272p.
David Tittensor offers a groundbreaking new perspective on the Gülen movement, a Turkish Muslim educational activist network that emerged in the 1960s and has grown into a global empire with an estimated worth of $25 billion. Named after its leader Fethullah Gülen, the movement has established more than 1,000 secular educational institutions in over 140 countries, aiming to provide holistic education that incorporates both spirituality and the secular sciences.
Despite the movement’s success, little is known about how its schools are run, or how Islam is operationalized. Drawing on thirteen months of ethnographic fieldwork in Turkey, Tittensor explores the movement’s ideo-theology and how it is practiced in the schools. His interviews with both teachers and graduates from Africa, Indonesia, Central Asia, and Turkey show that the movement is a missionary organization, but of a singular kind: its goal is not simply widespread religious conversion, but a quest to recoup those Muslims who have apparently lost their way and to show non-Muslims that Muslims can embrace modernity and integrate into the wider community. Tittensor also examines the movement’s operational side and shows how the schools represent an example of Mohammad Yunus’s social business model: a business with a social cause at its heart.
The House of Service is an insightful exploration of one of the world’s largest transnational Muslim associations, and will be invaluable for those seeking to understand how Islam will be perceived and practiced in the future.
Note on Transliteration and Turkish Pronunciation
PART ONE: The Gülen Movement in Context
1. Islam in Turkey: Continuities in Spite of Change
2. All is Not What it Seems: A Critical Appraisal of Modern Turkey
3. The Development of a Vision
PART TWO: The Gülen Movement in Practice
4. Voices from Within, Voices from Without: Movement Teachers and Students Speak for Themselves
5. Divergence Between the Mission and the Message: Interrogation of a Double Standard
6. Placing the Gülen Movement in the Global Order: The Need for a New Typology
Conclusion – A Singular Movement with a Modern Day Mission