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BOOK RELEASE A Life of Hizmet: Why A Muslim Scholar in Pennsylvania Matters to the World

In the first-ever comprehensive biography, Fethullah Gülen: A Life of Hizmet – Why A Muslim Scholar in Pennsylvania Matters to the World, author Jon Pahl gains unprecedented access to Fethullah Gulen’s inner circle as well as to Gülen himself.



This year officially marks 20 years since Gülen’s self-imposed exile in the Pocono Mountains. In 1999, Gülen traveled to the U.S. from Turkey. Despite living in a remote retreat center in Pennsylvania, Gülen continues to be a source of inspiration for hundreds of thousands of people across the globe.

Gülen is a scholar and public figure who has been recognized for his peace efforts (Gandhi King Ikeda Peace Award, 2015; EastWest Institute Peace Building Award, 2011); listed by Time magazine among the world’s 100 most influential leaders (2013); and the top public intellectual by Foreign Policy journal (2008). Today, Gülen is often remembered with the dispute in his homeland, Turkey, especially after the brutal crackdown on his followers in the aftermath of the coup attempt in July 2016. However, the story of Gülen’s upbringing and rise to global recognition has seldom been explored. Pahl offers a new spotlight on Gülen’s rise from a young boy in a tiny Turkish village to a scholar whose teachings have generated a movement of education and interfaith dialogue.

The Gülen movement, also known as Hizmet, is dedicated to literacy, social enterprise and interreligious dialogue. The movement funds thousands of schools and religious centers throughout the world, championing Islam’s commitment to spiritual and scientific literacy. This transnational movement is a centerpiece of social and political discussion in Turkey and around the world.

Drawing on extensive interviews from supporters and critics, Pahl offers an analytical account into Gülen’s life, whose work and activism continues to stir controversy in the Turkish presidential palace, the Middle East and beyond. Though many of Gülen’s followers venerate him, others perceive him as a controversial political figure. In this insightful new book, Pahl explores these dueling identities.

In the midst of Turkey’s harsh crackdown on dissent and press freedom, comes a one-of-a-kind book exploring the life and mission of Erdogan’s most despised enemy.“To frame him as a political figure is to miss who he is,” says Jon Pahl, who spent 9 years researching Gülen and talking to people close to him.


About the Author:



Jon Pahl is a historian of religions, a public theologian, and an award-winning teacher, pastor, and community activist. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago Divinity School. Dr. Pahl has spoken with audiences around the globe, in addition to his work with diverse community groups. Dr. Pahl is the author or editor of six books, including Shopping Malls and Other Sacred Spaces: Putting God in Place (Wipf and Stock) and Empire of Sacrifice: The Religious Origins of American Violence (NYU). He is working on a book with the title A Coming Religious Peace.