Academic Retreat – Gülen Movement: Dynamics, Objectives & Opportunities

Open to Everyone
Free to Attend

Istanbul, Turkey

Batool Al Toma

Director of the Convert Muslim Foundation

Cllr Dr Harvey Marshall

Chairman of the Turkish British Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Councillor for the City of Westminster

Dr Gabriel Piricky

Research Fellow, Institute of Oriental Studies of the Slovak Academy of Sciences

Dr Klas Grinell

Curator of Contemporary Global Issues, The Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg

Dr Mumtaz Ahmed Khan

Leeds Metropolitan University

Dr Victoria Clement

Assistant Professor of History, Western Caroline University

Jean Michel Cros

Researcher and lecturer, French National Center for Scientific Research

Mark Plater

Senior Lecturer at Bishop Grosseteste University

Prof Emeritus Max Farrar

Prof Emeritus Max Farrar

Professor for community engagement at Leeds Metropolitan University

Prof Max Farrar, a cultural sociologist, is the head of community partnerships and volunteering and professor for community engagement at Leeds Metropolitan University. An adviser to several boards and organisations on the issue of race, Professor Farrar has previously lectured in sociology and written research papers on the subject.

Prof Legrand Hervé

Emeritus Professor, Catholic University of Paris

Revd Prof Simon Robinson

Revd Prof Simon Robinson

Professor of Applied and Professional Ethics, Leeds Metropolitan University

Professor of Applied and Professional Ethics, Leeds Metropolitan University, Associate Director, Ethics Centre of Excellence, and Visiting Fellow in Theology, University of Leeds.


  • Opportunities: what can be learnt from the Movement’s history in order to build for its future?
  • Gender roles: where in the Movement are the women?
  • Financial resources: what keeps the wheels turning?
  • Media expansion: given such rapid growth from local to international, what burdens come with scale?
  • Dialogue: which approaches enable fruitful dialogue? what comes next, after the talking?
  • Educational ideals and realities: Gülen’s philosophy of education — how does it work in practice?
  • Scholarship: Gülen’s output on theology and the role of religion in society
  • Islam in modern society: what does the Movement understand by tajdid (renewal); what does it entail?

A 7-day Retreat (not a conference)

The Retreat featured the meeting of forty UK and Europe-based academics in Istanbul for seven days to critically appraise and scrutinise one of the most dynamic faith based movements to originate from the Muslim world known as the Gülen Movement. The event comprised seven roundtable discussions on the themes given above over seven days with relevant visits, meetings and activities interspersed in between. Each roundtable lasted for two hours and forty five minutes with a thirty minute panel presentation followed by open discussion. Each roundtable was chaired by an independent academic.

The Movement’s principal areas of activity are education (from primary to tertiary levels), print publication and audiovisual media, and intercultural dialogue. During the Retreat, performance in each of these areas was subject to scrutiny, analysis and appraisal. In particular, time was made for the so-called ‘sensitive topics’ — the participation and visibility of women in the Movement; the transparency of its financial resources; its capacity for adjustment to varied cultural–political contexts; its relevance to people of different socio-economic class. We also saw a vigorous exchange of ideas on the longer-term implications of Gülen’s theological and philosophical writings for societal development of Muslim communities (whether of minority or majority status) and their strategies for coping in the modern world.

An ever present question and goal was to define the nature of the Movement and ask what opportunities, if any, this transnational community of volunteers presents for peace-building and practical dialogue.

Who can attend?

In order to realize the kind of effective discussion that we wish to see, the numbers attending have to be restricted. Accordingly, attendance will be by invitation only.

If you wish to attend: please write a brief letter explaining your reasons for attending and attach a CV. If you wish to be a panellist and/or chair a discussion, please add (to the letter and the CV), some 200 words of reflection on one of the themes listed above.

For the retreat poster, please click here