Loye Ashton is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the Honors Program at Tougaloo College. He is the director of Center for International Studies and Global Change at Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi. He got his Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Boston University. He is Co-founder of the Society for Comparative Theology and an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church.

“To me, what I see the Movement is, is an outgrowth of people who want to make their society better. And who have a spiritual yearning to see human beings flourish, and to see human beings successful. To see them safe. To see them prosper. To see them love each other and form deeper communities of friendship and mutual care. So I see how the religious values and the spiritual teachings behind the beliefs of many of the members of the Movement inform their actions and community.”

“Hizmet is very trusting. So Hizmet is not fundamentalist. Hizmet is not radical, precisely because Hizmet has the deeper faith. The deeper faith in God, the deeper faith in human beings, that these fundamentalist radical groups don’t have…Hizmet just says, “look, we’re going to teach you what everyone in this planet needs to know about science, and medicine, and technology, and human rights, and math, and art, and literature, and history, and then out of that wealth of knowledge, you’ll be a better informed human being, so that you can learn about other cultures and other peoples.”

“Fethullah Gülen, obviously, he is one of the intellectual and spiritual leaders of the Movement…A very popular preacher, one who helped to give a message of modernization, that Islam and modernity were not incompatible, that Islam was very much comfortable with science, Islam was comfortable with democracy, Islam was comfortable with pluralism, globalization, differences of identity, differences of culture, differences of belief, that none of this was antithetical to being a Muslim.”