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.

“For me, the most important contribution of the Hizmet Movement has been for Americans, and I think the rest of the world, to see that Islam is not disabled by modernity. I think Hizmet has helped us to see that you don’t have to be a fanatic, you don’t have to be a fundamentalist. You certainly don’t have to be a terrorist. You don’t have to be violent in any way for Islam to be able to stand on its own in the modern world.”

“So I think Gülen embodies and he gives voice to that other side of Islam, and the hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world who reject the extremism, who reject the violence of these 20th century Islamic movements that responded to European colonialism. And are saying, “no, we can actually do this differently. We can bring the 21st century reality into Islamic experience, and have this be something that will be good for both.””

“From my perspective as someone who’s from the Methodist tradition, I see the value in how these schools help to make better communities. How they help move people from limited economic opportunity into a middle class and into a place at the table of globalization. So I think there’s a great deal of not only economic mobility that can come through these schools, but I also think it can make stronger communities, it can make better citizens.”