"The Golden Generation": a modern/conservative Muslim utopia
(University of Bremen)
Paper short abstract:
The Gülen-movement tries to bridge the gap of a conservative Muslim utopia relating to the time of the prophet and (post-)modern society by investing in a to-be-formed "Golden Generation" of young professionals.
Paper long abstract:
The Gülen-movement is of one of the largest international Muslim networks that consists both of informal alliances of civil engagement as well as ties of economic and political associations. With his mentors of the Naqshibandia Order and a good part of Islam in general, the movements leader and eponym Fetullah Gülen shares the image of the time of the prophet as an ideal society (arab. "al asr-i sa´adet"). In opposition to the conception of history since the prophets appearence as a constant decline and in dependence on the thought of 20th century theologian Said Nursi, Gülen considers the present as a chance of culmination on the path to a this-worldly utopian society. His movement invests in the recruitment and education of a future intellectual intelligentsia, consisting of young modern professionals that are grounded in conservative Muslim ethics and orthodoxy. This to-be-formed "Golden Generation" (turk. "altin nesil") is supposed to at least partake in the future politics of the Turkish Republic and civil society in general. Theologically speaking this Golden generation as the peak of divine creation (apart from the prophet) would bridge this- and other-wordly conceptions of utopia by converging their own actions and Gods will. The paper invests in concrete steps on the move to this modern/conservative utopia by analysing local activities of Viennese Gülen-branches that have been accompanied by participant observation and ethnographic interviews.
Almost heaven: vernacular utopias and the culture of belief