Çemen Polat has studied Bachelor of Economics and Business Administration in Turkmenistan between 1992 and 1996. In 2002 she extended her studies and completed Master of Teaching in Social Sciences at the University of Sydney. Between 2003 and 2009 Çemen Polat has taught Senior Economics and Business Studies and has involved in administrative duties. She has been appointed as Higher School Certificate Economics marker by New South Wales Board of Studies for the past three years. She has delivered papers on the international conferences at the Australian Catholic University, Melbourne and at University of Southern California, Los Angeles. In 2009 Çemen has completed a research degree with outstanding academic achievement and listed in the Executive Dean’s Merit list for 2010. Currently, Çemen Polat is a PhD student at the School of Political and Social Inquiry, Monash University, Melbourne.
THE FUNCTIONS OF GÜLEN-INSPIRED EDUCATIONAL INITIATIVES AS BUSINESS ENTERPRISES IN THE PHILANTHROPIC FASHION
Over time, the importance and relevance of the philanthropic movement inspired by the philosophy of contemporary Turkish scholar and author, Fethullah Gülen has become increasingly clear. The focus of this movement has been progressively recognized for its important contributions to educational, cultural, social and economic development in Turkey and abroad. Notably, the Gülen Movement’s profound contribution to the field of education has been demystified, and is not now the inexorable paradox that it first may have seemed. As such the success of Gülen-inspired educational institutions, with their reputation for quality education and universal ethical values is now renowned worldwide. The implications and initiatives of the movement in and outside of Turkey have attracted and been credited by the scholars, educators, statesmen and media on an international scale.
Yet still the economy of the Gülen Movement, particularly the funding of Gülen-inspired schools continues to be viewed with suspicion and misunderstanding. Hence, in order to forestall any criticism, to provide transparency, and to avoid misleading information in regards to the financial resources of this educational service, it is vital to analyze the funding mechanisms and the altruistic ethics behind the sponsorship of Gülen-inspired educational institutions. It is necessary to juxtapose these schools to the funding systems of Christian faith-based philanthropic educational activities. An analysis of similarities between the philanthropic financial endeavors of the Gülen Movement and of other western faith-based philanthropies will serve to illuminate the subject and to remove any perceived forbearances. Consequently, the specific purpose of this paper is to investigate the influence of Gülen’s encouragement of business people in engaging in educational service. In order to disclose the altruistic auspices of business people, this paper will examine and scrutinize the functions of Gülen-inspired educational initiatives as business enterprises in the philanthropic fashion. This paper will also examine the involvement of teachers and women volunteers in philanthropic activity and their altruistic contribution to the inclusive, universal and educational Movement.
One on the main aspirations of Fethullah Gülen, a Muslim scholar and activist, is to achieve universal peace, respect, and mutual understanding among different faiths. According to Gülen, current issues affecting unity in Turkey and consequently creating polarizations among Turkish-Kurdish, Sunnis and Alevites, religious and secular, left and right, Muslims and non-Muslims can be avoided through communication, collaboration and interaction. He sees the main causes of the instability and insecurity as ignorance, poverty and disunity and advised his followers to address these problems if a global harmonious and progressive society were to be obtained.
Gülen believes education is the most effective strategic solution to combat immediate problems and achieve an enhanced quality of life for all of humanity. Hence, he focused on the significance of sound education with an emphasis on science, technology and the transmission of moral, behavioral and universal ethical values. Fethullah Gülen encouraged and inspired fellow citizens to realize these educational projects through the demonstration of volunteerism and social altruism.
In 1970’s Gülen conceptualized the characteristics and features that were to provide a vision of Turkish schooling for the future. The mobilization of resources from well established existing networks, solidarity circles of businessmen, intellectuals and educators of the Gülen movement were ready to establish secular private primary and secondary schools when the neo-liberal policies of Ozal were implemented in 1980’s. Hence, 1982 witnessed the realization of the long waited educational project in Izmir, which was followed by the establishment of another school in Istanbul and soon many others. Within a decade, the movement has become a transnational phenomenon, with the inauguration of schools in the Turkish speaking ex-Soviet republics of Central Asia after the chaotic collapse of the Soviet Union, and before long a spread to other parts of the world.
The profound contributions of the Gülen Movement have progressively been more greatly recognized as important contributors to educational, cultural and economic development in Turkey and abroad. Notably, the Gülen-inspired schools positive and progressive implications to the field of education is not in fact the inexorable paradox that it first may have seemed. The success of these educational institutions, with their reputation for quality education emphasizing on universal ethical values is renowned worldwide. Gülen-inspired schools have delivered vastly elevated rates of student retention, graduation and matriculation in comparison to the state level in almost each country in which they were located, and have demonstrated significant accomplishments in the International Science Olympiads.
Apart from the academic accomplishments and imposition of universal ethical values, Gülen-inspired schools strive to bring students of diverse religions, cultures, and ethnicities to common understandings by establishing schools in certain conflict zones of the world. For example, the schools in the Philippines - a country experiencing ongoing conflict between Muslims and Christians, have brought students from both sides of the conflict to share in the same learning environment. Bosnian, Serbian, Albanian and Croatian children sit in the same classroom in the Balkans. Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims enjoy the same education in India; schools in Iraq brought together Christians and Muslims; while schools in St. Petersburg, Russia are witnessing the joy of Russian and Tatar boys in the same educational environment. Moreover, according to an article published by the New York Times, the Turkish schools in Pakistan offer a gentle approach to Islam that could help reduce the influence of extremism. The schools established by the movement in the southeast regions of Turkey, where the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) is very active, offer alternatives for young men and female Kurds which may prevent them from joining the terrorists. The academic and moral implications and contributions to peace in both an individual society and to the world at large from Gülen-inspired schools have been acknowledged by scholars, government authorities and the media on an international platform.
Although the recognized national and international credit rating of Gülen-inspired schools has been praised by scholars and intellectuals on a major scale, the proliferation of these schools and their rapid emergence as a transnational phenomenon in such a short period of time has raised questions, allegations and criticism in regards to the economy of the Gülen movement. In particular, the funding of the schools continues to be viewed with suspicion and misunderstanding, thus requiring transparent analysis.
THE FUNCTIONS OF GÜLEN-INSPIRED SCHOOLS AS BUSINESS ENTERPRISES IN THE PHILANTHROPIC FASHION
By way of forestalling any criticism as well as to accurately and adequately understand, and to avoid misleading information in regards to the financial resources of this educational service, it is necessary to disclose the altruistic auspices of business people and examine the functions of Gülen-inspired educational initiatives as business enterprises in the philanthropic fashion.
The altruistic auspices of business people
Although supporters and sympathizers of the Gülen movement believe that funds for Gülen-inspired schools and other projects are contributed mainly by individuals who believe in sound education, critics argue that the movement is receiving monetary assistance from foreign aid. The accusers assert that the mill stream or the source of funding for educational projects cannot be explained in any other way. For people who are unfamiliar with the notion of selflessness, it is difficult to comprehend the concept of giving without expectation and of self-sacrifice for the betterment of others. It is difficult for them to comprehend and acknowledge that these schools are a result of the altruism demonstrated by Anatolian businessmen who have shown love, commitment, and self-sacrifice to improve the lives of individuals, humanity at large. The core principle of this movement is “Living to let others live” which is the main driving force behind the altruistic actions of these volunteers. Hence, its participants believe that they need to live with the enjoyment of improving the lives of others, and the need to impose limitations on their own living standards. They trust in philosophy of giving two thirds of their possession and maintaining life with one third.
An explanation of the motivations driving these financial contributions, and of the benefits a person gets from supporting Gülen-inspired schools was provided by a Turkish businessman in Turkmenistan who donates 60 percent of his annual income, ($US 350 000), in the following way:
I have no personal expectation from contributions yet expecting that our investment in these educational institutions will offer a lot for the humanity of the world. Achieving global peace, harmony and tolerance are the core forces behind the auspices. Witnessing the fruits of these schools in such short period of time makes me realize that humanity and the world benefits from these educational services. This motivates me to support them even more and helps me to understand my moral duty as a human, believer and citizen.
Likewise, a senior participant of the Gülen movement in Turkmenistan has stated:
There should be no expectation if the financial assistance is given as a philanthropic contribution. Yet philanthropic contribution for sound education is an investment, and the investment definitely has the outcomes. The worldly outcome would be building a global and peaceful future for the humanity regardless of their color, race, ethnicity or religion. The second outcome would be gaining God’s pleasure, and will be seen in the eternal world. Both outcomes are pleasing and fertile.
The sources of finance for most schools affiliated with the Gülen movement are provided by Turkish businessmen who donate from 10 to 70 percent of their annual income, amounts ranging between $US 20,000 and $US 300,000 on average. Transparency in financial resources, honesty, sincerity, ethics and the humility of the people within the movement has enabled current sponsors and new comers to contribute without any doubts or hesitations. A businessman in Australia explained:
I saw an incredible belief and passion in the people behind the project, the Directors, the educational advisors and the businessmen who were supporting the project and spending their own money, giving their valuable time and working very hard to ensure that the project would be a success. This motivated me to become part of this project and to donate both my time and money into it. Moreover, the group of founders was a very well balanced mix of local university graduate professionals, educational advisors from Turkey and local devoted businessmen. This mix of dedicated people along with the inspiration and vision provided by Fethullah Gülen was also a very strong motivating factor.
In regards to how the transparency results in trust and confidence, a businessmen from Bursa, Turkey who provides donations to the Gülen-inspired schools in Bosnia said:
I trust the people that were involved, they gained my trust very quickly, and they were dedicated and committed people. The transparency shown by all members in the financial dealings also added to their credibility. In the early days of forming the Foundation and the school in Bosnia we would discuss every dollar that had been collected and spent, this was open for all to see. These factors gave me the motivation and trust that the Gülen-inspired institutions and schools would be successful. This motivation led me to contribute financially and assist in making the project a success.
The prevalent trustworthiness and credibility among the individuals of the Gülen movement has not only motivated the philanthropists to support the projects, but has also created confidence in where and how their funds are used. In light of this issue, the businessman in Turkmenistan was asked if the donors are concerned about how their money is used, whether they follow up these details. He replied:
I have known and have been contributing financially to these schools for the last 30 years. During this period of time I have not been confronted with any doubtful action or concealed contract either among educators, administrators or with a board of directors that would distance me from the movement. Instead, I witnessed clarity, openness and consultation among its members. Because of this observation, I never felt a reason to follow up the details about what the funding was used for, and has not crossed my mind until the question was put to me.
The water for the mill (Turkish expression of the source of funds for the schools) behind these educational initiatives is donations provided by the committed Anatolian people who believe in sound education which will nurture generations equipped with modern science and moral values, and which would result in global peace, equity, democracy, social justice and respect. Consequently, the Turkish people who believed in this worthwhile project have established business circles and charitable trusts to support the schools financially in Turkey and around the globe. Yet still some people or groups view the financial resources of this movement with suspicion, and cannot comprehend the altruism of the Anatolian people. They cannot understand the power of sincerity, devotion, self-sacrifice and commitment behind these educational projects. In regards to this issue, Fethullah Gülen said:
I have stated many times before that these schools do not belong to somebody but to all Anatolian people, the mill stream is the heart of Anatolian people. However, we see that despite mentioning this fact many times before, people who don’t understand altruism and do not know giving without receiving anything in return will not be able to understand this movement, but will try to close these schools with a meaningless jealousy, anger, and grudge.
If they want to learn the mill stream honestly, I wish they have followed to the source of the mill and visit these schools. If they are unbiased, they should have seen that the main source behind these educational activities is the same one that enabled us to have victory in the Independence War. These schools are the fruits of the Anatolian people’s hearts who show altruism, which they showed in the Independence War, in a different manner today but the source is their hearts.
Voluntary Altruistic Contributions of the Teachers
The realization of the educational philosophy of Fethullah Gülen would be impossible without the dedication of the teachers, who have demonstrated altruistic commitments in light of financial contributions, time, devotion and dedication for this universal movement. Most teachers in these schools are graduates of prestigious universities such as Bogaziçi, Bilkent, Marmara or Middle East Technical University and could have highly paid jobs in their home country. Yet they preferred to migrate to other countries with a vision for peaceful humanity. Gülen says, “The teachers, who are dedicated to serving their country, nation, and humanity and have found the meaning of life to be in serving others, enthusiastically work for a small salary.”
Among these teachers, who have moved to less developed countries or economies in transition, many have been confronted with monetary and non-monetary hardships. In an interview with Mehmet Gundem in Milliyet Daily, Gülen said:
These services are educational activities which began in two places [Izmir and Istanbul], and then gradually developed in Turkey and abroad step by step. The teachers knew that they would face several difficulties when they were going out there, with the support of rich people, foundations, and societies. And they really did face serious problems. The late Aydin Bolak would be on the verge of tears when he was told how some of our friends served without getting any payment in a country where the temperature can be below -60 Celsius. Now, on the one hand, such things were taking place, and on the other hand, someone openly asked me "Where does the water come from to work the mill?"
The total amount of financial contributions donated by the Anatolian businessmen to the Gülen-inspired schools in Kirgizstan until 2007 were approximately $US 50 million. However, examination of the scope of altruism depicts that it would be unfeasible to achieve something of this magnitude without teacher volunteers even if the amount of donated funds were to be $US 250 million. In addition, although the salaries are hardly sufficient to make a living, the teachers donate funds in the annual pledges and sponsor financially disadvantaged students to study at the school. While the teachers’ level of salary is equal to the level of scholarship, they still use some proportion of it for their students and the school. For example, the senior participant in the Gülen-inspired schools in Azerbaijan tells that the level of monthly income is $300 per teacher, yet in the past $150 of it was collected back due to the shortage of liquid funds available to operate the schools. Moreover, in certain years the teachers were not able to receive their salary on a regular basis, the salaries were given every two to three months, and the following year the salaries were late by five to six months. These or similar cases were experienced in Central Asia and other parts of the world. Gülen states:
As a matter of fact, there were some attempts, caused by feelings of rivalry, but the teachers who worked there asked for salaries of between $2000 and $3000. But our friends who volunteered accepted salaries as low as a scholarship (around $300-400). Some of them even had to find additional jobs. The representatives of the foundations and societies which supported the schools also worked for the construction of the schools, like common workers. There is no source behind these schools, only the sincere efforts of this nation. The water to work the mill comes through sacrifice. When a movement is this way, it means that it's independent and does not owe anything to anyone. 
Working extra hours after school and during the weekdays, tutoring students on the weekends and organizing study camps during the holidays without any monetary incentives are common characteristics of teachers inspired by the philosophy of Gülen. The teachers would sacrifice their time to assist their students’ understanding on certain subject matters, solving extra questions and assisting them with their overall welfare. In order to examine the monetary value of this teacher’s altruism and sacrifice I have conducted a survey at two Gülen-inspired schools over three campuses in Australia. The purpose of the survey was to investigate extra tutoring hours given to the senior students (Year 11 and 12) by the teachers, and to investigate the financial value by comparing it to the average fees for tutoring in Australia which vary from A$ 50 to A$85 per hour. The results depicted that on average, each teacher spends extra 8 hours per week for tutoring classes. The total number of teachers who are teaching senior classes over three campuses is 22, and hence the total tutoring hours are 172. Consequently, through voluntary tutoring classes outside of the school time, the teachers save A$ 8600 per week or A$ 344, 000 per annum for the schools.
Understanding the notion, meaning and mission of philanthropy cannot be limited only to the monetary contributions. “Teaching itself is a philanthropic action, it is the contribution of one generation to another to pass along what it knows and understands and values about good works, the good individual and the good society. This is our contribution,”  said a social science teacher from a Gülen-inspired school in Australia.
Contributions of the Women’s Philanthropy to the Gülen Movement
Women’s unprecedented contribution to the funding of schools affiliated with the Gülen movement cannot be underestimated. The visibility of female teachers, academics, entrepreneurs, and other professionals has increased over the last years. The commitments of the female actors who acquire certain professions, particularly teachers, are almost identical to those of male counterparts. The female teachers also share financial and non-financial issues faced in founding and operating the schools, also offer after school, weekend and holiday tutoring classes and other welfare programs to assist their students. The women philanthropists found schools, dormitories, and educational centers, and provide scholarships for female as well as male students in Turkey and abroad. The housewives constantly organize fairs (kermes) whereby they prepare and sell home-made food, sweets, sewing, handicrafts and knitting to raise funds for educational purposes. In the movement, all actors regardless of gender or profession can participate and make voluntary altruistic contributions.
A female philanthropist, who is an IT manager at a private company, has supported Gülen -inspired schools from their early establishment stage. In the interview, she expressed her views about the movement and the reasons behind the financial giving in the following way:
The Gülen movement is centered on the benefit of all humanity, and is not prejudiced in its service. This movement focuses on values, ethics and morals which are very important to us. This makes the movement worth supporting and sponsoring. The reason why some people contribute significant amounts of funds is because they truly believe in its purpose. We see this as a long term beneficial investment for future generations. We believe this movement is very important because it is not focusing on issues of secluded societies, but rather democratic and integrated societies.
Although some individuals, scholars and journalists criticize the less visibility and anonymity of female participants compared to their male counterparts in the public sphere, it needs to be recognized and acknowledged that the individual modesty, a belief in pure altruism and not wanting any recognition or attention for their acts of generosity is the culture of the Gülen movement and it is emphasized not only among female yet with both gender participants. Furthermore, a desire for anonymity by female actors, unidentified preference, keeping low profile, not in quest of press attention and publication for their altruism is their predilection, free choice and rights which should be respected and accepted. By privileging anonymous giving, Frumkin, professor of the University of Texas, asserts “Anonymous giving promises to ensure that the donor’s intent is pure and that the gift is aimed to helping others, rather than gratifying the donor… the donor’s motives are pure and that the giving does not proceed from motives other than altruism.”
These people, the self-willed Anatolian businessmen and committed teachers hand in hand have founded the schools throughout the world, believing that only education can find the cure to the ills of society, and that individuals can be elevated by achieving sound education. With their altruism, these schools function as business enterprises in the philanthropic fashion, where the profits are not for individuals yet for the society, and retained profits are reinvested into the projects again. This is where the water to work the mill comes from.
THE INFLUENCE OF GÜLEN’S ENCOURAGEMENT OF BUSINESS PEOPLE IN ENGAGING IN EDUCATIONAL SERVICE
What made the Anatolian businessmen, teachers and millions of sympathizers of the Gülen movement voluntarily engage in these charitable and inclusive educational projects? The source of this altruism and commitment comes from universal aspirations and a connection to this philosophy of establishing educational institutions. It is based on the universalistic aspirations and educational philosophy, Gülen’s own altruism and leading by example, recognition and acknowledgement of the success of the educational initiatives in a major scale. The quality of his messages, thinking and ideas have attracted and influenced the audience immensely throughout Turkey and beyond its state boundaries. Although some studies suggest that supporters of, and those influenced by Gülen’s ideas number anywhere between 200,000 and 4 million only within Turkey, the exact number of participants cannot be provided as there is no formal membership required to participate in these worthwhile projects. Nevertheless, recent research conducted by Professor Akbar Ahmed of American University has demonstrated that 84 percent of Turkish society has a highly positive opinion of Gülen and the civic movement he has inspired.
Universalistic Aspirations and Educational Philosophy of Fethullah Gülen
Education is paramount in Gülen’s thinking, and is the only way to achieve a peaceful society and combat the problems confronted in the modern world. In his sermons, gatherings, meetings and mosque congregations in the 1960’s and 80’s, Gülen emphasized the immediate need for sound education, and the engaging of the public in educational projects as sponsors and teachers. His educational philosophy is based on the marriage of mind and heart, the vision of bridging tradition and modernity, and the spiritual and intellectual, local and global. This is aimed at developing a nation’s youth into individuals who are in harmony with their own identity, and respectful of their own customs and religious beliefs. Who are tolerant towards the whole of humanity, and open to modern scientific notions, advanced technology, innovation and change. Through his sermons, Gülen stressed the importance of schools which will represent a new voice and an excellent model in education, ethics and self discipline, and which nurture selfless, open-minded students who will work to benefit society.
The middle way is an important concept in Gülen’s understating, and is rooted in the Turkish-Ottoman experience, yet it extensively stresses more universalistic, pluralistic, tolerant and democratic philosophies. To him, Islam should not turn into a dogma, but can be open, flexible, rational, and tolerant, in dialogue with other faiths, other ideas, and compatible and complementary with scientific and technological progress.Gülen’s educational philosophy is an emphasis on the middle way between modernity and tradition, materialism and metaphysics. He refuses extreme modernists and religious fundamentalists who believe in the incompatibility between Islam and modernity. Gülen sees it as an artificial dichotomy and takes the middle way which domesticates excessive rationalism with Sufism and love, and to tries to reconcile egotism and individualism with selflessness, altruism and humility. From his very first sermon, Gülen stressed the cultivation of the “golden generation” in the progressive schools who believed to absorb and symbolize both modern realties and Muslim identities through its mind, its actions and its spirituality.  Renewing Islamic identity and redefining Islamic action has resulted in amplified awareness and popularity for Gülen, and increased his influence over the wider community in Turkey. Consequently, another main characteristic of
Gülen’s message was conveyed and disseminated to all walks of society and particularly to middle income tradesmen, with a small number of wealthy industrialists and university students. He urged them strongly to engage in these educational initiatives, and to demonstrate altruistic commitment, responsibility to others and dedications in order to offer better education to the society. In calling the audience to serve humanity through education Gülen recalls:
I encouraged people to serve the country in particular and humanity in general, through education. I called them to help the state educate and raise people by opening schools.
Within a short period of time sponsors and teachers of the Gülen-inspired schools were ready to realize Gülen’s thoughts in practice.
Gülen’s own altruism – leading by example
Being a good example and personifying through actions (temsil) is more effective and important than teaching by words (teblig). This is a philosophy proposed by Gülen, and an imperative strategy practiced and emphasized among participants in the Gülen movement. Gülen’s own ascetic life and altruism, his religious sincerity, personal piety, and modesty have attracted, motivated and influenced followers to establish schools through charitable donations. Most prominently, Gülen’s own altruism and leading by example has motivated the audience. Selflessness, philanthropy, love, enthusiasm, generosity and care for humanity are seen from his early life stages, as Gülen relates his days in Edirne:
I invested my money in books that I considered beneficial, and would give books and magazines to others as gifts. For this reason, I often had financial problems.
Likewise, in the 1960’s when Gulen began to serve at Kestanepazari Qur’anic School in Izmir, he writes:
Most students in Kestanepazari were talented. I was not being paid there, because I did not want any payment for what I was doing (not to spoil my sincerity).
Dr Ismail Buyukcelebi, who has known Gülen for the last forty years, says:
I have been with Fethullah Gülen since middle school. He used to preach in Izmir and teach my peers and I at Kestane Pazari Qur'anic boarding school. He would not only teach us, but also mentored us. He himself would live in a closet-sized room next the school building. He lived a very simple life and spent most of his salary providing for the poor students His inspirational speeches and intellectual approach attracted many university students, the middle class business community, and congregations in the mosques. He used his influence to encourage individuals to open dormitories, college preparation courses, open schools, start media and publishing companies, and build community centers. He would spend his efforts in worship and education and avoid meaningless or fruitless activities and politics.
Gülen spent his life searching for knowledge, teaching, writing and lecturing in mosques, cafes and other public spheres. Throughout his life, Gülen has tasted almost nothing of worldly pleasure and has never had personal wealth but preferred serving humanity. Aslandogan and Cetin described Gülen as:
Gülen was a distinguished scholar from a very modest background. With no ambition for worldly wealth, and as a person of God, a preacher, a man of spirituality, asceticism and profound knowledge, he could have had a very satisfying career simply serving as a community leader and author. However, he concentrated his efforts on motivating the masses to invest in sound education and has led by example.
Gülen’s concern for humanity is his main aspiration and he has spent all his wisdom and experience to benefit the society. He has devoted his life in this way. Gulen’s devotion, dedication, altruism and love for all of humanity has inspired and mobilized people since 1960. According to Ismail Buyukcelebi, Fethullah Gülen has written more than 60 bestselling books and has donated 90 percent of these earnings either to the educational, cultural initiatives established by his followers or to humanitarian aid. For example, Gülen has donated $8,000 to earthquake victims in rural areas of Elazig, Turkey and $10,000 earned from sales of his books and audio recordings to the people who suffered from the floods in Tajikistan via the leading Turkish charity association Kimse Yok Mu (Is Anybody There).
Fethullah Gülen has always urged the Anatolian people to display generosity, self-sacrifice, altruism, and commitment. He has encouraged them to be generous like companions of the Prophet, and most importantly led to lead by example. This resulted in gaining the admiration of the Turkish community who deeply believed in the visions of Gülen, and who established hundreds of schools in Turkey and abroad.
Success and diffusion of Gülen-inspired schools around the globe
The tireless efforts, commitment, dedication and patience have begun to bear fruits as the Gülen-inspired schools in both their country of origin, Turkey, and abroad have accomplished unprecedented success. The success was achieved not only in countries such as Central Asia, the Balkans and African, but also in advanced democracies which supply quality education system. The Gülen-inspired schools have attracted scholars’ attention from different parts of the world due to their continuous academic accomplishments, the teaching of subjects in English and their emphasis on universal ethical values. These schools have delivered vastly elevated rates of student retention, graduation and matriculation in comparison to the state level of each of the countries in which they have been established. Many of the students of these modern and secular schools have achieved an unrivalled reputation for routinely outperforming other students in the International Science Olympiads, as well as obtaining high university entrance exam scores in comparison to national levels.
The success and increased credit rating of Gülen -inspired schools in advancing knowledge and decreasing levels of conflict in conflict areas has been noted. This has contributed to the global peace through the self-sacrifice of teachers in an altruistic, devoted and voluntary manner, and has become one of the major driving factors behind the motivation of sponsors, and parents. It has attracted even more individuals who are inspired by Gülen’s thinking and who are willing to support the financing of these educational institutions. This attraction has created a self-perpetuating cycle as the academic accomplishments and cultivation of well behaved students have resulted in acknowledgement and publicity which returned with more parents, sponsors and government authorities to support the schools.
The Gülen -inspired school sponsor in Bosnia expressed that witnessing the Turkish Olympiads had a great impact on him when it came to supplying more funds:
Seeing the success of the schools is the most striking point that caught my attention. The great results achieved in the university entry examinations, and in being placed on the list of top schools in the state for the last few years, along with successful activities in humanitarian aid motivate me to give more.
Moreover, becoming a transnational actor on a major scale by establishing educational initiatives and civil society organizations the Gülen Spreading around the world, reaching various societies regardless of their ideology, class, political, cultural or religious affiliations with an aim for global peace, has made the existing sponsors realize the importance of the movement, and has encouraged them to donate even more funds while at same time attracting new sponsors and teachers. movement has been able to reach every strata of humanity around the world. Through its educational projects, the movement successfully connected from primary school to university levels, attracting students of diverse class, ethnic and religious backgrounds. Through schools as well as media, published in many languages, the movement has founded intercultural and interfaith dialogue organizations that have reached the overall population finding commonalities with everybody within and beyond Turkey.
The unprecedented vision and educational philosophy of Fethullah Gülen, his own altruism and leading by example, the success and diffusion of the schools around the globe have influenced millions of people who are willing to sacrifice their wealth, time and energy.
CHRISTIAN FAITH-BASED PHILANTHROPIC EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES AND THIER FUNDING
All monotheistic religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam and others advocate altruistic behaviour, the responsibility and accountability of the believer to assist those in need and stipulate that followers should exhibit compassion for those who are less fortunate. Normative expectations related to religious giving (tithing) are an important part of Christian belief, and one of the driving forces behind donations to the church. Opportunities to express religious beliefs and values are provided through many volunteer roles. In a US national survey of charitable giving and volunteering, the third highest ranked motive for giving and volunteering was due to religious beliefs or responding to a moral obligation based on religious beliefs. Similarly, the research conducted by Brooks reveals that about 80 percent of givers in 2000 indicated that they gave because “those who have more should give to those who have less”. Correspondingly, Jones reports that “the more someone believed that helping was important, the more they donated to charity.”  Religious expectations related to volunteering and the giving of charitable donations is deeply embedded in the Christian history.
Education has been a primary focus for many early and modern Christian philanthropists who assisted in the launching of schools, colleges and other educational initiatives. Hence they founded, raised money for, and donated to the establishment of schools such as Brigidine College Sydney, Grangewood in the UK, and Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy in the US, are founded upon similar principles, as well as believing that education could be one of the most powerful and influential agents for a better future.
The most prevalent motivating factors for establishing educational initiatives for Christian philanthropists are salvation, wisdom and pleasure where the greater importance is assigned to the values salvation and wisdom and lower importance is assigned to pleasure. Biblical scriptures emphasise salvation and wisdom as well as self-denial, which show an association between these values and religious beliefs.
Moreover, in examining what motivates winners of the President’s Community Volunteer Award, researchers found that the values of motivation, and deeply held beliefs about the importance of helping others, had the highest mean score. Respondents strongly agreed that religious motivation encouraged them to give. Volunteering is a practice encouraged by their religious beliefs, and it is an individual’s obligation to help others in need. For them it is the mandate of their faith to do what they can to make the world a better place for all people. These findings indicate that, at least for these award-winning volunteers, the relationship between religiosity and volunteering is more one of “loving thy neighbour” and not just those in church.
This and similar research depicts that altruism, commitment, giving and charity has been widely practiced in the Christian faith from early times until today. Moral duty, helping others, creating a better place for all humanity, love for humanity, salvation and wisdom are foremost in establishing the schools. These factors, as well as education are paramount factors that impact Christian philanthropists when they decide to help improve the quality of the world through donations.
It can be seen that there are overwhelming parallels between the functions of Gülen -inspired and Christian-inspired educational initiatives as business enterprises in the philanthropic fashion. Their aspirations for a better society, global peace, salvation of humanity, as well as the factors motivate the philanthropists, are evident in both sides. An analysis of overwhelming similarities serves to illuminate the subject and remove any perceived forbearances, suspicions and misunderstandings.
By way of forestalling criticism, accusations and suspicions about the source of the mill stream for educational projects, this paper has examined the financial resources of Gulen-inspired schools. It has investigated the altruistic ethics behind the sponsorship of Gülen-inspired educational institutions and the influence of Fethullah Gülen’s encouragement on business people and teachers in engaging in educational service.
The water for the mill behind these educational initiatives is donations provided by committed, altruistic, selfless Anatolian people who believe in sound education and unparalleled, devoted teachers who prioritized others lives ahead of their own. The water to work the mill comes through sacrifice. However, the people backed by vested political interests still accuse and cannot comprehend the altruism and selflessness of the Turkish community. Fethullah Gülen with a heavy heart said:
They won’t believe that we work for peace and the salvation of humanity. They won’t believe that we endeavor to create an island of peace where all of humanity can live in brotherhood. They won’t believe that you do not have expectations for this world or the next. They won’t believe that you do not want anything other than securing God’s contentment.
The altruism, self-sacrifice, love, commitment, devotion of the Anatolian people who believe in the concept of “Living to let others to live” is the stream for the mill. These individuals have a vision of global peace, and strive for the salvation of humanity, and the cultivation of a younger generation who would show respect, tolerance, understanding, and love towards all humanity regardless of class, ethnic or religious affiliations. These young people will create islands of peace and forestall a ‘clash of civilizations’. The unprecedented vision and educational philosophy of Fethullah Gülen has influenced millions of people who are willing to sacrifice their wealth, time and energy towards the realisation of these aspirations.
 Harmansen, 2005; ‘Understandings of “community” within the Gulen movement’, in Islam in the Contemporary World: The Fethullah Gulen Movement in Thought and Practice, Rice University, Houston; also at http://en.fgulen.com/conference-papers/294-the-fethullah-gulen-movement-i/2135-understandings-of-qcommunityq-within-the-gulen-movement.html
 Cetin, 2008:209
 Aymaz, 2010; Yesilova 2008.
 Sabrina Tavernise, The New York Times, ‘Turkish Schools offer Pakistan a gentler vision of Islam’, May 4 2008; at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/04/world/asia/04islam.html
 Ebaugh, 2010:101
 Gulen, 2004, Bamteli Millstream.
 Personal interview with a businessman of the Gulen-inspired schools in Turkmenistan, October 18 2009.
 Personal interview, October 11 2009, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.
 Ebaugh, 2010:55
 Personal interview, April 24 2009, Sydney, Australia.
 Personal interview, October 28 2009, Bursa, Turkey.
 Personal interview, October 11 2009, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.
 Gulen, 2004, Bamteli Millstream.
 Gulen in Unal and Williams, 2000:321.
 An interview with Mehmet Gundem in Milliyet Daily, January 26 2005.
 Bulent Kenes, Today’s Zaman, April 8 2007.
 ‘Yeseren Umitler’ documentary broadcasted by the Samanyolu in Turkey, special edition, Azerbaijan, part 5.
 An interview Mehmet Gundem in Milliyet Daily, January 26 2005.
 Personal interview, September 05 2010, Australia.
 Personal interview, April 11 2009, Sydney.
 Frumkin, 2006:288, 263.
 Aras and Caha, 2000:33.
 Cetin, 2010.
 Ahmed, 2007.
 Ergene, 2008:127
 Park, 2007.
 Kuru, 2003:116-117
 Gulen in Unal and Williams, 2000:320.
 Gulen in Unal and Williams, 2000:18
 Ibid, 20.
 In Yucel, 2009. Available at http://www.fgulen.org/press-room/review/3586-fethullah-gulen-spiritual-leader-in-a-global-islamic-context.html
 Aslandogan and Cetin, 2007:46-47.
 Polat, 2010.
 Aslandogan and Cetin, 2007:44-45.
 Personal interview, October 28 2009, Bursa, Turkey.
 Kucukcan, 2007.
 Wuthnow, 1991:89
 Brooks 2006:57
 Jones, 2006:259.
 Wymer and Walter 1997:126
 The President of the US traditionally presents these awards at a White House ceremony to signify and symbolize their significance. The President’s Community Volunteer Award is the nation’s highest honour for volunteerism.
 Littlepage, Perry, Goff and Brudney, 2005:13
 Gulen in Kurucan, April 20 2010.