Hizmet is a transnational civil society initiative that advocates for the ideals of human rights, equal opportunity, democracy, non-violence and the emphatic acceptance of religious and cultural diversity. It began in Turkey as a grassroots community in the 1970s in the context of social challenges being faced at the time: violent conflict among ideologically and politically driven youth, desperate economic conditions and decades of state-imposed ideology of discrimination where the un-elected members of the state penetrated excessively in people’s lives and mandated a particular lifestyle. Hizmet literally means “service” in English.
Over the years, Hizmet has transformed from a grassroots community in Turkey to a wider social effort around the world where participants come from all walks of life — they are culturally, geographically, linguistically and religiously diverse. Their work centers on:
- Promoting philanthropy and community service
- Investing in education for cultivating virtuous individuals
- Organizing intercultural and interfaith dialogue for peaceful coexistence
Hizmet is not a religious effort; it is open to every person who shares its core values regardless of whether their values are rooted in Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, agnostic, or any other faith. In fact, in areas where Hindu, Buddhist or other religions are a majority, Hizmet supporters include members of those faiths.
One of the core ideals of Hizmet is not just an emphatic acceptance of religious, cultural, social and political diversity, but actual celebration of this diversity because Hizmet participants consider this diversity as divine will. Hizmet participants believe that such acceptance is not contrary to one’s devotion to religion, but indeed respecting and embracing fellow humans at the level of our common humanity is part of one’s devotion.
Hizmet participants are inspired by the ideas, life example and vision of Fethullah Gulen, who advocated for deeper personal spiritual devotion that is expressed in social work through the understanding that serving fellow humans is serving God.