Hurriyet Daily News ran a story titled “Followers discuss who will replace Gülen” based on anonymous “intelligence report prepared by analysts.” If you know the movement, you’ll know from the title of the story that it is fabricated. Any remaining doubts are quickly swept aside when you read the supposed successors. Either HDN’s source is playing a prank on HDN or HDN on us. That aside, what of succession?

Gulen never appointed, signaled or hinted at a successor. He wouldn’t and couldn’t, even if he wanted to. Gulen can’t be succeeded. Not because Gulen is a God-send but because of basic sociology. Gulen’s relationship with Hizmet participants developed in and through a particular socio-historic and dialogic context and process. It’s not Gulen but that context and history which is irreplaceable. That 40 year old Hizmet-inspired teacher who connected with Gulen’s teachings and Hizmet’s practice when he was a teenager will never be that teenager again; it is that which is irreplaceable. Put differently, if Gulen came after Gulen he would not be able to replace (the first) Gulen, and neither should he. Gulen has tried to encourage a Hizmet practice that is not dependent on individuals but on institutionalised istishare (consultative decision-making). My guess is that Hizmet will try to keep it together through a formalised istishare or committee of some sort. History suggests that that will fail. Hizmet may then diversify into smaller groups making their unique and particular contributions as separate entities. That is not abnormal, neither is it necessarily a bad thing. One thing I do know is that, Cevdet or any of the other “abis” named in that fabricated HDN piece will not be succeeding Gulen. Sorry Cevdet abi ☺