When governments fall or widespread demonstrations take place in a country, observers try to understand what the causes are by examining local dynamics. Global dynamics play a role in such events, but sometimes it is possible to find striking similarities between events or personalities in one country and those in another. So, when someone shared an article about Turkish movement that seemed oddly familiar, I wanted to find out more.

What came up is the following story: A boy was born on April 27,1941 in the village of Korucuk, near Erzurum to Ramiz and Refia. He began as a religious cleric and laid the ground for an organisation that would spread across the globe. His religious undertones gained him a strong and loyal following allowing him to inch towards his own agenda with mission of promoting peace and harmony.

He established his first student dormitory in 1976 which served as a place to religious discussions on the side. It became the template for all Gulen inspired tuition centers and schools. The schools are called light houses and they have dual purposes. Firstly, providing income for the organisation and secondly acting as a recruitment agency. Later these recruits were positioned and empowered they were asked to give back to the organisation by donating 10-20% of their income to the organisation. This organisation has a hierarchical culture.

Besides this, in 1951 a boy was born in Pakistan; this was Tahir ul Qadri. Tahir ul Qadri’s father was a paramedic and holding intellectual repute, young Tahir went to missionary (Sacred Heart, Jhang) school and later graduated from the faculty of law at the University of the Punjab in Lahore in 1974 and carried out postgraduate studies in Islamic Penal System and Islam contemporary studies. He then became acquainted with Mian Muhammad Sharif (father of Ex- Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif). Sharif the elder requested Qadri for religious lecture series designed and associated with the Iteefaq academy. Qadri had wide spread popularity on state television which Sharif was interested to catch.

In 1981 Qadri set up the Muslim-Christian Dialogue Forum to foster dialogue between scholars in the two religions. This was centered at the Minhajul Qur’an Society in Lahore. The society grew into the Minhaj University (of which Qadri is the chairperson of the Board of Governors) and the Minhaj Welfare Foundation, an international relief charity. Minhajul Qur’an became quite influential, even being granted consultative status by the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Minhajul Qur’an set out to bring together Islamic education and contemporary education, opening a number of schools and colleges; an interesting point here that needs to be emphasised is the secular nature of the schools, with what Al Arabiya refers to as “a cosmetic touch of Islamic education”, which has a parallel in Turkey, and indeed globally.

Now, there is an interesting dissimilarity between the leaders from two different parts of the world. Fethullah Gülen bases his teachings on Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, a respected Sufi scholar and preacher. He is famous for training his disciples for forming strong political system and one of the renowned and ruling Turkish AK political party of Tayyip Erdoğan was directly run under his influence. In contrast, Dr Tahir ul Qadri is the direct disciple of His Holiness Tahir Allauddin Al-Gillani Al-Baghadi a great Sufi saint of the century with no political intentions. Later Qadri introduced Nawaz Sharif to his teacher and then he also became one of his disciples.

Besides the differences there are more similarities, which we will touch on below. There is one difference, however; at the end of the 1980s, Qadri set up his own political party, the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT). Gülen, on the other hand, for many years made no open move toward politics.

At the end of the 1990s General Musharraf introduced martial law and requested Qadri to support him, thus he decided to throw his hat into the political ring once again; this time, he backed Musharraf. He campaigned openly for Musharraf in the 2002 referendum (which brought Musharraf to power). Musharraf promised to introduce the structural reforms as put forth by Qadri. Then, Qadri soon became a member of the National Assembly but after a short span in 2004 he stepped back with his resignation with a detailed structural analysis of Pakistan because the promised restructuring was not introduced.

In 2005 Qadri, disappointed with Pakistan’s political structures, immigrated to Canada as he wanted to time on his literary work. This self-imposed exile is similar to that of Gülen’s, although Gülen left Turkey at a time when he felt his liberty was in danger. Qadri made many televised speeches in Canada which were aired to people in Pakistan. In order to, establish a network in Europe, the Americas and Gulf countries via the pupils from his schools, colleges and universities.

Another similarity is the large number of televised speeches and books both men produce. Gülen is a prolific author. In contrast, Qadri’s productive pen is also amazing. It is claimed he has written about 1,000 works.

Both Gülen and Qadri condemn suicide bombers, which is what any responsible Muslim leader should do. After the “war-on-terror” in Afghanistan and Iraq, Qadri openly condemned the Taliban and all forces that were fighting against US-backed armies. Gülen was critical of the Mavi Marmara for trying to take humanitarian aid to Gaza, claiming that the Israelis had the right to protect their territorial waters (Mavi Marmara was in international waters when attacked, resulting in the death of nine civilians).

After having a detailed discussion on drawing parallel lines, one can easily comprehend they are still poles apart. Qadri and Gülen are both peace promoters are against Kharajities. Moreover, Qadri is not specifically for Tareekh-e-Kasas (Movement for Revenge) that can be considered as partial chunk of his vision to bring revolutionary change. In my opinion, both of the leader’s thoughts and philosophies should not be buried by tagging them as religious.

Moreover, think tanks, unseen powers, establishment should not parallel them with the Ikhwan movement. But, if these parties are backlashed it will instigate them to become militant groups. It will be a better approach that respective governments should hire them as consultants for designing a framework because if they could single handled establish and train their followers for a better cause then why not for the benefit of the whole nation.

A special broadcast is up in the air stating that Dr Qadri is to land soon. He is expected to stay in Pakistan for long time while appointing Dr. Babar Awan for the Model Town case. Soon the unheard case in High court will again be heard based on Bakir Najfai Report. Then there will be emergence of remarks from the Supreme Court to finalise the case proceedings in high court. Besides this, there is another forecast that Dr Babar will have successful JIT formation and a historic outcome will soon appear which might be the climax of the ongoing political drama series. I don’t know whether unseen powers will again play a major role.

The writer is a Master Trainer/Advisor at the Pakistan Industrial Technical Assistance Centre Lahore, under the Federal Ministry of Industries and Production, Islamabad.