Journalists have remarked on the naming patterns used by the Fethullah Gulen Movement:
Suzy Hanson,"The Global Imam," The New Republic, Nov 2010:
"Such schools—many with fuzzy-happy names like Harmony, Magnolia, Pinnacle, and Amity—are only part of the cornucopia of cultural offerings that the movement has brought to the United States."
Greg Toppo, USA Today, Aug 17, 2010:
"They have generic, forward-sounding names like Horizon Science Academy, Pioneer Charter School of Science and Beehive Science & Technology Academy."
Jane's, in a report entitled "Gulen movement: Turkey's third power," noted that "galactic, cosmic and temporal names are tell-tale signs of FGC [Fethullah Gulen Community] institutions." However, this does not account for all the naming patterns used in the Movement.
The following is an attempt to identify patterns and symbolism in Gulenist names; this is an evolving effort that will require further refinement. It should also be kept in mind that it is not possible to observe the Gulen Movement without perturbing it. No sooner are these motifs noted publicly, than the Gulen Movement will in all likelihood adopt new ones. Mutation is one of the Gulen Movement's most-favored defense methods as it seeks to conceal and confuse.
Cosmos, Cosmicus, Sema, Sky, Space, Star, Constellation, Galaxy, Zodiac, Universe
Sufism: Whirling Dervish Theme
It's unclear whether "sema" falls primarily under the Heaven theme or the Whirling Dervish theme, or perhaps both.
Sufism: Light Theme
Light, Ishik, Shafak (Dawn), Nur/Noor
Fountains, Raindrops, Rainbows, Waterfalls, Nile, Niagara
The following is a conjecture as to the symbolic significance of this theme: each Gulenist is a raindrop, not very powerful by itself. But when Gulenists work together, they form powerful waterfalls (Niagara) and powerful rivers (the Nile), and perhaps also fountains (probably having spiritual significance). The basis for this conjecture is, firstly, the motto of the Raindrop school in Mexico, "Because rain always starts with a small drop." Secondly, the names Nile and Niagara appear in locations where they have no geographical connection. Niagara is used in the Midwest US, far from Niagara Falls in New York state. The Nile/Nil name is used in Toronto, Florida, and Somalia (although the Nile does not flow through Somalia).
An alternate explanation is offered by Marsha Hermansen in her paper "The Cultivation of Memory in the Gulen Community." She writes that the use of water as symbolism is related to purity, and that the use of river names, and not lakes, is related to "dynamism and constant action."
The popularity of tulip names in the Gulen Movement almost certainly derives from the Tulip Period of the Ottoman Empire. Exactly how other flowers fit in with Gulenist ideology is unclear. A webpage on Fethullah Gulen's website about a book of his entitled "Towards the Lost Paradise" says "The flowery language of M. Fethullah Gulen will at times take you through a different world, the happy world of the future, where 'flowers' sway on 'sloping hills' and birds sing of spring everywhere, and you will come to know how it can be possible to find such a world."
Horizon, Ufuk, Meridian, New Dimension, Atlantic, Pacific
A chronology of Gulen's life given on one of his websites states that "13.08.1995, Fethullah Gülen gave an interview to Mr. Eyup Can of newspaper, Zaman, mainly about his own 'Horizon Tour'" This interview later evolved into a published book: Can, Eyüp (1996) Fethullah Gülen Hocaefendi ile Ufuk Turu (A Tour of the Horizon with Fethullah Gulen) Istanbul: Milliyet Yayınları
Marcia Hermansen's paper also talks about "a vantage point at which Gulen received inspiration for future projects, "'seeing' them on the horizons from the terrace of the fifth floor."
Harmony, Accord, Grace, Tolerance, Amity, Hope, Friendship, Empathy, Peace
Strength & Superiority Theme
Pinnacle, Elite, Pioneer, Phoenix, Hercules
Wisdom & Scholarship Theme
Wisdom, Learnium, Concept, Scholars
Ottoman/Turkish Hero Theme
Ottoman Heroes, Literary Figures, Famous Turkish Patriots
Gulen's inner circle, people who helped found Gulen schools, etc
Zaman, Çağ - Era/Epoch Theme?
Some say that the name Zaman was chosen because it is "namaz" (prayer) spelled backwards. The word "zaman" means "time" or "era, epoch, period" in Turkish.
The Turkish word "Çağ" also means time, era, epoch or period, and is used in several Asian countries:
Willow (=söğüt in Turkish)
The significance of this name is still being investigated.
__________Names that are not symbolic
While Gulenists make extensive use of symbolic names, they also employ names that blend in with the ambiance, such as Beehive in Utah, Fulton in Fulton County Georgia, Bergen and Passaic in New Jersey, Sonoran in Arizona, and Sierra in Nevada.
Finally, some Gulenist names are chosen for their ambiguity. They are very similar to existing non-Gulenist institutions; this is likely a deliberate tactic to either confuse critics or to create a sort of camouflage. Example: North American College in Texas, which is also the name of a Catholic institution.