Posts Tagged ‘Fethullah Gulen’

Fehmi Koru’nun “Gül” Yazısı Üzerine…

Herkul | | DIGER

Onca zulüm, haksızlık, yalan ve iftiranın söz konusu olduğu bir dönemde, bir şahsın Pennsylvania’yı ziyaret edip etmediği, üzerinde durulacak bir mevzu değil. Fakat devletin en önemli mevkilerinde görev yapmış bir insanın demagojiye girerek geçmişini inkâr etmesi ve Hocaefendi’yi yalanlaması sebebiyle -sadece hadiseye şahit bir talebe olarak- dünkü açıklamayı yapmıştım. Heyhat, hiç beklemediğim şekilde Fehmi Koru’nun da -belki sürecin etkisiyle- unutkanlığa (!) maruz kaldığını anlamış olduk; o da bahis mevzuu olan misafirliği inkâr ve bizi tekzip etti.

Sözü daha fazla uzatmadan konuyu tarihe emanet etmek en doğrusu olsa gerek. Bununla beraber, bir hususu ifade etmeden geçemeyeceğim: Abdullah Gül geldiği zaman -kendisini mütevazı ve Anadolu kültürüyle yetişmiş bildiğimiz için- herhangi bir tekellüfe girmemiş, beraber namaz kılıp ders yapmış, yemeği ortak soframızda ikram etmiş ve sohbetimizi herkese açık salonda sürdürmüştük. Dolayısıyla, ziyaretin de o esnada konuşulanların da yaklaşık yirmi şahidi olmuştu ki, bunlardan bazıları kamuoyu tarafından da iyi tanınan insanlardı. Ziyarete dair bir fotoğraf sunamayacağım; diğer şahitlerin isimlerini de veremeyeceğim. Zaten şu andan sonra bunların hiçbir manasının da kalmadığına inanıyorum.

Allah aşkına, siz eski başbakan yardımcısını, dışişleri bakanını, hatta MİT müsteşarını göndermişsiniz. 17 Aralık’tan hemen sonra -hem de özel uçak tahsisi teklif ederek- hususi elçi yollamışsınız. Milletvekilleriniz, belediye başkanlarınız ve partililerinizden binlercesi gelip gitmiş. Türk okullarının desteklenmesiyle ilgili genelgenizin haberleri ve Hizmet hakkında takdirkâr sözlerinizin videoları hala İnternet’te mevcut. Böyleyken onca şahidi bulunan bir ziyareti yalanlamak da neyin nesi?!. Evet, başka değil, siz kendinizi inkar ediyorsunuz!..

Hâsılı, belli seviyede sayılan kimselerin bile çark ettiklerini görünce doğruluk, fazilet ve hakkaniyetin ayaklar altına alınması karşısında sıdk ve sadakate kilitlenme gayretindeki insanlara sadece ağlamak düşüyor!..

“De ki: Sizinle benim aramda şahit olarak Allah yeter! Doğrusu O kullarının bütün hallerini bilip görmektedir.” (İsrâ, 17/96)

Osman Şimşek

M. Fethullah Gülen Hocaefendi’nin Gündeme Dair Basın Açıklaması (18 Aralık 2016)

Herkul | | DIGER

Dünden bugüne bir kısım şer güçler, bir taraftan bazılarını tahrik edip sokaklara salarken beri taraftan da onlara karşı çıkarılabilecek başkalarını kışkırtmış, diğerlerine saldırtmış ve insanları karşı karşıya getirip vuruşturmuş; böylece kendi menfaatlerini elde etmeye çalışmışlardır.

Nitekim 27 Mayıs öncesinden başlayıp 80 darbesi ve hatta sonrasına kadar devam eden benzer provokasyonlarda benzer eller, insanları sağ sol gibi sınıflarla ikiye bölmüş, onların damarlarına basmış ve vatan evladını birbirine kırdırtmış; sonra da akan kanın üzerine kendi saltanatlarını kurmayı amaçlamışlardır.

İçinde bulunduğumuz şartlarda da aynı senaryoların sahnelenmekte olduğu, etnik ve mezhep yörüngeli çatışmalara zemin hazırlandığı ve hatta -Allah muhafaza buyursun- ülkenin bir iç savaşa sürüklendiği görülmektedir.

Her köşesi, rengi, deseni, çeşidi ve şivesiyle ülkemizi ve insanımızı seven herkesin çok dikkatli ve temkinli olması, kışkırtmalara gelmemesi ve hele “mukabele-i bilmisil” kaide-i zalimânesine girmemesi lazımdır.

Fakat maalesef, bazı devlet adamlarının, bir kısım medya aktörlerinin ve sosyal medya kalemşörlerinin pervasızca kullandığı tahrik edici dil, gerginlikleri artırmakta ve toplumsal tahrikleri kolaylaştırmaktadır.

Hâlbuki hadiselerin üzerine bağırıp çağırarak, yakıp yıkarak ve öldürerek değil, akıl, firaset ve mürüvvetle gidilmelidir.

Ayrıca, Hizmet gönüllerinin mesleğinde sokak, kavga, tahrik ve hele şiddete yer olmadığını bir kere daha hatırlatmakta fayda mülahaza ediyorum.

Camia’nın gönüllüleri, muarızları kendilerine hangi kabul edilemez üslup ve metotlarla muamele ederlerse etsinler, anayasal çerçeveden ve demokratik hukuk devletinin sınırlarından asla ayrılmayacaklar, hiçbir zaman gayr-i meşru yollara da tevessül etmeyeceklerdir.

Müspet hareketi şiar edinmiş olan Hizmet Camiası, ülkesini seven, dürüst ve onurlu her ferdin yaptığı/yapacağı gibi hakkını ve hukukunu -imkânlar ölçüsünde- ama mutlaka meşru dairede savunmaya devam edecek; karanlık senaristlerin oyunlarına ve kışkırtmalarına -Allah’ın izni ve inayeti ile- katiyen gelmeyecektir.

Bu vesileyle bir kere daha şehitlerimize ebedî saadet, milletimize sabr-ı cemîl ve yetkililere basiret diliyor, kanla beslenenlerin tuzaklarını başlarına geçirmesini Allah’tan niyaz ediyorum.

Son olarak, herkesi duanın gücüne de sığınmaya davet ediyorum: “Allahım, birliğimizi sağla, aramızı te’lif buyur, bizi vifak ve ittifaka muvaffak kıl. Hidayet ve ıslahını murat buyurduğun insanları ıslah eyle, kalb ve kafalarına salah ver. Şayet düşmanlık yapanlar arasında ıslahını murat buyurmadığın ve kendileri hesabına ıslah istemeyen kimseler varsa, onların da oyunlarını boz ve işlerini bitir.”

M. Fethullah Gülen

The Meaning of Events Related to Our Deeds

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: What are the essential principles concerning such issues as: our sensing the connection between world events and our deeds; recognizing the connection between the troubles we face and our faults and sins; and acting in accordance with the criteria of the Qur’an and Sunnah regarding these issues?

Answer: When a believer experiences some fiascos on the path he walks, faces some allegations and slanders that taint his honor and reputation, or experiences some failures in certain activities that seemed likely to succeed, he should view each of these events as a Divine warning and use self-criticism to revise his relationship with God and servanthood to Him.

The Cost of Centuries-Long Negligence

We fail to “read” the meaning of events, as they sometimes are not favorable with what we desire. We fail to discern, and thus cannot establish, the connection between events and our deeds; God actually gives us respite before the punishment for our faults comes. Sometimes, the punishment is not manifested as a certain deed but rather in different forms. In such cases, we miss the connection between the events and our deeds. As beings immersed in a world of causality, we mostly think in accordance with the cause and effect principle and say; “The punishment for that event must have been so and so.”  However, things happen in accordance with the mystery of Divine testing. In this regard, if one does not view events with the keen eye of wisdom, one fails to discern their connection with people’s deeds. 

Actually, as the Lord of the worlds of a very extensive domain that includes all existence, God Almighty has certain decrees about certain negativities. When we restrict our perspective to our own narrow sphere, we fail to comprehend the decrees related to this extensive domain and their underlying wisdom. What falls to us is to be respectful of God’s decrees and judgments, to see the troubles and misfortunes that befall us as our just desserts, and to accept them with patience and resignation. In fact, we are supposed to view events in this way and question ourselves in the face of every trouble we experience by saying; “I wonder what kind of a fault I have that God has sent me this trouble?”  This does not signify a rebellious attitude against Divine destiny to insolently say; “I did not commit any wrongs to deserve all this!” As the former signifies viewing events as Divine warnings and straightening oneself out, the latter signifies an implicit rebellion against the decree of Divine destiny in a mood of weariness in order to escape difficulties and troubles. What really matters for a real believer is being able to think; “Which fault and sin of mine may have given precedent to such trouble?”

Concerning a football match for example; if you are not present in the parts of the field you are supposed to be as much as you should, namely, if you do not have any presence near the goal, nor in the midfield or sides, then you do not have any right to say; “How come they keep scoring goals all the time?” In order to be saved from this situation, firstly you need to see your flaws and determine whether you really deserve this result or not.  If you did not assign your players to the right places, if you did not plan what kind of a game to play through them, and did not play your part accordingly, then it means you are receiving your just desserts.

In the same way, as representatives of rectitude and honesty, if you have neglected different areas of life and left them to others’ hands, then you must criticize yourself first in the face of certain troubles that befall you. If you are not present everywhere in terms of rectitude and uprightness, then you cannot put a stop to the spread of corruption. If you are not present anywhere, you will be completely surrounded and obliged to live in subjugation. Even though you think you are living in a free society, you will actually be living in manifold captivity. You can neither act freely as an individual, nor maintain peace in your family within the frame of the values you believe, nor can you raise your children in the way you desire.

If we view the issue worldwide and evaluate the present miserable condition of Muslims today, we see with the same perspective that they cannot play the game as required by the rules and cannot fulfill the duties that fall to them. Both Turkish people and other Muslim peoples in the world are suffering certain deprivations and troubles today as a consequence of the laws of nature, since they did not do in time what they were supposed to do. God willing, by avoiding complaining and by pinpointing the source of the problem correctly, this suffering will be a compensation for the sins of all of us. In this regard, misfortunes have this aspect of being a blessing in disguise. Manifestations of God’s general and particular mercy reveal themselves there as well.

The Spiritual Guides That Interpret the Meaning of Events

Although we say, “believers are responsible for ‘reading’ the meaning of events correctly,” we need to accept as a reality that it is not possible for all believers to have insight into an issue to the same degree and depth, or to fully comprehend them. For this reason, it is very important for there to be spiritual guides who can view and interpret unfolding events with a comprehensive perspective, with relation to the actual causes and effects. They must analyze very well the reasons for the troubles being suffered, approach matters with the consideration of causality, reckon very well what kind of negative consequences could be suffered from the mistakes that have been made, and give people the right guidance on these issues.

I am not of the opinion that Turkish society has become vigilant with such a consciousness. We can understand this better by examining the problems experienced over the last few centuries. Although some intellectuals in Turkey comprehended the issue to a certain degree, none of them ever understood the issue as substantially as Bediüzzaman did, and did not come up with proper solutions for the problems suffered. However, I doubt whether the people whom Bediüzzaman entrusted this responsibility to comprehended this issue in accordance with his horizons.

By looking at the conditions of the time that he lived and his available means, it is seen that he was put under serious pressure and was impeded from taking action. However, despite all of these difficulties, he did what needed to be done and evoked in people a serious concern and excitement for the sake of Islam. It is not possible to take action without such excitement. You cannot realize anything for the sake of your ideals with stagnant people. Nevertheless, it is also necessary to moderate excitement within the proper framework of religious teachings. In other words, on the one hand, it is necessary to evoke excitement in people like roaring floods, but on the other hand, it is also necessary to set boundaries to balance this excitement and turn it into something beneficial; it is necessary to build proper canals and dams.

Other than the tremendous efforts of Bediüzzaman on this issue, what needs to be done in terms of evoking such excitement across the entire society has not been done. None of the religious schools in Turkey have been able to evoke an Islamic excitement in hearts to the desired level. For this reason, we experienced a period of apathy. Maybe some people managed to initiate some minimal effort and action. Some made references to a new revival. However, since they did not have a plan or system, they failed to evoke in society the wide excitement they were supposed to evoke, and failed to make the entire nation rise up. Just as they failed regarding the causes and the consequences they would yield, they also failed to take due precautions. Some used certain fantastic phrases solely for the sake of their own popularity and brought themselves to attention with these. However, actions speak louder than words and provide us with the actual criteria to evaluate people.

 

The Feeling of Jealousy Which Causes People to Commit Wrongs to Be Expected from Unbelievers

The devoted souls in our time extend to the four corners of the world for the sake of their noble ideals and make efforts for the sake of realizing a new resurrection. However, this time people who act with a feeling of rivalry and envy have begun to obstruct them on the path they walk. Instead of finding a way of their own and walking accordingly, these people who act with a feeling of rivalry cause problems for the devoted souls on the path they walk and give way to traffic problems. Without letting others survive, they greedily want to exist in all fields. Thus, they wish to hamper in such ways a movement that has reached our time with its defects and shortcomings.

By the way, let me point out that it is also very important for believers to present behavior that is becoming to them against the rude and ugly acts of such transgressors. For it may not always be possible to maintain balance in the face of such oppression and violations. You might lose the uprightness of your feelings and thoughts at least. For example, some people become fixed on doing you harm and continually try to dig a pit for you. However, a day comes in the end and, even if you have no part in the issue, others dig a pit for them and cause them to fall down into it. In the face of such a situation, it is not becoming for you to say; “It serves them right! They have received their just desserts.” Also, if you depend on such a consideration, console yourself with it, and neglect the tasks you are supposed to carry out, then it means you are breaching the essential human values of our path and failing to keep up your rectitude of character.

The Qur’anic verse with the following meaning actually points to this fact: “…Do not let those who lack certainty (of this truth) shake your firmness” (Rum 30:60). By expounding on the meaning of this verse, we can say: Some casual behaviors of those who lack certainty in faith as an outward reflection of their character must not cause you to act casually as well; they should not divert you from the way you follow, not cause you to present certain negative attitudes against them in return, and not cause arrhythmia in you. As it happens with the heart, once the rhythm of societal life is upset, it is not possible to correct it without the effect of a shock. Sometimes even shocks do not suffice, but the body cannot tolerate arrhythmia and collapses. For this reason, it is necessary to act cautiously on this issue from the very beginning.

It is necessary to make one’s best effort for the sake of establishing the unity of social spirit and maintaining society-wide concord and unity. Note that the means of receiving Divine support is having concord and unity. In this regard, it is very important for people with different dispositions and affiliations to meet on common ground and give support to one another. At least, they should not turn against one another, should not accost one another with negative things, and should not try to bring one another down. Having done that, they should seek ways of acting together, realizing some projects in cooperation, and defending others as well to a certain degree, just as they support those who share the same opinions as them. Namely, they must find a reasonable and logical way of agreement to enable coming together. This depends on people giving their willpower its due and suppressing some negative feelings that arise within. It should never be forgotten that such an endeavor will gain people blessings as if they observed worship. Even if the other side lacks understanding of this issue, we should do what falls to us, without harming the collective we are included in. In the words of Bediüzzaman, a person’s seeing his own path as a good one and loving it much does not necessitate showing enmity to others.

Repairing the Stronghold of Faith

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: What way and method should be followed for the purpose of “restoring the stronghold of faith, which has been damaged for years” as Bediüzzaman put it.

Answer: Firstly, it is necessary to point out that when compared with destroying, restoring is some thousand times harder to achieve. To achieve a restoration, all inner and outer factors required for the desired thing that is to be restored must be present. However, the absence of only one factor will result in destruction. For instance, imagine the daily Prayers. In order to observe them in a thorough fashion, all of the conditions and requirements for Prayer must be perfectly fulfilled; however, neglecting even one of them will invalidate it. For example, if the person has not made ablutions, or forgot the opening takbir, or did not turn toward the qiblah, the Prayer will not be valid, even if all the other conditions are met. The Prayer’s validity in the sight of God, may His glory be exalted, its having value for that person’s afterlife and its being a close companion to that person in the grave depends on it being observed in compliance with the inner conditions; in other words, observing it in awe and reverence. Along with meeting the outward conditions, a possible flaw in this respect will prevent it from being observed perfectly. The same rule also holds true for other acts of worship.

From the same perspective, you can also consider the construction or restoration of a building. Remember that such a genius as the architect, Sinan, may Paradise be his abode, built his masterpiece Selimiye in six years. However, the work to repair damage caused by enemy cannons and to restore it to its original form lasted for about 8 years. While the construction and restoration of the Selimiye Mosque was such a difficult and time-consuming task, a mere bomb or earthquake could cause serious damage to this magnificent work in just minutes or even seconds.

You can also think about the situation of repair and destruction in the human body. Sometimes, a poisonous substance in your food influences your body right to the neurons of your brain. It might confuse your sleeping and waking habits and you may need to receive treatment over a long period of time to be saved from its harmful effects and regain your health.

A Current from the Bottom Up

Muslim societies, particularly those within the recent two-three centuries, have undergone serious degeneration, and have virtually collapsed. The Ottoman poet, Abdülhak Hamid, expressed this situation as follows: “Alas! Neither the place nor the loved one remains; my heart is full of woes and pains.” Ziya Pasha similarly said: “We are the losers of this game once again; for the loss is obvious, but I don’t know what we won.” The great poet, Mehmed Akif, depicted the picture of those days as follows: “Alas! For a bunch of hypocrites’ faith we fell; we fell to such a sleep and woke up in Hell!” Thus, after a society has lost its religion, after its faith has been ruined and values have been torn down one by one, it takes a serious endeavor to restore and help that society back up onto its feet.

Reconstructing this monument, which has cracked, shattered and whose blessed pieces have been scattered here and there, and restoring it to a condition in compliance with its original identity depends on the strivings of idealistic souls who will sacrifice their enjoyment of life and personal happiness. As the saying goes, “No pain, no gain,” an Arabic poem expresses it as, “Scope of the gains made, depends on the pains taken.” To elucidate further, making material and spiritual accomplishments, ascending to great heights and crowning victories with other victories depends on striving and effort as well as using these efforts for the right purpose and in the right direction. It should not be forgotten that no movement that aims to restore and resurrect a society can be promising and lasting unless it permeates from the bottom up. There are so many endeavors launched with pompous shows that stop a mere few steps away, remain stuck and paralyzed on the way and then disappear from the stage like a broken dream. When addressing the issue of restoring a society, a certain degree of initiative and support from administrators and politicians could perhaps be possible in terms of preparing suitable ground and eliminating certain obstacles along the way. With such support, they might serve as a means for the volunteers of restoration to progress faster and so they deserve appreciation in this regard. However, what really needs to be done in terms of restoration is initiating the issue from the bottom up and making it widespread at the grass roots level. For this reason, by making a start in the Name of God, it is necessary to begin with the ABC of the matter, knowing that setting a society right depends on setting individuals right, and never forgetting that it is impossible to set a society right without setting right all of its components.

The Ideal of Serving Humanity and Setting Things Right

People fixed on restoration and setting things right must act with a spirit of devotedness for their whole lifetime so that they can fulfill the aim of their life’s journey. Great projects sometimes failed for they were based on personal or familial benefits. Let alone succeeding, they adulterated that great ideal, and losses were suffered in a zone of winning. With the approach of Bediüzzaman, if politics, administration, or any establishment or organization is working on the axis of somebody else’s interests, then there is monstrosity in the issue. In this case, people begin to besmirch one another. When the issue is adulterated with personal interests, the masses come to loggerheads with one another and no progress can be made by the society. Others always make progress and you can never be saved from their domination. Being saved from domination depends on working ceaselessly for a lifetime solely for the good of the people and for God’s good pleasure.

People who have devoted themselves to the ideal of making others live in the true sense must pursue great projects and plans. They must have plans and projects even for the generations to come some fifty or sixty years later. Given that God has endowed humans with abilities that go beyond the narrowness of physical dimensions, individuals must know how to use these very well and not debilitate their abilities and capacities by condemning themselves to a narrow cage. In addition, they must never be abstemious about the work and activities they carry out on the righteous path or be satisfied with what they have done, but should seek different ways of opening up to the four corners of the world at every phase.

Let it not be misunderstood, such a thought of opening up to the world has nothing to do with invading the world or establishing new empires on the ruins of others. On the contrary, the real intention that underlies this thought of opening up is establishing sound, firm and warm neighborly relations with the different nations of the world. This will enable us to learn what we can from them and also let other’s hearts discern the human values, lofty feelings and thoughts that we try to represent, which are far beyond humanism. We already know that in the shrinking and globalizing world of our time, if such an understanding of world neighborhood is not formed, contact with the entire world is not maintained, and close relations are not developed, the world will turn into an uninhabitable hell. Those fixed on brutality, who formulate plans to kill people and take the place of the people they killed, and who wish to make people clash with one another in order to continue their own tyranny, will continue their hegemony. However, it should not be forgotten that this old world has no tolerance anymore for such animosity based on grudge and hatred, or for the weapons of extermination, which are natural consequences of this animosity. If these waves of hatred are not stopped with bridges of love, tolerance and dialogue, then facing horrible events and an apocalypse that affects the entirety of humanity will be inevitable.

For this reason, we must choose the path of setting things right, brotherhood, sisterhood and helping others live. For this sake, even if we face death threats sometimes, we must meet them with reliance on God, and know to smile in the face of outwardly bitter happenings. For the sake of the deliverance of humanity, we must deprive ourselves of the delights and pleasures of life, if necessary. In addition, we must never harbor any worldly expectations about the different means God Almighty bestows for the sake of serving Him. If people who have volunteered for the revival of the entire world actually acted in favor of their personal interests, this would be an attitude of gross ugliness that cannot be reconciled with true humanity. We can even say that busying oneself with thoughts of earning Paradise through our efforts is disrespectful to our ideal. Using all our efforts, it is necessary to evoke this feeling in today’s generations. For the ones to change the face of the world will be the precious and distinguished ones who represent this feeling and thought.

The Mysterious Key to Hearts

Being deeply concerned and feeling suffering for a cause is a very important dynamic regarding generating projects and realizing the projects generated for the sake of setting things right and repair. A person in such a state, with God’s permission and grace, will not be deprived in terms of obtaining the things sought for the sake of repair. In this regard, come, let’s all of us beg some suffering from God. Suffering of concern for the people, of the world of Islam whose banner has been laid down on the ground. Let us say, “My God, throw suffering like sparkles onto us!” Then let us always think about the problems of humanity while sitting, standing, going to bed, walking, etc. and seek solutions for these.

Although religion is based on the principle of ease, the duty of the architects of thought in this respect is a very heavy one. As the master poet, Necip Fazıl, put it, they are supposed to give an extraordinary performance by racking their brains to the degree of squeezing their brains out of their nose. There are so many people who watch them expectantly, listen to their words, and who in a way act with mass psychology. Therefore, they need to care about making others live in the true sense rather than living for their own sake and should weave their lives around this very ideal. The standard must be kept very high in this regard, and the issue must be taken as an issue that concerns the entire humanity. In a globalizing world, if you don’t have a heart that represents your ideals in every place, you cannot be where you want to be and cannot realize the repair you desire. They do not even let you be where you are normally supposed to be. In this regard, people of Anatolia have to act like a world nation.

While doing this, they must never give up their mildness and tenderness; they must reach into hearts using the language of love, for it is such a mysterious key that there is no rusty lock that will not be opened with it. If you use this language correctly, you can open all doors and reach into all obstinate hearts. As it is stated in a Turkish proverb, kindness even makes a snake come out of its hole. Given that the gentle finger movements of a flute player, or the sound, makes even cobras dance, I think a genuinely spiritual attitude and behavior will melt away certain feelings of animosity. As the Qur’an points out about repelling evil with goodness,[1] even some people that you see as enemies will begin to open their bosoms to you and say: “We have been waiting for you.”

The Past Divine Bestowals Are Promising Signs for the Future

Although the generations of our time have not been sufficiently convinced about the issue, this task of repair by those with believing hearts at the same time means the repairing of the entire world. Some 30–40 years ago, the people of that time did not understand that these volunteers of love would bring the world into this condition. However, those with fairness do appreciate and applaud the services realized by the people who travelled to some 170 countries of the world and served as honorary envoys there. For this reason, failing to see what will happen some 25–30 years from now is understandable. If the purity and sincerity at the beginning of the issue and the desired spiritual state can be maintained, if the spirit of expecting no returns and devotedness can continue, then a new worldwide revival will be destined for the future.

With God’s permission and grace the Ottomans were once a nation whose word was listened to, which was an important factor in the balance of world powers, and they held this position for a long time. So, the people have the potential for such an accomplishment. Therefore, it is possible to rectify the broken pieces of society once more and help it up to its feet on the path anew.

Also, it must not be forgotten that certain services God permitted to be fulfilled by different hands in the past, and certain victories He granted, are the most convincing indications for the services He will allow to be realized in the future and the accomplishments He will grant. There is no reason why what happened yesterday cannot recur again today. What really matters is showing a performance comparable to that shown by the blessed Companions, attaining the spiritual state they did, keeping ever active and alive without becoming worn, weary or dull, being able to generate projects all the time and being able to use all of the means in hand for the sake of realizing these projects.

[1]Goodness and evil can never be equal. Repel evil with what is better (or best). Then see: the one between whom and you there was enmity has become a bosom friend” (Fussilat 41:34).

This text is the translation of “Asırlardır Tahribe Uğramış Kalenin Tamiri.”

The Four Great Deeds Which Take Willpower

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: The following is related in Al-Munabbihat (The Counsel) with reference to Ali ibn Abi Talib, may God be pleased with him: “The following four virtues are the most difficult of deeds: Being able to forgive while enraged, showing generosity during hardship, remaining chaste in the face of temptation while in private, always speaking up for truth in the face of another whom one fears or from whom one expects a benefit.” Could you expound on the deeds mentioned in this statement, and the Divine rewards to be granted in return?

Answer: When you consider other statements that are ascribed to noble Ali, his words included in Nahj al-Balagha (The Peak of Eloquence) and his style and use of language, and then also consider the fact that the Muslims had newly emerged from the Era of Ignorance so notions and concepts about different fields of knowledge had not fully flourished, and works about language and eloquence had not yet fully appeared, then these words, which require a certain literary background, do not appear so likely to be his. Therefore, one cannot help but imagine that perhaps the people of the third and fourth centuries, when different scholarly fields had been developed, ascribed the words they said to noble Ali, may God be pleased with him. However, when we consider his unique qualities such as being open to spirituality, having dynamic inspirations and his position as the father of a chain of saintly people, then it is highly possible for him to have said these words as a result of inspiration. On the other hand, the previously mentioned possibility should not be dismissed. In addition, it is also possible for those people from a later period to have rephrased his original statements by enriching them with the meanings and concepts of their own period. As it is not easy to have a decisive view on this, let us say “God knows its truth” and discuss the subject of the four deeds that are mentioned.

Our master Ali firstly expresses that the most difficult deeds number four. Actually, every deed has a difficult aspect of its own. Making ablutions five times a day, observing the Prayers, Fasting throughout the day particularly on long, hot days, donating from lawful gains, observing the duty of Hajj, observing the rights of parents without any complaint near them… When such acts of worship and responsibilities are viewed, it will be seen that each of them has certain difficulties of its own. I imagine that nobody views these deeds and worship as easy. However, he particularly draws attention to four issues that he sees as the most difficult among deeds.

  1. Forgiveness while Enraged

The first difficult deed is being able to forgive others while in a state of rage. Actually, swallowing one’s rage and showing forgiveness at the moment when a one’s rage overflows like magma is a deed the Qur’an praises and encourages people to do. For example: “They spend (out of what God has provided for them) both in ease and hardship, ever-restraining their rage (even when provoked and able to retaliate), and pardoning people (their offenses)…” (Al Imran 3:134). With this Divine verse, God states that swallowing one’s rage and pardoning others is a quality of God-revering and pious ones (those with taqwa). He brings to our attention that swallowing one’s rage is as difficult a task as swallowing a thorny cactus. Surely, the reward for a person who accomplishes such a deed will be greater accordingly.

Forgiving is easy for a person who is not disturbed by anyone, who is in a good mood, who is shown appreciation and love by others. What really matters is a person’s giving his willpower its due at a time when he is bothered and troubled by others, and is in a rage because of that—to not respond in the same way and show forgiveness.

In fact, a human being is not a creature that has to react in the same way when some others touch him with their horns. God Almighty, may His glory be exalted, left no gap in human abilities. He endowed humanity with the way to perfection and created them as perfect beings. He granted them such a willpower that, when a person is able to harness its full potential, he can carry out the most difficult deeds and subjugate his feelings of anger and rage by taking them under control.

As you know the original word for forgiveness is afw, and it means “erasing something.” That is to say, you deliberately ignore some of the attitudes and behaviors displayed by others which disturb and enrage you, and virtually white them out in your mind. You do not even allow all of these negativities to take a place in your mind or leave a trace in your neurons. Even if they pressurize you to the degree of affecting your health, you erase them from your cortex.  This truly is a difficult deed to fulfill. However, once a person is able to accomplish that, namely, build a character predisposed for forgetting others’ evils, then the rewards in the afterlife will be very different. It is likely that in response to this forgiving attitude, the Divine punishment due for certain wrongs and sins committed by that person will be erased and he will be blessed with Divine forgiveness in return for having forgiven others.

  1. Showing Generosity in Times of Hardship

Secondly, our master Ali, may God be pleased with him, emphasized the importance of acting magnanimously when seized by hardship. It is easy for a person with a substantial fortune to be generous because it will not seriously diminish by giving some of it away. What will a person who has a thousand dollars lose if he gives away one dollar of it? What really matters is being able to give for God’s sake during hardship. As forgiveness during rage is an invitation for Divine forgiveness, generosity during times of hardship is an invitation for Divine generosity.

In a way, he drew attention to the altruistic virtue of ithar, preferring others over oneself; ithar is a person’s giving his food to another while he himself is hungry and thirsty. God Almighty states the following in relation to this issue: “…and in their hearts do not begrudge what they (other believers) have been given, and (indeed) they prefer them over themselves, even though poverty be their own lot” (al-Hashr 59:9).

During the Battle of Yarmuk, a Companion with dried-up lips, on the verge of death, was about to drink the water they brought for him. On hearing another dying Companion asking for water, he beckoned for the water to be taken to him instead. When the second Companion received the water, he heard the same moan from a third and beckoned for the water to be taken to him instead. This repeated until the water was taken to seven different people. In the end, all of them were martyred and none of those altruistic souls was able to drink the water. It is one of the most striking and beautiful examples of the virtue of ithar, preferring others over oneself, as an outward reflection of living for the sake of others in the true sense and remaining loyal to real human values.

  1. Being Able to Remain Chaste in the Face of Temptation When in Private

The third difficult but good deed mentioned by our master Ali is remaining chaste in spite of being in a situation that allows one to sin in private..

In a saying, the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, referred to the seven categories of people who will be provided with shade by the Divine Throne on the Day of Judgment when no other shade exists. He revealed that one of these is someone who rejects the indecent invitation of a woman of status and beauty by responding to her by saying, “I fear God.”[1]

In a way, it is easy to appear decent in others’ sight. It is not easy for people to commit sin while others’ eyes are on them. However, when someone finds himself in the vortex of such a tempting opportunity, when someone immoral is attempting to seduce him, it is very difficult for him to master his willpower and become an example of chastity; refusing temptation by exclaiming as Prophet Joseph, peace be upon him, did: “God forbid!” (Yusuf 12:23), and thus taking a clear stance against that temptation. In such situations where one is pushed toward negative things, it truly takes a willpower of steel to stand perfectly upright with the soundness of a mountain without being shaken at all. Undoubtedly, the reward for a person who withstands such temptation will be as great in the same degree.

During the caliphate of Umar ibn al-Khattab, may God be pleased with him, a seductive woman laid her eyes on a handsome young man and set a trap for him. One day, she somehow managed to make him take one step in through her door. However, the young man found himself reciting the verse with the following meaning: “Those who keep from disobedience to God in reverence for Him and piety: when a suggestion from Satan touches themthey are alert and remember God, and then they have clear discernment” (al-A’raf 7:201). Upon this, the young man’s heart stopped and he passed away right there. The Companions did not wish to inform the caliph about it; they took the body, which was found in front of that immoral woman’s house, and buried him quietly. On realizing the absence of this devout youth, who would normally take his place in the first rank of the Prayers, Umar ibn al-Khattab asked where he was. The Companions told him about the situation. After this, the caliph ran to the grave of the young man and recited the verse meaning, “But for him who lives in awe of his Lord and of the standing before his Lord (in the Hereafter), there will be two Gardens…” in address to him. Then a voice from the grave replied with the following words: “O leader of the believers! I have been granted twice more than that.”

This event also indicates that it is so hard, so valuable, and very important for a person to remain chaste in case of immediate temptation while in private. Unfortunately, as the recent few centuries have taken away so many values from us, it also destroyed our idea of chastity. We Muslims have become so miserable and corrupt in this regard. Under the banner of “freedom” some have laid all indecent means of immorality before us and thus made our atmosphere vulnerable to all kinds of immorality. But in spite of everything, we hold the belief that as far as those who protect their decency and chastity in our time are concerned, God Almighty will treat them with His Divine favors, honor them with two Paradises, and crown them with His good pleasure, absolute acceptance, and seeing Him.

  1. Speaking Up for Truth When This Is Difficult

He explained the final good deed he thought to be difficult as “speaking out against another whom one fears or from whom one expects some benefit.” In situations where one fears someone or is promised some benefits by them, if a person cannot be morally upright and speak up for truth but instead agrees to engage in a deal, then the holders of power virtually shackle him and bring him under total control. They then make him do everything they want. As it can be seen in different circles in our time, fear is a factor that restrains, paralyzes and totally disables a person while running on the righteous path. Likewise, cherishing expectations of certain benefits puts a person in the position of a mute devil who cannot speak out against oppressive rulers. It causes that person to knowingly distort realities, speak wrongly and commit wrongs. As we witness its very bitter examples, so many people today are saying just the opposite of what they said yesterday because of certain opportunities laid before them, some expectation they cherish, or due to being paralyzed by fear and anxiety. Like a chameleon, they change from one hue to another with the changing conditions and thus—may God protect—they commit successive wrongs in a way that will ruin their life in both worlds. By means of different engagements of benefits, they virtually live like slaves and cannot manage to break free. So it is true heroism to speak up for truth during a time when fear and benefits prevail. Such a heroic act will surely be rewarded accordingly in the next world.

In short, rewards for deeds will differ according to the time and conditions in which they were realized. However, one point should not be missed here. Receiving a much greater reward for having fulfilled a difficult deed depends on keeping the sincerity of intention and not making any overt or covert complaints. In other words, in order to gain a greater reward in accordance with the difficulty of a certain deed, one must not complain about the difficulties. One should show patience against all odds, not dare to criticize Divine destiny and fulfill that deed in a willing and voluntary fashion.

[1] Sahih al-Bukhari, Zakah, 16; Sahih Muslim, Zakah, 91.

This text is the translation of “Güçlü İrade İsteyen Dört Büyük Amel.”

The Middle Way of Guidance and Influence of Speech

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: What points should we consider to avoid doing more harm than good while carrying out our duty of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil?

Answer: The Qur’an outlines that “enjoining the good and forbidding the evil” is a distinctive characteristic of being the best community. The following verse both conveys glad tidings to us, and reminds us of our lofty and holy responsibility: “(O Community of Muhammad!) You are the best community ever brought forth for (the good of) mankind, enjoining and promoting what is right and good and forbidding and trying to prevent evil…” (Al Imran 3:110).

As it is seen, the Qur’an, the Miraculous Exposition, addresses believers and states that you are a community brought forth not only for Muslims, but for the good of all mankind. You are responsible for teaching human values to humanity. Actually, this feeling in you does not arise from your own will. God, may His glory be exalted, has opened your hearts to the rest of humanity, put you on the stage, and assigned you a role in the scene He set.

In order to uphold the heritage that God has entrusted to them, and to crown the fulfillment of this responsibility, believers must enjoin the good and forbid the evil. Actually, their delineating their difference from followers of other religions depends on this issue.

The Good and Evil

The good, or ma’ruf, is what the religion commands, what sound reason gladly accepts, what sound feelings approve of, and what the conscience opens its doors to and welcomes. Therefore, the syntactic priority given to “enjoining the good” bears significance. Accordingly, a believer must first of all speak of goodness, rather than referring to what is evil or ugly; he must give priority to what is good and beautiful. However, while doing this, it is necessary to consider both whom to address and the manner of address very well.

As for the evil, or munkar, it is what the religion forbids, what sound reason accepts as harmful, what sound feelings dislike, and what the conscience closes its doors to and rejects. As well as enjoining the good, by forbidding the evil believers must try to save others from being condemned to a mistake, swept away by some current, and from drowning in deep waters. They must dissuade oppressors from oppression by exposing its ugly face, transgressors from transgression by exposing its hideous face, and unbelievers from unbelief by exposing its horrible face. Naturally, this should not be accomplished merely through words but, first of all, through the language of their state and attitudes they should evoke disgust against evil, indecency and ugliness in the hearts of those they address and try to deter them from such errors and sins.

“A Fanciful, Elaborate Account of Something Bad Can Cause Immature Minds to Stray”

On the other hand, it is necessary to avoid giving an alluring account of what is sinful while trying to expose the ugly face of evil. Unintentionally, we might evoke an inclination toward and interest in the sinful in the minds of those we address. Bediüzzaman warns us in this regard by stating that a fanciful, elaborate account of something bad can cause immature minds to stray. Sometimes, a speaker who means to guide others to truth depicts the wrong in such a way that it evokes a feeling of curiosity or temptation in the addressees. This mistake is not limited to words and speech. As the words of a preacher or a speaker at a conference might adulterate pure minds, the scenes filmed by someone making a movie or series with a good intention might also repeat the same mistake. Although their purpose is to present the ugliness of the sins to consciences, they can unintentionally cause those with weak willpower to feel tempted toward sins. Namely, those who seek to build walls of fortification around the good might unintentionally entice others toward the wrong path.

Nobody Has the Right to Break Others’ Hopes

On the other hand, if you depict negative things and reflect evil and ugliness in a way that demoralizes people and breaks their spirit, you will similarly have acted contrary to the command of forbidding the evil.

For example, on the one hand, you might say in a sorrowful mood: “Humane tears have disappeared in our time. Such hardheartedness is unparalleled in history. The Islamic world is being incinerated. Its dignity, honor and pride is trampled underfoot. It has become an object of derision. However, believers are still not sorrowful in the face of such a bitter picture. They are so miserly, even with regards to sparing a few minutes and shedding a few tears.” On the other hand, you are concerned about whether you are making a mistake by voicing these ideas. This bears the risk of creating a gloomy atmosphere that will unintentionally break the spirits of those addressed.

One might experience similar concerns when comparing the negative atmosphere of the present time with the past. For example, you might remember Sultan Ahmed and his poems expressing his yearning for the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him. Afterwards, you may think how grievous it is to be condemned to be ruled by people who are crazy for power by comparing them to those great sultans who loved the noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, so much, and then you might voice these ideas. Truly, for those who well know the era of roses of the past, the current season of fall is so bitter, so grievous! Not feeling such suffering, and the inability to make such a comparison between the past and present is maybe even graver and more agonizing than that! However, look how far we have fallen that we cannot even be aware of the deep pit into which we have fallen and the depression we are going through!

True, all of this does express a certain reality. However, sometimes I hesitate as to whether it is right to voice this reality or not. As Bediüzzaman puts it, every word a person speaks must be true. But it is not right to express every truth at any time. Sometimes you voice a certain truth you believe. However, if those addressed lack the level of cognition and expansive heart required for bearing this truth, your words and statements might push them toward hopelessness and to form the wrong opinion that those good things can never happen again. Thus, those who try to dissuade people from negative things with their TV series, plays, newspaper columns, or sermons cause such cracks that people feel seized by disappointment. This feeling cripples their willpower and they succumb to hopelessness.

In this regard, it is very important for a given speaker to read the feelings of the addressees correctly, to present the particular subject in a proper manner, and to take into consideration the addressees’ possible reactions. Words spoken without taking into consideration what those addressed will welcome or react against are likely to result in the opposite of what is intended. In summary, enjoining the good and forbidding the evil requires much caution. There should neither be exaggeration in depicting the wrong, nor miserliness in expressing the truth.

Speaking Righteously

While trying to convey good and positive things, sometimes we might step out of the frame of enjoining the good. For example, we might exaggerate about the good works carried out. In fact, exaggeration is an implicit lie. It is not possible to serve faith even with an atom of a lie. In addition, exaggeration is an important reason for grace and abundance to cease.

Sometimes, while talking about good things, we assume a role in them as if we were their real source. Actually, 99.9% of the matter we talk about belongs to God Almighty. The share that belongs to human willpower is just one thousandth. We should acknowledge this much. Otherwise, we unintentionally commit the same mistake as fatalists and adopt an understanding of absolute determinism. If a person depicting good things and presenting them to others behaves as if he were a champion of that issue and in doing so assumes even an imaginary role for himself as a real cause, he will have contaminated his dreams with tints of associating partners with God. This contaminated image will one day collide with his conscience and cause a crack there as well. Afterwards, it will affect his reasoning and cause some cracks to appear in his reason. Consequently, such a person will begin to say “We! we!” which is the most innocent seeming form of associating partners with God, and then gradually shift to its most blatant form, when he begins to say “I! I!”

Do Not Tell Others What You Cannot Make Yourself Accept!

For the sake of its significance, I would like to state an oft-repeated fact as the final point: If we wish our words to have a positive influence on those we address, we must personally live in accordance with our words. Some Islamic sources relate that God made the following address to Jesus: “O Jesus! You first give counsel to your own soul; after it has followed the counsel, then try to guide others to goodness, otherwise feel ashamed of Me.”[1] This teaches that it is disrespectful to God for a person to tell others what he has not been able to make his own soul accept. Given that God warns even such a blessed personage like the Messiah, whose personal example is ten times ahead of what he counsels, then it is understood how scrupulous other people must be about this issue.

Our inability to shake off formality and to realize the meaning by reaching beyond forms also causes our words to be ineffective in terms of those we address. If just ten million of the Muslims in the world, whose number nearly reaches 1.5 billion, had lived as those in the time of the blessed Prophet did, the face of humanity would be very different today. In spite of everything, praise be to God for what is presently in hand. Let us not be deprived of the blessings God Almighty promised as, “If you are thankful (for My favors), I will most certainly give you more” (Ibrahim 14:7).

“O Lord! Please do not deprive us of Your blessings because of disregard on our part! Grant our hearts relief and let us be human in the true sense! Please grant us hearts that always overflow with thankfulness, fill in awe of You, and implore You with a consciousness of our impotence and poverty before You!”

[1] Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Az-Zuhd, 1/54; Abu Nuaym, Hilyat al-Awliya, 2/382.

This text is the translation of “İrşadda Üslûp ve Sözün Tesiri.”

Screams of “If Only…”

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: What kind of a life do you recommend the volunteers to lead in order not to have any regrets in the Hereafter which would cause them to say “If only…”

Answer: If a believer does not want to contaminate his life in this world or the next with exclamations of repentance, he should know God, may His glory be exalted, first, walk on His path, endeavor to reach Him, and try to make efficient use of all the means He bestowed on His path. In order to achieve this, such a believer must always lead an insightful life, never give up self-awareness, always try to correctly discern the meaning of events, and always be aware of his responsibilities and what his position necessitates.

Alas! Would That I Had Not Taken So-and-So for a Friend!

In different verses, the Qur’an relates the woes of the unfortunate ones who are completely lost in the Afterlife. For example, one verse states that they will voice their regret: “Oh, would that I were mere dust (instead of being a responsible being with consciousness and free will)!” Unbelievers who face punishment for the oppression and sins they committed in this world will wish to become stones and dust than suffer that punishment.

Another verse relates the woes of those who failed to keep on the straight path and were misguided by following others: “On that Day, the wrongdoer will bite his hands, saying (with remorse), “Oh, would that I had taken a way in the company of the Messenger.” 28. “Oh, woe is me! Would that I had not taken so-and-so for a friend!” (al-Furqan 25:27–28).” A person who wishes to avoid wailing in the next world must live consciously now, determine well whose guidance to follow, and not give up the path of the Prophets whom God sent in order to save people from misguidance.

Actually, God never left people without any guide. Through the blessed Prophets and the saintly personages, who served as a mirror for the Divine, God Almighty has always shed light on our path. However, if people disregard these leaders of deliverance, do not follow their footsteps, and become rudderless, they lose their way and stumble into the pitfall of misguidance. The pitfall in this world transforms into a pitfall of Hell in the next. In the end, that person wails in the pitfalls of Hell with woes of: “If only…”[1]

Oppressors’ Wails of Regret: “If Only…”

Another verse states that on the Day of Judgment when people are handed the record of their worldly deeds, some will similarly say, “If only…” Those whose records are given from the right will rejoice: “Here, take and read my Record! I surely knew that (one day) I would meet my account” (al-Haqqa 69:19–20). On the other hand, those whose records are given from the left will say, “Ah, would that I had never been given my Record, and that I had known nothing of my account! Oh, would that death had been (and nothing thereafter had followed). My wealth has availed me nothing, and all my authority (my power over all that I had) has gone from me!” They will wail with longing.

Those who had sound considerations here, who adopted constructive action as their main principle, and who always acted righteously, will be given their records from the right and will cheer from the glad tidings they receive. As for those who are given their record from the left, they will see that all of their repulsive sins are written there. Since they looked at the sinful, listened to the sinful, walked toward and committed the sinful, and recognized no Divine laws, they will see the record of what they committed; they will regret their sins very much and wail: “If only…” Even before entering Hell they will bend double with the shame of the sins they committed.

In this regard, as human beings were created as a monument by God Almighty, according to the best pattern of creation, and as angels were commanded to prostrate before them, it is essential that they do not immerse themselves in such disgrace for the sake of this passing worldly life or for worldly ambitions and temporary titles, and thus not pollute the blessing of “humanity.” If one fails to retain this Divinely bestowed, dignified position, there is the risk falling lower than the lowliest beings: They are like cattle (following only their instincts)—rather, even more astray (from the right way and in need of being led)…” (al-A’raf 7:179).

Pangs of Conscience like the Torment of Hell

However high a rank the human is given, so will be the depth of the pitfalls they will face in the case of falling. As Bediüzzaman stated in the chapter: “One who destroys this sincerity falls from the pinnacle of friendship. They may possibly fall to the bottom of a very deep pit.”[2] Likewise, “Difficulty is directly proportional to reward.” That is to say, however much a person is honored with God Almighty’s blessings, the greater is the risk. In the case of ingratitude for the showers of blessings God Almighty pours down, a person might stumble into a deep pit.

Some people commit blasphemy against their own position and the blessing of humanity. Despite being created with the potential for being a loyal friend of God Almighty, they become a follower of Satan. They cannot become conscious of their duty and commit unbecoming deeds that will betray the endowments they are blessed with… Such people will say: “I wish I was condemned to annihilation so that I would not see and hear these!” and even before the real punishment begins, they will feel deep pangs of conscience about what is written in their record.

A person who does not wish to suffer such regret in the Afterlife must be very righteous in this world, take the noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and his Rightly Guided Caliphs as their guides, and try to lead a life like they did. Even when they were state leaders, they did not indulge in comfortable beds, they didn’t wish for luxurious mansions, and they didn’t stoop to gain worldly wealth. When the master of the Prophets demised, his armor was held in pawn by a Jewish broker in return for an amount of debt he had taken in order to support his blessed family.[3] Similarly, the Rightly Guided Caliphs who followed his footsteps did not leave anything behind as they passed to the eternal realm beyond. They literally showed us the state in which one should leave this world. Since those who live like them will not commit anything they will regret, they will not say “If only” beyond.

Human Life Is Not Something To Be Gambled

In order not to wail: “If only,” we should lead such a life that not we but others should be sorry for our departure from this world; as a poet expressed it: “Remember the days you were born? You were in tears, while others would gladden. Lead such a life that your death will be your bliss while others will mourn.” A baby cries after coming to this world but the family rejoices for having a new child. A person must lead such a life that death should be a means of joy for passing to a realm of inner relief and for soaring to the horizons of one’s spirit. If there will be mourning, it should be others who mourn; if there are tears to be shed, it should be others who shed tears for us. Those who rejoiced at the birth must cry this time. Those who lead such a life never say, “If only.” As for those who see this life, which is a capital bestowed on us by God, as something like dice for gambling with and thus waste it, have always wailed their regrets in this world and the next.

In particular, those devoted souls who have dedicated their hearts to serving faith and the Qur’an must completely omit “If only,” which shouldn’t be part of their present day, tomorrow, or Afterlife. They must utilize their worldly life as capital so wisely that when they depart from this world, they should rejoice with the blessings they will enjoy in the Afterlife, and the rest of the world should cry for their absence. Even after decades and centuries, they must always be paid tribute to by later generations. The Qur’an shows us these horizons: “And all those who come after them (and follow in their footsteps) pray: “O Our Lord! Forgive us and our brothers (and sisters) in Religion who have preceded us in faith, and let not our hearts entertain any ill-feeling against any of the believers…” (al-Hashr 59:10).

As a matter of fact, when we look back today we say, “My God, be well pleased with the blessed Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali! What a great heritage they left for us! They utilized what You bestowed them with Your infinite mercy in such a way that, they have turned their grains into ears that yielded some seven or even seventy times more,” and we pay tribute to them.

On the other hand, those who recognize no laws, usurp what belongs to the nation, fill their pockets with anything they find without caring whether it is lawful or not, will be remembered with condemnation; as a poet put it: “Neither did he find rest, nor let the people have peace/Now that tumbled to the grave, let its dwellers stand him now!”

In this respect, a person must not commit deeds that will be the cause of disgrace and utter shame in the next world; one must always lead an upright life, and pass to the beyond in that way. Particularly, those entrusted with handing the great heritage on their shoulders to future generations should not seek the world but God; they should not let their skirts be stained with the dirt of worldliness and should say, “My God! Please do not condemn me to be without You!” They must always live and die with this consideration. As it is also stated by the noble Prophet, a person dies in accordance with how he lives, is resurrected in accordance with how he dies, and goes to his destination in the next world in accordance with how he was resurrected.

Do Not Forget, Death Comes All of a Sudden!

Bediüzzaman said, “Alas! We have been deceived. We thought that this worldly life is constant, and thus lost it thoroughly. Indeed, this passing life is but a sleep that passed like a dream. This life, having no foundation, flies like the wind.”[4] With these words, he drew attention to the transient aspect of this world. He also said: “I am mortal, so I do not want the mortal. I am impotent, so I do not desire the impotent. I surrendered my spirit to the All-Merciful, so I desire none else. I want only one who will remain my friend forever. I am but an insignificant particle, but I desire an everlasting sun. I am nothing in essence, but I wish for the whole of creation.”[5] Thus he pointed out that a person must seek truly great targets and that the worldly things ones ambitiously seeks are not really worthy of consideration at all. May God not separate us from the path of such blessed ones, for their path is actually that of the Pride of Humanity, peace and blessings be upon him.

Let us conclude this subject by relating a short poem attributed to Ali ibn Abi Talib:

O poor one who busies himself with worldly pursuits! Always deceived with the hopes of a long life!

Is it not high time you gave up this irresponsible way of yours?

Look, the journey to the beyond is close at hand!

Don’t forget, death comes one day, all of a sudden!

The grave awaits you, the box of your deeds.

Then from the troubles of this world, seek refuge in patience!

Know that your death will not happen unless the appointed hour comes![6]

[1] Maryam 19:58–63.

[2] Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, The Gleams, New Jersey: Tughra, 2013, p. 229.

[3] Sahih al-Bukhari, Jihad, 89; Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Buyu, 7; Sunan Ibn Majah, Ruhun, 1.

[4] Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, The Words, New Jersey: The Light, 2013, p. 228.

[5] Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, The Words, New Jersey: The Light, 2013, p. 235.

[6] Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Al-Munabbihat.

This text is the translation of “Keşke Çığlıkları.”

The Basic Principles of the Religion and the Religious Methodology

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: In your talks, you frequently mention the significance of remaining loyal to the basic principles of the Religion and the religious methodology (Usul ad-Din, Kalam, or Islamic Theology). Could you elucidate this please?

Answer: The Usul ad-Din constitutes the basic essentials, principles and criteria of the religion. It is the essentials that set the framework for belief, the principles established with respect to knowing God Almighty, may His glory be exalted, the general considerations about the resurrection of people, and the truths stated about the relationship between existence and humans, etc.

The Walls around Faith and Islam

During the early period of Islam, these essentials were established by the noble Prophet himself and existed as unwritten rules, but they were not specified within the framework of an academic discipline. Scholars who lived in later periods, such as Imam Maturidi and Abu’l-Hasan al-Ash’ari, systemized these inherited truths in order of the most important issues to those less important. They also gave elaborate explanations on how to prevent misinterpretation and deviation.

Similarly, matters of Islamic jurisprudence, such as how to let Islam truly permeate in real life within the framework of the Qur’an and Sunnah; which methods should be followed while deriving judgments from these two sources; and how problems encountered should be solved, also existed informally for a certain period of time. In later times, outstanding scholars of Islamic jurisprudence developed these matters into a discipline, determining their frameworks one-by-one. If individuals live within the orbit of these essential teachings—with God’s permission and grace—they will not be misguided, nor fall into conflict.

Since Islam is a universal religion that addresses all humanity until the end of time, it is possible to form new interpretations and scholarly opinions as long as they comply with the essential principles. However, it is not correct to find fault with existing judgments established by the Qur’an and Sunnah and, claiming that there is no basis for these judgments anymore, assert them as invalid and replace them with other judgments. This is deviation from the established judgments of Islamic Theology. Once a person begins to move away from the essential teachings, it is not possible to predict where the issue will lead. In addition, such behavior also indicates that the person is actually undergoing an alteration in terms of his world of thought. This means that a person who has undergone such alteration once has opened himself to a waterfall of alteration.

In order to avoid such alteration, which can separate a person far from the values he once followed, it is necessary to firmly adhere to the essential sources of Muslims’ cultural heritage, the Qur’an and Sunnah being the first, since the Qur’an is Divine speech. Bediüzzaman said: “In the greatest mosque of the universe, the Qur’an reads the universe, so let’s listen to it. Let’s become filled with its light and act according to its guidance. Let’s read it regularly! It is its right to speak and what it says is true. The Qur’an is the truth, coming from the Ultimate Truth. It guides to the truth, spreading its light everywhere.”[1] With this statement, he pointed out that the sun of guidance to lead us to the right way is the Wise Qur’an, no matter what the conditions are.

It is baseless innovation to come up with something new that contradicts the essential principles derived from these heavenly sources. Every such innovation opens a door that leads to deviation.[2] A person must not deviate to groundless inventions either in thought, attitude, behavior or devotions, or in understanding and interpreting the Qur’an and Sunnah. It is such deviant invention in religion to see the Prophet—may God forbid—merely as a postman, to view the blessed Companions and the righteous early generations that followed them with certain different considerations, and to accept some improper attributes the schools of Mutazila and Jabriya ascribed to the Divine Essence (God Almighty Himself).

For example, it is heretical invention to claim that God Almighty is “obliged to” do certain things or claiming that He is “obliged to” pursue a certain worldly benefit. As it is stated in different verses: “God decrees as He wills” (al-Maedah 5:1); “He cannot be called to account for whatever He does, but their false deities (they have adopted from among conscious beings) are accountable” (al-Anbiya 21:23). God Almighty does whatever He wills, and brings everybody to account for what they did, but nobody has such a right to ask God about what He does.

Just as it is very important to understand the principles established by the Methodology of Islamic Jurisprudence in order to understand Islamic Jurisprudence correctly, it is also important to have a very good tradition of Islamic Theology (Kalam) to avoid such deviations in belief. Although they differ in the finer details, the imams of the four schools of law and their followers bequeathed a rich accumulation of knowledge to the later generations. In the same way, first Imam Maturidi and Abu’l-Hasan al-Ash’ari and then later eminent scholars tried to save us from deviation by authoring works on Islamic Theology. By adhering to these established principles of Islamic Jurisprudence and Theology, it is possible to succeed in forming new interpretations necessitated by time and in legitimately developing the fields of Islam that are open to scholarly judgments with critical interpretation and deductive reasoning, taking present conditions into consideration. However, if the essential principles are not adhered to, even if the time is insightfully understood and very good interpretations are made, they will not amount to anything more than misguided innovations.

Neither the Principles nor Manners Should Be Sacrificed

Complying with the essential teachings also holds true for the issue of conveying the values of our spiritual heritage to different parts of the world and taking from them what we will. If we are not duly scrupulous about this important matter, there is the risk of committing certain mistakes. For example, we might be unnecessarily compliant and submissive for the sake of expressing certain truths to others. We might prioritize their pleasure for the sake of what we are doing, instead of seeking God’s good pleasure. We might primarily feel fond of the people themselves, try to appear congenial to them, or commit the mistake of preference when determining the priority of the seats we spare for people in the world of our heart. All such things actually contradict the principles of Islamic Theology. The Qur’an commands believers to primarily love believers themselves in the first place, and to not take others as friends instead of them.[3] On the other hand, a believer’s totally cutting off relations with people other than believers and completely turning his back on them, similarly contradicts the essential teachings. The Qur’an states that not all of the People of the Book are the same, that among the People of the Book there is an upright community, reciting God’s Revelations in the watches of the night and prostrating (themselves in worship), they invite people to truth, and when they hear the message of the Qur’an, their eyes brim over with tears due to encountering the truth they are familiar with (from their own Books).[4] Therefore, all People of the Book should not be judged equally. Likewise, God Almighty stated that there is nothing wrong in gaining their hearts by performing acts of kindness for them with the Divine statement meaning: “God does not forbid you, as regards those who do not make war against you on account of your Religion, nor drive you away from your homes, to be kindly to them, and act towards them with equity...” (al-Mumtahina 60:8). Hence, it is praiseworthy behavior to find a means of relation with everyone in consideration of where they stand, establishing a relationship with them and letting them reach you as well.

The Scrupulousness of a Jewel Smith at Presenting Certain Good Things

The heroes of love and tolerance who dispersed from Anatolia to the four corners of the world encounter and interact with people raised in different cultural environments. They need to have good background knowledge of the people prior to interacting with them. First of all, it is necessary to know about those people’s worldview, beliefs, and character, to predict well how they may respond to what they hear, and to start speaking to them afterwards.

Another point that calls for scrupulousness regarding this issue is to avoid acting contrary to Islamic Theology for the sake of gaining the heart of the person addressed and seeming more amicable. For example, when you engage in dialogue with a religious person or organization, if there are no statements in the Qur’an and Sunnah about the religious figure those people see as holy, then our expressions and statements must be within that framework. On the other hand, it is possible to convey the Qur’anic approach about Prophets Moses, David, Solomon, Abraham, John, and Jesus, peace be upon them, or the considerations of God’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, about them and thus open a door onto common ground where we can share the inspirations of our soul with them. For example, once a Companion and a Jewish man were arguing about whether Prophet Moses was more superior or the noble Prophet and the Companion slapped the man. Upon this, the Messenger of God said, “Do not give me superiority over Moses, for on the Day of Resurrection all the people will fall unconscious and I will be one of them, but I will be the first to gain consciousness, and will see Moses standing and holding a side of the Throne. I will not know whether (Moses) also fell unconscious and got up before me, or whether God exempted him from that stroke.”[5] With this example, we can express the modesty and virtuous attitude of the Perfect Guide toward a Prophet regarded as one of the Masters of Determination. Another point of consideration here is to avoid provoking reactions from people. We must avoid like the plague every kind of attitude and behavior that would reflect Muslims as being petty and simple. In order to comply with the essentials of Islamic Theology on this issue, it is necessary to have a good knowledge of the noble Prophet’s philosophy of conduct, together with the way and methods followed by his Companions.

The volunteers in our time must have a good knowledge of the Qur’anic teaching and Sunnah, which we can see as the expounding of this teaching. It is necessary to organize seminars to learn these two main sources of the religion and the principles they established, and to educate people properly about this issue. Otherwise, for the sake of explaining the religion to others, some may be clumsy or make certain mistakes that contradict the principles of Islamic Theology.

In the past, people who tried to express truths would ask one another, “How many people perished because of you?” in order to fan the flames of self-criticism. In other words, “How many people visited your sphere but were repelled from religion because of your inconsiderateness?” In order to save others and avoid them perishing we must exert our brains, find a proper way, never be mistaken with the method and manner, and try to present the truths in the most appealing fashion.

Half a Doctor Costs You Your Life, Half a Scholar Costs You Your Faith

If a person does not have the proper ways and manners and is not knowledgeable about the essential principles of the Qur’an, the message of the noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and the conduct of the righteous figures of the early generations of Muslims, then it is always possible for him to be misguided by Satan, even if outwardly he seems to be a wise spiritual guide around whom people gather. Satan might misguide such a person sometimes by means of extraordinary happenings, and sometimes by whispering certain things into his ear; he might thus cause that person to fall for some ten wrongs besides one truth, and tempt that person toward different kinds of deviation.

However, a person who is well-equipped with knowledge of Islamic Theology will be aware that he is not reinforced by Divine revelation. Such a person knows that he needs to test by means of the criteria of the Qur’an and Sunnah whatever is whispered into his ear, what comes to his vision or what he feels in his heart, and whatever addresses his inner senses. If it conforms with the Word of God, the authenticated Tradition of the noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, or the essentials established by the righteous figures of the early generations, then he welcomes it with feelings of gratitude and thankfulness. Otherwise, he does not credit any of these. In this regard, it is dangerous for those who do not have knowledge of Islamic Theology to assume the position of a spiritual guide. According to Sheikh al-Naqshbandi, it is not possible for a person who has not mastered Islamic disciplines to be assigned as a spiritual guide. Namely, such a person needs to know both instrumental disciplines such as grammar, syntax, and semantics, and also disciplines such as Islamic Jurisprudence, Qur’anic exegesis, Hadith, Islamic Theology, and their methodologies.

In earlier times, these qualifications were sought in those who were assigned as spiritual guides and teachers of truths. Those who were not equipped with the necessary scholarly knowledge were not assigned to this duty. In our time however, considerations such as continuing the existence of Sufi lodges and not letting those who gathered around these establishments disperse has led to the authorization of people who are not erudite in religious disciplines and who are not eligible for this responsibility. Actually, this is not much different from authorizing a veterinarian to perform open-heart surgery on a human patient. To put it in the words of folk wisdom: “Half a doctor costs you your life, half a scholar costs you your faith.”

Therefore, it is very important for those who wish to take on the responsibility of spiritual guidance to be well-versed in the Islamic disciplines, and to have a sound knowledge of the methodologies of Islamic Theology and Jurisprudence. Otherwise, even if they set forth with the good intention of guiding people to the truth, they might unintentionally commit so many mistakes.

Let us conclude the subject by remembering the words of Niyazi-i Mısri:

Do not adhere to any guide, lest he takes you through steep ways;

Those who walk behind a true guide, surely take a path of much ease.

 

[1] Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, The Words, New Jersey: The Light, 2013, p. 46.

[2] Sahih Muslim, Jumu’ah, 43; Sunan an-Nasa’i, Eidayn, 22; Sunan Ibn Majah, Muqaddima 7.

[3] Al Imran 3:28; an-Nisa 4:144; al-Maedah 5:51.

[4] Al Imran 3:113; al-A’raf 7:159; al-Maedah 5:83.

[5] Sahih al-Bukhari, Khusumat, 1; Anbiya, 31; Riqaq, 43; Tawhid, 31; Sahih Muslim, Fada’il, 157.

This text is the translation of “Usûlüddin Ekseni.”

The Acceptance of Truth by the Powerful Elite

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: When we view the life of God’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, and the stories of the Prophets mentioned in the Qur’an, we can seen that people with a high social status and high standards of living are more stubborn and rigid about accepting truths. In the face of this reality, what should believers be aware of when they want to speak about truths?

Answer: In every period of history, as well as today, there exists an oligarchical minority who try to suppress people who think differently from them and who are not one of them. Their only wish is to turn those people into their servants and exploit them. This oligarchical minority wishes to design the world according to their own will. They interpret everything from the perspective of their own interests, desires and fancies. Therefore, they do not consider anybody but themselves, and they look down on the rest as lowly servants. Just as this disdainful and prosperous elite exists in Turkey, it also exists in other countries of the Muslim world and will continue to exist in the future.

The Only True Owners of Right Are Those Who Defend Their Rights

It is wrong to imagine that these people who consider themselves at the top of society (as also happens with the levels of the caste system) can always dominate the rest of the people. There have been times, particularly during periods when religious and moral thought prevailed in the true sense, when they regressed and were condemned to remain in a narrow sphere. However, even when they had to withdraw to their dens with their tails between their legs, it is a reality that they retained their thoughts about enslaving society, and moreover, they kept on developing new projects and plans with the aim of moral destruction. It is another fact that when they gain the opportunity, they invade all areas of life, resort to brutal force and smash everyone who does not side with them.

However, this situation should not be solely attributed to their obstinacy and oppression. Other factors such as the heedlessness and negligence of the masses, the failure of virtuous people who could actually struggle against them to maintain a spirit of togetherness, and their acting without any forethought or plans, also play an important role in the emergence of this tyranny. We can say that society will not suffer from the oppression of such tyrants unless it deserves it. Actually, seeing every trouble and hardship we suffer as a consequence of our own mistakes and wrongs is a piece of advice from the Qur’an. God Almighty, may His glory be exalted, states in the Qur’an: “Whatever affliction befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned, and yet He overlooks many (of the wrongs you do)” (ash-Shura 42:30).

In fact, a person will not knowingly harm himself unless he has become totally insane. However, certain aspects of neglect and wrongs such as: a lack of awareness and anticipation, preoccupation with egoistic concerns, and pursuing worldly positions and titles, harm a person so gravely as if it were a deliberate harm. In spite of so many wrongs and sins, if a person is still blessed with something good, he must be aware that all of those good things are gifts from God.

The late poet, Mehmed Akif, said that the sole true owners of right in this world were those who speak up for defending their rights. In this regard, merely shouting and making a fuss in the face of oppression and the violations of the oligarchical elite will not yield positive results. On the contrary, it is necessary to struggle by means of reason and logic. If we have been unable to defend certain rights, we must make every possible effort to reclaim them. If need be, every self-sacrifice must be made for this sake in accordance with the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah; the right to live humanly must be reclaimed by endeavoring within a legal framework of law and justice.

The Conceited Ones of the Age and the Forceful Voice of Truth

Just as it happened yesterday, today, the people who control the capital, power, government and certain high positions look down on the rest of the people as if looking down to the ground, and they see themselves as being so high up, as if they are looking at the firmaments. In our present time, their number has become so large that even calling them an oligarchical minority will not suffice. Surely, their power bears no importance against the strength and power of God Almighty and does not really mean anything for those who seek refuge in Him. The void that appears as a result of our inactivity and weakness is what makes power more meaningful, and the oligarchical minority is using that power against us.

It is not correct to think that such elites that leech off the people will always remain in such as position. One day, there may appear some among them who regret the oppressions they have committed, who become sincerely repentant, who change their feelings and thoughts, and prefer to live in a human way. We can see so many examples of this during the Prophet’s time. Although at the beginning of Islam, the majority of the believers were poor people—such as Bilal al-Habashi, Ammar ibn Yasir, and Abdullah ibn Masud—who worked near the controllers of wealth and power, the leading personalities of Mecca also came to be included in this blessed circle in later years.

By studying the identities of the people who accepted faith first and formed the center, it is possible to make some psycho-sociological analyses. For example, you can say that they had been seeking a savior to save them from the negative life conditions they were experiencing, and when they saw the prince of the Prophets with his truthfulness, decency, Prophetic intelligence and resolution, they ran to him with the intention of seeking refuge in him. Or, by considering that those people owned very few worldly possessions and did not have much to lose, you may think that it was easier for them to dedicate their lives to the path of God. You may also think that the Messenger of God’s treating those oppressed people with his immense compassion, opening his bosom for them and supporting them was a factor in their speedy acceptance of Islam. Additionally, you might also interpret the fact that people in abject poverty followed such an infinite light as a result of Divine guidance. However, no matter which factor you ascribe this result to, you see that the majority of the heroes that formed the first rank of Muslims were poor people disdained by those prominent in society.

However, there came the day when those prominent people, who accosted the Muslims at every opportunity and tried to smash them, also joined their ranks. For example, during the sixth year of Islam, the unpleasant invectives against the noble Prophet tugged at the humane feelings of Hamza, who took a stance against the polytheists in return.[1] This meant that this quintessence and potential had existed in his soul. In spite of temporarily hesitating at the beginning, this brave champion was devoted to Islam in such a way that after he was martyred at Uhud, his name was written in heavens as the “lion of God.”[2] Abu Sufyan, who was unparalleled in obstinacy, took his place near the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, after the conquest of Mecca.[3] Like him, so many leading figures from among the polytheists submitted to the truth and changed sides later on.

Nobody Should Be Deprived of the Goodness

On account of the reasons we mentioned so far, from the oligarchical minority who in their imaginations see themselves at the uppermost level of the caste system and behave as if it were their essential right to oppress others, God knows what potential heroes may appear and may lend you a hand with your ideal of establishing universal values. Even today, it is possible to say that its signs can be seen—not as showers but rather like dewdrops on leaves. There are people who have ample worldly means, seen by some as being at the uppermost level of their imagined caste system, who see themselves as having a distant worldview from you and whom you do not see as likely to share your ideals; when they witness the beautiful things you do, they may support the activities on the path of humanity and peace. You may see that some of them want to open a school somewhere, others wish to sponsor a university to be opened somewhere, while others want to provide a field for a new educational institution to be opened. As they also set an example for others with such services, those who see this will also wish to do the same.

Therefore, the duty that falls to us is taking care of all individuals in society without making any distinction. The thought that the reformation can only be carried out by poor or middle class people is not correct. These people may have welcomed the good things done and have opened the doors of their hearts wide from the very beginning. You may rather have spent time with them at the beginning. However, on account of the great scope of the tasks needed to be done for the sake of humanity today, it is necessary to spread our wings wide, and try to reach every place and every person. For this reason it is necessary to make efforts to include those who have worldly means and look down on others. However, while making this effort, you should not forget that in order for them to accept the values you believe, although a single day or week may suffice for some, for some of them it may be necessary to make visits for a month or even a year.

Who knows how many times the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, knocked the door of Abu Jahl and communicated his message to him? Without getting angry or feeling bitter, he made use of every opportunity and tried to make him feel the truths of faith. Note that Abu Jahl was one of the prominent figures of the Banu Makhzum tribe.[4] It was possible for his entire tribe to embrace Islam once Abu Jahl had done it. Those days, the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, did not solely make visits to Abu Jahl, but also went to all the leaders of Mecca time and time again; he presented his message to them without growing weary or being broken down. Although Abu Jahl was not honored with faith, a day came when his son Ikrima accepted faith before the beneficence and compassion of God’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him.[5] There even came a day when no one remained among the prominent figures of Mecca who had not embraced his message. Maybe with a bit of help of mass psychology, people accepted Islam in throngs all over the Arabian Peninsula.[6]

In this regard, it is necessary to utilize every opportunity to reach all sections of society and to advance in a multi-alternative fashion. It is necessary to knock on everybody’s door without becoming weary, giving in to hopelessness, or feeling broken. Maybe some will insult you, call you “backward” or “bigot,” or call you other names. However, the reward of this task is absolute deliverance for you in the case of fulfilling it, and absolute perdition for them in the case of not fulfilling it. If your message is the magical and mysterious key to absolute deliverance—God Almighty has given everybody who strives on His path such a key—it is worth it for you to bow before them some fifty times for the sake of passing this key into their hands. In order to let people take the path of eternal happiness, those who serve on the path of the Qur’an must not feel hindered by any kind of suffering, torments, ugly remarks or obstacles.

[1] Ibn Ishaq, As-Sirah, 2/151–152; Ibn Hisham, As-Sirat an-Nabawiyya, 2, 129.

[2] Tabarani, Mujam al-Kabir, 3/149; al-Hakim, Al-Mustadrak, 3/149.

[3] Bayhaqi, Dalail an-Nubuwwah, 5/102; Ibn Asakir, Tarikh Dimashk, 23:458.

[4] Ibn Ishaq, As-Sirah 4/191; Ibn Abi Shaybah, Al-Musannaf, 7/255–256.

[5] Ibn Asakir, Tarikh Dimashq, 41/55–56.

[6] Ibn Hisham, As-Sirat an-Nabawiyya, 5/248-249; Ibn al-Athir, Al-Kamil fi’t-Tarikh, 2/157–161.

This text is the translation of “Güç ve İmkân Sahiplerinin Hakkı Kabulü.”

Misfortunes and Attaining the Understanding of True Divine Unity

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: Does misfortune play a role in helping a person attain the understanding of true Divine Unity?

Answer: True tawhid, or Divine Unity, is to acknowledge that “God” is independent of all causes and to recognize His absolute Power and Will in everything that happens, in spite of living in a world of causality and being surrounded by apparent veils of causality. Until today, those who attained such a perspective were great personages who were heroes of the horizons of the heart and spirit. As they were absolutely humble and self-effacing, they always turned to God, may His glory be exalted, and were fixed on seeking in inner realms of reality. In the face of events, they did not see the causes, but the Causer of Causes.

Turning to Divine Unity as a Compulsory Blessing

To elucidate further, people live in the sphere of causes and most of the time they can find themselves in situations that make them feel dizzy with the influence of causes, which blur their vision. In spite of that, a believer must be oriented toward God, the Causer of Causes, without ever being shaken; like a never-moving compass needle. However, it is so difficult to attain the objective of being like a precise needle that always shows Him when buffeted by the normal flow of life. Consider the meaning of the verse: “Or He Who answers the helpless one in distress when he prays to Him, and removes the affliction from him…” (an-Naml 27:62). When people are shaken by troubles and misfortunes, when it turns out that causes are totally inefficient and that nothing remains to hang on to, people necessarily turn to God. So, people who are utterly helpless and in such a state of need grow profoundly aware of the fact that only the Omnipotent One with Infinite Power can help them; therefore they turn to Him in full concentration. In situations where causes come to an utterly dead end, when people listen to their consciences, they feel that Providence envelops them with beneficent manifestations of Divine Mercy and protects them against troubles. Such people comprehend that apparent veils are nothing but a veil before the operation of Divine Power, that there is an absolute Power and Will behind the veil; this means a window opening onto true Divine Unity.

The parable of Prophet Jonah is a good example to help us understand this subject. As you know, Prophet Jonah was swallowed by a huge fish. At this point, when all possible causes of salvation were impossible, he turned to God, petitioning Him: “There is no deity but You, All-Glorified are You (in that You are absolutely above having any defect). Surely I have been one of the wrongdoers (who have wronged themselves)” (al-Anbiya 21:87), and glorified Him thus. This became a means of salvation for him. Bediüzzaman made an excellent analysis of this issue at the beginning of The Gleams. While some people may view his explanations about the issue as “simple,” since familiarity breeds contempt, those explanations are actually very insightful, particularly in terms of the truth of Divine Unity and essentials of faith.

Prophet Jonah opened up to God Almighty about the situation he found himself in. He took into consideration the facts of his leaving Nineveh, abandoning his people without an explicit command, moving away by boarding the ship and the like. He thought that what befell him stemmed from his own faults. He was immersed in deep self-criticism and then knocked on the door of Divine Mercy. At a moment when all causes were lost from sight, only God could save him from the darkness of the night, the ominous state of the sea, and from the belly of the fish. Together with his humble entreaty to God in utter need, the mystery of God’s absolute Oneness was manifested in the sense of a particular grace bestowed on him by Divine Providence. Suddenly, all darkness was erased, the effect of causes disappeared, and Prophet Jonah was delivered to the shore of salvation.

Since he was one of God’s Prophets, Jonah may have received a particular instruction from God Almighty on how to act in such a case of misfortune. The event is already a miracle. In normal conditions, it is almost impossible for a person to survive in the belly of a fish. The human being is not adapted to living in an environment without oxygen. Due to a sign that he received from God however, Prophet Jonah never gave in to despair, but wholly turned to Him in perfect devotion, and found salvation with this pure consciousness of Divine Unity.

Melodies of Divine Unity Performed by Troubles

We might occasionally face troubles and misfortunes like Prophet Jonah did, at individual, familial, or communal levels. In some cases, even an entire nation might experience a state of constraint and privation and implore God, writhing helplessly. What really matters is filtering all of these troubles with a serious feeling of scrutiny and inquisition, discerning them correctly, evaluating them correctly and, by means of misfortunes, shedding light on the path leading to true Divine Unity. As God Almighty never manifests anything without wisdom, He may have created such a state of helplessness for individuals to make important gains. If this can be understood, troubles will be faced with resignation, and if it results in wholly turning to God because of the helplessness experienced, then it becomes possible to prosper in terms of this world and to gain eternal bliss. The troubles endured in this life will bring very different returns in the afterlife. There, drops will turn to seas, atoms will turn to suns.

Experiencing misfortune may outwardly appear as an evil for people who have adopted a certain thought pattern or who are included in a certain movement. However, God may have willed them to turn their faces to Himself by means of such trials. States of dire need may pave the way for them to attain true Divine Unity. It is for this reason that one should see troubles as no different than gifts from God and say: “Troubles sent by His Majesty, or graces from Divine Mercy, my soul welcomes them equally!” Given that a person realizes that troubles and misfortunes actually come from God and faces them with resignation, no matter whether what comes is a breeze or a storm, they are always welcomed with respect to their results.  

Personal, familial, or social troubles may be a means of awakening and thus turning to God, but events must be viewed with this consciousness; or at least have the potential to be viewed with such a consciousness. Even if a patient is taken to the intensive care unit, as far as the death of the heart and mind has not been realized, it can be possible for that person to return to life with an electric shock. The lands where Muslims live today can be compared to a patient in intensive care who still bears the signs of life, or to a person who has suffered a terrible accident but whose heart and brain still functions. Therefore, it is still possible for them to rise, in spite of their presently disabled condition. Realizing this calls for applying a serious shock.

So many times from the past to present, God Almighty blessed people who wholeheartedly turned to him in the midst of troubles and misfortunes with extra graces and bestowals, and blessed them with a new revival. Today as well, He may make the present generation bound for such an awakening. This is as long as we correctly understand the meaning of troubles and misfortunes and turn to Him in utter devotion, in a spirit of destitute imploration and conscious of our state of impotence and poverty before Him.

This text is the translation of “Musibetten Hakikî Tevhide Giden Yol.”

System Blindness and the Lifespan of a Society

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: While serving on the path of God, the tasks we are responsible for can become ordinary and monotonous to some of us. Is this a consequence of system blindness? What can be done to prevent us succumbing to such blindness?

Answer: People gathered around such a lofty ideal as making the face of humanity smile and letting the breezes of happiness blow worldwide have so far seriously endeavored in order to realize this ideal. So it seems that God Almighty has rendered their endeavor fruitful, let their efforts yield a thousand fold fruits, favored them with showers of blessings, and made them successful on their chosen path. For these achievements, which are but the results of Divine favor, to continue, the sincerity of purpose and commitment to the core ideal of this issue must remain. May God protect us, if we ignore the showers of blessings pouring down on us abundantly, lay personal claim to the achievements we are blessed with, or let the means replace the purpose; for then we will also fall like all previous societies did. Actually, when the underlying reasons for the losses experienced in different periods by Muslim societies are thoroughly investigated, such deviations of thought will turn out to be the cause.

Recognizing the Divine Help in Achievements

To elucidate further, the volunteers that migrate to the four corners of the world are favored with great blessings that outweigh the efforts they make. No people are risking their lives like the army commanders in Muta or combatting with an enemy like the heroes at Yarmuk did. The volunteers are welcome in every land they go to, and receive appreciation for the services they fulfill. Nobody is suffering for the good of humanity to the degree of forgetting their way home, their spouse’s face, or their children’s names. However, the endeavors they make in the places they go are becoming a means for good works with worldwide benefit. So, failing to recognize the Divine support, guardianship and protection behind all of these beautiful services, laying personal claim to them or thinking that what has come about as a result of Divine grace and favors will always continue, even without keeping up our spiritual state, is a serious kind of blindness.

Acknowledging the Blessings in the Face of Achievements

All of the factors, such as: having different achievements, rising to an esteemed position, becoming institutionalized, or establishing a well-built system, might cause a person to become blind to the truth. In addition, people affected by such blindness might then fail a Divine test or fall for a Divine stratagem by laying personal claim to the graces granted by God. Thus, instead of acknowledging blessings in the face of success and turning to God with thankful praise, they might be overcome by pride and conceit. All of these are factors which will bring about a person’s fall.

As stated by sociologists and social historians as well, after enjoying certain achievements, almost every people and society experienced, to different degrees, a period of blindness as a result of the dizziness of victory. This situation caused societies to disintegrate, and consequently brought about their end. Gaining insight into the fall of Rome, the Byzantines, the Seljuks, and the Ottomans will reveal that all of them actually shared the same destiny in this sense. It is possible to say that some countries that have come to the fore in the balance of powers in our time have entered such a process. After making a healthy analysis, it is possible to say that the countries that took certain parts of the world under their dominance and achieved certain things have developed system blindness and their disintegration has begun.

Lofty Purposes and Relevant Duties

In order to save a society from such blindness and increase its lifespan, it is necessary to constantly focus it on higher targets and give people relevant duties to busy them with good works. With their functioning mind, open spirit and a conscience that embraces the entire universe, they must constantly be engaged in an activity and never lose their metaphysical vigilance. If you do not direct people to high ideals and then occupy them with certain tasks for the sake of realizing these ideals, the devil will find work for their idle hands to do.

Renewal of Format

On the other hand, it is necessary to take into consideration different cultural environments in the world and make favorable use of common points and correctly determine the common ground. Afterwards, it is necessary to renew the good works you are occupied with and find some new ways and methods according to conjuncture so that you do not develop blindness. Otherwise, it is inevitable that you will become dull, lose your purpose, and rot.

Closing the Door on Worldliness

In particular, the people who are at the forefront with the most responsibilities must close their doors to self-indulgence and worldliness. When worldliness beckons temptingly they must answer, “Do not waste your energy in vain, the door is bolted shut!” Let alone worldly expectations, they should not even cherish otherworldly expectations in return for the services they fulfill. Their philosophy of life should be in line with Bediüzzaman (who said): “Neither do I have a passion for Paradise, nor a fear of Hell. Given that I see the faith of my people is saved, I accede to burning in the flames of Hell; for while my body is burning, my heart will be a rose garden.”[1]

Orbit of the Heart and Mind

Those who ascribe issues to themselves will experience—tomorrow if not today, or the day after that—a “fatigue of excitement” and die in spirit. As for self-effacing people however, they will have proven the existence of God in a way and taken refuge in His power and strength. Since such people rely on the Infinite Source of power and strength, they pass mountains and rivers, but never experience fatigue of spirit and lose nothing from their power or strength.

In this respect, people at the forefront of society must constantly keep alert so that they can enliven those around them. People who do not act in the orbit of the heart and spirit cannot serve as a means for others’ revival. Those who have lost their liveliness and enthusiasm, who are spiritually decayed, are no good to themselves, let alone able to kindle vitality, love or excitement in others. In particular, those who give in to fear, comfort, self-indulgence and home-addiction, or who take advantage of their position in order to allocate a personal share from what belongs to the people, definitely cannot breathe life into others.

During the Era of Bliss and the time of the Rightly Guided caliphs, people constantly busied themselves with struggling in both senses, against their carnal self and against their enemies. Thus, they always kept up their vitality and realized very important triumphs. They had no worldly possessions and lived in crude houses made of stones and clay. However, those people of great standing, who had begun soaring to the immensity of horizons, served as a means for the advent of brilliant civilizations in the world. In this regard, the only way to prevent blindness from being the result of the system and success is attaining this lively state as represented by the Companions, as well as edifying individuals to live for noble ideals.

Making Societies Live Longer

The factors mentioned so far may not suffice to prevent the death of a society completely, since death is inevitable for societies, as it is for people. I remember that once upon a time a person of high status asked doctors a bit reproachfully: “Cannot you find a cure for death?” However, there is no possible cure for death. As a matter of fact, God Almighty, may His glory be exalted, created life and death together. Death cannot be killed off in this world.

As was stated by the noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, when people take their places in Paradise and Hell, death will be embodied in the form of a ram, which will be slaughtered. Then it will be announced that non-existence has been rendered non-existent. Both the residents of Paradise and Hell will hear that they will stay there forever.[2] As a matter of fact, the Divine Names meaning “The One Who Revives” (Al-Muhyi) and “The One Causing to Die” (Al-Mumit) are mentioned alongside this in the Qur’an and the noble Prophet’s sayings; this fact also alludes to this truth.[3] Namely, as God is the One Who creates life, it is also Him Who creates death. As it is stated in the Qur’an: “He Who has created death and life, so that He may try you (and demonstrate to yourselves) which of you is better in deeds; and He is the All-Glorious with irresistible might (Whose will none can frustrate), the All-Forgiving (Who forgives many of His servants’ sins so that they learn from being tested) (al-Mulk 67:2).

In this respect, death is inevitable for everybody in the world. However, by being careful about the points mentioned above, it is possible to delay a seemingly inevitable fall or collapse for a society and lengthen its life span. This is exactly what happened with the Ottoman example. Although its lifespan included peaks, paralysis and periods of intensive care, it lasted longer than any other state. Even while paralyzed, it played an important role in the balance of powers.

[1] Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, Tarihçe-i Hayat (Tahliller), p. 616.

[2] Sahih al-Bukhari, Tafsir Surah (19), 1; Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Sifat al-Jannah, 20; Darimi, Raqaiq, 90.

[3] Ar-Rum 30:50; Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Da’awat, 82; Sunan ibn Majah, Dua, 10.

This text is the translation of “Sistem Körlüğü ve Toplumların Ömrü.”

Hubris or Becoming Tyrannical

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: It is sometimes the case that people who are responsible for a certain area or who govern a certain place, after a period of time, begin to consider themselves as the owner of that place. Could you elucidate how believers should think and behave when this happens?

Answer: Regarding someone who is responsible for administering and governing others, there is a great difference between his bearing the responsibility of the duty he carries out and seeing his field of responsibility as his personal property. However, this fact is unfortunately ignored and abused by many. When people responsible for others do not follow the righteous path of the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, and the Rightly Guided Caliphs, may God be pleased with them, when they do not see themselves as trustees in the position they occupy but as the owners of that place, it means that they have begun to pave the way that leads to tyranny.

People Who Firstly Lay the Blame on Themselves for Negativities

Essential to being protected from such a danger is for people in power to be self-critical and take personal responsibility for any negativity that occurs related to their area of responsibility. Actually, this understanding and philosophy of governing is based on Muslim religious thought and feelings. The attitude of Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab, may God be pleased with him, is a perfect example for us in this respect. Within the ten-year period he served as caliph, there were glorious conquests. Despite being such a great state leader, during a time of famine, he prostrated himself among some ruins and beseeched God Almighty, asking Him not to destroy the Muslims because of his sins. Similarly, people in leadership positions must firstly hold themselves accountable for arising negativities, failures and breakdowns; they must constantly beseech God and strive their best to solve problems.

The devoted souls who keep endeavoring for the good of humanity in order to pour the inspirations of their soul into the needy hearts might occasionally encounter problems while fulfilling their responsibilities. For example, God Almighty blesses them with certain accomplishments to gain people’s appreciation. On seeing these accomplishments, some people with weak characters might desire to appear within the same frame as those devoted souls. Consequently, when those who are motivated by personal gain are not able to find what they expected, they might resort to all kinds of evil including slander and libel. God Almighty will surely bring to account those who commit such evil. However, the governor of the land where this problem is experienced must say, “I wonder what kind of wrong I committed that led us to experience such a misfortune?” and bring himself to account first of all.

People Who Do Not Lay Claim to Achievements

When people in leadership positions do not engage in self-criticism and self-supervision they do not want to admit any fault, even for the problems that are directly due to their own wrong decisions, and therefore they keep accusing and laying the blame on others. When the wrongs and mistakes are highlighted, they perceive it as a threat to themselves and wish to silence those who highlight them. In short, they become tyrannical. Leaders who lay personal claim to achievements that have been granted by God Almighty as a result of concerted efforts from society will become deluded into thinking that everything begins and ends with their own person. This delusion of seeing themselves as the beginning and end is actually an implication of claiming to be a deity. The grim end of a person who dares to make such a claim is stated as follows in one hadith qudsi: (God Almighty says) “Pride is My cloak and greatness My robe, and whoever competes with Me with regard to either of them, I shall throw him into Hell.”[1] A person who sees himself as great and thus takes pride in it will be considered to have attempted to be a partner with God regarding these attributes. The Almighty Lord gives the warning that He will throw such a person into Hell.

Collective Reason and Favorers of Consultation

In fact, as nothing has begun with our person, nothing will end with our person either. On the contrary, deeds we attribute to ourselves will yield no fruit; whereas deeds carried out far from egotism and self-importance will not be irrelevant or fruitless. This is how a person should always see himself and the services for which God employs him. Instead of acting as one person, and always thinking he alone is the best person to make a decision, one should value collective reason and never take an indifferent attitude toward the mechanism of consultation. When one sees that je cannot fulfill his responsibility properly, he should know to step down righteously and easily say: “With regard to my position, I am trying to develop the feeling of concord and unity in people, and inviting Divine help by trying to reconcile their hearts. If I am not giving my position its due, not achieving practical aims and if I cannot be convincing with my manner and behaviors, then you can take me from this duty and assign me to a lesser one.” The feelings and thoughts of those who claim to have dedicated themselves to the path of truth and for the good of the people should be thus.

People Who Do Not Cherish Worldly or Otherworldly Expectations

The devoted souls should not have any worldly or otherworldly expectations for the duties they carry out. Desires such as achieving high ranks, acquiring different titles or being the center of attention must never settle in their hearts. Continually seeking higher worldly positions in a greedy fashion is an indication of pride and conceitedness. However, it is very difficult for conceited people to act in a balanced way regarding this issue, to give their position its due and to become aware of their responsibilities; for they see themselves as the same as Atlas, supporting the world. They think that when they recede from duty, it will mean inevitable disaster for the world. This is nothing but gross misguidedness and deviance.

Most of the principles Bediüzzaman gives in his chapters, ‘On Sincerity and Brotherhood’ are golden criteria related to this issue. Complying with them is very important in terms of preventing such deviations. For example, he advises preferring being a follower to being a leader, which brings responsibility and is therefore risky. Namely, a person should prefer following a person who is eligible for a certain position rather than becoming the leader of others, which entails responsibility, danger and risk.[2] For example, imagine that a group of Muslims is going to observe congregational Prayer somewhere. One should not be eager to be the imam to lead the Prayer, but should withdraw to the side and know to pray behind someone else. Unless one is accepted by others as eligible and is offered the position, one should not even wish to be the muezzin, but rather should leave this duty to another. If such cautiousness is observed about issues such as leading the Prayer or delivering a speech somewhere, this quality will be ingrained in individuals’ hearts and become a character trait in them. If people can manage to withdraw in this way into the depth of their character, they will not seek to become tyrants and will not adopt despotic attitudes.

Humble People Who Avoid Esteem and Applause

Ottoman rulers such as Mehmed II, Selim I and Süleyman the Magnificent underwent a serious edification and rehabilitation in this regard and therefore did not grow tyrannical, even when they ruled an important part of the world. They remained humble and self-effacing. As for the improper remarks and defamations certain persons in Turkey make about them, these are nothing but hollow statements that stem from ignorance. Sultan Suleyman only spent one year of his 46-year rule in Istanbul. Just as his lifetime was spent in military campaigns, his demise was also during a campaign. He was someone who spent his lifetime on horseback for the sake of justice, but, in terms of his attitude toward the people, he was always humble and modest toward his followers. It is narrated that after returning to the palace triumphantly, he had his bed made up in the corridor in order to challenge his ego and not let it become arrogant. Likewise, when the blessed Sultan Selim I returned from the campaigns of Marjdabiq and Ridaniya, he did not directly go to the palace but waited in Üsküdar until midnight. When the people were sleeping in their homes, he quietly went to the palace in order to avoid the people’s praise and applause.

Spiritual Nourishment Should Not Be Neglected

So, it is very important for people who have dedicated themselves to serving faith and humanity to undergo such edification right from the beginning. A person should not become a minor tyrant when responsible for a small sphere so that when his responsibility grows he will not assume himself to be sovereign of the world, pursuing impossible projects, oppressing people and taking no advice in the case of failing at all of these. On the contrary, he should believe that positive results are only realized with God’s permission and grace; he should not forget that he is merely an apparent minor cause and should humbly know his place no matter what position he occupies.

For this reason, in terms of administrative positions from the lowest to the highest, nobody should be neglected in terms of spiritual nourishment. Individuals must constantly be rehabilitated within the frame of Islamic, humane and universal moral principles and it is necessary to help them be cultivated as “human.” If people do not receive spiritual nourishment but are left alone, they can fall into a void and go astray. Once this happens, they become egotistical and say, “I, I, I…” They follow a path of misguidance that ruins them, causes them to lose the true friends and makes them fritter their life away in the narrow prison of their ego.

[1] Sahih Muslim, Birr, 136; Sunan Abu Dawud, Libas, 26.

[2] Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, The Gleams, New Jersey: Tughra Books, 2008, p. 215.

This text is the translation of “Güç Zehirlenmesi ya da Tiranlaşma.”

The Path of Serving the Truth in the Face of Obstacles

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: Considering the present conditions, we can see that people who have contributed to charitable works are being raided with the intention of defaming them and the truth is being obscured. How should volunteers understand this and what should their philosophy of action be?

Answer: People on the path of serving the truth must firstly accept the following reality. Just as it happened yesterday, today as well, people with vices such as hatred, envy and intolerance, because of their paranoid mood, will declare as enemies other circles of people who do not think like them. They will continually attack here and there and reveal their malice in various forms for the sake of protecting their illegitimate gains. However, the devoted souls must constantly seek refuge in God, may His glory be exalted, completely relying on and submitting to Him. They must always focus their acts on gaining God’s good pleasure; always tread in the footsteps of His Messenger and, in spite of all evils and obstacles, they should keep walking on the righteous path with a noble conscience to embrace all of humanity.

While walking on this path, you may sometimes be betrayed by those you expected to be loyal; you may be rejected by those who shared the same destiny so far or find yourself unexpectedly stabbed in the back. However, you should still stick to your unwavering course on the righteous path and not be hindered by such negativities, by opening up new doors in your conscience. By utilizing some new strategies, you should constantly seek to set higher standards in terms of the horizons of your conscience and immensity of your soul.

The Sound Guides

We are passing through a chaotic era that is referred to by hadith books in their sections of Fitan, which means disorder and corruption rooted in rebellion against God and recognizing no laws. This is happening on a wide scale and to a horrible degree; upheaval and turmoil are following one another and deception is considered to be a merit. In such a period, there is urgent need for sincere guides who do not deceive or misguide people, and who always inspire trust in hearts. So what falls to you is to give humanity a lesson in “not deceiving,” by never deceiving anyone with your sincere words, bearing and attitudes. If others monitor you for some fifty years, they should not be able to find the slightest indication of deception.

It is a fact that in our time so many people set their sights on worldly ambitions. Therefore, you may have difficulty in making others understand you correctly. They will view you as themselves, by projecting their own worldliness onto you. They might seek different intentions behind your coming into contact with the world, your opening of a school and cultural centers everywhere, your embracing the entirety of humanity with love, and your efforts to bring together and reconcile people of different cultural backgrounds. As every action they take is to gain some form of worldly return, they might think that you are also running after some worldly benefits. Even some of the people who stand close to you, whom you love and hold in esteem, might be deluded by such apprehensions and anxieties. By interpreting your attitude and behaviors according to their own feeling and thoughts, they may derive different meanings from these and thus perceive you as a threat to themselves. However, without caring for any of these much, you must explain at every opportunity that you have no target except for gaining God’s good pleasure and indicate this with your attitude and behaviors.

Decency of Intention

It is unthinkable for volunteers who solely seek God’s good pleasure by seeking reconciliation between people and trying to create a world of love with their initiatives in different parts of the world, to have worldly ambitions. Even if the volunteers, who have fixed their sights on God’s good pleasure with heartfelt dedication and have resolved to beautify the face of the world, cannot realize their plans of love and peace, they will be the heroes of their own intentions and will be rewarded by God accordingly. As the noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, once stated: deeds go by their intentions and everybody will be given what they intended. Therefore, the factor that will truly benefit someone is the sincerity and worth of their intention. God Almighty will reward a person with otherworldly returns according to his intention and immensity of conscience.

For example, you set forth with the intention of enabling the entire world to find peace with God’s permission and grace. As far as the conditions allow and a suitable atmosphere is formed, you do not fall into lethargy but increase your efforts even further. However, there comes such a time that some obstacles appear on your path and you cover only one tenth of the distance you targeted. As your intention was ten out of ten, God will reward you accordingly.

However, in order to attain such a beautiful result, you must be so sincere in your efforts on the righteous path that thoughts such as, “I wonder if they will give us an administrative position in return for the services we carried out?” must not even pass through the corner of your mind. On the contrary, when such considerations visit your mind, you must consider them to be devilish urges and distance yourself from them immediately.

This does not mean that some people will not be awarded certain positions they deserve and are eligible for. Surely, such people will gain different high-level positions in the state administration. However, people who are devoted to service for the peace of humanity and do not think of anything but God’s good pleasure must not seek any worldly positions for the sake of worldly gains. They should even not hasten to accept when they are offered such a position as being a minister of the prime minister, but consider first whether such an offer will be good for their ideals and then decide accordingly. Otherwise, in spite of having set forth in order to seek God’s good pleasure, they will have adulterated their considerations on this path, personally destroyed the possible influence they could make in others’ hearts and lost the credit and trust of people around them.

In my opinion, let alone seeking such administrative positions, they should see seeking worldly targets as a demotion for themselves, even if there is a matter of being the world’s greatest conqueror. Even such worldly glory will remain as a drop in the ocean next to saving one person’s eternal life. In this respect, the volunteers of our time who have migrated for their ideals must take it as the greatest ideal to help a love for truth be kindled in hearts, to let morality and virtue be germinated in hearts, and for different people to become bosom friends. They must design their life according to these lofty ideals without wasting a moment of it.

This text is the translation of “Engellemeler Karşısında Hakka Hizmet Yolu.”

The Art of Politics in Line with the Teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: Certain persons are trying to justify their false statements and some illegitimate acts by claiming that they are acting in accordance with what politics requires. How should the art of politics be understood and practiced from the perspective of a believer?

Answer: The Arabic word for politics is siyasa, which means “governing.” This word is used in two senses: the first is administering a system, group of people, or organization within a certain set of rules in an appropriate way; the second is “strategic management.” This means treating everybody diplomatically, including those who display enmity, and taking the available opportunities to do goodness toward them, and thus trying to ward off their evil. Concerning this issue, Bediüzzaman relates the following words of Hafez of Shiraz: “The tranquility of both worlds lies in two things: magnanimity toward friends and the wise management of enemies.”[1] What is meant by magnanimity toward friends is valuing them, being kind to them, opening up one’s bosom to them, and acting with humanity toward them. Since human beings are a manifest example of the best pattern of creation, it is necessary to be respectful toward them and treat them with humanity. No humanist movement has been able to equal the value Islam gives to humans, and to represent this in practical life.

The Difference between Strategic Management and Being Two-Faced

Strategic management of enemies means handling them well. This means: not provoking the enemy with unnecessary demagogy and dialectics, employing diplomacy very well, and warding off possible attacks and damage from the opposite side with wise strategies. Namely, in the relations you establish with enemies, you will follow such a policy that on the one hand you will not provoke them and on the other hand, you will not receive harm from them. As it is seen, this diplomatic approach is very different from that of those who are two-faced; who have deviated from the Straight Path. Unfortunately, they have deviated so much as to see as normal the deception of those who are not one of them, and to see any kind of lying as acceptable. As for strategic management, it means trying to prevent hostile attitudes through patience and steadfastness, as well as by using reason and diplomacy.

By using brutal force to try and solve problems that could be solved using diplomacy, by not following a wise strategy toward enemies, and by immediately resorting to war in the literal sense, as some green Ittihadists once did during the Ottoman’s final days, the country could be led down a blind alley where it could be shattered. The Ittihadists brought about the end of the great Ottoman state, which was unparalleled after the time of the noble Prophet’s Companions, as a consequence of the war they declared against Russia. So, what we mean by strategic management is the policy and way of government to be followed for the sake of not leading the country to such dead ends.

The Mentality That Misunderstands Politics as Lying

When politics is mentioned in our time, it only brings to mind the activities of political parties that govern a society. However, the art of politics is not solely about governing a state. There is a certain policy or conduct everyone needs to follow in his or her individual, familial and social lives. When this is not observed, it causes unrest and conflicts. As far as a believer is concerned however, the ways followed in politics have to be acceptable according to religious criteria. Thus, it is necessary to point out that illegitimate acts, as well as attitudes and behaviors incompatible with Muslim identity, have nothing to do with the art of politics. This concerns all levels from the most basic office to the highest level of state administration, regardless of the area of responsibility.

To give an example, a state has a set of targets, such as: achieving an important position in the balance of powers; continuing to command this power; making others regard it expectantly; and not letting others act without its consent. In order to reach these targets, states might be exploiting the resources of other countries under different pretexts, making relative enmities seem as definite conspiracies against themselves and thus invading a certain country, moving people away from their own spiritual heritage, and leaving them devoid of self identity. If they are oppressing others like that, violating rights and committing despotism, it cannot be called politics. This is state terror with no fairness or conscience.

While certain countries that want to retain their position can follow such illegitimate policies, certain people that gained control of the administration in a certain country might also commit such lawlessness for the sake of their own prosperity and future. Not acting just for themselves, they try to guarantee the future of even their grandchildren by continually hoarding, trying to bring their own supporters to positions of authority, not allowing anyone except their own supporters to be successful, and finding some pretexts for making their vices acceptable to the wider masses. They sometimes lie, sometimes talk about good intentions, sometimes try to present their oppression as a necessity of politics, and sometimes they even besmirch the people they oppress for the sake of justification. No matter how religious they try to appear however, even if they keep talking about faith and making sanctimonious shows of being Muslim, those who commit these oppressions are so far away from the politics practiced by the noble Prophet and his Rightly Guided Caliphs.

The Effort to Legitimize Oppression

Besides this, illegitimate acts are also being carried out with the impression that they are legitimate and innocent. Let’s imagine that someone is responsible for giving sermons at a mosque. When he has completed his duty of service and retires, he wishes for one of his relatives to inherit that position and identifies a certain relative as eligible for preaching. Afterwards, the retired preacher ignores the rules and regulations for appointing that position and instead follows his own method in order to realize his aim. This means straying to an illegitimate path unawares. In other words, this means using illegitimate means in order to reach a legitimate end.

In the same way, some persons, who took over the state administration and who have been filling their pockets with the people’s money they have misappropriated, may say for instance: “We must be strong. If we somehow lose these opportunities tomorrow, we should be able to straighten up again, and revive the organization we are affiliated with.” All these things are the treasonous machinations of false innocence that underlie the behaviors harming the country. Since outwardly these seem like innocent behaviors, even religious people might resort to such ways. However, this is blatant deviation and a betrayal of trust. Those who resort to such means, build with their own hands unawares the disgraces they will experience in the future.

If they, and the masses supporting them, consider all these as a necessity of political affairs and call it the art of politics, they are suffering under a gross delusion. First of all, politics must be compatible with ethical and religious principles. A Muslim politician has to follow the way of God’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, and his inheritors in administration and politics. The Pride of Humanity and his true inheritors spent their lives being totally scrupulousness about lawful and unlawful things, and they never took a step toward the forbidden zone. In this regard, it is necessary to act with the utmost scrupulousness regarding the legitimacy of the means as well as the ends. If people, particularly those in positions of authority, act carefully in this respect, they both inspire trust in those around them and present an exemplary model for others to follow.

The People’s Trust Is the Greatest Credit

Actually, this is the secret that underlies the fact that the devoted ones have been welcome in the four corners of the world. They succeeded because they never gave up behaving in an upright manner, because they did not attach the services they carry out to any worldly or otherworldly expectations, and because they act in accordance with religious teachings. If they keep acting with the same determination, resolution, scrupulousness and patience, God Almighty will open for them the way that leads to hearts.

I do not have any worldly property. I never wished to have. Not just for myself, I prayed so that even my siblings do not own such worldly wealth. I never thought of favoring my relatives and bringing them to certain positions. I recommended my friends in the close circle not to own a house and to lead a modest life to meet their basic needs.

This is the way of inspiring trust in others. If you think about yourself in the least bit, you experience an erosion of trust in people’s sight. As a matter of fact, this movement of volunteers, which has reached some 170 countries of the world and flourished all around, is completely based on the essence of volunteering. If people step back from it, the Divine help will also cease and the works carried out will end. The means of receiving Divine help is having the people’s endeavors on your side. When you exterminate this means, Divine help will also cease. People who cannot tolerate you and cannot stomach your achievements out of envy might occasionally use different slanders to try to defame the services carried out. As far as you keep on your upright course, then, with God’s permission, no conspiracy or slanderers can harm you. Anyone with a sense of fairness and a conscience knows that the educational establishments that wave the flag of love and tolerance in the four corners of the world were borne out of the endeavors of the benevolent people of Anatolia. As they once realized the struggle of independence at their weakest period, the people of Anatolia experienced another resurgence and spread to the four corners of the world, despite their moderate economic means. In addition, thousands of teachers and young tutors spread out over the world, migrated to lands previously unheard of to them, and managed with very modest payment, for the sake of conveying the values distilled from their spiritual roots and receiving theirs vice versa. Since the earth is a productive entity, it yields such good results. As a requirement of showing faith toward them, I pray for those friends maybe some ten times a day. “My God! Resurrect those students, teachers, mentors and trustees (mütevelli) with Your Prophets! Strengthen their morale!”

To conclude, what underlies this beautiful picture of serving faith and humanity is our people’s trust. For this reason, as has been the case up until today, and as is necessary from now on, it is necessary to avoid like the plague every kind of attitude and behavior that might harm it.

[1] Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, The Letters, New Jersey: The Light, 2007, p. 286.

This text is the translation of “Kur’an ve Sünnet Çizgisinde İlm-i Siyaset.”

Being Muslim in Truth and in Form

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: You frequently mention in your articles and talks that Islam does not merely consist of outward form. Can you explain this a little more please?

Answer: As is stated in the question, Islam does not merely consist of some outward forms, rhetoric, ceremonies, and formalities. On the contrary, practicing Islam is a matter of the heart. That is to say, what really matters besides the form is the essence and meaning.

The noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, once drew attention to this truth by stating that God does not look at your body or your physical appearance, He looks at your heart and the sincerity of your deeds, and judges you accordingly.[1] The pure and simple voice of Anatolia, the Sufi poet Yunus Emre once said:

Being a dervish does not mean putting on the robes and cap.

One dervish in the heart, does not depend on the attire.

Thus he pointed out that what really merits consideration is not the appearance but the heart.

If the Inner Being Was To Be Turned to the Outside

There are some people who come to the fore as a Muslim and try to be the principal representative, but in truth they do not have the slightest value in God’s sight. Even if they come to the fore as Muslims in this world, they will be in a miserable condition in the next. On the other hand, there are some people who are not esteemed here and who appear to be backwards; however, in the next world it will be apparent that they have actually progressed to a position in the first rank, and walk side-by-side with the saints in their spiritual life. In this respect, basing opinions of people on their outward appearance and manner of speech may not always lead us to the correct conclusions. Once, the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, drew attention to this truth and stated: “There are so many people of shabby appearance who are treated as objects of scorn. When they swear that a certain thing will happen, however, God does not contradict them.”[2]

But let this not be misunderstood; a person does not necessarily need to seem poor and lowly in order to attain such exalted spiritual ranks. By having a sound heart and giving one’s position its due, people in certain worldly positions too, can be of excellent worth in the sight of God with His grace. Each of the Rightly Guided Caliphs is such a beautiful example of this.

The Moving Lives of True Leaders

As you know, our master Abu Bakr, may God be pleased with him, received a modest payment to support his family. He put the remaining amount into a pot and requested that it be given to the next caliph after he passed away. When Umar ibn al-Khattab, may God be pleased with him, learned about it, he said as if addressing the late caliph: “You lived such an exemplary life, impossible for us to repeat.”[3] The blessed Abu Bakr owned a fortune before he became Muslim. He spent all his wealth for the sake of God and did not think of using even the slightest amount for his own sake. In spite of the ample means God Almighty granted him, he passed to the next world empty-handed in terms of worldly possessions.

The life of Umar ibn al Khattab was no different. When he became the state leader, he requested his payment to be determined according to the income of an average person. During a time of famine, he asked what the poorest of the people ate. Upon learning that it was bread and olive oil, he said: “Then what falls to me from now on is doing thus.”[4] This great caliph, who had overcome the two superpowers of the time, left this world without any possessions. The main essential of worldly and otherworldly success lies in attaining such a personal state.

Caliph Uthman, may God be pleased with him, was another example of such virtue. A wealthy member of the Banu Umayya tribe, Uthman ibn Affan gave away five hundred camels together with their loads without hesitation when the Muslims were urged to make donations at a time of emergency.[5] With his extraordinary magnanimity, his horizons did not fall behind the two caliphs that preceded him.

Likewise, for his whole lifetime, Ali ibn Abi Talib, may God be pleased with him, donated the money he could find, giving half of it openly and half of it secretly. In spite of the ample means he could have enjoyed, he passed to the next world as a poor person.

These exalted personages never used their status or title to personally benefit from the extensive authority or ample means they had access to. In the same way, they did not allocate the means within their reach to their relatives or supporters either.

So-Called State Leaders and Societies Drifting to Disaster

What about the situation of those who abuse their position and the means entrusted to them by the public by misappropriating them for themselves, their relatives and their supporters; are they to be considered unbelievers? They do not become unbelievers of course. However, there is no doubt that they assume unbelievers’ characteristics. Even if they observe the Daily Prayers, go to Hajj every year and never forsake the Ramadan fast, the characteristics of unbelief will survive in their bodies like germs for as long as they do not correct their weaknesses in this respect. Maybe these will cause certain deviations in their attitude and behavior. Since they allow a deadly virus to survive in their body, they will think and speak wrongly, make wrong decisions and take wrong actions, and consequently, with their wrong policies they will lead the people to disaster.

Let us not forget that God judges people according to their attributes. For example, there are characteristics of believers both in the religious and non-religious field such as respecting others’ chastity and honor, living decently, not coveting others’ possessions, practicing mutual help, declaring war against laziness, planning one’s time, using one’s means efficiently, and scrutinizing the creation with a love for research and truth… Whoever possesses these attributes, God will help them succeed; those who fail to embody these attributes will be punished both in this world and the next.

Even if individuals see themselves as very religious, if they are idly killing time in tea houses and adding to their laziness vices as gossiping, backbiting and slander; if they are solely acting upon baseless suppositions and thus thinking evil and speaking evil about other believers, then they are leading a life with attributes of unbelief. As far as such a person is concerned—considering the impossible—even if they brought down the stars from the sky and thus let people on earth enjoy such fireworks, they would have no true worth at all in God’s sight. For some time they may manage to pull the wool over people’s eyes. However, as they cannot establish a sound relationship with God, and fail to follow a course to become a believer, and fail to follow the orbit in which the Prophets walked, they light up briefly like an eye-catching spark but fade away in a short time and end up as a disappointment. Many others so far attracted the masses to follow them with such make-believe, but before long they fell to oblivion without leaving any positive trace.

The Insatiable Greed

Considering what has been said so far, believers must not be deceived by outward forms and must not forget that what really matters is the essence and spirit. They must not give up sincerity, but relate all of their acts and moves to God’s good pleasure, and try to follow what God wills with every step they take. Without organizing one’s life in accordance with the principles decreed by God, a person will become vulnerable to being directed by the carnal soul and Satan. When such a person finds the opportunity, he will fill his own pockets and bank accounts, and even transfer money to foreign banks when the banks of his own country will not suffice. With unimaginable tricks, he will rob the people of their money and try to establish his own sultanate with the money he stole from them. Even if a person acting in such a devilish manner appears to be Muslim, it means that he is walking on the path of unbelief.

Whatever way and methods were used during a certain period to attain certain achievements and victories, it is not possible to attain the same achievements in another period with other ways than theirs. It is necessary to follow the way of those righteous ones. A legitimate end cannot be reached through illegitimate ways. If the target has to be reasonable, legitimate, and Divine, then the way and method to achieve that target must also be legitimate. As for the Machiavellian approach claiming that it is possible to employ illegitimate means to reach a legitimate end, it is nothing but an urge from Satan. Even if such a person goes to the mosque and places his forehead on the ground, there will be no difference between him and one who boozes or worships idols.

The Attempt to Cover up for One Wrongdoing with a Greater One

Regardless of their level in the government, people who commit grave sins such as misappropriating the public’s money, rigging public tenders, bribery, leading an indecent life, or favoring those in their close circle, do not wish others to know what they are doing. Therefore, they feel disturbed if decent and upright people, who do not approve of their illegitimate dealings, attain certain positions that will mean their wrongdoings are discovered. They fear that they will be prevented, their dealings will be revealed and they will lose credit in the sight of the masses they deceive. For the sake of preventing this, they put the pressure on decent and upright people in unimaginable ways. For, every criminal makes an effort to cover up his crime and be cleared of it. A criminal does not even refrain from accusing others to appear innocent.

As they do not wish for others to recognize their sins, they wish for those around them to resemble themselves in order carry on freely with their crooked dealings. They also transform others, for those who commit the same vices get along well. At the same time, if the people around them are also like them, they are both saved from criticism and from trying to silence the pangs of conscience on account of the wrongs they commit.

Besides all of these, for the sake of guaranteeing their position and future, they try to defame people that they see as opponents and try to make them fall from grace with some fabricated accusations. Even more, they even try to shut all doors in their faces and try to isolate them in their places. However, it should never be forgotten that even if all of these acts and attributes are found in a believer, they essentially belong to unbelievers.

Steadfast in Righteousness, Magnanimous at Solving Problems

In spite of everything, on the one hand the duty that falls to real believers is not yielding to the power and pressure of tyrants, but walking uprightly on the righteous path. On the other hand, in accordance with the meaning of the verse: “Goodness and evil can never be equal. Repel evil with what is better (or best),” (Fussilat 41:34) what falls to believers is finding a way of doing good even to those who do them evil and thus trying to stop them from committing sins. Remember how Rumi said: “One of my feet is in the center, taking religion as basis, and my other foot is with 70-odd nations.” Or, “Come, come, whoever you are; even if you are an unbeliever, a fire-worshipper, or idolater… come. Our lodge is not a place of hopelessness, even if you have reneged your vow of repentance a hundred times, still come.” Disturbed by these words, a certain man wearing the attire of a religious teacher accosts him and lets out a stream of invective such as: “You are such a transgressor, you are misguiding people… you are welcoming Christians, Jews, and even fire-worshippers…” He lets off all of the carbon dioxide from within. In the meantime, Rumi listens to his words with perfect sincerity and modesty. When the man has nothing else to say, Rumi asks, “Have you finished your words?” When the man replies in the affirmative, he says, “My heart is open to you as well, you also come!”

Some might slam all doors in your face by fabricating different pretexts; they might even try to deprive you of your essential rights and freedoms. They might even try to prevent certain good works you carry out in some distant corner of the world. In response to this, you should do your duty and carry on with good deeds on the righteous path by saying, “God is sufficient for us!” While struggling against evils, you should never follow the cruel way of tit-for-tat reactions. Responding in the same way to every evil committed against you is cruel conduct.

However, God Almighty did give permission for it, as stated: “If you have to respond to any wrong, respond (only) to the measure of the wrong done to you” (an-Nahl 16:126). But, the same verse continues: “but if you endure patiently, it is indeed better for the patient” and thus pointed out that monuments of virtue need to take the way of patience and forgiveness. The noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, always responded with forgiveness and kindness to those who committed every kind of evil against him. During the peaceful conquest of Mecca, out of gratitude to God Almighty who blessed him with such a favor, the Messenger of God humbly bowed forward so far that his head nearly touched the saddle while entering the city. The people who, up until that day, had done every kind of evil to him were now waiting for the verdict to be given about them. Like Prophet Joseph, peace be upon him, said to his brothers a few thousand years before, the noble Prophet said: “No reproach this day shall be on you. Go now, all of you are free” (Yusuf 12:92).[6] This is what deserves to be called true magnanimity, and this is the way to be followed by the inheritors of the Prophets in our time.

[1] Sahih Muslim, Birr, 34; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 2/284, 539.

[2] Sahih al-Bukhari, Ayman, 9; Sahih Muslim, Birr, 138; Jannah, 48.

[3] Ibn Sa’d, At-Tabaqat al-Kubra, 3/186; at-Tabari, Tarikh al-Umam wa al-Muluk, 2/354.

[4] Ibn Sa’d, At-Tabaqat al-Kubra, 3/312.

[5] Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 18; al-Bukhari, At-Tarikh al-Kabir, 5/246; At-Tayalisi, Al-Musnad, 164

[6] Al-Bayhaqi, As-Sunan al-Kubra, 9/118.

This text is the translation of “Hakiki ve Şeklî Müslümanlık.”

The Path of Guidance and Mildness

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: “It was by a mercy from God that (at the time of the setback), you (O Messenger) were lenient with them (your Companions). Had you been harsh and hard-hearted, they would surely have scattered away from about you. Then pardon them, pray for their forgiveness, and take counsel with them in the affairs (of public concern); and when you are resolved (on a course of action), put your trust in God. Had you been harsh and hard-hearted, they would surely have scattered away from about you” (Al Imran 3:159).

Could you evaluate the relationship between mildness and the path of guidance in light of this Divine verse?

Answer: The quoted verse was revealed in relation to the Battle of Uhud. As you know, at first, the Muslims suffered a temporary defeat at Uhud, however, this relative and partial failure at the beginning of the battle concluded with a crowning victory later on.

Let us briefly consider the wording of the verse first. “It was by a mercy from God that you were lenient with them.” The Arabic “ba” (by) in the phrase “fa-bi-ma” at the beginning denotes closeness. Thus, it is possible to say, “You treated them leniently, thanks to God’s mercy, grace, guardianship and protection.” First, God Almighty stated that the noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, is aided by special Divine grace and guardianship. In saying so, God eliminated from minds the possibility of His Messenger’s having committed any faults.

In order to understand the special and distinguished position of the noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, in this respect, it may be useful to remember the Divine address about guidance to Prophets Moses and Aaron, peace be upon them. As you know, while sending them to invite the Pharaoh to follow the true path, God Almighty commanded them to be mild: “But speak to him with gentle words, so that he might reflect and be mindful or feel some awe (of Me, and behave with humility)” (Ta-Ha 20:44). On the other hand, the Qur’an mentions the fact the Pride of Humanity already embodied such an exalted character by stating, “you were lenient with them” (linta lahum).

After revealing the Qur’anic character of the Prince of the Prophets, God Almighty drew attention to the beautiful results of his exalted and lofty qualities by stating, “Had you been harsh and hard-hearted, they would surely have scattered away from about you.” Afterwards, He revealed consecutive commandments about asking forgiveness for them and not abandoning consultation by stating: “Then pardon them, pray for their forgiveness, and take counsel with them in the affairs…

The Elixir That Changed Defeat into Victory

Before the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, went to Uhud, he consulted with his Companions, and for the sake of establishing the discipline of consultation, he acted in accordance with their opinion.[1] However, the result was a temporary defeat, which caused serious loss.[2] In case the noble Prophet was suffering from hurt feelings, God Almighty commanded His Messenger to act with leniency, ask forgiveness for them, and thirdly to consult with them once more about what needed to be done.

While the polytheists were boastfully proceeding back to Mecca, the Messenger of God gathered his Companions and expressed the necessity of pursuing them, and the Companions acted upon his opinion. Not even a single person from among those who joined the Uhud campaign stayed behind.[3] When we consider this situation, it is possible to understand that consultation yields fruitful results. With the consultation they held prior to Uhud, the blessed Companions experienced the disastrous consequences of the slightest resistance. Even those among them who were unable to walk set about pursuing the polytheists’ army, climbing onto their friends’ shoulders. As a result, the defeated group pursued the Meccans until Hamrau’l-Asad and turned into a victorious group.

So, if we wish to be the center of attraction in the sight of those we address, we should not give up the qualities of a mild attitude, being personable and speaking respectfully; for—as it is also stated in the verse—crude attitudes and harsh behavior will cause people to stay away from us.

There can be many different forms of harshness. While a speaker’s uttering unseemly words in an improper tone and shouting abruptly can be harshness, reviling people severely or letting someone down by turning our backs and walking away are also different forms of harshness. All of these behaviors are likely to repel others. What really matters in this respect is Divine morality, as represented by the blessed Prophets. Given that God Almighty commands Prophets Moses and Aaron to speak with gentle words, even to the Pharaoh who dared to claim to be a deity, and given that He honors and appreciates the noble Prophet for his mild attitude and speech, it shows that this is the essential Divine principle that should be applicable in every period. So, no matter what happens, believers have to treat the people around them with mildness.

Limits of Mildness, and Upholding the Truth

Considering those who obstinately insist on the same wrongs and refuse to understand fair counsel, taking a stance against them is an expression of upholding the truth. To elucidate further, those who lay their hands on anything without distinguishing between what is lawful and unlawful, who lead a self-indulgent life and harm others with this state of theirs should firstly be warned in a mild manner. If they do not respond positively, it is necessary to take a certain stance against them. As is known, a verse with the following meaning was revealed about the three people who did not take part in the Tabuk campaign:

“…And (God turned in mercy also) to the three left behind and whose cases had been deferred. (They felt such remorse that) the earth was too narrow for them despite all its vastness, and their souls became utterly constricted for them, and they came to perceive fully that there is no refuge from God except in Him” (at-Tawbah 9:118).[4] It was actually a trial for those people. As a result of God’s mercy, there was no engagement with the enemy during the Tabuk campaign. If there had been any real engagement, they would have committed a major sin by escaping from it. For this reason, as a manifestation of Divine mercy, after fifty days God Almighty revealed that He had forgiven them. During these fifty days however, the noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, did not speak to them and he also banned the Companions from speaking with them as they had not participated in that campaign on the path of God. Those days, the Hypocrites did not take part in military campaigns. Consequently, the believers who did not take part in the Tabuk Campaign were temporarily considered to be in the same category. The believers took an attitude against them because they had failed to stay firm on the path. Nobody had greeted or talked to them. This can be seen as an expression of upholding the truth.

As well as this, a believer’s essential character should be mildness in words, attitudes and behaviors that attract people to them. People should be treated according to their merit and standing. Naturally, a different relationship will be established with everyone depending on his or her general situation. However, everyone should receive their fair share of your hospitality according to their position. It is necessary to find ways of maintaining a good relationship with a hero of the heart who endeavors for the good of the whole nation, as well as with an ordinary believer or someone with a different philosophy of life.

The Sole Way for Building Bridges Between Hearts

By various different means, it is necessary to reach all people in society, and to keep our hearts open to everyone. Actually, the essential idea of dialogue is based on this point. Establishing a relationship with people depends on treating them with mildness in our behavior, attitude and words. Without realizing this, you cannot convey your thoughts in a perfect and complete fashion. If you wish people to benefit completely or at least partially from what you have to say, to have positive feelings toward you or at least not be against you, and to prevent those who act against you, you should build bridges by acting with kindness and mildness, and thus let them know you correctly.

If you wish to glorify the name of God, to let everyone know about the noble Prophet, to let the bright face of Islam be recognized—as opposed to those who defame it—and to pour into others’ hearts the essence distilled from our spiritual heritage, then you must open your heart to everybody no exceptions, and you must embrace all. Even if it is necessary for you lay your head down like a cobblestone to be able to pour your feelings and thoughts into the spirits of other people, you still will have not done much… for there is the sake of God, of the Pride of Humanity, and of the people who live and let live with the Islamic teaching and thus convey its message to the four corners of the world.

Returning to the beginning, the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, demonstrated with his words, attitude and behaviors for his whole lifetime that he was virtually an embodiment of mercy. The Divine verse meaning: “We have not sent you (O Muhammad) but as an unequalled mercy for all the worlds” (al-Anbiya 21:107) also points to this fact. It is possible to see the manifestations of this truth in so many scenes of his life. For example, after the peaceful conquest of Mecca, he spoke to those people who until that day had done every evil to him, including their entrance to Mecca, addressing them just as Prophet Joseph, peace be upon him, had addressed his brothers: “No reproach this day shall be on you. May God forgive you; indeed, He is the Most Merciful of the merciful” (Yusuf 12:92). Thus he showed us the climax of mildness, forgiveness, mercy and tolerance.[5]

Mercy to the Worlds

This gentle and mild attitude of the Prince of the Prophets yielded excellent returns. As chapter Nasr states, people embraced Islam in throngs. If we evaluate the issue from a perspective of historical recurrences, we can say the following: Whatever factors were influential in people’s acceptance of Islam yesterday, the same factors hold true today and will be true tomorrow as well. As Bediüzzaman stated in The Damascus Sermon, if we can effectuate the sublime integrity and lofty truths of Islam in our behaviors, then followers of other religions will accept Islam in communities; maybe some continents and states of the earth will embrace Islam.[6]

Indeed, the noble Prophet is the embodiment of mercy. Nobody can ascend to this elevated rank with respect to reflecting the Divine Essence. However, our eyes must constantly be on this horizon. In a secondary sense, we must try to adopt the qualities he embodied. It is necessary to pray to God so that He renders us compassionate and merciful, for this at the same time is the greatest means for God Almighty to have mercy on us. Remember that in one instance the noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, stated: “God will not show mercy to a person who shows no mercy to people.”[7] In another, he stated: “Have mercy on those on earth, so that who is above the heavens will have mercy on you.”[8]

In this respect, the devoted souls in our time must fix their gaze on the horizons of becoming an embodiment of mercy and always walk on this path. No matter how far their potentials take them, as long as they are pursuing such an ideal, they will be with the Paragon of the Horizons of the path they walk, and enjoy togetherness with him, peace and blessings be upon him.

[1] Darimi, Ruya, 3; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 3:351.

[2] Sahih al-Bukhari, 26; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 1:30.

[3] Ibn Hisham, Al-Sirat an-Nabawiyya, 4:52; Ibn Kathir, Al-Bidaya wa an-Nihaya, 4:49.

[4] Sahih al-Bukhari, Tafsir Surah (9), 17-18; Sahih Muslim, Tawbah, 53.

[5] Sunan an-Nasa’i, Sunan al-Kubra, 6/382; Bayhaqi, Sunan al-Kubra, 9/118.

[6] Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, The Damascus Sermon, Istanbul: Sözler, 1996, p. 29.

[7] Sahih Muslim, Fada’il, 66; Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Birr, 16.

[8] Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Birr, 16; Sunan Abu Dawud, Adab, 58.

This text is the translation of “İrşad Mesleği ve Mülâyemet.”

Satan and His Contemporary Followers

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: The Qur’an relates Satan’s rebellion against God as follows: “Of Your servants I will surely take a share to be assigned to me (by their following me). I will surely lead them astray and surely engross them in vain desires (superstitious fancies and false conceptions); and I will surely command them, and they will surely slit the ears of cattle (to mark them out as meant for their idols and as forbidden to themselves to eat, thus making a lawful thing unlawful); and also, I will surely command them, and they will surely alter God’s creation” (an-Nisa 4:118–120). Will you elucidate the messages given in these verses?

Answer: Different verses of the Qur’an refer to Satan’s rebellion against the Divine Essence. For example, chapter al-Hijr relates his insolent expressions: “My Lord! Because You have allowed me to rebel and go astray, I will indeed deck out to be appealing to them on the earth (the worldly, material dimension of human existence and the path of error), and I will surely cause them all to rebel and go astray, except Your servants from among them, endowed with sincerity in faith and Your worship.” Likewise, the following meaning is related in another one: “Then (I swear) by Your Glory, I will certainly cause them all to rebel and go astray, except Your servants among them, endowed with sincerity in faith and worshipping You” (Sad 38:82–83). Chapter al-A’raf similarly relates his delirious expressions full of grudge and hatred: “Now that You have allowed me to rebel and go astray, I will surely lie in wait for them on Your Straight Path (to lure them from it). Then I will come upon them from before them and from behind them, and from their right and from their left. And You will not find most of them thankful” (al-A’raf 7:16–17).

In all these expressions, Satan’s anger and fury are reflected. He is a captive of jealousy and envy and has been seized by the claws of grudge and hatred. These destructive feelings completely blind him and consequently these delirious words come out of his mouth. Thus, even though he knew the truth, his negative feelings took prominence and determined his attitude and speech.

The Wild One behind Wild Mobs

Actually, Satan’s insolent words against God indicate that he also had a serious problem in earlier periods. This problem may have been his expectation of a certain title, position or appreciation. Some seekers of truth pointed out that there is no place on earth on which he did not prostrate. It can be understood from the oaths he took in the name of God that he knows God as well. However, since his knowledge was devoid of true deeds, it was of no benefit to him. Consequently, he was overcome by jealousy; he could not tolerate Prophet Adam, peace be upon him, and was vanquished by his envy.

When Satan saw the future accomplishments of human beings and the valuable achievements they would make on the path of God, he fumed deliriously and became one of their most relentless enemies. In a way, he is an actual influence behind all wild crowds. As human beings are created according to the best pattern of creation—with the best form, appearance, meaning and content—they are not potentially fit for demagogy, dialectics, defamation, envy and the like with respect to their original nature. Therefore, even if those who engage in such demagogic behavior think the negative words they speak to be a product of their own mind, even if they think they are the realizer of such negative behaviors, they actually come about due to the urges of Satan.

The Qur’an relates the methods Satan will resort to in order to lead humanity astray from the Straight Path, due of his grudge and fury. Actually, through Divine statements such as: “This is my straight path, so follow it, and do not follow other paths, lest they scatter you from His Path. This He has enjoined upon you, that you keep from disobedience to Him…” (al-An’am 6:153), God orders believers not to stray from the Straight Path, for such people become slaves to their fancies and whimsical desires. Such people adore this or that “-ism” and think that deceptive illuminations will bring happiness and welfare to humanity. Consequently, they waste a lifetime in pursuit of such “-ism”s. However the way that best fits human nature and human needs, which will bring peace to society, is the way shown by the Creator with absolute knowledge and infinite mercy. Satan knows this well and is a professional corrupter. By using different instruments according to the conditions of the era and the characters of the people, he seeks to seduce; he has always tried and still tries to lead people astray.

The Relentless Grudge

As an expression of how he will realize his aims, Satan firstly says, “Of Your servants I will surely take a share to be assigned to me (by their following me)…” (an-Nisa 4:118). The “lam” at the beginning of the original verse and the double “nun” indicate Satan’s resolution on this issue. Namely, Satan said that he would “surely” make some of God’s servants slaves to himself, take them under control and always work his influence on them. Even today it is possible to see various examples of this.

Afterwards, Satan continues with the adamant expression: “I will surely lead them astray…” This can be paraphrased as: I will not leave them alone until I upset their balance in feeling and thought. I will lead them astray by hook or by crook. Some of them I will drift to dissoluteness, make fools for fame, dizzy with ambition and burn with greed… some of them I will drift to the swamp of envy and some I will transform into despots who let no others survive, committing one act of oppression after another. Each of these is a different deviation that guides a person to perdition. In this respect, to protect us from deviation or going astray from the right path, while reciting the Fatiha during our Daily Prayers, recite forty times a day: “Guide us to the Straight Path, the path of those whom You have favored, not of those who have incurred (Your) wrath (punishment and condemnation), nor of those who are astray” (al-Fatiha 1:6–7).

Satan and an Eviscerated Kind of Religion

Out of grudge and hatred, Satan made another threat toward human beings: “engross them in vain desires” (an-Nisa 4:119). The original word “umniya” refers to superstitious fancies and false conceptions that are impossible to realize. The people of the Age of Ignorance would deem things to be auspicious or inauspicious on account of certain associations they conceived, which is an example of such inventions. Likewise, the idols they worshipped were also products of their own invention. They even knowingly filled the interior of the Ka’ba with idols and placed different idols they made in different towns. Then they would offer sacrifices to and worship those idols. Today, the fact that certain people expect achieve something with their eviscerated understanding of religion, which justifies embezzlement, misappropriation, lies and libel, is similarly the product of another vain desire.

The verse continues: “and I will surely command them, and they will surely slit the ears of cattle (to mark them out as meant for their idols and as forbidden to themselves to eat, thus making a lawful thing unlawful)…” Indeed, some people of the Age of Ignorance stamped the ears of some animals and deemed them forbidden to eat.

The Grossest Alteration: Deviation From the Purpose of Creation

Satan continued his insolence by saying, “and also, I will surely command them and they will surely alter God’s creation.” There is a certain primordial nature for all beings God created. Altering these is another trick of Satan. The human is endowed with the best design of creation. When people act within the framework of the principles decreed by God Almighty, they act in conformity with their primordial nature; when they seek other ways and methods on the other hand, they indulge in a disorderly life and thus go astray from the path of their primordial nature.

Besides this, when viewing the verse from a modern perspective, it can be inferred that there is also an allusion to cosmetic surgery operations. Individuals’ not liking the form of certain body parts and daring to alter them according to their vanity is another form of this deviation that takes place with urges from Satan. However, if there is a birth defect caused by malpractice, or some deformation that occurred as a result of an accident or misfortune, then treating this is not regarded as a sinful alteration of primordial nature. On the contrary, this is accepted as a return to the primordial nature God created.

As a matter of fact, the issue of altering God’s creation is a general expression with a very wide field of meaning. God Almighty stated what He created humanity for: “I have not created the jinn and humankind but to (know and) worship Me (exclusively)” (adh-Dhariyat 51:56). Then the true requisite of human nature is servitude to God. God only created humankind to serve Him, not for anything else, which means those who do not serve God are actually altering God’s creation. In the same way for instance, reason, logic and judgment have certain purposes such as being used to reflect on one’s inner world and outer world or for scrutinizing phenomena. When people meticulously study natural phenomena, derive certain meanings from them and reconcile these meanings with religious phenomena, then after correctly perceiving the mysteries of Divine Lordship in them, if they move from there toward the oneness of the Divinity and exclusive worship of Him, it means they are using their reason and logic in conformity with their purpose of creation. Up until the fifth century of Islam, during the days of the Islamic renaissance, Muslim scientists made very important discoveries, which benefited humanity. Many researchers from the West also did the same thing by successfully utilizing their God-given logic and judgment.

The same approach is also true for other things we are gifted with. For example, the higher purpose for the creation of the eye is to look at what it should look at and try to see correctly what it looks at; try to understand what lies behind it and extract meaning from this. As Recaizade Ekrem stated, the universe is virtually a complete and magnificent book. Whatever letter you study, you see that its meaning points to God. Bediüzzaman draws attention to the words of wisdom that were voiced centuries before him:

“Deliberate over the lines of the universe deeply, for they are messages revealed to you from the highest abode.”[1] Hence, what really matters is being able to witness the Divine power, will, knowledge and decree in everything, including the leaf of a tree or a slender sapling. In particular, the human form is such a magnificent creation that merits voluminous studies from head to toe with all of its faculties. Thus, endeavoring to read this “book” correctly means using one’s eyes, logic and reasoning in accordance with what they were created for.

Similarly, listening to bad mouthing, slanders, lies and frivolity indicates people not using their ears for their true purpose. Since this is regarded as a form of wastefulness, the Bestower of endowments will surely bring people to account for this on the Day of Judgment. Likewise, God endowed humanity with a wonderful tongue, a much higher blessing than those granted to other living beings. Thanks to it, people are able to express themselves in very fine detail. Such a great blessing surely has a creative purpose: not making a fool of itself in frivolity, not indulging in amusements, not lying, but on the contrary voicing what is correct, telling the truths to be told and being an interpreter of Divine beauties is its purpose of creation.

However, we can understand from the insolent remarks given above, Satan tries to prevent people from using their endowments for the sake of goodness and wisdom. For example, he compels a man to use his reason for deceiving others and, with a Machiavellian approach, shows him as fair every means toward his target. Moreover, he will even entice people who attend the mosque by presenting as good an indulgent approach that sees everything as permissible. He will urge them to enjoy worldly blessings without caring about whether or not they are lawful, and thus attract away from God’s path even those on their way to the mosque. When people do not use their human endowments according to their created purpose, they will actually alter their primordial human nature by following Satan’s urges and unwittingly come under his authority. For this reason, the Qur’an sternly warns in a way that makes hearts miss a beat: “Whoever takes Satan for a confidant and guardian instead of God has indeed suffered a manifest loss” (an-Nisa 4:119).

In this respect, one should be aware that Satan’s tricks could be behind all acts other than those that are Divinely commanded, and should constantly seek refuge in God against him. In addition to seeking refuge in and help from God Almighty sincerely, one must at the same time constantly engage in an attitude and behaviors to create distance from Satan. For example, the noble Prophet stated that when a believer prostrates to God, Satan will scream and run.[2] Therefore, a journeyer to the truth who wishes to be safe from all Satan’s guiles and tricks must spend his life on the path of servanthood to God, endeavor with the aim of glorifying the name of God on His path and constantly negate oneself and always remain mindful of Him. These behaviors erect protective walls against Satan’s relentless assaults. As for those with dead hearts who take into account their carnal self, personal fancies and individual benefits while walking on the path of God, they both break down the walls around their heart and—God forbid—let Satan gain possession of their hearts.

[1] Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, Madariju’s-Salikin, 3/356.

[2] Sahih Muslim, Iman, 133.

This text is the translation of “Şeytan ve Günümüzdeki Takipçileri.”

Four Characteristics of the Age of Ignorance

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: In one of his sayings, the noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, stated that his followers would not abandon four characteristics of the Age of Ignorance: boasting of (merits such as) high rank, reviling other peoples’ genealogies, using the stars to forecast rain, and wailing over the dead.[1]  What are the lessons to be drawn from this saying?

Answer: Let me state first that it is not correct to imagine that these characteristics of the Age of Ignorance have remained or will remain among Muslims in the same form for, unlike Muslims, the people of the Age of Ignorance did not have sound belief. Therefore, even if some of these characteristics of the Age of Ignorance are observed in some Muslims later on, it is necessary to note that these actually differ in nature. In other words, the people of the Age of Ignorance had these characteristics in the real sense. Their continuation amongst Muslims should be considered in a metaphorical or secondary sense. Therefore, the idea that Muslims will not abandon these practices should not be understood as them continuing them in the same way as the pagans, rather that they will continue in a different form.

Boasting of One’s Merits Is a Form of Futile Consolation and Deception

The first characteristic mentioned is boasting of one’s merits such as coming from a good family or holding a high rank. Boasting about any quality like status, nobility, knowledge, wealth, beauty or intelligence, etc. signifies disrespect toward God. If we look at the approach of Bediüzzaman, disregarding Divine favors that have been bestowed is ingratitude, whereas laying claim to them is boastfulness. So, if a person wishes to avoid both ingratitude and boastfulness, he must acknowledge that all these blessings such as knowledge, wisdom, reason, judgment, wealth, health and the like, come from God; he must say, “all of these beauties belong to the Beautiful Creator of Beauty”. At times, when it is necessary to mention them, a person should only mention them in the form of acknowledging God’s blessings.

To elucidate this further, boasting and vanity are qualities disliked by God. He knocks down those who are boastful and haughty. The hadith refers to a particular form of this kind of failing which is boasting of one’s high rank, family and nobility. Even if a person is descended from the pure lineage of the noble Prophet, he must say: “My God, coming from such a blessed lineage is not something in my control. I know that You are the One Who blessed me with it. This goodness belongs to You and it is a heavy responsibility for me at the same time. My Lord, I praise You with thanks for having bestowed on me this favor and I ask for Your help so that I can give this responsibility its due.” No one should ever use this as a way to assume superiority over others.

If a person makes statements such as, “I am a descendant of such and such a general, my ancestors were so rich. We used to have such and such mansions in that most expensive area,” they also fall into the category of boasting of high rank. Similarly, one’s being the child of a high-ranking bureaucrat might also be a cause for boasting and ostentation. However, none of these bear any value in the sight of God, on the contrary, they are objectionable acts. If a person who entertains such considerations has faith, their punishment occurs in this world. If not, then the punishment is postponed until Judgment Day, which is a much graver consequence. In this respect, no matter at what level, a person should not commit a mean act by being boastful of one’s family and should not see this as a factor of superiority. The merits of one’s ancestors are of no benefit whatsoever for a person. What really matters is having worthy personal values. God Almighty drew attention to this fact in the Divine decree: “Surely the noblest, most honorable of you in God’s sight is the one best in piety, righteousness and reverence for God” (al-Hujurat 49:13). The measure of an individual’s value is related to that person’s worship, the quality of his or her relationship with God, and whether that person leads a God-conscious life; acting with the knowledge that God sees everything and as if one were able to see God. If a man does not stand where he should, descending from a noble lineage will be of no benefit to him at all. Umar ibn al-Khattab highlighted the vanity of seeking virtue and merit outside of Islam by saying, “Indeed, we are a people God has honored with Islam. Hence, we shall never seek any means of honor other than that.”[2]

The Caste System That Humanity Has Not Gotten Rid Of

Secondly, the Messenger of God referred to the issue of holding others in contempt on account of their ancestry. While a person’s coming from a humble background and being the child of a shepherd does not reduce that person’s value at all—as stated above—coming from such and such lineage does not bring any virtue either. What really matters is having personal values. The following couplets of Ibrahim Haqqi summarizes this situation well:

“Haqqi come, do not reveal your secret;

If you wish to progress on this path,

Do not deride the wretch my dear;

There are such wretches that hide a treasure.”

It is definitely wrong to reproach and deride people by looking at their cultural environment, material status, neighborhood, family and the like. Ideas of superiority, and seeing others as inferior, date back to a more distant past. The caste system, born out of local religions in India, continued in many societies that were not rightly guided by the message of the Prophets. In the present day, this understanding continues in overt or covert forms in many places in the world, including Turkey. Given that humanity still continues a caste system in different forms and manifestations despite so many claims of progress in civilization, democratization and human rights, I am of the opinion that the situation of humanity needs to be revised. This issue particularly concerns Turkish society, which is actually very diverse. Many different peoples arrived and settled in Anatolia and most of them became Muslim. In this respect, when you look into the genealogy of any person in Turkey, you may see that their ancestors are Jewish, Armenian, Greek, etc. Nobody has the right to condemn anyone on such a basis. Note that even the fathers of most of the Companions passed on to the afterlife without declaring faith. Therefore, it is necessary to evaluate people not based on their past or lineage but according to their own condition.

Fortune Telling by the Stars and the Deep Voids in the Heart

Another characteristic of the Age of Ignorance that continues to survive is the issue of expecting rain from the stars and ascribing the coming rains to the stars. In Mesopotamia particularly, the people deemed the stars to imbue a special holiness. The people of that land believed the stars to be directly influential on a person’s destiny. Although such beliefs do not exist in our time, belief in fortune telling by the stars and horoscopes still continues showing that this tradition of the Age of Ignorance remains in different forms.

In relation to this subject, the noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, expressed that God Almighty stated:

“On this morning, some of My worshippers remained as true believers and some became unbelievers; he who said that it rained with the blessing and mercy of God is one who believes in Me and does not believe in the stars, but he who said it rained because of such and such (star) does not believe in Me and believes in the stars.”

Then, seeing the falling rain as a manifestation of God’s mercy and responding to it with praise is a sign of faith, whereas ascribing it to simple causes, such as the stars, is a sign of associating partners with God. If God Almighty had rendered the stars a veil before the operation of His power and greatness, it could have been acceptable to see them as causes. However, as the natural sciences have also proven, there is not even a direct relation of causality between the stars and rainfall.

Unfortunately, when people do not believe in what they should, namely, when they do not have sound faith in God, the Prophets and the Qur’an, the natural need for belief in something, that is an attribute of human nature, leads them to believe in falsehoods. While some seek help in yogism or meditation, others try to find satisfaction with horoscopes and the like. All of these block the ability and potential of the human soul from accepting the real truth. Human nature is inclined to a quest for the truth but sometimes people put on the hat of falsehood and try to satisfy their heart, which actually yearns for the truth, with stones, trees and stars instead, even though those are not even conscious beings.

Faith in Destiny and a Culture of Wailing

The final point stated in the hadith is wailing over the dead. In some parts of Turkey, there still exist certain forms of mourning that are incompatible with the essential teachings of the Qur’an and sunnah. People gather together and mention the good attributes and virtues of the deceased person. While they sing his or her praises, the women slap their hands on their knees and cry artificially like performers.

However, this exaggerated display of emotions is of no benefit to the deceased whatsoever. Let alone being beneficial, as it was stated by the Messenger of God, while the mourners sing the praises of the deceased, angels hold that person to account for whether he or she had really been like that; thus the wailers in a way cause suffering to the deceased.

If a person did not attain closeness to God through worship, and did not live as an obedient servant while in this world, it is useless for him (or her) even if a large crowd attends his funeral, sings his praises, or bears witness that he was a good person. In addition, it also needs to be stated that knowingly giving a positive account of an evildoer is bearing false witness. Therefore, God will call to account whomever commits such a falsehood. We surely can bear positive witness about a person who attended the mosque and seemed virtuous, for we make judgments according to the outward reality. Only God knows what is in one’s heart. On the other hand, some people are openly enemies of religion while others merely pay lip service to religion while committing embezzlement, misappropriation and fabricating slanders. Giving a good account of them is both a horrible lie and a gross disrespect toward God.

Asking the congregation, “How do you view the deceased?” and their reply, “Good,” which is such a common practice in Turkey, has no place in the genuine Tradition of the noble Prophet. This is rather an innovation by society. Some people make new additions to this innovation and repeat the question three times, asking whether the congregation gives their blessing. However, none of these have any place in the Qur’an, the Sunnah or books of Islamic Jurisprudence. Therefore, it is an innovation which benefits neither the dead nor the living.

It should be known that if only two people attend the funeral of one who has passed on to the other world with faith and righteous deeds, it causes no harm to that person. For example, only five to ten people attended the funeral of Ahmed Naim, a person I truly loved and appreciated. When I mentioned this near the late Yaşar Tunagür once, he remarked: “God did not grant those sinful people the honor of attending Ahmed Naim’s funeral!” Similarly, the people showed no faith to Mehmed Akif either and did not attend his funeral. When his Funeral Prayer finished, university students took away the flags from his coffin. There are so many other instances in history where people were not treated in accordance with their true worth.

Funeral Ceremonies of Pharaohs and Tyrants

Millions of people attended the funerals of so many pharaohs, nimrods and other tyrants, but this does not absolve them from the sins of their atrocities and oppression. Even if the world shakes with the shouting of crowds singing their praises, it means nothing at all for that person. Such a person will enter the pitfalls of Hell anyway.

As a matter of fact, the noble Prophet said that if forty people bear positive witness for a deceased person, that person will be forgiven. However, as I have tried to point out above, this does not apply to knowingly bearing false witness. The Messenger of God made the following address to Abu Hurayra as a warning against death:

“Restore your ship, for the sea is deep. Take your provisions perfectly, for the journey is truly long. Keep your load light, for the slope before you is truly steep. Preserve sincerity in your deeds because God, The All-Seeing and Righteous One, is well aware of any of your acts.”[3]

These were the points the Messenger of God found worthy of emphasis. If you pass away having remained within such a righteous sphere, then you will have passed to the pure horizons of our soul and be blessed with the truth of: “Surely we belong to God (as His creatures and servants), and surely to Him we are bound to return” (al-Baqarah 2:156). Otherwise, the wailings and praises—even if performed by millions of people—and the crowds attending your funeral will do you no good at all.

[1] Hakim, Al-Mustadrak, 1/539.

[2] Ibn Abi Shayba, Al-Musannaf, 7/10; Hakim, Al-Mustadrak, 1/130.

[3] Daylami, Al-Musnad, 5/339.

This text is the translation of “Cahiliye Dönemine Ait Dört Özellik.”

Concord and Alliance Once More

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: The noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, stated that his supplications to God about his followers not being destroyed by a wholesale disaster and their not remaining constantly under others’ dominance were accepted, but the supplication about his followers’ not falling into discord and disunity was not accepted.[1] Could you elucidate the aspects that these points share and the messages they convey to us?

Answer: In order to educate believers, the Qur’an related many different stories about the lives of the Prophets. An important point relayed in these stories is the destruction of people who refused to believe in the Messengers that God sent to guide them. The people of Prophet Noah, were destroyed by a flood after they obstinately denied him and oppressed his followers.[2] The people of Prophet Hud (Eber in the Old Testament) were destroyed by an inauspicious storm;[3] the people of Prophet Salih by a terrible blast,[4] and the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were sunk into the ground.

Whether these acts of God were restricted to a certain region, or whether the destruction included all humanity, we do not know. However, when we consider the fact that the Prophets before the Pride of Humanity (Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him) were each sent to a particular people, then it is possible to discern that every act of destruction was limited to that particular region. Therefore, if people did not believe in the Prophet sent to them and insisted on their unbelief and oppression, ultimately facing destruction, it was limited to that group of people.  However, accordingly, as the seal of the Prophets was sent to all humanity then the entirety of those who refused to accept his message but insisted on denial and oppression should be destroyed.[5]

The Accepted Petition

It is for this reason that the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, supplicated so that his followers would not face such a wholesale destruction.

But God would not punish them so long as you were among them; and God is not to punish them (or other people) while they implore Him for forgiveness for their sins” (al-Anfal 8:33).

This verse indicates that his prayer was accepted.

There are certain distinctive features that are unique to the Final Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. One of these is that for as long as he spent his blessed life among his followers and led them, they would not face total destruction as befell peoples of the past. According to the apparent meaning of the verse, this truth is apodictic. It is also possible to infer the following implicit meaning from the verse: As long as the Prince of the Prophets lives in the hearts of Muslims, God will not punish them as He did earlier peoples; he will not sink them into the ground. If there is a sound Muhammadi spirit among the believers, just as God Almighty forgave the followers of the Final Prophet during his lifetime and after his demise, God will forgive and protect them until the end of the world.

In the rest of the world, it is also stated that another means of believers’ protection from destruction is realized by their asking for forgiveness. If Muslims ask for forgiveness immediately after committing sins, God will save them from misfortunes that could befall them from above, below, from the right and left; He will not sink them into the ground. In short, God Almighty accepted the Prophet’s prayer about Muslims’ not facing total destruction. The Qur’an stated this truth and history has evidently revealed this.

Temporary Periods of Subjugation in the Cycles of History

Secondly, the Final Prophet supplicated to God asking that Muslims’ not stay under the invasion of an exploitive state. God’s Messenger saw with his Prophetic sight that could reach the unseen, that believers would sometimes face invasion, but this would not continue forever. Some 4–5 centuries after his blessed life, Muslims faced successions of crusades. After that the Mongols came, invading Baghdad, the center of the caliphate, but none of these invasions became permanent. None of the invasions by the crusaders, the Mongolians, or by the oppressors and transgressors in later periods lasted. A day came and all were finished by God’s permission and grace.

The crusades, which seriously troubled the Islamic world, came up against Sultan Alparslan, Melikshah, Kilij Arslan and Saladin; all of them were repelled and left as they had come. Afterwards, with God’s permission, the Seljuks gained strength and served a very important mission concerning the fate of Islam for nearly two centuries.

Later, as the Seljuks became less effective, they were completely paralyzed by the Babai riots and their decline began. The small princedom of the Ottomans in the province of Söğüt, dawned on all horizons of the world, like a caterpillar metamorphosing into a butterfly. They served as a stronghold in north of the Islamic world and protected it. In the words of Malik ibn Nabi, if the Ottomans had not existed in its north, the Muslim world would not exist today. Maintaining a state in its prime for four centuries was not accomplished by any others in the history of humanity; neither by the Romans, nor the Chinese, nor the Indians or any others.

In our time, the Islamic world is suffering from invasions of a different nature. Where as in the past, invasions were realized by brute force, these days they are operated by means of pawns within the Islamic world. These pawns are administering the Muslim geographies. Tyrants with a nature that suits others’ purposes are selected and used to subjugate the Islamic world.

As has always happened in the past, and will happen again after this, people will gain their independence, with the permission of God, and the period of tyrants will come to an end. Who knows which ants will once more bring down the palaces of Pharaohs, and which mosquitos will make Nimrods fall flat on their faces. The noble Prophet petitioned God about this matter and God Almighty accepted his prayer and gave him the glad tidings that his followers will not remain under invasion forever.

The Source of Disunity: Human Weaknesses

Lastly, with his Prophetic sight which could reach the unseen, the Pride of Humanity saw that feelings of greed, envy, rivalry, ambition for fame, love of status and desire to be the center of attention would cause discord among his followers and bring them to loggerheads with each other. He entreated God to save them from such a danger but did not receive a positive reply because this is a direct test of individuals’ free will. Although God Almighty did not totally reject the petition of His beloved Messenger, neither did He decree that they would confront one another. God left believers’ living in unity to their willful choice. God did not create people as—forgive the expression—beasts, or not as trees to remain standing in peace when put side-by-side; He created them as human beings and endowed them with willpower. Hence, human beings must give their willpower its due and constantly struggle against their negative feelings such as jealousy, grudges, hatred, malice and intolerance, so that they can progress. In other words, the issue of maintaining concord and unity was not given to Muslims as an unmerited favor. On the contrary, God Almighty made Divine guidance and assistance on this issue conditional to their giving their willpower its due.

In this regard, if believers wish to make a consensus, agree with and embrace one another, they must open their arms to everybody in the same way that Abdulqadr al-Jilani, Abu Hasan al-Shazili, Jalaluddin Rumi, Yunus Emre and Bediüzzaman did. In terms of their personal rights, they should be without hands against those who strike them, without speech against those who curse them and without bitterness against those who break their hearts. They must keep the door to agreement and unity open all the time. If they achieve this by giving their willpower its due, they will have established unity and togetherness in this world; and in the Hereafter, they will receive the surprise blessings of God. Such endeavors they make in this world will bring very different returns in the next one.

Like a Rocket on a Launcher

Remember that giving one’s willpower its due against lustful feelings turns that person into a monument of morality; or, not giving in to envy and greed despite the good things granted to others makes that person a hero of dignified contentment. In the same way, in order to maintain concord and alliance, individuals’ using their willpower to act in spite of themselves will make them into monuments of virtue.

Some might act with incredible malevolence against you despite their claiming to be believers. They might throw stones and thorns on the path you tread. They might render your roads impossible to walk on and destroy the bridges in front of you. They might wish to completely isolate you from society. However, if you are to become a paragon of virtue for the sake of concord and alliance, you must overlook all of these acts and keep walking, saying, “This too shall pass.” When the bridges in front of you are destroyed, you must make new bridges from ropes and wood somewhere else. Without falling into separation from God, in spite of those who willfully took the path of separation from Him, you must keep walking with God’s permission and grace.

The day will come when some of those who did these evils to you will regret their actions. When they come with regret, it is very important that they should find you where they are standing. Even when they voice their regret, what falls to you is to give a gentlemanly response and say, “Good heavens! We have no knowledge of this. We always felt that you were near us.”

In truth, you will know that they had drifted kilometers away from you from jealousy and envy, that they had made remarks as: “Bring the movement to a halt. Do not let them survive. Finish them off!” You will know that they committed all of these wrongdoings without any serious and reasonable explanation. On the contrary, the motive behind this was the feeling of rivalry, jealousy and envy. Even inside the most innocent one of them, there was the feeling of competing. They were trying to gain a bigger share of the pie. For journeyers to the Truth, overlooking all of these evils and standing where they had been as if nothing had happened will be a great virtue.

Understanding Human Nature Correctly

It should not be forgotten that it is not always possible to keep up concord and alliance; that certain disagreements may arise all the time, for human nature is prone to this by creation. Hence, even if we personally run after the loftiest ideal for the sake of concord and alliance, we should realize that we might encounter most unexpected attitudes and behaviors so that we do not lose hope through the profound disappointment we feel when we face heart-rending events.

For the sake of preserving the spirit of unity and togetherness, some may act like the Rightly Guided Caliphs and establish close ties of fraternity with those around and virtually form a structure as sound as steel. Such a concord and alliance was once formed between the Companions of the noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. You can also see this—in a secondary sense—among Bediüzzaman’s students who formed the first rank around him. However, as different understandings and different philosophical considerations were included in the issue in later periods, it is not possible to say that the same purity was maintained.

Every person has some certain weaknesses. Some may display particular behaviors in order to upset the general harmony of the collective they are in. Some may commit certain wrongs and sins to harm the general harmony. Some may fail to melt their ego like a cube of ice in the pool of the collective and fail to gain a consciousness of forming a whole. What falls to us in the face of all of these is to evaluate issues with a big conscience, not to drive people away from us by being furious with their wrongs. On the contrary, we should try to win them, make efforts to help them up, and thus take these people entrusted to us as far as we can take them.

Many verses of the Qur’an command believers to respond to evil with goodness, and to be forgiving and tolerant. Thus, we need to act in accordance with these principles taught by the Qur’an, and overlook faults as much as we can. Otherwise, we make most people run away from us, and this harms the acts of goodness we try to realize for the sake of God’s good pleasure. If we wish to retain concord and alliance, we should not dismiss anyone on account of their mistakes and faults; on the contrary, we should seek and find ways to reach everybody’s heart, and try to help them up by embracing them with compassion.

[1] Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Fitan, 14; Sunan Ibn Majah, Fitan, 9.

[2] Ankabut 29:14.

[3] Al-A’raf 7:71.

[4] Al-Qamar 54:31.

[5] Saba 34:28.

This text is the translation of “Bir Kez Daha Vifak ve İttifak.”

Some Considerations on Society and the State

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: Islam contains the principles for leading a completely “balanced” life. From this perspective, what is your evaluation of the place and position of the state in terms of the relationship between society and the state?

Answer: In certain periods of history, some states were openly sanctified and accepted as holy. For instance, under pressure from the palace and by means of some clerics, the Roman Empire was transformed into the “Holy Roman Empire.” It was recorded in history as an example of a theocratic system.

The administrative system of the Holy Roman Empire was not established based on Holy Scriptures or Divine sources; rather it was a system based on laws born of rulings made by clerics according to the circumstances of that period. In that system, the state was subject to the political dominance of the clergy, whose essence was the superiority and authority of the church fathers, the absolute resemblance of a theocratic regime. Sanctification of the state also occurred in later periods. In different geographies, certain circles virtually sanctified the state as a reaction to attacks against the state and the government, including some countries where the majority of the population is Muslim.

The Purpose of an Ideal State

However, there is no such thing as clergy in Islam; the words of religious scholars cannot be Divine decrees and the laws they produce of their own will cannot have any validity. Islam has no place for a clerical elite or a “holy state” that is sanctified by the clergy.

In the Islamic system of thought, the state is not a purpose; it is a subsidiary means of letting people attain happiness in both worlds. Its duty is to prepare the grounds for a life in which people can find peace and happiness in this world and the next.

In addition, the system we refer to as a “state” is a system formed by people coming together. Therefore, that state’s degree of closeness to or distance from truth and justice depends on the people who make up that system and their degree of being close to or distant from truth and justice.

Any state may not thoroughly carry out its duty all the time or may make mistakes in this respect. With the exception of the Rightly Guided Caliphs, states of every period have made certain mistakes and had certain shortcomings. So had the Umayyads or the Abbasids. As the Ilkhanids, Karahanids, Zangids, Ayyubis, and Seljuks made mistakes with respect to the duty of the state, the Ottomans, who served as a means of peace and security in a very wide region for four centuries, also made mistakes more or less in this regard.

Chaos Does Not Lead to Order

At this point, it is necessary to keep away from extremes, and look at the issue with general principles and a holistic view. While evaluating individuals, Islam applauds and rewards their goodness, and advises against evils and acts that will incur punishment in the afterlife. At the same time, Islam does not completely condemn a person to nonexistence for committing certain wrongs. For example, from an Islamic perspective it is possible for a man of faith to sometimes make mistakes or commit sins or ugly acts despite this. However, these ugly acts do not necessarily push that person out of the sphere of faith. As long as that believer does not believe his sins are lawful, he remains a believer. On account of the sins he committed, such a man will be an evildoer, a shameless dissolute or an oppressor but still a believer. Accordingly, both a nation and a state are made up of individuals who make mistakes and commit sins. Therefore, as states—just like individuals—may perform well and deserve applause, they may also make disagreeable mistakes and commit wrongs.

As far as a state complies with rights, laws, and justice, it is respected, its performance is applauded and it is supported. On the other hand, when a state openly commits oppression and injustice, it is not possible to remain silent saying, “The state is sacred, it must be respected.” On the contrary, it is necessary to make efforts to prevent oppression and injustice, within the framework of the law and regulations. However, it is necessary to show utmost scrupulousness at this point. With matters that concern an entire society, it is necessary to avoid harming others while trying to correct a wrong, to avoid forming a vicious cycle of wrongs. It is not possible to resort to methods that upset law and order while trying to make up for the wrongs of the administration; it is not possible to resort to illegitimate ways. A believer is a representative of security, trust, law and order on earth. Believers always act within a framework of laws. They know that chaos does not result in order; only order results in order. If you wish to have regulation, orderliness and peace, you must be orderly and work within this framework.

In this respect, genuine believers must always help legitimate and lawful order, and give every kind of support to the state they belong to in terms of maintaining peace, law and order. Some anarchistic souls who wish to cause damage to the state, to weaken it and to take advantage of its weakness, must never be given an opportunity. If anarchy prevails in a country, if disorder and chaos prevail in the streets and markets, then nobody will be safe in that chaos; whirlpools of anarchy will take everybody away and the nation and state will also drift away. After that, you cannot prevent destruction from occurring. At the same time, even if you have elevated ideas and inspiring projects for the state, it will not be possible for you to realize them upon its ruins. If your aim is to progress towards perfection, you still have to begin with what is in hand. You cannot reach perfection after hurling it into chaos. Reaching perfection and attaining the best are both gradual matters. Reaching the most perfected state takes gradual progress. Toward perfection taking one step, one more step, one more step… In this respect, supporting the state in terms of correcting wrongs and letting statesmen know about any promising projects must be the hallmark of a believer.

Is the State against Us?

You may say, “Most of the time, even the most constructive acts are meeting opposition. They have a cynical view of even the most innocent services!” I am not of the opinion that the establishments constituting the state are against you or me, or against this or that person. Certain people in certain positions who continually make a fuss and try to block out others with their noise, and whose noise is so far beyond their positive acts, may appear to you as the state. It is not the state that is against you; it is a malicious network of opportunists nested within the state that is against you. Therefore, it is a great mistake to see a very important establishment with vital significance for the nation as being against you. Making such a mistake, seeing the state as ugly, defaming it, and making continual criticisms of it is the second great mistake.

On the other hand, the officials who love their country and people, who act within a universal framework of law and order, do not object to any good works we try to perform but on the contrary, they applaud and support all of these efforts. After all, we are individuals whose hearts beat with love for the people, who have tender heart for all of them, and think of nothing but serving the people. If we had even the slightest consideration of personal benefit for ourselves, our relatives or loved ones, let them prove that. Then we will begin to reside in a never-never land and they will have gotten rid of us. But nobody will ever prove that, for we did not have the slightest consideration of personal benefit. There has not been anything but God’s good pleasure that we ambitiously sought. We did not think of gaining that by any other means than making the exalted name of God Almighty wave like a flag in the four corners of the world. Let the world know it once more. Praise be to God, we are beyond reproach in this respect. We have not had—and God willing—we will not have any other consideration than hoping God Almighty will be well pleased with our efforts on the path of serving the people and humanity.

In this respect, nobody has the right to be against us and to not want us. There may be some who have unknown caprices and vulgar feelings and who view virtues as their own exclusive property, who might say: “How dare such and such make important worldwide achievements? No matter what achievement is made in whatever part of the world, it must be ascribed to us, it must be declared to be one of our deeds.” If there are such mentally ill ones within the state, they are the ones who are disturbed. It is not right to hold negative thoughts about the entire state establishment just by looking at a bunch of unstable people and by fixating on an ugly attitude held by an oligarchical minority.

Allegations and Living in Far Lands

Question: While this is your view of the state and statesmen in general, a view that attracts heavy criticism from some religious people, some circles still allege that you are “a person who tries to divide the state.” How do you evaluate that?

As I am not the first sufferer in this regard, I will not be the last one either. The history of humanity is full of examples of such sufferers. After carrying out his mission on land, Prophet Noah, peace be upon him, undertook a terrifying voyage on the sea as well. When he was not allowed travel on land, he continued his way over water, departing from his place of origin and landing on top of a mountain in resignation to the Divine decree. Prophet Abraham, peace be upon him, made successive holy migrations to the lands of Babylon, Hejaz and Canaan. Prophet Moses, peace be upon him, migrated from his home to the palace of the Pharaoh while he was in the cradle. Later, he kept shuttling between Egypt and al-Aykah. Jesus began his travels while he was in the arms of his blessed mother, and he passed from all bridges the previous Prophets had. Some Prophets as Zechariah and Yahya (John the Baptist), peace be upon them, did not even find an opportunity for migration but they were executed as soon as they were caught. God’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, departed from Mecca when the time came for the holy migration, which is the shared destiny of Prophets and saintly persons. From the cave in Mount Thawr, he once more looked at his village and said: “O Mecca! Had my people not driven me out, I would never depart from you.”[1] Then he proceeded to the destination of his migration with sorrow.

Travelers on the path of glorifying the Name of God have not been free from trouble for a moment. Imam Abu Hanifa was disrespected and thrown to prison; he endured a life of suffering. For years, Ahmad ibn Hanbal was mistreated like a worthless person and he underwent the worst tortures. Sarakhsi had to write his masterpiece, Al-Mabsut, at the bottom of the well in which he was imprisoned. Bediüzzaman expressed the ordeal he was subjected to as follows:

“I have known nothing of worldly pleasure in my life of over 80 years. Each and every year of my life passed on battlefields, in dungeons of exile or in the prisons and courts of the state. There is no pain that I didn’t suffer from or any torture that I didn’t agonize. I was brought to court-martials and treated like a murderer. I was sent from one exile to another like a vagabond. I was prohibited from communication for months in rural prisons. I was poisoned many times over. I endured various kinds of insult.”[2]

Troubles, suffering and isolation… this is the shared destiny of those on the path of communicating and representing the message. The present condemnation I face is a situation almost all of my predecessors were subjected to. At this point, I should clarify how I view myself against the accusations of some who have poor understanding and some who are experts of distortion: In no way do I see myself as being like the Prophets or saintly persons I mentioned. I am simply mentioning their names and what they went through, for they are examples and guides for every believer. Following their path and imitating their lives is a means of deliverance for us.

I am an ordinary person who is aware of being a weak and needy servant of God. Therefore, some allegations are surely so sorrowful for me. They weigh so heavy on my soul, but in spite of everything a believer must be equipped with Divine morality. Remember that God Almighty does not disown His rebellious servants who are captivated by sins but feeds them as well. A believer should approach others from the same perspective. Even when feeling suffocated in the face of oppression, one should leave those transgressors to God. One should say, “My God, we leave those who treat us with antagonism to You.” It is necessary to concentrate on the tasks we need to carry out without being distracted by or busying our mind with this or that; it is necessary to keep up our upright stance on the righteous path.

[1] Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 68; Sunan Ibn Majah, Manasik, 103; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 4:305.

[2] See: Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, Tarihçe-i Hayat (Biography of Bediüzzaman Said Nursi), İstanbul: Şahdamar, 2010, p. 616.

This text is the translation of “Toplum-Devlet İlişkisi Üzerine Bazı Mülâhazalar.”

Accusations of a Hidden Agenda and the Psychology of Insanity

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: No matter how transparently the Hizmet volunteers act, those who have a fixed and dark prejudice and conditioned mindset, keep repeating claims such as, “They have a secret agenda,” meaning the Hizmet Movement. What are your thoughts on this issue and what are the responsibilities of the devoted volunteers with respect to this?

Answer: Actually, it appears that not only Turkey, but the world in general, is suffering from a very serious degree of paranoia, and there is suspicion and anxiety toward almost everything and everybody. The present paranoia in Turkey however is almost unparalleled in history. To describe what is happening in Turkey with the approach of Bediüzzaman, they are comfortably treating imagined possibilities as actual realities and then issuing the weightiest verdicts about people based on these imagined possibilities. Remember that Bediüzzaman drew attention to this fact in answer to the baseless claims and allegations directed at him when he was on trial. He stated that it was possible for the judge and prosecutor in that law court to commit murder and, if it is fair to arrest people according to possibilities, the judge and prosecutor could also be charged in the same way.[1]

Basing judgments on imagined possibilities, inventing fictional stories about people’s futures and then portraying these people as potential criminals can only be an indication of insanity. Unfortunately the whole world, particularly Turkey, nowadays is experiencing a state of insanity. Therefore, it is rather difficult to express yourself to people who are suffering from such a level of insanity. For this reason, it is necessary to accept this reality first. Then through your statements, attitude and behaviors, you should express at every opportunity that you have good intentions and that you have no schemes or secret agendas for the future, without giving in to hopelessness or growing weary. We do not and cannot have anything to do with scheming or underhand future plans in our agenda. Running after fancies as interfering with this or that, and trying to change certain things is light years away from our world of thought and feelings. I hold the opinion that, let alone those who are right at the heart of the movement, who have dedicated their lives to serving humanity, such a thought has not even appeared in the dreams of those who stand on the periphery. It is for this reason that when you relate these claims to those devoted souls, they look at your face naively in surprise. Such fictions do not exist even in their imaginations or dreams.

Expecting Returns Is the Ultimate Unfaithfulness to God

Those who take earning God’s good pleasure as their greatest aim are already pursuing the most worthy goal in this world. For this reason, even if they spend their entire lifetime pursuing this ideal, they will regard their efforts as too little. They view travelling on the path of glorifying the Name of God, and striving for His blessed Name to be honored in the four corners of the world, as the greatest means of gaining His pleasure. Helping people to understand religion correctly, preventing mistaken and distorted interpretations of religion and correcting these bears a particular importance, especially these days. Explaining to people that those who think they are doing good by resorting to violence and bloodshed are wrong, and presenting to people the real identity of Islam, who’s name is derived from a root meaning ‘being in peace’ and ‘safety’, is one of the most proper and direct ways of gaining God’s pleasure. So, as we have devoted our souls to this cause, we humbly intend and endeavor to take this path to gain our Lord’s good pleasure. The efforts we make are so that Islam, which enjoins uprightness, can be understood correctly. We are trying to enable all hearts to feel it as a universal teaching that embraces all humanity. Meanwhile, we are making efforts to build and atmosphere of consensus between people who have different understandings, worldviews and philosophies of life, and thus prove that everyone shares a common ground no matter their different understandings or cultures.

Now, if you are really dedicated to these high ideals that I explained, you should be surprised when you hear claims such as, “They seek this—they seek that” and take it as lowliness to seek such worldly rewards stated in these claims. I can even say that the service these devoted souls are committed to and make sincere efforts for, is much more valuable than conquering many lands, as it is a direct way of serving faith and trying to connect hearts with God. Imagine them telling me, “If you leave behind your present understanding of serving humanity and the related feelings and thoughts, then we will grant you one of the greatest triumphs in history.” I would reply to them, “For God’s sake, did you see any shortcomings in my servitude to my God that you are inviting me to such a downfall?” We are seekers of God’s good pleasure. For this reason, we are trying to use the important capital God bestowed on us; our reason, ideas, thoughts, feelings, judgment and logic, for the sake of making wise use of our lives, of which God gave us only one. We view it as disrespectful to our Lord to waste this precious capital, which He has given only once and we will be called to account for every aspect of it, for the sake of such worthless and futile things that are expressed in the groundless accusations. So these thoughts, in my humble opinion, must be like habitual prayers for everyone who has committed their hearts to this path. What falls to us is to emphasize at every opportunity that we have no secret agendas, prove this with our attitude and behaviors and explain this as much as we can to those who sincerely wish to learn about these matters. As God Almighty is the owner of hearts, He is similarly the one who will make the truth enter hearts. We fulfill our own duty and then leave the result to Him.

Meeting Envy and Irritability Are Warts on This Path

Another important point of this issue is being cognizant of human nature and viewing the envy and intolerance shown by some people as normal. It should not be forgotten that God Almighty sent Divine favors and bestowals to this movement of volunteers that sprang from the heart of Anatolia. Imagine that—particularly the first three centuries of—the Ottoman times mark the heyday of Turkish history. During this time, the Ottoman state became a prominent actor among the world powers. The present economic situation and conditions of Turkey are obvious. But praise be to God, our friends (volunteers) have gone to places that even the Ottomans could not go to, and by God’s grace, have initiated educational activities in different cities in 170 different countries of the world. This pleasant outcome effectively means introducing Turkey in a beautiful way in some 170 different places. As has also been reflected by the media coverage, those who graduate from these educational establishments are friendly toward Turkey and prefer to complete their university education and have future careers there. All of these issues should be viewed as a special favor from God and the occurrence of certain intolerant attitudes should be accepted as normal.

Satan became an eternal loser due to his jealousy of Prophet Adam, peace be upon him.[2] Due to the animosity that pervaded his nature, which became completely fixed on envy and grudges, he became unable to feel and appreciate the beauties he saw. This state of Satan can be compared to the mood of two men engaged in a fistfight or who have drawn their knives and are walking toward one another with malice. If you go near those people who are out of their minds and say, “Come on, you are God’s servants; you’re each other’s brother; how can a person do that to his brother?” they might stab you as well. Therefore, it is not possible to bring them to their senses at such a moment.

The mood of certain circles, which object to everything, is no different than that. Therefore, you should accept that such people have become so pervaded by negative feelings and their body chemistry has become so unbalanced that they cannot tolerate you. In this respect, in addition to acting with utmost transparency, it is necessary to avoid displaying attitudes and behaviors that might provoke envy in others. Considering the fact that our part is only inclining toward goodness with our freewill, and that Divine Power is the real agent, what we do is actually so little. However, we should seek ways to not lay claim even to those little things but ascribe them to others. For example, in the face of an achievement God Almighty blessed you with, you should ascribe it to the circumstances with a remark such as, “This is a result of democracy.” In the face of another achievement, you should say: “God Almighty is granting some positive results in return for everybody’s efforts. Had it not been for such an atmosphere of tolerance, and had this general atmosphere not been retained, we could not have been able to carry out these services.” In addition, it should be known that this style and attitude is the safest way for those who strive on the path of God to save themselves from falling to an abyss of conceit and associating partners with God.

God Almighty Knows and the People See the Truth Already!

As some have completely lost their feelings of shame, they keep fabricating libel, slanders and insults against you, and you naturally feel sad. Don’t worry! There is God, who has authority over all things, who sees and knows everything. In addition, this world will be followed by the next one. There will be the Great Gathering, the Day of Reckoning and the weighing of deeds!

As a natural outcome of a believer’s character, I have tried to follow as much as I can the way and method of the blessed Abu Bakr all along. Remember that one day a man came and released a stream of invective at him. Abu Bakr kept silent; he did not say anything for a long time or give any response. When the slanders seemed to be endless, he could not help but say a few words to defend himself. The Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, who had been watching them, let him know that while Abu Bakr showed patience against his evil words, an angel had been defending him, and that when he started speaking, the angel departed.[3] For this reason, cries of silence are always howling ahead of my voice. For this reason, I engage in a profound self-scrutiny and virtually step out of my own world of feelings. For this reason, I bury my screams within and voice my feelings with lamentations of silence.

Note that God knows the truth of everything and people do see the realities of what happens. Then fair-minded people will form, and already are forming, their own opinions. In spite of all these threats and pressures, Turkish people keep walking, and even ceaselessly running, on the path of God. Our intellectuals who find opportunities to express themselves are trying to voice truths in spite of all attempts at preventing them.

They are resorting to any means in order to condemn as persona non grata those who defend the path, method and stance of the Hizmet movement. If a columnist comments positively about this humble man or the movement, he immediately becomes the target of a vindictive reaction and, with a new lie, that person is accused of being closely affiliated with me. They even interrogate and arrest that person like a criminal. Moreover, wherever there is a decent person with patriotic values, they accuse him of affiliation with me right away in order to finish him and make a fuss that, “This is one of his men.” They treat as outlaws those who do not steal, do not embezzle, and who live as upright members of the society. They even condemn a man who observes the daily Prayers, who attends the Friday Prayer, who donates to charity and supports poor students’ education; they accuse him of being affiliated with me and seek to locate him in an illegal organization.

Let me express once again that, despite every kind of despotism, pressure and oppression, the people of Anatolia still stand behind these good works. Within the framework of the laws and rules, the volunteers who have dedicated themselves to serving their country, ideals and humanity, keep walking uprightly on the path of truth. They face the misfortunes that befall them as warts on the path of truth and see all of these as components of this testing ground. Full of belief and hope, they are trying to do their best to past this test, which is bound to end so sweetly.

[1] Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, Şuâlar, İstanbul: Şahdamar, 2010, p. 354.

[2] Al-A’raf 7:12–18.

[3] Sunan Abu Dawud, Adab, 96; At-Tabarani, Al-Mu’jam al-Awsat, 7/189.

This text is the translation of “Gizli Ajanda İthamı ve Cinnet Psikolojisi.”

The Hizmet Movement and Claims of Infiltrating the State

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: There have been claims that the Hizmet Movement has infiltrated and attempted to seize the state in Turkey. Although Hizmet volunteers and those closely acquainted with them know these claims are nothing but slander, it is a reality that these allegations have caused confusion in the minds of some people.

Answer: Firstly, if you ask people: “Would you prefer teachers, managers, doctors, engineers, judges, prosecutors, ministers and prime ministers who are eligible to do their jobs; who do not steal, are not corrupt, who behave with respect towards citizens, who fulfill their duty correctly and reach their positions through fair and honest means? Or, would you prefer civil servants who neglect their duty, do not recognize rights, who are not eligible to perform their jobs and who have no respect for citizens? I imagine everyone would prefer the first option. As thousands of academics, thinkers, sociologists, journalists and educators from different circles have stated, the Hizmet Movement is raising individuals with the aforementioned attributes. Therefore, if these schools, which are supported and cherished by the Anatolian people, produce educated individuals who display these honorable qualities, and if these individuals go on to prove themselves in the establishments where they are employed through their own merits, how does this deserve to be viewed? Is it an attempt to infiltrate and seize the state, or are they serving the people, the state and the nation?

Secondly, no one has the right of monopoly on calling people to knowledge, morality, spirituality and genuine religiosity and to serve others in this respect. For people who consider themselves “Muslim,” this duty is a requirement of the values that they believe in. If education volunteers, who have a great love for their country and nation, try to address every section of society and people from these areas respond positively to the call, can it be called infiltration and an attempt to seize the state? Or, is it serving the people, the state, the nation and humanity?

Thirdly, unfortunately it is necessary to point out that in the state establishments there is a tendency towards certain illegal and corrupt behavior, such as misappropriation, bribery and favoritism. This counts against honest civil servants who try to fulfill their duties and give their salary its due, who are law-abiding and refrain from embezzlement, corruption and bribery, and as such are disliked and unwanted in their office. When some upright civil servants fulfill their duties within the framework of laws and rules, certain people, who view their superior position as a means for illegal gains, are damaged by this. So what are those people who wish to do their job decently supposed to do? Should they not carry on fulfilling their duty honestly out of fear that some who are lawless may harm them? In other words, how can it be called infiltration to fulfill one’s duty in accordance with sublime human values and within the frame of law?

Psychology of Guilt and Projection

We, including myself and the Hizmet volunteers, are citizens of our country. I am a native of the Anatolian land. Let it not be misunderstood, this has nothing to do with racism, I am absolutely against such a mentality. On the other hand, I love my people so much. In this respect, if a person enters the establishments of his home country and also encourages others to do so, how can it be labeled infiltration? Infiltration is an act by those who are involved in illegal affairs or who abuse their positions of state service for their own interests. These accusations actually serve as a disguise for the corruption of the accusers themselves.

As long as they are properly qualified, every member of the nation has the right to be employed at a state office and to be engaged in public service. But, if certain people have come to critical positions that concern the fate of the country, if they have sat on the pituitary gland and have been pressuring the vision of the country thus preventing the people from seeing correctly, they will interpret your behavior and actions from a paranoid perspective, make a fuss about infiltration and try to make others perceive it in the same way. With this mood of paranoia that they have created, they are so obsessed with the issue of infiltration that if someone touches a doorknob, or if a doorbell rings, they start talking about infiltration and having a paranoid fit.

A Right and a Responsibility Both

The people of a nation do not infiltrate establishments that exist in their country and for their country; it is their lawful right to be employed in them. This can be at all levels of bureaucracy such as the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Law or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Why should the children of the country not be employed in these positions? Do you wish to restrain the people of Anatolia only with schools of religion? Should we only encourage them in this respect and say, “Only go to vocational high schools for training imams?” No! As I said yesterday and the day before that, I will say here again today, and if God lets me live longer, I will say it tomorrow and the day after that: the people of Anatolia, the citizens of Turkey, have the right to be employed in every office in Turkey and they use this right. Preventing people from using this right is evident wrongdoing. However, let me state clearly that oppressing the people of Anatolia by closing the doors of their own establishments in their own country resonates in the conscience of the people in such a way that will one day come home to roost.

As a poet expressed: “If oppressors rely on might, the oppressed rely on God; They may torment the people today; but tomorrow will come the Day of Judgment.”

And in relation to this, if I could, I would shout out so even those in the remotest corner of Anatolia could hear: Let your children study religion, political science, medicine, engineering… let them go to the police academy, the school of law and the military school! This is your country and therefore, upholding the establishments that keep the country standing is both your right and responsibility.

Everybody Else Other Than Themselves Is the “Other”

It is a fact that some people do not seek to serve the nation but rather to maintain their position, and they benefit from the currently chaotic and lawless state of the country. They want this condition to continue; they wish to pull the wool over people’s eyes and to prevent the realities of the country from being known. As they do not wish to give up their advantageous position in the bureaucracy, they seek to pass it on to their children, and even to their grandchildren. They seriously fear that some steps towards having a state of democracy and law can be taken. To prevent this they make baseless claims about others. Some circles that made different alliances in the past see the rising of the nation as their collapse and see those who are dutiful as an imminent danger for their own future. They produce false claims due to their anxiety over losing their benefits and their fear of being called to account for the misappropriation, theft and bribery they were immersed in while occupying their positions. They wish to continue their excessive lifestyles with the financial means of the state and the people, and they feel disturbed by those who are not like them, seeing them as obstacles in the way of their own comfortable life. Then, with their devilish feelings disguised as ideas, they make a fuss and shout out: “There is a coup; they are everywhere! They have infiltrated everywhere!” As they keep repeating these words, over time they become more paranoid and are affected by a disorder whereby they see everybody else as the “enemy” and “other.”

On the other hand, it should be noted that such claims are components of a psychological war. Some people are using libels of being ‘something-ist’ or ‘someone-ist’ against statesmen as weapons to threaten, blackmail and deter them. They accuse those who can do good works for the country and nation; they intimidate and thus hinder them. With such a pretext, they seek to make a total obstruction against the children of this country.

How Do You View Others To Be? Like Yourself!

There are certain people who have trampled on democratic practices and rules; they have infiltrated the veins of the country and established their dominance over the people. To this end they have used every legitimate or illegitimate means available to them; secretly infiltrated certain positions and begun to exploit the riches of the country. Such people always view their surroundings from the perspective of their own inner worlds: They evaluate different movements and formations by comparing these to their own affairs. As a result, they project their own dirty dealings on to others and determine their own treatment of people according to this understanding. As they really do commit “infiltration,” they make this accusation of members of the nation who have deservedly attained positions in the bureaucracy.

Note that if a professional thief passes by a shop, he cannot help but imagine how to unlock the shutters, how to make his way in, and how to steal away the valuable goods swiftly without being caught. That is to say, even while passing by, he busies his mind with planning how to commit a possible burglary. In the meantime, after the shop owner locks up his shop, he may return and look back in order to consider whether he took the necessary precautions against a possible burglary, whether the lock is safe enough and the like. Without knowing who this man is however, the thief sees him eyeing the shop, compares the shop owner to himself, and thinks: “Here is another thief!”

With this analogy we can say that if certain people have taken over the reins of the nation like a gang, infiltrated the bureaucracy and divided the positions between them, they will naturally compare to themselves the people who strive to uphold human values. Yet those devoted souls act with innocent thoughts. So much so that they did not even dream about worldly desires such as being promoted to a certain position, having a certain title, or coming to power. It is possible for a person to see in his dream something he dislikes and wants to keep away from. Still, these noble souls are so distant from such worldly desires and fancies that, although some dreams reflect the subconscious, since they do not have such considerations even in their subconscious, these kinds of thoughts cannot even find a place in their dreams. On the other hand, as certain people always live with such dreams, they evaluate and interpret those innocent people’s actions in terms of their own frame of reference, and consequently try to block their way by using different libels and defamations.

This text is the translation of “Hizmet Hareketi ve Devlete Sızma İddiaları.”

Soil and Rose

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: In his work, Gulistan, Sheikh Sadi states: “Be soil, so that you grow roses; nothing other than soil can grow roses.” What meanings does this aphorism suggest pertaining to our understanding of servanthood to God?

Answer: If we first look at the literal meaning of this aphorism, we can say the following:

Roses only grow in soil. As it is not possible for a rose to grow from granite, marble or iron, it also cannot grow from silver, gold, emerald or ruby even though these materials are held by people as so precious.

Actually, the fact people are buried in the soil when they die, suggests the same meaning. The body of a deceased person is not cast aside; rather it is buried in the ground so that it grows otherworldly roses in the beyond. You can attribute it to the truth about the last coccyx bone[1] or some other interpretation. Human beings contain such an essence that God Almighty resurrects them through it. However, one who has let himself decay spiritually in this world, will not be able to grow as a rose in the realm of Paradise.

The Pinnacle of Servanthood: Prostration

Soil represents both modesty and humility. Although it is trampled underfoot, with God’s permission and grace it serves as a source of life for people and other beings. Therefore, if a person is like the soil, as long as he remains modest and sees himself as nothing despite any position he is elevated to, as long as he remains a humble servant to God, he will always rise and bear fruit. However, a person who assumes greatness and tries to fly in the air will fall headfirst one day.

In this respect, a person must be humble in accordance with the favors and blessings that God has bestowed upon him. You can visualize this truth by thinking about the essential movements in Prayer. For example, a person who makes the opening takbir, “Allahu Akbar,” sees his position before God as insufficient and humbly bows before Him in a form of reverence. Afterwards, the person virtually says: “My God I am so thankful to You, for You have given me the opportunity to worship You thus, how great You are! How exalted You are! Given that You are the only One who is great, what falls to me is insignificance. However, I cannot express this while standing on my feet. Here I lower myself before You as much as possible.” With these feelings, the person prostrates before his Lord. Then he says: “O God, Thanks are for You my Lord, for Your blessing me with the opportunity to worship You thus. How great You are! How exalted You are!” Then he sits back beseechingly. As if the person has caught a glimpse of Him, he finds the first prostration insufficient and prostrates himself again.

Remember the following saying of the Pride of Humanity, peace and blessings be upon him: “The closest that a servant of God is to his Lord is while he is prostrating,”[2] Thus he stated that there is no state in which a person can be closer to God other than prostration. This meaning is expressed in a poem as:

Head and feet both on the ground, the Prayer rug kisses the forehead.

For closeness to God, here is the road. 

The Disaster of Laying Claim to Achievements

So how close a person will be to God is determined in accordance with the degree of his modesty and humility. Actually, this is the general attitude of a genuine believer when confronted with the showers of blessings bestowed by God. Such a believer becomes more and more humbled before the infinite blessings of the Beneficent Lord, he places his head on the ground and declares his nothingness before the Infinite.

In this respect, those who have dedicated themselves to serving their religion, country and people must never lay claim to achievements, no matter how high a position they are promoted to. They must always retain humility and not entertain any expectations other than God’s good pleasure. They must not attach their hearts to any worldly or otherworldly returns. People devoted to serving humanity on the path of truth must not cherish any ideas such as, “Let me settle this worldly affair of mine; let me have a house where I can live comfortably; let my child achieve this advantageous position…” In addition, they must not associate the services that they carry out with entering Paradise or being saved from Hell, as they must expect these as unmerited favors from Divine grace, providence and protection.

Those who fill their pockets and form money pools whilst claiming they are serving the nation, are obviously lying as their actions show. They seek to gain worldly positions and have expectations such as popularity, applause, appreciation and becoming the center of attention for the services they carry out. These denote hypocrisy, egotism and daring to be so insolent as to bargain with God. Those who lay claim to success and achievements, which are but Divine favors, who ascribe these to their own cleverness, intellect, perspicacity and sagacity and thus boast like pharaohs, may have this opportunity today. However, tomorrow they will lose in utter failure what they have in their hands today. Just as they insolently stick their noses in the air today, tomorrow they will eat humble pie with their noses rubbing in the dust. This is the Divine Custom, which has never changed.

Be Manure, So That You Fertilize Roses!

It is out of the question for a real believer to take advantage of certain accomplishments for personal gain, or to grow insolent and boastful with the lightheadedness of victory. In the face of favors bestowed by the Divine, a real believer acts with considerations such as, “I wonder whether I can propagate a suitable environment to encourage new roses to flourish by returning to the soil with my roses, flowers, leaves and roots?”

When the famous literary master, Necip Fazıl, referred to himself, he would say: “And take me as some manure.” I never forget this statement of his. Despite being aware of his greatness, cherishing such ideas is very important in indicating his modesty, effacement and humility. This is how a believer should see himself. Even if a believer becomes a rose garden and flourishes so vigorously that nightingales flock all around and start singing for him, he must still have the awareness to fall back to the soil in modesty as rose petals for the sake of making new roses grow. It is our duty, in the face of the bountiful showers of blessings bestowed by God, to further deepen our effacement, modesty and humility. When others talk about us with appreciation, we should be able to say, “How strange, what did we do wrong that these people are singing our praises, which to us is like swearing!”

From the perspective of causality, if we are to ascribe the services carried out to a cause other than God Almighty, they should be ascribed to the concord and unity between believers. One should remember that God Almighty accepts concord and unity as an expectant look directed toward Him, and He responds positively to those who turn to Him. Concord and unity are the most important means of Divine guidance and assistance.

Consider the meaning of the verse: “He has attuned their (the believers’) hearts. If you had spent all that is on the earth, you could not have attuned their hearts, but God has attuned them. Surely He is All-Glorious with irresistible might, All-Wise” (al-Anfal 8:63). As it is also pointed out here, what really matters is God’s help, protection and guarding. As long as we commit to Him, He will favor us bounteously, turning our one into thousands. He expresses His greatness by letting a drop carry out a task, which would normally require an entire sea. Similarly, He may employ an atom instead of a sun, or an ant instead of a rhinoceros; because one of God’s ways of expressing His greatness is through realizing great tasks by using very little things.

When the Pride of Humanity passed on from this world, his Companions numbered no more than 34,000. However, they were able to successfully deal with the Byzantines and Sassanids, the superpowers of the time. They then gained an important position among the world powers and put the balance of power in a new order. Moreover, they overcame eleven cases of collective apostasy, each of which was some three-four times greater than the PKK terrorism in the east of Turkey today. During his short caliphate of less than two and a half years, the blessed Abu Bakr suppressed all of these insurrections and maintained law and order. Certain persons who see themselves as great state leaders and talk about mechanized units but cannot even prevent a problem like the PKK should be ashamed of themselves.

Become So Merged with the Soil That Even Your Grave Will Be Unknown

God is sufficient, the rest is empty desire. We do not need applause, appreciation or flattery. We must serve God with the utmost humility and modesty, become fixed on gaining His good pleasure and then be buried in soil again in order to serve as a seed for a new rose. Let alone seeking appreciation in our lifetime, we should not even have such a desire and expectation as, “Let a huge crowd attend my funeral.” You should even regard the conventional statements during your funeral ceremony about your being a good person as idle talk and never forget that what really matters is maintaining a sound relationship with God Almighty.

We should always keep a low profile and pass to the eternal realm thus. If possible, we should even wish our grave to remain anonymous like the great guide Bediüzzaman did. Remember that he said, “Let nobody know where my grave is, except for a few students of mine.” For God’s sake, what an admirable conception of Divine unity, what a wondrous relationship with God it is! Since he passed from this world, none but a few people know the whereabouts of his grave. He internalized the principle of extraordinary modesty, effacement and humility as a philosophy of life and led his life with an utterly low profile.[3]

If we have to have some expectations for the services we carry out let them be that the spirit of the noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, is revived and pervades the four corners of the earth. However, even in this respect we should not insist that we personally see the results, but leave the issue to the decree of Divine Will. It is not correct to prioritize anything other than what He wills. We want and wish, but cannot know what He wills. Some souls with a propensity to be like coal will never embrace right guidance and become like a diamond, even if we wish it. Though we are resolute and persistent, so that God Almighty and His Messenger will set a throne in hearts, we leave the result to God alone and welcome His judgment and decree.

[1] Abu Hurayra, may God be pleased with him, narrated that the Noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, stated: “Everything of the human body will perish except the last coccyx bone (end part of the spinal cord), and from that bone Allah will reconstruct the whole body.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab at-Tafsir, 1).

[2] Sahih Muslim, Salah, 215; Sunan Abu Dawud, Salah, 148; Sunan an-Nasa’i, Mawaqit, 35.

[3] Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, The Rays, New Jersey: Tughra, 2010, p. 317; Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, Emirdağ Lahikası (Supplement of Emirdağ), İstanbul: Şahdamar, 2010, vol. 1, p. 106.

This text is the translation of “Toprak ve Gül.”

The Hizmet Movement and the Allegations Made Against It

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: Certain groups of people are taking every possible opportunity to fabricate allegations and slander about the Hizmet volunteers in an effort to distract people from the reality of the situation and to raise their suspicions. How should we react to this?

Answer: First, I’ll begin with my general opinion on this matter. Most of the time it is unnecessary to answer the allegations made against the (Hizmet) Movement because when you give an answer, some people become aware of the allegations for the first time and the fact you are making a defense raises the possibility that the allegations could be true. People may wonder why you feel the need to defend yourself if there is no truth in the matter. In these instances, trying to defend yourself against allegations, which otherwise would instantly be dismissed as impossible by those with reason and conscience, may not be the correct conduct.

It Is up to Those Making the Claims to Prove Them

In law, there is an essential principle of “innocent until proven guilty;” in other words, “It is up to the person making a claim to prove it, and it is up to the denier to take an oath.” Anyone making allegations against the Movement has the duty to prove their claims. We declare that all of these allegations and slanders are untrue. If we are required to swear an oath on whatever sacred concept they choose, we will comfortably say, “God Almighty is our witness that we have nothing to do with these allegations.”

Additionally, those who have devoted themselves to glorifying God’s religion have no other purpose than to gain His good pleasure. On the other hand, in my opinion, those who spout streams of invective against them only succeed in debasing themselves. Although, on the one hand, I see myself as more worthless than anybody, as a person who has been honored with being a servant of God, at the same time, I consider it disrespectful towards God to reduce myself to their level while answering the allegations. Likewise, as a follower of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, answering such casually fabricated slanders which are abhorrent to anyone with sound reason, logic and conscience, poses the danger of debasing oneself to the level of those people, and this to me is disrespectful to the blessed Messenger.

Another point to consider is, if you try to answer every allegation made against you, it will keep you seriously busy and waste your time which is as precious as gold. Rather than using your time valuably, you will be detained from doing those things that you need to do. Moreover, as those who commit slander and make allegations against you adopt demagogy and dialectics as their way of life, they communicate a distorted account of your answers, which may cause new questions to arise in others’ minds. For these reasons, I don’t consider it necessary to answer those who casually throw out slanders against us; I prefer to “give it a miss” as they say.

The Craze of Brutal Power

In the case that the slanders being thrown around begin to mislead the masses, and if the oft-repetition of these makes even sound-minded people inclined to see them as probable in the long-run, I believe that it becomes necessary to offer explanatory answers to give clarification. I would like to begin by drawing attention to a few points in order to prevent possible misunderstandings.

There have been many times when charitable groups who work for the good of the people, like the Hizmet volunteers, have been attacked. In particular, those motivated by personal or political objectives did whatever they could to subjugate the groups they could not freely manipulate. A time came when those who favor brutal force came to power with the blasphemous and unacceptable idea, “might is right” as their sole criterion. Despite this happening at a time when the Turkish Parliament declared, “Sovereignty belongs unconditionally to the nation,” the individuals elected by the people were denied, and even eliminated.

It is important to understand both the background and the main cause that led to all these events. A certain group adopted the discourse; “Now I have the power, I can do whatever I like without it being considered injustice. I can claim certain “heads” if necessary. Let these “heads” be sacrificed for the system I wish to establish in accordance with my own worldview.” and some people even pronounced such thoughts. As opposed to natural selection, this can be called “governmental” or “deliberate” selection.

In fact, the underlying factor here is the ever-continuing struggle between faith and unbelief, or faith and hypocrisy. There has always been a struggle between satanic whispers and Prophetic inspiration; between the path of God and the path of the devil. The henchmen of Satan have always used different forms and appearances to show their animosity towards those who walk on the path of the Prophets. However, while some conducted this Faust-Mephisto struggle directly by targeting religion and religious people, others did the same thing by assuming a religious identity. Although the methods of these two groups are different, their struggle and aims are the same.

Even If You Build a Stairway to Heaven…

With God’s permission and grace, very important and good works are being realized in our time through the hands of those devoted souls who have migrated to the four corners of the world. God willing, the seeds of goodness sown by the people of Anatolia will flourish in some ten to twenty years’ time. Today, with God’s grace and benevolence, islands of serenity where love and peace prevail are being formed.

People with an intolerant and pro-conflict attitude have been disturbed by these developments and are fixated with envy and hatred. They will use all means possible, not for goodness, but against those who have dedicated themselves to realizing a new spring for humanity, to make them forsake this path. With the psychological war they have orchestrated, they will try to break the spirit of the Anatolian people. They will besmirch you with the logic that “mud sticks!” and try to pull the wool over the eyes of the “masses” by fabricating so many slanders that are objectionable to those with sound reason.

No matter what you do, you cannot please them or prevent their slanders, as their intentions and thoughts are corrupt; so much so that they will try to raise doubts in minds about the most innocent and reasonable activities of yours. Even if you build a stairway in order to elevate people to Paradise and help some people reach it, they will still find a point of criticism with their demagogy and dialectics. For example, they will say; “Why are you troubling people to enter Paradise by making them use a stairway? Surely it would have been more comfortable had you built a launch pad and boarded people in a shuttle to get there!”

Abased When Weak, Cruel When Strong

When the conditions were not suitable for them, these people (who fabricate slanders) tried to appear democratic and neutral. However, when they attained power they did whatever they could to do away with any group they saw as opposition. We should not forget that so far, it is the people who have antagonized those who walk on the path of God who are beset by troubles. Those who have said, “It is necessary to do away with this one and that one,” actually became the ones who were done away with. God willing, in the same way, He will protect those who walk on the path of righteousness, who try to revive the values of the people, who try to share the values distilled from their spiritual heritage with the entire world, and He will punish the ones who antagonize the volunteers instead.

So, no matter what other people do, those with deep faith in God should never make concessions from their own character. I personally petition God Almighty in this way: “O Lord! Give me the opportunity to do goodness to those who wish to do evil to me. Let me help them when we come face-to-face. When they ask me the reason, let me say, ‘Everyone acts in accordance with their character. You acted as you are. This is how my character requires me to behave.’” Despite all the oppression, injustice, wrongdoing and affront, I gain the opportunity to make a sacrifice for the sake of God in order to maintain a spirit of unity and togetherness.

This text is the translation of “Gönüllüler Hareketi ve İthamlar.”

People of Action and Scholarly Ones

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: What are the lessons today’s believers should draw from the following Divine message: “Believers should not go forth to war all together. But why should not a party from every community of them mobilize to acquire profound, correct knowledge and understanding of the Religion, and warn their people when they return to them so that they may beware (of wrongful attitudes)” (at-Tawbah 9:122).

Answer: God Almighty first reveals that it is not correct for all believers to simultaneously go on a military campaign and take part in war. Then He states that a party should stay behind to gain insight into the spirit of religion and that when their people come back from different fronts, these learned ones should guide them with fair exhortation, feed them with religious knowledge, and teach them what they should know; this is because those people who engaged with the enemy during warfare may have failed to receive the religious education they need.

State of the Learned Ones and Success

In the early period of Islam, since believers told people the truth, and represented and expressed justice, they faced attacks by the antagonists of religion. In such a situation, believers could not say to the enemies coming to exterminate them, “Come on, let us sit in the mosque and discuss first.” Even if they did, those enemies, who were fixed on grudge and destruction, would have tried to demolish that mosque and bury the believers therein. In order to stand against such demolition, they fought to protect their chastity, honor, religion, home, and flag.

After the demise of the noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and during the time of the Rightly Guided Caliphs, may God be pleased with them, similar problems emerged and Muslims had to engage with enemies in different places. During the time of Caliph Abu Bakr they had to fight on eight different fronts in order to repress the cases of apostasy in different tribes. Besides, the Sassanid and Roman empires, which were the super powers of the time, also had their eyes on Muslims. Since they accosted Muslims at every opportunity, Muslims had to fight defensive wars against them in different parts of the world.

In such a situation, had everyone attended war without any exception, there would have been a serious gap in terms of religious education. In the verse mentioned above, God Almighty commands that a group of people should stay behind for scholarly purposes in order to compensate for the lack of knowledge in those who return from war. Thus He pointed out that Muslims must definitely retain their learned state and attain the horizons necessitated by the conditions of their era. If believer fail to attain such a state and horizons, it is not possible to stand against attacks on different fronts anyway.

Cultural Envoys

As for the conditions of our era, when knowledge and power of discourse came to the fore, continuing to exist as ourselves will be possible by means of the power of knowledge, pen, and discourse. With the approach of Bediüzzaman, victory over the civilized can be through persuasion. Therefore, the devoted souls who are the cultural envoys in our time should take their values to different parts of the world—not with weapons and brutal force, but with knowledge, wisdom, love, tolerance, and goodness. The way of peace and love opens the way that leads to hearts, whereas brutal force causes grudge and hatred to rise from the dead. For this reason, unless you remain under invasion and have no any other way but to fight, no solution should by sought through force. As for the issue of using force, it should be evaluated within a perspective of defense or eliminating an inescapable danger.

It is for this reason that the most important duty to be fulfilled with respect to Islam and humanity is going to the four corners of the world, taking our cultural values there, and in the meantime benefitting from different patterns and colors wherever we are, as far as they do not contradict our essential teachings. By coming into contact with different people in the places they go, the devoted souls will both serve as honorary representatives of our cultural values, and they will receive the beautiful sides of those cultures and present them to their own people. However, as they will be predominantly busy with their pursuits of peaceful action, they may not be sufficiently nourished in terms of knowledge and spirituality. Then, it is necessary to edify individuals well-versed in the values of our spiritual heritage, who know our essential sources better, and thus who will help those in the field of peaceful action be nourished as is necessary. Those who undertake the responsibility to deepen in correct and profound knowledge and comprehension of Islam should constantly flow like a pure freshwater spring, nourishing the altruistic souls running in the field, who should in return take what they will from that source and complete their scholarly equipment.

Scholarly Ones Open to Both Physical and Spiritual Disciplines

By referring to acquiring “profound, correct knowledge and understanding of the Religion,” the verse points to the fact that those who stay behind need to be equipped with knowledge pertaining to faith, Islam, and to ihsan, or perfect goodness. Together with that, the sound functioning of these values, their easily being welcome by a society (perhaps of a very different cultural background), and their being liked and valued, depends on correct discernment of non-religious realities and rules as well. Therefore, besides religion, it bears much importance to master the natural sciences, which constitute the basis for most modern sciences. It is important to carry out research in this respect, and behold appreciatively the creation displayed in nature.

As Bediüzzaman put it, while learning religious disciplines on the one hand, modern sciences should not be neglected either. He pointed out that a student’s endeavor would soar only when these two are found together. Excluding one of these two will mean leaving the other devoid of wings. One should neither make concessions from learning religious disciplines, which are the light of the heart, nor ignore modern sciences, which are the light of the mind, reason, and judgment.

In addition, this verse emphasizes the importance of love of knowledge and research. Therefore, one must make very serious efforts in order to master both the religious and modern sciences, and remain like a “student” until the end of their life. The Arabic word for student (talib) means “seeker” of knowledge. No matter whether a person studies religious disciplines or modern sciences, if that person is utilizing the essences distilled from those studies for the sake of knowing God and maintaining a sound balance, then that person will be treated as a true student or seeker of knowledge. So what does such a treatment mean? As the Messenger of God stated, God Almighty makes the way to Paradise easier to one who sets forth demanding to acquire knowledge.[1]

Seeking knowledge is very important and the benefits a scholar can bring to society are great. Thus, one’s society is responsible for supporting seekers of knowledge and doing what they can for them. It is very difficult for someone dedicated to knowledge to devote time for anything else. Accordingly, some Islamic scholars stated that even if they wear expensive clothes and the threshold of their door is made of gold, it is still possible to give alms to seekers of knowledge, because the vitality of a nation depends on such mastering of knowledge. If this cannot be done, the nation will collapse and disintegrate. Due to this stagnancy, some cracks emerged in the Islamic world in the fifth century after the holy migration. With the recession in the 13th and 14th centuries, a complete break down and disintegration happened. We have not been able to straighten up since.

Dignified Contentment and Remaining Under Obligation

In response to people’s support and care, seekers of knowledge must do their best in terms of being worthy of such kindness and must not waste a second of their time. Through very serious planning, division of labor, and a discipline of mutual helping, these seekers must be completely focused on this task. They must devote all of their energy to the task so as to be deserving of the people’s regard for them—even if that means sleeping only four hours if necessary and devoting twenty hours of the day to studying. Who knows? When they study with such seriousness, maybe God Almighty will grant them in two years what another person can attain in ten years.

Incidentally, let me share how I feel about one issue: I feel heartbroken for those who go abroad for a PhD, but cannot finish that in even ten years. While the dire need of our country for qualified people is obvious, God will call them to account for wasting so much time. Time is the greatest capital for a human. If a person has taken such a path once, they should persevere, exert their brains, make use of all arguments they can make use of, benefit from all sources they can, and if possible, they should even finish their PhD before the time determined for them.

I wish to underline one more point concerning scholarly ones: Dignified contentment is a very important principle for those dedicated to scholarly pursuits, with respect to the honor of both knowledge and learned ones. Actually, the path of the Prophets is also based on this essential. In many verses of the Qur’an, it is stated that they said, “I ask of you no wage for that (for conveying God’s Message); my wage is only due from the Lord of the worlds” (ash-Shuara 26:127). In this respect, scholarly ones should not be obliged to anyone if possible, in any phase of their lives—neither while they are students, nor when they become teachers, or teacher of teachers…

May God forbid, if one does not have this feeling of dignified contentment, and if that person carries out certain tasks for the sake of some returns, such as becoming a manager, director general, MP, minister, or prime minister, then such a person cannot be saved from being obliged to other people. Unfortunately, the concessions they make on account of being obliged will not only cost them dearly, but cost their nation as well. In this respect, those who engage in scholarly pursuits must arrange their lives in accordance with the principle of dignified contentment. They must use the means of their fathers if they can, or they must make a modest living with their own means, if they can. They should live frugally, never becoming obliged to anyone and never having to make concessions.

[1] Sahih Muslim, Dhikr, 38.

This text is the translation of “Aksiyon İnsanları ve İlim Ehli.”

What Needs to Be Done in the Face of Slanders

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: As the Qur’an states, the Pharaoh tried to make Prophet Moses, peace be upon him, seem like a scheming person with a secret agenda. Those in power said, “(Moses) seeks to drive you out of your land” (al-A’raf 7:110). Today, some circles fabricate slanders about those doing charitable deeds. What are the duties that fall to believers in this situation?

Answer: Above all, considering their essential values, believers should not change attitude in accordance with conditions. Their manner is their honor, even in the face of the most relentless and unfair attacks. They must remain steadfast on their righteous course. People who wish to understand and read them should never face a contradictory fact that might raise doubts in their minds. Otherwise, believers cannot be convincing and cannot make headway in letting others feel the inspirations of their spirit.

Severe Storms and Persevering Cedars

A believer must never be like leaves drifting in wind due to the events they face. On the contrary, they must always present a perfectly upright stance, like trees with deep roots. Botanists know well that in some countries, since the roots of trees are not so sound, they come down when they meet a fierce wind or an excessive snowfall. They sometimes even fall merely due to the softening of the soil. On the other hand, in some countries—for the sake of finding water—trees let their roots grow a few meters down into the ground and thus keep standing in spite of the severe storms they meet. This must be the case with a believer.

Otherwise, people who change their stance in accordance with favorable or adverse conditions, and who always adopt a different attitude to suit their interest in the face of every new development, will lose their credibility after some time. For lasting credibility, one must know to stand perfectly upright all the time, and present a resolved attitude at keeping an unwavering course. Those who took your pulse twenty years ago should find the same harmonious rhythm deep in your heart today, in spite of all that you went through in those twenty years.

Does this mean we will not have any feelings of indignation and anger? Such feelings may surely occur to us, since we are human. However, given that God endowed humans with willpower, then we should know how to take these emotions under control, and always remain within the lawful sphere.

The Secret of Being Welcome in Different Parts of the World

Let me clarify what I have told with a particular example. As you know, fresh graduates went to four corners of the world as soon as they received their university degrees. Incidentally, let me state that it is not correct to speak about others as if they are absolutely innocent, for if the person we are talking about is not in an ideal state, God Almighty may throw these statements back into our face on the Day of Judgment. Therefore, it is always necessary to keep the balance while voicing positive thoughts about someone. On the other hand, just as we are guilty if we ignore self-sacrifices, seeking some negative intentions behind good acts denotes an imbalance and is a false assumption.

Getting back to our real subject, the devoted souls have opened up to different parts of the world for more than twenty years in order to let others feel the inspirations of their heart, and they continue to do so. Although certain problems were faced in a few countries, the volunteers have gone to more than 170 countries. If you have problems in just a few out of 170, that isn’t so bad. Even during the time of the Ottomans, there was no large scale flourishing. Today, Turkey is a country below the average in terms of its economy, and many people are adverse to us. In addition, there are animosities, libels, envies, and feelings of rivalry against us. By considering these, the importance of being able to open up to 170 countries will be understood better. Those who look at the issue with fairness already understand and appreciate this.

The volunteers driven by Divine Will to four corners of the world were usually welcomed; in my opinion, their consistent attitude and behaviors played a great role in this. Those who frequently took their pulse and listened to their hearts always found the same rhythm and they said: “We have been listening to these people for years. We have not witnessed anything in their agenda other than serving humanity. They only breathe with humanity.”

Actually, 170 different countries means 170 different cultural environments. The devoted souls who went had no opportunity to have any education or seminar about the peculiarities of the cultural environment they were entering. However, they possessed such an immense conscience that they were able to embrace the whole of humanity. Namely, they were following a sublime feeling possessed by persons like Rumi, Yunus Emre, Ahmad Yasawi, and Bediüzzaman.

So what was this feeling? It was the feeling of being a means of deliverance for the whole of humanity. Since they possessed such a feeling and at the same time managed all of their affairs in accordance with human values, they were welcomed, by God’s permission, in the places they went, and were able to win hearts.

The Significance of the Volunteers’ State

The memories of the process of opening up to the world are being broadcast in documentaries and different programs today. The stories are being told. However, none of these can reflect the same things as experienced. They cannot reflect people’s original feelings and thoughts with their true depth and immensity. The devoted souls hit the road with such sincerity and selfless concern that some of them were not paid for months, as the volunteers who supported them from Turkey were in serious financial difficulty. They only got by with a minimum payment that met their essential needs. When the time came, they made a living in those distant lands through the sweat of their brows, working as simple laborers. As such, the people they addressed saw their genuine attitudes and believed the light in their hearts.

Today, I wish that God makes the volunteers as steadfast in faith, sincerity, and loyalty. This movement began with serious devotion, serious sincerity, and serious faith; being able to walk to the future depends on keeping up their desirable state. Sometimes, success and accomplishments might evoke pride in people and cause them to indulge in a life of ease and comfort. Considering the good things that emerged as result of their attitude and behaviors in terms of apparent causality, individuals might sometimes ascribe these to their own abilities, wisdom-oriented thoughts, and their excellent perspicacity. Such beliefs are like deadly viruses that make their way into a body. Unless the due precautions are taken, they can bring the body down.

It is necessary to try to keep up the desirable spiritual state. It is necessary to supplicate to God with expressions like, “O God, Turner of hearts! Bind our hearts to Your religion!’[1] and, “O God, Disposer of hearts! Direct our hearts to Your obedience!”[2] This way we will not fall, deviate, or stray to wrong alleys.

The coming of Prophets ended with the noble Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, who was the seal of the Prophets. It is unthinkable for anybody else to be a Prophet after him. One must walk on his path in a Prophetic way with an extraordinary loyalty, innocence, moral purity, wisdom, and perspicacity. They must seek to adopt the Prophetic horizons in his footsteps. In addition, attaining such a state will also serve as a barrier against possible misinterpretations about us.

Expecting Certain Returns Means Captivity

We should both frequently state at every opportunity that we do not have any expectations but God’s good pleasure, and also express this fact with our attitudes and actions. If people who devoted themselves to the service of faith and the Qur’an make the services they carry out conditional to certain worldly returns, then they will remain under obligation and personally narrow their ability to move. Every expectation of worldly returns takes away some things from a person’s freedom.

In this respect, the devoted souls should know to keep away from all expectations that might restrain their freedom, and also be resolute not to make any such trifling engagements. They can naturally make a political choice in which they see goodness for the country and people. This does not mean unconditional adherence to a party. While making a political choice for the good of the country, they must never surrender their freewill to a political organization and never give up their freedom. The most mysterious key to protecting freedom lies with servanthood to God. Becoming fully oriented to serving God means gaining perfect freedom, and deliverance from serving servants. Those who cherish other considerations will have damaged their freedom.

Heroes of noble ideals should not even expect Paradise as a return, but ask for that as a grace of God. As Bediüzzaman pointed out, worship of God is not an act through which to demand a Divine reward in the future, but it is the due requirement for the Divine blessings already enjoyed. In this respect, one must only wish for God and see all other wishes like asking for a zero as opposed to infinity.

However, in spite of acting with these criteria those who get hold of certain positions and experience a paranoia to the degree of insanity might still try to debilitate the devoted souls. By falling for Satan presenting his way as the righteous conduct, they may wish to hide behind a religious rationalization and misappropriate all of the opportunities in their hands to hoard wealth for themselves. Even people who seem to have very sound belief and spend most of their lives in Sufi Lodges might fall for such trifling benefits. Those who are paranoid with a fear of losing what they have obtained completely focus on their own interests and benefits. Therefore, even if a group of doves gather somewhere, they might become anxious about a possible threat to themselves, and entertain thoughts like, “Are they watching us through the eyes of these doves?”

Corrupt Ones Do Not Want Decent Ones around Them

As a result of this mood, they do not want to see any virtuous people around them. They may even grow uncomfortable in the presence of good people. During their wheeling and dealing, or while forming their circles, they always prefer people with the same mentality. In such instances, their dishonest dealings will not be revealed. For this reason, they cannot stand people who see evils as evil to be among them. Like the noble Prophet also stated, as decent people come together around their decency, corrupt ones come together around their corruption.

Even in the face of such wrongdoing and transgressions, the devoted souls should not give up the Straight Path, and always stay balanced in feeling and thought. They should not only be balanced in their faculties of reasoning, anger, and desire, but also on the way of struggle they will adopt when faced with envy, greed, grudge, and hatred.

Keeping up the Balance

What really matters is keeping our balance against those without balance. For example, some might take malicious action against you out of envy and intolerance. They might be raging against you with a fear of losing certain opportunities in the future. Even in such a situation, it is very important not to react in the same way. We must not give them a space in our minds, and dismiss them as soon as we think of them. It is not a merit to respect others when they love and applaud you. Even concerning people who do not accept you and are disturbed by your existence, the true merit is being able to say, “O God, let those who wish misfortune for me find deliverance; let those who wish my failure attain bliss!” In today’s world, where we have so much imbalance, being balanced is even more important.

The Qur’an decrees: “By no means let your detestation for a people (or their detestation for you) move you to (commit the sin of) deviating from justice” (al-Maedah 5:8). This verse was revealed in the period of Mecca, when unimaginable tortures were inflicted on the blessed Prophet and Muslims. Thus, believers were commanded to meet all that happens with patience and magnanimity, without reacting to them in the same way. Therefore, some others’ nasty attitude and behaviors should not make believers give up their feeling of decency and justice. Others acting unjustly can never be a justification for our acting unjustly. As believers, we always have to be just.

If some defamation campaign is initiated, it is possible to refute or correct such claims. Even while doing this however, we must present what our own character requires, and in a way that becomes us. “Every one acts according to his own character” (al-Isra 17:84). What falls to us is act as our character requires, against all odds.

[1] Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Qadar, 7; Sunan Ibn Majah, Dua, 2.

[2] Sahih Muslim, Qadar, 17; Abd ibn Humayd, Al-Musnad, 137.

This text is the translation of “İftiralar Karşısında Yapılması Gerekenler.”

Time to Concern Ourselves

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: Why are we not as concerned as we should be, in spite of the heart-rending incidents we encounter every day in our world? How do you think one should act in order to be a considerate believer in the sight of God?

Answer: There are circles of concern for a person, from the closest to the most distant ones. The person is at the center of these concentric circles. In other words, a person is naturally concerned about oneself. first of all. The fact that the following prayers from the Qur’an begin with referring to oneself first while asking forgiveness points to this natural situation: “O our Lord! Forgive me, and my parents, and all the believers, on the Day on which the Reckoning will be established!” (Ibrahim 14:41); “My Lord! Forgive me and my parents, and everyone who joins my household as a believer, and all the believing men and believing women…” (Nuh 71:28).

Despite this selfishness, it is unthinkable for real believers not to be concerned with what goes on around them. Actually, let alone being a believer, but everybody who has some share of humanity will suffer from another person’s grief and troubles. We see this when clashes and killings begin, and when innocent people are subjected to oppression and violence. All people are like the branches, fruits, leaves, or flowers of the same tree. The Qur’an addresses us as “O children of Adam!” (al-A’raf 7:31). Therefore, every person who has not lost conscience will be concerned about the sufferings their brothers and sisters go through. Depending on the depth of their feeling of compassion, they burn from within and it profoundly tugs at their heartstrings.

As for a real believer with an immense feeling of mercy and compassion, he deeply suffers for the troubles, oppression, and injustice all other people go through. This naturally begins with those closest to him—his family, those who share the same values, and those in his community, such as fellow believers and other citizens. No matter who is struck by calamities, such a believer suffers deeply, as if he himself had been struck.

Suffering, Like a Gong Resonating in the Night

People who are aware of the present situation of the Islamic world and the schemes orchestrated against Muslims are especially wounded by the suffering of others. It is impossible not to lose sleep, feel agonized, and moan day and night over what is happening. Different groups of people in the Muslim world lived peacefully together, without any problems, for a certain period of history; this was particularly so during Ottoman times, for some four or five centuries.

Unfortunately, there are efforts abound to make Muslims into enemies of one another. Seeds of dispute and disunity are being sown by outside groups, and various conspiracies are carried out in order to bring Muslims to loggerheads. Those who will do anything to retain power are continuing their schemes to divide and factionalize Muslims in order to rule without disruption.

While Muslims are at one another’s throats, others come near them, playing the arbiter, and appropriate their resources of wealth. They have divided the Muslim world into pieces, and thus exploited the riches over and under the ground. Today, the same games are being played with the same goals and desires. Those who provoked fires of discord between Muslim groups once are continuing to commit the same evil today, in an even stealthier fashion.

In addition, the immune system to protect Islamic values and criteria is in a weaker state, for hypocrites are harming Muslim societies from within like a virus. It is so difficult for people who are constantly in conflict with one another to present balanced thoughts and sound judgments—perhaps it is even impossible. Individuals and masses in confrontations are doomed to lose their senses and to act emotionally. As the Qur’an also points out, some even begin to behave instinctually, like animals. They do not think for even a moment whether all of these clashes and confrontations do any good to the Islamic world. They do not ever wonder in self-criticism, “Why do some assume an arbiter’s role and slam down on us, while the Islamic world is engaged in conflict with itself?” If a person thinks about all of these facts, can analyze them, and can see what is going on behind the scenes but does not feel concerned despite all of this, then that person has lost his feeling of basic humanity.

Even If You Do Not Cry, Feel Ashamed to Laugh at Least!

Actually, those who can cherish conscientious scrupulousness not only feel concerned about what they see in the world of humanity, but also fear for animals, plants, and even non-living things. It is an outward reflection of humanity for conscientious people that they feel a kinship with every being and feel troubled by their struggles: this is true in terms of both the fact that each thing in the worlds point to the Lord of the Worlds, and that the human was rendered the master of all creation.

I was very much impressed by some documentaries I watched many years ago. For example, a few lions killed a water buffalo. One of them jumped onto its back, one of them caught its feet, another bit the buffalo’s throat, and these lions finally ate the buffalo. I still cannot forget this scene. Although that innocent animal had horns, there was not much it could do before the sharp teeth and strong claws of the lions. Sometimes when I go to bed and draw the blanket over myself, I lay imaginary traps for those lions that unjustly killed that water buffalo, expand my bow, and take aim at them by saying, “Why did you kill that innocent animal? Take it, this is your just deserts!” Then I shoot an arrow at them.

There is a food chain in the animal world. An animal that God created as a carnivore survives by eating other animals. As herbivores start eating grass as soon as they come to this world, carnivores are naturally oriented to eating meat; this is what their natural traits require. Even we slaughter an animal we wish to eat when the time comes. On the other hand, although we cognitively accept the situation, we emotionally remain under the influence. On witnessing an innocent animal being devoured by a few predators, our heart sinks, and we feel disturbed and upset. I think everybody who listens to their conscience will have the same feelings on this issue.

If a person feels disturbed by such sights even when animals are concerned, it is impossible for him not to feel disturbed and agonized for people being killed. In this respect, not being upset by the fires in both Turkey and other Muslim lands is an indication of having lost one’s humane feelings. As for people who have not lost their humanity, they definitely feel upset because of the suffering in today’s world.

While telling the situation of Muslims, the poet Mehmed Akif says,

It is our chastity being violated, it is our children being slaughtered!

O You shameless one! Even if you do not cry, feel ashamed to laugh at least!

As a matter of fact, the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, once stated, “Whoever does not care about (the sufferings and troubles of) Muslims is not one of them.”[1] Namely, if a person deserves to be called a Muslims, even a marginal one, he or she should feel the sufferings Muslims are subjected to as an inner trouble. One who does not feel these as an inner trouble will naturally not bother to think of developing alternative solutions to tackle those problems.

However, everybody must look at oneself first in this respect and avoid baseless negative thoughts about others. We cannot know what is going on in another person’s head. The people around us may seem insensitive on account of their being very patient and steadfast. Actually, they too may be feeling the same pain we do. Their heart may also be continuously bleeding with the problems inflicted upon Muslims. Due to having a strong immune system, they may be not giving any outward signs of their sorrow, and may not reveal their suffering to others.

War-Mongering, Which Might Bring about the End of Humanity

The following is an important aspect of the issue of suffering in the face of the troubles and misfortunes people go through: As it is not right to remain indifferent, it is definitely not right to yell, engage in destructive acts, or to resort to violence. Such a reaction, made in the name of a solution, can neither be reconciled with Islam nor humanity. Therefore, such extremisms must never be allowed. On the contrary, it is necessary to put a barrier before every kind of violence by bringing human values to the fore.

For this reason, it is necessary to point out at every opportunity that the acts of violence and terror which kill innocent people without distinguishing children, women, and the elderly have nothing to do with religion, even if they are committed as a reaction against oppression and injustice. Those who commit such murders must be openly protested; we must reject the idea of brutal force. If possible, it is necessary to rehabilitate those in deviation of thought in this respect and save them from the misguided path they have taken. While this is being done on the one hand, sensible politicians, sociologists, philosophers, pedagogues, and educators must come together, and they must try to develop a language of peace between different civilizations, instead of dialogues of violence and war. Against the war language and war mongering some states try to incite for the sake of their interests, it is necessary to form a language and environment of peace by means of common sense. A possible World War III could incinerate the entire world. It is necessary to develop alternative projects and make plans against every kind of provocation and incitement. Any possible plans must be effectuated immediately. Otherwise the horrible weapons produced in our time may be used in a world. This could bring about the end of humanity.

[1] At-Tabarani, Al-Mujamu’l-Awsat, 1/151, 7/270; Al-Hakim, Al-Mustadrak, 4/356.

This text is the translation of “Zaman Dertlenme Zamanı.”

A Disease to Topple a Person: Making False Assumptions

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: As it is stated in a saying of the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, with reference to a self-righteous person, when one says that other people are ruined, he himself is the most ruined of all. Are behaviors such as making false assumptions and continually threatening others included in this saying’s meaning?

Answer: In this saying, which is included in Imam Muslim’s Sahih, the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, states, “When you hear a man say, ‘The people are ruined,’ he himself is the most ruined of them all.”[1] Since this blessed statement is a pithy one, it conveys many truths. One of its truths pertains to making false assumptions about others, as it is mentioned in the question. Pouring forth invective about this or that person, even to the degree of declaring him to be ruined, almost always stems from such false assumptions. However, the noble Prophet points out that the one who makes such sinful statements is actually the most ruined one.

Those Who Idolize Their Ego Seek Others to Blame

The underlying motive behind such invective is egotism, ego-centrism, and even narcissism. If a person is vilifying everybody and finding faults in them, it means that he is idolizing himself in self-adoration unawares. He is virtually speaking to a mirror, saying, “There is no one like you; let everything be sacrificed for you.”

A person devoid of positive thinking but fixed on negative thinking can even use their false assumptions to criticize very important acts of worship by others, such as prayer. For example, when a vain person sees someone observing prayer, he may entertain thoughts as, “I wonder if this person has really melted into prayer?”

Such a thought should be accosted by the Prophet’s warning, “Did you cleave his heart open to check it out?”[2] We cannot know anyone’s heart. A person who seems to neglectfully observe prayer may actually be observing it with deep feeling. Therefore, although it is our duty to voice truths such as teaching the correct form of prayer and presenting the characteristics of believers, we must also refrain from entertaining negative considerations about anyone else’s observance of prayer or fasting—and we must especially refrain from voicing and negative thoughts. Viewing others’ acts of worship with bias and assuming them to be sanctimonious is a terrible form of false assumption. Such a false assumption may cause a person to end up in utter spiritual loss. God Almighty forbids baseless suspicions, in a definite and clear fashion, with the following Divine decree: “O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion, for some suspicion is a grave sin (liable to God’s punishment); and do not spy (on one another…)” (al-Hujurat 49:12).

While considering others, it is always necessary to view them in a positive light, as far as there is a possible basis for it. Even if a person only one aspect that allows positive thinking, one must still take to it and avoid negative thinking. For example, a man may solely have said the proclamation of faith or the testimony of faith as a good deed for the Afterlife; yet if he has done this, our opinion about this man, who outwardly does not do any good deeds, should be, “This brother may have said the testimony of faith from the bottom of his heart, and this statement of his may have gained a high worth in the sight of God. Therefore, he may be saved in the next world with that single protestation of faith.”

On the other hand, while viewing ourselves, we must be self-critical to the degree of worrying about the possibility of having spoilt our good deeds by showing off, even if we do not only observe the five daily prayers but also add some fifty more make up prayers, and thus fear to be ruined because of our ostentation.

There are many more examples. Someone who outwardly seems to have a weak connection with God, owing to poor observance of individual worship, can be someone who always speaks truthfully in interpersonal relations and never lies. We must interpret this attitude of his as a result of his God-consciousness, and say, “Given that this person is so scrupulous about refraining from lying, then he must have a very strong relation with God.”

Similarly, imagine a person who is very vigilant against unlawful gain, does not even eat a forbidden morsel, and refuses to take an undeserved payment for a task he did not carry out. This person’s behaviors are so beautiful that we cannot explain them without a context of seeking good pleasure of God. For this reason, in all of these situations, we must always entertain positive thoughts about that person’s relationship with God.

Balance: Positive Thinking without Absolute Trust

If we refrain from going to extremes but seek the ideal conduct on this matter, we must also never disregard the following principle: for those people whose ups and downs we witness, positive thinking is adopted together with an absence of absolute trust. If the person we view with positive thoughts has occasional strays from the line of uprightness, then he may not be a mature and perfect person as we see him to be. In this respect, even if we entertain positive thoughts about that certain person, we should not fail to act cautiously about certain issues, such as giving him some vital responsibilities or entrusting him with very important tasks. However, we should know that even in such a case, we do not have the right to adopt statements that convey negative thoughts while giving an account of that person. We cannot say things like, “I do not have much trust in such and such person; he is not really trustworthy.”

While viewing others we should think that even the simplest deeds can be a means of salvation for them. We should overlook their faults, and avoid speaking negatively about them. A particular example from the time of the noble Prophet gives important lessons to believers in this respect.

In the early period of the prohibition of alcohol, one Companion was caught drunk many times and was severely reprimanded. Once, he was brought to the presence of the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, and reprimanded for the same offense. One of those present reacted to him with words like, “May God curse you! What a bad person you are! How many times it has been, and you are still brought to his presence like this!”

Upon hearing this, the noble Prophet said, “Do not speak like this; do not help Satan against your brother with such words. I swear by God, he loves God and His Messenger very much!”[3] So we should constantly view others through this perspective of the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him.

Positive Thinking: A Very Beautiful Form of Worship

 One must especially avoid making false assumptions when considering the volunteers devoted to serving for the sake of faith and the Qur’an—those who have a relation with God, His Messenger and the Qur’an. A believer must heed the following warning of the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him:

“Whoever shames his brother for a sin, he shall not die until he (himself) commits it.”[4] In this respect, one should be fearful, shaking in anguish with the consideration, “I saw such negative things in in certain persons, but what if others see such things in me, my spouse, or my children?”

A real believer must be much careful with his thoughts about others, no matter who they are. A real believer must act cautiously. As it is known, tayaqquz, which means being ever-vigilant, is the first step of spiritual journeying. A believer must always walk on the path of God with open eyes, channel his thoughts in the positive way as much as possible, and must definitely not commit the sin of false assumption. In addition, the noble Prophet points to positive thinking as a lofty horizon, stating that, “Entertaining good thoughts stem from a person’s good worship.”[5]

Together with positive thinking we should not fail to act cautiously and build barriers against those who take delight in biting others like poisonous snakes and are continually trying to cause harm. However, acting cautiously in this respect should not stop you from praying to God to grant guidance to those who devise various conspiracies against you. It is for this reason that when a thought occurred to me about those who have written against me for some fifty years ending up in Hell, I immediately begin to pray, “No God please! Here I am imploring you: please do not send them to Hell! Kindle faith in their hearts instead, and let them have faith too, please!”

In the face of the mistreatment and oppressions you go through, God has granted you the possibility of a different preference. If you wish, it is possible for you to say, “My God, please vanquish them, shatter their alliances, bring their schemes to nothing, and let them fall into their own traps!” Saying all of these is your right, in accordance with the judgment of the verse, “If you have to respond to any wrong, respond (only) to the measure of the wrong done to you” (an-Nahl 16:126). If somebody is oppressing you, prepare different conspiracies against you, or setting traps against you, it will be your lawful right to make moves to reverse these. Together with that, the verse continues, “but if you endure patiently, it is indeed better for the patient…” and states that even in terms of personal rights, it is better for you to show patience and not give up gentlemanliness.

[1] Sahih Muslim, Birr, 139; Sunan Abu Dawud, Adab, 77; Imam Malik, Al-Muwatta, Kalam, 2.

[2] Sahih al-Bukhari, Maghazi, 45; Sahih Muslim, Iman, 158.

[3] Sahih al-Bukhari, Hudud, 4-5; Abdurrazzaq, Al-Musannaf, 7/381, 9/246.

[4] Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Sifatu’l-Qiyamah, 53; Tabarani, Al-Mu’jam al-Awsat, 7/191.

[5] Sunan Abu Dawud, Adab, 81; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 2:297.

This text is the translation of “İnsanı Baş Aşağı Götürecek Hastalık: Suizan.”

Islam and Being Human in the True Sense

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: You have stated that, “Islam, the All-Mighty Creator’s greatest and universal gift to all, can be actualized through being human in the true sense; the human is the spiritual index of all creation, by that which is made from the intellect, conscience, spirit, body, and the inner subtle faculties.”[1] Could you elucidate this statement please?

Answer: Each of the points mentioned in the question, which constitute the different depths of the human, is a main strand with respect to understanding and explaining Islam.

Reasoning

We should consider reason first. Reason serves a function: to separate right from wrong, and beneficial from harmful. It can achieve these tasks if it is used properly under the guidance of the heart and spirit. However, rationalists regard reason as everything—and the neo-rationalists of our time give it priority even before the Qur’an and Sunnah. Unfortunately, in rejecting their extreme stance, some people denied reason completely. One extremism gave way to the opposite extremism. If we consider the general situation of the Islamic world today, it will be seen how reason is ignored, thus giving way to extremism of all kinds.

God created reason for an important wisdom. First and foremost, it is the basic condition for the responsibility of worship and servitude to God. Had humanity been deprived of the honor of being the object of Divine address, they would not have been endowed with the blessing of reason. God speaks to humans by virtue of possessing reason. In a way, He makes covenants with humans, because they are beings that possess reason. For example, He states in the Qur’an: “So always remember and make mention of Me (when service to Me is due), that I may remember and make mention of you (when judgment and recompense are due)” (al-Baqarah 2:152). “…Fulfill My covenant (which I made with you through your Prophets), so that I fulfill My covenant…” (al-Baqarah 2:40).

Understanding and practicing these commands depends on reason. The issue of whether God will take a person without reason to Paradise is not our subject here. However, it is thanks to reason that humanity is honored with being the object of Divine address and can understand and practice religious commandments; this point is very important in terms of understanding the place and value of reason in religion.

Besides these, the essential component of understanding what we see and hear is reason, too. Despite its incredible importance, there is a certain limit reason can reach. It is always prone to being mistaken. Therefore, it needs to be valued only as much as it merits. On the other hand, dismissing reason before letting it fulfill all of its functions means paralyzing some part of its mechanism or system. For this reason, it will not be possible for such a system to serve the function it is supposed to. A car that has all the parts but the gas pedal will not move. Similarly, the general system possessed by a human being will be paralyzed without the functioning of reason, which is among the significant components of the system.

Conscience

Conscience is another foundation of this system. In The Damascus Sermon,[2] Bediüzzaman states that conscience has four elements: emotion, willpower, consciousness, and the latifa Rabbaniyya—the spiritual faculty that senses God directly. Latifa Rabbaniyya, or spiritual intellect, has different depths, such as sirr (secret), khafi (hidden), which pertains to the glorified Divine Attributes (God knows the best), and akhfa (the most hidden), which we can define as the horizons of seeking the Divine Essence or God Almighty Himself. The fact that unlettered people like us are unaware of these issues does not serve as evidence for their non-existence; because the people who did journey through those horizons informed us of these attributes with their spiritual experiences.

Coming together all of these components make up the mechanism of the conscience; they result in what is called “hads,” which is a sudden, intuitive grasp of reality, as pointed out by Bediüzzaman. You can also call it the inner sense, inner evaluation, or inner analysis. By means of this, a person sieves through what happens in the outer realm and comprehends it correctly. However, even if one of these components of the conscience is neglected, one will fail to effectuate the conscience thoroughly. Eliminating the mechanism of conscience, which is a very important pillar of the human nature, means paralyzing a person. In such a case, a person will not have a very good skeleton, material structure, or the like.

Spirit

Spirit is also one of the important pillars of human nature. It is a system beyond the spiritual intellect. While describing the course of spiritual journeying, saintly persons said that one advances from the spiritual intellect to the spirit, which is a Divine emanation. In terms of being a Divine breath, it is a fresh bestowal sent to us from the realm of Divinity. We are sensed, known, seen, and protected by means of it. It is a trust that actually belongs to God. Therefore, leaping up from the Spiritual Intellect to the horizons of the spirit is first of all an expression of respect for this Divine breath God entrusted to us. At the same time, this is a matter of a person’s horizons. Only those who ascend to the horizons of the spirit can sense that it is of Divinity. It is an important rank, especially to effectuate the spiritual intellect; however, those who keep toddling in this level and fail to ascend to the horizon of the spirit will not be able to sense much about such a Divine quality.

Body

Here we also add these the body, the material aspect of humanity. As the systems like reason, conscience, heart, and spirit, which constitute the spiritual side of the human are very important, the body, which constitutes the material side, also has separate importance of its own. Above all, being able to observe worship for God, and observing the acts like Prayer, fasting, and Hajj, depend on making these systems work correctly. As we are not really aware of the exact otherworldly returns of observing Prayer, reciting verses from the Qur’an, and other good deeds, we similarly do not know the otherworldly returns of utilizing them for the respective purposes they were created for. As we learn from the noble Prophet’s sayings, the Prayer observed impetuously without giving it its due will be a means of reproach and shame beyond the grave. On the other hand, when the same Prayer is observed in compliance with the proper conditions and requirements, it will be a pleasant companion that will not let the person down during the journey to the next world.[3]

With all acts of worship you observe besides your Prayer, you will be disciplining your body at the same time. Even though acts of worship have certain physical or anatomical benefits, they were not decreed on account of such wisdoms. On the contrary, they were decreed in order to make a person eligible for Paradise so they could gain eternal bliss therein, have the honor of beholding God, and attain a state with which God will be well pleased. Although acts of worship such as Prayer, fasting, and the Zakah alms have certain benefits pertaining to the worldly life and disciplining the self, their true returns will be in the Hereafter.

In terms of being a means for a person’s attaining all of these graces in the Hereafter, the body is one of the most important Divine blessings to human. The emphasis that it is a blessing was first made with Prophet Adam, peace be upon him. God commanded angels to prostrate before Adam, and all of the angels did so, except for Satan, who made a haughty refusal to obey this command by giving in to egotism. Spirit beings and angels saw the immensity in Adam, they acted with insightful obedience to the command, and thus prostrated themselves. This evoked respect in their spirits for the body of Adam. To reiterate a fact I expressed in different talks, had prostration been permissible before anybody else other than God, it would have been for humanity, a wonder of creation with respect to our bodily and spiritual structure.

In terms of their nature, angels have insightful obedience to commands. They also have knowledge of Divine mysteries, have access to the realm of Malakut,[4] and can be present in some thousand different places simultaneously. Still, they cannot properly sense the properties of the material world. It is for this reason that they were surprised at a strange creature like the human and they said, “Will you set therein one who will cause disorder and corruption on it and shed blood?” (al-Baqarah 2:30). The human is a being teeming with feelings such as lust, selfishness, boasting, and rage, and thus is prone to committing evil acts. However, by being able to subordinate all of these to Divine commands, he or she can ascend to the level of being a favorable, beloved, and laudable servant of God. God creates goodness via these relevant evils. The angels could not know this side of humanity. In terms of both his spiritual and bodily structure, and together with the interaction between these two, the human gains meanings that cannot be expressed by books.

In sum, understanding Islam with its true identity, depth, and immensity, as well as practicing it and telling about it, can only be possible by using the human nature properly without neglecting any aspect of it. As humanity’s reason, spirit, and body were created for particular wisdoms, each must be used in accordance with the purpose they were created for; because if a person neglects even one of these, it will not be possible for them to thoroughly fulfill the responsibility he has undertaken.

[1] Gülen, M. Fethullah, Ruhumuzun Heykelini Dikerken-1, İstanbul: Nil Yayınları, 2011, p. 27.

[2] Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, The Damascus Sermon, İstanbul: Sözler Neşriyat, 1996, p. 117.

[3] Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 6/352; Abdurrazzaq, Al-Musannaf, 3/56.

[4] The realm of the transcendental manifestation of Divine commands.

This text is the translation of “İslâm’ı Taşıyabilecek Organizasyon.”

Attaining Immensity of Thought

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: Could you elucidate what you mean by having immense horizons of thought? How is it possible to attain this?

Answer: First of all, it is necessary to point out that we are in serious need of people who have immense horizons of thought; who possess a zeal for research and discovering truths; who are able to analyze and synthesize information; and who can base the issues they deal with on scientific grounds. However, we must accept from the beginning that it is not a very easy task for the Muslims of our time to attain an immensity and depth in this respect. In a period when the West realized its revolution of science, thought, and industry, we were entangled by both relentless attacks from outside and our own inner weaknesses. For this reason, together with the Ottoman Edict of Reformation (Tanzimat) in 1839, we were dumbstruck by the blows we received. The incidents that followed brought along even greater troubles and disasters. An entire nation was confined into a narrow area, isolated from the world, and stopped caring about the troubles of other nations. Moreover, all of these bred chauvinism: we began to regard taking a negative stance against everybody using empty rhetoric and bullying.

The First Step: Shaking off our Inferiority Complex

Feeling overwhelmed, fearful, and having an inferiority complex were instilled into the genes of the generations after the Ottoman edict of reformation. Since we too bear these genes, we still have not been able to be saved from the impact of that shock. Whether we realize it or not, we are almost paralyzed with these feelings and thoughts. We are supposed to rid ourselves from all of these negative thoughts, open ourselves to immense horizons of thought, have our own thoughts, and be oriented to the horizons shown to us by God and His Messenger. By following the guidelines of the Qur’an, we are supposed to become persons of discussion, deliberation, and reflection, constantly make new syntheses and analyses. All of these are not easy tasks for generations handicapped with an inferiority complex. However, it should never be forgotten that these are not impossible to realize either.

First of all we need to shake off this accursed inferiority complex, whose beginning was marked with the edict of reformation and has increased and continued ever since. If this can be done, the first step for opening a door to immense and deep horizons of thought will have been taken.

It Is Not the Title That Matters, but the Qualities

Secondly, it should never be forgotten that God Almighty has a special regard for human qualities. It is for this reason that even if a person is not a believer, as far as he is ahead of you in terms of hard-work, scrutinizing phenomena with a love for truth and exploration, and making syntheses in terms of the Muslim qualities they possess, then God Almighty will reward such a person according to his qualities, because all of these are favorable qualities in the sight of God, Lord of the worlds. Even if they are possessed by unfavorable people, this does not decrease the value of these qualities—just as a piece of diamond that drops into mud does not lose any of its quality.

It is necessary to view qualities from this perspective. If not you but others have the qualities normally found in believers, then those who possess them will prosper and succeed, in the worldly sense. And just like they did in the renaissance, they will bring you under their dominion with the power and means they obtain thanks to science and technology. If you also seek to have a love for truth, cultivate a love for exploration, and scrutinize phenomena with total dedication, then you will also become eligible for Divine attention. Thus you will have both succeeded in terms of this world, and also have taken a path leading to eternal bliss.

Criteria of the Qur’an and Sunnah

Whether it is in terms of our heart and spirituality, in terms of trying to grasp Islam in its own immensity, or in relation to our plans and conceptions about the future, we must gain a comprehensive view of all matters. We must analyze them with a holistic perspective, try to see things from beginning to end (as our horizons allow), generate alternative thoughts for things we cannot see, and constantly test these thoughts with the criteria of the Qur’an and Sunnah. In order to be able to catch the exegetical meanings—in compliance with the criteria of the Qur’an and Sunnah—we must constantly move our shuttle between our essential references and the conditions of our time; time and conjuncture are among the greatest interpreters.

Considering today’s world, for example, we must open our arms to humanity for the sake of a livable future without putting emphasis on differences of race, ethnicity, belief, and creed; we must try to make different nations and communities embrace one another. We must strive for the sake of letting essential human values prevail—not only in the Islamic world, but in the entire world. In an era when destructive weapons are everywhere, such a broad perspective is a matter of utmost urgency. Otherwise, in some part of the world, some groups might take malevolent actions, which will likely be met with similar malevolence. If such events were to happen, the world would turn to ruins.

Thinkers and intellectuals who see the gravity of the situation must voice their righteous concern on this issue. They must call humanity to unity, togetherness, agreement, and concord. They must try to have humanity unite around such thoughts. In order for this to pass, it is necessary to focus on the factors that can make this happen. They must then reckon the possible impediments and form a common idea between different sections. Finally, such thinkers must share the thoughts that occur to them and try to tackle these issues with a collective consciousness. As for some suggestions and projects that cannot be realized for now, they must be entrusted to the initiative of future generations.

Newly Emerging Conditions and Steering Securely

Taking due precautions in order to steer securely on the path you walk requires being perfectly equipped with respect to faith and morality. You must make everybody admire you due to your complete integrity. You must have complete trust in God’s favor, beneficence, and protection.

However, all of these constitute only a small aspect of the issue. Another aspect is being able to take into consideration others’ feelings, thoughts, and actions. Otherwise, while proceeding to deliver this trust to trustworthy hands, you might be accosted by some looking to derail you. While introducing the values you possess to society, if you ignore the power and strength of those who work against you, as well as their considerations about you, they might trample over what you have built in fifty years. Therefore, in order not to experience any traffic problems on the road you walk, you must show the utmost scrupulousness for steering securely along the way; you must take the precautions required by the changing conditions.

Interpreting correctly the world you live in is another dimension of deep thought. Today’s volunteers for serving humanity have reached some hundred and seventy countries of the world. This means that they get together with people with a hundred and seventy different cultural backgrounds. The people in the places you go will accept you to a certain extent; but after some point, there can be conflicts that stem from differences of culture and thought. For example, the people of the lands you visit might be wracked by an apprehension that you somehow intend to assimilate them. It is necessary to correctly evaluate all of these matters beforehand, give correct decisions about the steps to be taken about these issues, and avoid attitudes and behaviors that evoke unsound suspicions in others.

Thought Flourishes in the Bosom of Action

We have certain works to guide us and to revive our spirits. It is very important to read them well, comprehend their messages and their meanings that pertain to this world and the targets they show for the next one, and also to make a good analysis of what kind of a world they picture for us. Bediüzzaman pointed out in his Gleams of Truth that sufficing with what is in hand is a shiftless inclination requiring minimal effort. In this respect, when we are reading these sources, we must read them with the thought, “What other meanings can we derive from these?” Sufficing with weekly gatherings for the usual readings and having tea together is an inadequate approach. What really matters is evaluating these works with a serious contemplative discussion and being able to see the ideals they set for our future.

However, all of these need to be carried out alongside with action. If thoughts can be effectuated into action, then it will be possible to make more rational decisions. As far as they have no relevance to real life, it is no good to sit around and imagine dazzling worlds, as if we were utopian writers. So many bright ideas have already been produced, but they lost their luster before any real steps were taken, as they were not applicable to the real world. By making reference to good deeds after every mention of faith, the Qur’an points to the fact that action and thought must be carried out simultaneously.[1]

Collective Reasoning

Since the ideas and thoughts that come to our mind do not result from revelation, they are always condemned to our own accumulation of knowledge. That is, some wrong pieces of knowledge in our mind might lead us to wrong analyses and syntheses. We may be wrong in our personal reasoning and deductions. Some thoughts we put forth may not be true for all times and persons. In this respect, it is very important to consider that our plans and projects for the future can need corrections. Thus, opening them to consultation is a necessary factor with respect to attaining immensity of thought.

A Free Environment of Thought and Human Capital

In addition to all of these, attracting human capital to our world by coming up with our own scientific experiences is another important issue. Actually, ridding ourselves from begging from others and being able to realize new syntheses and analyses via free thinking can only be possible by young brains’ finding suitable opportunities and grounds to serve their own countries.

All Achievements Are from Him!

In addition, no matter how much progress a person makes in terms of their horizons of thought and the means they have obtained—and even if they grow into great oaks—one must never forget that it is God who actually grants these accomplishments; one must always remain humble as a sapling before Divine bestowals and favors. True highness calls for modesty. The Pride of Humanity, peace and blessings be upon him, who was sent as a mercy to the worlds and was blessed with great honors, was a paragon of modesty and humility.[2] Just as the branches of fruit trees hang lower as their fruits gain weight, people must also increase in modesty and humbleness as they receive more favors from God.

Those who lay personal claims on the Divine bestowals and honors conferred to them will be doomed to a downfall unawares. Even if they save an entire country, if they see Divine manifestations as their own merits and expect to be applauded for them, then they will be reprimanded by God and one day fall headfirst into a deep pit. In addition, as Bediüzzaman puts it, a person who falls down from a pinnacle of friendship does not fall to even the ground; such a person may possibly fall to the bottom of a very deep pit.[3] In other words, those who fall from the peak of Everest will be buried in the depths of the Dead Sea. Most of the time, the highest and the lowest reside side by side. If a person gives the highest its due, he remains there. If not, he tumbles down.

[1] See: Al-Baqarah 2:25; Al Imran 3:57; an-Nisa 4:57.

[2] Sahih Muslim, Fadail, 76; Sunan Abu Dawud, Adab, 12; Sunan Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 16.

[3] Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, The Gleams, New Jersey: Tughra, 2008, p. 229.

This text is the translation of “Düşüncenin Enginleşmesi.”

Due Reverence for God

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: Could you elucidate the messages conveyed by the verse, “They have no true judgment of God, such as His being God requires, and (such is His Power and Sovereignty that) the whole earth will be in His Grasp on the Day of Resurrection, and the heavens will be rolled up in His Right Hand. All-Glorified is He, and absolutely exalted above what they associate with Him” (az-Zumar 39:67).

Answer: The expression at the beginning of the verse means a lot of things: That they failed to know and recognize God with His attributes of Majesty and Mercy as they should; that they failed to see His absolute Almighty power, as well as the graces and blessings He showers His servants with, His infinite mercy and compassion; and that they failed to have an appropriate judgment about and due reverence for Him. Thus, they lacked appreciation and committed ingratitude.

From the expression meaning “such as His being God requires,” we understand that although some of those people did have the appropriate judgment and appreciation, they failed to revere God thoroughly as becomes His glory; “true” judgment, or appreciation, is different from ordinary appreciation. For example, our Exalted Lord is the one who creates us, honors us with the best pattern of creation, calls us to the right path through His Prophets, and grants us guidance. He spurs our zeal by promising us good things and opening our eyes to the next world. He never leaves us on our own. Thus, knowing all of these, and having reverence and gratitude in accordance with this knowledge, is a kind of appreciation. The opposite signifies blindness, inappreciation, and ungratefulness.

The Divine word continues with an example to express His greatness and states that “the whole earth will be in His Grasp on the Day of Resurrection…” Namely, no matter how great it is in your sight, the world is like a little dot or like a particle with respect to the power of God Almighty. Pointing out His power over the world conveys to those who live therein that, “so you also bow before His overwhelming power and absolute will; act within the sphere of obedience to His commandments.”

As for the expression meaning, “and the heavens will be rolled up in His Right Hand,” it points out that He will roll up the heavens like a sheet and virtually turn it into a scroll. The verse ends as, “All-Glorified is He, and absolutely exalted above what they associate with Him.”

Awe of God, as It Relates to Knowledge of God and Conscience

There are different degrees of true judgment and appreciation of God, and they depend upon how deeply one feels the Divine power and grandeur reflected in this universe, and the graces and bestowals we are showered with. At this point, the following question may come to mind: “Does this appreciation involve only some knowledge in mind, or does it also include all of the human organs and spiritual faculties?” Note that love germinates in the bosom of knowledge and flourishes. Love depends on knowing. In the same way, if the heart is in awe of God, with a mixture of reverence and fear, this feeling also primarily depends on knowing. Then we come to the process of transforming this knowledge into internalized knowledge of God and a culture of the conscience. Once this is done, we must attain our knowledge as a deeply ingrained character trait. The acts of worship a believer will fulfill after this phase will become spontaneous – that is, such a person will not say words of glorification merely for the sake of complying with commandments or counsels.

On the contrary, while scrutinizing phenomena, while beholding the Overwhelming Power and the Evident Supreme Will, the following phrases of appreciation will spontaneously come out, overflowing from the heart’s enthusiasm, which goes far beyond the feeling of mere obedience to orders: “Glory be to God and to Him be praise! Glory be to God the Almighty! God is great, all praise exclusively belongs to God, So glorify God when you enter the night and when you enter the morning. To Him belongs all praise in the heavens and the earth, at the close of day and at noontide…”

In this respect it is possible to say that a believer can express the Overwhelming power, Supreme Will, and Divine Works with feelings of appreciation. But what really matters is internalizing this appreciation as an ingrained character trait. Otherwise, the person will express feelings of acknowledging His greatness and praise Him only in times and places that require it, out of being commanded to do so.

It is only those with believing hearts who have formed a web of knowledge of God in their conscience through reflection in every phase of their life: they fill with feelings of acknowledging God’s greatness and of appreciation for His works. Some of them do this every moment of their lives. For example, when they encounter something that lets them behold a manifestation of Divine Power and Greatness, it makes them glorify God, who is absolutely beyond all defects. A time comes when the person virtually sees being showered with blessings and cannot help but declare infinite praises for Him. On visualizing God’s splendid works that point to His greatness and supremacy, the person breathes with the remembrance, “God is great!”

As the author Recaizade Mahmud Ekrem once said, “The entire universe is a great book of God: whichever letter you study, its meaning will point to God.” That is, as the meaning of any letter that appears before a believer points to God, that person’s expressions will respond accordingly. This is the essence of the matter; this is the actual meaning of “true” judgment mentioned in the verse. What really matters here is making the feeling of appreciation for God into a property of one’s conscience.

The Influence of Awe upon a Person and His Surroundings

The following case about the Pride of Humanity can shed light on our subject. When he saw someone playing with his beard during Prayer, he stated, “Had his heart been in awe, his organs would be in awe too.”[1] If there is awe of God and deep reverence for Him in the heart, it will be reflected in a person’s attitude and behaviors, down to his gestures.

In the gestures, attitude, and behaviors of figures of great standing whose hearts are awakened, signs of awe of God are seen and felt. This way, one seriously feels being imbued with the atmosphere of their presence and finds a form of spiritual tranquility. When I was in the presence of Muhammed Lütfi Effendi in my childhood, I would experience feelings that filled a person with relief. When such personages mention the name of God and the Prophet, or when they reveal their respectful caution on different issues, they inspire you with faith and insight that cannot be expressed in books.

A memory about Muhammed Lütfi Effendi is a good example for this. One day, someone came to his presence and said, “O master! I went to Hajj, but—maybe out of neglect or some other reason—the dogs in Medina had the mange.”

Upon hearing this, the master boomed, “Hush! Let me be a sacrifice even for Medina’s dogs with the mange!”

What made him utter these words was nothing but the deep love and respect rooted in his heart for the Pride of Humanity. That blessed master instantly revealed his reverent care on the issue. What really matters is a person’s letting oneself go to a waterfall of awe and reverence, with a deep concern for sacred values, and following wherever that waterfall takes him.

An Important Value We Have Lost

Unfortunately, one of the most important values we have lost is making the conscience internalize these values. We, the victims of formalism with respect to Islam, have lost our hearts; we have forgotten our inner depths. Although we may have learned some matters of religion—may God eternally be pleased with those who taught them to us—we are left alone with theoretical knowledge based on imitation. We have not actually learned the actual points about the heart, and thus have not experienced them.

As it is stated in the following verses however, what will serve as a means of salvation in the next world is having a sound heart, and a person revering and standing in awe of their Lord: “The Day when neither wealth will be of any use, nor offspring…” (ash-Shuara 26:89). “Their reward is with their Lord: Gardens of perpetual bliss through which rivers flow, abiding therein forever. God is well-pleased with them, and they are well pleased with Him. That is for him who stands in awe of his Lord” (al-Bayyina 98:8).

Another indication of our piteous condition is the fact that a verse, which makes even a stone minbar (pulpit) shake, does not make our hearts shake. The Messenger of God once recited the verse mentioned in our question on the minbar of the mosque, and it shook so much that he nearly fell down.[2] Had we not lost our hearts, that Divine verse would shake our hearts as well, and lead us to awe.

Let us supplicate to our Lord, so that He enables us to rid ourselves of formalism and get to the essence; so that we are freed from mere forms and attain the meaning! May He fill our hearts with feelings of awe, every moment of our lives. May these feelings be reflected in all our attitudes and actions.

[1] Abdurrrazzaq, Al-Musannaf, 2/266; Tirmidhi, Nawadiru’l-Usul, 2/172.

[2] Sahih Muslim, Sifatu’l-Munafiqin, 25; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 2:72.

This text is the translation of “Allah’ı Hakkıyla Tâzim ve Takdir.”

Those Who Remain in the Distance despite Their Proximity, and the Need for Ceaseless Action

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: History shows that there has been a considerable number of people who were contemporaries of great personages, and even lived in their proximity, but could not benefit from them at all. Could you elucidate the reasons? What kind of an attitude must be adopted in order not to fall to such a position?

Answer: Sometimes individuals may not see and appreciate the priceless values beside them on account of failing to have the right viewpoint, or possessing some preconceived ideas and prejudices, or even sometimes on account of the jealousy they are seized by. Not only can they not appreciate the great person, they might even become a ruthless and relentless foe. If you wish, you can call this “blindness in proximity.”

A Prototype in the Whirlpool of Envy: Abu Lahab

Even if they are constantly near greatest personages and always keep in their company throughout the day, those who suffer from such blindness cannot see what they are supposed to see, owing a fault in their point of view—just as in the example of Abu Lahab. As it is known, Abu Lahab was the noble Prophet’s paternal uncle. He shared the same family atmosphere with the Pride of Humanity, peace and blessings be upon him. Abu Lahab had cuddled that great guide many times in his early years. He had even assigned his bondmaid Suwaybah to serve as the wet nurse of that blessed baby.[1] For years, his home and that of the Prophet were side by side. They passed came across one another most days. By marrying his sons with the Pride of Humanity’s daughters, Ruqayyah and Umm Kulthum, he had established a further tie of kinship. In short, he had witnessed the beautiful morality of the Pride of Humanity throughout every phase of his life. 

However, this unfortunate one, who was overwhelmed by blindness in proximity, did not acknowledge the Divine mission of the prince of the Prophets. Let alone not acknowledging, Abu Lahab became one of his archenemies. One of the closest relatives of the Pride of Humanity, under whose blessed feet the stars were no more than cobble stones, did not see, or refused to see, his greatness.

In this respect, it should be known that persons whom God Almighty employed at very great services might sometimes meet contempt and derision by those in their close proximity, despite all of their remarkable activities which call for appreciation. They might even face betrayal and animosity from such people. The most important reason for this situation is the enviers not consenting to the judgment of Divine destiny, their inability to stomach God’s decree, and their being taken by a whirlpool of intolerance and envy. However, all means and talents a person possesses are Divinely decreed. The judgment entirely belongs to God on this issue.

Great Duties to Little Ones

As God Almighty sometimes lets great personages do great deeds, He sometimes grants very little persons very important missions and lets them fulfill excellent services. What falls to a person is petitioning God in this respect by fully turning to Him with a pure heart and never scorning anyone. There are many people who outwardly look poor, but are actually full of treasures within. The great guide İbrahim Hakkı expresses this as follows:

Hakkı, let you not reveal your secret,

On this path, if you intend to be matured.

Do not contempt the wretched, my dear;

There are ruins that hold a treasure.

It is narrated that the venerable İbrahim Hakkı had two sons named Shakir and Dhakir. Dhakir was a virtuous person who was constantly busy with devotions. On the other hand, Shakir was a drunkard who spent most of his time in pubs. One day, İbrahim Hakkı took Dhakir into his company and they walked together. They came near a bar. İbrahim Hakkı told his son to wait outside and went in. He found the other son, Shakir, passed out at a table. He asked the bartender how much his son owed him and paid it all. Then he left and kept walking together with Dhakir.

When Shakir sobered up, he wished to pay his debt and leave. But when the bartender said, “You owe nothing; your father has paid it all,” he was consumed with shame. He went after his father right away and found him near a cliff with his brother. Shakir witnessed their conversation. İbrahim Hakkı told his religious son Dhakir, “My son, one of the forty saints have passed away. Jump down from this cliff, so that you join them to replace the late one.” But the son hesitated; he could not jump. Overhearing their talk, Shakir asked, “Father, is it alright if I jump?” Then he asked his father’s blessing, jumped down, and joined the forty saints. Upon this, before the perplexed looks of the religious son Dhakir, İbrahim Hakkı said his famous lines we quoted above. 

What matters in parables is not the factual reality, but the message they convey. Whether this is a true story or not, the truth it means to convey is very important. As an expression of this meaning, the blessed Prophet stated that there are many people who may be shabby in appearance, and who are treated as objects of scorn. If they swear that a certain thing will happen however, God does not make them wrong in their word. He added that Bara ibn Malik was one of them.[2]

There are people you disdain and do not even pay attention to, but God sometimes lets them make great accomplishments, leaving you dumbfounded before its greatness.  Note that God Almighty lets termites’ buildings far excelling their own size; He can similarly let little and simple people build up gigantic towers. Indeed, commanders such as Abu Ubayda ibn Jarrah, Ka’ka, and Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas, were common people raised in the desert culture. In a very short time, however, they brought into the line the Byzantine and Persian empires, which were thought to be invincible, and guided their people to the road to true humanity.

Laying Personal Claims on Success and Words That Imply Associating Partners with God

God Almighty stated: “…That is God’s grace and bounty, which He grants to whom He wills” (al-Maedah, 5:54).

As Bediüzzaman put it in “The Fourteenth Ray,” “the soul is inferior to everyone, duty is greater than everything.”

Although we are little people, God Almighty can employ us in very great services with His Infinite Power and support; this is a favor and bestowal that entirely belongs to Him. Every remark like, “we achieved, we realized, or we planned these while others even did not dream about it…” imply associating partners with God. Therefore it is necessary to keep away from such claims as much as possible.

Bediüzzaman also pointed out in “The Seventeenth Word” that, “…a negation negated is an affirmation.” Therefore, you will not have affirmed your value unless you negate your ego. To clarify the issue with an oft-repeated statement, “the Infinite is one and there are no other relative infinites.” If we are supposed to determine a worth for other beings vis-à-vis the Absolutely Infinite, they are only zero. Therefore, the relation between God Almighty and the human is like the relation between infinite and zero. God is infinite and the human is zero.

On the other hand, although zero does not possess any value on its own, it gains a value when it comes after other figures. In the same way, a person who relies on God with his impotence and poverty resembles a zero placed near the alif, which is both the first letter when writing the name of God and stands for the figure one; thus, such a person becomes ten, a hundred, or even a thousand.

Oppression Does Not Last Forever

The second point in the initial question was about the attitude to be adopted in order not to fall into such a position. The sincere souls devoted to serving humanity for the sake of God may be surrounded from all sides by merciless oppressors: oppressors who misunderstand competing on the path of God, who act with feelings of rivalry, and who are intent on not letting nobody else survive other then themselves. However this will last forever, for oppression has never been long-lived. As expressed in a saying of the noble Prophet, God gives respite upon respite to the oppressor; but when He seizes him, He does not let him escape.[3] “Unbelief lasts, but oppression does not.”[4] Unbelief is left for the Day of Judgment. God punishes deniers in His Divine presence, but as oppression is a violation of innocent people’s rights in general, it sooner or later finds punishment in this world. Oppressors receive their just deserts in the end.

In addition, this is the path of God, and He has not let down anyone who walks sincerely on this path. On the other hand, as God Almighty stated in the verse, “Such days (of joy and sorrow)—We deal them out in turns among people…” (Al Imran 3:140), He sometimes lets His servants experience temporary defeats, tries them with troubles and misfortunes, and lets events unfold in accordance with the Divine Will. This helps them realize different wisdoms. For this reason, if these are days of celebration for some, it will be so for others tomorrow; if these are days of mourning for some, it will be so for others tomorrow. Then, the heroes who wish to let humanity hear the inspirations of their soul should not busy themselves with what the ignorant say. On the contrary, they should fill their minds and hearts with considerations like, “How can we represent in the best way the diamond truths of the Qur’an and beauties of Islamic teaching by personal example?” Those whom they address voluntarily welcome the message or reject it; the result is not our concern. But what we need to do is to dress these values of ours in the best way with the most pleasant engravings to suit their worth, and then display them in the fairs of the world in the most charming fashion.

Periods of undergoing oppression should be seen like the darkness of a night: One must never give in to hopelessness or pessimism. As every winter has a spring, every night has a morning. Therefore, it should not be forgotten that a day will follow the night, and one should make plans for a bright future in the darkness of the night.

In the same way, it should also be taken into consideration during the day that a night will follow afterwards. In other words, while a believer spurs his horse in the bright and pleasant light of daytime, he must not forget that another night awaits beyond the day, and that he needs to prepare a separate plan and strategy for that night too. As obstinacy has never failed to exist in this world, it will keep existing in the future as well; obstinate people with underlying motives will lie in wait for you with intrigues and traps. Therefore, one should neither act with panic at nighttime nor act in a carefree fashion during daytime; one must make plans and projects for the day at night, and strategies for the night at daytime.

Continuous and Ceaseless Action

Thus, believing hearts must utilize every moment of their lives in an axis of good deeds. They must carry the light of day to nights, and the warmth of spring to winters. Essentially, faith makes righteous acts incumbent on a believer in every situation and condition in accordance with what circumstances allow.

In order to better understand continuous and ceaseless action of this sort, it is possible to compare them to the situation of a person circumambulating the Ka’ba. As it is known, a person at circumambulation walks faster, as if running in short steps (ramal), if it is possible. But when it is crowded, he keeps jumping in his place in order not to disturb anyone. Either way, he keeps moving and retains his spirit of vigilance. With God’s permission and grace, he continues walking when time and conditions allow.

Stagnancy is a type of inaction. Things are inactive by nature and it is God who makes them move. Humanity is also bound by the rules of the physical realm: they get stuck in a process of falling and disintegrating as soon as they stop. Just like meteors, when they go through a void, they come under the influence of another gravitational force, are worn out by friction, and finally diminish and terminate. Even if a person retains his position, if he constantly keeps spinning and moving, as it happens with the sun, the stars and the moon, then he both keeps up his vitality and begins to emanate lights of truth.

The fact that God Almighty distributed acts of worship to different phases of the day is a striking example in terms of understanding the principle of constant action.

Under the light of the verse, “And in some part of the night, rise from sleep and observe vigil therein as additional worship for you…” (al-Isra 17:79), you rise up from bed at a certain hour of the night, read from the Qur’an, and observe the Tahajjud Prayer. Similarly, in the very early hours of the day, you ask forgiveness as referred to in the verse, “And in the hour of early dawn, they would implore God’s forgiveness” (adh-Dhariyat 51:17–18). Then the time of the Fajr Prayer comes; you observe the sunnah and obligatory part respectively. When the sun rises and the time of karahat[5] is over, you observe the Ishraq Prayer; and before the noon draws near, you observe the Duha Prayer. You observe the Zuhr Prayer at a time when daily chores are almost pressing on you. By running to Divine presence for the Asr Prayer, you virtually turn the increasingly crushing tiredness of the day into a trip on the horizons of the spirit and find relief. Similarly, you observe the Maghrib and Isha Prayers with the same feeling and thoughts, and you do not fall into any spiritual void.

Just as our daily life of worship is scheduled this way, as God Almighty commanded, and no gap has been left, it is necessary to schedule the weeks, months, seasons, and even years with such an understanding of action. On this issue, every believer must virtually work like a strategy expert: they must determine what they can do for themselves, their family, and for the society they live in. Thus, they will have retained their vitality and resourcefulness as well; as the Turkish proverb says, “A working iron shines brightly.” A person remaining ever bright without getting rusty depends on constant action.

In almost in every verse of the Qur’an that refers to those who have faith, their aspect of action is highlighted by stating that they do good and righteous deeds.[6] A good or righteous deed refers to a task perfectly fulfilled. For example, in order to observe the Prayer thoroughly, it is necessary to comply with not only certain conditions before and within the Prayer, but also with the inward dimension. That is, just as one should stand in awe of God and seek inward depth at Prayer, it is similarly necessary for a believer to carry out all of their tasks by complying with the outward and inward requirements. Thus, after a believer gains the attribute of having sound faith and being a trustworthy person, he must not leave his belief as a theoretical matter, but confirm it with his action.

The time of the Rightly Guided Caliphs being the prime example, it has been at different times—like the early years of the Seljuks and Ottomans—that the individuals and societies who constantly keep moving have remained steadfast on their path, by God’s permission and grace, without falling down. Although I do not mean to speak against a glorious people—I regard even the pettiest of them like a crown on my head—it is possible to say, with a perspective of perfectionism, that whenever some voids occurred in terms of ideas and action, the administrators did not go on campaigns leading their armies, but began to lead a life in magnificent and pompous palaces. Naturally, the people let themselves give in to ease and comfort in parallel to this, forgot to strive for a lofty ideal, and were taken by a desire for their cozy homes. Thus, those who let themselves to the temptations of worldliness were ruined in the web of their own worldly wishes and carnal desires. At such periods, when the understanding of society had entirely shifted from its axis, some administrators, like Osman II and Osman IV, were aware of the stance they were supposed to take in spite of everything, but the inner and outer dark powers of the time finished them off, through different means.

To conclude, those who gave in to the ease and comfort of the world and indulged in carnal pleasures ended up as victims of their ease and comfort, albeit unawares.

[1] Sahih al-Bukhari, Nikah, 20; Bayhaqi, Sunan al-Kubra, 7/162.

[2] Sunan at-Tirmidhi,  Manaqib, 54; Hakim, Mustadrak, 3, 331.

[3] Sahih al-Bukhari, Tafsir Surah (11), 5; Sahih al-Muslim, Birr, 61.

[4] Munawi, Fayd al-Qadr, 2:107.

[5] One of three periods of time during the day when the Prayers are not offered.

[6] See: Al-Baqarah 2:25.

This text is the translation of “Yakında Uzaklığı Yaşayanlar ve Kesintisiz Aksiyon.”

The Invincible Power of Faith

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: What are the greatest obstacles faced by the volunteers who wish to share with others the inspirations of their souls and the beauties of the values in which they believe?

Answer: Worldly desires and wishes are the greatest components for a human’s trial in this world. In societies where these components have seized individuals’ feelings and thoughts, the consequences have been many cases of oppression and suffering. Many people on the path of truth faced relentless and faithless attacks, various kinds of insults and slanders, and even assassinations and massacres; the Prophets, peace be upon them, are prime examples of this.

The first heart-rending incident took place in Prophet Adam’s home, one blessed with showers of revelation. Although he was raised in such an atmosphere, Cain murdered his brother Abel for the sake of his worldly desires.[1] Thus, the first story began with Satan’s deception and an unending chain of deceptions followed.

According to old scriptures, Prophet David’s once downtrodden people, whom he saved from disgrace and guided to dignity (with God’s permission and grace), slandered him with adultery and murder, terrible sins even ordinary believers do not easily commit. His people forced him to swear by placing his hand on the Holy Ark and put him in a difficult situation. The Pride of Humanity faced his enemies’ slanders—such as being, may God forbid a hundred thousand times, a magician and soothsayer[2]—by means of which they tried to prevent the truths he told to reach hearts.

Do Not Destroy the Eternal In This World!

Similar things can happen today as well—and they will not cease to exist in the future either. It is important not to express our troubles and hand future generations a heritage of complaints. What really matters is meeting all that befalls us with resignation and not complaining about it to people; we can open up to God when places and times provide us with due privacy, but must not let anyone know about this lamentation. The sole owner of time and space is God Almighty, and to Him belongs the final decree. Interfering with the result is not of our business. It is necessary to act with the following understanding:

Troubles sent by His Majesty, or graces from Divine mercy,

My soul welcomes them equally; Your favors and troubles all are lovely. (Ibrahim Tannuri).

If we live with this understand, we will meet His decrees about us with appreciation.

There can be troubles from His Majesty or graces from His mercy; one must welcome them both and neither feel joyful with favors nor complain about troubles. One must not say, “What did I do that these befell me? Why do I always come up against all these sufferings, troubles, gossip, and envy?” Muhammed Lütfi of Alvar puts it beautifully, in one of his pearls of wisdom, which are brighter than actual pearls:

A lover of God talks of those who hurt;

Says, do not be hurt by those who hurt;

For the one who is hurt lacks perfection;

In comparison to the one who hurts. 

If you really expect to be rewarded with some perfection in the next world, it is a sign of lacking perfection to expect perfection in terms of worldly things here. Desires like expecting applause and flattering remarks from people means going bankrupt; this is a lost investment in terms of the Hereafter. The Qur’an warns us on this issue and states, “You consumed in your worldly life your (share of) pure, wholesome things, and enjoyed them fully (without considering the due of the Hereafter, and so have taken in the world the reward of all your good deeds)” (al-Ahqaf 46:20). Therefore, one must leave to the next world all Divine favors to be enjoyed, and not consume in this world all good things God promised for the Hereafter.

The following parable conveys a meaningful lesson about this subject: The wife of a saintly person complained to her husband about their humble livelihood. She asked him to pray for them to be saved from this state. So as not to turn down his wife’s wish, that righteous person prayed about it and his prayer was accepted. All of a sudden, a golden brick appeared near them, out of nowhere. That righteous man told his wife, “Here you are. This is a brick from our would-be mansion in Paradise.” Upon this, that conscientious lady felt regret for her previous words and told her husband, “Though we are truly needy, and God willing, we will have many other bricks like this one in the Hereafter. However, I do not wish to waste in this transient realm the reward we are to receive in the eternal one. Let not a single brick of our mansion in Paradise be missing. Therefore, please pray for this brick to go back to its place.” Upon this sincere wish, that righteous person prayed again, the golden brick disappeared, and went back to its place.

The invincible power of those devoted to the truth and a lofty ideal, and who seek to have a bright future for their people again, is keeping away from worldliness, acting with a spirit of dignified contentment, and devoting themselves completely to the happiness of others. There is nothing wrong if the people who earn from trade and support the services for faith and the Qur’an seek material prosperity. However, the devoted souls who are in a position of representing their values must take a clear stance against worldliness and always act with dignified contentment against it; this is their greatest credit. As they behave with genuine indifference to worldliness, people will listen to their words attentively, welcome every matter they point out, and fulfill the duties they are supposed to do without the least hesitation.

While this is what should have been, unfortunately it seems that there is a considerable number of people who set forth with a spirit of devotion, then inclined to the world by initially saying that a bit of enjoyment will bring no harm; this led to deeper indulges, and they could not manage to straighten afterwards, and finally lost against worldliness. In the words of Muhammed Lütfi Effendi:

So many elegant youthful ones,

So many rosy-faced sultans,

So many khans like Chosroes,

and so many bearers of crowns… 

These people came one by one—and they unfortunately perished one by one. If the devoted souls are ever taken by these devilish considerations and say, “Let me also earn and live like them; let me also have a house and fortune…” this will mean ruining their credit with their own hands. Divine destiny issues a decree for their losing the blessings in their hands; they will slip and fall. Then God Almighty will remove from the scene those lifeless ones who entirely lost their spirit; and as the Qur’an states, God brings a fresh group of people who are not weary, and have never been dazzled by the world.[3]

The Way to Bring Haughty Ones to Their Knees

The esteem and honor of devotedness must be protected against all odds. Like in every other virtue, the Pride of Humanity is the prime devoted one who represents the peak of this virtue. When he died and passed to the horizons of his spirit, his armor was held in pawn by a Jewish merchant, which he had given in return for an amount of barley he had taken in order to treat his guests. After his demise, Muslims realized the situation and they took back the armor from pawn.[4]

The first caliph Abu Bakr followed in his footsteps; he had left an earthen jar to be handed to the next caliph after him. After he passed away, the trust was handed to the second caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab. When they broke the jar with curiosity, the contents turned out to be the bits of money that remained after meeting the needs of his family, and a note. The note read: “The money you allocated for me was more than necessary some days. I felt ashamed against God to spend it, for it belongs to the people and should go back to the state treasury.” This message by the blessed Abu Bakr moved Umar ibn al-Khattab, who said with tearful eyes, “May God have mercy on Abu Bakr! He left such a difficult example to follow for those who remained behind.”[5]

Umar continued his caliphate with the same understanding. He never had a throne; he always sat in the mosque and carried out his tasks from there. He did not claim to be representing the dignity of the state as a pretext for leading a life of luxury, lavishness, and pomp. On the contrary, he brought the world powers of the time into line with his modest conditions. When they were going to take over the keys of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the leaders met him in sumptuous clothes, but he rode the same mount with his slave (in turns), came with his patched clothes, and his general air was modest.[6] As it is also plainly understood from this, the way to bring down the conceited ones of the time is effacement and modesty. This state and attitude will bury all types of conceitedness. This was the understanding of Umar ibn al-Khattab. He never cherished a thought like, “let me leave some worldly wealth for my children and grandchildren…” He entrusted his children to the faithful understanding of the blessed Companions and passed to the other world thus.

The third caliph, Uthman ibn al-Affan, was very rich. He was engaged in trade. However, he forsook the world in his heart, even if he did not necessarily forsake earning, as Bediüzzaman put it in The Seedbed of the Light.[7] As a matter of fact, when Muslims were asked to donate to equip the army to meet the advancing Byzantine army in Tabuk, he donated hundreds of camels, together with their loads, without having the least bit of regret in his heart and purely for the sake of God’s good pleasure.[8] Had the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, told him that he was supposed to give everything he had, he would no doubt have done so without any hesitation.

The life of the fourth caliph Ali was no different. He ruled a vast territory, one that was larger than Europe. The area of the lands he ruled, in spite of some political rivalries and strife, was large enough as to contain the Persian and Roman empires of the time. On the other hand, caliph Ali used to wear summer clothes during winter, causing him to tremble, and winter clothes during summer, causing him to sweat. When asked about the reason, he answered, “This is what I can afford with my own means.”[9]

If This Is Islam, Then Where Are We?

Some claim today that “We are also on the path of the Righteous Caliphs,” but spend their lives in luxurious mansions in summer and winter, try to secure a fortune for their children and grandchildren, and thus misappropriate state money. It is necessary to ask them, “Who is your example? Is not a believer supposed to totally keep away from such thoughts, which normally belong to greedy pharaohs, and feel ashamed before God?”

It is my wish from God Almighty that the people devoted to a lofty ideal always retain this noble feeling of shame, that they are not taken by the temptations of this world, and that they do not let these trip them up and bring about their fall. Let them say, “We can show patience in this world, so that nothing will be missing in the next one.” They should live an understanding like the one Ziya Pasha portrayed in his couplet:

The ignorant are cruising, carefree and casual;

The enlightened are swimming, in the whirlpool of trouble. 

Let the volunteers consent to suffering troubles, but not covet others’ ostentatious lives. Let them see worldly things as dirt that smear a corner of their foot. And let them pass to the next world so nobly that when they are asked in the presence of God, “What did you leave in the world?” they should be able to say, “I cannot remember anything.” The essential of our path is dignified contentment, effacement, and modesty. Other codes of conduct by the idealist souls devoted to restoring a ruined heritage will not only shake the people’s trust in them, but also cause them to lose credit in the sight of God. As seen throughout history, those who commit injustice and misappropriation will fall like Qarun (Korah) in the end, even if they appear like Prophet Aaron, peace be upon him, at the beginning.

Even if they offer a title of a great conqueror, the thought of devotedness must not be sacrificed for anything. Just as we did not possess anything when we came to this world, one must similarly pass to the next world with zero wealth; just like in the examples given above. Let those who do see those examples appreciate them; their appreciation will turn to a blessing in the Hereafter. As for those refuse to appreciate? Their non-appreciation will slam on them like a sledgehammer.

They Fear Not the Censure of Any Who Censure!

Many roses have been taken by thorns, and many nightingales have lamented this. And today, it falls to the heroes of noble ideals to lament. They meet slanders, condemnations, derision, intrigues, and plots… In the face of all these, it is necessary to act with the understanding voiced by a Sufi poet: “Neither the world welcomed us, nor did we expect from worldly ones; nor do we seek refuge in any door but God’s.”

It is necessary to present a stance of dignity. As Sadi Shirazi put it, “If a stray stone touches a golden bowl, neither the stone gains value, nor the bowl loses value at all.” Therefore, if you are a golden bowl, let them stone you; with God’s permission and grace, nobody will be able to harm you.

The Qur’an states that steadfast believers do not fear the censure of any who censure (al-Maedah 5:54), and shows us the attitude to be taken in such situations. On the other hand, it is necessary to know that everything that befalls us is a trial which serves as a means for further closeness to the Eternally Beloved Creator, thanks to a perspective that sees beyond apparent causes. As a hero of such horizons, Bediüzzaman said: “I give my blessing about the torments and ordeals I have been going through for twenty-eight years. I forgive those who oppressed me, those who sent me into exile many times, those who sought to put me in prison on trumped-up charges, and those who paved the way for my imprisonment.”[10]

Journeyers on this path must say like Nasimi did:

I am a suffering lover O Beloved, I will not turn away from You.

Even if You cleave my heart through, I still will not do so.

Even if they cut me into two from head to foot like Zachariah,

Put my head to the saw O Lord, I will not turn away from You.

Even if they burn me into cinders and blow away my ashes,

They will hear my ashes sigh: ‘O Veiler (of sins), I will not abandon You.’ 

Without being hindered by the evil words they hear, they must focus their attention on the task they need to carry out and walk uprightly on the righteous path.

Have no doubt about it: with God’s permission and grace, they will keep serving under Divine protection and no one will be able to stop them. They must keep walking with the understanding, “Whatever it is that God ordains, it is sure to be goodness.”

[1] See: Al-Maedah 5:27–32.

[2] See: Yunus 10:2; Sad 38:4; Al-Anbiya 21:5; As-Saffat 37:86, and for soothsayer see: Al-Hakim, Al-Mustadrak, 2:550; Abdurrazzaq, Tafsir as-San’ani, 3/328.

[3] See: Al-Maedah: 5:54.

[4] Tabarani, Mujamu’l-Awsat, 8/359.

[5] Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat al-Kubra, 3:186.

[6] Mevlana Şibli Numani, Hz. Ömer ve Devlet İdaresi, İstanbul: Kitapevi Yayınları, 1986, vol. 1, pp. 233–238.

[7] Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, Mesnevi-i Nuriye (The Seedbed of the Light) İstanbul: Şahdamar, 2010, p. 113.

[8] Tabarani, Mu’jam al-Kabir, 18/231.

[9] Sunan Ibn Majah, Muqaddima, 11; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 1:99.

[10] Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, Emirdağ Lahikası (The Supplement of Emirdağ), İstanbul: Şahdamar, 2010, p. 75.

This text is the translation of “İmanın Yenilmez Gücü.”

Discovering Oneself and Depth in Servanthood

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: It is stated that deepening one’s relationship with God and servanthood to Him can be possible by knowing and discovering oneself. Could you elucidate on this?

Answer: There is a saying in Arabic which means “habits are not forsaken.” From this, scholars deduced the principle, “Forsaking habits is one of the causes that leads to ruin.” If a believer will make something into a habit, it will prevent ruin. Thus, if he makes the acts of worship he must observe with respect to his relation with God into habits, he will never forsake or be forsaken. If a person can maintain a close relationship with God by means of worship and devotions, and then make these practices into an inner depth of his conscience, he can attain the state voiced by some saintly persons when they say, “I will be ruined if I become oblivious of being in the presence of God for a moment.”

For this reason, it is very important for a believer to act as if he sees God and is seen by Him every moment. He must always seek His good pleasure with his feelings, consciousness, and willpower; and he must keep away from behaviors that might incur His wrath as much as possible, orienting his inherent feelings of love and respect to God.

Attaining such a state is a target for every believer; or rather, it must be a target for them. However, for the sake of attaining that target, a person must always revise his position and stance, and sincerely ask himself the following questions:

“Do I present the ideal state required for attaining such a horizon? Am I able to keep flying higher through the skies of progress by not becoming stuck in my present position? Am I asking for the next step at all times?”

The Path of Truth and Humility

It is very important that a journeyer to truth not suffice with the level he has attained while journeying through the horizons of the heart and spirit. He must continually target higher levels. However, this should not be mistaken as an encouragement for showing off by working some saintly wonders. What we are referring to is deepening in terms of knowing God Almighty and seeing oneself as nothing in His presence.

Imagine for instance that a person manages to change the movement of not only the earth, but all of the worlds; he still needs to see himself as nothing and acknowledge that everything is from Him. In this respect, those who volunteer to serve on the path of truth must never seek to work wonders. Desiring to gain some exceptional bestowals God Almighty grants to some of His saintly servants contradicts the spirit of the path of truth. The essence of the path of truth is modesty, humility, continuous self-revilement, and always seeing oneself as worth nothing. Let me state incidentally that heroes of truth who do not seek such spiritual ranks and titles will surely have no desire concerning worldly titles, such as being a governor, a member of parliament, a minister, and the like.

These statements should not be taken as disregarding the importance of those administrative positions. However, being inclined to such things in spite of the greatness of the sublime spiritual values one seeks is disrespectful toward those truths. If one has set foot on this path of seeking “God’s good pleasure,” he should know that there is nothing greater. If it is the Divine Countenance, there is nothing more exceptional; if it is the Firdaws in Paradise, there cannot be a place more important. Once a person has targeted these lofty ideals, it will be disrespectful towards them to turn away from them to care about other things. A person devoted to the path of truth becomes a voluntary servant for the cause of the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, and speaks out like Rumi:

I have become a servant, become a servant, become a servant;

I have bowed down in servitude to you.

Servants rejoice when they are emancipated;

Whereas I rejoice when I become Your servant.

Given that one has declared being a servant in submission to Islam and the cause of the blessed Prophet, then he or she will not, and must not, change that in return for anything else.

The Doors Are Bolted Tight for Those Who Say “I”

However, if a person has failed to abandon his own self, then he becomes stuck with his own egotism. The more he is stuck with egotism, the closer he will be to Satan, and more distant from God. The doors on the path of God never open to a person who says “I”. Every time he tries to open them, he always finds them closed and bolted, and he keeps waiting before that door in vain. This is because there cannot be two “I”s in the same place. Actually, saying “I” is an indication of haughtiness. When the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, asked who knocked at his door, the Companion answered, “I”; he would open the door but revealed his disturbance by saying “I, I!”[1] Thus it seems there is some arrogance in saying “I”; such a person virtually says, “I do not even need to introduce myself.”

Continuously saying “I” virtually means booming like a big drum; and a drum makes such a loud noise because it is hollow. A person who continually says “I” also reduces himself to the level of a hollow and lowly creature. Those who are not hollow do not sound out like a drum. Conversely, Rumi likens those who are hollow to the boxes that contain a few pieces of toy pearls and make noise when they are moved, and he likens people of wisdom to jewel boxes that give out no sound, because they are full of jewels.

The indication of modesty, humility, and humbleness is quietness. Quiet people act with these feelings and constantly try to generate plans and projects for their country, people, and the whole of humanity. They give priority to taking action. And just like thunderbolts, which reach their target before their noise does, they walk ahead of their sound.

On the other hand, showing off and pomp are hollow but noisy. Therefore, those who build their lives on showing off and pomp do nothing but cause hollow noise. What really matters is giving priority to action instead of paying lip service to an issue. Prophet Abraham, peace be upon him, prayed, “And grant me a most true and virtuous renown among posterity” (ash-Shuara 26:84), and thus asked for lasting services that would extend to future generations as well. This is an expression of giving priority to action. For this reason, a person must sow the seeds as much as he knows or can, and then leave the rest to God. However, serving with such an immense consideration depends on knowing and recognizing God, and this knowledge and recognition depends on the person’s knowing himself in his own position with God.

One Who Does Not Know Himself Will Not Know God Either

As it is also expressed in the following statement, narrated as a saying of the Prophet, “One who knows himself will know his Lord.”[2] A person who analyzes himself altogether with his physiological structure, conscience, and its four faculties — the subtle spiritual sense, the heart, the mind, and his feelings — knows his Lord better.

To take this statement another way, it means, “one who does not know himself cannot know his Lord.” In order to know his Lord, a person must know who he, himself, is. As Bediüzzaman puts it in “The Thirteenth Word,” the human is such a perfect factory that each of its parts is in mutual proportion with the other parts. At the same time, this existence is in a very serious proportion with the universe. For example, there is direct compatibility between a person’s mouth and the things he can eat, and between his eyes and what he will see with them: He can see and spot unique beings, as the different manifestations of Divine Names and Attributes.

This harmony of human organs is also true for other beings in the universe. According to the statements of physicists and astrophysicists, even the most distant systems have a relationship to the human, a being that seems so petty on earth. In order to be able to sense and understand this relationship, it is necessary to begin with the closest sphere. For example, if a person analyses himself in terms of the substances his mouth will eat and the relation between his eyes and the objects they will see, he will definitely find evidence indicating the existence and oneness of the Exalted Creator. Therefore, according to a blessed statement narrated as a hadith qutsi and included in religious literature, God Almighty stated:

“O human, one who knows himself knows Me; one who knows Me quests for me; one who quests for Me definitely finds Me and attains more; and he does not prefer anybody else over Me. O human, be modest, so that you can know Me. Get accustomed to hunger so that you see Me. Be sincere in your worship so that you reach Me. O human, I am the Lord; one who knows himself, knows Me also. One who abandons himself finds Me. Abandon thyself in order to know Me; a heart not flourished with knowledge of Me is blind.”

From Anatomical Structure to the Depths of the Spirit

Alexis Carrel wrote Man, the Unknown in 1935, and drew attention to the perfection in the human body and emphasized that it absolutely has a Creator, and thus left behind an important work. Although the author was defamed by some in Turkey, people in our country did read and benefit from that work. When people—particularly doctors—look at the analyses of human anatomy there, they will not be able to help but proclaim the unity of God in every step of Carrel’s analyses. It is not possible to explain the wondrous proportion in the human body without acknowledging the hand of the Divine Power.

His own anatomy and physiology being the first, after a human gets to know the outer world, he should seek to know his soul, his mechanism of conscience, and what occurs to his heart. Sometimes expressed as an intuition or sixth sense, cases of foreknowing—such as remembering someone in the morning and meeting that person in the afternoon and beholding scenes of the World of Representations in a dream and witnessing some of what appeared in that dream come true as they were (some with the meaning they represented)—these are happenings we experience in our inner worlds. It is not possible to explain these within the sphere of causality. When a person continues his journey in his inner world, he will both know himself concisely, conclude that the Exalted Creator exists, and will thus know his Lord better.

Real Freedom

In the words narrated as hadith qudsi and quoted above, it is stated that, “One who knows Me, quests for Me.” This relates to what was previously said. As much as one gets to know the Exalted Creator, he begins to wonder, “What does my God expect from me? How can I attain His proximity? How can I fill my bosom with yearning for Him? Filling my bosom with yearning for Him is my duty and His right. Only He must manifest in this bosom, and it is necessary to throw away everything else from it!”

The person who says this will deepen his quest. The poet Fuzuli voices this truth as follows:

True wisdom is not knowing this world and what it has;

He who is oblivious to this world and what it has is truly wise.

As pointed out in this couplet, a person needs to throw away from his bosom this world and what it has, but fill his heart with considerations of Him, and continuously keep his mind busy with Him. By fulfilling these responsibilities, the person will have found God Almighty. And He will not leave these sincere efforts of His servant unrewarded; as it stated in the words of wisdom quoted above, God will grant all of the person’s wishes—and even more. Muhammed Lütfi Effendi expresses this truth so beautifully in the following lines:

If You truly love the Lord,

Do you think He will not love you?

If you seek His good pleasure,

Will not He be pleased with you?

I Did Not Become a Muslim for the Sake of Prosperity

A believer who reaches this level is saved from the hegemony of different desires and wishes. Thus, he attains genuine freedom. As a late scholar once put it, “true freedom depends on being a servant to God.” Those who become a servant to God are freed from all other servanthoods. As for those who do not become a servant to God, as they should, even if they observe the prayers, they will be a slave to many other things, such as worldly position and status, their family, comfort, enjoyment, bohemianism, applause, appreciation, and leaving things for their children; even the polytheists of the Era of Ignorance did not have so many idols!

Being saved from servanthood and slavery to other things depends on being a servant to God in the true sense. The blessed Companions’ lives are full of beautiful and striking examples in this respect. For example, although the military and political genius Amr ibn al-As accepted Islam late, he grasped the spirit of religion in this respect so well that one cannot help but admire his understanding.

As it is known, during the peaceful period after the Treaty of Hudaybiya, Amr ibn al-As came to Medina and appeared before the presence of the noble Prophet in order to become a Muslim. He shook like a leaf out of embarrassment, because he had done much evil to the Pride of Humanity. However, the Prophet of mercy had not recorded any of these evils in his mind, but had forgotten them long ago. While they were shaking hands, Amr ibn al-As was enthralled and squeezed the blessed hand of the Prophet too hard, and God’s Messenger asked, “What do you mean O Amr?”

He responded, “Please forgive my wrong, O Messenger of God!”

Then the Messenger of God stated, “Do you not know that (embracing) Islam wipes out all that has gone before it (previous misdeeds).”[3]

A short time after Amr ibn al-As became a Muslim, the Pride of Humanity summoned him and told him that he would send him on a military campaign, after which he would have war gains. But he responded, “O Messenger of God, I did not become a Muslim for the sake of war gains…”[4]

In the same way, when the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, wished to give a share from war gains to a Companion whose name is not mentioned in the sources, that person said, “O Messenger of God, I cannot accept this. I have become a Muslim, so that I receive an arrow right here—by showing his throat—and become a martyr.” He then pushed aside the war gains. In the end, he was shot by an arrow that pierced his throat as he had wished, and passed to the[5] realm of eternity as a martyr.

Similarly, Abu Sufyan, who had opposed the noble Prophet for so many years until the conquest of Mecca, was shot by an arrow during the Battle of Yarmuk and lost one of his eyes. Holding that eye in his palm, Abu Sufyan looked at it meaningfully with his other eye and said, “What are you good for? You failed to see your master for seventy years,” and then threw it on the ground.[6] This can be expressed by the following words from Niyazi Mısri:

Do not adhere to any guide, lest he takes you through steep ways;

Those who walk behind a true guide, surely take a path of much ease.

While all of these examples reveal the impact of the master that guides a person, they also serve as examples for great spiritual progress.

The devoted volunteers in our time as well should take the Companions as role models and not seek anything worldly. This particularly true if they are serving at any level of the state: they should not obtain any benefit for themselves and next of kin by taking advantage of their position, nor should they seek luxury cars, planes, ships, etc. As it is stated in a Sufi proverb, one must say, “God is sufficient; the rest is empty desire!” They must then keep walking on the way where His good pleasure lies. One must solely target His good pleasure, and not change His Countenance and togetherness with the blessed Prophet in return for any other target whatsoever. Even if Paradise is offered to him in return for giving up all of these, he should still be righteous enough to say, “How strange! What kind of a flaw did they see in me that they are daring to offer something else instead of God’s good pleasure, yearning for Him, and seeing Him?” One must let his heart overflow with these feelings in such a way that there will not be room for anything else. In comparison to these lofty targets, even an ability to work saintly wonders such as flying without wings, walking on water, reading others’ minds, and foretelling what will befall them by looking at their faces will remain absolutely worthless.

To conclude, the people dedicated to glorifying the truths of faith and the Qur’an have to be very careful about the points explained so far. They must push aside everything in terms of the world and what it has, and act in accordance with the meaning of the Divine decree, “Pursue, then, what is exactly right as you are commanded” (Hud 11:112). They must not try to follow what is right in their own consideration, but try to pursue what is right—and that is whatever corresponds to “right” in the sight of God.

[1] Sahih al-Bukhari, Isti’zan, 17; Sahih Muslim, Adab, 38–39.

[2] Al-Munawi, Fayzu’l-Qadr, 1/225, 4; 399, 5/50; Al-Ajluni, Kashfu’l Khafa, 2/343.

[3] Sahih Muslim, Iman 192; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 4:204.

[4] Ahmed ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 4/197, 202; Ibn abi-Shayba, Al-Musannaf, 4/467.

[5] Sunan an-Nasa’i, Janaiz, 61; Hakim, Al-Mustadrak, 3/688.

[6] Ibn al-Athir, Usdu’l-Ghaba, 6/158.

This text is the translation of “İnsanın Kendini Keşfi ve Kullukta Derinlik.”

Everything Is from Him

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: You state in your talks that the services carried out so far needed many factors and apparent causes in order to become real; that nobody but the Creator of all causes could do these things; and therefore, laying a claim on achievements is an unreasonable behavior. Could you elucidate on this?

Answer: First, it is necessary to point out that achievements happen by virtue of the graces and favors of God, the Causer of Causes. This is not a matter that only concerns us but is a general principle that holds true for all eras. For example, as it is told in books of Qur’anic exegesis, Prophet Noah, peace be upon him, told and taught truths to people for some more time after they were saved from the flood by God’s permission and grace. Within that time, he freed his people from animal life, saved them from the narrow cage of physicality, and guided them to the level of the heart and spirit. Thus, they tried to fulfill the due of their servanthood by adopting a God-oriented life. Therefore, Divine help is clearly seen in the life of struggle Prophet Noah led. With sole reference to causality, it is neither possible to find a logical explanation for their being saved from the flood, nor for his being influential over his people. The following words of Prophet Noah, as revealed in the Qur’an, also emphasize that these events were all realized thanks to Divine help: “In God’s Name be its course and its mooring…” (Hud 11:41).

Similarly, from a perspective of causality, we could not deem it possible that Prophet Moses, peace be upon him, would be saved from the Pharaoh’s tyranny, would lead the Children of Israel out of Egypt and keep them in the El Tih Plateau, and that they would enter Palestine after some time with Joshua ibn Nun, peace be upon him. From a perspective of causality, the possibility of realization for all of these is only one out of a million.

Divine Protection and the Failure of Conspiracies

When the life of the Pride of Humanity is studied, Divine help and protection can clearly be observed. The polytheists were trying to destroy their hope by lying in wait for him and other believers at every corner. They wanted to fall upon them and inflict various torments—even hoping to kill some of them. However, the hopes of the blessed Prophet were never shaken. The poet Süleyman Nazif virtually voices this mood of the noble Prophet with the couplet, “Given that I have my spirit together with this faith; it will keep standing for three, four, and five hundred years…”

The polytheists of Mecca also devised various plots against the Prince of the Prophets, as it is stated in the Qur’an: “And (recall, O Messenger,) how those who disbelieve schemed against you to take you captive, or kill you, or drive you away (from Mecca). Thus were they scheming, but God put His will into effect (and brought their scheme to nothing)” (al-Anfal 8:30).

When the humble abode of the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, was surrounded by assassins and there seemed to be no possible way out, the same Divine providence occurred as happened during the Battle of Uhud, when he was losing blood after his blessed cheek was wounded and his blessed tooth was broken. It would have been impossible to find a way out of any of these instances from a perspective of causality. However, God Almighty saved His beloved Messenger. When his home was under siege, God let him walk through the antagonists comfortably and then let him cover more than 400 km without anybody catching him. Even the skillful Suraqa ibn Malik, who traced and caught up with the blessed Prophet, came to his knees and diverted the other chasers.[1]

In fact, with a careful look, it is possible to see similar scenes of Divine providence in the lives of all of those who struggled on the path of God. Eminent persons such as Tariq ibn Ziyad and Uqba ibn Nafi are examples to this. As it is known, Uqba ibn Nafi conquered the whole of North Africa; he rode his horse until the Atlantic Ocean and then said, “My God, had this dark sea not appeared before me, I would take your exalted name to the worlds beyond seas.”[2] When the examplary lives of these wonderful persons are viewed, it is seen that the bestowals they were granted were realized would seem improbable when viewed through the lens of causality.

It is possible to add to these examples the rise of the Ottomans, the conquest of Istanbul, and the movement of volunteers that started with Bediüzzaman and still continues in our time. For example, considering the initial state, master Bediüzzaman would not have deemed such a flourishing possible. He was constantly kept under surveillance; virtually his every step was followed, and he was sent from one exile to another. But in spite of all of these negativities, the lights of the Qur’an and faith have spread everywhere. As a hero of hope, even in the most negative atmosphere, master Bediüzzaman gave the glad tidings that the Truth would resound clearly and he always inspired those around him with this hope. Thinking about the conjuncture of his time, all of these successes were not likely to have been realized under normal conditions; maybe the current developments are a realization of the glad tidings given then.

One out of a Million Probability

As for the volunteers of education in our time, they adopted the message of Jalaluddin Rumi, who said, “A candle does not lose anything from its own light by lighting another,” and set forth to the four corners of the world in order to light up the entire world with their hands. By God’s permission and grace, they were welcome in the lands they traveled to. Like the services carried out in earlier periods, those in our time also constitute a phenomenon that is only possible through the confluence of many different circumstances. For example, concerning the first opening to the former Soviet Republics, the necessary conditions were the disintegration of one of the superpowers of that period, the presence of qualified young teachers and tutors at that time, and their volunteering to go to places they would have had difficulty finding on a map, in spite of the difficulties that awaited them. Most of them were new graduates and many of them likely wanted to stay in their homelands. Homesickness is hard. However, although those young men and women were in the prime of their lives, they overcame their misgivings and fears, and they went without any panic or hesitation to these new lands, many of which were countries whose traditions, customs, and languages they did not understand.

Similarly, it should not be forgotten that the parents of those newly graduated devoted souls expected things from them. How did those volunteers of education, who had devoted their lives to making others live, soften their parents and convince them? How did these parents agree to be separated from their children?

Also, some of these self-sacrificing people were engaged and they had to leave behind the person they were engaged to. Both those who went away and those who stayed behind felt longing and grief, but they didn’t let these feelings serve as obstacles to the services they needed to carry out. By saying, “This is what our people and humanity expect from us,” they made a moving sacrifice. Thinking about these altogether, it is almost impossible for these probabilities to be realized simultaneously, except through Divine grace.

In addition, the necessary causes for these good activities rendered for the sake of humanity were not limited to these. There was also the need for self-sacrificing benefactors who believed in the correctness and necessity of these educational services. Finding those benefactors, convincing them, and asking them to voluntarily finance these needs was a difficult task.

Here, I would like to clarify the subject by relating a memory. Years ago, two wealthy gentlemen and I visited some factory owners and asked them to support the Higher Institute of Islamic Studies to be built in Izmir. In order to tell them the importance of the issue and convince them easily, these businessmen took me with them, since I was a preacher. After telling about the significance of the issue in a brick factory we visited, the owner of the factory only gave fifty Liras to us, if I am not wrong (approximately five dollars at the time). It was nearly impossible to establish the Higher Institute of Islamic Studies with such small donations.

After consulting about the issue, we decided to invite wealthy people likely to accept our invitation to a place and to ask for their support. As far I as remember, the people who attended barely filled the four sides of a table. I made a speech. The people who attended promised donations of different amounts, such as a hundred thousand, fifty thousand, or forty thousand Liras, etc. But one of the people there broke the spirits of everyone by saying, “Everyone gives as much as they believe in an issue, so I am giving 2500 Liras.”

Despite this, there came a time when tens of people in different parts of the country encouraged one another to give to such acts of charity; when people were not informed about a meeting held about donations, they expressed reproach by saying, “Why didn’t you call me?”

After a similar gathering one day, I finished my speech and retired to a room. A veteran sergeant entered the room with some keys in his hand. In an emotional state he said, “During the meeting everybody did donate something, but I did not have anything to give. Therefore, I have brought the keys of my apartment to you.” Naturally, it was not possible for me to accept such an offer; I thanked him and turned him down with kind words.

In the nineties, when we expanded to other, this spirit had already formed in our people. Therefore, it was not solely a matter of finding teachers and tutors. The worldwide education activities happened as a result of so many factors, such as parents’ consent, the suitability of the places to go, and of the financial support by the magnanimous people of Anatolia to the people who would travel. Considering all this, success was actually a one out of a million probability. When success is achieved despite such long odds, nobody can attribute it to his own genius, perspicacity, sagacity, reason, judgment, or strategic power. One who does that will have committed a gross wrong, and irreverence.

It Is God Who Grants These Accomplishments!

Actually, ascribing every good deed and achievement to God is an issue given special care in Muslim belief and ethics. For example, adhering to this consideration, Umar ibn al-Khattab removed the army commander Khalid ibn al-Walid during a very critical battle at Yarmuk.[3] At this war, which ended the Roman rule in Syria and maintained Muslim dominance, the enemy forces were some 7 or 8 times greater than Muslims. With God’s permission, the Muslims were victorious in the end. The strategies applied by the commander, Khalid ibn al-Walid, who was a military genius, together with his courage and valor were appreciated by all.

In spite of such an ongoing battle, the Caliph Umar took the commander from duty and the famous Khalid was humbly standing before the caliph. He was a great commander who had crushed the Sassanid Empire and was then defeating the Romans. The blessed caliph Abu Bakr said, “no mother has given birth to a son like Khalid.”[4] As a Western commentator remarked, commanders like Hannibal can only beg for assistance from Khalid.

Although he was a person of such standing, he was an ordinary member of the army who humbly stood before the caliph to be taken from duty. When Khalid came before the caliph—may my soul be sacrificed for both—Umar ibn al-Khattab told him, “Khalid, you know that I love you very much. But people are ascribing the victories gained to your person. But I know that it is God Almighty who actually grants these to us. I am anxious for you to become a myth. This is why I have discharged you from command.”[5]

In that situation, Khalid ibn al-Walid crowned his greatness with dizzying modesty and came under the command of Abu Ubayda ibn al-Jarrah who had been a soldier under his command; from then on, until the end of his life, he served as a brilliant soldier.

In short, it should never be forgotten that any issue cannot be realized without Divine power and help. Every good thing happens only by God’s permission, help, and custody. Therefore, it is necessary to evaluate the activities realized so far as a result of God Almighty’s custody and as a manifestation of His help and support. At the same time, these should trigger our feelings of praise and gratitude to Him, so that the blessings we have received so far will continue with our thankfulness. Otherwise, if we attribute the achievements made—may God forbid!—to ourselves, then God leaves us with our own limited power, strength, and will. This would be a breach of this blessed trust, which we have inherited from very sincere hands. Upholding the truths of the Qur’an in this universe as they deserve can only be possible by remaining faithful to the truth of Divine unity, believing that it is not possible for even a leaf to move without His help, and leading our lives by remaining true to this belief.

[1] Sahih al-Bukhari, Manaqibu’l-Ansar, 45; Sahih Muslim, Zuhd, 75.

[2] Ibn al-Athir, Al-Kamil fi’t-Tarikh, 3/451.

[3] Tabari, Tarikhu’l-Umam wa’l-Muluk, 2/491.

[4] Tabari, Tarikhu’l-Umam wa’l-Muluk, 2/315.

[5] Tabari, Tarikhu’l-Umam wa’l-Muluk, 2/491.

This text is the translation of “Her Şey O’ndan.”

Spirit of Altruism

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: What is the significance of altruism in solving humanity’s problems? How can this virtue be acquired?

Answer: The Islamic term for altruism, “ithar” means preferring others over oneself; it is one of the most important values we have lost. What lies under today’s interpersonal and inter-societal tumults, disagreements, and disunities, as well as people’s inability to accept and tolerate others, is the death of the spirit of altruism. And the reason for the death of this spirit is the deterioration of the values of the heart. When the heart degenerates, all of our human values, along with the codes and stamps that endow humans with the best pattern of creation, are obliterated, and Satan will play his game upon the person’s world of thought.

In this respect, at the end of his saying that begins, “The lawful are clear, and so are the forbidden…” the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, stated, “Beware! In the body there is a piece of flesh that, if it is sound, the whole body will be sound, and if it is corrupt, the whole body will be corrupt. Take care! It is the heart.”[1]

Thus, a person keeping his heart clean from every kind of contamination and dirt, and checking it out at least a few times a day, is a very important factor in terms of preserving one’s spiritual life. A person must be very careful and pray deeply in this respect. A person must even keep away from negative imaginations and thoughts, both of which might leave some ugly traces in the heart. As it is also stated in a hadith, God looks at a person’s heart and evaluates that person accordingly.[2] God Almighty does not treat a person according to his weight, color, height, or the cultural environment he was raised in, but by the purity of his heart. And at the weighing of deeds in the Hereafter, the weight of the heart is considered; and however much the heart turned to God and beat for Him, is how much worth the person will be given.[3]

The Golden Age of the Spirit of Altruism: The Era of Happiness

People with pure hearts will at the same time be full of feelings of beneficence and compassion toward humanity. Instead of living for themselves, they will try to make others live in the true sense by awakening their hearts to God. Essentially, the spirit of altruism depends on this.

The Qur’an draws attention to the virtue of ithar as follows: “…They prefer others over themselves, even though poverty be their own lot” (al-Hashr 59:9). This spirit and thought was very developed in the Era of Happiness. For example, the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, wished to feed a hungry guest in his blessed home. However, on learning that they had nothing but water to offer the guest, he sent the man to another Companion’s home. As they only had food to suffice for one person, the couple put their children to sleep, turned off the light, and pretended to be eating from their empty dishes together with the guest so that he did not refuse to eat. Thus, they remained hungry while the guest was able to satisfy his hunger.[4]

Mehmed Akif depicts this sublime spirit of ithar in the context of the Battle of Yarmuk. During that battle, Companions such as Harith ibn Hisham, Ikrima ibn Abi Jahl, and Ayyash ibn Abi Rabia were gravely wounded. While their martyrdom was expected, the respected Harith asked for water and another Companion ran to him with a water flask. He was living his final moments and probably had the strength to say only one word. Right at the moment he was taking the flask to his lips, he heard that Ikrima was asking for water and insisted the water to be taken to him. The Companion took the water to Ikrima, but then Ayyash asked for water while Ikrima was just about to drink. Ikrima insisted the water to be taken to Ayyash. The Companion took the water flask to our master Ayyash, but saw that he had become a martyr. When he went back to the others to give them water, he saw that they had been martyred as well.[5]

I had a similar experience, one I will never forget, during a retreat in Buca. While we were eating together, I found a piece of meat in front of me. Then I pushed it to the plate of a guest teacher sitting near me. Then he passed it further for the next person to eat, and after a dozen people passed this meat, it eventually returned to his plate again. As the guest was a wisecracker, he quoted a verse from the chapter Yusuf and said, “Here is our merchandise returned to us” (Yusuf 12:65). The spreading of this altruistic feeling and thought among people is very important in terms of peace in society and establishing a spirit of brotherhood.

Preferring One’s Brother for Positions and Promotions

Although all of these are important examples of altruism, one should not restrict it to issues like eating and drinking. When there is the question of gaining a certain position or title, preferring one’s brother to himself is also very important in terms of altruism. Umar ibn al-Khattab’s attitude in the following situation is a striking and beautiful example:

When the Pride of Humanity died and passed to the horizon of his soul, the Companions gathered, concerned about keeping up the spirit of unity and preventing disintegration in society. They wished to choose a leader as soon as possible. Abu Bakr told the others about the virtues of Umar ibn al-Khattab. He stated his wish to pledge allegiance to him and that Umar should be chosen as caliph. However, Umar ibn al-Khattab held Abu Bakr’s hand right away and pledged allegiance to him by saying, “If there is someone to lead the Muslim community after the Messenger of God, he is Abu Bakr.” As we can see, stepping back from a leading position and giving priority to a brother is a very important form of altruism.[6]

By the way, let me state that we are not in a position to compare the greatness of our blessed masters Abu Bakr and Umar. We do not have the scales to measure the true worth of those great figures. I guess even the scales that measure the deeds of people in the Hereafter will break under the weight of the good deeds by the caliphs Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali, may God be pleased with them. Every one of them is invaluable. They made such spiritual progress that only the title of Prophethood remained ahead of them, which they could attain as there is no Prophet after the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him. Had there been any person to come as Prophet after the Pride of Humanity, it would be them.

Abu Bakr saw Umar as eligible for being caliph and Umar saw Abu Bark as that person. They absolutely did not say something like, “I do this job better, as such and such alluded to my eligibility.” Preferring others over oneself when there is the issue of coming to certain positions and gaining material benefits is a higher form of altruism. This excels altruism having to go with material benefits.

A person with this virtue will not prefer living, but wants to help others live. He wants to courageous say, “I may die if necessary, for what matters is letting the rest of the world live. If the people’s continuity depends on my being sacrificed, may God Almighty let it happen to me quickly!” Otherwise, those who see themselves like a pillar by which the entire world stands, and fantasize that the world will collapse and end when they step aside, are nothing but misfortunate ones with no share of this spirit.

Even in front of the Gate of Paradise

The following scene about the Hereafter is noteworthy in terms of showing how far altruism can go. It is narrated that the noble Prophet was shown a vision of how the rich who spent for the sake of God will meet with the learned ones at the gate of Paradise. Accordingly, the learned ones will say to the rich, “Please, the priority is yours, you enter first. Because, had you not spent from your fortune in the path of God, opened educational institutions and thus prepared opportunities for education, we could not have become learned ones and found right guidance. You were the means of our being on the path of learning and broadening our horizons; we owe you. Therefore, the priority belongs to you.”

And then they will take one step back out of respect. However the generous rich will say, “We are indebted to you; because, had you not opened our eyes thanks to your immense knowledge, nor guided us beautifully and taught us a holistic reading of the laws of religion and the laws prevalent in the universe together, and not showed us the beauty of making lawful gains and then spending for the sake of God, we could not have spent our wealth for the sake of such charity. You showed the way and led us to the thousand-fold profits for what we gave in the world. For this reason, you are also our pioneers here; please, you go first.”

After this sweet conversation, the scholars will go first and they will enter Paradise together with the generous rich.

This conversation between the learned ones and the generous rich should not solely be taken as an account of a future event. It is also a lesson that conveys the depths of their altruism. Imagine that before coming to the gate of Paradise, they go through a very hard questioning and leave behind the Sirat Bridge, which is difficult to pass. In addition, in front of them are the blessings of the dizzyingly beautiful Paradise, which is beyond imagination and has been seen by no eyes and heard by no ears. On seeing those things, a person virtually comes close to fainting out of delight. Imagine that their spirit of altruism continues even in such a situation. By means of this depiction, the Messenger of God shows us the extent of their spirit of ithar.

Such people hear the following words of Bediüzzaman, the wonder of our age, who was an inheritor of the Prophet: “In my life of more than eighty years, I did not enjoy anything as worldly pleasures; my life always passed in battlegrounds, prison houses, and different places of exile and suffering. Neither do I have a passion for Paradise, nor a fear of Hell. Given that I see the faith of my people is saved, I accede to burning in the flames of Hell, for while my body is burning, my heart will become a rose garden.”

A person who hears these words thinks that this voice sounds as if it is coming from the time of the Prophet. I think society needs such an immense spirit of altruism more than air and water.

The Prophet returning to this world of troubles again after seeing, reaching, and surmounting impossible things is very important in terms understanding the ultimate point the spirit of altruism can reach. In that journey, the noble Messenger of God met Prophets Jesus, Moses, Abraham, and Adam, peace be upon them; after receiving their welcome and veneration, he entered Paradise and saw its dizzying attractions.[7] And then he beheld the beauty and perfectness of God Almighty. Who knows what a feeling it is for the human soul to behold God! In Badu’l Amal, it is stated that believers who are honored to see God will even forget the blessings of Paradise.[8] That is to say, all of the paradisiacal mansions, fruits, and heavenly beauties—which would light up the entire world with a single projection of their beauty—are ignored at that moment. The Messenger of God, who was blessed with all of these and reached some point between contingency and necessity, returned back to live among people, in order to let his followers hear about the blessings he saw, felt, and sensed.

After telling us that the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, returned to the world after such a journey, Abdulquddus said, “By God, had I attained those blessings, I would not return back to the world.”

Another one commented on this, saying, “Here is the difference of status between the Prophets and the greatest saint.” The Prophets purely exist for the sake of making others live. Saintly persons may in a way wish to make progress and attain spiritual delights.

In addition, as the Messenger of God reached such horizons while in the world returned back to live among his people again in order to hold their hand and guide them, it is possible that if he hears the cries of those from his community who went to Hell, who knows? Maybe he will go near it, lend a hand to them, and wish to take them out of Hell. All of these are forms of altruism. They are different wavelengths of manifestation on the horizons of Prophethood.

Antidote for Clashes and Fights

Today, we desperately need the spirit of altruism, which is very closely related to faith, the religious life of the heart, being close to God, compassion, and helping others live in the true sense. What we need today are chivalrous souls who will push aside the world and its contents which appeal to fancies and desires; souls who will solely live for the sake of making others live, and will pray as such:

“My God, my life may have real value if I will serve as a means for making others live. Otherwise, I feel disgusted by this meaningless life with no benefit to others and which does not revive their hearts; I seek refuge in You against it. Save me from this heavy burden please!”

Those who always say “I” and index everything to their egotism have always caused people to clash. They provoke feelings like envy, jealousy, intolerance, and rivalry, and consequently bring society to a state in which one would not like to live.

However, there are thousands of people who could do what such egoists boast to have achieved. If only there had been a little bit of trust in God. If only those who talked about the Companions and the Prophets would decide to walk their talk a little bit. If only they took a step back when necessary and gave responsibility to those eligible for a certain task. If there is an elixir that can fix a disintegrated society, it is this very spirit of altruism, which must be rekindled in hearts.

Otherwise, it will not possible to thoroughly solve the problems we face, either by diplomacy, political games, tricks, or the strategies devised by think-tank organizations. If it were possible, our society, which has experienced different changes and metamorphoses from yesterday to now, would have reached more advanced horizons long ago. But as it stands, our society is still monstrous, and people are virtually eating one another like cannibals. For God’s sake, is it any different from cannibalism if you bombard civilians, use poisonous gas, deprive others of their right to live, act with Islamophobia, and commit different forms of oppression against certain groups? All of these are nothing but different forms of monstrosity. And the way to eliminate them is concentrating on becoming human anew and trying to fulfill what being endowed with the best pattern of creation calls for.

[1] Sahih al-Bukhari, Iman, 39; Sahih Muslim, Musaqat, 107.

[2] Sahih Muslim, Birr, 32–33; Sunan Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 9.

[3] See: Ash-Shuara 26:88-89.

[4] Sahih al-Bukhari, Manaqibu’l-Ansar, 10; Tafsir Surah (59) 6; Sahih Muslim, Ashriba, 172–173.

[5] Al-Hakim, Al-Mustadrak, 3/270; Ibn Abdilbarr, Al-Istiab, 3/1084.

[6] Sahih al-Bukhari, Manaqib Fada’il al-Ashab, 5; Jana’iz, 3; Maghazi, 83; Sunan an-Nasa’i, Jana’iz, 11; Sunan Ibn Majah, Jana’iz, 65.

[7] Sahih al-Bukhari, Bad’al-Khalq, 6; Anbiya, 43; Manaqibu’l-Ansar, 42; Sahih Muslim, Iman, 259, 264.

[8] Al-Ushi, Badu’l Amal, 41.

This text is the translation of “Îsâr Ruhu.”

The Greatest Credit for Journeyers of Guidance: Having No Expectation in Return

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: What are the indispensable essentials for the duty of letting hearts meet truths?

Answer: A believer must observe worship for the Absolute One, who is to be worshiped with an absolute consideration of ultimate devotion. The worshipper must not be distracted from his servanthood, for we are but shackled slaves at His door. Our impotence and poverty before God, our weakness, inconsistencies, and our inability to attain the things we desire are evidence of this. It is apparent that we are not the owner and master of ourselves; there is an absolute domination over us.

In fact, a person may not always feel these truths. Sometimes, people become calibrated to a certain frequency, but if they cannot do the tuning properly, there can be some interference. And this means a volunteer involving his personal considerations in the issue. Therefore, a person must try to find the right sound through serious calibrations.

One must first weigh his thoughts, considerations, and words in the appreciative scales of the conscience, and only express them afterwards. After so much effort and striving, if some aspects of our personalities are involved in the issue, then we hope that God will cover these shortcomings of ours. Carefree and lighthearted manners do not agree with a consciousness of servanthood.

Banging Hammers, One upon Another

Imagine that you are prostrated during prayer and opened up to God; you do this for five or ten minutes. Right at that moment, due to the carnal soul, Satan whispers to you, something like, “You are observing worship very well.” If such a thought occurs to you through your inner voice, you must instantly say, with your inner voice again, “O God, the exclusively worshiped one! We failed to worship you thoroughly! O my God, whose name is remembered by every being on earth and in the sky, we failed to make remembrance of You as becomes Your glory! O my Lord, who deserves thanksgiving in all tongues of the creation! We failed to give you thanks properly! O my God, who is beyond all shortcomings, we failed to remember and glorify You thoroughly!” And thus one must slam a sledgehammer upon every thought and consideration that is not in compliance with His good pleasure.

But even if you slam the heaviest sledgehammers on it, you should still know that this kind of feeling, which is fed by whisperings of Satan and the deceptive embellishment of the carnal soul, will burst to life anew in unexpected moments, like a creature with nine lives. The carnal soul and Satan will never cease—even while circumambulating the Ka’ba, while raising your hands to implore God in Arafat, while observing devotions in Muzdalifa at night, and while hailing stones at the (symbolic) Devil (as if stoning one’s own desires); they will continually try to cause the person to slip and fall.

It is for this reason that it is commanded in the Qur’an, “Pursue, then, what is exactly right (in every matter of the Religion) as you are commanded (by God)…” (Hud 11:112). In the same way, we say in the prayers we observe every day, “Guide us to the Straight Path” (al-Fatiha 1:5); namely, guide us to whichever way is the correct one.

If we observe all of the daily prayers together with the Sunnah ones, then it means we are repeating this forty times a day. If we also observe other prayers, such as the Awwabin, Tahajjud, and Duha, then we ask to be guided to the Straight Path some sixty times a day. If He does not hold our hand and lead us to the correct path, we will mostly be exhausted in the dust paths of the carnal soul. If He does not hold our hand, we will cause many crashes and not easily be able to make up for these collapses and cracks.

Those Who Make Their Services Conditional to a Certain Return Can Never Succeed

On the other hand, if we always spell His name and always keep Him in mind and remain God-conscious in every breath we take, then our connection with Him continues, even when are under the influence of the physical side of human nature. For example, the Messenger of God gave the glad tidings that even if a person who retires to bed after offering the Isha Prayer and intends to rise for the Tahajjud Prayer is overcome by sleep, that sleep will be a grace from his Lord.[1] And this is a bestowal God Almighty grants us out of His immense mercy. The One of infinite mercy does not hold us responsible for totally unbearable duties, but only as much as we can carry out. As it is also pointed out in the verse, “God burdens no soul except within its capacity” (al-Baqarah 2:286), there is no unbearable responsibility in Islam.

Then, as our Lord showers us with His blessings out of His immense grace and infinite mercy, we must not cherish any desire but gaining His good pleasure, because there is nothing further than that. After God lets believers behold His blessed Countenance in Paradise, His greatest gift to them is His stating, “I am well-pleased with you!”

It is not possible for us to fathom in this world the immense pleasure such a Divine breeze will cause in the human soul. Perhaps, saintly persons such as Abdulqadr al-Jilani, Abu’l-Hasan ash-Shadhili, Muhammad Bahauddin al-Naqshband, Mawlana Khalid al-Baghdadi, Imam Rabbani, and Bediüzzaman may have experienced this kind of a delight, at least in as much as this world allows, as a ghost of the original. It is beyond my power either to tell or describe such a thing. God Almighty gave us the following glad tidings through His Messenger: “I have prepared for My righteous servants what no eye has seen and what no ear has heard, nor has it ever occurred to the human heart.”[2] From the frame drawn here, we understand that this is an issue far beyond human comprehension.

In this respect, there is nothing greater and worthier than wishing for it in this world and the next, and at the same time evoking the same wish in others. It is for this reason that the Prophets devoted their blessed lives solely to the essential of letting people know God, making people love Him, and strengthening people’s connection with Him; it is why they did not ask for or expect anything from anybody in return for that. Such hopes damage sincerity and cause the deed to be wasted. In addition, people who render their services conditional to certain returns have never succeeded. Even if they did temporarily, an adverse wind blew away everything.

The Same Truth Voiced by All of the Prophets

In chapter ash-Shuara, after God Almighty mentioned the names of the Prophets Noah, Hud, Saleh, Lot, and Jethro (Shuayb), peace be upon them, He stated the following as their shared discourse: “I ask of you no wage for that (for conveying God’s Message); my wage is due only from the Lord of the worlds” (ash- Shuara 26:109).

They fulfilled their duties solely for God, constantly turned their gaze to God, and did not have the slightest expectation from others in return for the services they carried out.

In spite of changing times and altered conditions, as well as different interpretations brought by different segments of time, the Prophets mentioned said exactly the same thing on this issue. Whatever Prophet Noah said, so did Prophets Hud, Saleh, Lot, and Jethro. Actually, each society to whom one of them was sent had a different problem of its own. This shows that even though problems are different, tackling them depends on being sincere and having no expectation in return.

For example, the people of Noah had taken great persons as deities and gave them names like Wad, Yaghus, Yauk, and Nasr. They adored people buried under the ground and expected something from them.[3] In a way, it was a danger that could be faced in every era.

As for the people of Ad, they boasted of their greatness and they would make houses in boulders by carving them. They were seized by their conceit in such a way that they believed that no harm from the earth or sky would touch them. They thought that if all fault lines were gathered under them and started breaking, this would still not bring down their sound buildings. Therefore, their problem was different than that of the people of Prophet Noah. Without caring for the threats that could befall him, Prophet Noah insistently pointed out what kind of a mistake they were making and showed his indifference to worldly benefits.[4]

When we look at Prophet Saleh, we similarly see that the people of that time had different problems. They also indulged in the world in their orchards, fields, and gardens, and began to live in a joyous and conceited fashion in their sound buildings. Prophet Saleh carried out the mission of conveying the Divine message in the face of all hardships without expecting anything in return. He invited them to Divine unity, and warned them against being an extravagant and corrupt society.[5]

As for the time of Prophet Lot, who lived later, people were immersed in obscenities unbecoming of humanity; they had become a perverted and immoral society. Like other Prophets, Prophet Lot invited his people to Divine unity and the right path without caring about the threats of being expelled and isolated, and had no expectations in return for his service.[6]

In the time of Prophet Jethro, the measures and scales in the marketplaces were corrupt. Commercial life was full of speculations. Money flew solely in accordance with the benefits of those in power and filled their stocks. Prophet Jethro was warning them with the words, “Give full measure (in all your dealings) and, be not one of those who (by cheating and giving less) cause loss to others. And weigh with a true, accurate balance. Do not wrong people by depriving them of what is rightfully theirs, and do not go about acting wickedly in the land, causing disorder and corruption” (ash-Shuara 26:181–183), and told them that he did not ask anything from them in return.

Five Prophets are mentioned in these verses of the chapter ash-Shuara, but the Pride of Humanity, peace and blessings be upon him, is not. However, the following statement of the Final Prophet related in another chapter is no different from their words: “I ask of you no wage for it (for conveying God’s Religion to you which will bring you this favor), but (I ask of you for) love for my near relatives (on account of my mission)” (ash-Shura 42:23).

With these words, the noble Prophet stated that he asked no wages from his people, who caused him every trouble during his thirteen years of Messengership, and forced him to emigrate from his homeland. Although he was a means of salvation in both worlds for those he addressed, he did not ask for anything from them in return. He slept on a straw mat, starved on some days, but he never changed his attitude.

Nullifying Credibility and Coming to Dead Ends

Actually, this is the sole way of inspiring trust and making those addressed believe. The people who have certain expectations in return for the services they carry out and who seek some benefits will have broken the esteem given to them and lose credit in the sight of those addressed. In this respect, if you have set foot on a path of serving in the name of God, you must not leave the way of the Prophets. Those who look at you should comfortably be able to say, “When they were involved in the issue, they had some hundred liras. When they finished, we saw that they had ninety liras left. They even failed to retain the money they initially had and spent for this sake.”

As this principle of not asking from others and not having any expectations is a necessary attribute, from the head of a village to the president of a state, it also holds true for the volunteers devoted to telling truths to others, for their greatest dynamic is having no expectation and being devoted.

Concerning those devoted to serving humanity, for them to leave behind lasting works they must walk on the path of the Prophets. Otherwise, those who begin as Aaron but transform into the ostentatious Qarun (Korah) on the way will sink into the ground, together with the riches they amassed, and they will become a loathsome memory. If my tongue had the slightest place for invoking curses, I would curse those who solely thought about their own benefit or who misappropriate shares for themselves while awarding contracts. But there is no available seat in my tongue for such cursing, for like Muhammad Iqbal said, I implore God so much, but I do not say amin to invocations of curses.

In this respect, at least the volunteers within this blessed circle, who devoted themselves to serving for faith and the Qur’an, must never hope for personal gains in return for the services they carry out. They must not be awarded undeserved contracts by using their esteem and credit, nor run after another benefit. They must not sacrifice their devotedness and having no expectations, which constitute the greatest dynamic for them, in return for such contemptible worldly things. There are already people who work for the world within a lawful frame. God Almighty blessed them with great gains in their business life and they are using their wealth for the sake of God. As for the devoted ones, who are in a guiding position, their greatest richness is their sincerity and not expecting anything. If they leave these and run after other things, then they will have left the greater for the sake of the lesser.

When the Pride of Humanity passed and thus traveled to the horizon of his spirit, his blessed armor was held in pawn by a Jewish merchant in return for the money he borrowed in order to provide sustenance for his family.[7] Caliph Abu Bakr was no different; he had put the remainder of the modest salary they paid to him in a jar and entrusted it to the caliph who would replace him.[8] Similarly, Umar ibn al-Khattab did not own anything. He slept on sand in the Prophet’s Mosque most of the time.

The Sorrowful Ending of Those Who Misappropriate

The people we mentioned above are the great guides who should be taken as role models. The right way and method is theirs. Other ways than their right one will deserve to be called “wrong-doings.” Such a person who strays from the righteous path will stray to many kinds of wrongdoing, even if unawares. Even though these wrongdoings makes the person smile at the beginning, a day comes and they make the person cry in such a way that he says, “Oh, would that I were mere dust (instead of being a responsible being with consciousness and free will)!” (an-Naba 78:40).

In this respect, at least the people in this noble collective must value this world—whose worth does not even amount to that of a fly’s wing in terms of its fancies and desires—only as much as necessary, and nothing more.[9] In a saying narrated as hadith, the world is compared to a carcass, and it is stated that those who devote all of their acts, plans, and proceedings for the sake of worldly things resemble dogs running to it.[10]

If only we could forget this deceptive world, except for its facets that truly merit attention! What has been done by those who did not forget it is such a shame for themselves, for their people, and their historical heritage. Topkapı Palace once led a blessed nation that followed the footsteps of the Prophet’s Companions into becoming a world power. This palace was the manifestation of our spiritual world. There were the lofty ideals of Mehmed II, Bayezid II, Selim I, and Süleyman the Lawgiver. They had set forth for distant lands, did what was necessary to maintain law and order in the world, brought oppressors to their knees, and let the oppressed find relief; but when they returned, they continued their duty in the plain and modest Topkapı Palace. On the contrary, the extravagant palaces like Dolmabahçe and Yıldız brought about the Ottomans’ downfall, in spite of all their grandeur and pomp. Although they made the world seem like Paradise, they actually caused us to forget Paradise and God.

[1] Sunan an-Nasa’i, Qiyamu’l-Layl, 63; Sunan Ibn Majah, Iqamatu’s-Salah, 177.

[2] Sahih al-Bukhari, Tawhid, 35; Sahih Muslim, Jannah, 4.

[3] Ash-Shuara 26:105–111; Nuh 71:23.

[4] Ash-Shuara 26:122–140; Fussilat 41:15–16.

[5] Ash-Shuara, 26:141–159.

[6] Ash-Shuara, 26:160–175.

[7] Sahih al-Bukhari, Riqaq, 17; Sahih Muslim, Libas, 37.

[8] Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqatu’l-Kubra, 3/186.

[9] Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Zuhd, 13; Sunan Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 3.

[10] Al-Ajluni, Kashfu’l-Khafa, 1/492–493.

This text is the translation of “İrşat Yolcuları İçin En Büyük Kredi: Beklentisizlik.”

Some Criteria for Warding off Evils

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: What is the proper conduct for Muslims in the face of bad treatment and attitudes?

Answer: It is a known fact that grudge and hatred will only engender the same feelings in return. Responding to harshness and violence with the same will give way to vicious circles which nobody can escape; society will be struck by schisms and everybody will be lost in the turmoil. Therefore, the heart of a believer must be immense; he should be able to absorb even the most negative things, and struggle in such a way that redeems even those who commit evil.

Warding off in the Best Way

 The Qur’an reveals what kind of an attitude Muslims are supposed to adopt in the face of bad treatment: “These will be granted their reward twice over because they have remained steadfast (in following their religion, remaining free of falsehood, and so keeping themselves above all prejudices while believing in and following the Qur’an and Muhammad); and they repel evil with good, and out of what We have provided for them (of wealth, knowledge, power, etc.) they spend (in God’s cause and for the needy, and purely for the good pleasure of God without placing others under obligation)” (al-Qasas 28:54). It is narrated that this verse was revealed about People of the Book, but the particularity of its cause of revelation does not eliminate the generality of the judgment. Therefore the verse addresses everybody, including believers in our time.

As it is understood from the specification, “because they have remained steadfast,” those who gain twice the rewards will be the ones who put up with mistreatment and torment, who virtually melt the troubles and misfortunes that befall them into fireworks, and thus present dizzying spectacles to people. By turning even the most negative happenings into positive ones, they respond to evil with the words, “and they repel evil with good.” They respond to evil with goodness and good things.

If the ugly and unpleasant treatment he receives causes a feeling of grudge and hatred within a believer who realizes the truth of this verse in his life, he tries to wipe away and melt this anger with a feeling of mildness and peace. He does this in accordance with the verse, “…Surely good deeds wipe out evil deeds. This is advice and a reminder for the mindful who reflect” (Hud 11:114).

If a believer does something negative, and if this detracts from his worship and devotions, he immediately tries to eliminate the negative act with a consideration of atonement, and he also crowns this atonement by doing some good deed.

When a real believer commits some evil act, this pierces through his heart like a spear and triggers a bitter feeling inside him. If he commits something evil even with a single word, behavior, look, or allusion, he does some good deed to eliminate it right away and to erase the marks it leaves in his mind.

Such a behavior is actually a requirement of servanthood to God. In his advice to Muadh ibn Jabal, the noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, stated, “Fear God wherever you are and follow an evil deed with a good one to wipe it out, and treat people with good behavior.”[1] As acts of goodness serve like spirals that ascend verbal deeds to God, they at the same eliminate evils. The end of the verse states that this is very important advice and a reminder for the mindful who reflect.

Actually, every positive behavior that erases evil from people’s minds is also a means for those evils to be erased in the Divine Presence. God Almighty’s mercy requires that those negatives not turn into a means of trouble, tribulation, and inner suffering in the next world. In the realm of infinite blessings, unlimited bestowals, and everlasting graces, it will be a means of inner suffering for a believer to think, “I should not have done this disrespect against my religion, Prophet, and essential values.” For this reason, as a manifestation of His mercy in a different wave of frequency, God Almighty will make them forgotten there and not let His servant experience that suffering.

However, it is not right for a person to forget the sins he commits in this world by erasing them from his mind. Even if he committed them fifty years ago, asking forgiveness from God every time he remembers them will save him from falling to the same sin again. It will also be a means for constantly increasing the record of his good deeds. Each time of you ask forgiveness virtually removes all evils. And when no evil to be removed remains, it will be a cause for the beautiful joyous things awaiting the believer in the Hereafter. Thus, a person should never forget his sin. He should always remember even the slightest mistake, and seek forgiveness from the Forgiver of sins by saying, “Forgiveness, I ask forgiveness a million times!” He should do this with the suffering he feels in his soul.

On the other hand, a believer must forget the good acts he performs—even if that good deed is a great conquest marking the beginning of a new era. He should eliminate his role in the issue, saying, “Strange, did I really do something like that? I don’t even remember.” If people are insistently saying, “It is you who did it,” then with a consideration of testifying to God’s Blessings, the person should express his feelings as such: “Then God made a sinner like me do certain good things also. These are manifestations of the immensity of His mercy.”

What Becomes a Magnanimous Person Is Responding to Evil with Goodness

Another verse related to our subject points out the following fact: “Goodness and evil can never be equal. Repel evil with what is better (or best). Then see: The one between whom and you there was enmity has become a bosom friend” (Fussilat 41:34).

Accordingly, if someone fixed on enmity, jealousy, and envy is foaming with rancor and hatred, continually provoking those he addresses and try to elicit rage from them, then it is necessary to respond by restraining one’s rage, as stated in the following verse, which describes genuinely pious ones: “…ever-restraining their rage (even when provoked and able to retaliate), and pardoning people (their offenses). God loves (such) people who are devoted to doing good, aware that God is seeing them” (Al Imran 3:134).

The original phrase for “ever-restraining their rage” (al-kazimin al-ghayz) refers to those who swallow their rage, anger, and violent reactions even though; this is mentioned by the blessed words of the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, as a virtue. Responding with magnanimous forgiveness when someone commits a fault and doing good to a person who commits evil so that he does not repeat the same evil… These are examples of responding to evil with goodness.

In other words, while others keep committing evil with their hands, tongues, eyes, ears, and even gestures, a believer should not let these acts become a vicious cycle. He can do this by responding with goodness to all of them. As it is stated in a Turkish proverb, “Responding to goodness with goodness is expected from everyone; responding to evil with goodness takes a magnanimous one.” Hence, what becomes a believer is being a magnanimous one. Responding to vitriol with invective is the road to sin. Such an understanding will not help solve the issues of our time, either. Therefore, everybody—particularly the volunteers devoted to a lofty ideal—need to act very tenderly on this issue.

Responding with Goodness and Steering Securely

I disagree with the maxim “beware of the evil of the person to whom you did goodness,” and think that this is an arrogant and disrespectful remark. A kind act will make even a cobra dance, let alone a person. You must have seen this in documentaries—cobras dancing to the playing of the flute. Actually, cobras do not hear the music, but when they see that the player’s fingers are moving on a piece of wood and no harm is done to it, it causes a dance-like reaction. They probably bite if the charmer fails to act in the right way, but this should be rare. If it were a frequent incident for cobras to bite charmers, then it would not be such a common practice.  

To sum it up, if God even endowed animals with a feeling of giving a good response to goodness, a person must make good use of his human potential and act with the understanding, “Do goodness to those whose evil you fear.”[2] Surely, such an attitude should be taken for the sake of protecting peace and harmony in a society, and putting out the fires of hatred and discord. It only asks a person to sacrifice some of their personal rights. Otherwise, keeping silent against a violation of the public’s rights, and being a partner in crime, causes a person to be like a mute devil; this absolutely does not become a believer.

When necessary, however, we should respond, even to a person holding a spear or putting on bayonet, by saying, “Come brother, let me give you a hug,” and thus make him put down his lethal weapon. This is the attitude expected from a believer, and let me reiterate once more that this form of behavior is of vital importance in terms of solving the problems in our time.

[1] Ibn Kathir, Sirah, 4/194-195.

[2] Ali al-Qari, Al-Masnu, 1/45; Ajluni, Kashf al-Khafa, 1/44.

This text is the translation of “Kötülükleri Savmada Bazı Ölçüler.”

Depth in Religious Feelings and Thoughts

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: Could you elucidate the meaning of the phrase, “deepening in religious feeling and thought”? How is it possible to attain such a lofty goal?

Answer: Religious feeling and thought begins with instillation, and then it is adopted by imitation. The final step is, hopefully, the continuation of religious feeling and thought as a second nature.

When the childhoods of most Muslims are studied, it will be seen that basic religious knowledge about belief in God, angels, scriptures, the Prophets, the Day of Judgment, and Divine Destiny, as well as the essential requirements of religion, such as the proclamation of faith, the daily prayers, fasting, prescribed alms, and Hajj, are instilled in us, and that we begin by imitation and then adopt these practices in the long run.

The Scholars of Islamic Theology (Kalam) said that even belief gained through imitation will save a person. They established this by writing, “faith by imitation is acceptable.”[1] Although they said so, in order for a person’s faith to survive against storms of denial and deviation, these considerations adopted by imitation need to be supported later on with meaning, be based on a sound foundation, and must be insightfully internalized by the person. Although imitation does serve a function as a beginning for the theoretical aspects of faith, gains through imitation only become permanent through verification.

For example, our parents instilled in us the first theoretical pieces of information about God’s existence and unity. However, what we are supposed to do later on is to be able to distill the same truth from every object and phenomenon created in this universe. Just like a scientist trying to obtain a result through laboratory analysis and research, one must have a strong faith in this issue—to the degree of saying, “Even if they make some fifty contrary claims, this is the truth. I may have doubts about the mathematical certainty of whether two times two equals four; however, I do not have the slightest doubt about matters of faith.” We must have a sound faith, which will not be shaken even in the face of an earthquake that measures a ten on the Richter scale.

What Is Obtained through Imitation Is Entrusted to Our Further Willful Efforts

So what are the necessary things to do in this respect? First, we must see these values we inherited from our ancestors, and acquired from the cultural environment in which we were raised, as entrusted to us, and we must frequently check on how solid their foundation is. We must say to ourselves, “Let us be vigilant about not losing these values!” 

For the sake of placing them on sounder ground, we need to consolidate the essentials of faith with inquiries such as, “Are there any cracks or breaks in this ground of thought? If yes, what do we need to do against them?”

Most of us were born into a Muslim family and were raised in an environment where Islam is practiced; where adhans from minarets rang all around, and where mosques resonated with Qur’anic recitations and sermons. Thus, God Almighty granted us the opportunity to acquire these truths theoretically. What falls to us is to not be content with minimal effort, not leaving important gains in their rudimentary state, and making constant efforts for the sake of advancing them further. An attitude or behavior to the contrary indicates ingratitude and disrespect toward that trust.

Given that God Almighty blessed us with their theoretical aspect and entrusted their practice to our willpower, then we must seek to give these trusts their due by striving in this respect.

The Road to Verification and Levels of Certainty in Faith

The concepts of certainty based on knowledge (ilm al-yaqin), certainty based on seeing (ayn al-yaqin), and certainty based on direct experience (haqq al-yaqin) may serve as projectors shedding light on the road from imitation to verification.

Certainty based on knowledge means analyzing phenomena under the illuminating rays of knowledge, distilling out the wisdoms and meanings in Creation, and thus attaining knowledge of God to the degree of being able to prove the truths of faith with their evidences and proofs. Such a reading, studying, analysis, and synthesis will serve as a protective shield against the doubts, suspicions, and devilish whisperings to be cast in our minds by adversaries of faith about what we obtained through imitation. As for certainty based on seeing, it means directly seeing the meanings of those theoretical facts in a doubt-free fashion, and the person rendering all of his or her faculties witness to those truths.

The point that needs to be noted here is that seeing is different from looking. Seeing is more intense than merely looking. If you are blessed with “seeing,” then during a walk in nature you behold your surroundings in such a way that you feel like kissing the trees, running from one to another. This is because you feel enraptured by “seeing” manifestations of the Divine Names in each of their faces. Those who open a door to the horizons of certainty based on seeing view thousands of manifestations of the Divine Names in every being, and voice their rapture like Niyazi Mısri did:

“I used to think that in this world nothing amicable to me has remained.

When I abandoned my self, I saw that nothing but God has remained.”

It seems this way when a person abandons himself: He begins to see manifestations of God in everything; then he becomes enraptured with a state of spiritual immersion, stupor, and passion, and melts into that sea.

“No manifestation of Yours, while I appear on the screen;

My disappearance is the condition for Your emerging!”

As it is expressed in this couplet, when a person lets his being melt before the true being, that person begins to push a door open to the horizons of certainty based on direct experience.

As a matter of fact, we do not know whether a person can attain such a level of certainty in this world just by spiritual journeying. Concerning this issue, as Imam Rabbani said in his Letters, this is not possible; at another place, he stated that it can happen to some extent. By evaluating these two considerations together, it is possible to say that a shadow of this truth may perhaps happen in this world, but its genuine truth will be manifested in the Hereafter. When Divine Power will be more dominantly manifested than Divine Wisdom, the real truth of certainty based on direct experience will also be manifested and a person will experience this truth with all of its dimensions according to his own horizons.

One Who Asks from Him Will Not Be Let Down

Verifying guides tried to explain with examples the levels of certainty, which we will briefly state. For example, some expressed that believing in fire theoretically by knowing that it burns, cooks, and gives light while ablaze is certainty based on knowledge. On the other hand, directly looking at the fire in a stove and witnessing with one’s own eyes that fire gives off heat and light is certainty based on seeing. 

As for certainty based on direct experience, they gave the example of a pair of tongs used in that stove and which have turned red like fire, to the degree of not being told apart from the fire. Thus they tried to make the issue more understandable.

At this final point, there is neither you nor me; there is only He, the Almighty One. At that point, a person feels ashamed to say “I,” but only says “He” and breathes Him only.

Then like an insatiable journeyer asking for more, one must run from one range to another. To put it in an oft-repeated phrase: it is necessary to relate every issue to talk of the Beloved, and thus think about Him every day with fresh acquisitions, and make Him once more the subject of a lively discussion, one which will make us say, “Praise be to God, today it is as if we recognized our Lord anew on the horizons of knowing Him. We mentioned the noble Prophet once more and felt a deep sensation of yearning, down to the bones of our nose.”

On hearing his name, we should say, “Oh, let me be a sacrifice for you.” We should be filled with wondering when we can realize this sweet gathering again, with a feeling of ribat—loyalty to Islam. Thus, a person can gain the opportunity to let seconds of his life gain the worth of years. A person’s passing those sweet times with a wish for reaching Him and always keeping Him vivid in his memory will turn seconds, milliseconds, and even centi-seconds into worship, and render that person a seeker of eternity. Given that every human is a candidate for eternity and the Eternal One, then—God knows best—being able to attaining them is possible through living in accordance with these considerations.

May God render His help a companion to us on this path. Those who ask for their wish from Him will never be let down halfway. And if we ask for our wishes from Him, He will definitely grant our wishes, maybe today, maybe tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow. Muhammed Lütfi Effendi of Alvar put it so beautifully:

If You truly love the Lord, do you think He will not love you?

If you seek His good pleasure, will He not let you have it?

If you go near His door, ready to offer all you have,

and serve as He ordered, will He not reward you for it?

[1] Taftazani, Sharhu’l Maqasid, 2/264.

This text is the translation of “Dinî Duygu ve Düşüncede Derinlik.”

Knowledge That Distances a Person from God

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: What are the lessons to be drawn from the hadith reading, “If a person’s knowledge increases but asceticism does not, the only thing that really increases is his distance from God”?

Answer: The ways that help a person reach God are as myriad as the breaths His creatures take. This is because every person has different talents and abilities. Accordingly, those on the spiritual road with tender characters state that the most important path leading to God is love. Some of these journeyers of love have expressed their longing by saying:

“O God, make me familiar with the trouble of love;

Do not let me be devoid of the trouble of love.”

Another spiritual master said:

“Give your heart to such a Beloved, that will make you happy at heart.

Hang on to such a skirt, that will take you to the target.”

Yet another hero of love depicted the inner world of a lover of God with the following lines:

“What an ascetic desires in his heart is Paradise,

In the heart of a true lover, is but the one he loves.”

On the other hand, some of the journeyers on the path of truth have tried to reach God by means of asceticism, and valued this road above all others. Asceticism (zuhd) means, in a way, forsaking this world and what it contains, and restricting one’s belongings to their essential needs. A person naturally needs to meet bodily needs such as eating, drinking, and sleeping. However, one who wishes to lead an ascetic life does not want to benefit from such blessings of the world to the full degree, thinking that they lead a person to heedlessness. Such people act under the guidance of the principle Bediüzzaman expressed in the Eight Word:

“There is permission for tasting (things of this world); there is no permission to be full.”

As for certain inquisitive souls who possess wisdom and try to know God by means of deliberation, discussion, and reflections, they have always scrutinized phenomena by reading into this universe like a book of Divine wisdom. They have made some connections with this book and the Miraculous Qur’an, and they have always tried to behold these two books through the lens, projector, or observatory they provided for one another.

Those Who Lose Their Way in the Valleys of Imitation

Apart from what we have mentioned, there are people who have not yet freed themselves from leading a superficial life based on formality. They are captives of imitation, and it is rather difficult for them to make progress. In terms of imitating the ways of their ancestors, their situation resembles the unbelievers who said, “Enough for us (are the ways) that we found our forefathers on” (al-Maedah 5:104).

A person in this situation needs to ask himself, “Had I been born in a region where another religion is prevalent, I wonder if I would still become a Muslim, be it in this poor degree of mine?” Though it should be noted that scholars from the mainstream understanding of Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jama’ah[1] stated that faith based on imitation is also acceptable – namely, people who go to the mosque because their fathers did, and who observe the Ramadan fast because their grandmothers did. These people will also be saved.

An Inflation of Mahdis[2]

Actually, these points about “imitation” faith can be used to describe our generation. None of us have reached the truths we believe today by racking our brains “to the degree of blowing it through our nose,” as the poet Necip Fazıl put it. None of us left our beds in the middle of the night and went around like mad, saying like Umar ibn al-Khattab’s uncle Zayd ibn Amr did, “My God, I yearn for You!”[3] We have not engaged in a crazy quest for the sake of finding Him, but have always consoled ourselves with imitation.

If some people still applauded this poor Islamic life of ours and we foolishly see ourselves as ideal Muslims, then we have been deceived completely. Some poor people have even given in to populism in the face of applause and flattering remarks, and lots of mahdis have appeared as a consequence. There have been so many of them in our century that it is not an exaggeration if we talk about an inflation of mahdis. While some people wonder in self-criticism whether they can even be considered ordinary Muslims, others see themselves as heroes, who will save humanity with a single move, who will bring down emperors with a single breath. But in reality, all of them have been poor slaves of imitation without a thorough recognition of God or knowledge of the Prophet. They have lived unaware of the Rightly Guided Caliphs and the Blessed Companions. As they are unaware of where they have been, and of their inability to make any progress even in favorable conditions, it has been difficult for them to advance.

A person with sound belief must constantly ruminate and reflect for the sake of setting sail for seas of knowledge and love of God, and move on with an unquenchable enthusiasm. In response to the bowls of knowledge of God offered to him, he should say:

See now, how this poor servant is,

Crazy for a single strand from the Beloved’s locks

The honey of love I take on and on,

Give some water for my heartburn!

Like a person who drinks seawater, a person who takes Divine love should ask for more and more. While setting sail deep into knowledge of God, he should never give up the following considerations:

“If I could truly feel what is supposed to be felt, and experience the truth of ‘…it is in the remembrance of, and whole-hearted devotion to God, that hearts find rest and contentment’ (ar-Rad 13:28), and if I could perceive the glad tidings in, ‘Those (whose hearts have attained rest and contentment) who have believed and do good, righteous deeds—for them is the greatest happiness and the most beautiful of destinations,’ (ar-Rad 13:29) then I would establish a much deeper connection with God Almighty, always voice tunes of love and yearning for God, lower my wings of humility to the ground before believers, and behold the entire creation with an immense compassion. Accordingly, what I am actually doing can be considered as crawling miserably on the ground.”

Look Shallow but Be Deep!

In fact, real servanthood lies in combining exceptionally high endeavor and exceptional modesty. On the one hand, a person must ascend so high that when angels look at him, they should say, “What a surprise! A being with a physical body shares the same horizons with us angels!” Or they should say, “(he) is flapping wings, even ahead of us!” But this person must at the same time be able to see himself as the nothing of nothings. When they tell him to put his signature somewhere, he should be able to spontaneously sign “nothing.”

In terms of accomplishing human perfection, there is no greater person than the Pride of Humanity. But in spite of that, he implored God by saying, “Make me insignificant in my own eyes, but great in the eyes of people (with respect to my mission).”[4] A spiritual master altered this prayer a bit, saying, “My God, make me insignificant in my own eyes, but profound in my religion.”

A person should see himself as petty as a fly’s wing, but with respect to religious profundity he should say, “My God let me attain such religious perfection and let me be so well equipped religiously that when my inspirations are distributed to the whole of humanity, let it suffice for all of them to enter Paradise.”

With reference to his Companion Maiz, the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, stated, “He repented in such a way that if it were distributed to 70 people in Medina, it would suffice for them all.” That person had committed a sin (fornication) without the knowledge of others, and as a result of his repentance for this sin, he came to the Messenger of God and stated that he wanted to be purified. Although the blessed Prophet sent him away four times, he came back every time, in spite of knowing that his demand to be duly punished meant his execution, and repeated his wish. And after the punishment was carried out, the noble Prophet stated the words we quoted.[5]

A person should constantly try to deepen their focus on faith, knowledge of God, love of God, spiritual delight, fervor, and enthusiasm. But together with that, the person should see himself shallower than the shallowest ones. Actually, if a person has truly attained a depth of heart, he will see himself as the lowliest of people. And the reverse meaning also holds true: If a person sees himself superior to other people, then he is the meanest and poorest person in actual fact. Be this person a believer, hypocrite, or unbeliever, it doesn’t matter.

“Knowledge” Means Knowing Yourself

A person who imagines exalted ranks for himself and thinks, “So it seems that I am a chosen person sent by Divine Providence as specially equipped to fulfill an important mission and guide humanity to the peak of perfection,” has no true value at all, not even to the degree of a fly’s wing. The true indication of greatness is modesty and self-effacement—and the indication of worthlessness is vanity.[6]

True knowledge is a person being able to crown the knowledge he possesses with such considerations. And this can be achieved by people who have sipped perfection, attained maturity, and turned their theoretical knowledge into practical deeds. Although Muhammed Lütfi Effendi was a blessed person who sat and devoted some six hours a day to engaging in wisdom, knowledge, and contemplative dialogue, he would still say:

“Neither do I have knowledge nor good deeds,

Nor do I have any power for goodness and devotions.

Immersed in rebellion, I have a lot of sins.

I don’t know what will become of me, on the day of reckoning.”

And Yunus Emre said:

“Knowledge means having knowledge

Knowledge means knowing thyself

If then, you fail to know thyself,

What is the point of your studying?”

Without this knowledge, it is not possible for those who depend on the appreciation of others to progress a single step forward. Even if others say things like, “So and so is praiseworthy! See how he helps people, guides them, and takes them out of the quicksand they were stuck in,” this will do them no good at all.

To make an evaluation with respect to the hadith mentioned in the question, if a believer cannot push aside the world and what it contains in spite of his increase in knowledge; if he is still preoccupied with worldly concerns and is running after worldly ambitions; and if he looks for the next worldly title as soon as he gains one and is dying to retain the worldly benefits he has gained, then that person has been distanced from nothing else but God.

[1] Sunni way of belief.

[2] mahdi: the Divinely-guided One; expected liberator.

[3] Sahih al-Bukhari, Manaqib, 24; Nasai, Sunan al-Kubra, 5:54.

[4] Al-Bazzar, Al-Musnad, 10/315; Daylami, Al-Musnad, 1/473.

[5] Sahih Muslim, Hudud, 22; Sunan Abu Dawud, Hudud, 24, 25.

[6] Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said Nursi, Münazarat (Discussions), Istanbul: Yeni Asya, 2009.

This text is the translation of “İnsanı Allah’tan Uzaklaştıran İlim.”