Posts Tagged ‘altruism’

The Reasonable and Objective Way to Speak about Our Services


Question: You mention that it is necessary to speak about the services we carry out in a reasonable and objective manner that is free of emotionalism. Would you elucidate on this issue?
Answer: It firstly needs to be pointed out that an individual must be open to criticisms and avoid being assertive while telling about the services being carried out, for human nature is prone to faults. There can be certain wrongs even at the works they think to be most correct. For example, one must never be oblivious to the fact that there can be a lot of faults even at a prayer offered in compliance with the judgments and conditions explained in reference books. In the same way, fasting, alms of zakah, and Hajj have so many specific essentials that it is very difficult for a believer to thoroughly observe them in entirety. Particularly, if inward aspects of the matter such as internalizing the deeds carried out, observing them with sincerity, and purifying them from feelings of showing off to others are taken into consideration, the difficulty of the matter is better understood.
Human Nature Is Prone to Faults and Mistakes
Given that there are so many faults within the range of possibility, even with respect to acts of worship that you have been carrying out all along, it is inevitable that certain mistakes will be made on the path of serving humanity, which has very different dimensions and depths. In fact, we have the time-transcendent disciplines taught by the Qur’an and authenticated Tradition of the Prophet in hand, which also apply to the services to be carried out for the sake of pleasing God. Besides their unchanging principles, these disciplines have different aspects concerning different times and places. Also, the initiatives should be faithful to the essential principles, as well as transferred to real life in conformity with the time, place, and conjuncture. As there is always a possibility of making mistakes at such a difficult and complicated task, acknowledging this from the very beginning is a matter of righteousness.
The other possibility is a person sees all of his deeds as correct, becomes disturbed by criticism, lives with expectations of constant appreciation, and begins to even like being praised for things that he did not even do. These are among the general traits of hypocrites. For example, God Almighty makes the following statement in chapter Al Imran concerning the Hypocrites: “…and who love to be (famed and) praised for what they have not achieved” (Al Imran 3:188).
In this respect, one must never forget that human nature is prone to faults and mistakes, realize one’s shortcomings from the very beginning, and not be disturbed when these are voiced. Indeed, a person should be happy when his shortcomings are revealed to him and ways to be saved from them are shown.
Having pointed out the necessity of being open to criticism and not being disturbed by criticism, we can list the following criteria in terms of adopting a reasonable and objective manner of speaking about the services carried out.
Endeavor to Act in Compliance with the Essential Disciplines
The public should be informed that there is an endeavor for keeping the services carried out in compliance with the disciplines taught by religion and universal human values, because matters that do not reconcile with the essentials of the Qur’an and Sunnah become dependent on free-floating thoughts and cannot be lasting. People who do not act upon substantial rules are doomed to zigzag all the time. As their present behaviors are different than the past, it is inevitable for their future behaviors to contradict with the present ones. Thus, it is necessary for a person’s thoughts, emotions, and even all brain neurons to be in compliance with the essential teachings of religion and universal values so that the person will be consistent in attitude and behaviors.
As followers of a universal religion, the essential teachings we follow are open to embrace everyone. What really matters is to represent our teachings truthfully. After this is achieved, we should then indicate that we are open to questioning and criticism by very comfortably saying, “As we regard giving an advice a duty, we also see receiving what you will give as very important in terms of completion. If you see any shortcoming or mistakes in us, please let us know so that we can consider it.”
If you are realizing your initiatives in compliance with the essential teachings, you will never lose contact with the core by God’s grace, even if times, places, and persons change. As the great master Rumi said, even if one of your feet is among seventy-two people, if your other foot is in the center and if you are testing all of your initiatives according to the foot fixed in the center, you will keep up your line.
No Individual or Group Can Lay Personal Claim to the Services Carried Out
The second point of consideration is not to forget that others also put their efforts into the services that they perform, so do not consider this as a matter belonging to a certain group exclusively. From the past to present, there have been different groups and movements that performed services in different societies, and they made very important efforts to shed light on your way, to hearten you, and to prepare suitable grounds for you to work comfortably. They brought the services until a certain point and then basically told you, “It is now for you to continue this duty a bit.” It is also possible to look at it in this manner: when you began to function with your own means, these efforts had already become ready to yield good results. Accordingly, some had cultivated the ground, some had sown the seeds, some carried out all the services to let it flourish into a tree, and then by the help of Divine Providence, you found an opportunity to serve in the season when flowers blossom and fruits ripen. Seeing only the part that corresponds to your own efforts while disregarding others’ contribution is obvious ingratitude.
As the people of Anatolia have feelings of self-sacrifice and altruism in their spirit and essence, many people made use of this essence. But there came such a period that all layers of the society raised people to express themselves and open themselves to the four corners of the world. When the businessmen, guides, and teachers who believed the services to be beneficial settled somewhere, they invited others to do the same, and thus the services multiplied. And this was realized completely by the help and graces of God Almighty. When you try to attribute them to causes other than God and consider this accordingly, the chance of realization of the services carried out is not even one in a million.
Just as it is not correct to ascribe the initiatives made with the name of the Hizmet movement solely to the effort of one group of people, it is equally not correct to attribute it to individual persons in a group either. Those whose contribution is most visible is nothing but a work of Divine destiny. Thus, names of individuals should never be brought to the fore when evaluating the efforts. Rather, it is necessary to ascribe the services carried out to the movement itself, to the righteous enthusiasm of the group, to its inexhaustible resolution, sound will, and philanthropic love and to explain that these are the works of many. As a result of this endeavor of these people, God Almighty granted them the opportunity to present and introduce their beautiful cultural values to the entire world. Naturally, while we shared these beauties with others in different parts of the world, we also took some beauties from them, adding more to the richness of our own culture.
We believe that the works we carry out are nothing but an endeavor for responding thankfully to the showers of blessings God sends upon us. If we communicate these efforts correctly, we will avoid the wrongdoing of attributing the accomplishment made as a result of an entire group’s endeavor to a few individuals that are seen on the fore, like those heedless of gratitude do. Even at war, the reward is distributed equally among all individuals who contributed. Doing otherwise will idolize certain individuals, which is very dangerous for them as well. They might begin to lay personal claim on those services, begin to expect applause and appreciation, and thus consume their otherworldly rewards in this lowly one.
Avoid Provoking Envy at All Times
There is another aspect of this issue which is even more dangerous. Bringing certain individuals to the fore will provoke the feeling of envy in others. Everybody has an inborn potential for jealousy and envy. Particularly, if you bring certain individuals to the fore in the presence of academics, theologians, and scholars, you will have awakened this feeling in them unawares. You will turn your friends into foes. Even certain faithful ones who did not achieve to make this much of success can be pervaded by feeling on envy. Though indirectly, you will have paved the way for sin. In addition, it will be very difficult for you to explain later anything to people fixed on jealousy and envy. It is therefore necessary to try to prevent such negative feelings—at least partially—by drawing attention to the movement itself rather than certain individuals. While calming down the emotions of the people before us by speaking about the movement and its background, the manner of expression must be finely adjusted, so that nobody’s feelings of envy is provoked and new rivals and enviers are not generated.
The Services Carried Out and a Consciousness of Responsibility
Some might imagine that worldly people formed this movement as an organization to realize different goals. They might even misapprehend that the movement pursues certain political goals. However, all of the services performed stem from the essential teachings of our cultural heritage and a Divinely assigned duty is observed by that. In other words, this is an endeavor to fulfill our responsibilities toward humanity. When the issue is viewed more profoundly, it will be understood that these are not extra deeds to make people gain further value but, on the contrary, an essential duty of servanthood and a tribute of gratitude and praise for the blessings previously granted. So as people view these services to be within the frame of their religious responsibilities and since a method that combines logic and reasonability is followed, the services continue to multiply.
It is also possible to account for Hizmet with a consideration of competing for goodness at sharing truths with others. Because the good work being done is nothing but competing at acts of goodness, in accordance with the Divine command: “…So strive together as if in a race, (O community of believers,) towards all that is good” (al-Baqarah 2:148). Devoted ones who see those who run before them at serving humanity are trying to carry out the services that fall to them with the thought of not staying behind
Innocence in Intention and Reasonability in Activities
In spite of everything, some might be disturbed by the services performed, and they might feel anxious. The duty that falls to us in that situation is to explain one by one the points that cause doubts, namely, indicate the innocence of our intention and reasonability of the activities realized. We know that the services performed are a result of God Almighty’s graces for the efforts our people make. As the volunteers make certain sacrifices with the intention to serve humanity, God Almighty showers them with His blessings. Otherwise, this much activity could not be carried out by people, most of whom are unaware of what the rest are doing.
Some people who fail to understand how these services are performed might even go further to hold apprehensions about a “secret agenda.” If so, the following point needs to be explained to them: we regard it as sinful to act to hold any other consideration other than the good pleasure of God, and we prefer embracing entire humanity with universal human values over all the temptations of the world. We take seriously that God Almighty will say to us in the next world, “You held a certain person’s hand and served as a means to make him meet the truth. So I am rewarding you…” This is worth all the worlds for us. As for paying importance to considerations other than this, we see it like a gold trader’s disregarding gold and asking for copper instead, something much lower in worth.
To conclude, we need to be filled with these feelings, unaffected by offensive words and attitudes, and at the same time try to eliminate apprehensions and groundless fears with patience and peace.

This text is the translation of “Hizmetlerin Anlatılmasında Makul ve Objektif Çizgi.”

Deep Contemplation: The Helix of Light That Takes a Person to the Truth


Question: What are the points of consideration for attaining the desired level of deep contemplation, which is one of the essentials for volunteers?

Answer: Deep contemplation means a person’s forcing oneself to think about one’s own inner world, constantly scrutinizing things that exist and take place, and opening to more immense and deep thoughts by taking all of these into consideration time and time again. The original Arabic word tafakkur is inflected in the form of tafaul, which denotes burdening oneself. That is a person’s making serious effort to realize something and forcing oneself to achieve something, and giving the willpower its due in this respect. For this reason, we can say that with respect to its word formation, the word tafakkur expresses an act of thinking that is systematic, deep, and constant, rather than thinking in a simpler sense.
The Qur’an Brings Active Reasoning to Attention
Deep contemplation is one of the essential teachings of Islam. In many verses the Qur’an concludes with a perspective of deep contemplation after mentioning the skies, rainfall, plants, clouds, wind, stars, atmosphere, creation of living things, and people’s sustenance… In short, after mentioning various evidences, one can realize in both the outer world and within that the Qur’an always relates the issue to deep contemplation. For example, after God Almighty mentions the creation of the heavens and earth, changing of the length of days and nights, floating of ships on seas for the benefit of humanity, His reviving the dead earth by descending rain from the sky followed by various living beings’ creation there, movements of winds, and clouds suspended between the earth and the sky waiting for God’s orders, He points out that there are signs in them for God’s existence and unity “for a people who reason and understand” (al-Baqarah 2:164). There are many similar verses in the Qur’an. Some of them conclude with an emphasis on reasoning, some on reflection, and some on knowing. Although there are certain nuances among them, it will be seen that they essentially make the same point, which is a person’s thinking about the signs that God created in the outer world and within, making use of reason, and immersing in contemplation. The fact that so many verses end with the emphasis, “There are signs (in the stated points) for a people who reason…” also gives us the following message: By referring to deep contemplation with a present tense form in Arabic, the Qur’an constantly turns our attention to active reasoning. As the Qur’an does not even mention passive reasoning, it does not mention an act of thinking solely directed to the past either. On the contrary, by mentioning deep contemplation as a general and repeated act, the Qur’an demands believers to contemplate on the present and the future along with the past. For this reason, as a person makes connections with the past by reasoning and logic, it is also necessary to distill the present age and future time through deep contemplation and take every step on the grounds of reasonability. The fact that such verses bring active reasoning to attention is also important in terms of putting emphasis on the continuity of deep contemplation.
Incidentally, I would like to draw attention to another point here. When such verses of the Qur’an are translated, the commonly used word is “reasoning.” However, this word does not properly convey the meaning of “ya’qilun” in Arabic. Although “reasoning” is used in translation because there is not a better alternative, it should be noted that this is a weak word to reflect the original meaning. It is also possible to use longer expressions such as: “gaining insight into entities and happenings by reasoning,” “reaching to possible fruits to be yielded by reason through contemplation,” “scrutinizing the creation by making use of reason,” etc.
True Self-Discovery Can Only Be Realized through Contemplation
Given that God Almighty draws attention to using reason and deep contemplation in many instances, believers need to deepen both their outward and inward contemplation. In his book Man, The Unknown, Alexis Carrel states that even if you consider man solely with a physiological and anatomical perspective, he will truly appear before you as a monument to be respected. Humans are so perfect with respect to their inner and outer structure that—imagining the impossible—had it been possible to prostrate before anyone but God, it would be human. However, God did not allow prostrating before anyone but Himself. As for the angels’ prostration before Adam, it was a situation of testing for the sake of understanding the subtle point in obeying His commands. Moreover, Prophet Adam’s position as an altar at the prostration for God indicates that there is no other creature that combines qualities of being superior and special because Adam was in a way the intersection point of matter and spirit, of physical and spiritual realms. In other words, he was a comprehensive mirror of the entirety of the Divine Names. So when you begin to study such a perfect creature as man with his bodily and spiritual aspects, you cannot help immersing in deep contemplation. Be it bodily aspects as the hands, feet, ears, nose, tongue, or lips, or be it the truth of the human essence, man resembles a perfect book that leads one to deep thinking, given that a correct reading is achieved. Particularly, when man is viewed in terms of his carnal soul, heart, feelings, consciousness of having consciousness, and ability to use willpower, it will be seen that he is endowed with a magnificent mechanism with no gap to be found. As man holds the wheel of such a system, operates it, and stands closest to it in terms of having set his throne at its central point, he is the one who understands it best. If a person can set out inwardly and can deepen thoughts on human physical and spiritual aspects, then it becomes possible to turn outwardly in the same way, like people who set out to space after having made accomplishments in the world. To put it differently, on realizing that God does not create anything in vain after a systematic contemplation a person realizes in the realms inside, when such person turns his gaze to the outer realms, he will similarly draw different aspects of wisdom, just like a bee returning home with different essences of honey.
The Reading Circles Must Be Places of Contemplation
The duty that falls to a person is effectuating well both inward and outward contemplation, complementary like the two wings of a bird, and transforming their gatherings for their reading circles into strolls on the emerald hills of the heart, as places where the signs of God in religion and in the universe are deliberated. If this is not done, the gatherings will not be saved from levity and trivialities. At places where trivialities prevail, people cannot stop themselves from criticizing this or that person like old chatterboxes, busying themselves with others’ faults, and backbiting people. Engagement in such rumors is a cause of impurity for the time, place, and atmosphere. Such an impure atmosphere does not serve as fertile grounds for germinating contemplation. What a person who is caught by the currents of his carnal soul and fancies does is no different than tying up and paralyzing the mechanism of contemplation, which is the key to viewing and interpreting existence correctly.
At this point, I would like to relate the story about an old gentleman named Medet Effendi, who was a colonel in assistance of Sultan Abdulhamid II. We spent some time together when I was around 12- to 13-years-old, and he was 75. That bearded old man with a luminous face was a devout worshipper. In addition, he was a good example of an Ottoman gentleman. When sultan Abdulhamid II was dethroned in 1908, the organizers of the coup sent him to an asylum like they did with some others. After staying a long time with people with mental problems, he partially lost his sanity as well. Actually, if a person who has to share the same place with possessed ones does not conform with them, he will become a problem and be declared by those crazy ones as “crazy.” Medet Effendi would sometimes talk about their behaviors. One of them would hold a mirror and say that the city of Erzurum was covered under a flood, while another narrated about a treasure buried in the cavity of a stove. Another person would curse at the articles that appeared in the newspapers. The point I want to make by mentioning the stories of Medet Effendi is that, if we do not illuminate our gatherings with the light of faith, we begin to talk about matters of no worldly or otherworldly use, wasting our time away with constant chattering. Just like the people in the asylum, one person talks unnecessarily, another one discusses a futile issue, and another one begins to make useless criticisms. As a result we turn our gatherings into fruitless wastelands, set sail to the sea of rebellion, and waste our time with trivial issues. Why should we turn our gatherings into graveyards by depriving them of spirit and meaning, while it is possible to render them gatherings of faith! Why should we set sail to a troubled sea unlikely to provide returns, instead of strolling through the valleys of obedience to God! Why should we not take the opportunity of our gatherings, discover unknown openings, and set out to new immensities of the Qur’an from there!
So the way to render our gatherings fruitful is to always bring the issue to a place of contemplation where we will think about God and His Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, always making our conversations and discussions into contemplative dialogue on God, the Real Beloved. If anyone wishes to engage in idle talk, it is necessary to intervene in a mannerly fashion and give the following message: “Dear brother (or sister), if you have anything to say in the Name of God and His Messenger, please say it and we will listen. Otherwise, bring a book (at least) so that we can have a reading.” Then turn to an issue that moves hearts, waters eyes, and reminds us of our human potential again. For example, we can have one of those present recite a portion from the Qur’an, and if there is anyone who can elucidate the meaning of the verses recited, we can ask that person to interpret them, providing some spiritual relief. If there is not anyone capable of Qur’anic exegesis, we can then bring an annotated translation and try to understand the meaning of the verses recited. The more we understand and contemplate, the more we will rid ourselves from simplemindedness and shallowness in thought, and thus set out to more immense considerations. To conclude, thanks to the dynamic of contemplation, we will have a deeper insight into our impotence, poverty, and the necessity of offering gratitude—we will embrace the creation with a more immense compassion, and continue our service with enthusiasm by God’s grace.

This text is the translation of “İnsanı Hakikate Ulaştıran Nurdan Helezon: Tefekkür.”

Believers and Hypocrites in the Face of Misfortunes


Question: In one of his blessed sayings, our noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, compared a believer to stalk and a hypocrite to cedar tree. Could you elucidate this hadith please?

Answer: As this hadith was transmitted by way of spiritual narration, there are some differences of wording between the reports. It is cited as follows in the collection of Imam Muslim: “A believer is like a stalk. The wind constantly shakes it; the believer is constantly struck by misfortunes. A hypocrite is like a cedar tree (seeming to stand firm). Once it is shaken, it is rooted out (not to rise again).”1
Here, we first understand from our noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, that the most beautiful example to be given for describing the situation of a believer before troubles and misfortunes is that of a stalk. As it is known, the wind blows from different sides and makes stalks of grain move in different directions. In such a situation, a stalk may bend to the ground, but it straightens up again when the wind and storm abate. Similarly, a believer continuously undergoes troubles and misfortunes, faces different tests through a lifetime, but he or she never topples over by God’s permission and grace. In order to rise to spiritual perfection, attain one’s essence through self-purification, keep up metaphysical vigilance at struggling against evils, and for so many other wisdoms we do not and cannot know, a believer constantly undergoes tests in this world. As the phrase states, “a believer is a sufferer of troubles”. Another saying of God’s Messenger support this fact, “The severest of troubles befall the Prophets, and then to those near to God.”2 When we view the issue from the perspective of this hadith, we see that, for instance, the troubles and misfortunes suffered by the family of the beloved Prophet are far beyond what others experienced. They suffered various torments, were subjected to ordeals by different centers of power, to such a degree that some were even martyred. In addition, what befell them remains so little in comparison to what believers who had lived previously suffered. What these believers who are foremost in faith and good deeds suffered remains so little in comparison to what the Pride of Humanity suffered, because everybody is subjected to troubles in accordance with his or her level and inner worth.

Blizzards and Storms Occur on Peaks
As high souls are always at peaks, snowfall and hail hit them first, and similarly, they are the first ones to be frozen on top. In a way, they are the first destination for everything approaching. Let us consider Imam al-Ghazali, for example. He was not understood in terms of his contemporary society for a certain period; he was abandoned; he moved away to desolate places, and he wandered alone in graveyards. Likewise, if you study the wording of Abdulqadr al-Jilani’s supplications to God, you understand much better what he was subjected to. In the same way, what Abu’l Hasan ash-Shadhili went through was not much different from what Jilani experienced. And when you study the troubles suffered by Bediüzzaman, that great architect of mind for the contemporary age, you see that he was never left alone through most of his life. At a very young age, he came to Istanbul with very important projects beyond dreams even for today. However, as those in the environment of the sultan were too simple minded for them, they sent Bediüzzaman to an asylum with the claim that he spoke insanely. Hindered by the environment of the sultan, even the insightful people of those times could not thoroughly understand the meaning of his words. Actually, a believer does not attain perfect belief, without being called insane on the grounds of his or her faith. As that great personage had attained perfection in faith, he was called insane. Later on he joined the war, spent his days under very difficult conditions, fell captive, and also faced troubles. Then he returned to his country with the hope of finding some peace, but he met a different kind of trouble this time. He was not left alone even when he retreated to a cave near the city of Van, in eastern Turkey. He was arrested while living on his own and exiled to western Turkey. For the next 35 years, they kept mistreating him, some out of jealousy and some out of animosity to religion… exiles, dungeons, isolations, poisonings, imprisonments, trials, and prosecutions with demands for his execution kept following one another.

People Had Suffered So Much… What Did We Suffer for?
In short, the heaviest of troubles and misfortunes strike the Prophets and then other people according to degree. One of the most important wisdoms of this fact is that, if the person who shoulders a certain cause and walks in front are not subjected to such great misfortunes, then those who follow begin to complain about even the slightest things that trouble them. They cannot even endure the biting of a fly or stinging of the bee. When they see a scorpion or snake, they begin to shout even without being stung. But if they look at those who walked in front and see that they tolerated much greater troubles, they feel consoled with it and say, “See what such people went through… ours does not even deserve to be called affliction. By looking at their trials, it will be a shame to even mention ours!” For this reason, the character traits of those who represent a movement mean so much for those who follow. Inflictions which make life a misery begin to seem, sound, and feel differently to those who look at their example and, in the end, they see that even the troubles they experience become sweet.
As for hypocrites, they are compared to a cedar tree. The exact type of the tree does not really matter so much. What matters here is that, once that seemingly unshakable tree faces a severe storm, it is rooted out, topples over, and can never stand up again. Similarly, hypocrites swagger and give an unshakable appearance, but they topple over when exposed to a severe wind, never to stand up again. As for stalks, they straighten up again after lying down, no matter how severely the wind has blown; they stand up again and again.
The following consideration also comes to mind as hinted by the hadith: Sometimes there can be something that shakes a believer and makes that individual dizzy. Such an individual may have indulged in sins and underwent a temporary shaking. You can hold that person by the hand, give sound advice, show the right way, and thus help that person up after falling. It is easy to do that for an individual. However, there is a different issue when an entire society is immersed in sins, being carbonized from within, toppling over, falling like a great oak tree. Helping that society up, allowing it regain vitality is far more difficult in comparison to a single person. This difficult task, however, should be the high and exalted ideal that souls devoted to reviving faith aim for. That is, they should open their arms wide to every section of the society, throb like a pulse everywhere, and show the societies in which they live the path to a fresh revival. Indeed, the actual great duty, the real responsibility that befalls to devoted souls is raising toppled oak trees and helping them to gain vitality once more.

1. Sahih Muslim, Sifatu’l-Munafiqin, 58.
2. Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Zuhd, 57; Sunan ibn Majah, Fitan, 23.

This text is the translation of “Musibetler Karşısında Mü’min ve Münafık.”

Relation between the Types of Patience


Question: The works of Risale-i Nur relate three types of patience.1 What kind of a relationship exists among them?

Similar to the great personages who guided people to the horizons of the heart and spirit, Bediüzzaman also refers to these three types of patience. We can say that there exists a serious relationship among them. Let us try to see this relationship with its basic lines.

Steady Worship Protects a Person from Falling to Sin

Fulfilling acts of worship in an immaculate fashion and, in particular, seeking constancy in this respect take serious patience, as it is difficult for a person to fulfill certain tasks from the beginning to end without faltering at all. It is thanks to patience that a person can attain God Almighty’s love. The Messenger of God, blessings and peace be upon him, once stated:
“The most beloved of deeds to God are the ones that are continuous even if they are little.”2 Let alone the supererogatory (nafila) acts of worship, even a person’s ceaseless observation of the obligatory acts of worship is very valuable in terms of fulfilling thorough servitude to God. In this respect, through patience—in the sense of steady worship—a person gains a very different value in the sight of God. Bediüzzaman draws attention to this with his words, “It elevates a person to the level of being a beloved servant of God. If you have fulfilled your prayers, fasts, almsgiving, and other acts of worship with no neglect since puberty—if we include the phase of orientation, then since 7 or 8 years of age—and continue until the moment you die, it means that you have fulfilled a very serious servitude for God in terms of gaining His good pleasure. If a person has become steady at worship to this degree, then his or her prayers, fasting, alms, and the like will, in a way, serve as a shield against transgressions and protect that person from falling into the web of great sins. For example, we know that harmful drinks are widely consumed in our time, particularly on the pretext of certain nights, that some people even go into a coma for this reason, and consequently those people are enslaved by evil feelings and passions to the degree of darkening their life of this world and the Hereafter. Think about a man who observes worship in immaculate fashion, who goes to the mosque as usual on such a night as well. Even though he receives pressure from people around him to indulge in alcohol, it is not conceivable for him to commit such a sinful act after coming out of the mosque, as it is clearly forbidden in Islam. The prayers, remembrance, and recitations he observes serve as a shield for him by God’s grace and help, and enable him to proceed through the journey of life safely, without having any hindrance.
It is possible to say that just as water that flows continuously wears away marble, the steadfastness of such a person at worship will similarly wear away the inclinations of the carnal soul for sins.

Worship Maintains the Straight Path in Thinking

Scrupulous observance of worship also helps a person take the proper attitude in the face of troubles and misfortunes, because worship and devotions always remind a person of gaining God’s good pleasure, of Divine decree and destiny. Such a believer has a wisdom-oriented perspective on trials that befall him or her, does not become rebellious, and does not criticize Divine destiny. On the contrary, for already having a strong relation with God, such a believer resigns to Divine destiny, thinking that “all of these are sent to test me by the One before whom I stand obediently at prayer.” Even at the times when others are shaken or even toppled over, such a believer is constantly on the horizons of being well-pleased with Him and His treatment of His servants as stated in,

Loveable to me what comes from You;
Either a robe or a shroud,
Either a fresh rose or a thorn.
Your grace and trials, both are welcome.

Turning to God, the one rightfully deserving to be worshipped and deservedly sought after, is like a shelter against sins and leads people to wisdom-oriented thinking in the face of troubles and misfortunes. Taking all of these into consideration, we can comfortably say that there is a serious relationship between the different types of patience.
On the other hand, it is possible to talk about a ranking between these types of patience with respect to their difficulty or ease, because it is very difficult for a person to show a performance of immaculate worship to God for a lifetime. It will be easier for a person who has overcome this difficulty to overcome other types of patience. If a river appears before someone who has successfully crossed a sea of blood, that person can cross the river far more easily with God’s permission and grace. Thus, the types of patience already shown in a way facilitate and provide support against future situations that will require patience.

Are there other types of patience in addition to these three?

There are other types of patience as stated by Bediüzzaman. For example, it is very important to show patience against the maddening quality of time concerning issues that require a certain time period to pass. For example, you may be wishing that everybody believes, wishing to let waves of love spread among all people, to let peace prevail everywhere, everybody to become friends, and to take all racist considerations underfoot, etc., and breathlessly strive for this end… But it needs to be known that raising a new generation and taking the issue from the grassroots are necessary in order to realize all of these good things. Undoubtedly, realizing this will take at least a quarter, and sometimes even half, a century. And this is not something impatient souls can endure. As a poet states, “Those who act in haste trip over their gown; those who carefully walk reach the destination.”
In addition, those who step forward for government and take hold of the dynamic power often believe that they can change the hue, shape, pattern, and accent of the society all of a sudden and attempt to redesign the society accordingly. However, if you do not take the issue from the grassroots, do not respect people’s freewill, but act hastily without showing the patience required for forming a beautiful environment, you will make time and events turn against you unawares. Even with respect to things that you believe you have done successfully, any building you have constructed without a base will collapse on you, suddenly, because hastiness and top-down impositions contradict the natural processes of human perfection and social development. In this respect, the volunteers who are trying to build an atmosphere of peace and love for their own society, and even for the entire humanity, must be ready for this: you may never see certain beautiful developments, although you strived for a lifetime in this respect. Seeing those days may be possible for the generations to follow. Indeed, this should be an essential principle for volunteers to follow for a lifetime: “Fulfilling our duty and not attempting to meddle in what Divine wisdom realizes.”
A fifth type of patience is patience toward the attractions of this world, even if they seem to be within the lawful sphere. When the world targets our eyes with its dazzling rays, being able to take a resolute and upright stance against it is among the most difficult types of patience. Bediüzzaman tells the story of a pious man who whenever he wished to eat some delicacy saved the money until he had saved enough to build a mosque with it.
A further degree of patience than those above is shown by those nearest to God Almighty (muqarrabin). In spite of their yearning for reuniting with their Lord of infinite beauty and perfection and His noble Messenger, they show patience to continue living in this world until the moment they walk to the horizon of their soul and depart with God’s permission. Jalaluddin Rumi, one of the important representatives of this horizon, says,

I want a bosom, that is torn by separation;
So that I may, tell the pain of lamentation.

That is, a person needs to feel suffering first so that he can understand the sufferer. You cannot tell your suffering to those who do not understand what suffering is. The great master Rumi is saying that he is essentially the child of a lost Paradise, a poor one who came from God and was thrown here. Thus, he constantly burns with the fire of his yearning. Until the moment he died, Rumi spoke of reunion. But even though he burned with a longing for reunion, he never voiced a demand such as, “My God, take my soul as soon as possible, so that I can reunite with You.” Instead, he gave his willpower its due and showed patience against his yearning for reunion, because He, glorified and exalted is He, is the One Who sends us to this world. Obedience to His Command has superiority over mannerliness, even over our love for Him. Even if ecstatic love drives a person crazy, demanding to pass to the next life, without His commanding us to come is disrespect toward Him. Given that He is the One Who rendered us His officers in this realm, it is Him Who will discharge us from our duty in this world. What falls to us then is to be patient and staying here until He issues this leave. This is the type of patience shown in spite of the intense love and yearning felt toward Him. It is an issue that only concerns very great personages who truly believed, who deepened in knowledge of God further than believing, and with this deepening took wing from knowledge to love, then from love to ardent yearning for God—well beyond people like us.

This text is the translation of “Sabır Çeşitleri Arasındaki Münasebet.”

1. Namely, patience in the sense of resisting against sins, enduring misfortunes, and insistence on worshipping God. See Nursi, The Letters, p. 300.
2. Sahih al-Bukhari, Riqaq, 18; Sahih Muslim, Salatu’l-Musafirun, 216–218.

The Way to Change Transient Opportunities into Eternal Beauty


Question: What should a believer’s perspective of the world be, so that it will be possible to transform the means of this mortal world into infinite beauties of the eternal life?

Answer: Humankind is created for eternity, meant for eternity, and cherishes dreams of eternal bliss. People are supposed to value the world in accordance with its transience, and the Hereafter in accordance with its infinity. If human needs had allowed, and religious commandments had approved of it, we would say to ourselves considering the infinity of the next world: “Let us cut off all of our bonds with this world and turn our faces solely to the Hereafter.” However, as human primordial nature, carnal desires, weaknesses, and flaws do not allow saying such a thing, the Qur’an and Sunnah, which establish their principles by taking into consideration human nature, do not approve of such a lifestyle. In this respect, individuals should not disregard the laws rendered inherent in human nature by the Creator of laws and should be aware of what they are meant for, as well as what kind of wonders await them in the next world. That is, they should pursue the Afterlife in the direction which the Qur’an points to and with everything God has given them. They should follow it closely but not completely forget their share of the world. In other words, people should be able to see their worldly wishes and desires—excuse me for my improper words—as a bone or piece of bread thrown before their carnal soul and know how to proceed without being entangled by the temptations of the world. However, thoroughly sensing and feeling this world and the Hereafter with their peculiar patterns and colors depend upon a very serious sense of knowledge of God. A man who does not adorn his faith with knowledge of God, even if he is a Muslim, cannot feel the splendors on the path that will let him attain eternal bliss, and thus cannot be saved from weariness of journeying on the path he walks. Knowledge of God kindles loves in its own bosom, like colliding waves of immense seas. As for love, it turns a person’s gaze toward the Truly Loved One, which enables humans to be freed from the troublesome world of physicality, throws a bone in response to the demands and insistences of the carnal soul, and keeps going. He does not become attached to the world no matter how attractive it seems. According to such a person, the only thing to be valued in the world is letting the Prophet’s message resound in the four corners of the world, and letting the dignity of Islam wave like flags at high posts.
Only after having a lofty ideal like that does staying in the world bear some value. As far as a person walks in the direction of glorifying the name of God, making the noble Prophet become a spirit for humanity, and letting all hearts receive his message, it is worth living for some 950 years like Prophet Noah, because in that case the worldly life will have been used very efficiently. As for a life spent without finding such an ideal, it is nothing but an example of deception, a life led abreast with bankruptcy.

We Have Been Deceived! We Fell for Pomp and Applause!
Unfortunately, it is a reality that so many people are deceived in this world. Essentially, it is not possible to make good decisions if priority of importance is not determined. Therefore, it may not be possible to find what one hoped for when coming to end of the road. The person will then say, like the Sufi poet Sheikh Galib, “We arrived to that land of happiness, entered Paradise, but alas, we did not see the Beloved One!” That is to say, a person who fails to strike the balance between this world and the next sometimes strives for a lifetime here, thinking that he is doing something very important. When he passes to the next world, however, he will not be able to find God; he will not be able to see and reunite with the Beloved One hearts yearn for.
And sometimes people are deceived with carrying out good works with sanctimonious affectation to let others see, hear, appreciate, applause, and taking due pride. And thus, the person renders negative the good works he did through a lifetime. The noble Prophet once stated,
“There are many people who fast but they have no share of the fast except for hunger, and there are many people who get up for the Prayer, but they have no share of the Prayer except for drowsiness.”1 You can add to these examples. For example, you can say: There are so many people who strive on the path of God but they will not see Him, the Beloved, since they pollute the tasks they need to carry out on the path. They do not observe the manners of walking on the path, cannot find the right direction, and always walk unsteadily and fall. Those who walk that way, namely who do not lead a straightforward life in this world—may God protect us from that—will completely fall in the next world. God Almighty conveys to us His glorified decree in the Qur’an,
The disbelieving criminals will be in utter loss away (from Paradise) and burning in the Blazes. On that day, they will be dragged in the Fire on their faces. ‘Taste the touch of Hell!’ they will be told” (al-Qamar 54:47–48). Thus, those who abase themselves in this life by allowing their carnal desires to drag them along will enter Hell in the next one, being dragged on their faces. Those who become complete slaves to the carnal soul here and lead their lives accordingly will fall in such a way in the next world that no intercession will save them. Divine decrees such as “And so, of no benefit to them will be the intercession of any who are entitled to intercede (even if they are allowed to intercede)” (al-Muddasir 74:48) describe the situation of these people. In order not to end up like that, it is necessary to lead a God-oriented life. There must be something that goes from a person to God, so that something from Him will come to that person. If one leads a life here full of feelings of respect and reverence for God and extolls Him, then at a moment of utmost need, a helping hand from Him will extend and save the person from being dragged into Hell. In this respect, it is necessary to make good use of this life as much as one can, and fill the remaining gaps with the immensity and purity of intention. For intention has such a mysterious depth at filling gaps that a drop of it can fill up seas. For this reason, a person must make broad and immense intentions. For example, a man should say, “My God, grant me such opportunity and means that I will be able to change the orbit of this world, so that the message of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, will resound everywhere.” A drop of intention in this respect can gain a person otherworldly rewards like huge seas. That is, a person should exert himself for doing what he needs to do, but when he comes to a point beyond his power he should say, “My God, I was resolved to carry out this task, but this is how much I can. I am not able to do more,” and make his intention for an intercessor. Then the Owner of Infinite Will and Power will say, “My Servant, I will carry out what you cannot carry out.”

Those Who Love the World Cannot Find the Hereafter
We can summarize the issue in the words of Muhammed Lütfi Efendi:

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 attain?

If you go near His door
Ready to offer all you have,
And serve Him as He ordered,
Will He not then reward you?

If your tears turn to a stream
If you cry like Ayyub did
If your heart truly grieves,
Will He not show any sympathy?

This trouble is a cure to troubles,
The Sustainer loves His sufferers.
The Unique One is the cure of troubles.
Won’t He reward you generously?”

Togetherness with God in spirit, feelings, and mind here will result in real togetherness there. Those who live together with Him here will be together with Him there. For this reason, it is necessary to eagerly seek togetherness all the time. In your prayers and implorations to Him you should always say, “My God, togetherness with You! My God, togetherness with Your beloved Prophet!” Always live with Him, always spell His Name, and always speak of Him… so that this togetherness will appear before you when you go there. If you maintain togetherness with Him here, you will forget about this transient and deceiving world you left behind in the face of the surprises that appear before you there. But it is so sad that minds have been corrupted in our day, and feelings and thoughts have been disoriented. People think more of this world rather than the everlasting life and the Eternal One.
When you study the words of great figures, you see that even they complain about the pull of this world. For example, the great Sufi poet Yunus Emre wrote:

Before the cruel self, I remained helpless.
Delights of this world, it can’t get enough.
The wool of heedlessness drawn over its eyes,
Fails to recognize, it is wasting this life.

O Lord can one put on the wool of heedlessness,
Can he be called Muslim, a follower of desires?
He earns more and more, but spends in vain.
For the sake of God, he can’t spend a coin.

My God, wake me up from the sleep of heedlessness,
Do not make me disgraced at Your door, please!
Dervish Yunus says, ‘Come listen to my counsels:
The One who loves the world can’t find the Hereafter.’

It is necessary to become ready for seeing the Beloved, for reuniting with the Eternally Besought One. If you have always been writing love letters to Him here, none of them will be wasted there. When you go there, they say, “This letter had come from you…” Next to the compliments one will receive there such as, “I heard a call from God, the Truth: ‘Come O lover; you are special. This chamber is for the special. I saw that you are truly faithful.’” How can worldly compliments ever have any value next to such as these! Even becoming a glorious sultan cannot have any value next to the sultanate God grants. They are not even be atoms next to the sun.
To conclude, those who trade for this world with the capital in their hands will have no capital to trade for in the next one, going there empty handed. But those who utilize the means in their hands in order to trade for the Hereafter will meet unknown surprises when they go there. After God Almighty refers to human nature in chapter Qiyamah (apocalypse), He reveals how the two groups of people will fare:
Yes indeed! (We are able to make complete his very fingerprints to resurrect him,) but you (people) love and prefer what is before you (the present, worldly life), and abandon that which is to come later (the Hereafter). Some faces on that Day will be radiant (with contentment), looking up toward their Lord. And some faces on that Day will be despondent, knowing that a crushing calamity is about to be inflicted on them…” (al-Qiyamah 75:20–25).
May God make us all among those whose faces are radiant and pure on that terrifying day!

1. Sunan Ibn Majah, Siyam, 21; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 2/373.

This text is the translation of “Fânî İmkânları Ebedî Güzelliğe Dönüştürmenin Yolu.”

Tribulations of the Righteous Path and a Believer’s Stance


Question: What are the duties and responsibilities that fall to believers in the face of ruthless attacks that stem from feelings of envy and jealousy?

Answer: First, it needs to be pointed out that acts of wrongdoing and injustice stemming from intolerance and jealousy never ceased to exist in the past, and they will continue to exist in the future as well. Although Prophet Adam’s son was born into a home that was blessed with Divine revelation, he was seized with jealousy and intolerance. He became dizzy with the feeling and consequently murdered his brother. Actually, Satan played his first trick with that and made him obey his word by working on this weak side in human nature. The first person who comes to mind as a Prophet killed by his people is Prophet Zechariah, peace be upon him. As it is known, many other Prophets who invited people to God were also slaughtered by their own people. Prophet David was put in a very difficult situation by his people, whom he had saved from disgrace. They slandered that great Prophet with a shameful deed which we would not even imagine about an ordinary person. As a consequence, he was forced to take an oath by placing his hand on the ark. With falsehood and slanders, a wrong image was formed, portraying Prophet Solomon as—God forbid—a spiritist and sorcerer. The Pride of Humanity, peace and blessings be upon him, as well, slandered as a—may God forbid—magician and oracle by people consumed by envy and jealousy who could not stomach his being honored with Divine revelation. In short, the Prophets, their companions, and so many others who came later on who strived on this righteous path faced different slanders, insults, and attacks. Similar troubles will continue to happen and those who serve on the path of Truth will face different ordeals, persecution, and slanders.

The Owner of Time Determines the Duration of the Test
What falls to the volunteers in the face of all of these is to meet the misfortunes that befall them with ease of heart, not complaining, and not even feeling bitter with those who cause these, and thinking that they deserve all of these. It is narrated that Hallaj al-Mansur was punished owing to the expression “Ana’l-Haq” he used in a state of spiritual immersion (istighraq) while describing that he felt a full manifestation of the Divine Names. In his painful state, he prayed to God in spite of being covered in blood as, “My God, I do not wish to give my last breath before You forgive those who did this to me!” These are the words of a great, magnanimous man. They have no difference from the following words of Bediüzzaman eight centuries later, “I also forgive those who sent me from one exile to another and who sent me to dungeons.”
Travelers on this path must know that they will continue to suffer from different tribulations in the future as well, and thus should never be upset and heartbroken. They should not sing lamentations for their troubles like some poets do, nor complain about destiny and Divine acts, nor leave a letter of complaint for the generations to follow. In the face of their troubles, volunteers must never criticize Divine destiny by asking, “Until when…?” Even if they cry sadly, they should know how to imprison their feelings in their heart, open up to God at times of privacy, but never should they let others hear these laments, because one who determines the duration of the test is The Almighty Owner of time. If you meddle with His affairs, you disorder your own affairs. A believer must be able to meet His every act with respect. Sometimes a manifestation of Majesty can bring suffering or a manifestation of Mercy can bring relish. What really matters is equally welcoming both. That is, a person should neither be joyful for a manifestation of Divine Mercy (Jamal) nor be upset for a manifestation of Divine Majesty (Jalal). Asking questions such as, “What did I do wrong so that all of these befell me? Why are all of these sufferings and troubles always finding me? Why are these tribulations? Why are all these baseless rumors? What is the reason for such intolerance and inability to stand us?” is an indication of being unaware of how the Divine Power operates. People could not even tolerate the blessed messengers and saints of God; is it so surprising if they cannot tolerate you?

Do Not Worry about What They Say; Double Your Speed on the Righteous Path!
A sultan of words put it so beautifully:
If a stone from a slingshot hits a golden bowl,
Neither does the stone gain value, nor the bowl loses value at all!
If you are a golden bowl too, let others throw stones at you, or criticize you with baseless claims. The responsibility that falls to the volunteers before what some persons commit, is not caring about all of these and continuing to walk on the righteous path. They should not be entangled with the improper words and criticisms directed to them and not disorient their mind with such things. On the contrary, they must concentrate all of their attention and efforts to what they are supposed to carry out, try to fulfill their duty in the best way, leaving the result to God. With respect to one of the qualities of the new generation that He will raise, God Almighty states, “… they do not fear the censure of any who censures” (al-Maedah 5:54). All of these bring to my mind the following words of Muhammed Lütfi Efendi:
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 expect to have perfection in the next world, then you must not make any claims of having perfection in this one, as that is a sign of imperfection. A person’s having a sense of superiority and expecting praises and appreciation from others is an investment of bankruptcy in terms of the losses he or she will face in the next world. Those who consume the wholesome things God grants in the world will find themselves in the situation the Qur’an warns people against: “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-Ahkaf 46:20).
It is for this reason that believers should wait for the next world for the perfections God will grant them; they should be patient and forbearing here to receive the perfect blessings there. If they can manage to do that, nobody will be able to prevent acts of goodness by God’s permission. Given that the devoted souls who dedicated themselves to serving humanity continue their lives in a course of loyalty to their pledge of devotedness. Otherwise, the moment they give in to worldly desires such as buying a house, owning wealth, and investing for their personal comfort and future, God takes away the means of service in their hands and passes this task to a fresh generation of people who have not become weary, who have not degenerated, and who have not inclined to temptations of the world. In this respect, devoted ones must preserve their devotedness until the end.

Not Asking from Anyone Is the Greatest Credit
According to the accounts related in reliable books of hadith like those of Imam Bukhari and Muslim, God’s Messenger bought food from a Jewish merchant and left his armor in pawn until he could buy it back. The Pride of Humanity passed on to the Hereafter without being able to do so. Some time later, Abu Bakr paid the price, saved that blessed armor from pawn, and entrusted it to Ali ibn Abi Talib. The Paragon of Morality did not take debt from his Companions as it would not conform with his dignified stance of not asking from others. He considered that refraining to ask any worldly goods from them as a necessity of the principle of not asking wages in return for his mission of conveying the Divine message. He once more proved that he did not ask for the slightest personal benefit in return for conveying and representing the manifest religion, teaching people about the means of happiness in both worlds, and showing them the ways to Paradise, particularly to the Companions. He once more set a beautiful example for the inheritors of the cause of the Prophets.
Abu Bakr continued to milk his neighbors’ sheep for supporting his family, even after being elected as caliph. After some time, upon the insistence of some prominent Companions, he consented to taking a minimal payment from the state to support his family, giving up milking his neighbors’ sheep, and thus sparing more time to his duty of caliphate. Although it was hard on him to receive money for a service he carried out for God, he did it so that state affairs would not be neglected. In fact, his hands would shake while using that money. When he passed to the Hereafter, he left behind a little pot and demanded it to be delivered to the next caliph. When it was opened in the presence of the second caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab, there were some coins and a short letter. It read: “The money you spared for me was more than necessary on some days. I felt ashamed against God to spend that; as it belongs to the people, this amount must be added back to the state treasury.” Umar ibn al-Khattab could not hold back his tears and said, “O Abu Bakr, you left an example for us impossible to practice.” But in fact, Umar’s life was not much different than Abu Bakr’s.

An Understanding of Dignity and Pride Misinterpreted
Some proud people misunderstand the principle of “having a prideful stance against a proud one.” However, Umar ibn al-Khattab made others bow to him with genuine respect in his spontaneously modest and plain state. During his caliphate, the lands around Syria and Palestine were under their control. After conquering Jerusalem, the Muslim army commanders asked for the keys of the Masjid al-Aqsa, but those in charge replied that they had to know well the attributes of the person who would take the keys, and that they could not just hand them over to anybody. While they were discussing this situation, Umar ibn al-Khattab appeared in the distance. He had borrowed a camel from the state treasury and was traveling together with his servant. Those who ran to the riverside in order to welcome the caliph were astonished: the ruler of the greatest state of the time had his sandals under his arm, and he was holding the rein of the camel carrying his servant, walking humbly like an ordinary person. Moreover, he was wearing a simple dress, which had been torn from a few places by friction with the saddle. Umar ibn al-Khattab had patched them, like putting on medals of honor. When he was told that some people would scorn him if they saw him like that, he replied: “God has made us honorable with Islam; it is a vain effort to seek honor with anything else. Given that it is Islam that made us honorable, we do not want or seek dignity and honor in anything other than that.”
The spiritual leaders of Jerusalem who were watching these developments from a corner said, “We will hand the keys to this person only, because he bears all of the properties related in our scriptures” and then delivered the keys to Umar ibn al-Khattab.

What about Those Who Indulge in State Property? Who Is Their Example?
The third caliph Uthman ibn al-Affan was a rich person. In spite of gaining worldly wealth, however, he had not attached his heart to the world. When the Companions were asked to make donations in order to equip Muslims against the advancing Roman army for the Tabuk campaign, he was so generous that he gave away five hundred camels, together with the goods they were loaded with, and he did it without the slightest feeling of regret. I think that if the Pride of Humanity had told him, “O Uthman, give away everything!” he would have donated everything he possessed for the sake of God without any hesitation. When the Prophet’s son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib became caliph, the size of the lands he ruled was nearly twice as large as the Australian continent. The state extended from Transoxiana in Central Asia to the Great Wall of China, and to the strait of Gibraltar. As the leader of this great power that extended over such a large area and could be considered the superpower of the time, Ali ibn Abi Talib wore summer clothes during winter. When they asked about the reason, he replied that it was what he could afford with his own means. As some scholars also pointed out, this attitude reflected the notion of true justice, which we can describe as social justice, noble human spirit, unification with the society, and giving precedence to others over oneself or living for the sake of others. His blessed family members Hasan, Husayn, and our mother Fatima all had the same feeling and thoughts. They and those who walked on their path always lived with this spirit of having no worldly expectation and devotedness. It is then necessary to ask those who do not act so: “Whose example are you following? For God’s sake, who is your example with your different mansions for summer and winter? While you are trying to enrich your children and embezzling state money, who are you taking as example for God’s sake? Those who benefit from the means they gained access to without caring whether they are lawful or not, do not they see the grim end of their forerunners in history such as Korah (Qarun), Ramesses, Amenophis and the like? One must fear God and be ashamed before Him!
Devoted ones walking on the earlier righteous generations’ path must protect the dignity and honor of devotedness. If they wish to conquer hearts, they must appear before those they will address with modesty, humility, and humbleness, and bury under the ground every kind of conceitedness. Similarly, they must not care for the worldly future of their children, grandchildren, worldly comfort, or buying special mansions for summer and winter; they must only work for their noble ideals and try to reconstruct the monument of their ruined soul. Otherwise, those who fail to observe the principle of not asking from anyone and being content with one’s lawful means will give in to envy like Saul did, even if they begin like Prophet David. Even if they make an appearance like Moses, they will stumble and fall like Korah did, because there is no one who did not fall down in the end, among those who desired the world and gave in to it. As Muhammed Lütfi Efendi states, “So many glorious sultans and bearers of crown drowned in that swamp of worldliness.” It is for this reason that those devoted to a noble ideal must not sacrifice to anything the spirit of devotedness, which is among the most important sources of power for them. They must never lose the high ideal of coming to this world as nothing and passing to the next one as nothing. I wish from God that He never lets the people who attached their hearts to this lofty ideal fall for worldly temptations, nor be knocked out with one such tricky move. As Ziya Pasha expressed, “Ignorant ones are having a rowboat trip for leisure, as heedful ones are swimming in the whirlpool of trouble.” We can be the ones who swim in the center of a whirlpool of trouble, but let us not ever envy others’ pompous lives. We should try to pass to the other side so uprightly that when the interrogative angels ask us in the grave before we appear in the presence of God “What did you leave in the world?” we should answer as, “By God, I cannot remember anything at all!” after having thought for a while. This is the essence of our way.
Surely, the situation of those who began to work by doing trade and continue to do so is different. They will work, earn, and then support the acts of goodness. But do not forget that your dignified contentment is your greatest credit to make benevolent people hold you in esteem and keep your advice. If you also wish to have worldly means like they do—may God protect—you fall. In order not to fall, it is necessary not to give in to worldly ambitions—so much so that even if the world comes near your feet with all of its grandeur, you should be able to see it as dirt and push it aside with your foot. This is our path. In this respect, we should pass to the next world with considerations as, “We neither indulged in the world, nor did we ask from worldly ones. We do not seek refuge in anywhere but the door of God.” If you become like this, you will stay like this. Live freely for a lifetime and do not become obliged to anyone. Therefore, you do not fall for the intrigues and tricks others devise for finishing you off. Otherwise, if you get caught once, you become their puppet and pawn, bringing down the hopes and trust of the people who are hopeful about you, then resorting to lies and deceptions in order to save yourselves. This is the greatest evil to be done to Islam and Muslims.

This text is the translation of “Hak Yolunun Cilveleri ve Mümince Duruş.”

A Spirit of Devotedness for a Lifetime


Question: What are the essential principles to be considered in order to constantly keep alive the spirit of devotedness in hearts?
Answer: Above all, wholeheartedly devoted ones must keep away from any kind of attitude and behaviors that might damage their credit of trust. I do not think that those who attach their hearts to an ideal with sincere feelings and without any expectations will ever do anything intentional to harm the circle they are in, or present any intentional misbehavior to upset their fellow volunteers. However, sometimes steps taken thoughtlessly or issues one engages in without careful consideration might give way to certain lapses, and thus losing credit. In such a situation, what needs to be done is an immediate compensative effort by other members of the collective, who have similar feelings and minds, in order to make up for that blunder. As acting this way will not only save the person who erred from embarrassment, but also will prevent negative thoughts from being established in the minds about the circle they are in.
My God, Do Not Let Me Be a Cause of Embarrassment for My Friends!
The scrupulousness of the saintly figure Mawlana Khalid al-Baghdadi at preserving his dignified stance of not asking anyone for anything presents a very good example for us. In order to prevent some negative considerations in his time, he made the following warnings to his students and disciples from the very beginning: “Do not ever become too close with rich people, rulers, and administrators. They might wish to offer you meals, hold you in esteem, and even to use their smiles as a means of corruption. If you come under their influence, you will be obliged to them for a lifetime. In this respect, get by with what you have and do not ask from anybody. Do not forget that rulers and administrators wish to keep you obliged to them.”
People whose philosophy of life gives priority to serving God should keep away form all doings that might cause suspicions about them, and they should never approach places that might cause suspicions about them. For example, they must not even pass in front of a bar in order not to make people think they may be coming out of there. Particularly, if there is the possibility of being slandered with vices of some others, it is necessary to act with utmost care. No matter how scrupulously we act, let us not forget that it is always possible to be the target of arrows of criticism. In spite of your constantly seeking unity, putting emphasis on love, opening your bosom to all, and not taking anybody as the opposite side, if there are people full of grudge and foaming with hatred, they will not extend their hand to you, not open their bosom to you, but respond to your smile with sour looks. In that case, you have nothing to do but petition to God and implore Him in supplication. It should not be forgotten that all of these have happened since Prophet Adam, peace be upon him, to the present, and will continue to happen. What matters here is that the devoted soul must keep away from conditions and behaviors that might bring disgrace to the movement that they are affiliated with, in terms of their familial and societal life. In addition to giving your willpower its due, you must always say when you supplicate to God, “My God, do not embarrass our friends with us, and do not embarrass us with our friends,” seeking refuge in God’s protection and asking Divine Providence for help. Otherwise, it is always possible for a person to give into the carnal soul. Indeed, there are hundreds of weaknesses and sins termed as muhlikat (things that cause people to end up in perdition), which stem from fancies and desires of the carnal soul. In addition, Satan continually embellishes them and puts them before the individual, always making sins appear tempting for humans. A person who is not vigilant against all of these dangers might give in to one of them unawares and—may God protect—can become a shame. It is for this reason that people affiliated with a movement who are held in hopeful view by millions of people must show utmost care to avoid anything that might harm their morality and innocence, stand firm against the goading of the devil and carnal soul, and never make concessions from their truthful and trustworthy quality. They must fear violating the rights of their fellow volunteers as they walk together on this path to such a degree that they must be able to raise their hands and very comfortably say, “My God, if I am to cause my friends to look down in disgrace, I wholeheartedly prefer being buried in the ground instead.” This is an expression of being faithful and loyal to the cause. In order not to let anyone make a negative remark and not allow even the slightest wrong to happen, every devoted soul must make an effort like an ambassador of trust, loyalty, and innocence. All the time, they must dignifiedly refrain from asking, not beg from anyone, not be greedy, be content with what God gives, and keep away from every matter that might harm their respectability.
Practical Representation Must Come before Verbal Messages
Those who try to become the voice of truth and righteousness should not forget that they can be convincing with their sincere attitude and behaviors rather than the words they speak; words that do not express the truth or go far beyond the intended meaning with exaggeration may possibly enchant the people addressed for a temporary while. But let alone making a lasting effect in hearts, they actually will serve as obstructions to credibility. On the other hand, constant behaviors cannot be false. They continuously flow on a straight course. A person who is always true, who acts faithfully all the time, who never makes concessions from chastity, and who continuously inspires trust in those around will be convincing. In this respect, we can comfortably say that practical representation has priority over verbal messages in Islam.
One of the Prophetic virtues of the noble Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, which is so dear like a crown to us, was communicating the message he received from God. However, if it were not for a blessed representative like him, the miraculous Divine revelation would not make its blessed presence felt until our era and would not have found acceptance in hearts to this degree. For this reason, the influence of the Qur’an, which we keep hung on the wall in our homes in velvet covers out of utmost respect, has been and will be realized with those who represent it. In this respect, the Prophet’s depth of representation has precedence over his depth of communicating the message. He was invited to the heavens for the Ascension, not only because he conveyed the message of the Qur’an, but also because he practically represented it with his personal example.
Humbleness and Not Provoking Envy
The noble Prophet states, “The master of a people is one who serves them.”1 Salahuddin Ayyubi, a hero of Islam who was a prime representative of this spirit, was the first ruler who used the title, “Servant of the Two Sanctuaries,” referring to Mecca and Medina. Centuries later, Sultan Selim I, who shared the same spirit, felt disturbed to be referred to as the “Ruler of the Two Sanctuaries,” but immediately corrected it to “Servant of the Two Sanctuaries” by rising to his knees from where he sat, as a sign of respect. Those who succeeded him also adopted the title of the “Servant of the Two Sanctuaries.” In this respect, no matter what their social status is, devoted souls must regard it as the greatest honor to serve others. If necessary, they should say, “There was need for a person to bring water and serve those who gathered around a certain shared thought, ideal, and common way of thinking,” and always be among the foremost at serving others.
On the other hand, individuals’ success at certain fields may evoke envy in others. Some with weak personalities can even become so jealous as to be taken by a feeling of rivalry. In this matter as well, it is necessary to observe the Divine principles Islam teaches in terms of disciplining the carnal soul. Bediüzzaman, who established a guideline under the light of those principles, pointed out that true disciples of the Qur’an should not evoke feelings of envy in their fellows. Normally, a moderate feeling of envy (ghibta) is acceptable in Islam. However, considering the fact that moderate envy is a neighbor of the resentful feeling of jealousy (hasad), a person who holds feelings of envy might, at any moment, transgress to the other side of the fence unintentionally. It is for this reason that Bediüzzaman mentions not provoking envy in others as a responsibility for disciples of the Qur’an. And the way to realize this, one must applaud everyone who serves for the sake of God and to prefer others over oneself when necessary. In addition, people may have different weaknesses, such as a desire for receiving applause, being appreciated, and being promoted to a high position. In this respect, it is necessary to determine a different field for everyone, prepare grounds for acting in a broad sphere, to let individuals serve efficiently within those different fields, and be satisfied with the work they carry out at the same time. Additionally, it is necessary to maintain people to be equipped with faith and morality, keep their relationship with God strong, and attribute everything one possesses to God only.
The Peril of Being on the Peak
Another point of consideration is being steadfastly straightforward. God Almighty may have taken us to a righteous path; however, merely finding the right path is not enough; it is also necessary to walk straight on the path until its end with open eyes. According to a saying of the Prophet related to our subject, all people are potentially prone to perdition, except for scholars. Scholars are also prone to perdition, except for those who act upon their knowledge. Those who act upon their knowledge are also prone to perdition, except for those who act upon their knowledge purely for the sake of attaining God’s good pleasure. Those with a good intention also face a serious danger.2 It is possible to name this great danger as “the peril of the peak.” For this reason, no matter how high God allows us to ascend, we must always fear that we might topple over any time. God guided earlier communities to the right path, but as they did not abide by certain essentials at the center, they experienced great deviances at the periphery impossible to make up for. As one community strayed to misguidance, another one was condemned as those who incurred God’s wrath. Thus, even though finding the right path is a difficult and an essential task, constantly walking on that right path is even more difficult. While it is difficult to the climb to the peak, keeping up the position on the peak is further difficult. Accordingly, Bediüzzaman stated that a person who falls from the heights of sincerity (ikhlas) faces the danger of falling into a deep pit.
Division of Labor according to Abilities
Another important point of consideration for the devoted souls to serve efficiently in the long run is to recognize what exists and takes place correctly, and not contradict with natural aptitudes. God Almighty created people in different natures and endowed them with different abilities. There are some people who may not be effective with addressing people directly as their social side is weak. For example, there are such people who become the voice of truth when they put pen to paper, who make an influence on many people, and evoke a sense of resurrection in others’ hearts. When they are demanded to deliver a speech, however, they might lose all the credit that they have gained with their books, right at the first conference, because God may not have endowed someone with an ability to speak in the same degree as writing. But the same person can be so successful at voicing the truths he or she believes through books, articles, and other written sources. So the administrators who are at a position to guide and employ people must be aware of this fact and charge everybody with a task that suits his or her ability. As it is well known, upon the demand of Khalid ibn al-Walid, the noble Prophet sent him to Yemen as a religious teacher. As Abu Musa al-Ash’ari narrates, days and weeks passed, but no news of progress came. Actually, Khalid ibn al-Walid was not a good speaker. God Almighty had not endowed him with skills to be a good choice for the task of guidance but rather for commanding the army. That is, God had gifted him with superiority in another field. Divine wisdom transcends our reasoning. If Khalid ibn al-Walid had been another sultan of words rarely seen in history—similar to some other Companions—who then would led the army against the superpowers of that time? After having stayed in Yemen for a while, he returned to Medina, and the Prophet sent Ali ibn Abi Talib to Yemen instead. After Ali ibn Abi Talib, who was a good orator and preacher, whose words seriously touched souls, whose voice reached beyond ages, and whom God endowed with special ability in this respect, the number of believers began to grow in waves. He was a personage of great standing who knew very well how to reach into souls while speaking and what he should say. Thus, what falls to administrators is to consider the different talents before them and employ everybody in the right place so that everybody works efficiently. As charging an ant with the duty of an elephant will crush it under that task, employing an elephant that can carry loads of trees for a task that can be carried out by an ant will mean wasting it. As it is so important to take individuals’ ability and characters into consideration, it should never be forgotten that true influence depends on God Almighty. For example, I knew people who could not express themselves well, who had a hard time at speaking even a few sentences, but the people before them immediately began to soften after they spoke a little. You cannot explain this impact by attributing it to that person’s appearance, qualities, capacity, horizons of thought, or power of expression, as hearts are in God’s hand. He is the one who grants guidance to whom He wills. For this reason, the volunteers must not take lightly anything they will carry out for the sake of God. They should try to fulfill their responsibilities, sometimes by offering a glass of tea, offering meal, or paying a visit… in short by making use of every opportunity for conquering hearts.
Striking the Balance between the Ideal and Reality
While ideals and realities should not be confused with one another, it is necessary to keep standards high and pursue lofty targets—so much so that those who migrate for the sake of their ideals must pursue ideals so high that they want to change the face of the world straight away. If people cherish a high goal with zeal, even if they cannot attain it with their personal efforts, God Almighty will fill the gap with their intention and reward those individuals according to the ideals that they targeted. That is, a person will even be rewarded for good intentions that he or she cannot realize. In this respect, individuals must always aim for the highest standards and keep their ideals very immense. Together with these, however, matters must be realized by considering the time, place, available means, and the human factor. Plans for goodness must be considered in terms of the relevant circumstances so that the steps taken will not end up in loss and fiasco. Sometimes, people set off to change the hue of the world, but they fantasize about utopias like al-Farabi’s The Virtuous City or Campanella’s The City of the Sun. In these worlds of their imagination, they hug one another everywhere they meet. Lions and wolves come offer their good wishes to sheep. Marketplaces are so perfect that the people who trade are almost angels. In these worlds, nobody gives up decency in the least bit and people do not get corrupted. Children enter a process of development and maturing right away without any serious disciplining and education, and they become like angels when they turn fifteen. Although it is possible to have all of these in one’s thoughts and imagination, their realization is something different. One must take into consideration human nature and interpersonal relations. Such a life did not take place even in the environment of Prophets of God. Marketplaces have never become virtuous to this degree, wolves and sheep have never become so amicable, and lions never gave up eating meat to become vegetarian. In my opinion, given that this is what realities reveal, we cannot neglect considering whether the truths sought after are realizable or not. Even if we expect our collective to carry out good deeds to change the face of the world into a new one, we will experience disappointment because of building our judgments upon dreams and engaging in unrealizable pursuits, which will also shatter the hopes of those who attach hopes to us. In order not to bear the responsibility of such a sin, it is necessary to consider individuals’ potentials and talents one by one, distribute the duties accordingly, and realize our noble ideals by taking into consideration the components of time, place, means, and human sources.

1. Daylami, Musnad, II, 324
2. Al-Ajluni, Kashf al-Khafa, 2/415

This text is the translation of “Bir Ömür Boyu Adanmışlık Ruhu.”

Ideal Consultation-2


The Consultation Must Not Be the Place of Asserting Our Own Ideas
An important principle for evaluating issues with criteria of the conscience is the following fact that the Qur’an states: “… whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it; and whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it” (Az-Zilzal 99:7–8). Namely, concerning the opinions stated on a certain issue, a view whose evil side has a grain’s weight of dominance over its good side should be put aside, and a view whose good side has dominance—be it of a grain’s weight—over its evil side should be taken as basis. That is, given that goodness has superiority over evil at the weighing of deeds and that God Almighty judges His servants accordingly, then this principle must be prevalent at our consultations as well. If goodness has an atom’s weight of dominance in one of the opinions stated, neither seniority, nor title, nor status, nor being a personage of esteem can be a factor for making another person’s opinion more credible. On the contrary, when the truth has become manifest, giving weight to these others factors and using them for pressure means destroying the spirit of consultation. There must absolutely be no impositions at consultation. According to Islam, the most ideal person in this respect is the one who says to the other one—perhaps as much as ten times a half an hour during consultation—“You are very right on this subject. I agree with every word you are saying. Besides this, however, such and such thought came to my mind. What do you think about it?” This is the person who protects the honor of consultation, who is a monument of honor. Otherwise, the person who does not show the respect to listen to the other side, but continuously sees his own opinions as right, is a poor one who has made his own carnal soul into an idol. Even if such a poor person who prostates himself before his carnal soul thinks he is speaking for the sake of religion and serving God, in reality he speaks in the name of his carnal soul. Therefore, the thoughts he reveals will always receive a negative reaction. It is for this reason that during the consultation a person must give up firmness at one’s manner, acts, and thoughts, file away the sharp sides of one’s ideas, and thus make them easier to welcome. A consultation where firmness of matters is not broken, thoughts are not voiced in a soft manner and harshness exists will give way to cracks and breakings.

Not Seniority or Superior Status But Where the Right Lies
Sometimes flawed people try to take advantage of their seniority or credit and make impositions. This way, even though unaware, they openly abuse the services they carry out in the name of faith for the sake of their seniority and status. However, no one has the right to eliminate the fruitfulness of the consultation with egotistic and selfish attitudes. I would like to relate an example about this subject. Once, the great saint and scholar Hasan al-Basri was among the people who were listening to some Companions of the Prophet. People who attended the gathering were asking the Companions their questions and consulting with them as they were supposed to do, since the Companions had been in the presence of the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, and were imbued with the hue of that presence. I think being in the Prophet’s presence, even once, yields abundant blessings as if one read the entire Qur’an ten times from the beginning to end, for the noble Prophet’s every attitude reflected the Truth. In his looking, giving ear to something, opening his mouth, or moving his tongue or lips, the truths of sound belief in God would be seen all the time. A poet expressed this state by saying that every time he prostrated himself, it was a Divine manifestation. That is to say, a person who looked at him fully felt as if he were in the presence of God by recognizing how his person virtually vanished from sight. This has nothing to do with attempting to imagine the Divine Essence. On the contrary, this is an emphasis of how our beloved Messenger reminded of God in all of his attitudes and behaviors. Thus, the Companions who were honored with being in the presence of such a blessed Prophet undoubtedly had a very different experience of imbuing. Particularly, considering the fact that those people who were wholeheartedly attached to the noble Prophet tried not to neglect being in his presence a few times every day, surely they were people to be listened to and consulted with. In addition, the economic, administrative, and social lives in those times were completely oriented to religion and were run according to religious principles. Therefore, in order to solve real-life problems people implemented the unshakeable and stable guidelines of religion. It was for this reason that the people who lived at the time of Hasan al-Basri sought out the then living Companions, who had learned religion from its source. At such a gathering Hasan al-Basri also attended, they asked a question to a Companion and he answered it. After the Companion finished speaking, Hasan al-Basri, who was about 30 years old at the time and was sitting somewhere at the back, was consulted. As he spoke, the Companion admired him. As he was so fair and righteous thanks to the virtuous qualities he had acquired from the beloved Prophet, the Companion asked the people around him, “Why are you asking your questions to me while you have this man here?” As it is also seen in this example, the Companion of the Prophet did not even use his honorable status and credit as a means of imposition. Before a young man whom he thought to be endowed with more effective speech and stronger judgment, he directed the attention to that young man and believed that letting him speak would be better. I think such an approach is very significant at the issue of grasping the spirit of consultation. Unfortunately, such a degree of righteousness is not shown in our time. A person who has certain seniority wants to be the one who talks all the time and expects others to listen to him in complete silence. In addition, instead of listening to the person speaking, the individuals who make up the consultation group are preparing certain answers in their mind as counterarguments. And sometimes people show unnecessary obstinacy and feel obliged to say something for the sake of objecting to what another person says. And sometimes they even begin to scheme in a devilish fashion for the sake of refuting the other person’s opinion. For this reason, even if the words spoken at the consultation are truthful, they yield no benefit.
On the other hand, Bediüzzaman said, “Respect for justice is sublime, and should not be sacrificed for anything.” Therefore, all words and attitudes must be accorded with truth and righteousness. That great personage also told his students not to accept something for the sole reason that he says it to them, for he could be mistaken too. One needs to have this degree of immensity. As none of us is a prophet who receives Divine revelation, everybody can be mistaken—one must never forget that.

What Speaks Should Only Be the Truth
A person should not be disturbed when the truth surfaces by means of somebody else. If there is another person to voice a sensible and acceptable consideration, cherishing thoughts as, “Let me be the one who speaks and receives appreciation by expressing these good ideas,” is an improper attitude for a believer. However, if others have nothing to say about a matter that must be settled, and if keeping silent is likely to cause certain people to suffer loss, then one must speak for the sake of righteousness. In such a situation, it is necessary also to consider whether the collective is likely to accept the words to be spoken, so that no negative reaction is evoked. It is more sensible to be silent in a place where opinions are not respected and is a necessity of respecting the thought one wants to state. Because, even if the words spoken are truthful, it becomes very difficult to accept them later on if the people addressed react against them initially. People who leave that place in the face of such a situation can even devise new pretexts later in order not to let that idea be practiced. In this respect, one must speak at a moment when the general mood of the collective seems likely to show respect for the truth, so that everybody benefits from it. At the same time, everybody who joins the consultation must be very righteous. Particularly, figures of esteem whose words are listened to must act very carefully in this respect, for whatever such people say their words will be respected. However, there can also be faults and mistakes in the words those people say. At this point, esteemed ones should, as soon as they realize that what they said was mistaken, be able to step back from their mistake immediately and be very comfortable doing so. In addition, allowing others who do not deserve to speak, instead of a person who deserves to speak, will result in ignoring beneficial ideas and unnecessary gossiping.

It Is Necessary to Avoid Backbiting at All Costs
Another one of the most important points that needs to be considered is acting scrupulously to avoid backbiting during consultation and not condemning others unnecessarily. Otherwise, we might become a loser in a zone of winning. At the moment we think we are serving on the path of truth, we contaminate our tongue, which gains priority over our heart, and thus extinguish our spiritual life. In this respect, it is necessary to show utmost care to avoid backbiting. If backbiting is committed by mistake, it is then necessary to go the person who has been backbitten and ask forgiveness for having violated his or her rights. The boundaries must be very clear while talking over certain matters, so that people will not be misled and no doors will be opened for thinking negatively about certain individuals. In order to prevent such situations from arising, even the people who speak truthfully must remain silent. They must remain silent and first ask themselves, “I wonder how I can express this truth without offending anyone?” Only then should they reveal their thoughts after thinking more deeply. Concerning a believer, silence should be reflection and speaking should be wisdom. That is, it is necessary to speak if there is some wisdom in the words to be spoken, or one must keep silent. As a Sufi poet expressed, “Either tell about the Beloved, or hush!” If there is a likeliness of chattering about subjects that will not take people to ways leading to God, nor pave the ways leading to His Prophet for them, or do not convey anything in the name of religious truths, that useless tongue, which is given priority over the heart, must be bitten and the person should keep silent. If the person does not bite one’s tongue when necessary, he or she will bite others. It must never be forgotten that wounds caused by bayonets can be treated and cured, but it is very difficult to mend hearts wounded by words.

This text is the translation of “İdeal İstişare – 2.”

Ideal Consultation-1


Question: What are the method and manners of consultation in Islam?
Answer: The Qur’an clearly mentions consultation as an indispensible quality of Muslims that leaves no place for interpretations in any other way, and commands believers to practice consultation in all units of life as an essential that cannot be relinquished. For example, in the chapter ash-Shura: “And those who answer the call of their Lord and obey Him (in His orders and prohibitions), and establish the Prayer in conformity with its conditions; and whose affairs are by consultation among themselves; and who spend out of what We provide for them (to provide sustenance for the needy, and in God’s cause)…” (ash-Shura 42:38). This Divine verse mentions consultation together with Prayer and spending for the sake of God and thus reminds of the fact that it is one of the most vital qualities for a society of believers and an act of critical importance to the degree of worship. It is so meaningful that the chapter is named “The Consultation.” Another verse where consultation is openly commanded is the following (as translated): “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. Surely God loves those who put their trust (in Him)” (Al Imran 3: 159).
Consultation, Even When You Have Been Offended!
As it is known, this verse was revealed during the Battle of Uhud right after the Companions temporary wavered at a very critical moment. God’s Messenger consulted with his Companions before the war on the course of action they should take. By taking their opinions into consideration, he decided to face the approaching enemy on battleground. As some of the Companions had failed to grasp the finer points of doing as commanded, they failed to pay full respect for orders and thus experienced there a temporary wavering—I am specially avoiding calling it a rout. God almighty revealed this verse at a time when the Messenger of God received a wound that spilled his blessed blood from his face and when so many Companions were martyred. In this verse, God Almighty first compliments our noble Prophet: “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” (Al Imran 3:159). If we try to paraphrase this verse, we can say: “My Beloved servant, you cannot be harsh and hard-hearted; you are not so. If you had been, these people would not gather around you at all, not come to the battleground, and they would have scattered away from you. O My beloved servant! They made a mistake of judgment. Therefore, forgive them and ask forgiveness from God for them. Then once again bring the issue to consultation and discuss what needs to be done with the people around you.”
At a moment when a temporary wavering caused havoc, as the heart of the noble Prophet could be broken as any human being, and many other hearts were upset as well, God demands the issue to be re-discussed in consultation with a very gentle command. Actually, the beloved Prophet did not need consultation at all. In the words of Abu Bakr, he was in communication with the heavens day and night. God Almighty directly let him know the words he should say, the steps he should take, and what he should do. He was never at a total impasse in his life. When it appeared that it would happen, God Almighty paved the way for him, rendered narrow footpaths into wide roads, and told him to walk on. Consultation was not simply an issue of his time; the Messenger of God consulted matters with the Companions as an act of guidance for all his followers to come, who are responsible for emulating his example. Through the language of his state, he was saying, “You may be a mayor, ambassador, or president… no matter who you are, do not act upon individual considerations alone. Consult over every issue.”
Consultation Helps Everyone Accept What Needs To Be Done
Consultation is very significant to decisions and acts that concern all, in terms of maintaining general acceptance. When people add their own ideas to an issue—be it of even a very minor level—they see themselves as connected to it and lend a helping hand if needed, even if the task is heavy. But if their ideas and suggestions are not included in the decisions made on an issue, then they do not have stake in it and do not want to undertake any task with respect to it. What needs to be done is for the tasks to be perceived as similar to carrying a heavy treasure, where many people contribute their ideas in order to lighten the overall task for everyone. In this respect, we can say that when consultation is neglected within the family, it causes familial unease and problems. When it is neglected in a committee or group, then the collective will suffers the harm. When it is neglected in state affairs, it causes nationwide unrest, complications, and problems of very serious kind. Given that the Truthful Messenger stated, “Whoever takes counsel, does not regret it in the end,”1 this essential needs to be practiced in all aspects of life, beginning with the smallest sphere.
Manners of Debate and Discussion
Having briefly covered the necessity of consultation, now let us come to the issue of how an ideal consultation should be carried out. Let me point out firstly that an individual’s making a decision on one’s own, taking it like a fixed essential, and then trying to weave all matters to be discussed at the consultation according to his preconceived plan is an expression of not knowing the spirit of consultation. Instead, in order not to involve emotions, not to take personal fancies and desires as reasoning, it is necessary to note down the considerations that come to mind about the matters to be discussed at the consultation by evaluating them with one’s inner faculties, along with sound reason, sound feelings, and a sound heart. Only then should one determine the frame of the issues to be discussed, before bringing the issue to consultation. In addition, even if we believe that our ideas and suggestions are original, we cannot expect them always to be accepted at a consultation. In this respect, with respect to our ideas and suggestions offered to the consultative collective, we must be able to say at appropriate times, “I did not understand this issue thoroughly” or “My knowledge was mistaken,” thus not insisting or showing obstinacy at the fixed ideas in one’s mind. In fact, the method to be followed at consultation is debate and discussion. But debate and discussion do not in any way mean quarreling and brawling. Many works have been written on the Islamic manners of debate and certain principles are thoroughly established, such that the debate develops around the axis of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Actually, debate means mutually stating opinions about an issue in question. For example, if a matter about the economy is being discussed, all of the opinions will be centered around the economy and will naturally resemble one another. The real target here is making the truth emerge in a crystal clear fashion: “The flash of truth is born from the confrontation of ideas.”2 Disputes, however, do not give way to sparkles of truth but to disintegrations and factions. Also, it is an essential to be fair and to respect the other side’s opinion at a constructive debate because arguing can include acting obdurately and disgracing the other side. Indeed, the one proven to be wrong has no loss on a ground of mutual discussion, because that person gains by seeing that his or her view is mistaken and learns the truth. As for the one proven to be right, that person will only have repeated self thoughts. Such a person is even under the risk of giving into pride and haughtiness thinking, “See that, what I said has proven to be right.”

1. Tabarani, Al-Mu’jam al-Kabir, 6/365
2. A famous saying by Namık Kemal (d. 1888), Turkish-Ottoman prose writer and poet.

This text is the translation of “İdeal İstişare.”

The Past, Present, and Future


Question: You previously emphasized the importance of evaluating the past, present, and the future with a comprehensive perspective. How does this fact apply in our lives with respect to individuals and the society?

Answer: Although the past, present, and future are three different segments of time for those who only live the present moment, these are only three different facets of the same whole. Those who evaluate everything in terms of their carnal pleasures prefer to lead a heedless life with considerations such as:

Neither cry for a passed day in vain,
Nor mind a future day for nothing.
Nothing but tales are past and present,
Enjoy yourself, do not let your life be ruined!

On the other hand, those who journey on the horizons of the heart and spirit, take all three into consideration and do not sacrifice any one of them for the other; because, neglecting one of them will cause a serious defect in the others as well. For example, it is not possible for people who are detached from their past and do not have an insightful perspective of the present to build a new future. As a matter of fact, in response to Ziya Gökalp who said, “You are not a ruins-dweller but one ruined! Your gaze is on the past; you are not forward-thinking!” the poet Yahya Kemal replied, “I am neither a ruins-dweller nor ruined, but a forward thinking one with roots in the past.”

Walking into the Future with the Momentum of the Past
The past is full of so many stimulating good examples to provide hope to thinking minds with ideals. The parables of the Messengers of God related in the Qur’an, peace be upon them all, and authenticated sunnah are the most striking examples of this fact. And the most dizzying of those examples is the life of the Master of the Messengers of God, peace and blessings be upon him. As it is known, he came at a time when humanity was in a world of darkness, a time when brutality, tyranny, and ignorance of the worst kind prevailed. That is, people of the Era of Ignorance did not know the answers to questions such as: “What are we? Where did we come from, and where are we going?” Indeed, they were not even aware of their ignorance. Might was right and those in power imposed their views on everyone. The entire society was polluted in these feelings and thoughts. The late poet Mehmed Akif portrayed that grim picture with the following words:

Human predators were much worse than hyenas;
A man without teeth would be food for his brothers!
Horizons on all sides used to be inflicted
With the trouble of anarchy, now destroying the East.

However, the Pride of Humanity brought down emperors in a single move and saved humanity from that dark and gloomy atmosphere. At a time when no means of telecommunication and mass media existed and when everything was entrusted to individuals, the Messenger of God realized a great revolution by God’s grace in less than a quarter of a century. It was such a dizzying phenomenon that the deeds of the Prophet and his Companions can only be explained as a miracle of the Qur’an. So if the past is seen as such a source of dynamism and is benefited from accordingly, one reaches the following conclusion: given that such a revival was experienced in the past, there is no reason for not having it once more in our time.
There is a source of hope and power in the examples after the Era of Happiness. For example, as Muslims made progress and took their place among the world powers, different hostile circles appeared. At a certain period, there were attacks by Mongols and then the Crusaders, one after another. By God’s grace and protection, Muslims stood firm and the attackers bounced back every time. Different commanders from Kilijarslan to Saladin stood as a barrier before them, may God’s mercy be upon them all. Many times Muslims were clothed in shrouds, but consequently pits of death were transformed into comforting climates with pleasant gardens in which to stroll. Thus, even though we are under the attack of many hostile circles, there is no reason for not overcoming these and having a new revival. Why should we not make the face of humanity smile once more? Why should not we become a factor of balance to speak up for truth and to maintain justice?
When history is seen from this perspective, it will be seen that in the example of the Ottomans, which began as a small princedom in the bosom of Sögüt, it can be said that God Almighty created a butterfly out of a caterpillar. A handful of people, who only filled a few hundred tents, were at the wheel of the world within one and a half centuries. To such a degree that the Western world began to term them as an “empire.” This was an indication of acknowledgement. That Sublime State brought to a halt an entire world charging over them at full gallop with the Crusades and made them stay in Europe. It is necessary to insightfully discern all of these historical events together with their backgrounds and derive a lesson from them. It is stated that one of the most important qualities that distinguished Muawiya, may God be pleased with him, from other Companions was his analyses of history. He would constantly study history and draw lessons from it. This comment about Muawiya is not surprising; although surely I acknowledge Ali ibn Abi Talib as the rightful caliph, there are so many the valuable services of Muawiya ibn Abu Sufyan to the society that cannot be underestimated. For example, the Roman threat was neutralized at his time. Even though events do not occur in exactly the same pattern, it is a reality that there are certain historical recurrences in certain respects. If we interpret the past correctly, and evaluate our time by drawing a lesson from those recurrences, then we can walk on to where we should, without being hindered by obstacles.
There is one thing that we should be careful about while trying to appreciate and benefit from the past like a treasure. There may have been certain mistakes and sins we committed in different sections of the same society and may have given offense to one another. In my opinion, it is not right to depict those bitter pictures in our time, as it happens in novels and movies, and thus make long-forgotten incidents rise from the grave as a matter for dispute. Surely, the events in history are a reality and cannot be denied, but it is wrong to raise new disputes through them. While saying this I am not trying to say, “Let us solely see the clean pages of history.” On the contrary, historical events must be analyzed with all of their bitter and sweet aspects so that we can try not to repeat the same mistakes again. That is, it is necessary to analyze troublesome periods as well and understand how the difficulties were overcome; however, this should be carried out without bringing grudge and hatred back to life again. Instead, we should try to adopt amicable approaches to use those sources of wisdom as projectors to shed light on the present time and future.

No Future without a Vision for the Future
There is a future that starts from tomorrow and extends to eternity for those who believe in the Hereafter. As for those whose ideal in life is making merry, they neither care about the past nor the future. While they think they cannot obtain any truth by scrutinizing the past, they do not wish to spoil their enjoyment by thinking about the future. For the volunteers devoted to God’s path, not only the past, but also the future, bears great importance. They have hopes, expectations, and ideals. However, those expectations have nothing to do with love for status or enjoying worldliness as some claim. On the contrary, their ideal is to establish truth and justice everywhere, being representatives of peace, making the whole world feel a spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood once more, developing a culture of coexistence in the globalizing world, and thus raising a warm atmosphere of peace everywhere. As it is also stated in the works of Risale-i Nur, the absence or forgetting of an ideal in life causes people to concentrate upon themselves and their own self-interest. As for such individuals who are crushed under the weight of their arrogance, they orient everything to their selfish concerns and continuity of their present enjoyment. However, members of humanity are honored with the best pattern of creation. They represent yesterday, today, and tomorrow altogether. Therefore, they definitely must cherish hope and ideals for the tomorrows. Otherwise, they get—may God forbid—stuck in their own selfishness and eventually become egotists, egocentrics, or narcissists who become dizzy and lose their balance with appreciation. As for those who aim certain ideals for the future, they are heroes of revival and monumental examples. They constantly try to blow the inspirations in their souls to others. They prepare the plans and projects of their future acts of goodness from today and try to do their best for the sake of realizing them.

The Golden Segment of Time: Present
The present time is also very important for a true believer. Such a person views the present moment as a golden segment of time and tries to make the best of the opportunities granted by God Almighty without any waste of time. Actually, all of us are at a certain point with the guidance and channeling of God Almighty. What falls on us is fulfilling our position of responsibility in the most efficient way. So much so that even if they leave us on a barren mountain top, we should take a hammer and nail and try to extract soil out of the rocks—and then call out to others, asking them to send up a few seeds, striving for greenery to grow even on barren rocks. That is, when they put a believer on a rocky ground, he or she should manage to derive water from rocks—as Moses did by striking a rock with his staff—obtain soil, and consequently even plant seeds on rocks.
One should never be content with minimal effort, instead of seeking to make the best of the available means. There are definitely certain good deeds everyone can do with respect to his or her own position. Everything granted by God must be used on His path by making the best of the present moment, and everybody must to what they can. A person should even question his-or herself frequently, asking: “I wonder whether I am thoroughly fulfilling what I am supposed to do with respect to the available means that God has granted to me? Or am I like a sick person suffering in misery?”
In short, the intellectual laborers of the future must understand well what they can effectuate with the means in hand and then use them efficiently for the sake of realizing the noble ideals that they pursue. By undertaking seemingly impossible tasks, even in the most adverse conditions, they must make the best of the present moment and let humanity enjoy new springs by God’s grace and help.

This text is the translation of “Geçmiş, Hâl ve Gelecek.”

Fleeting Storms, Perennial Breezes


Despite all odds, time seems to flow toward long awaited days of splendor and hours of bliss. Albeit, there is a shadowy presence of ominous days1 which cultivate an “evil” that is disposed to mischief; this is in spite of the looming storms that whip around us from time to time and notwithstanding the certain wicked spirits which are devoted to relentless destruction and demolition, who have the sole aim of silencing believers by lighting fires of tribulation everywhere. However, in the face of all such storms, the great majority of us—with the will of God—continue to search and pursue beauty and embellish our dreams with charm. Enlivened by such depths of pleasure, which caresses our feelings of rapture, we are aware that the doors of the palaces of bliss beyond are creaking open. From where we stand, as if coiled to jump to the heavens like a spiral, we are immersed in contemplation and we find ourselves in this luminous world for brief moments of melodious elation, in defiance of the blizzards raging outside.

By virtue of the light that faith and trust in the Absolute Truth emits within us, we are neither shaken by the noise and clamor that is being intentionally made around us, nor do we panic in the face of the dust that envelopes us. Instead, with this strength from the inner light, we are resolute in the face of tyrants and any of the cruelties that befall upon us without cessation. For we are of those who hold trust in God and arm ourselves with wisdom; we are of those whose endeavor it is to aspire to spiritual zeal and God’s superior pleasure in every place while living up to our unique cultural values.

At the present time, with the dawn of every new day and the fresh blessings that are within-may the Hand of Power behind them be glorified-we, together with all believers, seem to be elevated to a realm that in its beauty contains pavilions of heaven, exquisiteness, and great beauty; this occurs after we have been cleansed from innumerable centuries of ancient fog and smoke that cover the entire world. The seething animosity, hatred, and raging wrath on our right or on our left does not concern us. So prevalent are these perpetual breezes within those most terrifying of blizzards, typhoons, and thunder storms, which are part of the commonplace events that go unnoticed, that they cause the weak at heart to despair; yet we march resolutely on. We stride towards those peaks of ideals that gleam with the radiant days dreamed of in our souls. Unswervingly we tread in the direction of our ancestors’ spiritual ambiance.

Gripping tightly with faith and active hope, we live with the belief that one day we will be revived as ourselves and we will stand on our own two feet. This hope to which we cling at all times has, in fact, left the windows for a new resurrection open. Even during merciless times and ruthless events, we have reserved our faith for those imminent and promised heavenly days. Lying behind our submission, surrender, and trust is the fact that we have given ourselves over to the Hand of Blessing, for He will transform both this world and the beyond into flawless abodes for us. We have arrived at the conviction that all good done in this world will flow into the vineyards and gardens in the realm that is beyond. In the face of the abundant favors which are bestowed upon believers, we always discern the divine messages and humbly rejoice at the indications of such Divine attention. We rejoice and are almost completely unaware of such severe dolor.

What is more, and this is not an overstatement, in the tasks in which we are employed and on the path on which we walk almost every one of us can hear the rhymes of the Hereafter, like beautiful poetry, echoing within the depths of our hearts. Although such sensations arise in proportion to the expanse of one’s inner world, nonetheless every believing soul can intuit these elevated ideals and esteemed reminiscences that were once a remarkable poem.

However, at times and under particular conditions such elation and literacy in the meaning of events may not be perceived. On occasion, due to our immaturity, we may even view our surroundings in a fog. Particular states of affairs may cause such murkiness, however, none of this is permanent; given that faith, surrender, and submission have penetrated our souls, then all of these shall come to pass; as they do, they will impart within us a renewed spirit of endurance. In fact, for people of this caliber of insight, life is experienced afresh every day-this is a kind of life which occasions as many unexpected events as it does ordinary ones, and each day presents laughter interspersing the laments, ecstasy follows upon agony, and permanent pleasures come with suffering.

On the horizon of the believer, the summer heralds revival in the same way that spring does, while autumn and winter paint sunsets with the color of dawn and deliver the glad tidings of resurrection. Thus is the course of these four seasons, which follow one another with unique promises of bliss in the ambiance of pure delight, enchantment, and relief. Each morning delivers the exhilaration of the revival, the days give rise to a different enjoyment to all, the evenings unwrap shutters of the realms beyond, and the nights swathe all things with such charm that the language of the soul can be decoded in the heart with each blessed hour. Every minute and each second sparks a light and holiness that melts even the coldest of hearts with the warmth of mercy.

In this spiritual atmosphere, who knows what ingenious reflections people contemplate in proportion to their capacity, what inarticulate things they murmur about realms unknown by many, in what profound visions they immerse themselves, and on what horizons of the beyond their sights are set. The moment these reflections take wing toward the heavenliness of the past, they roam in the sweetest dreams of the future and they garner a variety of things from the virgin garden of considerations that is connected to the realms beyond this world.

Yes, due to the two wings of faith and hope we are able to fly through infinity with our insight and affection. As we continue to strengthen our relationship with Him, time and again we are so aware of matters that exceed our imagination that it is as if we are being embraced by compassion from all four directions. Our ambience shimmers with otherworldliness and we regard our abode as the corridor to the Hereafter. This particular world, constructed in accordance and perception of our inner universe, transforms itself into an enchanted world that announces the luminosities that lie beyond. It is because of this boundless inner sight that our horizon never truly darkens in its entirety; even though the darkness may fall, layer upon layer, most of the time our spiritual sight shines powerfully with the gleams of the Hereafter. So long as we pay due diligence to where we are, making the best of the conditions in which we find ourselves, and set focus on our permanent horizon, we will never be destitute.

Dwelling with the marvels of His blessings, we can assuredly rely on “strong support” (Hud 11:80) and with such a point of recourse we can unwaveringly challenge the most gigantic waves that can confront us. On occasions though, certain times which appear to have veered off course and which are saturated with ruthless events may appear to impede our path and they can potentially dishearten some. Yet the storms or typhoons that come and clash with our bosoms will strengthen our immunity; they go as they come and leave behind numerous gifts that are manifest in the qualities that make us who we are. This is the way through which worries vanish and concerns are truly transformed into pleasures; “all praise belongs to God” replaces the moans and the events that occur around us start to shimmer with promises of imminent bliss.

Thus far, in accordance with such light, sparked by the faith and emitting from within, and the resulting hope that rests all its security upon the Absolute Truth, we have been able to perceive and evaluate everything in a manner of beauty and elation. Henceforth, with the same fervor of hope, we stand firm in our position and remain intact; our insight will discern everything through the same light. Hence now, O you unreceptive wind of hate and bitterness! Go and blow from any corner you please! Soon the Irresistible Power will surely pronounce to you “enough is enough O arrogant one, cease your snarling … cease now!”

1. With the phrase “ominous days” the author is referring to the phrase “days of disaster,” found in the Qur’an, 41:16.

This text is the translation of “Muvakkat Fırtınalar ve Daimî Meltemler.”

The Spirit of Salam


Question: True stories of the Hizmet volunteers are told in the movie Selam (or salam—an expression of greeting and goodwill). You made the comment that going to other lands with a “salam” marks a lasting presence, whereas an entrance by the sword does not make a lasting effect even after long-term presence in those lands. What do you mean by “going with salam” and “the spirit of salam?”

Answer: First, it should be known that peace is essential in Islam and war is an incidental and exceptional situation. The permission for war in Islam is for the sake of defending the (inalienable rights or) values that must be protected, such as religion, life, intellect, property, and offspring. When people fixed on malevolence threaten to give you harm or try to enter your home by force, it is impossible to meet them with flowers. When a nation faces such an attack, they should mobilize and do what is necessary to be done in battle. In addition, stopping oppression (no matter which part of the world and against whom it is done), helping those who are wronged, and thwarting those who try to prevent freedom of thought and expression are among lawful reasons for war.

The Aim Must Be Deterrence

The Qur’an emphasizes that the principle of deterrence in order to establish peace should be done first. In a verse related to our subject, it states: “…make ready against them whatever you can of force and horses assigned (for war), that thereby you may dismay the enemies of God and your enemies and others besides them, of whom (and the nature of whose enmity) you may be unaware” (al-Anfal 8:60).

As it can be seen, the Qur’an advises to prevent war before it ever begins by taking all kinds of precautionary measures against immediate dangers and thus becoming a deterrent force that discourages potential enemies. In the course of the history of Islam, however, when the lawful conditions of war were present, believers had to opt for using the sword in certain periods. Most of the time this right was used for the sake of thwarting transgressive powers, bringing tyrants who upset peace and harmony in the world into line, putting an end to chaos in certain regions, and making right and justice prevail. One may ask the following question at this point: Did they thoroughly observe these principles throughout the history of Islam? When we view the general picture, we can comfortably say that Muslims mostly kept a balanced course. It is true, however, that some people in certain periods took action based on mistaken judgments. In other words, even if they set forth with the intention of establishing justice, they may have failed to observe a fastidious sensitivity about justice by preferring relative justice over absolute justice. For example, they may have failed to adopt a peaceful course of action when problems could have been solved, not with the sword, but with the invincible and everlasting principles of the Qur’an and Sunnah. In my opinion, Muslims’ failure to stay permanently in certain regions in different periods stem from such mistaken judgments.

Salam: A Universal Human Value

The conditions of our time are different than in the past. There is a certain level of democratic culture established throughout the world, and knowledge and eloquence have gained more importance. Victory in a civilized world can only be achieved through persuasion, and thus the diamond-like flawless and precious principles of the Qur’an and Sunnah have a separate significance in such an environment in terms of speaking up for truth and letting hearts feel it. Therefore, it is very important for believers to let others know about the universal and humanly values they cultivate in the depths of their soul, such as self-sacrifice, devotedness, and living for the sake of others by voicing them through different channels of expression and conveying knowledge, including art. So the movie Selam came into existence with such a thought, for the sake of telling the story of devoted souls migrating to different corners of the world. Before releasing the movie, my friends showed some parts of it to me and wished to learn my opinion. Although I do not know much about movie making, I tried to make some comments. I appreciated the movie in certain respects on the whole, as what one finds in this movie is the beautiful thought, understanding, and selflessness of the people of Anatolia whom these values become so well. The movie tells the story of their opening to not one part of the world, but to so many different places, from Africa to central Asia, and from there to the Balkans. Our teachers’ caring for people living in these different localities and coming from different cultural backgrounds, suffering for them, their living for the sake of making those people live, and softening them with love and human values, and nurturing certain virtues in them is so important. This is what the movie Selam tries to show.

As it is known, human nature has an inclination to react against strangers. Particularly, it is much more difficult for people who had been assimilated, oppressed, and suffered exile in the hands of foreign powers to welcome foreigners. In spite of such negative factors, it calls for appreciation that the volunteers of education conquered the hearts of those people and established bridges of love, dialogue, and peace among different societies and cultures.

The Teachers Whose Feet Deserve to Be Kissed

People of Anatolia, who take the diamond principles of the Qur’an and Sunnah as their guide and who possess an immensity of heart so as to let everyone find a place to sit, became a message for the sake of a brand new world and love, which echoed everywhere. As those who watch the movie will remember, there is the true story of a teacher who sacrifices himself while trying to save two boys who fell into a river while fighting on a historical bridge. After seeing this attitude of the teacher who drowned in the river after saving them, the two boys who had been fighting hugged one another and started crying. While watching that scene, I could not hold my tears like most of you. The scenes from Africa and Afghanistan are not much different. Surely, the most important thing was that all of these scenes depict true stories. For this reason, the players who took part in the movie expressed their fascination when they witnessed the self-sacrifice of the teachers in those various places they went for the shooting of the film.

Sometimes, those selfless teachers remained in the middle of a war in the countries where they taught. They did not leave their post even when their city was under siege, and they stood by their students with an immense feeling of faithfulness. The teachers continued to educate, even by risking death which opened up the doors of others’ hearts to them.

Those chivalrous souls who migrated for their ideals, courageously journeyed to different corners of the world. Sometimes young men set forth leaving behind a newly wed bride, or with an engagement ring on their bride-to-be’s finger. Some of them made a sad farewell to their elderly parents and went away by entrusting them to God. In the face of such sacrifices, let alone their foreheads, I am ready to kiss the feet of those blessed souls.

Those people, who did not even know in depth the philosophy of the path they were walking, started walking without stepping back and followed the voice of their heart in submission to the Divine. It was God who guided them towards these places and they were going with a blessed motive. I did not witness any of them complain and return. Even if it happened, I do not know such a thing. In spite of different expectations of their parents and environment, thousands of brilliant young people who graduated from the most prestigious universities of the country gladly set forth with selfless concern for others and devotion to their cause of Divine love, as expressed beautifully in a poem (by the famous love poet Seyyid Nigari):

Can one seeking the Beloved fret over his own life?
And can another who seeks his own life be in quest of the Beloved?
We have entered the path of love; we are lovesick,
We are in no need of personal dignity.
O my heart, are you ready for this?

They Wrote Salam in Hearts

As it was reflected in books, magazines, and different television programs, those friends of ours went everywhere with salam, and they wrote a salam in others’ hearts as they wrote it on chalkboards. They taught that salam means goodwill and peace. Even to those who discredited them, they gave a salam, wished goodness, and moved on. So if you go to new lands with peaceful intentions, you may have a lasting presence. Then your message of salam will find a place in consciences and will echo in hearts. God Almighty does not let those steps go wasted. As it is stated in a hadith qudsi, if you move toward Him a hand span, He comes to you one step, if you go toward Him one step, He comes to you walking, if you approach Him walking, He comes to you running, and becomes your eye that sees, your ear that hears, and your mouth that speaks.1 With this immense blessing of God with you, why would you not succeed?

In conclusion, salam is the real capital we have in today’s world where the sword has been sheathed. The philosophy of salam requires being handless to those who beat, tongueless to those who curse, and feeling no bitterness toward heartbreakers. In this respect, we should not be influenced by discouragements, but stand our grounds uprightly all of the time, and follow the principle of constructive action by saying, “This world is the realm of perseverance, not of taking offense, and thus we must only concentrate on the tasks we need to carry out.

 1. Sahih al-Bukhari, Tawhid, 15, 50;  Sahih Muslim, Tawbah, 1

 This text is the translation of “Selâm Ruhu.”

The Grave Consequence of Murders Committed under the Guise of Religion-2


After the disintegration of the Ottoman State, consecutive disintegrations ensued in the Islamic World. Today there are new efforts by Muslims to stand on their feet and find their own spirit again. Even if you do not look at the entire picture but only at the example of Turkey, you see that things are not as they used to be in the past, that so many things have changed within the recent forty to fifty years. Some powers that are disturbed by these developments and changes in the Islamic world are instigating some ignorant people who do not know the true criteria of their religion and who act on emotions and chauvinism, and they are manipulating these people for their wicked purposes.

The Need for Paranoia and Deluded Masses

Unfortunately, it is a reality that not all people living in Islamic regions are sensible ones with a balanced way of thinking and sufficient knowledge of their own sources. As for the powers that wish to trigger paranoia and whip up the masses to form public opinion in the world to suit their benefits, they see these weaknesses in Muslims that stem from their ignorance and poverty, prepare stories to mask their plots, and thus induce those liable ones as pawns in their plots, either by deceiving them or by robotizing them through psychoactive drugs. They abuse the neglected generations condemned to ignorance and thus delude the masses. The way to be saved from delusion depends on keeping our immune system strong. If you have a healthy body resistant to viruses and germs, then you can overcome them all. However, if there are serious flaws in your immune system and others continually try to inject viruses with an intention to make the body topple over, you cannot prevent it.

For this reason, in the shrinking world of our time, the Muslims who follow the Prophet’s way need to act much more wisely, think before taking every step, weigh the possible consequences of their statements very carefully, and consider what feelings those words are likely to evoke in the other side. Pros and cons must be evaluated before speaking, and not a single word must be said without thinking about its consequences ten times. Particularly, those in a position to represent an entire collective need to act with further care, as an entire body of people pay for the consequences of the mistakes they make. For example, if an ordinary man says something as, “Such and such people desecrated your mosque, so go and do the same thing to them,” nobody will care about it. But if an unstable person in a position where his words are listened to says such a thing, it is taken seriously and this causes destruction very difficult to mend. If one lacks sound knowledge, wisdom, perspicacity, and insight along with bravery and courage, the bravery and courage of such people can lead them to such insanity that it will not be possible to rectify the mistakes they make. In this respect, it is not correct to solely put the blame on the other side for the disasters we undergo. Since the early periods, those who wish to prevent the beauties of Islam being practiced and witnessed by others, try to put such plots into action. The Rightly Guided Caliphs and the insightful rulers who took them as example did not let that happen. On the other hand, particularly within the recent two or three centuries, alien factors succeeded at manipulating some liable ones to suit their purposes, and they unfortunately marred the effulgent face of Islam. It can be said that no period of Islam witnessed the like of today’s atrocities, committed so-called in the name of religion. Different groups in different periods, such as the Muwahhidin, Karmatis, and Batinis, attempted such monstrous acts. But even they did not become live bombs and did not commit suicide attacks, resulting in mass murders of women, elderly, children, and all.

The Way of Struggle That Becomes a Believer

I would like to relate a memory of mine at this point. A person who came for a visit talked with me about Islamophobia and stated that Westerners view Muslims like monsters and that they try to defame Islam in their caricatures, newspapers, and television shows. In response to this, I told him how people make the mistake of reacting emotionally against such attacks against Islam and commit certain behaviors absolutely incompatible with Islam, and that it is not really correct for us to declare ourselves to be completely innocent. It was an unexpected reply that made him surprised, but it was an undeniable reality. When responding to badness done, we are supposed to take a way of struggle that becomes a believer. Otherwise, the wrongs committed put all the Muslims on earth in a difficult situation, because such acts provide certain circles with a weapon they can use against Muslims. As for the course of action to be followed, we should always regard our attitudes and manner as our honor (and thus act with utmost sensitivity) and try to fend off attacks in compliance with the essential principles of our religion.

Those Who Commit Atrocities Have No Share of Islamic Faith

How can it ever be possible to make people love religion through violence and rage? Religion has been defined in the following words: “Religion is such a body of systems decreed by God that it guides those who possess reason to goodness out of their own will.”1 In my opinion, this definition of religion is a consideration that excels even the most developed form of democracy, because it takes human free will as basis and leaves individuals with their own free will. According to Islam, humans are blessed with a potential for benevolence and appreciating goodness. If religion can be represented in the right way and the beauties it promises for the future can be demonstrated, people will welcome it. If you demonstrate the beauties of religion, help people to love it, and engender a desire toward it in their hearts, people choose it with their free will. Nobody can object to that. Everyone has the freedom to choose whichever religion he or she wishes. What really matters is the beauty of representation. Another merit of the Pride of Humanity, blessings and peace be upon him, was his representation of the Divine message by personal example, as well as conveying it in words. He represented every virtue he taught with immaculate correctness and thus set a throne in hearts.

Long ago, we, as his followers, also represented those virtues. However, we have degenerated over several centuries. And unfortunately some people have committed many evils in the name of religion. But in reality, people who commit atrocities have no share of true Muslimness. As it was expressed in different instances, a terrorist cannot be Muslim, and a Muslim cannot be a terrorist. Even if a terrorist appears from among Muslims, it means that such a person has lost the attributes of being Muslim. So it is not possible to call that person as a sound Muslim. How can it be! There are certain rules even for wartime. When an army was setting off on a campaign, God’s Messenger stated that Islam forbids doing harm to women, children, and people who took refuge in places of worship. For this reason, it is impossible to reconcile these murders committed in the name of religion today with the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah.

In conclusion, what falls to us is being respectful toward everyone and meeting every understanding with respect, along with representing religion in the right way, as coercing others to accept one’s system contradicts the spirit of religion. Marching upon people with firearms and brutal force, occupying a shopping mall by declaring a war of one’s own, and taking innocent people as hostages are irreconcilable with Islam. As followers of the religion of peace and benevolence, we regard the principle of responding to any wrong with the like of it as tyrannical and refuse to commit cruelty through tit-for-tat reactions, preferring virtuous behavior over inhuman acts against all odds. A true believer does not, indeed cannot, fall to a level to resort to such behaviors.

May God Almighty bless our hearts with true wisdom. May He protect us from all contradictory acts that go against His Divine Will! May He bless all of us with taking the path of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and following the example of those who have truly walked on his path.

1. Abdulaziz al-Bukhari, Kashf al-Asrar, 1/13

This text is the translation of “Din Adına İşlenen Cinayetlerin Vebali-2.”

The Grave Consequence of Murders Committed under the Guise of Religion-1


Question: Can murders, suicide attacks, and other violent acts that are committed by some under the guise of religion be explained solely with reference to the manipulation by powers that be? What are the reasons for such acts taking place in Muslim regions as well?

Answer: Some persons seeming as Muslims use vehicles loaded with bombs and kill innocent people or organize similar attacks on places of worship. This has nothing to do with the Qur’an, the Tradition of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, or being Muslim. Tragically, such events take place today, which truly embarrasses and grieves believers. In despite of the fact that there are stealthy and organized manipulations by foreign powers, such terrorist events committed under the pretense of religion, which also stem from misunderstanding and misinterpreting Islam, are even worse than the attacks of the Crusaders and Mongolians on the Muslim world. They cause much greater damage because such wrongdoings and murders tar the face of Islam.

Bravery and Courage Misunderstood

In my humble opinion, the foremost of the misunderstandings and misinterpretations that causes such events in our time concerns misguided bravery and courage. A believing person must have courage in one’s heart, but with that there must be wisdom and insight as well; believers need to take a sound stance that will build a feeling of assurance and trust in others. They must always act in compliance with the essential principles of religion, no matter what the circumstances are and never forget that lawful ends must only be sought through lawful means. To state it differently, true bravery and courage means that Muslims take a sound stance, having the courage of their convictions and defending their values, always standing on the ground of righteousness, and forbearing every kind of trouble for this sake, even in the face of unfair treatment.

When we view the time of the Prophet in this respect, we see that for thirteen years the Pride of Humanity and the believers who supported him endured so many things most of us cannot do—so much so that most times, the Companions with tearful eyes considered the infinite power of God Almighty expectantly while they turned their gaze toward the blessed Messenger He sent as a mercy to humanity, and then to what was being done to those who followed the Divine message. Although they could not comprehend the wisdom of the events before them, they still said, “You are so Clement O our Lord!” One day, when the Pride of Humanity prostrated himself before the Ka’ba, those who were fixed on denial and ignorance placed the contents of a camel’s stomach on his head.1 Those fierce oppressors stoned him so many times, but he never invoked curses on them to receive a hail of stones in return. On the contrary, he raised his hands to pray for those who stoned him, broke his teeth, wounded his cheek, and caused his head to be covered in blood: “My God, grant guidance to my people, for they do not know!”2 These words can be paraphrased as follows: “Had they known me, my mission, how I feel agonized over saving them, they would not do so.” The Qur’an describes the state of God’s Messenger concerning the misguided ones as follows: “Yet, it may be that you (O Muhammad) will torment yourself to death with grief, following after them, if they do not believe in this Message” (al-Kahf 18:6). The Pride of Humanity, who conquered hearts, softened them, guided everybody toward true humanity, making them meet the humanity in their essence, did not respond in the same way to the rage of those who showed animosity to him, let alone resorting to any of the outrage and atrocities that we witness in our time. Even for Abu Jahl, a sworn enemy against him for fifteen years, he did not invoke any curses. Thanks to this attitude, there came a time when Abu Jahl’s daughter Juwayriya and his son Ikrima embraced Islam, and they lived a dizzyingly exemplary life afterwards. During the Battle of Yarmuk against the Romans, Ikrima was severely wounded and was being taken to a tent. He suddenly straightened and stated that it was such an honor that the Messenger of God personally came (he had a vision of the Prophet). I find it difficult to explain the vertical spiritual progress he made despite knowing the Prophet as a Muslim only for two years. How did he ascend to such horizons of knowledge of God? How did he realize such a great inward deepening? Is it possible that the Pride of Humanity did not treat even his enemies with clemency and wisdom? Actually, had the Messenger of God made the slightest gesture towards fighting in those early days, his followers, those valiant heroes of the time, would have fought until their last blood was spilled. However, they preferred to show patience in spite of the ordeals they went through in shackles. They did not show any extreme reaction based on personal feelings to harm their trustworthiness, and such monstrous acts as in our day were out of the question, because the path of the Prophet of Compassion was that of conquering hearts and persuading minds in order to let them attain eternal bliss. And this requires behaving with wisdom, compassion, and mildness. To reiterate, such monstrous ways of acting can never be compatible with the Qur’an, Sunnah, and the Pride of Humanity’s manner, conduct, and way of thinking.

It Is not Possible to Sow Hatred and Reap Love

It is possible to give more examples of the Prophet’s Companions’ peaceful conduct. After the conquest of Jerusalem, the Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab set forth from Medina with his servant in order to take the keys of the city. When his clothes were torn on the way, he patched them with the needle and cotton he carried for such a case. With his belief that he did not have the right to take two animals from the state treasury, he traveled with only one camel, taking turns riding it with his servant. In the vicinity of Jerusalem, it was the servant’s turn to ride the animal. His servant tried to insist that Caliph Umar ride the animal while entering the city, but Umar refused since it was his servant’s turn, so the servant rode the camel as they approached the city. The Jewish and Christian spiritual leaders met them at the entrance of the city, believing that Umar, who was walking, was the servant. Upon learning that  Umar was the caliph, these spiritual leaders showed him great respect, saying that they had already seen in their scriptures the properties of the person to whom they would deliver the keys of the city, and so the Patriarch Sophronios willingly handed him the keys. When Umar said it was time for the Prayer, they said, “O Caliph of Believers, you can offer your Prayer in a corner of our place of worship.” But Umar said, “If the caliph of believers offers his Prayers at your place of worship, then Muslims will wish to turn that place into a mosque as a memory, which will be a violation of your rights,” so he offered his Prayers on some rocks. This was his high degree of sensitivity at showing respect to others’ places of worship. Look at our master Umar’s respect for other religions’ places of worship, and compare it to the ugly atrocities committed today—so called—in the name of Islam.

Another example to shed light on our subject concerns the time of Ali ibn Abi Talib when strife was boiling over, similar to now. Caliph Ali’s supporters informed him that the Kharijites had gathered in the Harura region and advised him to launch a preemptive strike before his enemies could attack. Ali ibn Abi Talib, the courageous lion of battlefields whom the Prophet rendered the master of saints, replied with an answer illustrating his common sense: “How do we know that they will attack us?” Can we see how righteous his approach was? In my opinion, real heroism does not lie in a display of manly power and swordsmanship, but in giving one’s willpower its due and showing such self-restraint at a time when arrogance is likely to sound off like drums, repeating the word “I.” True heroism and courage is being able to ask at such a critical point, “How do we know they will attack us?” By taking this consideration as a basis, Imam Abu Hanifa ruled that it is not lawful to march upon a group of people if their intention is not known.3 Is not what really matters in acting with a wise strategy and trying to solve problems with minimum loss? When the conquest of Mecca is considered, God’s Messenger took all necessary precautions for the sake of preventing bloodshed, not inflaming animosity, and settling problems with mildness. Excepting one or two attempts of resistance, the Pride of Humanity entered Mecca, whose people mostly consisted of polytheists, without bloodshed and causing loss of lives. And after entering Mecca, he asked the people, “How do you expect me to treat you?” The polytheists who already knew him well since his childhood replied that he was the noble son of a noble one. The Prophet replied, “No reproach this day shall be on you. May God forgive you.”4 Like the breath of Gabriel, the words he uttered resonated so much in the souls of the people of Mecca who had been polytheists that they finally understood how misguided they had been and became a halo around the Prophet two days later. Even his most entrenched enemies softened and accepted his message. Mild behavior and genuine kindness attracted them to Islam’s atmosphere of goodness. You reap the harvest that you sow. If one wishes to reap a harvest of goodness, one must always sow seeds of goodness everywhere. (To be continued).

1. Sahih al-Bukhari, Wudu, 69; Sahih Muslim, Jihad, 107
2. Qadi Iyad, Al-Shifa, 1/105
3. Al-Marghinani, Al-Hidaya, 2/170–171; Al-Kasani, Badaiu’s-Sanai, 7/140–142
4. Ibn Hisham, Al-Sirah al-Nabawiyya, 5/74

This text is the translation of “Din Adına İşlenen Cinayetlerin Vebali.”

Insistence on Unbelief


Question: Although unbelief makes its presence felt in a person’s heart as a deep void and anxiety, many people continue to stick with it. What are the reasons for this?

Answer: Unbelief has nothing attractive and appealing since it makes life appear as a horrible field of chaos and struggle where anything can happen at any time, and death is viewed as eternal destruction. It is a source of constant anxiety with potential threats; it is a horrible cliff and void. There are certain weaknesses that make a person deaf and blind such that those affected by them can resist the most evident truths, be deprived of faith, and drift toward denial. These are discussed below:


A person who sees oneself as great may refuse to bow before God. But greatness exclusively belongs to God as stated in a hadith qudsi, and whoever tries to compete with Him in this respect and attempts to share it, He throws that person in Hell.1

Given that true greatness belongs to Him only, what befalls a human being is to be a servant to Him. The eternal is only One; everything and everybody must acknowledge their being zero before Him. Bediüzzaman explains this point through the concepts of “self-referential meaning” and “other-indicative meaning.” Humans need to be viewed with respect to this latter one, other-indicative meaning (or the meaning manifesting the Divine). Just as a letter that has no meaning on its own takes its place in a word in order to convey a meaning, humans similarly find their true value only through attachment to their Creator. Otherwise, viewing themselves as independent beings who bear any meaning on their own is nothing but deception. When viewed from this perspective, “self-confidence” and similar notions coined in our time do not have any value unless they gain true depth by trusting in God. Indeed, individuals’ free will, inclination, and ability of making that inclination into a willful choice are God’s gifts to us. The Supreme Will granted a place for human will. When a person makes a choice by the relatively existent human will, God Almighty makes it real with His Divine Authority. When humans see themselves thus, many problems find solutions. Otherwise, considerations such as “I am your supreme lord,” (an-Naziat 79:24) as expressed by the Pharaoh are nothing but snorts of arrogance. While this remark of the Pharaoh is an obvious claim of Divinity and thus unbelief, having thoughts such as “I saved them/ I did it/ I struggled/ I saved my people from such and such evils…” resemble indirect claims of Divinity and is a kind of hidden shirk—associating partners with God. There cannot be two “I”s at the same time. As “I-ness” or “self-existence” is a property of the Divine Essence in the true sense of the word, then the “I” is nothing but a relative existence granted to human beings as a measure (of comparison) so that they recognize God’s existence. That is, humans are supposed to understand His Supreme Will through their relative will, His doings by their doings, His infinite Knowledge with their minuscule amount of knowledge, and with their limited sight they will try to understand His all-encompassing Sight. Additionally, the shortcomings, confines, and comprehensibility of the human senses are a means of understanding the incomprehensibility of His infinite Qualities. This fact is expressed in the verse (translated as), “…and they do not comprehend anything of His Knowledge save what He wills” (al-Baqarah 2:255), as it points to this same human limitedness; what encompasses everything cannot be encompassed at the same time. The All-encompassing One is God. That is, He encompasses everything with His Knowledge, Will, Power, and doings; we are encompassed by Him. If a person fails to soundly put oneself in the proper position in relation to Him, he or she will be deprived of faith. This Pharaonic consideration based on arrogance is the underlying reason for most people’s denial of faith.


Not knowing one’s boundaries and acknowledging no limits is another major obstacle for having faith. There is no doubt that this is a kind of zulm, or wrongdoing (which includes a broad range of wrong actions from deviancy in a small matter to the unforgivable matter of denying God). This is what lies behind the denial of faith of all tyrants and wrongdoers. They become losers by attributing whatever takes place to their own strength and power. The prototype Korah is a striking example in this respect as depicted in the Qur’an: “He said: ‘All this has been given to me only by virtue of a certain knowledge that I have.’ Did he not know that God had destroyed among the generations before him men who were greater than him in power, and greater in wealth amassed?” (al-Qasas 28:78). As it is stated in the verse, God Almighty seized many powerful societies, including those people who could move mountains, and buried them to the ground for their not knowing their boundaries.

Mistaken Viewpoint

Another factor leading people to unbelief is having a mistaken viewpoint. As it is known, Bediüzzaman placed great importance on the issue of intention and viewpoint. This was to such an extent that he said that his thirty years of education had taught him four fundamental words and phrases until the age of forty, and that two of those words were intention and viewpoint. Viewpoint is a crucial factor for understanding and interpreting existence and phenomena. If you fail to adopt the proper viewpoint, you either cannot see at all or cannot see correctly what you are supposed to see. Your studies and research may allow you to cover a certain distance, but without the proper viewpoint you will get stuck somewhere never reaching the truth of the Divine Essence. What really matters with viewpoint is being able to see everything in accordance with its true nature. Namely, it is the effort of seeing something as what it is in truth. For this reason, one needs to look at that thing with a correct viewpoint. In addition, the goal of looking must be seeing. For example, you can look at a library with so many books, but if your looking does not have a purpose, you do not see the names and colors of the books before you. Therefore, they say that looking and seeing are separate things that should not be confused.

In order to indicate the deviated viewpoint of the Pharaoh, the Qur’an relates the following statement that he made: “O Haman! Build me a lofty tower so that I may attain the ways, the ways of (peering into) the skies, and that I may have a look at the God of Moses…” (al-Mumin 40:36–37). A contemporary cosmonaut with the same twisted viewpoint said that he made a tour around the earth but did not see any deities. On hearing this remark, the famous poet Necip Fazıl responded with the following reply, “You fool, who told you that God Almighty were a balloon in space!” Thus, looking for the Exalted Creator—who cannot be contained by time, place, or matter—as if He were a material object, is an extreme deviation of viewpoint. Some fail to find faith due to the fact that they are stuck in such a swamp.

Blind Imitation of Forefathers

Following one’s forefathers is another reason for unbelief. In many verses in the Qur’an, this mistaken attitude of unbelievers is highlighted. For example, it is stated in a verse (translated as), “When it is said to them, ‘Follow what God has sent down,’ they respond: ‘No, but we follow that (the traditions, customs, beliefs, and practices) which we found our forefathers in’” (al-Baqarah 2:170). Throughout history, those who do not believe and do not wish to believe find a misguided antecedent for themselves and follow him by blind imitation. According to these imitators, even if their predecessors worshipped stones, trees, or even idols made from desserts (as in the pre-Islamic Meccan society), they were “unquestionable.” No mistake could be sought in what they said or did. And this is one of the very important points that cause people to lose and leave them deprived of faith.

While Escaping the Bite of a Gnat…

When all of these impediments listed above are viewed, it is not possible to find anything reasonable, logical, or acceptable to serve as a sound reference. These factors listed as causes of unbelief cannot be referred to as points of support. Thus, people who do not believe continue in their unbelief by relying on things they misconceive as points of support, and this does not promise a person any good whatsoever. People in this situation prefer only to comfort themselves with some temporary consolations. In their own mind, they see a way of escaping responsibility and being comfortable by not stepping into the sphere of faith, because when faith or religion is accepted, then responsibilities of religious practices will ensue, for faith is not solely a theoretical issue. One needs to fulfill certain responsibilities and refrain from certain things forbidden. In other words, solely saying “I believe” does not suffice. After this acceptance, certain commandments known as good, righteous deeds need to be carried out and many indecent, wicked, and vile conducts forbidden by religion need to be forsaken. As some misperceive these as an obstacle against enjoying life, they insist on not stepping into the circle of faith. Thus, in the words of Bediüzzaman, “…even if the duty of servanthood may cause slight discomfort or bother, by denying God’s existence, they make themselves the target of spiritual troubles that are millions of times more distressing. While agonizing over the bite of a gnat, they welcome the bite of a snake.”2 Furthermore, everything seen as consolation in this world provides no benefit or support whatsoever in the next world.

Let me state one final point; even though believers have entered into the sphere of faith by overcoming all of these obstacles that give way to unbelief, they must be conscious of the fact that each of these impediments and weaknesses still poses a danger to them. As all of the factors listed above serve as obstacles against stepping into the sphere of faith—God forbid—they might also be a reason for a person to step out of the sphere of faith. When these illnesses and weaknesses gain a certain degree of dominance over a person’s feelings and thoughts, and when they pressurize the conscience and manage to inflict some holes and cracks in it, one can be swung out of the sphere of faith unaware.

God’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, drew our attention, for instance, to one of these deadly viruses by stating that a person with an atom’s weight of arrogance in the heart will not enter Paradise.3 In this respect, a person must constantly face oneself, constantly see God’s blessings in oneself, constantly praise Him and offer thanks for those blessings, and must never forget that these blessings might possibly lead one astray toward perdition.

1. Sahih Muslim, Birr, 136; Sunan Abu Dawud, Libas, 26
2. Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, The Gleams, New Jersey: Tughra Books, 2008, p. 13
3. Sahih Muslim, Iman, 147

This text is the translation of “İnançsızlıktaki Israrın Sebepleri.”

What Faith Promises


Question: What are the good things that faith promises us? Is it possible to talk about differing degrees of feeling these beauties in one’s heart?

Answer: So far, much has been said about the beauties that faith promises in both worlds and the many ways to deliverance. Particularly, Bediüzzaman addresses this issue in detail in different parts of his works. When all of these are considered, it can be seen that faith provides a person with a very broad and immense view with respect to discerning and gaining insight into life and existence. For example, when a man with faith views creation, he sees it as a close friend and a sincere companion. Therefore, he does not feel any dread about the road or the companion. Thanks to the blessed light faith brings to his life, he sees the past and future as bright; he neither sees the past as a horrible graveyard, nor the future as a dark pit of death waiting to swallow him.

In fact, it is natural for people to have certain fears and anxieties about the future. But the hope and light brought by faith overcome these fears, because a person with a faith based on sound essentials understands that it is beyond human power to find a cure against such anxieties and finds a way to rid oneself of the suffering inflicted by their potential threat. Is the darkness of the grave and intermediary realm a worry? Faith will be a light there. Is passing the Sirat1 a cause of worry? Faith is a steed to make one pass over it like lightning. Is a person worried about the final reckoning? Faith is the soundest shelter to be saved from Hell. In this long journey of life, faith is like a truthful guide standing beside the road and promising safety and trust.

Death and the Ostrich

In fact, faith virtually bears the spiritual seed of a Touba tree of Paradise, as a person with faith leads a peaceful life even while in this world. It is through faith that one is freed from the fear of decaying into nonexistence. No matter what they say and how they approach the issue, it is not possible for a people devoid of faith to free their heart and mind from the worries of nonexistence completely. These anxieties and worries sometimes become so severe that they make one experience a hellish life while in this world. For the sake of ridding oneself from such depression, a person mostly plunges into entertainment and making merry. Sometimes by indulging in alcohol or using drugs and sometimes by indulging in carnal desires, they try to free themselves from worries depressing their soul, generated by the thought of becoming nothing and decaying into soil. In other words, they try to plunge into oblivion by lotus eating. This resembles an attempt to hypnotize oneself. Although these may seem to console a person temporarily, they are only vain efforts with no true or lasting help. As burying one’s head in the sand has no use for being saved from a stalking hunter, it is impossible for such entertainments to save people from what they fear the most. The only thing that will save them from all of these worries and take them to the safe haven of deliverance is faith, which is a safe ship, truthful guide, and a powerful source of hope.

No matter how sinful individuals are, they will cherish hope about a good ending, assuming that they really believe; this truth is inherent in the nature of faith. As a matter of fact, according to Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jama’a (Sunni way of belief) belief, no matter how sinful a person is—with the condition of having faith—he or she will not be punished with Hellfire eternally.2 If one possesses even a grain of faith, then sins are not inherent in that person. Sins do not originate in faith. On the contrary, they stem from not taking the stance true faith necessitates. In other words, sins are viruses that make their way into a person through the holes left in one’s faith. As for unbelief, sins and transgressions spring from its very nature. For this reason, they are essential to unbelief. To reiterate, all mainstream Muslims agree that even a person with a grain of faith will enter Paradise. That is, may God protect us, even if a man (or woman) commits adultery, theft, or some other sin, he will attain eternal bliss in the end, given that he has faith. If he repents for his sins and God accepts his repentance, that person may go to Paradise without being punished in Hell. All of these are beauties which faith promises and cannot be replaced by anything else. Faith, therefore, is a very powerful source of hope. With this endless source of power, it is always possible to be freed from one’s narrow personal world and set sail to the beauties of eternal life.

Amity as Reflected in Realms Beyond

Faith makes a believer a person who inspires trust to one’s environment, even to the entire creation. It makes one’s narrow world into a universal one. True Muslims see the universe as a cradle of amity, and thus see everybody as brothers and sisters to a certain extent. As Ali ibn Abi Talib stated, they see others as brothers and sisters, Muslims being in faith and others being in humanity. Surely, their perspective of believers is very different, owing to the belief that they will be together in the intermediary realm, on the Day of Judgment, and the final reckoning. People with such faith will not reduce their relationship with their environment to opportunistic expectations from others; on the contrary, they will try to establish a bond and relationship that will continue in the next world as well. If such a bond and relationship have a different value in God’s sight, then this will let believers become closer to God and make them succeed in both worlds, which is another promise made by faith. It is possible to see the Prophet’s blessed statement, “God’s hand (of support) is with the community,”3 from this perspective as well. That is, as God Almighty protects people who act with a collective spirit in this world from evils and grants them success, He will grant exceptional blessings to them altogether. In other words, acting in the collective yields not only worldly fruits, but otherworldly ones as well. As it can be taken from the Divine decree, “On the Day when the earth is changed into another earth…” (Ibrahim 14:48), from atoms to celestial bodies, everything will undergo change. Therefore, a person’s feelings and thoughts will gain a different nature, and good works done in this world and amicable relations will gain a different profundity there. Who knows how people will enjoy it and how lovable the relationships will be with other believers. May be encountering them will effect such relief in your heart that you will consider it equal to the blessings of Paradise. In fact, as it is stated by the noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, God prepared in Paradise for His righteous servants, blessings that no eyes have seen, no ears have heard, and that have never occurred to any human heart.4 The blessings God will grant in Paradise are beyond imagination. And those blessings are nothing but many times transformed states of the good works that you did in this world, appearing before you in a different nature.

As for the second part of the question, we can briefly make the following explanation: everybody feels and experiences these beauties promised by faith in accordance with the immensity and depth of their own faith. Some only feel it in the theoretical level of what they heard from their teachers. However, this is only the beginning for them. Some support their theoretical information with truthful knowledge and deep reflection, base it on sound essentials, internalize it through religious practices and worship, and transform it into knowledge of God by experience. In other words, they start with theoretical information, progress to certainty based on knowledge, and then ascend to certainty based on seeing, or ayn al-yaqin as it is termed. After reaching the level of ayn al-yaqin, the secret of ihsan5 unfolds. That is, the consideration of being seen by God at all times and a high consciousness of His presence as if one sees Him permeate a person’s behaviors, and he leads a life at this level. You can understand it as abandoning the animal level of life, leaving behind physicality, being freed from the cage of the body, and journeying to the lofty life led at the level of the soul. There, everything is seen more immensely, clearly, and brightly with its exclusive charms and is sensed. For this reason, one does not care about the physical and worldly life at such a high level. One stays in this world for the sole reason that God commanded so, fulfilling his or her duty. And when the time to be discharged from duty comes, a different serenity is experienced; death is met with the joy of a celebration, and one walks toward the beauties promised by faith, and meets God.

1. The bridge over Hell leading to Paradise.
2. Al-Taftazani, Sharh al-Maqasid, 2/229–231
3. Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Fitan, 7
4. Sahih al-Bukhari, Badu’l Khalq, 8; Sahih Muslim, Iman, 312
5. Ihsan, or perfect goodness, denotes worshipping God as if one sees Him and full awareness of being seen by Him.

This text is the translation of “İmanın Vaat Ettikleri.”

The Faithful and Trustworthy Person


Question: A Muslim is described in a hadith as a person from whose tongue and hands other people are secure. How can we ingrain this good character in us, and what is its significance?

Answer: As it is included in reliable sources of hadith, God’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, describes a true Muslim as a person whom other Muslims are secure from (possible harms to come through) his tongue and hand.1 In order to open a door to the meaning you mentioned in the question, I would like first to expound on the meaning of “Muslim” with the definite article (al). The phrase “al-Muslim” shows that the hadith refers to an ideal Muslim in the true sense of the word. That is, according to the principle, “An absolute mentioning refers to the perfect example of the type,” the Muslim mentioned here is not someone who just seems or claims to be so; it is one who confirms the truth in a heartfelt fashion and accepts it, surrenders to it, fulfills the requirements of this faith, and a person who makes this faith into the pervading spirit in one’s life.

If we expound further, the verb used in the hadith is “aslama” (to surrender) which comes from the same root with “silm” (peace) and “salamah” (being safe and sound). The noun “Muslim” is an active participle, functioning as the subject, from the same verb, as it means “one who surrenders to God.” It also bears the meaning, “one who lets others be safe and sound, feel secure, and one who establishes peace and mutual freedom from harm.” In this respect, the word “Muslim” describes “a person who surrenders to God, and therefore who observes His commandments fastidiously, and is trustworthy to the utmost degree.

The Divine Names “As-Salam” and “Al-Mu’min”

Ideal Muslims making others feel secure is a consequence of their adopting Divine morality with respect to two Divine Names: “As-Salam” (the Supreme Author of peace and salvation) and “Al-Mu’min” (the Supreme Author of safety and security Who bestows faith and removes all doubt). They appear consecutively at the end of the Surah al-Hashr (59:23). As a Divine Name, As-Salam means He who is absolutely immune from imperfections and who grants wellbeing to His creatures. Al-Mu’min means God is the one who creates the faith in people’s hearts and promises them deliverance, and who fulfills His promises. Therefore, if God Almighty makes a promise to His servants, it must be trusted. Actually, this belief is the source of the feeling of hope (raja) in a believer’s heart. Therefore, a person who seeks to adopt Divine morality, or in other words, a person who strives to manifest a shadow of the Divine Names and Attributes in oneself should always inspire trust in those around him or her; no one should feel any anxiety of possible harm from that person. One must possess a heartfelt belief in God and inspire trust in others to such an extent that they should comfortably entrust their most valuable possessions with this person, walking away without any worries whatsoever.

The fact that sidq (truthfulness) and amanah (trustworthiness) are among the properties of God’s Messengers is important in terms of indicating the significance of this issue. As it was truthfulness that took the noble Prophet to the peak of perfection, it was lying that took the false prophet Musaylima the Liar to the lowest of the low. Indeed, unbelief is a great lie against God. It means denying everything in the universe that bears witness to the Creator, owing to failure to comprehend the splendid order and harmony in the universe, turning a blind eye to it, and rejecting the perfect correspondence of reasoning in the universe and the Qur’an. In this respect, it is such a horrible murder that Hellfire is decreed as the due punishment for it. On the other hand, faith makes one eligible for Paradise by taking that person to peaks of spiritual perfection. It is this truthfulness that took all of the Companions to exalted levels, Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, being the first.

In addition to truthfulness, another property of God’s Messengers is trustworthiness. Each of them acted as an example of trustworthiness throughout their lives and always inspired trust in others. The most trustworthy person,2 the Messenger of God, inspired such trust in others with his attitudes and behaviors that when people needed to have someone watch their daughters or wives until they returned from travel, he was the first person that would come to their mind, as they knew that he would not even raise his head to look at their daughters’ or wives’ faces. He was a paragon of modesty. When our mother Khadija implied her wish to marry him, the noble Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, sweated profusely. These virtues were deeply ingrained in him. For this reason, his trustworthiness was appreciated by all accounts.

The Credibility of Trust

The same situation must actualize for his followers today. Particularly those heroes devoted to ideals of making others love God and His Messenger must make others in their atmosphere feel secure all of the time and evoke a feeling of trust toward themselves in everyone—so much so that people should be able to turn their back to them and comfortably say: “If that person is saying it, then it must be true. His (or her word) can be trusted.” To the extent that people support your activities today, you should know that this feeling of trust is the underlying factor.

Without making special tests and spying, people observe you in many instances along the natural flow of events that in the end they will say, “It is possible to trust this person.” For example, when you recommend an organization during the Eid of sacrifice for taking meat to poor people, they will come unhesitatingly with some fifty sacrifices to entrust to you unhesitatingly. Acting with utmost sensitivity, building this trust, and maintaining its continuity are imperative.

If the devoted souls in our time can make the genuine breeze of trust around them keep blowing as they have done so far, new people who meet them today—by God’s permission and grace—will see that they are sincere and not change their minds. In this respect, the volunteers who migrated for their ideals must give their position its due in the face of the most difficult conditions. They must keep an upright stance and always live in compliance with the essential disciplines. They must fear being deserving of punishment as described in the verses, “…but you love and prefer what is before you (the present, worldly life), and abandon that which is to come later (the Hereafter)” (al-Qiyamah 75:20–21); “… because they have chosen the present, worldly life in preference to the Hereafter” (an-Nahl 16:107).

Devoted souls value the world only as that transient abode it deserves, and the Hereafter as much as its infinity deserves. Indeed, when you value the Hereafter as it truly deserves, you make your worldly life more valuable as well. This is so because those who lead their lives with this balance become so sincere and present such faithfulness and feel so secure that everything becomes efficient in their hands. Nothing is wasted. For this reason, they better the world also. Without any doubt, as those who dedicated themselves to the Hereafter and gaining good pleasure of God let Andalusia thrive, as the Ottomans did the same in their region, today’s trustworthy ones can help the contemporary world to thrive if they resolve to do so.

In this respect, a person devoted oneself to serving God must always keep away from luxury and lead a simple life. Such people’s home must be accordingly, and when they pass away, their friends must try to raise money to pay for their shroud. A person devoted to serving God cannot be bound by fortunes, the world, status, or comfort. Thanks to devoting one’s heart solely to serving none but God, nothing can fetter such a person. There naturally are, and should be, people who engage in business and serve God by donating from their lawful earnings. This is a different issue from the sensitivity expected from those whose sole job is to serve God.

Administrators’ Representation of Their Values

Devoted souls must always inspire trust in their own fellow volunteers as well. They should always refrain from attitudes and behaviors that might lead their friends to distrust. They must refrain from doing things that might raise suspicion and always act transparently. They must be so sensitive and careful at this issue that no one should feel that they have been deprived of something or their field of action has been restricted.

It is for this reason that we always need to be transparent toward the people we walk with, make all of our decisions with consultation, avoid oppressive attitudes and behaviors, and continually take into consideration the feelings and thoughts of the people around us. In the same way, we must be careful to assign duties suitable with others’ abilities and arrange their working hours accordingly. We must build such trust in them that people given a certain duty are sure that their seniors are acting with good intentions and common sense all of the time. In addition, people need serious counseling to internalize the duty they have been given. In short, division of labor must be done with so much transparency and sensitivity that no feeling of mutual distrust should ever be evoked.

When Umar ibn al-Khattab discharged the army commander Khalid ibn Walid from duty and similarly when Uthman ibn Affan sent Abu Dharr to Ar-Rabadha, they did as ordered without any objection at all, thanks to this very feeling of trust. If you have been able to inspire trust in the people under your responsibility with your attitudes and behaviors, if you have protected your innocence in terms of your thoughts, feelings, reasoning, and logic, then the decisions that you make with respect to them will be accepted. When people are assigned with a new duty and are sent somewhere else, they will do so without hesitation. For example, if you tell them to go to a certain place, they will think to themselves, “The ones who made this decision must have thought that this was the best thing for me to do,” and they will gladly forbear the lack of means in the places they go. Even if you tell them to reside in a narrow place like a cell, they will do as required, because they know that the demand was made with certain wisdoms. In sum, your demands will find acceptance in accordance with your trustworthiness as an administrator. The most reliable method of finding a way into people’s hearts is to inspire trust with genuine feelings. People must trust you in such a way that they must comfortably say, “If a duty—no matter which—befalls on me for serving on the path of faith and Qur’an, God’s good pleasure must be there.” And this undoubtedly, will be realized by the power of administrators’ fastidious care about representing the values they believe.

1. Sahih al-Bukhari, Iman, 4; Sunan Abu Dawud, Jihad, 2
2. Prior to the advent of Islam, the noble Prophet was nicknamed as “Muhammadu’l-Amin” (Muhammad the Trustworthy), peace and blessings be upon him.

This text is the translation of “Müslüman: Sadık ve Emin İnsan.”

An Insight into the Rightly Guided Caliphs and the Events in Their Time


Question: How was Ali ibn Abi Talib’s relationship with the other three Caliphs? It has been claimed that he had serious disagreements with them. Would you please explain the truth of this issue?

Answer: In order to make a sound evaluation of the issue, it is first necessary to know the character of Ali ibn Abi Talib and the other three Rightly Guided Caliphs. Any comments made without any knowledge of the true worth of these great figures can give way to different interpretations and, thus, to wrong conclusions. Now let us try to have a better understanding of the Rightly Guided Caliphs in the context of some particular examples from their awe-inspiring lives.

The Crown of the Golden Line of Saints

Our master Ali is one of those who spent the longest time under the training of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. He established an extra aspect of closeness to the Prophet by marrying his blessed daughter Fatima, mentioned in a hadith as, “Fatima is a piece from me. Who makes her sad, makes me sad.”1 The noble Prophet often visited their home and sat with them; he took his grandchildren on his lap and loved them. Therefore, Ali ibn Abi Talib always found the opportunity of breathing the atmosphere of the Prophet. In addition, his blessed grandchildren were born in that fortunate home, and the Prophet’s lineage continued through them. People from the lineage of Hasan are titled as “sharif,” and those of Husayn are titled as “sayyid.” In this respect, our master Ali has a very different position in terms of being the forefather of the greatest saints such as Abu’l Hasan ash-Shazili, Ahmad Rufai, Abdulqadr al-Jilani, and Sheikh an-Naqshband.

There Would Be No Islam If It Were Not for Abu Bakr

The other caliphs also have special virtues of their own. For example, Abu Bakr’s firm stance at some critical points is very important. His being the first man to support the Prophet, his facing up to dangers during their emigration from Mecca, and in many instances his coming between attackers and the Prophet to shield him saying like one of the relatives of the Pharaoh did, “Would you kill a man only because he declares, ‘My Lord is God!’” are all very important instances.2 For this reason Ali said, “If it were not for Abu Bakr, there would be no Islam”3 and was among the foremost who appreciated Abu Bakr. At another instance, Ali expressed Abu Bakr’s greatness with the following words, “A single night of Abu Bakr is worth our lifetime.”

The Insurmountable Wall That Stood between Truth and Falsehood

Umar ibn al-Khattab similarly had his own special virtues. During his Caliphate, he virtually served as a barrier before all factors of hypocrisy and dissent which threatened the unity of Muslims. In addition, the two superpowers of the time, Byzantine and Sassanid empires were defeated and many people accepted Islam. When Iran (Persia) surrendered after the Battle of Qadisiyah, they began to harbor a grudge against Umar ibn al-Khattab. Bediüzzaman refers to this truth in The Gleams by stating that it was not their love for Ali but their grudge against Umar. Ali ibn Abi Talib served as the religious consultant—the title that would be termed as sheikhulislam later on—during the time of these two great caliphs since he knew their worth. That is, these two caliphs mostly consulted him at issues that required a fatwa, or a religious ruling. In particular, Umar ibn al-Khattab asked him many questions and received fatwas from him. The following case narrated in books of hadith is meaningful in terms of showing the relationship between them. Our master Umar said, “I know that you are just a stone. You bring neither benefit nor harm. If I had not seen God’s Messenger kiss you, I would not kiss you.” Ali spoke to him very comfortably, “Had you known the secret of this stone, you would not have spoken this way, O Umar.” On hearing this, Umar responded by saying, “If it were not for Ali, Umar would be lost.”4 As it is seen, they were people who knew each other well and appreciated each another.

If I Had another Daughter, I Would Give Her in Marriage to Him Also

Uthman ibn Affan had a different depth, a different kind of specialty. The Messenger of God gave his daughter in marriage to him, and when she passed, he gave a second daughter as well. In response to those who spoke against it, he stated, “If I had another daughter, I would give her in marriage to him also (after the death of the second one).” Uthman ibn Affan governed the state peacefully at a period where alien thoughts penetrated into the Islamic world; this is a very important fact in terms of understanding his greatness.

Different Depths, Different Qualities

To put it briefly, each of the Caliphs had a particular virtue which makes them better than others in that particular respect. As it is known, when a particular virtue is concerned, one can be superior to another person who is more virtuous in the overall sense. In this respect, it is a proper approach to look at each of them with his own character, position, true worth, and essence, and to believe that each one represents a different quality of the Prophet. It is for this reason that Abu Bakr is titled as “Siddiq” (the truthful one), Umar as “Faruq” (one who separates truth from falsehood), Uthman as “Zinnurayn” (the bearer of two blessed lights), and Ali with such titles as “Khaydar al-Karrar” (the attacking lion),” “the master of saints,” “master of the chivalrous,” and “the Prophet’s son-in-law.” It is impossible for anyone else to reach these Caliphs with respect to the particular qualities that each one possessed. I will not call them transcendent, for it is not quite theologically correct to use this word for people; they have a very exceptional status in terms of the fact that they have unreachable and unsurpassable aspects. For example, they are virtually matchless at governing a society and being a rightly guided caliph. For numerous other reasons that we cannot list here, each of them is worth the entire world. As it is known, when the Prophet named the Ten Companions who received glad tidings of Paradise while in this world, he counted the four Rightly Guided Caliphs as the first four. Accordingly, their worth needs to be considered in terms of their being from the people of Paradise.

Inconsistent and Baseless Slanders

After taking all of these into consideration with a holistic perspective, assuming Ali to be an opponent of Abu Bakr and Umar, claiming the former to be the righteous one whereas the latter two were wrong, is first of all a great insult against Ali himself. It is impossible for a hero of bravery and valor like Ali to obey Abu Bakr and Umar at a matter he considers not to be righteous; he was fearless. As it was seen during the siege of Khaybar, he was so daring that he walked toward death comfortably. According to a compliment ascribed to the Prophet, “There is no youth like Ali; there is no sword like dhulfiqar.”5 Claiming such a person to have bowed before Abu Bakr and Umar in the face of injustice is a disrespect and insult to the spirit of Ali ibn Abi Talib. Therefore, it is necessary to highlight that such claims are actually contradictory in themselves.

Additionally, when we approach the issue by considering the fact that the Prophet kept Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman around him throughout his blessed life, it becomes clear that negative approaches about these three people convey an insult to the Prophet at the same time, because it can be concluded from such a claim that the master of the Prophets failed to recognize that—God forbid—they had certain schemes of their own. This is actually a great disrespect against God’s Messenger. However, one of the significant depths of the Prophet’s perspicacity was his knowledge of the people around him and discovery of their abilities. When he looked at a person’s face only once, he instantly knew where that person would serve best and assigned him accordingly, owing to his prophetic perspicacity far beyond genius. Claiming that the noble Prophet—from the first time he received revelation until his passing from this world—was unable to assess his closest companions and failed to have an insightful understanding of their behaviors and characters is a very serious mistake of reasoning. As for what sound thinking and reasoning are required by us concerning this issue, it is valuing the people valued by the Prophet and having due respect for them. Indeed, virtues of the Companions are reported in many different hadiths. And in Hadith collections, there are separate chapters devoted to the Companions’ virtues. The Pride of Humanity drew attention to the unreachable position of the Companions by stating, “My Companions are like stars. Whichever you follow, you find right guidance.”6 One time, he held the hands of Abu Bakr and Umar and said that they would be resurrected in the Hereafter in the same way. At another time, he stated that he had two viziers in the world and two in the heavens; those in the world were Abu Bakr and Umar, and those in heavens were Gabriel and Michael.7 Making negative remarks about such people stems from not knowing the Messenger of God and these Companions well.

Also, in addition to giving them the glad tidings of Paradise, the Prophet not only married daughters of Abu Bakr and Umar, he gave two of his daughters in marriage to Uthman and one to Ali. Thus, he established another special relationship with them. If we look at the issue from the perspective given in Ibn Arabi’s Fusus al-Hikam, marrying someone’s daughter and giving one’s daughter in marriage convey different meanings in terms of understanding the inner meanings of happenings (ta’wil al-ahadith). Since we are ordinary people closed to such spiritual depths, I will not get into these but explain the issue in a plain fashion.

A Small Blemish in the Center Grows to the Periphery

In spite of the Prophet’s recognition of these Companions’ special virtues, diverging views about them appeared. As they did not seem to be great blemishes at the center, it was not apparent at the beginning how great the real the deviation would become. What was once a small blemish in the center grew so huge to reach the periphery. It grew to such a point that as time passed, some went to the extreme of declaring Ali as—God forbid—an unbeliever; others claimed to step forward with love for him, but in doing so they spent their lives with enmity against Abu Bakr and Umar instead. They used the name of Ali as justification for their enmity, and even went so far as to extoll him with attributes that he, the great person whom he was, would have never approved of. Some esoteric sects appeared who took the issue to the degree of even deifying him. Thus, since the early period, such claims about Ali have been behind different misguided currents as in the case of Hassan Sabbah, the Karmatis, Ismailis, and Nusayris, along with so-called Mahdi the saviors that appeared in different parts of the world.

Though it is criticized in terms of the criteria of evaluating hadiths, Bediüzzaman relates a saying of the Prophet that two groups of people will be misguided because of Ali. There came a time, Persians dismissed Abu Bakr and Umar completely, and they displayed an antagonism toward the two to the degree of naming them after the two pre-Islamic idols jibt and taghut, and slandering Aisha, the Mother of Believers.

The Cultural Codes that Feed Grudge and Hatred

Those who hold this divergent view in our time do not voice these ugly things in public, probably by taking into consideration the general condition of the Islamic world, international relations, and present conjuncture. However, if we look at their expressions of grudge and hatred that surface in different events, it is understood that they cannot rid themselves of these negative elements, and that it is very difficult for them to do so because of the cultural environment in which they were raised and the sources they have used. They developed certain methodologies and wrote certain books. Thus, their general belief and opinion developed in this way. For example, if we look at an essential source as Qadi Abdul Jabbar’s Usul al-Khamsa, which contains the essentials of their belief, it will be seen that they made the issue of imamate into one of the five essentials of faith. Accordingly, the imam must definitely come from the lineage of Ali ibn Abi Talib; it is not possible for anybody else to be imam. By considering such secondary issues among essentials of faith, they caused horrible deviations.

Actually, if what matters is loving Ali and being attached to the family of the Prophet, all Muslims can be considered as followers of Ali in this sense. Our books of Sufism and world of literature are a witness to this. When these are carefully studied, it will be seen that they overflow with love for the Prophet’s family. It is not correct to make an emphasis to a secondary aspect of the issue and turn a blind eye to the issues related to the primary essentials. As I previously expressed in different contexts, I grew up with love of Ali in my familial environment. He was a hero to me in my childhood. I pictured a man who could take fifty heads when he drew his sword. Given that I imagined him as such a hero, it is natural for me to have such abundant love for him. Love of Ali pervaded my soul and cortex so much, and let me state that I had great difficulty at maintaining the balance for a long time and putting Ali to the same rank with the other Caliphs.

Keys of Love That Open the Rustiest Locks

As for today, in spite of all of these things in the past, what befalls us to extend a friendly hand to everybody without discriminating between Alawi, Nestorian, Assyrian, etc., doing goodness and thus neutralizing the negativities that can possibly be abused by dark powers of inner and outer origin.

Previously I made the following comment about solving the problems in the Southeast of Turkey: it is necessary to show the magnanimity within the spirit of the people of Anatolia to the Southeasterners once more and make it into a continuous process whose format is constantly renewed. For example, it is possible to hold different activities in the region by making good use of the blessed nights. If you do this by organizing a program at a mosque and bless their nights by piercing the darkness, then you will be doing something important with respect to finding common ground and conquering hearts. Besides, if governors, police chiefs, doctors, and religious teachers—with the condition of all being perspicacious ones—are sent to the region and work for healing the wounds of the society, then all the schemes will be eliminated in time.

It is necessary to come to grips with the problems with the keys of love and affection, which can open any door in the world, with the style of Rumi and the system of Yunus Emre, and a universal magnanimity of conscience. If there is one thing that can root out problems for good, it is sincerely opening your heart to everybody and thereby finding a way into their hearts. While it may be possible to suppress problems by force for a while, it is not possible to show a human problem that has been solved with brutal force. Even if it seems to be ended, it will surface in a different form eventually. It can be said that such examples of sedition have a character of reincarnation; they will keep appearing before humanity until they are completely eliminated. In this respect, brutal force is one of the greatest obstacles to full functioning of reason and sensibility. That is, when you wish to deal with problems by suppressing them, you cannot use your reason efficiently to produce different alternatives. Certainly security forces must exist, but they must be guided by reason, sensibility, perspicacity, and insight, and under the control of the conscience and fairness. I believe that when such an understanding is adopted to address this problem inherited from earlier historical periods, it will begin the journey to a promising solution.

1. Sahih al-Bukhari, Fadailu’l-Ashab, 12
2. Sahih al-Bukhari, Fadail us-Sahaba, 5
3. Al-Daylami, Al-Musnad, 3/358
4. Al-Hakim, Al-Mustadrak, 1/628
5. Ibn Asakir, Tarikh Dimashq, 39/201
6. Aliyyulqari, Al-Asraru’l-Marfu’a, 388
7. Al-Hakim, Al-Mustadrak, 2/290

This text is the translation of “Asr-ı Saadetteki Hâdiseleri Okuma Adına Bir Bakış Açısı.”

Distorted Quotations and the Virus of Sinful Suspicion


May God not leave us without guidance. Otherwise, we would never know what is right and what is wrong, or what is good and what is bad. We would think we are progressing; nonetheless, we would, in fact, be regressing. This is called losing in the zone of winning, which means to seem to advance, but you are only left jaded at the end of the day.

A Muslim should think well whenever it is reasonable. You should consider the person in question, and his way of life as a whole. In addition, the environment, the views and beliefs, the philosophy of life, and even the devotion of the people must be taken into consideration before jumping at unwarranted conclusions.

Those who have a negative viewpoint will always misinterpret others views and arrive at unfair conclusions. Doing this, they not only oppress themselves, but also those whom they criticize. We must inspect, test, and verify. The first action must be avoiding misinterpretation, and the next, verifying the accuracy of whatever was reported.

The Degree of Making Sacrifice and Keeping the Balance at Donating


Question: Is there a limit to making sacrifices for the sake of God? What should be the degree of material-spiritual sacrifice for those who dedicate their lives to the services of education?

Answer: As it is known, not all people are at the same level in terms of their relationship with God Almighty. There are differences among them from the ground level to the stars. In other words, every person has a different degree of relationship with God according to his or her level of faith, knowledge of God, and the love and enthusiasm they have for God. For example, as there are people who observe all of the religious commandments with utmost sensitivity and seek further closeness to God with the additional supererogatory devotions, there are others who suffice with observing the obligatory responsibilities. The reality is that no matter at what level, nobody’s relationship with God can be taken lightly, for this is an implication of taking lightly what God values. If we elucidate this further, on the slippery grounds of the contemporary time which abounds with factors of misguidance, one who makes the proclamation of faith, who observes the Daily Prayers, who observes the fast, and who gives the prescribed alms, and makes the pilgrimage to Mecca—if the person is rich enough to be responsible for these—and in addition to all of these, if a person keeps steadfast with an upright stance in the face of different attacks and accusations of being “someone-ist” or “something-ist,” they are doing something really important. We believe that such a person will enjoy infinite blessings of God Almighty in the next world, because every deed offered under such circumstances has a very different value in the sight of God. It is for this reason that none of the sacrifices by those who join the services for the sake of God with their lives and properties should be underestimated, and every contribution they make must be appreciated.

Invigorating Efforts through Appreciating Good Works

If we look at the issue from the perspective of donating for the sake of God, we see a level of difference even among the Companions of the Prophet. For example, when they asked for donations from Muslims prior to the campaign of Tabuk, Abu Bakr brought all of what he had. When the Messenger of God asked him what he had left for his family, he replied: “I left them God and His Messenger.” So this is the level of being the siddiq (truthful one). He was loyal to God and His Messenger, and a prototype Muslim at accepting Islam. Umar ibn al-Khattab brought half of his wealth. Surely, we need to add that it will be a disrespect toward our master Umar to say he was much behind our master Abu Bakr because Umar is considered more virtuous in certain respects even though Abu Bakr is more virtuous in the overall sense. And the leading Companions such as Uthman ibn Affan and Abdurrahman ibn Awf donated a fortune of five hundred camels.1 Considering the conditions of those times, it can be compared to donating five hundred luxury cars today. Ali ibn Abi Talib added a separate depth of sincerity into this matter, preferring to donate part of his wealth openly and some of it secretly. By donating openly, he fulfilled the duty of presenting a good example to others and showed that he did not fall behind others, and by donating secretly, he wished only for God to know about it. In addition to these, particularly at this early period, there were those who contributed to this caravan of goodness with a little amount of money or a few handfuls of dates, as much as they could afford. Actually, this has always been the natural situation with people. In addition to those who give away everything, there are others who give half, a quarter, or one tenth of their property. It should not be forgotten that the same thing happens today, and even the smallest sacrifices must be appreciated and applauded. But it should also be noted that appreciating and applauding small sacrifices is only one aspect of the issue. Another aspect is continually seeking to help people make progress, guiding them to new doors leading to goodness and showing them new targets. There are so many righteous deeds a person can do in addition to the minimal duties he or she can fulfill. For this reason, one should never keep his or her horizons narrow, but always aim for higher ideals. Every morning people must try to feel God more deeply than the day before, trying to gain deeper insight into the spirit of religion, seeking to strengthen their bonds of heart with the Messenger of God, and always seeking a higher level to jump over. They should never see the level that they have attained as sufficient and always spur their horse further, asking for more. And even if they reach the levels of “annihilation in God” (fana fillah) and “subsistence by and with God” (baqa billah) at spiritual journeying, that is, even if their entire existence is lost in their sight before the Holy Light of the Divine Countenance (Subuhatu’l-Wajh), even if they put aside everything mortal and passing, and regain existence in a perpetual form after having been obliterated with respect to one’s physical and carnal aspect, and then experience a different revival with their heart, soul, and feelings, and thus see that their head reached the firmament of their spiritual potentials… in spite of all of these, they should still aim higher for the horizons and say, “My God, please grant me abilities far beyond my potentials, and by allowing these abilities to flourish, shower your blessings down on me!”

People have different levels with respect to their personal religious life and spiritual journeying or on their path to serve God, but the way to progress is always open for those who carry out the minimum levels of a certain observance. As they feel within the quintessence of the service they are committed to, they will be committed further in a wholehearted fashion; by fulfilling the services they are supposed to do and by working them into their hearts, those acts of goodness will become ingrained in them after some time—so much so that when the day arrives when their service is no longer needed, when nothing is asked from them for the sake of serving God and shouldering some task, they will feel a deep void, see it like a state of death, bend over with pain, and begin to seek new ways of donating. Attaining such a level, however, depends on time, committing to that task with active patience, and internalizing it.

It Is Necessary to Know the People Addressed Well

Another approach to consider on the issue is that some people take the period of Medina as a basis and suffice by carrying out the obligatory commandments. If they donate one fortieth of their wealth or one tenth of the worth of their yearly crops, they have carried out their duty. On the other hand, others take the absoluteness in the period of Mecca as a basis and try to give what they can. At this point, it is very important for the people in a key position of guidance who try to encourage others to contribute to services to act with perspicacity and insight, understanding those with whom they deal well. If they see what is being done as little and try to burden people with what they cannot bear, then—may God protect—this pressure might evoke a feeling of unwillingness, weariness, and hate in the people appealed to. At this point, I would like to relate a memory still fresh as today in my mind. In Bozyaka dormitory in Izmir, we had gathered people to ask for donations. After delivering a speech on the importance of the issue, I was heading for the room where I stayed those days. One man quickly climbed the stairs after me and approached me. I knew that he had retired after having worked at a state institution. He gave me the keys of the apartment that he had bought with the money he received upon his retirement. And then he said, “Downstairs, everybody made a promise for a donation. I have no capital other than this. And I am giving you the keys to my apartment. Before this moving scene, I told him that there is no such responsibility in religion and gave him back the keys. And then I said, “Go and live in your apartment with your children. If God grants you more later, you can donate for His sake.” In my opinion, if the issue is addressed in this manner and such a balance is not achieved, it could lead to coercion in religion. However, God Almighty commands that there is no coercion in religion (al-Baqarah 2:256). Whether it is accepting Islam or certain practices for the sake of religion, there is no coercion into doing certain things. Islam takes easiness as the basis. If you make it so difficult by demanding more than what people can bear, you make religion impossible to practice. You would then lead to the opposite of what you had intended. At a time when you expect people to show their magnanimity and shoulder a certain task, things develop adversely for you, having made religion too difficult to practice, and thus you become the loser. The Messenger of God, blessings and peace be upon him, stated, “This religion is ease, and whoever makes it difficult, religion overpowers him.”2 For this reason, those in a position to guide others need to know the people before them well, understanding who can bear how much, and act with perspicacity and insight. It should not be forgotten that following this wise conduct signifies following the Divine code at the same time, as it is stated in the Qur’an, “God burdens no soul except within its capacity” (al-Baqarah 2:285). Thus, instead of burdening people with more than what they can bear, it is necessary to make them happy with appreciating the good works they have done and find ways to motivate them further.

Continuity at Donating

Indeed, pushing people to give more and thus taking away the capital in their hands will cause them to become unable to run their business. But letting them run their business and expand it will enable them to donate more for the sake of God. For this reason, even if the heroes of donation fill with enthusiasm and give everything in their hands, you should keep the balance at taking, consider the long-term dimension, and favor continuity at giving.

Let me point out one final thing. Those who demand more sacrifice from the people before them, owing to the multitude of services that need to be carried out, should try to save their duty from monotony and make a format change.  Without violating the essential principles, they should present the importance of the values that they believe in with a different hue, a different pattern, and a different tongue at every turn, evoking a continuous wave of love and enthusiasm in those appealed to. It should never be forgotten that “every new thing is delicious.” In this respect, the messages presented through different veins will generate a different taste and gusto, and thus will be welcomed by them. Otherwise, if you let the issue get monotonous, people will grow weary, as familiarity breeds contempt. Therefore, you will find it difficult to make your message echo in their hearts.

1. Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 6/115
2. Sahih al-Bukhari, Iman, 29; Sunan an-Nasa’i, Iman, 28

This text is the translation of “Fedakârlık Ölçüsü ve İnfakta Denge.”


Targeting the Horizons of God’s Good Pleasure


Question: What does the following prayer mean to a Muslim?

“We are content with Allah as our Lord, with Islam as our religion, and with Muhammad as our Messenger…”1 What is the ideal manner of reciting this blessed phrase?

Answer: The noble Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, gave the glad tidings2 that God Almighty will be well pleased with a Muslim who prays in the morning and evening, “We are content with Allah as our Lord, with Islam as our religion, and with Muhammad as our Messenger.” Thus, this phrase is a blessed one that should become a habitual prayer for Muslims in the morning and evening. A person who recites this prayer acknowledges that he or she is well pleased with God—and thus with all of His doings, with Islam as the Divine system, and with the Prophet as the guide to follow. Indeed, the way to be a true Muslim depends on cherishing such a thought and feeling and having certainty of faith. With this pearl of wisdom, the Messenger of God teaches us such an important truth, and he encourages Muslims to act in a way to develop this feeling, make it take root, and let it deepen within.

The Polestar of the Good Pleasure of God

By declaring at the beginning his being content and well pleased with God, together with his exemplary life woven in accordance with this truth, the Prophet evinced the fact that he is the polestar of gaining the good pleasure of God. He holds the center point of the horizons of gaining God’s good pleasure. Therefore, every time we say, “We are content with God as our Lord,” we need to know and see him as the guide who walks before us—so much so that even if a person takes wing during spiritual journeying to God and directly hears the Divine address, “I am well pleased with you,” and—imagining the impossible—even if God Almighty lets that person sit together with the Prophet at the same table and while sending revelation to him, if God gives the same lesson to both as a Divine favor to that journeyer, what befalls on that person is to still see the Prophet as the ultimate guide walking ahead. This is due to the fact that that journeyer only attains such feeling, thought, reasoning, philosophy, insight, and profound level of reflection because of the Prophet’s guidance. If it was not for him, the journeyer’s life in both worlds would be reduced to a dark prison. For this reason, it is very important for a believer to always see the Master of the Prophets as the guide and teacher from the very beginning, in terms of aiming for the horizons of God’s good pleasure. As some people who obtain a certain level at spiritual journeying increase their regard for the Prophet, for those who fail to weigh everything with the objective criteria of religion—may God forbid—it can be a cause of improper behaviors by losing the balance, sometimes to the degree of making claims such as, “My blessed light (nur) is as bright as his.” Yet the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, is the nur at the beginning, in the middle, and in the end. It is not possible for anybody to equal that nur and attain the level that he did.

The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, continued this blessed statement with an expression of contentment with Islam as the Divine system. There is no other person who can comprehend Islam as soundly as he did, who can reach his degree of contentment with the Divine system, who has devoted his or her life to this system, and who thinks only about establishing it as much as he did. Even if you add up the virtues as the truthfulness of Abu Bakr, Umar ibn al-Khattab’s devotion to distinguishing right from falsehood, Uthman ibn Affan’s deep interest for the Qur’an, and Ali ibn Abi Talib’s being a hero of heart and spirituality, you will see that it does not amount to even one tenth in comparison to the level of the Prophet’s contentment with Islam. Let my words not be taken as a failure to appreciate the worth of these great figures. On the contrary, I chose them as examples of greatness, precisely to show what a hero of contentment the Prophet was at the issue of Islam.

As a final point, the Prophet expressed contentment about his being God’s Messenger. Actually, the Beloved servant of God was a person fixed on modesty and humility to such a degree that he constantly acted with the consciousness of his being a servant of God: he ate together with his servant and did not start eating before the servant did; he did not consider himself different than a person of the lowest level. For these and other reasons, he was commissioned with the duty of conveying the Divine teaching to people, a very heavy responsibility on his shoulders. It is so crucial that even if a person accepts God as the only deity by saying, “La ilaha illa’llah,” he or she cannot become a Muslim without acknowledging Prophet Muhammad as God’s Messenger by saying, “Muhammadu’r-Rasulullah,” because accepting his prophethood is an essential article of Islam and faith.

There may seem an apparent contradiction between his matchless humility and proclamation of his mission of prophethood. It is for this reason that his expression of contentment with the fact that Muhammad is the Messenger of God has a separate value, as it is something decreed by God Almighty. 

Knowledge of God and Consciousness of God’s Good Pleasure

As for the manner of reciting this blessed phrase, it is very important to say it free from contempt bred by familiarity, and with a love and enthusiasm coming from the bottom of one’s heart. Actually, being content and well pleased with God, the Prophet, and Islam first of all depends on recognizing them well. One who knows will love in accordance with the degree of his knowledge, whereas one who does not know will remain indifferent to what he does not know. In this respect, if you fail to know God with respect to His greatness and His majesty, with respect to the secrets of His Lordship and Divinity, you cannot ascend to the horizons of contentment. Unless you recognize the Pride of Humanity with his true character and virtues, you cannot welcome his prophethood as you should. In the same way, if you do not know the Islamic teachings with their true immensity and depth, down to methodology and subsidiary issues, you cannot appreciate Islam as you should.

Today, as well as in the past, the reason for most people’s indifference toward the Pride of Humanity is their lack of knowledge and being unfamiliar with him. If it were possible to kindle love of him in hearts, people would become curious and find a chance to know him for real. However, as the streets do not offer this atmosphere, and the schools, and even mosques do not offer people an opportunity to know him as they should. No such atmosphere is generated at homes either. Therefore, many people are brought up devoid of the true recognition of the Pride of Humanity. In spite of so much negligence and loss, meanings about him still shine in Muslims’ hearts, and they keep saying, “La ilaha illa’llah, Muhammadu’r-Rasulullah”; this needs to be seen as an extra blessing of God Almighty. 

Praying Constantly for the Greatest Blessing

Given that God’s good pleasure is a greater blessing than those in Paradise, we need to open our hands and supplicate to attain God’s good pleasure by saying constantly, اَللّٰهُمَّ إِلَى مَا تُحِبُّ وَتَرْضَى “My God, (guide me) to what You love and are well pleased with.” We need to live and breathe for attaining God’s good pleasure, praying all the time, اَللّٰهُمَّ عَفْوَكَ وَعَافِيَتَكَ وَرِضَاكَ “My God, I am asking from You forgiveness, goodness, and Your good pleasure,” because God Almighty promises that He will grant what a believer earnestly prays for. However, one needs to be insistent on this issue. The granting of what is asked for may be due only after having prayed for some five, ten, or twenty years. For this reason, if we really wish God Almighty to be well pleased with us and wish for our heart to beat with contentment before His every doing, we need to implore for this outcome even if it takes ten or twenty years. In my opinion, it is worth to engage in a long marathon of prayer for this sake, because God Almighty revealed that there is a blessing greater than entering Paradise, ascending to its highest degree, or seeing His Beloved Prophet: “…and greater (than those) is God’s being pleased with them” (at-Tawbah 9:72). But I suspect that none of us have prayed for such a long time for gaining His good pleasure. We did not open up to God praying as, “My God, Your good pleasure, Your good pleasure…” for some twenty-five years. Actually, not just twenty-five years, but it would be proper for us to pray for two hundred fifty years if we were given such a long life.

In conclusion, the noble Prophet points to a very lofty goal for Muslims with these words. What then befalls on Muslims is to do whatever they can do in order to attain this goal. Every believing individual should embrace this goal and ache for attaining it. A person who truly adopts a goal lives with the dream of realizing it—so much so that most of the time—while making ablutions, going to offer the prayer and during prayer—the believer busies his or her mind with this issue. In consequence, these thoughts one muses upon can be accepted as a prayer in the sight of God and He does not let them go wasted. It is for this reason that we need to constantly strive for the sake of attaining the horizons of God’s good pleasure; we must live and breathe this fact, occupied with it day and night. This must be the idea that permeates our thought all of the time.

1. Sahih al-Bukhari, Ilm, 29; Sahih Muslim, Siyam, 197
2. Sunan Abu Dawud, Adab, 100

This text is the translation of “Rıza Ufkunu Talep.”

Murders under the Guise of Islam


Question: It is a sorry state of affairs that in a wide range of Muslim countries many evil deeds are committed under the guise of Islam. As though it is a Qur’anic command, people are beheaded or mosques and churches are bombarded. Is it possible to explain terror attacks by certain groups in various parts of the world only by foreign powers and external pressures?

How could it be possible for terrorists like suicide bombers to come from Muslim communities?

Answer: Albeit unfortunate, these are facts which drag the good name of true Islam through the mud. They serve nothing but the purpose of disgracing Islam. And they have done much worse harm to Islam than wars, than some armies that razed Muslim countries throughout history. Some ostensible Muslims, who pretend to act for Islam, perform repugnant acts like suicide attacks, setting off suicide vests among innocent people, driving vehicles filled with explosives toward innocent and indifferent crowds, or ruining temples. None of these can be associated with the Qur’an or with the Prophetic Tradition. Actions that cannot be associated with the Qur’an or the Prophetic cannot, therefore, be associated with Islam.

Courage and braveness are important; just as important as the properness of method and trustworthiness. You will be brave and unflinching, especially when you are in the position of protecting your ethos. Yet you will not go hog wild doing this.

He that would have eggs must endure the cackling of hens to protect his cause.

The Pride of Humankind, lived in the noble Mecca for thirteen years, suffering more than flesh and blood can stand; however, he never even wished evil to them. On the contrary, he prayed for them asking for God’s guidance as they did not know him well enough or his mission. In addition, all of our noble Prophet’s warfare was defensive. Take any of his battles as an example; in none of them was any bloodshed, or any outrage committed, or any hostility furthered. He made every effort to deal with things in a moderate manner. He was never harsh, nor was he ever enraged, and he never took a hard line with others, unlike what is done today.

Had he wanted, he could have signaled to his followers to go down fighting and not give up. Yet, they were long-suffering. They never employed violence, not like the barbaric acts of today.

In no other period in the history of Islam has anything like today’s ferociousness taken place. In particular periods, like the Muwahhidun, the Qarmatians, the Batinites, others were devoid of truth, and the ignorant may have been exceptions that proved the rule and done evil things. However, under no circumstances did they wear a suicide vest, take their own lives at the cost of killing others, and hence, go to Hell forever.

We should judge the current situation on its own merits. As Muslims, we acted crudely which gave cause to the enemies of Islam who do not want Muslims to gain power and the beauties of Islam to be in the public eye. We gave them the chance to pick Islam to pieces. Potentially, some Muslims can act crudely, be corrupted, which is used against all Muslims by some others. Some foreign elements could manipulate some gullible people during the Caliphate of the noble Ali and recruit them as anarchists; and alas, they slung mug at the bright face of Islam.

In a sense, Islamophobia is not simply without rhyme or reason. Moreover, there occurred a series of depravities in the Islamic world, especially after the collapse of the Ottoman State. Today, Muslims struggle for a return to their true identity, and to find their true spirit.

You cannot order people to destroy churches because your mosques have been insulted. I believe that we, Muslims, may not be as clean as a hound’s tooth. Some members of our religion burn churches to get even. Some others kill a priest, who took refuge in a church, or a rabbi.

Why would you not consider turning the other cheek to those who treat you inhumanely to reduce the heat of their anger?

As I stated before, a terrorist cannot be a true Muslim; and, a true Muslim cannot be a terrorist. When the Pride of Humankind enlisted soldiers, encouraged them and sent them off against those who made war against Muslims, he would tell them to not touch those who took refuge in temples, women, or children.

Religion means “A system of rules promulgated by God which people follow at free will.”  If you can represent it well, indicating its promises for people and for the future; since man is appreciative, he may change his decision for what you would expect. You must give him free rein with his choice. You cannot invade or occupy anywhere you want. You cannot impose your system on others. This is what religion is about.

Relation of Living on Pure Sustenance and Doing Good Deeds


Question: It is stated in a verse (which means): “O you Messengers! Partake of (God’s) pure and wholesome bounties, and always act righteously. I have full knowledge of all that you do” (al-Muminun 23:51).

Could you explain the relation between pure sustenance and righteous acts?

Answer: The Qur’an and Sunnah place great emphasis on the issue of forbidden and lawful. Islamic scholars who know this fact well summarize Islam as knowing the lawful and forbidden (as they set the fundamental framework of leading a good, righteous life on both the personal and social levels), and then living accordingly. In a pithier form, we can say, “Religion is in good, righteous acts and dealings.” Umar ibn al-Khattab emphasized the importance of this matter as follows: “Do not take a person’s prayers and fasting as basis; you should see whether a given person speaks truth, remains faithful about something entrusted to him, and observes what is lawful and forbidden while carrying out worldly affairs.”1 Surely, acts of worship such as the Prayers and fasting are very valuable in the sight of God and extremely meritorious. Nobody can dismiss their worth. However, a person’s being careful about one’s food, drink, and clothes, refraining from violating rights of individuals or the public, and leading a righteous life—that is, showing utmost sensitivity concerning what is lawful and forbidden—is a must for being truly Muslim, and it can be said that fulfilling this in practice is more difficult than observing individual acts of worship. Thus, in order to be able to practice Islam thoroughly, one must always stick with the lawful, seek the lawful, stand firm against the forbidden adamantly, and not let a single morsel of unlawful food pass down one’s throat. If we consider the behaviors and attitude of great figures it will be seen that they are the spiritual guides and role models for other believers in this respect as well. They lived in such a sensitive way and presented such willpower that, God Almighty protected them from eating something forbidden, even when they were unaware of it. There are such people that when they extend their hand not knowing that something is forbidden, they notice that thing’s being forbidden (haram) from the shaking of their hand or the racing of their pulse and are taken aback. In the same way, when some of them take a forbidden morsel of food to their mouth unknowingly, they are unable to swallow it. And if they ever learn that such a thing reached their stomach, they try to regurgitate it right away. The first two caliphs are examples to this final case. This was what Abu Bakr did on learning that the food he had eaten had been bought with the money his servant had earned (in pre-Islamic days) by fortune telling, and what Umar did on learning that the milk he drank was from the camels donated as zakah. They both put their fingers in their mouth and regurgitated everything, until nothing remained in their stomach. Thus, such sensitivity against eating anything forbidden and an upright stance are very important with respect to being truly Muslim.

The Greatest Means of Spiritual Progress

The issue of observing what is lawful or forbidden is also very important in terms of being a manifestation of obeying God’s commandments and respecting Him. In addition, every kind of effort one makes for the sake of opting for the lawful and refraining from the forbidden is counted as worship offered by that person. Resisting temptations or suffering misfortunes with patience is counted as a “negative” form of worship (which is not actually performed, but endured and thus leads to sincerity of worship); the same holds true with respect to making efforts in search of the lawful. It is also possible to relate this truth with the verse (which means): “To Him ascends only the pure word (as the source of might and glory), and the good, righteous action (accompanying it) raises it.” (al-Fatir 35:10). Accordingly, it is revealed that blessed words of praise, glorification, proclamation of God’s greatness, and invoking blessings on the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, will ascend to God Almighty by means of righteous action only. That is, be it the literal form of worship as prayers, almsgiving, and fasting, or be it “negative” form of worship as taking a stance against forbidden things and making due efforts, both forms of worship are like wings for blessed words to ascend to God. For this reason, the issue should not be seen as something simple, and much sensitivity must be shown with respect to the issue of the lawful and forbidden.

Concerning food, distinguishing pure from impure and not letting the impure pollute the pure, and showing utmost sensitivity in this respect will bring a person otherworldly rewards as if he or she offered worship. If a person reviews the ingredients of a certain medicine or of a product bought from supermarket to determine whether there is anything forbidden by religion, inquires whether the meat he or she buys is in compliance with Islamic rules, and is careful about having completely lawful earnings, these will be a means of spiritual progress for that person. On the other hand, not giving the willpower its due at this issue, and acting in a heedless and lighthearted manner will paralyze the individual’s religious life, kill that person’s spiritual faculties, and be that person’s ruin. Consuming unlawful earnings is referred in the Qur’an while depicting the most corrupt state of a society: “Listening out for lies and falsehood eagerly, and consuming unlawful earnings greedily” (al-Maedah 5:42). Nourishment bought by unlawful earnings is mentioned in the verse as “suht;” it circulates in one’s bloodstream, and it is mentioned in several hadiths that even that person’s worship and prayers will not be accepted. For example, the Messenger of God pointed this out as follows: “Whoever eats a forbidden morsel, his Prayers will not be accepted for forty nights and his supplications will not be answered for forty mornings. What becomes for every (piece of) flesh developed by the forbidden (food) is Hellfire. And (it should be known that) even a single morsel develops flesh.”2

The Bitter End of One with Forbidden Food in His Stomach

In another hadith recorded in Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Abu Hurayra narrated the negative effects of the unlawful as follows: “The Messenger of God described the situation of a prolonged traveler covered in dust and raised his hands to supplicate God, saying ‘O Lord, O Lord!’ Then the Prophet said, ‘What he eats is forbidden; what he drinks is forbidden, and what he wears is forbidden. So how can his supplications be answered?’”3 In another hadith, it is stated that when a pilgrim who came with lawful earning calls out “(Labbayk) At Your beck and call O Lord, You have called and we have come,” a caller from Heavens will respond as, “Welcome, how glad you are. Your food is lawful; your mount is lawful, and your pilgrimage is accepted; it is not polluted by sin.” Whereas, a pilgrim who came with unlawful earnings will be responded by a caller from Heavens as, “No beck and no call, you are not welcome. Your food is forbidden; your earnings are forbidden, and your pilgrimage is not accepted.”4 How can the pilgrimage and supplication of such a person immersed in forbidden things be accepted? How dare can he say, “My Lord! I came here in obedience to You. I am at your beck and call. I am hoping for Your mercy and forgiveness. I expect Your favor and graces!” Even if he does, will not his words be slammed on his face like shabby clothes? For this reason, living within the lawful sphere and eating lawful food are of great importance in terms of letting acts of worship ascend to God. The verse mentioned in the question points to the same fact. That is, a person’s consumption of lawful sustenance has a significant effect on the acceptance of his or her worship for God.

There is another thing that needs to be pointed out here. In many verses of the Qur’an, God Almighty commands eating lawful food. This depends on a struggle to seek the lawful from the very beginning. Actually, as every forbidden thing is an invitation to other forbidden things, every lawful thing similarly is an invitation to other lawful things; everything demands things of its own kind, so that they go together well, have the same character, and keep company. As this is true for people as well; our behaviors, works, and actions similarly run after what resembles them. In the same vein, it is pointed out in a verse, “Corrupt women are for corrupt men, and corrupt men for corrupt women…” (an-Nur 24:26).

It is also possible to describe this as follows: purity, goodness and wholesome things are invitations to other good things. Likewise dirty, foul, and wicked things always invite dirty things. Therefore, when one pursues the lawful and shows due effort, it will form a “virtuous circle” leading to further good, righteous deeds over time (as opposed to a vicious circle), and that person will live accordingly. For this reason, the distinction of lawful and forbidden must be abundantly clear from the beginning.

Forbidden Things Becoming Common Cannot Be an Excuse

Unfortunately, lawful and forbidden are intermingled in our time, and people have lost sensitivity in this respect. However, it should be stressed that a person’s neglect of  this issue will bring no benefit at all. As Bediüzzaman stated at the end of the Fourteenth Word, “Do not say ‘I am like everyone else.’ Everyone befriends you only as far as the grave. The consolation of a common misfortune cannot help you on the other side.” Others’ eating from the forbidden, looking at the forbidden, engaging in forbidden, and empty talk may look like a consolation while in this world, but they have no use beyond the grave. Having a common misfortune with some others does not alleviate one’s misfortune in the next world. What befalls on a believer then is to determine where every morsel he or she eats come from, where it will go, and what troubles it might cause that person to face. It should not be forgotten that being heedless on this issue and leading a carefree life will cause serious troubles in the next world. On the Day of Judgment, people will be called to account even for (something as little as) one seventh of a grain of barley. Although we aphoristically say “one seventh of a grain of barley,” the Qur’an refers to the same truth with a dharrah (smallest piece of matter): “…whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it; and whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it” (az-Zilzal 99:7–8). Accordingly, as one who does an act of goodness as little as an atom’s weight will see what it corresponds to, and one who commits this amount of evil will also see for sure what corresponds to it. Individuals will be called to account for everything: the words that came out of one’s mouth, the food and drink that went into the stomach, words a person listened to, sights he or she looked at… If a person does not watch one’s step carefully in this world, the reckoning in the Hereafter will be painstaking and—may God protect us—a grim one. Thus, those who have lost their sensitivity in this respect must reconsider what they eat, drink, earn, and spend, and face themselves anew.

Let me make a final point: there is no reason to become pessimistic by looking solely at certain people’s lighthearted attitude. If particularly, those who seem on the fore show scrupulous attention to leading a vigilant life, their state will pervade their surroundings, and this consciousness and sensitivity will be embraced by the society in time, given that we as believers can rid ourselves from superficial practice of Islam and become intent upon distinguishing the lawful and forbidden, or the beautiful and ugly in everything, by considering seriously and pondering deeply.

1. Al-Bayhaqi, As-Sunan al-Kubra, VI, 288; Shuab, IV, 230, 326
2. As-Suyuti, Jami al-Ahadith, 20/55; Ali al-Muttaqi, Kanz al-Ummal, 4/15
3. Sahih Muslim, Zakah 65; Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Tafsir, 3
4. At-Tabarani, Al-Mujam al-Awsat, 5:251

This text is the translation of “Helal Rızık – Salih Amel Münasebeti.”

Orphanhood of Hearts


يَا رَبَّنَا يَا رَبَّنَا طَهِّرْ قُلُوبَنَا، نَجِّنَا

“O Lord! Purify our hearts and save us.”

In this prayer, the word “save” is stated to be subject to the purity of the heart. The purer the heart, the more likely it is for its owner to be saved, to be redeemed, and to attain a blessed rank.

For God, the heart matters. He judges people by their hearts and assesses us by how our hearts are. Our looks, skin color, or nationality do not matter to Him.

Spiritual weightiness is very important at the Scales in the Hereafter. 

What we refer to as “the heart” is not the muscular organ that pumps blood. It is entirely associated with our spirituality; yet, it is related to the organ as well, which is described as “the spiritual faculty sensing God directly.” Given that the purity, whiteness, profundity and sensitivity of the heart is what matters, I believe we should check up on it, day in and day out.

The Pride of Humankind talks about “rayn” when he warns us of factors that can put the heart in harm’s way. These can stem from misusing it. Another cause might be the imagination of negative notions. 

I cannot speak for all Muslims, but most Muslims are orphans of the heart. Since the day our hearts deceased, we have been orphans. It is the main cause that lies behind the dissension among today’s Muslims. Other causes include the orphanhood of sentiment and sensibility, and of relationship with God.

“O Lord! Please do not let our hearts stain. Do not leave me to my carnal self and the devil even, for a moment, or even shorter than that. Do not leave me to anyone else. God, I cannot do without You.”

Keeping a Straight Course within the Central Sphere


Question: As it is known, a little breakdown in the center will cause greater problems in the periphery. Taking this truth into consideration, what are the essential disciplines to be observed by people in central positions?

Answer: Attitude and behaviors of people who are in a position to represent a lofty ideal are very important, since those who come behind will do the same. If those in front walk straightly, those who come behind will also proceed on a straight line, as they follow the footsteps of the former. However, if those who walk in front—may God forbid—commit wrongs, then the wrongs will grow manifold among those who come from behind and spread rapidly like a virus. 

The Collective Rights 

Unfortunately, from the past to present, as certain people who seemed to be on the fore in different movements of revival failed to give their position its due, they became victim to some uncalculated words, slips of tongue, deviations of thought, and making too many exaggerated statements. As the effect of such situations reverberated through lower levels, they grew much more harmful. Sometimes an unbecoming word, attitude, or raising one’s voice in an unbecoming fashion, and making gestures with hands and feet paved the way for animosities that became impossible to make up for. Even when such wrongs of those who seem on the fore were not taken in an exaggerated fashion, but copied as they were, they caused very serious damage. Moreover, such wrongs are never transferred exactly as they are. According to an individual’s own character and receptors, he or she makes his or her own interpretations of those wrongs, and the effect grows worse as the issue spreads in the periphery. It is for this reason that those who are on the fore owing to their administrative positions have to be very sensitive and careful of their attitude and behaviors. When I make a criticism of my own past, I see so many things in retrospect to be corrected in this respect that for every one of them I say, “I wish it had not been this way, but that way instead…” On the other hand, I am aware that such considerations cannot correct things bygone. Actually, in order not to have some useless considerations for things in the past, one must adjust his or her attitudes, behaviors, words, and actions in a way that will not require correction in the future and live accordingly. As a single mind cannot suffice to manage that, people in administrative positions in particular must consult with others. They must form committees of consultancy and not make any decision with respect to any issue without discussing it first. Although we have the fundamental sources of Islamic culture and the values inherited from the past, interpreting them in a way to suit our day still requires seeking consultation and shared wisdom.

In addition, it needs to be known that the ideal of conveying truths to others concerns everybody’s rights. For this reason, any flaws in this respect will be a violation of collective rights. From a perspective of Islamic jurisprudence, as public rights are God’s rights at the same time, committing a wrong in this respect will have violated God’s rights as well.  It can further be said that doing wrongs will also violate the rights of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, of those who served in the way of God previously, and those who run on the same lane with us for the cause of God now. 

Living in spite of Oneself

Actually, consultation in a way means choosing to act in spite of oneself. A person’s acting in spite of oneself does not necessarily signify a loss. On the contrary, one becomes a winner thanks to acting in spite of oneself in certain respects, and becomes a loser because of acting one’s own reasoning. The noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, stated that there are seven types of people whom God will shade with His shade on the (Judgment) Day when there will be no other shade. And then he mentions a just ruler in the first place.1 It is understood that it is a difficult matter for a person in power to remain just. If a person is leading the people, represents power, and has the control of the resources of an entire nation, his remaining as a just, upright, righteous, beneficent, and humane person depends on his living in spite of himself.

In another hadith, the Pride of Humanity stated: “There are three categories of people whom God will not talk to, purify, and (even) look at their faces on the Day of Judgment. And there is a terrible punishment for them: an old one who fornicates, a sovereign who lies, and a poor one who is arrogant.”2

Certain facts are brought to attention through the negative examples here. We know that fornication is forbidden for all. However, for an elderly person who should be turning away from the world, it is heaping sin upon sin. Such a person deserves to be reprimanded as, “Shame on you! You are such an immoral one in this old age! If you are unashamed of people, you should feel shame before God!”

The second type deserving of a severe punishment is a sovereign who is a habitual liar. As lying is a sin for everybody, when it is told by a person who governs all, the sin grows much worse. The third one mentioned is an arrogant one in spite of being poor, one too big for his breeches in spite of not having a decent pair of trousers. It is surprising how such a person can put on airs and graces. This attitude by such a person is a serious deviation to make the sin twice as worse. Incidentally, let me state that the opposite is also true. By thinking the other way round, we can understand how valuable in God’s sight a rich but modest person is, because such a person acts against his or her carnal soul that is prone to evil, in contrast with the former. The first hadith refers to a person’s living in spite of oneself, while the second is about living in pursuit of the desires of the carnal soul. As Hell is surrounded by carnal desires, one who indulges in them will be destined to fall there eventually. As for Paradise, it is surrounded with things unpleasant to the carnal soul. That is, entering Paradise depends on a person’s living in spite of human nature and overcoming oneself. 

One Who Consults Does Not Experience Disappointment

The Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, stated that one who makes consultation will not be upset.3 Accordingly, one who does not wish to become lost in distress must consult with others, even with respect to matters he or she could handle individually.

Personally, I have always tried to consult even about most trivial matters with a few people around me. When a problem bothers me at one o’clock in the morning, and if I cannot find anybody here to consult with, I make a phone call to some friends in Turkey and ask for alternative suggestions for solving the issue. So far, I have suffered no damage at all by doing this. If we were mistaken, it was all of us. That is, we shared the mistake. When we are called to account before God, we will be able to say, “O Lord, we talked and consulted about it, but could not manage to find the best option. So it seems, even the totality of our intellect did not suffice for this issue.”

Some people may have certain experience and knowledge to make them say, “I know this well.” But it should not be forgotten that others may consider issues in a broader and holistic perspective. Such people do not only look at the particular issue at hand, but also take other factors relating to it into consideration. In addition, one course of action seeming to be favorable from one person’s perspective may turn out to be unfavorable. Actually, a person may claim to have made a sensible remark beginning with, “In my opinion…,” but this does not mean that it is really sensible. Commonsense is not limited to “one person’s opinion.” “Sensible” denotes a course of action found reasonable by all accounts. As Harith al-Muhasibi puts it, it is a truth confirmed by Qur’anic logic and reasoning. Therefore, if one wishes to test whether a certain thought is reasonable or not, that person should first judge it with the criteria of the Qur’an and Sunnah. If this is not done, something a person sees as reasonable might actually be a desire of the carnal soul.

A Muslim who observes the Daily Prayers recites Surah al-Fatihah forty times a day and thus repeats the verse (which means), “You alone do We worship, and from You alone do we seek help” (al-Baqarah 1:5). Thus, he or she learns to say “we.” Worship observed individually might not suffice to save a person. In a way, deliverance of an individual believer depends on maintaining real brotherhood or sisterhood in a row and being eligible for receiving all the manifold Divine rewards for their collective good works. In the same way, an administrator’s finding the option closest to the right one and remotest from the wrong is possible through saying “we” and then acting with collective reasoning and due consciousness.

To sum up, in order to let all the ongoing philanthropic services grow further, people who seem on the fore need to live in spite of themselves and by giving up the consideration that “my reasoning, my thoughts, my understanding etc. suffice me” and instead ascribe every word they say and every decision they make to a systematic consultation process. An administrator who wishes to be a “just leader” as referred to in the hadith must value the thoughts of the people around him, consult with them, and be able to give up one’s own thoughts if necessary, in order to find the most sensible and reasonable course of action. If matters are entrusted to the discussion and consultation of a committee, then exchange of ideas will let the truth emerge and prevent mistaken decisions. However, no matter what area or subject is concerned, if people act by leaving issues to personal initiatives, mistakes will be inevitable.

1. Sahih al-Bukhari, Adhan 36; Sahih Muslim, Zakah, 91
2. Sahih Muslim, Iman, 172
3. At-Tabarani, Al-Mu’jam al-Kabir, 6/365; Al-Qudha’i, Musnad ush-Shihab, 2/7

This text is the translation of “Merkez Muhit Hattında İstikamet Çizgisi.”

True Success


Question: The educational activities by the movement of volunteers yield very good examples of success, as happened in the Science Olympiads. Can we say that a success of the desired level has also been achieved regarding the spirit of devotedness and human virtues? If there are any shortcomings, what can be their possible reasons?

Answer: There are so many factors—we know and we don’t—behind the activities and works that are seen as success and thus appreciated. For example, factors such as systematic working, presenting a good performance, determination, perseverance, and acting with a spirit of consultation and collective consciousness are all related to the outer aspect of the issue. In addition to these outer aspects, there are also points related to a person’s inner world that makes it impossible to make a certain judgment about others in this respect. For example, we cannot know whether individuals hold the secret intention of bringing their own person to the fore, whether they carry on their service with considerations of personal benefit, and how deep their relationship with God is. We are responsible both for taking objective facts as criteria and having a positive opinion of others. For this reason, we assume the builders of an existing success to be sincere, and concerning the matters we cannot be sure about, we come to our senses with the Prophet’s admonition “Did you cleave his heart open?” Thus we avoid making presumptions about others’ inner worlds. These issues related to one’s inner world are completely between God and the individual, and are out of our sphere of judging. If we have any worries, we open our hands and pray as

  اَللّٰهُمَّ يَا مُحَوِّلَ الْحَوْلِ وَالْأَحْوَالِ حَوِّلْ حَالَنَا إِلَى أَحْسَنِ الْحَالِ

 (O my God, You are the One who puts His creatures from one state into another with different manifestations of His Divine Names and exalted Attributes! Put us into the best condition with Your grace, help, and benevolence!).

In addition, when we consider the performance presented by the volunteers of education and its continuity, we see that these tasks are not easy to achieve, and they take serious forbearance and patience in the face of time. For this reason, it is so hard to believe such things can ever be realized with considerations of showing off or personal gain. Particularly, when we consider the troubles encountered by people who serve out of their native countries, it will be understood that the services carried out require a serious degree of conviction and devotedness. Therefore, in addition to judging by the outward dimension and thus having a positive opinion, when the issue is seen with respect to the difficulty of the tasks carried out, it is a duty that befalls on us to think that the people who support these services on the path of knowledge and wisdom are sincere.

Trustworthy Bearers of Responsibility

For example, they wish to form islands of peace in different parts of the world and to build bridges of tolerance and dialogue between different mentalities and cultures by expressing the virtues and merits they possess with the silent language of their heart and state. People build some breakwaters against certain geological phenomena and try to prevent a disaster in one place by passing the effects off to another area, in an effort to save the people there. In the same way, the devoted souls are realizing activities of education and dialogue for the sake of building breakwaters between different societies and cultures by preventing clashes to be generated by bias and ignorance, and by preventing the spread of such negativities, which might grow worse with a mob psychology. So people devoted to such a cause must be very well equipped in spiritual terms, so that they can bear such a heavy responsibility. Their faith and reliance on God must be very strong so that they can keep conscious in the face of every event and always know that all kinds of success are from God, while some occasional adversities stem from personal faults. Obviously, it is not correct for individuals to judge others this way, but the main idea is to be self-critical. As it is understood from the explicit statements in the Qur’an and Sunnah, people should know that they personally cause all kinds of spiritual or material adversities they face.

The Essence of the Matter Is Purity of Intention

As people’s visible, material mistakes cause certain things to go wrong, there are other factors that cause the person to be punished by Divine destiny and face some adversities, such as lacking purity of intention, pursuing carnal desires, and giving priority to personal plans. Besides causes of occasional adversities, the question of whether a certain task will be achieved or not works in a similar way; the metaphysical dimension is no less important than the physical one in effecting a certain outcome. Our inability to see the metaphysical dimension does not change the reality of its importance. What we can see is only limited to the realm of apparent causes. For example, sowing a seed in a field is an act carried out within the physical realm. However, some other factors we cannot see play a role in allowing that seed to germinate and flourish as a plant. Even if we see water and sunlight, we cannot see the seed’s faculty of flourishing. And we cannot even see air, which exists within the realm of physical causes as one of the agents that plays a role in the seed’s growth. In the same way, events that take place in individual and social life not only have dimensions related to the physical realm but also metaphysical ones. For example, factors as determination, resolution, sticking with a sense of permanence, sincerity, faithfulness, standing upright, pursuing a lofty ideal, respecting the will and works of God… these are such spiritual causes that probably each one of them, alone, are more powerful factors than material causes. For example, we never know how God grants favors when the time comes to a man who has cherished good thoughts since his childhood and pursued great ideals. Those lofty ideals and dreams can serve as a prayer, as an invitation for Divine Providence to make them come true. It is possible to take it vice versa, too. That is, evil feelings, dark intentions, acts based on hypocritical considerations, jealousy and the like are important causes that give way to certain negative outcomes. For example, the Prophet warned people against envy (hasad), and stated that it devours a person’s good deeds, as fire devours firewood. Then this inability to stand what others enjoy is such curse that it devours the good deeds you do. If somebody builds a school as a reaction against certain people they do not like, just for the sake of preventing them, then this ill feeling may one day cause the school to burn down, either in the material or spiritual sense. God Almighty punishes them for those negative feelings within. However, it is not possible for people taken by the whirlpool of envy to understand such spiritual causes. Therefore we can say that spiritual causes play a no less important role than material ones regarding God’s granting success. As Bediüzzaman puts it, “Those who attribute everything’s existence to matter limit their intellectual capacity to what they can see, yet eyes cannot see what is spiritual.” However, along with eyesight, there are certain things rather related to having insight, or seeing through the eye of the heart. This spiritual sense of seeing depends on perception and discernment, inner sensation and intuition, faith and the inner faculty sensing God directly as well as Divine inspirations. One should not ignore the existence of these things. Even though some people do not recognize them, there are such people that recognize spiritual factors very well, understand their tongue, and can virtually hold them, the way a normal person holds physical objects.

For attaining true and lasting success, ones devoted to serving God need to know very well the material and spiritual causes that lead to God’s granting success and be aware where the limits of those causes begin and end. In other words, the devoted ones try to serve in different places, develop projects for opening institutions like schools and universities, and with all of these they share the inspirations of their soul with the hearts that welcome them; at the same time, they need their spiritual state to be fully prepared. Not shaking in the face of some adversities, not giving up the struggle, and standing upright in the face of storms—by God’s grace, depends on appreciating the value of spiritual means.

Retaining the Spiritual State

The chivalrous ones of deep spirituality, who defy their self a few times a day and are so virtuous as not to forgive even the sins that just pass their minds, must constantly seek to raise their level, together with their companions, through continuous rehabilitations, and thus bring permanence to their desired spiritual state. Not only attaining such a state, but also retaining it, is very important. Sometimes, one attains such spiritual positions that he or she sees, feels, and perceives existence very differently; that person begins to live with a complete consciousness of the omnipresence of God (ihsan) and awareness of being seen by Him. However, what really matters is to keep up this feeling and consciousness, because sometimes intervals in this state take away very important attainments. So many gains might pour into even just a moment’s void. It is necessary to attain a desirable spiritual state; on the other hand, whatever one’s position is, it is necessary to keep that state in the same level.

In conclusion, even if you do your best and become very strong with respect to material causes—to the point of monitoring space with your satellites, it still makes up only one side of the issue in terms of gaining God’s good pleasure. You should know that what really makes you strong is your trust in the infinite power of God Almighty and always keeping a sound relationship with Him. I think the devoted souls must always remind one another of this truth and weave their lives in accordance with this truth.

This text is the translation of “Gerçek Başarı ve Kıvamın Korunması.”

Chastity for God’s Sake


Unlike the rank and file, guides should think twice before they say something for the sake of their followers. Failure to do so might cause quite a commotion, which is hardly ever made up for.
As a poet puts it, “Spear wounds can be healed, but the wounds of a sharp tongue cannot!”
I wish people could act with no benefit to themselves; or, they laid down their lives but asked for nothing in return.
In fact, this is the path of Prophets who spent their lives for their cause but asked for nothing in reciprocation. Some kings like Prophet Solomon and Prophet David, led very humble, contented, decent and chaste lives. God still gave them kingdoms which they used for the cause of the true religion of their times. However, their kingdom did not corrupt them, make them egoists, or make them change their humble way of living. They were always chaste, sinless, loyal to God, wise and, committed to communicating their message. They were always faithful to their Prophetic qualities as they lived. Hence, those who follow the path of Prophets should also be representing these Prophetic qualities.
It is possible for those who do not follow the path of Prophets to stray to the path of Satan.
In particular, for the members of an eminent group devoted to follow the path of Prophets, even the smallest indecency they exhibit, a seemingly minor unchastity, or a minor unfaithfulness, might turn out to put the entire community under suspicion.
The prayer of a saintly figure says: “God! Please do not put my comrades to shame because of me. As well, do not put me or my comrades to shame because of one of us.” It would be a breach of the rights of the entire community.
We should not put a foot wrong, lead chaste lives, be honest to goodness, fend off hypocrisy, be loyal, zero in on communicating God’s message, call attention to God, constantly work for the cause of spreading the word of our beloved Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, all over the earth and dream of achieving it, and look for ways to make the Prophet’s message heard even in the poles.
The sole requirement of success on that path is to lead a decent and chaste life.
To neglect worldliness and not have a soft spot for it.
To complete one’s lifetime keeping their hands off anything that is carnal.
Not to swerve towards hypocrisy…
To refrain from deceiving others…
To stop showing off…

Ramadan and Softening Hearts


Question: Every year, the month of Ramadan comes like a heavenly serenity and assurance felt in the spirits; it softens believers’ hearts, virtually melts them, and gives them an otherworldly hue. What are your suggestions to make the most of this blessed month with respect to our individual and societal life?

Answer: The month of Ramadan appears on our horizons with its charming beauties with fasting, the Prayers of Tarawih, the fast-breaking dinners, and the pre-dawn meals. Ramadan brings about a heavenly atmosphere of its own. Even at times when different tensions follow one another, violence and aggression become excessive, contradiction is seen as virtue, and ice-cold winds blow between the masses, Ramadan makes its influence by reconditioning souls, fostering sound hearts, feelings, and thoughts, along with abating every kind of hardness and harshness. Muslims already show serious respect toward this month, when peace and gentleness perceptibly prevail. For this reason, in spite of different adversities, if we give our willpower its due and manage to open our heart to this very special and distinguished segment of time with heartfelt trust in its blessings, and thus become oriented to it with sincere belief, awe and respect, then it will cuddle us and shower us with blessings. Anger, violence, and rages will cease, and an atmosphere of peace and reconciliation will prevail.

Not Variety of Dishes, but Richness of Guests

In order to put these ideas into practice, believers—a Muslim family residing in an apartment for instance—should invite their neighbors to a fast-breaking dinner, no matter what their philosophy of life is, preferably by letting them know of the dinner a few days in advance. They can present a very good example of kindness and hospitality. They can even say, “You have shown kindness to accept our invitation and bothered to come here. Please also accept this small present for your kindness.” If possible, the hosts should give presents to their guests’ children and make those innocent ones happy. Similarly, Muslims who teach at schools and universities or work at other establishments can contribute to societal peace by opening their table to everyone, without discriminating between different sections of society.

We should make use of this blessed month in such a fruitful way, to the degree of not having any fast-breaking dinners without guests. These dinners should be enriched with abundance and diversity of guests, rather than richness of dishes. As it is known, the Messenger of God stated,

“A meal for two suffices for three, and a meal for three suffices for four.”1 For this reason, there is no reason to worry about a multitude of guests in Ramadan, the month of abundance. Acting this way is an important means of diplomacy to eliminate the huge rifts between different sections of the society and of overcoming prejudices. So many problems that cannot be tackled with power or security forces can be solved by this means. If you sincerely open your heart to everyone, conquer the hearts of others with human virtues, and reserve in your heart a seat for all—and thus lean on the power of hearts—it will put a stop to unending grudges, hatreds, rages, bloodsheds, and killings. Indeed, in no time in the history of humanity has it ever been possible to resolve problems and cure troubles through threats. On the contrary, threats only serve to inflame grudges and intensify people’s inclination for destruction.

As it is expressed in a Turkish proverb, “One little cup of coffee is not to be forgotten for forty years.” Therefore, the sentimental value of a dinner invitation will similarly continue no less than forty years, insha’Allah. Thus, this act of kindness to effect very beautiful consequences should be carried out—perhaps the secret of the blessed Ramadan’s abundance lies in them. Namely, as we can attain otherworldly rewards by fasting and observing the Tarawih Prayers, we can also gain different blessings by gaining people’s hearts.

The Heavenly Call That Echoes in Hearts

The believers striving to serve humanity in all corners of the world can try to give Ramadan its due as a very important means of gaining hearts. Remember that the sacrificial meat collected for Eid al-Adha is taken to poor people in different corners of the world, from Africa to Asia; this is an indication of the benevolence and generosity of the people of Anatolia, and sacrificial meat is now a means of conquering hearts. For those who receive this meat, they feel that there still exists a people to inspire them trust. In the same way, it is possible to open the doors of fast-breaking and pre-dawn meals to all as a Ramadan campaign, and thus seeking the good pleasure of God by gaining so many hearts. This is especially evident when the guests who accept such invitations in different countries are so impressed by these activities that when you listen to their feelings, you better understand the significance of the issue. For example, they find the call to Prayer made right before fast-breaking so original and lovely. So it is necessary to take this opportunity in the best way to let others meet the beauties and richness of Muslim culture. Perhaps these activities will only build a positive opinion of Islam in their sight; even this much should definitely not be underestimated, I think. Who knows, though, maybe the guests who feel everything freshly will awaken to the beauties of Islam in a different way and then rocket to the horizons of their own spiritual perfection. In this respect, not just inviting them to dinner once in the month of Ramadan, but even spreading a table for them a few times a day is worth for the sake of having such positive changes.

Unfortunately, people of our time have been deprived of the beauties of Islam. They have not witnessed attitudes and behaviors that become true Muslims. So our most important duty is to show them the genuine Islam within our family structure, relationships between family members, invitations, and gentleness. If some see Muslims as monsters today, eliminating this image depends upon building good relations with them. Thus, whatever position Muslims are in, they should act with reason, logic, judgment, and consultation, and try to realize this issue in an agreeable way.

No Deed Can Make up for the One in Ramadan

The acts of worship that God Almighty holds us responsible for will assume a different nature depending on the way we offer them, and they will bear witness for us on the Day of Judgment. If we can give this month of forgiveness its due, it will bear witness in our favor and perhaps admit us to the highest level of Paradise through the gate of Rayyan. For this reason, we must respectfully observe the acts of worship that God has decreed for us, hold them in reverence, and strive to fulfill them in the best way.

In addition, a believer will know in the Afterlife which good, righteous deeds in the world brought the blessings he or she enjoys there; this will double the delight of those blessings. In the face of such benevolence, people will likely say: “Praise be to my Lord! First he honored me with good, righteous deeds, now he honors me with their reward.” There, believers will recognize the rewards of their good, righteous deeds committed with all their limbs.2 In the same way, they will experience the otherworldly meanings of their hunger, of their efforts at the Tarawih Prayers, their excitement for waking up for the pre-dawn meal, and their generous treatment of others, and feel due delight.

Some acts of worship owe their depth to fulfilling their outer forms and conditions. This is true for worship offered in Ramadan, a month when deeds gain a different value, when people gain proximity to God very differently. No other fasting can be compared to the one in Ramadan. No other twenty-unit Prayer to be offered in other nights can replace the Tarawih. The same holds true for the rewards for the pre-dawn meals or waiting patiently before breaking the fast. In short, no deeds can substitute those done in Ramadan. It is for this reason that believers who feel this truth deeply in their consciences feel serious grief when this blessed month is gone, longing for it until the next Ramadan comes. We do not know; perhaps this yearning gains them an extra blessing of another Ramadan’s worth.

1. Sahih al-Bukhari, At’imah, 11; Sahih Muslim, Ashriba, 179
2. This is due to the fact that the believers protect their tongue, ears, eyes, feet, and all other limbs from every kind of evil, in addition to abstaining from food, drink, and sexual intercourse from dawn until sunset. (ed.)

This text is the translation of “Ramazan ve Yumuşayan Kalbler.”

Warning People against Wrongs without Giving an Alluring Account of Them


Question: It is stated that an elaborate account of wrongs may pollute people’s minds with temptations. On the other hand, we need to make warnings against wrongs in order to avert people from them. How can we strike a balance here?

Answer: It needs to be known that warning that something is evil and giving an alluringly, detailed account of it are different. In order to avert people from attitudes and behaviors that harm the individual and the society and make them feel disgusted by such things, it is naturally necessary to warn people about them. However, such warning should not be too elaborate of an account of the wrong in such a way as to form a clear picture in their minds. A clear picture of certain actions might make some feel tempted toward them. For this reason, in order not to make the opposite of the intended effect, it is better to refer to wrongs concisely, tell about their harms, and then about their negative consequences in this world and the next. For example, while warning a man who immerses himself in sins, it is possible to remind him that he will lose his receptivity of spiritual blessings, not feel delight in devotions, blunt his insight, become unable to activate the latent fine faculties of his heart, or even become totally unaware of them. Such a person will be condemned to a mechanical practice of religion, will know God solely in theory, and will fail to feel the awe of standing in His presence. In short, it is wiser to draw attention to the bad consequences of a sin than giving a detailed account of it.

The Destructive Impact of Negative Connotations

As it is known, Satan takes advantage of certain negative feelings in human nature very astutely, and it is very important not to awaken and trigger them. Too detailed accounts of wrongs might serve as impulses to activate latent negative feelings, which provides a good opportunity to Satan for leading people astray.

We usually associate the issue in question with lusts of the flesh, but narrowing it down is misleading. The points we have made here are true for any wrong people might feel tempted to commit. Let us assume that you are trying to describe how evil hypocrisy is. If you present it in a way to be perceived as an artistic ability, you might unintentionally evoke fondness toward that vice. Accordingly, about all attitude and behaviors within the frame of wrongs, you must adopt a deterrent style and tell how dreadful a punishment the transgressors will face on the Day of Judgment.

Even the issue of associating partners with God requires much sensitivity in this respect. For example, there is no point in repeating the names of certain things asserted as deities instead of God; we may not mention their names at all if necessary. We should refer to such things concisely and lay emphasis on the fact that one might lose an eternal life of bliss and face an eternal life in Hell instead.

The same applies to issues such as rebelling against one’s parents, bearing false witness, theft, slander, and backbiting; we need to build a feeling of resistance toward them in people.

Actually, this method is the way of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. In order to tell what a great gain it is to keep away from disasters of the tongue and extramarital relations, he stated: “Assure me (of the parts) between the jaws and legs, I will assure that you will enter Paradise.”1 As it is seen, the matter is presented in a very discreet and concise way, and the reward to be attained on the condition of behaving oneself is drawn attention to.

Also, it needs to be known that the minds of those who are exposed to too detailed accounts of wrongs may remain adulterated for days, or even weeks. Certain negative things can busy their minds even during worship. For this reason, one must be strong and resolved at taking a stance against such negativities from the very beginning. On the other hand, they should continuously strive to fill their minds with good and beautiful things. So much so that, whenever they open a file in their cortex, they should always meet good words, good thoughts, and good scenes. If anything pollutes their eyes, ears, and minds, or anything negative occurs to their heart involuntarily, they should run to the nearest prayer rug and seek refuge in prayer as a fount of purification, without giving sins an opportunity to survive.

A Pure Mind and a Good End

Particularly in our time, pollution of minds is a serious problem, not only when we go out for shopping or other reasons, but also while we sit at home, the safest haven for believers. In time, accumulation of negative descriptions and sights pollutes a person’s memory and cortex. They occupy that person’s mind and trigger certain negative feelings in human nature. Such pictures pressurize their world of feelings and thoughts, and assert their own desires. When they find the opportunity, they paralyze willpower and lead people to sins that will ruin their eternal afterlife.

In fact, such negative mental pictures accumulate in the subconscious and even begin to pollute dreams. Believers should always be oriented to be pure, even in their dreams. When Muslims follow the example of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and recite his prayers before going to bed, they seek refuge in God and say, “My God, the Trustworthy One! Here I entrust my feelings and thoughts to You. Please do not let them be polluted so that I will not wake up with some impure feelings!” With such considerations, we entrust the horizons of our night to His protection. Believers’ acting sensitively towards this issue bears great importance with respect to their afterlife. It should be known that all of their intentions, prayers, and efforts in this respect are recorded as good, righteous deeds for them. Sometimes such an effort for protecting their imagination from pollution and not letting subconscious impurities pressurize their feelings can be more important than offering a hundred units of Prayer. However, wandering confidently and graciously in pure realms, even in one’s dreams, depends upon giving the willpower its due by adopting a seriously resolved stance.

Keeping away from means that might lead to sin and from thinking of wrongs signify a person’s degree of safety from sins. The Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, showed the importance of keeping away from wrongs by praying, “My God, distance me from my errors, as You distanced East from West.”2 Those who sail close to the wind might not find an opportunity to get back to the shore. For this reason, believers must constantly try to keep their minds, thoughts, and feelings pure; they must be alert against the traps of the carnal soul and Satan.

1. Sahih al-Bukhari, Riqaq, 23
2. Sahih al-Bukhari, Dawat, 44

This text is the translation of “Kötülüklerden Sakındırma ve Bâtılı Tasvir.”

Essentials for Fruitful Criticism


Question: What do we need to be careful about while making constructive criticism, which is an important means of seeking the better at everything, so that it will be effective and fruitful? What are the essential points to be observed both by those who make and receive criticism?

Answer: Criticism means criticizing a statement or behavior, revealing its negative and positive sides, and making a comparison between what is and what should be; it is one of the important scholarly essentials that facilitates progress toward the ideal. In this respect, it has been employed since the early generations of Muslims. For example, in the methodology of Hadith, a given report would be evaluated with a critical approach in terms of its text and the reliability of its chain of narrators. Indeed, criticism took its place in the methodology of Islamic disciplines from the beginning, in order to unearth the truth at issues such as finding the right meaning to be derived from Divine commandments and interpreting them correctly. This scholarly discipline of criticism served as a sound filter against alien elements incompatible with Islam. As the discipline of munazara (comparing and discussing ideas) also developed, the new interpretations that emerged as a consequence of fruitful discussions were also put to criticism, tested with established criteria, and sparkles of truth were attained in the end.

Particularly at questioning the reliability of the chain of narrators in the field of Hadith, there was a serious accumulation of literature. Numerous volumes of work sought to help authenticate whether statements reported as Hadith genuinely belonged to the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. But even while making judgment and evaluation at such an important issue, scholars showed the utmost sensitivity at refraining from excessive remarks. For example, Shu’ba ibn Hajjaj, one of the important Hadith scholars of the classic period who systemized the subject of criticism (naqd) for the first time, once used an interesting term while referring to the critical evaluation of narrators. Addressing a fellow scholar, he said, “Come, let us make some backbiting on the path of God,” drawing attention to both the necessity of doing this vital task and that it must solely be done for the sake of God.

The method of criticism was successfully employed particularly during the first five centuries of the Islamic calendar in the fields of both religious and positive sciences, for the sake of reaching the most appropriate. Therefore, this scholarly method can be employed in our time as well, given that fairness, respect, and mindfulness are maintained. At this point, let’s refer to the manners and method of criticism briefly.

Adopting a Fair Attitude and Soft Style

The issue criticized must be presented in a very sound style and utmost care must be shown at using a polite manner of speaking. That is, the criticism is not meant to evoke a negative response, but to be easily welcomed. When you present your alternative thoughts and plausible approaches for solving certain matters, you will be shown respect if you do it in agreeable politeness. For example, suppose that you are stating your opinion on a certain subject and the person you are addressing thinks the opposite. If you say, “This is what I knew about the matter, but I see that it has a different side as well,” that person will likely come to you after a while and confess that your opinion had been more appropriate. And this time, you will respond by thanking that person for being so fair. In this respect, one should know how to—to some degree—dismiss one’s ego, experience, and knowledge for the sake of upholding righteousness. In other words, if you expect the reasonable to be met reasonably, you should even evaluate others’ not-that-reasonable thoughts within their own reasonability, adopt a welcoming attitude toward them, and form an atmosphere of sincerity where people can be welcoming toward truths.

Making General Statements without Targeting the Person

History has witnessed that, in whatever field, those who do not show respect to others’ thoughts and who continuously dismiss others as worthless, ruin so many worthy things without even noticing it. For this reason, whatever is the nature of the element before us, we should adopt the principle of treating them all with a certain degree of respect. This is a very appropriate means of making people before us accept the truths that we present. Otherwise, no matter how great the projects that we offer, statements slammed on others’ heads will not be welcomed. When criticism is not expressed politely, it will inevitably be received negatively, even if the matter that we criticize is an obvious mistake of someone that conflicts with the decisive and established teachings of religion. For example, you might witness that your friend has gazed at a forbidden sight. If you jerk into telling his embarrassing mistake to his face in a direct way and reproach him, he may respond by trying to justify some devilish considerations—God forbid! In particular, if the individual in front of you is not ready for a criticism of his attitudes and behaviors, then every criticism of yours will evoke reactionary behavior and disrespect against truths, or even make that person hostile against his own values. Even if such people understand what they hear is true, they will do their best to devise new arguments to get the better of the person before them, owing to the trauma of receiving that criticism like a mighty blow on their head; they will be continuously imagining the best way to answer the criticisms directed toward them, even when they retire to their bed at night.

Thus, matters need to be told indirectly, without taking individual persons as targets.Indeed, when the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, witnessed a person’s wrong, he did not directly criticize that person. Instead, he gathered people together and spoke about that act in general, which allowed the doer to hear the lesson. On one occasion, for example, a man who had been commissioned to collect taxes said, “This amount is the tax I have collected and these were given to me as presents.” Upon hearing this, the Prophet addressed his followers from the pulpit and made a general statement about when he commissions a person to carry out a certain commandment of God and that person states that a part of what he collected belongs to the state and the rest is a present to him. To show how mistaken this idea was, the Prophet asked whether those gifts would have been presented had he sat in his parents’ home.1

The issue of who makes the criticism is also very important. If something needs to be told to someone, one should not be too eager to do that personally, but rather leave the issue to another person whom the one to receive criticism loves very much. In such a situation, even criticism from a beloved friend will be taken as a compliment. If it seems likely that a criticism you need to make will receive a reactionary response, you should leave it to someone else because what really matters is not who voices the truth but whether the truth meets with a heartfelt acceptance.

At this point it is useful to relate a relevant parable of the two grandsons of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. Although this parable about Hasan and Husayn does not take place in the reliable sources of Hadith, it conveys important lessons.

Accordingly, the two boys came to make ablutions somewhere and they saw a man who splashed water all around but did not wash his limbs properly as required for a valid ablution. These two young talents of keen insight sought a way to show him the way without humiliating him. With this intention, they asked the man to tell them which one of them made ablutions correctly. They made ablutions exactly as they had learned from their blessed father Ali ibn Abi Talib, may God be pleased with him. When they were done, they asked which one of them did it better. With the ease of being free from humiliation, the man calmly replied that they both did it so well and that his own way was wrong. Therefore, it is important to reiterate that the style we use at correcting wrongs bears great importance in terms of acceptance.

Educating Individuals to Accept Criticism

Additionally, making people able to accept criticism and evoking a righteous feeling of respect in them constitute a separate dimension of the issue. The Companions, who had attained an ideal level of righteousness, could comfortably warn one another about any wrong that they had committed without causing any negative reaction at all. For example, during a sermon, Umar ibn al-Khattab, may God be pleased with him, reminded people that it was necessary to keep bridal dues (mahr) within affordable limits and told them not to ask for too high amounts. What he suggested was a reasonable solution to prevent possible abuses. Even today, an understanding attitude of this issue will definitely fulfill an important function at solving a social problem. While Umar was drawing attention to this fact, an old woman spoke up and asked the caliph, “O Umar, is there a Qur’anic verse or hadith on this issue that you know and we do not? The Qur’an commands, ‘But if you still decide to dispense with a wife and marry another, and you have given the former (even so much as amounts to) a treasure, do not take back anything thereof’ (an-Nisa 4:20), thus not setting a limit to the amount of bridal dues.” In spite of being the caliph governing a great state that challenged the two superpowers of the time, Umar said aloud to himself, “O Umar, you do not know your religion even as much as an old woman.”2 This degree of righteousness caused Umar to be referred as “al-waqqaf inda’l haqq” (one who halts when he meets the truth). That is, when he faces a righteous argument, he stops like a car that suddenly comes to a halt while moving downslope. It is necessary to effect this feeling in people. For this reason, we should make a deal with a certain friend and authorize him or her to comfortably criticize any wrong that arises in our personal attitudes and behaviors. 

In conclusion, a person who intends to criticize, or rather to correct certain matters, must first understand the issue well and make a serious effort in terms of making the correct remark. Secondly, the other person’s feelings must be taken into consideration and fathom whether that other person is ready to welcome what we are about to say. If a negative reaction seems likely, one should not think, “I definitely want to be the one who expresses this truth,” but instead leave the criticism to another person whose remarks will be more influential. Considering the circumstances of our time, when arrogance has become so prevailing and people cannot tolerate even a little criticism, these principles have gained a greater importance. As for those who receive criticism, they should uphold righteousness above everything else and respond to criticisms with gratitude instead of reacting negatively. Bediüzzaman advises us: if someone warns us about a scorpion on our back (in other words, one who warns us about our wrongs), we should only express gratitude, which is an indication of maturity. 

1. Sahih al-Bukhari, Ayman, 3
2. Al-Bayhaqi, As-Sunanu’l-Kubra, 7/233

This text is the translation of “Faydalı Tenkidin Esasları.”


The Carnal Soul, Satan, and Those Who Straddle the Fence


Question: The Qur’an relates the example of an unfortunate man whom God made well-informed of His signs and Revelations, but the man cast them aside, and Satan overtook him. He then became of those who went astray, following his carnal desires and Satan (al-A’raf 7:175). What are the reasons that cause one to go astray so gravely while trying to walk on the righteous path?

Answer: The foremost reason for such deviations is forgetting the fact that this life is a testing ground and everything, at every moment, is a component of that test. Those who go astray forget this fact and fall for the deceptions of the carnal soul and Satan. Indeed, man is always faced with both the internal mechanism of the carnal soul and Satan who can never be known when, where and how he will approach and play new tricks on him. These two archenemies usually approach us with a friendly face and try to misguide us by making right seem wrong and vice versa. One needs to always be alert against these tricks. Otherwise, a momentary heedlessness can take one to deceptions that are difficult or even impossible to overcome. In terms of their appeal to our carnal soul and physicality, you can see the temptations of this world as tools of illusion used by Satan, the relentless deceiver. At unexpected moments he makes certain things seem unpredictably very inviting. However, those things that are seemingly pleasant may have disastrous consequences as pointed out in the verse (which means): “It may well be that you dislike a thing but it is good for you, and it may well be that you like a thing but it is bad for you. God knows, and you do not know” (al-Baqarah 2:216). In other words, poisonous honey that you initially enjoy might soon trouble your stomach severely. In the same way, there are certain things people face that they seem bitter and bothersome outwardly, but by putting up with their trouble you can take wing to felicity. For example, Satan wants to make a river in front of your home appear to you as a deep and sinister torrent. However, when you evaluate the issue with sound reason, common sense, and a pure heart and thus gain insight into the issue, this helps to purify you. You see that the river that you feared does not even reach your ankle and furthermore has a purifying quality. As Satan tries to get you into negativities by his illusion, he tries to avert you from doing good by his positive-illusion on the other hand. As the Qur’an states, he is the one that deceives and embellishes; he decks the ugly sins to be appealing. 

The Watcher

Satan, the archenemy of humanity, relentlessly watches for our weak moments, figuring out the best time to attack. He takes advantage of weaknesses such as lust, fear, comfort, love for position, or seeking benefit, and topples a person over when he finds the chance.

The Qur’an describes Satan’s grudge against humanity: “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). Other verses also describe this unappeasable enemy (translated as): “Then (I swear) by Your Glory, I will certainly cause them all to rebel and go astray” (as-Sa’d 38:82). Taking into consideration these and other verses in the Qur’an, we can say that what lies behind all of people’s misguidance, transgressions, rebellion against God, and heedless indulgences are the goadings and whisperings of Satan.

Who Suffices with What Is in Hand Is a Deceived One

Undoubtedly, what befalls us in the face of such a relentless enemy is not standing somewhere in the middle but adopting a resolved stance and verifying all the values one believes in with reasoning, judgment, and following the established principles in the Qur’an and Sunnah. That is, one needs to have sound faith and due reliance on God in order to be saved from Satan’s evil: “Surely he has no power over those who believe and put their trust in their Lord” (an-Nahl 16:99). It is not possible to be saved from Satan and his traps for those who may content themselves only with the acculturation they received from the environment in which they grew up without deepening their faith through reflection and investigation or trying to internalize the values they believe in.

The Situation of a Person Straddling the Fence

As mentioned in the question, the Qur’an gives the example of a person who does not adopt a clear position with respect to faith and following Divine commands: “Tell them (based on Our Revelation) the story of him whom We made well-informed of Our signs and Revelations, but he cast them off, and Satan overtook him, and he became of those (followers of Satan) who rebel (against God’s way) and go astray” (al-A’raf 7:175).

The Qur’an relates this story to teach us a lesson. That man witnessed manifest signs and had evident works of wonders—to guide him to truth, which would make him see and hear correctly, which would guide his heart to wisdom, but he ignored all this and left everything behind. So it seems this poor man, in spite of being granted certain blessings, failed to define a clear position and take a sound stance; he could not save himself straddling the fence. In other words, although he lived in a suitable environment for practicing faith, he failed to ingrain in himself the truths he had learned from the culture he was raised in. That poor man did not show any personal effort to verify what he inherited, did not ponder it, nor try to rebuild the world of his feelings, thoughts, and beliefs by giving his willpower its due; ultimately, he became a loser. According to the statements of some interpreters of the Qur’an, his knowing the Ism al-Azam (greatest Divine Name) and Divine secrets did not do him any good; he did not make them an integral part of his character or nature, and thus they did not belong to him. In this respect, if people do not restore the thoughts they inherit from their ancestry and have an unshakable faith by verifying and internalizing every piece of the information they possess, then Satan can cast doubts and hesitations into them, polluting their hearts and minds. 

Talk of the Beloved All the Time

The verse continues by stating, “If We had willed (to impede the way he chose by his free will), We could indeed have lifted him (towards the heaven of perfections enabled by faith) through those signs and Revelations, but (by his own free choice) he clung to the earth and followed his desires” (al-A’raf 7:176). That is, he was taken by comfort, physicality, fame, imitation, praises, fancies, and desires, and thus forgot that the bestowals he enjoyed essentially belong to God. When he became oblivious of this fact, God left him to oblivion. The verse then states (translated as): “So (in his being surrendered to greed), his likeness is that of a dog: if you move to drive it away, it pants with its tongue lolling out (still hoping to be fed more), or if you leave it, it pants with its tongue lolling out” (al-A’raf 7:176). And a few verses later, the situation of such people is described as: “They are like cattle (following only their instincts)—rather, even more astray” (al-A’raf 7:179). Due to their carnal, animalistic desires, they fall down to a status lower than the lowliest creatures.

Humanity is indeed honored with the best pattern of creation, as candidates for exaltedness. Although human essence is potentially even superior to angels, their downfall does not take them to ground zero but to a deep pit much lower than that. That is, a man who has become a slave to his desires and fancies, he cannot even keep the level of an ordinary man but falls to a level below animals. While describing the situation of such a person—owing to the gravity of the matter—the style of the Word of God changes here significantly and the conduct of the person in question is likened to animal behavior. To conclude, if a person is not walking determinedly, not improving his abilities to comply with the needs of walking on this righteous path, and lacking the resolution for constant self-renewal, if he is not upholding the truth of the Prophetic statement, “Renew your faith by La ilaha illa’llah,”1 it is always possible for him to be stopped by one of these obstacles. In order to overcome all of these obstacles and reach their target, individuals must concentrate their powers on retaining their faith; they should build insurmountable walls around it and continuously feed their heart and spirit with good, righteous deeds and attending religious talks.

1. Al-Hakim at-Tirmidhi, Nawadiru’l-Usul, 2/204

This text is the translation of “Nefis, Şeytan ve A’raftakiler.”

Regardless of Others, We Should Not Be Involved in Backbiting, Defamation, Conflicts or Sedition


Figuratively speaking, there are times when you cannot stand on your feet without leaning against something, such as during Prayers. Sometimes, you cannot prostrate or stand back up after prostration without getting help from your hands. You accept this as a law of creation, and believe that as you get older, you are bound to have such needs. Still, it is not always possible to fully understand things like that before you actually experience them. Muslims can use such states to their advantage by regarding them as Divine tests, which will add to their relationship with God, and by thanking God for these tests, since they are only related to worldly matters. As Bediüzzaman cites, some scholars say:

“Al-hamdu lil’lahi ala kulli hal, siwa’l-kufri wa’d-dalal” (All praise be to God for every state except for infidelity and deviation); or “Al-hamdu lil’lahi ala kulli hal, siwa ahwali’l-kufri wa’d-dalal” (All praise be to God for all states except the states of infidelity or deviation).

If God has granted you the maturity to say these, it means He has granted you the key to stand against the most despairing situations; this key is another “wave length” of the Divine manifestation of His Mercy. For every age group, this Mercy has its own meaning: for youth, for maturity, and even for childhood. Although God always grants us things to be happy with, we do not always cherish them. In fact, we are surrounded by His favors; however, since it is left to people whether or not to regard events as His favors, choosing to cherish them is important. Therefore, whoever employs their logic and reasoning in this direction, they may be granted much more than what is normally expected out of such an act of cherishing. The more sincere the intention is, the higher the grant.

Also, metaphorically speaking, there may be times when you have an even temper which you hardly ever lose. But when things seem to go wrong, and you feel like you are losing your temper, you should be aware that such times are opportunities that you can exhibit your chivalrous qualities in the eyes of God by handling such difficult situations with tenderness. For instance, when you see a person, a thinker, or an opinion that is totally opposite of you and your viewpoint, instead of losing your temper and thinking negative things about them, you should choose to think altruistically. You should say “Astaghfiru’llah Ya Rabbi” (O God, I ask for Your forgiveness), and pray to Him saying “God! Please set right my feelings and thoughts, my mood and also that person’s mood.” 

This attitude should be promoted and encouraged, especially nowadays. Otherwise, it brings about a vicious circle of negative actions inducing one another. Just like faults in the earth’s crust, tensions in a society, between groups of people, or between nations, cause earthquakes. Depending on several factors, you may just have an earthquake, or suffer a tsunami after one another; you may well see its effects in the world’s atmosphere and weather conditions; some insects or other life forms may disappear. There may be such similarities between the laws of creation and social dynamics. 

Once there is a quake in a society, people start blaming each other for the sake of pinning the blame on others. If they have no basis for such claims, this is slander. Slander is two levels closer to the Hell than backbiting; where our noble Prophet identifies backbiting as “More violent than adultery.” Adultery is licentiousness; it is depravity and bohemianism, for which Islamic law has imposed severe punishments and taken extraordinary precautions against. Some types of backbiting are even more violent than adultery since they make vicious statements about someone when that person is not present, even if you tell the truth. Something as simple as criticizing somebody’s clothes is considered backbiting in Islam; or making a comment about how someone trimmed their mustache is also backbiting. In this accord, making vicious statements about someone for their opinions, beliefs, attitudes, lifestyles, and so forth, are considered as violent backbiting. Finally, doing so about a group of people, or a leader who represents a group of people, is not equal to backbiting one person, but equal to backbiting several people. This means, unless such a backbiter asks for, and is granted, forgiveness by each individual in that group, the backbiter cannot enter the gate of Paradise.

Please be reminded that the comments above are not my personal opinions, but an Islamic rule. Again, such a backbiter is doomed even if he delivers Islam from annihilation. May God protect us from it. As mentioned before, backbiting and slander are like the aftershocks of such an earthquake; because, once this vicious circle starts, it is difficult for a true Muslim to not get involved. Fending off this cycle means such a person is considered a person of stature and high standing by the Guardian Angels and in the eyes of God.

It is crucial to put up with some inconveniences even though they seem unbearable. This way you do not get dragged into their violence, negativity, backbiting, and slander; hence, the blame is not shared. If you fight fire with fire, you help the conflict, the chaos, the backbiting, the slander, to escalate. This acts like a chain reaction, and may result in a more serious outcome, including murder and assassination.

Expecting a collective agreement on holding this vicious cycle back may be too optimistic. That is: not every individual or broadcasting institute may agree to not circulate rumors, to not avoid provocative news, or to not increase social tension. However, those who could agree should be talked into using a tender language and attitude, and to wear their good heart on their sleeves. This may help fix the problems and the violence for our part. If one action of yours breeds chaos, it would escalate incrementally in the actions of others. If you add to it once, others would do the same in a greater magnitude and amount. Regardless of your initial intention, things might turn against you. May God protect us from it.

Mildness and agreement are crucial. We can find examples of these behaviors in the Messiah or our noble Prophet, both of whom are interrelated, and exemplified the principle of turning the other cheek. I should add that some Muslim scholars have not validated the principal of turning the other cheek, probably due to its possible abuse during wars. However, it is definitely an important one, especially in times of conflict, like the End Times where disorder and corruption, backbiting and slander, tactlessness prevail and lead to pillages, murders and assassinations. In such a period of time, when bestiality is represented by humans, we need mildness and agreement the most. What we need is “to be without hands against those who strike you, and without speech and complaint against those who curse you.”

We have such great figures in our culture like Khoja Ahmad Yasawi, who said “You should be numb,” meaning numb against negativities like the present ones. Another one is Yunus Emre, who uttered the principle I have just rephrased above. He also says “A dervish should be uncomplaining. Being a dervish does not only mean to bear habiliments or a headdress; once you negotiate, you will not need either of them.” Moreover, we have Jalalu’d-Din ar-Rumi, who we shortly call Mawlana. He was inclusive towards everyone, and tolerated all faiths. He said “One of my feet is on the center of Islam and the other, like a leg of a compass, is in the realm of 72 nations.” 

These are easier said than done. What matters, especially for those whose role is to guide others, is not only implementing them in our lives by putting them into practice, but also demonstrating that they are realizable. Instead of only achieving such virtues at an individual level, they need to be implemented at the public level, regardless of the difficulties and challenges. This can only be done through leading a social life. 

What the speaker means with the line “One of the feet being on the center of the religion” is to avoid any contradiction with the principles of Islam; and by “the other foot like a leg of a compass” is that we must tolerate and admit all faiths. It should be considered natural for someone to show a more comprehensive inclusiveness towards people of their own faith and to embrace them more eagerly. Still, channels should be kept open with those who are neutral, or rather, in between. God honored them by granting them humanity; regardless of their faith, they are human, and deserve humane conduct. 

This way, disorder can be minimized and confined, if not resolved totally.

In addition, if you can act as a role model, even in a small way, you will serve as an example to be imitated. People all around the world will take your example, and want to employ it as a nucleus of their desired society. Once you can realize your utopia, it will be admired worldwide and you will see similar formations. This is possible for all of us as long as we act with determination, persistence, and purity of intention, by relating everything to God.

Like I said, it is easier said than done to refer to the morality of Yunus Emre, Khoja Ahmad Yasawi, Haji Bektash Veli, Jalalu’d-Din ar-Rumi, or other great figures such as Messiah or of the Pride of Humankind, peace and blessings be upon him. It is essential that such morality be implemented and internalized. It can be achieved by living a life in spite of one’s own self, by ignoring one’s own self, despite every external factor. We need self-sacrificing generosity, the devotion of ourselves to the lives of others in complete forgetfulness of all concerns of our own, the spirit of devotion, and commitment to humanity, Muslims, our nation, and our lofty ideals. God will grant peace and restoration through such people only.

People of these virtues would be charmed by anyone. 

I personally believe Abu Bakr was poisoned just like the other three caliphs; hence, they are all martyrs. Umar had such perspicacity that he could warn Sariyah, his commander in chief, to back up towards a mountain while they were about a hundred miles away, and while Umar was giving a sermon at his podium and Sariyah was in the battlefield. It does not sound reasonable for Umar to have seen Sariyah but not Abu-Lu’lu’ah, who assassinated him. It was his tender-mindedness that let him lead Prayers unguarded. 

Likewise, noble Ali, whose vision could embrace centuries ahead of him, who put forward answers to the questions of centuries ahead of his time, could not have overlooked Ibn Muljam, his assassin. I am very confident that he had seen him; yet, he did not choose to show harshness.

When his enemies appeared at his doorway, Uthman ibn Affan said he did not want to be a Muslim who kills other Muslims—just like Abdul Hamid II did—at the cost of his own life. Another example is Saladin, who is falsely blamed by his Fatimid wife for unfaithfulness. He turns his back to her and says, “If it is true, you can stab me in my back,” which makes her see she is wrong.

In sum, those who have committed to act as role models and guides should have the same spirit as all of the examples above. They should sacrifice their lives to save their nation from disorder, and they should say, like Murad I, “You can take my life and martyr me, but do not touch the integrity of my nation.”

Violence yields and rebounds upon itself; so do anger and hatred. Once perpetrated, hatred leads to counter-hatred, and this wounds an entire nation. Had violence, harshness, and violence proven any good, the 30-year-old problems in southeastern Turkey would have already been resolved. They cannot solve such problems. Some people should consecrate themselves to the lives of their community in complete sacrifice of all concerns of their own—so that not only can problems be solved, but also to prove, before history and collective conscience, the rightness of their way.

Finally, “Be killed but do not kill. Get hurt but do not twist a finger. Be disgraced but do not put anyone to shame.” This looks like the only way to heal our excessively disintegrated community. 

May God bestow sagacity and understanding on us. May God set our and their hearts right.

This text is the translation of “329. Nağme: Bari Biz Gıybet, İftira, Kavga ve Fitnelere Geçit Vermeyelim!

Different Kinds of Tests the Devoted Souls Go Through


Question: There are so many different factors that put people to the test. What are the most dangerous of such factors, particularly for the devoted souls of today?

Answer: Divine Justice puts people to various kinds of tests throughout their lives. As an acid test separates gold from stone and dust, God Almighty, Who already knows our real worth, makes people see it for themselves. By these tests, He makes us see what we can endure until when, what kind of an attitude we adopt before misfortunes, and whether we will be steadfast or complain, which implies covert criticism of Divine Destiny. Worldly tests batter people, apply different filters to them, and put them into melting pots. The saintly dervish Yunus Emre voiced this truth as follows:

This road is long,
Many ranges along…
Not even a gate,
Deep waters ahead.

Difficulty of the Test is Proportional with the Ideals Targeted

God Almighty states that He will test people in different ways and then He gives glad tidings for those who endure:

We will certainly test you with something of fear and hunger and loss of wealth, and lives, and fruits (earnings); but give glad tidings to the persevering and patient” (al-Baqarah 2:155).

Accordingly, as worship increases a person’s spiritual rank, tests and trials of this life—considered as negative form of worship—purify one from sins if patience is not given up; they take the individual to the highest levels. In addition to enduring consecutive tests patiently, what befalls a believer is taking those tests as opportunities to face oneself, ponder upon one’s deeds by calling one’s self to account, and evaluate one’s own performance.

Given that difficulties increase in accordance with the greatness of the consequent reward, then intensity of tests increases proportionally with the value of the ideals sought. For example, becoming a martyr while serving humanity and ascending to a different level of life is an important attainment. However, having this honor depends on serving in the way of God and taking due pains; there must be utter self-sacrifice. It is for this reason that people devoted to a lofty ideal who try to fulfill its requirements must bear any trouble or misfortune that befalls them. They must show due patience and continue their life in spite of themselves.

You can remember the statements of Bediüzzaman concerning the issue: “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. There is no torment I haven’t been subjected to. I was brought to court-martials and treated like a murderer. I was sent from one exile to another like a vagabond. I was banned from communicating with people for months in the prisons of my country. I was poisoned many times over. I underwent various kinds of insult. There were times when I had gladly preferred death to life. If my religion had not prevented me from suicide, this Said would have become dust long ago.” Because the tests he went through were so hard, God Almighty took him to the peak of human progress. You never know, maybe due to the troubles he went through enduringly, by the grace of God, he was rendered a guide for those who remain behind.

And There Are People Who Remain Halfway

The life of this world is a chain of tests from beginning to end, but these are not only comprised of troubles and misfortunes. Material and spiritual achievements and bestowals serve as a means of testing as well. People will pass such stages and stations in their lives that some places will make them dizzy; some positions and titles—God forbid—will make them slip, and some germs on the places they pass will infect their spiritual life. In short, individuals will pass through tests sometimes by ease and comfort, and sometimes by glory, fame, status, and applause. Imam al-Ghazali gives the following example about the tests people face in this world: A man sets off determined to go to a beautiful Garden of Paradise, having heard much about the beauties of his destination. However, he sees an inviting place with babbling rivers, singing birds, and pleasant tree shades, all of which seems so inviting. The man forgets about his destination and decides to settle there. He builds a hut for himself and begins to live there.

Actually, this parable summarizes the life of this world in a striking and pithy fashion. You may picture different versions of the factors that make one forget the true destination. One may be held by many different factors along the way in addition to comfort. However, it is not possible to attain Paradise and good pleasure of God without leaving those places behind.

Greed for Fortune

One of the most important examples of the tests one faces in life is the desire for money and worldly possessions. It can even be said that it is the greatest weakness for most people. The Messenger of God refers to this fact in one of his sayings. Accordingly, if the son of Adam possesses one valley of gold, he would like to have two. And nothing fills his (greedy) mouth but soil. However, God accepts the repentance of the one who repents.1

Thus, asking for more with an insatiable greed, trying to possess bigger companies and firms, and the desire for taking control of everything are the weaknesses of most. Indeed, such a competition for personal interests and benefits underlies so many fights and clashes in society.

When Muhyiddin ibn Arabi was under pressure in Damascus, he stamped his foot on the ground and said, “The deity you worship is under my feet.” Some take these words as a denial of faith. However, he had the opinion that the love of money had seized the hearts of the people he addressed to the degree of worshipping it. As for their deity being under his feet, it turned out centuries later that he had indeed referred to a great treasure of gold buried under the very spot where he stood.

Unfortunately, so many people are virtually dying for it. They begin with, “Let me have a house,” and continue with, “Let me have one for my son and one for my daughter” and “There should also be a villa for my grandchild…” You can see so many worldly ones living with these considerations. You may even meet people who set forth to serve humanity for the sake of God but then begin to run after such desires as if they worship money, to the extent that some of those people do not suffice with the payment that they receive, and with the intention of earning more, they abandon services of vital importance for people and faith. Thus, they stray from the path of righteousness to the path of worldliness.

Lusts of the Flesh

Lustful passions constitute one of the most difficult tests in our contemporary age. It has always been a difficult test all throughout history, but it has assumed a much more dangerous form today.

Rumi tells a story about weakness of lust in his Mathnawi. Satan speaks with God Almighty, or rather he uses an insolent language towards his Lord. The Qur’an and the sayings of God’s Messenger relate insolent expressions Satan used demagogically. However, Rumi’s parable is different: Satan complains to God that He made him disgraced and suffer deprivation. And then he asks some things he can use for deviating and tempting people. God Almighty grants him factors like wealth, status, and fame. But Satan does not feel happy with any of them. In the end, God gives him the chance to use men and women against one another; Satan feels greatly pleased and begins dancing out of joy.

Even though this parable is not mentioned in essential sources of religion, what really matters here is the truth that it conveys. Particularly for certain character types, lust is the greatest factor of testing in this world. We can take it into consideration together with the following hadith: “The Hell is surrounded with lust. And Paradise is surrounded with difficulties and things unpleasant to the carnal soul.2 There are long roads, many stopovers, forbidding waters, and other obstacles on the path to Paradise, while things pleasing to the carnal soul, such as indulging in food and drinking, lying lazily, and running after carnal desires, are on the way to Hell. A person who gives in to these will keep sinking gradually toward the lowliest levels unawares.

Love of Fame

Running after respect, status, authority, and expecting appreciation are among the tests most people lose. Bediüzzaman refers to “love of fame, post and position” among the six routes of (Satan’s) assault in his “Twenty-ninth Letter” and to fame as “poisonous honey” in his Al-Mathnawi Al-Nuri. They are among the greatest weaknesses of some, and it should never be forgotten that one who has become a fool for fame will do anything for this sake. May God save us from falling into these deadly pitfalls and make us pass to the next world with a visa of faith and consciousness of ihsan (perfect goodness; living carefully as if one were able to see God, or at least living with a consciousness of being seen by Him).

1. Sahih al-Bukhari, Riqaq, 10
2. Sahih al-Bukhari, Riqaq, 8

This text is the translation of “İmtihan Çeşitleri

The Protests of Taksim Gezi Park and the Root of the Problems


Since we do not use the way of the Prophets, their inheritors, saints and sincere friends of God, we are unable to handle problems. We are committing so many wrongdoings just to eliminate one wrongdoing. We cause various kinds of wrongdoings and injustice to happen. We only add fire to the flames of grudge and hatred. We cause things to grow out of control. And today you see the examples in the streets. There are worse examples, perhaps. In the books of hadith referring to chaotic events of the future (Kitab al-Fitan wa’l-Malahim), the Prophet foretells worse events. The current turmoil can then be seen only as a sampling of those larger chaotic events; accordingly, people will kill one another but none of them will know why these killings are taking place. There will be repeated damage to people and properties, but none of them will have any reasonable, licit and lawful basis. Things will happen helter-skelter. Predictions of God’s Messenger relate such events in detail; thus, these current events seem to be micro-scale samples.

If we take these events lightly, we will resemble the forty fools: they took each other by the hand so that they could get down to the bottom of a cliff, but of course they all fell down together. Thirty nine of them died and only one survived with serious injuries and broken bones. When people asked him what happened, he answered that they would nearly get into trouble, treating the situation much too lightly. This is how the insensitive people disregardful of the consequences usually view this issue.

And on the other side, some people say, “Why are they engaging in violence and causing harm? Why are they breaking the glasses of innocent people’s windows? They throw Molotov cocktails into houses, dorms, schools, universities, and even into banks!” Illogical and inhuman behavior prevails. Yet, if you make sweeping overgeneralizations by saying: “This has nothing to do with the issue of standing up for some rights,” then this means turning a blind eye to the innocent demands of the innocent people among them. We neglected these people first of all. These generations are a fruit of our neglect. Secondly, they may have some acceptable demands. They can express themselves saying, “The park needs to be preserved, and trees should not be uprooted. Ecosystem should be protected, and so on.” That said, the crowd may not, however, keep the balance while trying to protect a park they enjoy. As opposed to their very aim, they can damage the environment themselves, upset the general harmony and leave nothing behind for an ecosystem. Therefore, insensitivity on one issue, or failure to understand it, may lead to excessive behavior in some people while it may lead to a different form of apathy in others. May God protect!

On the other hand, some people both at home and abroad try to take advantage of our weaknesses and abuse innocent people’s innocent demands (by provoking the masses). As some creatures are all ears for hearing sounds, such abusers are all ears for opportunities to abuse. The media throughout the world are against Turkey now; they are unfortunately acting as if the apocalypse has started. Significantly worse disasters happen in Syria, but the media does not care at all. Similar things happen in Iraq, but once again, the media is silent. They do not even care about suicide attackers in different parts of the world. Turkey, however, is in a critical position to become a balancing factor in the region. It has made certain kinds of progress.

On the one hand, there are those innocent demands. On the other hand, there is the abuse of those demands by certain circles within the country, or the use of those demands as a counter move by certain ideologies. Others from abroad take full advantage of the events for their ulterior motives. Our negligence and inability to see the well-planned strategies of abuse by others has resulted in the current conflicts.

In fact, the Messenger of God told about this picture. He said it would happen after the general public was alienated from their spiritual heritage. For this reason, we need to revise our point of view.

 “Who is to blame for this unrest? Those who overlooked the protests by labeling it as ‘this and that’? Or should we blame those who are involved in the violence? Or should we blame the system overall?” Does the problem lie with our failure to raise and develop good generations? Or to not have guided them as we should? If so, then the system needs to be revised. We need to revise our own thoughts again. If we do this – if we face ourselves honestly, and openly self-criticize – we can be saved from greater concerns. If we do not face ourselves now, we will be facing issues we cannot tackle later, may God protect us. We need to revise our moral education systems. Whose children are those youth who act so unreasonably on the streets? They pursue no righteous cause; if they did, they would gather somewhere, express their feelings in a civilized way, and then leave. Some would receive their message, and they could gather to repeat it for those who did not understand. They could become organized in a way. Given that people make their choice through elections, they could work seriously towards that avenue. They could try to convince people by telling them about their positions and complaints. They vote for what they like. If they do not like the choice, they can wait patiently for the next election and choose a different one.

It seems we have damaged ourselves. The matter lies with the grass roots. Since the ground has lost its fertility, and the atmosphere has become corrupt, we witness such illegitimate events, and certain generations who represent these events. Until the time we tackle our human failings, the problems will remain unsolved. We need to see what we did. We failed to revise the system. “How is it possible for us to raise a generation that will honestly self-supervise? How can we raise a humane generation that will not respond to destruction with more destruction but instead with construction?” This is the real question, and we failed to think about it.

The Qur’an says, “…Your responsibility is your selves (so consider how you are faring along your own way). Those who go astray can do you no harm if you yourselves are rightly guided (and so follow your right way without deviation)…” (al-Maedah 5:105). That is, your unity and unswerving course on the righteous path will mitigate even the most negative factors. We failed to look at ourselves. We did not check whether we were on the righteous path. We failed to raise generations who were conscious of right and wrong. We watched without concern, dismissing them as “just a small bunch.” And they began to run amok, attacking here and there. What they really need is to be treated with sympathy and compassion. They are trampling human values under their feet; they are trampling their own values. Even though it seems too late for today’s generation, there should be systems to develop them beneficently for tomorrow. What can we do to develop them? What can we do to remind them that God created them in the best pattern and bring them into line with humane ways? How can we prevent them from harming people and human values? How can we remind them not to harm their country so that they do not let others abuse this against their own country and make all of us face certain plans impossible to overcome?

If you display some weakness, others usually plan to take advantage of it. While you are already in such a weak state, they shatter you into pieces, as they did it with the Ottoman State. The most critical factor right now is our own weakness, our internal conflicts. Even if we cannot change the situation today, community leaders, scientists, psychologists, and educators should come together to generate relevant projects. What can we do to bring the generations who failed to pursue a humane course into line with humanity? How can we convince them of the value in serving their own country, of developing it into a great country by God’s grace? 

One should not ignore or underestimate what goes on, just as one should not take fire or war lightly. As Imruu’l-Qays, one of the poets of the pre-Islamic Arabia, rightly said, “There are two things that you can start but cannot stop, even when you really wish to: One is fire and the other is war.” We have seen both, indeed. You can take this statement both literally and figuratively. Actually, the current events that we are going through are not much different than fire. And there is the issue of war. As is well-known, because of a few adventurers, who did not really know how to govern a state, unnecessarily firing at Russian ships on the Black Sea engaged the Ottoman State in World War I. A great state was thus brought to ruin. It is an essential of our culture to talk about previous generations with respect, but I cannot manage to forgive those who caused the destruction of a state, which had served as an important factor of balance among world powers. Let them account for what they did in Divine court; but I am not saying, “Let them enter Hell.” They will be called to account before the Divine court. That state was so important. A profane play by Voltaire, disrespectful toward the Prophet, was performed in Europe. It was the time of Sultan Abdulhamid II. The Ottomans were known as the “sick man of Europe” when the sultan gave an ultimatum, saying that he would declare war on them as the caliph of the believers and make the Muslim India march on them. Even during a period of such decline, like a wounded lion roaring, he made everybody in the forest straighten. Those few adventurers, however, brought that state to ruin and this is the truth that lies behind our wretched condition today. They joined the war but were unable to stop it when they wished. It took away everything, like a flood. Fire and war, they stop only when they will! For this reason, if you are able to put out a fire while it is small, do it right there. Otherwise, by the time it covers an entire field, it is too late. For this reason, even when faced with the smallest fire, we need to call all the fire brigadiers to help by shouting, “Get your equipment and come, there’s fire!” 

If centers of learning are bombed, innocent ones are being killed, people are stopped with gas bombs, and if some turn a blind eye to all this by failing to see the underlying reasons, then the fire grows—God forbid! 

I do not think that the character of the nation has been corrupted to that degree; not even bad ones are that bad. However, others who do not wish to let you grow into a factor of balance can take advantage of this. Turkey is a ball of problems, and those who surround it can take advantage of these problems. Even one of them can make everything into a mess. There is a covert agreement among them to not let you advance even one step further. You may console yourselves with an apparent “spring” here and there, when in reality, you are faced with the ice cold winds of fall. 

We therefore need to be alert and act intelligently. We need to see the smallest problems as consequential, and we need to handle them in a smart way. If you are facing an invasion of ants, do not dismiss it. They reach into your pots of butter and honey, and pollute them with toxins; do not dismiss it. Taking problems lightly stems from light thinking, light reasoning, and light judgment. It is very important to see everything clearly, as they are. Then it becomes possible to generate well-placed projects and plans. 

The souls devoted to building a new revival must be very cautious at this issue, very cautious. What is in our hands is a trust we inherited from the previous generations. If we face a betrayal or murder concerning our own personal life, we may be indifferent to that if we wish. But a betrayal concerning rights of the public—we can also call them God’s rights—cannot be ignored. God judges the responsible ones gravely. If we do not put a barrier against events that will result in a betrayal against an entire nation—may God protect—the issue grows so much that our neglect becomes a betrayal of the trust. However, we have to protect the trust against all odds, just as we protect our life and honor, until we hand it to the trustworthy generations to come. Let’s fulfill our responsibility, and put our trust in God, and then see what God will decree for us. God Almighty makes even the oppressors say, one day, “God has preferred you above us,” like his repentant brothers once said to Prophet Joseph. 

We need to recite prayers against malevolence. You can divide sections of a prayer book, such as Al-Qulub ad-Dari‘ah, between friends, and thus complete reciting its prayers and litanies collectively. You can also read the names of the Ashab al-Badr; the blessed souls of those Companions are no different than heavenly spiritual beings. It has been tried on different occasions; such prayers became an invitation for Divine Providence, and seemingly unsolvable matters are solved by God’s grace. 

There is really not much people like us can do; maybe I have been talking in vain. Until the moment we straighten ourselves… I heard a story from Osman Tarı, a former member of the parliament. There was a scholarly person known as Tahir Efendi among the members of the first parliament of Turkish Republic. As others gave enthusiastic talks, he preferred to keep silent in a corner. One day, his supporters insisted he also talk; they said that others were taking pride in their representatives’ talks, and they also expected the same. Tahir Efendi was a person who made short but concise remarks. He answered thus: “Dear congregation, know that you are the electors and I am the elected. We are destined for the house of elected ones (Parliament). The act you did is called intihab—election. “Intihab” comes from the word nuhbah, which means “cream.” Do not forget that the cream will be of the same nature with the substance used. The cream that gathers on top is the same with the substance in its base. Accordingly, yoghurt, milk, or lime will have a cream of the same kind with them.” 

Upon hearing this anecdote, I said that what Tahir Efendi had expressed was indeed a very good paraphrasing of the hadith, “You are governed however you are.” 

The issue needs to be dealt with at the grassroots level by restoring a morally wrecked generation. As Bediüzzaman puts it, our duty is to repair a fort that has been wrecked for centuries. For centuries, it was damaged from different directions. We need to grasp our responsibility, and begin cultivating the new generations. We need to let them embrace the values of their own spiritual heritage; they need to be taught such thinking and manners. Otherwise, these transgressions will continue. And continuing to respond to them in a reactionary fashion only makes us into bullies. The issue needs to be dealt with from the bottom-up. What is our problem? How can it be settled? The matter needs to be solved in compliance with the path of the Prophet. The Messenger of God, for whose sake God split the moon in two in an instant,1 strived so diligently during his entire twenty-three year period of Messengership to educate his people in patience. Had he prayed for it, God would immediately turn their hearts into angelic ones, as a miracle. But he was a teacher to guide people. What are the ways for a good upbringing, how much effort is required, how much brainstorming is needed? The Messenger of God showed it by suffering personally. This is what it takes; it is beyond human power to change it. God’s creational laws do not change. However, most people don’t know this; they are deaf and blind to it. This is the way to follow. As the famous poet Necip Fazıl puts it, “The rest are trivial matters.” What needs to be said to the miserable, crawling generations of long years is, as the poet says, “You have crept much with your face down; it is high time you stood upright!”

1. The manifest miracle of the moon split upon the gesture of the Noble Prophet is mentioned in the following verse of the Qur’anic chapter of al-Qamar (The Moon), which derives its name from the word “al-qamar” (the moon) in its first verse: “…and the moon has split” (al-Qamar 54:1). (Ed.)

Asking Forgiveness-2


Question: What are your recommendations concerning the manners of istighfar, which is a means of purification for believers?

Answer: While beginning to make istighfar, one should first remember the greatness of God Almighty and make due glorification. There are many statements of the noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, related to this issue reported by the Companions. By these reports, we should begin to ask God’s forgiveness as follows:

اَللهُ أَكْبَرُ كَبِيرًا وَالْحَمْدُ لِلهِ كَثِيرًا فَسُبْحَانَ اللهِ بُكْرَةً وَأَصِيلًا لَا إِلٰـهَ إِلَّا اللهُ وَحْدَهُ نَصَرَ عَبْدَهُ وَهَزَمَ الْأَحْزَابَ وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ

(God is great infinitely, praise be to God abundantly, and glory be to God night and day incessantly. There is no deity but God, He is One. He has supported His servant, and He alone defeated the enemy troops. He has no partners.)

After expressing the greatness of God with these words, invoking blessings on the Beloved Messenger of God is very important in terms of the acceptance of the istighfar. Salawat, or invoking peace and blessings on the Prophet, is an ever-accepted supplication. Words of salawat are a very important means for establishing a connection with the Pride of Humanity. Turning to God by having the Prophet, who ever-turned to his Lord with his prayers, as an intercessor will be a special means for being honored with proximity to God. Also, it is possible to ask forgiveness for all Muslims before beginning istighfar, as we do before the Prayer of Need (Salatu’l-Hajah). As it is included among the prayers of the saints known as Abdal,1 it is possible to habitually recite the following litany in one’s recitations of the dawn and dusk:

اَللّٰهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِأُمَّةِ مُحَمَّدٍ اَللّٰهُمَّ ارْحَمْ أُمَّةَ مُحَمَّدٍ

(My God, forgive the followers of Muhammad! My God, have mercy on the followers of Muhammad!)

Thus you will have made a good wish for all Muslims. In addition, all of these serve as a prelude for making an istighfar to be accepted by God. You can even hold the humble consideration of seeing yourself as one the most blameworthy one among all Muslims, adding yourself to the prayer and say: “My God, forgive me and the followers of Muhammad! My God, have mercy on me and the followers of Muhammad!”

Seeking Forgiveness through the Most Beautiful Words

After such an initiation, a believer should turn to God with the petition of forgiveness of his or her sins with the following blessed words of the Qur’an in the form of prayer:

لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنْتُ مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ

(“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)

أَنِّي مَسَّنِيَ الضُّرُّ وَأَنْتَ أَرْحَمُ الرَّاحِمِينَ

(“Truly, affliction has visited me [so that I can no longer worship You as I must]; and You are the Most Merciful of the merciful.”) (al-Anbiya 21:83)

رَبِّ اغْفِرْ وَارْحَمْ وَأَنْتَ خَيْرُ الرَّاحِمِينَ

(“O my Lord, forgive me and have mercy on me [always treat me with Your forgiveness and mercy], for You are the Best of the merciful.”) (al-Muminun 23:118)

رَبِّ إِنِّي ظَلَمْتُ نَفْسِي فَاغْفِرْ لِي

(“My Lord! Indeed I have wronged myself, so forgive me.”) (al-Qasas 28:16)

رَبَّنَا اغْفِرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيَّ وَلِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَوْمَ يَقُومُ الْحِسَابُ

(“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)

رَبَّنَا اغْفِرْ لَنَا ذُنُوبَنَا وَإِسْرَافَنَا فِي أَمْرِنَا وَثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَنَا وَانْصُرْنَا عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْكَافِرِينَ

(“Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and any wasteful act we may have done in our duty, and set our feet firm, and help us to victory over the disbelieving people.”) (Al Imran 3:147)

In addition to the prayers mentioned in the Qur’an, there are very beautiful words of prayer that can be recited for making istighfar. For example, the great Companion Abu Bakr asked the Messenger of God to teach him a supplication he could recite during the Daily Prayers. The noble Prophet taught him the following one:

اَللّٰهُمَّ إِنّـِي ظَلَمْتُ نَفْسِي ظُلْمًا كَثِيرًا وَلَا يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ فَاغْفِرْ لِي مَغْفِرَةً مِنْ عِنْدِكَ وَارْحَمْنِي إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ (My God I surely did much wrongdoing to my own soul, and You are the only one to forgive sins. Grant me a special forgiveness from Your side, and have mercy on me. You surely are the Forgiving, the Merciful.)2

It is most appropriate to recite this prayer, which can be recited during the Daily Prayers at the prostration position and after the final sitting (tahiyyat right before giving the salam to both sides), as an important means to seek God’s forgiveness.

Another prayer, famously known as “Sayyidu’l Istighfar,” (the master of istighfars) is a very important one in this respect:

اَللّهُمَّ أَنْتَ رَبِّي لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ خَلَقْتَنِي وَأَنَا عَبْدُكَ وَأَنَا عَلَى عَهْدِكَ وَوَعْدِكَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُ أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ شَرِّ مَا صَنَعْتُ أَبُوءُ لَكَ بِنِعْمَتِكَ عَلَيَّ وَأَبُوءُ لَكَ بِذَنْبِي فَاغْفِرْ لِي فَإِنَّهُ لَا يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ

(“O God, You are my Lord, there is no deity but You. You have created me, and I am Your servant. I try my best to keep my covenant with You. I seek refuge in You from the evil of what I have done. I acknowledge Your favors upon me and I acknowledge my sins. So, forgive me, for truly no one forgives sins except You.)”

The Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, stated that whoever recites this prayer at daytime with true belief in its reward and excellence and passes away before the evening, that person will be one of the dwellers of Paradise. And whoever recites this prayer after nightfall with true belief in its reward and excellence and passes away before the morning, that person will also be one of the dwellers of Paradise.3

Keep Imploring until You Really Feel Purified!

It is also possible to prostrate oneself and keep reciting the following prayer until really feeling contentment and being purified:

يَا حَيُّ يَا قَيُّومُ بِرَحْمَتِكَ أَسْتَغِيثُ أَصْلِحْ لِي شَأْنِي كُلَّهُ وَلَا تَكِلْنِي إِلَى نَفْسِي طَرْفَةَ عَيْنٍ

(O the Living, O the Self-Subsistent, for the sake of Your mercy I beg for help. Rectify for all my states and leave me not to myself even for the blinking of an eye!)

Some narrators of this prayer made the following addition, “…not even for shorter than that,” which means, “Leave me not to myself even for a moment shorter than the blinking of an eye!”

Another prayer of the Prophet that he recited upon waking up can be expressed as the voice of the heart:

سُبْحَانَكَ اللّٰهُمَّ أَسْتَغْفِرُكَ لِذَنْبِي وَأَسْأَلُكَ رَحْمَتَكَ، اَللّٰهُمَّ زِدْنِي عِلْمًا وَلَا تُزِغْ قَلْبِي بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَيْتَنِي وَهَبْ لِي مِنْ لَدُنْكَ رَحْمَةً إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الْوَهَّابُ

(Glorified are You, O God! I seek Your forgiveness for my sins, and I ask You for Your mercy. O God! Increase my knowledge, and let not my heart stray after You have guided me, and grant me Your mercy, for truly You are the One Who bestows.)4

Additionally, everybody should take their own mistakes, faults, and sins into consideration and say: astaghfirullah/subhan Allah, thousands of times every day. It is reported that the famous Companion Abu Hurayra said subhan Allah 12,000 times a day. When others expressed that it seemed too much, he replied that he was saying it in proportion with his sins.5 I do not think that blessed Companion had a sin. Abu Hurayra came from Daws6 and joined the scholarly group of Ashab al-Suffa (People of the Bench), who stayed near the beloved Prophet for a long time. He reported the Prophet’s sayings more than any other Companion and was a great source of reference after the Messenger of God himself; I would call him the Lion of Daws. However, with respect to his high level of piety Abu Hurayra saw it as a necessity. When we consider our own life, tainted with sins, even making istighfar 30,000 times a day is not too much.

It is also possible to recite the istighfars of great spiritual guides as included in the compilation, Imploring Hearts (Al-Qulub ad-Daria). For example, Hasan al-Basri was a person of dizzying spiritual depth who severely criticized his soul. If possible, one can read his recitation that he distributed over the days of the week in the same way. After beginning his words by invoking peace and blessings on the Prophet, Hasan al-Basri mentions that he committed so many sins, and then he similarly ends with peace and blessings upon the Prophet. Actually, the prevalent ethos of his time and his personal character would not allow for sins anyway; it was impossible for him to have such sins mentioned in the prayer, one who spent his days and nights worshipping and who was dedicated to striving on the righteous path. Still, it seems that he asked forgiveness even for things that passed his imagination. As we are not better than him in terms of our religious life, we are in no better position in terms of sins. Therefore, it will be too little even if we repeated his nightly recitations twice every night.

When one concludes the words of imploration overflowing from the heart to the tongue, it is better to invoke peace and blessings on the Prophet (salawat) again, given that a prayer between two acceptable prayers will be accepted as well; thus, enveloping our petition for forgiveness between salawat will make it more likely to be accepted.

Let me mention one final point: every word uttered for the sake of seeking God’s forgiveness must be pronounced consciously. As words spoken heedlessly show disrespect to God Almighty, they can also be taken as a lie. For this reason, every word uttered should be coming from the bottom of one’s heart, and they should leave a trace when they pass. So much so that when one opens up to God with this consciousness and ask forgiveness, he or she must be uneasy with the shame of their sins, shiver with remorse, and the heart should virtually come to the verge of stopping.

1. The term Abdal (plural for badal) is usually translated as “Substitutes.” The term is used to describe the “men of the Unseen” who have certain degrees of knowledge of God, who are supported by God, and who, with their refined hearts and purified souls, are open to certain Divine mysteries. These Substitutes are the pure, honest saints who help people with their affairs without being seen and who function as veils in the reflection of Divine Acts. When one of the Substitutes dies, he is replaced by another saintly person. (Ed.)
2. Sahih al-Bukhari, Da’awat, 17; Sahih Muslim, Dhikr, 48
3. Sahih al-Bukhari, Da’awat, 2
4. Sahih al-Bukhari, Da’awat, 7–8; Sahih Muslim, Dhikr, 59
5. Ibn Abi Shayba, Al-Musannaf, 5/345
6. Daws was one of the tribes of Arabia living in the south of Mecca.

This text is the translation of “İstiğfar-2

Asking Forgiveness-1


Question: In this contemporary age when sins have spread like an epidemic, what does istighfar (asking forgiveness) promise for believers? Would you talk about particular segments of time that may be preferable for seeking God’s forgiveness?

Answer: Every child is born with the pure primordial nature, as stated by the Messenger of God.1 The essential idea in man’s responsibilities in this world is preserving this original nature until the time of death. All of the good acts that can lead one to eternal bliss are apt to protect this original nature, whereas all of the forbidden acts that might lead one to destruction are apt to corrupt it. While believers should build up sound sets and barriers against destructive sins on the one hand, they should constantly seek ways of preserving their original nature in untainted form. Every sin committed is a deformation with respect to human nature. Restoring one’s original nature after such deformation is only possible through istighfar—asking the forgiveness of God Almighty. Sometimes a heart contaminated by sins may come to the point of inability to fulfill its function.2 Thus, freedom from sins, which take one nearer to unbelief, and clearing up the stains sins leave on the heart are only possible through seeking God’s forgiveness and protection from sins.3

Preventive Medicine

Indeed, believers must adopt a resolved stance from the very beginning and not step toward even the pettiest kind of sins. They need to strive for an auspicious atmosphere to keep them clean from sins and avoid dangerous grounds, just like one escapes from (the venomous bites of) snakes and scorpions. Such resolution and alertness can be achieved only by those with a believing heart and profound conscience that feel as if he or she is falling into Hell with every sin. If one does not feel disgusted at a sin, then it is possible to judge that that person’s heart has already lost its vitality. A heart that does not feel upset and react against one’s wrongdoings or a heart that does not cause the person to lose sleep in remorse resembles a dead body. For this reason, a true believer’s heart reacts against sin. And the foremost reaction to be shown is istighfar—seeking God’s forgiveness and protection from wrongdoings.

As a believer says “Astaghfirullah” (I seek the forgiveness of God), he or she actually says—with the immense meaning of the Arabic present tense (mudhari)—that I seek Your forgiveness all the time as I am now asking and will always ask forgiveness from You. In this way the repentant one renders the wish for forgiveness of a past sin as a petition that includes an entire future. In fact, the All-Forgiving God may accept a single repentance and demand for forgiveness as forgiving of all sins of that person. However, what befalls on us is not sufficing with a single petition but continuing to ask forgiveness for a lifetime and bearing the remorse within. One must think how shameful it is to have committed the sin despite being shown the right guidance, what an insolence it is to dismiss a promise like Paradise and indulge in sin, always feel due shame within, and thus constantly make istighfar, to the degree of asking forgiveness ten thousand times for a single sin. Sometimes one should be unsatisfied even with that much, and say “alfu-alfi (a million times) Astaghfirullah,” trying to feel it within a million times over.

The Elixir That Cuts Out the Root of Inclination toward Evil

As istighfar restores the damaged human nature, it cuts out the root of inclination toward evil as well. A person who continuously purifies oneself by istighfar eliminates a ground of sins at the same time and no virus to invite others remains in the heart. In addition, God Almighty may curtail the feelings of inclination toward evil in a person who makes istighfar continually. In the Qur’an, God Almighty gives the glad tidings about the repentant ones who do good, righteous deeds that He will efface their sins and record righteous deeds in their place (al-Furqan 25:70). As He erases the record of deeds from sins, He can fill those gaps with beautiful things out of His infinite mercy. It is a different manifestation of the fact that His mercy surpasses His wrath.4

Bediüzzaman interprets this verse with a different approach and states that a person’s abilities for evil can transform into ability for goodness, as a consequence of repentance and asking forgiveness. Accordingly, when a person shows loyalty to God by turning to Him repentantly, He may respond as, “Now that you have turned to Me, I will change your potential for evil into potential for goodness.”

Important Time Segments for Istighfar

It is a tradition of the Prophet, upon whom be peace and blessings, to ask forgiveness three times right after performing the obligatory (fard) Prayers.5 The following two points can explain the wisdom of asking God’s forgiveness right after carrying out this act of worship—which is most lovable to God—with the prostrations during which the worshipper is expected to ascend to the nearest proximity to his or her Lord: firstly, people’s inability to maintain full concentration at the Prayer, failing to sense standing in the Divine presence but still roaming through their own world and running after their own pursuits. Such attitude constitutes a kind of disrespect toward God, especially during the Prayer, which is, indeed, the believer’s ascent to the proximity of God. If one is immersed in personal considerations instead of seeking the meanings the Prophet felt during his Ascension, that person needs to make istighfar for such a light hearted attitude.

Secondly, as the Prayer signifies a (lofty spiritual) state in which requests from God are more likely to be accepted, supplications made right after the Prayers have a different value. Therefore, the Messenger of God recommended using this opportunity and asking forgiveness three times. In this respect, the five prescribed Prayers are important grounds and opportunities for seeking God’s forgiveness and protection from sins.

A Qur’anic verse points out an important segment of time for making istighfar: “They used to sleep but little by night (almost never missing the Tahajjud Prayer). And in the hour of early dawn (sahar), they would implore God’s forgiveness” (adh-Dhariyat 51:17–18). This verse expresses appreciation for the believers who get up during the final hours of the night and make istighfar, who open up to God imploringly, and who prostrate and nearly forget to rise back up from the prostration position; it announces this appreciation to all dwellers of heavens, spiritual beings, and to all believers. As certain praiseworthy qualities of believers are related by the Qur’an or the Prophet, others who do not yet have those desirable qualities are encouraged to acquire them. Therefore, it is extremely important to rise during the final hours of the night when others are sound asleep and offer servitude to God by two units of Tahajjud Prayer, at the least.

Also, there are times when the heart is softened, when one feels the weight of sins on the conscience and overflows with emotion… they must be taken as great opportunities for istighfar. We can call them times for breezes of proximity to God. Additionally, turning to God repentantly right after one commits a mistake or sin will mean taking the opportunity of “the first moment of realization that one has stepped into mistake and sin,” for such moments are among the time periods when istighfar is most acceptable. Sins resemble whirlpools and they pull the individual into them like an addiction. It is difficult to rid oneself of sins after a person is immersed in them. If somebody in such a situation does not give the willpower its due and make resolved efforts to be freed from swamp of evils, that sinner may begin to wish for the non-existence of the Divine commandments that forbid those evils, and this wish might lead to one’s ultimate spiritual downfall by losing faith completely. This has been the general pattern for those who fall. This is why it is so important to step back from sin immediately, fearing to come to a point of no return.

Let me conclude with one final point. Even though the times we mentioned above are important opportunities for istighfar, it is not necessary to allocate a special time for seeking God’s forgiveness and protection from sins; indeed, limiting istighfar to those segments of time is wrong. One can and should ask forgiveness from God at any time during night and day, taking every moment of life as an opportunity for it. Whenever possible, one can draw to a corner, sit on bent knees, or prostrate oneself, and turn to God repentantly and ask forgiveness. One can open up to God through istighfar while walking somewhere, driving, or waiting for someone; one should make use of every available moment in this respect. Death can come any time, and meeting death with lips mumbling istighfar is a very important means in terms of walking to the realms beyond in a purified state.

1. Sahih al-Bukhari, Janaiz, 80, 9
2. This does not refer to the marvelous blessing of the physical heart in the chest that pumps blood throughout human body, but to its spiritual counterpart. (Ed.)

3. Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Tafsir al-Surah, (83) 1
4. Sahih al-Bukhari, Tawhid, 22
5. Sahih Muslim, Masajid, 135

This text is the translation of “İstiğfar