God Almighty states in the Manifest Book—the Qur’an—that every hardship will be followed by ease (al-Inshirah 94:5-6). Experiences in our individual and social lives can provide us with numerous examples of how this principle works. Looking at history, we can easily discern how periods of oppression and pressure were followed by waves of progress and flourishing. Not unlike this historical record, the flourishing and growth of the Hizmet Movement, too, took place in almost instantaneous jumps right after such periods of pressure and oppression.
As is known, we suffered a number of hardships, including military coups, that came one after another since the 1960s. But all these hardships paved the way for our improvement or development both in terms of quality and quantity. The pressures to which we were subjected helped us attain metaphysical vigilance with perfect reliance on God and made us like a strong building (bunyanun marsus, as-Saff 61:4) by bringing us even closer. In other words, the divine destiny forced us to come to our senses and become one. Becoming one in unity, concord, and alliance is one of the most powerful means for God’s divine guidance and assistance.
Indeed, the overwhelming pressures and crises may unexpectedly lead to the opening of new doors. This is because people tend to make better use of their reason, look for means and resources to get out of those difficulties, and consult each other to plan for what they should do. As a result of such efforts, people may come up with very original, bright ideas with divine inspiration.
When there are no difficulties, everything works as expected, and no one feels challenged, people are mostly overcome by habituation and familiarity. Their vision becomes duller. A well-functioning system may lead to blindness over time. On the other hand, when things start to go wrong, people tend to review what they have been doing to identify shortcomings, faults, and defects in the plans and projects. This in turn is conducive to new growth. New, alternative routes are initiated. New areas of service are discovered. For instance, certain problems and traumas we encountered led to the opening of the first student hostel. In the same vein, the transition from student hostels to schools occurred in the wake of another wave of pressures. When our first summer retreats and camps were disbanded, this paved the way for new retreats and camps at different locations.
Today, the people who strive to perform services to promote belief in God and in the Qur’an are facing similar pressures and persecution, and it is hard to predict how God will guide us and what sort of unexpected favors and blessings He will give us as a result of this oppression. What we are supposed to do today is to analyze the current state of affairs correctly, make the best of our position, and use our resources efficiently. Even in the most critical moments, we should focus on our own affairs and duties. We are expected to speed up the pace of our efforts with perfect trust and reliance upon God even against the most unfavorable conditions and the most severe storms. We cannot know what will happen tomorrow. What matters is to do what we can do today.
It is essential that we should not panic in face of pressures or adversities. To date, the Lord Almighty has bestowed diverse blessings and favors on those who serve His religion. Who knows what kind of blessing is next? Who knows: it may be that He is making us go through arduous trials and tribulations by divine wisdom in order to make us eligible for His future favors and blessings. Perhaps, He is willing us to make the best of our position. The divine wish may be to ensure that we turn to Him with utmost sincerity by depriving us of all those causes we solely and erroneously rely on one by one.
The bitter truth is that human beings usually fail to turn to God, the Causer of Causes, unless they are left with no cause to rely on and feel themselves completely helpless. They may be raising their hands or putting their heads in prostration for supplication, but all those prayers may be failing to go beyond appearance and formalities. Unless they find themselves in a state of helplessness and necessity, they are unable to turn to God with their entire being and strip themselves of their egos. It is sometimes their egos, other times different reasons of causality that are obstacles and prevent them from moving forward. Thus, God may make His servants experience a temporary state of impotence and helplessness so that we can free ourselves from the causes that eclipse our connection with God by getting in between us and Him. Then, the mystery of Divine oneness reveals itself with a special help independent of all causes. If we can pass this trial, turning to Him with an awareness of our helplessness, then those trials and tribulations may be transformed into lights of Divine mercy and deliverance.
On the other hand, we can see those pressures and sufferings as wake-up “slaps,” so to speak, from Divine compassion to make us come to senses. We can consider them as warnings from God which come when we fail to make the best use of the Divine favors and blessings upon us. We may have failed to appeal to consultation with others and took our decisions arbitrarily. We may have taken credit for some of those favors and blessings. As a result, our Lord may have kindly scolded us as a warning, calling on us to return to the straight path. If God makes our trials and tribulations a means to diverse favors and blessings, we should then see them as blessings “forced” by God’s grace without our will and asking in some respects.
Do not bother yourselves much if today some people slander and denigrate you or turn their backs on you, leaving you all alone. Not everyone has the same level of resilience. History records many such people who would change their direction depending on the direction of adverse winds. In the past, numerous people were misguided or deceived to act by mob psychology. After a while, many of them came to their senses, realizing that they were acting erroneously, and eventually turned back to their proper positions. One may even say that their recovery was as swift and extensive as their deviation. Upon realizing that they were wrong, those people may eventually turn back to your ranks and even persuade others to do the same. I am saying so because I have no doubt about the purity and sincerity of your hearts, souls, and intentions. We may have had faults, omissions, or negligent acts that can be attributable to our human nature. Yet we have never requested anything worldly. We have never made anything other than God’s good pleasure our ultimate goal. We have not stooped or descended to what is unlawful or illegitimate.
From another perspective, it is natural that those who do not cherish the same feelings, ideas, hopes, aspirations, or expectations as you may eventually leave your camp. Those who do not have resilience may drop out. This is how it is, so that diamond-like souls may be filtered from those who are coal-like. The service you are trying to fulfill can be represented only by people of sound character on whom you can rely. In fact, we do not turn our backs to anyone, close down doors on anyone, or make anyone feel themselves alone or abandoned. This is another issue. Yet, it may be a blessing upon you when certain weak characters are disqualified with the harsh winds of oppression, for otherwise they may cause obstacles in your direction, sow seeds of suspicion in your heart, and discourage you from your path.
We must remember that if we break away from God, everything will turn against us. On the contrary, if we can keep our connection to God strong, our tremors will be temporary. God may let certain evil-meaning corrupt oppressors pester you, but there is certainly Divine wisdom in this. If you can get through this trial, then hardships will turn into goodness. The darkest hour of the night is always followed by the dawning of the light. The Divine help comes at the moment when we start to feel overwhelmed with hardships and pressures at the highest level and ask, “When comes God’s help?” (al-Baqarah 2:214) Hardships and a sense of entrapment are like mysterious keys to consolation and opening up to further expansion and vastness.
Given the unlimited favors and blessings God has endowed upon us in return for our smallest efforts, He will certainly grant us so many favors and blessings in the future if we manage to keep our word and fulfill our promises. Do not nurture any doubt about it, because what has happened so far is the most convincing reference for what will happen next. Perhaps, the institutions and services provided so far will multiply exponentially, paving the way for a worldwide peace and flourishing of human values. There is goodness and wisdom in whatever God selects and wills. What befalls on us is to receive whatever comes from Him with patience, consent, and pleasure.