Question: How should chastity be understood when looking at the path of the Prophets?
Answer: All Prophets used their lives for the sake of conveying the messages from beyond heavens to humanity and expected nothing from anyone in return. They lived in modesty and humility, kept away from dissipation, did not give up thankful contentment, and led a simple life of asceticism. As a matter of fact, some of them such as Prophets David and Solomon, peace be upon them, were given kingdom as well. But they never gave up living modestly and used all opportunities and power they had for the sake of upholding the Divine teachings in their time. The kingdom granted by God Almighty neither made them dizzy nor made them go astray. They never let their chastity and innocence be tainted, always inspired trust in those around them, and remained loyal to their Prophetic attributes throughout their lives. In this respect, a condition for people to follow the path of the Prophets was to embrace these same virtues, which are indispensable qualities of the Prophets. As for those who do not walk on this path, let alone their fulfilling the duty of following guidance and spreading the message, they run the risk of occasional strays to the course of evil even if they are Muslims.
It Is Not Only Your Reputation That Will Be Tarnished
Those who run on the path of guidance, particularly if they are included in a lofty collective, must understand that the sins they commit, and even little wrongs to taint their chastity and faithfulness, could cause disgrace to the entirety of the collective with which they are affiliated. A collective is like one body. When one of its members is spattered with mud, the entire body will be dirtied. Therefore, a person whose legs are spattered with mud cannot say, “There is nothing wrong since my face, hands, and eyes have not been spattered with mud.” In the same way, it is not correct for someone who is affiliated with a certain circle but who cannot get his eyes, ears, hands, and tongue under control, who does not suffice with the pleasures within the lawful sphere but transgresses to the unlawful zone even in the least bit, to say “I am just the heel or foot or knee… so there is no harm for the others if I am spattered with mud.”
Thus, the duty that falls to those on the path of serving faith is to show scrupulous care about not being spattered with mud, to be diligent in keeping immaculate, and always to remain in the sphere of chastity while using their hands, feet, tongue, eyes, and any other blessing bestowed upon them. As far as chastity is concerned, a true guide endeavoring to voice the truth should be able to very comfortably say, “My God! If I am to lay my eyes on and give ear to something You do not like, take my life please!” They must be loyal to his or her ideal in this degree, behave nobly, and never mar the face of Islam or smear it with anything, always following the Prophets—the real representatives of the path of guidance who acted so scrupulously at protecting their innocence and chastity that they did not let even the slightest spot of mud spatter upon them or allow the slightest blemish to their chastity.
“My God, Please Do Not Disgrace My Friends through Me or Disgrace Me through My Friends!”
A person’s neglecting to show due scrupulousness in this respect will mean violating the rights of the entire collective and harming them just like a devil. Therefore it is dubious whether such a person will enter Paradise unless each member of that circle forgives that person individually and gives his or her blessing to that person about this violation. For this reason, we must constantly implore in our prayers, “My God, please do not disgrace my friends through me or disgrace me through my friends!”
Unfortunately people known to be Muslims in our time have committed such evils that we bend in grief before these and say, “If only they had not listened to their carnal soul and done these evil deeds! If only they had died for the sake of chastity and loyalty and had not been involved in these immoralities.
Chastity of Words
On the other hand, even though it does not hold true for ordinary people like us, as far as people who are at a certain position are concerned, for the sake of the people who look at them with esteem they must utter what they will only after having thought about it some ten times over. They must review it letter by letter, and only then offer it to the people like the line of a poem. Words uttered without taking into consideration how they will be perceived by the audience and what kind of reactions they will likely cause can open wounds in bosoms like a spear, and these wounds are nearly impossible to cure. Words spoken thoughtlessly often cause dissension and social disunity. Indeed, a single word can cause communities to oppose and fight; a single sentence can make a nation lose.
Our Lost Values
Chastity, innocence, loyalty, and faithfulness are unfortunately values that have been lost to us. These are the essential components of the Paradise we have lost. If you intend to build up Paradise anew, these are its building blocks. The architecture of this building of civilization has already been drawn by the Prophets long ago. When a renewal was necessary in later times according to the needs of a given era, this architecture was once more presented to beholders by mujtahids, revivers, and purified saints, and the following message was given to those addressed: “Adjust your manners and stature once more according to these lines. Because maintaining the true understanding of servanthood depends on suiting this architecture.”
Scholars like Sayyid Qutb (d. 1967) questioned whether the people of his time had anything to do with real Islam. The poet Mehmed Akif (d. 1936) used even heavier words:
Let alone being Muslim, we can hardly be called human;
Let us make no pretense, we cannot fool anyone.
All the true Muslims I knew are already in their graves.
The real Islam is I guess, nowhere else but in heavens.
I do not wish to cause anyone to lose hope by saying these. One must bolt up doors against losing hope from the very beginning and never give into hopelessness. On the other hand, one should not cease to practice self-supervision either. If you live judiciously in this world, you do not fail to account for your deeds before the Day of Judgment. The great personage Umar ibn al-Khattab who was honored by the noble Prophet with the words, “If a Prophet would come after me, that would be Umar,” always lived with a consciousness of being called to account in accordance with the warning: “Bring yourself to account before you are brought to account.”
It is therefore necessary to plan one’s life according to a serious mathematical logic. While there is the opportunity in this life of making one good deed into ten, tens into hundreds, and hundreds into thousands, there is also the possibility of upsetting all of these gains with a small mistake. In other words, if a person leads a life based on serious otherworldly reckoning he can turn good deeds into thousands, but he can fall with very little mistakes if he lives without any reckoning. It is for this reason that Bediüzzaman, the great guide who illuminates our path, warns us: “Do not drown in a morsel, a word, a grain, a glance, a beckoning, a kiss! Do not cause your faculties that are so extensive that they can contain the whole world to drown in such a thing.”
The Pride of Humanity pointed out that looking at a forbidden sight is “an arrow from the poisonous arrows of Satan.” Sometimes the eyes look at, the feet walk toward, and the hands extend to the forbidden, and the consequence may be immorality that brings utter shame. And if that person is affiliated with a certain movement, then the evils he commits might be used to defame the entire collective. If we also consider that some people look forward to occurrences of such falls so that an opportunity to accuse an entire collective arises, it will be understood that it is necessary to be much more cautious in this respect.
Preserving the Trust
For God’s sake, then, let us build walls upon walls in order not to act in such an despicable way and not bring disgrace on the entire collective. Not sufficing with this, let us bolt doors upon doors. And when the henchmen of Satan comes, let us say, “Do not tire yourself in vain, the doors are bolted!” Thus, let us fulfill the duty of guiding others in safety as our personal position requires. Let us not destroy the world God granted us and its blessings by giving into our carnal soul. Truly, God Almighty blessed believing volunteers, who even do not know one another, with accomplishments not even realized by superpowers, not even by the Ottoman state. In the face of these blessings we are honored with, if we keep praising God ceaselessly, we still cannot offer due thanks for them. And remember that Sa’di Shirazi said it is necessary to thank God twice for every breath we take. And the blessings we are discussing here are far beyond a single breath.
In short, the load is heavy and the trust is so dear. If you bear this trust with fifty teams of bodyguards, it will still not suffice as this trust is from God, from His Messenger, from the revivers, and from the righteous Muslims of the classic period. Then come, for God’s sake, let us not bring shame on our people! Let us live chastely; let us bury our desires, not just by burying them but by placing boulders on them as well. This way, let us protect our faith and not ruin our Afterlife. Let us not be like those who destroy their otherworldly lives by filling their pockets, wallets, and bags whenever an opportunity emerges. Let us not be deceived like those who see the world as everything. Let us not transform into Korah and the Pharaoh as others have. On the contrary, let us follow the example our noble Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, and the Rightly Guided Caliphs! Let us succeed.
 Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 17.
 Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Qiyamah, 25.
 Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, The Gleams, New Jersey: Tughra, 2008, p. 188.
 Tabarani, Al-Mujamu’l-Kabir, 10/173.
This text is the translation of “İrşad Mesleği ve İffet Surları.”