“Kemmiyet” represents quantity, while keyfiyet signifies the quality of consciousness. When we refer to ‘quality’, we understand the depth of an individual’s inner being, their faith, sincerity, consciousness of being seen by God (ihsan), benevolence, devotion, and piety. In other words, ‘quality’ is the manifestation of Islam in a person’s demeanor, words, actions, thoughts, fully internalized and integrated into their nature.
Both ‘quantity’ and ‘quality’ hold their own significance. However, if we were to prioritize between the two, undoubtedly, ‘quality’ takes precedence. ‘Quantity’ is not without importance, but it holds comparatively less significance than ‘quality’ Nevertheless, ‘quality’ cannot be discussed without the presence of ‘quantity’.
Both ‘quality’ and ‘quantity’ should be given due importance and in the right measure. On one hand, the goal should be to reach out to as many people as possible – to a larger number of people, and on the other hand, efforts should be made to enhance their quality of faith – experience through various activities. In this regard, we should make it our motto to not only express our own feelings and thoughts that pertain to rights and truths using the technical possibilities of our time to reach as many people as possible, but also to do everything in our power to help those introduced to Islam become faithful and loyal Muslims. This means that at all times and in all situations, we should aim and strive to deepen our understanding in both quantity and quality aspects and, for this purpose, follow trustworthy guides and spiritual mentors.
The Balance of Quality and Quantity
In spiritual mentoring and guidance ‘quantity and quality’ are two important aspects, and the balance between them must be maintained. Unfortunately, in terms of quantity, growth often occurs at the expense of quality. If this balance is not observed, an increase in power and numbers, the expansion of material resources, and a decline in standards and quality can result. Alongside outward expansion and development, there should also be an inward deepening to ensure healthy growth.
The human body functions in a similar way. For a person to have a healthy and excellent physique, their bones, muscles, nervous system, brain, and mental faculties must develop and grow together in a balanced manner. An individual in whom the brain mechanism does not develop in parallel with the bone, nerve, and muscle systems cannot fulfill the expected functions. Such a person is seen not as a fully developed human but rather as a ‘special’ being.
The Example of the Companions in Expansion and Deepening
The example of the Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) provides a valuable illustration of both expansion and deepening in the context of Islamic history.
‘Expansion’ (here in the sense of quantity): The early Islamic community led by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) saw significant expansion in terms of the number of Sahabah who accepted Islam and became part of the Muslim community. This expansion was a result of their tireless efforts in conveying the message of Islam to various tribes and communities. The Sahabah’s commitment to mentoring, guidance, and outreach helped Islam spread far and wide, increasing the quantity of Muslims.
‘Deepening’ (here in the sense of quality): While there was a rapid growth in the number of Muslims, the Sahabah also focused on deepening their faith and understanding of Islam. They did this by closely observing and learning from the Prophet Muhammad’s teachings and actions. The Sahabah’s strong connection to the Prophet allowed them to develop a deep and profound understanding of the faith. Their commitment to the quality of their faith and practice ensured that they upheld the true essence and values of Islam.
The balance between expansion (quantity) and deepening (quality) in the early Islamic community, as demonstrated by the Sahabah, played a crucial role in the success and endurance of Islam. Their dedication to both aspects allowed Islam to grow in numbers while maintaining its quality and authenticity.
One of the factors that made the Companions great was their simultaneous external and internal development. They meticulously fulfilled their responsibilities in the name of spreading the word of God during the day, while at night, they spent their time in prayer, devotion, and in a humble posture before Allah. On one hand, they displayed exceptional performance in carrying the name and message of Allah to distant lands, and on the other, they learned the Qur’an and the Sunnah (the practices and teachings of the Prophet) very well, applying them in their own lives. They continually sought new ways to approach the Divine Being and seized every opportunity to earn His pleasure. They, in a sense, utilized their pure and expansive minds, prepared for the Qur’an, to understand the revealed verses, constantly delving into different depths by discussing the verses among themselves. This is why they remained unaffected by the storms blowing from various directions and stood firmly in their place like trees firmly rooted in the ground.
After the era of the Sahaba, during the early years of Islam, both internal and external expansion continued in tandem. While Muslims rushed from one battlefield to another to protect their religion and community, they also dedicated themselves to deepening their knowledge and spirituality, leaving a lasting impact on people worldwide through their conquests. Scholars were diligently engaged in the compilation and teaching of Islamic knowledge and sciences in every corner. While plowing the fields behind the plow, they discussed religious matters and embarked on long journeys for the verification of even a single Hadith (sayings and actions of the Prophet).
In the pursuit of reading, comprehending, reciting and conveying the Qur’an “as it was revealed by Allah”, they developed the sciences of Tajweed (correct pronunciation) and Qiraat (various methods of recitation) and disseminated them to the rural areas and villages. They established schools everywhere, formed study circles, trained students, authored works, and displayed a staggering level of scholarly activity.
If we want to stand firmly in our place alongside expansion and growth, what we need to do is precisely this. With each development, we should plant new roots where we stand and drive in a few more stakes. Just as a larger tent requires more and sturdier stakes to remain firmly in place, we too must deepen in quality alongside our external advancements in the outside world. This way, we can stay secure, free from slipping and deviations, and avoid fragmentation and collapse.
As a general principle, we strive to preserve the elevated status of the Sahaba (the companions of the Prophet) and are sensitive about not scrutinizing – questioning them. However, it is essential to remember that after the era of Caliph Uthman bin Affan (may Allah be pleased with him), some individuals who caused discord and turmoil, followed false prophets, rebelled, and, for the most part, were new converts to Islam who had not yet fully understood or internalized the faith. Even though they became part of a functioning system, they were unaware of how this system was established, how it operated, the dedication and effort that went into it, the mental exertion, and the hardships endured. Consequently, they caused various problems. In later periods as well, there were individuals in their society who posed problems, having not attained sufficient spiritual maturity and being inclined towards quick fixes.
As emphasized by Bediüzzaman Said Nursi, the duty of mentoring and guidance and calling to good is a supererogatory obligation in today’s world. We consider it our greatest aspiration to convey the values that trickle down from the depths of our spiritual heritage to receptive hearts. To fulfill this duty properly, we do whatever is necessary according to the conditions of our time: we establish institutions, engage in educational activities, seek solutions to societal problems, and strive to reach out to the world as much as possible. However, alongside quantity, we never neglect quality. While we shoulder all kinds of responsibilities for the sake of conveying the word of Allah and face trials and tribulations, we also seek ways to deepen our understanding of the Qur’an as a community. Otherwise, the body cannot bear the burden placed upon it, and we would find ourselves among the losers in the pursuit of, in the realm and race for, salvation.
Indeed, while we expand into different cultural and belief landscapes on one hand, if we do not nourish our hearts and minds and neglect our inner world, we may become overwhelmed under the weight we bear. If our positions of leadership and representation grow in the realm of management and administration, but our spiritual and inner lives do not similarly expand, we could be like a person whose body grows but whose muscles and bones do not develop sufficiently – we wouldn’t be able to stand; we might even become paralyzed. With growth and increasing blessings, we may become complacent. We might become addicted to comfort, indulging in excesses in eating and drinking. We may shy away from services that demand hardship and sacrifice, whether for our religion, community, or humanity. We might not be willing to make sacrifices for the greater good. Things we perceive as blessings could turn into trials for us. We might find ourselves overwhelmed and crushed by problems.
Therefore, every time we come together, we must prioritize strengthening our inner [personal-individual] resistance system and spiritual empowerment. We should focus on elevating people from the material realm to the levels of the heart and soul. We should emphasize faith in Allah, knowledge of Allah, and love for Allah in all our gatherings. We should study, understand, compare, discuss, and read more deeply the works related to faith and the Qur’an. We need to reawaken sluggish minds and reignite enthusiasm in spirits whose zeal has faded. As mentioned in verse 122 of Surah Al-Tawbah, it is particularly important for a group to engage in the acquisition of profound and accurate religious knowledge, as well as in the training and guidance of others. This is a matter that requires diligence and seriousness. Once this aspect is well-established, carrying out external tasks becomes much easier.
Unfortunately, it cannot be said that we give this issue enough importance. We sometimes make mistakes in setting priorities. While dealing with opening institutions, managing them, organizing social activities, and so on, we may not allocate enough time for reading, contemplation, and spiritual nourishment. We can sometimes perceive certain activities, planning, and projects, as well as administration and leadership, as more important and focus our meetings and consultations exclusively on them. At times, we might even consider ourselves self-sufficient, neglecting reading, reflection, and daily spiritual practices, and become ensnared in bureaucratic tasks. Engaging in the intricacies of tasks and constantly monitoring our surroundings can distance us from the ‘quality’ aspect. However, a person who neglects daily spiritual practices, does not read books that reflect our feelings and thoughts, and does not renew their spiritual world is prone to withering, regardless of who they are.
In this regard, we urgently need to reevaluate ourselves. Thoughts like, “We are passionately striving on the front lines to convey the truth and knowledge to needy hearts. Therefore, we don’t have time for reading, contemplation, or reflection”, are nothing more than the whispers of the devil. Setting aside such thoughts, we should make room for reading, listening, thinking, and discussing among all our activities, from tea gatherings to car journeys. We should aim to stay vibrant and alive through listening, watching, reading, and engaging in discussions. Deepening our servitude to The Creator and expanding our knowledge mentally, spiritually, and emotionally should always be our most important goal. We should strive to transform every place we are in into a place of knowledge, learning and worship. If we can stand tall and succeed in our endeavors, it is because of Allah’s grace. When there is a deficiency in this aspect, we should fear that the heavens may fall upon us and that the earth may swallow us whole.
Every service rendered for the sake of Allah, every institution established in His name, holds great importance, but we should never forget that maintaining a strong connection with Allah is more crucial than opening a thousand universities or governing the world.۞
 “ihsan” refers to the consciousness of being seen by God even though you do not see Him.