The Greatest Credit for Journeyers of Guidance: Having No Expectation in Return

The Greatest Credit for Journeyers of Guidance: Having No Expectation in Return
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Question: What are the indispensable essentials for the duty of letting hearts meet truths?

Answer: A believer must observe worship for the Absolute One, who is to be worshiped with an absolute consideration of ultimate devotion. The worshipper must not be distracted from his servanthood, for we are but shackled slaves at His door. Our impotence and poverty before God, our weakness, inconsistencies, and our inability to attain the things we desire are evidence of this. It is apparent that we are not the owner and master of ourselves; there is an absolute domination over us.

In fact, a person may not always feel these truths. Sometimes, people become calibrated to a certain frequency, but if they cannot do the tuning properly, there can be some interference. And this means a volunteer involving his personal considerations in the issue. Therefore, a person must try to find the right sound through serious calibrations.

One must first weigh his thoughts, considerations, and words in the appreciative scales of the conscience, and only express them afterwards. After so much effort and striving, if some aspects of our personalities are involved in the issue, then we hope that God will cover these shortcomings of ours. Carefree and lighthearted manners do not agree with a consciousness of servanthood.

Banging Hammers, One upon Another

Imagine that you are prostrated during prayer and opened up to God; you do this for five or ten minutes. Right at that moment, due to the carnal soul, Satan whispers to you, something like, “You are observing worship very well.” If such a thought occurs to you through your inner voice, you must instantly say, with your inner voice again, “O God, the exclusively worshiped one! We failed to worship you thoroughly! O my God, whose name is remembered by every being on earth and in the sky, we failed to make remembrance of You as becomes Your glory! O my Lord, who deserves thanksgiving in all tongues of the creation! We failed to give you thanks properly! O my God, who is beyond all shortcomings, we failed to remember and glorify You thoroughly!” And thus one must slam a sledgehammer upon every thought and consideration that is not in compliance with His good pleasure.

But even if you slam the heaviest sledgehammers on it, you should still know that this kind of feeling, which is fed by whisperings of Satan and the deceptive embellishment of the carnal soul, will burst to life anew in unexpected moments, like a creature with nine lives. The carnal soul and Satan will never cease—even while circumambulating the Ka’ba, while raising your hands to implore God in Arafat, while observing devotions in Muzdalifa at night, and while hailing stones at the (symbolic) Devil (as if stoning one’s own desires); they will continually try to cause the person to slip and fall.

It is for this reason that it is commanded in the Qur’an, “Pursue, then, what is exactly right (in every matter of the Religion) as you are commanded (by God)…” (Hud 11:112). In the same way, we say in the prayers we observe every day, “Guide us to the Straight Path” (al-Fatiha 1:5); namely, guide us to whichever way is the correct one.

If we observe all of the daily prayers together with the Sunnah ones, then it means we are repeating this forty times a day. If we also observe other prayers, such as the Awwabin, Tahajjud, and Duha, then we ask to be guided to the Straight Path some sixty times a day. If He does not hold our hand and lead us to the correct path, we will mostly be exhausted in the dust paths of the carnal soul. If He does not hold our hand, we will cause many crashes and not easily be able to make up for these collapses and cracks.

Those Who Make Their Services Conditional to a Certain Return Can Never Succeed

On the other hand, if we always spell His name and always keep Him in mind and remain God-conscious in every breath we take, then our connection with Him continues, even when are under the influence of the physical side of human nature. For example, the Messenger of God gave the glad tidings that even if a person who retires to bed after offering the Isha Prayer and intends to rise for the Tahajjud Prayer is overcome by sleep, that sleep will be a grace from his Lord.[1] And this is a bestowal God Almighty grants us out of His immense mercy. The One of infinite mercy does not hold us responsible for totally unbearable duties, but only as much as we can carry out. As it is also pointed out in the verse, “God burdens no soul except within its capacity” (al-Baqarah 2:286), there is no unbearable responsibility in Islam.

Then, as our Lord showers us with His blessings out of His immense grace and infinite mercy, we must not cherish any desire but gaining His good pleasure, because there is nothing further than that. After God lets believers behold His blessed Countenance in Paradise, His greatest gift to them is His stating, “I am well-pleased with you!”

It is not possible for us to fathom in this world the immense pleasure such a Divine breeze will cause in the human soul. Perhaps, saintly persons such as Abdulqadr al-Jilani, Abu’l-Hasan ash-Shadhili, Muhammad Bahauddin al-Naqshband, Mawlana Khalid al-Baghdadi, Imam Rabbani, and Bediüzzaman may have experienced this kind of a delight, at least in as much as this world allows, as a ghost of the original. It is beyond my power either to tell or describe such a thing. God Almighty gave us the following glad tidings through His Messenger: “I have prepared for My righteous servants what no eye has seen and what no ear has heard, nor has it ever occurred to the human heart.”[2] From the frame drawn here, we understand that this is an issue far beyond human comprehension.

In this respect, there is nothing greater and worthier than wishing for it in this world and the next, and at the same time evoking the same wish in others. It is for this reason that the Prophets devoted their blessed lives solely to the essential of letting people know God, making people love Him, and strengthening people’s connection with Him; it is why they did not ask for or expect anything from anybody in return for that. Such hopes damage sincerity and cause the deed to be wasted. In addition, people who render their services conditional to certain returns have never succeeded. Even if they did temporarily, an adverse wind blew away everything.

The Same Truth Voiced by All of the Prophets

In chapter ash-Shuara, after God Almighty mentioned the names of the Prophets Noah, Hud, Saleh, Lot, and Jethro (Shuayb), peace be upon them, He stated the following as their shared discourse: “I ask of you no wage for that (for conveying God’s Message); my wage is due only from the Lord of the worlds” (ash- Shuara 26:109).

They fulfilled their duties solely for God, constantly turned their gaze to God, and did not have the slightest expectation from others in return for the services they carried out.

In spite of changing times and altered conditions, as well as different interpretations brought by different segments of time, the Prophets mentioned said exactly the same thing on this issue. Whatever Prophet Noah said, so did Prophets Hud, Saleh, Lot, and Jethro. Actually, each society to whom one of them was sent had a different problem of its own. This shows that even though problems are different, tackling them depends on being sincere and having no expectation in return.

For example, the people of Noah had taken great persons as deities and gave them names like Wad, Yaghus, Yauk, and Nasr. They adored people buried under the ground and expected something from them.[3] In a way, it was a danger that could be faced in every era.

As for the people of Ad, they boasted of their greatness and they would make houses in boulders by carving them. They were seized by their conceit in such a way that they believed that no harm from the earth or sky would touch them. They thought that if all fault lines were gathered under them and started breaking, this would still not bring down their sound buildings. Therefore, their problem was different than that of the people of Prophet Noah. Without caring for the threats that could befall him, Prophet Noah insistently pointed out what kind of a mistake they were making and showed his indifference to worldly benefits.[4]

When we look at Prophet Saleh, we similarly see that the people of that time had different problems. They also indulged in the world in their orchards, fields, and gardens, and began to live in a joyous and conceited fashion in their sound buildings. Prophet Saleh carried out the mission of conveying the Divine message in the face of all hardships without expecting anything in return. He invited them to Divine unity, and warned them against being an extravagant and corrupt society.[5]

As for the time of Prophet Lot, who lived later, people were immersed in obscenities unbecoming of humanity; they had become a perverted and immoral society. Like other Prophets, Prophet Lot invited his people to Divine unity and the right path without caring about the threats of being expelled and isolated, and had no expectations in return for his service.[6]

In the time of Prophet Jethro, the measures and scales in the marketplaces were corrupt. Commercial life was full of speculations. Money flew solely in accordance with the benefits of those in power and filled their stocks. Prophet Jethro was warning them with the words, “Give full measure (in all your dealings) and, be not one of those who (by cheating and giving less) cause loss to others. And weigh with a true, accurate balance. Do not wrong people by depriving them of what is rightfully theirs, and do not go about acting wickedly in the land, causing disorder and corruption” (ash-Shuara 26:181–183), and told them that he did not ask anything from them in return.

Five Prophets are mentioned in these verses of the chapter ash-Shuara, but the Pride of Humanity, peace and blessings be upon him, is not. However, the following statement of the Final Prophet related in another chapter is no different from their words: “I ask of you no wage for it (for conveying God’s Religion to you which will bring you this favor), but (I ask of you for) love for my near relatives (on account of my mission)” (ash-Shura 42:23).

With these words, the noble Prophet stated that he asked no wages from his people, who caused him every trouble during his thirteen years of Messengership, and forced him to emigrate from his homeland. Although he was a means of salvation in both worlds for those he addressed, he did not ask for anything from them in return. He slept on a straw mat, starved on some days, but he never changed his attitude.

Nullifying Credibility and Coming to Dead Ends

Actually, this is the sole way of inspiring trust and making those addressed believe. The people who have certain expectations in return for the services they carry out and who seek some benefits will have broken the esteem given to them and lose credit in the sight of those addressed. In this respect, if you have set foot on a path of serving in the name of God, you must not leave the way of the Prophets. Those who look at you should comfortably be able to say, “When they were involved in the issue, they had some hundred liras. When they finished, we saw that they had ninety liras left. They even failed to retain the money they initially had and spent for this sake.”

As this principle of not asking from others and not having any expectations is a necessary attribute, from the head of a village to the president of a state, it also holds true for the volunteers devoted to telling truths to others, for their greatest dynamic is having no expectation and being devoted.

Concerning those devoted to serving humanity, for them to leave behind lasting works they must walk on the path of the Prophets. Otherwise, those who begin as Aaron but transform into the ostentatious Qarun (Korah) on the way will sink into the ground, together with the riches they amassed, and they will become a loathsome memory. If my tongue had the slightest place for invoking curses, I would curse those who solely thought about their own benefit or who misappropriate shares for themselves while awarding contracts. But there is no available seat in my tongue for such cursing, for like Muhammad Iqbal said, I implore God so much, but I do not say amin to invocations of curses.

In this respect, at least the volunteers within this blessed circle, who devoted themselves to serving for faith and the Qur’an, must never hope for personal gains in return for the services they carry out. They must not be awarded undeserved contracts by using their esteem and credit, nor run after another benefit. They must not sacrifice their devotedness and having no expectations, which constitute the greatest dynamic for them, in return for such contemptible worldly things. There are already people who work for the world within a lawful frame. God Almighty blessed them with great gains in their business life and they are using their wealth for the sake of God. As for the devoted ones, who are in a guiding position, their greatest richness is their sincerity and not expecting anything. If they leave these and run after other things, then they will have left the greater for the sake of the lesser.

When the Pride of Humanity passed and thus traveled to the horizon of his spirit, his blessed armor was held in pawn by a Jewish merchant in return for the money he borrowed in order to provide sustenance for his family.[7] Caliph Abu Bakr was no different; he had put the remainder of the modest salary they paid to him in a jar and entrusted it to the caliph who would replace him.[8] Similarly, Umar ibn al-Khattab did not own anything. He slept on sand in the Prophet’s Mosque most of the time.

The Sorrowful Ending of Those Who Misappropriate

The people we mentioned above are the great guides who should be taken as role models. The right way and method is theirs. Other ways than their right one will deserve to be called “wrong-doings.” Such a person who strays from the righteous path will stray to many kinds of wrongdoing, even if unawares. Even though these wrongdoings makes the person smile at the beginning, a day comes and they make the person cry in such a way that he says, “Oh, would that I were mere dust (instead of being a responsible being with consciousness and free will)!” (an-Naba 78:40).

In this respect, at least the people in this noble collective must value this world—whose worth does not even amount to that of a fly’s wing in terms of its fancies and desires—only as much as necessary, and nothing more.[9] In a saying narrated as hadith, the world is compared to a carcass, and it is stated that those who devote all of their acts, plans, and proceedings for the sake of worldly things resemble dogs running to it.[10]

If only we could forget this deceptive world, except for its facets that truly merit attention! What has been done by those who did not forget it is such a shame for themselves, for their people, and their historical heritage. Topkapı Palace once led a blessed nation that followed the footsteps of the Prophet’s Companions into becoming a world power. This palace was the manifestation of our spiritual world. There were the lofty ideals of Mehmed II, Bayezid II, Selim I, and Süleyman the Lawgiver. They had set forth for distant lands, did what was necessary to maintain law and order in the world, brought oppressors to their knees, and let the oppressed find relief; but when they returned, they continued their duty in the plain and modest Topkapı Palace. On the contrary, the extravagant palaces like Dolmabahçe and Yıldız brought about the Ottomans’ downfall, in spite of all their grandeur and pomp. Although they made the world seem like Paradise, they actually caused us to forget Paradise and God.

[1] Sunan an-Nasa’i, Qiyamu’l-Layl, 63; Sunan Ibn Majah, Iqamatu’s-Salah, 177.

[2] Sahih al-Bukhari, Tawhid, 35; Sahih Muslim, Jannah, 4.

[3] Ash-Shuara 26:105–111; Nuh 71:23.

[4] Ash-Shuara 26:122–140; Fussilat 41:15–16.

[5] Ash-Shuara, 26:141–159.

[6] Ash-Shuara, 26:160–175.

[7] Sahih al-Bukhari, Riqaq, 17; Sahih Muslim, Libas, 37.

[8] Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqatu’l-Kubra, 3/186.

[9] Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Zuhd, 13; Sunan Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 3.

[10] Al-Ajluni, Kashfu’l-Khafa, 1/492–493.

This text is the translation of “İrşat Yolcuları İçin En Büyük Kredi: Beklentisizlik.”