Question: Why are we not as concerned as we should be, in spite of the heart-rending incidents we encounter every day in our world? How do you think one should act in order to be a considerate believer in the sight of God?
Answer: There are circles of concern for a person, from the closest to the most distant ones. The person is at the center of these concentric circles. In other words, a person is naturally concerned about oneself. first of all. The fact that the following prayers from the Qur’an begin with referring to oneself first while asking forgiveness points to this natural situation: “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); “My Lord! Forgive me and my parents, and everyone who joins my household as a believer, and all the believing men and believing women…” (Nuh 71:28).
Despite this selfishness, it is unthinkable for real believers not to be concerned with what goes on around them. Actually, let alone being a believer, but everybody who has some share of humanity will suffer from another person’s grief and troubles. We see this when clashes and killings begin, and when innocent people are subjected to oppression and violence. All people are like the branches, fruits, leaves, or flowers of the same tree. The Qur’an addresses us as “O children of Adam!” (al-A’raf 7:31). Therefore, every person who has not lost conscience will be concerned about the sufferings their brothers and sisters go through. Depending on the depth of their feeling of compassion, they burn from within and it profoundly tugs at their heartstrings.
As for a real believer with an immense feeling of mercy and compassion, he deeply suffers for the troubles, oppression, and injustice all other people go through. This naturally begins with those closest to him—his family, those who share the same values, and those in his community, such as fellow believers and other citizens. No matter who is struck by calamities, such a believer suffers deeply, as if he himself had been struck.
Suffering, Like a Gong Resonating in the Night
People who are aware of the present situation of the Islamic world and the schemes orchestrated against Muslims are especially wounded by the suffering of others. It is impossible not to lose sleep, feel agonized, and moan day and night over what is happening. Different groups of people in the Muslim world lived peacefully together, without any problems, for a certain period of history; this was particularly so during Ottoman times, for some four or five centuries.
Unfortunately, there are efforts abound to make Muslims into enemies of one another. Seeds of dispute and disunity are being sown by outside groups, and various conspiracies are carried out in order to bring Muslims to loggerheads. Those who will do anything to retain power are continuing their schemes to divide and factionalize Muslims in order to rule without disruption.
While Muslims are at one another’s throats, others come near them, playing the arbiter, and appropriate their resources of wealth. They have divided the Muslim world into pieces, and thus exploited the riches over and under the ground. Today, the same games are being played with the same goals and desires. Those who provoked fires of discord between Muslim groups once are continuing to commit the same evil today, in an even stealthier fashion.
In addition, the immune system to protect Islamic values and criteria is in a weaker state, for hypocrites are harming Muslim societies from within like a virus. It is so difficult for people who are constantly in conflict with one another to present balanced thoughts and sound judgments—perhaps it is even impossible. Individuals and masses in confrontations are doomed to lose their senses and to act emotionally. As the Qur’an also points out, some even begin to behave instinctually, like animals. They do not think for even a moment whether all of these clashes and confrontations do any good to the Islamic world. They do not ever wonder in self-criticism, “Why do some assume an arbiter’s role and slam down on us, while the Islamic world is engaged in conflict with itself?” If a person thinks about all of these facts, can analyze them, and can see what is going on behind the scenes but does not feel concerned despite all of this, then that person has lost his feeling of basic humanity.
Even If You Do Not Cry, Feel Ashamed to Laugh at Least!
Actually, those who can cherish conscientious scrupulousness not only feel concerned about what they see in the world of humanity, but also fear for animals, plants, and even non-living things. It is an outward reflection of humanity for conscientious people that they feel a kinship with every being and feel troubled by their struggles: this is true in terms of both the fact that each thing in the worlds point to the Lord of the Worlds, and that the human was rendered the master of all creation.
I was very much impressed by some documentaries I watched many years ago. For example, a few lions killed a water buffalo. One of them jumped onto its back, one of them caught its feet, another bit the buffalo’s throat, and these lions finally ate the buffalo. I still cannot forget this scene. Although that innocent animal had horns, there was not much it could do before the sharp teeth and strong claws of the lions. Sometimes when I go to bed and draw the blanket over myself, I lay imaginary traps for those lions that unjustly killed that water buffalo, expand my bow, and take aim at them by saying, “Why did you kill that innocent animal? Take it, this is your just deserts!” Then I shoot an arrow at them.
There is a food chain in the animal world. An animal that God created as a carnivore survives by eating other animals. As herbivores start eating grass as soon as they come to this world, carnivores are naturally oriented to eating meat; this is what their natural traits require. Even we slaughter an animal we wish to eat when the time comes. On the other hand, although we cognitively accept the situation, we emotionally remain under the influence. On witnessing an innocent animal being devoured by a few predators, our heart sinks, and we feel disturbed and upset. I think everybody who listens to their conscience will have the same feelings on this issue.
If a person feels disturbed by such sights even when animals are concerned, it is impossible for him not to feel disturbed and agonized for people being killed. In this respect, not being upset by the fires in both Turkey and other Muslim lands is an indication of having lost one’s humane feelings. As for people who have not lost their humanity, they definitely feel upset because of the suffering in today’s world.
While telling the situation of Muslims, the poet Mehmed Akif says,
It is our chastity being violated, it is our children being slaughtered!
O You shameless one! Even if you do not cry, feel ashamed to laugh at least!
As a matter of fact, the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, once stated, “Whoever does not care about (the sufferings and troubles of) Muslims is not one of them.” Namely, if a person deserves to be called a Muslims, even a marginal one, he or she should feel the sufferings Muslims are subjected to as an inner trouble. One who does not feel these as an inner trouble will naturally not bother to think of developing alternative solutions to tackle those problems.
However, everybody must look at oneself first in this respect and avoid baseless negative thoughts about others. We cannot know what is going on in another person’s head. The people around us may seem insensitive on account of their being very patient and steadfast. Actually, they too may be feeling the same pain we do. Their heart may also be continuously bleeding with the problems inflicted upon Muslims. Due to having a strong immune system, they may be not giving any outward signs of their sorrow, and may not reveal their suffering to others.
War-Mongering, Which Might Bring about the End of Humanity
The following is an important aspect of the issue of suffering in the face of the troubles and misfortunes people go through: As it is not right to remain indifferent, it is definitely not right to yell, engage in destructive acts, or to resort to violence. Such a reaction, made in the name of a solution, can neither be reconciled with Islam nor humanity. Therefore, such extremisms must never be allowed. On the contrary, it is necessary to put a barrier before every kind of violence by bringing human values to the fore.
For this reason, it is necessary to point out at every opportunity that the acts of violence and terror which kill innocent people without distinguishing children, women, and the elderly have nothing to do with religion, even if they are committed as a reaction against oppression and injustice. Those who commit such murders must be openly protested; we must reject the idea of brutal force. If possible, it is necessary to rehabilitate those in deviation of thought in this respect and save them from the misguided path they have taken. While this is being done on the one hand, sensible politicians, sociologists, philosophers, pedagogues, and educators must come together, and they must try to develop a language of peace between different civilizations, instead of dialogues of violence and war. Against the war language and war mongering some states try to incite for the sake of their interests, it is necessary to form a language and environment of peace by means of common sense. A possible World War III could incinerate the entire world. It is necessary to develop alternative projects and make plans against every kind of provocation and incitement. Any possible plans must be effectuated immediately. Otherwise the horrible weapons produced in our time may be used in a world. This could bring about the end of humanity.
 At-Tabarani, Al-Mujamu’l-Awsat, 1/151, 7/270; Al-Hakim, Al-Mustadrak, 4/356.
This text is the translation of “Zaman Dertlenme Zamanı.”