Posts Tagged ‘dialogue’

The Mysterious Key to Hearts: Knowing Your Dialogue Partners

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: The volunteers, who scatter to different corners of the world, carrying thoughts of love and dialogue, meet very diverse cultural environments. What are the points of consideration in this respect?

Answer: The ones who dedicated themselves to the peace of humanity and who pursue this goal should first gain correct insight into the places they go. They should learn about the local people and cultural environment, so that they can express their feelings and thoughts comfortably. This is an important duty—one whose importance is in direct proportion with the sacredness of the feeling and thoughts represented. However well an idealist knows the environment he lives in, it will be that much easier for him to transfer the inspirations of his spirit to the people around him.

Unfortunately, although some people in our time express and claim that they follow the way of the Qur’an and the Prophet’s Tradition, and that they take as example the eminent and exalted inheritors of the cause of the Prophets, they cause different negative reactions owing to some mistakes of style. It is a reality that wrong manners might turn people’s stomach, even if they have been presented with the most delicious meals. Surely, truths of faith and religion have no ugly side whatsoever—God forbid—and there cannot be the slightest sickening factor in them. On the contrary, every principle of the Qur’an is Divine. No side of this Divine quality has any aspect to mislead people or raise any suspicions.

In the same way, the Prince of the Prophets’ sayings, which are but explanations of these essentials, along with the attitude and behaviors presented by the righteous Muslims of the classic period, are also so perfect. However, if you do not know well the people you are in dialogue with, or do not properly understand their feelings and cannot empathize with them, your presentation of these principles, which are perfect in every way, might cause serious reactions. The correctness of these principles is apodictic, and there is no doubt that they are a Divine message that came from the heavens. However, one must discern whether his dialogue partners—including their state, behavior, and cultural environment—are suitable for them to hear, understand, and accept these heavenly truths. It should not be forgotten that medicine is given according to the patient.  

Depending on the environment and culture they were raised, the people of a certain region may misperceive the lofty truths you voice and represent, and have a sense that these are being slammed upon them like a sledgehammer. In the words of Bediüzzaman, “Whatever you say should be true, but it is not proper to say (carelessly and on every occasion) whatever is true.”[1]

Actually, this situation is not only true for the people of other lands, but also for people in Turkey. I am of the opinion that those who meet on this reasonable line of shared principles and values are not well recognized, even in their original countries, with the exception of those who are not in a position to recognize, or those who do not want to recognize. These latter people already struggle to see and are, in a way, suffering from short-sightedness. However, I hold the opinion that those who stand side by side with them in prayer do not know them well enough either. They sometimes behave as if they have never seen any good works of the volunteers, never read anything about them, never heard their stories, and not reached a conclusion about them. In a period when the good works done have become a hot topic throughout the world and have begun to gather different nations and peoples together, the people of Turkey need to be sufficiently informed of these good works, too. It is necessary to take into consideration only points of agreement and to share mutually good things, just like we do in the place of worship; this needs to be done without hurting their feelings or making them runaway from us, and without boasting about our affiliation to a certain movement. Note that people from every understanding and thought come to the mosque with great enthusiasm, stand behind the imam, and offer worship for God in devotional obedience.

Some Criteria for Getting to Know Others

One may wonder about the criteria for knowing others, which is a necessary part of letting truths meet hearts. The following case narrated about Umar ibn al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, can give us a perspective for getting to know people.

One day, caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab said in address to a witness, “I do not know you. But my not knowing you does not discredit you. Therefore, find me someone who knows you.”

One of those present said, “I know this man, O ruler of believers.”

“With what quality of his do you know this man,” Umar asked.

And the other man replied, “I know him with his justice and virtue.”

Upon hearing this, Umar ibn al-Khattab asked three more questions to the man: “Is this witness a close neighbor of yours, whose day and night you have knowledge of? Is he a person with whom you exchange money in practical trade, which reveals a person’s true piety? Is he a person whom you know by being travel companions together, which reveals whether a person has a good character or not?”

Upon hearing the answer “no” to all of his questions, caliph Umar said, “You do not know him,” and then he turned to the witness, saying, “Go find someone who knows you.”[2]

As we can understand from this case, to be able to say that we “know” a person, we first need to know how he spends his days; whether he observes devotions at night; whether he feels troubled by self-criticism in consideration of the deeds he does every day; or whether he asks forgiveness from God imploringly, even when things he considers as “negative”—in spite of their not being so—pass from his imagination.

Secondly, it is necessary to be travel companions with that person, and put up with the difficulties of travel together. Traveling to different corners of the world for the sake of an ideal and enduring the difficulties of Hajj together can be evaluated within this frame. Only such travels can reveal how normally mild people can behave or feel enraged under difficulty; we can then see whether they lose their balance and enter some depression, or if they maintain self-control. Otherwise, without undergoing such difficulties together, it is not possible to say that we know such people sufficiently.

The third thing is engaging in trade. People can demonstrate their positive or negative thoughts about scrupulously giving everybody their due rights only in trade. Therefore, without engaging in such trade, it means that we do not know much about their scrupulousness in this respect.

Other than what we counted here, it is possible to mention points like sharing life in enclosed areas, such a prison. A prison environment is one of the places where it is possible to clearly see how people argue with one another, even over trivial matters, and how even the most sensible and sober people can become depressed or become virtually paralyzed by the treatments they receive. Those who have experienced this kind of environment know this well. Thus, it is not possible to know people well without sharing such an environment.

Without adhering to the criteria mentioned, remarks such as, “We know them; they are good people,” are patently untrue statements, to put it in mildest words. Knowing someone and reaching a judgment about them will only be possible within the frame of the essentials we mentioned above. When these principles are observed, it will be possible to know hot to treat people, how to pick the right words and understand whether these will cause them to react or not, and knowing which attitudes and behaviors appeal to their feelings. Otherwise, there is the risk of evoking hatred and reaction, even while laying heavenly tables before people.

Maximum Effort and Steps of the Stairway

While making the essentials of religion into the predominant spirit in one’s life, it is necessary to exert oneself night and day, like the Prince of the Prophets, peace and blessings be upon him, did in compliance with the command: “Proclaim what you are commanded to convey openly and in an emphatic manner, and do not care (whatever) those who associate partners with God (say and do)” (al-Hijr 15:94).

However, while telling these truths to others, it is necessary to do so in accordance with the principle of gradualness in Qur’anic revelation. Therefore it is necessary to develop certain habits of constant reflection, deliberation, and discussion. Only after this should one determine well what is to be told, and to whom, where, and how much. One should only act after thorough planning and preparation.

In this respect, I would like to point out once more that knowing the environment and the people we engage in dialogue with is a sacred duty, perhaps equal to the degree of sacredness of the message. Pouring the inspirations of our soul to other hearts will be easier if we know them. Otherwise, it must never be forgotten that people may be hurt, and a reaction may be evoked in them toward heavenly truths and exalted values.

While telling about God and His Messenger, and with the intention of making the audience love them, it is bitter to upset people on account of not having the proper style. It is a pitiable situation to inflict irreparable wounds in the minds of people who are newly learning about religion by telling them how terrible Hell is, and thus to make them run away from religion and make it impossible to ever gain their hearts again! May God Almighty not punish us because of the people we accidentally offended and alienated owing to our wrong manners and style!

[1] Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, The Letters, “Twenty-second Letter,” New Jersey: The Light , 2007, p. 284.

[2] Al-Mawardi, Al-Hawi al-Kabir, 16:180.

This text is the translation of “Gönül Kapılarının Sırlı Anahtarı: Muhatabı Tanıma.”

A New Version of Oppression and Being a Dry and Formalist Muslim

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: People who speak up against oppression and injustice, and who try to steer people from committing evil, are prone to slanders, threats, and pressure. What is the proper conduct in compliance with the Qur’an and Sunnah in such a situation?

Answer: God Almighty states that followers of the last Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, are the best community of humanity: “You are the best community ever brought forth for (the good of) mankind, enjoining and promoting what is right and good and forbidding and trying to prevent evil, and (this you do because) you believe in God” (Al Imran 3:110). And He made this quality of being the “best” community conditional to enjoining the good and forbidding evil; or in other words, conditional on trying to make goodness common and trying to save people from the harms of the evil. In this respect, in order to raise an exemplary generation to be envied by angels, it is necessary to enjoin good and let people meet goodness and beauty; but we also must make an effort to steer people from what sound reasoning and unadulterated human nature acknowledges as ugly.

Unrecognized Goodness

It is necessary to draw well the frame and limits of the issue of avoiding evils. Firstly, it should not be forgotten that this attitude is not a stance against an individual, but the evil attributes that person has. In other words, each evil attribute is like a virus that a person has contracted. The real aim is to eliminate the virus, and thus let the person regain health, goodness, safety, and peace. Therefore, if a believer takes a stance against negative attributes, or even declares war against them, he or she must be as merciful as possible toward those who bear these attributes, and use a soft language and style toward them as much as possible. So much so that while you avert those who committed evil from those evils, they should not recognize whether you take a stance against them or not. You should act in such a way with your gentle style that they should get rid of these bad attributes as easily as taking off some garments.  Acting this way is a necessity of a Prophetic attitude and the path of the blessed Prophet.

If you respond to a negative attitude and behaviors with a different negativity, you will not have prevented the negative behavior; you will have multiplied them. Particularly in our time, when people are continuously inculcated with negativities and most of them engage in various negative attitude and behaviors as a consequence, this issue bears further importance.

To put it in the words of Rumi, you are supposed to be like the sun is compassionate as it pats everybody’s heads; like the ground under our feet is modest; like the rain is generous and helps as it nourishes greenery; like trees as they provide shade for others; like the night as it covers up the faults of others; and like an immense sea is tolerant. This is true particularly concerning those who turn to the same qiblah with you and prostrate in the same way with you but who have strayed toward some wrongs or mistakes due to the goading of Satan and the drives of their carnal soul. Even if they move away from you, you should know to stand where you are. If you similarly move away from them when they move ten kilometers from you, then you will have increased the distance to twenty kilometers. But if you keep your position, you reduce the distance to half. And this distancing solely becomes a mistake of theirs. If they regret one day, and wish to come back, then they will not have far to go and they will not have to try and justify their mistakes. What really matters is not making the discord worse, but defying it with the shield of chivalry, and finishing it with God’s permission.

A Trial with Feelings of Dignity and Honor

Some might deem taking an attitude against such people a necessity of protecting their dignity and honor. The Pride of Humanity however, who possessed ultimate dignity and honor virtually like a crown on his head, knew to take one step back at some critical points, for the sake of good results he expected to see in the future. Thus, he showed us that a sensible step taken back when necessary is conduct that befits a Muslim.

For example, he set forth from Medina with his Companions for a minor pilgrimage (Umrah), and covered a distance of nearly 400 km with them.  However, when only a distance of some 60-70 km remained to their destination at Mecca, a group of Meccan polytheists confronted them and prevented them from entering Mecca. Khalid ibn al-Walid, who had not yet embraced Islam and who was famous for his military genius, surrounded the Muslims with the soldiers under his command. The Pride of Humanity did not react to this.[1] Actually, with a single sign from the blessed Prophet, the Companions would fight with their hearts and souls, overcome the forces of Khalid ibn Walid and Amr ibn al-As with God’s permission, and enter the Ka’ba.

Caring for not only his own but also the dignity and honor of those people which he regarded as entrusted to him, the Messenger of God still accepted the treaty stating that Muslims would return to Medina that year without visiting the Ka’ba, although he had promised a visit to Ka’ba to his Companions and knew how they felt.  After the treaty was signed, he returned to Medina with them without observing the minor pilgrimage. He did this just as he erased the title “The Messenger of God” on the treaty when the polytheists objected. Likewise, he accepted the treaty articles that outwardly seemed disadvantageous to Muslims such as, “If anyone wished to go from Mecca to Medina, they will not be admitted. On the other hand, those who wish to return to Mecca will not be prevented…” During the treaty negotiations, there were even cases such as the tortured Muslim captive Abu Jandal’s escape from Mecca and seeking refuge in the Messenger of God.

Each of these cases is in a way a point where honor and reputation are put aside. Although the Pride of Humanity was a person who had on his conscience the entirety of the sufferings the Companions went through, he put up with all of these events. In a way, these can also be considered as a form of backing down. However, each of these is at the same time a very important move in terms of attaining metaphysical vigilance, and then proceeding. Indeed, backing one step down here would prepare the grounds for a peaceful conquest of the Ka’ba when the Muslims comfortably took Mecca.

Active Patience and the Moment When Breezes of Divine Help Blow

As for our time, our honor and pride might be broken and we might be disgraced. We may face grudge, hatred, and envy to the degree of facing opposition for the most auspicious deeds we do, with accusations of their being devilish deeds.  At certain times in Turkish history, those who could not put up with religious belief and thought attacked you, and scrutinized everything you did. Years have passed now, but nothing has much changed. After those without belief, hypocrites came and continued the oppression. And after they also left, this time there came certain Muslims who had access to certain powers and means. They also gave you the same raw deal as those who once persecuted you did. They took an attitude against the preparatory schools for university—the dorms and schools which people of Anatolia opened with pains and tears, without antagonizing anyone. Hoping to find any faults, they unleashed some people against these education centers. Intolerance and jealousy sometimes makes a person commit evils an unbeliever would not even do.

However, we should not be shaken at all in the face of these evils, nor be concerned for our honor or pride. On the contrary, we should deem that God Almighty allows evils on account of certain wisdoms, and that nobody can do any harm if He does not allow, and turn to Him in full trust in His wisdom and mercy. We should say,

“Troubles from Divine Majesty,

Or graces from Divine Beauty,

To my soul, both are lovely!

Graces and troubles, I welcome them equally,”

We should wait for the moment when breezes of Divine help will blow. No matter whether those who commit oppression and injustice are antagonists of religion, those who stand in between, believers taken by envy, or hypocrites who outwardly appear as Muslims, we must absolutely not make any concessions with our feelings, thoughts, and essential principles on this issue. Our bosom must always be open to everyone; we must know to send armfuls of love to everyone. In response to those who shoot arrows at us, we must put roses to our bows and shower their worlds with roses; whether they understand this or not. Whatever we understand from the Qur’an and tradition of the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, in terms of ways and manners, we must keep being loyal to them until our last breath.

[1] Ibn Hisham, Siratu’n-Nabawiyya, 4/275–276.

This text is the translation of “Zulmün Yeni Bir Versiyonu ve Şeklî Müslümanlık.”

Love, Courage, and Strategic Thinking

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: What are the dynamics needed to solve huge, seemingly unsolvable problems?

Answer: For volunteers whose hearts are dead, in a religious sense—who have lost their enthusiasm and are going through the motions—it is unthinkable that they may overcome big problems. For this reason, there needs to be love and enthusiasm to solve the big problems that appear before us. A person must fix on the target with unceasing love and enthusiasm, be determined to strive on in the face of pressure and oppression, and show the resolve to stand up and continue no matter how often they’ve faced failure. If they have these traits, they can surmount seemingly impossible hills and turn possible defeats into victories.

The United Point of Trueness and Love

Prophet Adam is a very good example on this issue. God Almighty loaded into his genes what is considered an “err” according to the pure ones nearest to Him, and Adam committed a “lapse” (dhalla) in terms of his relationship with his Lord. As the Qur’an puts is, “…he (Adam) acted forgetfully…” (Ta-Ha 20: 115). However, what matters is being able to say, “O God please do not make me repeat this mistake again,” without giving in to despair after making a mistake or forgetting. This was what Prophet Adam, peace be upon him, did. Although it is not included in the sound sources of hadith, it is narrated in fairly reliable sources that owing to the err he committed, he implored God ashamedly for some forty years, without even raising his face to the sky.[1] It is very important for a person who erred to bow with shame, and accept his mistake by saying, “although I know God, and I’m from Him with everything I have, how can I commit such a mistake against Him?” and then beg forgiveness at the door of the True One to be worshiped.

If the fire of love is kindled in a person’s heart and love has seized his being, then he will never think of leaving the door of his Beloved One in spite of the various trials and tribulations he faces. Love is the title for a person’s relationship with God; it is a constant connection of the heart with Him; it is the yearning for reunion a person feels deep inside. When a love is crowned with trueness, even if a person burns with desire for the reunion, he will step back, obeying orders by saying, “I am not demanding to come now since You have not called me yet. I wish to fulfill my responsibilities toward You on Your path.” Such a horizon is the intersection of truth and love.

How to Save a Victory from a Defeat

Courage expresses a different dimension, or consequence, of love, and is another important factor in terms of surmounting seemingly insurmountable problems. The blessed Companion Mus’ab ibn Umayr presented a dizzying example of courage at the Battle of Uhud. When his arm was cut off, he said, “I have one more arm, it suffices me!” And when he lost the second one too, he said, “My neck is still here, now I use it as a shield,” and this even made the bitter face of death smile.[2] There is no problem such a paragon of courage cannot solve. The face of death is a bitter one of course; but if you smile at it, it smiles at you, too; so much so that God Almighty Himself takes back the soul He entrusted to the person, without even giving a role to the intermediaries. Personages like Abdulqadr al-Jilani and Abu’l-Hasan ash- Shadhili made the wish, “My God, take my life with Your own hand please!”

One of the most important virtues of the noble Prophet was his righteous courage and bravery. For example, although the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, did not make any mistakes of strategy, the early Muslims experienced a temporary defeat at Uhud. The blessed Prophet commanded a defensive battle, and though his tactics were sound, it is understood from the Divine statement, “Satan made them slip because of some of the errors they themselves had done” (Al Imran 3: 155), the distinguished group of the Prophet’s Companions were mistaken in their ijtihad—or their critical interpretation of the situation. The fact that the original wording of the Divine verse does not say they “committed” (iktisab) but “did” (kasb) indicates that theirs was a judgmental mistake of ijtihad. The Companions had failed to fully obey their orders and the consequence was a temporary defeat. However, the Messenger of God turned that temporary defeat into a victory. Note that right after the Battle of Uhud, Abu Sufyan gathered his army and set on the road towards Mecca. At a certain point, they weighed the idea of striking back to Medina to exterminate Muslims. In the meantime, however, the Messenger of God started to chase the army of polytheists with his Companions. On seeing the marching Muslims, most of whom were actually battle-struck, Abu Sufyan preferred not getting into trouble by turning back, but went home to rejoice with the people of Mecca over the partial victory they had gained—without showing the courage to confront the Muslims again.[3]

What happened in Hunayn was no different. The Thaqif and Hawazin tribes, who were very skillful archers, caught the advance guard of the Muslim forces in an ambush and the rear forces fell into confusion under a shower of enemy arrows. Even at such a moment, the Pride of Humanity spurred his horse on toward the enemy lines, and cried, “I am the Prophet; that is no lie. I am the descendant of Abdulmuttalib; that is no lie!” His uncle Abbas expressed that at that moment, he stopped the Prophet’s horse with difficulty.[4] Later, on the orders of the Prophet, Abbas called out at the top of his strong voice to the retreating Companions to return by saying, “O Companions who pledged allegiance under the samura tree, where are you?”

All the Companions who heard the call of the Prophet gathered near him and marched on the enemy. As a result, they reversed the defeat and gained a victory.[5]

In this respect, it is important for a believer to never grow despondent in the face of problems, but to grapple with them courageously. A believer must be spiritually vigil in a way that will enable him to say, “If the Divine will is manifested, with God’s permission and help, I can even change the orbit of the earth.” Given that one relies on God’s power and strength, there is no problem a believer whose heart is filled with courage cannot surmount.

Love and Courage Must Be Under the Assurance of Common Sense

Although feelings as love, enthusiasm, and courage are very important when tackling gigantic problems, these sublime feelings need to be based on a firm strategy and well founded logic; they need to be employed properly and ascribed to a sound project. With your warm and sincere breath coming from the bottom of your heart, you may possess a vigilance that could melt mountains of ice. But on its own, this factor does not suffice to solve problems. You also need to know your adversaries well, take into consideration the power and means they possess, and come up with projects accordingly. Otherwise, all of your mind and heart’s labors will be wasted.

This is especially true if you are surrounded by people thundering with hostility; if you are facing an entire circle of antagonists. And if that circle of enmity has very serious plots of their own, then you need to be much more cautious and act vigilantly. The colluded circles of antagonism, formed in a united line, can slam unexpectedly upon you like a sledgehammer.

In this respect, love, enthusiasm, spiritual vitality, and courage must definitely be safeguarded by common sense. You may compare it to the structure of a building. If you do not rest it on a sound foundation, the building will collapse at the slightest tremor, and you will be crushed under the debris of what you have built.

In order to not let all of these efforts go to waste, you need to safeguard your enthusiasm and dynamism by appealing to logic and judgment; but more importantly, you must appeal to collective reasoning. Rather than having two, three, or four geniuses who have the potential to change the world’s geography, it is much better to have people who consult with some five or ten others.

To put it once more, if God Almighty conditioned His graces to form a collective of consultation, it is beyond your power to change that. Remember that the noble Prophet stated that a person who consults with others will not experience regret.[6] In addition, there is almost no incident in which he did not use consultation. When some scandal-mongers slandered his pure wife, Aisha, who is more excellent than angels in heavens with respect to purity and chastity, the noble Prophet, who never panicked, even in his dreams, consulted with some of his Companions – even on this issue! Even concerning a private matter about his wife, he consulted with Umar ibn al-Khattab, Uthman ibn al-Affan, Ali ibn Abi Talib, and others, may God be pleased with them. Every one of them stated their good opinion about our mother Aisha, may God be pleased with her, who was a paragon of chastity and innocence, and their testimonies supported the pure considerations in the noble Prophet’s mind.

Actually, as a person who had the support of Divine revelation, the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, was in no need to consult with others about any minor or major matter. A Muslim considering otherwise would be disrespect toward him, and this would be a sign of lacking insight into what “revelation” means. God Almighty never let the blessed Prophet experience a void during his life. God never let him fall into a situation comparable to—I reluctantly say—a “fiasco,” but always supported him. As it can be taken from the verse relating his words during the Hijra—“Do not grieve. God is surely with us” (at-Tawbah 9:40)—the Messenger of God spent his life in a constant atmosphere of assurance, may our lives be sacrificed to that blessed life. Despite having no such need, he solved even the slightest issues through consultation, and thereby guided his followers on how they should act.

In this respect, we say that particularly on issues of general concern, finding a solution by means of collective reasoning is far more important than being a genius.

You must do everything you can to prepare and solve problems. Even in the face of a single problem, you develop alternative plans from A to Z. However, despite all these precautions, problems you did not consider might come up and cause confusion. One must never fall to despair in such a situation. Presently, in many Muslim countries, there are unfortunately fault lines that might give way to cracks at any time. These owe to intolerance and jealousy. In this respect, no matter how well you plan, you may still meet some unexpected negatives. One must never let this paralyze their willpower such by saying things like, “There is nothing further to do anymore. We are finished now!”

As Bediüzzaman puts it, despair is an obstacle to every kind of perfection.

Mehmed Akif said:

Despair is a marsh; you will drown if you fall into it.

Attach yourself to hope, then see where you will get!

Those who survive, owe it to their resolution and hopes;

But despair cripples a person in spirit and conscience.

It is a cursed knot, impossible to disentangle…

Like the most horrible killer, despair will never smile!

At the beginning of his poem, Akif makes the following address to a person who has fallen to despair:

O you living dead, two hands are for one head.

Get moving, the hands are yours, and so is the head.

I don’t know why your determination is so inconsistent.

Is it you, or your hope that is spineless?

To sum up, some people with twisted minds might wish to prevent your most innocent services for the sake of God, and try to sabotage your efforts. However, even if some fifty different conspiracies arise, one must never despair. With God’s permission and grace, you will not be shaken, and will always stand upright. It is necessary to seek ways of turning any situation, such as those at in Uhud and Hunayn, into a victory; and to walk towards the heart of belief, which may let people embrace faith in throngs.

One must never be discouraged by the conspiracies faced. In the face of obstacles and blocked roads, it is necessary to make a fresh start in the name of God and seek new alternative solutions. Even if a person is on the righteous path and sincere in his demand, he may not be granted each wish right away. We cannot know the wisdom behind the sufferings experienced. But who knows? Maybe as a result of these sufferings God Almighty will bestow more abundant blessings to the noble people of Anatolia than those He previously did. Tomorrow is another day, which will be born from the fertile womb of the night; let us wait in proactive patience and see!

[1] Suyuti, Durr al-Mansur, 1/141–142.

[2] Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqatu’l-Kubra, 3: 121.

[3] Ibn Hisham, As-Sirat an-Nabawiyya, 4:54–55.

[4] Sahih al-Bukhari, Jihad, 52; Sahih Muslim, Jihad, 78–80.

[5] Ibn Kathir, Al-Bidaya wa an-Nihaya, 4, 326.

[6] Tabarani, Mujamu’l-Kabir, 6/365.

This text is the translation of “Aşk, Cesaret ve Stratejik Akıl.”

Insight, for God’s Sake!

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: In your talks and articles, you frequently mention the issue of acting with insight; could you please elucidate its meaning and how we can we practice it in our lives?

Answer: Basira (insight) means evaluating issues with the appreciative criteria of the heart, along with knowledge and experience. It means subjecting these issues to analysis and synthesis. In this way, one is hopefully able to analyze both the outward and inward dimensions of these issues. While sight (basar) means seeing phenomena in the material sense, insight means comprehending them with the eye of the heart.

In this respect, insight serves as a guide made of light helping a person find the truth and right—and showing others the path to these, too. It is not possible for a person devoid of insight’s blessed light to make a sound evaluation of phenomena, make syntheses and analyses, and reach the correct conclusions. As the Qur’an puts it, such people have hearts with which they cannot comprehend, eyes with which they cannot see, and ears with which they cannot hear.[1] However, every organ should be used for whatever purpose it was created; the eye is created for seeing what it should see, the ear for hearing what it should hear, and reason for understanding what it should comprehend. However, since people without insight close up the doors of their hearts to the light of the revelation and the message of the blessed Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, they experience an absence in spite of the present reality. They do have eyes, mouths, ears, brains, hands, and feet, but they do not use these in accordance with the purpose they are created for. The Qur’an and Sunnah are mysterious keys, which can solve the enigmas at the heart of existence. However, as these people do not have possession of these two keys, they can neither open the mysterious doors of existence, nor solve the problems in both individual and societal life.

Multi-alternative Solutions

The Messenger of God drew attention to individuals’ responsibilities with the words: “You are all shepherds, and each of you is responsible for his flock.” Everybody has different duties with respect to their personal, familial, and social lives. A person may have a responsibility within a family, while others have responsibilities within a town, city, or even a huge country. In this respect, every individual is faced with the duty of administering, directing, and guiding the people he or she is responsible for in different fields according to certain degrees. Giving the responsibility undertaken its due depends on acting in company of the light of insight, which we briefly explained above.

To expound some more on the subject, if people who have come to a certain position wish to give this position its due and be successful at their tasks, they must filter all of the decisions they make through the heart and conscience—along with reason, logic, and judgment. Together with thorough thinking, they should view their surroundings with of compassion and love, not depriving any living being of affection, nor violating anybody’s rights. They should never sacrifice fairness and justice.

When we view the noble Prophet’s exemplary life, which is an ideal model for us, we see that nothing in his attitudes or behaviors contradicts sight and insight. In terms of both letting us know this truth and also our taking that Perfect Guide as an ideal example, God Almighty gave the following command to him in the Qur’an: “Say (to them, O Messenger):This is my way: I call to God on clear evidence and with sure knowledge—I and those who follow me…’” (Yusuf 12: 108).

Here, God Almighty stated that both the blessed Prophet and those who follow his footsteps need to make their call within the frame of insight; and this means making the call by knowing, seeing, and hearing as well as taking possible problems into consideration and forming alternative solutions for each of these. We should not be content with producing one solution for a possible problem, but find two, three, four or even more alternative solutions according to the situation. Finding more alternative solutions means dealing more soundly with that matter—namely, acting upon sound mind, sound heart, sound soul, and sound feeling.

The Companions’ Horizons of Insight

As stated, this verse conveys that not only the Prince of the Prophets but also those who follow him should make their call upon insight. “Ittiba” means following someone’s footsteps. And the prime examples who realized this among the followers of the blessed Prophet were the Rightly Guided Caliphs. To point out their exceptional position, the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, stated, “Keep to my way and to the way of the Rightly Guided Caliphs. Cling to it stubbornly (literally: with your molars).”[2]

Let me add that this is not an exclusive character of the Rightly Guided Caliphs; the lives led by other Companions had many similarities to theirs. Had there been a serious discrepancy between them, the community would not have welcomed them. There was a serious conformity of character between the Rightly Guided Caliphs, the ten Companions, and other Companions. And this conformity was based on their connection with God, acceptance of His Messenger, and welcoming the commandments of the Qur’an and Sunnah.

From this perspective, we can comfortably say that the Messenger of God was the prime example and the respected Companions following in his footsteps led seriously insightful lives. If it were not so, it would not have been possible to overcome many problems, both at the time of the noble Prophet and during the reign of the four caliphs.

11 Insightfully Tackled Cases of Apostasy

To understand the greatness of the problems that emerged in that period and how they were overcome, it is necessary to make comparisons with our time. In Turkey, we cannot tackle the problem of terror, which appeared due to years of neglect and heedlessness. But back in the early years of Islam, they tackled eleven cases of collective apostasy, three during the lifetime of the blessed Prophet and eight during the caliphate of Abu Bakr, may God be pleased with him.

It is estimated that there were about a hundred thousand Companions alive when the Messenger of God passed. However, some of them were children, the diseased, the elderly, and people who had newly embraced Islam. Ibn Hajar’s Al-Isaba, which cites the names of Companions more than any other work, mentions there being about ten thousand Companions.

These Companions dealt with problems that would make those devoid of eyes and ears able to perceive the truth moan with woe.

When the deeds of the blessed Abu Bakr are viewed, it becomes apparent that these problems would normally take some 15–20 years to overcome. Although his caliphate lasted a little more than two years, he crammed much into this short term. What a discernment, what an insight, what a sagacity for God’s sake! As the blessed Companions were personages of high insight, they saw what happened correctly, evaluated correctly, and—by God’s permission—made correct decisions about them. Even in the face of a possible problem, they came up with at least ten alternative solutions. Thereby, they fulfilled the duty under their responsibility in an immaculate fashion.

Insight! Where Are You?

Surely, as those who followed the Messenger of God did not remain limited to his Companions, later generations of Muslims also—as stated in the Divine verse—should call people to God’s way, and deal with all of their tasks, with insight. When matters are not dealt with by using sound judgment, a sound heart, and common sense it is not possible to overcome problems. In our time, since we are devoid of the blessed light of insight, we are most of the time unable to overcome the problems we face. We set the road for the sake of a solution but make matters into a terrible mess and virtually turn them into an equation with multiple unknowns. For example, in a region taken by the fire of strife and chaos, we are deceived into thinking that sledgehammer policies will bring people into line. However, the more we sledgehammered, the tougher they became. Today as well, many increasingly complicated matters are shifting toward a dead end.

The first people who became followers of the blessed Prophet gave this following its due in the true sense of the word. Given that the same target is shown to future generations of Muslims like us, then if we wish to overcome personal, familial, and social problems, we must act with insight. If we possess constant insight, scrupulousness, and vigilance, then even if the problems we face are made of granite—with God’s permission and grace—we will soften them, solve them, and then continue our way.

To conclude, given that the Qur’an invites us to act with insight on every issue, we should try to see what might happen some thirty years in the future by reading people’s characters, analyzing them, and identifying their position well. If need be, we should get matters analyzed by think-tank organizations and strategy developers, and then make a comparative reading of their results. If we really exert ourselves by racking our brains with the concern—in the words of the poet Necip Fazıl—of “forcing our brains out through our nose”, then God will not leave these efforts unrewarded, and will show us the most befitting and correct way.

[1] See al-A’raf 7:179.
[2] Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Ilm, 16; Sunan Abu Dawud, Sunnah, 5; Sunan Ibn Majah, Muqaddima, 6.

This text is the translation of “Basiret Yâ Hû!.”

The Fire of Fitnah and Supplicating to God

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: Could you elucidate the lessons we can take from the verse, meaning: “O Our Lord! Do not make us prey to those who disbelieve. And forgive us, our Lord. You are the All-Glorious with irresistible might, the All-Wise” (al-Mumtahina 60:5).

Answer: Prophet Abraham’s name is openly mentioned in the previous verse and we understand that this prayer belongs to him. In the previous verse, God Almighty states the following about Prophet Abraham and the believers in his company: “Indeed, you have had an excellent example to follow in Abraham and those in his company.”

 It is not possible to understand the true depth and immensity of the Qur’an by means of simple translations with a superficial approach. For this reason, let us expound on the matter further and try to reflect the meaning of the verse in our mirror of comprehension by paraphrasing it: “You can find all of the ideal examples you seek in the perfect lives of Prophet Abraham and those in his company, with respect to their words, states, attitudes, and behaviors. This is because they were virtually embodiment of ideal examples.” God Almighty brought this prayer to our attention as one of the exemplary behaviors from Prophet Abraham’s noble life.

A Word of Extensive Meaning: Fitnah

Understanding the prayer of Prophet Abraham depends, to some extent, on understanding the word “fitnah” well. For this reason, it is first necessary to elaborate on the word “fitnah” a bit.

Arabs refer to the act of refining gold from dust and stones as fitnah. In a general sense, it means a trial, a test, putting something to a melting pot, or separating something from undesired elements.[1] In connection to this essential meaning, the word fitnah has an extensive field of figurative use in religious literature. For example, though causing tumult, mayhem, turmoil, and strife between people is referred as fitnah, others kinds of worldly trials—such as greed, health, youth, and worldly ambition—which may cause a person to lose their eternal bliss are also fitnah. In addition, when believers are subjected to oppression, tortures, and persecution; or if they are forced in different ways to contradict their faith, to renounce parts of their faith, or are sent to exile because of their faith; all these are examples of fitnah. What fitnah mentioned in the verse means is the sense expressed within the frame of this latter description.

The word “imtihan” (trial) is sometimes used interchangeably with the word fitnah and is also significant in terms of understanding the notion of fitnah. As it is known, “imtihan” comes from “mihnat,” a word used for referring to the process of purifying silver by melting it in fire.[2]

Accordingly, people who volunteer for shouldering a lofty ideal will be subjected to various ordeals and trials. Those who wage war against religion, virtue, and morality will not let such believers live in accordance with their values, but will coerce them to step back from the path they believe and lead a life similar to theirs. Prophet Abraham and those in his company were also subjected to persecution and torment due to their sincerity and resolute stance; they were driven away from their hometown, and underwent heavy pressures, just like being thrown into fire. In the face of all these trials, Prophet Abraham opened his hands as a requirement of his duty of guidance; and together with the believers near him, he prayed for deliverance from oppression with the following words:

“O Our Lord! Do not make us a prey to those who disbelieve (do not let us become objects in their hands that are put to fire, then battered, then placed on an anvil, and then banged with hammers!). And forgive us, our Lord! You are the sole owner of victory and wisdom.”

The inherent impotence and weakness in human nature is voiced through this prayer, for the trial is truly hard. A person may not resist being battered with hammers and remaining in fire. In this respect, using his great insight, Prophet Abraham sought refuge in God against such a calamity.

Requisites of the Righteous Path

As a matter of fact, troubles, misfortunes, fitnahs, and trials are the unchanging fate for those who take the righteous path. A person becomes a target to enemies of faith, according to his or her degree of soundness and earnestness before God. If you have become a person of integrity with your faith, and care for your cause and the ideal state you present, this will make adversaries anxious, and they never leave you alone.

 When they asked the noble Prophet, “O Messenger of God, which people are subjected to the hardest of troubles?” he answered, “The Prophets, and then other people in accordance with their level.”[3] As it is explicitly understood from this hadith, the severest, hardest, and most insurmountable troubles befall the Prophets. Other believers are then exposed to troubles according to their level. In this respect, we can say that if we had been subjected to the same trials the Prophets underwent, we would not be able to bear them.

Discerning the Meaning of Trials Correctly

Right after his wish for deliverance from fitnah, Prophet Abraham asked forgiveness from God. Although a believer becomes a target solely for being on the righteous path, and thus undergoes troubles and fitnahs, he still considers the possibility of these stemming from his own faults and sins, and thus asks, or should ask, forgiveness for these sins.

A person should approach every trouble and misfortune that befalls him with the approach of Umar ibn al-Khattab. As it is known, he ascribed the drought that took place in his time to his own sins, put his head on the ground in prostration, and said, “My God! Please do not ruin Muslims because of my sins!”

This is the attitude of an ideal believer. If lightning strikes or a flood takes place, such a person should say, “I wonder whether it happened on account of my sins?” A believer should ascribe all troubles and misfortunes to his sins – and should also think that they serve as a means of purification from these sins.

On the other hand, if believers associate partners with God by means of laying personal claim on certain bestowals of God and ascribing certain good outcomes to themselves, this may also cause certain misfortunes to befall them. God Almighty never wants us to associate partners with Him. There is no graver sin or ugly deed comparable to such an adulteration of deeds fulfilled for the sake of one God.

Associating partners with God does not only mean worshiping stone or wooden idols. This is the plain version. There is also the hidden version of associating partners with God. With reference to this subject the Messenger of God stated, “What I fear about you most is associating partners with God in the minor sense (shirk al-asghar).” When the Companions asked the meaning of this minor sense, he answered that it is “riya” (showing off and affectation).[4]

Such a form of associating partners with God is explained in another hadith as follows: “Associating partners with God is more covert than an ant walking on a rock on a dark night.”[5] Affectation is so sinister and covert that a person does not realize it most of the time, and thus his devotions and services on the path of God waste away.

When people striving on the path of God adulterate their works by associating partners with God, He might occasionally let misguided ones pester them, as an imposed blessing. When we look at the Risale-i Nur Collection, we see that Bediüzzaman relates many examples of this, such as those in “Slaps of Divine Compassion” and the “Supplements.” In addition, it needs to be known that troubles that befall believers are directly proportional with the gravity of the sins. According to the scope of one’s faults and sins, the misfortunes can be slaps of compassion, or chastisement.

Divine Destiny Rules Justly

While adulterating good works with egocentric considerations—e.g., acts like self-congratulation about an article one has written, or expecting appreciation for a building one has constructed—might lead to receiving a “slap of compassion,” it might even nullify a great deal of labor, effort, sweat, and pain. In addition, God may subject believers to fitnah as a consequence of all these and discipline them by means of unbelievers. Although misguided ones commit oppression, Divine destiny rules justly. Undergoing such a trouble is expiation for sins. However, it needs to be known that there are certain conditions for such fitnah and trials can become atonement for sins.

If believers realize the fact that the troubles they undergo stem from their own wrongs, turn to God in genuine repentance, and ask forgiveness from Him by saying, “I truly repent O Lord! I ask forgiveness a million times,” the fitnah that befell them may turn beneficial and become a means for their forgiveness.

Bediüzzaman also expressed that he understood the reason for the ordeal he was subjected to through the hands of misguided and worldly ones, and made the self critical interpretation that it happened because he made serving on the path of faith and the Qur’an a tool for his personal progress for this world and the next.[6] There is not the slightest indication about abuse. But this is how he evaluated the issue from his horizons of self-criticism. A person should not cherish any worldly or otherworldly expectations in return for the services he carries out for the sake of God. One must not only be free from expectations of appreciation and applause, but even from otherworldly expectations as, “Let me carry out these works, so that I make progress on my spiritual journey; let me ascend one more step; let me enter Paradise and enjoy its highest level of Firdaws…”

Otherwise the troubles, hardships, and pains taken may not be expiation for sins. For example, if a person who undergoes a fitnah says, “I am striving on the path of God. I did not do anything wrong to deserve this,” and does not make any self-criticism—or even if he complains about his condition, then he will have gone through much in vain. In addition, such a person—May God protect us—will have committed the sin of criticizing Divine Destiny and not resigning to God’s decree.

May God enable all of us to serve us on His path until our last breath, to bless our life with the light of consciousness of repentance and asking forgiveness, and thus walk to the realms beyond in a purified and immaculate state!

[1] Ibn Manzur, Lisanu’l Arab, 13/317.

[2] Az-Zabidi, Taju’l-Arus, 36/153.

[3] Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Zuhd, 57; Sunan Ibn Majah, Fitan, 23

[4] Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 5/428, 429; Tabarani, Al-Mujamu’l-Kabir, 4/253.

[5] Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 4/403; Ibn Abi Shayba, Al-Musannaf, 6, 70.

[6] Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, Emirdağ Lahikası (Supplements of Emirdağ), İstanbul: Şahdamar, 2010.

This text is the translation of “Fitne Ateşi ve Dua.”

In Pursuit of Perfection with the Wings of Humbleness Lowered Down

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: It’s stated that it is necessary for a believer to make the best of his or her willpower and constantly seek perfection. At the same time, while pursuing these goals, they must self-criticize in the face of these achievements, remaining humble. Could you elucidate how it is possible to combine these two pursuits?

Answer: A real believer is a resolute and strong-willed person who has belief in God with doubt-free conviction. A believer does not lose hope even in the face of the most daunting circumstances. For this reason, such a person never gives in to hopelessness but always stands firm, even when all roads are blocked, and keeps walking toward his ideals; he knows that God Almighty has never left those who walk on His path with no ways to reach their goals. For example, during a period when it was not possible to live in Mecca, God opened the way of Ascension to his glorious and beloved Prophet, along which every one of the greatest Prophets saluted him. The Messenger of God reached such a point that even Gabriel the Trustworthy said, “I will be perished if I take one more step.”

Seeking to Achieve the Perfect is a Result of Having Adopted Divine Morality

God Almighty never let down those who walked on His path; He held their hands even at the most unexpected moments, delivering them safe and sound. You may fall down a well, but when you least expect it, a strong rope will be dropped down. There may be times when you are mistreated by a few jealous brothers. However, after a term of spiritual journeying, you just see that God sets thrones in hearts for you. In this respect, no matter what hardships are faced, believers who always feel the Divine help and support behind them will seek out great achievements, and try to give their willpower its due in terms of fulfilling those accomplishments in accordance with their worth. They will thus try to produce the most perfect works, because the Prophet commanded believers to be equipped with the morality of God.

The Divine morality of this issue is related to us by statements like, “He who makes excellent everything that He creates,” (as-Sajdah 32:7) and, “This is the pattern of God who has perfected everything” (an-Naml 27:88). Thus it is pointed out that He brings everything into existence in the best, most beautiful, soundest, and perfect fashion. If He created something out of nothing, built it up, and breathed life to it, those who witnessed His works could not help but say, “There could not be anything better.”

Bediüzzaman relates the following remark of Imam al-Ghazali about this: “There is no possibility of anything more wondrous than what exists in this universe.” A person who beholds this universe with a comprehensive perspective, and moves his shuttle of wisdom between the cause and effect, will have to make the following confession: “God created the universe so beautifully that, had I been given a life of thousand years long and assigned to build a little piece of existence, I could never do it.”

Thus Divine morality shows us this: while striving on the path of God, believers should do their best and try to carry out their tasks in the best and soundest fashion.

Fulfill Your Deeds as if You Are Presenting Them to the Supervision of God and His Messenger

Concerning the fact that a believer should seek the perfect for the sake of gaining God’s good pleasure, the following is stated in the chapter at-Tawbah: “Say: ‘Work, and God will see your work, and so will His Messenger and the true believers; and you will be brought back to the Knower of the Unseen (of all that lies beyond sense-perception) and the witnessed (the sensed realm), and He will make you understand all that you were doing (and call you to account for it)’” (at-Tawbah 9:105). God Almighty does not command as “if’alu” (do), but as “i’malu,” which means to “fulfill a certain deed.” The Qur’an frequently refers to deeds by putting emphasis on “righteous deeds,” so we understand that the term “deed” refers to fulfilling a certain task positively and flawlessly, within a certain plan, and by considering the results.

The verse also commands fulfilling deeds with the consciousness that God, His Messenger, and all true believers will see these deeds. Namely, a believer should fulfill their deeds so that God Almighty will approve, the Pride of Humanity will express appreciation, and believers will wish to have fulfilled their own deeds in such a way.

At this point, although it is not our main subject, I would like to draw attention to the following:

The purpose of a believer who seeks perfection in his deeds is not to cause envy in others. On the contrary, they try to gain God’s good pleasure by giving the task its proper due. In this respect, it is good to aspire to do the same good deeds another person has done, but this issue should not be approached with a feeling of jealousy or rivalry.

Angels Are Beautiful Examples for Us!

Concerning the angels, the Qur’an states: “(They) do not disobey God in whatever He commands them, and carry out what they are commanded (to carry out)” (at-Tahrim 66:6). That is, they fulfill every command scrupulously and do not disobey His orders in the least bit. They are important examples for us in this respect. Believers should fulfill their tasks comparably to the archangel Gabriel and seek Divine appreciation. If need be, they should exert themselves for the sake of giving the willpower God granted them its due, and fulfilling the duties they are responsible for in the best way. They should feel a pulsing in their temples, as if their brains would come out through their noses. It is said that whoever does his best for the sake of accomplishing a certain task, God will grant that person what he seeks.

The Heavy Trial Entailed by Success

A person who exerts himself in this degree may attain very good accomplishments, by God’s permission and grace. Thousands, or hundred thousands, of people may gather around that person and shower him with thanks and praises. The greatest trial for the person starts at this very point: will he lay claim to the good results or give them to their rightful owner? Will the achievements trigger feelings of thanksgiving or cause dizziness and blurring of vision? Those who pass this heavy trial successfully and keep their ego in check in order to tame their carnal soul are the heroes of the heart who are fixed on the consideration of humbleness and modesty. They know to keep their place at this critical point, while other people might become addicted to success or winning. Just as they give their willpower its due at the beginning, here as well they give their conscience its due and appropriately determine the correct place they are supposed to stand. According to this perspective, they never credit themselves but say, “It was Him that made these things happen,” and run like the plague from vices such as pride and self-satisfaction. Let alone indulging self-satisfaction, from their horizons of self-criticism they see the failures of their work, regret these, and suffer over not having performed even better.

To expound on this, individuals who serve in different areas of life may make different achievements in the fields of their responsibility. They may put stamps of excellence on every task they fulfill, in a way that evokes admiration in dwellers in the high assembly of the heavens. Individuals may perform perfectly—some with speeches they deliver, some with the articles they write, some with their abilities of advising and administration, and some with their artistic talents. However, a genuine believer should say, “had there been some sensible person with an immense conscience, he would have probably performed much more perfectly and efficiently.” Considering the impossible—if an act of this person’s parted the moon in two, changed the sun’s course, united all people in the world for a lofty truth, or made an accomplishment comparable to that of Gabriel, the sound of the conscience would still say: “Had there been someone else in my place, who knows how much better he would have done this work! To tell the truth, since this work came out of my foul hands, it remained much lower than where it should have been; it remained derelict, poor, and undeveloped.”

The Apocalypse and the Self-Accusing Soul

Why is it so important for a believer to revile himself in this degree? Because, there is the risk of experiencing the greatest loss in a zone of winning. After swearing on the Day of Judgment, God Almighty swears on the self-accusing human soul (al-Qiyamah 75:1). As it is known, valuable things of significance are sworn upon. The Day of Judgment is important, for on that day all of those galaxies, constellations, and solar systems that look so impressive to people will be in utter chaos before God’s all-comprehensive Knowledge, overwhelming Will, and supreme acts. That day, everything will be thrown to the air like pieces of straw. By swearing on the Day of Judgment, it is brought to attention that this glorified act of God is a great happening.

Right after this, there is a swear upon the self-accusing soul (an-nafs lawwamah), which refers to one that never likes his own works, but constantly questions and criticizes himself. In this respect, it is the first step of progress on one’s spiritual journey. It is not possible for a person who does not ascend this first step to progress to the level of the soul receiving inspiration (an-nafs al-mulhimah); or from there to its two wings—the soul with which God is pleased and the soul pleased with God; and particularly from there to the soul perfected or pure (safiyah or zakiyyah). The Self-accusing soul can be compared to a ladder, stairway, or an elevator to help a person reach these soul levels on their spiritual journey. It is for this reason that it is very important for a person to constantly confront himself, attribute the negative outcomes to himself, and always criticize himself.

The Safest Way to Purification from Sins

Bediüzzaman’s approach on how to avoid the pitfalls of arrogance that can come about after victories and accomplishments is noteworthy. At the end of the Twenty-sixth Word, he virtually addresses his soul like speaking to another person and says:

“O my ostentatious carnal soul! Do not be proud of your services to God’s religion. As stated in a Prophetic Tradition,[1] God may strengthen this religion by means of a dissolute person. You are not pure, so regard yourself as that dissolute person.”

As a spiritual discipline he suggests, “We should never hold ourselves pure; instead, we should regard ourselves as fallible and susceptible to error.”

Accordingly, a person who does not see his own soul as impure does not feel any need to purify it. Thus, he will not purify his soul and cannot be pure. As the carnal soul is not pure in essence, a person should ascribe all negative things to himself.

What happens if a person holds himself responsible for defects and faults? Such a person genuinely turns to God Almighty and asks guidance from Him. Also, God Almighty takes such considerations as remorse and repentance, and paves the ways leading to forgiveness for that person. If a person does not have such considerations at all, he commits various kinds of mistakes unawares and still attaches importance to himself; just like the way people do in our time in spite of their being nothing.

Consider that Umar ibn al-Khattab was a person who successfully dealt with the superpowers of his time, who spent his days and nights in obedience to God and had nothing to do with sins. During a time of draught, he placed his head on the ground by prostrating himself and cried in sobs, praying, “O God, please do not ruin Muslims because of my sins!”

On another day, when they asked him to lead a prayer for rain, he probably said to himself, “How can a sinful person like me pray for rain?” With such a consideration, he held the hand of the Prophet’s uncle Abbas and climbed a hill with him. Then he made his wish by utterly humbling himself, raising the latter’s hand as an intercessor and saying, “O God, this is the hand of your beloved servant’s uncle. Grant us rain for its sake!” Sources relate that a heavy rain began afterwards.

This should be the attitude of an ideal believer. Along with fulfilling every task perfectly, and always seeking to achieve the best at everything and using his willpower to the ultimate degree, one must see various defects in those works in his own sight and constantly criticize himself. As it is expressed in a saying attributed to Umar ibn al-Khattab, a person must continuously call himself to account before the Day of Reckoning comes.

To conclude, if a person performs perfectly in a way that does not bring him shame when presented to God Almighty; if still sees faults in himself by saying, “Had someone else realized these works, they would have done it better, but I have messed it up;” then by God’s permission and grace, this will render that person impeccably pure.

[1] Sahih al-Bukhari, Jihad, 182; Abdurrazzaq, Al-Musannaf, 5/270.

This text is the translation of “Tevazu Kanatları Yerde Mükemmelliğin Peşinde.”

Adoration for One’s Children

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: What are the lessons to be drawn from the verse meaning: “…Then when He grants the couple a sound child, they begin to associate partners with God in respect of what He has granted them. Infinitely is He exalted above their association of partners with Him and whatever they associate with Him as partners” (al-A’raf 7:190).

Answer: In the previous verse, God Almighty states that He created humanity from a single human self, and then made from it its mate so that he (inclining with love towards his mate) may find rest in her. Then the Divine Word lets us know that she conceives a light burden, and then when she grows heavy (with child), both (feel the need to) turn to God, their Lord, with prayer: “If You indeed grant us a sound child, we will most certainly be among the thankful” (al-A’raf 7:189). The original word “salih” (sound, righteous) refers to both physically healthy ones and those who are deep in faith, careful at their devotions and who are immense persons in consciousness of ihsan: perfect goodness or full awareness of God’s omnipresence.

Actually praying for the expected child to be both healthy and pious is a necessity of faith in God and the Hereafter. A believer expecting a child opens his hands in supplication as, “My God! Grant us a sound child! Let the child’s hands, feet, eyes, ears, tongue, lips, and all organs be sound! Make him sound in faith, religion, and sincerity as well! Let his deeds, heart, and spiritual life also be sound and perfect!”

However, as a factor of a worldly trial, the child might sometimes be disabled. What needs to be done in such a situation is to show patience and deal with the troubles as we cannot know the wisdom behind the birth of a disabled child. With such a happening, God Almighty may will the parents to be purified from different sins and wrongs, and it may also elevate their spiritual rank by means of caring for that child.

In the Person of the Blessed Prophet, the Address Is to His Followers

As there is a reference to the creation of the human in the previous verse, one may initially think that the people concerned here are Adam and Eve. However, although they did ask for a righteous child from God, when the Prophets’ attribute of innocence is taken into consideration, it will then be understood that those who begin to associate partners with God are not them but some other children of Adam. Considering their high horizons of self-criticism, the Prophets can surely take these addresses as if they were directed to their own person and benefit from them, but this is another thing. As you know, it is a style we see in different parts of the Qur’an that with respect to the Prophets, the real warning is to their followers and their certain characteristics are expressed.

For example, the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, is addressed as, “Should you associate partners with God, your labor will most certainly come to nothing...” (az-Zumar 39:65). Given that the blessed Prophet has absolutely nothing to do with associating partners with God, then the address is made to all of humanity, and “your” actually needs to be taken as a plural address. The Prophet was already blessed with Divine protection, support, and guardianship. He is protected and innocent. Even in the early period of his life when people were deeply immersed in sins of the Era of Ignorance, the Pride of Humanity had absolutely nothing to do with associating partners with God. Let alone such great sins, even in terms of manners, he did not hurt anyone in the slightest degree.

For this reason, no matter from what aspect we take of the issue, it is first necessary to accept the fact that the Prophets are innocent and pure. It should then be understood that the judgments of such verses seemingly addressed to the Prophets are rather for their followers. By taking this essential principle into consideration, it will be more correct to understand the address as follows: “Take care! Given that such a warning is coming about such a protected and innocent person, then those who are not under such guarantee of innocence, decency, and protection must be very careful in this respect.”

So this should be the perspective on the share of Prophet Adam, peace be upon him, in this verse. Otherwise—may God forbid—you will hold improper considerations about a person whom God Almighty chose and preferred over all people and nations (see Al Imran 3:33). On the other hand, what falls to us is to always cherish pure thoughts about all of the blessed Prophets. In this respect, let me reiterate once more that although the demand for a sound child belongs to the Prophet Adam, the warning about associating partners with God because of children is not related to him but to us.

Adoration for One’s Children That Causes Shirk

The danger of not maintaining the balance after having a sound child and straying to associating partners with God is always possible for the children of Adam. This feeling is so strong in some people that they keep mentioning their child all of the time. For example, if someone is to say a word beginning with the first syllable of their child’s name, they take the opportunity and begin to talk about their child. Let us say that the name of their child is Moses. As soon as someone begins to say something as “Mo…” they begin as “Moses’ achievements are making us so happy that… he is such a brilliant child that…” and begin to start singing his praises. This weakness is so strong in some people that they try to bring the subject to their own son or daughter from every happening, word, or statement. It is possible to define them as “child-adorers.”

Love for Children Must Be a Means for Their Eternal Happiness

We know that as a little model of “the best pattern of creation,” children are entrusted to us by God. If we are to love them and cuddle them, this must be on account of their Owner and Creator. More importantly, we must use our love and compassion to edify our children who are potentially endowed with the best pattern of creation, so that they gain Islamic cultivation. In other words, our love must be a means to raise them as upright individuals, live uprightly, and become a representative of uprightness. Parents should always whisper into the ears of their children when they love them and lovingly stroke their hair, so that they do not rebel against God, nor be afflicted with irreligiousness and commit rebellion and transgressions to make them suffer an eternal loss. Parents are responsible for providing everything required to help their children who came to this world so purely walk to their Lord so purely again and for preparing suitable grounds for such cultivation. Fulfilling all of these is a different manifestation of loving them, and there is nothing wrong in that.

However, if a person has none of these in his agenda and has become attached to that child solely because of the child being his offspring, if he relates all considerations to his child and wants to talk about his child all the time, then it means that this person who declares faith in God and His Messenger has begun to associate partners with God unawares. A person who makes the proclamation of faith as “There is no deity but God, and Muhammad is His Messenger” is not a polytheist after all. But it means that this person bears an attribute of polytheism owing to his attitude about his child. In one of his sayings drawing attention to this point, the blessed Prophet said, “The sin I fear about you most is shirku’l-asghar (associating partners with God in the minor sense).” And when the Companions asked what this meant, he answered, “Showing off.”[1] A person might show a weakness as letting others know about himself by means of his child. Just as a person might fall into showing off, which is the minor form of associating partners with God by means of his own appearance, good looks, wealth, and fortune, he might satisfy his desire for recognition via his children as well.

To give concrete examples of this issue, a person’s boastfully expressing himself with his gestures is a form of seeking recognition. While worshiping near others, showing further scrupulousness in comparison to one’s worshiping alone is a form of seeking recognition. A person’s trying to let others know about his good works at writing or speech is a form of seeking recognition. And if that person sugarcoats his wish for recognition with words of pretense humbleness referring to his acts such as “humbly, poorly…” then this is a much more horrible form of showing off. Actually, a person’s seeking recognition by means of his children is no different than these. No matter whether he has a daughter or son, it means that he is adulterating the parental love with an attribute of associating partners with God. In my opinion, at the issue of preserving the characteristics of believers, one must show scrupulousness no less than what he shows at protecting his decency and honor. Let it be a show off in the form of letting others see, hear, or boasting about one’s merits, a believer must always keep his thoughts free from any blemish of associating partners with God because each of these is a characteristic of polytheists. Bearing a certain characteristic of polytheism is like a healthy person being inflicted with a virus. Viruses cause different diseases from influenza to AIDS. In this respect, a person should not underestimate any attributes of unbelief and polytheism, never letting these attributes germinate in his heart and spirit.

Although a person who shows excessive love to his children and home bears an attribute of polytheism, surely this does not mean that he has become a polytheist. If such a person dies with faith, he will go to Paradise in the end. And God Almighty—He knows the truth of the matter—will not treat that person as a polytheist. However, as this attribute of polytheism is like a virus, it needs to be treated and one must be cautious in this respect. Because an influenza virus that is not dealt with can bring down or kill a person. Thus, no one should let any virus contrasting with his essential nature and the endowment with the best pattern of creation inhabit within. When viruses knock at the door, one must slam the door to their face and then say, “Do not waste your energy in vain; the door has been bolted tight.”

Why must a person be vigilant against polytheism in this degree? Sometimes polytheism is so covert or minute that the person either fails to notice it or does not pay attention to it. However, it should not be forgotten that minor sins underestimated and continually repeated might be much worse than major sins and become more dangerous than major sins. For example, if a person is aware of his major sins and is seriously concerned about them, then he kneels before God remorsefully with repentance, penitence, and contrition. This triggers in that person the feeling of struggling against sins, so they may lead a more watchful and cautious life against sins.

Although immoderate parental love begins at a minor level at the beginning, it might grow worse into a very serious problem in time. In order to let this issue be understood better, we can give as an example the mistake of the ancestors of the people Prophet Noah, peace be upon him, was responsible to guide. As it is known, eminent personages such as Wadd, Yaghus, Ya’uk and Nasr had lived in that society. Some individuals followed these legendary figures with their attitude and behaviors. The people that came after these men put their portraits in their homes in order to remember their virtuous conduct and to guide them to right conduct. This seemingly innocent thought at the beginning caused sanctifying them in time, and eventually these men were perceived as deities. A narrow angle at the beginning became a very wide one later on. In this respect, one should not go to excess or transgress, neither about his children nor about other people whom he loves.

Balance at Loving One’s Children

Some people have remarked that families of our time have become child-centered. Actually it is difficult to decide what is in the center: children, fancies and desires, carnal soul, or arrogance. However, there is one thing we know for sure: When people opt for a lifestyle out of the plain commandments of religion, they become multi-centered, which then opens the door to different types of polytheism.

In addition, building marriages and families upon children, then being happy on having children or being unhappy on not having children, may lead to conflict and divorce and is absolutely wrong in terms of a believer’s morality. Such an attitude—may God forbid—is an expression of not resigning to God’s decree, criticizing Divine destiny, and rebelling against God. Such problems experienced out of inability to have children as a judgment of Divine destiny are acts God Almighty does not love. Therefore, it should not be forgotten that as having children is a trial, having no children is similarly a trial.

Another harm of showing excessive love to children by seeing them as everything and putting them in the center of the family occurs in the form of being too tolerant to some of the child’s negative behaviors and not seeking ways to address them. This type of behavior means raising problematic children in the long run. However, the real target at this issue is their becoming virtuous individuals of complete integrity. Parents must try to fulfill whatever is necessary to realize this target. However, it is a bitter reality in our time that concerning a great majority, homes are devoid of knowledge; streets are devoid of mercy; mosques are devoid of excitement, and schools are devoid of effectiveness. Children who grow up in such an atmosphere are being wasted.

Parental Education for a Good Child

The primary thing to do in this respect is to educate parents first. At the very beginning it is necessary to teach parents how to be perfect parents and how to treat their child. Couples should even take some courses before marriage, and those who successfully receive their certificates should be allowed to marry. Along this process of education, subjects such as the purpose of marriage, how should a sound relation between couples be established, how they should handle one another, and how to educate their child need to be placed on a sound basis. If married couples are well educated in this respect, the holy establishment they will make together will become a heavenly home. Undoubtedly, children raised in such a family will be exemplary ones. However, if the parents are not capable of good parenting or do not know how to do so, then the situation of the children will be uncertain. Unfortunately, so many people of today’s generation are being raised in this uncertainty. Although some of them join virtuous friends in a certain current, find their essence, and have sound morality and character, most people do not obtain such an opportunity.

No matter to whom or to what, most of the time those who attach their hearts to the wrong things receive a blow from the same direction to the contrary of their intentions. In this respect, if parents do not see their children as a trust from God but love them selfishly solely on account of being their offspring and adore them worshipfully, they will undergo a trial through their children, and receive insult, derision, and hatred from them, as every extreme is a potential cause for the opposite extreme. This holds true not only for parent-child relationship but for other kinds of love as well. No matter who, if you elevate a person to a position beyond his deserts and go to excess in your love, you receive a blow in the opposite direction of your purpose. A day will come when you will hear the most negative words from the person whom you love like crazy, and you will respond with the most negative statements in return. 

[1] Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 5/428, 429; At-Tabarani, Al-Mu’jamu’l-Kabir, 4/253.

This text is the translation of “Evlâtperestlik.”

The Good Pleasure of God: “Rida” in This World, “Ridwan” in the Next

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: Is there a difference between rida and ridwan? What are the most important means of attaining ridwan?

Answer: Rida means a person’s being pleased with God and Islam, showing heartfelt submission to everything He decrees, and meeting the troubles and misfortunes faced in the world with a heart at rest.

The blessed Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, drew attention to such horizons of rida with the words, “We are content with God as our Lord, with Islam as our religion and with Muhammad as our Messenger…”[1]

As it relates to believers, this blessed statement of the Prophet shows how a true servant of God is, and it sets a goal to attain for people like us. The fact that different verses of the Qur’an state, “God is well-pleased with them, and they are well-pleased with Him…” (e.g., al-Maedah 5:119) indicate that attaining the horizons of rida is the greatest goal for believers to attain.

In addition, if a person is fixed on rida, always lives with this consideration, always targets it, and exerts himself in this respect, this at the same time is an indication of God Almighty’s being pleased with him. God does not affect such feeling of rida in someone unless He is well pleased with that person. It is therefore possible to say that one who is not pleased with God, who does not submit to His decrees with contentment, and who does not meet negative occurrences that befall him with a heart at rest is not a person with whom God Almighty is pleased.

Ridwan:  The Glad Tidings of Eternal Contentment

As for ridwan, it is the otherworldly return for the efforts made in this world for the sake of attaining rida, or God’s good pleasure. Every act of worship offered here will appear in the Hereafter as a different blessing of Paradise. In the words of Bediüzzaman, “saying ‘All praise and gratitude are for God’ (Alhamdulillah) after you eat something will be returned to you as a fruit of Paradise.”[2] A person who remains thirsty and hungry owing to fasting here will be rewarded with Rayyan there, a blessed spring drinking from which will not let that person feel thirsty ever again.[3] In short, a person’s beliefs and behaviors here will gain different meanings there. They will appear before the person sometimes as a tangible blessing and sometimes as feelings of inner relief and satisfaction.

Therefore, ridwan differs from rida in this respect. If rida is a Divine grace and favor a person attains in this world by giving willpower its due, ridwan is an eternal grace and favor God Almighty embodies in the next world and offers His believing servants. In other words, ridwan is a blessing beyond imagination that God will bestow upon His servants in the realm of eternal bliss, impacting their souls and causing a spiritual delight in them.  It is such a blessing that the believers who attain it will be filled with such spiritual pleasure that they will forget the blessings of Paradise.

Which Is the Greatest Reward, Ridwan or Seeing the Divine Countenance?

At this point, one may wonder whether seeing God or ridwan is a greater blessing. From the statements of the scholars of Islamic Theology who knows the Qur’an and Sunnah so well, one may conclude that beholding the Divine Countenance is the greatest blessing of Paradise. For example, in his poem about Ahl al-Sunna belief, Ali ibn Uthman al-Ushi voiced this truth with the following words:

Believers see Him in a state free of quality and quantity;
this is not possible to exemplify.
When they see Him,
they forget all blessings of Paradise.
Woe to those people,
who say God cannot be seen!
[4]

Bediüzzaman states: “A happy life of 1,000 years in this world cannot be compared to an hour of life in Paradise, and 1,000 years of life in Paradise cannot be compared to an hour’s vision of His Countenance of utmost beauty.[5]

From these expressions, it is understood that seeing God is a much greater Divine favor than the blessings of Paradise. Indeed, God Almighty’s addresses His servants who enter Paradise as, “I am eternally well-pleased with you. I will not ever be wrathful to you,”[6] which is a favor of the greatest kind and even makes one forget the other, filling a person with ultimate relief.  This is such a grace and favor that it is not possible to imagine what a pleasure and delight this makes a person experience. It is explicitly stated that ridwan is the greatest of the blessings in Paradise with the verse meaning: “and greater (than those) is God’s being pleased with them. That indeed is the supreme triumph” (at-Tawbah 9:72).

Those Who Demand Rida, Will Attain Ridwan

Although rida and ridwan are different truths with respect to their aspects related to the world and Afterlife, they are interconnected. This connection can be compared to a cause and effect relationship. You strive in this world by giving your willpower its due and making your demand at this issue apparent, and then God Almighty honors you with ridwan as a reward for your efforts.

There is one point, however, that should not be misunderstood or missed here: the relationship between rida and ridwan does not comply with the worldly principles of causality, because what you sow here is merely a drop. Then it suddenly evaporates, later appearing as an ocean before you.  But in terms of causality, a drop cannot result in an ocean. But with His infinite graces and immense mercy, God Almighty lets your contentment about him, which resembles a drop here, appear before you as an ocean in the Afterlife.

 The Two Wings to Let One Attain Ridwan: Glorifying the Name of God and Sincerity

One of the means of obtaining rida and ridwan is glorifying the Name of God. Letting God’s Name be heard in all dark spots of the earth, running like a tireless noble steed in order to let the spirit of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, bloom in the four corners of the world allows one to attain God Almighty’s good pleasure in the fastest way. In this respect, although glorifying the Name of God is described as a means for attaining Divine Mercy, it is possible to say that it is a means, which is similar to an end in itself.

One must then always live with the feeling of making others live, striving for humanity to learn a new way, and trying to guide them to God at every opportunity. It is necessary to attach one’s heart to working for this ideal to the degree of seeing one’s life meaningless otherwise.

Naturally, one must be sincere while fulfilling the duty of glorifying the Name of God so that he does not experience loss. A mukhlis person means one who internalizes sincerity (ikhlas). But individuals must be fixed on a consciousness of sincerity in such a way that they should not just suffice with being mukhlis (sincere) ones, but seek to become mukhlas ones. “Mukhlas” refers to God’s letting a person attain pure sincerity, and thus becoming completely pure and virtually becoming a pure embodiment of sincerity. This is a quality with which the purified ones, such as Prophets Abraham, Moses, Enoch, and the final Prophet, peace be upon them all, were blessed with.[7] Even though not in the primary sense like the Prophets, other believers should cast their eyes on these lofty horizons in a secondary sense, constantly seek to act in compliance with the Divine Will, fulfill all acts of worship solely because they are divinely commanded, and not attach their devotions to any worldly returns, even abstract themselves from otherworldly expectations other than ridwan, and leave the results to God Almighty.

A person who has attained such consciousness will spontaneously react against anything other than sincerity (ikhlas). For example, if such a person makes a dazzling accomplishment, he never cherishes expectations of appreciation and compliments from others when he moves hearts with the words he speaks or the touching lines he writes. When a consideration occurs not only to his imagination or mind, but even to his dreams, he withdraws to one corner and says, “Your forgiveness, O Lord, I have associated partners with You.” He should writhe with concern and purify himself through repentance (tawbah), contrition (inaba), and penitence (awbah).

One of the most important ways of attaining ridwan in the Hereafter is a consideration of sincerity to such a degree. In this respect, it is possible to say that to the extent a person deepens in sincerity (khulus), he will attain ridwan comparably fast. Maybe such a person will never experience the horror of the grave, nor the troubles in the intermediate realm.  From the moment he is placed in his grave, he will experience a rocketing ascension with his Divinely bestowed body and begin to soar gracefully in that horizon. Thus, every believer should both volunteer for the duty of glorifying the Name of God, and while doing that, they should be as scrupulous as possible in order to have sincerity and maintain it.

[1] Sunan Abu Dawud, Adab, 100–101.

[2] Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, The Words, New Jersey: The Light, 2005, p. 661.

[3] Sahih al-Bukhari, Sawm, 4; Sahih Muslim, Zakah, 85.

[4] Al-Ushi, Badu’l-Amali, pp. 50–54.

[5] Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, The Letters, New Jersey: The Light, 2007, p. 245.

[6] Sahih al-Bukhari, Riqaq, 51; Sahih Muslim, Iman, 302.

[7] As-Sad 38: 47.

This text is the translation of “Dünyada Rıza, Ötede Rıdvan.”

Believers’ Stance against the Malevolent Circle of Hypocrites

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: What position should believers take in the face of some improper negative incidents?

Answer: Initially it should be noted that this is not the first time certain negative occurrences have taken place, nor will it be the last. Presenting this truth to our consideration in vivid pictures, the Qur’an mentions the Prophets’ stories, which have their own hue and pattern, and it also relates various incidents, each of which is an astounding example on its own. While these verses provided the blessed Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, with consolation, they also point out the truth of historical recurrences. When we sieve through all of these past events, the following picture appears before us: God Almighty reformed corrupted societies with the Prophets He sent. After the final Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, the task of effecting a new spirit of revival in society and rectifying corruptions has been realized through the hands of revivers.

Oppression did not Seem Likely to Cease, But…

No society in any period of history suffered from the evils that existed at the time when the Messenger of God was sent. The poet Mehmed Akif describes the Time of Ignorance with the following lines:

Human predators were much worse than hyenas;

A man without teeth would be food for his brothers!

Chaos pervaded all the horizons of the world!

The trouble of anarchy was an epidemic, now destroying the East.

The poet then points to a “tradition of God” seen in social life:

The bloody feet trampling heads came to the end of the road,

The weak, whose due had been mistreatment, were revived.

And oppression, did not ever think of ceasing, just died.

Today, and after today as well, it may not occur to the weak that they will be revived and not occur to the oppressors that they will be defeated. But this has been realized so many times in history with God’s permission and grace. And what has happened is the greatest reference for what will happen. One of the benefits of looking back and making a connection with the past is understanding this very truth. The fact that a pattern of corruption and restoration constantly follow one another, and that the alternation of day and night ceaselessly continue, both attest that with God’s permission and grace, restorations will follow corruptions and days will follow nights in the future as well.

I Was Subjected to Pressure for a Lifetime but I Never Lost Hope

Humanity might go astray many times over. They might fail to keep up their decency and might disperse around like prayer beads whose string has been broken. Metamorphoses might follow metamorphoses, and a serious deformation in society might be experienced. It should never be forgotten, however, that tidying people up with a new light and new wisdom and bringing them to an ideal state are in God’s hand.

Personally, I cannot claim to be a person with strong faith. And although my life has passed under pressures since I was twenty, I never lost hope. Before I went to carry out my military obligation, I was taken from the mosque window where I stayed and escorted to the police station. I was insulted and threatened. But such things did not have any negative effects on me. Not even for a moment did I think of stepping back from the path on which I was walking. I did not care at all about the threats and pressures of arrest and imprisonment. When I found two people to listen, I just sat in the mosque and tried to teach them. The hardships I went through continued after my military obligation as well. But I never gave in to hopelessness. For an entire lifetime, I kept up the considerations expressed in these words:

The joyous days of divine promise shall appear;

Who knows, perhaps tomorrow or even sooner

God Almighty tells us that only unbelievers lose hope in His mercy: “And do not despair of God’s Mercy, for none ever despairs of God’s Mercy, except people who disbelieve in Him” (Yusuf 12:87).

Actually, I think I am voicing the feelings of the devoted ones with my words because, in the face of their troubles, each of them will say like Nasimi:

I am a suffering lover O Beloved, I will not turn away from You.

Even if You cleave my heart through, I still will not do so.

If they cut me in two like Prophet Zachariah,

Put my head to the saw O Lord, I will not turn away from You.

If they burn me to ashes,

O Veiler of sins, I still will not turn away from You.

The only thing that matters to devoted ones is His good pleasure, attaining His Mercy, and making the caravan of service proceed. As far as the caravan continues its way, how can the ordeals we undergo be a matter of importance? None of the acts of goodness depends upon our personal existence. To put it with an ironic phrase, “We are not the ox bearing the earth, and do not need to worry that the world will collapse with our death!”

Fearlessness and Resolution Spoils the Plots of Those with Evil Intentions

No matter what upsetting ordeals break our hopes and fade our enthusiasm, we should neither panic nor give in to hopelessness, which prevents every kind of progress. On the contrary, it is necessary to always keep an upright stance, without defiance and snarls. This fearlessness and resolution by faithful ones will also silence certain circles with evil intentions. Laughing in the face of death threats and responding to them as, “Most welcome, I was expecting to be martyred and meet my Lord as soon as possible,” perplexes the other side and condemns them to helplessness. Believers’ resolute stance and remaining unshaken are important expressions of their trust in God and, at the same time, are a dynamic to upset the plots of the adversaries, leading them to panic.

Patience and Victory

Patience is the mysterious and magical key leading to deliverance. Attaining bliss in Paradise, witnessing the beauty of Divine Countenance, attaining God’s good pleasure, and being blessed with eternity are all possible through patience. Similarly, one of the most important means of being saved from worldly troubles and gaining worldly victories, which are of lower value, are also through patience. Not failing to observe worship, resisting against sins, putting up with misfortunes, not bowing before oppressions, not hurrying at issues that require time, not changing course before desirable attractions of this world, and soothing our yearning for the Divine Countenance with thoughts of serving humanity… all of these points can be considered within the category of patience.

It is possible to term these points as types of patience. If none of them is neglected, it is possible to open many doors with this mysterious key. However, those who do not act with patience but hurry will be doomed to stumble. As a poet put it,

Those who go too fast will trip over their skirt;

Those who go slowly will reach the destination.

Those who lose patience and hurry will trip up, but those who act sensibly will make progress. In this respect believers need to reckon their steps well. Reckoning one’s steps or acting patiently should not be confused with inertia. Individuals should always be active and walk toward their target, but they should walk with deliberation, mindfulness, reflection, and sobriety. They should ponder over an issue with respect to its beginning and its end, take into consideration those who envy them and cannot stomach their achievements, and never be heedless of the grudge and hatred of adversaries.

Frog Croaks Make No Harm to Pure Water

In the meantime, we should not be distracted by the conspiracies, libels, and slanders orchestrated against us by some oppressive transgressors. As it is stated in a Turkish proverb, frog croaks make no harm to pure water. What really matters is that the water is pure and clean. Given that you walk on a righteous path and a lane of goodness, the adverse remarks by some dirty mouths fixed on strife and malice bear no importance at all. I see benefit here in mentioning the lines Bediüzzaman quotes with reference to those who talk against the Qur’an: “If you threw a stone to every dog that barked, there would remain no stones in the world.” So let the barkers keep barking. We should never be distracted by those who growl at us.

Incidentally, although such expressions do not reflect our general character and style in terms of our attitude, it should not be forgotten that even in the Qur’an the example of a donkey or dog is given for the sake of conveying certain truths.[1] When the holiest and immaculate style of the Qur’an is taken into consideration, it appears that that particular matter needs to be expressed in this way.

If you orient yourself to your people’s spirit, to let them unite with their own mind and heart, to let them take a celebrated position in the world, then you should not care about ugly remarks from here and there. If you are sure that you are walking on a righteous path and that you do not have any target but attaining God’s good pleasure on this path, then you should not consider the activities orchestrated against you and not be entangled by them.

Let Those Who Travel on the Wrong Path Fear Their End

If someone is to get anxious, panicked, bewildered about what to do, and experience paranoia, it should be those who walk on the wrong path. As people who act this way are representatives of destruction, which is so much easier than building, they still cannot be saved from making zigzags despite this ease and cannot make the least progress. In spite of their use of every negative and destructive method as intimidation, raids, demolition of values, and attacking your system of values, it is still not possible to say that they have made an inch of progress.

So these incurable troubles and irreparable ruins should not cause despair in our hearts; they should not panic us. This does not mean, however, that we should close our eyes to the destruction being made. On the contrary, it is very important to recognize this terrible destruction, because seeing the destruction will remind individuals of their responsibilities and the duties that they should fulfill. Before such a picture an idealist person with such consciousness of responsibility will try to figure out what God expects His loyal servants to do and will focus on what needs to be done by saying, “I wonder how a prophet would act in the face of such a situation?”

But if the picture is not seen completely, and these happenings are not felt with their entire profundity, it will not be possible to know what to do. And as a consequence—may God forbid—some might give themselves to comfort and suffice with minding their own business, in spite of the upheavals experienced by the society, ruins, wreckages, and desolate wastelands. This in a way is selfishness, indifference, and callousness. In this respect, one should be full of reliance on God and hope, not caring about ugly remarks and attitudes and having an altruistic understanding of sharing the sufferings of others, and one should never perceive seeing what needs to be done and doing it as different things. On one hand it is necessary to see and analyze well the existing picture with its general lines, and on the other hand to exert ourselves with an unshakable faith, hope, and determination for restoring the present destruction in accordance with the basis of our heritage of values.

[1] Al-Anfal 8:76; Luqman 31:19.

This text is the translation of “Kine Doymayan Nifak Şebekesi Karşısında Mü’mince Duruş.”

One Supplication and Four Essentials

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: Could you please elucidate the four essentials mentioned in the following oft-repeated supplication of the noble Prophet: “O God! I beseech You for guidance, piety, decency, and dignified contentment.”

Answer: First, it is necessary to point out that each of the points mentioned in this prayer refers to an important attribute of the Prophets. It is even possible to say that these virtues are their indispensable qualities. Given that they are guides for all believers in every aspect of theirs, the heroes of guidance who devoted themselves to conveying truths to humanity must also adopt these lofty qualities. Not only with their words, but also with their personal state, attitude, and behaviors as well, they must be saying, “O God! I beseech You for guidance, piety, decency, and dignified contentment!”

Guidance

The first thing asked by the Prince of the Prophets at this oft-repeated supplication is huda (guidance), which means seeing the truth, hearing the truth, finding the truth, and being steadfast at truth. In this respect it is a very important fact that the Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him, puts guidance first in his supplication. Were it not for guidance, it is not possible for a person to see the truth and program one’s life accordingly. Without guidance, it is not possible to talk about piety, decency, and dignified contentment. Attaining these other three, depends on guidance.

“Guidance” is the first and foremost for everything and its source is primarily the Qur’an and then the noble Prophet’s Sunnah, which includes his blessed words, acts, and behaviors. In the same way, it is pointed out in the second verse of the chapter Al-Baqarah that the Qur’an is a potential source of guidance for God-revering and pious ones. After mentioning the qualities of the God-revering ones in the third and fourth verses, the fifth verse puts emphasis on guidance again by stating, “Those (illustrious ones) stand on true guidance (originating in the Qur’an) from their Lord; and they are those who are the prosperous…” In addition, taqwa (piety, reverence of God) is mentioned as the basic condition of thoroughly benefiting from the Miraculous Qur’an, which is noteworthy in terms of pointing out the relationship between the two.

As we tried to express earlier, guidance is the foundational character of the Prophets they are innately blessed with. Because God Almighty does not let those exalted personages whom He sends with a very important mission present certain behaviors to be used as a pretext for ignoring their message. In this respect, the words spoken against the Prophets David, Solomon, Noah, and Hud, peace be upon them, are nothing but slanders by their own people. In the same way, the inappropriate words spoken about the Pride of Humanity out of the sphere of guidance are both an expression of impertinence and a gross slander to make the Divine Throne shiver.

Incidentally, I would like to correct a misinterpretation voiced by some Islamic theologians. While explaining the verse, “(Did He not) find you unguided, and guide (you),” they mistranslate the word “unguided” (dallan) as “misguided.” By using this mistranslation, they claim that, until the moment he was blessed with the light of Divine Messengership and his horizons were lit up, the Prince of both worlds lived—God forbid—in misguidance. To tell the truth, those who ascribe him such a claim of misguidance are misguided ones themselves, may God grant them guidance.

The Qur’an states: “Your Companion (the Messenger) has neither gone astray nor adopted a wrong way (in belief and action)” (an-Najm 53:2). The inflection of the original Arabic expression “ma dalla” (has not gone astray) indicates that his entire life passed upon guidance.

In order to explain the seeming contradiction between these two verses, it is necessary to look at the different meanings of the word “dalalah.” While one sense of dalalah is “deviation from the straight path one walks,” another meaning is not recognizing the right path and experiencing a hesitation at this issue. It is this second meaning of “dalalah” that needs to be understood when it refers to the Messenger of God. Until the Divine light came to him, he hesitated between different paths, endeavored to find the right path, and in a way he laid very important foundations for the future with that.

In addition, the expression “(Did He not) find you unguided, and guided (you),” might be referring to the states of amazement (dahsha), passion (qalaq), and stupor (hayman) he experienced during revelation. When he met such a heavenly surprise, he may have experienced a serious shock and not understood what he was supposed to do in the first place. In spite of this, that paragon of insight came to his wife Khadija, may God be pleased with her, who was a woman of a balanced and sound character, and opened up to her. And she first evaluated the noble Prophet in terms of his general character, expressed his lofty morality, and stated that God would not leave him on his own. Afterwards, she took him to her cousin Waraqa ibn Nawfal, who was a Christian scholar.

Then we can understand the meaning of the verse in question as follows: at a certain period, you did not know what Paradise or Hell was. You felt agonized before the general condition of the people but did not know what to do for them. Even though you sensed certain things through what remained from the religion of Prophet Abraham, peace be upon him, and that they conveyed and inspired certain meanings to you, you were not in a position to make a definite decision to put everything in its right place. With the Divine revelation He sent, God eliminated this perplexity and hesitation of yours and showed you the right way.

There is another point that also merits consideration about the attribute of guidance the Prophets are blessed with. Considering the following verse of chapter Ash-Shura: “And certainly you (by God’s guidance) guide (people) to a straight path” (ash-Shura 42:52); it is pointed out that the Messenger of God is upon guidance, and that he is a guide in this respect at the same time. As the Prophets are upon guidance, they also lead people to guidance by God’s permission, show them the way, clear the way for them, and help them meet guidance. To put it within the framework of our description of striving on the path of God and providing guidance, they help hearts to meet God by removing the barriers between people and God. Surely the Divine light’s being kindled in the hearts of those addressed is a glorified act that belongs to God.

Piety

The perfect guide’s second request in his supplication is taqwa (piety), which we can define as “the endeavor to be saved from the wrath and punishment of God by fulfilling His commands and abandoning great sins.” As there are degrees of guidance, there are different degrees in piety as well. First, a person who observes the obligatory commands and keeps away from grave sins steps into the corridor of piety. Later, one who keeps away from dubious things and does not even pass from the neighborhood of forbidden things steps in from the door of piety. After that, true piety is realized by abandoning certain permissible things, considering they may be dubious. In addition, it should not be forgotten that piety in the perfect sense can be attained by not only scrupulous observance of religious principles, but also by complying with the Divine laws or general principles operating in this universe.

A believer’s thoroughly benefiting from the guidance found in the Qur’an and Sunnah depends upon such a level of piety. When seen from this perspective, guidance and piety are like twins. Attaining piety depends on guidance; while, correct understanding of the system established by the Qur’an and Sunnah and grasping its spirit, sublimity, and grandeur is possible by deepening in piety again.

Decency

The third thing mentioned in this supplication is iffah (decency, chastity), which refers to a person’s scrupulous observance of morality, being on the watch for not turning one’s looks the wrong way, keeping one’s ears under control, using one’s tongue only when necessary, not asking disgracefully from anyone… in short, it means a person’s keeping within the sphere of modesty and mannerliness in every state and behavior. If individuals are decent, the society will also be decent—clearly, a society made up of sinners cannot be decent. In a society that has lost its decency, there will be various corruptions and evils like theft, bribery, libel, and embezzlement. Those in low levels steal and embezzle in low amounts and those in high levels in high amounts.

The Qur’an describes the heroes of decency as, “Those who are unaware (of their circumstances) suppose them wealthy because of their abstinence and dignified bearing, but you will know them by their countenance —they do not beg of people importunately. And whatever good you spend, surely God has full knowledge of it” (al-Baqarah 2:273).

Accordingly, they do not beg from others even if they are hungry and homeless, truly deserving tribute. We also need to point out here that Islam allows destitute people to ask from others the minimum amount to survive.

Dignified Contentment

The fourth thing mentioned in the noble Prophet’s supplication is ghina, which has two meanings. The first is richness of heart and having dignified contentment of not asking from others, and the second is to become rich with lawful earnings in the material sense. There is nothing wrong with asking for the second either, because if worldly blessings can properly utilized, they can be important factors that support faith and observing the Divine commands. However, when asking for material richness, it is necessary to show utmost care for its being lawful, never fall into misery at giving such richness its due, not let the heart fall for worldly possessions, never forget that worldly properties and wealth are favors of God, and be very careful not to head for the same pitfall as Korah by remarks like, “I earned these on account of my own knowledge and merit” (al-Qasas 28:78).

There is nothing wrong in asking God Almighty for wealth as long as these points are followed. In addition, the Prince of the Prophets sought refuge in God against hunger and poverty, along with some other things, because a person who faces such a situation might complain about one’s condition and stoop to begging.

In this respect, it can be said that Islam does not have a negative and forbidding attitude against asking for material richness. Maybe the issue of consideration here is refraining from amassing wealth with greed and personal concerns. Indeed, the Miraculous Qur’an warns against the grim end to be faced by hoarders who do not donate from their wealth for the sake of God: “Those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in God’s cause (to exalt His cause and help the poor and needy): Give them (O Messenger) the glad tidings of a painful punishment!” (at-Tawbah 9:34). Here, there is the glad (!) tidings of a painful punishment for those who amass wealth, who keep hoarding stocks and mostly use what they hoard for usury, for those who even play with the economy by looking for an opportunity to benefit themselves, and who do not have a fear of God or concern for the Afterlife while doing all of these things. Actually, if a person uses the wealth in hand properly, it is possible to be honored with the blessings mentioned in true glad tidings. However, as they misuse their wealth, they transform the glad tidings for those who spend for the sake of God into tidings of a painful punishment.

In the following verses, the form of the punishment they will face in Hell is related in detail: “On that day, it (that hoarded wealth) will be heated in the fire of Hell and therewith their foreheads and their sides and their backs will be branded (and they will hear): “This is the treasure which you hoarded up for yourselves; taste now what you were busy hoarding!” (at-Tawbah 9:35).

Wealth collected in order to spend for the sake of God is different that wealth amassed for personal gain. Wealth formed with virtuous intentions, such as using it for glorifying the Name of God, opening schools and universities in different places of the world, and teaching humanity about our values must be evaluated differently. It is even necessary to encourage people for having wealth to realize this ideal.

Leading a decent and dignified life, and benefiting from God Almighty’s blessings can both be in compliance with Qur’anic commands: “But seek, by means of what God has granted you, the abode of the Hereafter (by spending in alms and other good causes), without forgetting your share (which God has appointed) in this world” (al-Qasas 28:78).

But what really matters is a person having dignity in his own spirit. The Prophets always lived with this feeling of dignified contentment. They did not expect anything from people in return for fulfilling the duty of conveying the Divine message. They endured enormous difficulties and trouble for the sake of conveying their messages to their people, and they never asked for any rewards in return because all of their expectations were from God. In this respect, we can say that the most important and influential dynamic they used against their people was dignified contentment. Such a stance is very convincing in terms of those addressed. So a person’s not cherishing any worldly expectations for a duty they carry out, not demanding any status or titles, and expecting their reward only from God are a different depth of dignified contentment or richness of heart.

Finally, everybody must consent to what God Almighty apportions for them and never show greed at material issues and worldly matters because for some individuals, poverty decreed by Divine destiny can be much better for them. Who knows, their inherent weakness for wealth might make them lose a trial with richness and lead them headfirst into Hell. Thus, it is always necessary to consent to what the Divine Will decrees for us.

This text is the translation of “Bir Dua Dört Esas.”

The Correct Understanding of Being a “Miskin”

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: In one of his prayers, the blessed Prophet said, “My God let me live impecuniously, die impecuniously, and resurrect me among the impecunious.”[1] Could you elucidate the meaning of this supplication and what are the lessons to be drawn from it?

Answer: The original word “miskin” comes from the root sa-ka-na. In terms of its dictionary meaning, miskin is a person who gives in to stagnancy, who makes no activity, who does not work, and who does not produce. But as a religious term, the word miskin refers to someone who has no property at all, in a way, whose bed is the earth and whose blanket is the sky. In this respect, the financial level of a miskin is lower than a poor one, because according to Islamic criteria, a person whose financial worth does not amount to the value of 80 grams of gold is regarded as “poor.” Namely, a poor person does have properties, be them little in worth, but an impecunious (miskin) person does not even own that. Therefore, an impecunious person is one who accepts zakah and other alms, and barely gets by with others’ help.

The Condemned Sense of Being “Miskin”

It first needs to be noted that the Messenger of God, blessings and peace be upon him, would never wish or consent to stagnancy, leading a passive life, being shriveled, and expecting from others. He waged war against begging, condemned it in many sayings, and averted his followers from it. For example, one day a poor man came to him and asked for support. The Messenger of God told the man to sell certain things from his home, to buy an ax with the money, and then sent him to the forest and told him to sell the firewood he cut and collect. After some time, the man prospered to the level of a giver from the level of a taker and came to the Prophet’s presence with the money he earned. The noble Prophet said, “This is better for you than coming on the Judgment Day with a stigma of begging on your face.”[2] In the same way, the Messenger of God referred to this issue with an expression to be taken both in a literal and figurative sense and said, “The upper hand is better than the lower hand.”[3] Thus, he implicated that believers should not bring disgrace to their human dignity by asking from others; rather, they should try to work to make their own living as far as their health allows, and he encouraged them to be the upper hand. Begging, however, is permitted if a person is in a state of need to the degree of risking death, owing to reasons such as hunger or thirst. The Qur’an even allows a person starving to death to eat some pork in order to survive.[4]

Muslims in the past grasped well what it meant to keep their hands low while giving alms to others, trying not to humiliate the poor. The stones of alms,[5] which were in use during the Ottoman times, are significant in terms of protecting the honor and dignity of the poor. Rich people would leave their alms in cavities of these stones. Later, poor ones would come and take only the amount that they needed. This practice also shows the purity of heart of the members of that society, and the prevalent feelings of helping and solidarity. It can be said that in that era, a society almost comparable to the angels came into existence. In spite of the many security forces in our time, we bitterly witness that they fail to maintain such a degree of law an order. There is no censurer in the heart as there should be; the thought of the Hereafter is out of consideration, and the consciousness of being called to account in hearts has been killed. What has really died, though, are the human heart and conscience themselves.

The Wish to Become a Servant Prophet

As it is understood from all of these explanations, the blessed Prophet did not wish to be impecunious in the sense of asking and begging from others, of course. Then what is meant by being impecunious here is leading a modest life or having a consciousness of one’s impotence and poverty before God. Poverty, mentioned by master Bediüzzaman as one of the essentials of his path, means recognizing our not being in true possession of anything and feeling one’s neediness for God. A person who truly has this feeling will pray as, “O All-Living, Self-Subsistent (Lord)! For the sake of Your Mercy I beg for help. Rectify for all my states and leave me not to myself even for the blinking of an eye!”[6] and thus continuously seeks refuge in God’s protection and care.

So the Sultan of the Prophets wished to live with these feelings, giving his last breath with them, and being resurrected among those who rise with the wings of impotence and poverty and who constantly seek refuge in God. In other words, the Messenger of God will be the guide and pioneer for the people who possess this feeling in the Hereafter as well, as he always lived as an ordinary person among other people, never giving up his humbleness and modesty. In the words of our mother Aisha, may God be pleased with her, at times more than two months would passed and as the third month began, there was still no pot of meal boiled in that blessed home.[7] Who knows, to some extent with a concern for protecting the rights of the people he is responsible for, some considerations may have passed the mind of the noble Prophet. Probably at such a time, a sound was heard; a sound was heard when he was together with Gabriel and a different angel descended and said, “God is asking: Do you wish to be a monarch Prophet or a servant Prophet?” The Messenger of God would already make the correct decision in response to this question. However, since the issue did not have tolerance for the slightest err, Gabriel said, “O Messenger of God, be modest against your Lord!” Upon this, the blessed Prophet said, “I wish to be a servant Prophet.”[8]

Indeed, the noble Prophet lived as an impecunious person and when he passed to the realm beyond, he left no property he could not account for. He gave every blessing he had its due, spent the goods God Almighty granted him for the sake of God again, and thus went to the Divine presence in a blameless state.

A Paragon of Chastity and Heroes of Chastity

Together with what has been said, the blessed Prophet never gave in to inaction throughout his life. He did not complain to anyone about the troubles he went through, did not look expectantly at anyone, and did not beg or accept alms from anyone. Indeed, it was forbidden for him to take alms and zakah from anyone.[9] He always distributed the gifts he received to others.[10] In order to support his family, he bought food from a Jewish merchant by giving his blessed armor in pawn. He gave his last breath and walked to the horizon of his spirit while his armor was in pawn.[11] The Companions probably did not even know about it. Had they known, they would have known exactly what needed to be done. In short, the Messenger of God spent whatever he had for the sake of God. He willfully lived as the poorest of Muslims, but did not ask from anyone and did not make the slightest hint in this respect. On the one hand, the neediness that he preferred needs to be understood as showing the nobility to opt for a very simple and austere life and, on the other hand, as not cherishing the slightest expectation from others like a monument of decency.

As the noble Prophet was a paragon of decency, the Companions who were treading in his footsteps also lived as heroes of decency. The Qur’an describes the first heroes of Islam who would not open their hands to ask from others and who would not stoop to begging, in spite of being seized in dire poverty as follows; “Those who are unaware (of their circumstances) suppose them wealthy because of their abstinence and dignified bearing, but you will know them by their countenance—they do not beg of people importunately…” (al-Baqarah 2:273).

When we study the lives of the Companions, we see that they are scrupulous in not asking from others, making their living by the sweat of their eyebrow. For example, Abdurrahman ibn Awf, who was one of the blessed Ten Companions, had to leave all of his wealth in Mecca and migrate to Medina. When he came to Medina, he took a rope, headed for the market, and began working as a porter.[12] With God’s permission, in a short time he became rich enough to donate seven hundred camels for the sake of God.[13] The blessed Companions knew that begging was disgraceful behavior and always sought to get by with personal labor and lawful earnings in spite of serious destitution. In this respect, I think even for those who spend their time in the way of God and serve on His path, it is shameful to expect others to support them with scholarship and financial aid. I wish they did manual labor worked as cleaners, if necessary, and always live on what they earned by the sweat of their brow. There are certain positions, however, certain services that do not allow for any other job. Only in such circumstances, is it possible to permit others to meet the basic needs of that person.

Personally, I always feel obliged constantly to question my own life in this respect. For example, before completing my military obligation, I served as an imam for three years and I received a salary. The money I took, however, was barely sufficient for a single meal to suppress my hunger because most of the money was spent on books or for services for the sake of God. Later on, when they suggested that I work as a preacher, I felt a need to ask someone whether it was acceptable in Islam to carry out the duty of guidance in return for payment. I asked about this issue to one of the disciples of Bediüzzaman who had been nearest to him. That great personage said that the same question was asked to master Bediüzzaman and he replied: “If they will not let you preach unless they assign you as a preacher, accept this duty. If you do not need this money, give it to someone in need. But if you do need it, then you use it yourself to the degree of meeting your need.” After hearing that, I began serving as a preacher. From the salary they gave for a preacher, I only took an amount sufficient to meet my essential needs and gave the rest to the needy for the sake of God. And when they began to bring me money for publishing my books, I demanded the salary to be spent for the needy without my touching it.

The volunteers of service in our time should also refrain from asking from others—so much so that others should run after them to meet their basic needs and say, “This is necessary for you to flourish in other fields and become fruitful elements for the society.” So in such a situation, you reluctantly accept the modest amount they determine for you. Otherwise, habitually depending on others for a living is considered disgraceful according to the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Human Is No Lowly Being to Be Bought and Sold

The volunteers of our time must be more scrupulous at this issue and show a great deal of care about being honorable and upright members of the society for a lifetime. They should not expect even a single coin from others and not come under any obligation to anyone. As heroes of decency, they must remain upright all the time. Otherwise, different circles of benefit can virtually enslave these people who serve on the path of faith and get them to make concessions in their religion.

Unfortunately, we are witnessing very bitter examples of this in our time. We bitterly see that so many people are bought and then manipulated in different ways. However, a human is not, must not become a being to be bought and sold. The payment for humans is Paradise, Countenance of God, and His good pleasure. Nothing other than these can be humanity’s due. No price can suffice for a human to be sold, not even being a great conqueror. A person must never consent to that because human dignity, integrity, and honor are loftier than all of these.

It will be unfair if we do not state that some people in this blessed circle have attained purity of spirit in this degree. However, we must strive to make everyone attain such a noble spirit. We must tell people the value of living by the sweat of one’s brow, protecting dignity, and living honorably. The fact that the noble Prophet chose to be a servant-prophet indicates that the path of serving faith, which represents the heritage of the Prophets, can always be represented by this very spirit.

After Bediüzzaman passed to the realm of eternity, I met most of his outstanding disciples. In all of Turkey, there were only a few apartments where his works were discussed. Austerity prevailed in those apartments. The meal was soup most of the time, and that without oil. Only some bread and cheese would accompany the breakfast tea. However, they had serious eagerness and enthusiasm for serving faith. Each one of them was ready to run with enthusiasm like a noble steed on the path of serving faith. In this respect, it is possible to say that they were the ones who truly served on this path and prepared suitable grounds for you. They tilled the ground, sowed the seeds, and then cultivated it. And then what fell to you was harvesting the crops.

For some it may be too difficult to live in such a degree of dignified austerity and decency. However, the volunteers devoted to sublime ideals for the sake of humanity must always endeavor to reach this level.

It should never be forgotten that if this exalted ideal is to continue, it can only be with such morality. Because—may God forbid—if you indulge in luxuries, people’s trust in you will be shaken and they will give up supporting you. And then very beautiful activities in a very wide geography—may God forbid—will come to a halt. Such services are offered to the entire humanity and will not continue if not for the countless sacrifices of countless volunteers. Today, some may be coming up with accusative questions such as, “Where does the water of this mill come from?” Some ask that out of ignorance and some purely out of jealousy, in spite of knowing the answer well. It is a reality that this mill does not turn with water or wind. Just as the magnanimous people of Anatolia made dizzying self-sacrifices for their struggle for independence, they once more make philanthropic sacrifices to make this mill turn. Thus, a volunteer should not engage in the slightest wrong to raise doubts in the minds of those magnanimous people and lead them to negative thoughts. This will be an unbearably grave sin for which God will bring us to account.

Surely a businessperson will engage in trade, work, and earn. May God let their trade prosper greatly so that they continue to work and earn. However, the devoted souls whose position requires leading a simple life should opt for an austere life, being indifferent to worldliness and totally dedicating themselves to serving faith and the Qur’an with their feelings, thoughts, minds, and hearts.

[1] Sunan ibn Majah, Zuhd, 7.

[2] Sunan Abu Dawud, Zakah, 26; Sunan ibn Majah, Tijarah, 25.

[3] Sahih al-Bukhari, Zakah, 18.

[4] Al-Baqarah 2:173.

[5] Rich people would leave their alms in the cavities in these stones. Later, the poor ones came and took from it as much the amount they needed.

[6] Sunan Abu Dawud, Adab, 101; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 5/42.

[7] Sahih al-Bukhari, Hiba, 1; Riqaq, 17; Sahih Muslim, Zuhd, 26, 28.

[8] Ahmed ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 2/231; Abdurrazzaq, Al-Musannaf, 3/183–184.

[9] Sahih al-Bukhari, Zakah, 60; Jihad, 188; Sahih Muslim, Zakah, 161.

[10] Sahih al-Bukhari, Badu’l-Wahy, 5–6; Zakah, 50; Riqaq, 20; Sawm, 7; Sahih Muslim, Zakah, 124; Fadail, 50.

[11] Sahih al-Bukhari, Jihad, 89; Tirmidhi, Buyu, 7; Sunan ibn Majah, Ruhun, 1.

[12] Sahih al-Bukhari, Manaqibu’l Ansar, 3.

[13] Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 6/115; Tabarani, Al-Mujamu’l-Kabir, 1/129.

This text is the translation of “Miskinliğin Doğru Anlaşılması.”

Internalizing Islam

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: What are the key points for making Islam become an essential part of someone’s character?

Answer: Feeling the theoretical teachings of Islam in one’s conscience as they truly are and making them an essential part of our character depends, first of all, on knowing that putting theoretical knowledge into practice is an absolute requisite.  With “practical reason” and similar notions, some philosophers actually drew attention to this fact, and Sufis tried to realize this issue with ways and systems of spiritual journeying.

From philosophers, for example, Bergson states that the truth can only be found with feeling and sensing of the conscience, and Kant notes that God can only be known through practical reason. It is always debatable how familiar these philosophers who were raised within Western culture are with the truth or how much can they help us become familiar with it. This is another issue. But it is a reality that most of the time if the evidences you present with respect to knowing God merely remain as theoretical knowledge, this may not suffice for preserving faith and the essentials of Islam. Every kind of knowledge that remains at the level of theory could be taken away by a dissident wind. Thus, theoretical knowledge must be placed on the basis of deeds.

The Way to Deliverance: Faith and Good Deeds

  In fact, the Qur’an relates deliverance from ultimate loss and falling to the lowest of the low to belief and good deeds: “Surely We have created human of the best stature, as the perfect pattern of creation; Then We have reduced him to the lowest of the low. Except those who believe and do good, righteous deeds, so there is for them a reward constant and beyond measure…” (at-Tin 95:4–6).

The fact that a verb form is used both while referring to belief and deeds denote the significance of “continuity” in faith and deeds in terms of deliverance. In this respect, a person should never see the belief he or she had yesterday as sufficient but should say like the Companions said, “Come on, let us have faith in God anew”[1] and thus be in a constant endeavor to renew one’s faith. You may have settled all problems about having no faith before and condemned them to execution. However, in order not to lose the gains you have obtained in terms of faith, you should never see the point you have reached as sufficient, always seeking ways to renew your faith every day.

After faith, constantly-practiced good deeds, free from defects and showing-off, are given importance. The scope of “good deeds” is very extensive: from faith in God to devotions; from there to observance of parents’ rights; and from there to protection of believers’ rights… Good deeds being referred to with a verb form denotes that a person should not suffice with doing a good deed once, but allow oneself to be a waterfall of good deeds and living continuously within this stream.

You can see the same theme in the chapter Asr.  Right after stating that humans are in loss, deliverance is related to belief and doing good deeds. In human nature there are certain powers and feelings such as the faculty of desire, faculty of anger, and faculty of reasoning, which are also open to abuse. These can drift a person to loss and fall. So in these two Qur’anic chapters we have mentioned, God Almighty showed us the prescription that can be an antidote against these dangers. As an expression of this truth, Imam Shafi said, “If people pondered deeply over the chapter Asr together with its beginning and end, this would suffice them.[2]

Impotence, Poverty, Enthusiasm, and Thankfulness

In order to internalize the truths of Islam and thus attain a higher character, Sufis advise spiritual journeying, which has different ways and methods of its own. Great personages took into consideration the factors that pressurized Muslims in their time and established systems suitable to struggle against them. Some of them related their system to the seven levels of the soul, while some established their system upon the ten human faculties.

 As for Bediüzzaman, the system he established taught the four essentials: impotence, poverty, enthusiasm, and thankfulness in the absolute sense. He also talked about two complementary essentials, affection and reflection.[3] This system is a way that should be followed so that those potentially human can become truly human and attain perfection. However, a person’s embracing these essentials and acquiring them as an ingrained character trait require a serious endeavor.

The first of these essentials, absolute impotence refers to a person’s awareness of being unable to do anything he or she wishes. Happenings unfold according to a plan and program determined by God Almighty, and most of the time we cannot interfere with them. Even though we do not deny the function of willpower with respect to this issue, it is a well-known truth that God Almighty creates the results. So a person must see himself like a drop in the ocean before the Infinite Divine power and will, and admit his place and position before God.

As for absolute poverty, it refers to a person’s recognition of the fact that God is the true owner of every object and being. Everything we own is from Him. It is He who brought us into existence, granted us certain means, made us Muslims, let us know the Sultan of the Prophets, blessings and peace be upon him, guided us to the highest horizons, made us attached to lofty ideals, and guided us to realize these in spite of our not being eligible at all.  If we put aside our Divine blessings and stood on our own, nothing would remain in our hands. Given that our body, reason, feelings, thoughts, and everything else we possess are from Him, what are we then? As Bediüzzaman states, we are shadow beings, as shadows of the shadows of the shadows of the light of His existence. We cannot even be called a drop in the ocean before Him.[4]

Reflection and Compassion

These essentials we have mentioned are very important, but they cannot be internalized just by reading them a few times and thinking them over. Making them part of one’s character depends on serious pondering, deliberation, and reflection.  A person must deeply ponder over the Qur’an and the universe, and bring the topic of every talk to the explication of these considerations. One must constantly reflect upon what he actually owns, how much capital he possesses, and how much power he has. A person’s truly reaching considerations of enthusiasm and thankfulness depend on such an active system of contemplation.

As for compassion, one of the other essentials of our path, it refers to being compassionate toward humanity and exerting oneself for the sake of saving others. Not even limiting the feeling of compassion we have to humanity, one should outspread it to the entire existence and deeply reveal this feeling at every opportunity, to such an extent that one must have an immense feeling of compassion to the degree of crying in the sight of a bee floundering on the ground. Undoubtedly, gaining such a feeling depends on having a strong belief in the Hereafter, along with reflection and contemplation.

I think that the origin of the extraordinary excitement and disquiet of the Prophets, peace be upon them, was their anxiety of perdition and desire for salvation. They knew that people left on their own would tumble down to Hell, and they had firm belief in the existence of a Paradise in the next world with all of its splendor and magnificence. It is for this reason that they fully exerted themselves for the sake of guiding people to this Paradise. With a little difference in wording, the Qur’an describes in two different verses the concerned state of the Pride of Humanity, blessings and peace be upon him: “It may be that you (O Muhammad) will torment yourself to death with grief, following after them, if they do not believe in this Message…” (al-Kahf 18:6; as-Shuara 26:3). This state stemmed from his immense consideration of others.

A person must try to make spiritual progress as if ascending on a stairway spiraling upwards. While giving his present station (maqam) its due on the one hand, one should constantly turn his gaze to higher stations and always ask, “Isn’t there more?” as an unquenchable journeyer for knowledge of God. If he can make good use of the inspirational blessings and Divine favors bestowed in his present spiritual station, this will evoke eagerness toward new things in him, and such a journeyer will keep continuously knocking on different doors.

A Resolute Path and Ceaseless Endeavor

Such a journeyer for truth who acts in line with the enthusiasms evoked in him will constantly desire to raise the standard higher, and as he raises it higher, there will be an opportunity to act accordingly. He will step in a virtuous cycle, where righteous enthusiasms will continuously emerge in him, and he will ask for new levels with these enthusiasms. That is, when the person fulfills what falls on his part by striving in compliance with the apparent causes, then the Divine power—the true Necessity—will come to act and make him reach the levels that he wished for.

Naturally, it will not be possible to internalize and make these a part of one’s character all of a sudden. This calls for a serious endeavor. In some exceptional cases, though, people have rocketed to the peak of human perfection in a wondrous fashion. For example, people who remained for a short time in the presence of the noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, reached the horizons of being a Companion because his presence is an atmosphere which deeply imbued the attendees with its hue. His state, attitude, acts, manners, silence, speaking, and the lines of his face, which conveyed awe or joy from time to time, reminded of God in their entirety. Every state of his made those near feel their being in the presence of God.

In the same way, some saintly figures who lived after the Prince of the Prophets may also make those who enter their atmosphere reach the horizons of human perfection, sometimes in a very short time. For example, you can see this rocketing progress in people with a high potential who took their places around Bediüzzaman such as Tahiri Mutlu, Hasan Feyzi, Hafız Ali, and Colonel Hulusi Bey. However, these are rare happenings and such cases are not recursive, since they are special Divine bestowals. While these bestowals happen with the Prophets in the form of miracles, they happen with saints as wonders (karama). As for the objective form of this issue, that is, the form that can apply to everyone and all the time, it depends on giving one’s willpower its due in this respect.

If we wish to make our values an essential part of our character, then we need to engage our own sources of spiritual nourishment ceaselessly, always bringing any issue to the talk of the Beloved and orienting all of our conversations toward this.

In addition, it should not be forgotten that if one makes a serious effort to become a true servant of God, He will help that person. As Muhammed Lütfi Effendi said,

If you truly love the Lord, do you think He will not love you?
If you seek His good pleasure, will He not let you have it?
If you go near His door, ready to offer all you have,
and serve as He ordered, will He not give its reward?

If you turn to God, He will treat you accordingly. If you turn your gaze toward him, He will look at you as well. If you open your heart to Him, then He will not leave that heart empty.

Let me point out one final thing: if a person can make practicing Islam a part of his character, he will not have much difficulty at carrying out certain devotions. For example, dividing sleep to offer the Tahajjud Prayer in the night is a burdensome task for the carnal soul. But if a person makes a habit of this like a natural behavior and virtually makes a secret contract with God, then he will not have much burden at rising from the bed. One may waver with the drowsiness at the first moment, perhaps. But after one prays and crowns it with a supplication to God and begins to open up to Him, he or she will not help but say, “It’s been so good that I woke up and made good use of these private hours of the night in terms of my relations of God!”

[1] Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 3/265.

[2] Ibn Kathir, Tafsiru’l-Qur’an, 1/3.

[3] Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, The Letters, New Jersey: The Light, 2007, p. 24.

[4] Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, The Letters, New Jersey: The Light, 2007, pp. 97–98.

This text is the translation of “İslâm’ın İnsan Tabiatı İle Bütünleşmesi.”

Turn in One Direction and Do Not Waste Your Spiritual Energy!

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: Bediüzzaman tells that once he opened Imam Rabbani’s book for a good omen with a pure heart and found the counsel about turning in one direction (qiblah) only, which led him to turn to the Qur’an as the sole guide. Could you elucidate on this issue and the messages it gives to us in today’s circumstances?

Answer: I would like to begin with drawing attention to a few points in order to prevent possible misunderstandings. First, Bediüzzaman did not approve of making a general practice of opening books at random for counsel or acting upon dreams, because in both cases the information received is not objective. In addition, it is very important to correctly interpret both the information yielded by the book and what one sees in a dream. Interpreting a dream means drawing a conclusion by virtue of certain symbols. In this respect, what is seen in a dream is one thing and the truth it expresses is another. Together with these essentials, Bediüzzaman opened the Maktubat (Collected Letters) of Imam Rabbani at random; the result satisfied his mind; his heart affirmed it, and it must have complied with his personal experience as well.

Second, from the imperative statement he came across that told him to turn in one direction, it should not be inferred that a person like Bediüzzaman had separated from the Qur’an and ran after other things instead. The life he led is obvious; he did not run after anything but the Qur’an in any period of his life. What then should be understood from turning in one direction only is the ideal shown to Bediüzzaman on a different horizon. In fact, with respect to the first period of his life, he did engage in a search for the sake of establishing and expressing truths in a way to suit the understanding of the era. In this respect, he visited different Sufi lodges and met with different persons. But in terms of his horizons, he found nobody who was aware of and worried about the real problems of the age that needed consideration and who would bring proper solutions to them in accordance with the spirit of the time. In the face of this situation, since Bediüzzaman was aware of the destruction and thought that the problems Muslims were facing needed to be addressed with a different method and style, he opened the book of Imam Rabbani at random and understood that he was supposed to refer to the Qur’an as the sole guide.

Indeed, if you view the period in which Bediüzzaman lived, you see that everything came crashing down and all values were upset. The poet Mehmed Akif described those days with the words:

Ruined lands, devastated homes, and desolate deserts;
Days devoid of labor, and nights with no ideals…

So when Bediüzzaman saw all of these, he understood that the trouble was so great and set about seeking a cure. Although he tried to tell to some people in his time that the destruction was of an immense scale, that the issue needed to be addressed anew from the roots, and that it was necessary to give importance to the issue of consolidating faith in order to realize this, nobody quite understood his concern, unfortunately. Upon this, he focused on the Qur’an. However, as he turned to the Qur’an he did not engage in a narration-based or reason-based Qur’anic exegesis like the great masters Ibn Jarir at-Tabari and Fakhruddin ar-Razi did, respectively. With a different method of Qur’anic exegesis he learned from the Qur’an again, he came up with prescriptions to cure the troubles of his and our time, from the diamond principles of the Qur’an.

Pinpointing the Problems of the Age First

As a matter of fact, different personages in different eras set about seeking solutions for the needs and conditions of their own time and wrote their works accordingly. For example, at the time of Imam al-Ghazali there were different problems: Greek philosophy entered the Islamic world, thoughts of Mutazilites and Fatalists disseminated, the Qarmatis and Batinis emerged, and so on. Particularly, the “injection” of the esoteric aspect of the Greek philosophy left most people under influence. For example, Al-Farabi (Alpharabius) and Ibn Sina (Avicenna) in terms of his early considerations engaged in a philosophical thought, whose fundamentals were based on Socrates. They brought Muslims the translation of the works of Plato and Aristotle. So Imam al-Ghazali strived for taking the path of the noble Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, and his Companions, and he succeeded by God’s permission. He established a new way and method different than Greek philosophy and let the Illuminist (Ishraqiyyun) school gain a different hue.

In the same way, Imam Rabbani dealt with the problems that emerged in his own time. As you know, in that period Ali Akbar Shah held the power in India and—similar to the historicists in our time—he fell for the idea that the teaching of the Qur’an and sunnah could not be practiced in as they really should, so he proposed establishing something resembling the Sanskrit religion. Namely, he wished to form a new religion by taking ideas from Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. Imam Rabbani’s advent was in such a period and he monumentalized the true Islamic heritage once more by building fortifications around Islam with a spirit of revivalism against this misguidance and deviant thought.

Actually, it is possible to talk about a similar endeavor in the noble Prophet’s, blessings and peace be upon him, retreat in Hira nearly six months before the beginning of revelation. It is impossible for such a magnificent personage with special endowments not to feel concern about the current problems in the Time of Ignorance before he retreated to Hira. God knows how many times that exceptional soul suffered with concerns for how to direct his people to a righteous path before he honored Hira. Finally, God Almighty turned his face to Himself with the showers of revelation. He blessed him with a new religion to solve the problems of the time.

A Prescription for a Diseased Era or the Diamond Principles of the Qur’an

When Bediüzzaman opened the Maktubat of Imam Rabbani with a sincere heart, he received the counsel that it is necessary to completely turn to the Qur’an anew after thirteen centuries of its revelation, and the cure for the troubles of the era is not to be sought in other things but the diamond truths of the Qur’an. It appears that Bediüzzaman’s feelings and thoughts were in compliance with the truth he came across. Upon this, he concentrated on a single point by disengaging from everything else. With all of his powers, he was fixed on this issue to such a degree that the pressures, isolations, imprisonments, and dungeons never intimidated him or made him back down in the least. Because he had heartfelt conviction that the people of his time could be delivered only with the diamond principles of the Qur’an and that this deliverance would serve as a source of hope for others as well.

By looking back from our time, you cannot see the atrocities and wickedness in that period in complete clarity and grasp all details of the picture. They were in such a degree that even the great scholars who lived in those times made some zigzags. For example, when you look at the works of some respectable scholars, you see that they made concessions in favor of transformism. Some of them even said that although evolution is only a theory, if it is to be proven by positive sciences one day, they are ready to reconcile it with the verses of the Qur’an.

In such a period, when the society was shaken from its fundamentals with its essential dynamics and when disintegration and fissures came in succession, this exceptional mind, who was able to see happenings with an all-embracing view and who saw causes and effects together, took heed of this counsel from Imam Rabbani as he had much trust in him. In other words, since this truth he came across was in perfect compliance with his inner truths, he benefited from this good omen and kept walking on this path.

Fresh Horizons with a New Viewpoint

Today as well it is possible to benefit from the open ends left by Bediüzzaman as starting points and bring a new face to the issues he dealt with, helping people to gain a new enthusiasm. You must present the truths he considered with a different style and method in such a way that those who read it should say, “We have been reading this issue for years but never understood it like that,” and feel a new excitement in their souls. Actually, most of his words are so deep and comprehensive as to form the basis for a separate volume. However, in order to see that depth, it is necessary to endeavor to read beyond the surface structure. As you know, the late Moroccan scholar Farid al-Ansari wrote a good work entitled Mafatihu’n-Nur (Keys to the Light) on the key concepts of Risale-i Nur. But why is not there a good study in Turkey comparable to the horizons and level found in Farid al-Ansari’s work? Why did we not benefit from the distinguished works of the great personage Bediüzzaman from different aspects? Actually, one cannot help but feel pity when thinking about this. Instead of feeling pity, however, I think that the duty that falls to the illumined minds of our time is revisiting those precious works with a new perspective. Particularly, scholars with mastery in religious disciplines and broad horizons can evaluate those works with a comparative way of reading alongside with works of other great personages like Imam Maturidi, Imam al-Ghazali, Izz ibn Abdussalam, Avicenna, and Fakhruddin ar-Razi, and thus evoke a fresh excitement in consciences toward them. And even not sufficing with that, they can make an analysis of these eminent works with a new method of reading, starting from the tips left by master Bediüzzaman and educating new scholars to build the scholarly thought of the future with a sound methodology of Islamic Jurisprudence and making studies in Islamic disciplines such as Fiqh, Hadith, and Tafsir.

This text is the translation of “Tevhid-i Kıble Et, Himmetini Dağıtma!

Turtledoves of the Metaphysical Realm and the Expected Revival

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: What factors allow someone to be open to spirituality and the metaphysical realms?

Answer: As some people see materialistic considerations as everything, they lead a life closed to metaphysics.  Although character plays a certain role at these people’s remaining closed to spirituality, the point that really needs to be considered is their making no serious effort in this respect, not giving their willpower its due.  Even if they say they also believe, people immersed in materialism, whose reasoning is reduced to their eyesight, condemn themselves to a severe narrowness in terms of their thoughts and opinions.  For example, they do not believe in the miraculous happenings we term as wonder (karama), whose number amounts to thousands, reported in different centuries by trustworthy people with no probability of lying.  Some even go as far as not wishing to accept miracles. Even though they become obliged to accept them owing to the soundness of the narrations, they try to make explanations based on material causes.  People who limit their world of thoughts with materialism over time blunt their ability and capacity to understand the metaphysical aspect of phenomena.  As a consequence, they cannot see beyond apparent things and occurrences, cannot grasp the wisdom contained in seemingly negative happenings, and as they are not imparted the “inner meaning of happenings” (ta’wil al-ahadith), they cannot understand the different meanings in unfolding events.

Transcendental Reality Beyond Occurrences and the Tongue of Wisdom

Actually, occurrences hold different meanings for people with respect to the way they take place, as if each of them were a manifest sign. However, in order to be able to see that, it is first necessary to see occurrences through latifa ar-Rabbaniya—the spiritual intellect—and to have the ability to synthesize. In other words, a person should read not only religious affairs but also other phenomena and occurrences, such as a book, trying to catch the connection among occurrences with a holistic perspective, and trying to see the cause and effect relationship among them. As Recaizade Mahmud Ekrem states, “The entire universe is a great book of God, whichever letter you study, its meaning will point to God.”

Even if some occurrences seem to be a coincidence and it is remarked that their chance of realization is one out of hundred, when other relevant occurrences are considered, it will be seen that the calculations of probability begin to fall as low as one out of a thousand, a million, or a billion… If individuals live by “sieving life,” if they evaluate the occurrences that come to their mind, catch their eye, and strike their feelings and senses with a holistic perspective, they will then be able to draw very deep meanings from them and from the connections among them. In the same way, with every occurrence they will see, by personally witnessing it, that there is no place for blind chance in this universe, even in the slightest degree. If they consider occurrences as separate entities, however, as some philosophers do, they will fail to see that every letter in this universe indicates and points to the truth of faith in God.

In this respect, in order to open up to spirituality, a person must give his or her willpower its due, sieve occurrences well, and believe from the beginning that nothing is meaningless—so much so that one must know that even a glass that falls from our hand and breaks has a meaning with respect to the “inner meaning of happenings.” Let this not be misunderstood: this perspective does not mean thinking too positively or too negatively in the face of occurrences and becoming spoiled with one and hopeless with another. On the contrary, it means comprehending that there is a certain meaning every occurrence tries to convey with its own tongue.

The Mysterious Key to Opening to Metaphysical Realms: Supplication

Secondly, a person needs to deepen his theoretical knowledge through worship and obedience in order to be able to see that metaphysical dimension of existence. Doubtlessly, supplication is the foremost among the most important acts of worship, because it is the title for sincere devotion to God. Since supplication is an act of worship that transcends causality, it is the most important ladder making the person reach meta-causality horizons.

So what is the most important and greatest demand a person should ask from God when supplicating?

For example, in our morning and evening recitations we express our wish to be saved from Hell and to attain Paradise. Keeping away from Hell and entering Paradise are essential matters for anyone. However, a person must have a demand of much further importance than these: that is the demand of knowing God correctly and never being heedless of Him.

This must be the highest target believers wish to attain in their prayers with a deep concentration and consciousness. When a man raises his hands in supplication, he must first ask for God’s forgiveness and good pleasure and be so insistent in this demand that he must feel a tingling in his hands with the blessings from God and virtually feel some spiritual effulgence showering down. When maintaining such a state of alertness from head to toe, one must pray: “My God increase me in faith, knowledge of You, love of You. Make me enraptured with yearning for You. Fill my inside with Your love. And make me a person crazy for Your path!”  

And if you rise at night and ask for these a thousand times from God with a sincere heart… then see how God Almighty tears apart the veils of the physical realm, opens new metaphysical horizons for you, and awakens you to spiritual realms beyond time and space. It should not be forgotten that whoever pursues a certain goal and strives seriously towards it, what he or she seeks will be granted. Nobody cares about and gives anything to a beggar with hands behind the back and saying in an offhand attitude, “Are you giving or not?” In the same way, acceptance of a person’s prayers depends on his turning to God in utter devotion, putting his head down on His doorstep, knocking on His door insistently, and believing that his prayers will be answered.

Although supplication is so important for a believer, let me sadly express that the act of worship that is given least importance in our time among Muslims is supplication. Unfortunately it has long been a victim of formality and formats. Even the supplications in mosques are victimized to formality, caught in a web of familiarity and heedlessness.

It should not be inferred from these words, however, that the worship and supplications made by people filling mosques are not accepted. I would never dare say that. God Almighty counts even the pettiest good deed to the advantage of a person and gives a reward even for the slightest of them. But it should not be forgotten that a person bears a value in direct proportion with what he values. If you value a worldly property, a mansion or a villa, for instance, then you attach your value to it.  If you value Paradise, your value is worth Paradise. But if you have attached your servanthood and desires to love of God and yearning for Him, since He is unlimited, you also reach an unlimited immensity.

If you glorify Him with your remembrances (tasbih, tahmid, and takbirs), and say, “O God praises be to You to the number of the particles in the universe!” and can feel this within, and shiver every time you remember Him, then Your place in God’s sight will be accordingly. As it is stated in a hadith, whatever God’s place is in your sight, thus will be your place in His sight. Ask yourself: How much value do you attach to Him? How much do you think of Him? How much time do you spend with Him? How often do you spell His name, and how much are you with Him? Each question is very important.

People Are Not Closed to Metaphysics; They Close Themselves to Metaphysics

God Almighty may bestow extra graces on a person without his making a strenuous effort. This is another thing. But the objective and essential criterion is a person’s giving his willpower its due. God Almighty states, “And that human has only that for which he labors…” (an-Najm 53:39).   If we express it the other way around, a person does not gain anything but the reward of his working, giving his willpower its due, and running on the path of God.

Thus, a person who says, “I cannot open to metaphysical considerations. I do not know the World of Representations or Ideal Forms (Alam al-Mithal). I cannot see occurrences with a holistic perspective, make a connection between them and reach a synthesis… ”, first needs to see whether he really did what he should have done concerning this issue. I wonder whether that person—in addition to his scrupulous care at offering the obligatory acts of worship—rose up for the Tahajjud Prayer for forty consecutive nights, prostrated himself and asked for what needs to be asked for? A person’s not doing these indicates how much value he attaches to spirituality. This person’s horizons of spirituality will be accordingly. So even though it is true that some people are closed to spirituality, it isn’t God who condemned them to this closed state. On the contrary, they closed themselves to spirituality. To put it more correctly, as they do not do what needs to be done for the sake of opening to metaphysical realms and do not give their willpower its due in this respect, they remain closed to spirituality.

Even though it was not included in the question, I would like to point out one more fact about the issue: The continuation of this assembly of revival which has taken start and presently promises hope to the entire earth and placing it on its right ground will be realized by capable people who not only know sciences and religious disciplines but are also open to metaphysics. At this united point of physics and metaphysics, if we can raise heroes of willpower who will carry out the requirements of these realms, humanity will awaken to a new spring by means of those heroes of spirituality, who are friends of God and who prefer Him over everything else. If so, the face of the world will smile again and the entire earth will witness a new revival throughout.

This text is the translation of “Metafizik Âlemin Üveykleri ve Beklenen Diriliş.”

Path of Guidance and the Walls of Chastity

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

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,”[1] 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.”[2]

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.”[3]

The Pride of Humanity pointed out that looking at a forbidden sight is “an arrow from the poisonous arrows of Satan.”[4] 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.

[1] Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 17.

[2] Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Qiyamah, 25.

[3] Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, The Gleams, New Jersey: Tughra, 2008, p. 188.

[4] Tabarani, Al-Mujamu’l-Kabir, 10/173.

This text is the translation of “İrşad Mesleği ve İffet Surları.”

Not Giving in to Heedlessness and Familiarity in Our Supplications

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: What are your recommendations for breaking the dullness wrought by familiarity in our supplications to God?

Answer: It is very important for a person to raise their hands in supplication with a consciousness of being in the Divine presence, to pronounce the words consciously, and to refrain from an attitude of engaging in worthless amusements.
The Messenger of God warned about the fact that supplications made in a heedless fashion are not acceptable in the sight of God Almighty by stating, “God does not respond to the supplication of a heart that is heedless and occupied by play.”1 In this respect, in order not to let dullness brought by familiarity take away supplication’s freshness and sweetness, and to not let the words coming out our mouth become worn-out utterances, it is necessary to know well the place and significance of prayer in religion.

Supplication: The Marrow of Worship
The Pride of Humanity, peace and blessings be upon him, states: “Supplication is the marrow of worship.”2 Just as the marrow in a backbone is of crucial vitality for the body, its possible dysfunctions can cause a person to become paralyzed and bedridden—and sometimes even to die. In the same way, supplication is like a backbone that makes the relation of servanthood between God and a person stand. It is only through supplication that a person reveals whether he or she is a real servant to God.
Supplication is what we call asking for God beyond the veil of causes. And this is very important in terms of attaining the consciousness of Divine unity in the real sense. Because when one raises their hands in supplication to God, there isn’t any cause between that person and God. Causes are nothing but a veil before the glory and greatness of God Almighty. However, a supplicating person directly knocks on the door of the One of Absolute Glory and Irresistible Might, asks from Him only, and thus begins to soar on the horizons of pure Divine unity.
A believer who supplicates to God fully conscious of being in His presence must take to be sure every word coming out of his mouth has a visa from the heart; he must make each word into a voice from the heart. In other words, he should not let a conflict happen between his heart and his tongue. Whatever the tongue is saying, the heart must contemplate the same meaning. For example, when one is saying, “My God please make me attain your good pleasure,” the rhythm of the heart must be in pace with these words and the heart must begin to beat accordingly. If there is some contradiction between the two, if the heart says something else while the tongue is saying something, then the matter of which one is to be answered remains uncertain. In this respect, a person must avoid acting with dualism and not let the tongue and heart contradict each other.
A person must act conscientiously not only during supplication but also during other acts of worship, too. For example, a person standing in prayer must enter inside that deed with his intention—the true will of the heart—and render that worship a deed of the heart as much as possible. The deeds offered by a person bear a meaning in the sight of God in accordance with how much the conviction and certainty in the person’s heart is expressed.

Faith and Supplication
Actually, such depth of consciousness depends on having sound belief in God in the first place, as is the case with every other matter. The depth and quality of a person’s supplication is directly proportional to that person’s faith. As for one who has a problem with believing and who lacks certainty, such a person can never maintain the integrity of their heart and tongue. In this respect, we can say that if a person cannot say the words from the bottom of his heart and cannot experience the excitement of supplication in a heartfelt way, then there is a problem of faith, certainty, and knowledge of God. Moreover, if a person does not care about whirlpools of unbelief, does not feel any disturbance in the face of people’s deviation and rebellion, and does not wish for them to embrace faith to the degree of wishing to raise a home or having a child at least—if that person is not raising his hands in supplication to say, “My God, please open the hearts of all people on earth toward Islam! Here I beg at your door O Lord! Take my soul if necessary, but put faith in people’s hearts please!”—we can say that this person is experiencing a problem of faith. Such a person needs a serious rehabilitation about the essentials of faith.
Actually, all of us need a serious rehabilitation about the essentials of faith. Because, no matter whether we realize it or not, as Bediüzzaman puts it, deviation and unbelief that stem from the science and philosophy of our time is seriously corrupting our minds.3 Each sin that we commit and every doubt that enters our mind is inflicting wounds in our heart and spirit.4 As sound faith based on verification has completely disappeared, the ties of imitation have also been undone. In the past, people would see a guide before them, or an opinion leader, follow his lead, and get inside the safe haven of faith by imitation at least; they would find protection. Unfortunately, most people in our time are lacking even such an opportunity.
Actually, if a person listens to oneself, looks at the face of what is taking place around them and then interprets these events correctly, then he or she will feel or sense Him in everything and say, like the poet Cenab Şehabeddin, “You exist O God! You exist, and You exist again! I find You in my mind, imagination, and feelings… You exist!” A person who beholds His Beauty reflected in everything will sometimes run to a tree and kiss it, embrace the grass, touch his face to the earth like an insane person, and sometimes turn to the sun, which is like a condensed manifestation of the Divine Name, An-Nur. And such a person will have full consciousness of God’s omnipresence. They will behave as if seeing Him and act with an awareness of being seen by Him. Only a person who has attained such horizons of certainty in faith will overcome monotony and familiarity while raising hands in supplication, transcend causality, and implore God Almighty with a consciousness of being seen by Him.

The Voice of Inner Excitement and Resonance
It is very important to feel being in His presence, and being in submission to and in awe of Him, so that it is as if the supplicant were able to see God or at least know that He sees us. A person must turn to God with a profound concentration and become enraptured while praying and abandon himself. I personally met Tahiri Mutlu and Ahmed Feyzi, who were students of Bediüzzaman. They would voice their inner excitements while supplicating to God. They would virtually writhe and become enraptured. As a matter of fact, they were practicing the attitude they had learned from their teacher.
I would like to draw your attention to a fact that can be counted as an excuse for you once more. Unfortunately we did not see people who offered the prayers properly, who supplicated sincerely, and who turn to God wholeheartedly; neither in Sufi lodges, nor in madrasas, nor in mosques. We did not have guides to be our pioneers, to broaden our horizons in this respect, and to show us the bright face of the truth by pushing the door open. Each of us remained where we were—as ignorant ones. To express our miserable situation, some scholars, such as Qutb, would question whether we are truly Muslim. But in spite of everything, do not see attaining real faith as too hard a task and as something unattainable. You first have to turn to Him with suffering. Then you must “see what God Almighty does; whatever He does is goodness.” See how He opens such surprise doors for you.
Then come, and let us rise in the night so that the stiffness inside us will be eliminated, so that servanthood will bring us relief, and so that we can deepen in faith. Let us offer four units of prayer of need, and then say: “My God, I am asking from You to make me reach full consciousness of Your omnipresence. Neither being bestowed the ability to work wonders, saintly graces, neither this, nor that… I do not want anything else. My only wish is to deepen in my relations with You. I am asking for nothing else but becoming oblivious to anything else when I think of You and live as a person imbued with knowledge of You!” While saying that, let us take care that each word that comes out of our mouth bears the stamp of consciousness. Let us ask for this insistently from God at night. One night, two nights, three nights… let us rise and implore God like crazy.
I do not want to ask this with an attitude that implies I am criticizing you. I do not mean to ask, “Is there anyone among you who rose every night for a week for the sake of asking for knowledge of God, love of God, and zeal and enthusiasm on His path, then offered prayers of need?” I hold the opinion that the number of people to reply affirmatively to such a question would not be high. And this shows the importance we give to this issue. But it should not be forgotten that, “If a wisher is serious about that wish and shows the required endeavor, his or her wish will be fulfilled.”
Sometimes, I look at the state of the people in the Masjid al-Haram, Arafat, Muzdalifa, and Mina, and seek this consciousness in them from afar. I look to see whether there are some people who pray to God like crazy and overflow with excitement. If a thousand people there sincerely open their hands in supplication, and lofty considerations rise to God Almighty from a thousand mouths, it is not possible for such a prayer to be turned down. I can even say that my belief on this issue is thus: If some three million people that gather there raised their hands in supplication and said, “O God, please change this world,” the earth beneath their feet would suddenly shift and it would become a different world.
Alas! The Islamic world has never been as miserable and wretched as it is today; it has never been this disintegrated. But it seems that people cannot thoroughly feel how tragic these disasters and this state of misery are. If they did feel it, then they would strive to be saved from it, at least to the extent of supplicating sincerely. As people do not feel this suffering, they do not feel any disturbance by the waves of unbelief around them, either. Therefore, they do not feel a need to resort to a collective prayer.
Let me point out one last fact: Even if it is not possible to attain such a heartfelt suffering in an instant, a person must force himself and make a serious effort in this respect. As for praying in a manner that implies we do not care much about whether our wish will be granted or not, it is an expression of insolence and rudeness before God. However, one must virtually be like a beggar while praying, and say with one’s action, “Please grant O God! Take my soul if necessary but please accept my wishes.” A believer must always turn his gaze to high peaks and voice these wishes in a heartfelt fashion, so that God Almighty will respond with His graces. Because the degree of Divine response depends on the degree of the person’s turning to God; we will be blessed with the look of God in the same degree as we turn our looks to His door.

1. Al-Hakim, Al-Mustadrak, 1/670.
2. Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Da’awat, 2.
3. Nursi, Said, The Letters, New Jersey: The Light, 2007, p. 31.
4. Nursi, Said, The Gleams, New Jersey: Tughra, 2008, p. 12.

This text is the translation of “Gaflet ve Ülfete Yenik Düşmemiş Dua.”

A Spirited and Active Life of Service

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: How can we realize the ideal of constantly remaining spirited and active, both in our individual and social lives, as Islam teaches us to be?

Answer: Islam leaves no place for stagnancy or complacency in its worldview. From human to soil, and from things in existence to time, everything is active. For example, Islam commands that a person must be spirited and active in their pursuit of good deeds, and that money, soil, time etc. must be used in the most fruitful way possible.
The essentials of faith are the most important issues a Muslim must be lively and spirited about. For this reason, we always say in our prayers, “Our Lord! Increase us in knowledge, faith, and certainty.” To achieve these ends, believers should utilize books and consider the fruitful lives of the Righteous Believers of the classic period, sometimes by reflections, and sometimes by remembrance and recitations. Concentrating prayers on the Imploring Hearts, and benefiting from their depth even a little bit, will open very different horizons before them.
Being spirited, vigorous, and active is very important. This will enable us to solve the century-long problems which have harmed the Islamic world. It will allow believers to live their lives without being crushed and dominated. Unfortunately, as Muslims have lost this vigor and liveliness for the last few centuries, they failed to save their position as a factor of balance between world powers. Therefore, they first lost their leading position, and then they came under different sets of domination in political, cultural, economic, and other fields.

A Society Condemned to the Galleys
When Bediüzzaman said, “O you miserable walking dead who abandoned Islam, which is like the spirit of the two lives! Do not stand in the way of the coming generation. The grave awaits you. Step aside and make way for the new generation who will wave the truth of Islam over this universe!” he was drawing attention to this reality: The universal religion cannot be represented by worn-out people, stale thoughts, and those of minimal effort. It is for this reason that Bediüzzaman demanded slothful souls devoid of excitement who could present a bad example for the future generation to get aside; so that the active and lively generation to come after them can take the right shape and carry out the right actions.
It is very important not to set a bad example. I do not want to commit the sin of mentioning the wrongs of our ancestors here. However, let me express one truth I see as essential to point out: What lies behind this stagnant and passive state of ours is, in a way, our fathers, mothers, grandfathers, and grandmothers. The wrongs of the previous generations underlie their wrongs as well. They carried out their responsibility in terms of their belief in God and observing the acts of worship, though. However, since they failed to surpass simple patterns of thought when evaluating the world and failed to catch up with their time’s horizons of comprehension, they paved the way for a period of sheer drought with respect to positive action.
In this respect, we Muslims can view ourselves, in a way, as lost generations. As we were not brought up in accordance with our era’s horizons of comprehension, we have not acquired the right qualities to become the future inheritors of the trust; we failed to be at the wheel. Therefore, we were always made us to pull the oars.
When the issue is viewed from a sociological perspective, you can either be at the wheel concerning the balance of world powers, or live as slaves condemned to the galleys. There is no middle way in it. If you are not at the wheel, then you continue your life condemned to the oars. To put it in other words, you either become a factor of balance among world powers, or you lead your life within the lines drawn by others. If you are the one who determines the balance, then you become a determiner. Otherwise, you will be stamped as “passively determined.” Being passively determined means captivity. Namely, it means falling to the situation of a slave in shackles. Actually, this situation is little different than that of the people who were captured in Africa and then taken to the West. Unfortunately, this has been the condition of Muslims for the last few centuries.
Falling into such a condition means failing to preserve the dignity and honor of Islam and thus causing Islam to be underestimated. It can be said that if Islam is seen as contemptible because of this wretched condition of ours, then we will also be held in contempt in God’s sight to the same degree. It is for this reason that we must re-attain the position we are supposed to have at all costs. And for this reason, one must always target the highest citadels, make the best of one’s efforts, and continuously try to keep the standard high.

Heroes of Willpower and the Dignity of Islam
God endowed humans with willpower. People neither beasts nor inanimate creatures. As long as individuals give their willpower its due and use their God-given power and strength effectively, then—with God’s permission—they may blow breaths of resurrection to the entire world. Like in the story of Nasreddin Hodja, they can use their willpower to ferment all seas to make them into yogurt. When willpowers are spurred and others’ torches are kindled, then the whole world can be illumined like a place of festivity.
Try viewing the Age of Bliss from this perspective, if you wish: Is it not a fact that the noble Prophet realized accomplishments which would normally take more than a few centuries within twenty-three years? Is it not a fact that our master, Abu Bakr, overcame the two superpowers of the time with only twenty thousand people? In the meantime, he also dealt with eleven incidents of apostasy in large groups. Musaylima the Liar and his followers, which was only one of those incidents, had a power some ten times greater than the terrorist organization in Turkey, which has taken decades to deal with! By giving his willpower its due, Abu Bakr overcame all of those problems with God’s permission and grace, and his case is a striking example of being spirited and active.

The Essentials of Remaining Spirited
As for the essentials of remaining active and spirited, the following can be mentioned concisely: Showing everybody a lane they can walk, giving them a field of activity, and saying “here is your task” is one of the most important factors for keeping people active. Even if a person breaks free from arrogance and acts in the name of the collective, one still wishes to know the frame of the work he or she carries out and the point it reaches. In addition, receiving appreciation for one’s personal endeavors spurs that person’s zeal and enthusiasm. Even though some grow more arrogant as they make different achievements, it is necessary to guide them to the thought of sincerity in an appropriate fashion.
On the other hand, if you help bring others to life, you also help yourself to stay alive in spirit. It is unthinkable for a person who resurrects others to personally remain dead. If you help some others to their feet, give them a start, and make them run like a marathoner, then you cannot just stay behind and look at them as they run.
Knowing the true worth of time, which is but a relative line, is also very important in terms of remaining active and spirited. For a long time, we failed to recognize that time itself corresponds to a certain worth. However, given that it is wisely used, it is a matchless treasure by which Paradise is gained. If it can be wisely used, a person steps to timelessness within a short and narrow segment of time, and gains eternity with it. In this respect, knowing the essential value of time and blowing life into every moment with good deeds and positive action is an indispensable essential for the sake of a life of serving faith in an active and spirited way.

This text is the translation of “Aktif ve Canlı Hizmet Hayatı.”

Real Religiousness and Having a Sound Character

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: What should a believer consider so that he doesn’t crack or break in the face of bad words or treatment?

Answer:
In terms of the Islamic world of thought and terminology, character is the deeds and acts of worship commanded by Islam. These must be developed through constant practice and with a full consciousness of God’s omnipresence; it is also possible to call this “Islamic character.” Accordingly, what we understand when a believer has sound character is that such a person maintains sound relations with God and is respectful of the Pride of Humanity as becomes his position—meaning that he or she fulfills their individual, familial, and social responsibilities thoroughly, and that they endeavor to lead an upright life in this direction.

Exercising with Supererogatory Worships
This kind of high character depends on a serious struggle; it’s very difficult to maintain over a lifetime. However, a believer must seek to realize this difficult task. The Perfect Guide states that the chapter Hud made him older;1 it also contained the command, “Pursue, then, what is exactly right (in every matter of the Religion) as you are commanded (by God)” (Hud 11:112). Then a real believer’s ideal should be walking such a path. So if this issue of paramount difficulty can be made into an ingrained trait by exercising through worship and deeds, then the burden on the believer’s willpower will be partially lightened, and the individual will carry out the responsibilities more comfortably.
Actually, it is possible to say that supererogatory acts of worship have such a function. For example, it can feel burdensome for a person to observe the Ramadan fast through an entire month during long and sweltering summer days. However, as it is known, the noble Prophet counseled believers to observe the fast as a supererogatory act of worship on the 13th, 14th, and 15th days of every month, along with every Monday and Thursday.2 As a person who becomes accustomed to fasting by observing fasts on shorter and cool days, with God’s permission, it will be easier to observe this obligation by resisting hunger and thirst on long and hot summer days.
The same goes for giving the zakah. It is an obligatory command to give from one’s wealth in proportions as one fortieth, twentieth, tenth, or fifth depending on the circumstances. If a person does not get accustomed to giving for the sake of God through little amounts of alms, then it might feel difficult to pay the zakah, which is an obligation in Islam. However, if a man’s carnal soul grows accustomed to giving for the sake of God by practicing and makes it into an ingrained trait of his nature, then his will power will not have much difficulty at paying the zakah.
In the same way, if a person makes it a habit to observe Prayers at times of ease, it will be easier to overcome the barriers brought by the carnal soul and fancies when it is time to rise for Prayers under more difficult circumstances, like those in the middle of the night and before the dawn. Note that the blessed Prophet stated, “God gave every Prophet a certain desire; my desire is for standing at Prayer in the night.”3 He in a way meant to say, “I take delight in worshipping my Lord as you take delight in physical pleasures” and brought to attention the idea of devotions becoming an ingrained trait in a person. So each individual Muslim’s target should be seeking to attain such horizons. Everybody may not attain such a peak, but it is also a very great virtue to be on this road. God Almighty will regard endeavors made in this respect as worship and exalt that person’s level with their work.
You can adopt the above-mentioned perspective concerning negative deeds to be avoided. For example, a person can have difficulty giving his willpower its due when faced with dizzying sins, which can tempt the carnal soul. However, if that person tries to lead their life by taking a stance against every kind of sinful act without separating between little or great, and makes this into an ingrained depth of his character, then by God’s grace, even when faced with the temptation of dizzying sins, he can overcome that trial without being polluted by any sins.

Moderation in Attitude and Behaviors
All of these points mentioned also hold true for a believer’s relations with others. A believer must make it into their character to act in accordance with religious teachings—and not only in his relations with God, but also with people. To elucidate this a bit further, if one has not acquired the virtues of embracing everybody with love, meeting everybody with smiles, helping the needy, and showing kindness to those around them, then such a person might unexpectedly show an aggressive and harsh reaction when being met with ugly words or behaviors.
Such a person will have serious difficulty, for it will be a task left to the willpower to respond in a way appropriate for a believer against every bad treatment; they will not be saved from experiencing the occasional failures. These variations in his attitude and behavior will harm his credibility and trustworthiness. As believers, if we also wish to become credible people who inspire genuine trust in those around us, we must worship, avoid sins, and show kindness to those around us—and we must make these into ingrained character traits.
In spite of everything, sometimes there can be cracks and breaks in a person’s character, especially depending on the severity of the situation. Some breaks might stem from a person’s high regard for religion; they might respond to slanders and insults. In such a situation, a person might suddenly assume a negative air. There can be an exchange of negative remarks and arguments. Hearts might be broken. But it should not be forgotten that no matter what happens, when you respond in a way that does not become your character, you harm your credibility. It is in this respect that a real believer must not make concessions from his character even in the face of the most wicked attacks and transgressions. Even if they are to respond, this should be in a way that suits a believer, who is supposed to be a monument of good manners and virtue.

Heroes of Patience with a Lofty Character
Actually, the Qur’an allows Muslims to respond to attacks in the same way with the verse: “If you have to respond to any wrong, respond (only) to the measure of the wrong done to you” (an-Nahl 16:126). However, God Almighty addresses those with a lofty character in the rest of the same verse: “…but if you endure patiently, it is indeed better for the patient.” This is important, because if a person experiences a break in character—even just once—he shakes the trust of those around him, paving the way for future mistakes.
A person with such cracks of character can experience failure at unpredictable times. For this reason, no matter what the conditions are, one must maintain their high character. Those devoted souls who attached their hearts to the path of serving faith and the Qur’an must retain their horizons of love and tolerance everywhere. Even in the face of most contemptible attacks, they should not change their path or course. As Yunus Emre said, a dervish should have such a heart that he would not have a hand to respond to those who beat, and he would not have a tongue to respond to those who curse.
It is possible to replace the phrase dervish with “student of the Qur’an.” These students should not break hearts, even if they are heartbroken; they should not hurt others, even if they have been hurt. It is still a matter of hurting a heart. And a heart is—even if it has not become so in reality yet—potentially the Throne of God.4 In other words, a heart is comparable to a seed with the potential to form an entire tree. This seed may not have flourished due to poor ground, the wrong atmosphere, or insufficient water or sun—but it might flourish in the future. We cannot be disrespectful to an exalted creature God created as a counterpart of the Divine Throne.
About this point, such a question may come to mind: “Is a believer supposed to remain silent before evils then?”
It first needs to be known that a believer must take a stance not against people but against bad attributes. He must use the stance he takes against attributes like ignorance, corruption, hypocrisy, and obdurateness for the sake of eliminating these attributes, which kill and destroy a person’s spiritual value. In other words, just as one strives to rescue his child from a fire or cliff’s edge, believers should feel the same suffering when seeing people with negative attributes; they must try to guide them by means of advice and warnings. The noble Prophet describes this situation with the following statement: “My parable and that of yours is like a man who kindled a fire. When it has illuminated all around him, the moths and grasshoppers began to fall therein. He tried to push them away, but they overcame him and jumped into it. I am catching hold of your waists (to save you) from fire, but you slip away from my hands.”5
A real believer is a monument of mercy and compassion. As a representative of compassion and mercy on earth, what would you say to a person who was drifting towards Hell before your eyes? Would you just say, “Go to Hell if you wish; just go ahead!” Or would you try to divert that person from the wrong way like the Messenger of God did?
The first will be the response of someone with a darkened conscience; the latter reflects the character of a real believer. In this respect, taking a stance against bad traits is a great means of serving humanity. May God make all of us genuinely religious people who have internalized Islam, and who present a lofty character even in the face of the most negative happenings!

1. Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Tafsir, (56) 6.
2. Sahih al-Bukhari, Sawm, 56, Ahadith al-Anbiya, 37; Sahih Muslim, Siyam, 181.
3. Tabarani, Mu’jamu’l-Kabir, 12/84.
4. Ibn Qayyim, Al-Fawaid, p. 27.
5. Sahih al-Bukhari, Anbiya, 40; Sahih Muslim, Fadail, 17–19.

This text is the translation of “Gerçek Dindarlık ve Karakter Sahibi Olma.”

Three Great Dangers

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: It is stated that those endeavoring on the path of serving humanity might provoke envy in their fellow volunteers due to their personal merits. They may also provoke circles that are biased against them or believers associated with other religious movements. These are great dangers. What are the points of consideration for being safe against these three dangers?

Answer: Although a mild degree of envy is allowed and is considered harmless in the Islamic Teaching, this is not an absolute and has certain criteria and basics. For example, a person might see a certain merit in a fellow volunteer and wish to have the same. Such a wish can be considered harmless at the beginning. As time passes, however, this person may think, “Why do I not have the same merits?” and thus covertly criticize Divine destiny. If feelings of jealousy and rivalry toward that envied person awaken in such a man, it means that now he has stepped out of the allowed zone and wandered into the inadvisable and dubious one. As this kind of envy is inadvisable, a person behaving in a way to provoke envy in others is also inadvisable and resembles wandering into the dubious zone.
As a matter of fact, the Messenger of God stated, “Both legal and illegal things are evident, but in between them there are doubtful (suspicious) things and most people have no knowledge about them. So whoever saves himself from these suspicious things saves his religion and his honor…”1 And he counseled believers to keep away from doubtful things. So the feeling of envy, which might turn to intense jealousy, resembles standing on such a boundary between the lawful and forbidden, and a person might easily transgress to jealousy and become unable to stomach the other person’s merits. Therefore, envy, and any attitudes and behaviors that might trigger it, need to be avoided. Bediüzzaman draws attention to this point in his treatise on sincerity by advising believers not to provoke the feeling of envy in other brothers or sisters.

Tanafus: Competing at Goodness
While it resembles envy in one respect, competing at goodness is an innocent deed. Tanafus means competing at goodness and righteous behaviors as well as intending and struggling to not stay behind other brothers and sisters on the path of glorifying the name of God. God Almighty invites believers to such a competition concerning deeds for the Hereafter with the verse that says, “And to that (blessing of Paradise), then, let all those who aspire (to things of high value) aspire as if in a race (with each other)” (al-Mutaffifin 83:26).
As far as worldly races are concerned, though one competitor comes first, all other competitors become losers; this affects a feeling of discomfort in them. However, a person with a heartfelt belief in the Afterlife has the following consideration about competing at goodness: targeting God’s good pleasure. As it is said, “My brothers and sisters endeavoring to glorify the name of God in four corners of the world, God willing, will run to the noble Prophet’s pool of Kawthar and take that heavenly drink directly from his blessed hands.” One must take place in this race for goodness in order not to remain behind while the others drink it. The idea of a race with no losers can be kept within the frame of tanafus; thus, it can also be seen as an innocent consequence of envy.
Actually, during such a race made in terms of righteousness—even if he or she is not expecting such a thing—a devoted soul is supposed to say, “Let the winner of the race and the first-comer be some other volunteers.” They should refer to possible rewards such as appreciation, applause, being seen as eligible for certain positions, and the like with a spirit of self-sacrifice and a noble wish for preferring others over oneself.
As you know, the principle established by Bediüzzaman about this guides us to prefer being administered instead of administrators; to be an administrator entails responsibility and relevant risks. Being in front and becoming the leader awakens different desires of the carnal soul in a person and spurs them towards such desires. One must be very cautious and self-possessed against them. Therefore, even if you seemingly stand as the most rightful one in this respect, it is necessary to prefer letting someone else come to that position and then take a place behind him.

The Spirit of Magnanimity That Extends to the Realms Beyond
If a believer is to enjoy the blessings of the Hereafter, he should not seek pleasure or adulation in this world, and should instead show magnanimity, preferring to laud his brothers and sisters. As a matter of fact, God’s Messenger informed us of the fact that scholars and rich believers will come to the gate of Paradise and both sides will wish to give priority to the other. We cannot know this, but perhaps there is a paradisiacal enjoyment and pleasure in such sacrifice and courteous behavior. Maybe there is such a mystic and spiritual pleasure in a person’s stepping back like an ordinary member in a congregation who stands in prayer behind an imam; this may even be more preferable than imamate (leadership) itself.
Actually, we should not take the spirit of ithar, the Companions virtue of preferring others to one’s own self, in a narrow sense. Namely, if you reduce this virtue solely to the issue of eating, drinking, and clothing, then you narrow down the consideration of sacrifice, which has a broad meaning, and virtually kill its spirit. Actually, just as the devoted souls, you should present a heroic and upright stance, so as to say like Bediüzzaman did, “Neither do I have a passion for Paradise, nor a fear of Hell. Given that I see the faith of my people is saved, I accede to burning in the flames of Hell.”2
You must ascribe your deliverance to saving others and thus try to make the best use of and deepen this short life by living for the sake of others. If you meet one thousand people whose hand you held and served as a means for their deliverance from the swamp of misguidance, you should behave so magnanimously as to be able to say, “O God, I do not know whether I have been able to offer due thanks for the blessings I have been granted. Please let these brothers and sisters of mine enter Paradise first.” In this world and the next, we should cross out ourselves and let others have the attention.

The Notion of Belonging and Arrogance Brought by Affiliation
As for the notion of affiliation, it is fed by people’s carnal soul and arrogance. Individual arrogance does not suffice for some people who try to bring themselves to attention. So they wish to join a collective, have its support behind them, and thus express themselves more forcefully by being a thread interwoven in its texture. They use the power of the community, movement, or current they are included in like a means for their personal propaganda. With the community they lean on, they consolidate their arrogance further. They try to show off with different attitudes and behaviors, and thus become a captive to their carnal soul and Satan; this is a form of arrogance stronger than individual arrogance.
Although some try to conceal their real intentions in a wrapping of modesty and humility, human nature can detect people with a certain degree of arrogance. In this respect, arrogance both eats away a person’s dignity, and it causes that person to be affronted by those around him and become an outcast. Those who act with this notion of belonging or affiliate arrogance either provoke envy in the affiliates of other groups or trigger a feeling of jealousy in them. Unfortunately, it is possible to find examples of each type in our time. Particularly, if people affiliated with a certain movement which has made certain accomplishments lay claims on all good things realized by the collective, always wish to be the center of attention, and disregard others’ efforts, these cause an adverse circle to form against them.
In the different sections of society, and in different communities and movements, there are sincere, clever, and diligent believers that, despite having striven for the sake of conveying truths to others, may not have achieved a hundredth of the services carried out by certain others. Therefore, those people feel disturbed when the affiliates of a certain movement, which have made different achievements, boisterously talk about themselves. In this respect, in order for the volunteers to abate the negative feelings that might be evoked in others, they must show utter self-possession and caution; they must try to tell about the services carried out by also giving credit to others as much as possible. For example, even if fair and appreciative people affiliated with other groups come to you and express their appreciation, what falls to the volunteers is to express the following fact: “Actually, all of these good results were your dreams and your ideals. You have sung ballads for these long years, longed for these results, and made serious efforts for this sake. You are the ones who initiated these services first. However, destiny included some other people at a certain part of the process and God Almighty let this ideal, which began with your efforts, come true through their hands.”
Every person with a fair conscience will accept the following anyway: Every community, movement, and current has made a serious contribution to the spiritual revival of the society in this country. Some of them opened establishments throughout the country for teaching how to read the Qur’an. At a period when the Qur’an was not taught, they went village by village, town by town, and tried to teach people how to read the Qur’an everywhere. Some of them provided young people with an education by opening the Imam-Hatip schools. And some tried to fulfill their responsibility toward the people by opening Islamic institutes, faculties of theology, dormitories, and the like. If there has been a certain degree of spiritual revival in Turkey, this happened thanks to the entirety of the communities, movements, and currents. I guess when you take such an approach, no fair person will think they have been pushed to the margins, overlooked, or disregarded, and thus will not commit sins such as making baseless negative assumptions, feeling jealousy, or practicing intolerance.

The Apprehensions and Anxieties That Trigger Feelings of Animosity
A devoted soul trying to serve humanity with sound consciousness should be able to present magnanimous behavior not only to their friends and family, but also to those who adopt hostile attitudes and behaviors toward them. This will help to remove the other person’s apprehensions, fears, and anxieties. Bediüzzaman relates the following words of Hafiz of Sheraz concerning the subject: “The tranquility of both worlds lies in two things: magnanimity towards friends and the wise management of enemies.”3
Given that we are believers and that compassion is one of our essential principles, then we need to treat everybody with mercy and lenience. In addition, in order to eliminate the apprehensions of those who are seized by fear and anxiety, you need to point out through different means that you have no expectations for the future other than gaining God’s good pleasure. You must speak out in a loud voice, time and again, to let the entire world hear the following truths: “Let alone seeking to govern a certain land of a certain country, we do not even have want to govern a single village. We have only one intention: Letting the blessed name of the Prophet be heard in the four corners of the world, letting humans—the most honorable of all creatures—be endowed with all the virtues they can take from the noble Prophet, and letting God’s exalted name be felt in hearts and wave there like a flag. We expel all other thoughts than these from our heads. Even if they offer us the sultanate of the world on a tray, just as God’s Messenger pushed away worldliness when it materialized before him and said, ‘you cannot make them accept you,’4 we also push away the worldly sultanate as individuals who try to follow the Master of the Prophets; we seek to gain God’s good pleasure, which is so much greater than the temptations of this alluring and transient world. The fact that there is not the slightest sign that we have sought such worldly gains, as some circles were worried, also supports this thought.”
This being the truth, these sincere considerations need to be emphasized at every opportunity. Otherwise, if you do not say anything and keep silent on this issue, even the most sincere people with no evil intentions might develop some wrong opinions about you by looking at the flourishing of the activities of education and dialog. If it is possible for those who stand next to you during the prayers to fall for some mistaken thoughts, then you can guess the degree of anxiety in those who take a stance against you for not knowing about your inner world and your ideal of gaining God’s good pleasure. In this respect, from a seven-year-old child to a seventy-year old man, all devoted souls must frequently point out that they do not have any expectations for the future about worldly power and the opportunities it brings. They must refrain from words, statements, attitudes, and behaviors that might trigger the fears of losing worldly means in those who see the world as everything and who attach their lives to this world only.

1. Sahih al-Bukhari, Iman, 39; Sahih Muslim, Musaqat, 107.
2. Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, Tarihçe-i Hayat (Tahliller), p. 616.
3. Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, The Letters, p. 286.
4. Al-Bayhaqi, Shuabu’l-Iman, 7/343, 345; Al-Hakim, Al-Mustadrak, 4/344.

This text is the translation of “Üç Büyük Tehlike.”

Vigilance

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: What things should those on the path of serving faith be vigilant against, and what kind of an attitude of vigilance must be adopted?

Answer: The word tayaqquz (vigilance) is derived from the word yaqaza, which has meanings such as waking up, keeping vigil, and becoming fully alert. Tayaqquz is inflected in the tafa’ul verb form, which denotes a forced degree of the stated act. Therefore, tayaqquz means becoming alert with further caution, profundity, and further scrupulousness. In this respect, we can also describe tayaqquz as: “Keeping all of our abilities of sensing and thinking alert; revising and checking out our decisions and opinions time and again by not sufficing with the evaluations inspired by a single view or sense.” Accordingly, a vigilant person sees himself like a pilot aware of the fact that even a very little mistake or failure can cause him and many others to topple over. Thus, in order not to come crashing down headfirst, he constantly keeps vigil.

Vigilance in the Era of Hypocrisy

As we are living in an era of hypocrisy, vigilance bears further importance for the volunteers devoted to the path of serving faith. In this respect, they first need to understand the time that they are living in and analyze the conjuncture very well. At the same time, they should recognize well the circles of those fixed on animosity, who sometimes seem to be on their side with their mask of hypocrisy. Even if the devoted souls do their best in order not to be opponents of anyone, those who are crazed with jealousy and envy might lay siege on them by forming oppositions, from the closest circle to the remotest—to such a degree that these people captured by their grudge and hatred are virtually ready to strangle them on the slightest pretext. In addition to having unshakable belief, courage, and being on the righteous path, they must absolutely reckon the damage the opposite side will cause with grudge and hatred, as if they are trying to protect a basket of eggs they are bearing. Otherwise, they might cause a failure and fiasco with respect to the movement they are affiliated with, so you can take acting with ultimate scrupulousness at this issue as a depth and dimension of vigilance. Anyway, a conscious believer always takes into consideration the future together with the present and does not, indeed must not, ever act on short-term reasoning. As it has not been possible to solve any problems with day-to-day thoughts so far, it will not ever be so in the future. Nevertheless, for the last few centuries there has been an inability to see the problems of the Islamic world with their roots, and efforts have been made to tackle gigantic problems with day-to-day policies. The people who thought that it possible to solve the problems of Turkey and other Muslim countries with such policies aiming to save the day deceived themselves and the people as well. When Muslims make a self-evaluation with an objective look as a society, it is understood that the causes of our century-long illnesses have not been diagnosed properly and correctly, and therefore the methods of treatment are not effective and thus there is no cure. The devoted souls of our time therefore must not walk on their path like sleepwalkers but rather as wakeful and vigilant ones. They must have a comprehensive perspective of happenings, check out every step they take once more, revise everything they do, and approach matters as individuals whose faculties of feelings and thoughts are fully awake. Moreover, like a sentry keeping guard at the border, they must immediately become alert before the slightest unusual noise and possibility of danger. They must always be prepared to struggle against negativities with alternative ways of solution in their hands.

Vigilance in the Face of Successes
God Almighty has bestowed an opportunity to those who strive on the path of serving humanity for His sake to express the truth and what is right in the four corners of the world. Without due vigilance at such an issue, may God protect us, we might fall into the mistake of ascribing the achievements to ourselves, instead of God Almighty Himself. What we are actually doing is only trying to give our willpower its due within the sphere of apparent causes. He is the one who makes things happen, who creates springs in winter, and who guides us to all of these beautiful works. In this respect, considerations such as “we did it, we achieved it…” should not even pass our imagination. We must acknowledge every good thing we see as a bestowal of God and ascribe them to their true owner with a consideration of acknowledgement of blessings. In fact, such a cautious approach is a very important means for the coming of new blessings. God Almighty decrees in the Qur’an, “If you are thankful (for My favors), I will most certainly give you more…” (Ibrahim 14: 7). In addition, we must refrain as much as possible from making exaggerated remarks about fellow volunteers with whom we walk. As Bediüzzaman teaches, people can fall for the saintly titles others imagined for them as a consequence of others’ thinking too positively of them. Thus, we will have broken the necks of our own friends unintentionally.1 Also, the words of praise you use about the people about whom you think positively may trigger feelings of rivalry in people who share the same road with you in neighboring lanes, pushing them to jealousy. They may be pushed to such a degree that the more you utter words of praise about the person you love, it further provokes adverse feelings in them. This actually means doing harm to that person you love. In this respect, instead of inflating like a balloon the people we love by singing their praises, we should try to be very faithful and true to one another. Instead of making remarks of declaring this or that people a saint, we should pray, “O God! Do not let us fail to be true to these fellow brothers and sisters!” If you profoundly love a certain person to the degree of feeling the bones of your nose shiver with that feeling, then you should indicate it by working toward the ideal of serving humanity that he showed you within the frame of the Qur’an and Sunnah. As for telling about that person to others with words of praise, it will mean provoking others’ grudge and hatred toward him further and therefore doing him evil. So our being scrupulous with the expressions we use about personages we love and respect is another depth of the vigilance required on the path to serving the truth.

Question: Could you elucidate vigilance with respect to its meaning for those who wish to journey on the horizons of the heart and spirit?

Answer: Sometimes a journeyer to the truth might get too hopeful before some inspirational blessings that come flowing into the journeyer’s heart at certain spiritual stations or before showers of tajalli (self-disclosure) in a general sense, and thus give up self-possession and display levity. At such states, which actually serve as a trial for the journeyer, there is a very serious need for self-possession and vigilance. In some situations, God Almighty grants some extra blessings to you; He throws certain valuable things before you. If you behave like a child, feel joyful, and start playing with those bestowals but forget about the Bestower, then you fail the trial. Therefore, at such situations where He sends showers of blessings down upon you, it is necessary to see the Giver of blessings, and hearts must only overflow with a consideration of acknowledging those blessings. As Bediüzzaman states, a person must not be heedless of the real Giver while thanking the servant who offers us the gift on a tray.2 A person resolved to travel through the horizons of the heart and spirit always needs a serious understanding of self-possession and vigilance in order to maintain the balance before some inspirational blessings to be bestowed along the way.

I Demand Nothing but Your Good Pleasure!
The aspect of this issue that relates to the devoted souls in our time is a bit different because they are already not in demand of such spiritual stations in accordance with the essentials of their path. As a matter of fact, after stating faith in God, knowledge of God, and love of God, Bediüzzaman adds spiritual pleasures as a target to be attained through spiritual journeying.3 However, there is a fine point that should not be missed here: the first three of the stated facts are related to the human willpower. That is, the apparent cause for faith in God, knowledge of God, and love of God require willful effort at the beginning. In other words, you will give your willpower its due at the issue of faith in God, knowledge of God, and love of God, and then you will want, read, explore, go through the world of creation, abide by the teachings of religion, make remembrance of God and reflect on His works, and have your heart absorbed in this issue. As for the issue of spiritual pleasures, it is not willfully asked for, but God Almighty may make such a bestowal on journeyers on the path of knowledge and love of God. However, if you make such a demand from the beginning, and make knowledge and love of God conditional to it, it means that you are seeking to reach a very minor aim. However, attaching your servanthood solely to His good pleasure and approval corresponds to such a worth that there are no scales in this world to weigh it. Compared to it, spiritual pleasures weigh so little. In this respect, the willful and non-willful forms must not be confused with one another. We must always run after what needs to be willfully sought and give our willpower its due in this respect. And when a bestowal is granted to us without our demand, we must meet it with thanksgiving and praise, express our feelings of gratitude and thanks by acknowledging the blessings. The spiritual states and stations felt and sensed by Sufis as inspirations, unveilings, recognizing what passes from people’s hearts, presentiments, passing to different realms via dreams, etc. are not essential in our path because this path is that of the Companions. They did not care about such extraordinary happenings, which harbor the risk of taking personal pride. Some wonders as presentiments and being inspired with the truth did happen to some of the Companions. However, they never demanded such wonders to happen. They had one purpose only: attaining God’s good pleasure. Therefore, we also need to act in the same way. If we also receive such Divine bestowals without having asked for them, then we should meet them with the consideration: “These are not deserved by a humble slave like me. What could be the reason for bestowing all these blessings so benevolently?” One should be concerned whether they can be Divine stratagems and shake with fear. Maybe we should also add the following: “O Lord, I wish that I would only love you crazily… that I would long for reunion with You crazily. If You gave this to spur my enthusiasm, thousands of praise be to You. However, I am not demanding anything but Your good pleasure.”

1. Nursi, Said, Emirdağ Lahikası (Supplements of Emirdağ), vol. 1, İstanbul: Şahdamar, 2010, pp. 56, 67.
2. Nursi, Said, The Words, “The First Word,” New Jersey: The Light, 2010.
3. Nursi, Said, The Letters, “Twenty-Second Letter,” New Jersey: The Light, 2007.

This text is the translation of “Teyakkuz.”

Followers of the Perfect Religion Should Be Seeking Perfection

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: God Almighty decrees in the Qur’an, “This day I have perfected for you your Religion (with all its rules, commandments and universality), completed My favor upon you, and have been pleased to assign for you Islam as Religion” (al-Maedah 5:3). He thus expresses that His good pleasure depends on perfection and completion. What are the points of consideration that should be targets for Muslims seeking perfection and completion?

Answer: Islam is the name and title for a body of values without faults, which is perfect and complete. For this reason, followers of Islam are supposed to seek the perfected and complete. To put it in simpler words, followers of the final and perfected religion should seek to fulfill their duty and responsibilities in the most perfect and complete fashion, in order to attain the beautiful and good results promised in the best possible way. As it is understood from the explicit meaning of the verse, this is the way of being able to walk to the horizons of God’s good pleasure.

The Failures and Fiascos that Happened Are Because of Me
As to the conditions for attaining such horizons, the first one is a person having the intention and resolution to use all of the opportunities and abilities granted by God in an efficient way. For example, some people have beautiful voices, some have the ability to manage businesses and administer people; others write well, and some speak well… Whatever merits a person has, they must utilize the opportunities presented to them most efficiently for the sake of expressing what is true and right. When mistakes and flaws appear, a person must self-criticize and seek ways for atonement, instead of seeking others to lay the blame on. This is particularly true for individuals devoted to serving faith and the Qur’an; no matter what their duty is, they must see themselves responsible for the failure to attain perfection and completeness, and they must see these problems as consequences of their own faults.
Actually, such admissions of mistake—including phrases like, “I did not fulfill the due of the duty on my shoulders as I should; I failed to continue this duty efficiently; this job faltered owing a personal mistake of mine”—are considered indirect forms of turning repentantly to God, and even acts of penitence and contrition (awba and inaba),1 depending on the immensity of the person’s heart and the sincerity of their repentance. God Almighty responds to such a suffering heart with His favors and grace, and, God willing, He compensates for what that person missed with His extra graces. On the other hand, if a person constantly sees the deeds he does as perfect and believes his own deeds to be flawless; sees his plans and projects to be faultless; and ascribes any faults to other people who did not listen to, understand, or obey him, this is simply a different version of the pharaoh’s delirious state as he said, “I am your supreme Lord” (an-Naziat 79:24).
Self-criticism in the face of lapses and stumbles should vary in direct proportion with the duty a person is responsible for. Therefore, as the scope of one’s duty increases, their self-criticism should also be deeper. One must think that all of these mistakes and lapses stem from personal gaps, such as one’s inability to maintain sound relations with God, to feel and sense Islam deeply, to properly interpret the principles raised by the noble Prophet, to correctly discern present circumstances, or to accurately recognize possible problems.

Beauties are from Him; Shortcomings and Faults Are from Us
Actually, this explicit principle of the Qur’an leaves no place for much talk in this respect: “Whatever affliction befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned, and yet He overlooks many (of the wrongs you do)” (ash-Shura 42:30). Mistakes and flaws arise when the eye looks, the ear hears, the mind evaluates, the mouth speaks, the hand holds, the foot walks, or emotions are revealed in a way that contradicts their purpose of creation. Yet God still forgives most of these, as directly expressed by verses of the Miraculous Qur’an. By stating in one of his sayings that, “Every son of Adam sins, and the best of the sinners are the repentant,”2 the noble Prophet pointed out the fact that the potential for sinning exists in human nature. What really matters is a person realizing their mistake and trying to make up for it. Even the Rightly Guided Caliphs interrogated themselves with remarks like, “I wish I had done such and such deed in a different way,”3 and expressed their mistakes with respect to their own horizons.

Interpreting What Happens Correctly
Individual believers must hold themselves responsible for troubles and misfortunes that befall them, even if these do not originate from their own will and intent in terms of how they happened. For example, a believer should not see a needle that pricks their foot as blind chance, but think that it is a consequence of their sins. I can exemplify this with the following: a certain diabetic friend of ours gives an insulin shot to himself two or sometimes three times a day. If the cap of the syringe falls down from his hand by accident, he attributes it to the fact of his not mentioning the name of God while doing it. Then he says, “My God, had I done that with Your Name, it would not have fallen.” In the same way, sometimes the tip of the needle hits a nerve or capillary and causes bleeding. Then he ascribes it to his inner wrongs, failure to have a straight course in thought, or not establishing sound relations with God, etc.
I think this should be the attitude that needs to be taken in the face of troubles and misfortunes; if a man does not self-criticize over a fault, shortcoming, or flaw, he cannot be saved from having unfairly negative opinions about others and accusing them of wrongdoings. Such a person constantly thinks that the people around him render his own positive attitude and behaviors into negative ones and put his tasks at risk. Naturally, as he cannot see his own faults, he does not make any attempts to compensate for them. On the other hand, a person who sees his mistakes and is aware of them will think carefully before each negative happening and seek alternative solutions for not repeating the same mistake again. A person who puts the blame on himself for a failure or fiasco will act in a plausible and reasonable way in order not to make the same mistake again and will try to take all necessary precautions. For example, an administrator will draw lessons from a situation where discord arises between the people he is responsible for; he will revise all possibilities so that the same disagreements do not recur; and he will generate solutions for every possibility. That is, for every plan and project he comes up with, he will also devise solutions to any possible problems that may arise.

Appealing to Collective Reason
An Appealing to collective reason is an important safe guard to ensure that tasks are carried out in a perfect and thorough fashion. The master of speech pointed out that one who makes consultation will not experience loss.4 Just think about it: even though the Messenger of God had the support of Divine revelation and established contact with realms beyond the heavens, he would still bring every matter to consultation. And he did that with those whom he taught the truth, right, and meaning of consultation. He would put aside his virtue in the absolute sense and meet with his Companions about the problems he faced, as an individual among others. He did this even though he was such a noble person that he would not be mistaken in his personal decisions anyway. For people like us, who are prone to mistakes, the way to minimize the possibility of such errors is to leave our issues to collective reasoning.
We encounter many problems in our lives, at both the individual and social level. If we do not consult the collective reasoning about these problems, it is far more likely we will make grave mistakes and then find ourselves in a state of guilt, in which we try to blame others, thus offending everyone around us. Although personally being the one to lay the blame, you shake their trust in you by constantly blaming them. As a poet put it, what really matters is:

“Stately authority, wealth, and gold… none will enjoy these for good;
The real merit that counts, is making up a heart that’s been ruined.”

If gold and wealth were to be enjoyed for good, they would help Korah, first of all. However, he sunk into the ground together with his riches. It did not just stop there, for he was also condemned in the spiritual sense by being cursed in the Qur’an.5 In this respect, if there is a heart that needs to be built up, the real merit is in mending it. The Yunus Emre, a contemporary of Rumi, also said, “We have not come to knock down hearts but to build them up.” As the volunteers, our duty is also repairing hearts. This being the case, laying the blame on others for personal mistakes, accusing them of wrongdoings, and thus knocking down many hearts is unacceptable.

1. For further reading, see Emerald Hills of the Heart: Key Concepts in the Practice of Sufism, vol. 1, M. Fethullah Gülen, New Jersey: Tughra Books, 2011.
2. Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Qiyamah, 49; Sunan ibn Majah, Zuhd, 30.
3. For an example about the respected Abu Bakr, see Tabarani, Mu’jamu’l-Kabir, 1/62.
4. Tabarani, Mu’jamu’l-Kabir, 6/365.
5. Al-Qasas 28:76–83.

This text is the translation of “Mükemmel Dinin Mensupları Mükemmelliğe Talip Olmalı.”

The Angelic Soul: The Soul at Rest

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: One of the supplications of the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, that is recommended is as follows: “My God! Verily I ask You for a soul that is at rest and contentment with You, believing in the meeting with You, content with Your decree, and satisfied with what You bestow.”1 Would you elucidate the meaning of the phrase “(a soul) satisfied with what You bestow” in this exalted supplication?

Answer: In one of his sayings, the noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, stated, “Your greatest enemy is the carnal soul (nafs) within you,”2 pointing out that the greatest enemy that needs to be subdued first is the carnal soul. At another time while returning to Medina after engagement with the enemy, God’s Messenger stated, “Now we are turning from the lesser struggle to the greater struggle (jihad).” When the Companions asked what is the greater struggle, he answered that it was the struggle against the carnal soul.3 This is because, in comparison to struggling against an enemy we openly see in front of us, it is more difficult to struggle against a sly enemy concealed within that looks for an opportunity to attack at every moment. Although there are material difficulties as bodily fighting at a struggle made against outer enemies, there is also the possibility of making immediate material gains in case of being victorious. However, the rewards promised to people as a result of struggling against the carnal soul, overcoming and being victorious against it, are mostly not immediate ones, but are due in the Hereafter. As for human nature, it expects to obtain the fruits of efforts right away, with an inclination for immediate payments as stated in, “… but you (people) love and prefer what is before you” (al-Qiyamah 75:20–21). Human nature seeks immediate rewards. In this respect, although the struggle in the sense of outward fighting is not a little one in reality, it remains a lesser one when compared to the greater one.

The Self-Accusing Soul
As it is known, although the carnal soul is a person’s relentless enemy and potentially so harmful, it is open to change and development. If it can be duly trained, it transforms into a steed that does not distance one from God but carries that person closer to Him. A soul upon which God Almighty swears in the verse, “And I swear by the self-accusing human soul!” (al-Qiyamah 75:2), which refers to one that has taken the first step for such a change and progress, and thus realized the initiation. Even though this soul commits faults and sins from time to time, it criticizes itself for the evil or sin it has committed, interrogates itself, seek ways out of the wickedness it has fallen into, turns to repentance and asks for forgiveness, and develops alternative ways of struggle for not committing the same faults and sins again. It is very important for a person to get rid of the hegemony of the carnal soul and pass to the level of a soul that accuses itself in the face of faults and mistakes, in terms of purifying the soul and allowing it to progress. This first step is a stepping-stone for reaching higher levels of the soul through spiritual journeying. A human soul’s gradual ascension to the level of “soul at rest” and then its reaching to the levels of the soul pleased with God (nafs ar-radhiyah) and the soul with which God is pleased (nafs al-mardiyyah), and—if it is possible in this world—then to the level of the soul purified (safiyyah or zakiyyah) depends on stepping to the level of the self-accusing soul first. Just as a small aspect in the center becomes a large segment in the periphery, such a central initiative in terms of the soul, even if it is a small one, is essential but is difficult in the same degree because in order to maintain that, it is necessary to realize a change. In other words, it is necessary to erase and say farewell to the past, push aside what one has thus far been accustomed to, and embark on a new path. If a soul that accuses itself in the face of sins and faults and shows the willpower for not falling back into those sins maintains this struggle, such a soul will ascend to the level of a “soul at rest” where one can take wing and soar on the horizons of the spirit.

The Attributes of a Soul at Rest
The soul at rest is one that has found satisfaction, one that has become well established with respect to horizons of faith and spiritual knowledge, closed all doors to anything other than God’s good pleasure, and ceased to make alternative quests. Such a soul that is freed from vain quests always lives in a God-oriented fashion, evaluates the minutes, even the seconds, of its lifetime in accordance with His good pleasure, and always breathes with submission before what He ordains and decrees. If one is pleased with the glorified acts of God Almighty, this is an indication that God is well-pleased with that person. According to some insightful personages, the soul pleased with God and the soul with which God is pleased (nafs ar-radhiyah and nafs al-mardiyyah) are no different than two spread wings of the soul at rest. For a person who is pleased with God and with whom God is well-pleased, it no longer matters to them whether what comes is a trouble from His Majesty (Jalal) or favor from His Mercy. Such people equally welcome both. In addition, as they are journeyers with the principle of always asking for more (hal min mazid), they constantly try to increase in knowledge of God and respond to Him with closeness by overcoming any remoteness on their part.

Faith in Reunion with God and Contentment
Getting back to the supplication, the next thing after a soul at rest the noble Prophet requests is certain qualities that are seen as the depths or wings of such a soul. After asking for a soul at rest, there is the petition for this soul’s being one believing in the meeting with God. A person’s believing that the path being walked upon will unmistakably lead to the Eternal One, burning with the desire and fervor of meeting with God and living with this feeling will result in a profound and unshakable kind of contentment.
The Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, then asks for this soul at rest to be content with what God decrees. Although some scholars describe qada as God Almighty’s determining certain things in His eternal knowledge unbound by time, according to the majority of scholars of Islamic Theology, it refers to the execution of destiny, which is decreed in the Tablet of Effacement and Confirmation (Lawh al-Mahw wa al-Ithbat). The happenings a person undergoes throughout his or her life life can sometimes be good or bad in terms of their apparent faces. However, by means of intention a person can turn everything God wills to happen into goodness. For example, a man who meets the troubles and misfortunes that he is subjected to with a feeling of patience and good pleasure, and who meets the blessings and successes he is granted with a feeling of thanksgiving and praise for God, will have goodness in both cases. However, if he complains and thus criticizes destiny in the face of a trouble, which is a manifestation of Divine Majesty, and if he is ungrateful in the face of a favor from His Mercy but ascribes it to his personal merit, then these become evil for him. That is to say, the question whether a blessing or trouble will have an evil or good result for a person is to some extent dependent upon the stance that person adopts toward them. Thus, it is very important for a person to be well-pleased with everything God decrees for him or her.
Lastly, the blessed Prophet asks God to give him a feeling of satisfaction with whatever He bestows. There are certain times where a person is not supposed to be satisfied but even to show greed, which is solely related to issues as faith in God and seeking His good pleasure. In this respect, one must act like mad at the issue of seeking God’s good pleasure and never be contented in this respect. In other words, if there is a situation where ambition should ever be regarded the same as worship that would be the issue of loving God and His Messenger. One must never suffice with what is in hand with respect to following a course in compliance with God’s good pleasure, but always keep asking for more. What really matters, though, concerning issues related to the body and physicality is being content with what God Almighty has granted. And this is one of the other qualities of that people of wisdom possess while progressing toward the soul at rest.
Through this prayer, the noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, asked all of these important points from God in the morning and evening. He surely asked for all of these in connection with his immense horizons and his lofty demands. If we evaluate his supplications with a perspective of our own narrowness and own targets, then we commit disrespect by daring to lower him to our own level. We are supposed to evaluate the pleas of the Messenger of God in this prayer in terms of his role of guidance for us and act accordingly. Given that he teaches us to target lofty aims by raising our standard to a very high level in this supplication, we should never suffice with minimal effort but always spur our desires, never ceasing to strive for His good pleasure, persisting until our last breath in satisfaction with what He bestows.

1. At-Tabarani, Mu’jamu’l-Kabir, 8/99.
2. Ad-Daylami, Al-Musnad, 3/408.
3. Bayhaqi, Az-Zuhd, 1/165; Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, Tarikhu’l-Baghdad, 13/523.

This text is the translation of “Melek Edalı Nefis: Nefs-i Mutmainne.”

The Spirit of Guidance and a Righteous Stance

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: In his works Seeds of Truth and Sünuhat (Occurrences to the Heart), Bediüzzaman states that what causes most common people to follow guidance is the holiness of the source rather than bringing substantial proofs. Could you elucidate on this statement?

Answer:
The phrase “most common people” in this context refers to those who are not very knowledgeable in Islamic disciplines, who lead their religious life by imitation, and who do not have sound insight into the spirit of religion. Such people in general do not/cannot know reasonable, logical, and philosophical proofs, and making scholarly deductions appears too difficult for them. In the same way, they also have difficulty at understanding the data provided by positive sciences. It therefore may not be very productive to address them by using reasoning and philosophical deductions. If you say instead, “The Qur’an absolutely gives such at decree at this issue,” or “the noble Prophet said the following at this issue,” it will leave a far more substantial and effective impression on them. In their view, and in reality of course, the Qur’an and Sunnah are two very sound and holy sources to be trusted and followed.
Thus, while discussing some truths to common people, it is necessary to give priority to Qur’anic verses, together with the words and practices of the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, rather than to analyses of jurisprudence and explanation of general rules. Using words that relate the relevant issue to the life of God’s Messenger himself—“The Master of the Prophets behaved this way, sat that way, ate and drank this way… ,” etc.—will have a much more convincing and guiding effect on the people addressed.
As understood from the explanations so far, when we talk about ma’haz or essential sources of religion, what should first come to mind are the Qur’an and Sunnah. Additionally, some great personages led their lives precisely oriented to the Qur’an and Sunnah, gaining people’s love and trust and, in a way, they became relative sources in this respect.

The Upright Stance of Righteous Scholars
It is stated that Imam Abu Hanifa, may God have abundant mercy on him, had thousands of students. Although some of them such as Imam Abu Yusuf, Imam Muhammad, and Imam Zufar had studied with scholars before him, there were many others who joined that circle and listened to him from a corner, even if they did not understand his words completely. It is very difficult for most common people to understand deep scholarly issues, their details, the principles of Islamic jurisprudence that pertain to them, and the systematic of scholarly deductions. However, that blessed Imam turned to God in such a way, had loyalty to the noble Prophet and stood upright on the path of religion in such a way, that his very stance effected a more powerful impact in the hearts of those people than a thousand proofs.
Scholars like Imam Shafi, Imam Malik, and Ahmad ibn Hanbal never made concessions from their upright stance on the righteous path, retaining this state until the end of their lives. Imam Shafi was brought to Baghdad in shackles on the orders of Muslim rulers and was subjected to interrogation there. When those around him witnessed his immensity, they stopped tormenting him and began to show him respect. In the same way, Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal was thrown into prison, whipped, and tortured, but he did not change his stance at all. If you view the stance of Imam Ghazzali who lived in a later period, you see that he never lost his straightforward course, always stood upright, and expressed the Divine teachings to his audience with a consideration of revivalism. Ordinary people, therefore, viewed the upright stance of righteous scholars and took them as guides to follow.

An Utterly Upright Stance at Calling to Truth
Bediüzzaman, as well, tried to be the voice of the era, to rebuild faith with reasonable, logical, and scholarly arguments against some deviances brought by materialist science and philosophy. He tried to present Islam to people anew in a form that minds, souls, and feelings would welcome. If you can enter the world of the thoughts he presented, you can reach plentiful ores in their depths. In addition, when you consider his letters published under the title of “Supplements” (Lahikalar), you see that he set very important principles and guidelines that will prevent those who wish to serve faith and the Qur’an from being misled or confused. It is still possible to say that even had there not been any of the dizzying works that he wrote, his upright stance alone during his life of more than eighty years would suffice. Like the letter alif, his perfectly upright stance pointed to truths that would take volumes to express.
So we can say that common believers all along have put their trust in the words and attitudes of people of such horizons, those totally oriented to God, rather than reasonable deductions and logical comparisons, and take their place behind them. They view the standpoint of such people as the point that should be stood on and the direction that these righteous people turn as the direction to turn toward.

Resurrection in the Horizons of the Heart and Spirit
In the movements of revival that emerged in different times (rather than those who used their reason and logic by neglecting their horizons of the heart and spirit and who tried to address others with theoretical knowledge in spite of their lack in practical observances), the people who dealt with their inner world, who engaged in serious self-supervision, who lived in accordance with the horizons of their own spirit, and who led their lives as oriented to the heart and spirit realized a revival in their society. Such heroes of the spirit and the heart have been behind the resurrections and movements of revival that have taken place. It is possible to exemplify these heroes with resurrecting breaths with personages from different schools of spirituality such as Bediüzzaman, Mawlana Khalid al-Baghdadi, Muhammed Lütfi Effendi, his brother Vehbi Effendi, the respected İhramcızade, and his disciple Hulusi Effendi. In the atmosphere they formed around themselves, these great guides, who unconditionally dedicated themselves to the path of God without thinking at all about the attainments in the end, edified personages much greater than a thousand people you would educate in your schools.
These remarks should not be taken as implying a completely negative stance toward science and scientific facts or suggesting that they are not good for anything. Surely sciences, means of attaining sciences, and scientific truths are very important dynamics in terms of Muslims’ revival. The point we tried to make here, however, is the fact that the holiness of the source has a very significant impact because there is sincerity, closeness to God, connection and relation with Him, the very factors that affect a profound impact on the people addressed.

This text is the translation of “İrşad Ruhu ve Hakperestçe Duruş.”

Conditions for Shared Blessings for Collective Deeds Pertaining to the Hereafter

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: Bediüzzaman mentions that the totality of the rewards that correspond to the collective deeds pertaining to the Hereafter will be included in every individual contributor’s book of good deeds without missing anything. Would you elucidate the conditions for being blessed with the reward mentioned in his glad tidings?

Answer: In different parts of the Risale-i Nur collection, Bediüzzaman clearly points out the issue of shared blessings that correspond to collective deeds pertaining to the Hereafter and states that every individual who stands within the sphere of serving faith and the Qur’an will have a full share of the blessings granted for the entire collective.1 I do not remember such an explicit reference to the issue in the literature of Sufism and Qur’anic exegesis prior to Bediüzzaman. Although some great personages alluded to this point in different ways, his approach to the issue is very explicit and clear.
Actually, this approach is in perfect compliance with the fine nature of the metaphysical realm, which has a character of light, and things with the nature of light are reflected exactly as they are. For example, the image of a lamp placed in a room with mirrors on its four walls will be reflected as it is in each of the four mirrors simultaneously. In the same way, the blessings that correspond to collective deeds of goodness are included in each contributor’s book of good deeds without being divided into smaller shares.

A Viewpoint According to the Qur’an and Sunnah
We can comfortably say that this approach of Master Bediüzzaman is a truth he drew by distilling from the essential principles of the Qur’an and Sunnah. When we study the miraculous Qur’an and authenticated tradition of the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, we see in many instances that God Almighty’s granting success depends on maintaining concord and unity and that He bestows an exclusive abundance and reward for deeds realized in a spirit of unity and togetherness. For example, the following two verses from the Qur’an allude to this fact: “And hold fast all together to the rope of God, and never be divided. Remember God’s favor upon you: you were once enemies, and He reconciled your hearts so that through His favor you became like brothers. You stood on the brink of a pit of fire, and He delivered you from it. Thus, God makes His signs of truth (revelations) clear to you that you may be guided (to the Straight Path in all matters, and be steadfast on it)” (Al Imran 3:103).
He has attuned their (the believers’) hearts. If you had spent all that is on the earth, you could not have attuned their hearts, but God has attuned them. Surely He is All-Glorious with irresistible might, All-Wise” (al-Anfal 8:63).
In a way, victory, dominance, and success which concern the benefit of all are related to Muslims’ concord and unity.
Acting collectively on an issue leads to great success at worldly affairs. If we view the issue with the example Bediüzzaman gives, when ten people separately try to produce sewing needles, each of them can only produce three or four needles a day. But when they act collectively by division of labor, and each specializes at a certain task, such as burning the furnace, supplying the iron, piercing the hole, sharpening the tip, etc., some 300 needles fall to each of them daily. Another example of Bediüzzaman is if four or five people unite and if one of them brings lamp oil, another one brings fuse, another one lamp glass, and another one brings the base, each one of them fully benefits from the light emanating from the lamp in the end. I think a person who sees that the principle of collectivity facilitates even worldly tasks in this degree and renders them so fruitful understands better how it will become a means of abundance and blessings in otherworldly deeds, which have a character of light.
By looking at the issue with this perspective, we can say the following: The entirety of the blessings that correspond to the acts of goodness realized in the four corners of the world by God Almighty’s support and grace will be completely reflected in the book of good deeds of each individual who endeavor for this sake, thanks to the truth of shared blessings in collective good deeds. That is to say, every individual included in this wide circle will benefit from the endeavors by millions for the sake of God. The good deeds recorded for each will be recorded for the rest as well. This being the case, a person’s turning away from such a total reward and being preoccupied with individual considerations, being crushed under egotism, and saying “I can do something on my own” means that person will be deprived of that immense reward. No matter how capable a man is, even if he has the talents of some 50 geniuses, he can neither realize a permanent service for the good of humanity, nor gain such a great otherworldly reward, on his own.

The Essence of Good Deeds: Sincerity
When we have an overall view of Bediüzzaman’s explanations on the subject, we see that there are certain conditions required for such a great total attainment. The questions we then need to ask ourselves are: What kind of a stance do we need to adopt within the movement we are trying to uphold? How must we walk together on this path, and how must we be unified so that we can be blessed with the attainments stated? As the first condition, Bediüzzaman mentions “contribution with the secret of sincerity.”
Ikhlas, or sincerity, means doing a certain deed for the sole reason of fulfilling God’s command, relating its result to God’s good pleasure, and leaving the fruits of that deed to the Hereafter. In this respect, what matters according to a person who takes sincerity as a basis on every issue and deed oriented to the Hereafter is the fulfillment of certain services of goodness, and not their being necessarily done by this or that particular person. If we put it in other words, what really matters is sometimes sounding like a reed flute to enrapture those whose hearts are beating in unison, and sometimes speaking up for truth as a chorus to let people hear the truth, helping them experience the Sufi states of astonishment, passion, and stupor, and thus letting them reach the presence of God. Given that this is the target and purpose, no matter who realizes such a purpose, others must feel glad, as if he or she personally accomplished it. While Bediüzzaman exemplifies this issue, he mentions that he told one of his students that a certain other student had better calligraphy, and the person who heard this felt glad about it. Bediüzzaman also says that he checked the heart of that student and sensed that his heart was beating with the same genuine feelings. So this is a very striking and beautiful example of contributing with the secret of sincerity.
In the same way, master Bediüzzaman compares this issue to a task of carrying a heavy treasure and states that bearers of the treasure should feel happy about more hands with fresh strength coming to their aid. Every one of us will hold from one side of this treasure and nobody will care about which side falls to their part. Given that there is a share for everyone who contributes to the carrying of the treasure, everyone must thoroughly fulfill the task that falls to his or her part and not engage in rivalry and dispute with anyone while doing that.
A person’s effectuating sincerity in this degree is possible by abstracting from one’s personal hue, being imbued with the collective hue, and being proud of the merits of fellow brothers and sisters. Individuals devoted to the ideal of serving faith and the Qur’an should never forget that they undertake a very important duty and responsibility that surpass various other titles of glory and honor. In this respect, if they say, “You achieved this; you did that…” to a man who is aware of the path he walks, he will respond by saying, “I do not remember… I do not deem it probable either. Our friends worked and endeavored. I may have been among them during this time.” This is the criterion for contribution with the secret of sincerity Bediüzzaman mentions.

A Complete Spirit of Solidarity and Brotherhood
As the second condition of benefiting from the shared blessings for collective deeds, Bediüzzaman emphasizes the principle of cooperating within a spirit of brotherhood. If genuine brotherhood is found somewhere, mutual support and solidarity is also found. As the noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, tells us about the brotherhood between believers, he draws attention to the relationship among the organs of the same body. Remember, that in the case of an ailment in one of these organs, other organs share the suffering through fever and loss of sleep. In the same way, believers must establish such a sincere and serious bond of brotherhood among them that, in the case of a trouble concerning Muslims in general, every Muslim must feel suffering about it.2 Believers devoted to the path of truth must lean on and support one another like stones forming a dome, and throughout the journey they must not let any of their brothers and sisters remain on the way. If volunteers of service become one within the frame of this understanding, share such a spirit, and attain true unity and togetherness, then good deeds of millions will be included in each individual’s book of good deeds without loss to those performing them.

Acting in Concord with Collective Reason
The third condition mentioned at this issue is cooperation through the mystery of unity—namely, division of labor, tasks, duties, and responsibilities with a spirit of unity and togetherness. In other words, avoid acting individually but rather work in cooperation and acquire the habit of acting in collective. For this reason, it is first necessary to make a division of labor before beginning a task. Everybody should endeavor to do whatever his or her capability is and whatever he or she can do well.
Given that these three conditions we tried to express and explain are fulfilled, if the volunteers join their minds to entrust matters to their collective reasoning, by God’s grace and permission, they will not fall to the mistakes made by individual reasoning. According to probability calculations, it is perhaps one out of a million possibility for ten minds joined together to come to a mistaken conclusion. If the joined minds amount to twenty, the negative probability will diminish in the same degree.
It thus follows that it is very important to run issues in accordance with a collective consciousness. So much so that, even if a single person has genius capabilities, he must never decide alone on matters that concern the general collective. I do not know even a single person in history who acted on his own, made decisions on his own, and achieved permanent success. None of the people like Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Hitler, Mussolini, nor other tyrants who lived after them, had lasting achievements. They shone as a flash in the pan at the beginning but quickly faded, reduced to a sad heap of ruin. As for real leaders who make use of the collective consciousness, they succeed in the same degree as their acting upon consultation, and they build their society’s future with the services they realize.
To sum up, for the sake of gaining what the principle of shared blessings from collective good deeds, both in this world and the next, it is necessary to have pure intention and sincerity, a spirit of brotherhood and solidarity, as well as common reasoning and a collective consciousness.

1. Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, The Gleams, “Twenty-First Gleam, Your Fourth Principle,” New Jersey: Tughra, 2008, p. 229.
2. Sahih al-Bukhari, Adab, 27; Sahih Muslim, Birr, 66.

This text is the translation of “Heyetin Sevabına Nail Olmanın Şartları.”

Weakness in Servanthood and Swelling Egos

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: Weakness in worship is emphasized as one of the most important factors that causes arrogance and the ego to gain strength. What kind of a relationship exists between weakness in worship and gaining strength in arrogance and the ego?

Answer: Ubudiyyah (deep worship) comes from the Arabic root a-ba-da and refers to individuals’ observing their responsibilities toward God Almighty and being in a consciousness of servanthood. It’s similar to ibadah (worship), which comes from the same root, but there are some differences in meanings between these two words. Ibadah is the name and title for the act of putting theoretical knowledge on faith into practice within a certain discipline and system. Ubudiyyah means leading one’s life with a consciousness of servanthood. In other words, ibadah is observing the responsibilities of servanthood as commanded, whereas ubudiyyah means deepening in servanthood and leading one’s life with a consideration of perfect goodness, always with a constant consciousness of being seen by the Omnipresent One.
A servant who observes acts of worship by deeply feeling them in his or her conscious, who deepens in servanthood by exercising in this way, and who is fixed on the consideration of ubudiyyah will be freed from other kinds of servanthood. The sole way of ridding oneself of being a servant to others is being a servant to God, the true sense of the word anyway. Those who do not become a servant to Him become a servant and slave to different power-holders, totems, and idols.
Indeed, God is the only One deserving of being worshipped. To put it in Sufi terms, He is “The Absolute One to be worshipped and the True Desired One.” That is, our worshipping Him and acting with a consciousness of worshipping Him in every moment of our life is His right over us, and it is a duty and responsibility on our part. In other words, He is the Desired One, the Beloved One, and the Worshipped One, for He is God. Therefore, things such as totems, myths, and idols worshipped as a consequence of different deviations, in spite of their not having any such right and eligibility whatsoever, are evident marks of unbelief and misguidance. There is only One who deserves worship and that is God Almighty. Individuals fixed on such a consideration of worship, who do not think of bowing before anybody but God, never see themselves as superior to and different from other people; they do not assume a special status for themselves other than being a servant. They are always in recognition of being like a slave in shackles vis-à-vis God Almighty. As such persons eliminate their ego and arrogance in the melting pot of servanthood, they always attribute all good things they are blessed with and all achievements they have attained to God only. Maybe, with the deceiving of their carnal self, they may occasionally experience some dizziness or blurring of vision before accomplishments far beyond their capability… however, with the feeling of ubudiyyah, which always exists as an ingrained character in their soul, they curb such feelings that might arise within.

Inverse Proportion
There is an inverse proportion between deepening in worship on the one hand and gaining strength in arrogance and the ego on the other. That is, as much as a person deepens in servanthood to God, that person can manage in the same degree to maintain self-possession against the carnal soul, arrogance, and egotism and take under his or her control the negative feelings within. As for one who keeps away from worshiping God, that person becomes egotistic and even egocentric in accordance with the degree of his or her remoteness from worship. As such people are distanced from the duty of servanthood, which is reminder for people of their true identity, they forget in time who they actually are and ascribe to themselves all achievements they have made. They even wish good works done by others to be somehow related to themselves—therefore, achievements, applause, and appreciations continuously draw them like a whirlpool into themselves.
However, individuals who take a mannerly stance before God, who pass every frame of their life with such consciousness, never forget their true identity. They always act with the consciousness that they are powerless, weak, and mortal beings in shackles before God. This feeling of impotence and poverty urges them to constantly ask for more of worship. No matter how much they worship, even if they offer a thousand units of prayer every day, they keep saying, “My God, I failed to worship You as I should! O the One who is known more evidently and clearly than everything! I failed to know You as I should. If I had, I would already have melted away. O my God the rightful owner of thanksgiving! I failed to express my gratitude to You as I should.”
Such servants know that the acts of worship that they carry out are nothing in compared to the favors that they are blessed with, including the blessing of their acts of worship.

Unlimited Blessings Call for Unlimited Gratitude
A person’s not remaining as a lifeless being but blessed with life, not being a plant or animal but having the honor of being a conscious being, and further than that knowing and recognizing God, obtaining the opportunity to open the doors of eternity with the mysterious key of faith, and taking the path to becoming eligible for Paradise are such great blessings that they have no equivalents in this world. The Bestower of these infinite blessings is God Almighty.
If a person becomes aware of all of these blessings, becomes fully oriented to God, deepens in servanthood, becomes a hero of “is there more?” and constantly tries to increase one’s knowledge of God, love, zeal, and enthusiasm, God will then save that person from the whirlpool of arrogance and egotism through His favors and graces. In the words of Muhammed Lütfi Effendi:
“If you truly love the Lord, do you think He will not love you?
If you seek His good pleasure, will He not let you have it?
If you go near His door, ready to offer all you have,
And serve as He ordered, Will He not give its reward?”
Indeed, God Almighty is expressing Himself to us with some thousand happenings every moment. And in response, if we try to monitor phenomena with a systematic and disciplined deliberation, with caution and vigilance, and try to make sense of the whole by juxtaposing separate frames, and make an endeavor for always walking to Him by searching different ways, He will not let us down halfway, because He has never let down those who walked to Him that far.

The Elixir of Ubudiyyah in the Era of Arrogance
Days and nights keep chasing one another throughout history. Since the earth insisted to ignore the heavens, and the heavens commanded the eyes to become tearless, the ground has become a desert throughout. Sometimes, however, showers of mercy pour from the sky, and the earth serves as ground for stalks that yield seven, and even seven hundred, fold more. Sometimes light gains over darkness, which thoroughly shrinks. The atmosphere of spirit beings and angels is victorious to that of devils…in other words, the spiritual establishes dominion over the material. The time of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, is the prime example of those bright periods. In that era, there was virtually no suitable ground and atmosphere for devils to move around and live comfortably. There were similar bright periods in later times.
Today as well there are many who feel and sense that they are a servant to God with all the particles of their body, who live with the constant consciousness of togetherness with God thanks to the Divinely bestowed inner sensations far beyond their perceptions. If it were not so, this earth would not remain in its orbit. God Almighty looks to the earth through the eyes of those who offer sincere servanthood to Him. He forgives guilty, sinful, and unsteady servants like us for the sake of those pure and faithful servants. He gives some more term to the universe, and He does not destroy it for their sake.
Although our time is an age of arrogance, God willing, a beautiful era has started with respect to worship and ubudiyyah. As is well known, the ultimate point of darkness marks the beginning of light. The horizon darkens before the coming of dawn. But this is the final darkening, and the characteristics of the night will make a surge for one last time. One more time, darkness will cover the entire horizon with a final vengeance, but then you will see the twilight of a false dawn following. Although this initial phase is not the dawn, it is the most truthful herald of the real dawn. It has never proved to be wrong: whenever an initial false dawn emerges, it is followed by a real dawn after a short time.
In short, even if in this age of arrogance, as much as a person deepens in worship and devotions, egotism will forsake that person in the same degree, and the zone of egotism will gradually narrow down. Just as the sphere of darkness narrows down with the expansion of the sphere of light, there exists a similar contrast between ubudiyyah and arrogance. One develops to the disadvantage of the other. As much as a person deepens in worship, his or her egotism diminishes to the same degree. In time, such persons ascribe everything to Divine power, assessing the worth of the achievements they have made only by considering whether God’s good pleasure and approval are there. As a result, they completely melt away in terms of their arrogance and egotism; they do not even recognize themselves, always speaking about Him and proclaiming His name everywhere they go.

This text is the translation of “Kulluktaki Zaafiyet ve Kabaran Enaniyet.”

A Comprehensive Prayer of the Noble Prophet

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: After the first verses of the chapter al-Mu’minun were revealed, God’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, prayed, “O Allah! Give us increase (in Your blessings), and don’t take from us; honor us and don’t humiliate us, bestow on us and don’t deprive us, favor us and don’t favor others instead of us; make us well pleased and be well pleased with us, O Most Compassionate of the compassionate!”1 What are the messages this prayer conveys, particularly for the believers in our time?

Answer: Initially, let me point out that as the noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, was the very person who received revelation, it is not possible for someone else to feel and understand these exalted truths in the level of his high horizons. For this reason, it should be understood from the beginning that the explanations here will fall short of reflecting the real depth and immensity of the meaning and content of this prayer.
As expressed in the question, the Messenger of God made this blessed prayer after the first verses of the chapter al-Mu’minun were revealed. The lofty meaning of the verses can be given as follows: “Prosperous indeed are the believers. They are in their Prayer humble and fully submissive (being overwhelmed by the awe and majesty of God). They always turn away from and avoid whatever is vain and frivolous. They are in a constant effort to give alms and purify their own selves and wealth. They strictly guard their private parts, and their chastity and modesty, save from their spouses, or (as a permission for men) those (bonds- maids) whom their right hands possess – for with regard to them they are free from blame. But whoever seeks beyond that, such are they who exceed the bounds (set by God). They are faithful and true to their trusts (which either God or society or an individual places in their charge), and to their pledges (between them and God or other persons or society). They are ever-mindful guardians of their Prayers (including all the rites of which they are constituted). Those (illustrious ones) are the inheritors, who will inherit the highest floor of Paradise. Therein they will abide forever” (al-Mu’minun 23:1–11).
After the revelation of these verses, which are a gift of God Almighty to the Messenger of God and his followers, the noble Prophet felt with its entire profundity the glad tidings that believers with the attributes counted here will attain deliverance. Thus, he made the above mentioned prayer reported by the Companions, the same way as he opened his hands in thankful response to the showers of blessings in the form of revelation in different instances and expressed his feelings to God Almighty.

The First Demand
At the beginning of this prayer, God’s Messenger says, “Give us increase (in Your blessings), and don’t take from us…” As the first possibility that comes to mind, the noble Prophet may have asked God Almighty to increase the number of Muslims, as a multitude of Muslims has always been an ideal he dreamed of. We see the following piece of information in some sayings narrated about the subject: Different communities were shown to the Messenger of God and when he saw a large group among them, he began to hope that they were his followers. However, he learned that they were the followers of Prophet Moses, peace be upon him, and he was told to look to the horizons in order to see his own followers. When he looked at the horizon, he saw that a greater crowd than the one he saw before, covering the entire horizon. His blessed heart was pleased, glad, and satisfied with such a view.2
We can see his strong demand for the increasing of Muslims in his encouragements for marriage as well. For example, he stated, “Get married and reproduce, since on the Day of Judgment I will be proud of your multitude against other communities.”3 Since marriage is an individual, as well as a familial issue in one respect, it remains simple in comparison to the substantial matters of religion, and it can be said that marriage has a relative value near those substantial matters. Additionally, the noble Prophet counseled his followers to get married and reproduce, stating that that would make him proud. Let me note that being proud in this context means overflowing with gratitude before the bestowals of God Almighty.

Numeric Multitude Should Not Be the Real Target
As a second possibility about the demand “Give us increase, do not take from us!” it is possible that there is a demand from God Almighty in terms of increase in quality, because it is quality that makes the multitude worthy. Sole numeric multitude without quality has no importance on its own. Much greater communities in number have not been able to accomplish what some ten or twenty thousand Companions did. Those first and unique heroes of Islam upset the plots of the Sassanid and Byzantine empires, the two superpowers of their time, brought them to their knees, thus changing the fate of the world.
Although it is commonly said that the Muslim population in the world is around 1.5 billion, it is not possible to say that Muslims are fulfilling a function in proportion with their number, because today they are not in the state desired by the Qur’an. Indeed, they are at each other’s throats. Muslims are struggling against one another and consuming themselves in the vicious cycle of confrontations and conflicts. As they cannot achieve a proper concord and unity, they are using up their energies in a web of confrontations, failing to be blessed with Divine help to allow them to take their place in the balance of powers between world states. Their multitude in number does not help for this great mission that they are supposed to fulfill.
Actually, when we look at history from this perspective, it is possible to see the significance of quality vs. multitude so explicitly and clearly with its striking examples. For example, so many people who set on the road with sincere intentions at a certain period in history made impressive moves, realized breakthroughs at full gallop, and realized very fruitful accomplishments. However, as the same people began to lose their qualified state in spirit, meaning, feelings, thoughts, together with the religious liveliness of their heart and spirit, let alone make progress, they could not even retain the position they had gained in spite of being greater in number in comparison to the past. When they forgot the considerations of glorifying the name of God but gave in to comfort, laziness, love of status, and fear, the multitude of their number did not help them, and they lost their power, influence, and weight. In this respect, it is possible to say that while the noble Prophet prayed “Give us increase, do not take from us!” he was making a demand for an increase of quality in terms of the believers’ state, and their credit and worth in God’s sight, and that he implored God in this respect so that He does not let them experience loss in this sense.

The Greatest Blessing Is Acknowledging a Blessing as a Blessing
The prayer continues as “Honor us and do not humiliate us!” and this means, “Raise our worth with Your favors and do not let us fall into misery!” The beloved Prophet is not asking for worldly means, power, or spiritual marvels here, but rather to be honored with Divine graces. Thus, God’s honoring is a very important bestowal that should be sought. In addition, as the original Arabic word is inflected in the causative (if’al) form, its meaning can also be: “O God, honor us, and makes us feel all the time that each of these favors is a Divine blessing.” Awareness of Divine graces is a means of protection against experiencing lapses and falls, because a person who is aware of Divine graces knows that those favors he or she enjoys are from God in actual fact. If the person ascribes these to his own aptitudes and abilities, and thus speaks like Korah who said, “All this has been given to me only by virtue of a certain knowledge that I have” (al-Qasas 28:78), then it will be an invitation for falling into misery. In this respect, one must open his hands and constantly pray: “O God, do not let me fall into any misery, either as a consequence of the evils I personally committed or as a trial from you!”

O God, Do Not Punish Us With Deprivation!
The prayer continues: “Bestow on us, and do not deprive us.” This means: “O God, bestow on us constantly and abundantly, and do not let us suffer deprivation.” Believers can ask for some worldly blessings that will not lead them astray. And it is very important to ask for everything one wishes from God Almighty alone. The noble Prophet said, “Let everyone of you ask all of his needs from God, even down to a shoelace that has broken off.”4 In this respect, be it raising a family like a corner of Paradise or a righteous child, we should ask for all of our needs from God. The criterion to determine the value of this request is a person’s horizons, position, and targeted ideal. Having a peaceful family, righteous children, and sufficient livelihood that will not leave one dependent on others are definitely blessings to be asked from God. However, a person who lives with a concern for making others live in the true sense of the word instead of living for himself, who is devoted to the thought of revival, and who is full of compassion toward the entire humanity may not acquire any of these. What fills such a person’s horizons is: “My God! I do not want to see in my lifetime any victories and accomplishments realized through me or through which I think so. But please O God, enable me to behold from a corner of my grave the message of Islam flourishing throughout the world, the Muhammadan spirit spreading its wings all around, calls to prayer resounding everywhere, and all hearts beating in relation to you!”
In this respect, it is possible to say that while saying, “Bestow on us, do not deprive us,” everybody is asking for something in accordance with the horizons of their own ideals. While one asks something of a few coins’ worth, another may ask for millions. Another still may not suffice with that and becomes a nominee for eternity. As some wish to attain worldly blessings, personages with immense horizons such as Imam al-Ghazali, Imam Rabbani, and Bediüzzaman constantly ask for attaining His good pleasure and opening the way to Paradise for others. In all of their acts, they live with considerations such as: “O God, take my life fifty times a day, if necessary, but I am begging you O Lord! Save from this misery and disgrace, Your Prophet’s followers who have never fallen to such a wretched condition!”
It is possible to say that the people who open their hands in prayer, in a way, voice the considerations inspired by the level where they stand.

The Greatest Disaster Is Muslims’ Subjugation
The prayer continues: “Favor us and do not favor others over us…” This means: “O God, if there will be a favor, please favor us over others but not vice versa.” If we elucidate that, the noble Prophet asks God to not let others come and subjugate Muslims.
God’s favoring Muslims over others can be in different forms. For example, if we do not give servanthood its due, do not prove to be worthy of trust, and make an about-face from religion, God Almighty may remove us as a player in the balance of world powers and bring others instead. For this reason, we should ask for being endowed with the qualities of people worthy in God’s sight. We must pray: “My God, do not bring others to replace us! Whatever You will to be realized, let it be done through us, please!” If God throws us aside like some old furniture and brings others in our place, it will condemn us to our own worthlessness.

Another Type of Trial: Favoritism
With respect to favoritism, the Messenger of God, blessings and peace be upon him, drew our attention to a different reality by informing us of the negative aspect of favoring: “You will meet favoritism after me. So show patience (in the face of such attitudes very difficult to swallow) so that you meet me near the pool (of the heavenly Kawthar).”5 
After he passed from this world, such things did happen. Although the Qur’an appreciates and praises the Companions who are from the first and foremost6 who embraced faith, some people from later generations failed to understand it and were openly unfair to some of those heroes who are very worthy in the sight of God and His Messenger. For example, the Khwarijites failed to appreciate the worth of the prince of the chivalrous, the valiant lion, and the Prophet’s son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib. In the same way, most people of the time did not appreciate the worth of the noble Prophet’s grandsons Hasan and Husayn.
Some administrators who came in later periods also failed to retain the justice observed during the time of the Rightly Guided Caliphs. For example, when there was a question of assigning someone to an administrative position or dividing war gains, they immediately favored their own relatives. None of the Rightly Guided caliphs assigned their relatives to positions by favoring them. They never gave privileges to their relations and never showed favoritism; if responsibilities are not given to those eligible for them and favoritism begins, the fall of that people ensues.
The noble Prophet mentions that there will be favoritism after him and counsels his followers to be patient until meeting him as patience leads to deliverance. This counsel is a very important message for believers in our era as well, as those who make assignments might do injustice to people more qualified for a certain task. Let them do wrong! What really matters is continuing to serve on the righteous path of God without caring for these trifles. The devoted souls must retain their philosophy of not asking from others in dignified contentment and wait for what God Almighty ordains; Divine acts have always been good. As past acts are the most convincing reference for future acts, then it means that He will realize good things in the future too. Given that we do not fail at our loyalty, trust, and adherence to Him.

Peak of Servanthood: The Good Pleasure of God
The final request in the prayer is “make us well pleased and be well pleased with us!” Actually, these two have never been separated from one another because if God is well-pleased with a servant, that person is also well-pleased with Him. In the same way, a servant’s welcoming what God decrees is an expression of that person’s being well-pleased with Him. Saintly personages hold different considerations on the cause and effect between the two. Some said that a person’s giving his or her willpower its due and requesting the path that leads to God’s good pleasure yield the expected result. They related this to the following saying of the Messenger of God: “If you wish to know Your place in God’s sight, look at God’s place at your sight.”7 That is, your degree of valuing Him determines your value in His sight. If you love Him more than anything else, and value Him more than everything in the world, then you receive the same degree of value in the sight of God and the celestial beings.
Others have stated that if God is not well-pleased with them, they cannot be well-pleased with Him, and explained this view with the fact that God’s being well-pleased has priority of order in verses stating the meaning: “God is well-pleased with them, and they are well-pleased with Him” (al-Maedah 5:119).8 Another group of scholars, including Imam Qushayri, state that with respect to the beginning, it depends on the servant’s willful choice and deed, and it is an unveiling of a spiritual reality and a spiritual state with respect to its result.
If we view this issue from the perspective of the Maturidi school of thought, a person must initially make a willful effort in compliance with gaining God’s good pleasure as a simple condition of causality. And this depends on that person’s reading himself and the whole creation correctly, as well as interpreting the verified truths of Islam correctly. When a person is well-pleased with God, then God Almighty will favor that person with His immense good pleasure special to Himself.
Let me make a final point here. The influence of each of the points that the noble Prophet asks in his blessed prayer is essential in a believer’s life. For this reason, we should constantly ask for these same blessings from God Almighty in our prayers.

1. Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 1/34.
2. Sahih al-Bukhari, Tibb, 17, 41; Riqaq 50; Sahih Muslim, Iman, 374.
3. Abdurrazzak, Al-Musannaf, 6/173.
4. Abu Ya’la, Al-Musnad, 6/130.
5. Sahih al-Bukhari, Fitan, 2; Sahih Muslim, Imara, 48.
6. “The first and foremost (to embrace Islam and excel others in virtue) among the Emigrants and the Helpers, and those who follow them in devotion to doing good, aware that God is seeing them—God is well- pleased with them, and they are well-pleased with Him…” (at-Tawbah 9:100).
7. Abu Nuaym, Hilyatu’l-Awliya, 6/176.
8. See at-Tawbah 9:100; al-Mujadilah 58:22; al-Bayyina 98:8.

This text is the translation of “Efendimiz’in Kuşatıcı Bir Duası.”

Merit and Deserving Punishment

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: It is stated that those who cannot shoulder the responsibility and cannot have merit and capacity required by serving faith deserve to be excluded from this circle, in terms of the Divine Custom (the way of God’s treatment). Will you elucidate the necessary qualities to have, in order to avoid ending up this way, and also those qualities needed to have such merit?

Answer: Merit means good character worthy of reward. Capacity denotes being capable for a certain task and fulfilling it properly; whereas deserving punishment indicates the bad deeds one commits and receiving that punishment. However, let us express right up front that even if a person has capacity for a certain task, God Almighty’s Grace and Mercy is essential for everybody at all times. In this respect, even if individuals endowed with high abilities and competence prove their merit for the duty they have undertaken, the essence of their success still lies in Divine Grace. Additionally, when the issue is seen from the perspective of Divine Custom, it is seen that merit is a means for very important gains; whereas, deserving punishment on account of bad character is an important cause for their ceasing.

Networks of Hypocrisy and Deserving Punishment
All along, networks of misguidance and hypocrisy plotted and intrigued in various different ways in almost every era for overturning certain positive and beneficial services established by believers. There is only a difference of hue and pattern changing according to the time and conditions of those plots and intrigues. When the same network of hypocrisy understood that they could not achieve the end that they desired with the argument they used at a certain period, they developed other arguments, trying again and again to put a stop to these good works with these new arguments.
So the question whether the networks of hypocrisy attain their purposes or not to some extent depend on whether the journeyers of noble ideals give their position its due, fulfill their responsibilities, and the merit they have at this issue. If they are fulfilling their duty as truthful bearers of trust and are thoroughly performing their duty with “wakeful eyes” against dangers that may come through different openings and gaps, then God will render the plots of the hypocrites ineffective. However, if they are continually losing stature in terms of the nature of their merit and are becoming dull—may God protect—it means they are shifting towards being deserved to be punished in the same degree. When justice is realized, God takes that trust and hands it to other people worthy of that trust. In this respect, if the souls devoted to serving on the path of faith and the Qur’an wish to be saved from the conspiracies against them and to retain their present position, they must give the due of the point at which they stand and constantly seek merit.

An Important Condition for Eligibility: Endeavor for Renewal
By starting from some verses in the Qur’an, we can comprehend the attributes that serve as a means for merit and those that cause deserving deprivation from it. For example, God Almighty states the following in a verse: “If He so wills (for the fulfillment of His purpose in creation), He can put you away and bring a new generation (of humankind in your place)” (Ibrahim 14:19; Fatir 35:16).
It is understood from the word “new” (jadid) that the people devoted to the path of God should feel everything freshly, as if savoring a feast descended from heaven or delicious dates from Paradise. When they take the verses of the Qur’an and begin to recite them, they should feel enraptured as if they were revealed to them for the first time at that moment, with a pleasure and delight far beyond what they have ever felt before. In the same way, they must have deep insight into their era and carry out service to Islam as befits the requirements of their era. Even their spiritual life should have its share from this novelty. Even if time flows and years pass, they should not give in to monotony of familiarity, lose color, nor become weary. Since being “new” is an indispensable attribute of merit, if a community loses this quality, they become deserving of being substituted.

Where Those Who Back Away from Service End Up
Another Divine statement about the subject that needs to be mentioned is the following verse from the chapter al-Maedah: “O you who believe! Whoever of you turns away from his Religion, (know that) in time, God will raise up a people whom He loves, and who love Him, most humble towards the believers, dignified and commanding in the face of the unbelievers, striving (continuously and in solidarity) in God’s cause, and fearing not the censure of any who censure. That is God’s grace and bounty, which He grants to whom He wills. God is All-Embracing (with His profound grace), All-Knowing” (al-Maedah 5: 54).
This verse primarily draws attention to the danger of being an apostate or deserter. Apostasy (irtidat) means a person’s abandoning a worthy position and returning back to his or her previous lowly state. Such a person is in general terms an apostate (murtad). The first and most drastic sense of apostasy that comes to mind is apostasy in faith. Such a person deserts the Islamic faith and returns back to unbelief, becoming an apostate. Additionally, there are deserters on the path of serving faith. Even though they give their hearts to a certain cause at a certain period, they cannot help dwelling on trivial matters that they cannot overcome in their minds. Thus, they lose their fervor and enthusiasm for service, together with their previous zeal and activity, and abandon the circle they were once in. Actually, these people are mostly poor ones, troubled in heart and mind, who wish all works to be carried out according to their own personal fancies and desires. When their wishes are not fulfilled, they create disagreement and dissent in the places where they are. As a consequence, they completely turn their backs on their former service.
God first warns such people with “slaps of compassion” to bring them to their senses, but if they continue adding fire to the flames of disagreement and dissent, then they become deserving of a “slap of chastisement.” Upon this, God Almighty virtually makes an address to them: “Given that you have reckoned on disagreement and dissent, I will move you away and bring instead those who take unity and togetherness as a basis, who act with a spirit of concord and alliance.” In this respect, believers who have attached their hearts to the path of serving faith must be extremely concerned about becoming “apostates of service;” they must be able to relinquish many personal rights so that they do not fall into such a situation. As this is an act of seeking merit, it is, at the same time, the way and method of avoiding to be deserving of a bad ending.

Love of God, the Essence of Merit
In the verse we quoted above, God Almighty states, “God will raise up a people….” In other words, He will replace those who cannot give their position its due with another group who can. The Arabic modal sawfa in the original verse denotes distant future, conveying the following meaning: God Almighty does not punish believers immediately owing to the certain negativities they have committed. As He values their belief, He first gives them, time and again, a term to make up for what they did. If they persist in their faults and wrongs, God then removes them and brings another people to replace them. From the fact that the word qawmun (a people) is in an indefinite form, we both understand that this community is both an unknown one and has a high worth.
The glory of this community is so exalted that you cannot conceive of, nor imagine, it. This verse also gives us some clues to recognize them: “God loves that people whose worth you cannot comprehend.” That is, He holds them in high esteem—in a way that becomes His glory—and in accordance with the immensity of His mercy and the ampleness of His love, He bestows upon them what loving calls for. This loving transforms into love of God in their hearts, and they love God, too: “…and whom love Him.” This verb is inflected in the Arabic verb form of if’al. One of the meanings this form conveys is profusion. In this respect, it is possible to paraphrase it as: “They also love God crazily.”
The verse continues as, “…most humble towards the believers.” That is, they lower their wings of modesty before believers to the degree of humiliation. However, let this not be misunderstood, for this humbleness of theirs is never a complex of inferiority. As they hang onto their own values tightly, they are dignified and honorable in the face of those who deny those values. That is, they do not kiss the feet of those who deviate to denial on the grounds of conceit, pride, wronging, lacking a sound perspective, or by asserting that they stick with the ways of their ancestry. In the same way, they never bow before obstinate and obdurate ones who take a firm stance against the messages presented by believers.

The Spirit of Striving for God’s Cause
Another attribute of theirs is referred to as “striving (continuously and in solidarity) in God’s cause.” The nature and scope of this striving is very extensive. Within the frame of definitions, this striving (mujahada/making jihad) is the removal of obstacles which stem from the carnal soul, as well as from evil desires, and which come between people and God, thus preventing the acceptance of faith and the meeting between their hearts and God. According to this definition, it is necessary to extend a hand to others by taking into consideration the contemporary era’s philosophy of life, as well as levels of comprehension and knowledge, for the sake of eliminating the obstacles between people and God.
Another way of striving is ceaselessly trying to fulfill the duty of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil. This means voicing the truth at mosques, conference halls, seminars, lecterns in parliaments, places of education, or wherever you are granted the opportunity.
However, if a day comes that invaders fixed on animosity—as it happened in different times—attack your country, threaten your chastity, and attempt to tread you underfoot, then the form of struggle will naturally change. In that case, there will be a struggle in the sense of fighting, as it happened in many examples in history, and the necessary struggling will be given its due. Surely, such a struggle to be made as an entire nation can only be done with a decision of the state and under its control. This is one type of jihad in the form of physical struggle. To reiterate a fact we have expressed at different instances, it is definitely wrong to take “jihad” solely as engaging in war, which is only one aspect of struggle. There are various different forms of struggling and striving for the sake of helping people understand truths or preventing oppression and injustice. In addition, as it is understood from the expressions, “on the path of God” or “for the cause of God,” a given task must be fulfilled purely for the sake of God, in a righteous fashion, by observing the rules and principles that our noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, established. Nobody must ever act for the benefit or wrath of a certain person or group under the guise of jihad.
In short, with the statement “striving in God’s cause”, God Almighty mentions striving on this path as an important attribute of those who uphold the cause of Islam. The last point mentioned in the verse as one of the attributes of the souls dedicated to sharing the Divine message is having no fear of any censure. It is always possible for journeyers of noble ideals to be censured by people who see life restricted to the world in which they live and one they wish to indulge in. For example, they may give so-called counsel to the volunteers as: “Why are you making your own lives a misery instead of enjoying this world? Why are you turning the ‘champions of the path of deviance and worldliness’ against you?” Unfortunately, in every era there have been people disturbed by the resounding of the Prophet’s message. However, the souls dedicated to the path of serving faith and the Qur’an do not care about the unfair censuring of others and do not shy away in the face of threats, always walking on without being hindered by the obstacles that come before them on the righteous path.

Being Employed on this Path Is a Favor of God
The statement at the end of the verse, “That is God’s grace and bounty, which He grants to whom He wills,” tells us that all of these are very important attributes and that they are not just given to everybody, but only to distinguished servants whom He wills. That is, God grants the honor of serving religion, not to those who have a PhD, a post-doctoral degree, or even double or triple post-doctoral degrees, solely for the sake of building a career, but to sincere believers, who attach their hearts to God. Such a person may, for instance, appear in the mountainous areas of Eastern Turkey, completing the entire madrasa education in less than a year and thus giving a lesson to humanity in terms of teaching about the religion, observances, and the Qur’an. Thus, he pushes open doors on the way to renewal in thought. While carrying out such mission, however, he never makes any personal claims, but ascribes all of these solely to the unmerited favors of God. So the ending of the verse, “That is God’s grace and bounty, which He grants to whom He wills,” alludes to an indispensable quality of merit: never making big claims on one’s achievements, but always being modest, no matter which great duty is being fulfilled, and knowing these as favors and graces of God.

This text is the translation of “Liyakat ve İstihkak.”

Striking the Balance at Diverting Others from Evils

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: Overlooking vices that do not harm society is mentioned as one of the important characteristics of the devoted souls. If we look at the issue by considering the fact that forbidding evil is an important essential in Islam, what are the boundaries of overlooking sins and forgiving the evils committed?

Answer: First, it is necessary to make a distinction between individual vices and sins on the one hand, and wrongs and evils considered as a violation against the rights of the society on the other hand, as the approach towards each is different. In short, it is an essential to overlook sins limited to a certain individual and treat such people as leniently as possible. As for evils that harm another person or rights of the public, it is necessary to intervene physically, if possible. If not, it is necessary to intervene verbally, or at least to condemn those evils in one’s heart

The Way of Forgiveness and Leniency
There is no need to list the sins that only concern one person or describing the wrongs that adulterate pure minds, for it does more harm than good. All words and actions forbidden by Islam can be considered within this category. A person may have committed one or more of these. If such a person is not presenting a bad example for others to follow, not taking religious commandments lightly and mocking religious values, and not violating rights of the public, then it is possible to show forgiveness and leniency toward such a person. Many verses of the Qur’an express the importance of showing tolerance to people and responding even to their evil behavior with goodness. For example:
“…Ever-restraining their rage (even when provoked and able to retaliate), and pardoning people (their offenses). God loves (such) people who are devoted to doing good” (Al Imran 3:134).
As it is seen here, restraining one’s rage, pardoning people, and doing good are counted among the important attributes of pious ones. For this reason, in the face of others’ individual mistakes and sins, believers should act in accordance with these Qur’anic principles, overlooking them as much as possible.
In addition, the attitude to be taken, particularly in the face of some treatments and behaviors shown by some ignorant people, is turning away and keeping away from them. Indeed, the Qur’an commands believers to adopt such conduct in several verses:
(Even so, O Messenger) adopt the way of forbearance and tolerance, and enjoin what is good and right, and withdraw from the ignorant ones (do not care what they say and do)” (al-A’raf 7:199).
The (true) servants of the All- Merciful are they who move on the earth gently and humbly, and when the ignorant, foolish ones address them (with insolence or vulgarity as befits their ignorance and foolishness), they respond with (words of) peace, (without engaging in hostility with them)” (al-Furqan 25:63).
They always turn away from and avoid whatever is vain and frivolous” (al-Mu’minun 23:3).

Not Revealing Sins While Diverting People from Evils
If a person insists in engaging in vices and sins, takes them lightly, presents a bad example for others with the transgressions he commits, or violates the rights of the society, then it is necessary to prevent this evil in a proper way. The Messenger of God, blessings and peace be upon him, taught us what to do in the face of such evils: “Whoever from you sees an evil, let him change it with his hands; if he cannot, let him change it with his tongue; and if he still cannot, let him be against it in his heart; this (last) one is the weakest level of faith.”1
Accordingly, the first thing to do with a man who has been stuck in a swamp is to hold his hand and pull him out of it. If you do not have the power to do so, you should receive help from somebody who is capable of it. But while doing that, it is necessary to avoid disclosing that person’s faults and sins, spreading the word about them and acting like a scandalmonger, embarrassing the person concerned and bringing shame on him in society. The real purpose here is to save that person from the evil that he has fallen into. If physical intervention is not possible, what needs to be done is to give proper counsel to the person. The manner of the counsel is of great importance here. For example, while giving a warning, it is necessary to take all alternatives into consideration and prefer a form of address that will not evoke a negative reaction. For this reason, the person who wishes to save a fellow brother or sister from a certain vice must express it only after having thought over it some ten times. And if that person’s address is likely to evoke a negative reaction in the person addressed, it is necessary to have someone else speak whose words will not make that person feel offended. At certain critical situations, it may even be necessary for the person giving the warning to disappear from sight and make the warning without even a face-to-face address. For example, you write two lines for the sake of a certain wrong that you have recognized, revise it some fifty times with your mild and sound considerations, and then push it under the door of the person concerned or leave it in his or her mailbox. Thus, you do not embarrass that person by blatantly mentioning his mistake to his face, and thus protect his dignity. The goal real purpose here is to help someone give up a certain evil. It is necessary then to consider very carefully the steps to be taken, never being as blunt as a kick in the shins. What matters is neither stating the evil to be evil, nor embarrassing the person who committed some wrong or sin. What matters is finding the most effective and softest way to divert that person from that evil.

Guidance and Warning with a Bitter Smile
For those situations where it is not possible to eliminate evils and wrongs physically or verbally, God’s Messenger taught us that it is necessary to disapprove of the conduct in one’s heart according to the scholars of Hadith. It is possible to add different commentaries as well. For example, it is possible to derive from this statement that it is necessary to cut off the heart’s attachment to a person who keeps committing evil—so much so that when you meet such a person, the sour expressions of your face, a bitter smile, and your turning away from that person can serve as a means for his realization of his mistake and cease to do it. In addition, as your stance is not against a certain individual, but against his bad behavior, you open your hands and pray to God “My God! Please save this fellow brother (sister) from this evil and make him feel disgusted by it!” Not even sufficing with that, you can say a thousand times in your prayers: “O God! Make faith beloved to us, endearing it to our hearts, and make unbelief, impiety and disobedience hateful to us, and make us among the rightly guided.”2 The Messenger of God stated that a prayer in absentia will be accepted.3
At a certain time in the past, someone mentioned a lapse by a certain friend of ours. Since that time, no day has passed without me praying for that friend. Similarly, a certain friend with a sound character was having problems of belief. God is my witness, I prayed for him at every prayer I made for myself. I saw being neglectful at this issue as disrespect and unfaithfulness to the rights of a fellow brother. Praying from the heart in this way is also a meaning that can be derived from the hadith quoted. Thus, simply interpreting the expression “in his heart” mentioned in the hadith as disapproving the act in one’s heart, cutting relations with that person, turning one’s back on him or her and leaving is incomplete. What really matters here is taking a kind of stance against a bad attribute God does not like, doing everything one can do in order to eliminate it, and thus saving that fellow brother or sister from that evil.

The Public’s Rights Are God’s Rights
Taking a stance against vices and evils that might somehow harm the society in a narrow or wider sense and thus endeavoring for their elimination is not only a societal and religious duty, but also a necessity of respecting God’s rights at the same time. Because, as it is known, rights of the public are at the same time considered rights of God in Islamic teachings. That is, evils that will corrupt a society from within are like a moth in terms of their harm and consequences. They are not like the sins whose harm remains on a personal level. Therefore, it is not possible to overlook and remain silent in the face of the evils of this first type. The officials with authority to enforce law must try to prevent those evils with the legal authority trusted to them, and believers must give their support to them, sometimes by appealing to authorities when necessary, sometimes by encouraging them at this issue, and sometimes by using their civil right to testify as a witness. Let us reiterate that the real point with all of these is not to embarrass a person at all. On the contrary, it is an endeavor to take a stance against evils that will eat away the society from within and to protect people from them.
In relation to our subject, it is possible to remember the following verse, which was revealed as a reprimand to a certain group from the Children of Israel but also sets an important essential for believers in general: “They would not restrain one another from doing the evil they did: indeed evil was what they used to do” (al-Maedah 5:79).
The people referred to in the phrase, “They would not restrain…” had not developed a collective mind to prevent the evils committed. They did not apply to the collective consciousness in this respect. There was no coordination among them. For this reason, those people who did not restrain one another from doing evil were consequently cursed. It is therefore necessary to develop a common mind concerning the duty of a person who witnesses evil, concerning the action to be taken by the officials in authority, and the general duties that fall to the society concerning this issue.
In conclusion, believers should try to forgive the unpleasant words spoken to them, which only concern them personally. Just as there are fluids and acids in a person’s digestive track to digest the food consumed, there must be similar “substances” in believers’ individual worlds of the heart and spirit to digest ugly, evil, and unfair things, so that they can comfortably digest the mistreatment they receive. However, if a group or movement is targeted and defamed through a certain individual, the issue is no longer personal. It is not correct for one person to swallow such wrongdoing on behalf of the group or movement. On the contrary, the necessary conduct in such a situation is trying to eliminate in lawful ways the wrongdoing against that person, such as with a formal statement, correction, and disclaimer. If the insistence in wrongdoing and unfairness continue, it is then necessary to resort to other legal means for the sake of silencing the transgressors, such as suing them for compensation. In the same way, although Bediüzzaman said he gave his blessing even to those who sent him from one prison to another, who condemned him to total isolation, and poisoned him many times over, he never remained silent with respect to his faith and spoke up against his oppressors, thereby defending the truth, the Qur’an, and the rights of the public.

1. Sahih Muslim, Iman, 78; Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Fitan, 11.
2. Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 3/424; Al-Bazzar, Al-Musnad, 3/175.
3. Sunan Abu Dawud, Witr, 29; Abd ibn Humayd, Al-Musnad, 134.

This text is the translation of “Kötülüklerden Sakındırmada Denge.”

Spirit of Renewal and Divine Help

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: What are the characteristics of people in whose hearts a love is kindled for constant renewal in religious feelings and thoughts?

Answer: It is not possible for Muslim societies to have a revival in spirit and spirituality without correcting distorted thoughts and conceptions, and without making an endeavor to make up for the many destructions of an extinguishing spiritual life, to a great extent caused by the geography where Muslims live, the shackling up the tongue and hearts by making people oblivious of religious love and ecstasy, the adoption of strict positivism by intellectuals, the replacement of sound faith and righteousness with crude bigotry, and even while praying for the Hereafter and Paradise, doing it with a consideration of continuing the accustomed happiness in the world.
Surely with God’s permission and grace it is possible to shake off the vices enshrouding our souls for the last few centuries. As Muslims, however, we first need to get rid of feelings such as worldly passions, laziness, ambition for fame, love of status, egotism, and worldliness, which are the real reasons and factors that brought our total collapse and disintegration. We then need to turn to God with hearts contented with Him and indifferent to the rest, with courage, religiousness, and deep devotion to God, and thus purify and mold our hearts with a feeling of truth. Without setting to work with this understanding and endeavoring with due diligence, it is so difficult for us, to the degree of impossibility, to put things right. Additionally, if there are—and I think there are—certain chivalrous souls, those with a will for revival and restoration, who can embrace the age while being true to the essence, then this repair and renewal will definitely be realized.

Not Even for the Blinking of an Eye
It is possible to view from this perspective the life of Imam al-Ghazali, honorably referred to as the “Proof of Islam,” as an example for our discussion. He first attained a high level in outward knowledge to such an extent that he read all the essential references that existed in his time and filled libraries, and then produced very fruitful works for the later generations. He lived in the fifth century after Hijra, which was a prolific age when Islamic renaissance was at its peak. After excelling in outward disciplines, he did not remain stuck in the narrow forms of those fields, but he turned to the horizons of spirituality and deep devotion to God, which gave a separate value and depth to his outward knowledge. According to him, the words scholars write in their books do not go beyond theory, unless they have a spiritual and metaphysical dimension. Attaining the knowledge of truth and transforming the theoretical into practical are only possible through a life experience a person has on the horizons of the heart. For this reason, those who lead a life oriented to the heart and spirit are less prone to lapses and falls in comparison to their counterparts who solely possess outward knowledge.
As far as a person who has ascended to the life level of the heart and spirit, who has stopped obeying the desires of the carnal soul, who has become annihilated in terms of his ego but has found permanence in God is concerned, it is unthinkable for the Divine Mercy to leave that person on his own in his thoughts, considerations, and feelings. God does not let such people fall into vice by leaving them alone with their carnal soul, not even for the blinking of an eye.
As it is known, the Messenger of God prayed:
يَا حَيُّ يَا قَيُّومُ بِرَحْمَتِكَ أَسْتَغِيثُ أَصْلِحْ لِي شَأْنِي كُلَّهُ وَلَا تَكِلْنِي إِلَى نَفْسِي طَرْفَةَ عَيْنٍ
“O All-Living, Self-Subsistent [Lord]! For the sake of Your Mercy I beg for help. Rectify for all my states and leave me not to myself even for the blinking of an eye!”1
He taught this prayer to his followers, showing them the target. The heroes of restoration who adopt the prayers of the Master of the Prophets as the highest target for themselves and who endeavor in the same direction always advance under radiant rays of God’s light, with His permission and grace.

God Almighty Does Not Let Any Effort Be Wasted
By basing on what we said above, it is possible to say that God Almighty inspired the due considerations for reasoning, deduction, and renewal to the hearts of those great personages, who stamped their influence on centuries. If you look at the books of Ismail Haqqi Bursawi, you will see that he uses statements such as: “It occurred to my heart in the morning”; and “It occurred to my heart thus…” It is understood from these expressions that God Almighty sheds light on the path of those great personages and clears the way for them, and thus they see and interpret everything correctly. Thereafter they do what needs to be carried out in accordance with the conditions of the time, character of the society, and the duty they are responsible for.
God Almighty states in the chapter az-Zalzalah: “…Whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it; And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it” (99: 7–8).
It will be a defective understanding to take the meaning of this verse solely as: “A person will receive his or her due in the Hereafter for what he or she does here.” In my opinion, the issue needs to be understood thus: Even if the deeds are as petty as an atom’s weight, the return of good and evil deeds will be met in this world as well to a certain extent. Given that even acts of goodness as little as an atom’s weight will be seen here as well, then it means that acts of goodness fulfilled for the sake of lofty ideals, as heavy as the earth, will primarily be seen and manifested as Divine graces.
In this respect, it is unthinkable for God Almighty to leave on his own with his carnal soul a hero of revival who has devoted himself to his people and a spiritual revival of humanity, who makes sacrifices from his personal enjoyments for this sake and does not care about his own fortune and future at all. God Almighty directs a person sometimes openly, and sometimes in a way that the person does not realize at all the Divine guidance. No matter how confusing the roads such a hero of revival takes, no matter in what deep valleys he wanders in, he will keep walking on the right path with God’s permission and grace.
Such heroes of truth, whose horizons have been broadened by God, sometimes see everything as clear as day right at the very beginning that they very comfortably say right away in the face of the problems that they encounter: “What is there, after the truth, but error?” (Yunus 10: 32) They point to the right way and voice the truth. And sometimes in response to the obscure nature of the situation they are faced with, they seek refuge in God with sincerity and vehemence, and pray, “My God, I only demand Your good pleasure; I wish You to make me take whichever course of action is in compliance with Your good pleasure!” As a result, they see the right; they voice the right, and direct people in the right way with God’s permission.

Nobody Returned Empty-handed from That Door
My God! Here I knock on Your door for help against the misfortunes and troubles I cannot resist, which are beyond my power, and I say, “There is neither strength nor power save with God!” My God! I knock on Your door again for the sake of being freed from the heavy pressures of faults and sins, and even for the sake of leading an immaculately pure life by being saved from the pollution of my conceptions and imagination, and I ask for Your support again by, “There is neither strength nor power save with God!”
My God! Do not leave me on my own in any of my words and actions oriented to making people revive in spirit. Do not ever leave me without Your rays of guidance upon me! Always guide me to the right way! Endow me with sincerity in all of my attitude and behaviors. Do not leave me without Your support and supervision, so that my words have an influence on others.
My God! I know that the representatives of misguidance will not leave me alone while striving to guide others; they will march upon me on the pretext of trivial matters. In order to stand up to every kind of trouble and misfortune that might come from them without bowing, making concessions, and staying upright only to bow before You, I seek refuge in Your support and protection; I knock on Your door once more and I say, “There is neither strength nor power save with God.”
My God! I fail to keep my heart pure and observe Your rights as I must. Here I knock on Your door so that my heart becomes so pure as You created it, and I say, and I say once more, “There is neither strength nor power save with God.”
If you reveal your fidelity and sincerity this way, God Almighty does not let Your turning to Him wholeheartedly be in vain; He will not leave you on your own with your carnal soul in your reasoning, deductions, and preferences—not even for the blinking of an eye.
If you lead your life with these considerations, keep knocking on His door night and day, and present your wishes to that door like a petition all the time, then God Almighty who hears, knows, and sees your situation will respond to you and never leave you unanswered. As it is mostly stated in saintly personages’ deep and moving supplications that touch the heart, nobody who went to His door returned empty-handed so far. Although they had been stumbling on their way with lapses and sins, so many others knocked on the same door, sought refuge in His forgiveness, and were eventually wrapped with His Mercy, bestowals, and support.
In short, given that journeyers of restoration and revival, who are spiritually poor but truly sincere, constantly implore to Him, “My God! Exquisite faith! Immaculate practice of Islam! Utter sincerity!” God Almighty will never leave them on their own, even if they have not experienced self-annihilation in God or subsistence by and with God, even those who have not reached the Absolute One by passing the subsequent levels of certainty based on knowledge, seeing, and experience.

1. Nasa’i, Al-Sunan al-Kubra, 6/147; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 13/49.

This text is the translation of “Yenilenme Ruhu ve İlâhî İnayet.”

Sacrificing Otherworldly Pleasures and Delights

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: Could you elucidate on Bediüzzaman’s statement: “For the sake of saving the people’s faith, I have sacrificed my life of this world and the Hereafter!”

Answer:
Personages who lived before this monumental figure of our time, such as noble Abu Bakr, may God be pleased with him, Mansur al-Hallaj, Imam Rabbani, and many others, made similar statements. They virtually acted like guardian angels waiting before the gate of Hell and exerting themselves to save other people from falling there. In the words of the poet Necip Fazıl, they opened their arms wide to divert masses and warned, “This is a blind alley!”

He Firstly Sacrificed His World

In this statement, Bediüzzaman first mentions that he forsook the world for the sake of saving others’ faith. Indeed, a person who looks at this great man’s life will see that his whole life affirms this statement, because the lifestyle he chose was not one to be lived and tolerated by an ordinary person. His entire life was full of exiles, prisons, pressures, and other examples of receiving mistreatment. Sometimes, they did not even suffice with a prison cell and—may that pure soul excuse me—they imprisoned him in a place like a latrine. Moreover, they opened the windows of that cell during the cold and freezing winter days, basically leaving him to die. Not even sufficing with that, they poisoned him nineteen times in prison. In addition to the physical tortures and mistreatment in prisons, after this great personage was released, he was under the surveillance of street wardens.
Had he wished, however, Bediüzzaman could have gained a status and worldly position like others and led a comfortable and luxurious life, benefiting from worldly pleasures. Since his youth, he possessed a prodigious sagacity which made him able to produce great plans and projects. He influenced masses with what he spoke and wrote. As early as the years of the constitutional monarchy, he wrote his work Sünuhat (Occurrences to the Heart) on the chaotic developments during those years. In the same way, when he wrote his work Muhakemat (The Reasonings), he even revolutionized the accustomed thoughts of scholars. By traveling through Anatolia, he convinced the tribes preparing for a rebellion not to go through with their plans, and with the public speeches he made, he moderated other rebellious groups. He had a degree of courage that enabled him to shout, “Long live Hell for all tyrants!” without making any concessions with respect to his feelings and thoughts, even after being tried in a court martial. If such a magnificent personage had the least bit of concern for the world and chose to comply with those around him, he would have lived like a king.
During the years that followed the struggle for independence, he could have also obtained a seat in the Parliament, sitting there shyly and thus favored at all times. Some fortunes and benefits could have been allocated to him from discretionary funds. Like others, he could have also enjoyed orchards, gardens, mansions, villas, and other comforts and luxuries of this world. However, he knew to push aside all of these for the sake of his cause and opted for an unbearable life for the sake of saving others’ faith.

What Is the Meaning of Sacrificing the Hereafter?
Bediüzzaman states that in order to save the people’s faith, he sacrificed his Afterlife as well. He does not consider himself even with respect to this issue. That is, he did not take a course of life where he would draw to a corner for strengthening his relations with God as a hermit, realize his personal progress, experience spiritual pleasures, work wonders, and be held in esteem. Since the issue of assuring the people’s faith had become his primary ideal, just as he did not seek to gain this world, he did not seek to gain the next world either. So, did not he have any expectations from God in the Hereafter? He did, of course. However, he expected that as an unmerited favor of God, out of His generosity, and as His special mercy.
By the way, it is also necessary to add that Bediüzzaman and the people who shared his same feelings and thoughts had become a whole with the people and a part of the general body. Each of them virtually resembled neurons that took place inside the head of that body. Therefore, as part of the body, they felt deeply everything bitter or sweet and were seriously affected by that. Such a person can say like Abu Bakr, “My God, magnify my body in such a way so that I fill Hell and others will not enter there.” Or they can say, “I do not mind even burning in Hell, given that I see my people’s faith secured.” However, it is not possible for a person without an immensity of conscience like Bediüzzaman to understand these words in their true sense. In order for a person to understand this horizon of sacrifice, it is necessary for people to sense within like a fire, not only the suffering people are presently experiencing, but also the consequent suffering they will possibly endure. This depends on having an immense conscience that embraces the entire humanity. You can also call it the universal conscience if you wish. So people with such a conscience feel sad with others’ grief and feel joy with their delights. So much so that wherever in the world misfortune befalls somebody like a piece of fire, it burns them too, because they feel the pain of that fire in their conscience.
Therefore, even though we cannot generalize it to all, it is not possible for ordinary people like us to thoroughly understand these immense considerations. Even if we can feel the suffering of our child, spouse, and friend to a certain extent, we do not possess an immense conscience to embrace the entire humanity. As we cannot share such horizons of knowledge of God and immensity of conscience, we have difficulty understanding the suffering of these great personages.
Once some people took a person I know to a sermon by Yaşar Tunagür. As usual with his sermons, the late preacher spoke with a deep enthusiasm and shed many tears. I thought that the newcomer would be moved by this, but I heard him say to my surprise, “Why does this man keep sobbing so sickeningly?” It made me feel very sad. On the one hand, there was a rude mind, devoid of ability to understand and feel. On the other hand, there was an immense conscience, an example of kindness reflected outwardly. Understanding what such immense conscience felt and sensed was only possible by sharing the same horizons with him.

God’s Rights Must Come before Everything Else
Since personages such as Sheikh al-Jilani, Imam al-Ghazali, Imam Rabbani, and Bediüzzaman were focused on a very large sphere and were interested in a very large area, they did not think about themselves. As for those who were so fortunate to meet such monumental personages, they must also seek to share the same horizons of altruism. The devoted souls must never run after mundane pursuits such as going to a cool mountainside during summer days or moving to the seaside to enjoy themselves in mansions when the winter comes. They must know how to push aside such thoughts that may possibly occur to them. They must also sacrifice exceptional spiritual blessings such as working wonders, reading people’s thoughts, having spiritual experiences, and taking wing alongside with spirit beings, instead devoting themselves solely to saving people’s faith. In the face of such inspirational blessings that come along in spite of not having demanded them, a person must feel concerned and say, “I wonder whether God is trying me with this?” At the same time, they must have such a righteous attitude to say, “My God, if these are not part of a stratagem that will lead me to perdition, then I offer my praises to you, but they are not what I seek.” Such a careful approach denotes at the same time giving priority to God’s rights over everything.
It can be useful to draw attention to a point that can be misunderstood here: sacrificing one’s Hereafter or feelings of spiritual delight does not mean forsaking devotions and remembrance or neglecting them. On the contrary, together with observing these in the highest possible level, it means that the goal is not to work wonders or attain spiritual pleasures, but rather to fulfill one’s duty of servanthood and try to help others feel and taste what one personally experienced. It is not possible for a person who does not protect one’s own faith with devotions and remembrance to save others’ faith anyway.
Let me make a final point: constantly living selflessly with a feeling of making others live, always speaking God’s Name, and spending one’s day and night with concern for saving humanity is a Prophetic attribute. When people are divided into certain categories in the next world, those who keep striving for the sake of religion, faith, God, the Qur’an, and humanity will—God willing—be resurrected together with the Prophets. For this reason, it is necessary to target high horizons and always run after the ideal of making others live by leaving aside the feeling of living for oneself.

This text is the translation of “Ahirete Ait Zevk ve Lezzetleri de Feda Etme Ufku.”

Genius Minds and Flourishing of Talents

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: You refer to “genius minds” in various articles and talks. What do you mean by genius minds? What are the points of consideration in order to let those people’s talents flourish?

Answer:
When we say “genius minds,” we refer to those who try to understand the era they live in, the society, humans, the universe, phenomena… in short everything, who strive to put into practice the theoretical information they have learned, and who constantly think, inquire, and investigate in this respect. As these people are fixed on searching for truth, love of knowledge, and passion for investigation, they can solve the problems they pursue by God’s grace, can make very surprising achievements, can clear up muddled thinking, and thus become a means of illumining the society they live in.

Talents Are Causes of Trial

It is necessary to note that the people who attained such a level are in a position to face certain potential dangers. For example, they may take pride in their talents, see themselves as distinguished, and thus be deceived by the misjudgment that they can overcome any problem with their own intellect and abilities. In such psychology, they can even view themselves to be the one who lays down the law. Or since they wish to emphasize their superiority, they might take an indifferent and rigid attitude towards others’ thoughts and opinions. In other words, their high achievements in certain cases might cause them to look down on the people around them and take their opinions lightly. By even developing a certain code of rebellion of their own, they might begin to refuse even very plausible thoughts developed as a result of serious pondering and forget the fact that doing things for the sake of God is exalted above all.
Actually, what lies at the root of such wrongs is a lack of learning manners. In the past, people who were responsible for education were very good teachers of manners as well. That is, true educators were exemplary persons to the people around them in every way—the way they sat, got up, stood, together with their beliefs, thoughts, and worldviews; they were teaching manners in a silent language. However, considering the education system in our time, it is very difficult to say that the teaching of knowledge and manners are in line. Even if we consider the fact that informative teaching has made great progress, it will not suffice to fill the gap we have mentioned. Education means elevating someone potentially human to the level of true humanity. As for ideal educators, they have to possess the ability to produce a monument of a human, like an able sculptor. If genius minds are not cultivated in the hands of good educators and not brought up under their influence, then it is very difficult for them to rid themselves of the diseased thought of “I know everything the best” and gain an understanding to let them benefit from other people.

Those Who Are Crushed under the Weight of Their Ego
In relevance to our subject, I previously related a certain attitude by one of the heroes of the first rank who served Bediüzzaman for a lifetime. While discussing an issue, one of the people near this heroic personage revealed an idea contrary to his thought. Still, that great personage responded with a smile and said, “It must be so my brother. It may be you who is telling the truth.” He did so because he felt that the person before him was not at a level and was not ready to accept the truth and comprehend what he had to say. However, when the person who objects there witnesses the faltering of his own considerations at times, he comes near that great guide and this time says, “Sir, I was mistaken at that thought of mine. What you said was right.” Without changing his manners, the sagacious one says again, “It must be so my brother.”
I can also say that I have had similar experiences, maybe a thousand times, and ignored these every time. I did so because such people might think they know every matter well and object to everything other people say. In this case, in order not to worsen the problem you leave the issue to the passing of time. Otherwise those people can drift to very different and dangerous points. There are so many grim examples of this throughout history. For example, together with having certain talents, Hitler had a disease as always seeing himself as superior and listened to no sound advice, and consequently condemned an entire nation to great loss for the sake of an adventure—so much so that people in his own society still curse him.

Gaining Genius Minds for the Society Requires Special Care

The only solution for protecting individuals from such a mistaken code of rebellion is to maintain their harmony with the collective by training and rehabilitating them. Through different ways and methods, it is absolutely necessary to tell them about the significance of concord and unity. It is necessary to point out that possible extra Divine favors and support depend on this factor, and that no matter how well-placed somebody’s personal opinion is, being able to relinquish it for the sake of not upsetting the general harmony is a virtue.
On the other hand, with respect to personal matters that do not concern the rights of the entire collective, it can also be a useful method to leave such people alone with their own mistaken ways for the purpose of letting them learn a lesson. Let him go as far as he can, let them hit the wall, and then come back and say, “What you said was right.” Because, letting people see their mistakes with their own preferences and freewill is very important at educating a person.
On seeing talented people wasting their lives for the sake of their ego and running after their fancies and desires, one cannot help but sigh, “If only…”
I wish the brave and competitive people with high capacity, who can ably reason in different matters and who are gifted to solve problems, would use their minds for the sake of sharing the message of Islam and our spiritual culture, instead of using their potential for proving themselves superior or for objecting to this and that. Indeed, the genius minds who can use the talents that God Almighty has bestowed upon them in harmony with the collective, for the sake of a lofty ideal, can be blessed with realizing a lot of works and activities of goodness.
At this point, a very serious responsibility falls to the people in a position to lead and manage them. Those in administrative positions must make serious efforts to gain them, have them work in harmony with their society, and thus benefit from their abilities. If those gifted people will offer a service equivalent to ten other people, those leading them must devote the time and effort that they would normally spare for ten people if necessary. As it is known, the noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, made serious efforts for the sake of encouraging exceptionally talented ones such as Khalid ibn al-Walid, Amr ibn al-As, and Mughira ibn Shuba to embrace Islam. The Messenger of God cultivated such talented ones that had remained in the society of the time of ignorance with special care, put them into shape, and then let them serve religion. Naturally, each one of these Companions eventually fulfilled great services for Islam.
When you look at the Ottoman history, you also see that as soon as the sultans detected a gifted person to the degree of a genius, they made serious efforts to gain that person. The administrators of that time discovered those talents with their perspicacity and senses, even if they were from different religions and cultures, and sought ways for gaining them. This way, people like Zaghanos Pasha, Evrenos Pasha, Ghazi Mihal, Sinan the Architect, Sokollu Mehmed Pasha—may God be pleased with them all—accepted Islam, came under the command of the Ottoman state, serving humanity for the rest of their lives. They became a commander, grand vizier, or an architect, and they eventually carried out great services for the people.
By avoiding imbalanced and excessive ways, sometimes by gaining their hearts, sometimes by applauding them, and sometimes by rewarding them, it is necessary to seek ways for gaining genius minds. Actually, behaving this way is Divine conduct, because we understand from His Glorified acts that He does not leave any success unrewarded. In this respect, what needs to be done is to reward and appreciate genius minds for the sake of letting different talents and potentials flourish, while evoking the feeling and thought of working for the good of humanity in their soul.

This text is the translation of “Cins Dimağlar ve Kabiliyetlerin İnkişafı.”

Task Management and Family Life

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: In addition to his duty as a Prophet and state leader, God’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, was a father, spouse, and the closest friend of his Companions. He divided his time so justly between them that he did not violate the rights of anyone. Accordingly, as far as the volunteers devoted to high ideals are concerned, how should they manage their time so that they strike a balance at observing everybody’s rights over them?

Answer:
Time management means taking into consideration everything that needs to be carried out, determining their order of importance, and planning life accordingly. It needs to be done in such a way that our acts of worship, such as the prayers, remembrance, and supplications, must also be included in it, as well as our responsibilities toward the people we are primarily responsible for such as one’s family and children.
For example, a believer cannot, and must not, abandon nightly devotions on the grounds of serving faith during the day. Be it only two units of prayer, a person with a believing heart must do some worship at night. A person who gets up in the night and spends some ten to fifteen minutes for the Tahajjud (Late Night) Prayer or supplicating to God does not lose anything in terms of serving faith, but on the contrary gains much, because a person who makes use of the night in this sense is counted as have set foot on the path to revival. Nocturnal devotions are among the deeds to be applauded by the High Assembly (al-mala al-a’la) in the Heavens. Supplicating to God by prostrating oneself in the profound silence of the night, meeting the prayer rug, humbling oneself before the Almighty, and shedding a few drops of tears is incomparably more virtuous than at other times. In this respect, nightly devotions must never be neglected when planning one’s time.

Give Every Rightful One Their Due!

As individuals must never neglect the devotions which nourish them with respect to the heart and spirit, by considering all the rights to be observed in their social lives, they must put these in an order of importance and try to give each its due. As it is known, in address to the Companions who neglected their families by devoting themselves to worship, the Messenger of God, blessings and peace be upon him, stated: “Your soul has rights over you, your family has rights over you, God has rights over you… so give those with rights their due.”1 As is understood from this hadith, even a person’s devotions must not give way to neglecting the rightful ones such as one’s spouse, children, and the person himself.
Indeed, as the five prayers’ specific assignment to five different time segments of the day gives important lessons to believers for time management, the verses relating the wisdoms of the creation of night and days also gives them certain clues in this issue. For example, it is stated in chapter al-Qasas: “It is out of His Mercy that He has made for you the night and the day so that you may rest (during the night) and seek after His bounty (during the day), and that you may give thanks (to Him for both)” (al-Qasas 28:73).
With this and other similar verses, the Qur’an guides us in terms of time management and gives us the following message: if you put your life in order and do what needs to be done in the proper time of the day by making good use of the night with a separate depth and the day with a separate horizon, then you will be saved from living haphazardly, not be hindered by obstacles that stem from lacking a plan and program, and thus you will lead a much more fruitful life.

Planning of the Twenty-Four Hours
In order to be disciplined and efficient with time, it is possible to write down a 24-hour plan. If this can be done, from gathering together with friends for a talk of the Beloved to individual reading from tidying our room to spending time in remembrance and recitations from consulting with our spouse and children about certain issues to having a rest, which task to carry out what time of the day will have been clearly determined. Even the timespan to be spared for drinking tea or eating a meal can be considered within this planning. For example, if twenty minutes are sufficient for eating, one must suffice with that and not waste time with empty talk. It is even necessary to place precautionary time segments within this 24-hour planning so that extra factors to keep us busy do not upset our program.
From the essential to the trivial, if all things to be done can be planned with such elaboration, then our time will become more fruitful and the results obtained will rise from one to ten. When life gains such an orderly fashion, then in the long run the person will become fully disciplined, be accustomed to act within a certain program, and with the motivation obtained, the person will do what needs to be done without difficulty. Let it not be misunderstood—such a course of action does not mean resembling a machine. On the contrary, it means being a disciplined person and leading life in an orderly fashion. One with such discipline neither misses personal devotions, nor makes concessions with remembrance and recitations, nor neglects personal duties, nor violates the rights of family members.

Convincing the People We Walk Together
Another point of consideration with respect to time management is that a person must first reveal the plan to those in that person’s life who have rights over him or her, learn their thoughts and considerations, and then convince them in mind and heart about the significance of the duties he or she must carry out. That is, along with the rights of one’s spouse, children, and parents, it is necessary to explain as much as possible that God, religion, and the Qur’an also have rights over a person. If a person can maintain a consensus at this issue with the people who share the same home, then it becomes possible to carry out what needs to be done more comfortably and easily without being hindered by negative words and attitudes by the family environment.
Imagine a man who has convinced his carnal soul that he should devote a considerable part of his time to the path of glorifying the name of God and has heartfelt belief in this respect. Let this be a man who has internalized this issue in a way to fulfill this duty without avoiding any sacrifice. However, if the people with whom he shares a life are not aware of the greatness of the rights of God, the importance of making His Name resound in all corners of the world, the fact that this religion is a heritage entrusted to us and requires constant vigilance, and that it is a duty of crucial importance to restore a stronghold that has been damaged for centuries, from its essentials to details, then they will not wish to walk alongside him. The man, therefore, needs to make extra efforts to walk together with them. Otherwise, this will cause a weariness in the journey of that person.
However, if the person can make the latter believe in the ideal he possesses, share the same feelings and thoughts, and evoke the feeling of upholding the services he carries out, then he will have seriously facilitated his task at time management. When he does not fulfill the duties he should have fulfilled, if for example he does not attend a certain meeting or reading program that he was supposed to join, he will receive the first reaction from the people he shares his life with, which will be a strong recommendation for him.
Otherwise, if your spouse, children, or other people in the same household are unaware of the task management you have made in your mind and of the significance of practicing it, after some time it will be inevitable to have some conflicts in feelings and thoughts, and this will cause Divine support behind you to cease because the glorified guidance and assistance of God comes upon concord and unity. If you wish to become eligible for God’s making you succeed, you first must maintain concord and unity, no matter in what sphere.

Devoting Extra Time to Hizmet
Another point of consideration here is the duration of the time that we are to allocate for the sake of a lofty ideal. If a person solely spares some seven or eight hours for work using the logic of an ordinary employee, what he will do for the sake of the ideal will be restricted to the narrowness of that logic. If a person undertakes three or four responsibilities for the sake of a lofty ideal, and if doing them requires a time span of around 13-15 hours, then the person must try to fulfill that with an effective task management. That is to say, on the one hand he must devote as much time as possible on the path of serving God without wasting a second, but on the other hand he must strive to make use of that time in the most efficient way by putting what needs to be done in a certain order.
Particularly in our time, as there is a matter of restoring a spiritual stronghold which has been damaged for centuries, the people devoted to serving the Qur’an and faith have to show further sacrifice than the sacrifice shown so far and act more vigilantly in this issue. They can make a resolution for working in order to maintain that. For example, one person says that he can spare 12 hours a day for the sake of serving the people, another one takes a 13-hour responsibility per day, and another promises to work 14 hours in the path of God each day. In short, whoever voluntarily resolves to offer however much time it takes to complete a task, he or she regulates that time in a Hizmet-oriented way and tries to fulfill it. This is the understanding of the work that falls to a real believer. If the concept of working is not understood in this way, it means that this aspect of practicing Islam is not understood properly.
In spite of being able to do so, if some people are not devoting time to serving faith as expected from them, then it is necessary to convince them of this issue. It is very important to come to a consensus with the people before us at this issue. However, nobody should make any violations of rights after such a consensus. Everyone must be so scrupulous at fulfilling the responsibility that falls to him or her that neither the spouses should violate one another’s rights, nor those of their children, neither a case of injustice must occur between workers and their superiors, nor should the responsibilities in the workplace be violated.
Otherwise, while talking about working hours, if we are referring to acting with a simple worker’s logic, enjoying oneself after seven to eight hours of work, eating and wandering as one fancies, sitting idly in places to waste time, engaging in gambling and games, and taking part in some carnal and devilish activities, we are misunderstanding the issue. A person acting with such a mentality will not even be able to do one tenth of what he is supposed to do for the sake of humanity; a person with such a faulty understanding of work will not hesitate to go for a holiday at a time when he is needed; he will take leave at a point when important issues need to be fulfilled, thus upsetting the crucial responsibilities waiting to be fulfilled.
This is not the understanding of work expected from the volunteers of Hizmet. They try to fulfill the responsibility they shoulder at serving faith, and they never leave halfway a task they have started. When they fail to observe the rights of their spouses, children, and families, they strive to make up for it, trying to gain the hearts of the people whom they think they let down. For example, sometimes they appear before them with a bunch of roses, state their excuse for being late, and in the first opportunity they fulfill the promise they had given to them, making up for that unintentional mistake or neglect.
Incidentally, spouses must behave tolerantly toward one another at delays caused by some task that needs to be fulfilled. It should never be forgotten that during such a wait, the hours, minutes, and even seconds are counted as worship with respect to those who wait; indeed, such a waiting is a serious kind of sacrifice. Each one of the spouses that shares a home needs one another. There are certain issues and troubles a person needs to share and speak about with a spouse. In spite of needing to have one’s spouse at home, the seconds of a believer who waits for a marriage partner for the sake of serving faith can become as precious as years of worship unawares because the intention of a believer is better than his or her deed. While one of the spouses is busy with some benevolent act and the other one is giving material and spiritual support to the other spouse, then by God’s permission, they both have a share of the reward to be given for that righteous deed.

This text is the translation of “Mesai Tanzimi ve Aile Hayatımız.”

1. Sahih al-Bukhari, Adab, 86.

Believers’ Stance at Struggling against Evils

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: What is the right way for believers to struggle in order to prevent wrongdoings and injustice?
Answer: Islam came with a message of balance and justice to establish universal harmony against all kinds of extremism. With respect to struggling against evils, it neither counsels a passive and submissive attitude to tolerate wrongdoing and bow before it, nor does it allow violence and extremism with claims of struggling against oppressors, which results in a different form of wrongdoing and injustice. When the time comes, a believer stands upright in the face of oppression as an unshakable fortress and an unyielding wrist, without any fear or stepping back for the sake of establishing justice and does one’s best. But in the general sense, he or she is a person of extraordinary modesty and humility. Treating everybody with affection, compassion, and leniency is a believer’s general attitude. For example, when believers face enemies that attack their chastity, families, honor, land, country, independence, and state, then what falls to them is to give their task its due by fighting heart and soul with utter resolution. However, when a demand for making peace comes, they choose peace, revealing their lenient character. They try to practice and let practice the beauties of Islam in the atmosphere of peace because God commands us to do so: “And if they (the enemies) incline to peace, incline to it also, and put your trust in God” (al-Anfal 8:61). In another verse, this quality of believers is related from a different aspect: “O you who believe! Whoever of you turns away from his Religion, (know that) in time, God will raise up a people whom He loves, and who love Him, most humble towards the believers, dignified in the face of the unbelievers” (al-Maedah 5:54). That is to say, they lower their wings of modesty to the ground before believers, treating their brothers and sisters humbly and leniently, even to the degree of humiliation. However, they have a dignified stance against those who rebel against God. They never bow before such people. The poet Mehmed Akif expresses it well, “Who told you I were a docile sheep? I am only a lenient one; my neck can be cut off perhaps, but it is not likely to bow down!” So this is a prototypical person with respect to a dignified stance, but to reiterate, it is necessary to determine the proper place to present this attitude.

Did You Cleave His Heart Open?
Heroism is a good virtue. Everybody admires the heroism of the great commander Khalid ibn al-Walid. The heroism he displayed on the third day of his accepting Islam astonished everyone. However, at his early days as a Muslim, he killed some of the people who said by mistake, “We have become Sabaeans,” instead of “Muslims,” and took some of them as captives. When God’s Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, was informed of the situation, he raised his blessed hands in supplication and said, “My God, I seek refuge in you against what Khalid did,”1 feeling very sad about this incident. In a similar case, the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, made a very serious warning to Usama ibn Zayd, who had killed an enemy in spite of his saying the proclamation of faith; the noble Prophet said, “Did you split open his heart?”2 So from these words of God’s Messenger we understand the fact that even during an ongoing battle, Muslims must absolutely act with the principle of justice.

Reason and Diplomacy instead of Brute Force
Believers must take into consideration that issues cannot always be settled with weapons, even when struggling against an enemy. In some cases, the more you resort to brutal force, the more you provoke grudge and hatred, putting your enemies in a position of sufferers and helping them to gain many supporters. In consequence, the present problem grows greater and becomes impossible to address. However, when the issue is approached with diplomacy instead of brutal force, it is always possible to obtain much better results.
I personally love Sultan Selim I very much. He has a priority over the rest of the Ottoman sultans in my opinion, with the exception of one or two. But I cannot help but question some of his military strategies with my simple mind. As he was a robust person himself, he really had powerful soldiers under his command. He had an army of men who would obey his orders unhesitatingly, even if he gave the order to march toward death. Before him was a state formed with Persian ambitions, which had become a source of troubles for the Islamic world. So he marched upon them wanting to maintain unity in the Islamic world and world order and was victorious. But I wonder, instead of resorting to brutal force, if he had used every possible way of reason, sensibility, and diplomacy, could it have been possible to prevent some components of sedition whose roots have extended until our time? These statements reflect my hesitations in this issue. If I am mistaken in this opinion, then I apologize to that great soul. If I am committing a sin by saying this, I ask, “May God forgive me.” However, I see it necessary on my part to emphasize the significance of sensibility, judgment, and diplomacy.
For many years they have not been able to solve the issue of terrorism in Turkey. The problem exists in spite of the violent and brutal efforts to address it. I wonder if there could be another way of bringing this issue to an end? If we could gain the hearts of those people by means of teachers, policemen, chaplains, doctors, and local governors, if we could find a way to their inner world, if we could show them the roads leading to high schools and universities, instead of the pathways on mountains, and if we could give them opportunities in a way to make them not give into the money some circles pour before them at every opportunity, could we not solve the problem? This means using the language of diplomacy. Most of the time brutal force is a hindrance to proper functioning of reason and logic. The consideration of “I can bring them in line by using force anyway” often becomes a barrier to following an alternative policy and strategy.

Abasement in Expectation of Benefit Is Not Modesty
If sensibility, judgment, diplomacy, lenient discourse, and lenient manners constitute one side of the issue, never bowing before power and brutal force and always presenting an upright stance constitute the other side of it. In this respect, adopting an abased attitude towards those who commit oppression and injustice with a concern for obtaining benefit from them should not be confused with humbleness and modesty. It is a completely different situation. Unfortunately, gentle words, manners, and attitude, which are very important dynamics at calling others to Truth, are in some cases used as a mask with the aim of looking nice to representatives of brutal power. What some weak characters understand from presenting gentle words and attitudes is to raise their own esteem and credit, to be favored, or to obtain a good position they aspire for. Surely, we cannot accuse anyone of pretense or hypocrisy by negative thinking. Even if some sagacious persons sense the true intention behind those weak characters’ attitude and behaviors, they do not reveal it as if it were objective judgment. Otherwise, they commit a sin for which God will bring the person to account. However, everybody must weigh in their consciences the behaviors they present and evaluate themselves accordingly.
It is a doubtless fact that all efforts made for the sake of consensus, reconciliation, and sharing will be recorded as good deeds for a person. However, if people lower themselves for the sake of some worldly benefits, this is nothing but abasement.

Compliance for the Good of the Society
The way and manner we call compliance and peaceful management should not be confused with abasement. These are attitudes adopted in order to generate peace rather than starting a fight with the enemy. Hafiz al-Shirazi says in his Diwan that two phrases summarize the way to maintain law and order in both worlds. One of them is treating friends with magnanimous kindness, and the other is apt management with enemies. According to this perspective, being dignified against enemies does not mean engaging them in combat at every opportunity. Particularly, plunging into such a venture when no balance of power exists between the two sides means that the weak side exposes itself to peril with its own hands. For this reason, moderate conduct and managing the enemies ingeniously do not only serve to maintain peace, but also are a wiser course of action to protect the rights of an entire society where no balance of power exists. Nothing beneficial comes from provoking envy, grudge, and animosity, which can bring numerous kinds of harm. If we view the issue with the approach of Bediüzzaman, wise people, who have ninety-nine enemies, do not wish to make it a hundred. Indeed, they seek ways of reducing the number of their enemies. All of these can be considered within the meaning of managing a situation.

1. Sahih al-Bukhari, Maghazi, 58.
2. Sahih al-Bukhari, Maghazi, 45.

This text is the translation of “Kötülüklerle Mücadelede Mü’mince Tavır.”

Dizziness of Victory: The Testing That Ensues Success

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: What is the ideal attitude for a believer in the face of a good result or an accomplishment?
Answer: A real believer knows that all goodness, beauty, and success come from God, whereas all evils and failures stem from the carnal soul, as the Qur’an very explicitly states: “(O human being!) Whatever good happens to you, it is from God; and whatever evil befalls you, it is from yourself” (an-Nisa 4:79). So a believer should never lay any claims on any good results obtained and services carried out, even though they served as a means. Actually, every time we observe the prayers, we pronounce by glorifying God that He does not have any partners, alternatives, opposites, or comparable ones at His administrations, acts, and Lordship. As we say this truth with our tongue, if we can feel it inside with its complete profundity and manage to make it prevail in our thoughts, then by God’s grace, we do not commit a great sin as laying personal claim on good results, achievements, and the services.

How Happy Are Those Who Know Their Limits
A person with sincere belief is supposed to know one’s place, no matter how great the accomplishments he or she has made. Bediüzzaman draws attention to this truth by mentioning the fact, “Happy is the person who knows their limits and does not exceed them.”1 A person knowing his limits and not transgressing depends upon his awareness of being a creature made of flesh and bones, impotent, and poor in essence. Moreover, by deepening his considerations further, the person must acknowledge that as he appeared in a morally corrupt society, he is mostly smeared with unavoidable impurities, and sometimes even gets immersed in sins up to his throat and say, “Actually, I would make nothing good. Then God treats me with His immense mercy, from which stem the graces and bestowals I am blessed with.” If a person thinks this way and becomes oriented toward God with a sincere belief of Divine Oneness, then he will be free from such high claims. By acknowledgment of the fact that God Almighty is the real source of all beauties, He continues to send His blessings to them.
It is very important to keep one’s sins in mind in terms of understanding that it is not possible to trust the carnal soul. As long as a person is aware of his sins, he will stop making claims. Let alone making claims, such a person always sees himself as a sinful person, and in the face of activities that seem to yield success, he knows that God Almighty may sometimes make things happen through hands of sinful ones as well and says, “Normally, I would not make anything useful, but God is making manifestations of existence on non-existence.” Thus, the person constantly brings himself to account through different means.
A person, however, should not think that it is necessary to commit sins in order to avoid making claims, because even the wrongs we commit unawares, such as giving an ear to sinful words or taking a step toward a wrong, are enough capital to make us understand that it is not possible to trust our carnal soul. What really matters is being aware of these facts. Even if a person may turn to God repentantly a thousand times after a wrong, if he can keep that wrong vivid in his mind then he will not see himself as the real source of the good results God Almighty granted in return for his efforts. Rather, he will feel deep in his heart that they are actually graces of God.
The point of consideration in such a commendable self-criticism is thus: sometimes Satan makes use of a person’s sins as a pretext and says, “You cannot turn to God with this sinful state of yours,” trying to deceive him. In such situations, as a person should employ the means of purification on one hand, while thinking about God’s mercy on the other and say, “Though I have committed much transgression, You are my heart’s admiration.” The sins a person has committed must not be an obstacle to feeling admiration for God Almighty’s glorified acts, favors, graces, and bestowals, and to turning to Him wholeheartedly. Even if the sins a person has committed make him see himself as very distant from God Almighty, the person must still seek closeness to God in feelings and thoughts. Let alone being spattered with sins up to the knees, even if a person immerses in sins up to his throat, he must still turn wholeheartedly to God, the sole sovereign of the sphere of Divinity and Lordship, and to His Messenger, love them intensely, and never leave that door. This can in a way be counted as a conflict. However, a believer has to lead his life in harmony of these contrasts and conflicts.

The Sheikh Does Not Fly, but His Disciple Pushes Him down the Cliff
Returning to our main subject, one of the most critical dangers a person may experience in the face of success is his imagining himself to be deserving of the esteem and compliments he receives as a result of that success. God may grant someone bestowals far beyond one’s deserts as a means of testing. A person must not fail to give thanks to God in the face of fulfillments, but must also not lay claims to these successes. A person who is aware of being sinful will not attribute to himself what actually comes as graces from God. Such a person looks at the rose garden that appears and looks at himself; he becomes aware of his meanness, and only voices his surprise and wonder on witnessing roses shooting up in his barren field. Truly, God Almighty sometimes sends His extra graces even to the efforts of a person with much failure. Some others who see it might gather around that person and express their appreciation. One of them might even say that he is a saintly one. Another may even see it as insufficient and say, “He seems to be a Ghawth (Spiritual Helper) with the wonders he has worked.” And another can still go further to claim that he combines more of such qualities. In the face of this much compliment and esteem, that person may let his heart fall for the high spiritual levels imagined for him as a result of positive thinking and ask, “Am I a saintly person, indeed?” Sometimes such a person may find some seemingly reasonable bases for his situation. For example, he might say, “God’s greatest favor to a person is not making that person feel the favor. I have been unaware of my condition as a blessed person so far. So many people gathering around me cannot be lying!” As the phrase goes, “A sheikh does not fly, but his disciple makes him fly.”2 In the same way, even if that person does not fly, the people around him begin to make him fly. Actually, this is not a flying in the real sense, but—may God protect us—in the sense of sending that person flying off the cliff. There comes a time when the one who receives excessive esteem by others singing his praises does not suffice with seeing himself as a great saint, but begins to seek higher titles, Mahdi the Savior or the Messiah. And if those around him make some implications about his really being so, then that poor one falls for the imagined titles that result from exaggerated good opinions about him and begins to thoroughly believe fantasies. Sometimes, while revealing this thought with pretended modesty, he recites some verses about the subject and takes a share from them for himself. In spite of not even being able to walk straight with his rebellion and sins, he sees himself flying in the sky. Such a person takes a very dangerous path towards falling off the cliff. With the consideration of Bediüzzaman, however, instead of imagining very great titles for a certain person whom we love, it is necessary to be greatly faithful to the cause. One must love his fellow brothers or sisters to the degree of not exchanging them for the entire world, but must also avoid exaggerated praises that will break their necks.

Like Raw Leather in the Hands of a Craftsman
When we look at Muslim history, we see that from sultans to poets to saintly figures, so many great people vilified themselves relentlessly. In spite of the fact that every one of them was a figure of exalted standing, they never assigned any true worth to themselves. Actually, it is not possible for selfish people who make arrogant claims to become something anyway. They cannot rid themselves from their fantasies at all, as they are in continual need of expressing themselves. And in order to realize this, they produce fantasies and resort to other ways such as trying to impress others by affectation. For example, one such man begins to talk on Imam Bukhari, but sees that his words do not receive much attention, as they convey common knowledge for those familiar with the discipline of hadith. Upon this failure to receive attention, he feels a need for saying something more original. He then reveals a different consideration about the existence of the Hereafter and tries to raise attention by using statements like a classic monist. Actually, what he tells is no different than what Sheikh Badraddin Simawi tells in his Waridat (Divine Gifts). When you study the thoughts of Aristotle about the other realm and the spirit, you may come across similar misapprehensions. When that man understands that the considerations he suggested as original had already been voiced by many people before, he begins to think about what he can say the next time and begins to talk about reincarnation for the sake of a different fantasy. Unfortunately, as that person does not seek to find truths and convey them to others, the shows of originality he performs in order to satisfy his carnal soul always end in disappointment. People like that fail to recognize that God Almighty created us as His servants and there is no greater title for a person than servanthood. Why should that not suffice us? The duty that falls to us is to turn to Him wholeheartedly and respond to His Lordship and Divinity with serious servanthood. It should also be noted that with the approach of Bediüzzaman, worship is a form of gratitude for the blessings already granted; it is not an offering for the sake of blessings to be given in return: “O soul! Worship of God is not an act through which to demand a Divine reward in the future, but rather the necessary result of a past Divine favor. We have received our wages and, in return, are charged with serving and worshipping Him.”3
For this reason it is not right to be a servant of God with the intention of solely attaining certain blessings. As God may bestow unmerited favors if He wills, He may also bestow favors and blessings out of His immense mercy, in return for servanthood offered, but this should not be expected. What falls to us as servants, who already have received their reward from the very beginning, is constantly to have feelings of praise and gratitude for God.
A person who does not become a servant to God will become a servant to his carnal soul. A person who becomes a servant to his carnal soul lives solely for himself and sees himself as the center of the world. Such a person is called an egocentric one, and a person who is continually busy with himself and feels admiration for his own horizons, thoughts, considerations, and even for his own stature, manners, and appearance is called a narcissist. Such people only like what they personally do and the achievements they have made and boast about them, and it is impossible for them to like others. Such people’s satisfaction with praises and compliments is something unheard of. They continually ask for more. Naturally, such egotistical and narcissistic persons have no deeds to benefit humanity.
It is only modest people that God Almighty lets serve as a means for realizing good works. As a poet puts it, “A plant cannot receive blessings without falling down into the soil; it is the mercy of God that makes modest ones grow.” That is to say, God Almighty makes modest ones become persons of great standing with His extra graces. Abdulqadr al-Jilani, Muhammad Bahauddin an-Naqshband, Abu’l-Hasan ash-Shadhili, and Bediüzzaman Said Nursi are examples of this. Although some of these great men lived centuries ago, we still recite their habitual prayers and benefit from their works. Every one of them has become unforgettable figures, because they were heroes of humility, modesty, humbleness, and nullifying themselves. By considering themselves as non-existent, they directed all of their efforts to substantiating God’s truth. They brought His existence to attention and humbly nullified themselves. In other words, as they were dedicated to seeing themselves as shadows in the Light of the Divine Existence, God Almighty gave them such an eternal existence that they still continue to live inside us—so much so that I feel as if I will come across a person as Abu’l-Hasan ash-Shadhili or Abdulqadr al-Jilani when I enter the room. This is how vividly they live in my heart. They strived to establish God’s truth, and God established them in such a way that in spite of the passing centuries, each of them is still serving as a guide to show us the way. Even after some seven or eight centuries, we seek solutions for today’s problems by referring to their recitations. Is there a better form of establishing than that?
In conclusion, arrogance is unfortunately one of the most widespread diseases of our time. If it appears as a consequence of victory and success; it is so dangerous that it can drift a person to perdition. What falls to us then in the face of success and good results is to acknowledge them as coming from God, and constantly bowing humbly before Him with feelings of praise and exaltation.

1. Nursi, Said, The Gleams, New Jersey: Tughra, 2008, p. 182; Al-Bukhari, At-Tarikhu’l-Kabir, 3/338; At-Tabarani, Al-Mu’jamu’l-Kabir, 5/71.
2. A humorous phrase expressing that the followers of a Sufi order tend to have an exaggerated view of their sheikh as a great saint.
3. See Nursi, Said, The Words, New Jersey: The Light, 2005, p. 380.

This text is the translation of “Başarıyla Gelen İmtihan: Zafer Sarhoşluğu.”

The Reasonable and Objective Way to Speak about Our Services

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: You mention that it is necessary to speak about the services we carry out in a reasonable and objective manner that is free of emotionalism. Would you elucidate on this issue?
Answer: It firstly needs to be pointed out that an individual must be open to criticisms and avoid being assertive while telling about the services being carried out, for human nature is prone to faults. There can be certain wrongs even at the works they think to be most correct. For example, one must never be oblivious to the fact that there can be a lot of faults even at a prayer offered in compliance with the judgments and conditions explained in reference books. In the same way, fasting, alms of zakah, and Hajj have so many specific essentials that it is very difficult for a believer to thoroughly observe them in entirety. Particularly, if inward aspects of the matter such as internalizing the deeds carried out, observing them with sincerity, and purifying them from feelings of showing off to others are taken into consideration, the difficulty of the matter is better understood.
Human Nature Is Prone to Faults and Mistakes
Given that there are so many faults within the range of possibility, even with respect to acts of worship that you have been carrying out all along, it is inevitable that certain mistakes will be made on the path of serving humanity, which has very different dimensions and depths. In fact, we have the time-transcendent disciplines taught by the Qur’an and authenticated Tradition of the Prophet in hand, which also apply to the services to be carried out for the sake of pleasing God. Besides their unchanging principles, these disciplines have different aspects concerning different times and places. Also, the initiatives should be faithful to the essential principles, as well as transferred to real life in conformity with the time, place, and conjuncture. As there is always a possibility of making mistakes at such a difficult and complicated task, acknowledging this from the very beginning is a matter of righteousness.
The other possibility is a person sees all of his deeds as correct, becomes disturbed by criticism, lives with expectations of constant appreciation, and begins to even like being praised for things that he did not even do. These are among the general traits of hypocrites. For example, God Almighty makes the following statement in chapter Al Imran concerning the Hypocrites: “…and who love to be (famed and) praised for what they have not achieved” (Al Imran 3:188).
In this respect, one must never forget that human nature is prone to faults and mistakes, realize one’s shortcomings from the very beginning, and not be disturbed when these are voiced. Indeed, a person should be happy when his shortcomings are revealed to him and ways to be saved from them are shown.
Having pointed out the necessity of being open to criticism and not being disturbed by criticism, we can list the following criteria in terms of adopting a reasonable and objective manner of speaking about the services carried out.
Endeavor to Act in Compliance with the Essential Disciplines
The public should be informed that there is an endeavor for keeping the services carried out in compliance with the disciplines taught by religion and universal human values, because matters that do not reconcile with the essentials of the Qur’an and Sunnah become dependent on free-floating thoughts and cannot be lasting. People who do not act upon substantial rules are doomed to zigzag all the time. As their present behaviors are different than the past, it is inevitable for their future behaviors to contradict with the present ones. Thus, it is necessary for a person’s thoughts, emotions, and even all brain neurons to be in compliance with the essential teachings of religion and universal values so that the person will be consistent in attitude and behaviors.
As followers of a universal religion, the essential teachings we follow are open to embrace everyone. What really matters is to represent our teachings truthfully. After this is achieved, we should then indicate that we are open to questioning and criticism by very comfortably saying, “As we regard giving an advice a duty, we also see receiving what you will give as very important in terms of completion. If you see any shortcoming or mistakes in us, please let us know so that we can consider it.”
If you are realizing your initiatives in compliance with the essential teachings, you will never lose contact with the core by God’s grace, even if times, places, and persons change. As the great master Rumi said, even if one of your feet is among seventy-two people, if your other foot is in the center and if you are testing all of your initiatives according to the foot fixed in the center, you will keep up your line.
No Individual or Group Can Lay Personal Claim to the Services Carried Out
The second point of consideration is not to forget that others also put their efforts into the services that they perform, so do not consider this as a matter belonging to a certain group exclusively. From the past to present, there have been different groups and movements that performed services in different societies, and they made very important efforts to shed light on your way, to hearten you, and to prepare suitable grounds for you to work comfortably. They brought the services until a certain point and then basically told you, “It is now for you to continue this duty a bit.” It is also possible to look at it in this manner: when you began to function with your own means, these efforts had already become ready to yield good results. Accordingly, some had cultivated the ground, some had sown the seeds, some carried out all the services to let it flourish into a tree, and then by the help of Divine Providence, you found an opportunity to serve in the season when flowers blossom and fruits ripen. Seeing only the part that corresponds to your own efforts while disregarding others’ contribution is obvious ingratitude.
As the people of Anatolia have feelings of self-sacrifice and altruism in their spirit and essence, many people made use of this essence. But there came such a period that all layers of the society raised people to express themselves and open themselves to the four corners of the world. When the businessmen, guides, and teachers who believed the services to be beneficial settled somewhere, they invited others to do the same, and thus the services multiplied. And this was realized completely by the help and graces of God Almighty. When you try to attribute them to causes other than God and consider this accordingly, the chance of realization of the services carried out is not even one in a million.
Just as it is not correct to ascribe the initiatives made with the name of the Hizmet movement solely to the effort of one group of people, it is equally not correct to attribute it to individual persons in a group either. Those whose contribution is most visible is nothing but a work of Divine destiny. Thus, names of individuals should never be brought to the fore when evaluating the efforts. Rather, it is necessary to ascribe the services carried out to the movement itself, to the righteous enthusiasm of the group, to its inexhaustible resolution, sound will, and philanthropic love and to explain that these are the works of many. As a result of this endeavor of these people, God Almighty granted them the opportunity to present and introduce their beautiful cultural values to the entire world. Naturally, while we shared these beauties with others in different parts of the world, we also took some beauties from them, adding more to the richness of our own culture.
We believe that the works we carry out are nothing but an endeavor for responding thankfully to the showers of blessings God sends upon us. If we communicate these efforts correctly, we will avoid the wrongdoing of attributing the accomplishment made as a result of an entire group’s endeavor to a few individuals that are seen on the fore, like those heedless of gratitude do. Even at war, the reward is distributed equally among all individuals who contributed. Doing otherwise will idolize certain individuals, which is very dangerous for them as well. They might begin to lay personal claim on those services, begin to expect applause and appreciation, and thus consume their otherworldly rewards in this lowly one.
Avoid Provoking Envy at All Times
There is another aspect of this issue which is even more dangerous. Bringing certain individuals to the fore will provoke the feeling of envy in others. Everybody has an inborn potential for jealousy and envy. Particularly, if you bring certain individuals to the fore in the presence of academics, theologians, and scholars, you will have awakened this feeling in them unawares. You will turn your friends into foes. Even certain faithful ones who did not achieve to make this much of success can be pervaded by feeling on envy. Though indirectly, you will have paved the way for sin. In addition, it will be very difficult for you to explain later anything to people fixed on jealousy and envy. It is therefore necessary to try to prevent such negative feelings—at least partially—by drawing attention to the movement itself rather than certain individuals. While calming down the emotions of the people before us by speaking about the movement and its background, the manner of expression must be finely adjusted, so that nobody’s feelings of envy is provoked and new rivals and enviers are not generated.
The Services Carried Out and a Consciousness of Responsibility
Some might imagine that worldly people formed this movement as an organization to realize different goals. They might even misapprehend that the movement pursues certain political goals. However, all of the services performed stem from the essential teachings of our cultural heritage and a Divinely assigned duty is observed by that. In other words, this is an endeavor to fulfill our responsibilities toward humanity. When the issue is viewed more profoundly, it will be understood that these are not extra deeds to make people gain further value but, on the contrary, an essential duty of servanthood and a tribute of gratitude and praise for the blessings previously granted. So as people view these services to be within the frame of their religious responsibilities and since a method that combines logic and reasonability is followed, the services continue to multiply.
It is also possible to account for Hizmet with a consideration of competing for goodness at sharing truths with others. Because the good work being done is nothing but competing at acts of goodness, in accordance with the Divine command: “…So strive together as if in a race, (O community of believers,) towards all that is good” (al-Baqarah 2:148). Devoted ones who see those who run before them at serving humanity are trying to carry out the services that fall to them with the thought of not staying behind
Innocence in Intention and Reasonability in Activities
In spite of everything, some might be disturbed by the services performed, and they might feel anxious. The duty that falls to us in that situation is to explain one by one the points that cause doubts, namely, indicate the innocence of our intention and reasonability of the activities realized. We know that the services performed are a result of God Almighty’s graces for the efforts our people make. As the volunteers make certain sacrifices with the intention to serve humanity, God Almighty showers them with His blessings. Otherwise, this much activity could not be carried out by people, most of whom are unaware of what the rest are doing.
Some people who fail to understand how these services are performed might even go further to hold apprehensions about a “secret agenda.” If so, the following point needs to be explained to them: we regard it as sinful to act to hold any other consideration other than the good pleasure of God, and we prefer embracing entire humanity with universal human values over all the temptations of the world. We take seriously that God Almighty will say to us in the next world, “You held a certain person’s hand and served as a means to make him meet the truth. So I am rewarding you…” This is worth all the worlds for us. As for paying importance to considerations other than this, we see it like a gold trader’s disregarding gold and asking for copper instead, something much lower in worth.
To conclude, we need to be filled with these feelings, unaffected by offensive words and attitudes, and at the same time try to eliminate apprehensions and groundless fears with patience and peace.

This text is the translation of “Hizmetlerin Anlatılmasında Makul ve Objektif Çizgi.”

Deep Contemplation: The Helix of Light That Takes a Person to the Truth

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: What are the points of consideration for attaining the desired level of deep contemplation, which is one of the essentials for volunteers?

Answer: Deep contemplation means a person’s forcing oneself to think about one’s own inner world, constantly scrutinizing things that exist and take place, and opening to more immense and deep thoughts by taking all of these into consideration time and time again. The original Arabic word tafakkur is inflected in the form of tafaul, which denotes burdening oneself. That is a person’s making serious effort to realize something and forcing oneself to achieve something, and giving the willpower its due in this respect. For this reason, we can say that with respect to its word formation, the word tafakkur expresses an act of thinking that is systematic, deep, and constant, rather than thinking in a simpler sense.
The Qur’an Brings Active Reasoning to Attention
Deep contemplation is one of the essential teachings of Islam. In many verses the Qur’an concludes with a perspective of deep contemplation after mentioning the skies, rainfall, plants, clouds, wind, stars, atmosphere, creation of living things, and people’s sustenance… In short, after mentioning various evidences, one can realize in both the outer world and within that the Qur’an always relates the issue to deep contemplation. For example, after God Almighty mentions the creation of the heavens and earth, changing of the length of days and nights, floating of ships on seas for the benefit of humanity, His reviving the dead earth by descending rain from the sky followed by various living beings’ creation there, movements of winds, and clouds suspended between the earth and the sky waiting for God’s orders, He points out that there are signs in them for God’s existence and unity “for a people who reason and understand” (al-Baqarah 2:164). There are many similar verses in the Qur’an. Some of them conclude with an emphasis on reasoning, some on reflection, and some on knowing. Although there are certain nuances among them, it will be seen that they essentially make the same point, which is a person’s thinking about the signs that God created in the outer world and within, making use of reason, and immersing in contemplation. The fact that so many verses end with the emphasis, “There are signs (in the stated points) for a people who reason…” also gives us the following message: By referring to deep contemplation with a present tense form in Arabic, the Qur’an constantly turns our attention to active reasoning. As the Qur’an does not even mention passive reasoning, it does not mention an act of thinking solely directed to the past either. On the contrary, by mentioning deep contemplation as a general and repeated act, the Qur’an demands believers to contemplate on the present and the future along with the past. For this reason, as a person makes connections with the past by reasoning and logic, it is also necessary to distill the present age and future time through deep contemplation and take every step on the grounds of reasonability. The fact that such verses bring active reasoning to attention is also important in terms of putting emphasis on the continuity of deep contemplation.
Incidentally, I would like to draw attention to another point here. When such verses of the Qur’an are translated, the commonly used word is “reasoning.” However, this word does not properly convey the meaning of “ya’qilun” in Arabic. Although “reasoning” is used in translation because there is not a better alternative, it should be noted that this is a weak word to reflect the original meaning. It is also possible to use longer expressions such as: “gaining insight into entities and happenings by reasoning,” “reaching to possible fruits to be yielded by reason through contemplation,” “scrutinizing the creation by making use of reason,” etc.
True Self-Discovery Can Only Be Realized through Contemplation
Given that God Almighty draws attention to using reason and deep contemplation in many instances, believers need to deepen both their outward and inward contemplation. In his book Man, The Unknown, Alexis Carrel states that even if you consider man solely with a physiological and anatomical perspective, he will truly appear before you as a monument to be respected. Humans are so perfect with respect to their inner and outer structure that—imagining the impossible—had it been possible to prostrate before anyone but God, it would be human. However, God did not allow prostrating before anyone but Himself. As for the angels’ prostration before Adam, it was a situation of testing for the sake of understanding the subtle point in obeying His commands. Moreover, Prophet Adam’s position as an altar at the prostration for God indicates that there is no other creature that combines qualities of being superior and special because Adam was in a way the intersection point of matter and spirit, of physical and spiritual realms. In other words, he was a comprehensive mirror of the entirety of the Divine Names. So when you begin to study such a perfect creature as man with his bodily and spiritual aspects, you cannot help immersing in deep contemplation. Be it bodily aspects as the hands, feet, ears, nose, tongue, or lips, or be it the truth of the human essence, man resembles a perfect book that leads one to deep thinking, given that a correct reading is achieved. Particularly, when man is viewed in terms of his carnal soul, heart, feelings, consciousness of having consciousness, and ability to use willpower, it will be seen that he is endowed with a magnificent mechanism with no gap to be found. As man holds the wheel of such a system, operates it, and stands closest to it in terms of having set his throne at its central point, he is the one who understands it best. If a person can set out inwardly and can deepen thoughts on human physical and spiritual aspects, then it becomes possible to turn outwardly in the same way, like people who set out to space after having made accomplishments in the world. To put it differently, on realizing that God does not create anything in vain after a systematic contemplation a person realizes in the realms inside, when such person turns his gaze to the outer realms, he will similarly draw different aspects of wisdom, just like a bee returning home with different essences of honey.
The Reading Circles Must Be Places of Contemplation
The duty that falls to a person is effectuating well both inward and outward contemplation, complementary like the two wings of a bird, and transforming their gatherings for their reading circles into strolls on the emerald hills of the heart, as places where the signs of God in religion and in the universe are deliberated. If this is not done, the gatherings will not be saved from levity and trivialities. At places where trivialities prevail, people cannot stop themselves from criticizing this or that person like old chatterboxes, busying themselves with others’ faults, and backbiting people. Engagement in such rumors is a cause of impurity for the time, place, and atmosphere. Such an impure atmosphere does not serve as fertile grounds for germinating contemplation. What a person who is caught by the currents of his carnal soul and fancies does is no different than tying up and paralyzing the mechanism of contemplation, which is the key to viewing and interpreting existence correctly.
At this point, I would like to relate the story about an old gentleman named Medet Effendi, who was a colonel in assistance of Sultan Abdulhamid II. We spent some time together when I was around 12- to 13-years-old, and he was 75. That bearded old man with a luminous face was a devout worshipper. In addition, he was a good example of an Ottoman gentleman. When sultan Abdulhamid II was dethroned in 1908, the organizers of the coup sent him to an asylum like they did with some others. After staying a long time with people with mental problems, he partially lost his sanity as well. Actually, if a person who has to share the same place with possessed ones does not conform with them, he will become a problem and be declared by those crazy ones as “crazy.” Medet Effendi would sometimes talk about their behaviors. One of them would hold a mirror and say that the city of Erzurum was covered under a flood, while another narrated about a treasure buried in the cavity of a stove. Another person would curse at the articles that appeared in the newspapers. The point I want to make by mentioning the stories of Medet Effendi is that, if we do not illuminate our gatherings with the light of faith, we begin to talk about matters of no worldly or otherworldly use, wasting our time away with constant chattering. Just like the people in the asylum, one person talks unnecessarily, another one discusses a futile issue, and another one begins to make useless criticisms. As a result we turn our gatherings into fruitless wastelands, set sail to the sea of rebellion, and waste our time with trivial issues. Why should we turn our gatherings into graveyards by depriving them of spirit and meaning, while it is possible to render them gatherings of faith! Why should we set sail to a troubled sea unlikely to provide returns, instead of strolling through the valleys of obedience to God! Why should we not take the opportunity of our gatherings, discover unknown openings, and set out to new immensities of the Qur’an from there!
So the way to render our gatherings fruitful is to always bring the issue to a place of contemplation where we will think about God and His Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, always making our conversations and discussions into contemplative dialogue on God, the Real Beloved. If anyone wishes to engage in idle talk, it is necessary to intervene in a mannerly fashion and give the following message: “Dear brother (or sister), if you have anything to say in the Name of God and His Messenger, please say it and we will listen. Otherwise, bring a book (at least) so that we can have a reading.” Then turn to an issue that moves hearts, waters eyes, and reminds us of our human potential again. For example, we can have one of those present recite a portion from the Qur’an, and if there is anyone who can elucidate the meaning of the verses recited, we can ask that person to interpret them, providing some spiritual relief. If there is not anyone capable of Qur’anic exegesis, we can then bring an annotated translation and try to understand the meaning of the verses recited. The more we understand and contemplate, the more we will rid ourselves from simplemindedness and shallowness in thought, and thus set out to more immense considerations. To conclude, thanks to the dynamic of contemplation, we will have a deeper insight into our impotence, poverty, and the necessity of offering gratitude—we will embrace the creation with a more immense compassion, and continue our service with enthusiasm by God’s grace.


This text is the translation of “İnsanı Hakikate Ulaştıran Nurdan Helezon: Tefekkür.”

Believers and Hypocrites in the Face of Misfortunes

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: In one of his blessed sayings, our noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, compared a believer to stalk and a hypocrite to cedar tree. Could you elucidate this hadith please?

Answer: As this hadith was transmitted by way of spiritual narration, there are some differences of wording between the reports. It is cited as follows in the collection of Imam Muslim: “A believer is like a stalk. The wind constantly shakes it; the believer is constantly struck by misfortunes. A hypocrite is like a cedar tree (seeming to stand firm). Once it is shaken, it is rooted out (not to rise again).”1
Here, we first understand from our noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, that the most beautiful example to be given for describing the situation of a believer before troubles and misfortunes is that of a stalk. As it is known, the wind blows from different sides and makes stalks of grain move in different directions. In such a situation, a stalk may bend to the ground, but it straightens up again when the wind and storm abate. Similarly, a believer continuously undergoes troubles and misfortunes, faces different tests through a lifetime, but he or she never topples over by God’s permission and grace. In order to rise to spiritual perfection, attain one’s essence through self-purification, keep up metaphysical vigilance at struggling against evils, and for so many other wisdoms we do not and cannot know, a believer constantly undergoes tests in this world. As the phrase states, “a believer is a sufferer of troubles”. Another saying of God’s Messenger support this fact, “The severest of troubles befall the Prophets, and then to those near to God.”2 When we view the issue from the perspective of this hadith, we see that, for instance, the troubles and misfortunes suffered by the family of the beloved Prophet are far beyond what others experienced. They suffered various torments, were subjected to ordeals by different centers of power, to such a degree that some were even martyred. In addition, what befell them remains so little in comparison to what believers who had lived previously suffered. What these believers who are foremost in faith and good deeds suffered remains so little in comparison to what the Pride of Humanity suffered, because everybody is subjected to troubles in accordance with his or her level and inner worth.

Blizzards and Storms Occur on Peaks
As high souls are always at peaks, snowfall and hail hit them first, and similarly, they are the first ones to be frozen on top. In a way, they are the first destination for everything approaching. Let us consider Imam al-Ghazali, for example. He was not understood in terms of his contemporary society for a certain period; he was abandoned; he moved away to desolate places, and he wandered alone in graveyards. Likewise, if you study the wording of Abdulqadr al-Jilani’s supplications to God, you understand much better what he was subjected to. In the same way, what Abu’l Hasan ash-Shadhili went through was not much different from what Jilani experienced. And when you study the troubles suffered by Bediüzzaman, that great architect of mind for the contemporary age, you see that he was never left alone through most of his life. At a very young age, he came to Istanbul with very important projects beyond dreams even for today. However, as those in the environment of the sultan were too simple minded for them, they sent Bediüzzaman to an asylum with the claim that he spoke insanely. Hindered by the environment of the sultan, even the insightful people of those times could not thoroughly understand the meaning of his words. Actually, a believer does not attain perfect belief, without being called insane on the grounds of his or her faith. As that great personage had attained perfection in faith, he was called insane. Later on he joined the war, spent his days under very difficult conditions, fell captive, and also faced troubles. Then he returned to his country with the hope of finding some peace, but he met a different kind of trouble this time. He was not left alone even when he retreated to a cave near the city of Van, in eastern Turkey. He was arrested while living on his own and exiled to western Turkey. For the next 35 years, they kept mistreating him, some out of jealousy and some out of animosity to religion… exiles, dungeons, isolations, poisonings, imprisonments, trials, and prosecutions with demands for his execution kept following one another.

People Had Suffered So Much… What Did We Suffer for?
In short, the heaviest of troubles and misfortunes strike the Prophets and then other people according to degree. One of the most important wisdoms of this fact is that, if the person who shoulders a certain cause and walks in front are not subjected to such great misfortunes, then those who follow begin to complain about even the slightest things that trouble them. They cannot even endure the biting of a fly or stinging of the bee. When they see a scorpion or snake, they begin to shout even without being stung. But if they look at those who walked in front and see that they tolerated much greater troubles, they feel consoled with it and say, “See what such people went through… ours does not even deserve to be called affliction. By looking at their trials, it will be a shame to even mention ours!” For this reason, the character traits of those who represent a movement mean so much for those who follow. Inflictions which make life a misery begin to seem, sound, and feel differently to those who look at their example and, in the end, they see that even the troubles they experience become sweet.
As for hypocrites, they are compared to a cedar tree. The exact type of the tree does not really matter so much. What matters here is that, once that seemingly unshakable tree faces a severe storm, it is rooted out, topples over, and can never stand up again. Similarly, hypocrites swagger and give an unshakable appearance, but they topple over when exposed to a severe wind, never to stand up again. As for stalks, they straighten up again after lying down, no matter how severely the wind has blown; they stand up again and again.
The following consideration also comes to mind as hinted by the hadith: Sometimes there can be something that shakes a believer and makes that individual dizzy. Such an individual may have indulged in sins and underwent a temporary shaking. You can hold that person by the hand, give sound advice, show the right way, and thus help that person up after falling. It is easy to do that for an individual. However, there is a different issue when an entire society is immersed in sins, being carbonized from within, toppling over, falling like a great oak tree. Helping that society up, allowing it regain vitality is far more difficult in comparison to a single person. This difficult task, however, should be the high and exalted ideal that souls devoted to reviving faith aim for. That is, they should open their arms wide to every section of the society, throb like a pulse everywhere, and show the societies in which they live the path to a fresh revival. Indeed, the actual great duty, the real responsibility that befalls to devoted souls is raising toppled oak trees and helping them to gain vitality once more.

1. Sahih Muslim, Sifatu’l-Munafiqin, 58.
2. Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Zuhd, 57; Sunan ibn Majah, Fitan, 23.

This text is the translation of “Musibetler Karşısında Mü’min ve Münafık.”

Relation between the Types of Patience

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: The works of Risale-i Nur relate three types of patience.1 What kind of a relationship exists among them?

Answer:
Similar to the great personages who guided people to the horizons of the heart and spirit, Bediüzzaman also refers to these three types of patience. We can say that there exists a serious relationship among them. Let us try to see this relationship with its basic lines.

Steady Worship Protects a Person from Falling to Sin

Fulfilling acts of worship in an immaculate fashion and, in particular, seeking constancy in this respect take serious patience, as it is difficult for a person to fulfill certain tasks from the beginning to end without faltering at all. It is thanks to patience that a person can attain God Almighty’s love. The Messenger of God, blessings and peace be upon him, once stated:
“The most beloved of deeds to God are the ones that are continuous even if they are little.”2 Let alone the supererogatory (nafila) acts of worship, even a person’s ceaseless observation of the obligatory acts of worship is very valuable in terms of fulfilling thorough servitude to God. In this respect, through patience—in the sense of steady worship—a person gains a very different value in the sight of God. Bediüzzaman draws attention to this with his words, “It elevates a person to the level of being a beloved servant of God. If you have fulfilled your prayers, fasts, almsgiving, and other acts of worship with no neglect since puberty—if we include the phase of orientation, then since 7 or 8 years of age—and continue until the moment you die, it means that you have fulfilled a very serious servitude for God in terms of gaining His good pleasure. If a person has become steady at worship to this degree, then his or her prayers, fasting, alms, and the like will, in a way, serve as a shield against transgressions and protect that person from falling into the web of great sins. For example, we know that harmful drinks are widely consumed in our time, particularly on the pretext of certain nights, that some people even go into a coma for this reason, and consequently those people are enslaved by evil feelings and passions to the degree of darkening their life of this world and the Hereafter. Think about a man who observes worship in immaculate fashion, who goes to the mosque as usual on such a night as well. Even though he receives pressure from people around him to indulge in alcohol, it is not conceivable for him to commit such a sinful act after coming out of the mosque, as it is clearly forbidden in Islam. The prayers, remembrance, and recitations he observes serve as a shield for him by God’s grace and help, and enable him to proceed through the journey of life safely, without having any hindrance.
It is possible to say that just as water that flows continuously wears away marble, the steadfastness of such a person at worship will similarly wear away the inclinations of the carnal soul for sins.

Worship Maintains the Straight Path in Thinking

Scrupulous observance of worship also helps a person take the proper attitude in the face of troubles and misfortunes, because worship and devotions always remind a person of gaining God’s good pleasure, of Divine decree and destiny. Such a believer has a wisdom-oriented perspective on trials that befall him or her, does not become rebellious, and does not criticize Divine destiny. On the contrary, for already having a strong relation with God, such a believer resigns to Divine destiny, thinking that “all of these are sent to test me by the One before whom I stand obediently at prayer.” Even at the times when others are shaken or even toppled over, such a believer is constantly on the horizons of being well-pleased with Him and His treatment of His servants as stated in,

Loveable to me what comes from You;
Either a robe or a shroud,
Either a fresh rose or a thorn.
Your grace and trials, both are welcome.

Turning to God, the one rightfully deserving to be worshipped and deservedly sought after, is like a shelter against sins and leads people to wisdom-oriented thinking in the face of troubles and misfortunes. Taking all of these into consideration, we can comfortably say that there is a serious relationship between the different types of patience.
On the other hand, it is possible to talk about a ranking between these types of patience with respect to their difficulty or ease, because it is very difficult for a person to show a performance of immaculate worship to God for a lifetime. It will be easier for a person who has overcome this difficulty to overcome other types of patience. If a river appears before someone who has successfully crossed a sea of blood, that person can cross the river far more easily with God’s permission and grace. Thus, the types of patience already shown in a way facilitate and provide support against future situations that will require patience.

Question:
Are there other types of patience in addition to these three?

There are other types of patience as stated by Bediüzzaman. For example, it is very important to show patience against the maddening quality of time concerning issues that require a certain time period to pass. For example, you may be wishing that everybody believes, wishing to let waves of love spread among all people, to let peace prevail everywhere, everybody to become friends, and to take all racist considerations underfoot, etc., and breathlessly strive for this end… But it needs to be known that raising a new generation and taking the issue from the grassroots are necessary in order to realize all of these good things. Undoubtedly, realizing this will take at least a quarter, and sometimes even half, a century. And this is not something impatient souls can endure. As a poet states, “Those who act in haste trip over their gown; those who carefully walk reach the destination.”
In addition, those who step forward for government and take hold of the dynamic power often believe that they can change the hue, shape, pattern, and accent of the society all of a sudden and attempt to redesign the society accordingly. However, if you do not take the issue from the grassroots, do not respect people’s freewill, but act hastily without showing the patience required for forming a beautiful environment, you will make time and events turn against you unawares. Even with respect to things that you believe you have done successfully, any building you have constructed without a base will collapse on you, suddenly, because hastiness and top-down impositions contradict the natural processes of human perfection and social development. In this respect, the volunteers who are trying to build an atmosphere of peace and love for their own society, and even for the entire humanity, must be ready for this: you may never see certain beautiful developments, although you strived for a lifetime in this respect. Seeing those days may be possible for the generations to follow. Indeed, this should be an essential principle for volunteers to follow for a lifetime: “Fulfilling our duty and not attempting to meddle in what Divine wisdom realizes.”
A fifth type of patience is patience toward the attractions of this world, even if they seem to be within the lawful sphere. When the world targets our eyes with its dazzling rays, being able to take a resolute and upright stance against it is among the most difficult types of patience. Bediüzzaman tells the story of a pious man who whenever he wished to eat some delicacy saved the money until he had saved enough to build a mosque with it.
A further degree of patience than those above is shown by those nearest to God Almighty (muqarrabin). In spite of their yearning for reuniting with their Lord of infinite beauty and perfection and His noble Messenger, they show patience to continue living in this world until the moment they walk to the horizon of their soul and depart with God’s permission. Jalaluddin Rumi, one of the important representatives of this horizon, says,

I want a bosom, that is torn by separation;
So that I may, tell the pain of lamentation.

That is, a person needs to feel suffering first so that he can understand the sufferer. You cannot tell your suffering to those who do not understand what suffering is. The great master Rumi is saying that he is essentially the child of a lost Paradise, a poor one who came from God and was thrown here. Thus, he constantly burns with the fire of his yearning. Until the moment he died, Rumi spoke of reunion. But even though he burned with a longing for reunion, he never voiced a demand such as, “My God, take my soul as soon as possible, so that I can reunite with You.” Instead, he gave his willpower its due and showed patience against his yearning for reunion, because He, glorified and exalted is He, is the One Who sends us to this world. Obedience to His Command has superiority over mannerliness, even over our love for Him. Even if ecstatic love drives a person crazy, demanding to pass to the next life, without His commanding us to come is disrespect toward Him. Given that He is the One Who rendered us His officers in this realm, it is Him Who will discharge us from our duty in this world. What falls to us then is to be patient and staying here until He issues this leave. This is the type of patience shown in spite of the intense love and yearning felt toward Him. It is an issue that only concerns very great personages who truly believed, who deepened in knowledge of God further than believing, and with this deepening took wing from knowledge to love, then from love to ardent yearning for God—well beyond people like us.

This text is the translation of “Sabır Çeşitleri Arasındaki Münasebet.”

1. Namely, patience in the sense of resisting against sins, enduring misfortunes, and insistence on worshipping God. See Nursi, The Letters, p. 300.
2. Sahih al-Bukhari, Riqaq, 18; Sahih Muslim, Salatu’l-Musafirun, 216–218.

The Way to Change Transient Opportunities into Eternal Beauty

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: What should a believer’s perspective of the world be, so that it will be possible to transform the means of this mortal world into infinite beauties of the eternal life?

Answer: Humankind is created for eternity, meant for eternity, and cherishes dreams of eternal bliss. People are supposed to value the world in accordance with its transience, and the Hereafter in accordance with its infinity. If human needs had allowed, and religious commandments had approved of it, we would say to ourselves considering the infinity of the next world: “Let us cut off all of our bonds with this world and turn our faces solely to the Hereafter.” However, as human primordial nature, carnal desires, weaknesses, and flaws do not allow saying such a thing, the Qur’an and Sunnah, which establish their principles by taking into consideration human nature, do not approve of such a lifestyle. In this respect, individuals should not disregard the laws rendered inherent in human nature by the Creator of laws and should be aware of what they are meant for, as well as what kind of wonders await them in the next world. That is, they should pursue the Afterlife in the direction which the Qur’an points to and with everything God has given them. They should follow it closely but not completely forget their share of the world. In other words, people should be able to see their worldly wishes and desires—excuse me for my improper words—as a bone or piece of bread thrown before their carnal soul and know how to proceed without being entangled by the temptations of the world. However, thoroughly sensing and feeling this world and the Hereafter with their peculiar patterns and colors depend upon a very serious sense of knowledge of God. A man who does not adorn his faith with knowledge of God, even if he is a Muslim, cannot feel the splendors on the path that will let him attain eternal bliss, and thus cannot be saved from weariness of journeying on the path he walks. Knowledge of God kindles loves in its own bosom, like colliding waves of immense seas. As for love, it turns a person’s gaze toward the Truly Loved One, which enables humans to be freed from the troublesome world of physicality, throws a bone in response to the demands and insistences of the carnal soul, and keeps going. He does not become attached to the world no matter how attractive it seems. According to such a person, the only thing to be valued in the world is letting the Prophet’s message resound in the four corners of the world, and letting the dignity of Islam wave like flags at high posts.
Only after having a lofty ideal like that does staying in the world bear some value. As far as a person walks in the direction of glorifying the name of God, making the noble Prophet become a spirit for humanity, and letting all hearts receive his message, it is worth living for some 950 years like Prophet Noah, because in that case the worldly life will have been used very efficiently. As for a life spent without finding such an ideal, it is nothing but an example of deception, a life led abreast with bankruptcy.

We Have Been Deceived! We Fell for Pomp and Applause!
Unfortunately, it is a reality that so many people are deceived in this world. Essentially, it is not possible to make good decisions if priority of importance is not determined. Therefore, it may not be possible to find what one hoped for when coming to end of the road. The person will then say, like the Sufi poet Sheikh Galib, “We arrived to that land of happiness, entered Paradise, but alas, we did not see the Beloved One!” That is to say, a person who fails to strike the balance between this world and the next sometimes strives for a lifetime here, thinking that he is doing something very important. When he passes to the next world, however, he will not be able to find God; he will not be able to see and reunite with the Beloved One hearts yearn for.
And sometimes people are deceived with carrying out good works with sanctimonious affectation to let others see, hear, appreciate, applause, and taking due pride. And thus, the person renders negative the good works he did through a lifetime. The noble Prophet once stated,
“There are many people who fast but they have no share of the fast except for hunger, and there are many people who get up for the Prayer, but they have no share of the Prayer except for drowsiness.”1 You can add to these examples. For example, you can say: There are so many people who strive on the path of God but they will not see Him, the Beloved, since they pollute the tasks they need to carry out on the path. They do not observe the manners of walking on the path, cannot find the right direction, and always walk unsteadily and fall. Those who walk that way, namely who do not lead a straightforward life in this world—may God protect us from that—will completely fall in the next world. God Almighty conveys to us His glorified decree in the Qur’an,
The disbelieving criminals will be in utter loss away (from Paradise) and burning in the Blazes. On that day, they will be dragged in the Fire on their faces. ‘Taste the touch of Hell!’ they will be told” (al-Qamar 54:47–48). Thus, those who abase themselves in this life by allowing their carnal desires to drag them along will enter Hell in the next one, being dragged on their faces. Those who become complete slaves to the carnal soul here and lead their lives accordingly will fall in such a way in the next world that no intercession will save them. Divine decrees such as “And so, of no benefit to them will be the intercession of any who are entitled to intercede (even if they are allowed to intercede)” (al-Muddasir 74:48) describe the situation of these people. In order not to end up like that, it is necessary to lead a God-oriented life. There must be something that goes from a person to God, so that something from Him will come to that person. If one leads a life here full of feelings of respect and reverence for God and extolls Him, then at a moment of utmost need, a helping hand from Him will extend and save the person from being dragged into Hell. In this respect, it is necessary to make good use of this life as much as one can, and fill the remaining gaps with the immensity and purity of intention. For intention has such a mysterious depth at filling gaps that a drop of it can fill up seas. For this reason, a person must make broad and immense intentions. For example, a man should say, “My God, grant me such opportunity and means that I will be able to change the orbit of this world, so that the message of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, will resound everywhere.” A drop of intention in this respect can gain a person otherworldly rewards like huge seas. That is, a person should exert himself for doing what he needs to do, but when he comes to a point beyond his power he should say, “My God, I was resolved to carry out this task, but this is how much I can. I am not able to do more,” and make his intention for an intercessor. Then the Owner of Infinite Will and Power will say, “My Servant, I will carry out what you cannot carry out.”

Those Who Love the World Cannot Find the Hereafter
We can summarize the issue in the words of Muhammed Lütfi Efendi:

If You truly love the Lord,
Do you think He will not love you?
If you seek His good pleasure,
Will He not let you attain?

If you go near His door
Ready to offer all you have,
And serve Him as He ordered,
Will He not then reward you?

If your tears turn to a stream
If you cry like Ayyub did
If your heart truly grieves,
Will He not show any sympathy?

This trouble is a cure to troubles,
The Sustainer loves His sufferers.
The Unique One is the cure of troubles.
Won’t He reward you generously?”

Togetherness with God in spirit, feelings, and mind here will result in real togetherness there. Those who live together with Him here will be together with Him there. For this reason, it is necessary to eagerly seek togetherness all the time. In your prayers and implorations to Him you should always say, “My God, togetherness with You! My God, togetherness with Your beloved Prophet!” Always live with Him, always spell His Name, and always speak of Him… so that this togetherness will appear before you when you go there. If you maintain togetherness with Him here, you will forget about this transient and deceiving world you left behind in the face of the surprises that appear before you there. But it is so sad that minds have been corrupted in our day, and feelings and thoughts have been disoriented. People think more of this world rather than the everlasting life and the Eternal One.
When you study the words of great figures, you see that even they complain about the pull of this world. For example, the great Sufi poet Yunus Emre wrote:

Before the cruel self, I remained helpless.
Delights of this world, it can’t get enough.
The wool of heedlessness drawn over its eyes,
Fails to recognize, it is wasting this life.

O Lord can one put on the wool of heedlessness,
Can he be called Muslim, a follower of desires?
He earns more and more, but spends in vain.
For the sake of God, he can’t spend a coin.

My God, wake me up from the sleep of heedlessness,
Do not make me disgraced at Your door, please!
Dervish Yunus says, ‘Come listen to my counsels:
The One who loves the world can’t find the Hereafter.’

It is necessary to become ready for seeing the Beloved, for reuniting with the Eternally Besought One. If you have always been writing love letters to Him here, none of them will be wasted there. When you go there, they say, “This letter had come from you…” Next to the compliments one will receive there such as, “I heard a call from God, the Truth: ‘Come O lover; you are special. This chamber is for the special. I saw that you are truly faithful.’” How can worldly compliments ever have any value next to such as these! Even becoming a glorious sultan cannot have any value next to the sultanate God grants. They are not even be atoms next to the sun.
To conclude, those who trade for this world with the capital in their hands will have no capital to trade for in the next one, going there empty handed. But those who utilize the means in their hands in order to trade for the Hereafter will meet unknown surprises when they go there. After God Almighty refers to human nature in chapter Qiyamah (apocalypse), He reveals how the two groups of people will fare:
Yes indeed! (We are able to make complete his very fingerprints to resurrect him,) but you (people) love and prefer what is before you (the present, worldly life), and abandon that which is to come later (the Hereafter). Some faces on that Day will be radiant (with contentment), looking up toward their Lord. And some faces on that Day will be despondent, knowing that a crushing calamity is about to be inflicted on them…” (al-Qiyamah 75:20–25).
May God make us all among those whose faces are radiant and pure on that terrifying day!

1. Sunan Ibn Majah, Siyam, 21; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 2/373.

This text is the translation of “Fânî İmkânları Ebedî Güzelliğe Dönüştürmenin Yolu.”

Tribulations of the Righteous Path and a Believer’s Stance

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: What are the duties and responsibilities that fall to believers in the face of ruthless attacks that stem from feelings of envy and jealousy?

Answer: First, it needs to be pointed out that acts of wrongdoing and injustice stemming from intolerance and jealousy never ceased to exist in the past, and they will continue to exist in the future as well. Although Prophet Adam’s son was born into a home that was blessed with Divine revelation, he was seized with jealousy and intolerance. He became dizzy with the feeling and consequently murdered his brother. Actually, Satan played his first trick with that and made him obey his word by working on this weak side in human nature. The first person who comes to mind as a Prophet killed by his people is Prophet Zechariah, peace be upon him. As it is known, many other Prophets who invited people to God were also slaughtered by their own people. Prophet David was put in a very difficult situation by his people, whom he had saved from disgrace. They slandered that great Prophet with a shameful deed which we would not even imagine about an ordinary person. As a consequence, he was forced to take an oath by placing his hand on the ark. With falsehood and slanders, a wrong image was formed, portraying Prophet Solomon as—God forbid—a spiritist and sorcerer. The Pride of Humanity, peace and blessings be upon him, as well, slandered as a—may God forbid—magician and oracle by people consumed by envy and jealousy who could not stomach his being honored with Divine revelation. In short, the Prophets, their companions, and so many others who came later on who strived on this righteous path faced different slanders, insults, and attacks. Similar troubles will continue to happen and those who serve on the path of Truth will face different ordeals, persecution, and slanders.

The Owner of Time Determines the Duration of the Test
What falls to the volunteers in the face of all of these is to meet the misfortunes that befall them with ease of heart, not complaining, and not even feeling bitter with those who cause these, and thinking that they deserve all of these. It is narrated that Hallaj al-Mansur was punished owing to the expression “Ana’l-Haq” he used in a state of spiritual immersion (istighraq) while describing that he felt a full manifestation of the Divine Names. In his painful state, he prayed to God in spite of being covered in blood as, “My God, I do not wish to give my last breath before You forgive those who did this to me!” These are the words of a great, magnanimous man. They have no difference from the following words of Bediüzzaman eight centuries later, “I also forgive those who sent me from one exile to another and who sent me to dungeons.”
Travelers on this path must know that they will continue to suffer from different tribulations in the future as well, and thus should never be upset and heartbroken. They should not sing lamentations for their troubles like some poets do, nor complain about destiny and Divine acts, nor leave a letter of complaint for the generations to follow. In the face of their troubles, volunteers must never criticize Divine destiny by asking, “Until when…?” Even if they cry sadly, they should know how to imprison their feelings in their heart, open up to God at times of privacy, but never should they let others hear these laments, because one who determines the duration of the test is The Almighty Owner of time. If you meddle with His affairs, you disorder your own affairs. A believer must be able to meet His every act with respect. Sometimes a manifestation of Majesty can bring suffering or a manifestation of Mercy can bring relish. What really matters is equally welcoming both. That is, a person should neither be joyful for a manifestation of Divine Mercy (Jamal) nor be upset for a manifestation of Divine Majesty (Jalal). Asking questions such as, “What did I do wrong so that all of these befell me? Why are all of these sufferings and troubles always finding me? Why are these tribulations? Why are all these baseless rumors? What is the reason for such intolerance and inability to stand us?” is an indication of being unaware of how the Divine Power operates. People could not even tolerate the blessed messengers and saints of God; is it so surprising if they cannot tolerate you?

Do Not Worry about What They Say; Double Your Speed on the Righteous Path!
A sultan of words put it so beautifully:
If a stone from a slingshot hits a golden bowl,
Neither does the stone gain value, nor the bowl loses value at all!
If you are a golden bowl too, let others throw stones at you, or criticize you with baseless claims. The responsibility that falls to the volunteers before what some persons commit, is not caring about all of these and continuing to walk on the righteous path. They should not be entangled with the improper words and criticisms directed to them and not disorient their mind with such things. On the contrary, they must concentrate all of their attention and efforts to what they are supposed to carry out, try to fulfill their duty in the best way, leaving the result to God. With respect to one of the qualities of the new generation that He will raise, God Almighty states, “… they do not fear the censure of any who censures” (al-Maedah 5:54). All of these bring to my mind the following words of Muhammed Lütfi Efendi:
A lover of God talks of those who hurt.
Says, do not be hurt by those who hurt,
For the one who is hurt lacks perfection,
In comparison to the one who hurts.
If you expect to have perfection in the next world, then you must not make any claims of having perfection in this one, as that is a sign of imperfection. A person’s having a sense of superiority and expecting praises and appreciation from others is an investment of bankruptcy in terms of the losses he or she will face in the next world. Those who consume the wholesome things God grants in the world will find themselves in the situation the Qur’an warns people against: “You consumed in your worldly life your (share of) pure, wholesome things, and enjoyed them fully (without considering the due of the Hereafter, and so have taken in the world the reward of all your good deeds)” (al-Ahkaf 46:20).
It is for this reason that believers should wait for the next world for the perfections God will grant them; they should be patient and forbearing here to receive the perfect blessings there. If they can manage to do that, nobody will be able to prevent acts of goodness by God’s permission. Given that the devoted souls who dedicated themselves to serving humanity continue their lives in a course of loyalty to their pledge of devotedness. Otherwise, the moment they give in to worldly desires such as buying a house, owning wealth, and investing for their personal comfort and future, God takes away the means of service in their hands and passes this task to a fresh generation of people who have not become weary, who have not degenerated, and who have not inclined to temptations of the world. In this respect, devoted ones must preserve their devotedness until the end.

Not Asking from Anyone Is the Greatest Credit
According to the accounts related in reliable books of hadith like those of Imam Bukhari and Muslim, God’s Messenger bought food from a Jewish merchant and left his armor in pawn until he could buy it back. The Pride of Humanity passed on to the Hereafter without being able to do so. Some time later, Abu Bakr paid the price, saved that blessed armor from pawn, and entrusted it to Ali ibn Abi Talib. The Paragon of Morality did not take debt from his Companions as it would not conform with his dignified stance of not asking from others. He considered that refraining to ask any worldly goods from them as a necessity of the principle of not asking wages in return for his mission of conveying the Divine message. He once more proved that he did not ask for the slightest personal benefit in return for conveying and representing the manifest religion, teaching people about the means of happiness in both worlds, and showing them the ways to Paradise, particularly to the Companions. He once more set a beautiful example for the inheritors of the cause of the Prophets.
Abu Bakr continued to milk his neighbors’ sheep for supporting his family, even after being elected as caliph. After some time, upon the insistence of some prominent Companions, he consented to taking a minimal payment from the state to support his family, giving up milking his neighbors’ sheep, and thus sparing more time to his duty of caliphate. Although it was hard on him to receive money for a service he carried out for God, he did it so that state affairs would not be neglected. In fact, his hands would shake while using that money. When he passed to the Hereafter, he left behind a little pot and demanded it to be delivered to the next caliph. When it was opened in the presence of the second caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab, there were some coins and a short letter. It read: “The money you spared for me was more than necessary on some days. I felt ashamed against God to spend that; as it belongs to the people, this amount must be added back to the state treasury.” Umar ibn al-Khattab could not hold back his tears and said, “O Abu Bakr, you left an example for us impossible to practice.” But in fact, Umar’s life was not much different than Abu Bakr’s.

An Understanding of Dignity and Pride Misinterpreted
Some proud people misunderstand the principle of “having a prideful stance against a proud one.” However, Umar ibn al-Khattab made others bow to him with genuine respect in his spontaneously modest and plain state. During his caliphate, the lands around Syria and Palestine were under their control. After conquering Jerusalem, the Muslim army commanders asked for the keys of the Masjid al-Aqsa, but those in charge replied that they had to know well the attributes of the person who would take the keys, and that they could not just hand them over to anybody. While they were discussing this situation, Umar ibn al-Khattab appeared in the distance. He had borrowed a camel from the state treasury and was traveling together with his servant. Those who ran to the riverside in order to welcome the caliph were astonished: the ruler of the greatest state of the time had his sandals under his arm, and he was holding the rein of the camel carrying his servant, walking humbly like an ordinary person. Moreover, he was wearing a simple dress, which had been torn from a few places by friction with the saddle. Umar ibn al-Khattab had patched them, like putting on medals of honor. When he was told that some people would scorn him if they saw him like that, he replied: “God has made us honorable with Islam; it is a vain effort to seek honor with anything else. Given that it is Islam that made us honorable, we do not want or seek dignity and honor in anything other than that.”
The spiritual leaders of Jerusalem who were watching these developments from a corner said, “We will hand the keys to this person only, because he bears all of the properties related in our scriptures” and then delivered the keys to Umar ibn al-Khattab.

What about Those Who Indulge in State Property? Who Is Their Example?
The third caliph Uthman ibn al-Affan was a rich person. In spite of gaining worldly wealth, however, he had not attached his heart to the world. When the Companions were asked to make donations in order to equip Muslims against the advancing Roman army for the Tabuk campaign, he was so generous that he gave away five hundred camels, together with the goods they were loaded with, and he did it without the slightest feeling of regret. I think that if the Pride of Humanity had told him, “O Uthman, give away everything!” he would have donated everything he possessed for the sake of God without any hesitation. When the Prophet’s son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib became caliph, the size of the lands he ruled was nearly twice as large as the Australian continent. The state extended from Transoxiana in Central Asia to the Great Wall of China, and to the strait of Gibraltar. As the leader of this great power that extended over such a large area and could be considered the superpower of the time, Ali ibn Abi Talib wore summer clothes during winter. When they asked about the reason, he replied that it was what he could afford with his own means. As some scholars also pointed out, this attitude reflected the notion of true justice, which we can describe as social justice, noble human spirit, unification with the society, and giving precedence to others over oneself or living for the sake of others. His blessed family members Hasan, Husayn, and our mother Fatima all had the same feeling and thoughts. They and those who walked on their path always lived with this spirit of having no worldly expectation and devotedness. It is then necessary to ask those who do not act so: “Whose example are you following? For God’s sake, who is your example with your different mansions for summer and winter? While you are trying to enrich your children and embezzling state money, who are you taking as example for God’s sake? Those who benefit from the means they gained access to without caring whether they are lawful or not, do not they see the grim end of their forerunners in history such as Korah (Qarun), Ramesses, Amenophis and the like? One must fear God and be ashamed before Him!
Devoted ones walking on the earlier righteous generations’ path must protect the dignity and honor of devotedness. If they wish to conquer hearts, they must appear before those they will address with modesty, humility, and humbleness, and bury under the ground every kind of conceitedness. Similarly, they must not care for the worldly future of their children, grandchildren, worldly comfort, or buying special mansions for summer and winter; they must only work for their noble ideals and try to reconstruct the monument of their ruined soul. Otherwise, those who fail to observe the principle of not asking from anyone and being content with one’s lawful means will give in to envy like Saul did, even if they begin like Prophet David. Even if they make an appearance like Moses, they will stumble and fall like Korah did, because there is no one who did not fall down in the end, among those who desired the world and gave in to it. As Muhammed Lütfi Efendi states, “So many glorious sultans and bearers of crown drowned in that swamp of worldliness.” It is for this reason that those devoted to a noble ideal must not sacrifice to anything the spirit of devotedness, which is among the most important sources of power for them. They must never lose the high ideal of coming to this world as nothing and passing to the next one as nothing. I wish from God that He never lets the people who attached their hearts to this lofty ideal fall for worldly temptations, nor be knocked out with one such tricky move. As Ziya Pasha expressed, “Ignorant ones are having a rowboat trip for leisure, as heedful ones are swimming in the whirlpool of trouble.” We can be the ones who swim in the center of a whirlpool of trouble, but let us not ever envy others’ pompous lives. We should try to pass to the other side so uprightly that when the interrogative angels ask us in the grave before we appear in the presence of God “What did you leave in the world?” we should answer as, “By God, I cannot remember anything at all!” after having thought for a while. This is the essence of our way.
Surely, the situation of those who began to work by doing trade and continue to do so is different. They will work, earn, and then support the acts of goodness. But do not forget that your dignified contentment is your greatest credit to make benevolent people hold you in esteem and keep your advice. If you also wish to have worldly means like they do—may God protect—you fall. In order not to fall, it is necessary not to give in to worldly ambitions—so much so that even if the world comes near your feet with all of its grandeur, you should be able to see it as dirt and push it aside with your foot. This is our path. In this respect, we should pass to the next world with considerations as, “We neither indulged in the world, nor did we ask from worldly ones. We do not seek refuge in anywhere but the door of God.” If you become like this, you will stay like this. Live freely for a lifetime and do not become obliged to anyone. Therefore, you do not fall for the intrigues and tricks others devise for finishing you off. Otherwise, if you get caught once, you become their puppet and pawn, bringing down the hopes and trust of the people who are hopeful about you, then resorting to lies and deceptions in order to save yourselves. This is the greatest evil to be done to Islam and Muslims.

This text is the translation of “Hak Yolunun Cilveleri ve Mümince Duruş.”