Posts Tagged ‘Hizmet’

What Needs to Be Done in the Face of Slanders

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: As the Qur’an states, the Pharaoh tried to make Prophet Moses, peace be upon him, seem like a scheming person with a secret agenda. Those in power said, “(Moses) seeks to drive you out of your land” (al-A’raf 7:110). Today, some circles fabricate slanders about those doing charitable deeds. What are the duties that fall to believers in this situation?

Answer: Above all, considering their essential values, believers should not change attitude in accordance with conditions. Their manner is their honor, even in the face of the most relentless and unfair attacks. They must remain steadfast on their righteous course. People who wish to understand and read them should never face a contradictory fact that might raise doubts in their minds. Otherwise, believers cannot be convincing and cannot make headway in letting others feel the inspirations of their spirit.

Severe Storms and Persevering Cedars

A believer must never be like leaves drifting in wind due to the events they face. On the contrary, they must always present a perfectly upright stance, like trees with deep roots. Botanists know well that in some countries, since the roots of trees are not so sound, they come down when they meet a fierce wind or an excessive snowfall. They sometimes even fall merely due to the softening of the soil. On the other hand, in some countries—for the sake of finding water—trees let their roots grow a few meters down into the ground and thus keep standing in spite of the severe storms they meet. This must be the case with a believer.

Otherwise, people who change their stance in accordance with favorable or adverse conditions, and who always adopt a different attitude to suit their interest in the face of every new development, will lose their credibility after some time. For lasting credibility, one must know to stand perfectly upright all the time, and present a resolved attitude at keeping an unwavering course. Those who took your pulse twenty years ago should find the same harmonious rhythm deep in your heart today, in spite of all that you went through in those twenty years.

Does this mean we will not have any feelings of indignation and anger? Such feelings may surely occur to us, since we are human. However, given that God endowed humans with willpower, then we should know how to take these emotions under control, and always remain within the lawful sphere.

The Secret of Being Welcome in Different Parts of the World

Let me clarify what I have told with a particular example. As you know, fresh graduates went to four corners of the world as soon as they received their university degrees. Incidentally, let me state that it is not correct to speak about others as if they are absolutely innocent, for if the person we are talking about is not in an ideal state, God Almighty may throw these statements back into our face on the Day of Judgment. Therefore, it is always necessary to keep the balance while voicing positive thoughts about someone. On the other hand, just as we are guilty if we ignore self-sacrifices, seeking some negative intentions behind good acts denotes an imbalance and is a false assumption.

Getting back to our real subject, the devoted souls have opened up to different parts of the world for more than twenty years in order to let others feel the inspirations of their heart, and they continue to do so. Although certain problems were faced in a few countries, the volunteers have gone to more than 170 countries. If you have problems in just a few out of 170, that isn’t so bad. Even during the time of the Ottomans, there was no large scale flourishing. Today, Turkey is a country below the average in terms of its economy, and many people are adverse to us. In addition, there are animosities, libels, envies, and feelings of rivalry against us. By considering these, the importance of being able to open up to 170 countries will be understood better. Those who look at the issue with fairness already understand and appreciate this.

The volunteers driven by Divine Will to four corners of the world were usually welcomed; in my opinion, their consistent attitude and behaviors played a great role in this. Those who frequently took their pulse and listened to their hearts always found the same rhythm and they said: “We have been listening to these people for years. We have not witnessed anything in their agenda other than serving humanity. They only breathe with humanity.”

Actually, 170 different countries means 170 different cultural environments. The devoted souls who went had no opportunity to have any education or seminar about the peculiarities of the cultural environment they were entering. However, they possessed such an immense conscience that they were able to embrace the whole of humanity. Namely, they were following a sublime feeling possessed by persons like Rumi, Yunus Emre, Ahmad Yasawi, and Bediüzzaman.

So what was this feeling? It was the feeling of being a means of deliverance for the whole of humanity. Since they possessed such a feeling and at the same time managed all of their affairs in accordance with human values, they were welcomed, by God’s permission, in the places they went, and were able to win hearts.

The Significance of the Volunteers’ State

The memories of the process of opening up to the world are being broadcast in documentaries and different programs today. The stories are being told. However, none of these can reflect the same things as experienced. They cannot reflect people’s original feelings and thoughts with their true depth and immensity. The devoted souls hit the road with such sincerity and selfless concern that some of them were not paid for months, as the volunteers who supported them from Turkey were in serious financial difficulty. They only got by with a minimum payment that met their essential needs. When the time came, they made a living in those distant lands through the sweat of their brows, working as simple laborers. As such, the people they addressed saw their genuine attitudes and believed the light in their hearts.

Today, I wish that God makes the volunteers as steadfast in faith, sincerity, and loyalty. This movement began with serious devotion, serious sincerity, and serious faith; being able to walk to the future depends on keeping up their desirable state. Sometimes, success and accomplishments might evoke pride in people and cause them to indulge in a life of ease and comfort. Considering the good things that emerged as result of their attitude and behaviors in terms of apparent causality, individuals might sometimes ascribe these to their own abilities, wisdom-oriented thoughts, and their excellent perspicacity. Such beliefs are like deadly viruses that make their way into a body. Unless the due precautions are taken, they can bring the body down.

It is necessary to try to keep up the desirable spiritual state. It is necessary to supplicate to God with expressions like, “O God, Turner of hearts! Bind our hearts to Your religion!’[1] and, “O God, Disposer of hearts! Direct our hearts to Your obedience!”[2] This way we will not fall, deviate, or stray to wrong alleys.

The coming of Prophets ended with the noble Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, who was the seal of the Prophets. It is unthinkable for anybody else to be a Prophet after him. One must walk on his path in a Prophetic way with an extraordinary loyalty, innocence, moral purity, wisdom, and perspicacity. They must seek to adopt the Prophetic horizons in his footsteps. In addition, attaining such a state will also serve as a barrier against possible misinterpretations about us.

Expecting Certain Returns Means Captivity

We should both frequently state at every opportunity that we do not have any expectations but God’s good pleasure, and also express this fact with our attitudes and actions. If people who devoted themselves to the service of faith and the Qur’an make the services they carry out conditional to certain worldly returns, then they will remain under obligation and personally narrow their ability to move. Every expectation of worldly returns takes away some things from a person’s freedom.

In this respect, the devoted souls should know to keep away from all expectations that might restrain their freedom, and also be resolute not to make any such trifling engagements. They can naturally make a political choice in which they see goodness for the country and people. This does not mean unconditional adherence to a party. While making a political choice for the good of the country, they must never surrender their freewill to a political organization and never give up their freedom. The most mysterious key to protecting freedom lies with servanthood to God. Becoming fully oriented to serving God means gaining perfect freedom, and deliverance from serving servants. Those who cherish other considerations will have damaged their freedom.

Heroes of noble ideals should not even expect Paradise as a return, but ask for that as a grace of God. As Bediüzzaman pointed out, worship of God is not an act through which to demand a Divine reward in the future, but it is the due requirement for the Divine blessings already enjoyed. In this respect, one must only wish for God and see all other wishes like asking for a zero as opposed to infinity.

However, in spite of acting with these criteria those who get hold of certain positions and experience a paranoia to the degree of insanity might still try to debilitate the devoted souls. By falling for Satan presenting his way as the righteous conduct, they may wish to hide behind a religious rationalization and misappropriate all of the opportunities in their hands to hoard wealth for themselves. Even people who seem to have very sound belief and spend most of their lives in Sufi Lodges might fall for such trifling benefits. Those who are paranoid with a fear of losing what they have obtained completely focus on their own interests and benefits. Therefore, even if a group of doves gather somewhere, they might become anxious about a possible threat to themselves, and entertain thoughts like, “Are they watching us through the eyes of these doves?”

Corrupt Ones Do Not Want Decent Ones around Them

As a result of this mood, they do not want to see any virtuous people around them. They may even grow uncomfortable in the presence of good people. During their wheeling and dealing, or while forming their circles, they always prefer people with the same mentality. In such instances, their dishonest dealings will not be revealed. For this reason, they cannot stand people who see evils as evil to be among them. Like the noble Prophet also stated, as decent people come together around their decency, corrupt ones come together around their corruption.

Even in the face of such wrongdoing and transgressions, the devoted souls should not give up the Straight Path, and always stay balanced in feeling and thought. They should not only be balanced in their faculties of reasoning, anger, and desire, but also on the way of struggle they will adopt when faced with envy, greed, grudge, and hatred.

Keeping up the Balance

What really matters is keeping our balance against those without balance. For example, some might take malicious action against you out of envy and intolerance. They might be raging against you with a fear of losing certain opportunities in the future. Even in such a situation, it is very important not to react in the same way. We must not give them a space in our minds, and dismiss them as soon as we think of them. It is not a merit to respect others when they love and applaud you. Even concerning people who do not accept you and are disturbed by your existence, the true merit is being able to say, “O God, let those who wish misfortune for me find deliverance; let those who wish my failure attain bliss!” In today’s world, where we have so much imbalance, being balanced is even more important.

The Qur’an decrees: “By no means let your detestation for a people (or their detestation for you) move you to (commit the sin of) deviating from justice” (al-Maedah 5:8). This verse was revealed in the period of Mecca, when unimaginable tortures were inflicted on the blessed Prophet and Muslims. Thus, believers were commanded to meet all that happens with patience and magnanimity, without reacting to them in the same way. Therefore, some others’ nasty attitude and behaviors should not make believers give up their feeling of decency and justice. Others acting unjustly can never be a justification for our acting unjustly. As believers, we always have to be just.

If some defamation campaign is initiated, it is possible to refute or correct such claims. Even while doing this however, we must present what our own character requires, and in a way that becomes us. “Every one acts according to his own character” (al-Isra 17:84). What falls to us is act as our character requires, against all odds.

[1] Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Qadar, 7; Sunan Ibn Majah, Dua, 2.

[2] Sahih Muslim, Qadar, 17; Abd ibn Humayd, Al-Musnad, 137.

This text is the translation of “İftiralar Karşısında Yapılması Gerekenler.”

Time to Concern Ourselves

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: Why are we not as concerned as we should be, in spite of the heart-rending incidents we encounter every day in our world? How do you think one should act in order to be a considerate believer in the sight of God?

Answer: There are circles of concern for a person, from the closest to the most distant ones. The person is at the center of these concentric circles. In other words, a person is naturally concerned about oneself. first of all. The fact that the following prayers from the Qur’an begin with referring to oneself first while asking forgiveness points to this natural situation: “O our Lord! Forgive me, and my parents, and all the believers, on the Day on which the Reckoning will be established!” (Ibrahim 14:41); “My Lord! Forgive me and my parents, and everyone who joins my household as a believer, and all the believing men and believing women…” (Nuh 71:28).

Despite this selfishness, it is unthinkable for real believers not to be concerned with what goes on around them. Actually, let alone being a believer, but everybody who has some share of humanity will suffer from another person’s grief and troubles. We see this when clashes and killings begin, and when innocent people are subjected to oppression and violence. All people are like the branches, fruits, leaves, or flowers of the same tree. The Qur’an addresses us as “O children of Adam!” (al-A’raf 7:31). Therefore, every person who has not lost conscience will be concerned about the sufferings their brothers and sisters go through. Depending on the depth of their feeling of compassion, they burn from within and it profoundly tugs at their heartstrings.

As for a real believer with an immense feeling of mercy and compassion, he deeply suffers for the troubles, oppression, and injustice all other people go through. This naturally begins with those closest to him—his family, those who share the same values, and those in his community, such as fellow believers and other citizens. No matter who is struck by calamities, such a believer suffers deeply, as if he himself had been struck.

Suffering, Like a Gong Resonating in the Night

People who are aware of the present situation of the Islamic world and the schemes orchestrated against Muslims are especially wounded by the suffering of others. It is impossible not to lose sleep, feel agonized, and moan day and night over what is happening. Different groups of people in the Muslim world lived peacefully together, without any problems, for a certain period of history; this was particularly so during Ottoman times, for some four or five centuries.

Unfortunately, there are efforts abound to make Muslims into enemies of one another. Seeds of dispute and disunity are being sown by outside groups, and various conspiracies are carried out in order to bring Muslims to loggerheads. Those who will do anything to retain power are continuing their schemes to divide and factionalize Muslims in order to rule without disruption.

While Muslims are at one another’s throats, others come near them, playing the arbiter, and appropriate their resources of wealth. They have divided the Muslim world into pieces, and thus exploited the riches over and under the ground. Today, the same games are being played with the same goals and desires. Those who provoked fires of discord between Muslim groups once are continuing to commit the same evil today, in an even stealthier fashion.

In addition, the immune system to protect Islamic values and criteria is in a weaker state, for hypocrites are harming Muslim societies from within like a virus. It is so difficult for people who are constantly in conflict with one another to present balanced thoughts and sound judgments—perhaps it is even impossible. Individuals and masses in confrontations are doomed to lose their senses and to act emotionally. As the Qur’an also points out, some even begin to behave instinctually, like animals. They do not think for even a moment whether all of these clashes and confrontations do any good to the Islamic world. They do not ever wonder in self-criticism, “Why do some assume an arbiter’s role and slam down on us, while the Islamic world is engaged in conflict with itself?” If a person thinks about all of these facts, can analyze them, and can see what is going on behind the scenes but does not feel concerned despite all of this, then that person has lost his feeling of basic humanity.

Even If You Do Not Cry, Feel Ashamed to Laugh at Least!

Actually, those who can cherish conscientious scrupulousness not only feel concerned about what they see in the world of humanity, but also fear for animals, plants, and even non-living things. It is an outward reflection of humanity for conscientious people that they feel a kinship with every being and feel troubled by their struggles: this is true in terms of both the fact that each thing in the worlds point to the Lord of the Worlds, and that the human was rendered the master of all creation.

I was very much impressed by some documentaries I watched many years ago. For example, a few lions killed a water buffalo. One of them jumped onto its back, one of them caught its feet, another bit the buffalo’s throat, and these lions finally ate the buffalo. I still cannot forget this scene. Although that innocent animal had horns, there was not much it could do before the sharp teeth and strong claws of the lions. Sometimes when I go to bed and draw the blanket over myself, I lay imaginary traps for those lions that unjustly killed that water buffalo, expand my bow, and take aim at them by saying, “Why did you kill that innocent animal? Take it, this is your just deserts!” Then I shoot an arrow at them.

There is a food chain in the animal world. An animal that God created as a carnivore survives by eating other animals. As herbivores start eating grass as soon as they come to this world, carnivores are naturally oriented to eating meat; this is what their natural traits require. Even we slaughter an animal we wish to eat when the time comes. On the other hand, although we cognitively accept the situation, we emotionally remain under the influence. On witnessing an innocent animal being devoured by a few predators, our heart sinks, and we feel disturbed and upset. I think everybody who listens to their conscience will have the same feelings on this issue.

If a person feels disturbed by such sights even when animals are concerned, it is impossible for him not to feel disturbed and agonized for people being killed. In this respect, not being upset by the fires in both Turkey and other Muslim lands is an indication of having lost one’s humane feelings. As for people who have not lost their humanity, they definitely feel upset because of the suffering in today’s world.

While telling the situation of Muslims, the poet Mehmed Akif says,

It is our chastity being violated, it is our children being slaughtered!

O You shameless one! Even if you do not cry, feel ashamed to laugh at least!

As a matter of fact, the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, once stated, “Whoever does not care about (the sufferings and troubles of) Muslims is not one of them.”[1] Namely, if a person deserves to be called a Muslims, even a marginal one, he or she should feel the sufferings Muslims are subjected to as an inner trouble. One who does not feel these as an inner trouble will naturally not bother to think of developing alternative solutions to tackle those problems.

However, everybody must look at oneself first in this respect and avoid baseless negative thoughts about others. We cannot know what is going on in another person’s head. The people around us may seem insensitive on account of their being very patient and steadfast. Actually, they too may be feeling the same pain we do. Their heart may also be continuously bleeding with the problems inflicted upon Muslims. Due to having a strong immune system, they may be not giving any outward signs of their sorrow, and may not reveal their suffering to others.

War-Mongering, Which Might Bring about the End of Humanity

The following is an important aspect of the issue of suffering in the face of the troubles and misfortunes people go through: As it is not right to remain indifferent, it is definitely not right to yell, engage in destructive acts, or to resort to violence. Such a reaction, made in the name of a solution, can neither be reconciled with Islam nor humanity. Therefore, such extremisms must never be allowed. On the contrary, it is necessary to put a barrier before every kind of violence by bringing human values to the fore.

For this reason, it is necessary to point out at every opportunity that the acts of violence and terror which kill innocent people without distinguishing children, women, and the elderly have nothing to do with religion, even if they are committed as a reaction against oppression and injustice. Those who commit such murders must be openly protested; we must reject the idea of brutal force. If possible, it is necessary to rehabilitate those in deviation of thought in this respect and save them from the misguided path they have taken. While this is being done on the one hand, sensible politicians, sociologists, philosophers, pedagogues, and educators must come together, and they must try to develop a language of peace between different civilizations, instead of dialogues of violence and war. Against the war language and war mongering some states try to incite for the sake of their interests, it is necessary to form a language and environment of peace by means of common sense. A possible World War III could incinerate the entire world. It is necessary to develop alternative projects and make plans against every kind of provocation and incitement. Any possible plans must be effectuated immediately. Otherwise the horrible weapons produced in our time may be used in a world. This could bring about the end of humanity.

[1] At-Tabarani, Al-Mujamu’l-Awsat, 1/151, 7/270; Al-Hakim, Al-Mustadrak, 4/356.

This text is the translation of “Zaman Dertlenme Zamanı.”

A Disease to Topple a Person: Making False Assumptions

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: As it is stated in a saying of the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, with reference to a self-righteous person, when one says that other people are ruined, he himself is the most ruined of all. Are behaviors such as making false assumptions and continually threatening others included in this saying’s meaning?

Answer: In this saying, which is included in Imam Muslim’s Sahih, the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, states, “When you hear a man say, ‘The people are ruined,’ he himself is the most ruined of them all.”[1] Since this blessed statement is a pithy one, it conveys many truths. One of its truths pertains to making false assumptions about others, as it is mentioned in the question. Pouring forth invective about this or that person, even to the degree of declaring him to be ruined, almost always stems from such false assumptions. However, the noble Prophet points out that the one who makes such sinful statements is actually the most ruined one.

Those Who Idolize Their Ego Seek Others to Blame

The underlying motive behind such invective is egotism, ego-centrism, and even narcissism. If a person is vilifying everybody and finding faults in them, it means that he is idolizing himself in self-adoration unawares. He is virtually speaking to a mirror, saying, “There is no one like you; let everything be sacrificed for you.”

A person devoid of positive thinking but fixed on negative thinking can even use their false assumptions to criticize very important acts of worship by others, such as prayer. For example, when a vain person sees someone observing prayer, he may entertain thoughts as, “I wonder if this person has really melted into prayer?”

Such a thought should be accosted by the Prophet’s warning, “Did you cleave his heart open to check it out?”[2] We cannot know anyone’s heart. A person who seems to neglectfully observe prayer may actually be observing it with deep feeling. Therefore, although it is our duty to voice truths such as teaching the correct form of prayer and presenting the characteristics of believers, we must also refrain from entertaining negative considerations about anyone else’s observance of prayer or fasting—and we must especially refrain from voicing and negative thoughts. Viewing others’ acts of worship with bias and assuming them to be sanctimonious is a terrible form of false assumption. Such a false assumption may cause a person to end up in utter spiritual loss. God Almighty forbids baseless suspicions, in a definite and clear fashion, with the following Divine decree: “O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion, for some suspicion is a grave sin (liable to God’s punishment); and do not spy (on one another…)” (al-Hujurat 49:12).

While considering others, it is always necessary to view them in a positive light, as far as there is a possible basis for it. Even if a person only one aspect that allows positive thinking, one must still take to it and avoid negative thinking. For example, a man may solely have said the proclamation of faith or the testimony of faith as a good deed for the Afterlife; yet if he has done this, our opinion about this man, who outwardly does not do any good deeds, should be, “This brother may have said the testimony of faith from the bottom of his heart, and this statement of his may have gained a high worth in the sight of God. Therefore, he may be saved in the next world with that single protestation of faith.”

On the other hand, while viewing ourselves, we must be self-critical to the degree of worrying about the possibility of having spoilt our good deeds by showing off, even if we do not only observe the five daily prayers but also add some fifty more make up prayers, and thus fear to be ruined because of our ostentation.

There are many more examples. Someone who outwardly seems to have a weak connection with God, owing to poor observance of individual worship, can be someone who always speaks truthfully in interpersonal relations and never lies. We must interpret this attitude of his as a result of his God-consciousness, and say, “Given that this person is so scrupulous about refraining from lying, then he must have a very strong relation with God.”

Similarly, imagine a person who is very vigilant against unlawful gain, does not even eat a forbidden morsel, and refuses to take an undeserved payment for a task he did not carry out. This person’s behaviors are so beautiful that we cannot explain them without a context of seeking good pleasure of God. For this reason, in all of these situations, we must always entertain positive thoughts about that person’s relationship with God.

Balance: Positive Thinking without Absolute Trust

If we refrain from going to extremes but seek the ideal conduct on this matter, we must also never disregard the following principle: for those people whose ups and downs we witness, positive thinking is adopted together with an absence of absolute trust. If the person we view with positive thoughts has occasional strays from the line of uprightness, then he may not be a mature and perfect person as we see him to be. In this respect, even if we entertain positive thoughts about that certain person, we should not fail to act cautiously about certain issues, such as giving him some vital responsibilities or entrusting him with very important tasks. However, we should know that even in such a case, we do not have the right to adopt statements that convey negative thoughts while giving an account of that person. We cannot say things like, “I do not have much trust in such and such person; he is not really trustworthy.”

While viewing others we should think that even the simplest deeds can be a means of salvation for them. We should overlook their faults, and avoid speaking negatively about them. A particular example from the time of the noble Prophet gives important lessons to believers in this respect.

In the early period of the prohibition of alcohol, one Companion was caught drunk many times and was severely reprimanded. Once, he was brought to the presence of the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, and reprimanded for the same offense. One of those present reacted to him with words like, “May God curse you! What a bad person you are! How many times it has been, and you are still brought to his presence like this!”

Upon hearing this, the noble Prophet said, “Do not speak like this; do not help Satan against your brother with such words. I swear by God, he loves God and His Messenger very much!”[3] So we should constantly view others through this perspective of the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him.

Positive Thinking: A Very Beautiful Form of Worship

 One must especially avoid making false assumptions when considering the volunteers devoted to serving for the sake of faith and the Qur’an—those who have a relation with God, His Messenger and the Qur’an. A believer must heed the following warning of the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him:

“Whoever shames his brother for a sin, he shall not die until he (himself) commits it.”[4] In this respect, one should be fearful, shaking in anguish with the consideration, “I saw such negative things in in certain persons, but what if others see such things in me, my spouse, or my children?”

A real believer must be much careful with his thoughts about others, no matter who they are. A real believer must act cautiously. As it is known, tayaqquz, which means being ever-vigilant, is the first step of spiritual journeying. A believer must always walk on the path of God with open eyes, channel his thoughts in the positive way as much as possible, and must definitely not commit the sin of false assumption. In addition, the noble Prophet points to positive thinking as a lofty horizon, stating that, “Entertaining good thoughts stem from a person’s good worship.”[5]

Together with positive thinking we should not fail to act cautiously and build barriers against those who take delight in biting others like poisonous snakes and are continually trying to cause harm. However, acting cautiously in this respect should not stop you from praying to God to grant guidance to those who devise various conspiracies against you. It is for this reason that when a thought occurred to me about those who have written against me for some fifty years ending up in Hell, I immediately begin to pray, “No God please! Here I am imploring you: please do not send them to Hell! Kindle faith in their hearts instead, and let them have faith too, please!”

In the face of the mistreatment and oppressions you go through, God has granted you the possibility of a different preference. If you wish, it is possible for you to say, “My God, please vanquish them, shatter their alliances, bring their schemes to nothing, and let them fall into their own traps!” Saying all of these is your right, in accordance with the judgment of 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). If somebody is oppressing you, prepare different conspiracies against you, or setting traps against you, it will be your lawful right to make moves to reverse these. Together with that, the verse continues, “but if you endure patiently, it is indeed better for the patient…” and states that even in terms of personal rights, it is better for you to show patience and not give up gentlemanliness.

[1] Sahih Muslim, Birr, 139; Sunan Abu Dawud, Adab, 77; Imam Malik, Al-Muwatta, Kalam, 2.

[2] Sahih al-Bukhari, Maghazi, 45; Sahih Muslim, Iman, 158.

[3] Sahih al-Bukhari, Hudud, 4-5; Abdurrazzaq, Al-Musannaf, 7/381, 9/246.

[4] Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Sifatu’l-Qiyamah, 53; Tabarani, Al-Mu’jam al-Awsat, 7/191.

[5] Sunan Abu Dawud, Adab, 81; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 2:297.

This text is the translation of “İnsanı Baş Aşağı Götürecek Hastalık: Suizan.”

Islam and Being Human in the True Sense

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: You have stated that, “Islam, the All-Mighty Creator’s greatest and universal gift to all, can be actualized through being human in the true sense; the human is the spiritual index of all creation, by that which is made from the intellect, conscience, spirit, body, and the inner subtle faculties.”[1] Could you elucidate this statement please?

Answer: Each of the points mentioned in the question, which constitute the different depths of the human, is a main strand with respect to understanding and explaining Islam.

Reasoning

We should consider reason first. Reason serves a function: to separate right from wrong, and beneficial from harmful. It can achieve these tasks if it is used properly under the guidance of the heart and spirit. However, rationalists regard reason as everything—and the neo-rationalists of our time give it priority even before the Qur’an and Sunnah. Unfortunately, in rejecting their extreme stance, some people denied reason completely. One extremism gave way to the opposite extremism. If we consider the general situation of the Islamic world today, it will be seen how reason is ignored, thus giving way to extremism of all kinds.

God created reason for an important wisdom. First and foremost, it is the basic condition for the responsibility of worship and servitude to God. Had humanity been deprived of the honor of being the object of Divine address, they would not have been endowed with the blessing of reason. God speaks to humans by virtue of possessing reason. In a way, He makes covenants with humans, because they are beings that possess reason. For example, He states in the Qur’an: “So always remember and make mention of Me (when service to Me is due), that I may remember and make mention of you (when judgment and recompense are due)” (al-Baqarah 2:152). “…Fulfill My covenant (which I made with you through your Prophets), so that I fulfill My covenant…” (al-Baqarah 2:40).

Understanding and practicing these commands depends on reason. The issue of whether God will take a person without reason to Paradise is not our subject here. However, it is thanks to reason that humanity is honored with being the object of Divine address and can understand and practice religious commandments; this point is very important in terms of understanding the place and value of reason in religion.

Besides these, the essential component of understanding what we see and hear is reason, too. Despite its incredible importance, there is a certain limit reason can reach. It is always prone to being mistaken. Therefore, it needs to be valued only as much as it merits. On the other hand, dismissing reason before letting it fulfill all of its functions means paralyzing some part of its mechanism or system. For this reason, it will not be possible for such a system to serve the function it is supposed to. A car that has all the parts but the gas pedal will not move. Similarly, the general system possessed by a human being will be paralyzed without the functioning of reason, which is among the significant components of the system.

Conscience

Conscience is another foundation of this system. In The Damascus Sermon,[2] Bediüzzaman states that conscience has four elements: emotion, willpower, consciousness, and the latifa Rabbaniyya—the spiritual faculty that senses God directly. Latifa Rabbaniyya, or spiritual intellect, has different depths, such as sirr (secret), khafi (hidden), which pertains to the glorified Divine Attributes (God knows the best), and akhfa (the most hidden), which we can define as the horizons of seeking the Divine Essence or God Almighty Himself. The fact that unlettered people like us are unaware of these issues does not serve as evidence for their non-existence; because the people who did journey through those horizons informed us of these attributes with their spiritual experiences.

Coming together all of these components make up the mechanism of the conscience; they result in what is called “hads,” which is a sudden, intuitive grasp of reality, as pointed out by Bediüzzaman. You can also call it the inner sense, inner evaluation, or inner analysis. By means of this, a person sieves through what happens in the outer realm and comprehends it correctly. However, even if one of these components of the conscience is neglected, one will fail to effectuate the conscience thoroughly. Eliminating the mechanism of conscience, which is a very important pillar of the human nature, means paralyzing a person. In such a case, a person will not have a very good skeleton, material structure, or the like.

Spirit

Spirit is also one of the important pillars of human nature. It is a system beyond the spiritual intellect. While describing the course of spiritual journeying, saintly persons said that one advances from the spiritual intellect to the spirit, which is a Divine emanation. In terms of being a Divine breath, it is a fresh bestowal sent to us from the realm of Divinity. We are sensed, known, seen, and protected by means of it. It is a trust that actually belongs to God. Therefore, leaping up from the Spiritual Intellect to the horizons of the spirit is first of all an expression of respect for this Divine breath God entrusted to us. At the same time, this is a matter of a person’s horizons. Only those who ascend to the horizons of the spirit can sense that it is of Divinity. It is an important rank, especially to effectuate the spiritual intellect; however, those who keep toddling in this level and fail to ascend to the horizon of the spirit will not be able to sense much about such a Divine quality.

Body

Here we also add these the body, the material aspect of humanity. As the systems like reason, conscience, heart, and spirit, which constitute the spiritual side of the human are very important, the body, which constitutes the material side, also has separate importance of its own. Above all, being able to observe worship for God, and observing the acts like Prayer, fasting, and Hajj, depend on making these systems work correctly. As we are not really aware of the exact otherworldly returns of observing Prayer, reciting verses from the Qur’an, and other good deeds, we similarly do not know the otherworldly returns of utilizing them for the respective purposes they were created for. As we learn from the noble Prophet’s sayings, the Prayer observed impetuously without giving it its due will be a means of reproach and shame beyond the grave. On the other hand, when the same Prayer is observed in compliance with the proper conditions and requirements, it will be a pleasant companion that will not let the person down during the journey to the next world.[3]

With all acts of worship you observe besides your Prayer, you will be disciplining your body at the same time. Even though acts of worship have certain physical or anatomical benefits, they were not decreed on account of such wisdoms. On the contrary, they were decreed in order to make a person eligible for Paradise so they could gain eternal bliss therein, have the honor of beholding God, and attain a state with which God will be well pleased. Although acts of worship such as Prayer, fasting, and the Zakah alms have certain benefits pertaining to the worldly life and disciplining the self, their true returns will be in the Hereafter.

In terms of being a means for a person’s attaining all of these graces in the Hereafter, the body is one of the most important Divine blessings to human. The emphasis that it is a blessing was first made with Prophet Adam, peace be upon him. God commanded angels to prostrate before Adam, and all of the angels did so, except for Satan, who made a haughty refusal to obey this command by giving in to egotism. Spirit beings and angels saw the immensity in Adam, they acted with insightful obedience to the command, and thus prostrated themselves. This evoked respect in their spirits for the body of Adam. To reiterate a fact I expressed in different talks, had prostration been permissible before anybody else other than God, it would have been for humanity, a wonder of creation with respect to our bodily and spiritual structure.

In terms of their nature, angels have insightful obedience to commands. They also have knowledge of Divine mysteries, have access to the realm of Malakut,[4] and can be present in some thousand different places simultaneously. Still, they cannot properly sense the properties of the material world. It is for this reason that they were surprised at a strange creature like the human and they said, “Will you set therein one who will cause disorder and corruption on it and shed blood?” (al-Baqarah 2:30). The human is a being teeming with feelings such as lust, selfishness, boasting, and rage, and thus is prone to committing evil acts. However, by being able to subordinate all of these to Divine commands, he or she can ascend to the level of being a favorable, beloved, and laudable servant of God. God creates goodness via these relevant evils. The angels could not know this side of humanity. In terms of both his spiritual and bodily structure, and together with the interaction between these two, the human gains meanings that cannot be expressed by books.

In sum, understanding Islam with its true identity, depth, and immensity, as well as practicing it and telling about it, can only be possible by using the human nature properly without neglecting any aspect of it. As humanity’s reason, spirit, and body were created for particular wisdoms, each must be used in accordance with the purpose they were created for; because if a person neglects even one of these, it will not be possible for them to thoroughly fulfill the responsibility he has undertaken.

[1] Gülen, M. Fethullah, Ruhumuzun Heykelini Dikerken-1, İstanbul: Nil Yayınları, 2011, p. 27.

[2] Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, The Damascus Sermon, İstanbul: Sözler Neşriyat, 1996, p. 117.

[3] Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 6/352; Abdurrazzaq, Al-Musannaf, 3/56.

[4] The realm of the transcendental manifestation of Divine commands.

This text is the translation of “İslâm’ı Taşıyabilecek Organizasyon.”

Attaining Immensity of Thought

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: Could you elucidate what you mean by having immense horizons of thought? How is it possible to attain this?

Answer: First of all, it is necessary to point out that we are in serious need of people who have immense horizons of thought; who possess a zeal for research and discovering truths; who are able to analyze and synthesize information; and who can base the issues they deal with on scientific grounds. However, we must accept from the beginning that it is not a very easy task for the Muslims of our time to attain an immensity and depth in this respect. In a period when the West realized its revolution of science, thought, and industry, we were entangled by both relentless attacks from outside and our own inner weaknesses. For this reason, together with the Ottoman Edict of Reformation (Tanzimat) in 1839, we were dumbstruck by the blows we received. The incidents that followed brought along even greater troubles and disasters. An entire nation was confined into a narrow area, isolated from the world, and stopped caring about the troubles of other nations. Moreover, all of these bred chauvinism: we began to regard taking a negative stance against everybody using empty rhetoric and bullying.

The First Step: Shaking off our Inferiority Complex

Feeling overwhelmed, fearful, and having an inferiority complex were instilled into the genes of the generations after the Ottoman edict of reformation. Since we too bear these genes, we still have not been able to be saved from the impact of that shock. Whether we realize it or not, we are almost paralyzed with these feelings and thoughts. We are supposed to rid ourselves from all of these negative thoughts, open ourselves to immense horizons of thought, have our own thoughts, and be oriented to the horizons shown to us by God and His Messenger. By following the guidelines of the Qur’an, we are supposed to become persons of discussion, deliberation, and reflection, constantly make new syntheses and analyses. All of these are not easy tasks for generations handicapped with an inferiority complex. However, it should never be forgotten that these are not impossible to realize either.

First of all we need to shake off this accursed inferiority complex, whose beginning was marked with the edict of reformation and has increased and continued ever since. If this can be done, the first step for opening a door to immense and deep horizons of thought will have been taken.

It Is Not the Title That Matters, but the Qualities

Secondly, it should never be forgotten that God Almighty has a special regard for human qualities. It is for this reason that even if a person is not a believer, as far as he is ahead of you in terms of hard-work, scrutinizing phenomena with a love for truth and exploration, and making syntheses in terms of the Muslim qualities they possess, then God Almighty will reward such a person according to his qualities, because all of these are favorable qualities in the sight of God, Lord of the worlds. Even if they are possessed by unfavorable people, this does not decrease the value of these qualities—just as a piece of diamond that drops into mud does not lose any of its quality.

It is necessary to view qualities from this perspective. If not you but others have the qualities normally found in believers, then those who possess them will prosper and succeed, in the worldly sense. And just like they did in the renaissance, they will bring you under their dominion with the power and means they obtain thanks to science and technology. If you also seek to have a love for truth, cultivate a love for exploration, and scrutinize phenomena with total dedication, then you will also become eligible for Divine attention. Thus you will have both succeeded in terms of this world, and also have taken a path leading to eternal bliss.

Criteria of the Qur’an and Sunnah

Whether it is in terms of our heart and spirituality, in terms of trying to grasp Islam in its own immensity, or in relation to our plans and conceptions about the future, we must gain a comprehensive view of all matters. We must analyze them with a holistic perspective, try to see things from beginning to end (as our horizons allow), generate alternative thoughts for things we cannot see, and constantly test these thoughts with the criteria of the Qur’an and Sunnah. In order to be able to catch the exegetical meanings—in compliance with the criteria of the Qur’an and Sunnah—we must constantly move our shuttle between our essential references and the conditions of our time; time and conjuncture are among the greatest interpreters.

Considering today’s world, for example, we must open our arms to humanity for the sake of a livable future without putting emphasis on differences of race, ethnicity, belief, and creed; we must try to make different nations and communities embrace one another. We must strive for the sake of letting essential human values prevail—not only in the Islamic world, but in the entire world. In an era when destructive weapons are everywhere, such a broad perspective is a matter of utmost urgency. Otherwise, in some part of the world, some groups might take malevolent actions, which will likely be met with similar malevolence. If such events were to happen, the world would turn to ruins.

Thinkers and intellectuals who see the gravity of the situation must voice their righteous concern on this issue. They must call humanity to unity, togetherness, agreement, and concord. They must try to have humanity unite around such thoughts. In order for this to pass, it is necessary to focus on the factors that can make this happen. They must then reckon the possible impediments and form a common idea between different sections. Finally, such thinkers must share the thoughts that occur to them and try to tackle these issues with a collective consciousness. As for some suggestions and projects that cannot be realized for now, they must be entrusted to the initiative of future generations.

Newly Emerging Conditions and Steering Securely

Taking due precautions in order to steer securely on the path you walk requires being perfectly equipped with respect to faith and morality. You must make everybody admire you due to your complete integrity. You must have complete trust in God’s favor, beneficence, and protection.

However, all of these constitute only a small aspect of the issue. Another aspect is being able to take into consideration others’ feelings, thoughts, and actions. Otherwise, while proceeding to deliver this trust to trustworthy hands, you might be accosted by some looking to derail you. While introducing the values you possess to society, if you ignore the power and strength of those who work against you, as well as their considerations about you, they might trample over what you have built in fifty years. Therefore, in order not to experience any traffic problems on the road you walk, you must show the utmost scrupulousness for steering securely along the way; you must take the precautions required by the changing conditions.

Interpreting correctly the world you live in is another dimension of deep thought. Today’s volunteers for serving humanity have reached some hundred and seventy countries of the world. This means that they get together with people with a hundred and seventy different cultural backgrounds. The people in the places you go will accept you to a certain extent; but after some point, there can be conflicts that stem from differences of culture and thought. For example, the people of the lands you visit might be wracked by an apprehension that you somehow intend to assimilate them. It is necessary to correctly evaluate all of these matters beforehand, give correct decisions about the steps to be taken about these issues, and avoid attitudes and behaviors that evoke unsound suspicions in others.

Thought Flourishes in the Bosom of Action

We have certain works to guide us and to revive our spirits. It is very important to read them well, comprehend their messages and their meanings that pertain to this world and the targets they show for the next one, and also to make a good analysis of what kind of a world they picture for us. Bediüzzaman pointed out in his Gleams of Truth that sufficing with what is in hand is a shiftless inclination requiring minimal effort. In this respect, when we are reading these sources, we must read them with the thought, “What other meanings can we derive from these?” Sufficing with weekly gatherings for the usual readings and having tea together is an inadequate approach. What really matters is evaluating these works with a serious contemplative discussion and being able to see the ideals they set for our future.

However, all of these need to be carried out alongside with action. If thoughts can be effectuated into action, then it will be possible to make more rational decisions. As far as they have no relevance to real life, it is no good to sit around and imagine dazzling worlds, as if we were utopian writers. So many bright ideas have already been produced, but they lost their luster before any real steps were taken, as they were not applicable to the real world. By making reference to good deeds after every mention of faith, the Qur’an points to the fact that action and thought must be carried out simultaneously.[1]

Collective Reasoning

Since the ideas and thoughts that come to our mind do not result from revelation, they are always condemned to our own accumulation of knowledge. That is, some wrong pieces of knowledge in our mind might lead us to wrong analyses and syntheses. We may be wrong in our personal reasoning and deductions. Some thoughts we put forth may not be true for all times and persons. In this respect, it is very important to consider that our plans and projects for the future can need corrections. Thus, opening them to consultation is a necessary factor with respect to attaining immensity of thought.

A Free Environment of Thought and Human Capital

In addition to all of these, attracting human capital to our world by coming up with our own scientific experiences is another important issue. Actually, ridding ourselves from begging from others and being able to realize new syntheses and analyses via free thinking can only be possible by young brains’ finding suitable opportunities and grounds to serve their own countries.

All Achievements Are from Him!

In addition, no matter how much progress a person makes in terms of their horizons of thought and the means they have obtained—and even if they grow into great oaks—one must never forget that it is God who actually grants these accomplishments; one must always remain humble as a sapling before Divine bestowals and favors. True highness calls for modesty. The Pride of Humanity, peace and blessings be upon him, who was sent as a mercy to the worlds and was blessed with great honors, was a paragon of modesty and humility.[2] Just as the branches of fruit trees hang lower as their fruits gain weight, people must also increase in modesty and humbleness as they receive more favors from God.

Those who lay personal claims on the Divine bestowals and honors conferred to them will be doomed to a downfall unawares. Even if they save an entire country, if they see Divine manifestations as their own merits and expect to be applauded for them, then they will be reprimanded by God and one day fall headfirst into a deep pit. In addition, as Bediüzzaman puts it, a person who falls down from a pinnacle of friendship does not fall to even the ground; such a person may possibly fall to the bottom of a very deep pit.[3] In other words, those who fall from the peak of Everest will be buried in the depths of the Dead Sea. Most of the time, the highest and the lowest reside side by side. If a person gives the highest its due, he remains there. If not, he tumbles down.

[1] See: Al-Baqarah 2:25; Al Imran 3:57; an-Nisa 4:57.

[2] Sahih Muslim, Fadail, 76; Sunan Abu Dawud, Adab, 12; Sunan Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 16.

[3] Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, The Gleams, New Jersey: Tughra, 2008, p. 229.

This text is the translation of “Düşüncenin Enginleşmesi.”

Due Reverence for God

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: Could you elucidate the messages conveyed by the verse, “They have no true judgment of God, such as His being God requires, and (such is His Power and Sovereignty that) the whole earth will be in His Grasp on the Day of Resurrection, and the heavens will be rolled up in His Right Hand. All-Glorified is He, and absolutely exalted above what they associate with Him” (az-Zumar 39:67).

Answer: The expression at the beginning of the verse means a lot of things: That they failed to know and recognize God with His attributes of Majesty and Mercy as they should; that they failed to see His absolute Almighty power, as well as the graces and blessings He showers His servants with, His infinite mercy and compassion; and that they failed to have an appropriate judgment about and due reverence for Him. Thus, they lacked appreciation and committed ingratitude.

From the expression meaning “such as His being God requires,” we understand that although some of those people did have the appropriate judgment and appreciation, they failed to revere God thoroughly as becomes His glory; “true” judgment, or appreciation, is different from ordinary appreciation. For example, our Exalted Lord is the one who creates us, honors us with the best pattern of creation, calls us to the right path through His Prophets, and grants us guidance. He spurs our zeal by promising us good things and opening our eyes to the next world. He never leaves us on our own. Thus, knowing all of these, and having reverence and gratitude in accordance with this knowledge, is a kind of appreciation. The opposite signifies blindness, inappreciation, and ungratefulness.

The Divine word continues with an example to express His greatness and states that “the whole earth will be in His Grasp on the Day of Resurrection…” Namely, no matter how great it is in your sight, the world is like a little dot or like a particle with respect to the power of God Almighty. Pointing out His power over the world conveys to those who live therein that, “so you also bow before His overwhelming power and absolute will; act within the sphere of obedience to His commandments.”

As for the expression meaning, “and the heavens will be rolled up in His Right Hand,” it points out that He will roll up the heavens like a sheet and virtually turn it into a scroll. The verse ends as, “All-Glorified is He, and absolutely exalted above what they associate with Him.”

Awe of God, as It Relates to Knowledge of God and Conscience

There are different degrees of true judgment and appreciation of God, and they depend upon how deeply one feels the Divine power and grandeur reflected in this universe, and the graces and bestowals we are showered with. At this point, the following question may come to mind: “Does this appreciation involve only some knowledge in mind, or does it also include all of the human organs and spiritual faculties?” Note that love germinates in the bosom of knowledge and flourishes. Love depends on knowing. In the same way, if the heart is in awe of God, with a mixture of reverence and fear, this feeling also primarily depends on knowing. Then we come to the process of transforming this knowledge into internalized knowledge of God and a culture of the conscience. Once this is done, we must attain our knowledge as a deeply ingrained character trait. The acts of worship a believer will fulfill after this phase will become spontaneous – that is, such a person will not say words of glorification merely for the sake of complying with commandments or counsels.

On the contrary, while scrutinizing phenomena, while beholding the Overwhelming Power and the Evident Supreme Will, the following phrases of appreciation will spontaneously come out, overflowing from the heart’s enthusiasm, which goes far beyond the feeling of mere obedience to orders: “Glory be to God and to Him be praise! Glory be to God the Almighty! God is great, all praise exclusively belongs to God, So glorify God when you enter the night and when you enter the morning. To Him belongs all praise in the heavens and the earth, at the close of day and at noontide…”

In this respect it is possible to say that a believer can express the Overwhelming power, Supreme Will, and Divine Works with feelings of appreciation. But what really matters is internalizing this appreciation as an ingrained character trait. Otherwise, the person will express feelings of acknowledging His greatness and praise Him only in times and places that require it, out of being commanded to do so.

It is only those with believing hearts who have formed a web of knowledge of God in their conscience through reflection in every phase of their life: they fill with feelings of acknowledging God’s greatness and of appreciation for His works. Some of them do this every moment of their lives. For example, when they encounter something that lets them behold a manifestation of Divine Power and Greatness, it makes them glorify God, who is absolutely beyond all defects. A time comes when the person virtually sees being showered with blessings and cannot help but declare infinite praises for Him. On visualizing God’s splendid works that point to His greatness and supremacy, the person breathes with the remembrance, “God is great!”

As the author Recaizade Mahmud Ekrem once said, “The entire universe is a great book of God: whichever letter you study, its meaning will point to God.” That is, as the meaning of any letter that appears before a believer points to God, that person’s expressions will respond accordingly. This is the essence of the matter; this is the actual meaning of “true” judgment mentioned in the verse. What really matters here is making the feeling of appreciation for God into a property of one’s conscience.

The Influence of Awe upon a Person and His Surroundings

The following case about the Pride of Humanity can shed light on our subject. When he saw someone playing with his beard during Prayer, he stated, “Had his heart been in awe, his organs would be in awe too.”[1] If there is awe of God and deep reverence for Him in the heart, it will be reflected in a person’s attitude and behaviors, down to his gestures.

In the gestures, attitude, and behaviors of figures of great standing whose hearts are awakened, signs of awe of God are seen and felt. This way, one seriously feels being imbued with the atmosphere of their presence and finds a form of spiritual tranquility. When I was in the presence of Muhammed Lütfi Effendi in my childhood, I would experience feelings that filled a person with relief. When such personages mention the name of God and the Prophet, or when they reveal their respectful caution on different issues, they inspire you with faith and insight that cannot be expressed in books.

A memory about Muhammed Lütfi Effendi is a good example for this. One day, someone came to his presence and said, “O master! I went to Hajj, but—maybe out of neglect or some other reason—the dogs in Medina had the mange.”

Upon hearing this, the master boomed, “Hush! Let me be a sacrifice even for Medina’s dogs with the mange!”

What made him utter these words was nothing but the deep love and respect rooted in his heart for the Pride of Humanity. That blessed master instantly revealed his reverent care on the issue. What really matters is a person’s letting oneself go to a waterfall of awe and reverence, with a deep concern for sacred values, and following wherever that waterfall takes him.

An Important Value We Have Lost

Unfortunately, one of the most important values we have lost is making the conscience internalize these values. We, the victims of formalism with respect to Islam, have lost our hearts; we have forgotten our inner depths. Although we may have learned some matters of religion—may God eternally be pleased with those who taught them to us—we are left alone with theoretical knowledge based on imitation. We have not actually learned the actual points about the heart, and thus have not experienced them.

As it is stated in the following verses however, what will serve as a means of salvation in the next world is having a sound heart, and a person revering and standing in awe of their Lord: “The Day when neither wealth will be of any use, nor offspring…” (ash-Shuara 26:89). “Their reward is with their Lord: Gardens of perpetual bliss through which rivers flow, abiding therein forever. God is well-pleased with them, and they are well pleased with Him. That is for him who stands in awe of his Lord” (al-Bayyina 98:8).

Another indication of our piteous condition is the fact that a verse, which makes even a stone minbar (pulpit) shake, does not make our hearts shake. The Messenger of God once recited the verse mentioned in our question on the minbar of the mosque, and it shook so much that he nearly fell down.[2] Had we not lost our hearts, that Divine verse would shake our hearts as well, and lead us to awe.

Let us supplicate to our Lord, so that He enables us to rid ourselves of formalism and get to the essence; so that we are freed from mere forms and attain the meaning! May He fill our hearts with feelings of awe, every moment of our lives. May these feelings be reflected in all our attitudes and actions.

[1] Abdurrrazzaq, Al-Musannaf, 2/266; Tirmidhi, Nawadiru’l-Usul, 2/172.

[2] Sahih Muslim, Sifatu’l-Munafiqin, 25; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 2:72.

This text is the translation of “Allah’ı Hakkıyla Tâzim ve Takdir.”

489. Nağme: “Ey Yâr, Senden Dönmezem!..”

Herkul | | HERKUL NAGME

Muhterem Fethullah Gülen Hocaefendi, birkaç saat önce yaptığı sohbetinde özetle şunları söyledi:

İhtiyarlık gelip çatmadan evvel gençliğini ganimet bil!..

*Hazreti Üstad’ın “vatan-ı aslîlerine bir meyelan-ı şevk-engiz” ve “bir diyar-ı âhere gitmeye samimî bir şevk” sözü, ne güzel ifade!.. Bu dünyadan bıkmış usanmış, şevk ve zevki sönmüş insanın gönlünde ebedi kalacağı başka bir diyara iştiyakın uyanması. Bu zaviyeden bakınca sıkıntılar da rahatsızlıklar da hastalıklar da yaşlılık da birdenbire insan vicdanında rahmet hüzmelerine dönüşüyor, “Oh ne güzel!..” dedirtiyor.

*Hazreti Pir “…bu ihtiyarlığımın en sıkıntılı bir senesini, gençliğimin en ferahlı on senesine değiştirmem.” diyor.

*Gençlik, Allah’ın ayrı bir nimeti ama insan hevesat-ı nefsaniyeye takılmazsa, bohemliğe düşmezse, o gençlik dinamizmini boş şeylerde harcamazsa. Peygamber Efendimiz (sallallâhu aleyhi ve sellem)’in “Beş şey gelmeden evvel şu beş şeyi ganimet bilip değerlendir” tavsiyesinde de ilk madde olarak “İhtiyarlık gelip çatmadan evvel gençliğini” ganimet bil, onu güzel değerlendir nasihati yer alıyor.

Yaşlıların en fenaları, heva-perest gençler gibi yaşayanlardır!..

*Evet, yaşlanmadan evvel gençliğinin kıymetini bil! Kılabiliyorsan gençliğinde, her gece, kıldığın namazlardan farklı olarak yirmi rekat daha namaz kıl; yapabiliyorsan her pazartesi-perşembe oruç tut. Belli bir yaş belli bir baştan ve bir kısım arızalar vücuda değişik yönlerden hücum ettikten sonra çok niyet etsen bile bunları yapamazsın.

*Rasûl-ü Ekrem (sallallâhu aleyhi ve sellem) Efendimiz, “Gençlerinizin en hayırlısı, (sefahetten uzak durmakta ve temkinli davranmakta) ihtiyarlara benzeyendir. Yaşlılarınızın en fenası ise, (başını gaflete sokmakta ve nefsinin arzularına uymakta heva-perest) gençler gibi yaşayandır!” buyurmuştur. Demek ki, gençlerin en hayırlıları, ölüme bir adım kalmışçasına yaşlılar gibi hareket edenlerdir. İhtiyarların en şerlileri de, yaşını başını almış, elliyi aşmış, altmışı geçmiş, yetmişte işi bitmiş ama hala “dünya, dünya” diyen, zevk sefa peşinde koşan, bohemlik düşünen, hala gözü haramda, elleri haramda, hala çalmada çırpmada, hırsızlıkta, haramilikte, tıpkı cinnet yaşayan gençler gibi davrananlardır.

*Şikayeti, şekvayı, elden geldiğince şükre çevirmek lazım. Başa gelen bela ve musibetleri hamd ile karşılamak lazım. El-Kulûbu’d-Dâria’da da geçtiği ve Hazreti Pir’in de kullandığı gibi, “Elhamdülillahi alâ külli hal sive’l-küfri ve’d-dalâl – Dalalet ve küfürden başka her halden ötürü Allah’a binlerce hamd ü sena olsun.” demek lazım.

Amnofis bile kadınlara kelepçe takmamıştı!..

*İster “hareket” ister “camia” ister “cemaat”, adınıza ne denirse densin, Cenâb-ı Allah, siz Hizmet gönüllülerine çok büyük lütuflarda bulundu, size çok büyük hayırlar yaptırdı. Ümit ederim ve recada bulunurum ki, bu halinizle Efendimiz’in (sallallâhu aleyhi ve sellem), “Kardeşlerime selam!..” dediği, “Gariplere müjdeler olsun!..” buyurduğu camiadan olursunuz.

*Şimdi garip misiniz değil misiniz? Her yerde evinizi basıyorlar mı basmıyorlar mı? “Hizmet adına himmet ettin mi etmedin mi?” diye elinize kelepçe vuruyorlar mı vurmuyorlar mı? Kadın-erkek tefrik etmeden herkese aynı muameleyi reva görüyorlar mı görmüyorlar mı? Hatta geçmişte sabık tiranların yapmadıkları şeyleri yapıyorlar mı yapmıyorlar mı?

*Amnofis çok büyük, tarih çapında bir zalimdi. Zulmünden, tahakkümünden, tasallutundan, tegallübünden ve “Ene Rabbükümü’l-a’lâ” demesinden ötürü eğer kendisine bir Nobel ödülü verilseydi, bilmem onu memnun eder miydi? “Ben sizin en yüce Rabbinizim!..” demişti, kendisini öyle görüyordu. Bu ölçüde kendini beğenmiş, akıl hastası, tamamen narsist, bakıp bakıp sadece kendini gören bir insandı ama erkekleri öldürdüğü halde kadınlara hiç cefa etmemişti. Hazreti Musa’nın anasının ellerine kelepçe vurmamıştı. Hazreti Musa’nın ablası Meryem validemiz gidip Hazreti Musa’yı koparıp annesine getirdiği zaman Amnofis onun eline kelepçe vurmamıştı.

Hizmetlerinizin hora geçtiğinin bir delili de maruz kaldığınız bu musibetler olmuştur!..

*Cenâb-ı Hak size çok büyük hizmet yaptırdı ama bir husus var ki, hep aklıma gelip duruyordu: Peygamber Efendimiz (sallallâhu aleyhi ve sellem) buyuruyor ki: Belanın en çetini, en zorlusu, en aman vermezi, en bel kırıp boyun bükeni enbiyanın başına gelmiştir. Ondan sonra da derecesine göre imanın yanında olan insanlara!.. Kimlerin Allah’la irtibatı kavi ise derecelerine göre onlar da zulme uğramış; mağduriyet, mazlumiyet, makhuriyet, mahrumiyet yaşamışlardır. Bu zaviyeden, evet, hiç kimseye yaptırmadığını Allah size yaptırdı. Aklımdan geçiyordu ki: Acaba nezd-i ulûhiyette bu hizmetler kabule karin olmadı mı da bu insanlar bir elleri balda, bir elleri yağda, bir elleri kaymakta sürekli şerbet içip böyle hizmet yapıyorlar. Acaba hizmet kabule karin olmadı mı? Neden işkence edilmiyor? Neden ehl-i dalalet, ehl-i zulüm, ehl-i gaflet, hümeze ve lümeze erbabı, hasetçiler, yapamadıkları şeylerden ötürü “Nasıl onlar yapar da biz yapamayız?” diyenler Hizmet erlerine dokunmuyorlar?!.

*Neden Hizmet gönüllüleri, o enbiya-i izam, sahabe-i kiram ve tabiin efendilerimiz gibi, değişik dönemlerdeki mağdurlar, mazlumlar gibi, Şah-ı Geylanî, İmam-ı Rabbani, Mevlana Halid-i Bağdadi, Hasan Şazilî, Ahmet Bedevî, Ahmet Rifaî ve İbn Beşiş hazeratı gibi değişik bela ve musibetlere maruz kalmıyor? Böyle içimden geçtiği oluyordu. Bu bela ve musibetler fasit dairesi başlayınca bu düşüncemdeki su-i zan da yıkıldı. “Hizmet hora geçmiyor mu acaba? Ehl-i zulüm insafsızlar, bu camia içinde bulunan insanlara ilişmiyorlar, ısırmıyorlar, salya atmıyorlar, diş göstermiyorlar.” şeklindeki mülahazalarım bir yönüyle cevabını buldu.

*Kim kazanıyor, kim kaybediyor? Kim gayyaya doğru yuvarlanıyor, kim Allah’ın izni ve inayetiyle adım adım “fenafillah”a, “bekabillah”a doğru yürüyor?!. Cenâb-ı Hak o istikamette yürümede sabitkadem eylesin. Bu güne kadar belli ölçüde istikamet üzere devam edilmiştir. Fakat istikamet çok önemli olmakla beraber inandırıcılığı ve başkalarına güven vadetmesi açısından onun devam ve temadisi de çok önemlidir.

O kadını yerde sürükleyenlere olsa olsa Hitler’in SS’leri nazarıyla bakılabilir!..

*Geçen gün bir kadını, hangi düşüncedeyse bilmiyorum, ellerinden tutmuş, iki tane SS’çi (Hitler’in kişisel muhafızlığını yapmak üzere kurulmuş birliklerden olan kimseler) sürüklüyordu. Öylelerine ancak Hitler’in SS’leri nazarıyla bakılır. İki tane SS’çi sürüklüyorlardı; bir yüz metre kadar da sürüklediler. Kadın bağırıyordu. Duygusu ne ise; “Lât” diyebilir bir insan, “Menat” diyebilir, “Uzzâ” diyebilir. İnsan vicdanı açısından, bir kadını iki SS’çinin öyle ellerinden tutup ona hayvana bile yapılmayan şeyleri yapmaları; bir arabanın arkasına bağlayıp birini sürüklemeleri!.. Bu, dünyada başka bir yerde görülmemiştir. Amnofis böyle bir şey yapmamıştır; İbnüşşems böyle bir şey yapmamıştır; temerrüd kökünden gelen Nemrut böyle bir şey yapmamıştır, kat’iyen ve katibeten, hele taife-yi nisaya… Seyyidina Hazreti İbrahim’in yanında mübarek validemiz var, eşi de var. Hazreti İbrahim din kardeşliğini kastederek tarizde bulunup “Kız kardeşim” deyince Nemrut ilişmiyor ona, “kadın” diyor ve ilişmiyor.

*O kadının öyle sürüklendiğini görünce; bilmiyorum, Robespierre öyle bir şey yaptı mı? Arkadaşlarını bile astırmıştır ama bir kadına iliştiğini, bir kadına öyle yaptığını bilmiyorum.

“Benim başı kapalı bacılarıma” (!) hiçbir Yezid, hiçbir Haccac böyle bir zulmü reva görmezdi.

*Ya bugün başı kapalı bacılarımızın maruz kaldığı zulüm!.. Herkesin, hatta onu yapanların ve yaptıranların bile “Benim başı kapalı bacılarım!..” diye onları ifade etmesine rağmen, o mübarek bacılarımızın ellerine kelepçe vurulması, adi birer şaki gibi teşhir edilmeleri, tarihin hiçbir döneminde, hiçbir Yezit, hiçbir Haccac, hiçbir zalim tarafından uygulanmamıştır.

*Bir de, emreden ile emri yerine getiren ne kadar da birbirine uymuş. İhtimal hesapları açısından, “Bu kadar uyum milyonda bir ihtimalde bile olmaz!” diyorum. Bu insanlar nasıl böyle birbirlerini buldular? Adeta “Tencere yuvarlanmış kapağını bulmuş”. Nasıl böyle birbirlerini bulmuşlar? Biri “Böyle yapın!” diyor, öbürü gözünün yaşına bakmadan o mesâvîyi irtikâp ediyor.

*Sağ olsunlar, teşekkür ederiz. Bu türlü mezalimi yaptıkları bacılarımızın derecelerini mertebe mertebe yükseltiyorlar. Meryem validemize, Hatice validemize, Aişe validemize yükseltiyorlar. Bunların günahları ne? Fakire fukaraya yardım olsun diye himmet toplamışlar. Zalimane el konan bir banka batmasın diye, kredi toplamış oraya yatırmışlar. Bir bitirme mülahazası, şeytanî fikri karşısında, ona meydan vermemek için, bütün himmetlerini belli bir noktada teksif etmiş, bu fitne ve fesat cereyanını durdurmak istemişler. Allah rızası için.. Hazreti Ruh-u Seyyidi’l-Enâm’ın mübarek ruhunu ikame etmek için.. Ruh-u Revân-ı Muhammedî’nin her yanda şehbal açmasını sağlamak için.. dünyanın değişik yerlerinde mağduriyet, mazlumiyet, mahkumiyet yaşayan insanlara yardım etmek maksadıyla kurulmuş yardım cemiyetlerine yardım etmek için himmet toplamışlar, oralara yatırmışlar!..

*Fakat, ehl-i haset ve dalalet ne yaparlarsa yapsınlar, hissiyatımız ve duruşumuz şu istikamettedir:“Bir cefâkeş aşıkem ey Yâr Senden dönmezem / Hançer ile yüreğimi yar Senden dönmezem / Ger Zekeriya tek beni baştan ayağa yarsalar / Başıma koy erre Neccâr Senden dönmezem / Ger beni yandırsalar, toprağımı savursalar / Külüm oddan çağırsalar Settâr Senden dönmezem.” (Nesîmî) Senden dönmezem!.. Allahım, Senden dönmezem!.. Ey Rasûl, Senden dönmezem!.. Ey hakaik-i Kur’aniye, senden dönmezem!.. Ey doğru yolun yolcuları, sizden dönmeyiz!..

Those Who Remain in the Distance despite Their Proximity, and the Need for Ceaseless Action

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: History shows that there has been a considerable number of people who were contemporaries of great personages, and even lived in their proximity, but could not benefit from them at all. Could you elucidate the reasons? What kind of an attitude must be adopted in order not to fall to such a position?

Answer: Sometimes individuals may not see and appreciate the priceless values beside them on account of failing to have the right viewpoint, or possessing some preconceived ideas and prejudices, or even sometimes on account of the jealousy they are seized by. Not only can they not appreciate the great person, they might even become a ruthless and relentless foe. If you wish, you can call this “blindness in proximity.”

A Prototype in the Whirlpool of Envy: Abu Lahab

Even if they are constantly near greatest personages and always keep in their company throughout the day, those who suffer from such blindness cannot see what they are supposed to see, owing a fault in their point of view—just as in the example of Abu Lahab. As it is known, Abu Lahab was the noble Prophet’s paternal uncle. He shared the same family atmosphere with the Pride of Humanity, peace and blessings be upon him. Abu Lahab had cuddled that great guide many times in his early years. He had even assigned his bondmaid Suwaybah to serve as the wet nurse of that blessed baby.[1] For years, his home and that of the Prophet were side by side. They passed came across one another most days. By marrying his sons with the Pride of Humanity’s daughters, Ruqayyah and Umm Kulthum, he had established a further tie of kinship. In short, he had witnessed the beautiful morality of the Pride of Humanity throughout every phase of his life. 

However, this unfortunate one, who was overwhelmed by blindness in proximity, did not acknowledge the Divine mission of the prince of the Prophets. Let alone not acknowledging, Abu Lahab became one of his archenemies. One of the closest relatives of the Pride of Humanity, under whose blessed feet the stars were no more than cobble stones, did not see, or refused to see, his greatness.

In this respect, it should be known that persons whom God Almighty employed at very great services might sometimes meet contempt and derision by those in their close proximity, despite all of their remarkable activities which call for appreciation. They might even face betrayal and animosity from such people. The most important reason for this situation is the enviers not consenting to the judgment of Divine destiny, their inability to stomach God’s decree, and their being taken by a whirlpool of intolerance and envy. However, all means and talents a person possesses are Divinely decreed. The judgment entirely belongs to God on this issue.

Great Duties to Little Ones

As God Almighty sometimes lets great personages do great deeds, He sometimes grants very little persons very important missions and lets them fulfill excellent services. What falls to a person is petitioning God in this respect by fully turning to Him with a pure heart and never scorning anyone. There are many people who outwardly look poor, but are actually full of treasures within. The great guide İbrahim Hakkı expresses this as follows:

Hakkı, let you not reveal your secret,

On this path, if you intend to be matured.

Do not contempt the wretched, my dear;

There are ruins that hold a treasure.

It is narrated that the venerable İbrahim Hakkı had two sons named Shakir and Dhakir. Dhakir was a virtuous person who was constantly busy with devotions. On the other hand, Shakir was a drunkard who spent most of his time in pubs. One day, İbrahim Hakkı took Dhakir into his company and they walked together. They came near a bar. İbrahim Hakkı told his son to wait outside and went in. He found the other son, Shakir, passed out at a table. He asked the bartender how much his son owed him and paid it all. Then he left and kept walking together with Dhakir.

When Shakir sobered up, he wished to pay his debt and leave. But when the bartender said, “You owe nothing; your father has paid it all,” he was consumed with shame. He went after his father right away and found him near a cliff with his brother. Shakir witnessed their conversation. İbrahim Hakkı told his religious son Dhakir, “My son, one of the forty saints have passed away. Jump down from this cliff, so that you join them to replace the late one.” But the son hesitated; he could not jump. Overhearing their talk, Shakir asked, “Father, is it alright if I jump?” Then he asked his father’s blessing, jumped down, and joined the forty saints. Upon this, before the perplexed looks of the religious son Dhakir, İbrahim Hakkı said his famous lines we quoted above. 

What matters in parables is not the factual reality, but the message they convey. Whether this is a true story or not, the truth it means to convey is very important. As an expression of this meaning, the blessed Prophet stated that there are many people who may be shabby in appearance, and who are treated as objects of scorn. If they swear that a certain thing will happen however, God does not make them wrong in their word. He added that Bara ibn Malik was one of them.[2]

There are people you disdain and do not even pay attention to, but God sometimes lets them make great accomplishments, leaving you dumbfounded before its greatness.  Note that God Almighty lets termites’ buildings far excelling their own size; He can similarly let little and simple people build up gigantic towers. Indeed, commanders such as Abu Ubayda ibn Jarrah, Ka’ka, and Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas, were common people raised in the desert culture. In a very short time, however, they brought into the line the Byzantine and Persian empires, which were thought to be invincible, and guided their people to the road to true humanity.

Laying Personal Claims on Success and Words That Imply Associating Partners with God

God Almighty stated: “…That is God’s grace and bounty, which He grants to whom He wills” (al-Maedah, 5:54).

As Bediüzzaman put it in “The Fourteenth Ray,” “the soul is inferior to everyone, duty is greater than everything.”

Although we are little people, God Almighty can employ us in very great services with His Infinite Power and support; this is a favor and bestowal that entirely belongs to Him. Every remark like, “we achieved, we realized, or we planned these while others even did not dream about it…” imply associating partners with God. Therefore it is necessary to keep away from such claims as much as possible.

Bediüzzaman also pointed out in “The Seventeenth Word” that, “…a negation negated is an affirmation.” Therefore, you will not have affirmed your value unless you negate your ego. To clarify the issue with an oft-repeated statement, “the Infinite is one and there are no other relative infinites.” If we are supposed to determine a worth for other beings vis-à-vis the Absolutely Infinite, they are only zero. Therefore, the relation between God Almighty and the human is like the relation between infinite and zero. God is infinite and the human is zero.

On the other hand, although zero does not possess any value on its own, it gains a value when it comes after other figures. In the same way, a person who relies on God with his impotence and poverty resembles a zero placed near the alif, which is both the first letter when writing the name of God and stands for the figure one; thus, such a person becomes ten, a hundred, or even a thousand.

Oppression Does Not Last Forever

The second point in the initial question was about the attitude to be adopted in order not to fall into such a position. The sincere souls devoted to serving humanity for the sake of God may be surrounded from all sides by merciless oppressors: oppressors who misunderstand competing on the path of God, who act with feelings of rivalry, and who are intent on not letting nobody else survive other then themselves. However this will last forever, for oppression has never been long-lived. As expressed in a saying of the noble Prophet, God gives respite upon respite to the oppressor; but when He seizes him, He does not let him escape.[3] “Unbelief lasts, but oppression does not.”[4] Unbelief is left for the Day of Judgment. God punishes deniers in His Divine presence, but as oppression is a violation of innocent people’s rights in general, it sooner or later finds punishment in this world. Oppressors receive their just deserts in the end.

In addition, this is the path of God, and He has not let down anyone who walks sincerely on this path. On the other hand, as God Almighty stated in the verse, “Such days (of joy and sorrow)—We deal them out in turns among people…” (Al Imran 3:140), He sometimes lets His servants experience temporary defeats, tries them with troubles and misfortunes, and lets events unfold in accordance with the Divine Will. This helps them realize different wisdoms. For this reason, if these are days of celebration for some, it will be so for others tomorrow; if these are days of mourning for some, it will be so for others tomorrow. Then, the heroes who wish to let humanity hear the inspirations of their soul should not busy themselves with what the ignorant say. On the contrary, they should fill their minds and hearts with considerations like, “How can we represent in the best way the diamond truths of the Qur’an and beauties of Islamic teaching by personal example?” Those whom they address voluntarily welcome the message or reject it; the result is not our concern. But what we need to do is to dress these values of ours in the best way with the most pleasant engravings to suit their worth, and then display them in the fairs of the world in the most charming fashion.

Periods of undergoing oppression should be seen like the darkness of a night: One must never give in to hopelessness or pessimism. As every winter has a spring, every night has a morning. Therefore, it should not be forgotten that a day will follow the night, and one should make plans for a bright future in the darkness of the night.

In the same way, it should also be taken into consideration during the day that a night will follow afterwards. In other words, while a believer spurs his horse in the bright and pleasant light of daytime, he must not forget that another night awaits beyond the day, and that he needs to prepare a separate plan and strategy for that night too. As obstinacy has never failed to exist in this world, it will keep existing in the future as well; obstinate people with underlying motives will lie in wait for you with intrigues and traps. Therefore, one should neither act with panic at nighttime nor act in a carefree fashion during daytime; one must make plans and projects for the day at night, and strategies for the night at daytime.

Continuous and Ceaseless Action

Thus, believing hearts must utilize every moment of their lives in an axis of good deeds. They must carry the light of day to nights, and the warmth of spring to winters. Essentially, faith makes righteous acts incumbent on a believer in every situation and condition in accordance with what circumstances allow.

In order to better understand continuous and ceaseless action of this sort, it is possible to compare them to the situation of a person circumambulating the Ka’ba. As it is known, a person at circumambulation walks faster, as if running in short steps (ramal), if it is possible. But when it is crowded, he keeps jumping in his place in order not to disturb anyone. Either way, he keeps moving and retains his spirit of vigilance. With God’s permission and grace, he continues walking when time and conditions allow.

Stagnancy is a type of inaction. Things are inactive by nature and it is God who makes them move. Humanity is also bound by the rules of the physical realm: they get stuck in a process of falling and disintegrating as soon as they stop. Just like meteors, when they go through a void, they come under the influence of another gravitational force, are worn out by friction, and finally diminish and terminate. Even if a person retains his position, if he constantly keeps spinning and moving, as it happens with the sun, the stars and the moon, then he both keeps up his vitality and begins to emanate lights of truth.

The fact that God Almighty distributed acts of worship to different phases of the day is a striking example in terms of understanding the principle of constant action.

Under the light of the verse, “And in some part of the night, rise from sleep and observe vigil therein as additional worship for you…” (al-Isra 17:79), you rise up from bed at a certain hour of the night, read from the Qur’an, and observe the Tahajjud Prayer. Similarly, in the very early hours of the day, you ask forgiveness as referred to in the verse, “And in the hour of early dawn, they would implore God’s forgiveness” (adh-Dhariyat 51:17–18). Then the time of the Fajr Prayer comes; you observe the sunnah and obligatory part respectively. When the sun rises and the time of karahat[5] is over, you observe the Ishraq Prayer; and before the noon draws near, you observe the Duha Prayer. You observe the Zuhr Prayer at a time when daily chores are almost pressing on you. By running to Divine presence for the Asr Prayer, you virtually turn the increasingly crushing tiredness of the day into a trip on the horizons of the spirit and find relief. Similarly, you observe the Maghrib and Isha Prayers with the same feeling and thoughts, and you do not fall into any spiritual void.

Just as our daily life of worship is scheduled this way, as God Almighty commanded, and no gap has been left, it is necessary to schedule the weeks, months, seasons, and even years with such an understanding of action. On this issue, every believer must virtually work like a strategy expert: they must determine what they can do for themselves, their family, and for the society they live in. Thus, they will have retained their vitality and resourcefulness as well; as the Turkish proverb says, “A working iron shines brightly.” A person remaining ever bright without getting rusty depends on constant action.

In almost in every verse of the Qur’an that refers to those who have faith, their aspect of action is highlighted by stating that they do good and righteous deeds.[6] A good or righteous deed refers to a task perfectly fulfilled. For example, in order to observe the Prayer thoroughly, it is necessary to comply with not only certain conditions before and within the Prayer, but also with the inward dimension. That is, just as one should stand in awe of God and seek inward depth at Prayer, it is similarly necessary for a believer to carry out all of their tasks by complying with the outward and inward requirements. Thus, after a believer gains the attribute of having sound faith and being a trustworthy person, he must not leave his belief as a theoretical matter, but confirm it with his action.

The time of the Rightly Guided Caliphs being the prime example, it has been at different times—like the early years of the Seljuks and Ottomans—that the individuals and societies who constantly keep moving have remained steadfast on their path, by God’s permission and grace, without falling down. Although I do not mean to speak against a glorious people—I regard even the pettiest of them like a crown on my head—it is possible to say, with a perspective of perfectionism, that whenever some voids occurred in terms of ideas and action, the administrators did not go on campaigns leading their armies, but began to lead a life in magnificent and pompous palaces. Naturally, the people let themselves give in to ease and comfort in parallel to this, forgot to strive for a lofty ideal, and were taken by a desire for their cozy homes. Thus, those who let themselves to the temptations of worldliness were ruined in the web of their own worldly wishes and carnal desires. At such periods, when the understanding of society had entirely shifted from its axis, some administrators, like Osman II and Osman IV, were aware of the stance they were supposed to take in spite of everything, but the inner and outer dark powers of the time finished them off, through different means.

To conclude, those who gave in to the ease and comfort of the world and indulged in carnal pleasures ended up as victims of their ease and comfort, albeit unawares.

[1] Sahih al-Bukhari, Nikah, 20; Bayhaqi, Sunan al-Kubra, 7/162.

[2] Sunan at-Tirmidhi,  Manaqib, 54; Hakim, Mustadrak, 3, 331.

[3] Sahih al-Bukhari, Tafsir Surah (11), 5; Sahih al-Muslim, Birr, 61.

[4] Munawi, Fayd al-Qadr, 2:107.

[5] One of three periods of time during the day when the Prayers are not offered.

[6] See: Al-Baqarah 2:25.

This text is the translation of “Yakında Uzaklığı Yaşayanlar ve Kesintisiz Aksiyon.”

The Invincible Power of Faith

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: What are the greatest obstacles faced by the volunteers who wish to share with others the inspirations of their souls and the beauties of the values in which they believe?

Answer: Worldly desires and wishes are the greatest components for a human’s trial in this world. In societies where these components have seized individuals’ feelings and thoughts, the consequences have been many cases of oppression and suffering. Many people on the path of truth faced relentless and faithless attacks, various kinds of insults and slanders, and even assassinations and massacres; the Prophets, peace be upon them, are prime examples of this.

The first heart-rending incident took place in Prophet Adam’s home, one blessed with showers of revelation. Although he was raised in such an atmosphere, Cain murdered his brother Abel for the sake of his worldly desires.[1] Thus, the first story began with Satan’s deception and an unending chain of deceptions followed.

According to old scriptures, Prophet David’s once downtrodden people, whom he saved from disgrace and guided to dignity (with God’s permission and grace), slandered him with adultery and murder, terrible sins even ordinary believers do not easily commit. His people forced him to swear by placing his hand on the Holy Ark and put him in a difficult situation. The Pride of Humanity faced his enemies’ slanders—such as being, may God forbid a hundred thousand times, a magician and soothsayer[2]—by means of which they tried to prevent the truths he told to reach hearts.

Do Not Destroy the Eternal In This World!

Similar things can happen today as well—and they will not cease to exist in the future either. It is important not to express our troubles and hand future generations a heritage of complaints. What really matters is meeting all that befalls us with resignation and not complaining about it to people; we can open up to God when places and times provide us with due privacy, but must not let anyone know about this lamentation. The sole owner of time and space is God Almighty, and to Him belongs the final decree. Interfering with the result is not of our business. It is necessary to act with the following understanding:

Troubles sent by His Majesty, or graces from Divine mercy,

My soul welcomes them equally; Your favors and troubles all are lovely. (Ibrahim Tannuri).

If we live with this understand, we will meet His decrees about us with appreciation.

There can be troubles from His Majesty or graces from His mercy; one must welcome them both and neither feel joyful with favors nor complain about troubles. One must not say, “What did I do that these befell me? Why do I always come up against all these sufferings, troubles, gossip, and envy?” Muhammed Lütfi of Alvar puts it beautifully, in one of his pearls of wisdom, which are brighter than actual pearls:

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 really expect to be rewarded with some perfection in the next world, it is a sign of lacking perfection to expect perfection in terms of worldly things here. Desires like expecting applause and flattering remarks from people means going bankrupt; this is a lost investment in terms of the Hereafter. The Qur’an warns us on this issue and states, “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-Ahqaf 46:20). Therefore, one must leave to the next world all Divine favors to be enjoyed, and not consume in this world all good things God promised for the Hereafter.

The following parable conveys a meaningful lesson about this subject: The wife of a saintly person complained to her husband about their humble livelihood. She asked him to pray for them to be saved from this state. So as not to turn down his wife’s wish, that righteous person prayed about it and his prayer was accepted. All of a sudden, a golden brick appeared near them, out of nowhere. That righteous man told his wife, “Here you are. This is a brick from our would-be mansion in Paradise.” Upon this, that conscientious lady felt regret for her previous words and told her husband, “Though we are truly needy, and God willing, we will have many other bricks like this one in the Hereafter. However, I do not wish to waste in this transient realm the reward we are to receive in the eternal one. Let not a single brick of our mansion in Paradise be missing. Therefore, please pray for this brick to go back to its place.” Upon this sincere wish, that righteous person prayed again, the golden brick disappeared, and went back to its place.

The invincible power of those devoted to the truth and a lofty ideal, and who seek to have a bright future for their people again, is keeping away from worldliness, acting with a spirit of dignified contentment, and devoting themselves completely to the happiness of others. There is nothing wrong if the people who earn from trade and support the services for faith and the Qur’an seek material prosperity. However, the devoted souls who are in a position of representing their values must take a clear stance against worldliness and always act with dignified contentment against it; this is their greatest credit. As they behave with genuine indifference to worldliness, people will listen to their words attentively, welcome every matter they point out, and fulfill the duties they are supposed to do without the least hesitation.

While this is what should have been, unfortunately it seems that there is a considerable number of people who set forth with a spirit of devotion, then inclined to the world by initially saying that a bit of enjoyment will bring no harm; this led to deeper indulges, and they could not manage to straighten afterwards, and finally lost against worldliness. In the words of Muhammed Lütfi Effendi:

So many elegant youthful ones,

So many rosy-faced sultans,

So many khans like Chosroes,

and so many bearers of crowns… 

These people came one by one—and they unfortunately perished one by one. If the devoted souls are ever taken by these devilish considerations and say, “Let me also earn and live like them; let me also have a house and fortune…” this will mean ruining their credit with their own hands. Divine destiny issues a decree for their losing the blessings in their hands; they will slip and fall. Then God Almighty will remove from the scene those lifeless ones who entirely lost their spirit; and as the Qur’an states, God brings a fresh group of people who are not weary, and have never been dazzled by the world.[3]

The Way to Bring Haughty Ones to Their Knees

The esteem and honor of devotedness must be protected against all odds. Like in every other virtue, the Pride of Humanity is the prime devoted one who represents the peak of this virtue. When he died and passed to the horizons of his spirit, his armor was held in pawn by a Jewish merchant, which he had given in return for an amount of barley he had taken in order to treat his guests. After his demise, Muslims realized the situation and they took back the armor from pawn.[4]

The first caliph Abu Bakr followed in his footsteps; he had left an earthen jar to be handed to the next caliph after him. After he passed away, the trust was handed to the second caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab. When they broke the jar with curiosity, the contents turned out to be the bits of money that remained after meeting the needs of his family, and a note. The note read: “The money you allocated for me was more than necessary some days. I felt ashamed against God to spend it, for it belongs to the people and should go back to the state treasury.” This message by the blessed Abu Bakr moved Umar ibn al-Khattab, who said with tearful eyes, “May God have mercy on Abu Bakr! He left such a difficult example to follow for those who remained behind.”[5]

Umar continued his caliphate with the same understanding. He never had a throne; he always sat in the mosque and carried out his tasks from there. He did not claim to be representing the dignity of the state as a pretext for leading a life of luxury, lavishness, and pomp. On the contrary, he brought the world powers of the time into line with his modest conditions. When they were going to take over the keys of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the leaders met him in sumptuous clothes, but he rode the same mount with his slave (in turns), came with his patched clothes, and his general air was modest.[6] As it is also plainly understood from this, the way to bring down the conceited ones of the time is effacement and modesty. This state and attitude will bury all types of conceitedness. This was the understanding of Umar ibn al-Khattab. He never cherished a thought like, “let me leave some worldly wealth for my children and grandchildren…” He entrusted his children to the faithful understanding of the blessed Companions and passed to the other world thus.

The third caliph, Uthman ibn al-Affan, was very rich. He was engaged in trade. However, he forsook the world in his heart, even if he did not necessarily forsake earning, as Bediüzzaman put it in The Seedbed of the Light.[7] As a matter of fact, when Muslims were asked to donate to equip the army to meet the advancing Byzantine army in Tabuk, he donated hundreds of camels, together with their loads, without having the least bit of regret in his heart and purely for the sake of God’s good pleasure.[8] Had the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, told him that he was supposed to give everything he had, he would no doubt have done so without any hesitation.

The life of the fourth caliph Ali was no different. He ruled a vast territory, one that was larger than Europe. The area of the lands he ruled, in spite of some political rivalries and strife, was large enough as to contain the Persian and Roman empires of the time. On the other hand, caliph Ali used to wear summer clothes during winter, causing him to tremble, and winter clothes during summer, causing him to sweat. When asked about the reason, he answered, “This is what I can afford with my own means.”[9]

If This Is Islam, Then Where Are We?

Some claim today that “We are also on the path of the Righteous Caliphs,” but spend their lives in luxurious mansions in summer and winter, try to secure a fortune for their children and grandchildren, and thus misappropriate state money. It is necessary to ask them, “Who is your example? Is not a believer supposed to totally keep away from such thoughts, which normally belong to greedy pharaohs, and feel ashamed before God?”

It is my wish from God Almighty that the people devoted to a lofty ideal always retain this noble feeling of shame, that they are not taken by the temptations of this world, and that they do not let these trip them up and bring about their fall. Let them say, “We can show patience in this world, so that nothing will be missing in the next one.” They should live an understanding like the one Ziya Pasha portrayed in his couplet:

The ignorant are cruising, carefree and casual;

The enlightened are swimming, in the whirlpool of trouble. 

Let the volunteers consent to suffering troubles, but not covet others’ ostentatious lives. Let them see worldly things as dirt that smear a corner of their foot. And let them pass to the next world so nobly that when they are asked in the presence of God, “What did you leave in the world?” they should be able to say, “I cannot remember anything.” The essential of our path is dignified contentment, effacement, and modesty. Other codes of conduct by the idealist souls devoted to restoring a ruined heritage will not only shake the people’s trust in them, but also cause them to lose credit in the sight of God. As seen throughout history, those who commit injustice and misappropriation will fall like Qarun (Korah) in the end, even if they appear like Prophet Aaron, peace be upon him, at the beginning.

Even if they offer a title of a great conqueror, the thought of devotedness must not be sacrificed for anything. Just as we did not possess anything when we came to this world, one must similarly pass to the next world with zero wealth; just like in the examples given above. Let those who do see those examples appreciate them; their appreciation will turn to a blessing in the Hereafter. As for those refuse to appreciate? Their non-appreciation will slam on them like a sledgehammer.

They Fear Not the Censure of Any Who Censure!

Many roses have been taken by thorns, and many nightingales have lamented this. And today, it falls to the heroes of noble ideals to lament. They meet slanders, condemnations, derision, intrigues, and plots… In the face of all these, it is necessary to act with the understanding voiced by a Sufi poet: “Neither the world welcomed us, nor did we expect from worldly ones; nor do we seek refuge in any door but God’s.”

It is necessary to present a stance of dignity. As Sadi Shirazi put it, “If a stray stone touches a golden bowl, neither the stone gains value, nor the bowl loses value at all.” Therefore, if you are a golden bowl, let them stone you; with God’s permission and grace, nobody will be able to harm you.

The Qur’an states that steadfast believers do not fear the censure of any who censure (al-Maedah 5:54), and shows us the attitude to be taken in such situations. On the other hand, it is necessary to know that everything that befalls us is a trial which serves as a means for further closeness to the Eternally Beloved Creator, thanks to a perspective that sees beyond apparent causes. As a hero of such horizons, Bediüzzaman said: “I give my blessing about the torments and ordeals I have been going through for twenty-eight years. I forgive those who oppressed me, those who sent me into exile many times, those who sought to put me in prison on trumped-up charges, and those who paved the way for my imprisonment.”[10]

Journeyers on this path must say like Nasimi did:

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.

Even if they cut me into two from head to foot like Zachariah,

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

Even if they burn me into cinders and blow away my ashes,

They will hear my ashes sigh: ‘O Veiler (of sins), I will not abandon You.’ 

Without being hindered by the evil words they hear, they must focus their attention on the task they need to carry out and walk uprightly on the righteous path.

Have no doubt about it: with God’s permission and grace, they will keep serving under Divine protection and no one will be able to stop them. They must keep walking with the understanding, “Whatever it is that God ordains, it is sure to be goodness.”

[1] See: Al-Maedah 5:27–32.

[2] See: Yunus 10:2; Sad 38:4; Al-Anbiya 21:5; As-Saffat 37:86, and for soothsayer see: Al-Hakim, Al-Mustadrak, 2:550; Abdurrazzaq, Tafsir as-San’ani, 3/328.

[3] See: Al-Maedah: 5:54.

[4] Tabarani, Mujamu’l-Awsat, 8/359.

[5] Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat al-Kubra, 3:186.

[6] Mevlana Şibli Numani, Hz. Ömer ve Devlet İdaresi, İstanbul: Kitapevi Yayınları, 1986, vol. 1, pp. 233–238.

[7] Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, Mesnevi-i Nuriye (The Seedbed of the Light) İstanbul: Şahdamar, 2010, p. 113.

[8] Tabarani, Mu’jam al-Kabir, 18/231.

[9] Sunan Ibn Majah, Muqaddima, 11; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 1:99.

[10] Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, Emirdağ Lahikası (The Supplement of Emirdağ), İstanbul: Şahdamar, 2010, p. 75.

This text is the translation of “İmanın Yenilmez Gücü.”

Discovering Oneself and Depth in Servanthood

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: It is stated that deepening one’s relationship with God and servanthood to Him can be possible by knowing and discovering oneself. Could you elucidate on this?

Answer: There is a saying in Arabic which means “habits are not forsaken.” From this, scholars deduced the principle, “Forsaking habits is one of the causes that leads to ruin.” If a believer will make something into a habit, it will prevent ruin. Thus, if he makes the acts of worship he must observe with respect to his relation with God into habits, he will never forsake or be forsaken. If a person can maintain a close relationship with God by means of worship and devotions, and then make these practices into an inner depth of his conscience, he can attain the state voiced by some saintly persons when they say, “I will be ruined if I become oblivious of being in the presence of God for a moment.”

For this reason, it is very important for a believer to act as if he sees God and is seen by Him every moment. He must always seek His good pleasure with his feelings, consciousness, and willpower; and he must keep away from behaviors that might incur His wrath as much as possible, orienting his inherent feelings of love and respect to God.

Attaining such a state is a target for every believer; or rather, it must be a target for them. However, for the sake of attaining that target, a person must always revise his position and stance, and sincerely ask himself the following questions:

“Do I present the ideal state required for attaining such a horizon? Am I able to keep flying higher through the skies of progress by not becoming stuck in my present position? Am I asking for the next step at all times?”

The Path of Truth and Humility

It is very important that a journeyer to truth not suffice with the level he has attained while journeying through the horizons of the heart and spirit. He must continually target higher levels. However, this should not be mistaken as an encouragement for showing off by working some saintly wonders. What we are referring to is deepening in terms of knowing God Almighty and seeing oneself as nothing in His presence.

Imagine for instance that a person manages to change the movement of not only the earth, but all of the worlds; he still needs to see himself as nothing and acknowledge that everything is from Him. In this respect, those who volunteer to serve on the path of truth must never seek to work wonders. Desiring to gain some exceptional bestowals God Almighty grants to some of His saintly servants contradicts the spirit of the path of truth. The essence of the path of truth is modesty, humility, continuous self-revilement, and always seeing oneself as worth nothing. Let me state incidentally that heroes of truth who do not seek such spiritual ranks and titles will surely have no desire concerning worldly titles, such as being a governor, a member of parliament, a minister, and the like.

These statements should not be taken as disregarding the importance of those administrative positions. However, being inclined to such things in spite of the greatness of the sublime spiritual values one seeks is disrespectful toward those truths. If one has set foot on this path of seeking “God’s good pleasure,” he should know that there is nothing greater. If it is the Divine Countenance, there is nothing more exceptional; if it is the Firdaws in Paradise, there cannot be a place more important. Once a person has targeted these lofty ideals, it will be disrespectful towards them to turn away from them to care about other things. A person devoted to the path of truth becomes a voluntary servant for the cause of the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, and speaks out like Rumi:

I have become a servant, become a servant, become a servant;

I have bowed down in servitude to you.

Servants rejoice when they are emancipated;

Whereas I rejoice when I become Your servant.

Given that one has declared being a servant in submission to Islam and the cause of the blessed Prophet, then he or she will not, and must not, change that in return for anything else.

The Doors Are Bolted Tight for Those Who Say “I”

However, if a person has failed to abandon his own self, then he becomes stuck with his own egotism. The more he is stuck with egotism, the closer he will be to Satan, and more distant from God. The doors on the path of God never open to a person who says “I”. Every time he tries to open them, he always finds them closed and bolted, and he keeps waiting before that door in vain. This is because there cannot be two “I”s in the same place. Actually, saying “I” is an indication of haughtiness. When the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, asked who knocked at his door, the Companion answered, “I”; he would open the door but revealed his disturbance by saying “I, I!”[1] Thus it seems there is some arrogance in saying “I”; such a person virtually says, “I do not even need to introduce myself.”

Continuously saying “I” virtually means booming like a big drum; and a drum makes such a loud noise because it is hollow. A person who continually says “I” also reduces himself to the level of a hollow and lowly creature. Those who are not hollow do not sound out like a drum. Conversely, Rumi likens those who are hollow to the boxes that contain a few pieces of toy pearls and make noise when they are moved, and he likens people of wisdom to jewel boxes that give out no sound, because they are full of jewels.

The indication of modesty, humility, and humbleness is quietness. Quiet people act with these feelings and constantly try to generate plans and projects for their country, people, and the whole of humanity. They give priority to taking action. And just like thunderbolts, which reach their target before their noise does, they walk ahead of their sound.

On the other hand, showing off and pomp are hollow but noisy. Therefore, those who build their lives on showing off and pomp do nothing but cause hollow noise. What really matters is giving priority to action instead of paying lip service to an issue. Prophet Abraham, peace be upon him, prayed, “And grant me a most true and virtuous renown among posterity” (ash-Shuara 26:84), and thus asked for lasting services that would extend to future generations as well. This is an expression of giving priority to action. For this reason, a person must sow the seeds as much as he knows or can, and then leave the rest to God. However, serving with such an immense consideration depends on knowing and recognizing God, and this knowledge and recognition depends on the person’s knowing himself in his own position with God.

One Who Does Not Know Himself Will Not Know God Either

As it is also expressed in the following statement, narrated as a saying of the Prophet, “One who knows himself will know his Lord.”[2] A person who analyzes himself altogether with his physiological structure, conscience, and its four faculties — the subtle spiritual sense, the heart, the mind, and his feelings — knows his Lord better.

To take this statement another way, it means, “one who does not know himself cannot know his Lord.” In order to know his Lord, a person must know who he, himself, is. As Bediüzzaman puts it in “The Thirteenth Word,” the human is such a perfect factory that each of its parts is in mutual proportion with the other parts. At the same time, this existence is in a very serious proportion with the universe. For example, there is direct compatibility between a person’s mouth and the things he can eat, and between his eyes and what he will see with them: He can see and spot unique beings, as the different manifestations of Divine Names and Attributes.

This harmony of human organs is also true for other beings in the universe. According to the statements of physicists and astrophysicists, even the most distant systems have a relationship to the human, a being that seems so petty on earth. In order to be able to sense and understand this relationship, it is necessary to begin with the closest sphere. For example, if a person analyses himself in terms of the substances his mouth will eat and the relation between his eyes and the objects they will see, he will definitely find evidence indicating the existence and oneness of the Exalted Creator. Therefore, according to a blessed statement narrated as a hadith qutsi and included in religious literature, God Almighty stated:

“O human, one who knows himself knows Me; one who knows Me quests for me; one who quests for Me definitely finds Me and attains more; and he does not prefer anybody else over Me. O human, be modest, so that you can know Me. Get accustomed to hunger so that you see Me. Be sincere in your worship so that you reach Me. O human, I am the Lord; one who knows himself, knows Me also. One who abandons himself finds Me. Abandon thyself in order to know Me; a heart not flourished with knowledge of Me is blind.”

From Anatomical Structure to the Depths of the Spirit

Alexis Carrel wrote Man, the Unknown in 1935, and drew attention to the perfection in the human body and emphasized that it absolutely has a Creator, and thus left behind an important work. Although the author was defamed by some in Turkey, people in our country did read and benefit from that work. When people—particularly doctors—look at the analyses of human anatomy there, they will not be able to help but proclaim the unity of God in every step of Carrel’s analyses. It is not possible to explain the wondrous proportion in the human body without acknowledging the hand of the Divine Power.

His own anatomy and physiology being the first, after a human gets to know the outer world, he should seek to know his soul, his mechanism of conscience, and what occurs to his heart. Sometimes expressed as an intuition or sixth sense, cases of foreknowing—such as remembering someone in the morning and meeting that person in the afternoon and beholding scenes of the World of Representations in a dream and witnessing some of what appeared in that dream come true as they were (some with the meaning they represented)—these are happenings we experience in our inner worlds. It is not possible to explain these within the sphere of causality. When a person continues his journey in his inner world, he will both know himself concisely, conclude that the Exalted Creator exists, and will thus know his Lord better.

Real Freedom

In the words narrated as hadith qudsi and quoted above, it is stated that, “One who knows Me, quests for Me.” This relates to what was previously said. As much as one gets to know the Exalted Creator, he begins to wonder, “What does my God expect from me? How can I attain His proximity? How can I fill my bosom with yearning for Him? Filling my bosom with yearning for Him is my duty and His right. Only He must manifest in this bosom, and it is necessary to throw away everything else from it!”

The person who says this will deepen his quest. The poet Fuzuli voices this truth as follows:

True wisdom is not knowing this world and what it has;

He who is oblivious to this world and what it has is truly wise.

As pointed out in this couplet, a person needs to throw away from his bosom this world and what it has, but fill his heart with considerations of Him, and continuously keep his mind busy with Him. By fulfilling these responsibilities, the person will have found God Almighty. And He will not leave these sincere efforts of His servant unrewarded; as it stated in the words of wisdom quoted above, God will grant all of the person’s wishes—and even more. Muhammed Lütfi Effendi expresses this truth so beautifully in the following lines:

If You truly love the Lord,

Do you think He will not love you?

If you seek His good pleasure,

Will not He be pleased with you?

I Did Not Become a Muslim for the Sake of Prosperity

A believer who reaches this level is saved from the hegemony of different desires and wishes. Thus, he attains genuine freedom. As a late scholar once put it, “true freedom depends on being a servant to God.” Those who become a servant to God are freed from all other servanthoods. As for those who do not become a servant to God, as they should, even if they observe the prayers, they will be a slave to many other things, such as worldly position and status, their family, comfort, enjoyment, bohemianism, applause, appreciation, and leaving things for their children; even the polytheists of the Era of Ignorance did not have so many idols!

Being saved from servanthood and slavery to other things depends on being a servant to God in the true sense. The blessed Companions’ lives are full of beautiful and striking examples in this respect. For example, although the military and political genius Amr ibn al-As accepted Islam late, he grasped the spirit of religion in this respect so well that one cannot help but admire his understanding.

As it is known, during the peaceful period after the Treaty of Hudaybiya, Amr ibn al-As came to Medina and appeared before the presence of the noble Prophet in order to become a Muslim. He shook like a leaf out of embarrassment, because he had done much evil to the Pride of Humanity. However, the Prophet of mercy had not recorded any of these evils in his mind, but had forgotten them long ago. While they were shaking hands, Amr ibn al-As was enthralled and squeezed the blessed hand of the Prophet too hard, and God’s Messenger asked, “What do you mean O Amr?”

He responded, “Please forgive my wrong, O Messenger of God!”

Then the Messenger of God stated, “Do you not know that (embracing) Islam wipes out all that has gone before it (previous misdeeds).”[3]

A short time after Amr ibn al-As became a Muslim, the Pride of Humanity summoned him and told him that he would send him on a military campaign, after which he would have war gains. But he responded, “O Messenger of God, I did not become a Muslim for the sake of war gains…”[4]

In the same way, when the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, wished to give a share from war gains to a Companion whose name is not mentioned in the sources, that person said, “O Messenger of God, I cannot accept this. I have become a Muslim, so that I receive an arrow right here—by showing his throat—and become a martyr.” He then pushed aside the war gains. In the end, he was shot by an arrow that pierced his throat as he had wished, and passed to the[5] realm of eternity as a martyr.

Similarly, Abu Sufyan, who had opposed the noble Prophet for so many years until the conquest of Mecca, was shot by an arrow during the Battle of Yarmuk and lost one of his eyes. Holding that eye in his palm, Abu Sufyan looked at it meaningfully with his other eye and said, “What are you good for? You failed to see your master for seventy years,” and then threw it on the ground.[6] This can be expressed by the following words from Niyazi Mısri:

Do not adhere to any guide, lest he takes you through steep ways;

Those who walk behind a true guide, surely take a path of much ease.

While all of these examples reveal the impact of the master that guides a person, they also serve as examples for great spiritual progress.

The devoted volunteers in our time as well should take the Companions as role models and not seek anything worldly. This particularly true if they are serving at any level of the state: they should not obtain any benefit for themselves and next of kin by taking advantage of their position, nor should they seek luxury cars, planes, ships, etc. As it is stated in a Sufi proverb, one must say, “God is sufficient; the rest is empty desire!” They must then keep walking on the way where His good pleasure lies. One must solely target His good pleasure, and not change His Countenance and togetherness with the blessed Prophet in return for any other target whatsoever. Even if Paradise is offered to him in return for giving up all of these, he should still be righteous enough to say, “How strange! What kind of a flaw did they see in me that they are daring to offer something else instead of God’s good pleasure, yearning for Him, and seeing Him?” One must let his heart overflow with these feelings in such a way that there will not be room for anything else. In comparison to these lofty targets, even an ability to work saintly wonders such as flying without wings, walking on water, reading others’ minds, and foretelling what will befall them by looking at their faces will remain absolutely worthless.

To conclude, the people dedicated to glorifying the truths of faith and the Qur’an have to be very careful about the points explained so far. They must push aside everything in terms of the world and what it has, and act in accordance with the meaning of the Divine decree, “Pursue, then, what is exactly right as you are commanded” (Hud 11:112). They must not try to follow what is right in their own consideration, but try to pursue what is right—and that is whatever corresponds to “right” in the sight of God.

[1] Sahih al-Bukhari, Isti’zan, 17; Sahih Muslim, Adab, 38–39.

[2] Al-Munawi, Fayzu’l-Qadr, 1/225, 4; 399, 5/50; Al-Ajluni, Kashfu’l Khafa, 2/343.

[3] Sahih Muslim, Iman 192; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 4:204.

[4] Ahmed ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 4/197, 202; Ibn abi-Shayba, Al-Musannaf, 4/467.

[5] Sunan an-Nasa’i, Janaiz, 61; Hakim, Al-Mustadrak, 3/688.

[6] Ibn al-Athir, Usdu’l-Ghaba, 6/158.

This text is the translation of “İnsanın Kendini Keşfi ve Kullukta Derinlik.”

Everything Is from Him

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: You state in your talks that the services carried out so far needed many factors and apparent causes in order to become real; that nobody but the Creator of all causes could do these things; and therefore, laying a claim on achievements is an unreasonable behavior. Could you elucidate on this?

Answer: First, it is necessary to point out that achievements happen by virtue of the graces and favors of God, the Causer of Causes. This is not a matter that only concerns us but is a general principle that holds true for all eras. For example, as it is told in books of Qur’anic exegesis, Prophet Noah, peace be upon him, told and taught truths to people for some more time after they were saved from the flood by God’s permission and grace. Within that time, he freed his people from animal life, saved them from the narrow cage of physicality, and guided them to the level of the heart and spirit. Thus, they tried to fulfill the due of their servanthood by adopting a God-oriented life. Therefore, Divine help is clearly seen in the life of struggle Prophet Noah led. With sole reference to causality, it is neither possible to find a logical explanation for their being saved from the flood, nor for his being influential over his people. The following words of Prophet Noah, as revealed in the Qur’an, also emphasize that these events were all realized thanks to Divine help: “In God’s Name be its course and its mooring…” (Hud 11:41).

Similarly, from a perspective of causality, we could not deem it possible that Prophet Moses, peace be upon him, would be saved from the Pharaoh’s tyranny, would lead the Children of Israel out of Egypt and keep them in the El Tih Plateau, and that they would enter Palestine after some time with Joshua ibn Nun, peace be upon him. From a perspective of causality, the possibility of realization for all of these is only one out of a million.

Divine Protection and the Failure of Conspiracies

When the life of the Pride of Humanity is studied, Divine help and protection can clearly be observed. The polytheists were trying to destroy their hope by lying in wait for him and other believers at every corner. They wanted to fall upon them and inflict various torments—even hoping to kill some of them. However, the hopes of the blessed Prophet were never shaken. The poet Süleyman Nazif virtually voices this mood of the noble Prophet with the couplet, “Given that I have my spirit together with this faith; it will keep standing for three, four, and five hundred years…”

The polytheists of Mecca also devised various plots against the Prince of the Prophets, as it is stated in the Qur’an: “And (recall, O Messenger,) how those who disbelieve schemed against you to take you captive, or kill you, or drive you away (from Mecca). Thus were they scheming, but God put His will into effect (and brought their scheme to nothing)” (al-Anfal 8:30).

When the humble abode of the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, was surrounded by assassins and there seemed to be no possible way out, the same Divine providence occurred as happened during the Battle of Uhud, when he was losing blood after his blessed cheek was wounded and his blessed tooth was broken. It would have been impossible to find a way out of any of these instances from a perspective of causality. However, God Almighty saved His beloved Messenger. When his home was under siege, God let him walk through the antagonists comfortably and then let him cover more than 400 km without anybody catching him. Even the skillful Suraqa ibn Malik, who traced and caught up with the blessed Prophet, came to his knees and diverted the other chasers.[1]

In fact, with a careful look, it is possible to see similar scenes of Divine providence in the lives of all of those who struggled on the path of God. Eminent persons such as Tariq ibn Ziyad and Uqba ibn Nafi are examples to this. As it is known, Uqba ibn Nafi conquered the whole of North Africa; he rode his horse until the Atlantic Ocean and then said, “My God, had this dark sea not appeared before me, I would take your exalted name to the worlds beyond seas.”[2] When the examplary lives of these wonderful persons are viewed, it is seen that the bestowals they were granted were realized would seem improbable when viewed through the lens of causality.

It is possible to add to these examples the rise of the Ottomans, the conquest of Istanbul, and the movement of volunteers that started with Bediüzzaman and still continues in our time. For example, considering the initial state, master Bediüzzaman would not have deemed such a flourishing possible. He was constantly kept under surveillance; virtually his every step was followed, and he was sent from one exile to another. But in spite of all of these negativities, the lights of the Qur’an and faith have spread everywhere. As a hero of hope, even in the most negative atmosphere, master Bediüzzaman gave the glad tidings that the Truth would resound clearly and he always inspired those around him with this hope. Thinking about the conjuncture of his time, all of these successes were not likely to have been realized under normal conditions; maybe the current developments are a realization of the glad tidings given then.

One out of a Million Probability

As for the volunteers of education in our time, they adopted the message of Jalaluddin Rumi, who said, “A candle does not lose anything from its own light by lighting another,” and set forth to the four corners of the world in order to light up the entire world with their hands. By God’s permission and grace, they were welcome in the lands they traveled to. Like the services carried out in earlier periods, those in our time also constitute a phenomenon that is only possible through the confluence of many different circumstances. For example, concerning the first opening to the former Soviet Republics, the necessary conditions were the disintegration of one of the superpowers of that period, the presence of qualified young teachers and tutors at that time, and their volunteering to go to places they would have had difficulty finding on a map, in spite of the difficulties that awaited them. Most of them were new graduates and many of them likely wanted to stay in their homelands. Homesickness is hard. However, although those young men and women were in the prime of their lives, they overcame their misgivings and fears, and they went without any panic or hesitation to these new lands, many of which were countries whose traditions, customs, and languages they did not understand.

Similarly, it should not be forgotten that the parents of those newly graduated devoted souls expected things from them. How did those volunteers of education, who had devoted their lives to making others live, soften their parents and convince them? How did these parents agree to be separated from their children?

Also, some of these self-sacrificing people were engaged and they had to leave behind the person they were engaged to. Both those who went away and those who stayed behind felt longing and grief, but they didn’t let these feelings serve as obstacles to the services they needed to carry out. By saying, “This is what our people and humanity expect from us,” they made a moving sacrifice. Thinking about these altogether, it is almost impossible for these probabilities to be realized simultaneously, except through Divine grace.

In addition, the necessary causes for these good activities rendered for the sake of humanity were not limited to these. There was also the need for self-sacrificing benefactors who believed in the correctness and necessity of these educational services. Finding those benefactors, convincing them, and asking them to voluntarily finance these needs was a difficult task.

Here, I would like to clarify the subject by relating a memory. Years ago, two wealthy gentlemen and I visited some factory owners and asked them to support the Higher Institute of Islamic Studies to be built in Izmir. In order to tell them the importance of the issue and convince them easily, these businessmen took me with them, since I was a preacher. After telling about the significance of the issue in a brick factory we visited, the owner of the factory only gave fifty Liras to us, if I am not wrong (approximately five dollars at the time). It was nearly impossible to establish the Higher Institute of Islamic Studies with such small donations.

After consulting about the issue, we decided to invite wealthy people likely to accept our invitation to a place and to ask for their support. As far I as remember, the people who attended barely filled the four sides of a table. I made a speech. The people who attended promised donations of different amounts, such as a hundred thousand, fifty thousand, or forty thousand Liras, etc. But one of the people there broke the spirits of everyone by saying, “Everyone gives as much as they believe in an issue, so I am giving 2500 Liras.”

Despite this, there came a time when tens of people in different parts of the country encouraged one another to give to such acts of charity; when people were not informed about a meeting held about donations, they expressed reproach by saying, “Why didn’t you call me?”

After a similar gathering one day, I finished my speech and retired to a room. A veteran sergeant entered the room with some keys in his hand. In an emotional state he said, “During the meeting everybody did donate something, but I did not have anything to give. Therefore, I have brought the keys of my apartment to you.” Naturally, it was not possible for me to accept such an offer; I thanked him and turned him down with kind words.

In the nineties, when we expanded to other, this spirit had already formed in our people. Therefore, it was not solely a matter of finding teachers and tutors. The worldwide education activities happened as a result of so many factors, such as parents’ consent, the suitability of the places to go, and of the financial support by the magnanimous people of Anatolia to the people who would travel. Considering all this, success was actually a one out of a million probability. When success is achieved despite such long odds, nobody can attribute it to his own genius, perspicacity, sagacity, reason, judgment, or strategic power. One who does that will have committed a gross wrong, and irreverence.

It Is God Who Grants These Accomplishments!

Actually, ascribing every good deed and achievement to God is an issue given special care in Muslim belief and ethics. For example, adhering to this consideration, Umar ibn al-Khattab removed the army commander Khalid ibn al-Walid during a very critical battle at Yarmuk.[3] At this war, which ended the Roman rule in Syria and maintained Muslim dominance, the enemy forces were some 7 or 8 times greater than Muslims. With God’s permission, the Muslims were victorious in the end. The strategies applied by the commander, Khalid ibn al-Walid, who was a military genius, together with his courage and valor were appreciated by all.

In spite of such an ongoing battle, the Caliph Umar took the commander from duty and the famous Khalid was humbly standing before the caliph. He was a great commander who had crushed the Sassanid Empire and was then defeating the Romans. The blessed caliph Abu Bakr said, “no mother has given birth to a son like Khalid.”[4] As a Western commentator remarked, commanders like Hannibal can only beg for assistance from Khalid.

Although he was a person of such standing, he was an ordinary member of the army who humbly stood before the caliph to be taken from duty. When Khalid came before the caliph—may my soul be sacrificed for both—Umar ibn al-Khattab told him, “Khalid, you know that I love you very much. But people are ascribing the victories gained to your person. But I know that it is God Almighty who actually grants these to us. I am anxious for you to become a myth. This is why I have discharged you from command.”[5]

In that situation, Khalid ibn al-Walid crowned his greatness with dizzying modesty and came under the command of Abu Ubayda ibn al-Jarrah who had been a soldier under his command; from then on, until the end of his life, he served as a brilliant soldier.

In short, it should never be forgotten that any issue cannot be realized without Divine power and help. Every good thing happens only by God’s permission, help, and custody. Therefore, it is necessary to evaluate the activities realized so far as a result of God Almighty’s custody and as a manifestation of His help and support. At the same time, these should trigger our feelings of praise and gratitude to Him, so that the blessings we have received so far will continue with our thankfulness. Otherwise, if we attribute the achievements made—may God forbid!—to ourselves, then God leaves us with our own limited power, strength, and will. This would be a breach of this blessed trust, which we have inherited from very sincere hands. Upholding the truths of the Qur’an in this universe as they deserve can only be possible by remaining faithful to the truth of Divine unity, believing that it is not possible for even a leaf to move without His help, and leading our lives by remaining true to this belief.

[1] Sahih al-Bukhari, Manaqibu’l-Ansar, 45; Sahih Muslim, Zuhd, 75.

[2] Ibn al-Athir, Al-Kamil fi’t-Tarikh, 3/451.

[3] Tabari, Tarikhu’l-Umam wa’l-Muluk, 2/491.

[4] Tabari, Tarikhu’l-Umam wa’l-Muluk, 2/315.

[5] Tabari, Tarikhu’l-Umam wa’l-Muluk, 2/491.

This text is the translation of “Her Şey O’ndan.”

Spirit of Altruism

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: What is the significance of altruism in solving humanity’s problems? How can this virtue be acquired?

Answer: The Islamic term for altruism, “ithar” means preferring others over oneself; it is one of the most important values we have lost. What lies under today’s interpersonal and inter-societal tumults, disagreements, and disunities, as well as people’s inability to accept and tolerate others, is the death of the spirit of altruism. And the reason for the death of this spirit is the deterioration of the values of the heart. When the heart degenerates, all of our human values, along with the codes and stamps that endow humans with the best pattern of creation, are obliterated, and Satan will play his game upon the person’s world of thought.

In this respect, at the end of his saying that begins, “The lawful are clear, and so are the forbidden…” the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, stated, “Beware! In the body there is a piece of flesh that, if it is sound, the whole body will be sound, and if it is corrupt, the whole body will be corrupt. Take care! It is the heart.”[1]

Thus, a person keeping his heart clean from every kind of contamination and dirt, and checking it out at least a few times a day, is a very important factor in terms of preserving one’s spiritual life. A person must be very careful and pray deeply in this respect. A person must even keep away from negative imaginations and thoughts, both of which might leave some ugly traces in the heart. As it is also stated in a hadith, God looks at a person’s heart and evaluates that person accordingly.[2] God Almighty does not treat a person according to his weight, color, height, or the cultural environment he was raised in, but by the purity of his heart. And at the weighing of deeds in the Hereafter, the weight of the heart is considered; and however much the heart turned to God and beat for Him, is how much worth the person will be given.[3]

The Golden Age of the Spirit of Altruism: The Era of Happiness

People with pure hearts will at the same time be full of feelings of beneficence and compassion toward humanity. Instead of living for themselves, they will try to make others live in the true sense by awakening their hearts to God. Essentially, the spirit of altruism depends on this.

The Qur’an draws attention to the virtue of ithar as follows: “…They prefer others over themselves, even though poverty be their own lot” (al-Hashr 59:9). This spirit and thought was very developed in the Era of Happiness. For example, the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, wished to feed a hungry guest in his blessed home. However, on learning that they had nothing but water to offer the guest, he sent the man to another Companion’s home. As they only had food to suffice for one person, the couple put their children to sleep, turned off the light, and pretended to be eating from their empty dishes together with the guest so that he did not refuse to eat. Thus, they remained hungry while the guest was able to satisfy his hunger.[4]

Mehmed Akif depicts this sublime spirit of ithar in the context of the Battle of Yarmuk. During that battle, Companions such as Harith ibn Hisham, Ikrima ibn Abi Jahl, and Ayyash ibn Abi Rabia were gravely wounded. While their martyrdom was expected, the respected Harith asked for water and another Companion ran to him with a water flask. He was living his final moments and probably had the strength to say only one word. Right at the moment he was taking the flask to his lips, he heard that Ikrima was asking for water and insisted the water to be taken to him. The Companion took the water to Ikrima, but then Ayyash asked for water while Ikrima was just about to drink. Ikrima insisted the water to be taken to Ayyash. The Companion took the water flask to our master Ayyash, but saw that he had become a martyr. When he went back to the others to give them water, he saw that they had been martyred as well.[5]

I had a similar experience, one I will never forget, during a retreat in Buca. While we were eating together, I found a piece of meat in front of me. Then I pushed it to the plate of a guest teacher sitting near me. Then he passed it further for the next person to eat, and after a dozen people passed this meat, it eventually returned to his plate again. As the guest was a wisecracker, he quoted a verse from the chapter Yusuf and said, “Here is our merchandise returned to us” (Yusuf 12:65). The spreading of this altruistic feeling and thought among people is very important in terms of peace in society and establishing a spirit of brotherhood.

Preferring One’s Brother for Positions and Promotions

Although all of these are important examples of altruism, one should not restrict it to issues like eating and drinking. When there is the question of gaining a certain position or title, preferring one’s brother to himself is also very important in terms of altruism. Umar ibn al-Khattab’s attitude in the following situation is a striking and beautiful example:

When the Pride of Humanity died and passed to the horizon of his soul, the Companions gathered, concerned about keeping up the spirit of unity and preventing disintegration in society. They wished to choose a leader as soon as possible. Abu Bakr told the others about the virtues of Umar ibn al-Khattab. He stated his wish to pledge allegiance to him and that Umar should be chosen as caliph. However, Umar ibn al-Khattab held Abu Bakr’s hand right away and pledged allegiance to him by saying, “If there is someone to lead the Muslim community after the Messenger of God, he is Abu Bakr.” As we can see, stepping back from a leading position and giving priority to a brother is a very important form of altruism.[6]

By the way, let me state that we are not in a position to compare the greatness of our blessed masters Abu Bakr and Umar. We do not have the scales to measure the true worth of those great figures. I guess even the scales that measure the deeds of people in the Hereafter will break under the weight of the good deeds by the caliphs Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali, may God be pleased with them. Every one of them is invaluable. They made such spiritual progress that only the title of Prophethood remained ahead of them, which they could attain as there is no Prophet after the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him. Had there been any person to come as Prophet after the Pride of Humanity, it would be them.

Abu Bakr saw Umar as eligible for being caliph and Umar saw Abu Bark as that person. They absolutely did not say something like, “I do this job better, as such and such alluded to my eligibility.” Preferring others over oneself when there is the issue of coming to certain positions and gaining material benefits is a higher form of altruism. This excels altruism having to go with material benefits.

A person with this virtue will not prefer living, but wants to help others live. He wants to courageous say, “I may die if necessary, for what matters is letting the rest of the world live. If the people’s continuity depends on my being sacrificed, may God Almighty let it happen to me quickly!” Otherwise, those who see themselves like a pillar by which the entire world stands, and fantasize that the world will collapse and end when they step aside, are nothing but misfortunate ones with no share of this spirit.

Even in front of the Gate of Paradise

The following scene about the Hereafter is noteworthy in terms of showing how far altruism can go. It is narrated that the noble Prophet was shown a vision of how the rich who spent for the sake of God will meet with the learned ones at the gate of Paradise. Accordingly, the learned ones will say to the rich, “Please, the priority is yours, you enter first. Because, had you not spent from your fortune in the path of God, opened educational institutions and thus prepared opportunities for education, we could not have become learned ones and found right guidance. You were the means of our being on the path of learning and broadening our horizons; we owe you. Therefore, the priority belongs to you.”

And then they will take one step back out of respect. However the generous rich will say, “We are indebted to you; because, had you not opened our eyes thanks to your immense knowledge, nor guided us beautifully and taught us a holistic reading of the laws of religion and the laws prevalent in the universe together, and not showed us the beauty of making lawful gains and then spending for the sake of God, we could not have spent our wealth for the sake of such charity. You showed the way and led us to the thousand-fold profits for what we gave in the world. For this reason, you are also our pioneers here; please, you go first.”

After this sweet conversation, the scholars will go first and they will enter Paradise together with the generous rich.

This conversation between the learned ones and the generous rich should not solely be taken as an account of a future event. It is also a lesson that conveys the depths of their altruism. Imagine that before coming to the gate of Paradise, they go through a very hard questioning and leave behind the Sirat Bridge, which is difficult to pass. In addition, in front of them are the blessings of the dizzyingly beautiful Paradise, which is beyond imagination and has been seen by no eyes and heard by no ears. On seeing those things, a person virtually comes close to fainting out of delight. Imagine that their spirit of altruism continues even in such a situation. By means of this depiction, the Messenger of God shows us the extent of their spirit of ithar.

Such people hear the following words of Bediüzzaman, the wonder of our age, who was an inheritor of the Prophet: “In my life of more than eighty years, I did not enjoy anything as worldly pleasures; my life always passed in battlegrounds, prison houses, and different places of exile and suffering. 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, for while my body is burning, my heart will become a rose garden.”

A person who hears these words thinks that this voice sounds as if it is coming from the time of the Prophet. I think society needs such an immense spirit of altruism more than air and water.

The Prophet returning to this world of troubles again after seeing, reaching, and surmounting impossible things is very important in terms understanding the ultimate point the spirit of altruism can reach. In that journey, the noble Messenger of God met Prophets Jesus, Moses, Abraham, and Adam, peace be upon them; after receiving their welcome and veneration, he entered Paradise and saw its dizzying attractions.[7] And then he beheld the beauty and perfectness of God Almighty. Who knows what a feeling it is for the human soul to behold God! In Badu’l Amal, it is stated that believers who are honored to see God will even forget the blessings of Paradise.[8] That is to say, all of the paradisiacal mansions, fruits, and heavenly beauties—which would light up the entire world with a single projection of their beauty—are ignored at that moment. The Messenger of God, who was blessed with all of these and reached some point between contingency and necessity, returned back to live among people, in order to let his followers hear about the blessings he saw, felt, and sensed.

After telling us that the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, returned to the world after such a journey, Abdulquddus said, “By God, had I attained those blessings, I would not return back to the world.”

Another one commented on this, saying, “Here is the difference of status between the Prophets and the greatest saint.” The Prophets purely exist for the sake of making others live. Saintly persons may in a way wish to make progress and attain spiritual delights.

In addition, as the Messenger of God reached such horizons while in the world returned back to live among his people again in order to hold their hand and guide them, it is possible that if he hears the cries of those from his community who went to Hell, who knows? Maybe he will go near it, lend a hand to them, and wish to take them out of Hell. All of these are forms of altruism. They are different wavelengths of manifestation on the horizons of Prophethood.

Antidote for Clashes and Fights

Today, we desperately need the spirit of altruism, which is very closely related to faith, the religious life of the heart, being close to God, compassion, and helping others live in the true sense. What we need today are chivalrous souls who will push aside the world and its contents which appeal to fancies and desires; souls who will solely live for the sake of making others live, and will pray as such:

“My God, my life may have real value if I will serve as a means for making others live. Otherwise, I feel disgusted by this meaningless life with no benefit to others and which does not revive their hearts; I seek refuge in You against it. Save me from this heavy burden please!”

Those who always say “I” and index everything to their egotism have always caused people to clash. They provoke feelings like envy, jealousy, intolerance, and rivalry, and consequently bring society to a state in which one would not like to live.

However, there are thousands of people who could do what such egoists boast to have achieved. If only there had been a little bit of trust in God. If only those who talked about the Companions and the Prophets would decide to walk their talk a little bit. If only they took a step back when necessary and gave responsibility to those eligible for a certain task. If there is an elixir that can fix a disintegrated society, it is this very spirit of altruism, which must be rekindled in hearts.

Otherwise, it will not possible to thoroughly solve the problems we face, either by diplomacy, political games, tricks, or the strategies devised by think-tank organizations. If it were possible, our society, which has experienced different changes and metamorphoses from yesterday to now, would have reached more advanced horizons long ago. But as it stands, our society is still monstrous, and people are virtually eating one another like cannibals. For God’s sake, is it any different from cannibalism if you bombard civilians, use poisonous gas, deprive others of their right to live, act with Islamophobia, and commit different forms of oppression against certain groups? All of these are nothing but different forms of monstrosity. And the way to eliminate them is concentrating on becoming human anew and trying to fulfill what being endowed with the best pattern of creation calls for.

[1] Sahih al-Bukhari, Iman, 39; Sahih Muslim, Musaqat, 107.

[2] Sahih Muslim, Birr, 32–33; Sunan Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 9.

[3] See: Ash-Shuara 26:88-89.

[4] Sahih al-Bukhari, Manaqibu’l-Ansar, 10; Tafsir Surah (59) 6; Sahih Muslim, Ashriba, 172–173.

[5] Al-Hakim, Al-Mustadrak, 3/270; Ibn Abdilbarr, Al-Istiab, 3/1084.

[6] Sahih al-Bukhari, Manaqib Fada’il al-Ashab, 5; Jana’iz, 3; Maghazi, 83; Sunan an-Nasa’i, Jana’iz, 11; Sunan Ibn Majah, Jana’iz, 65.

[7] Sahih al-Bukhari, Bad’al-Khalq, 6; Anbiya, 43; Manaqibu’l-Ansar, 42; Sahih Muslim, Iman, 259, 264.

[8] Al-Ushi, Badu’l Amal, 41.

This text is the translation of “Îsâr Ruhu.”

Bamteli: Hizmet Mevsimleri ve Himmet Meyveleri

Herkul | | BAMTELI

Muhterem Fethullah Gülen Hocaefendi, haftanın Bamteli sohbetinde özetle şunları söyledi:

Hizmet erleri -yedikleri tekmelere rağmen- yeni okullar açıyor, açılımlar yapıyorlar!..

*Mazlumiyet ve mağduriyetler karşısında katiyen sarsıntı yaşamamak ve asla paniklememek lazım. Tekme yemeler olabilir; M. Âkif de “…tekme yerim, çifte yerim” diyor. Şimdiye kadar tekme yemedik hizmet insanı da olmamıştır; hep tekme yemişlerdir, çifte yemişlerdir. Fakat sarsılmayanlar ve yerinde duranlar kazanmış; tekme ve çifte atanlar da kaybetmişlerdir.

*Onun için, değişik vesilelerle ifade etmeye çalıştığım gibi, bugüne kadar hizmetimizi kaç vitesle götürüyor idiysek, şimdi onu ikiye katlamamız lazım. Zaten bu işe gönül vermiş arkadaşlar bunu yapıyorlar. Onlar mesajlarını öteden almışlar, bizden değil; Allah ile irtibat sayesinde, sanki Cenâb-ı Hak onlara ışık tutuyor, onlar da o yolda yürüyorlar. Sürekli okulların sayısını arttırıyorlar, yeni üniversiteler açıyorlar.

Allah’la irtibatın gücünü bilemeyenler, adanmış ruhları korkutabileceklerini zannettiler!..

*Aslında böyle krizli gibi görünen her dönemde hep böyle olmuştur. Az geriye doğru giden insanlar 27 Mayıs’ı, 12 Mart’ı,12 Eylül’ü ve 28 Şubat’ı da hatırlarlar. O dönemde de aynı yaveler minarelerin başından ilan edilir gibi medya yoluyla ilan edildi. Birileri bütün güç ve kuvvetlerini sizi sarsmak ve dağıtmak için kullandılar. İmkânları elinizden almak ve sizi panikletmek istediler. “Korkutursak millet bunlardan kopar, bizim yanımıza gelir.” dediler. Korkmamaya karar vermiş insanların hiçbir zaman korkmayacaklarını düşünemediler, bilemediler ve bilemezlerdi de!.. Çünkü o ruh haletini taşımıyorlardı!.. Çünkü Allah ile irtibatın insana çok önemli bir enerji kaynağı olduğunu bilemiyorlardı! Hazreti Rasûl-i Zîşân ile irtibatın mü’minde nasıl bir metafizik gerilim hâsıl ettiğini bilemiyorlardı!..

*Son maruz kalınan zulümler, bu işe dilbeste olmuş insanlarda o metafizik gerilimi biraz daha artırdı. Arkadaşlar daha bir kenetlendiler Allah’ın izni ve inayetiyle. Daha bir birleşme oldu ve bu, olanın üstünde bir sinerji hâsıl etti. Bugüne kadar Cenâb-ı Hak sizde o metafizik gerilimi muhafaza buyurdu.

*Öyleyse, bundan sonra da hiç sarsılmadan, bir küheylan gibi koşmaya bakmalıyız. Ana yurdumuzda olan ve dünyanın değişik yerlerinde bulunan arkadaşlarımızla hepimiz, vites yükseltmeli ve düne kadar yapageldiğimiz hizmetlerimizi katlayarak sürdürmeliyiz.

Bir gayeye gönül vermiş insanlar dünyayı ellerinin tersiyle iter ve dönüp ona bakmayı Allah’a karşı terbiyesizlik bilirler!..

*Hizmet adına neyimiz vardı bizim? Okul faaliyetlerimiz vardı. Toplumun değişik kesimleri arasında “diyalog” münasebetlerimiz vardı! Herkesin ayağına gidiyor, herkesi ziyaret ediyor, herkesin çayını içiyor, herkese çay içiriyorduk; bir yönüyle sarsılmış, kırılmış, örselenmiş o uhuvvet ruhunu ihya etmeye çalışıyorduk. Hiçbir şey olmamış gibi bunu yeniden devam ettirmemiz lazım!

*Evet, o beşerî münasebetleri engin bir gönül şefkatiyle yeniden ihya etmek lazım. Mefkûre insanına, gaye-i hayal insanına düşen şey budur. Onlar yüksek bir gayeye dilbeste olmuşlardır. Dünyevî saltanat ve debdebeyi ellerinin tersiyle itmişlerdir. Saraylarla, yatlarla, yalılarla karşılarına çıksanız bile, onlar sağda solda ırgatlık yapmak suretiyle ruhlarının âbidesini ikâme etmekten başka bir şey düşünmezler. Mefkûrelerinden başka bir şey düşünmeyi kendilerine karşı saygısızlık sayarlar. Allah’a karşı terbiyesizlik sayarlar. Hazreti Ruh-u Seyyidi’l-Enâm’a karşı da edepsizlik sayarlar.

*Mefkûre insanları hep dik dururlar. Dünyaya ait şeyleri dünya kadar kabul ederler. “Tatmaya izin var, doymaya yok!” diyen Hazreti Pîr-i Mugân’ın “Dünya lezzetleri zehirli bala benzer, lezzeti nispetinde elemi de vardır.” sözünü hep hatırda tutarlar.

*Yine hizmet adına okul mu açıyordunuz? Şimdiye kadar ne kadar okulunuz vardı? “Şu önümüzdeki iki-üç sene içinde bunun on katını yapalım Allah’ın izni ve inayetiyle!..” Mefkûre erleri hiç tereddüt etmeden böyle düşünürler.

Zaman ve Bugün gibi doğrunun sesi soluğu medya organları mutlaka desteklenmeli!..

*Zaman Gazetesi, ilk basıldığında on beş bin mi basmıştı, 20 bin mi basmıştı?!. Zamanla bir milyonu aştı. Belki son tahribat ve kırılmalardan dolayı mesele ona da aksetti. Ama ben bu işe sahip çıkan kardeşlerime öyle inanıyorum ki, bunlar abone yapma döneminde her şeyi bırakırlar, o kampanya mevsiminde bu iş için küheylan gibi koşarlar; bugüne kadar bir yapıyorlarsa, bundan sonra on yaparlar. Bir-iki fasıl onu indirmeye mukabil, olduğunun bir-iki fasıl üstüne çıkarırlar. Zaman’ı ve Bugün Gazetesi’ni…

*Bu, diğerlerinin aleyhinde olmak demek değildir; “Falandan kopun bize gelin” demek değildir. Dünya kadar doğruyu, hakkı, hakikati, adaleti, evrensel insanî değerleri öğrenmeye iştiyak duyan insan vardır. Kahve, lokal ve pastanelerde bunlara ihtiyacı olan bir hayli insan vardır. Her bir arkadaşımız bunları bularak, bunu bir manevî cihat sayarak doğruların duyurulmasına yardımcı olmalıdır! Günümüzün cihadı budur!.. Doğru düşüncenin, doğru yorumun; birleştirici düşüncenin, birleştirici felsefenin toplumun her kesimine yayılması için, bunun mutlaka katlanarak devam etmesi lazımdır.

Derdimiz falanı filanı çatlatmak değil, doğrunun herkes tarafından duyulmasını sağlamaktır.

*Eldeki mevcut müesseseler bu zelzelede hiçbir şey olmamış gibi katlanarak devam etmeli. Birilerinin bir “yıkma fâsid dairesi”ne karşılık bir “yapma salih dairesi” oluşturmalı, doğurgan döngü düşüncesi oluşturmalı. Bu falanı filanı çatlatmaya mâtuf değil; yapılması gerekli olan şeyi hâlisâne yapmaya mâtuf. Falanın filanın çatlaması, mağlubiyet yaşaması, hezimetin inkisarıyla inlemesi gibi bir derdimiz, bir problemimiz yok. İsteğimiz sadece doğrunun herkes tarafından duyulması; yalan ve iftiraya meydan verilmemesi; ırz, namus ve haysiyetle oynanmaması; oynayanlara karşı her yerde minarelerden yükselen ezanlar gibi doğru sesin duyulması. Evet, her tarafta o doğruluğun, o istikametin ve o sadâkatin sesi duyulmalı.

*İnsanlar, yamuk yumuk şeylerin yanında doğruyu da duymalılar. Allah, insanı ehl-i insaf olarak yaratmıştır. İnsan, bir kere yanılır, iki kere yanılır; bir delikten bir kere ısırılır, çok hüsnüzan eder ve hüsnüzannına yenik düşerse, bir kere daha ısırılır, bir kere daha ısırılır; fakat mü’minin ilelebet ısırılması söz konusu değildir. Nihayet o ikide, üçte, dörtte kendine gelir, toparlanır, “Doğru buymuş!” der, “Şu âna kadar dinlediklerim de sadece lakırdıdan, kezibden, iftiradan, gıybetten, isnattan, tasalluttan, tagallüpten, tahakkümden, tahkirden, tezyiften, ta’yibten, tağyirden, tehcirden ibaretmiş!” der ve döner Allah’ın izni ve inayetiyle.

Doğrulara tercüman olan medyaya hava kadar, su kadar ihtiyaç var!..

*Her mevsimin ayrı bir hizmeti vardır. Bir mevsim üniversiteye hazırlık kursları için çalışmalı! Bir mevsim okullara talebe kaydı için çalışmalı. Şayet bir mevsimde de gazetelerinizin ve mecmualarınızın halka tanıtılması, abonelerin yenilenmesi, mevcut olan abonelerin katlanması söz konusu ise, o zaman onun katlanması için bizim de himmetimizi, gayretimizi ve hızımızı katlayıp o işe yoğunlaşmamız lazım.

*Parçalanmış toplumun, dağılmış efkârın, kirlenmiş duygu ve düşüncelerin, doğru sese, doğru soluğa ihtiyacı var.. oksijen kadar ihtiyacı var, hava kadar ihtiyacı var, su kadar ihtiyacı var!.. Onun için, Allah’ın izni ve inayetiyle sıkın dişinizi; bir buçuk milyon yapın onu (Zaman’ın tirajını); gelecek sene de iki milyon yapın. Bu arada, diğerlerini de kendi konumlarında kabul edin. Herkesin konumuna saygılı olan, muvazene unsuru böyle bir yayın organına ihtiyaç vardır. Yalan söylemeyen, iftira etmeyen, gıybete bühtana girmeyen, başkalarını karalamaya matuf dünyalar inşa etmeye çalışmayan böyle yayın organlarına, havaya, suya ihtiyaç duyulduğu gibi bir ihtiyaç bulunduğu kanaatindeyim. Siz de bunu yapmaya teşne bulunuyorsunuz.

*Duamda hep şöyle demişimdir: Cenâb-ı Hak Anadolu’da Anadolu ruhunu bir âbide şeklinde ikâme buyursun; onu ikâme ettiği günün ikindisinde de benim canımı alsın, onu görmeyeyim ve ben unutulayım. Hiç kimse “Bu adamın da bu işin içinde bir payı vardı!” demesin. Karakterim bu!..

Hak Nezdinde Makbul İki Dua

*Evet, her işin bir mevsimi vardır. Mevsimler rantabl olarak değerlendirilmelidir. Anadolu insanının ruhunun abidesini, ruh ve mana köklerimizi yeniden ikâme etmek için buna ihtiyaç var. Her mevsimde ne yapılıyorsa, ne yapmak icap ediyorsa şayet, onun üzerinde yoğunlaşarak, konsantre olarak, bütün himmetimizi ona sarf etmemiz lazım.

*Bu, Allah’a karşı fiilen sunulmuş öyle icâbete şayeste bir duadır ki, Allah böyle duaları hiçbir zaman geriye çevirmemiş, bu yolda yürüyenleri de hiçbir zaman yolda bırakmamıştır. Hani bir Türk atasözü vardır: “Dede, himmet!” demiş; “Oğul, hizmet!” demiş. Eğer himmet bekliyorsanız, inayet bekliyorsanız, riayet bekliyorsanız, bilesiniz ki, mele-i âlânın sakinlerince sizden beklenen de hizmettir. Bu açıdan da sizi hiçbir şey yıldırmamalı!..

*Geriye çevrilmeyecek dualardan biri de âlem-i İslam’ın her tarafının kan seylaplarıyla dopdolu olup taştığı bu dönemde ızdırar ruh hali içinde ızdırap ve hüzün yudumlamaktır. Hal-i hazırda dünyanın değişik yerlerinde kan seylapları birer kütük gibi insanları önüne katıp sürükleyip götürüyor. İnsanın bu korkunç hadiseler karşısında duyarsızlığı, onun nezd-i ulûhiyette kıymetsizliğini ifade eder. Müslümanların dertlerini dert edinmeyen ve paylaşmayan onlardan değildir; yani -açıkça- Müslüman değildir.

*Mefhum-u muhalifi: Bir kimse Müslümanların dertlerini paylaşıyorsa, acılarını içinde duyuyorsa, ızdıraplarına gözyaşı döküyorsa ve yıkılan her şey onun içinde de bazı şeylerin yıkılması şeklinde kendisini hissettiriyorsa, işte o, Müslümanlardandır. Arkadaşlarımızın bu çizgide Müslüman olduğunda şüphem yok; fakat bizim her zaman bu istikamette teyid ve rehabilitasyona ihtiyacımız vardır.

Mefkûre kahramanları, her mevsim farklı bir ürün veren kelime-i tayyibe veya bereketli ağaç gibidir!..

*Mefkûre insanları, birer kelime-i tayyibe gibi her mevsim farklı bir ürün/meyve vermesini bilmelidirler. Cenâb-ı Hak, İbrahim Suresi’nde şöyle buyurur:

أَلَمْ تَرَ كَيْفَ ضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلاً كَلِمَةً طَيِّبَةً كَشَجَرَةٍ طَيِّبَةٍ أَصْلُهَا ثَابِتٌ وَفَرْعُهَا فِي السَّمَاءِ تُؤْتِي أُكُلَهَا كُلَّ حِينٍ بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهَا وَيَضْرِبُ اللَّهُ الْأَمْثَالَ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ وَمَثَلُ كَلِمَةٍ خَبِيثَةٍ كَشَجَرَةٍ خَبِيثَةٍ اجْتُثَّتْ مِنْ فَوْقِ الْأَرْضِ مَا لَهَا مِنْ قَرَارٍ

“Görmedin mi Allah nasıl bir benzetme yaptı: Güzel söz (kelime-i tayyibe), kökü yerin derinliklerinde sabit, dalları ise göğe doğru yükselmiş bir ağaç gibidir ki Rabbinin izniyle her zaman meyvesini verir. Düşünüp ders çıkarsınlar diye Allah insanlara böyle temsiller getirir. Kötü söz ise, gövdesi toprağın üstünden kolayca çıkarılabilen, kökleşip yerleşmeyen değersiz bir ağaca benzer.” (İbrahim, 14/24-25)

*“Kelime”yi, ağzınızdan çıkan bir söz, davranış olarak ortaya koyduğunuz bir tavır, arkada bıraktığınız bir eser, sebebiyet verdiğiniz olumlu veya olumsuz bir şey şeklinde şümullü anlamak lazım. “Habis kelime”nin misali, yeryüzünün derinliklerine doğru kök salmadığından sürekli oynayıp duran, değişik fırtınalar karşısında savrulan ve hatta devrilen ağaç gibidir. Yeryüzünde onun için hiç karar yoktur. Güzel kelimenin misali ise, tertemiz, kendisine güve musallat olmamış, küfe maruz kalmamış, yerin derinliklerine doğru kök salmış, sabitkadem, dimdik, yukarılara doğru ser çekmiş bir ağaç gibidir.

*Madem mü’min de bir Allah kelimesidir; o da işte öyle güzel bir ağaç gibi olmalı ve her mevsimde o mevsime göre bir kısım meyveler vermelidir. Öbür tarafta Cenâb-ı Hakk’ın inayet elinin damlayı derya, zerreyi güneş yapıp iade etmesi için burada her mevsimi en iyi şekilde değerlendirmelidir.

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

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: What are the indispensable essentials for the duty of letting hearts meet truths?

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

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

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

Banging Hammers, One upon Another

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Same Truth Voiced by All of the Prophets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nullifying Credibility and Coming to Dead Ends

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

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

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

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

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

The Sorrowful Ending of Those Who Misappropriate

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

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

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

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

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

[3] Ash-Shuara 26:105–111; Nuh 71:23.

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

[5] Ash-Shuara, 26:141–159.

[6] Ash-Shuara, 26:160–175.

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

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

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

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

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

Some Criteria for Warding off Evils

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: What is the proper conduct for Muslims in the face of bad treatment and attitudes?

Answer: It is a known fact that grudge and hatred will only engender the same feelings in return. Responding to harshness and violence with the same will give way to vicious circles which nobody can escape; society will be struck by schisms and everybody will be lost in the turmoil. Therefore, the heart of a believer must be immense; he should be able to absorb even the most negative things, and struggle in such a way that redeems even those who commit evil.

Warding off in the Best Way

 The Qur’an reveals what kind of an attitude Muslims are supposed to adopt in the face of bad treatment: “These will be granted their reward twice over because they have remained steadfast (in following their religion, remaining free of falsehood, and so keeping themselves above all prejudices while believing in and following the Qur’an and Muhammad); and they repel evil with good, and out of what We have provided for them (of wealth, knowledge, power, etc.) they spend (in God’s cause and for the needy, and purely for the good pleasure of God without placing others under obligation)” (al-Qasas 28:54). It is narrated that this verse was revealed about People of the Book, but the particularity of its cause of revelation does not eliminate the generality of the judgment. Therefore the verse addresses everybody, including believers in our time.

As it is understood from the specification, “because they have remained steadfast,” those who gain twice the rewards will be the ones who put up with mistreatment and torment, who virtually melt the troubles and misfortunes that befall them into fireworks, and thus present dizzying spectacles to people. By turning even the most negative happenings into positive ones, they respond to evil with the words, “and they repel evil with good.” They respond to evil with goodness and good things.

If the ugly and unpleasant treatment he receives causes a feeling of grudge and hatred within a believer who realizes the truth of this verse in his life, he tries to wipe away and melt this anger with a feeling of mildness and peace. He does this in accordance with the verse, “…Surely good deeds wipe out evil deeds. This is advice and a reminder for the mindful who reflect” (Hud 11:114).

If a believer does something negative, and if this detracts from his worship and devotions, he immediately tries to eliminate the negative act with a consideration of atonement, and he also crowns this atonement by doing some good deed.

When a real believer commits some evil act, this pierces through his heart like a spear and triggers a bitter feeling inside him. If he commits something evil even with a single word, behavior, look, or allusion, he does some good deed to eliminate it right away and to erase the marks it leaves in his mind.

Such a behavior is actually a requirement of servanthood to God. In his advice to Muadh ibn Jabal, the noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, stated, “Fear God wherever you are and follow an evil deed with a good one to wipe it out, and treat people with good behavior.”[1] As acts of goodness serve like spirals that ascend verbal deeds to God, they at the same eliminate evils. The end of the verse states that this is very important advice and a reminder for the mindful who reflect.

Actually, every positive behavior that erases evil from people’s minds is also a means for those evils to be erased in the Divine Presence. God Almighty’s mercy requires that those negatives not turn into a means of trouble, tribulation, and inner suffering in the next world. In the realm of infinite blessings, unlimited bestowals, and everlasting graces, it will be a means of inner suffering for a believer to think, “I should not have done this disrespect against my religion, Prophet, and essential values.” For this reason, as a manifestation of His mercy in a different wave of frequency, God Almighty will make them forgotten there and not let His servant experience that suffering.

However, it is not right for a person to forget the sins he commits in this world by erasing them from his mind. Even if he committed them fifty years ago, asking forgiveness from God every time he remembers them will save him from falling to the same sin again. It will also be a means for constantly increasing the record of his good deeds. Each time of you ask forgiveness virtually removes all evils. And when no evil to be removed remains, it will be a cause for the beautiful joyous things awaiting the believer in the Hereafter. Thus, a person should never forget his sin. He should always remember even the slightest mistake, and seek forgiveness from the Forgiver of sins by saying, “Forgiveness, I ask forgiveness a million times!” He should do this with the suffering he feels in his soul.

On the other hand, a believer must forget the good acts he performs—even if that good deed is a great conquest marking the beginning of a new era. He should eliminate his role in the issue, saying, “Strange, did I really do something like that? I don’t even remember.” If people are insistently saying, “It is you who did it,” then with a consideration of testifying to God’s Blessings, the person should express his feelings as such: “Then God made a sinner like me do certain good things also. These are manifestations of the immensity of His mercy.”

What Becomes a Magnanimous Person Is Responding to Evil with Goodness

Another verse related to our subject points out the following fact: “Goodness and evil can never be equal. Repel evil with what is better (or best). Then see: The one between whom and you there was enmity has become a bosom friend” (Fussilat 41:34).

Accordingly, if someone fixed on enmity, jealousy, and envy is foaming with rancor and hatred, continually provoking those he addresses and try to elicit rage from them, then it is necessary to respond by restraining one’s rage, as stated in the following verse, which describes genuinely pious ones: “…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, aware that God is seeing them” (Al Imran 3:134).

The original phrase for “ever-restraining their rage” (al-kazimin al-ghayz) refers to those who swallow their rage, anger, and violent reactions even though; this is mentioned by the blessed words of the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, as a virtue. Responding with magnanimous forgiveness when someone commits a fault and doing good to a person who commits evil so that he does not repeat the same evil… These are examples of responding to evil with goodness.

In other words, while others keep committing evil with their hands, tongues, eyes, ears, and even gestures, a believer should not let these acts become a vicious cycle. He can do this by responding with goodness to all of them. As it is stated in a Turkish proverb, “Responding to goodness with goodness is expected from everyone; responding to evil with goodness takes a magnanimous one.” Hence, what becomes a believer is being a magnanimous one. Responding to vitriol with invective is the road to sin. Such an understanding will not help solve the issues of our time, either. Therefore, everybody—particularly the volunteers devoted to a lofty ideal—need to act very tenderly on this issue.

Responding with Goodness and Steering Securely

I disagree with the maxim “beware of the evil of the person to whom you did goodness,” and think that this is an arrogant and disrespectful remark. A kind act will make even a cobra dance, let alone a person. You must have seen this in documentaries—cobras dancing to the playing of the flute. Actually, cobras do not hear the music, but when they see that the player’s fingers are moving on a piece of wood and no harm is done to it, it causes a dance-like reaction. They probably bite if the charmer fails to act in the right way, but this should be rare. If it were a frequent incident for cobras to bite charmers, then it would not be such a common practice.  

To sum it up, if God even endowed animals with a feeling of giving a good response to goodness, a person must make good use of his human potential and act with the understanding, “Do goodness to those whose evil you fear.”[2] Surely, such an attitude should be taken for the sake of protecting peace and harmony in a society, and putting out the fires of hatred and discord. It only asks a person to sacrifice some of their personal rights. Otherwise, keeping silent against a violation of the public’s rights, and being a partner in crime, causes a person to be like a mute devil; this absolutely does not become a believer.

When necessary, however, we should respond, even to a person holding a spear or putting on bayonet, by saying, “Come brother, let me give you a hug,” and thus make him put down his lethal weapon. This is the attitude expected from a believer, and let me reiterate once more that this form of behavior is of vital importance in terms of solving the problems in our time.

[1] Ibn Kathir, Sirah, 4/194-195.

[2] Ali al-Qari, Al-Masnu, 1/45; Ajluni, Kashf al-Khafa, 1/44.

This text is the translation of “Kötülükleri Savmada Bazı Ölçüler.”

Depth in Religious Feelings and Thoughts

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: Could you elucidate the meaning of the phrase, “deepening in religious feeling and thought”? How is it possible to attain such a lofty goal?

Answer: Religious feeling and thought begins with instillation, and then it is adopted by imitation. The final step is, hopefully, the continuation of religious feeling and thought as a second nature.

When the childhoods of most Muslims are studied, it will be seen that basic religious knowledge about belief in God, angels, scriptures, the Prophets, the Day of Judgment, and Divine Destiny, as well as the essential requirements of religion, such as the proclamation of faith, the daily prayers, fasting, prescribed alms, and Hajj, are instilled in us, and that we begin by imitation and then adopt these practices in the long run.

The Scholars of Islamic Theology (Kalam) said that even belief gained through imitation will save a person. They established this by writing, “faith by imitation is acceptable.”[1] Although they said so, in order for a person’s faith to survive against storms of denial and deviation, these considerations adopted by imitation need to be supported later on with meaning, be based on a sound foundation, and must be insightfully internalized by the person. Although imitation does serve a function as a beginning for the theoretical aspects of faith, gains through imitation only become permanent through verification.

For example, our parents instilled in us the first theoretical pieces of information about God’s existence and unity. However, what we are supposed to do later on is to be able to distill the same truth from every object and phenomenon created in this universe. Just like a scientist trying to obtain a result through laboratory analysis and research, one must have a strong faith in this issue—to the degree of saying, “Even if they make some fifty contrary claims, this is the truth. I may have doubts about the mathematical certainty of whether two times two equals four; however, I do not have the slightest doubt about matters of faith.” We must have a sound faith, which will not be shaken even in the face of an earthquake that measures a ten on the Richter scale.

What Is Obtained through Imitation Is Entrusted to Our Further Willful Efforts

So what are the necessary things to do in this respect? First, we must see these values we inherited from our ancestors, and acquired from the cultural environment in which we were raised, as entrusted to us, and we must frequently check on how solid their foundation is. We must say to ourselves, “Let us be vigilant about not losing these values!” 

For the sake of placing them on sounder ground, we need to consolidate the essentials of faith with inquiries such as, “Are there any cracks or breaks in this ground of thought? If yes, what do we need to do against them?”

Most of us were born into a Muslim family and were raised in an environment where Islam is practiced; where adhans from minarets rang all around, and where mosques resonated with Qur’anic recitations and sermons. Thus, God Almighty granted us the opportunity to acquire these truths theoretically. What falls to us is to not be content with minimal effort, not leaving important gains in their rudimentary state, and making constant efforts for the sake of advancing them further. An attitude or behavior to the contrary indicates ingratitude and disrespect toward that trust.

Given that God Almighty blessed us with their theoretical aspect and entrusted their practice to our willpower, then we must seek to give these trusts their due by striving in this respect.

The Road to Verification and Levels of Certainty in Faith

The concepts of certainty based on knowledge (ilm al-yaqin), certainty based on seeing (ayn al-yaqin), and certainty based on direct experience (haqq al-yaqin) may serve as projectors shedding light on the road from imitation to verification.

Certainty based on knowledge means analyzing phenomena under the illuminating rays of knowledge, distilling out the wisdoms and meanings in Creation, and thus attaining knowledge of God to the degree of being able to prove the truths of faith with their evidences and proofs. Such a reading, studying, analysis, and synthesis will serve as a protective shield against the doubts, suspicions, and devilish whisperings to be cast in our minds by adversaries of faith about what we obtained through imitation. As for certainty based on seeing, it means directly seeing the meanings of those theoretical facts in a doubt-free fashion, and the person rendering all of his or her faculties witness to those truths.

The point that needs to be noted here is that seeing is different from looking. Seeing is more intense than merely looking. If you are blessed with “seeing,” then during a walk in nature you behold your surroundings in such a way that you feel like kissing the trees, running from one to another. This is because you feel enraptured by “seeing” manifestations of the Divine Names in each of their faces. Those who open a door to the horizons of certainty based on seeing view thousands of manifestations of the Divine Names in every being, and voice their rapture like Niyazi Mısri did:

“I used to think that in this world nothing amicable to me has remained.

When I abandoned my self, I saw that nothing but God has remained.”

It seems this way when a person abandons himself: He begins to see manifestations of God in everything; then he becomes enraptured with a state of spiritual immersion, stupor, and passion, and melts into that sea.

“No manifestation of Yours, while I appear on the screen;

My disappearance is the condition for Your emerging!”

As it is expressed in this couplet, when a person lets his being melt before the true being, that person begins to push a door open to the horizons of certainty based on direct experience.

As a matter of fact, we do not know whether a person can attain such a level of certainty in this world just by spiritual journeying. Concerning this issue, as Imam Rabbani said in his Letters, this is not possible; at another place, he stated that it can happen to some extent. By evaluating these two considerations together, it is possible to say that a shadow of this truth may perhaps happen in this world, but its genuine truth will be manifested in the Hereafter. When Divine Power will be more dominantly manifested than Divine Wisdom, the real truth of certainty based on direct experience will also be manifested and a person will experience this truth with all of its dimensions according to his own horizons.

One Who Asks from Him Will Not Be Let Down

Verifying guides tried to explain with examples the levels of certainty, which we will briefly state. For example, some expressed that believing in fire theoretically by knowing that it burns, cooks, and gives light while ablaze is certainty based on knowledge. On the other hand, directly looking at the fire in a stove and witnessing with one’s own eyes that fire gives off heat and light is certainty based on seeing. 

As for certainty based on direct experience, they gave the example of a pair of tongs used in that stove and which have turned red like fire, to the degree of not being told apart from the fire. Thus they tried to make the issue more understandable.

At this final point, there is neither you nor me; there is only He, the Almighty One. At that point, a person feels ashamed to say “I,” but only says “He” and breathes Him only.

Then like an insatiable journeyer asking for more, one must run from one range to another. To put it in an oft-repeated phrase: it is necessary to relate every issue to talk of the Beloved, and thus think about Him every day with fresh acquisitions, and make Him once more the subject of a lively discussion, one which will make us say, “Praise be to God, today it is as if we recognized our Lord anew on the horizons of knowing Him. We mentioned the noble Prophet once more and felt a deep sensation of yearning, down to the bones of our nose.”

On hearing his name, we should say, “Oh, let me be a sacrifice for you.” We should be filled with wondering when we can realize this sweet gathering again, with a feeling of ribat—loyalty to Islam. Thus, a person can gain the opportunity to let seconds of his life gain the worth of years. A person’s passing those sweet times with a wish for reaching Him and always keeping Him vivid in his memory will turn seconds, milliseconds, and even centi-seconds into worship, and render that person a seeker of eternity. Given that every human is a candidate for eternity and the Eternal One, then—God knows best—being able to attaining them is possible through living in accordance with these considerations.

May God render His help a companion to us on this path. Those who ask for their wish from Him will never be let down halfway. And if we ask for our wishes from Him, He will definitely grant our wishes, maybe today, maybe tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow. Muhammed Lütfi Effendi of Alvar put it so beautifully:

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 reward you for it?

[1] Taftazani, Sharhu’l Maqasid, 2/264.

This text is the translation of “Dinî Duygu ve Düşüncede Derinlik.”

Knowledge That Distances a Person from God

Herkul-EN | | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: What are the lessons to be drawn from the hadith reading, “If a person’s knowledge increases but asceticism does not, the only thing that really increases is his distance from God”?

Answer: The ways that help a person reach God are as myriad as the breaths His creatures take. This is because every person has different talents and abilities. Accordingly, those on the spiritual road with tender characters state that the most important path leading to God is love. Some of these journeyers of love have expressed their longing by saying:

“O God, make me familiar with the trouble of love;

Do not let me be devoid of the trouble of love.”

Another spiritual master said:

“Give your heart to such a Beloved, that will make you happy at heart.

Hang on to such a skirt, that will take you to the target.”

Yet another hero of love depicted the inner world of a lover of God with the following lines:

“What an ascetic desires in his heart is Paradise,

In the heart of a true lover, is but the one he loves.”

On the other hand, some of the journeyers on the path of truth have tried to reach God by means of asceticism, and valued this road above all others. Asceticism (zuhd) means, in a way, forsaking this world and what it contains, and restricting one’s belongings to their essential needs. A person naturally needs to meet bodily needs such as eating, drinking, and sleeping. However, one who wishes to lead an ascetic life does not want to benefit from such blessings of the world to the full degree, thinking that they lead a person to heedlessness. Such people act under the guidance of the principle Bediüzzaman expressed in the Eight Word:

“There is permission for tasting (things of this world); there is no permission to be full.”

As for certain inquisitive souls who possess wisdom and try to know God by means of deliberation, discussion, and reflections, they have always scrutinized phenomena by reading into this universe like a book of Divine wisdom. They have made some connections with this book and the Miraculous Qur’an, and they have always tried to behold these two books through the lens, projector, or observatory they provided for one another.

Those Who Lose Their Way in the Valleys of Imitation

Apart from what we have mentioned, there are people who have not yet freed themselves from leading a superficial life based on formality. They are captives of imitation, and it is rather difficult for them to make progress. In terms of imitating the ways of their ancestors, their situation resembles the unbelievers who said, “Enough for us (are the ways) that we found our forefathers on” (al-Maedah 5:104).

A person in this situation needs to ask himself, “Had I been born in a region where another religion is prevalent, I wonder if I would still become a Muslim, be it in this poor degree of mine?” Though it should be noted that scholars from the mainstream understanding of Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jama’ah[1] stated that faith based on imitation is also acceptable – namely, people who go to the mosque because their fathers did, and who observe the Ramadan fast because their grandmothers did. These people will also be saved.

An Inflation of Mahdis[2]

Actually, these points about “imitation” faith can be used to describe our generation. None of us have reached the truths we believe today by racking our brains “to the degree of blowing it through our nose,” as the poet Necip Fazıl put it. None of us left our beds in the middle of the night and went around like mad, saying like Umar ibn al-Khattab’s uncle Zayd ibn Amr did, “My God, I yearn for You!”[3] We have not engaged in a crazy quest for the sake of finding Him, but have always consoled ourselves with imitation.

If some people still applauded this poor Islamic life of ours and we foolishly see ourselves as ideal Muslims, then we have been deceived completely. Some poor people have even given in to populism in the face of applause and flattering remarks, and lots of mahdis have appeared as a consequence. There have been so many of them in our century that it is not an exaggeration if we talk about an inflation of mahdis. While some people wonder in self-criticism whether they can even be considered ordinary Muslims, others see themselves as heroes, who will save humanity with a single move, who will bring down emperors with a single breath. But in reality, all of them have been poor slaves of imitation without a thorough recognition of God or knowledge of the Prophet. They have lived unaware of the Rightly Guided Caliphs and the Blessed Companions. As they are unaware of where they have been, and of their inability to make any progress even in favorable conditions, it has been difficult for them to advance.

A person with sound belief must constantly ruminate and reflect for the sake of setting sail for seas of knowledge and love of God, and move on with an unquenchable enthusiasm. In response to the bowls of knowledge of God offered to him, he should say:

See now, how this poor servant is,

Crazy for a single strand from the Beloved’s locks

The honey of love I take on and on,

Give some water for my heartburn!

Like a person who drinks seawater, a person who takes Divine love should ask for more and more. While setting sail deep into knowledge of God, he should never give up the following considerations:

“If I could truly feel what is supposed to be felt, and experience the truth of ‘…it is in the remembrance of, and whole-hearted devotion to God, that hearts find rest and contentment’ (ar-Rad 13:28), and if I could perceive the glad tidings in, ‘Those (whose hearts have attained rest and contentment) who have believed and do good, righteous deeds—for them is the greatest happiness and the most beautiful of destinations,’ (ar-Rad 13:29) then I would establish a much deeper connection with God Almighty, always voice tunes of love and yearning for God, lower my wings of humility to the ground before believers, and behold the entire creation with an immense compassion. Accordingly, what I am actually doing can be considered as crawling miserably on the ground.”

Look Shallow but Be Deep!

In fact, real servanthood lies in combining exceptionally high endeavor and exceptional modesty. On the one hand, a person must ascend so high that when angels look at him, they should say, “What a surprise! A being with a physical body shares the same horizons with us angels!” Or they should say, “(he) is flapping wings, even ahead of us!” But this person must at the same time be able to see himself as the nothing of nothings. When they tell him to put his signature somewhere, he should be able to spontaneously sign “nothing.”

In terms of accomplishing human perfection, there is no greater person than the Pride of Humanity. But in spite of that, he implored God by saying, “Make me insignificant in my own eyes, but great in the eyes of people (with respect to my mission).”[4] A spiritual master altered this prayer a bit, saying, “My God, make me insignificant in my own eyes, but profound in my religion.”

A person should see himself as petty as a fly’s wing, but with respect to religious profundity he should say, “My God let me attain such religious perfection and let me be so well equipped religiously that when my inspirations are distributed to the whole of humanity, let it suffice for all of them to enter Paradise.”

With reference to his Companion Maiz, the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, stated, “He repented in such a way that if it were distributed to 70 people in Medina, it would suffice for them all.” That person had committed a sin (fornication) without the knowledge of others, and as a result of his repentance for this sin, he came to the Messenger of God and stated that he wanted to be purified. Although the blessed Prophet sent him away four times, he came back every time, in spite of knowing that his demand to be duly punished meant his execution, and repeated his wish. And after the punishment was carried out, the noble Prophet stated the words we quoted.[5]

A person should constantly try to deepen their focus on faith, knowledge of God, love of God, spiritual delight, fervor, and enthusiasm. But together with that, the person should see himself shallower than the shallowest ones. Actually, if a person has truly attained a depth of heart, he will see himself as the lowliest of people. And the reverse meaning also holds true: If a person sees himself superior to other people, then he is the meanest and poorest person in actual fact. Be this person a believer, hypocrite, or unbeliever, it doesn’t matter.

“Knowledge” Means Knowing Yourself

A person who imagines exalted ranks for himself and thinks, “So it seems that I am a chosen person sent by Divine Providence as specially equipped to fulfill an important mission and guide humanity to the peak of perfection,” has no true value at all, not even to the degree of a fly’s wing. The true indication of greatness is modesty and self-effacement—and the indication of worthlessness is vanity.[6]

True knowledge is a person being able to crown the knowledge he possesses with such considerations. And this can be achieved by people who have sipped perfection, attained maturity, and turned their theoretical knowledge into practical deeds. Although Muhammed Lütfi Effendi was a blessed person who sat and devoted some six hours a day to engaging in wisdom, knowledge, and contemplative dialogue, he would still say:

“Neither do I have knowledge nor good deeds,

Nor do I have any power for goodness and devotions.

Immersed in rebellion, I have a lot of sins.

I don’t know what will become of me, on the day of reckoning.”

And Yunus Emre said:

“Knowledge means having knowledge

Knowledge means knowing thyself

If then, you fail to know thyself,

What is the point of your studying?”

Without this knowledge, it is not possible for those who depend on the appreciation of others to progress a single step forward. Even if others say things like, “So and so is praiseworthy! See how he helps people, guides them, and takes them out of the quicksand they were stuck in,” this will do them no good at all.

To make an evaluation with respect to the hadith mentioned in the question, if a believer cannot push aside the world and what it contains in spite of his increase in knowledge; if he is still preoccupied with worldly concerns and is running after worldly ambitions; and if he looks for the next worldly title as soon as he gains one and is dying to retain the worldly benefits he has gained, then that person has been distanced from nothing else but God.

[1] Sunni way of belief.

[2] mahdi: the Divinely-guided One; expected liberator.

[3] Sahih al-Bukhari, Manaqib, 24; Nasai, Sunan al-Kubra, 5:54.

[4] Al-Bazzar, Al-Musnad, 10/315; Daylami, Al-Musnad, 1/473.

[5] Sahih Muslim, Hudud, 22; Sunan Abu Dawud, Hudud, 24, 25.

[6] Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said Nursi, Münazarat (Discussions), Istanbul: Yeni Asya, 2009.

This text is the translation of “İnsanı Allah’tan Uzaklaştıran İlim.”

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.”

480. Nağme: İnsanlık Şefkate Muhtaç

Herkul | | HERKUL NAGME

Kıymetli dostlar,

Muhterem Fethullah Gülen Hocaefendi, özetle şunları söyledi:

*Namık Kemal’in sözüne küçük bir ilave yapıyorum: “Bir adaletgâh-ı vâsidir bu dâr-ı imtihan / Bugün milleti kurban edenler yarın olurlar millete kurban!” Onun için, kurban olacak kimselere acımak lazım; öfkelenmemek, kızmamak, sitem etmemek, “Niye ettiler?” dememek ve acımak lazım. Fuzulî şeylerle yorulmak yerine acıyıp şefkat etmek lazım.

*İnsanın imanı mahlûkata şefkatiyle mepsuten mütenasiptir (doğru orantılıdır.) Şefkat Hazreti Pir’in vaz’ ettiği dört ana unsurdan bir tanesidir. Hatta ekosistem mülahazasıyla belki cansız varlıklara karşı bile bir hiss-i şefkatle, re’fetle, kucaklayıcılıkla yaklaşmak gerekir. Bir ağacı, otu, karıncayı o şefkatle mülahazaya almak lazım gelir.

*Başkaları mütalaalarında sizi farklı şekilde değerlendirebilirler. Belki öyle bir şey içine çekmeyi de düşünebilirler. Damara basarlar; “Bunları tahrik edelim, cinnete sevk edelim; mecnun gibi davransınlar!..” diyebilirler. Fakat temel ahlak ve karakteriniz itibarıyla, gezerken, karıncalı yerlerde karıncaya basmamak için bile bir hassasiyet sergiliyorsanız, eğer ahlakınız o ise, yırtınsalar da dövünseler de, sizi başka bir zemine çekemezler, çekmesinler; size çizgi değiştirtemezler, değiştirtemesinler.

*Bir taraftan hızı artırırken, bir küheylan gibi şahlanırken, kalb durasıya hareket ederken, beri taraftan da yürüdüğümüz yollarda neyin karşımıza çıkacağını, nelerle karşılaşabileceğimizi ve çok farklı ihtimallerle, nelerin olabileceğini hesaba katmamız lazım. Hakka ve insanlığa hizmette hızımızı katlarken, makuliyette ve insanî değerlere saygıda da aynı ölçüde vitesi, ibreyi yükseltmemiz lazım.

*Günümüzde İslam dünyasında ve kendi ülkemizde öyle bir kargaşa yaşanıyor ki, o tabloya bakınca, Hadis kitaplarında “Kitabü’l-fiten ve’l-melâhim” başlığı altında anlatılan, Peygamber Efendimiz’in âhir zamanda cereyan edecek olan dehşetli hadiselerle alakalı ifade buyurduğu kareleri görüyorsunuz. Sanki Efendimiz (sallallâhu aleyhi ve sellem) bugünleri anlatıyor. Çok korkunç ayrıştırmalar, küstürmeler, birbirinden koparmalar, bir tarafı karalamalar, insanları birbirine karşı suç işlemeye yönlendirmeler ve cinayete sevk etmeler var. Gelecek nesillerin de tevarüs edebilecekleri şekilde bir kin ve nefret üretme var. Bu, gelecek nesillere de bu formatta intikal ederse, kavga devam edecek demektir.

*Böyle bir dönemde hiç olmazsa aklı başında, milletini seven, millet-i İslamiye’ye ve insanlığa saygı duyan, bir huzur dünyası arkasından koşup duran insanların aradaki köprülerin bütün bütün yıkılmaması için sabırlı, temkinli ve şefkatli davranmaları gerekmektedir.

*Varsın desinler, varsın etsinler. Vakıa, meşru müdafaa hakkınızı kendinize yakışır şık üslupla ortaya koyabilirsiniz. Yerinde bir tavzih, tashih veya tekzipte bulunabilir; hatta çok ileri giderek bazı şeyleri tekrar edip duruyorlarsa bir tazminat diyebilirsiniz. Fakat bütün bunları yaparken panjurları az aralık bırakmalısınız. Bir gün dönüp geldiklerinde ya da siz bir kere daha münasebet adına şansınızı denemek istediğinizde, birbirinize bakarken başınızı yere eğmeyecek şekilde davranmalısınız; şimdiden ona göre plan ve projeleriniz olmalı.

*Toplum çapında öyle yırtıklar meydana geldi ki, bunların mesleğimizin de esası olan şefkatten başka bir şeyle yamanabilmesi mümkün görünmüyor.

*Hazreti Üstad’dan günümüze kadar değişik dönemlerde Hizmet erlerine hep hücum edildi; fakat Allah’a şükürler olsun, zulüm ve saldırılara maruz kalınan her devirden sonra Hizmet daha bir güçlenip büyüdü.

*Öncekiler gibi bu mazlumiyet ve mağduriyet döneminin de atlatılacağı inancı içinde hizmetlerinizi katladığınız gibi, insanî değerlere saygı ve mahlûkata şefkat ibrenizi de yükseltmelisiniz. Siz buna niyet ederseniz, Cenâb-ı Allah o yolda yürümeyi kolaylaştıracak, kader yolunuza su serpecek ve Allah’ın izn u inayetiyle gittiğiniz her yeri birer çemenzar gibi göreceksiniz. Zaten gayeniz de diken tarlalarını tımar ederek, bağistan, bostan ve gülistan haline getirmek değil mi?

*Şair der ki: “Bir bağ ki görmezse terbiye, tımar / Çalı çırpı sarar, hâristan olur.” Ülkenin hâristan olmaması ve dünyanın bir diken tarlasına dönmemesi için, öncelikle gönlünüzü bir gül bahçesi haline getirme, sonra da diyar diyar dolaşıp etrafa güzel kokular duyurma azminde bulunmalısınız. Evet, gönlünüz gül gibi olursa, gezdiğiniz her yer de ıtriyat çarşısına döner.

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!

Bamteli: Mukaddes Çile ve İnfak Kahramanları

Herkul | | BAMTELI

Muhterem Fethullah Gülen Hocaefendi, haftanın Bamteli sohbetinde özellikle şu hususlar üzerinde duruyor:

Allah’a kul olmak ne güzel!.. Sadece O’nun karşısında eğilmek ne hoş!..

*Allah ile münasebetimize bakınca, bu karınca halimizle diyoruz ki: “Ne kadar bahtiyar insanlarız! Bu küçük halimizle O’nunla bir çeşit münasebet içindeyiz. Bunun lezzetine, halavetine, zevkine doyulmaz!” Kim bilir o meseleyi zirvede duyanlar daha neler duyuyordur neler! Çobanlar meseleyi böyle duyuyorsa, kim bilir sürü sahibi meseleyi nasıl duyuyordur! Tabii İnsanlığın İftihar Tablosu bu mevzuda her sözden vârestedir. O, duyuşu, hissedişi, ihsası ve ihtisaslarıyla adeta semâvîdir. O, belki bazı hususları melâike-i kirâmın bile duyamayacağı seviyede duyuyordu. Evet, O müstesna!..

*Bir de zılliyet planında Hakk’ın mükerrem ibâdı var. Onlar da bize göre müstesna insanlar. Ne var ki, hemen her seviyede insan, O’nun ile münasebeti açısından çok şey duyar, çok şey hisseder; böyle âvâre, sergerdân kimselerin durumunu nazar-ı itibara alınca, kendi bahtiyarlığına tebessümler yağdırır. “Oh be!.. Müslümanlık ne güzelmiş! İnsanlığın İftihar Tablosu’nun arkasında Allah deyip kemerbeste-i ubudiyet içinde ayakta durmak ne latifmiş! İki büklüm olup tevazuun birinci faslını eda etmek, Allah karşısında eğilmek ne zevkli bir şeymiş! Yüzünü yerlere sürmek ne derin haz kaynağıymış!..” der. Cenâb-ı Hak o zevki derinlemesine duymaya muvaffak eylesin!

“O’nu bulan neyi kaybetmiş ve O’nu kaybeden neyi bulmuştur ki?”

*İnsanın, küçük çapta, zıllıyet/gölge planında, çok küçük nispetler perspektifinde bile olsa, böyle bir mazhariyet ve zevk hemhemesi, demdemesi -iradelerinize ait yönüyle hemheme, öbür taraftan, O’nun vâridâtına mazhariyeti itibarıyla demdeme- içinde bulunması çok önemlidir. Bu açıdan da bu arada başımıza ne gelirse gelsin, onun yanında hafif kalır.

*Madem O’nu bulduk, bir yönüyle artık bulacağımız bir şey yok ve kurtulduk!.. “Seni buldum ve kurtuldum!” diyebilirsiniz.“O’nu bulan neyi kaybetmiş ve O’nu kaybeden neyi bulmuştur ki?” demiyor mu Ataullah İskenderânî?!. Evet, O’nu bulan ne kaybetmiştir?!. O’nu kaybeden, yani kendi düşünce dünyasında kendini uzaklara atan, kendini O’nun yokluğuna, daha doğrusu O’nsuzluğa, “ene”sini “Hüve”sizliğe salan kimse ne bulmuştur ki?!.

*Binaenaleyh, böyle cevheri bulmuş bir insan huzur, mutluluk, şâd ve hürrem olma gibi şeylere hiç gönül kaptırmaz. Bunlar, bakırcılar çarşısında bile elde edilebilecek şeylerdir; cevherlerin alış-verişinin yapıldığı, sarrafların bulunduğu yerde olan şeyler değildir. Bu itibarla da bazı şeylere katlanmalı!.. Ve katlananlar bu mülahaza ile katlanmışlardır. O katlanma işi de tarihî tekerrürler devr-i daimi içinde hiç eksik olmamıştır.

Seni o kadar çok seviyorum ki, eğer beni çıkarmasalardı -vallahi- senden ayrılmazdım!

*Bütün tehlike dolapları herkesten önce İnsanlığın İftihar Tablosu’nun mübarek başında dönüp durmuştur. Kur’an-ı Kerim, Müslümanlar hakkında kurulan komploları âdetâ Efendimiz’e tahsis etmiş ve şöyle demiştir:

وَإِذْ يَمْكُرُ بِكَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لِيُثْبِتُوكَ أَوْ يَقْتُلُوكَ أَوْ يُخْرِجُوكَ وَيَمْكُرُونَ وَيَمْكُرُاللّهُ وَاللّهُ خَيْرُ الْمَاكِرِينَ

“Bir vakit de o kâfirler senin elini kolunu bağlayıp zindana mı atsınlar veya öldürsünler mi, yahut seni ülke dışına mı sürsünler diye birtakım tuzaklar planlıyorlardı. Onlar tuzak kuradursunlar, Allah da tuzaklarını başlarına doluyordu. Zaten Allah’tır tuzakları boşa çıkarıp onları kuranların başlarına dolayan.” (Enfal, 8/30) Görüldüğü üzere, elini kolunu bağlayıp zindana atma, öldürme ya da belde dışına sürme gibi mekrin değişik dalga boyundaki zuhurları olan bütün komplolarda gayr-i sarih mef’ul Efendimiz’dir; bütün planlar O’nun üzerine yapılmıştır.

*İnsanlığın İftihar Tablosu (sallallâhu aleyhi ve sellem) Efendimiz hicret esnasında Sevr sultanlığından ayrılıp yola revân olacağı an, yaşlı gözlerle son bir kere daha doğup büyüdüğü topraklara bakmış ve “Ey Mekke! Seni o kadar çok seviyorum ki, eğer beni çıkarmasalardı -vallahi- senden ayrılmazdım.” buyurmuşlardı.

*Şayet en mübarek insanlar hırpalanmışlarsa, preslerden geçmişlerse, dibeklerde adeta dövülmüşlerse ve siz bundan âzâde, vâreste tutuluyorsanız, bence kendi durumunuzdan şüphe duymanız lazım.

“Allahım, medrese-i Yusufiye misafirlerini salıver ve onları en çabuk zamanda sevdiklerine kavuştur!..”

*Bazılarınız çeker, bazılarınız da onların çektiğini paylaşır, onların ızdıraplarını ruhunda duyar; yapılması gerekli olan şeyler mevzuunda bir küheylan gibi şahlanır, bir üveyk gibi kanatlanır Allah’ın izni inâyetiyle; işte o zaman paylaşıyor demektir.

*Evet, birileri içeride medrese-i Yusufiye yaşarlar; berikiler de dışarıda oturur kalkar onlara dua ederler: “Onları en çabuk zamanda, çok rahatlıkla salıver Allahım! Salıver ve onlarla beraber bir sürü aileyi, kırk bin tane aileyi, elli bin tane aileyi, yüz bin tane aileyi; belki on milyon aileyi sevindir Allahım!” Bu on milyon ailenin sevinmesi, mele-i âlânın sakinlerinin de sevinmesi demektir. Bu arada bir şirzime-i kalîl “Niye böyle oldu?” diye üzülecekler. İnşaallah, iman ediyorlarsa Allah’a, o üzülme de onların günahlarına kefaret olur. Biz onu da düşünürüz: Allah onların da günahlarına kefaret olabilecek şeylere onları hidayet eylesin. Genel ahlakımız bu!..

*Bazı densizler bir mülâaneyi, bir mübâheleyi, bir muhâveleyi beddua kabul edip böyle bir meseleden dolayı, incir çekirdeği nevinden meseleleri dava mevzuu yaparak, “Acaba bununla bunlara bir örgüt diyebilir miyiz?” düşüncesine daldılar. Bu yaptıkları mesâvîden dolayı bize düşen şey “Allahım bunlara da hidayet eyle!” demektir. Bir de sabredemediğimiz takdirde “Allah Allah, cinnetin bu seviyesi de varmış!.” demektir. Ama ben bu mülahazaya girmenizi de istemem.

Mukaddes Çile Nöbeti Sizlerdeyse…

*Dünden bugüne sizin çizginizde hareket eden insanlar hep çekmişlerdir. Yüce mefkûrelerini, gaye-i hayallerini, dünyanın dört bir yanında bir bayrak gibi dalgalandırmaya odaklanmış insanlar hep musibetlere maruz kalmışlardır. Başka mülahazaları olmayan, dünya adına bir kazanım peşinde koşmayan, ölürken “Varım ol Dost’a verdim hânümânım kalmadı / Cümlesinden el yudum pes dü cihanım kalmadı.” (Ahmedî) diyerek Allah’a yürümeyi planlayan, farklılığını fark etmeyen; el-âlem hizmetini alkışlarken “Allah Allah bunlar neyi alkışlıyor?” diyen, kendini tamamen bu işe adamış, başkalarının başka şeyleri sıfırlamalarına mukabil o kendini sıfırlamış; el-âlem göklere çıkarsa bile kendisini yeryüzünde debelenen bir “dâbbe” ve Cenâb-ı Hakk’ın küçük, hakîr, zavallı, kıtmir bir varlığı olarak gören insanlar… Cenâb-ı Hak kendimizi öyle görmeye muvaffak eylesin; bu Allah’ın büyük bir hidayetidir. Başka türlü görme, Allah’ın, insanın firavunlaşmasına fırsat vermesi demektir.

*Evet, insanın, kendini diğer insanlardan büyük görmesi ve “ben şuyum, buyum” demesi bir mekr-i ilahidir; Allah’ın o insanın firavunlaşmasına müsaade etmesi demektir. Verdiği imkânların onda istidraç şeklinde tesir göstermesi demektir. İstidraç, nimet şeklinde gelen, insanı Allah’tan uzaklaştıran nıkmettir.

*Madem Hak yolun en kıymetli yolcuları enbiya, mukarrebin, asfiya ve evliya hep musibetlere maruz kalmış ve çileler çekmişler, bizim de başımıza gelenleri tabii kabul etmemiz, öfkelenmememiz ve hale rıza göstermemiz lazım.

“Biz Uhud’u Severiz Uhud da Bizi Sever”

Soru: Rasûl-ü Ekrem (sallallâhu aleyhi ve sellem) Efendimiz “Ashabıma sebbetmeyiniz. Sizden birisi Uhud Dağı kadar altın infak etse, ashabımdan birinin verdiği yarım müdd sadakaya ulaşamaz.” buyuruyor. Asr-ı Saadet’te infakı bu kadar değerli kılan hususlar nelerdir? Sonraki dönemlerde de dinî gayret, himmet ve infakın ziyadesiyle değer kazandığı zaman dilimlerinden bahsedilebilir mi?

*Peygamber Efendimiz (sallallâhu aleyhi ve sellem) sahih hadis-i şerifte ashabı için öyle buyuruyor. Cevahir kadrini cevher-fürûşân olmayan bilmez. Onlar O’nun kâmetini biliyorlardı; O da ashabının kadr u kıymetini ve kıvamını biliyordu. Allah’ın izniyle, insanlığın idbârını ikbâle çevirebilecek bir kadro olduğunu çok iyi biliyordu; Allah’ın bildirmesiyle biliyordu; o yüksek firasetiyle, fetanetiyle ve okumasıyla biliyordu. Yüzlerinden ve kalbî heyecanlarından onları okuyordu. Bu açıdan da mezkûr ifade -haşa- onlara bir iltifatta bulunma adına değildi, bir realiteyi ifade ediyordu. Çünkü O’nun lal ü güher beyanları içinde katiyen riyanın, süm’anın, şunu bunu hoşnut etmenin zerresi yoktu. Ne konuşuyorsa, milimi milimine doğruydu; söylediği sözler neye dairse şayet, onun numarasına ve drobuna fevkalade uygun ve vakıa mutabıktı.

*“Sizden birisi Uhud Dağı kadar altın infak etse…” O gün Medine-i Münevvere’de en yüksek gibi görünen dağın Uhud Dağı olmasının yanı başında bir de Uhud Dağı’nın kıymeti var. Bu kıymet değişik vesilelerle vurgulanıyor. Uhud Harbi’nde o mübarek dağın eteklerinde Müslümanlar kutsal, muvakkat bir hezimet yaşıyorlar. Uhud’da böyle bir hadise yaşandığından dolayı ihtimal bazılarının kafalarına “Bu dağ uğursuz galiba!” şeklinde bir düşünce gelebilirdi. Bundan dolayı Efendimiz (sallallâhu aleyhi ve sellem) bir yerde şöyle buyuruyor: “Uhud öyle bir dağdır ki biz onu severiz o da bizi sever.” Bu açıdan da Uhud, Ağrı ve Everest gibi büyük değilse de kıymet-i maneviyesi itibariyle çok büyük. Rasûl-ü Ekrem (aleyhissalâtü vesselam) Efendimiz’in vurgulamak istediği hususlardan biri budur: Uhud Allah Rasûlü’nü seven ve Allah Rasûlü’nün sevdiği bir dağdır.

*Başlangıçta Ashab-ı kiram efendilerimiz de vermeyi, infak etmeyi çok bilmiyorlardı. Hâşâ onlara bilmiyorlardı demek, bilmeme sözünü onlara nispet etmek saygısızlık olur fakat onlar bildikleri her şeyi dinle öğrendiler, o Muallim-i azamla, o Mürşid-i azamla öğrendiler.

İlk Himmet ve Ashab-ı Kiram’ın Cömertliği

*Peygamber Efendimiz (sallallâhu aleyhi ve sellem) ashabının gönüllerindeki verme kapılarını aralamada kim bilir ne zorluklar çekmişti. Meselâ, bir gün Arab’ın aslı olan Mudar kabilesinin Müslümanları gelmişlerdi. Giyecek başka bir şey bulamadıklarından dolayı üzerlerinde yün elbiseler olduğu için daha onlar içeri girer girmez mescidi ter ve yün kokusu sarmıştı. Yorgun, aç ve susuz olan bu fakir insanları görünce Rasûl-ü Ekrem Efendimiz’in gözleri dolmuştu. Onları öyle ızdırap içinde gördüğü için neredeyse ağlayacaktı. Hemen infakla alâkalı ayetleri okumuş; ashabına, insanlara yardım etmenin faziletlerini anlatmıştı. (Benzer hadise Tebük Seferi’ne çıkılırken de ordunun teçhiz edilmesi esnasında yaşanmıştı.) Fakat Sahabe Efendilerimiz henüz başkalarına yardım etmeye alışmamışlardı; dolayısıyla, hiç kimse bir coşkunluk ve bir heyecan ortaya koymamıştı. Allah Rasûlü’nün yüzünde hüzün emareleri belirecekti ki, O’nun halinden çok iyi anlayan ve işin nezaketini kavrayan bir sahabi yerinden fırlayıp evine gitmiş, parmaklarının arasından dökülecek kadar ellerini doldurmuş ve getirdiklerini Rasûlullah’ın huzuruna dökmüştü. Onu görünce diğerleri de ne yapılması lazım geldiğini anlamış ve herkes infak için koşmuştu. Nitekim Peygamber Efendimiz’in önünde bir oğlak büyüklüğünde yardım malzemesi birikmişti. İşte o zaman, yüzündeki hüzün bulutları birer birer sıyrılan Şefkat Peygamberi ashabına tebessüm etmiş ve şöyle buyurmuştu: “Bir işe delâlet edip o hususta yol gösteren onu yapmış gibidir.” Evet, Ashab efendilerimiz o gün verme kapısını açmış ve zamanla da sahip oldukları her şeyi vermeye âmâde hale gelmişlerdi. Onlardan kimisi malının tamamını, bazısı servetinin üçte ikisini, bir başkası bir anda yedi yüz deveyi ve bir diğeri de en çok sevdiği bahçeyi Allah yolunda tasadduk edecek kadar cömertleşmişlerdi.

*Öyle bir katılığın yaşandığı dönemde, işin başlangıcında henüz rehabilite görmemiş bu insanların birdenbire balmumu gibi yumuşamaları ve ihsanda bulunmaları çok önemlidir. Sonra o iş bir nevi sünnet olmuş, bir güzergâh oluşmuş; arkadan gelenler de zekat, sadaka, ikram, ihsan ve himmet adı altında din ve iman hizmetine destek vermişlerdir.

*Meselenin bir de manevi yanı vardır. Neden onların bir müdd sadakası başkalarının dağına tekabül ediyor? Sahabe idraki, sahabe imanı, sahabe anlayışı, sahabe ihlası, sahabe rıza düşkünlüğü, sahabe iştiyakı başkalarıyla mukayese edilmeyecek bir seviyededir. Onu verirken öyle bir mülahazaya bağlanıyorlardı ki, “Allah’ın izni ve inayetiyle bu öbür tarafta dağlar cesametinde olacak!” diyor ve buna yürekten inanıyorlardı. Bir de katiyen bunu bir minnet vesilesi yapmıyorlardı. İşin daha mebdeinde bu mülahazayla vermeleri öyle bir enginlik ve derinlikti ki Hazreti Pir-i Muğan’ın “Bir zerre ihlaslı amel batmanlarla halis olmayana müreccahtır.” dediği hakikat zuhur ediyordu. Halisane verme dolayısıyla bir ölçek infak Uhud Dağı kadar kabul ediliyordu.

Bugün de gayret, himmet ve infakla şahlanan nice babayiğitler var!..

*Günümüze gelinirken yeniden bir fetret dönemi oldu. Bir dönemde öyleydi, insanlar adeta dilencilik yaparak o Kur’an kurslarını açmak için koşuyorlardı. Allah ebeden razı olsun, Süleyman Efendi Hazretleri ve talebeleri, Aziz Mahmud Hüdayi Hazretleri ve taraftarları, Çarşamba Cemaati ve taraftarları… Hepsinden Allah razı olsun. Çok zor elde ediyorlardı ve o zoru Allah’ın izniyle işler hale getiriyorlardı.

*Sonra Allah Teâla günümüzde Hizmet ve Hareket şeklinde ifade edilen, öyle algılanan, öyle kabul edilen ve artık bir dünya meselesi haline gelen Camia’yı da istihdam buyurdu. Batılı bütün devletlerin iki-üç yüz senede gerçekleştiremedikleri işleri, ekonomik durumu orta ölçekte olan Türkiye, Allah’ın izniyle realize etmesini bildi; Kürdüyle, Türküyle, Lazıyla, Çerkeziyle, Abazasıyla Anadolu insanı bunu başardı.

*Sizin o koskoca devletiniz, milleti idare eden insanlar, sizin mefkûre dünyanız, gaye-i hayaliniz, ruh ve mana kökleriniz adına kazandırdığınız şeylerin yüzde birini kazandırmamışlardır. Boş iddialara bakmayın. Kuruntularının arkasından koşuyorlar. Allah bunları yapmaya sizi muvaffak kılmıştır ve bundan sonra da çok daha büyük şeyler yapmaya inşaallah muvaffak kılacaktır. Onun için sinek ısırması nev’inden maruz kaldığınız şeyleri nazar-ı itibara almayarak, Allah’ın izni ve inayetiyle, dökülün, saçılın!.. Bir dönemde arkadaşların yaptıkları ve hâlâ yapıyor oldukları gibi himmetle şahlanın!.. Şimdiki bin üç yüzü, iki bin altı yüz yapmaya bakın!.. Durmadığını gösterin bu işin!..

*Sonraki dönemlerde de dini gayret, himmet ve infakın ziyadesiyle değer kazandığı zaman dilimlerinden bahsedilebilir mi? Günümüz de işte öyle bir zaman dilimidir. Fakat o kapı da aralandı, insanlar alıştılar ona. Bu noktada bir ölçü olması adına bugünkü gibi hatırladığım bir hatıramı nakletmek istiyorum: İzmir Bozyaka’da insanların yardımına başvurulmuştu. Orada meselenin ehemmiyetiyle ilgili bir konuşma yaptıktan sonra emaneten yatıp kalktığım odama doğru yönelmiştim. Utanıyordum da.. kendime istemiyordum.. alan başkası, yazan başkası, hesap eden başkası.. ama yine de utanıyordum. Ben odaya girerken birisi merdivenlerden hızlı hızlı yukarıya doğru çıkarak yanıma geldi. Astsubaylıktan emekli olmuş o zatı tanıyordum. Elinde şangır şangır anahtarlar, “Orada herkes himmet etti, benim verecek bir şeyim yoktu, evimin anahtarlarını getirdim!” dedi. Emeklilik parasıyla satın almış olduğu evinin anahtarlarını elime attı. Bu göz yaşartıcı tablo karşısında ben ona dinde böyle bir mükellefiyet olmadığını söyleyip anahtarları iade ettim. Daha sonra da “Git, çoluk çocuğunla evinde otur. Rabbim sana verdikçe, sen de infakta bulunursun.” dedim. Ben bugün de bu coşkun duygu ve heyecanın yaşandığı ve bundan sonra da yaşanacağı kanaatini taşıyorum.

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.”