The line of struggle followed by the righteous people to whom God promised the future of the world may be summed up in two words: action and thought. In fact, the way to true existence is action and t hought, and likewise the way to renewal, individual and collective. It may even be said that every being is the product of certain movements and disciplines and its continuance depends on the same.
Action should be the most indispensable element or feature of our lives. Even at the cost of many losses, we should take on necessary responsibilities and strive in action and thought continually in order to realize them. If we are unable to initiate action in the direction of our essential beliefs and concepts, we will inevitably fall under the influence of others and be carried away by the wave of their actions and ideas, always reacting at the mercy of their initiatives.
Inertia and futile pessimism in the face of the events around us mean consenting to melt away like ice dropped in hot water. Such consent invites dissolution of the linked elements which make up our essence. It is passive submission to any formation alien or adverse to our essential identity. Those who desire the competence to remain truly themselves, should seek it whole-heartedly and with all their strength, and try to realize it in actual life. Existence and its continuance depend upon an inner tension and cohesion which (if authentic) will never decay; they require resistance, power, and the appropriate intellectual and spiritual equipment.
We should know how to be ourselves and then remain ourselves. That does not mean isolation from others. It means preservation of our essential identity among others, following our way among other ways. While self-identity is necessary, we should also find the ways to a universal integration. Isolation from the world will eventually result in annihilation. We must have nothing to do with ambitions such as realization of self-interests or attitudes that concentrate on selfish desires. Contentment for a man of true thought and action lies in the contentment of the whole being, in this world and the next. Therefore, he never conceives of restricting the sphere of his activism to any particular time or space. Rather, he pursues goals that encompass all time and space. For this reason, he never considers any happiness restricted as to time or space or segment of creation as true happiness
Action in this context then means embracing the whole of creation with full sincerity and resolve, aware of journeying to an eternal realm through the corridors in creation and equipped with a power from that infinite, eternal realm; it means expending all one’s physical, intellectual and spiritual faculties in guiding the world to undertake the same journey.
As for thought, it is action in one’s inner world. Any truly systematic thinking entails seeking answers to all questions arising from the existence of the universe as such. In other words, truly systematic thinking is the product of a conscious mind relating itself to the whole of creation and seeking the truth in everything through its language.
It is by means of thought that man’s spirit becomes intimate and familiar with creation and continuously deepens through learning and experience. Escaping from the illusions and narrow confines of a mind only preoccupied with earning a livelihood, the spirit awakens to the absolute truths which never mislead. In other words, true thinking is equivalent to self purifying, to preparing in oneself room for metaphysical experiences. The last stage of thought is active thinking.
The basic dynamic of our life of action and thought is our spiritual life, which is based on our religious values. Just as a rose-bud turned towards light unfurls into an elaborate flower, so we, in the past, appeared as a great nation in the historical and international arena after we turned towards and embraced our religion. This overall self-attainment caused our potentials to develop and secured our existence for centuries. Again, just as our existence and self-attainment depend on attachment to Islam and its values, our integration with the whole of creation require the same, as was the case in the past. Indeed, every act of a believer is worship, his every thought self-discipline, his every speech a supplication expressing his degree of knowledge of God, his every observation a research, and his relations with others a grounding in love and compassion. Spirituality of such degree and quality requires both intuition and logic, rationality and enlightenment and being open to Divine inspirations. In other words, it is difficult to realize unless experience is examined by reason, and reason accepts the authority of Divine guidance, and logic becomes identical with love, and love is transformed into love of God. Once spirituality of this degree is attained, sciences become a beam of light in the hand of inspiration which reaches everywhere, and the results of sense- experience and experimental knowledge become a prism reflecting the meaning of existence. Then, everything resounds with knowledge of God, love and songs of spiritual joy
Those who are planning the happy world of the future should be aware what kind of world they mean to build, what sort of jewels they should use in its construction, so that they will not have, later, to destroy with their own hands what their own hands built. Equipped with rational thought and religious values and historical dynamics, they should know how to apply the principles of the Qur’an and Sunnah and the judgements derived from them by conscientious scholars, to the world they intend to build. They should never be given over to carnal appetites and temporary aspirations. They should aim purely at gaining God’s approval and strictly preserve the purity of their intention. They should never neglect to perform their religious duties: in prayers and supplications they should be aware that they are before One Who is nearer to them than themselves. They should do their prescribed prayers in the awareness that prayers are the believer’s means of ‘ascension.’ They should fast for the pleasure of going to the union with God. They should pay their alms-taxes in an attitude of returning to their rightful owner the goods entrusted to their keeping for a time. And they should do Hajj conscious of attending an international conference at which the problems of all the world’s Muslims will be exposed and discussed in a place where the spirit can observe and experience the luminosity and awe of the higher realms of existence.
However, the realization of such noble aims depends on the existence of guides and leaders able to both diagnose our external and inner misery and to be themselves in constant relation with the higher worlds. There have always been and will always be such guides who have built all the true civilizations and they will again carry, by God’s Power and Leave, all movements of revival to victory. With their world of thought encompassing the material and spiritual, the physical and metaphysical, and philosophy and Gnostic knowledge, those guides and leaders, who are perfectly aware of the requirements of time and circumstances, will develop new doctrines of law based on the Qur’an and Sunnah, integrate regional features with Islamic universals, inject a new spirit and give a new meaning to art, and unite what is modern with the traditional. Thus, all the institutions of life will be re-moulded and the coming generations provided with knowledge, skills and profound spirituality Streets will become like school corridors, prisons (if any) will change into buildings of education and houses will be transformed into palaces of Paradise. Sciences will progress hand-in-hand with religion, and belief and reason combined will yield ever-fresh fruits of their cooperation. In short, the future will witness a new world built in the arms of hope, belief, and resolve, a world more content and prosperous than the utopias dreamed of in the West.
No one should argue that we are far from such a world. Who knows? We may be on its threshold. The whole of mankind will see, in a near future, what other ‘suns’ will be born from the ‘womb’ of the night before the day breaks.
Action And Thought
- By M. Fethullah Gulen
- Category: Issue 13 (January - March 1996)
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