M. Fethullah Gulen
In the course of history, the sequence of events periodically recurs-just like the day alternates with the night-over and over again but with just a little variation. I say it comes about “with just a little variation” as one aspect of the sequence of events happens compulsorily and favorably as a small portion of the universal macro plan which is beyond the human will while the other happens as a result of apparent reason, depending on how one uses one’s freewill. The former depends upon a regular, repetitive, and time-based pattern whereas the latter is dependent on the human will, preference, and volition.
Just like the alternation of the day and the night with the succession of the light after darkness in every twenty-four hours, the rising and regression of nations have always occurred in successive turns of prosperity and hard times.
As for the leading figures of these nations, we see them swaying backward and forward with transformations and alterations, once in love with religious devotion and piety, at a different time bewitched by the things of this life, and yet at other unfortunate times captured in the web of materialism with no righteousness, morality, or character.
As a matter of fact, it would be quite wrong to conceive of any state or nation that is on the rise, taking root everywhere, as making consistent progress on a single plan and seeing it all religiously-oriented and heavenly-driven with regard to their rule and influence. Following their creation, everything enters into the process of growth, finds itself on the path of expansion and the ramp of ascension; however, only those upon whom fate smiles grow and flourish, and everything that grows is bound to die sooner or later!
To the extent of our interconnectedness with the cosmos and events, we can observe and witness all this phenomena unfolding before us every day. As we peruse the existence and events around us, if we can direct our thoughts and imagination towards historical occurrences as the consecutive projections of each other or as the overlapping pile-ups on top of each other, then we will testify that the world has turned green and blossomed, has tidied up and gathered strength, has revived and stood back on its feet as many times as it has stumbled and fallen over.
We are astounded by the moribund communities and nations, which, like the leaves caught in an abrupt gale or the ivy whose branches are torn off and yet cling to or twine about any support so as not to topple down, get back to their previous track, make great efforts with avidity, and speed towards their time of greatest power and authority. They gush out suddenly and unexpectedly, looking forward to rebirth, as if in an undeveloped shoot of plants, within the most indistinct and tiniest hollow on the stem, rooted in the past with the strength for growth after their decline; they run to grow by clinging to the points of support like ivy plants and try very hard to have springtime just once more.
Who knows how many times the roots, stem, and the branches of the society have been shaken with tempests! Who knows how many times it turned pale from the ice-cold and became ash gray under the heat of sun! Who knows how many times it has risen again in various spheres and grown rife! If the falls have taken away some part of its life and vigor, the springs have embosomed it so intimately with sparkling colors that everything else is discolored and all deceptive colors fade away one by one.
After seeing everything in an astonishing harmony, composed of teensy weensy constituents mixing up quietly and fascinatingly-seeing all these resuscitating in an unexpected manner and with an unanticipated liveliness, how can one ascribe this captivating vitality that looks like stillness and this unity that gives the impression of disorderliness to the true and eternal death and departure? Besides, even if this is temporarily so, every winter is followed by the spring and every night by the day.
From the point of recurring occurrences in history, it was nothing but such empty words heard at the beginning of the twentieth century: “Religion has been defeated by positivism” (as was formed in the mind of those with deviant thinking), “the spirit is down and out in the face of materialism”; “the atom is the essence of everything”; “the existence of all is dependent on material things”-it was such codswallop in the ears. Since the notion of energy was not fully comprehended, the atom was accepted as an unquestionable whole in those days. Before the turn of the second half of the twentieth century, however, materialism was shaken with the first surprising blow from within the circle of their own. It struggled with and got defeated by the perception of its inherent power (energy). Even if energy was not known in all its complexity at the time, it started to show its teeth, becoming more cognizable through the effects of its work. At the time, physics was aware of only its doings and not of energy itself; science considered energy as the capability of the matter or a physical system to carry out work. The science of physics had no knowledge of the real nature of this capacity, its general features, and its qualities.
The coming of energy into prominence occurred at the same time as the materialist philosophy entered into the sphere of the unknowns, chasms, and hardships. It was at this time that matter was believed to have the capability of turning into energy, journeying in the same realms with the spirits. According to the reality of the time, matter-something regarded as the proof for materialism-actually testified against materialism. If the atom is a power compressed and placed in a micro body and has the capability of not yielding to force and if all existence and incidents are created within this fountain of power and are endowed with their latent energy to full growth, those who discovered this immense power whose magnitude is accepted as not measurable in numbers and who burned down Hiroshima and Nagasaki did indeed not only put materialism to death but also trumpet forth its historic death while they were enunciating its enchanting efficacy only upon that occasion.
Everybody knows the rest of the story; we have witnessed the defeat of the forged system based on materialism-a deceiving system with its formation of the family and the society, its social and economic structure, its understanding of arts and esthetics, and its interpreting power of things and beings.
After all that bloodshed, casualties, and financial loss and all those years of life spent in vain, now we are once again ushering in the profundity of faith and spiritual thinking with the perception transcending matter and all existence. This was experienced before when we felt the universal truth in our pure conscience and had welcomed a glorious period of eight hundred years after being long exposed to such kind of chaos and disturbances a thousand years ago.
It is beyond doubt that the most influential power in the establishment of such a glory surpassing everything else belonged to faith. Thanks to faith that our society moved from the mundane to the spiritual life, from chaos to the order, from emptiness to the ideal, from narrowness of mind to the immenseness far beyond this world and the other world and became aware of the depth and extensiveness of their scope. It rediscovered its true worth and merit, its particular way of life, the refinement and grace it had lost long; it embraced and adopted faith most sincerely and had a life in a manner appropriate to heaven. It had such a pious life turning its deeds into worship, its talk into prayer, its appearance into gracefulness and mercy, and its unity into power. Thanks to faith that it found the way from emotion to soundness and sensibility, from logic to heart, and from reasoning to the insight and inspiration and thus stepped up and elevated itself. It found out the secrets of eternal subsistence all the way through feeling and thought, culture, arts, and esthetic delights.
We have every confidence in the belief that the chaos and dismay of today will be followed by the same heavenly victories and will experience a revival. We believe wholeheartedly that we will acquire once more what we have lost by means of the coming people of the heart who will find remedies for our wretchedness and sufferings, elevate our souls to the profundity of their own, and direct them from there to the real Source of everything. We can even call it our renaissance if this labeling will not be considered a fantasy.
It undoubtedly is necessary to prepare the way for this rebirth. The dynamics and potentials available in all the spheres of the society, including educational institutions, houses of prayer and worship, military quarters, and religious centers and lodges will be utilized for this purpose. All this preparation, however, will be fulfilled not by cumbrous institutions that are retired into themselves and consoled only by distinctive titles and designations, that think of nothing else except for their share of the appropriation but by the integrated institutions founded upon the concord of heart, soul, mind, and discipline as well as by those luminous scholars and intellectuals who believe in justice and have a sound character, mentality, and worldview and who blend all these with a faithful culture that has been acquired over hundreds and hundreds of years. It will be realized both by educational institutions that are represented by the lovers of knowledge and wisdom who are united with the truth in body, spirit, intellect, and zeal and by the people of truth with a sound character who get to work with the consciousness of duty, who act not just simply to save the day, and who seek ways to strive for their cause rather than trying hard for the satisfaction of the desires and pleasures of their own.
Aware of the fact that we are now at such a turn in the recurring events of history, we reexamine our conscience and smile at our fate with confidence in our auspiciousness.