Question: How should believers approach the tribulations of those who devote themselves to the happiness of others?
“So others may live” is the loftiest goal possible for a person. It is an ideal for which one is more concerned for the happiness of others than his or hers. Those who live for others sacrifice from their own joys and strive to be a source of life for all. God’s messengers, who were the best of humanity, and those who followed in their footsteps never put their selves in the center of their lives. Their only goal was to elevate people from low corporeal desires to an exalted spiritual life fashioned for the pleasure of God. Holding candles, they run from one darkness to the other, dedicated to bringing light to other people’s lives, even if they needed to remain in the dark. Despite all the pain and agony they had to go through, they never complained. They were benevolent to show compassion to their oppressors and forgave them their transgressions.
Those chivalrous souls of the past have left behind a good memory to honor. They never did what they did for the sake of leaving a good name and admiration. They had no expectation other than God’s pleasure. “I ask of you no wage for that (for conveying God's Message); my wage is due only from the Lord of the worlds” (Qur’an 26:109), they would say when asked, until the end of their lives.
They did not demand their services to be named after them. Bediuzzaman, the great sage of the twentieth century, did not even want his place of burial to be known – he wished this so wholeheartedly it seems, that his body was later unlawfully removed by the authorities of his time to be buried in an unknown place. Despite this cruelty, his name and the names of other giants like him have continued to live on in the hearts and minds of many generations after them. They are being remembered with their exemplary lives, ideas, and works even after centuries. Many continue to circle around what they stood for and walk in the direction they pointed to. We pray to be able to know them better and understand their vision.
We remember Bediuzzaman, a loyal follower of Prophets, with his commitment to serving people when he said, “So long as I see my nation’s faith is secured, I don’t mind burning in the Hellfire.” Despite his dedication to his nation, his life was made a prison by the tyrants of his era. His students had to go through similar tribulations – although they had no desire for any worldly ambitions and refused any worldly titles. They were sent to exile, taken from one court to another, and imprisoned. They endured all the toll that came with being on the side of Bediuzzaman and remained committed until he passed away. Their loyalty, commitment, and sacrifices have helped many to open their eyes to truths and faith.
A quick look into the lives of these students, like Zubeyir Gunduzalp, Tahiri Mutlu, Hulusi Efendi, and others, would reveal they were never invested in any material wealth. They lived in very modest homes, in rooms that were falling apart. They could perhaps have pursued a life in wealth and prosperity, but they never wished to leave even a standing stick behind. They dreamt nothing else but to be in service in God’s path.
Such people who devoted themselves to lofty ideals adopted “positive action” as their method. Thus, they never fell in pitfalls like being jealous of others and obstructing their good work. It is the way of pharaohs and their bad counterfeits who spread propaganda to destroy what others do.
There is not a single person in the history of mankind who devoted his or her life to humanity but did not suffer anything at all. They were suppressed, cursed on, exiled, and put behind bars – their sincerity in their cause was tested many times. Is there any Prophet who did not have to endure pain or exile? Zachariah was sawed into pieces, John was martyred, Abraham was thrown into fires, Moses was expelled from his homeland, Joseph was cast into the well, sold in slave markets, and spent years in dungeons, Noah had to endure his people’s mockery and defamation… and the list goes on.
The sole passion of tyrants is to hold on to their rule by whatever it takes; as they suck people’s blood like vampires, they offer nothing useful for the future of a nation. God may give them some respite, which is temporary, and eventually they fall from their towers.
What falls on believers is to remember all the tribulations the Prophets had to go through, and, when they are tested, to patiently endure.