M. Fethullah Gulen
We are on the threshold of great and far-reaching changes. The community is writhing in the birth-pangs of the new time that is approaching. It is no wonder that the people are fearful, anxious, sometimes hopeless, about their future. For they have been so long abandoned in doubts and paradoxes that their imaginations are barren, their hearts and minds sick and enfeebled.
With their spirits so broken, their future so dark and undefined, it is no wonder at all that their distress has led them over the edge of despair. They long for some relief, some strength to hold themselves up and stop their legs from giving way. They long for a heroic figure to give them vigour and purpose, a message of hope.
Hope is a condition of mind connected, above all, with belief. Those who believe have hope, and their degree of hope is directly proportional to their degree of belief. It is because of this that certain effects of strong belief can strike some people as miracles. And those who do not experience belief on this level therefore consider such hope and belief in others as something quite out of the ordinary.
Despair and pessimism do not arise in the mind and spirit of one who has chosen well what he believes in and, believing, has set his whole heart upon that belief.
An individual develops by means of hope. Likewise, a community gains vitality and sets about becoming prosperous by means of hope. Just as an individual who has lost all hope cannot be regarded as truly alive, so too a community devoid of hope is disabled, paralyzed.
Hope consists of a man finding his spirit and seeing the potentiality that lies within it. Perceiving that, he comes into contact with the All-Powerful and thereby obtains a power that can overcome everything. It is by that Power that a particle becomes a sun, a drop of water becomes an ocean, and by It too a man’s spirit becomes the breath of the universe.
The Prophet Adam, upon him be peace, when he realized he had erred, felt distressed and hopeless. But he shook off the hopelessness and revived when he said: ‘I wronged myself’ Satan on the other hand faltered irrecoverably and sinks forever in the void of his despair.
All courageous men who set out with the torch of hope in their hearts have weathered storms and battled against odds that once seemed impossible. In some of them, hope is like the promise of survival and safety when the ark of the Prophet Noah, upon him be peace, came to rest on Judi1: And it was said: O earth, swallow your water! And o sky, be cleared of clouds! And the water was made to subside. And the commandment was fulfilled. And it (the ark) came to rest on al-Judi. And it was said: gone are the evil-doers (Hud, 11.18). Or the hope is a dream of the lovely gardens of many-pillared Iram before indulgence wrecked its people2: Hast thou considered how thy Lord dealt with the (people) Aad, with many-columned Iram... (al-Fajr, 89.6-8). Or it is the hope of a wide transmutation - like that of a township of doubters, hypocrites or pagans become a great city of believing men and women - the hope of Yathrib become Madina.
Hope and resolution inspiring the heart of a Berber slave led him to give to the rocks of Gibraltar their name, whereby he is always remembered. Through hope, a young commander transformed himself into lightning and cut a bright change through the course of history. He attained heights few have achieved since. Such individuals, so resolved and so filled with hope, have risen to become beloved in the sight of Truth and, to their people, are like a vivid flag, an emblem of what is possible.
Even at a time when the people are cowed down in their humiliation, their pride wounded or broken, an individual who has gained faith and hope can challenge the whole order of the world as it is. He continues in his struggle even if he suffers setbacks. And as he survives through whatever disasters befall and persists in his purpose, so he brings to life those whose spirits had been all but dead before.
It is by means of hope that journeys are undertaken, and rivers of blood and pain are crossed. Only those are defeated who fail in the realm of hope. Many are those who set out, proud of their accomplishments, and then find themselves detained or diverted halfway, because of the weakness of their faith and hope. A little earthquake, a storm or flood, takes their will and resolution away. As for those who begin in hope and then, after some setback, become bogged down in despair-their condition is truly heart-breaking. But it is in fact impossible for those unable to see the truth to do otherwise when their purposes are not realized. For those who set their hearts upon wealth and position, though always mightily cheered by transient successes, are certain, sooner or later, to be utterly disappointed.
The daytime for one who, has enduring hope is as colourful as the garden of Paradise, for his heart is set upon a brightness as unfailing as the sun. His night is no less luminous. Since people of such calibre are never in the dark, the sun is always shining even when it does not appear. Those with enduring hope are rooted as solidly as great, ancient trees which neither hail or snow or freezing blizzard can cause to wither or deter from bearing fruit. Souls with hope of this quality, who have dedicated themselves to eternity, are never barren; rather, they are, in every season, fruitful, provided, ready to do what it is necessary to do.
What we need more than food, water or air, is patient, determined guides who resist corruption and hardships and never become daunted. We can derive little benefit from those who start this journey on a whim and abandon it in despair when they do not quickly attain what they are looking for, and become engaged in disputes with the Creator. The wheel of Destiny will never turn according to their corrupted way of thinking and their misguided calculations.
Now, as many buds of hope begin to appear, multitudes of seeds are waiting under the soil for the first sign of spring: may Allah give hope to the despairing.
1. Judi is the hill upon which the ark of the Prophet Noah, upon him be peace, came to rest; it is the name of one of the hills of the mountain called Ararat.
2. Muslim historians and interpreters of the Qur’an, from what is in the Qur’an and from historical evidence, have said that the people of Aad founded two civilizations, one in the north of the Arabian peninsula the other in the south, present-day Yemen. The latter was the civilization referred to as Iram and particularly renowned for its rich gardens. It was the most advanced of the ancient civilizations in the Middle East. The people led a luxurious, indulgent life and did not heed the warning of their prophet; iniquities and corruption so multiplied in their domains that, finally, Allah poured on them the disaster of his punishment.