M. Fethullah Gulen
In the recent past, the Islamic world as a whole has lived through its most depressed periods, whether considered from the point of view of faith, morality, modes of thought, education, industry, customs, traditions, or practices.
Yet once Muslims were far more distinguished in their piety; they were more devout, more correct and decent in their morality, more stable and wholesome in their customs and practices, more worthy to dominate world affairs on account of their social and political horizons and their more progressive and sophisticated modes of thought. They practiced their religion without fault or failure, perfected their morality, understood the place and value of science and knowledge, always managed to be ahead of the level of learning and the standards of the era in which they lived, and properly appreciated and balanced the relation and interaction between inspiration, reason, and experience.
That is why they were able to rule such vast lands, from the Pyrenees to the Indian Ocean, from Kazan to Somalia, from Poitiers to the Great Wall of China, with the best administrative and governing system known up to that time, and their ideals aroused the admiration of all. While other peoples were experiencing the darkest ages in their history, the Muslims, in the territories under their jurisdiction, enjoyed and extended to other people’s systems of governance that were idealized as a utopia or an earthly paradise.
What a pity that this part of the world deviated and distanced itself from the historical dynamics and Islamic values which had kept it standing upright through the ages, and that it became slave to ignorance, immorality, superstition, and carnal pleasure. This is when Islamic civilization began its slide into the abyss of darkness and great disappointments; when it began to be dragged into one crisis after another; when it became scattered everywhere, like prayer beads when the string has been snapped; when it was left under the stairs, like pages fallen from a book with a loose binding; when it was profoundly shaken by fruitless rivalries, bent double under the weight of a thousand disputes, bewildered and stupefied into singing the songs of freedom even as it moaned and groaned bitterly under the most shameful, humiliating enslavement; when it began to lack a strong sense of identity, yet was very strong in its selfishness; when it took a stand in defiance of God and the Prophet arguing them to be taboos, yet was in the grip of so many others; when it began to become “the most wretched of all.”
Despite many efforts of ill-meaning detractors, from within and without, the recent gloomy period has in fact not lasted long. Muslims today, who now account for about a fifth of the human population, are striving for a fresh revival nearly everywhere in the Islamic world and are trying to save themselves from this accursed era of enslavement. Particularly in recent times, the fact that they have had to face new calamities every day has heightened the spiritual attentiveness of Muslims, has given momentum to their return to God, and has aroused and excited their resolve.
As we were certain of both the conformity between the spirit of Islam and human nature, with its support for both the material and spiritual advancement of humans, and with its unique quality to balance this world and the Hereafter, we survived with breathing, “the truth will always be victorious; the truth can never be defeated”1; and day and night we were in expectation of The (happy) end is for those who are righteous,2 never losing hope. And today we are able to witness, in all walks of life, a fast-growing inclination to Islam; we can now observe that Islam is coming to the fore and gaining prominence in a vast area, from the United States to the Asian steppes, from Scandinavia to Australia.
Although many missionary activities of different faiths are systematically carried out by various groups, they have been unable to arouse one tenth of the interest and warmth in their respective religion that greets Islam. Today, throughout many continents of the world, thousands of people choose to embrace Islam every year, taking refuge in the light of the Qur’an, even though they know that they may be sentenced to some form of starvation and misery.
Unless we fail to keep our loyalty to God,3 glad tidings of the divine message will be experienced once more:
When there comes the help of God and the victory; and you see men entering the religion of God in companies; then celebrate the praise of your Lord, and ask His forgiveness; surely He is oft-returning (to mercy). (Nasr 110:1-3)
From America to Europe, from the Balkans to the Great Wall of China and the heart of Africa, indeed, almost everywhere, faith, hope, security, and therefore, peace and contentment will be experienced once more under the umbrella of Islam; the whole of humanity will witness a new world order that is far beyond imagination; everyone will benefit to the extent to which their nature, disposition and mentality allow.
- See Bukhari, Janaiz, 79.
- A’raf 7:28, Hud 11:49.
- See Ra’d 13:11, Anfal 8:53.