M. Fethullah Gulen
Others may think differently; but for me our world is so charming with its exquisite climate, landscape, mountains and rivers, orchards, prairies, and prosperous settlements. It is so welcoming and tender that those who can once perceive its essence fall in love with it and never consider leaving it. I reckon having a bond to this world a privilege and bliss. I have always been rejuvenated by it when I was inside this realm, and when outside I am consoled by its colorful images in my memory.
In my view, with its wonderful people, welcoming nature, and geographical features, this realm is no different than a hallway to the heavens. Once upon a time in its golden age this realm used to be perceived as a trajectory to the highest gardens of Paradise, and its value was worth the entire world. In those days, travelers from faraway lands would visit this realm, and once they sipped its dazzling flavor and felt inside the heavenliness in its aura their spirits were raised, and on departure they comforted their hearts with a promise of a revisit.
The inhabitants of this realm were more intimately connected with physical phenomena than we are today; they were in close embrace with all existence, and were like brothers and sisters to nature. Their homes, villages, and towns were in harmony with nature from all aspects; they were spacious and heart-expanding, and their surroundings were like a botanic garden. With their celestial horizons, crystal-clear sentiments, and otherworldly spirits these homes, villages, and towns made people living there feel as if Paradise was only one step away. This was why people considered their graves an important station on this journey of a single step. They decorated their cemeteries with the colors and patterns of their angelic horizons, for they believed the cemetery was the first point of arrival in the Afterlife. They transformed this splendid area, which appears horrific to the materialistic mind’s eye, into a pleasant resort.
When we were ourselves, our homes, streets, and walkways exchanged warm glances with their inhabitants; their demeanor was so meaningful that those who could observe them from the angle of their spirit could feel as if these places were intoning things that were unique to our realm. Almost everyone in this realm was intoxicated with a kind of music originating in their heart and refined in their beliefs, dreams, and subconscious. Every moment thrilled them with a different breeze of meanings and they were overjoyed.
There were occasional occurrences of frustration and sorrow, but they did not last for long. Such moments were immediately followed by the victory of this realm’s unique character, texture, and ever-enchanting nature that would overcome all the tumult in people’s conscience and convert the darkest autumns into the brightest springs. Our days and nights were always cordial, our months and years were all resplendent.
Every day started with a new beauty as the cries of spring were heard everywhere; the morning breeze brought the scent of Prophet Joseph’s shirt and rivers overflowed from the life-giving spring of Prophet Job . . . a kind of joy from the afterlife was being tasted in this realm. As the days were illumined with the rays from the sun, so were our hearts lit with the light from beyond the heavens. Like sunflowers, the eyes of the heart were vigilant for this light, our souls lived on a schedule adjusted according to the prayer times-the propitious times of the day-and hearts would beat with its excitement. Each portion of the day would then become like a new festival; each week, month, and year would come and pass in unique colors, caressing the heads of these fortunate people and reminding them every season that they were strolling on the walkways of Paradise. Every morning in the lands of this privileged community was like a kind of Resurrection; every noon rose with a new touch of heat; a cool breeze was felt everywhere in the afternoon; the music of silence was heard in the depths of the heart every evening . . . the entire day offered a feast of scenery through its windows opened to the beyond. Enchanted by this profundity and color, even the ones with hearts harder than rocks would soften like silk.
The generations of those days were blessed with glowing hearts and an affectionate setting. Unyielding security and peace ruled everywhere. Mobs, anarchy, tyranny, deep state, unsolved murders . . . these crimes that we experience so much today were unknown to those generations. They were foreign words, for order, harmony, justice, and mercy prevailed in their realm.
Ambition, jealousy, ill-gotten gains, illegal hoards, bribery, nepotism, swindling, cheating, embezzlement . . . these crimes were out of the question. Indeed, some of them only existed in the dictionary, for the auspicious people of those days were exceptionally contented with what they possessed, stayed away from what was forbidden, and fixed on what was lawful, and they pursued a life in justice.
Occurrences of enmity, feelings of murder and revenge, mischief and corrupt plots, passion for authority were the rarest things, for the people’s mindset was directed towards a serious dialogue effort, a philosophy of tolerance, an ethics based on love and compassion.
Autocratic rule was regarded as tyranny from ancient times; for them, despots were no different than pharaohs and were mentioned with imprecations; defaming and classifying others were works of despicable ones. People maintained a life in humility, munificence, and generosity-they acted on forgiveness and courage, breathed with sacrifice and sincerity.
In that bright era, alcoholism, drug abuse, smuggling were never as frequently committed as today. You would not see modern problems like “homeless children” or “addictions to various substances” even as entries in dictionaries. For people then behaved with their hearts, spirits, and minds in control; there were people who made intellectual efforts, sincere hearts that beat for their country and humankind.
They were the prototype people of virtue, and in their abode neither filthy affairs such as those listed above nor corruptions like sinfulness, prostitution, impertinence, and bohemian lifestyles that bring disgrace on being human, could exist. Above all, avoiding sin, and maintaining chastity, virtue, divine ethics, and accountability were their most distinct attributes and natural state of being. They were on a straight track with a clear road map in their hands; they were blessed with a humane profundity that prepared them to walk on such a broad road. They lived straight, walked straight, and became a blissful memory for the generations to come. I wonder where we are on this road.