M. Fethullah Gulen
Heedlessness means abstraction, carelessness, and not being oneself. The heedless persons are uninformed about what is going on around them; they are always confused and careless regarding their relations with other people. They are like sleep-walkers. They do things, but they are not quite sure what they are about. They are without a goal and they often busy themselves with trivial things. They are defeated by the paths they walk on and the times they live in. It is useless to look for purpose in their behaviors, for they are so confused and so abstracted that they are oblivious to the disasters going on around them. They look but do not see; they hear but do not understand.
For years, many people around the world have continually lived like this – if this can be called living. They sat down with heedlessness and they stood up with heedlessness; they had no ideal and constantly ran after seizing the moment. It cannot be thought that such people would be any different. They eat and drink, make themselves comfortable, and neither see the past nor the future. In Omar Khayyam’s manner, they say, “Dead yesterdays and unborn tomorrows; why fret about it, if today be sweet.”
They drop themselves into pits of heedlessness as described in the verse: “They are like cattle, nay more misguided: for they are heedless (of warnings)” (7:179). Their lives contradict the high level of their creation. They neither hear the divine call nor understand anything about prayer, nor do they listen to what all the creation around them articulates. The universe enunciates things to them word by word, line by line, and paragraph by paragraph; blessings pour down upon them from every side; the heavens and earth warn them from time to time about their ingratitude; the clear statements of every event explain many things to them… but they understand nothing from all of this. Not only do they fail to notice these warnings and constant admonitions, at times their response is rebellion and unbelief. When bestowed with favors and blessings, they bury themselves deeper into heedlessness and continue to breathe bohemianism.
For the heedless, a blessing is not a blessing; they do not know divine favors as divine favors, and do not listen to warnings. When a disaster or calamity strikes, if they have a drop of faith, they attribute such events to fate and complain about their share; otherwise, they tie disasters to natural causes and continue their obstinacy. When divine blessings are mentioned, they claim they got them all by themselves, and they begin to inhale and exhale: “me, me, me.”
On the contrary, if their work goes badly and their order is turned upside down, they weep and rub their hands together and begin to moan. But it is too late; the curtain of this world is closed and a new curtain has opened. This curtain is more chilling and terrifying: “But harder, truly, is the Penalty of the Hereafter” (Qur’an 13:34).
What a pity, for the heedless ones do not know about what will happen to them here or what is waiting for them in the next world. They waste their time in heedlessness, they do not think of the present or the future, do not recognize the law, step on everyone that they think happens to be in their way, and when dissent blows all around, they join and create disturbances. When they crush others as much as they can, they do not think that there is someone more powerful who can crush them. When they suppress things they view as opposing them, they never take their own end into account. They are extremely spoiled and arrogant. They think they will prosper with cruelty, but a painful end awaits them, and the lightest state of this painful end is disappointment and remorse.
Undoubtedly there are some responsibilities that befall people of faith. Believers cannot just sit back, saying “I believe in God (and He will take care of things).” They cannot see ill-treatment and contempt as normal. They cannot remain silent when their rights are violated. It is their duty to trust God and have a prophetic determination, to make the best of their willpower as guardians of wisdom, to take refuge in the greenhouse of faith and seek the pleasure of God. They must say, “I am here, too,” and activate all their opportunities and capabilities for the revival of their world of thought. They must always be ready for service with the awareness of a serious responsibility. They must use all their sources of power – heart, spirit, mind and reason – in the pursuit of individual and social revival. All these are broad matters and each one is very important for believers.
In this respect, we can say that until the day we raise human beings with high characters and profound ideals respecting faith and traditions, and with commitment to serve the society, it will be impossible to resist the oppression and impositions of the heedless and perverted. Just as it has continued for many centuries, people will be constantly abused. Tyrants will not hesitate to crush the weak. They will continue to disrespect human values. Efforts will be made to make God’s name forgotten; implied and direct insults will be poured on the guides He sent for guidance; human honor will be taken lightly, and the innocent masses will be made into slaves of corporeality.
We must always have faith and hope, and yet we must equally be determined and resolute. Helplessness for many years has emboldened tyrants against our society and its values; it has facilitated the crushing of innocent victims. In the analogy of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, “Showing love for a hungry wild animal only excites its appetite. Moreover, after it has fed upon you, it demands a further payment for feeding upon you” . The tyrants have crushed us and rose up on our shoulders; they never behaved humanely. To the contrary, they imposed their false ideas upon others and tried to assimilate them.
However, in spite of centuries of such painful experience, it does not mean that things will always continue as they are: from the beginning of this world, light always chased off darkness, day always followed night, making people suffer one day and laugh the next, and springs were nurtured in the bosoms of the days of darkness.
The voice of people can never be fully silenced. If our mouths are zipped up, we will still express ourselves with different instruments, and make our voice heard no matter what. Whether the heedless wake up or not, this voice will one day reach even to our inner rooms like the call from the minarets, and it will whisper to us to become ourselves.
Just as we have been knocked down a hundred times before, why would it not be possible for us to shake ourselves again, rise up, and stand on our own feet?
- Nursi, Bediuzzaman Said. 2007. The Letters, Epigrams. NJ: The Light, Inc. p 449.