M. Fethullah Gulen
Our modern society has gone astray during much of the past several centuries. While every person is in pursuit of one thing or another, we are searching for our own soul. If we can persist on this search on a sustainable path then we can hope that the days in which we will be revived as our true selves are very close; the days when we will turn towards our true nature and win back our best values.
Enduring a most unfortunate period, the last couple of generations have renounced their warm, cozy homes and embarked upon peculiar pursuits; they either took refuge in a world of “matter,” or rather machines. They fell prey to different fantasies, let themselves fall into the maddest of delusions, and spent their lifetimes amidst insanity. At times they turned into wild mad men, and their thoughts were stained with blood. This disorder has continued up to our days and these brutal and unrelenting sins are no more bearable.
Nowadays, however, they are growing more and more aware of the void they happen to be in and have started to open the doorways for alternative thoughts – even if only a little. They have started speaking about faith; they have even started to accredit some value to the past and its wisdoms. Indeed, though it was only yesterday that they made no mention of God or His Messengers, and that they insulted believers and cursed at our historical values, today they are adorning many of their thoughts with soul and meaning, weaving their words with the silk threads of the metaphysical. For this change to hold ground with this color and harmony we want, it is important that these divine days continue uninterrupted for another quarter century. Afterwards, perhaps we can be hopeful for a prosperous future.
To this day, those who have lost their spiritual power have gone to waste just like seeds that have decayed in infertile soil. Indeed, whatever has happened to this day cannot be undone, and many have been sacrificed, honor has been destroyed, decency has been tattered, and our innocence and purity have been shaken as a punishment for misinterpreting history. From now on, we must review our intentions and wish for the best. We must always be alert and awake not to leave any voids in our feelings, thoughts, or logic that may prevent us from serving others so that our future will not become soaked in blood and tears. We must take advantage of all possible opportunities when the hurricanes subside to some extent, and where signs appear on our horizon in order to breathe life into even the most lifeless points of time so that they become the voice of common sense. We have just started to gain a feeling of the mystery, magic, and endlessness of this “book of existence” and all of its contents that are put on exhibition in the universe. We must practice active patience, remain alert, and be prudent so that we are not held back and pushed further away from what is close at hand until the day the meaning and wisdom found in this “book of existence” become evident with the help of the sciences and allow us to learn the purpose of our lives. We must be careful to not suffer any spiritual or moral loss on what seems to be a winning path.
Indeed, in this apparently calm yet active period, as the promised divine days have started to break with their colorful flow, we must knead the dough of spirit and meaning that will shape the enlightened generation that represents the future. They will bear this spirit on their shoulders with their own coat of arms made of hues and patterns unique to them. We must knead that dough in our safe basins and in the best form we can so that our society will be able to step onto new lively formations with a rich heritage of thought and consciousness of history. While we, as a society, strive to realize this very significant task, there will be those who either knowingly or not will try to object to these vital efforts, not to mention those who will underestimate, belittle, and even reject the efforts altogether. In response to all of these hindrances, on one hand, we will make a great effort to strengthen our free will by starving the roots of our evil inclinations while uplifting our capacity to do good; on the other hand, we will exhibit a sensitivity to not allow any intellectual or logical voids in our plans and projects as we strive to advance with a purity of intention. We believe that because our ultimate goal is the consent of God and our provisions along the way are faith and sincerity, God will raise us with advances of mercy and favor along the way. No matter where we happen to be, we will be nurtured through His manifestations.
Yes, as we close our eyes and fill ourselves with the exhilaration of serving God Almighty, the seeds we scatter throughout the four corners of the world will, through His Divine will, certainly find life one day. Even those we think have been lost will sway like ever-blooming ears of grain, and they will sing the melody of their good fortune when the season is right.
With favor and mercy from God, we will walk into the future with “faith and knowledge” taking the lead as “thought and worship” will be closely knit together. We will do our best to conform to “causes” and submit to God with a tight embrace in full acceptance of His will (tawakkul). Our hope will be the source of our action, and our patience will follow right behind like a trusted companion. Even retributions will be considered a blessing, and each blessing – just like an unexpected advance – are references to the reliability of the true source of everything.
We will walk, and He will always guide and protect us and will never abandon us throughout our journey. We will walk, as the light from the waves of the eternal worlds will manifest in our eyes, while our ears will have the ability to receive the truest of words without error, and our hearts will beat with inspirations of wisdom. This can be possible if we can maintain our relationship with Him as our Creator and us as the created, and do not forsake His kind favors to “familiarity” and monotony, for this may fade away “colors and freshness” like the winds of autumn.
We will walk away from today’s lethargic masses to discover the enlightened generations who offer much promise for a brand-new world. We will walk away from them without tarnishing the image of, or slandering, anyone by planning our thoughts according to our actions and carrying out our actions as lifeguards do so that others may live. We will do this to prove that there really are passengers who can be void of blood and grime, and void of revenge and hatred. We will keep walking without stumbling on our path and will not be obstructed by any obstacles along the way. We do not, and cannot, claim to pardon the thousand and one incidents of murder and brigandage that we have been witnesses to. When the laws and rights of the public are the matters at hand, the feeling of forgiveness and pardoning transforms into a feeling of justice, and the style of living closes off to inhumane behavior of any kind. Yes, it is requisite of one’s respect for humanity to transform goodness – and the bridges leading to goodness – into avenues and to award those who want to go on this destination. Likewise, respect for the human being also requires the prevention of evil and stopping those who engage in evil. Indeed, goodness must always be recognized and praised, and, at the same time, people must be warned against sins so that no one avoids accountability by saying, "The fault is not ours; we were driven to these ways."
Those who think in this manner are actually trying to take refuge in such inconsistent excuses in order to escape the responsibility of their present wretchedness and misery. In fact, they can be described as disoriented and decayed souls that have been unable to appreciate and comprehend the distinction of being human. It is a fact that those who carry the spirit of true humanity have no other choice than to assume part of the responsibility that belongs to the society in which they too have risen and flourished. Such a sense of responsibility is the requisite of a humane spirit, comprehension, and thought - not to mention the command and will of the One who has equipped the human being with such dynamics. Provided that their conscience has not decayed completely, become atrophied, or that understanding has not died, it is unthinkable for a human being to be negligent of such a responsibility.
In terms of the contemplation of being truly human, we hold ourselves accountable for current mishaps and for the sake of the peace and security of tomorrow's world. When we say "the human being" and "culture" we wish to underline once more the priority of "faith," which is the first stage of true liberty and the only source of light to guide us to the final destination.
Indeed, the first phase and the highest priority in reviving out-of-control generations to their true human form is by embedding faith and all that it promises into the depths of their nature and character, and to ensure their continuity. Explaining to generations and feeding their souls with both the apparent and hidden aspects of existence by imbuing them with the culture of faith and making it possible for them to embrace all things with compassion will serve to liberate the generations who we have failed to keep under control and whose disintegration we have been unable to prevent. A spirit that is not cleansed through faith cannot be pulled completely away from savagery, avoid aggression, love or compromise with other people, and, above all, cannot begin to reach towards the heavens. It is inevitable for such a person to be tainted by greedy ambitions and to live a life full of grudges and hatred, and to have their heart be blackened with grime. Truly, faith enables the human to hear, listen, and interpret existence in a completely different way by imbuing knowledge and love of the eternal, building a connection with all of existence, and by moderating hatred and flaws. It saves a person from the misery of disorientation.
At the present time, generations from every walk of life who have reached such deep levels of faith, and thus – though weak at the present moment – hold promise and hope for the future, must be imbued with a zeal for service to humanity and a feeling of responsibility and duty free from the promise of fame, fortune, or status. They must be nurtured to have no expectations for recompense so that they neither dive into thoughts of gaining support from any government, from the public, or centers of power so that they will not raise their hopes for future prosperity. In this way, strong structures that flourish with knowledge and wisdom will light the lanterns of our thoughts in every corner, and we will not be held back by certain desires and ambitions. Instead, we will continue on with feelings of altruism, purity in our souls, seeking God's good will and consent, and always aware that He is the one who employs us in this service.
The fact that a love for Divine Truth holds great importance, in itself, is also something that should certainly be underlined. The power that forms when reading, contemplating, studying, and researching are united with a love of connecting to the truth – for the sole fact that it is the truth – would, I believe, be enough to open the doors for the whole universe. For centuries, while certain nations have been lifted towards the skies through a love of the truth, even if only in certain fields, others have always been the ones to watch from afar with a desire and longing to imitate their success. They have taken it in with a sigh, watching like paralyzed spirits that are bound by the chains which enclose our feelings and thoughts. Nowadays, even if we can appreciate the fact that this important matter is at least being articulated, syllable by syllable by a certain group of people, it is still difficult to say that it is being handled in the mindset of true scientific thinking. We are in need of true scientific thinking that has, with its cultural and ethical dimensions, settled over the blockade of belief in the truth and will awaken in our souls a thought of physical and spiritual transformation towards the heavenly realms. The constant development of thought, the transformation of theory into practice, and the promise of advancement that such a transformation holds have, so far, only been possible, and will only be possible, through the push of such scientific thinking. True scientific thinking is what is fundamental; science and technology, on the other hand, are merely products derived from it. We are witnesses to the many high caliber individuals, to the heroes of determination, to such great performances, and lifetimes dedicated to this cause.
Those who will reconstruct the future will come from among these heroes. They will turn around this narrow, contaminated world, won over by adversities, to construct a wider, purified and more harmonious world that will remind us of heavenly beauties. They will do this to the extent that we are able to teach them love for the truth, the spirit of research, and the nuance of renewal. This will raise them to a level where they are able to distinguish between what does and does not belong to the roots of spirituality and meaning.
While the generations that have been connected with these dynamics and have reached a love for truth are considered the heroes of their own people, the disoriented masses who have lost their souls and meaning will always be considered a source of shame and dishonor and will darken the future of our society.
We foster the hopes that our intellectuals who stand in a position of influence will take advantage of the opportunities at hand, prepare future generations to the throne of hearts, and turn the pits of failure into zeniths of victory.