Posts Tagged ‘Fethullah’

Ideal Consultation-1


Question: What are the method and manners of consultation in Islam?
Answer: The Qur’an clearly mentions consultation as an indispensible quality of Muslims that leaves no place for interpretations in any other way, and commands believers to practice consultation in all units of life as an essential that cannot be relinquished. For example, in the chapter ash-Shura: “And those who answer the call of their Lord and obey Him (in His orders and prohibitions), and establish the Prayer in conformity with its conditions; and whose affairs are by consultation among themselves; and who spend out of what We provide for them (to provide sustenance for the needy, and in God’s cause)…” (ash-Shura 42:38). This Divine verse mentions consultation together with Prayer and spending for the sake of God and thus reminds of the fact that it is one of the most vital qualities for a society of believers and an act of critical importance to the degree of worship. It is so meaningful that the chapter is named “The Consultation.” Another verse where consultation is openly commanded is the following (as translated): “It was by a mercy from God that (at the time of the setback), you (O Messenger) were lenient with them (your Companions). Had you been harsh and hard-hearted, they would surely have scattered away from about you. Then pardon them, pray for their forgiveness, and take counsel with them in the affairs (of public concern); and when you are resolved (on a course of action), put your trust in God. Surely God loves those who put their trust (in Him)” (Al Imran 3: 159).
Consultation, Even When You Have Been Offended!
As it is known, this verse was revealed during the Battle of Uhud right after the Companions temporary wavered at a very critical moment. God’s Messenger consulted with his Companions before the war on the course of action they should take. By taking their opinions into consideration, he decided to face the approaching enemy on battleground. As some of the Companions had failed to grasp the finer points of doing as commanded, they failed to pay full respect for orders and thus experienced there a temporary wavering—I am specially avoiding calling it a rout. God almighty revealed this verse at a time when the Messenger of God received a wound that spilled his blessed blood from his face and when so many Companions were martyred. In this verse, God Almighty first compliments our noble Prophet: “It was by a mercy from God that (at the time of the setback), you (O Messenger) were lenient with them (your Companions). Had you been harsh and hard-hearted, they would surely have scattered away from about you” (Al Imran 3:159). If we try to paraphrase this verse, we can say: “My Beloved servant, you cannot be harsh and hard-hearted; you are not so. If you had been, these people would not gather around you at all, not come to the battleground, and they would have scattered away from you. O My beloved servant! They made a mistake of judgment. Therefore, forgive them and ask forgiveness from God for them. Then once again bring the issue to consultation and discuss what needs to be done with the people around you.”
At a moment when a temporary wavering caused havoc, as the heart of the noble Prophet could be broken as any human being, and many other hearts were upset as well, God demands the issue to be re-discussed in consultation with a very gentle command. Actually, the beloved Prophet did not need consultation at all. In the words of Abu Bakr, he was in communication with the heavens day and night. God Almighty directly let him know the words he should say, the steps he should take, and what he should do. He was never at a total impasse in his life. When it appeared that it would happen, God Almighty paved the way for him, rendered narrow footpaths into wide roads, and told him to walk on. Consultation was not simply an issue of his time; the Messenger of God consulted matters with the Companions as an act of guidance for all his followers to come, who are responsible for emulating his example. Through the language of his state, he was saying, “You may be a mayor, ambassador, or president… no matter who you are, do not act upon individual considerations alone. Consult over every issue.”
Consultation Helps Everyone Accept What Needs To Be Done
Consultation is very significant to decisions and acts that concern all, in terms of maintaining general acceptance. When people add their own ideas to an issue—be it of even a very minor level—they see themselves as connected to it and lend a helping hand if needed, even if the task is heavy. But if their ideas and suggestions are not included in the decisions made on an issue, then they do not have stake in it and do not want to undertake any task with respect to it. What needs to be done is for the tasks to be perceived as similar to carrying a heavy treasure, where many people contribute their ideas in order to lighten the overall task for everyone. In this respect, we can say that when consultation is neglected within the family, it causes familial unease and problems. When it is neglected in a committee or group, then the collective will suffers the harm. When it is neglected in state affairs, it causes nationwide unrest, complications, and problems of very serious kind. Given that the Truthful Messenger stated, “Whoever takes counsel, does not regret it in the end,”1 this essential needs to be practiced in all aspects of life, beginning with the smallest sphere.
Manners of Debate and Discussion
Having briefly covered the necessity of consultation, now let us come to the issue of how an ideal consultation should be carried out. Let me point out firstly that an individual’s making a decision on one’s own, taking it like a fixed essential, and then trying to weave all matters to be discussed at the consultation according to his preconceived plan is an expression of not knowing the spirit of consultation. Instead, in order not to involve emotions, not to take personal fancies and desires as reasoning, it is necessary to note down the considerations that come to mind about the matters to be discussed at the consultation by evaluating them with one’s inner faculties, along with sound reason, sound feelings, and a sound heart. Only then should one determine the frame of the issues to be discussed, before bringing the issue to consultation. In addition, even if we believe that our ideas and suggestions are original, we cannot expect them always to be accepted at a consultation. In this respect, with respect to our ideas and suggestions offered to the consultative collective, we must be able to say at appropriate times, “I did not understand this issue thoroughly” or “My knowledge was mistaken,” thus not insisting or showing obstinacy at the fixed ideas in one’s mind. In fact, the method to be followed at consultation is debate and discussion. But debate and discussion do not in any way mean quarreling and brawling. Many works have been written on the Islamic manners of debate and certain principles are thoroughly established, such that the debate develops around the axis of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Actually, debate means mutually stating opinions about an issue in question. For example, if a matter about the economy is being discussed, all of the opinions will be centered around the economy and will naturally resemble one another. The real target here is making the truth emerge in a crystal clear fashion: “The flash of truth is born from the confrontation of ideas.”2 Disputes, however, do not give way to sparkles of truth but to disintegrations and factions. Also, it is an essential to be fair and to respect the other side’s opinion at a constructive debate because arguing can include acting obdurately and disgracing the other side. Indeed, the one proven to be wrong has no loss on a ground of mutual discussion, because that person gains by seeing that his or her view is mistaken and learns the truth. As for the one proven to be right, that person will only have repeated self thoughts. Such a person is even under the risk of giving into pride and haughtiness thinking, “See that, what I said has proven to be right.”

1. Tabarani, Al-Mu’jam al-Kabir, 6/365
2. A famous saying by Namık Kemal (d. 1888), Turkish-Ottoman prose writer and poet.

This text is the translation of “İdeal İstişare.”

The Past, Present, and Future


Question: You previously emphasized the importance of evaluating the past, present, and the future with a comprehensive perspective. How does this fact apply in our lives with respect to individuals and the society?

Answer: Although the past, present, and future are three different segments of time for those who only live the present moment, these are only three different facets of the same whole. Those who evaluate everything in terms of their carnal pleasures prefer to lead a heedless life with considerations such as:

Neither cry for a passed day in vain,
Nor mind a future day for nothing.
Nothing but tales are past and present,
Enjoy yourself, do not let your life be ruined!

On the other hand, those who journey on the horizons of the heart and spirit, take all three into consideration and do not sacrifice any one of them for the other; because, neglecting one of them will cause a serious defect in the others as well. For example, it is not possible for people who are detached from their past and do not have an insightful perspective of the present to build a new future. As a matter of fact, in response to Ziya Gökalp who said, “You are not a ruins-dweller but one ruined! Your gaze is on the past; you are not forward-thinking!” the poet Yahya Kemal replied, “I am neither a ruins-dweller nor ruined, but a forward thinking one with roots in the past.”

Walking into the Future with the Momentum of the Past
The past is full of so many stimulating good examples to provide hope to thinking minds with ideals. The parables of the Messengers of God related in the Qur’an, peace be upon them all, and authenticated sunnah are the most striking examples of this fact. And the most dizzying of those examples is the life of the Master of the Messengers of God, peace and blessings be upon him. As it is known, he came at a time when humanity was in a world of darkness, a time when brutality, tyranny, and ignorance of the worst kind prevailed. That is, people of the Era of Ignorance did not know the answers to questions such as: “What are we? Where did we come from, and where are we going?” Indeed, they were not even aware of their ignorance. Might was right and those in power imposed their views on everyone. The entire society was polluted in these feelings and thoughts. The late poet Mehmed Akif portrayed that grim picture with the following words:

Human predators were much worse than hyenas;
A man without teeth would be food for his brothers!
Horizons on all sides used to be inflicted
With the trouble of anarchy, now destroying the East.

However, the Pride of Humanity brought down emperors in a single move and saved humanity from that dark and gloomy atmosphere. At a time when no means of telecommunication and mass media existed and when everything was entrusted to individuals, the Messenger of God realized a great revolution by God’s grace in less than a quarter of a century. It was such a dizzying phenomenon that the deeds of the Prophet and his Companions can only be explained as a miracle of the Qur’an. So if the past is seen as such a source of dynamism and is benefited from accordingly, one reaches the following conclusion: given that such a revival was experienced in the past, there is no reason for not having it once more in our time.
There is a source of hope and power in the examples after the Era of Happiness. For example, as Muslims made progress and took their place among the world powers, different hostile circles appeared. At a certain period, there were attacks by Mongols and then the Crusaders, one after another. By God’s grace and protection, Muslims stood firm and the attackers bounced back every time. Different commanders from Kilijarslan to Saladin stood as a barrier before them, may God’s mercy be upon them all. Many times Muslims were clothed in shrouds, but consequently pits of death were transformed into comforting climates with pleasant gardens in which to stroll. Thus, even though we are under the attack of many hostile circles, there is no reason for not overcoming these and having a new revival. Why should we not make the face of humanity smile once more? Why should not we become a factor of balance to speak up for truth and to maintain justice?
When history is seen from this perspective, it will be seen that in the example of the Ottomans, which began as a small princedom in the bosom of Sögüt, it can be said that God Almighty created a butterfly out of a caterpillar. A handful of people, who only filled a few hundred tents, were at the wheel of the world within one and a half centuries. To such a degree that the Western world began to term them as an “empire.” This was an indication of acknowledgement. That Sublime State brought to a halt an entire world charging over them at full gallop with the Crusades and made them stay in Europe. It is necessary to insightfully discern all of these historical events together with their backgrounds and derive a lesson from them. It is stated that one of the most important qualities that distinguished Muawiya, may God be pleased with him, from other Companions was his analyses of history. He would constantly study history and draw lessons from it. This comment about Muawiya is not surprising; although surely I acknowledge Ali ibn Abi Talib as the rightful caliph, there are so many the valuable services of Muawiya ibn Abu Sufyan to the society that cannot be underestimated. For example, the Roman threat was neutralized at his time. Even though events do not occur in exactly the same pattern, it is a reality that there are certain historical recurrences in certain respects. If we interpret the past correctly, and evaluate our time by drawing a lesson from those recurrences, then we can walk on to where we should, without being hindered by obstacles.
There is one thing that we should be careful about while trying to appreciate and benefit from the past like a treasure. There may have been certain mistakes and sins we committed in different sections of the same society and may have given offense to one another. In my opinion, it is not right to depict those bitter pictures in our time, as it happens in novels and movies, and thus make long-forgotten incidents rise from the grave as a matter for dispute. Surely, the events in history are a reality and cannot be denied, but it is wrong to raise new disputes through them. While saying this I am not trying to say, “Let us solely see the clean pages of history.” On the contrary, historical events must be analyzed with all of their bitter and sweet aspects so that we can try not to repeat the same mistakes again. That is, it is necessary to analyze troublesome periods as well and understand how the difficulties were overcome; however, this should be carried out without bringing grudge and hatred back to life again. Instead, we should try to adopt amicable approaches to use those sources of wisdom as projectors to shed light on the present time and future.

No Future without a Vision for the Future
There is a future that starts from tomorrow and extends to eternity for those who believe in the Hereafter. As for those whose ideal in life is making merry, they neither care about the past nor the future. While they think they cannot obtain any truth by scrutinizing the past, they do not wish to spoil their enjoyment by thinking about the future. For the volunteers devoted to God’s path, not only the past, but also the future, bears great importance. They have hopes, expectations, and ideals. However, those expectations have nothing to do with love for status or enjoying worldliness as some claim. On the contrary, their ideal is to establish truth and justice everywhere, being representatives of peace, making the whole world feel a spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood once more, developing a culture of coexistence in the globalizing world, and thus raising a warm atmosphere of peace everywhere. As it is also stated in the works of Risale-i Nur, the absence or forgetting of an ideal in life causes people to concentrate upon themselves and their own self-interest. As for such individuals who are crushed under the weight of their arrogance, they orient everything to their selfish concerns and continuity of their present enjoyment. However, members of humanity are honored with the best pattern of creation. They represent yesterday, today, and tomorrow altogether. Therefore, they definitely must cherish hope and ideals for the tomorrows. Otherwise, they get—may God forbid—stuck in their own selfishness and eventually become egotists, egocentrics, or narcissists who become dizzy and lose their balance with appreciation. As for those who aim certain ideals for the future, they are heroes of revival and monumental examples. They constantly try to blow the inspirations in their souls to others. They prepare the plans and projects of their future acts of goodness from today and try to do their best for the sake of realizing them.

The Golden Segment of Time: Present
The present time is also very important for a true believer. Such a person views the present moment as a golden segment of time and tries to make the best of the opportunities granted by God Almighty without any waste of time. Actually, all of us are at a certain point with the guidance and channeling of God Almighty. What falls on us is fulfilling our position of responsibility in the most efficient way. So much so that even if they leave us on a barren mountain top, we should take a hammer and nail and try to extract soil out of the rocks—and then call out to others, asking them to send up a few seeds, striving for greenery to grow even on barren rocks. That is, when they put a believer on a rocky ground, he or she should manage to derive water from rocks—as Moses did by striking a rock with his staff—obtain soil, and consequently even plant seeds on rocks.
One should never be content with minimal effort, instead of seeking to make the best of the available means. There are definitely certain good deeds everyone can do with respect to his or her own position. Everything granted by God must be used on His path by making the best of the present moment, and everybody must to what they can. A person should even question his-or herself frequently, asking: “I wonder whether I am thoroughly fulfilling what I am supposed to do with respect to the available means that God has granted to me? Or am I like a sick person suffering in misery?”
In short, the intellectual laborers of the future must understand well what they can effectuate with the means in hand and then use them efficiently for the sake of realizing the noble ideals that they pursue. By undertaking seemingly impossible tasks, even in the most adverse conditions, they must make the best of the present moment and let humanity enjoy new springs by God’s grace and help.

This text is the translation of “Geçmiş, Hâl ve Gelecek.”

Fleeting Storms, Perennial Breezes


Despite all odds, time seems to flow toward long awaited days of splendor and hours of bliss. Albeit, there is a shadowy presence of ominous days1 which cultivate an “evil” that is disposed to mischief; this is in spite of the looming storms that whip around us from time to time and notwithstanding the certain wicked spirits which are devoted to relentless destruction and demolition, who have the sole aim of silencing believers by lighting fires of tribulation everywhere. However, in the face of all such storms, the great majority of us—with the will of God—continue to search and pursue beauty and embellish our dreams with charm. Enlivened by such depths of pleasure, which caresses our feelings of rapture, we are aware that the doors of the palaces of bliss beyond are creaking open. From where we stand, as if coiled to jump to the heavens like a spiral, we are immersed in contemplation and we find ourselves in this luminous world for brief moments of melodious elation, in defiance of the blizzards raging outside.

By virtue of the light that faith and trust in the Absolute Truth emits within us, we are neither shaken by the noise and clamor that is being intentionally made around us, nor do we panic in the face of the dust that envelopes us. Instead, with this strength from the inner light, we are resolute in the face of tyrants and any of the cruelties that befall upon us without cessation. For we are of those who hold trust in God and arm ourselves with wisdom; we are of those whose endeavor it is to aspire to spiritual zeal and God’s superior pleasure in every place while living up to our unique cultural values.

At the present time, with the dawn of every new day and the fresh blessings that are within-may the Hand of Power behind them be glorified-we, together with all believers, seem to be elevated to a realm that in its beauty contains pavilions of heaven, exquisiteness, and great beauty; this occurs after we have been cleansed from innumerable centuries of ancient fog and smoke that cover the entire world. The seething animosity, hatred, and raging wrath on our right or on our left does not concern us. So prevalent are these perpetual breezes within those most terrifying of blizzards, typhoons, and thunder storms, which are part of the commonplace events that go unnoticed, that they cause the weak at heart to despair; yet we march resolutely on. We stride towards those peaks of ideals that gleam with the radiant days dreamed of in our souls. Unswervingly we tread in the direction of our ancestors’ spiritual ambiance.

Gripping tightly with faith and active hope, we live with the belief that one day we will be revived as ourselves and we will stand on our own two feet. This hope to which we cling at all times has, in fact, left the windows for a new resurrection open. Even during merciless times and ruthless events, we have reserved our faith for those imminent and promised heavenly days. Lying behind our submission, surrender, and trust is the fact that we have given ourselves over to the Hand of Blessing, for He will transform both this world and the beyond into flawless abodes for us. We have arrived at the conviction that all good done in this world will flow into the vineyards and gardens in the realm that is beyond. In the face of the abundant favors which are bestowed upon believers, we always discern the divine messages and humbly rejoice at the indications of such Divine attention. We rejoice and are almost completely unaware of such severe dolor.

What is more, and this is not an overstatement, in the tasks in which we are employed and on the path on which we walk almost every one of us can hear the rhymes of the Hereafter, like beautiful poetry, echoing within the depths of our hearts. Although such sensations arise in proportion to the expanse of one’s inner world, nonetheless every believing soul can intuit these elevated ideals and esteemed reminiscences that were once a remarkable poem.

However, at times and under particular conditions such elation and literacy in the meaning of events may not be perceived. On occasion, due to our immaturity, we may even view our surroundings in a fog. Particular states of affairs may cause such murkiness, however, none of this is permanent; given that faith, surrender, and submission have penetrated our souls, then all of these shall come to pass; as they do, they will impart within us a renewed spirit of endurance. In fact, for people of this caliber of insight, life is experienced afresh every day-this is a kind of life which occasions as many unexpected events as it does ordinary ones, and each day presents laughter interspersing the laments, ecstasy follows upon agony, and permanent pleasures come with suffering.

On the horizon of the believer, the summer heralds revival in the same way that spring does, while autumn and winter paint sunsets with the color of dawn and deliver the glad tidings of resurrection. Thus is the course of these four seasons, which follow one another with unique promises of bliss in the ambiance of pure delight, enchantment, and relief. Each morning delivers the exhilaration of the revival, the days give rise to a different enjoyment to all, the evenings unwrap shutters of the realms beyond, and the nights swathe all things with such charm that the language of the soul can be decoded in the heart with each blessed hour. Every minute and each second sparks a light and holiness that melts even the coldest of hearts with the warmth of mercy.

In this spiritual atmosphere, who knows what ingenious reflections people contemplate in proportion to their capacity, what inarticulate things they murmur about realms unknown by many, in what profound visions they immerse themselves, and on what horizons of the beyond their sights are set. The moment these reflections take wing toward the heavenliness of the past, they roam in the sweetest dreams of the future and they garner a variety of things from the virgin garden of considerations that is connected to the realms beyond this world.

Yes, due to the two wings of faith and hope we are able to fly through infinity with our insight and affection. As we continue to strengthen our relationship with Him, time and again we are so aware of matters that exceed our imagination that it is as if we are being embraced by compassion from all four directions. Our ambience shimmers with otherworldliness and we regard our abode as the corridor to the Hereafter. This particular world, constructed in accordance and perception of our inner universe, transforms itself into an enchanted world that announces the luminosities that lie beyond. It is because of this boundless inner sight that our horizon never truly darkens in its entirety; even though the darkness may fall, layer upon layer, most of the time our spiritual sight shines powerfully with the gleams of the Hereafter. So long as we pay due diligence to where we are, making the best of the conditions in which we find ourselves, and set focus on our permanent horizon, we will never be destitute.

Dwelling with the marvels of His blessings, we can assuredly rely on “strong support” (Hud 11:80) and with such a point of recourse we can unwaveringly challenge the most gigantic waves that can confront us. On occasions though, certain times which appear to have veered off course and which are saturated with ruthless events may appear to impede our path and they can potentially dishearten some. Yet the storms or typhoons that come and clash with our bosoms will strengthen our immunity; they go as they come and leave behind numerous gifts that are manifest in the qualities that make us who we are. This is the way through which worries vanish and concerns are truly transformed into pleasures; “all praise belongs to God” replaces the moans and the events that occur around us start to shimmer with promises of imminent bliss.

Thus far, in accordance with such light, sparked by the faith and emitting from within, and the resulting hope that rests all its security upon the Absolute Truth, we have been able to perceive and evaluate everything in a manner of beauty and elation. Henceforth, with the same fervor of hope, we stand firm in our position and remain intact; our insight will discern everything through the same light. Hence now, O you unreceptive wind of hate and bitterness! Go and blow from any corner you please! Soon the Irresistible Power will surely pronounce to you “enough is enough O arrogant one, cease your snarling … cease now!”

1. With the phrase “ominous days” the author is referring to the phrase “days of disaster,” found in the Qur’an, 41:16.

This text is the translation of “Muvakkat Fırtınalar ve Daimî Meltemler.”

The Spirit of Salam


Question: True stories of the Hizmet volunteers are told in the movie Selam (or salam—an expression of greeting and goodwill). You made the comment that going to other lands with a “salam” marks a lasting presence, whereas an entrance by the sword does not make a lasting effect even after long-term presence in those lands. What do you mean by “going with salam” and “the spirit of salam?”

Answer: First, it should be known that peace is essential in Islam and war is an incidental and exceptional situation. The permission for war in Islam is for the sake of defending the (inalienable rights or) values that must be protected, such as religion, life, intellect, property, and offspring. When people fixed on malevolence threaten to give you harm or try to enter your home by force, it is impossible to meet them with flowers. When a nation faces such an attack, they should mobilize and do what is necessary to be done in battle. In addition, stopping oppression (no matter which part of the world and against whom it is done), helping those who are wronged, and thwarting those who try to prevent freedom of thought and expression are among lawful reasons for war.

The Aim Must Be Deterrence

The Qur’an emphasizes that the principle of deterrence in order to establish peace should be done first. In a verse related to our subject, it states: “…make ready against them whatever you can of force and horses assigned (for war), that thereby you may dismay the enemies of God and your enemies and others besides them, of whom (and the nature of whose enmity) you may be unaware” (al-Anfal 8:60).

As it can be seen, the Qur’an advises to prevent war before it ever begins by taking all kinds of precautionary measures against immediate dangers and thus becoming a deterrent force that discourages potential enemies. In the course of the history of Islam, however, when the lawful conditions of war were present, believers had to opt for using the sword in certain periods. Most of the time this right was used for the sake of thwarting transgressive powers, bringing tyrants who upset peace and harmony in the world into line, putting an end to chaos in certain regions, and making right and justice prevail. One may ask the following question at this point: Did they thoroughly observe these principles throughout the history of Islam? When we view the general picture, we can comfortably say that Muslims mostly kept a balanced course. It is true, however, that some people in certain periods took action based on mistaken judgments. In other words, even if they set forth with the intention of establishing justice, they may have failed to observe a fastidious sensitivity about justice by preferring relative justice over absolute justice. For example, they may have failed to adopt a peaceful course of action when problems could have been solved, not with the sword, but with the invincible and everlasting principles of the Qur’an and Sunnah. In my opinion, Muslims’ failure to stay permanently in certain regions in different periods stem from such mistaken judgments.

Salam: A Universal Human Value

The conditions of our time are different than in the past. There is a certain level of democratic culture established throughout the world, and knowledge and eloquence have gained more importance. Victory in a civilized world can only be achieved through persuasion, and thus the diamond-like flawless and precious principles of the Qur’an and Sunnah have a separate significance in such an environment in terms of speaking up for truth and letting hearts feel it. Therefore, it is very important for believers to let others know about the universal and humanly values they cultivate in the depths of their soul, such as self-sacrifice, devotedness, and living for the sake of others by voicing them through different channels of expression and conveying knowledge, including art. So the movie Selam came into existence with such a thought, for the sake of telling the story of devoted souls migrating to different corners of the world. Before releasing the movie, my friends showed some parts of it to me and wished to learn my opinion. Although I do not know much about movie making, I tried to make some comments. I appreciated the movie in certain respects on the whole, as what one finds in this movie is the beautiful thought, understanding, and selflessness of the people of Anatolia whom these values become so well. The movie tells the story of their opening to not one part of the world, but to so many different places, from Africa to central Asia, and from there to the Balkans. Our teachers’ caring for people living in these different localities and coming from different cultural backgrounds, suffering for them, their living for the sake of making those people live, and softening them with love and human values, and nurturing certain virtues in them is so important. This is what the movie Selam tries to show.

As it is known, human nature has an inclination to react against strangers. Particularly, it is much more difficult for people who had been assimilated, oppressed, and suffered exile in the hands of foreign powers to welcome foreigners. In spite of such negative factors, it calls for appreciation that the volunteers of education conquered the hearts of those people and established bridges of love, dialogue, and peace among different societies and cultures.

The Teachers Whose Feet Deserve to Be Kissed

People of Anatolia, who take the diamond principles of the Qur’an and Sunnah as their guide and who possess an immensity of heart so as to let everyone find a place to sit, became a message for the sake of a brand new world and love, which echoed everywhere. As those who watch the movie will remember, there is the true story of a teacher who sacrifices himself while trying to save two boys who fell into a river while fighting on a historical bridge. After seeing this attitude of the teacher who drowned in the river after saving them, the two boys who had been fighting hugged one another and started crying. While watching that scene, I could not hold my tears like most of you. The scenes from Africa and Afghanistan are not much different. Surely, the most important thing was that all of these scenes depict true stories. For this reason, the players who took part in the movie expressed their fascination when they witnessed the self-sacrifice of the teachers in those various places they went for the shooting of the film.

Sometimes, those selfless teachers remained in the middle of a war in the countries where they taught. They did not leave their post even when their city was under siege, and they stood by their students with an immense feeling of faithfulness. The teachers continued to educate, even by risking death which opened up the doors of others’ hearts to them.

Those chivalrous souls who migrated for their ideals, courageously journeyed to different corners of the world. Sometimes young men set forth leaving behind a newly wed bride, or with an engagement ring on their bride-to-be’s finger. Some of them made a sad farewell to their elderly parents and went away by entrusting them to God. In the face of such sacrifices, let alone their foreheads, I am ready to kiss the feet of those blessed souls.

Those people, who did not even know in depth the philosophy of the path they were walking, started walking without stepping back and followed the voice of their heart in submission to the Divine. It was God who guided them towards these places and they were going with a blessed motive. I did not witness any of them complain and return. Even if it happened, I do not know such a thing. In spite of different expectations of their parents and environment, thousands of brilliant young people who graduated from the most prestigious universities of the country gladly set forth with selfless concern for others and devotion to their cause of Divine love, as expressed beautifully in a poem (by the famous love poet Seyyid Nigari):

Can one seeking the Beloved fret over his own life?
And can another who seeks his own life be in quest of the Beloved?
We have entered the path of love; we are lovesick,
We are in no need of personal dignity.
O my heart, are you ready for this?

They Wrote Salam in Hearts

As it was reflected in books, magazines, and different television programs, those friends of ours went everywhere with salam, and they wrote a salam in others’ hearts as they wrote it on chalkboards. They taught that salam means goodwill and peace. Even to those who discredited them, they gave a salam, wished goodness, and moved on. So if you go to new lands with peaceful intentions, you may have a lasting presence. Then your message of salam will find a place in consciences and will echo in hearts. God Almighty does not let those steps go wasted. As it is stated in a hadith qudsi, if you move toward Him a hand span, He comes to you one step, if you go toward Him one step, He comes to you walking, if you approach Him walking, He comes to you running, and becomes your eye that sees, your ear that hears, and your mouth that speaks.1 With this immense blessing of God with you, why would you not succeed?

In conclusion, salam is the real capital we have in today’s world where the sword has been sheathed. The philosophy of salam requires being handless to those who beat, tongueless to those who curse, and feeling no bitterness toward heartbreakers. In this respect, we should not be influenced by discouragements, but stand our grounds uprightly all of the time, and follow the principle of constructive action by saying, “This world is the realm of perseverance, not of taking offense, and thus we must only concentrate on the tasks we need to carry out.

 1. Sahih al-Bukhari, Tawhid, 15, 50;  Sahih Muslim, Tawbah, 1

 This text is the translation of “Selâm Ruhu.”

The Grave Consequence of Murders Committed under the Guise of Religion-2


After the disintegration of the Ottoman State, consecutive disintegrations ensued in the Islamic World. Today there are new efforts by Muslims to stand on their feet and find their own spirit again. Even if you do not look at the entire picture but only at the example of Turkey, you see that things are not as they used to be in the past, that so many things have changed within the recent forty to fifty years. Some powers that are disturbed by these developments and changes in the Islamic world are instigating some ignorant people who do not know the true criteria of their religion and who act on emotions and chauvinism, and they are manipulating these people for their wicked purposes.

The Need for Paranoia and Deluded Masses

Unfortunately, it is a reality that not all people living in Islamic regions are sensible ones with a balanced way of thinking and sufficient knowledge of their own sources. As for the powers that wish to trigger paranoia and whip up the masses to form public opinion in the world to suit their benefits, they see these weaknesses in Muslims that stem from their ignorance and poverty, prepare stories to mask their plots, and thus induce those liable ones as pawns in their plots, either by deceiving them or by robotizing them through psychoactive drugs. They abuse the neglected generations condemned to ignorance and thus delude the masses. The way to be saved from delusion depends on keeping our immune system strong. If you have a healthy body resistant to viruses and germs, then you can overcome them all. However, if there are serious flaws in your immune system and others continually try to inject viruses with an intention to make the body topple over, you cannot prevent it.

For this reason, in the shrinking world of our time, the Muslims who follow the Prophet’s way need to act much more wisely, think before taking every step, weigh the possible consequences of their statements very carefully, and consider what feelings those words are likely to evoke in the other side. Pros and cons must be evaluated before speaking, and not a single word must be said without thinking about its consequences ten times. Particularly, those in a position to represent an entire collective need to act with further care, as an entire body of people pay for the consequences of the mistakes they make. For example, if an ordinary man says something as, “Such and such people desecrated your mosque, so go and do the same thing to them,” nobody will care about it. But if an unstable person in a position where his words are listened to says such a thing, it is taken seriously and this causes destruction very difficult to mend. If one lacks sound knowledge, wisdom, perspicacity, and insight along with bravery and courage, the bravery and courage of such people can lead them to such insanity that it will not be possible to rectify the mistakes they make. In this respect, it is not correct to solely put the blame on the other side for the disasters we undergo. Since the early periods, those who wish to prevent the beauties of Islam being practiced and witnessed by others, try to put such plots into action. The Rightly Guided Caliphs and the insightful rulers who took them as example did not let that happen. On the other hand, particularly within the recent two or three centuries, alien factors succeeded at manipulating some liable ones to suit their purposes, and they unfortunately marred the effulgent face of Islam. It can be said that no period of Islam witnessed the like of today’s atrocities, committed so-called in the name of religion. Different groups in different periods, such as the Muwahhidin, Karmatis, and Batinis, attempted such monstrous acts. But even they did not become live bombs and did not commit suicide attacks, resulting in mass murders of women, elderly, children, and all.

The Way of Struggle That Becomes a Believer

I would like to relate a memory of mine at this point. A person who came for a visit talked with me about Islamophobia and stated that Westerners view Muslims like monsters and that they try to defame Islam in their caricatures, newspapers, and television shows. In response to this, I told him how people make the mistake of reacting emotionally against such attacks against Islam and commit certain behaviors absolutely incompatible with Islam, and that it is not really correct for us to declare ourselves to be completely innocent. It was an unexpected reply that made him surprised, but it was an undeniable reality. When responding to badness done, we are supposed to take a way of struggle that becomes a believer. Otherwise, the wrongs committed put all the Muslims on earth in a difficult situation, because such acts provide certain circles with a weapon they can use against Muslims. As for the course of action to be followed, we should always regard our attitudes and manner as our honor (and thus act with utmost sensitivity) and try to fend off attacks in compliance with the essential principles of our religion.

Those Who Commit Atrocities Have No Share of Islamic Faith

How can it ever be possible to make people love religion through violence and rage? Religion has been defined in the following words: “Religion is such a body of systems decreed by God that it guides those who possess reason to goodness out of their own will.”1 In my opinion, this definition of religion is a consideration that excels even the most developed form of democracy, because it takes human free will as basis and leaves individuals with their own free will. According to Islam, humans are blessed with a potential for benevolence and appreciating goodness. If religion can be represented in the right way and the beauties it promises for the future can be demonstrated, people will welcome it. If you demonstrate the beauties of religion, help people to love it, and engender a desire toward it in their hearts, people choose it with their free will. Nobody can object to that. Everyone has the freedom to choose whichever religion he or she wishes. What really matters is the beauty of representation. Another merit of the Pride of Humanity, blessings and peace be upon him, was his representation of the Divine message by personal example, as well as conveying it in words. He represented every virtue he taught with immaculate correctness and thus set a throne in hearts.

Long ago, we, as his followers, also represented those virtues. However, we have degenerated over several centuries. And unfortunately some people have committed many evils in the name of religion. But in reality, people who commit atrocities have no share of true Muslimness. As it was expressed in different instances, a terrorist cannot be Muslim, and a Muslim cannot be a terrorist. Even if a terrorist appears from among Muslims, it means that such a person has lost the attributes of being Muslim. So it is not possible to call that person as a sound Muslim. How can it be! There are certain rules even for wartime. When an army was setting off on a campaign, God’s Messenger stated that Islam forbids doing harm to women, children, and people who took refuge in places of worship. For this reason, it is impossible to reconcile these murders committed in the name of religion today with the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah.

In conclusion, what falls to us is being respectful toward everyone and meeting every understanding with respect, along with representing religion in the right way, as coercing others to accept one’s system contradicts the spirit of religion. Marching upon people with firearms and brutal force, occupying a shopping mall by declaring a war of one’s own, and taking innocent people as hostages are irreconcilable with Islam. As followers of the religion of peace and benevolence, we regard the principle of responding to any wrong with the like of it as tyrannical and refuse to commit cruelty through tit-for-tat reactions, preferring virtuous behavior over inhuman acts against all odds. A true believer does not, indeed cannot, fall to a level to resort to such behaviors.

May God Almighty bless our hearts with true wisdom. May He protect us from all contradictory acts that go against His Divine Will! May He bless all of us with taking the path of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and following the example of those who have truly walked on his path.

1. Abdulaziz al-Bukhari, Kashf al-Asrar, 1/13

This text is the translation of “Din Adına İşlenen Cinayetlerin Vebali-2.”

The Grave Consequence of Murders Committed under the Guise of Religion-1


Question: Can murders, suicide attacks, and other violent acts that are committed by some under the guise of religion be explained solely with reference to the manipulation by powers that be? What are the reasons for such acts taking place in Muslim regions as well?

Answer: Some persons seeming as Muslims use vehicles loaded with bombs and kill innocent people or organize similar attacks on places of worship. This has nothing to do with the Qur’an, the Tradition of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, or being Muslim. Tragically, such events take place today, which truly embarrasses and grieves believers. In despite of the fact that there are stealthy and organized manipulations by foreign powers, such terrorist events committed under the pretense of religion, which also stem from misunderstanding and misinterpreting Islam, are even worse than the attacks of the Crusaders and Mongolians on the Muslim world. They cause much greater damage because such wrongdoings and murders tar the face of Islam.

Bravery and Courage Misunderstood

In my humble opinion, the foremost of the misunderstandings and misinterpretations that causes such events in our time concerns misguided bravery and courage. A believing person must have courage in one’s heart, but with that there must be wisdom and insight as well; believers need to take a sound stance that will build a feeling of assurance and trust in others. They must always act in compliance with the essential principles of religion, no matter what the circumstances are and never forget that lawful ends must only be sought through lawful means. To state it differently, true bravery and courage means that Muslims take a sound stance, having the courage of their convictions and defending their values, always standing on the ground of righteousness, and forbearing every kind of trouble for this sake, even in the face of unfair treatment.

When we view the time of the Prophet in this respect, we see that for thirteen years the Pride of Humanity and the believers who supported him endured so many things most of us cannot do—so much so that most times, the Companions with tearful eyes considered the infinite power of God Almighty expectantly while they turned their gaze toward the blessed Messenger He sent as a mercy to humanity, and then to what was being done to those who followed the Divine message. Although they could not comprehend the wisdom of the events before them, they still said, “You are so Clement O our Lord!” One day, when the Pride of Humanity prostrated himself before the Ka’ba, those who were fixed on denial and ignorance placed the contents of a camel’s stomach on his head.1 Those fierce oppressors stoned him so many times, but he never invoked curses on them to receive a hail of stones in return. On the contrary, he raised his hands to pray for those who stoned him, broke his teeth, wounded his cheek, and caused his head to be covered in blood: “My God, grant guidance to my people, for they do not know!”2 These words can be paraphrased as follows: “Had they known me, my mission, how I feel agonized over saving them, they would not do so.” The Qur’an describes the state of God’s Messenger concerning the misguided ones as follows: “Yet, it may be that you (O Muhammad) will torment yourself to death with grief, following after them, if they do not believe in this Message” (al-Kahf 18:6). The Pride of Humanity, who conquered hearts, softened them, guided everybody toward true humanity, making them meet the humanity in their essence, did not respond in the same way to the rage of those who showed animosity to him, let alone resorting to any of the outrage and atrocities that we witness in our time. Even for Abu Jahl, a sworn enemy against him for fifteen years, he did not invoke any curses. Thanks to this attitude, there came a time when Abu Jahl’s daughter Juwayriya and his son Ikrima embraced Islam, and they lived a dizzyingly exemplary life afterwards. During the Battle of Yarmuk against the Romans, Ikrima was severely wounded and was being taken to a tent. He suddenly straightened and stated that it was such an honor that the Messenger of God personally came (he had a vision of the Prophet). I find it difficult to explain the vertical spiritual progress he made despite knowing the Prophet as a Muslim only for two years. How did he ascend to such horizons of knowledge of God? How did he realize such a great inward deepening? Is it possible that the Pride of Humanity did not treat even his enemies with clemency and wisdom? Actually, had the Messenger of God made the slightest gesture towards fighting in those early days, his followers, those valiant heroes of the time, would have fought until their last blood was spilled. However, they preferred to show patience in spite of the ordeals they went through in shackles. They did not show any extreme reaction based on personal feelings to harm their trustworthiness, and such monstrous acts as in our day were out of the question, because the path of the Prophet of Compassion was that of conquering hearts and persuading minds in order to let them attain eternal bliss. And this requires behaving with wisdom, compassion, and mildness. To reiterate, such monstrous ways of acting can never be compatible with the Qur’an, Sunnah, and the Pride of Humanity’s manner, conduct, and way of thinking.

It Is not Possible to Sow Hatred and Reap Love

It is possible to give more examples of the Prophet’s Companions’ peaceful conduct. After the conquest of Jerusalem, the Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab set forth from Medina with his servant in order to take the keys of the city. When his clothes were torn on the way, he patched them with the needle and cotton he carried for such a case. With his belief that he did not have the right to take two animals from the state treasury, he traveled with only one camel, taking turns riding it with his servant. In the vicinity of Jerusalem, it was the servant’s turn to ride the animal. His servant tried to insist that Caliph Umar ride the animal while entering the city, but Umar refused since it was his servant’s turn, so the servant rode the camel as they approached the city. The Jewish and Christian spiritual leaders met them at the entrance of the city, believing that Umar, who was walking, was the servant. Upon learning that  Umar was the caliph, these spiritual leaders showed him great respect, saying that they had already seen in their scriptures the properties of the person to whom they would deliver the keys of the city, and so the Patriarch Sophronios willingly handed him the keys. When Umar said it was time for the Prayer, they said, “O Caliph of Believers, you can offer your Prayer in a corner of our place of worship.” But Umar said, “If the caliph of believers offers his Prayers at your place of worship, then Muslims will wish to turn that place into a mosque as a memory, which will be a violation of your rights,” so he offered his Prayers on some rocks. This was his high degree of sensitivity at showing respect to others’ places of worship. Look at our master Umar’s respect for other religions’ places of worship, and compare it to the ugly atrocities committed today—so called—in the name of Islam.

Another example to shed light on our subject concerns the time of Ali ibn Abi Talib when strife was boiling over, similar to now. Caliph Ali’s supporters informed him that the Kharijites had gathered in the Harura region and advised him to launch a preemptive strike before his enemies could attack. Ali ibn Abi Talib, the courageous lion of battlefields whom the Prophet rendered the master of saints, replied with an answer illustrating his common sense: “How do we know that they will attack us?” Can we see how righteous his approach was? In my opinion, real heroism does not lie in a display of manly power and swordsmanship, but in giving one’s willpower its due and showing such self-restraint at a time when arrogance is likely to sound off like drums, repeating the word “I.” True heroism and courage is being able to ask at such a critical point, “How do we know they will attack us?” By taking this consideration as a basis, Imam Abu Hanifa ruled that it is not lawful to march upon a group of people if their intention is not known.3 Is not what really matters in acting with a wise strategy and trying to solve problems with minimum loss? When the conquest of Mecca is considered, God’s Messenger took all necessary precautions for the sake of preventing bloodshed, not inflaming animosity, and settling problems with mildness. Excepting one or two attempts of resistance, the Pride of Humanity entered Mecca, whose people mostly consisted of polytheists, without bloodshed and causing loss of lives. And after entering Mecca, he asked the people, “How do you expect me to treat you?” The polytheists who already knew him well since his childhood replied that he was the noble son of a noble one. The Prophet replied, “No reproach this day shall be on you. May God forgive you.”4 Like the breath of Gabriel, the words he uttered resonated so much in the souls of the people of Mecca who had been polytheists that they finally understood how misguided they had been and became a halo around the Prophet two days later. Even his most entrenched enemies softened and accepted his message. Mild behavior and genuine kindness attracted them to Islam’s atmosphere of goodness. You reap the harvest that you sow. If one wishes to reap a harvest of goodness, one must always sow seeds of goodness everywhere. (To be continued).

1. Sahih al-Bukhari, Wudu, 69; Sahih Muslim, Jihad, 107
2. Qadi Iyad, Al-Shifa, 1/105
3. Al-Marghinani, Al-Hidaya, 2/170–171; Al-Kasani, Badaiu’s-Sanai, 7/140–142
4. Ibn Hisham, Al-Sirah al-Nabawiyya, 5/74

This text is the translation of “Din Adına İşlenen Cinayetlerin Vebali.”

Insistence on Unbelief


Question: Although unbelief makes its presence felt in a person’s heart as a deep void and anxiety, many people continue to stick with it. What are the reasons for this?

Answer: Unbelief has nothing attractive and appealing since it makes life appear as a horrible field of chaos and struggle where anything can happen at any time, and death is viewed as eternal destruction. It is a source of constant anxiety with potential threats; it is a horrible cliff and void. There are certain weaknesses that make a person deaf and blind such that those affected by them can resist the most evident truths, be deprived of faith, and drift toward denial. These are discussed below:


A person who sees oneself as great may refuse to bow before God. But greatness exclusively belongs to God as stated in a hadith qudsi, and whoever tries to compete with Him in this respect and attempts to share it, He throws that person in Hell.1

Given that true greatness belongs to Him only, what befalls a human being is to be a servant to Him. The eternal is only One; everything and everybody must acknowledge their being zero before Him. Bediüzzaman explains this point through the concepts of “self-referential meaning” and “other-indicative meaning.” Humans need to be viewed with respect to this latter one, other-indicative meaning (or the meaning manifesting the Divine). Just as a letter that has no meaning on its own takes its place in a word in order to convey a meaning, humans similarly find their true value only through attachment to their Creator. Otherwise, viewing themselves as independent beings who bear any meaning on their own is nothing but deception. When viewed from this perspective, “self-confidence” and similar notions coined in our time do not have any value unless they gain true depth by trusting in God. Indeed, individuals’ free will, inclination, and ability of making that inclination into a willful choice are God’s gifts to us. The Supreme Will granted a place for human will. When a person makes a choice by the relatively existent human will, God Almighty makes it real with His Divine Authority. When humans see themselves thus, many problems find solutions. Otherwise, considerations such as “I am your supreme lord,” (an-Naziat 79:24) as expressed by the Pharaoh are nothing but snorts of arrogance. While this remark of the Pharaoh is an obvious claim of Divinity and thus unbelief, having thoughts such as “I saved them/ I did it/ I struggled/ I saved my people from such and such evils…” resemble indirect claims of Divinity and is a kind of hidden shirk—associating partners with God. There cannot be two “I”s at the same time. As “I-ness” or “self-existence” is a property of the Divine Essence in the true sense of the word, then the “I” is nothing but a relative existence granted to human beings as a measure (of comparison) so that they recognize God’s existence. That is, humans are supposed to understand His Supreme Will through their relative will, His doings by their doings, His infinite Knowledge with their minuscule amount of knowledge, and with their limited sight they will try to understand His all-encompassing Sight. Additionally, the shortcomings, confines, and comprehensibility of the human senses are a means of understanding the incomprehensibility of His infinite Qualities. This fact is expressed in the verse (translated as), “…and they do not comprehend anything of His Knowledge save what He wills” (al-Baqarah 2:255), as it points to this same human limitedness; what encompasses everything cannot be encompassed at the same time. The All-encompassing One is God. That is, He encompasses everything with His Knowledge, Will, Power, and doings; we are encompassed by Him. If a person fails to soundly put oneself in the proper position in relation to Him, he or she will be deprived of faith. This Pharaonic consideration based on arrogance is the underlying reason for most people’s denial of faith.


Not knowing one’s boundaries and acknowledging no limits is another major obstacle for having faith. There is no doubt that this is a kind of zulm, or wrongdoing (which includes a broad range of wrong actions from deviancy in a small matter to the unforgivable matter of denying God). This is what lies behind the denial of faith of all tyrants and wrongdoers. They become losers by attributing whatever takes place to their own strength and power. The prototype Korah is a striking example in this respect as depicted in the Qur’an: “He said: ‘All this has been given to me only by virtue of a certain knowledge that I have.’ Did he not know that God had destroyed among the generations before him men who were greater than him in power, and greater in wealth amassed?” (al-Qasas 28:78). As it is stated in the verse, God Almighty seized many powerful societies, including those people who could move mountains, and buried them to the ground for their not knowing their boundaries.

Mistaken Viewpoint

Another factor leading people to unbelief is having a mistaken viewpoint. As it is known, Bediüzzaman placed great importance on the issue of intention and viewpoint. This was to such an extent that he said that his thirty years of education had taught him four fundamental words and phrases until the age of forty, and that two of those words were intention and viewpoint. Viewpoint is a crucial factor for understanding and interpreting existence and phenomena. If you fail to adopt the proper viewpoint, you either cannot see at all or cannot see correctly what you are supposed to see. Your studies and research may allow you to cover a certain distance, but without the proper viewpoint you will get stuck somewhere never reaching the truth of the Divine Essence. What really matters with viewpoint is being able to see everything in accordance with its true nature. Namely, it is the effort of seeing something as what it is in truth. For this reason, one needs to look at that thing with a correct viewpoint. In addition, the goal of looking must be seeing. For example, you can look at a library with so many books, but if your looking does not have a purpose, you do not see the names and colors of the books before you. Therefore, they say that looking and seeing are separate things that should not be confused.

In order to indicate the deviated viewpoint of the Pharaoh, the Qur’an relates the following statement that he made: “O Haman! Build me a lofty tower so that I may attain the ways, the ways of (peering into) the skies, and that I may have a look at the God of Moses…” (al-Mumin 40:36–37). A contemporary cosmonaut with the same twisted viewpoint said that he made a tour around the earth but did not see any deities. On hearing this remark, the famous poet Necip Fazıl responded with the following reply, “You fool, who told you that God Almighty were a balloon in space!” Thus, looking for the Exalted Creator—who cannot be contained by time, place, or matter—as if He were a material object, is an extreme deviation of viewpoint. Some fail to find faith due to the fact that they are stuck in such a swamp.

Blind Imitation of Forefathers

Following one’s forefathers is another reason for unbelief. In many verses in the Qur’an, this mistaken attitude of unbelievers is highlighted. For example, it is stated in a verse (translated as), “When it is said to them, ‘Follow what God has sent down,’ they respond: ‘No, but we follow that (the traditions, customs, beliefs, and practices) which we found our forefathers in’” (al-Baqarah 2:170). Throughout history, those who do not believe and do not wish to believe find a misguided antecedent for themselves and follow him by blind imitation. According to these imitators, even if their predecessors worshipped stones, trees, or even idols made from desserts (as in the pre-Islamic Meccan society), they were “unquestionable.” No mistake could be sought in what they said or did. And this is one of the very important points that cause people to lose and leave them deprived of faith.

While Escaping the Bite of a Gnat…

When all of these impediments listed above are viewed, it is not possible to find anything reasonable, logical, or acceptable to serve as a sound reference. These factors listed as causes of unbelief cannot be referred to as points of support. Thus, people who do not believe continue in their unbelief by relying on things they misconceive as points of support, and this does not promise a person any good whatsoever. People in this situation prefer only to comfort themselves with some temporary consolations. In their own mind, they see a way of escaping responsibility and being comfortable by not stepping into the sphere of faith, because when faith or religion is accepted, then responsibilities of religious practices will ensue, for faith is not solely a theoretical issue. One needs to fulfill certain responsibilities and refrain from certain things forbidden. In other words, solely saying “I believe” does not suffice. After this acceptance, certain commandments known as good, righteous deeds need to be carried out and many indecent, wicked, and vile conducts forbidden by religion need to be forsaken. As some misperceive these as an obstacle against enjoying life, they insist on not stepping into the circle of faith. Thus, in the words of Bediüzzaman, “…even if the duty of servanthood may cause slight discomfort or bother, by denying God’s existence, they make themselves the target of spiritual troubles that are millions of times more distressing. While agonizing over the bite of a gnat, they welcome the bite of a snake.”2 Furthermore, everything seen as consolation in this world provides no benefit or support whatsoever in the next world.

Let me state one final point; even though believers have entered into the sphere of faith by overcoming all of these obstacles that give way to unbelief, they must be conscious of the fact that each of these impediments and weaknesses still poses a danger to them. As all of the factors listed above serve as obstacles against stepping into the sphere of faith—God forbid—they might also be a reason for a person to step out of the sphere of faith. When these illnesses and weaknesses gain a certain degree of dominance over a person’s feelings and thoughts, and when they pressurize the conscience and manage to inflict some holes and cracks in it, one can be swung out of the sphere of faith unaware.

God’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, drew our attention, for instance, to one of these deadly viruses by stating that a person with an atom’s weight of arrogance in the heart will not enter Paradise.3 In this respect, a person must constantly face oneself, constantly see God’s blessings in oneself, constantly praise Him and offer thanks for those blessings, and must never forget that these blessings might possibly lead one astray toward perdition.

1. Sahih Muslim, Birr, 136; Sunan Abu Dawud, Libas, 26
2. Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, The Gleams, New Jersey: Tughra Books, 2008, p. 13
3. Sahih Muslim, Iman, 147

This text is the translation of “İnançsızlıktaki Israrın Sebepleri.”

What Faith Promises


Question: What are the good things that faith promises us? Is it possible to talk about differing degrees of feeling these beauties in one’s heart?

Answer: So far, much has been said about the beauties that faith promises in both worlds and the many ways to deliverance. Particularly, Bediüzzaman addresses this issue in detail in different parts of his works. When all of these are considered, it can be seen that faith provides a person with a very broad and immense view with respect to discerning and gaining insight into life and existence. For example, when a man with faith views creation, he sees it as a close friend and a sincere companion. Therefore, he does not feel any dread about the road or the companion. Thanks to the blessed light faith brings to his life, he sees the past and future as bright; he neither sees the past as a horrible graveyard, nor the future as a dark pit of death waiting to swallow him.

In fact, it is natural for people to have certain fears and anxieties about the future. But the hope and light brought by faith overcome these fears, because a person with a faith based on sound essentials understands that it is beyond human power to find a cure against such anxieties and finds a way to rid oneself of the suffering inflicted by their potential threat. Is the darkness of the grave and intermediary realm a worry? Faith will be a light there. Is passing the Sirat1 a cause of worry? Faith is a steed to make one pass over it like lightning. Is a person worried about the final reckoning? Faith is the soundest shelter to be saved from Hell. In this long journey of life, faith is like a truthful guide standing beside the road and promising safety and trust.

Death and the Ostrich

In fact, faith virtually bears the spiritual seed of a Touba tree of Paradise, as a person with faith leads a peaceful life even while in this world. It is through faith that one is freed from the fear of decaying into nonexistence. No matter what they say and how they approach the issue, it is not possible for a people devoid of faith to free their heart and mind from the worries of nonexistence completely. These anxieties and worries sometimes become so severe that they make one experience a hellish life while in this world. For the sake of ridding oneself from such depression, a person mostly plunges into entertainment and making merry. Sometimes by indulging in alcohol or using drugs and sometimes by indulging in carnal desires, they try to free themselves from worries depressing their soul, generated by the thought of becoming nothing and decaying into soil. In other words, they try to plunge into oblivion by lotus eating. This resembles an attempt to hypnotize oneself. Although these may seem to console a person temporarily, they are only vain efforts with no true or lasting help. As burying one’s head in the sand has no use for being saved from a stalking hunter, it is impossible for such entertainments to save people from what they fear the most. The only thing that will save them from all of these worries and take them to the safe haven of deliverance is faith, which is a safe ship, truthful guide, and a powerful source of hope.

No matter how sinful individuals are, they will cherish hope about a good ending, assuming that they really believe; this truth is inherent in the nature of faith. As a matter of fact, according to Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jama’a (Sunni way of belief) belief, no matter how sinful a person is—with the condition of having faith—he or she will not be punished with Hellfire eternally.2 If one possesses even a grain of faith, then sins are not inherent in that person. Sins do not originate in faith. On the contrary, they stem from not taking the stance true faith necessitates. In other words, sins are viruses that make their way into a person through the holes left in one’s faith. As for unbelief, sins and transgressions spring from its very nature. For this reason, they are essential to unbelief. To reiterate, all mainstream Muslims agree that even a person with a grain of faith will enter Paradise. That is, may God protect us, even if a man (or woman) commits adultery, theft, or some other sin, he will attain eternal bliss in the end, given that he has faith. If he repents for his sins and God accepts his repentance, that person may go to Paradise without being punished in Hell. All of these are beauties which faith promises and cannot be replaced by anything else. Faith, therefore, is a very powerful source of hope. With this endless source of power, it is always possible to be freed from one’s narrow personal world and set sail to the beauties of eternal life.

Amity as Reflected in Realms Beyond

Faith makes a believer a person who inspires trust to one’s environment, even to the entire creation. It makes one’s narrow world into a universal one. True Muslims see the universe as a cradle of amity, and thus see everybody as brothers and sisters to a certain extent. As Ali ibn Abi Talib stated, they see others as brothers and sisters, Muslims being in faith and others being in humanity. Surely, their perspective of believers is very different, owing to the belief that they will be together in the intermediary realm, on the Day of Judgment, and the final reckoning. People with such faith will not reduce their relationship with their environment to opportunistic expectations from others; on the contrary, they will try to establish a bond and relationship that will continue in the next world as well. If such a bond and relationship have a different value in God’s sight, then this will let believers become closer to God and make them succeed in both worlds, which is another promise made by faith. It is possible to see the Prophet’s blessed statement, “God’s hand (of support) is with the community,”3 from this perspective as well. That is, as God Almighty protects people who act with a collective spirit in this world from evils and grants them success, He will grant exceptional blessings to them altogether. In other words, acting in the collective yields not only worldly fruits, but otherworldly ones as well. As it can be taken from the Divine decree, “On the Day when the earth is changed into another earth…” (Ibrahim 14:48), from atoms to celestial bodies, everything will undergo change. Therefore, a person’s feelings and thoughts will gain a different nature, and good works done in this world and amicable relations will gain a different profundity there. Who knows how people will enjoy it and how lovable the relationships will be with other believers. May be encountering them will effect such relief in your heart that you will consider it equal to the blessings of Paradise. In fact, as it is stated by the noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, God prepared in Paradise for His righteous servants, blessings that no eyes have seen, no ears have heard, and that have never occurred to any human heart.4 The blessings God will grant in Paradise are beyond imagination. And those blessings are nothing but many times transformed states of the good works that you did in this world, appearing before you in a different nature.

As for the second part of the question, we can briefly make the following explanation: everybody feels and experiences these beauties promised by faith in accordance with the immensity and depth of their own faith. Some only feel it in the theoretical level of what they heard from their teachers. However, this is only the beginning for them. Some support their theoretical information with truthful knowledge and deep reflection, base it on sound essentials, internalize it through religious practices and worship, and transform it into knowledge of God by experience. In other words, they start with theoretical information, progress to certainty based on knowledge, and then ascend to certainty based on seeing, or ayn al-yaqin as it is termed. After reaching the level of ayn al-yaqin, the secret of ihsan5 unfolds. That is, the consideration of being seen by God at all times and a high consciousness of His presence as if one sees Him permeate a person’s behaviors, and he leads a life at this level. You can understand it as abandoning the animal level of life, leaving behind physicality, being freed from the cage of the body, and journeying to the lofty life led at the level of the soul. There, everything is seen more immensely, clearly, and brightly with its exclusive charms and is sensed. For this reason, one does not care about the physical and worldly life at such a high level. One stays in this world for the sole reason that God commanded so, fulfilling his or her duty. And when the time to be discharged from duty comes, a different serenity is experienced; death is met with the joy of a celebration, and one walks toward the beauties promised by faith, and meets God.

1. The bridge over Hell leading to Paradise.
2. Al-Taftazani, Sharh al-Maqasid, 2/229–231
3. Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Fitan, 7
4. Sahih al-Bukhari, Badu’l Khalq, 8; Sahih Muslim, Iman, 312
5. Ihsan, or perfect goodness, denotes worshipping God as if one sees Him and full awareness of being seen by Him.

This text is the translation of “İmanın Vaat Ettikleri.”

The Faithful and Trustworthy Person


Question: A Muslim is described in a hadith as a person from whose tongue and hands other people are secure. How can we ingrain this good character in us, and what is its significance?

Answer: As it is included in reliable sources of hadith, God’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, describes a true Muslim as a person whom other Muslims are secure from (possible harms to come through) his tongue and hand.1 In order to open a door to the meaning you mentioned in the question, I would like first to expound on the meaning of “Muslim” with the definite article (al). The phrase “al-Muslim” shows that the hadith refers to an ideal Muslim in the true sense of the word. That is, according to the principle, “An absolute mentioning refers to the perfect example of the type,” the Muslim mentioned here is not someone who just seems or claims to be so; it is one who confirms the truth in a heartfelt fashion and accepts it, surrenders to it, fulfills the requirements of this faith, and a person who makes this faith into the pervading spirit in one’s life.

If we expound further, the verb used in the hadith is “aslama” (to surrender) which comes from the same root with “silm” (peace) and “salamah” (being safe and sound). The noun “Muslim” is an active participle, functioning as the subject, from the same verb, as it means “one who surrenders to God.” It also bears the meaning, “one who lets others be safe and sound, feel secure, and one who establishes peace and mutual freedom from harm.” In this respect, the word “Muslim” describes “a person who surrenders to God, and therefore who observes His commandments fastidiously, and is trustworthy to the utmost degree.

The Divine Names “As-Salam” and “Al-Mu’min”

Ideal Muslims making others feel secure is a consequence of their adopting Divine morality with respect to two Divine Names: “As-Salam” (the Supreme Author of peace and salvation) and “Al-Mu’min” (the Supreme Author of safety and security Who bestows faith and removes all doubt). They appear consecutively at the end of the Surah al-Hashr (59:23). As a Divine Name, As-Salam means He who is absolutely immune from imperfections and who grants wellbeing to His creatures. Al-Mu’min means God is the one who creates the faith in people’s hearts and promises them deliverance, and who fulfills His promises. Therefore, if God Almighty makes a promise to His servants, it must be trusted. Actually, this belief is the source of the feeling of hope (raja) in a believer’s heart. Therefore, a person who seeks to adopt Divine morality, or in other words, a person who strives to manifest a shadow of the Divine Names and Attributes in oneself should always inspire trust in those around him or her; no one should feel any anxiety of possible harm from that person. One must possess a heartfelt belief in God and inspire trust in others to such an extent that they should comfortably entrust their most valuable possessions with this person, walking away without any worries whatsoever.

The fact that sidq (truthfulness) and amanah (trustworthiness) are among the properties of God’s Messengers is important in terms of indicating the significance of this issue. As it was truthfulness that took the noble Prophet to the peak of perfection, it was lying that took the false prophet Musaylima the Liar to the lowest of the low. Indeed, unbelief is a great lie against God. It means denying everything in the universe that bears witness to the Creator, owing to failure to comprehend the splendid order and harmony in the universe, turning a blind eye to it, and rejecting the perfect correspondence of reasoning in the universe and the Qur’an. In this respect, it is such a horrible murder that Hellfire is decreed as the due punishment for it. On the other hand, faith makes one eligible for Paradise by taking that person to peaks of spiritual perfection. It is this truthfulness that took all of the Companions to exalted levels, Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, being the first.

In addition to truthfulness, another property of God’s Messengers is trustworthiness. Each of them acted as an example of trustworthiness throughout their lives and always inspired trust in others. The most trustworthy person,2 the Messenger of God, inspired such trust in others with his attitudes and behaviors that when people needed to have someone watch their daughters or wives until they returned from travel, he was the first person that would come to their mind, as they knew that he would not even raise his head to look at their daughters’ or wives’ faces. He was a paragon of modesty. When our mother Khadija implied her wish to marry him, the noble Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, sweated profusely. These virtues were deeply ingrained in him. For this reason, his trustworthiness was appreciated by all accounts.

The Credibility of Trust

The same situation must actualize for his followers today. Particularly those heroes devoted to ideals of making others love God and His Messenger must make others in their atmosphere feel secure all of the time and evoke a feeling of trust toward themselves in everyone—so much so that people should be able to turn their back to them and comfortably say: “If that person is saying it, then it must be true. His (or her word) can be trusted.” To the extent that people support your activities today, you should know that this feeling of trust is the underlying factor.

Without making special tests and spying, people observe you in many instances along the natural flow of events that in the end they will say, “It is possible to trust this person.” For example, when you recommend an organization during the Eid of sacrifice for taking meat to poor people, they will come unhesitatingly with some fifty sacrifices to entrust to you unhesitatingly. Acting with utmost sensitivity, building this trust, and maintaining its continuity are imperative.

If the devoted souls in our time can make the genuine breeze of trust around them keep blowing as they have done so far, new people who meet them today—by God’s permission and grace—will see that they are sincere and not change their minds. In this respect, the volunteers who migrated for their ideals must give their position its due in the face of the most difficult conditions. They must keep an upright stance and always live in compliance with the essential disciplines. They must fear being deserving of punishment as described in the verses, “…but you love and prefer what is before you (the present, worldly life), and abandon that which is to come later (the Hereafter)” (al-Qiyamah 75:20–21); “… because they have chosen the present, worldly life in preference to the Hereafter” (an-Nahl 16:107).

Devoted souls value the world only as that transient abode it deserves, and the Hereafter as much as its infinity deserves. Indeed, when you value the Hereafter as it truly deserves, you make your worldly life more valuable as well. This is so because those who lead their lives with this balance become so sincere and present such faithfulness and feel so secure that everything becomes efficient in their hands. Nothing is wasted. For this reason, they better the world also. Without any doubt, as those who dedicated themselves to the Hereafter and gaining good pleasure of God let Andalusia thrive, as the Ottomans did the same in their region, today’s trustworthy ones can help the contemporary world to thrive if they resolve to do so.

In this respect, a person devoted oneself to serving God must always keep away from luxury and lead a simple life. Such people’s home must be accordingly, and when they pass away, their friends must try to raise money to pay for their shroud. A person devoted to serving God cannot be bound by fortunes, the world, status, or comfort. Thanks to devoting one’s heart solely to serving none but God, nothing can fetter such a person. There naturally are, and should be, people who engage in business and serve God by donating from their lawful earnings. This is a different issue from the sensitivity expected from those whose sole job is to serve God.

Administrators’ Representation of Their Values

Devoted souls must always inspire trust in their own fellow volunteers as well. They should always refrain from attitudes and behaviors that might lead their friends to distrust. They must refrain from doing things that might raise suspicion and always act transparently. They must be so sensitive and careful at this issue that no one should feel that they have been deprived of something or their field of action has been restricted.

It is for this reason that we always need to be transparent toward the people we walk with, make all of our decisions with consultation, avoid oppressive attitudes and behaviors, and continually take into consideration the feelings and thoughts of the people around us. In the same way, we must be careful to assign duties suitable with others’ abilities and arrange their working hours accordingly. We must build such trust in them that people given a certain duty are sure that their seniors are acting with good intentions and common sense all of the time. In addition, people need serious counseling to internalize the duty they have been given. In short, division of labor must be done with so much transparency and sensitivity that no feeling of mutual distrust should ever be evoked.

When Umar ibn al-Khattab discharged the army commander Khalid ibn Walid from duty and similarly when Uthman ibn Affan sent Abu Dharr to Ar-Rabadha, they did as ordered without any objection at all, thanks to this very feeling of trust. If you have been able to inspire trust in the people under your responsibility with your attitudes and behaviors, if you have protected your innocence in terms of your thoughts, feelings, reasoning, and logic, then the decisions that you make with respect to them will be accepted. When people are assigned with a new duty and are sent somewhere else, they will do so without hesitation. For example, if you tell them to go to a certain place, they will think to themselves, “The ones who made this decision must have thought that this was the best thing for me to do,” and they will gladly forbear the lack of means in the places they go. Even if you tell them to reside in a narrow place like a cell, they will do as required, because they know that the demand was made with certain wisdoms. In sum, your demands will find acceptance in accordance with your trustworthiness as an administrator. The most reliable method of finding a way into people’s hearts is to inspire trust with genuine feelings. People must trust you in such a way that they must comfortably say, “If a duty—no matter which—befalls on me for serving on the path of faith and Qur’an, God’s good pleasure must be there.” And this undoubtedly, will be realized by the power of administrators’ fastidious care about representing the values they believe.

1. Sahih al-Bukhari, Iman, 4; Sunan Abu Dawud, Jihad, 2
2. Prior to the advent of Islam, the noble Prophet was nicknamed as “Muhammadu’l-Amin” (Muhammad the Trustworthy), peace and blessings be upon him.

This text is the translation of “Müslüman: Sadık ve Emin İnsan.”

An Insight into the Rightly Guided Caliphs and the Events in Their Time


Question: How was Ali ibn Abi Talib’s relationship with the other three Caliphs? It has been claimed that he had serious disagreements with them. Would you please explain the truth of this issue?

Answer: In order to make a sound evaluation of the issue, it is first necessary to know the character of Ali ibn Abi Talib and the other three Rightly Guided Caliphs. Any comments made without any knowledge of the true worth of these great figures can give way to different interpretations and, thus, to wrong conclusions. Now let us try to have a better understanding of the Rightly Guided Caliphs in the context of some particular examples from their awe-inspiring lives.

The Crown of the Golden Line of Saints

Our master Ali is one of those who spent the longest time under the training of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. He established an extra aspect of closeness to the Prophet by marrying his blessed daughter Fatima, mentioned in a hadith as, “Fatima is a piece from me. Who makes her sad, makes me sad.”1 The noble Prophet often visited their home and sat with them; he took his grandchildren on his lap and loved them. Therefore, Ali ibn Abi Talib always found the opportunity of breathing the atmosphere of the Prophet. In addition, his blessed grandchildren were born in that fortunate home, and the Prophet’s lineage continued through them. People from the lineage of Hasan are titled as “sharif,” and those of Husayn are titled as “sayyid.” In this respect, our master Ali has a very different position in terms of being the forefather of the greatest saints such as Abu’l Hasan ash-Shazili, Ahmad Rufai, Abdulqadr al-Jilani, and Sheikh an-Naqshband.

There Would Be No Islam If It Were Not for Abu Bakr

The other caliphs also have special virtues of their own. For example, Abu Bakr’s firm stance at some critical points is very important. His being the first man to support the Prophet, his facing up to dangers during their emigration from Mecca, and in many instances his coming between attackers and the Prophet to shield him saying like one of the relatives of the Pharaoh did, “Would you kill a man only because he declares, ‘My Lord is God!’” are all very important instances.2 For this reason Ali said, “If it were not for Abu Bakr, there would be no Islam”3 and was among the foremost who appreciated Abu Bakr. At another instance, Ali expressed Abu Bakr’s greatness with the following words, “A single night of Abu Bakr is worth our lifetime.”

The Insurmountable Wall That Stood between Truth and Falsehood

Umar ibn al-Khattab similarly had his own special virtues. During his Caliphate, he virtually served as a barrier before all factors of hypocrisy and dissent which threatened the unity of Muslims. In addition, the two superpowers of the time, Byzantine and Sassanid empires were defeated and many people accepted Islam. When Iran (Persia) surrendered after the Battle of Qadisiyah, they began to harbor a grudge against Umar ibn al-Khattab. Bediüzzaman refers to this truth in The Gleams by stating that it was not their love for Ali but their grudge against Umar. Ali ibn Abi Talib served as the religious consultant—the title that would be termed as sheikhulislam later on—during the time of these two great caliphs since he knew their worth. That is, these two caliphs mostly consulted him at issues that required a fatwa, or a religious ruling. In particular, Umar ibn al-Khattab asked him many questions and received fatwas from him. The following case narrated in books of hadith is meaningful in terms of showing the relationship between them. Our master Umar said, “I know that you are just a stone. You bring neither benefit nor harm. If I had not seen God’s Messenger kiss you, I would not kiss you.” Ali spoke to him very comfortably, “Had you known the secret of this stone, you would not have spoken this way, O Umar.” On hearing this, Umar responded by saying, “If it were not for Ali, Umar would be lost.”4 As it is seen, they were people who knew each other well and appreciated each another.

If I Had another Daughter, I Would Give Her in Marriage to Him Also

Uthman ibn Affan had a different depth, a different kind of specialty. The Messenger of God gave his daughter in marriage to him, and when she passed, he gave a second daughter as well. In response to those who spoke against it, he stated, “If I had another daughter, I would give her in marriage to him also (after the death of the second one).” Uthman ibn Affan governed the state peacefully at a period where alien thoughts penetrated into the Islamic world; this is a very important fact in terms of understanding his greatness.

Different Depths, Different Qualities

To put it briefly, each of the Caliphs had a particular virtue which makes them better than others in that particular respect. As it is known, when a particular virtue is concerned, one can be superior to another person who is more virtuous in the overall sense. In this respect, it is a proper approach to look at each of them with his own character, position, true worth, and essence, and to believe that each one represents a different quality of the Prophet. It is for this reason that Abu Bakr is titled as “Siddiq” (the truthful one), Umar as “Faruq” (one who separates truth from falsehood), Uthman as “Zinnurayn” (the bearer of two blessed lights), and Ali with such titles as “Khaydar al-Karrar” (the attacking lion),” “the master of saints,” “master of the chivalrous,” and “the Prophet’s son-in-law.” It is impossible for anyone else to reach these Caliphs with respect to the particular qualities that each one possessed. I will not call them transcendent, for it is not quite theologically correct to use this word for people; they have a very exceptional status in terms of the fact that they have unreachable and unsurpassable aspects. For example, they are virtually matchless at governing a society and being a rightly guided caliph. For numerous other reasons that we cannot list here, each of them is worth the entire world. As it is known, when the Prophet named the Ten Companions who received glad tidings of Paradise while in this world, he counted the four Rightly Guided Caliphs as the first four. Accordingly, their worth needs to be considered in terms of their being from the people of Paradise.

Inconsistent and Baseless Slanders

After taking all of these into consideration with a holistic perspective, assuming Ali to be an opponent of Abu Bakr and Umar, claiming the former to be the righteous one whereas the latter two were wrong, is first of all a great insult against Ali himself. It is impossible for a hero of bravery and valor like Ali to obey Abu Bakr and Umar at a matter he considers not to be righteous; he was fearless. As it was seen during the siege of Khaybar, he was so daring that he walked toward death comfortably. According to a compliment ascribed to the Prophet, “There is no youth like Ali; there is no sword like dhulfiqar.”5 Claiming such a person to have bowed before Abu Bakr and Umar in the face of injustice is a disrespect and insult to the spirit of Ali ibn Abi Talib. Therefore, it is necessary to highlight that such claims are actually contradictory in themselves.

Additionally, when we approach the issue by considering the fact that the Prophet kept Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman around him throughout his blessed life, it becomes clear that negative approaches about these three people convey an insult to the Prophet at the same time, because it can be concluded from such a claim that the master of the Prophets failed to recognize that—God forbid—they had certain schemes of their own. This is actually a great disrespect against God’s Messenger. However, one of the significant depths of the Prophet’s perspicacity was his knowledge of the people around him and discovery of their abilities. When he looked at a person’s face only once, he instantly knew where that person would serve best and assigned him accordingly, owing to his prophetic perspicacity far beyond genius. Claiming that the noble Prophet—from the first time he received revelation until his passing from this world—was unable to assess his closest companions and failed to have an insightful understanding of their behaviors and characters is a very serious mistake of reasoning. As for what sound thinking and reasoning are required by us concerning this issue, it is valuing the people valued by the Prophet and having due respect for them. Indeed, virtues of the Companions are reported in many different hadiths. And in Hadith collections, there are separate chapters devoted to the Companions’ virtues. The Pride of Humanity drew attention to the unreachable position of the Companions by stating, “My Companions are like stars. Whichever you follow, you find right guidance.”6 One time, he held the hands of Abu Bakr and Umar and said that they would be resurrected in the Hereafter in the same way. At another time, he stated that he had two viziers in the world and two in the heavens; those in the world were Abu Bakr and Umar, and those in heavens were Gabriel and Michael.7 Making negative remarks about such people stems from not knowing the Messenger of God and these Companions well.

Also, in addition to giving them the glad tidings of Paradise, the Prophet not only married daughters of Abu Bakr and Umar, he gave two of his daughters in marriage to Uthman and one to Ali. Thus, he established another special relationship with them. If we look at the issue from the perspective given in Ibn Arabi’s Fusus al-Hikam, marrying someone’s daughter and giving one’s daughter in marriage convey different meanings in terms of understanding the inner meanings of happenings (ta’wil al-ahadith). Since we are ordinary people closed to such spiritual depths, I will not get into these but explain the issue in a plain fashion.

A Small Blemish in the Center Grows to the Periphery

In spite of the Prophet’s recognition of these Companions’ special virtues, diverging views about them appeared. As they did not seem to be great blemishes at the center, it was not apparent at the beginning how great the real the deviation would become. What was once a small blemish in the center grew so huge to reach the periphery. It grew to such a point that as time passed, some went to the extreme of declaring Ali as—God forbid—an unbeliever; others claimed to step forward with love for him, but in doing so they spent their lives with enmity against Abu Bakr and Umar instead. They used the name of Ali as justification for their enmity, and even went so far as to extoll him with attributes that he, the great person whom he was, would have never approved of. Some esoteric sects appeared who took the issue to the degree of even deifying him. Thus, since the early period, such claims about Ali have been behind different misguided currents as in the case of Hassan Sabbah, the Karmatis, Ismailis, and Nusayris, along with so-called Mahdi the saviors that appeared in different parts of the world.

Though it is criticized in terms of the criteria of evaluating hadiths, Bediüzzaman relates a saying of the Prophet that two groups of people will be misguided because of Ali. There came a time, Persians dismissed Abu Bakr and Umar completely, and they displayed an antagonism toward the two to the degree of naming them after the two pre-Islamic idols jibt and taghut, and slandering Aisha, the Mother of Believers.

The Cultural Codes that Feed Grudge and Hatred

Those who hold this divergent view in our time do not voice these ugly things in public, probably by taking into consideration the general condition of the Islamic world, international relations, and present conjuncture. However, if we look at their expressions of grudge and hatred that surface in different events, it is understood that they cannot rid themselves of these negative elements, and that it is very difficult for them to do so because of the cultural environment in which they were raised and the sources they have used. They developed certain methodologies and wrote certain books. Thus, their general belief and opinion developed in this way. For example, if we look at an essential source as Qadi Abdul Jabbar’s Usul al-Khamsa, which contains the essentials of their belief, it will be seen that they made the issue of imamate into one of the five essentials of faith. Accordingly, the imam must definitely come from the lineage of Ali ibn Abi Talib; it is not possible for anybody else to be imam. By considering such secondary issues among essentials of faith, they caused horrible deviations.

Actually, if what matters is loving Ali and being attached to the family of the Prophet, all Muslims can be considered as followers of Ali in this sense. Our books of Sufism and world of literature are a witness to this. When these are carefully studied, it will be seen that they overflow with love for the Prophet’s family. It is not correct to make an emphasis to a secondary aspect of the issue and turn a blind eye to the issues related to the primary essentials. As I previously expressed in different contexts, I grew up with love of Ali in my familial environment. He was a hero to me in my childhood. I pictured a man who could take fifty heads when he drew his sword. Given that I imagined him as such a hero, it is natural for me to have such abundant love for him. Love of Ali pervaded my soul and cortex so much, and let me state that I had great difficulty at maintaining the balance for a long time and putting Ali to the same rank with the other Caliphs.

Keys of Love That Open the Rustiest Locks

As for today, in spite of all of these things in the past, what befalls us to extend a friendly hand to everybody without discriminating between Alawi, Nestorian, Assyrian, etc., doing goodness and thus neutralizing the negativities that can possibly be abused by dark powers of inner and outer origin.

Previously I made the following comment about solving the problems in the Southeast of Turkey: it is necessary to show the magnanimity within the spirit of the people of Anatolia to the Southeasterners once more and make it into a continuous process whose format is constantly renewed. For example, it is possible to hold different activities in the region by making good use of the blessed nights. If you do this by organizing a program at a mosque and bless their nights by piercing the darkness, then you will be doing something important with respect to finding common ground and conquering hearts. Besides, if governors, police chiefs, doctors, and religious teachers—with the condition of all being perspicacious ones—are sent to the region and work for healing the wounds of the society, then all the schemes will be eliminated in time.

It is necessary to come to grips with the problems with the keys of love and affection, which can open any door in the world, with the style of Rumi and the system of Yunus Emre, and a universal magnanimity of conscience. If there is one thing that can root out problems for good, it is sincerely opening your heart to everybody and thereby finding a way into their hearts. While it may be possible to suppress problems by force for a while, it is not possible to show a human problem that has been solved with brutal force. Even if it seems to be ended, it will surface in a different form eventually. It can be said that such examples of sedition have a character of reincarnation; they will keep appearing before humanity until they are completely eliminated. In this respect, brutal force is one of the greatest obstacles to full functioning of reason and sensibility. That is, when you wish to deal with problems by suppressing them, you cannot use your reason efficiently to produce different alternatives. Certainly security forces must exist, but they must be guided by reason, sensibility, perspicacity, and insight, and under the control of the conscience and fairness. I believe that when such an understanding is adopted to address this problem inherited from earlier historical periods, it will begin the journey to a promising solution.

1. Sahih al-Bukhari, Fadailu’l-Ashab, 12
2. Sahih al-Bukhari, Fadail us-Sahaba, 5
3. Al-Daylami, Al-Musnad, 3/358
4. Al-Hakim, Al-Mustadrak, 1/628
5. Ibn Asakir, Tarikh Dimashq, 39/201
6. Aliyyulqari, Al-Asraru’l-Marfu’a, 388
7. Al-Hakim, Al-Mustadrak, 2/290

This text is the translation of “Asr-ı Saadetteki Hâdiseleri Okuma Adına Bir Bakış Açısı.”

Distorted Quotations and the Virus of Sinful Suspicion


May God not leave us without guidance. Otherwise, we would never know what is right and what is wrong, or what is good and what is bad. We would think we are progressing; nonetheless, we would, in fact, be regressing. This is called losing in the zone of winning, which means to seem to advance, but you are only left jaded at the end of the day.

A Muslim should think well whenever it is reasonable. You should consider the person in question, and his way of life as a whole. In addition, the environment, the views and beliefs, the philosophy of life, and even the devotion of the people must be taken into consideration before jumping at unwarranted conclusions.

Those who have a negative viewpoint will always misinterpret others views and arrive at unfair conclusions. Doing this, they not only oppress themselves, but also those whom they criticize. We must inspect, test, and verify. The first action must be avoiding misinterpretation, and the next, verifying the accuracy of whatever was reported.

The Degree of Making Sacrifice and Keeping the Balance at Donating


Question: Is there a limit to making sacrifices for the sake of God? What should be the degree of material-spiritual sacrifice for those who dedicate their lives to the services of education?

Answer: As it is known, not all people are at the same level in terms of their relationship with God Almighty. There are differences among them from the ground level to the stars. In other words, every person has a different degree of relationship with God according to his or her level of faith, knowledge of God, and the love and enthusiasm they have for God. For example, as there are people who observe all of the religious commandments with utmost sensitivity and seek further closeness to God with the additional supererogatory devotions, there are others who suffice with observing the obligatory responsibilities. The reality is that no matter at what level, nobody’s relationship with God can be taken lightly, for this is an implication of taking lightly what God values. If we elucidate this further, on the slippery grounds of the contemporary time which abounds with factors of misguidance, one who makes the proclamation of faith, who observes the Daily Prayers, who observes the fast, and who gives the prescribed alms, and makes the pilgrimage to Mecca—if the person is rich enough to be responsible for these—and in addition to all of these, if a person keeps steadfast with an upright stance in the face of different attacks and accusations of being “someone-ist” or “something-ist,” they are doing something really important. We believe that such a person will enjoy infinite blessings of God Almighty in the next world, because every deed offered under such circumstances has a very different value in the sight of God. It is for this reason that none of the sacrifices by those who join the services for the sake of God with their lives and properties should be underestimated, and every contribution they make must be appreciated.

Invigorating Efforts through Appreciating Good Works

If we look at the issue from the perspective of donating for the sake of God, we see a level of difference even among the Companions of the Prophet. For example, when they asked for donations from Muslims prior to the campaign of Tabuk, Abu Bakr brought all of what he had. When the Messenger of God asked him what he had left for his family, he replied: “I left them God and His Messenger.” So this is the level of being the siddiq (truthful one). He was loyal to God and His Messenger, and a prototype Muslim at accepting Islam. Umar ibn al-Khattab brought half of his wealth. Surely, we need to add that it will be a disrespect toward our master Umar to say he was much behind our master Abu Bakr because Umar is considered more virtuous in certain respects even though Abu Bakr is more virtuous in the overall sense. And the leading Companions such as Uthman ibn Affan and Abdurrahman ibn Awf donated a fortune of five hundred camels.1 Considering the conditions of those times, it can be compared to donating five hundred luxury cars today. Ali ibn Abi Talib added a separate depth of sincerity into this matter, preferring to donate part of his wealth openly and some of it secretly. By donating openly, he fulfilled the duty of presenting a good example to others and showed that he did not fall behind others, and by donating secretly, he wished only for God to know about it. In addition to these, particularly at this early period, there were those who contributed to this caravan of goodness with a little amount of money or a few handfuls of dates, as much as they could afford. Actually, this has always been the natural situation with people. In addition to those who give away everything, there are others who give half, a quarter, or one tenth of their property. It should not be forgotten that the same thing happens today, and even the smallest sacrifices must be appreciated and applauded. But it should also be noted that appreciating and applauding small sacrifices is only one aspect of the issue. Another aspect is continually seeking to help people make progress, guiding them to new doors leading to goodness and showing them new targets. There are so many righteous deeds a person can do in addition to the minimal duties he or she can fulfill. For this reason, one should never keep his or her horizons narrow, but always aim for higher ideals. Every morning people must try to feel God more deeply than the day before, trying to gain deeper insight into the spirit of religion, seeking to strengthen their bonds of heart with the Messenger of God, and always seeking a higher level to jump over. They should never see the level that they have attained as sufficient and always spur their horse further, asking for more. And even if they reach the levels of “annihilation in God” (fana fillah) and “subsistence by and with God” (baqa billah) at spiritual journeying, that is, even if their entire existence is lost in their sight before the Holy Light of the Divine Countenance (Subuhatu’l-Wajh), even if they put aside everything mortal and passing, and regain existence in a perpetual form after having been obliterated with respect to one’s physical and carnal aspect, and then experience a different revival with their heart, soul, and feelings, and thus see that their head reached the firmament of their spiritual potentials… in spite of all of these, they should still aim higher for the horizons and say, “My God, please grant me abilities far beyond my potentials, and by allowing these abilities to flourish, shower your blessings down on me!”

People have different levels with respect to their personal religious life and spiritual journeying or on their path to serve God, but the way to progress is always open for those who carry out the minimum levels of a certain observance. As they feel within the quintessence of the service they are committed to, they will be committed further in a wholehearted fashion; by fulfilling the services they are supposed to do and by working them into their hearts, those acts of goodness will become ingrained in them after some time—so much so that when the day arrives when their service is no longer needed, when nothing is asked from them for the sake of serving God and shouldering some task, they will feel a deep void, see it like a state of death, bend over with pain, and begin to seek new ways of donating. Attaining such a level, however, depends on time, committing to that task with active patience, and internalizing it.

It Is Necessary to Know the People Addressed Well

Another approach to consider on the issue is that some people take the period of Medina as a basis and suffice by carrying out the obligatory commandments. If they donate one fortieth of their wealth or one tenth of the worth of their yearly crops, they have carried out their duty. On the other hand, others take the absoluteness in the period of Mecca as a basis and try to give what they can. At this point, it is very important for the people in a key position of guidance who try to encourage others to contribute to services to act with perspicacity and insight, understanding those with whom they deal well. If they see what is being done as little and try to burden people with what they cannot bear, then—may God protect—this pressure might evoke a feeling of unwillingness, weariness, and hate in the people appealed to. At this point, I would like to relate a memory still fresh as today in my mind. In Bozyaka dormitory in Izmir, we had gathered people to ask for donations. After delivering a speech on the importance of the issue, I was heading for the room where I stayed those days. One man quickly climbed the stairs after me and approached me. I knew that he had retired after having worked at a state institution. He gave me the keys of the apartment that he had bought with the money he received upon his retirement. And then he said, “Downstairs, everybody made a promise for a donation. I have no capital other than this. And I am giving you the keys to my apartment. Before this moving scene, I told him that there is no such responsibility in religion and gave him back the keys. And then I said, “Go and live in your apartment with your children. If God grants you more later, you can donate for His sake.” In my opinion, if the issue is addressed in this manner and such a balance is not achieved, it could lead to coercion in religion. However, God Almighty commands that there is no coercion in religion (al-Baqarah 2:256). Whether it is accepting Islam or certain practices for the sake of religion, there is no coercion into doing certain things. Islam takes easiness as the basis. If you make it so difficult by demanding more than what people can bear, you make religion impossible to practice. You would then lead to the opposite of what you had intended. At a time when you expect people to show their magnanimity and shoulder a certain task, things develop adversely for you, having made religion too difficult to practice, and thus you become the loser. The Messenger of God, blessings and peace be upon him, stated, “This religion is ease, and whoever makes it difficult, religion overpowers him.”2 For this reason, those in a position to guide others need to know the people before them well, understanding who can bear how much, and act with perspicacity and insight. It should not be forgotten that following this wise conduct signifies following the Divine code at the same time, as it is stated in the Qur’an, “God burdens no soul except within its capacity” (al-Baqarah 2:285). Thus, instead of burdening people with more than what they can bear, it is necessary to make them happy with appreciating the good works they have done and find ways to motivate them further.

Continuity at Donating

Indeed, pushing people to give more and thus taking away the capital in their hands will cause them to become unable to run their business. But letting them run their business and expand it will enable them to donate more for the sake of God. For this reason, even if the heroes of donation fill with enthusiasm and give everything in their hands, you should keep the balance at taking, consider the long-term dimension, and favor continuity at giving.

Let me point out one final thing. Those who demand more sacrifice from the people before them, owing to the multitude of services that need to be carried out, should try to save their duty from monotony and make a format change.  Without violating the essential principles, they should present the importance of the values that they believe in with a different hue, a different pattern, and a different tongue at every turn, evoking a continuous wave of love and enthusiasm in those appealed to. It should never be forgotten that “every new thing is delicious.” In this respect, the messages presented through different veins will generate a different taste and gusto, and thus will be welcomed by them. Otherwise, if you let the issue get monotonous, people will grow weary, as familiarity breeds contempt. Therefore, you will find it difficult to make your message echo in their hearts.

1. Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, 6/115
2. Sahih al-Bukhari, Iman, 29; Sunan an-Nasa’i, Iman, 28

This text is the translation of “Fedakârlık Ölçüsü ve İnfakta Denge.”


Targeting the Horizons of God’s Good Pleasure


Question: What does the following prayer mean to a Muslim?

“We are content with Allah as our Lord, with Islam as our religion, and with Muhammad as our Messenger…”1 What is the ideal manner of reciting this blessed phrase?

Answer: The noble Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, gave the glad tidings2 that God Almighty will be well pleased with a Muslim who prays in the morning and evening, “We are content with Allah as our Lord, with Islam as our religion, and with Muhammad as our Messenger.” Thus, this phrase is a blessed one that should become a habitual prayer for Muslims in the morning and evening. A person who recites this prayer acknowledges that he or she is well pleased with God—and thus with all of His doings, with Islam as the Divine system, and with the Prophet as the guide to follow. Indeed, the way to be a true Muslim depends on cherishing such a thought and feeling and having certainty of faith. With this pearl of wisdom, the Messenger of God teaches us such an important truth, and he encourages Muslims to act in a way to develop this feeling, make it take root, and let it deepen within.

The Polestar of the Good Pleasure of God

By declaring at the beginning his being content and well pleased with God, together with his exemplary life woven in accordance with this truth, the Prophet evinced the fact that he is the polestar of gaining the good pleasure of God. He holds the center point of the horizons of gaining God’s good pleasure. Therefore, every time we say, “We are content with God as our Lord,” we need to know and see him as the guide who walks before us—so much so that even if a person takes wing during spiritual journeying to God and directly hears the Divine address, “I am well pleased with you,” and—imagining the impossible—even if God Almighty lets that person sit together with the Prophet at the same table and while sending revelation to him, if God gives the same lesson to both as a Divine favor to that journeyer, what befalls on that person is to still see the Prophet as the ultimate guide walking ahead. This is due to the fact that that journeyer only attains such feeling, thought, reasoning, philosophy, insight, and profound level of reflection because of the Prophet’s guidance. If it was not for him, the journeyer’s life in both worlds would be reduced to a dark prison. For this reason, it is very important for a believer to always see the Master of the Prophets as the guide and teacher from the very beginning, in terms of aiming for the horizons of God’s good pleasure. As some people who obtain a certain level at spiritual journeying increase their regard for the Prophet, for those who fail to weigh everything with the objective criteria of religion—may God forbid—it can be a cause of improper behaviors by losing the balance, sometimes to the degree of making claims such as, “My blessed light (nur) is as bright as his.” Yet the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, is the nur at the beginning, in the middle, and in the end. It is not possible for anybody to equal that nur and attain the level that he did.

The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, continued this blessed statement with an expression of contentment with Islam as the Divine system. There is no other person who can comprehend Islam as soundly as he did, who can reach his degree of contentment with the Divine system, who has devoted his or her life to this system, and who thinks only about establishing it as much as he did. Even if you add up the virtues as the truthfulness of Abu Bakr, Umar ibn al-Khattab’s devotion to distinguishing right from falsehood, Uthman ibn Affan’s deep interest for the Qur’an, and Ali ibn Abi Talib’s being a hero of heart and spirituality, you will see that it does not amount to even one tenth in comparison to the level of the Prophet’s contentment with Islam. Let my words not be taken as a failure to appreciate the worth of these great figures. On the contrary, I chose them as examples of greatness, precisely to show what a hero of contentment the Prophet was at the issue of Islam.

As a final point, the Prophet expressed contentment about his being God’s Messenger. Actually, the Beloved servant of God was a person fixed on modesty and humility to such a degree that he constantly acted with the consciousness of his being a servant of God: he ate together with his servant and did not start eating before the servant did; he did not consider himself different than a person of the lowest level. For these and other reasons, he was commissioned with the duty of conveying the Divine teaching to people, a very heavy responsibility on his shoulders. It is so crucial that even if a person accepts God as the only deity by saying, “La ilaha illa’llah,” he or she cannot become a Muslim without acknowledging Prophet Muhammad as God’s Messenger by saying, “Muhammadu’r-Rasulullah,” because accepting his prophethood is an essential article of Islam and faith.

There may seem an apparent contradiction between his matchless humility and proclamation of his mission of prophethood. It is for this reason that his expression of contentment with the fact that Muhammad is the Messenger of God has a separate value, as it is something decreed by God Almighty. 

Knowledge of God and Consciousness of God’s Good Pleasure

As for the manner of reciting this blessed phrase, it is very important to say it free from contempt bred by familiarity, and with a love and enthusiasm coming from the bottom of one’s heart. Actually, being content and well pleased with God, the Prophet, and Islam first of all depends on recognizing them well. One who knows will love in accordance with the degree of his knowledge, whereas one who does not know will remain indifferent to what he does not know. In this respect, if you fail to know God with respect to His greatness and His majesty, with respect to the secrets of His Lordship and Divinity, you cannot ascend to the horizons of contentment. Unless you recognize the Pride of Humanity with his true character and virtues, you cannot welcome his prophethood as you should. In the same way, if you do not know the Islamic teachings with their true immensity and depth, down to methodology and subsidiary issues, you cannot appreciate Islam as you should.

Today, as well as in the past, the reason for most people’s indifference toward the Pride of Humanity is their lack of knowledge and being unfamiliar with him. If it were possible to kindle love of him in hearts, people would become curious and find a chance to know him for real. However, as the streets do not offer this atmosphere, and the schools, and even mosques do not offer people an opportunity to know him as they should. No such atmosphere is generated at homes either. Therefore, many people are brought up devoid of the true recognition of the Pride of Humanity. In spite of so much negligence and loss, meanings about him still shine in Muslims’ hearts, and they keep saying, “La ilaha illa’llah, Muhammadu’r-Rasulullah”; this needs to be seen as an extra blessing of God Almighty. 

Praying Constantly for the Greatest Blessing

Given that God’s good pleasure is a greater blessing than those in Paradise, we need to open our hands and supplicate to attain God’s good pleasure by saying constantly, اَللّٰهُمَّ إِلَى مَا تُحِبُّ وَتَرْضَى “My God, (guide me) to what You love and are well pleased with.” We need to live and breathe for attaining God’s good pleasure, praying all the time, اَللّٰهُمَّ عَفْوَكَ وَعَافِيَتَكَ وَرِضَاكَ “My God, I am asking from You forgiveness, goodness, and Your good pleasure,” because God Almighty promises that He will grant what a believer earnestly prays for. However, one needs to be insistent on this issue. The granting of what is asked for may be due only after having prayed for some five, ten, or twenty years. For this reason, if we really wish God Almighty to be well pleased with us and wish for our heart to beat with contentment before His every doing, we need to implore for this outcome even if it takes ten or twenty years. In my opinion, it is worth to engage in a long marathon of prayer for this sake, because God Almighty revealed that there is a blessing greater than entering Paradise, ascending to its highest degree, or seeing His Beloved Prophet: “…and greater (than those) is God’s being pleased with them” (at-Tawbah 9:72). But I suspect that none of us have prayed for such a long time for gaining His good pleasure. We did not open up to God praying as, “My God, Your good pleasure, Your good pleasure…” for some twenty-five years. Actually, not just twenty-five years, but it would be proper for us to pray for two hundred fifty years if we were given such a long life.

In conclusion, the noble Prophet points to a very lofty goal for Muslims with these words. What then befalls on Muslims is to do whatever they can do in order to attain this goal. Every believing individual should embrace this goal and ache for attaining it. A person who truly adopts a goal lives with the dream of realizing it—so much so that most of the time—while making ablutions, going to offer the prayer and during prayer—the believer busies his or her mind with this issue. In consequence, these thoughts one muses upon can be accepted as a prayer in the sight of God and He does not let them go wasted. It is for this reason that we need to constantly strive for the sake of attaining the horizons of God’s good pleasure; we must live and breathe this fact, occupied with it day and night. This must be the idea that permeates our thought all of the time.

1. Sahih al-Bukhari, Ilm, 29; Sahih Muslim, Siyam, 197
2. Sunan Abu Dawud, Adab, 100

This text is the translation of “Rıza Ufkunu Talep.”

Murders under the Guise of Islam


Question: It is a sorry state of affairs that in a wide range of Muslim countries many evil deeds are committed under the guise of Islam. As though it is a Qur’anic command, people are beheaded or mosques and churches are bombarded. Is it possible to explain terror attacks by certain groups in various parts of the world only by foreign powers and external pressures?

How could it be possible for terrorists like suicide bombers to come from Muslim communities?

Answer: Albeit unfortunate, these are facts which drag the good name of true Islam through the mud. They serve nothing but the purpose of disgracing Islam. And they have done much worse harm to Islam than wars, than some armies that razed Muslim countries throughout history. Some ostensible Muslims, who pretend to act for Islam, perform repugnant acts like suicide attacks, setting off suicide vests among innocent people, driving vehicles filled with explosives toward innocent and indifferent crowds, or ruining temples. None of these can be associated with the Qur’an or with the Prophetic Tradition. Actions that cannot be associated with the Qur’an or the Prophetic cannot, therefore, be associated with Islam.

Courage and braveness are important; just as important as the properness of method and trustworthiness. You will be brave and unflinching, especially when you are in the position of protecting your ethos. Yet you will not go hog wild doing this.

He that would have eggs must endure the cackling of hens to protect his cause.

The Pride of Humankind, lived in the noble Mecca for thirteen years, suffering more than flesh and blood can stand; however, he never even wished evil to them. On the contrary, he prayed for them asking for God’s guidance as they did not know him well enough or his mission. In addition, all of our noble Prophet’s warfare was defensive. Take any of his battles as an example; in none of them was any bloodshed, or any outrage committed, or any hostility furthered. He made every effort to deal with things in a moderate manner. He was never harsh, nor was he ever enraged, and he never took a hard line with others, unlike what is done today.

Had he wanted, he could have signaled to his followers to go down fighting and not give up. Yet, they were long-suffering. They never employed violence, not like the barbaric acts of today.

In no other period in the history of Islam has anything like today’s ferociousness taken place. In particular periods, like the Muwahhidun, the Qarmatians, the Batinites, others were devoid of truth, and the ignorant may have been exceptions that proved the rule and done evil things. However, under no circumstances did they wear a suicide vest, take their own lives at the cost of killing others, and hence, go to Hell forever.

We should judge the current situation on its own merits. As Muslims, we acted crudely which gave cause to the enemies of Islam who do not want Muslims to gain power and the beauties of Islam to be in the public eye. We gave them the chance to pick Islam to pieces. Potentially, some Muslims can act crudely, be corrupted, which is used against all Muslims by some others. Some foreign elements could manipulate some gullible people during the Caliphate of the noble Ali and recruit them as anarchists; and alas, they slung mug at the bright face of Islam.

In a sense, Islamophobia is not simply without rhyme or reason. Moreover, there occurred a series of depravities in the Islamic world, especially after the collapse of the Ottoman State. Today, Muslims struggle for a return to their true identity, and to find their true spirit.

You cannot order people to destroy churches because your mosques have been insulted. I believe that we, Muslims, may not be as clean as a hound’s tooth. Some members of our religion burn churches to get even. Some others kill a priest, who took refuge in a church, or a rabbi.

Why would you not consider turning the other cheek to those who treat you inhumanely to reduce the heat of their anger?

As I stated before, a terrorist cannot be a true Muslim; and, a true Muslim cannot be a terrorist. When the Pride of Humankind enlisted soldiers, encouraged them and sent them off against those who made war against Muslims, he would tell them to not touch those who took refuge in temples, women, or children.

Religion means “A system of rules promulgated by God which people follow at free will.”  If you can represent it well, indicating its promises for people and for the future; since man is appreciative, he may change his decision for what you would expect. You must give him free rein with his choice. You cannot invade or occupy anywhere you want. You cannot impose your system on others. This is what religion is about.

Relation of Living on Pure Sustenance and Doing Good Deeds


Question: It is stated in a verse (which means): “O you Messengers! Partake of (God’s) pure and wholesome bounties, and always act righteously. I have full knowledge of all that you do” (al-Muminun 23:51).

Could you explain the relation between pure sustenance and righteous acts?

Answer: The Qur’an and Sunnah place great emphasis on the issue of forbidden and lawful. Islamic scholars who know this fact well summarize Islam as knowing the lawful and forbidden (as they set the fundamental framework of leading a good, righteous life on both the personal and social levels), and then living accordingly. In a pithier form, we can say, “Religion is in good, righteous acts and dealings.” Umar ibn al-Khattab emphasized the importance of this matter as follows: “Do not take a person’s prayers and fasting as basis; you should see whether a given person speaks truth, remains faithful about something entrusted to him, and observes what is lawful and forbidden while carrying out worldly affairs.”1 Surely, acts of worship such as the Prayers and fasting are very valuable in the sight of God and extremely meritorious. Nobody can dismiss their worth. However, a person’s being careful about one’s food, drink, and clothes, refraining from violating rights of individuals or the public, and leading a righteous life—that is, showing utmost sensitivity concerning what is lawful and forbidden—is a must for being truly Muslim, and it can be said that fulfilling this in practice is more difficult than observing individual acts of worship. Thus, in order to be able to practice Islam thoroughly, one must always stick with the lawful, seek the lawful, stand firm against the forbidden adamantly, and not let a single morsel of unlawful food pass down one’s throat. If we consider the behaviors and attitude of great figures it will be seen that they are the spiritual guides and role models for other believers in this respect as well. They lived in such a sensitive way and presented such willpower that, God Almighty protected them from eating something forbidden, even when they were unaware of it. There are such people that when they extend their hand not knowing that something is forbidden, they notice that thing’s being forbidden (haram) from the shaking of their hand or the racing of their pulse and are taken aback. In the same way, when some of them take a forbidden morsel of food to their mouth unknowingly, they are unable to swallow it. And if they ever learn that such a thing reached their stomach, they try to regurgitate it right away. The first two caliphs are examples to this final case. This was what Abu Bakr did on learning that the food he had eaten had been bought with the money his servant had earned (in pre-Islamic days) by fortune telling, and what Umar did on learning that the milk he drank was from the camels donated as zakah. They both put their fingers in their mouth and regurgitated everything, until nothing remained in their stomach. Thus, such sensitivity against eating anything forbidden and an upright stance are very important with respect to being truly Muslim.

The Greatest Means of Spiritual Progress

The issue of observing what is lawful or forbidden is also very important in terms of being a manifestation of obeying God’s commandments and respecting Him. In addition, every kind of effort one makes for the sake of opting for the lawful and refraining from the forbidden is counted as worship offered by that person. Resisting temptations or suffering misfortunes with patience is counted as a “negative” form of worship (which is not actually performed, but endured and thus leads to sincerity of worship); the same holds true with respect to making efforts in search of the lawful. It is also possible to relate this truth with the verse (which means): “To Him ascends only the pure word (as the source of might and glory), and the good, righteous action (accompanying it) raises it.” (al-Fatir 35:10). Accordingly, it is revealed that blessed words of praise, glorification, proclamation of God’s greatness, and invoking blessings on the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, will ascend to God Almighty by means of righteous action only. That is, be it the literal form of worship as prayers, almsgiving, and fasting, or be it “negative” form of worship as taking a stance against forbidden things and making due efforts, both forms of worship are like wings for blessed words to ascend to God. For this reason, the issue should not be seen as something simple, and much sensitivity must be shown with respect to the issue of the lawful and forbidden.

Concerning food, distinguishing pure from impure and not letting the impure pollute the pure, and showing utmost sensitivity in this respect will bring a person otherworldly rewards as if he or she offered worship. If a person reviews the ingredients of a certain medicine or of a product bought from supermarket to determine whether there is anything forbidden by religion, inquires whether the meat he or she buys is in compliance with Islamic rules, and is careful about having completely lawful earnings, these will be a means of spiritual progress for that person. On the other hand, not giving the willpower its due at this issue, and acting in a heedless and lighthearted manner will paralyze the individual’s religious life, kill that person’s spiritual faculties, and be that person’s ruin. Consuming unlawful earnings is referred in the Qur’an while depicting the most corrupt state of a society: “Listening out for lies and falsehood eagerly, and consuming unlawful earnings greedily” (al-Maedah 5:42). Nourishment bought by unlawful earnings is mentioned in the verse as “suht;” it circulates in one’s bloodstream, and it is mentioned in several hadiths that even that person’s worship and prayers will not be accepted. For example, the Messenger of God pointed this out as follows: “Whoever eats a forbidden morsel, his Prayers will not be accepted for forty nights and his supplications will not be answered for forty mornings. What becomes for every (piece of) flesh developed by the forbidden (food) is Hellfire. And (it should be known that) even a single morsel develops flesh.”2

The Bitter End of One with Forbidden Food in His Stomach

In another hadith recorded in Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Abu Hurayra narrated the negative effects of the unlawful as follows: “The Messenger of God described the situation of a prolonged traveler covered in dust and raised his hands to supplicate God, saying ‘O Lord, O Lord!’ Then the Prophet said, ‘What he eats is forbidden; what he drinks is forbidden, and what he wears is forbidden. So how can his supplications be answered?’”3 In another hadith, it is stated that when a pilgrim who came with lawful earning calls out “(Labbayk) At Your beck and call O Lord, You have called and we have come,” a caller from Heavens will respond as, “Welcome, how glad you are. Your food is lawful; your mount is lawful, and your pilgrimage is accepted; it is not polluted by sin.” Whereas, a pilgrim who came with unlawful earnings will be responded by a caller from Heavens as, “No beck and no call, you are not welcome. Your food is forbidden; your earnings are forbidden, and your pilgrimage is not accepted.”4 How can the pilgrimage and supplication of such a person immersed in forbidden things be accepted? How dare can he say, “My Lord! I came here in obedience to You. I am at your beck and call. I am hoping for Your mercy and forgiveness. I expect Your favor and graces!” Even if he does, will not his words be slammed on his face like shabby clothes? For this reason, living within the lawful sphere and eating lawful food are of great importance in terms of letting acts of worship ascend to God. The verse mentioned in the question points to the same fact. That is, a person’s consumption of lawful sustenance has a significant effect on the acceptance of his or her worship for God.

There is another thing that needs to be pointed out here. In many verses of the Qur’an, God Almighty commands eating lawful food. This depends on a struggle to seek the lawful from the very beginning. Actually, as every forbidden thing is an invitation to other forbidden things, every lawful thing similarly is an invitation to other lawful things; everything demands things of its own kind, so that they go together well, have the same character, and keep company. As this is true for people as well; our behaviors, works, and actions similarly run after what resembles them. In the same vein, it is pointed out in a verse, “Corrupt women are for corrupt men, and corrupt men for corrupt women…” (an-Nur 24:26).

It is also possible to describe this as follows: purity, goodness and wholesome things are invitations to other good things. Likewise dirty, foul, and wicked things always invite dirty things. Therefore, when one pursues the lawful and shows due effort, it will form a “virtuous circle” leading to further good, righteous deeds over time (as opposed to a vicious circle), and that person will live accordingly. For this reason, the distinction of lawful and forbidden must be abundantly clear from the beginning.

Forbidden Things Becoming Common Cannot Be an Excuse

Unfortunately, lawful and forbidden are intermingled in our time, and people have lost sensitivity in this respect. However, it should be stressed that a person’s neglect of  this issue will bring no benefit at all. As Bediüzzaman stated at the end of the Fourteenth Word, “Do not say ‘I am like everyone else.’ Everyone befriends you only as far as the grave. The consolation of a common misfortune cannot help you on the other side.” Others’ eating from the forbidden, looking at the forbidden, engaging in forbidden, and empty talk may look like a consolation while in this world, but they have no use beyond the grave. Having a common misfortune with some others does not alleviate one’s misfortune in the next world. What befalls on a believer then is to determine where every morsel he or she eats come from, where it will go, and what troubles it might cause that person to face. It should not be forgotten that being heedless on this issue and leading a carefree life will cause serious troubles in the next world. On the Day of Judgment, people will be called to account even for (something as little as) one seventh of a grain of barley. Although we aphoristically say “one seventh of a grain of barley,” the Qur’an refers to the same truth with a dharrah (smallest piece of matter): “…whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it; and whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it” (az-Zilzal 99:7–8). Accordingly, as one who does an act of goodness as little as an atom’s weight will see what it corresponds to, and one who commits this amount of evil will also see for sure what corresponds to it. Individuals will be called to account for everything: the words that came out of one’s mouth, the food and drink that went into the stomach, words a person listened to, sights he or she looked at… If a person does not watch one’s step carefully in this world, the reckoning in the Hereafter will be painstaking and—may God protect us—a grim one. Thus, those who have lost their sensitivity in this respect must reconsider what they eat, drink, earn, and spend, and face themselves anew.

Let me make a final point: there is no reason to become pessimistic by looking solely at certain people’s lighthearted attitude. If particularly, those who seem on the fore show scrupulous attention to leading a vigilant life, their state will pervade their surroundings, and this consciousness and sensitivity will be embraced by the society in time, given that we as believers can rid ourselves from superficial practice of Islam and become intent upon distinguishing the lawful and forbidden, or the beautiful and ugly in everything, by considering seriously and pondering deeply.

1. Al-Bayhaqi, As-Sunan al-Kubra, VI, 288; Shuab, IV, 230, 326
2. As-Suyuti, Jami al-Ahadith, 20/55; Ali al-Muttaqi, Kanz al-Ummal, 4/15
3. Sahih Muslim, Zakah 65; Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Tafsir, 3
4. At-Tabarani, Al-Mujam al-Awsat, 5:251

This text is the translation of “Helal Rızık – Salih Amel Münasebeti.”

Orphanhood of Hearts


يَا رَبَّنَا يَا رَبَّنَا طَهِّرْ قُلُوبَنَا، نَجِّنَا

“O Lord! Purify our hearts and save us.”

In this prayer, the word “save” is stated to be subject to the purity of the heart. The purer the heart, the more likely it is for its owner to be saved, to be redeemed, and to attain a blessed rank.

For God, the heart matters. He judges people by their hearts and assesses us by how our hearts are. Our looks, skin color, or nationality do not matter to Him.

Spiritual weightiness is very important at the Scales in the Hereafter. 

What we refer to as “the heart” is not the muscular organ that pumps blood. It is entirely associated with our spirituality; yet, it is related to the organ as well, which is described as “the spiritual faculty sensing God directly.” Given that the purity, whiteness, profundity and sensitivity of the heart is what matters, I believe we should check up on it, day in and day out.

The Pride of Humankind talks about “rayn” when he warns us of factors that can put the heart in harm’s way. These can stem from misusing it. Another cause might be the imagination of negative notions. 

I cannot speak for all Muslims, but most Muslims are orphans of the heart. Since the day our hearts deceased, we have been orphans. It is the main cause that lies behind the dissension among today’s Muslims. Other causes include the orphanhood of sentiment and sensibility, and of relationship with God.

“O Lord! Please do not let our hearts stain. Do not leave me to my carnal self and the devil even, for a moment, or even shorter than that. Do not leave me to anyone else. God, I cannot do without You.”

Keeping a Straight Course within the Central Sphere


Question: As it is known, a little breakdown in the center will cause greater problems in the periphery. Taking this truth into consideration, what are the essential disciplines to be observed by people in central positions?

Answer: Attitude and behaviors of people who are in a position to represent a lofty ideal are very important, since those who come behind will do the same. If those in front walk straightly, those who come behind will also proceed on a straight line, as they follow the footsteps of the former. However, if those who walk in front—may God forbid—commit wrongs, then the wrongs will grow manifold among those who come from behind and spread rapidly like a virus. 

The Collective Rights 

Unfortunately, from the past to present, as certain people who seemed to be on the fore in different movements of revival failed to give their position its due, they became victim to some uncalculated words, slips of tongue, deviations of thought, and making too many exaggerated statements. As the effect of such situations reverberated through lower levels, they grew much more harmful. Sometimes an unbecoming word, attitude, or raising one’s voice in an unbecoming fashion, and making gestures with hands and feet paved the way for animosities that became impossible to make up for. Even when such wrongs of those who seem on the fore were not taken in an exaggerated fashion, but copied as they were, they caused very serious damage. Moreover, such wrongs are never transferred exactly as they are. According to an individual’s own character and receptors, he or she makes his or her own interpretations of those wrongs, and the effect grows worse as the issue spreads in the periphery. It is for this reason that those who are on the fore owing to their administrative positions have to be very sensitive and careful of their attitude and behaviors. When I make a criticism of my own past, I see so many things in retrospect to be corrected in this respect that for every one of them I say, “I wish it had not been this way, but that way instead…” On the other hand, I am aware that such considerations cannot correct things bygone. Actually, in order not to have some useless considerations for things in the past, one must adjust his or her attitudes, behaviors, words, and actions in a way that will not require correction in the future and live accordingly. As a single mind cannot suffice to manage that, people in administrative positions in particular must consult with others. They must form committees of consultancy and not make any decision with respect to any issue without discussing it first. Although we have the fundamental sources of Islamic culture and the values inherited from the past, interpreting them in a way to suit our day still requires seeking consultation and shared wisdom.

In addition, it needs to be known that the ideal of conveying truths to others concerns everybody’s rights. For this reason, any flaws in this respect will be a violation of collective rights. From a perspective of Islamic jurisprudence, as public rights are God’s rights at the same time, committing a wrong in this respect will have violated God’s rights as well.  It can further be said that doing wrongs will also violate the rights of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, of those who served in the way of God previously, and those who run on the same lane with us for the cause of God now. 

Living in spite of Oneself

Actually, consultation in a way means choosing to act in spite of oneself. A person’s acting in spite of oneself does not necessarily signify a loss. On the contrary, one becomes a winner thanks to acting in spite of oneself in certain respects, and becomes a loser because of acting one’s own reasoning. The noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, stated that there are seven types of people whom God will shade with His shade on the (Judgment) Day when there will be no other shade. And then he mentions a just ruler in the first place.1 It is understood that it is a difficult matter for a person in power to remain just. If a person is leading the people, represents power, and has the control of the resources of an entire nation, his remaining as a just, upright, righteous, beneficent, and humane person depends on his living in spite of himself.

In another hadith, the Pride of Humanity stated: “There are three categories of people whom God will not talk to, purify, and (even) look at their faces on the Day of Judgment. And there is a terrible punishment for them: an old one who fornicates, a sovereign who lies, and a poor one who is arrogant.”2

Certain facts are brought to attention through the negative examples here. We know that fornication is forbidden for all. However, for an elderly person who should be turning away from the world, it is heaping sin upon sin. Such a person deserves to be reprimanded as, “Shame on you! You are such an immoral one in this old age! If you are unashamed of people, you should feel shame before God!”

The second type deserving of a severe punishment is a sovereign who is a habitual liar. As lying is a sin for everybody, when it is told by a person who governs all, the sin grows much worse. The third one mentioned is an arrogant one in spite of being poor, one too big for his breeches in spite of not having a decent pair of trousers. It is surprising how such a person can put on airs and graces. This attitude by such a person is a serious deviation to make the sin twice as worse. Incidentally, let me state that the opposite is also true. By thinking the other way round, we can understand how valuable in God’s sight a rich but modest person is, because such a person acts against his or her carnal soul that is prone to evil, in contrast with the former. The first hadith refers to a person’s living in spite of oneself, while the second is about living in pursuit of the desires of the carnal soul. As Hell is surrounded by carnal desires, one who indulges in them will be destined to fall there eventually. As for Paradise, it is surrounded with things unpleasant to the carnal soul. That is, entering Paradise depends on a person’s living in spite of human nature and overcoming oneself. 

One Who Consults Does Not Experience Disappointment

The Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, stated that one who makes consultation will not be upset.3 Accordingly, one who does not wish to become lost in distress must consult with others, even with respect to matters he or she could handle individually.

Personally, I have always tried to consult even about most trivial matters with a few people around me. When a problem bothers me at one o’clock in the morning, and if I cannot find anybody here to consult with, I make a phone call to some friends in Turkey and ask for alternative suggestions for solving the issue. So far, I have suffered no damage at all by doing this. If we were mistaken, it was all of us. That is, we shared the mistake. When we are called to account before God, we will be able to say, “O Lord, we talked and consulted about it, but could not manage to find the best option. So it seems, even the totality of our intellect did not suffice for this issue.”

Some people may have certain experience and knowledge to make them say, “I know this well.” But it should not be forgotten that others may consider issues in a broader and holistic perspective. Such people do not only look at the particular issue at hand, but also take other factors relating to it into consideration. In addition, one course of action seeming to be favorable from one person’s perspective may turn out to be unfavorable. Actually, a person may claim to have made a sensible remark beginning with, “In my opinion…,” but this does not mean that it is really sensible. Commonsense is not limited to “one person’s opinion.” “Sensible” denotes a course of action found reasonable by all accounts. As Harith al-Muhasibi puts it, it is a truth confirmed by Qur’anic logic and reasoning. Therefore, if one wishes to test whether a certain thought is reasonable or not, that person should first judge it with the criteria of the Qur’an and Sunnah. If this is not done, something a person sees as reasonable might actually be a desire of the carnal soul.

A Muslim who observes the Daily Prayers recites Surah al-Fatihah forty times a day and thus repeats the verse (which means), “You alone do We worship, and from You alone do we seek help” (al-Baqarah 1:5). Thus, he or she learns to say “we.” Worship observed individually might not suffice to save a person. In a way, deliverance of an individual believer depends on maintaining real brotherhood or sisterhood in a row and being eligible for receiving all the manifold Divine rewards for their collective good works. In the same way, an administrator’s finding the option closest to the right one and remotest from the wrong is possible through saying “we” and then acting with collective reasoning and due consciousness.

To sum up, in order to let all the ongoing philanthropic services grow further, people who seem on the fore need to live in spite of themselves and by giving up the consideration that “my reasoning, my thoughts, my understanding etc. suffice me” and instead ascribe every word they say and every decision they make to a systematic consultation process. An administrator who wishes to be a “just leader” as referred to in the hadith must value the thoughts of the people around him, consult with them, and be able to give up one’s own thoughts if necessary, in order to find the most sensible and reasonable course of action. If matters are entrusted to the discussion and consultation of a committee, then exchange of ideas will let the truth emerge and prevent mistaken decisions. However, no matter what area or subject is concerned, if people act by leaving issues to personal initiatives, mistakes will be inevitable.

1. Sahih al-Bukhari, Adhan 36; Sahih Muslim, Zakah, 91
2. Sahih Muslim, Iman, 172
3. At-Tabarani, Al-Mu’jam al-Kabir, 6/365; Al-Qudha’i, Musnad ush-Shihab, 2/7

This text is the translation of “Merkez Muhit Hattında İstikamet Çizgisi.”

True Success


Question: The educational activities by the movement of volunteers yield very good examples of success, as happened in the Science Olympiads. Can we say that a success of the desired level has also been achieved regarding the spirit of devotedness and human virtues? If there are any shortcomings, what can be their possible reasons?

Answer: There are so many factors—we know and we don’t—behind the activities and works that are seen as success and thus appreciated. For example, factors such as systematic working, presenting a good performance, determination, perseverance, and acting with a spirit of consultation and collective consciousness are all related to the outer aspect of the issue. In addition to these outer aspects, there are also points related to a person’s inner world that makes it impossible to make a certain judgment about others in this respect. For example, we cannot know whether individuals hold the secret intention of bringing their own person to the fore, whether they carry on their service with considerations of personal benefit, and how deep their relationship with God is. We are responsible both for taking objective facts as criteria and having a positive opinion of others. For this reason, we assume the builders of an existing success to be sincere, and concerning the matters we cannot be sure about, we come to our senses with the Prophet’s admonition “Did you cleave his heart open?” Thus we avoid making presumptions about others’ inner worlds. These issues related to one’s inner world are completely between God and the individual, and are out of our sphere of judging. If we have any worries, we open our hands and pray as

  اَللّٰهُمَّ يَا مُحَوِّلَ الْحَوْلِ وَالْأَحْوَالِ حَوِّلْ حَالَنَا إِلَى أَحْسَنِ الْحَالِ

 (O my God, You are the One who puts His creatures from one state into another with different manifestations of His Divine Names and exalted Attributes! Put us into the best condition with Your grace, help, and benevolence!).

In addition, when we consider the performance presented by the volunteers of education and its continuity, we see that these tasks are not easy to achieve, and they take serious forbearance and patience in the face of time. For this reason, it is so hard to believe such things can ever be realized with considerations of showing off or personal gain. Particularly, when we consider the troubles encountered by people who serve out of their native countries, it will be understood that the services carried out require a serious degree of conviction and devotedness. Therefore, in addition to judging by the outward dimension and thus having a positive opinion, when the issue is seen with respect to the difficulty of the tasks carried out, it is a duty that befalls on us to think that the people who support these services on the path of knowledge and wisdom are sincere.

Trustworthy Bearers of Responsibility

For example, they wish to form islands of peace in different parts of the world and to build bridges of tolerance and dialogue between different mentalities and cultures by expressing the virtues and merits they possess with the silent language of their heart and state. People build some breakwaters against certain geological phenomena and try to prevent a disaster in one place by passing the effects off to another area, in an effort to save the people there. In the same way, the devoted souls are realizing activities of education and dialogue for the sake of building breakwaters between different societies and cultures by preventing clashes to be generated by bias and ignorance, and by preventing the spread of such negativities, which might grow worse with a mob psychology. So people devoted to such a cause must be very well equipped in spiritual terms, so that they can bear such a heavy responsibility. Their faith and reliance on God must be very strong so that they can keep conscious in the face of every event and always know that all kinds of success are from God, while some occasional adversities stem from personal faults. Obviously, it is not correct for individuals to judge others this way, but the main idea is to be self-critical. As it is understood from the explicit statements in the Qur’an and Sunnah, people should know that they personally cause all kinds of spiritual or material adversities they face.

The Essence of the Matter Is Purity of Intention

As people’s visible, material mistakes cause certain things to go wrong, there are other factors that cause the person to be punished by Divine destiny and face some adversities, such as lacking purity of intention, pursuing carnal desires, and giving priority to personal plans. Besides causes of occasional adversities, the question of whether a certain task will be achieved or not works in a similar way; the metaphysical dimension is no less important than the physical one in effecting a certain outcome. Our inability to see the metaphysical dimension does not change the reality of its importance. What we can see is only limited to the realm of apparent causes. For example, sowing a seed in a field is an act carried out within the physical realm. However, some other factors we cannot see play a role in allowing that seed to germinate and flourish as a plant. Even if we see water and sunlight, we cannot see the seed’s faculty of flourishing. And we cannot even see air, which exists within the realm of physical causes as one of the agents that plays a role in the seed’s growth. In the same way, events that take place in individual and social life not only have dimensions related to the physical realm but also metaphysical ones. For example, factors as determination, resolution, sticking with a sense of permanence, sincerity, faithfulness, standing upright, pursuing a lofty ideal, respecting the will and works of God… these are such spiritual causes that probably each one of them, alone, are more powerful factors than material causes. For example, we never know how God grants favors when the time comes to a man who has cherished good thoughts since his childhood and pursued great ideals. Those lofty ideals and dreams can serve as a prayer, as an invitation for Divine Providence to make them come true. It is possible to take it vice versa, too. That is, evil feelings, dark intentions, acts based on hypocritical considerations, jealousy and the like are important causes that give way to certain negative outcomes. For example, the Prophet warned people against envy (hasad), and stated that it devours a person’s good deeds, as fire devours firewood. Then this inability to stand what others enjoy is such curse that it devours the good deeds you do. If somebody builds a school as a reaction against certain people they do not like, just for the sake of preventing them, then this ill feeling may one day cause the school to burn down, either in the material or spiritual sense. God Almighty punishes them for those negative feelings within. However, it is not possible for people taken by the whirlpool of envy to understand such spiritual causes. Therefore we can say that spiritual causes play a no less important role than material ones regarding God’s granting success. As Bediüzzaman puts it, “Those who attribute everything’s existence to matter limit their intellectual capacity to what they can see, yet eyes cannot see what is spiritual.” However, along with eyesight, there are certain things rather related to having insight, or seeing through the eye of the heart. This spiritual sense of seeing depends on perception and discernment, inner sensation and intuition, faith and the inner faculty sensing God directly as well as Divine inspirations. One should not ignore the existence of these things. Even though some people do not recognize them, there are such people that recognize spiritual factors very well, understand their tongue, and can virtually hold them, the way a normal person holds physical objects.

For attaining true and lasting success, ones devoted to serving God need to know very well the material and spiritual causes that lead to God’s granting success and be aware where the limits of those causes begin and end. In other words, the devoted ones try to serve in different places, develop projects for opening institutions like schools and universities, and with all of these they share the inspirations of their soul with the hearts that welcome them; at the same time, they need their spiritual state to be fully prepared. Not shaking in the face of some adversities, not giving up the struggle, and standing upright in the face of storms—by God’s grace, depends on appreciating the value of spiritual means.

Retaining the Spiritual State

The chivalrous ones of deep spirituality, who defy their self a few times a day and are so virtuous as not to forgive even the sins that just pass their minds, must constantly seek to raise their level, together with their companions, through continuous rehabilitations, and thus bring permanence to their desired spiritual state. Not only attaining such a state, but also retaining it, is very important. Sometimes, one attains such spiritual positions that he or she sees, feels, and perceives existence very differently; that person begins to live with a complete consciousness of the omnipresence of God (ihsan) and awareness of being seen by Him. However, what really matters is to keep up this feeling and consciousness, because sometimes intervals in this state take away very important attainments. So many gains might pour into even just a moment’s void. It is necessary to attain a desirable spiritual state; on the other hand, whatever one’s position is, it is necessary to keep that state in the same level.

In conclusion, even if you do your best and become very strong with respect to material causes—to the point of monitoring space with your satellites, it still makes up only one side of the issue in terms of gaining God’s good pleasure. You should know that what really makes you strong is your trust in the infinite power of God Almighty and always keeping a sound relationship with Him. I think the devoted souls must always remind one another of this truth and weave their lives in accordance with this truth.

This text is the translation of “Gerçek Başarı ve Kıvamın Korunması.”

Chastity for God’s Sake


Unlike the rank and file, guides should think twice before they say something for the sake of their followers. Failure to do so might cause quite a commotion, which is hardly ever made up for.
As a poet puts it, “Spear wounds can be healed, but the wounds of a sharp tongue cannot!”
I wish people could act with no benefit to themselves; or, they laid down their lives but asked for nothing in return.
In fact, this is the path of Prophets who spent their lives for their cause but asked for nothing in reciprocation. Some kings like Prophet Solomon and Prophet David, led very humble, contented, decent and chaste lives. God still gave them kingdoms which they used for the cause of the true religion of their times. However, their kingdom did not corrupt them, make them egoists, or make them change their humble way of living. They were always chaste, sinless, loyal to God, wise and, committed to communicating their message. They were always faithful to their Prophetic qualities as they lived. Hence, those who follow the path of Prophets should also be representing these Prophetic qualities.
It is possible for those who do not follow the path of Prophets to stray to the path of Satan.
In particular, for the members of an eminent group devoted to follow the path of Prophets, even the smallest indecency they exhibit, a seemingly minor unchastity, or a minor unfaithfulness, might turn out to put the entire community under suspicion.
The prayer of a saintly figure says: “God! Please do not put my comrades to shame because of me. As well, do not put me or my comrades to shame because of one of us.” It would be a breach of the rights of the entire community.
We should not put a foot wrong, lead chaste lives, be honest to goodness, fend off hypocrisy, be loyal, zero in on communicating God’s message, call attention to God, constantly work for the cause of spreading the word of our beloved Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, all over the earth and dream of achieving it, and look for ways to make the Prophet’s message heard even in the poles.
The sole requirement of success on that path is to lead a decent and chaste life.
To neglect worldliness and not have a soft spot for it.
To complete one’s lifetime keeping their hands off anything that is carnal.
Not to swerve towards hypocrisy…
To refrain from deceiving others…
To stop showing off…

Ramadan and Softening Hearts


Question: Every year, the month of Ramadan comes like a heavenly serenity and assurance felt in the spirits; it softens believers’ hearts, virtually melts them, and gives them an otherworldly hue. What are your suggestions to make the most of this blessed month with respect to our individual and societal life?

Answer: The month of Ramadan appears on our horizons with its charming beauties with fasting, the Prayers of Tarawih, the fast-breaking dinners, and the pre-dawn meals. Ramadan brings about a heavenly atmosphere of its own. Even at times when different tensions follow one another, violence and aggression become excessive, contradiction is seen as virtue, and ice-cold winds blow between the masses, Ramadan makes its influence by reconditioning souls, fostering sound hearts, feelings, and thoughts, along with abating every kind of hardness and harshness. Muslims already show serious respect toward this month, when peace and gentleness perceptibly prevail. For this reason, in spite of different adversities, if we give our willpower its due and manage to open our heart to this very special and distinguished segment of time with heartfelt trust in its blessings, and thus become oriented to it with sincere belief, awe and respect, then it will cuddle us and shower us with blessings. Anger, violence, and rages will cease, and an atmosphere of peace and reconciliation will prevail.

Not Variety of Dishes, but Richness of Guests

In order to put these ideas into practice, believers—a Muslim family residing in an apartment for instance—should invite their neighbors to a fast-breaking dinner, no matter what their philosophy of life is, preferably by letting them know of the dinner a few days in advance. They can present a very good example of kindness and hospitality. They can even say, “You have shown kindness to accept our invitation and bothered to come here. Please also accept this small present for your kindness.” If possible, the hosts should give presents to their guests’ children and make those innocent ones happy. Similarly, Muslims who teach at schools and universities or work at other establishments can contribute to societal peace by opening their table to everyone, without discriminating between different sections of society.

We should make use of this blessed month in such a fruitful way, to the degree of not having any fast-breaking dinners without guests. These dinners should be enriched with abundance and diversity of guests, rather than richness of dishes. As it is known, the Messenger of God stated,

“A meal for two suffices for three, and a meal for three suffices for four.”1 For this reason, there is no reason to worry about a multitude of guests in Ramadan, the month of abundance. Acting this way is an important means of diplomacy to eliminate the huge rifts between different sections of the society and of overcoming prejudices. So many problems that cannot be tackled with power or security forces can be solved by this means. If you sincerely open your heart to everyone, conquer the hearts of others with human virtues, and reserve in your heart a seat for all—and thus lean on the power of hearts—it will put a stop to unending grudges, hatreds, rages, bloodsheds, and killings. Indeed, in no time in the history of humanity has it ever been possible to resolve problems and cure troubles through threats. On the contrary, threats only serve to inflame grudges and intensify people’s inclination for destruction.

As it is expressed in a Turkish proverb, “One little cup of coffee is not to be forgotten for forty years.” Therefore, the sentimental value of a dinner invitation will similarly continue no less than forty years, insha’Allah. Thus, this act of kindness to effect very beautiful consequences should be carried out—perhaps the secret of the blessed Ramadan’s abundance lies in them. Namely, as we can attain otherworldly rewards by fasting and observing the Tarawih Prayers, we can also gain different blessings by gaining people’s hearts.

The Heavenly Call That Echoes in Hearts

The believers striving to serve humanity in all corners of the world can try to give Ramadan its due as a very important means of gaining hearts. Remember that the sacrificial meat collected for Eid al-Adha is taken to poor people in different corners of the world, from Africa to Asia; this is an indication of the benevolence and generosity of the people of Anatolia, and sacrificial meat is now a means of conquering hearts. For those who receive this meat, they feel that there still exists a people to inspire them trust. In the same way, it is possible to open the doors of fast-breaking and pre-dawn meals to all as a Ramadan campaign, and thus seeking the good pleasure of God by gaining so many hearts. This is especially evident when the guests who accept such invitations in different countries are so impressed by these activities that when you listen to their feelings, you better understand the significance of the issue. For example, they find the call to Prayer made right before fast-breaking so original and lovely. So it is necessary to take this opportunity in the best way to let others meet the beauties and richness of Muslim culture. Perhaps these activities will only build a positive opinion of Islam in their sight; even this much should definitely not be underestimated, I think. Who knows, though, maybe the guests who feel everything freshly will awaken to the beauties of Islam in a different way and then rocket to the horizons of their own spiritual perfection. In this respect, not just inviting them to dinner once in the month of Ramadan, but even spreading a table for them a few times a day is worth for the sake of having such positive changes.

Unfortunately, people of our time have been deprived of the beauties of Islam. They have not witnessed attitudes and behaviors that become true Muslims. So our most important duty is to show them the genuine Islam within our family structure, relationships between family members, invitations, and gentleness. If some see Muslims as monsters today, eliminating this image depends upon building good relations with them. Thus, whatever position Muslims are in, they should act with reason, logic, judgment, and consultation, and try to realize this issue in an agreeable way.

No Deed Can Make up for the One in Ramadan

The acts of worship that God Almighty holds us responsible for will assume a different nature depending on the way we offer them, and they will bear witness for us on the Day of Judgment. If we can give this month of forgiveness its due, it will bear witness in our favor and perhaps admit us to the highest level of Paradise through the gate of Rayyan. For this reason, we must respectfully observe the acts of worship that God has decreed for us, hold them in reverence, and strive to fulfill them in the best way.

In addition, a believer will know in the Afterlife which good, righteous deeds in the world brought the blessings he or she enjoys there; this will double the delight of those blessings. In the face of such benevolence, people will likely say: “Praise be to my Lord! First he honored me with good, righteous deeds, now he honors me with their reward.” There, believers will recognize the rewards of their good, righteous deeds committed with all their limbs.2 In the same way, they will experience the otherworldly meanings of their hunger, of their efforts at the Tarawih Prayers, their excitement for waking up for the pre-dawn meal, and their generous treatment of others, and feel due delight.

Some acts of worship owe their depth to fulfilling their outer forms and conditions. This is true for worship offered in Ramadan, a month when deeds gain a different value, when people gain proximity to God very differently. No other fasting can be compared to the one in Ramadan. No other twenty-unit Prayer to be offered in other nights can replace the Tarawih. The same holds true for the rewards for the pre-dawn meals or waiting patiently before breaking the fast. In short, no deeds can substitute those done in Ramadan. It is for this reason that believers who feel this truth deeply in their consciences feel serious grief when this blessed month is gone, longing for it until the next Ramadan comes. We do not know; perhaps this yearning gains them an extra blessing of another Ramadan’s worth.

1. Sahih al-Bukhari, At’imah, 11; Sahih Muslim, Ashriba, 179
2. This is due to the fact that the believers protect their tongue, ears, eyes, feet, and all other limbs from every kind of evil, in addition to abstaining from food, drink, and sexual intercourse from dawn until sunset. (ed.)

This text is the translation of “Ramazan ve Yumuşayan Kalbler.”

Warning People against Wrongs without Giving an Alluring Account of Them


Question: It is stated that an elaborate account of wrongs may pollute people’s minds with temptations. On the other hand, we need to make warnings against wrongs in order to avert people from them. How can we strike a balance here?

Answer: It needs to be known that warning that something is evil and giving an alluringly, detailed account of it are different. In order to avert people from attitudes and behaviors that harm the individual and the society and make them feel disgusted by such things, it is naturally necessary to warn people about them. However, such warning should not be too elaborate of an account of the wrong in such a way as to form a clear picture in their minds. A clear picture of certain actions might make some feel tempted toward them. For this reason, in order not to make the opposite of the intended effect, it is better to refer to wrongs concisely, tell about their harms, and then about their negative consequences in this world and the next. For example, while warning a man who immerses himself in sins, it is possible to remind him that he will lose his receptivity of spiritual blessings, not feel delight in devotions, blunt his insight, become unable to activate the latent fine faculties of his heart, or even become totally unaware of them. Such a person will be condemned to a mechanical practice of religion, will know God solely in theory, and will fail to feel the awe of standing in His presence. In short, it is wiser to draw attention to the bad consequences of a sin than giving a detailed account of it.

The Destructive Impact of Negative Connotations

As it is known, Satan takes advantage of certain negative feelings in human nature very astutely, and it is very important not to awaken and trigger them. Too detailed accounts of wrongs might serve as impulses to activate latent negative feelings, which provides a good opportunity to Satan for leading people astray.

We usually associate the issue in question with lusts of the flesh, but narrowing it down is misleading. The points we have made here are true for any wrong people might feel tempted to commit. Let us assume that you are trying to describe how evil hypocrisy is. If you present it in a way to be perceived as an artistic ability, you might unintentionally evoke fondness toward that vice. Accordingly, about all attitude and behaviors within the frame of wrongs, you must adopt a deterrent style and tell how dreadful a punishment the transgressors will face on the Day of Judgment.

Even the issue of associating partners with God requires much sensitivity in this respect. For example, there is no point in repeating the names of certain things asserted as deities instead of God; we may not mention their names at all if necessary. We should refer to such things concisely and lay emphasis on the fact that one might lose an eternal life of bliss and face an eternal life in Hell instead.

The same applies to issues such as rebelling against one’s parents, bearing false witness, theft, slander, and backbiting; we need to build a feeling of resistance toward them in people.

Actually, this method is the way of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. In order to tell what a great gain it is to keep away from disasters of the tongue and extramarital relations, he stated: “Assure me (of the parts) between the jaws and legs, I will assure that you will enter Paradise.”1 As it is seen, the matter is presented in a very discreet and concise way, and the reward to be attained on the condition of behaving oneself is drawn attention to.

Also, it needs to be known that the minds of those who are exposed to too detailed accounts of wrongs may remain adulterated for days, or even weeks. Certain negative things can busy their minds even during worship. For this reason, one must be strong and resolved at taking a stance against such negativities from the very beginning. On the other hand, they should continuously strive to fill their minds with good and beautiful things. So much so that, whenever they open a file in their cortex, they should always meet good words, good thoughts, and good scenes. If anything pollutes their eyes, ears, and minds, or anything negative occurs to their heart involuntarily, they should run to the nearest prayer rug and seek refuge in prayer as a fount of purification, without giving sins an opportunity to survive.

A Pure Mind and a Good End

Particularly in our time, pollution of minds is a serious problem, not only when we go out for shopping or other reasons, but also while we sit at home, the safest haven for believers. In time, accumulation of negative descriptions and sights pollutes a person’s memory and cortex. They occupy that person’s mind and trigger certain negative feelings in human nature. Such pictures pressurize their world of feelings and thoughts, and assert their own desires. When they find the opportunity, they paralyze willpower and lead people to sins that will ruin their eternal afterlife.

In fact, such negative mental pictures accumulate in the subconscious and even begin to pollute dreams. Believers should always be oriented to be pure, even in their dreams. When Muslims follow the example of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and recite his prayers before going to bed, they seek refuge in God and say, “My God, the Trustworthy One! Here I entrust my feelings and thoughts to You. Please do not let them be polluted so that I will not wake up with some impure feelings!” With such considerations, we entrust the horizons of our night to His protection. Believers’ acting sensitively towards this issue bears great importance with respect to their afterlife. It should be known that all of their intentions, prayers, and efforts in this respect are recorded as good, righteous deeds for them. Sometimes such an effort for protecting their imagination from pollution and not letting subconscious impurities pressurize their feelings can be more important than offering a hundred units of Prayer. However, wandering confidently and graciously in pure realms, even in one’s dreams, depends upon giving the willpower its due by adopting a seriously resolved stance.

Keeping away from means that might lead to sin and from thinking of wrongs signify a person’s degree of safety from sins. The Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, showed the importance of keeping away from wrongs by praying, “My God, distance me from my errors, as You distanced East from West.”2 Those who sail close to the wind might not find an opportunity to get back to the shore. For this reason, believers must constantly try to keep their minds, thoughts, and feelings pure; they must be alert against the traps of the carnal soul and Satan.

1. Sahih al-Bukhari, Riqaq, 23
2. Sahih al-Bukhari, Dawat, 44

This text is the translation of “Kötülüklerden Sakındırma ve Bâtılı Tasvir.”

Essentials for Fruitful Criticism


Question: What do we need to be careful about while making constructive criticism, which is an important means of seeking the better at everything, so that it will be effective and fruitful? What are the essential points to be observed both by those who make and receive criticism?

Answer: Criticism means criticizing a statement or behavior, revealing its negative and positive sides, and making a comparison between what is and what should be; it is one of the important scholarly essentials that facilitates progress toward the ideal. In this respect, it has been employed since the early generations of Muslims. For example, in the methodology of Hadith, a given report would be evaluated with a critical approach in terms of its text and the reliability of its chain of narrators. Indeed, criticism took its place in the methodology of Islamic disciplines from the beginning, in order to unearth the truth at issues such as finding the right meaning to be derived from Divine commandments and interpreting them correctly. This scholarly discipline of criticism served as a sound filter against alien elements incompatible with Islam. As the discipline of munazara (comparing and discussing ideas) also developed, the new interpretations that emerged as a consequence of fruitful discussions were also put to criticism, tested with established criteria, and sparkles of truth were attained in the end.

Particularly at questioning the reliability of the chain of narrators in the field of Hadith, there was a serious accumulation of literature. Numerous volumes of work sought to help authenticate whether statements reported as Hadith genuinely belonged to the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. But even while making judgment and evaluation at such an important issue, scholars showed the utmost sensitivity at refraining from excessive remarks. For example, Shu’ba ibn Hajjaj, one of the important Hadith scholars of the classic period who systemized the subject of criticism (naqd) for the first time, once used an interesting term while referring to the critical evaluation of narrators. Addressing a fellow scholar, he said, “Come, let us make some backbiting on the path of God,” drawing attention to both the necessity of doing this vital task and that it must solely be done for the sake of God.

The method of criticism was successfully employed particularly during the first five centuries of the Islamic calendar in the fields of both religious and positive sciences, for the sake of reaching the most appropriate. Therefore, this scholarly method can be employed in our time as well, given that fairness, respect, and mindfulness are maintained. At this point, let’s refer to the manners and method of criticism briefly.

Adopting a Fair Attitude and Soft Style

The issue criticized must be presented in a very sound style and utmost care must be shown at using a polite manner of speaking. That is, the criticism is not meant to evoke a negative response, but to be easily welcomed. When you present your alternative thoughts and plausible approaches for solving certain matters, you will be shown respect if you do it in agreeable politeness. For example, suppose that you are stating your opinion on a certain subject and the person you are addressing thinks the opposite. If you say, “This is what I knew about the matter, but I see that it has a different side as well,” that person will likely come to you after a while and confess that your opinion had been more appropriate. And this time, you will respond by thanking that person for being so fair. In this respect, one should know how to—to some degree—dismiss one’s ego, experience, and knowledge for the sake of upholding righteousness. In other words, if you expect the reasonable to be met reasonably, you should even evaluate others’ not-that-reasonable thoughts within their own reasonability, adopt a welcoming attitude toward them, and form an atmosphere of sincerity where people can be welcoming toward truths.

Making General Statements without Targeting the Person

History has witnessed that, in whatever field, those who do not show respect to others’ thoughts and who continuously dismiss others as worthless, ruin so many worthy things without even noticing it. For this reason, whatever is the nature of the element before us, we should adopt the principle of treating them all with a certain degree of respect. This is a very appropriate means of making people before us accept the truths that we present. Otherwise, no matter how great the projects that we offer, statements slammed on others’ heads will not be welcomed. When criticism is not expressed politely, it will inevitably be received negatively, even if the matter that we criticize is an obvious mistake of someone that conflicts with the decisive and established teachings of religion. For example, you might witness that your friend has gazed at a forbidden sight. If you jerk into telling his embarrassing mistake to his face in a direct way and reproach him, he may respond by trying to justify some devilish considerations—God forbid! In particular, if the individual in front of you is not ready for a criticism of his attitudes and behaviors, then every criticism of yours will evoke reactionary behavior and disrespect against truths, or even make that person hostile against his own values. Even if such people understand what they hear is true, they will do their best to devise new arguments to get the better of the person before them, owing to the trauma of receiving that criticism like a mighty blow on their head; they will be continuously imagining the best way to answer the criticisms directed toward them, even when they retire to their bed at night.

Thus, matters need to be told indirectly, without taking individual persons as targets.Indeed, when the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, witnessed a person’s wrong, he did not directly criticize that person. Instead, he gathered people together and spoke about that act in general, which allowed the doer to hear the lesson. On one occasion, for example, a man who had been commissioned to collect taxes said, “This amount is the tax I have collected and these were given to me as presents.” Upon hearing this, the Prophet addressed his followers from the pulpit and made a general statement about when he commissions a person to carry out a certain commandment of God and that person states that a part of what he collected belongs to the state and the rest is a present to him. To show how mistaken this idea was, the Prophet asked whether those gifts would have been presented had he sat in his parents’ home.1

The issue of who makes the criticism is also very important. If something needs to be told to someone, one should not be too eager to do that personally, but rather leave the issue to another person whom the one to receive criticism loves very much. In such a situation, even criticism from a beloved friend will be taken as a compliment. If it seems likely that a criticism you need to make will receive a reactionary response, you should leave it to someone else because what really matters is not who voices the truth but whether the truth meets with a heartfelt acceptance.

At this point it is useful to relate a relevant parable of the two grandsons of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. Although this parable about Hasan and Husayn does not take place in the reliable sources of Hadith, it conveys important lessons.

Accordingly, the two boys came to make ablutions somewhere and they saw a man who splashed water all around but did not wash his limbs properly as required for a valid ablution. These two young talents of keen insight sought a way to show him the way without humiliating him. With this intention, they asked the man to tell them which one of them made ablutions correctly. They made ablutions exactly as they had learned from their blessed father Ali ibn Abi Talib, may God be pleased with him. When they were done, they asked which one of them did it better. With the ease of being free from humiliation, the man calmly replied that they both did it so well and that his own way was wrong. Therefore, it is important to reiterate that the style we use at correcting wrongs bears great importance in terms of acceptance.

Educating Individuals to Accept Criticism

Additionally, making people able to accept criticism and evoking a righteous feeling of respect in them constitute a separate dimension of the issue. The Companions, who had attained an ideal level of righteousness, could comfortably warn one another about any wrong that they had committed without causing any negative reaction at all. For example, during a sermon, Umar ibn al-Khattab, may God be pleased with him, reminded people that it was necessary to keep bridal dues (mahr) within affordable limits and told them not to ask for too high amounts. What he suggested was a reasonable solution to prevent possible abuses. Even today, an understanding attitude of this issue will definitely fulfill an important function at solving a social problem. While Umar was drawing attention to this fact, an old woman spoke up and asked the caliph, “O Umar, is there a Qur’anic verse or hadith on this issue that you know and we do not? The Qur’an commands, ‘But if you still decide to dispense with a wife and marry another, and you have given the former (even so much as amounts to) a treasure, do not take back anything thereof’ (an-Nisa 4:20), thus not setting a limit to the amount of bridal dues.” In spite of being the caliph governing a great state that challenged the two superpowers of the time, Umar said aloud to himself, “O Umar, you do not know your religion even as much as an old woman.”2 This degree of righteousness caused Umar to be referred as “al-waqqaf inda’l haqq” (one who halts when he meets the truth). That is, when he faces a righteous argument, he stops like a car that suddenly comes to a halt while moving downslope. It is necessary to effect this feeling in people. For this reason, we should make a deal with a certain friend and authorize him or her to comfortably criticize any wrong that arises in our personal attitudes and behaviors. 

In conclusion, a person who intends to criticize, or rather to correct certain matters, must first understand the issue well and make a serious effort in terms of making the correct remark. Secondly, the other person’s feelings must be taken into consideration and fathom whether that other person is ready to welcome what we are about to say. If a negative reaction seems likely, one should not think, “I definitely want to be the one who expresses this truth,” but instead leave the criticism to another person whose remarks will be more influential. Considering the circumstances of our time, when arrogance has become so prevailing and people cannot tolerate even a little criticism, these principles have gained a greater importance. As for those who receive criticism, they should uphold righteousness above everything else and respond to criticisms with gratitude instead of reacting negatively. Bediüzzaman advises us: if someone warns us about a scorpion on our back (in other words, one who warns us about our wrongs), we should only express gratitude, which is an indication of maturity. 

1. Sahih al-Bukhari, Ayman, 3
2. Al-Bayhaqi, As-Sunanu’l-Kubra, 7/233

This text is the translation of “Faydalı Tenkidin Esasları.”


The Carnal Soul, Satan, and Those Who Straddle the Fence


Question: The Qur’an relates the example of an unfortunate man whom God made well-informed of His signs and Revelations, but the man cast them aside, and Satan overtook him. He then became of those who went astray, following his carnal desires and Satan (al-A’raf 7:175). What are the reasons that cause one to go astray so gravely while trying to walk on the righteous path?

Answer: The foremost reason for such deviations is forgetting the fact that this life is a testing ground and everything, at every moment, is a component of that test. Those who go astray forget this fact and fall for the deceptions of the carnal soul and Satan. Indeed, man is always faced with both the internal mechanism of the carnal soul and Satan who can never be known when, where and how he will approach and play new tricks on him. These two archenemies usually approach us with a friendly face and try to misguide us by making right seem wrong and vice versa. One needs to always be alert against these tricks. Otherwise, a momentary heedlessness can take one to deceptions that are difficult or even impossible to overcome. In terms of their appeal to our carnal soul and physicality, you can see the temptations of this world as tools of illusion used by Satan, the relentless deceiver. At unexpected moments he makes certain things seem unpredictably very inviting. However, those things that are seemingly pleasant may have disastrous consequences as pointed out in the verse (which means): “It may well be that you dislike a thing but it is good for you, and it may well be that you like a thing but it is bad for you. God knows, and you do not know” (al-Baqarah 2:216). In other words, poisonous honey that you initially enjoy might soon trouble your stomach severely. In the same way, there are certain things people face that they seem bitter and bothersome outwardly, but by putting up with their trouble you can take wing to felicity. For example, Satan wants to make a river in front of your home appear to you as a deep and sinister torrent. However, when you evaluate the issue with sound reason, common sense, and a pure heart and thus gain insight into the issue, this helps to purify you. You see that the river that you feared does not even reach your ankle and furthermore has a purifying quality. As Satan tries to get you into negativities by his illusion, he tries to avert you from doing good by his positive-illusion on the other hand. As the Qur’an states, he is the one that deceives and embellishes; he decks the ugly sins to be appealing. 

The Watcher

Satan, the archenemy of humanity, relentlessly watches for our weak moments, figuring out the best time to attack. He takes advantage of weaknesses such as lust, fear, comfort, love for position, or seeking benefit, and topples a person over when he finds the chance.

The Qur’an describes Satan’s grudge against humanity: “Now that You have allowed me to rebel and go astray, I will surely lie in wait for them on Your Straight Path (to lure them from it). Then I will come upon them from before them and from behind them, and from their right and from their left. And You will not find most of them thankful” (al-A’raf 7:16–17). Other verses also describe this unappeasable enemy (translated as): “Then (I swear) by Your Glory, I will certainly cause them all to rebel and go astray” (as-Sa’d 38:82). Taking into consideration these and other verses in the Qur’an, we can say that what lies behind all of people’s misguidance, transgressions, rebellion against God, and heedless indulgences are the goadings and whisperings of Satan.

Who Suffices with What Is in Hand Is a Deceived One

Undoubtedly, what befalls us in the face of such a relentless enemy is not standing somewhere in the middle but adopting a resolved stance and verifying all the values one believes in with reasoning, judgment, and following the established principles in the Qur’an and Sunnah. That is, one needs to have sound faith and due reliance on God in order to be saved from Satan’s evil: “Surely he has no power over those who believe and put their trust in their Lord” (an-Nahl 16:99). It is not possible to be saved from Satan and his traps for those who may content themselves only with the acculturation they received from the environment in which they grew up without deepening their faith through reflection and investigation or trying to internalize the values they believe in.

The Situation of a Person Straddling the Fence

As mentioned in the question, the Qur’an gives the example of a person who does not adopt a clear position with respect to faith and following Divine commands: “Tell them (based on Our Revelation) the story of him whom We made well-informed of Our signs and Revelations, but he cast them off, and Satan overtook him, and he became of those (followers of Satan) who rebel (against God’s way) and go astray” (al-A’raf 7:175).

The Qur’an relates this story to teach us a lesson. That man witnessed manifest signs and had evident works of wonders—to guide him to truth, which would make him see and hear correctly, which would guide his heart to wisdom, but he ignored all this and left everything behind. So it seems this poor man, in spite of being granted certain blessings, failed to define a clear position and take a sound stance; he could not save himself straddling the fence. In other words, although he lived in a suitable environment for practicing faith, he failed to ingrain in himself the truths he had learned from the culture he was raised in. That poor man did not show any personal effort to verify what he inherited, did not ponder it, nor try to rebuild the world of his feelings, thoughts, and beliefs by giving his willpower its due; ultimately, he became a loser. According to the statements of some interpreters of the Qur’an, his knowing the Ism al-Azam (greatest Divine Name) and Divine secrets did not do him any good; he did not make them an integral part of his character or nature, and thus they did not belong to him. In this respect, if people do not restore the thoughts they inherit from their ancestry and have an unshakable faith by verifying and internalizing every piece of the information they possess, then Satan can cast doubts and hesitations into them, polluting their hearts and minds. 

Talk of the Beloved All the Time

The verse continues by stating, “If We had willed (to impede the way he chose by his free will), We could indeed have lifted him (towards the heaven of perfections enabled by faith) through those signs and Revelations, but (by his own free choice) he clung to the earth and followed his desires” (al-A’raf 7:176). That is, he was taken by comfort, physicality, fame, imitation, praises, fancies, and desires, and thus forgot that the bestowals he enjoyed essentially belong to God. When he became oblivious of this fact, God left him to oblivion. The verse then states (translated as): “So (in his being surrendered to greed), his likeness is that of a dog: if you move to drive it away, it pants with its tongue lolling out (still hoping to be fed more), or if you leave it, it pants with its tongue lolling out” (al-A’raf 7:176). And a few verses later, the situation of such people is described as: “They are like cattle (following only their instincts)—rather, even more astray” (al-A’raf 7:179). Due to their carnal, animalistic desires, they fall down to a status lower than the lowliest creatures.

Humanity is indeed honored with the best pattern of creation, as candidates for exaltedness. Although human essence is potentially even superior to angels, their downfall does not take them to ground zero but to a deep pit much lower than that. That is, a man who has become a slave to his desires and fancies, he cannot even keep the level of an ordinary man but falls to a level below animals. While describing the situation of such a person—owing to the gravity of the matter—the style of the Word of God changes here significantly and the conduct of the person in question is likened to animal behavior. To conclude, if a person is not walking determinedly, not improving his abilities to comply with the needs of walking on this righteous path, and lacking the resolution for constant self-renewal, if he is not upholding the truth of the Prophetic statement, “Renew your faith by La ilaha illa’llah,”1 it is always possible for him to be stopped by one of these obstacles. In order to overcome all of these obstacles and reach their target, individuals must concentrate their powers on retaining their faith; they should build insurmountable walls around it and continuously feed their heart and spirit with good, righteous deeds and attending religious talks.

1. Al-Hakim at-Tirmidhi, Nawadiru’l-Usul, 2/204

This text is the translation of “Nefis, Şeytan ve A’raftakiler.”

Regardless of Others, We Should Not Be Involved in Backbiting, Defamation, Conflicts or Sedition


Figuratively speaking, there are times when you cannot stand on your feet without leaning against something, such as during Prayers. Sometimes, you cannot prostrate or stand back up after prostration without getting help from your hands. You accept this as a law of creation, and believe that as you get older, you are bound to have such needs. Still, it is not always possible to fully understand things like that before you actually experience them. Muslims can use such states to their advantage by regarding them as Divine tests, which will add to their relationship with God, and by thanking God for these tests, since they are only related to worldly matters. As Bediüzzaman cites, some scholars say:

“Al-hamdu lil’lahi ala kulli hal, siwa’l-kufri wa’d-dalal” (All praise be to God for every state except for infidelity and deviation); or “Al-hamdu lil’lahi ala kulli hal, siwa ahwali’l-kufri wa’d-dalal” (All praise be to God for all states except the states of infidelity or deviation).

If God has granted you the maturity to say these, it means He has granted you the key to stand against the most despairing situations; this key is another “wave length” of the Divine manifestation of His Mercy. For every age group, this Mercy has its own meaning: for youth, for maturity, and even for childhood. Although God always grants us things to be happy with, we do not always cherish them. In fact, we are surrounded by His favors; however, since it is left to people whether or not to regard events as His favors, choosing to cherish them is important. Therefore, whoever employs their logic and reasoning in this direction, they may be granted much more than what is normally expected out of such an act of cherishing. The more sincere the intention is, the higher the grant.

Also, metaphorically speaking, there may be times when you have an even temper which you hardly ever lose. But when things seem to go wrong, and you feel like you are losing your temper, you should be aware that such times are opportunities that you can exhibit your chivalrous qualities in the eyes of God by handling such difficult situations with tenderness. For instance, when you see a person, a thinker, or an opinion that is totally opposite of you and your viewpoint, instead of losing your temper and thinking negative things about them, you should choose to think altruistically. You should say “Astaghfiru’llah Ya Rabbi” (O God, I ask for Your forgiveness), and pray to Him saying “God! Please set right my feelings and thoughts, my mood and also that person’s mood.” 

This attitude should be promoted and encouraged, especially nowadays. Otherwise, it brings about a vicious circle of negative actions inducing one another. Just like faults in the earth’s crust, tensions in a society, between groups of people, or between nations, cause earthquakes. Depending on several factors, you may just have an earthquake, or suffer a tsunami after one another; you may well see its effects in the world’s atmosphere and weather conditions; some insects or other life forms may disappear. There may be such similarities between the laws of creation and social dynamics. 

Once there is a quake in a society, people start blaming each other for the sake of pinning the blame on others. If they have no basis for such claims, this is slander. Slander is two levels closer to the Hell than backbiting; where our noble Prophet identifies backbiting as “More violent than adultery.” Adultery is licentiousness; it is depravity and bohemianism, for which Islamic law has imposed severe punishments and taken extraordinary precautions against. Some types of backbiting are even more violent than adultery since they make vicious statements about someone when that person is not present, even if you tell the truth. Something as simple as criticizing somebody’s clothes is considered backbiting in Islam; or making a comment about how someone trimmed their mustache is also backbiting. In this accord, making vicious statements about someone for their opinions, beliefs, attitudes, lifestyles, and so forth, are considered as violent backbiting. Finally, doing so about a group of people, or a leader who represents a group of people, is not equal to backbiting one person, but equal to backbiting several people. This means, unless such a backbiter asks for, and is granted, forgiveness by each individual in that group, the backbiter cannot enter the gate of Paradise.

Please be reminded that the comments above are not my personal opinions, but an Islamic rule. Again, such a backbiter is doomed even if he delivers Islam from annihilation. May God protect us from it. As mentioned before, backbiting and slander are like the aftershocks of such an earthquake; because, once this vicious circle starts, it is difficult for a true Muslim to not get involved. Fending off this cycle means such a person is considered a person of stature and high standing by the Guardian Angels and in the eyes of God.

It is crucial to put up with some inconveniences even though they seem unbearable. This way you do not get dragged into their violence, negativity, backbiting, and slander; hence, the blame is not shared. If you fight fire with fire, you help the conflict, the chaos, the backbiting, the slander, to escalate. This acts like a chain reaction, and may result in a more serious outcome, including murder and assassination.

Expecting a collective agreement on holding this vicious cycle back may be too optimistic. That is: not every individual or broadcasting institute may agree to not circulate rumors, to not avoid provocative news, or to not increase social tension. However, those who could agree should be talked into using a tender language and attitude, and to wear their good heart on their sleeves. This may help fix the problems and the violence for our part. If one action of yours breeds chaos, it would escalate incrementally in the actions of others. If you add to it once, others would do the same in a greater magnitude and amount. Regardless of your initial intention, things might turn against you. May God protect us from it.

Mildness and agreement are crucial. We can find examples of these behaviors in the Messiah or our noble Prophet, both of whom are interrelated, and exemplified the principle of turning the other cheek. I should add that some Muslim scholars have not validated the principal of turning the other cheek, probably due to its possible abuse during wars. However, it is definitely an important one, especially in times of conflict, like the End Times where disorder and corruption, backbiting and slander, tactlessness prevail and lead to pillages, murders and assassinations. In such a period of time, when bestiality is represented by humans, we need mildness and agreement the most. What we need is “to be without hands against those who strike you, and without speech and complaint against those who curse you.”

We have such great figures in our culture like Khoja Ahmad Yasawi, who said “You should be numb,” meaning numb against negativities like the present ones. Another one is Yunus Emre, who uttered the principle I have just rephrased above. He also says “A dervish should be uncomplaining. Being a dervish does not only mean to bear habiliments or a headdress; once you negotiate, you will not need either of them.” Moreover, we have Jalalu’d-Din ar-Rumi, who we shortly call Mawlana. He was inclusive towards everyone, and tolerated all faiths. He said “One of my feet is on the center of Islam and the other, like a leg of a compass, is in the realm of 72 nations.” 

These are easier said than done. What matters, especially for those whose role is to guide others, is not only implementing them in our lives by putting them into practice, but also demonstrating that they are realizable. Instead of only achieving such virtues at an individual level, they need to be implemented at the public level, regardless of the difficulties and challenges. This can only be done through leading a social life. 

What the speaker means with the line “One of the feet being on the center of the religion” is to avoid any contradiction with the principles of Islam; and by “the other foot like a leg of a compass” is that we must tolerate and admit all faiths. It should be considered natural for someone to show a more comprehensive inclusiveness towards people of their own faith and to embrace them more eagerly. Still, channels should be kept open with those who are neutral, or rather, in between. God honored them by granting them humanity; regardless of their faith, they are human, and deserve humane conduct. 

This way, disorder can be minimized and confined, if not resolved totally.

In addition, if you can act as a role model, even in a small way, you will serve as an example to be imitated. People all around the world will take your example, and want to employ it as a nucleus of their desired society. Once you can realize your utopia, it will be admired worldwide and you will see similar formations. This is possible for all of us as long as we act with determination, persistence, and purity of intention, by relating everything to God.

Like I said, it is easier said than done to refer to the morality of Yunus Emre, Khoja Ahmad Yasawi, Haji Bektash Veli, Jalalu’d-Din ar-Rumi, or other great figures such as Messiah or of the Pride of Humankind, peace and blessings be upon him. It is essential that such morality be implemented and internalized. It can be achieved by living a life in spite of one’s own self, by ignoring one’s own self, despite every external factor. We need self-sacrificing generosity, the devotion of ourselves to the lives of others in complete forgetfulness of all concerns of our own, the spirit of devotion, and commitment to humanity, Muslims, our nation, and our lofty ideals. God will grant peace and restoration through such people only.

People of these virtues would be charmed by anyone. 

I personally believe Abu Bakr was poisoned just like the other three caliphs; hence, they are all martyrs. Umar had such perspicacity that he could warn Sariyah, his commander in chief, to back up towards a mountain while they were about a hundred miles away, and while Umar was giving a sermon at his podium and Sariyah was in the battlefield. It does not sound reasonable for Umar to have seen Sariyah but not Abu-Lu’lu’ah, who assassinated him. It was his tender-mindedness that let him lead Prayers unguarded. 

Likewise, noble Ali, whose vision could embrace centuries ahead of him, who put forward answers to the questions of centuries ahead of his time, could not have overlooked Ibn Muljam, his assassin. I am very confident that he had seen him; yet, he did not choose to show harshness.

When his enemies appeared at his doorway, Uthman ibn Affan said he did not want to be a Muslim who kills other Muslims—just like Abdul Hamid II did—at the cost of his own life. Another example is Saladin, who is falsely blamed by his Fatimid wife for unfaithfulness. He turns his back to her and says, “If it is true, you can stab me in my back,” which makes her see she is wrong.

In sum, those who have committed to act as role models and guides should have the same spirit as all of the examples above. They should sacrifice their lives to save their nation from disorder, and they should say, like Murad I, “You can take my life and martyr me, but do not touch the integrity of my nation.”

Violence yields and rebounds upon itself; so do anger and hatred. Once perpetrated, hatred leads to counter-hatred, and this wounds an entire nation. Had violence, harshness, and violence proven any good, the 30-year-old problems in southeastern Turkey would have already been resolved. They cannot solve such problems. Some people should consecrate themselves to the lives of their community in complete sacrifice of all concerns of their own—so that not only can problems be solved, but also to prove, before history and collective conscience, the rightness of their way.

Finally, “Be killed but do not kill. Get hurt but do not twist a finger. Be disgraced but do not put anyone to shame.” This looks like the only way to heal our excessively disintegrated community. 

May God bestow sagacity and understanding on us. May God set our and their hearts right.

This text is the translation of “329. Nağme: Bari Biz Gıybet, İftira, Kavga ve Fitnelere Geçit Vermeyelim!

Different Kinds of Tests the Devoted Souls Go Through


Question: There are so many different factors that put people to the test. What are the most dangerous of such factors, particularly for the devoted souls of today?

Answer: Divine Justice puts people to various kinds of tests throughout their lives. As an acid test separates gold from stone and dust, God Almighty, Who already knows our real worth, makes people see it for themselves. By these tests, He makes us see what we can endure until when, what kind of an attitude we adopt before misfortunes, and whether we will be steadfast or complain, which implies covert criticism of Divine Destiny. Worldly tests batter people, apply different filters to them, and put them into melting pots. The saintly dervish Yunus Emre voiced this truth as follows:

This road is long,
Many ranges along…
Not even a gate,
Deep waters ahead.

Difficulty of the Test is Proportional with the Ideals Targeted

God Almighty states that He will test people in different ways and then He gives glad tidings for those who endure:

We will certainly test you with something of fear and hunger and loss of wealth, and lives, and fruits (earnings); but give glad tidings to the persevering and patient” (al-Baqarah 2:155).

Accordingly, as worship increases a person’s spiritual rank, tests and trials of this life—considered as negative form of worship—purify one from sins if patience is not given up; they take the individual to the highest levels. In addition to enduring consecutive tests patiently, what befalls a believer is taking those tests as opportunities to face oneself, ponder upon one’s deeds by calling one’s self to account, and evaluate one’s own performance.

Given that difficulties increase in accordance with the greatness of the consequent reward, then intensity of tests increases proportionally with the value of the ideals sought. For example, becoming a martyr while serving humanity and ascending to a different level of life is an important attainment. However, having this honor depends on serving in the way of God and taking due pains; there must be utter self-sacrifice. It is for this reason that people devoted to a lofty ideal who try to fulfill its requirements must bear any trouble or misfortune that befalls them. They must show due patience and continue their life in spite of themselves.

You can remember the statements of Bediüzzaman concerning the issue: “In my life of more than eighty years, I did not enjoy anything as worldly pleasures; my life always passed in battlegrounds, prison houses, and different places of exile and suffering. There is no torment I haven’t been subjected to. I was brought to court-martials and treated like a murderer. I was sent from one exile to another like a vagabond. I was banned from communicating with people for months in the prisons of my country. I was poisoned many times over. I underwent various kinds of insult. There were times when I had gladly preferred death to life. If my religion had not prevented me from suicide, this Said would have become dust long ago.” Because the tests he went through were so hard, God Almighty took him to the peak of human progress. You never know, maybe due to the troubles he went through enduringly, by the grace of God, he was rendered a guide for those who remain behind.

And There Are People Who Remain Halfway

The life of this world is a chain of tests from beginning to end, but these are not only comprised of troubles and misfortunes. Material and spiritual achievements and bestowals serve as a means of testing as well. People will pass such stages and stations in their lives that some places will make them dizzy; some positions and titles—God forbid—will make them slip, and some germs on the places they pass will infect their spiritual life. In short, individuals will pass through tests sometimes by ease and comfort, and sometimes by glory, fame, status, and applause. Imam al-Ghazali gives the following example about the tests people face in this world: A man sets off determined to go to a beautiful Garden of Paradise, having heard much about the beauties of his destination. However, he sees an inviting place with babbling rivers, singing birds, and pleasant tree shades, all of which seems so inviting. The man forgets about his destination and decides to settle there. He builds a hut for himself and begins to live there.

Actually, this parable summarizes the life of this world in a striking and pithy fashion. You may picture different versions of the factors that make one forget the true destination. One may be held by many different factors along the way in addition to comfort. However, it is not possible to attain Paradise and good pleasure of God without leaving those places behind.

Greed for Fortune

One of the most important examples of the tests one faces in life is the desire for money and worldly possessions. It can even be said that it is the greatest weakness for most people. The Messenger of God refers to this fact in one of his sayings. Accordingly, if the son of Adam possesses one valley of gold, he would like to have two. And nothing fills his (greedy) mouth but soil. However, God accepts the repentance of the one who repents.1

Thus, asking for more with an insatiable greed, trying to possess bigger companies and firms, and the desire for taking control of everything are the weaknesses of most. Indeed, such a competition for personal interests and benefits underlies so many fights and clashes in society.

When Muhyiddin ibn Arabi was under pressure in Damascus, he stamped his foot on the ground and said, “The deity you worship is under my feet.” Some take these words as a denial of faith. However, he had the opinion that the love of money had seized the hearts of the people he addressed to the degree of worshipping it. As for their deity being under his feet, it turned out centuries later that he had indeed referred to a great treasure of gold buried under the very spot where he stood.

Unfortunately, so many people are virtually dying for it. They begin with, “Let me have a house,” and continue with, “Let me have one for my son and one for my daughter” and “There should also be a villa for my grandchild…” You can see so many worldly ones living with these considerations. You may even meet people who set forth to serve humanity for the sake of God but then begin to run after such desires as if they worship money, to the extent that some of those people do not suffice with the payment that they receive, and with the intention of earning more, they abandon services of vital importance for people and faith. Thus, they stray from the path of righteousness to the path of worldliness.

Lusts of the Flesh

Lustful passions constitute one of the most difficult tests in our contemporary age. It has always been a difficult test all throughout history, but it has assumed a much more dangerous form today.

Rumi tells a story about weakness of lust in his Mathnawi. Satan speaks with God Almighty, or rather he uses an insolent language towards his Lord. The Qur’an and the sayings of God’s Messenger relate insolent expressions Satan used demagogically. However, Rumi’s parable is different: Satan complains to God that He made him disgraced and suffer deprivation. And then he asks some things he can use for deviating and tempting people. God Almighty grants him factors like wealth, status, and fame. But Satan does not feel happy with any of them. In the end, God gives him the chance to use men and women against one another; Satan feels greatly pleased and begins dancing out of joy.

Even though this parable is not mentioned in essential sources of religion, what really matters here is the truth that it conveys. Particularly for certain character types, lust is the greatest factor of testing in this world. We can take it into consideration together with the following hadith: “The Hell is surrounded with lust. And Paradise is surrounded with difficulties and things unpleasant to the carnal soul.2 There are long roads, many stopovers, forbidding waters, and other obstacles on the path to Paradise, while things pleasing to the carnal soul, such as indulging in food and drinking, lying lazily, and running after carnal desires, are on the way to Hell. A person who gives in to these will keep sinking gradually toward the lowliest levels unawares.

Love of Fame

Running after respect, status, authority, and expecting appreciation are among the tests most people lose. Bediüzzaman refers to “love of fame, post and position” among the six routes of (Satan’s) assault in his “Twenty-ninth Letter” and to fame as “poisonous honey” in his Al-Mathnawi Al-Nuri. They are among the greatest weaknesses of some, and it should never be forgotten that one who has become a fool for fame will do anything for this sake. May God save us from falling into these deadly pitfalls and make us pass to the next world with a visa of faith and consciousness of ihsan (perfect goodness; living carefully as if one were able to see God, or at least living with a consciousness of being seen by Him).

1. Sahih al-Bukhari, Riqaq, 10
2. Sahih al-Bukhari, Riqaq, 8

This text is the translation of “İmtihan Çeşitleri

The Protests of Taksim Gezi Park and the Root of the Problems


Since we do not use the way of the Prophets, their inheritors, saints and sincere friends of God, we are unable to handle problems. We are committing so many wrongdoings just to eliminate one wrongdoing. We cause various kinds of wrongdoings and injustice to happen. We only add fire to the flames of grudge and hatred. We cause things to grow out of control. And today you see the examples in the streets. There are worse examples, perhaps. In the books of hadith referring to chaotic events of the future (Kitab al-Fitan wa’l-Malahim), the Prophet foretells worse events. The current turmoil can then be seen only as a sampling of those larger chaotic events; accordingly, people will kill one another but none of them will know why these killings are taking place. There will be repeated damage to people and properties, but none of them will have any reasonable, licit and lawful basis. Things will happen helter-skelter. Predictions of God’s Messenger relate such events in detail; thus, these current events seem to be micro-scale samples.

If we take these events lightly, we will resemble the forty fools: they took each other by the hand so that they could get down to the bottom of a cliff, but of course they all fell down together. Thirty nine of them died and only one survived with serious injuries and broken bones. When people asked him what happened, he answered that they would nearly get into trouble, treating the situation much too lightly. This is how the insensitive people disregardful of the consequences usually view this issue.

And on the other side, some people say, “Why are they engaging in violence and causing harm? Why are they breaking the glasses of innocent people’s windows? They throw Molotov cocktails into houses, dorms, schools, universities, and even into banks!” Illogical and inhuman behavior prevails. Yet, if you make sweeping overgeneralizations by saying: “This has nothing to do with the issue of standing up for some rights,” then this means turning a blind eye to the innocent demands of the innocent people among them. We neglected these people first of all. These generations are a fruit of our neglect. Secondly, they may have some acceptable demands. They can express themselves saying, “The park needs to be preserved, and trees should not be uprooted. Ecosystem should be protected, and so on.” That said, the crowd may not, however, keep the balance while trying to protect a park they enjoy. As opposed to their very aim, they can damage the environment themselves, upset the general harmony and leave nothing behind for an ecosystem. Therefore, insensitivity on one issue, or failure to understand it, may lead to excessive behavior in some people while it may lead to a different form of apathy in others. May God protect!

On the other hand, some people both at home and abroad try to take advantage of our weaknesses and abuse innocent people’s innocent demands (by provoking the masses). As some creatures are all ears for hearing sounds, such abusers are all ears for opportunities to abuse. The media throughout the world are against Turkey now; they are unfortunately acting as if the apocalypse has started. Significantly worse disasters happen in Syria, but the media does not care at all. Similar things happen in Iraq, but once again, the media is silent. They do not even care about suicide attackers in different parts of the world. Turkey, however, is in a critical position to become a balancing factor in the region. It has made certain kinds of progress.

On the one hand, there are those innocent demands. On the other hand, there is the abuse of those demands by certain circles within the country, or the use of those demands as a counter move by certain ideologies. Others from abroad take full advantage of the events for their ulterior motives. Our negligence and inability to see the well-planned strategies of abuse by others has resulted in the current conflicts.

In fact, the Messenger of God told about this picture. He said it would happen after the general public was alienated from their spiritual heritage. For this reason, we need to revise our point of view.

 “Who is to blame for this unrest? Those who overlooked the protests by labeling it as ‘this and that’? Or should we blame those who are involved in the violence? Or should we blame the system overall?” Does the problem lie with our failure to raise and develop good generations? Or to not have guided them as we should? If so, then the system needs to be revised. We need to revise our own thoughts again. If we do this – if we face ourselves honestly, and openly self-criticize – we can be saved from greater concerns. If we do not face ourselves now, we will be facing issues we cannot tackle later, may God protect us. We need to revise our moral education systems. Whose children are those youth who act so unreasonably on the streets? They pursue no righteous cause; if they did, they would gather somewhere, express their feelings in a civilized way, and then leave. Some would receive their message, and they could gather to repeat it for those who did not understand. They could become organized in a way. Given that people make their choice through elections, they could work seriously towards that avenue. They could try to convince people by telling them about their positions and complaints. They vote for what they like. If they do not like the choice, they can wait patiently for the next election and choose a different one.

It seems we have damaged ourselves. The matter lies with the grass roots. Since the ground has lost its fertility, and the atmosphere has become corrupt, we witness such illegitimate events, and certain generations who represent these events. Until the time we tackle our human failings, the problems will remain unsolved. We need to see what we did. We failed to revise the system. “How is it possible for us to raise a generation that will honestly self-supervise? How can we raise a humane generation that will not respond to destruction with more destruction but instead with construction?” This is the real question, and we failed to think about it.

The Qur’an says, “…Your responsibility is your selves (so consider how you are faring along your own way). Those who go astray can do you no harm if you yourselves are rightly guided (and so follow your right way without deviation)…” (al-Maedah 5:105). That is, your unity and unswerving course on the righteous path will mitigate even the most negative factors. We failed to look at ourselves. We did not check whether we were on the righteous path. We failed to raise generations who were conscious of right and wrong. We watched without concern, dismissing them as “just a small bunch.” And they began to run amok, attacking here and there. What they really need is to be treated with sympathy and compassion. They are trampling human values under their feet; they are trampling their own values. Even though it seems too late for today’s generation, there should be systems to develop them beneficently for tomorrow. What can we do to develop them? What can we do to remind them that God created them in the best pattern and bring them into line with humane ways? How can we prevent them from harming people and human values? How can we remind them not to harm their country so that they do not let others abuse this against their own country and make all of us face certain plans impossible to overcome?

If you display some weakness, others usually plan to take advantage of it. While you are already in such a weak state, they shatter you into pieces, as they did it with the Ottoman State. The most critical factor right now is our own weakness, our internal conflicts. Even if we cannot change the situation today, community leaders, scientists, psychologists, and educators should come together to generate relevant projects. What can we do to bring the generations who failed to pursue a humane course into line with humanity? How can we convince them of the value in serving their own country, of developing it into a great country by God’s grace? 

One should not ignore or underestimate what goes on, just as one should not take fire or war lightly. As Imruu’l-Qays, one of the poets of the pre-Islamic Arabia, rightly said, “There are two things that you can start but cannot stop, even when you really wish to: One is fire and the other is war.” We have seen both, indeed. You can take this statement both literally and figuratively. Actually, the current events that we are going through are not much different than fire. And there is the issue of war. As is well-known, because of a few adventurers, who did not really know how to govern a state, unnecessarily firing at Russian ships on the Black Sea engaged the Ottoman State in World War I. A great state was thus brought to ruin. It is an essential of our culture to talk about previous generations with respect, but I cannot manage to forgive those who caused the destruction of a state, which had served as an important factor of balance among world powers. Let them account for what they did in Divine court; but I am not saying, “Let them enter Hell.” They will be called to account before the Divine court. That state was so important. A profane play by Voltaire, disrespectful toward the Prophet, was performed in Europe. It was the time of Sultan Abdulhamid II. The Ottomans were known as the “sick man of Europe” when the sultan gave an ultimatum, saying that he would declare war on them as the caliph of the believers and make the Muslim India march on them. Even during a period of such decline, like a wounded lion roaring, he made everybody in the forest straighten. Those few adventurers, however, brought that state to ruin and this is the truth that lies behind our wretched condition today. They joined the war but were unable to stop it when they wished. It took away everything, like a flood. Fire and war, they stop only when they will! For this reason, if you are able to put out a fire while it is small, do it right there. Otherwise, by the time it covers an entire field, it is too late. For this reason, even when faced with the smallest fire, we need to call all the fire brigadiers to help by shouting, “Get your equipment and come, there’s fire!” 

If centers of learning are bombed, innocent ones are being killed, people are stopped with gas bombs, and if some turn a blind eye to all this by failing to see the underlying reasons, then the fire grows—God forbid! 

I do not think that the character of the nation has been corrupted to that degree; not even bad ones are that bad. However, others who do not wish to let you grow into a factor of balance can take advantage of this. Turkey is a ball of problems, and those who surround it can take advantage of these problems. Even one of them can make everything into a mess. There is a covert agreement among them to not let you advance even one step further. You may console yourselves with an apparent “spring” here and there, when in reality, you are faced with the ice cold winds of fall. 

We therefore need to be alert and act intelligently. We need to see the smallest problems as consequential, and we need to handle them in a smart way. If you are facing an invasion of ants, do not dismiss it. They reach into your pots of butter and honey, and pollute them with toxins; do not dismiss it. Taking problems lightly stems from light thinking, light reasoning, and light judgment. It is very important to see everything clearly, as they are. Then it becomes possible to generate well-placed projects and plans. 

The souls devoted to building a new revival must be very cautious at this issue, very cautious. What is in our hands is a trust we inherited from the previous generations. If we face a betrayal or murder concerning our own personal life, we may be indifferent to that if we wish. But a betrayal concerning rights of the public—we can also call them God’s rights—cannot be ignored. God judges the responsible ones gravely. If we do not put a barrier against events that will result in a betrayal against an entire nation—may God protect—the issue grows so much that our neglect becomes a betrayal of the trust. However, we have to protect the trust against all odds, just as we protect our life and honor, until we hand it to the trustworthy generations to come. Let’s fulfill our responsibility, and put our trust in God, and then see what God will decree for us. God Almighty makes even the oppressors say, one day, “God has preferred you above us,” like his repentant brothers once said to Prophet Joseph. 

We need to recite prayers against malevolence. You can divide sections of a prayer book, such as Al-Qulub ad-Dari‘ah, between friends, and thus complete reciting its prayers and litanies collectively. You can also read the names of the Ashab al-Badr; the blessed souls of those Companions are no different than heavenly spiritual beings. It has been tried on different occasions; such prayers became an invitation for Divine Providence, and seemingly unsolvable matters are solved by God’s grace. 

There is really not much people like us can do; maybe I have been talking in vain. Until the moment we straighten ourselves… I heard a story from Osman Tarı, a former member of the parliament. There was a scholarly person known as Tahir Efendi among the members of the first parliament of Turkish Republic. As others gave enthusiastic talks, he preferred to keep silent in a corner. One day, his supporters insisted he also talk; they said that others were taking pride in their representatives’ talks, and they also expected the same. Tahir Efendi was a person who made short but concise remarks. He answered thus: “Dear congregation, know that you are the electors and I am the elected. We are destined for the house of elected ones (Parliament). The act you did is called intihab—election. “Intihab” comes from the word nuhbah, which means “cream.” Do not forget that the cream will be of the same nature with the substance used. The cream that gathers on top is the same with the substance in its base. Accordingly, yoghurt, milk, or lime will have a cream of the same kind with them.” 

Upon hearing this anecdote, I said that what Tahir Efendi had expressed was indeed a very good paraphrasing of the hadith, “You are governed however you are.” 

The issue needs to be dealt with at the grassroots level by restoring a morally wrecked generation. As Bediüzzaman puts it, our duty is to repair a fort that has been wrecked for centuries. For centuries, it was damaged from different directions. We need to grasp our responsibility, and begin cultivating the new generations. We need to let them embrace the values of their own spiritual heritage; they need to be taught such thinking and manners. Otherwise, these transgressions will continue. And continuing to respond to them in a reactionary fashion only makes us into bullies. The issue needs to be dealt with from the bottom-up. What is our problem? How can it be settled? The matter needs to be solved in compliance with the path of the Prophet. The Messenger of God, for whose sake God split the moon in two in an instant,1 strived so diligently during his entire twenty-three year period of Messengership to educate his people in patience. Had he prayed for it, God would immediately turn their hearts into angelic ones, as a miracle. But he was a teacher to guide people. What are the ways for a good upbringing, how much effort is required, how much brainstorming is needed? The Messenger of God showed it by suffering personally. This is what it takes; it is beyond human power to change it. God’s creational laws do not change. However, most people don’t know this; they are deaf and blind to it. This is the way to follow. As the famous poet Necip Fazıl puts it, “The rest are trivial matters.” What needs to be said to the miserable, crawling generations of long years is, as the poet says, “You have crept much with your face down; it is high time you stood upright!”

1. The manifest miracle of the moon split upon the gesture of the Noble Prophet is mentioned in the following verse of the Qur’anic chapter of al-Qamar (The Moon), which derives its name from the word “al-qamar” (the moon) in its first verse: “…and the moon has split” (al-Qamar 54:1). (Ed.)

Asking Forgiveness-2


Question: What are your recommendations concerning the manners of istighfar, which is a means of purification for believers?

Answer: While beginning to make istighfar, one should first remember the greatness of God Almighty and make due glorification. There are many statements of the noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, related to this issue reported by the Companions. By these reports, we should begin to ask God’s forgiveness as follows:

اَللهُ أَكْبَرُ كَبِيرًا وَالْحَمْدُ لِلهِ كَثِيرًا فَسُبْحَانَ اللهِ بُكْرَةً وَأَصِيلًا لَا إِلٰـهَ إِلَّا اللهُ وَحْدَهُ نَصَرَ عَبْدَهُ وَهَزَمَ الْأَحْزَابَ وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ

(God is great infinitely, praise be to God abundantly, and glory be to God night and day incessantly. There is no deity but God, He is One. He has supported His servant, and He alone defeated the enemy troops. He has no partners.)

After expressing the greatness of God with these words, invoking blessings on the Beloved Messenger of God is very important in terms of the acceptance of the istighfar. Salawat, or invoking peace and blessings on the Prophet, is an ever-accepted supplication. Words of salawat are a very important means for establishing a connection with the Pride of Humanity. Turning to God by having the Prophet, who ever-turned to his Lord with his prayers, as an intercessor will be a special means for being honored with proximity to God. Also, it is possible to ask forgiveness for all Muslims before beginning istighfar, as we do before the Prayer of Need (Salatu’l-Hajah). As it is included among the prayers of the saints known as Abdal,1 it is possible to habitually recite the following litany in one’s recitations of the dawn and dusk:

اَللّٰهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِأُمَّةِ مُحَمَّدٍ اَللّٰهُمَّ ارْحَمْ أُمَّةَ مُحَمَّدٍ

(My God, forgive the followers of Muhammad! My God, have mercy on the followers of Muhammad!)

Thus you will have made a good wish for all Muslims. In addition, all of these serve as a prelude for making an istighfar to be accepted by God. You can even hold the humble consideration of seeing yourself as one the most blameworthy one among all Muslims, adding yourself to the prayer and say: “My God, forgive me and the followers of Muhammad! My God, have mercy on me and the followers of Muhammad!”

Seeking Forgiveness through the Most Beautiful Words

After such an initiation, a believer should turn to God with the petition of forgiveness of his or her sins with the following blessed words of the Qur’an in the form of prayer:

لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنْتُ مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ

(“There is no deity but You, All-Glorified are You [in that You are absolutely above having any defect]. Surely I have been one of the wrongdoers [who have wronged themselves].”) (al-Anbiya 21:87)

أَنِّي مَسَّنِيَ الضُّرُّ وَأَنْتَ أَرْحَمُ الرَّاحِمِينَ

(“Truly, affliction has visited me [so that I can no longer worship You as I must]; and You are the Most Merciful of the merciful.”) (al-Anbiya 21:83)

رَبِّ اغْفِرْ وَارْحَمْ وَأَنْتَ خَيْرُ الرَّاحِمِينَ

(“O my Lord, forgive me and have mercy on me [always treat me with Your forgiveness and mercy], for You are the Best of the merciful.”) (al-Muminun 23:118)

رَبِّ إِنِّي ظَلَمْتُ نَفْسِي فَاغْفِرْ لِي

(“My Lord! Indeed I have wronged myself, so forgive me.”) (al-Qasas 28:16)

رَبَّنَا اغْفِرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيَّ وَلِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَوْمَ يَقُومُ الْحِسَابُ

(“O our Lord! Forgive me, and my parents, and all the believers, on the Day on which the Reckoning will be established.”) (Ibrahim 14:41)

رَبَّنَا اغْفِرْ لَنَا ذُنُوبَنَا وَإِسْرَافَنَا فِي أَمْرِنَا وَثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَنَا وَانْصُرْنَا عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْكَافِرِينَ

(“Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and any wasteful act we may have done in our duty, and set our feet firm, and help us to victory over the disbelieving people.”) (Al Imran 3:147)

In addition to the prayers mentioned in the Qur’an, there are very beautiful words of prayer that can be recited for making istighfar. For example, the great Companion Abu Bakr asked the Messenger of God to teach him a supplication he could recite during the Daily Prayers. The noble Prophet taught him the following one:

اَللّٰهُمَّ إِنّـِي ظَلَمْتُ نَفْسِي ظُلْمًا كَثِيرًا وَلَا يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ فَاغْفِرْ لِي مَغْفِرَةً مِنْ عِنْدِكَ وَارْحَمْنِي إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ (My God I surely did much wrongdoing to my own soul, and You are the only one to forgive sins. Grant me a special forgiveness from Your side, and have mercy on me. You surely are the Forgiving, the Merciful.)2

It is most appropriate to recite this prayer, which can be recited during the Daily Prayers at the prostration position and after the final sitting (tahiyyat right before giving the salam to both sides), as an important means to seek God’s forgiveness.

Another prayer, famously known as “Sayyidu’l Istighfar,” (the master of istighfars) is a very important one in this respect:

اَللّهُمَّ أَنْتَ رَبِّي لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ خَلَقْتَنِي وَأَنَا عَبْدُكَ وَأَنَا عَلَى عَهْدِكَ وَوَعْدِكَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُ أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ شَرِّ مَا صَنَعْتُ أَبُوءُ لَكَ بِنِعْمَتِكَ عَلَيَّ وَأَبُوءُ لَكَ بِذَنْبِي فَاغْفِرْ لِي فَإِنَّهُ لَا يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ

(“O God, You are my Lord, there is no deity but You. You have created me, and I am Your servant. I try my best to keep my covenant with You. I seek refuge in You from the evil of what I have done. I acknowledge Your favors upon me and I acknowledge my sins. So, forgive me, for truly no one forgives sins except You.)”

The Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, stated that whoever recites this prayer at daytime with true belief in its reward and excellence and passes away before the evening, that person will be one of the dwellers of Paradise. And whoever recites this prayer after nightfall with true belief in its reward and excellence and passes away before the morning, that person will also be one of the dwellers of Paradise.3

Keep Imploring until You Really Feel Purified!

It is also possible to prostrate oneself and keep reciting the following prayer until really feeling contentment and being purified:

يَا حَيُّ يَا قَيُّومُ بِرَحْمَتِكَ أَسْتَغِيثُ أَصْلِحْ لِي شَأْنِي كُلَّهُ وَلَا تَكِلْنِي إِلَى نَفْسِي طَرْفَةَ عَيْنٍ

(O the Living, O the Self-Subsistent, for the sake of Your mercy I beg for help. Rectify for all my states and leave me not to myself even for the blinking of an eye!)

Some narrators of this prayer made the following addition, “…not even for shorter than that,” which means, “Leave me not to myself even for a moment shorter than the blinking of an eye!”

Another prayer of the Prophet that he recited upon waking up can be expressed as the voice of the heart:

سُبْحَانَكَ اللّٰهُمَّ أَسْتَغْفِرُكَ لِذَنْبِي وَأَسْأَلُكَ رَحْمَتَكَ، اَللّٰهُمَّ زِدْنِي عِلْمًا وَلَا تُزِغْ قَلْبِي بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَيْتَنِي وَهَبْ لِي مِنْ لَدُنْكَ رَحْمَةً إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الْوَهَّابُ

(Glorified are You, O God! I seek Your forgiveness for my sins, and I ask You for Your mercy. O God! Increase my knowledge, and let not my heart stray after You have guided me, and grant me Your mercy, for truly You are the One Who bestows.)4

Additionally, everybody should take their own mistakes, faults, and sins into consideration and say: astaghfirullah/subhan Allah, thousands of times every day. It is reported that the famous Companion Abu Hurayra said subhan Allah 12,000 times a day. When others expressed that it seemed too much, he replied that he was saying it in proportion with his sins.5 I do not think that blessed Companion had a sin. Abu Hurayra came from Daws6 and joined the scholarly group of Ashab al-Suffa (People of the Bench), who stayed near the beloved Prophet for a long time. He reported the Prophet’s sayings more than any other Companion and was a great source of reference after the Messenger of God himself; I would call him the Lion of Daws. However, with respect to his high level of piety Abu Hurayra saw it as a necessity. When we consider our own life, tainted with sins, even making istighfar 30,000 times a day is not too much.

It is also possible to recite the istighfars of great spiritual guides as included in the compilation, Imploring Hearts (Al-Qulub ad-Daria). For example, Hasan al-Basri was a person of dizzying spiritual depth who severely criticized his soul. If possible, one can read his recitation that he distributed over the days of the week in the same way. After beginning his words by invoking peace and blessings on the Prophet, Hasan al-Basri mentions that he committed so many sins, and then he similarly ends with peace and blessings upon the Prophet. Actually, the prevalent ethos of his time and his personal character would not allow for sins anyway; it was impossible for him to have such sins mentioned in the prayer, one who spent his days and nights worshipping and who was dedicated to striving on the righteous path. Still, it seems that he asked forgiveness even for things that passed his imagination. As we are not better than him in terms of our religious life, we are in no better position in terms of sins. Therefore, it will be too little even if we repeated his nightly recitations twice every night.

When one concludes the words of imploration overflowing from the heart to the tongue, it is better to invoke peace and blessings on the Prophet (salawat) again, given that a prayer between two acceptable prayers will be accepted as well; thus, enveloping our petition for forgiveness between salawat will make it more likely to be accepted.

Let me mention one final point: every word uttered for the sake of seeking God’s forgiveness must be pronounced consciously. As words spoken heedlessly show disrespect to God Almighty, they can also be taken as a lie. For this reason, every word uttered should be coming from the bottom of one’s heart, and they should leave a trace when they pass. So much so that when one opens up to God with this consciousness and ask forgiveness, he or she must be uneasy with the shame of their sins, shiver with remorse, and the heart should virtually come to the verge of stopping.

1. The term Abdal (plural for badal) is usually translated as “Substitutes.” The term is used to describe the “men of the Unseen” who have certain degrees of knowledge of God, who are supported by God, and who, with their refined hearts and purified souls, are open to certain Divine mysteries. These Substitutes are the pure, honest saints who help people with their affairs without being seen and who function as veils in the reflection of Divine Acts. When one of the Substitutes dies, he is replaced by another saintly person. (Ed.)
2. Sahih al-Bukhari, Da’awat, 17; Sahih Muslim, Dhikr, 48
3. Sahih al-Bukhari, Da’awat, 2
4. Sahih al-Bukhari, Da’awat, 7–8; Sahih Muslim, Dhikr, 59
5. Ibn Abi Shayba, Al-Musannaf, 5/345
6. Daws was one of the tribes of Arabia living in the south of Mecca.

This text is the translation of “İstiğfar-2

Asking Forgiveness-1


Question: In this contemporary age when sins have spread like an epidemic, what does istighfar (asking forgiveness) promise for believers? Would you talk about particular segments of time that may be preferable for seeking God’s forgiveness?

Answer: Every child is born with the pure primordial nature, as stated by the Messenger of God.1 The essential idea in man’s responsibilities in this world is preserving this original nature until the time of death. All of the good acts that can lead one to eternal bliss are apt to protect this original nature, whereas all of the forbidden acts that might lead one to destruction are apt to corrupt it. While believers should build up sound sets and barriers against destructive sins on the one hand, they should constantly seek ways of preserving their original nature in untainted form. Every sin committed is a deformation with respect to human nature. Restoring one’s original nature after such deformation is only possible through istighfar—asking the forgiveness of God Almighty. Sometimes a heart contaminated by sins may come to the point of inability to fulfill its function.2 Thus, freedom from sins, which take one nearer to unbelief, and clearing up the stains sins leave on the heart are only possible through seeking God’s forgiveness and protection from sins.3

Preventive Medicine

Indeed, believers must adopt a resolved stance from the very beginning and not step toward even the pettiest kind of sins. They need to strive for an auspicious atmosphere to keep them clean from sins and avoid dangerous grounds, just like one escapes from (the venomous bites of) snakes and scorpions. Such resolution and alertness can be achieved only by those with a believing heart and profound conscience that feel as if he or she is falling into Hell with every sin. If one does not feel disgusted at a sin, then it is possible to judge that that person’s heart has already lost its vitality. A heart that does not feel upset and react against one’s wrongdoings or a heart that does not cause the person to lose sleep in remorse resembles a dead body. For this reason, a true believer’s heart reacts against sin. And the foremost reaction to be shown is istighfar—seeking God’s forgiveness and protection from wrongdoings.

As a believer says “Astaghfirullah” (I seek the forgiveness of God), he or she actually says—with the immense meaning of the Arabic present tense (mudhari)—that I seek Your forgiveness all the time as I am now asking and will always ask forgiveness from You. In this way the repentant one renders the wish for forgiveness of a past sin as a petition that includes an entire future. In fact, the All-Forgiving God may accept a single repentance and demand for forgiveness as forgiving of all sins of that person. However, what befalls on us is not sufficing with a single petition but continuing to ask forgiveness for a lifetime and bearing the remorse within. One must think how shameful it is to have committed the sin despite being shown the right guidance, what an insolence it is to dismiss a promise like Paradise and indulge in sin, always feel due shame within, and thus constantly make istighfar, to the degree of asking forgiveness ten thousand times for a single sin. Sometimes one should be unsatisfied even with that much, and say “alfu-alfi (a million times) Astaghfirullah,” trying to feel it within a million times over.

The Elixir That Cuts Out the Root of Inclination toward Evil

As istighfar restores the damaged human nature, it cuts out the root of inclination toward evil as well. A person who continuously purifies oneself by istighfar eliminates a ground of sins at the same time and no virus to invite others remains in the heart. In addition, God Almighty may curtail the feelings of inclination toward evil in a person who makes istighfar continually. In the Qur’an, God Almighty gives the glad tidings about the repentant ones who do good, righteous deeds that He will efface their sins and record righteous deeds in their place (al-Furqan 25:70). As He erases the record of deeds from sins, He can fill those gaps with beautiful things out of His infinite mercy. It is a different manifestation of the fact that His mercy surpasses His wrath.4

Bediüzzaman interprets this verse with a different approach and states that a person’s abilities for evil can transform into ability for goodness, as a consequence of repentance and asking forgiveness. Accordingly, when a person shows loyalty to God by turning to Him repentantly, He may respond as, “Now that you have turned to Me, I will change your potential for evil into potential for goodness.”

Important Time Segments for Istighfar

It is a tradition of the Prophet, upon whom be peace and blessings, to ask forgiveness three times right after performing the obligatory (fard) Prayers.5 The following two points can explain the wisdom of asking God’s forgiveness right after carrying out this act of worship—which is most lovable to God—with the prostrations during which the worshipper is expected to ascend to the nearest proximity to his or her Lord: firstly, people’s inability to maintain full concentration at the Prayer, failing to sense standing in the Divine presence but still roaming through their own world and running after their own pursuits. Such attitude constitutes a kind of disrespect toward God, especially during the Prayer, which is, indeed, the believer’s ascent to the proximity of God. If one is immersed in personal considerations instead of seeking the meanings the Prophet felt during his Ascension, that person needs to make istighfar for such a light hearted attitude.

Secondly, as the Prayer signifies a (lofty spiritual) state in which requests from God are more likely to be accepted, supplications made right after the Prayers have a different value. Therefore, the Messenger of God recommended using this opportunity and asking forgiveness three times. In this respect, the five prescribed Prayers are important grounds and opportunities for seeking God’s forgiveness and protection from sins.

A Qur’anic verse points out an important segment of time for making istighfar: “They used to sleep but little by night (almost never missing the Tahajjud Prayer). And in the hour of early dawn (sahar), they would implore God’s forgiveness” (adh-Dhariyat 51:17–18). This verse expresses appreciation for the believers who get up during the final hours of the night and make istighfar, who open up to God imploringly, and who prostrate and nearly forget to rise back up from the prostration position; it announces this appreciation to all dwellers of heavens, spiritual beings, and to all believers. As certain praiseworthy qualities of believers are related by the Qur’an or the Prophet, others who do not yet have those desirable qualities are encouraged to acquire them. Therefore, it is extremely important to rise during the final hours of the night when others are sound asleep and offer servitude to God by two units of Tahajjud Prayer, at the least.

Also, there are times when the heart is softened, when one feels the weight of sins on the conscience and overflows with emotion… they must be taken as great opportunities for istighfar. We can call them times for breezes of proximity to God. Additionally, turning to God repentantly right after one commits a mistake or sin will mean taking the opportunity of “the first moment of realization that one has stepped into mistake and sin,” for such moments are among the time periods when istighfar is most acceptable. Sins resemble whirlpools and they pull the individual into them like an addiction. It is difficult to rid oneself of sins after a person is immersed in them. If somebody in such a situation does not give the willpower its due and make resolved efforts to be freed from swamp of evils, that sinner may begin to wish for the non-existence of the Divine commandments that forbid those evils, and this wish might lead to one’s ultimate spiritual downfall by losing faith completely. This has been the general pattern for those who fall. This is why it is so important to step back from sin immediately, fearing to come to a point of no return.

Let me conclude with one final point. Even though the times we mentioned above are important opportunities for istighfar, it is not necessary to allocate a special time for seeking God’s forgiveness and protection from sins; indeed, limiting istighfar to those segments of time is wrong. One can and should ask forgiveness from God at any time during night and day, taking every moment of life as an opportunity for it. Whenever possible, one can draw to a corner, sit on bent knees, or prostrate oneself, and turn to God repentantly and ask forgiveness. One can open up to God through istighfar while walking somewhere, driving, or waiting for someone; one should make use of every available moment in this respect. Death can come any time, and meeting death with lips mumbling istighfar is a very important means in terms of walking to the realms beyond in a purified state.

1. Sahih al-Bukhari, Janaiz, 80, 9
2. This does not refer to the marvelous blessing of the physical heart in the chest that pumps blood throughout human body, but to its spiritual counterpart. (Ed.)

3. Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Tafsir al-Surah, (83) 1
4. Sahih al-Bukhari, Tawhid, 22
5. Sahih Muslim, Masajid, 135

This text is the translation of “İstiğfar

Ego… Ego… Ego… and Heroes of Self-Suppression


If, by accident, a stone stubs a golden bowl,
the stone does not gain value,
nor does the bowl become less valuable.

What is important is for us, with regard to our inward relationship with God, is to be like the gold in a bowl.

The Qur’anic Commentary class this morning was about the beloved Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. Thousands of peace and blessings be upon him, millions of peace and blessings, billions of peace and blessings be upon him.

The Pride of Humankind, despite being stoned so much, was never away from his duty of Messengership. He arrived at the lofty horizon of his spirit when he passed away, since there was no more room for improvement in this world; he was promoted to the Highest Rank of Humanity, he was promoted to the company of God, glorified and exalted be He.

We live in particularly troublesome times.

On the one hand, egotism is too powerful; every individual has an ego the size of an iceberg. They would not even allow others to say “You have an eyebrow above your eye” as a Turkish proverb says.

Each sound they utter has the word “I” all over it: “I,” “I,” “I.” When they recite the Qur’an, they spell “I,” when talking about their service, they spell “I,” when they give a talk, they spell “I,” and when they perform the Prayers, they spell “I.”

On another hand, since all institutions of education and upbringing, have collapsed, we have become a nation that has suffered the absence of upbringing and manners.

Mehmed Akif, may God’s comprehensive mercy be upon him, says:

Modesty has been ruined,
shamelessness is all around,
What ugly faces that thin veil
proves to have disguised!
There is no fidelity, no loyalty to one’s promises,
not a hint of the word “trust.”
Trustworthiness is a meaningless word,
lying is prevalent.
Lies are favored, betrayal required,
and right is out of sight.
How dreadful, my Lord,
how shocking a revolution it is!
There is no religion, no faith left;
religion has been destroyed,
and faith razed to the ground.

The Great Prophets, the reputable saints, the respected scholars of purity, and the ones nearest to Him should be taken as guideposts to evaluate our own Muslimness, and the validity of our own objectives.

Selfishness, selfishness, selfishness.

Conceit, conceit, conceit.

Egotism, egotism, egotism.

Trust me when I say, people who have followers like these, can never raise the statue of their souls. They first need to purify their carnal souls; which means, they need a purification of their elementary, passionate nature.

Bediüzzaman prescribes the rationale of self-purification as “Do not be proud of your services to God’s religion.” Our noble Prophet says: “Inna’llaha layuayyidu hadha’d-din bi yadi’r-rajuli’l-fajir,” meaning “God may as well sustain Islam through a shameless dissolute man.” Since you are not refined, that is, since you have not refined and developed your soul in purity, you should consider the possibility that you are that shameless dissolute person.

When you examine the present state of the world you will see that every corner suffer from this grunting sound.

The Muslims of the present time have suppressed these virtues, in favor of their egos.

Why do we not take an oath? Let us all take an oath for God’s sake, that we will express sincere gratitude to anyone who points out our mistakes and viciousness, in accordance with the Qur’an and the Prophetic tradition and the main highway of the Righteous Predecessors; that we will say “That is very kind of you to alert us to the scorpion or snake that was about to hurt me.”

Bediuzzaman always dreamed of a new generation, one that is incorrupt, one that is not defective, one that is intact, one that has not indulged in sins, and one who is self-critical.

Muhammed Lütfi Efendi says:

I do not have any knowledge, or good deeds,
nor do I have the vim for deeds or worship.
I am drowned in defiance, and full of sin.
I have my heart in my mouth
about my fate in the Day of Judgment.

This is the way great people think.

Another example is Mehmet Niyazi Misri, who says:

I had concluded no trade;
the capital of life was all wasted away.
I found the road only to find the caravan had moved on while I had been unaware.
Lamenting, I too set off, all alone, a stranger;
With eyes weeping, heart in anguish,
mind bewildered and unaware.

This guidance comes from the owner of a heart and conscience. The architects of the future will be the heroes of this understanding, this philosophy, and this way of thinking; not grandstanders, or ill characters revealing conceit. They have integrity, they are courageous, they are vigorous and in a strong relationship with God.

God willing, your generation and the next one, the new generation will become a means for goodness, and will realize Bediüzzaman’s cause; hence, you will please him, please the Pride of Humankind, and of course, first and foremost and above all, you will win the pleasure of God.

When you go to the other world, I hope He says “I am pleased with you,” personally, and to your face. This is something for which we shall sacrifice our souls, our worldly and bodily pleasures, our freedom in this world. We shall sacrifice all.

The Periods of Insanity and the Murders Committed for the Sake of Religion


In his latest talk, Fethullah Gülen pointed out that humanity virtually goes through periods of delirium after certain intervals, and he referred to the possible causes and underlying reasons for the cases of madness in those periods. No matter the perpetrators or the reasons, Gülen stated that every suicide attack is a multi-dimensional murder. He made particular emphasis on the following points:

  • God Almighty decrees: “And it has never been the way of your Lord to destroy the townships unjustly while their people were righteous, dedicated to continuous self-reform, and setting things right in society” (Hud 11:117). Such people are referred to with the Arabic noun “muslihun.” Such a noun-sentence in Arabic denotes having the stated quality as an established character, and that the people mentioned do such things continuously. Then the muslihun refers to the altruistic souls who are continuously concerned about the miserable condition of humanity, and plan to elevate others to peaks of humanity, who generate projects for that goal, and put them into practice. They are devoted souls who virtually have no other concerns other than that. God will not destroy a land as far as such people reside there. Reading this verse, it is possible to say, “As far as there is a group of people who take the Qur’anic teaching to heart, and wish to serve humanity, who take this as the ideal of their lives, and strive on this path, men and women alike, then God will not send heavenly or earthly calamities to that land.” Nevertheless, it is narrated that after the earthquakes in Izmir and Erzincan, Bediüzzaman expressed his opinion that either nobody served there as their faith required, or they were very few in number and inefficient.
  • Answering about the reasons for the troubles in their time, sheikh Najmaddin al-Kubra1 said: “The reason for them is our failure to keep up our line. For disunity and love of the world, God sent wrongdoers as retribution upon us. After we serve our time, God will give wrongdoers their just deserts.”
  • When Muslims deserve to be punished, God Almighty uses wrongdoers to teach them a lesson: the oppressor is the sword of God. Firstly, He uses it for retribution. And then He gives the oppressors their retribution.
  • The means for reaching a lawful and righteous end must also be lawful and righteous. For people who adopt an Islamic course of life, it is a right to have an ideal at every issue, and it is a necessity that the means of obtaining that right be lawful. As the good pleasure of and reunion with God cannot be attained without sincerity, serving Islam and directing Muslims to their true path can absolutely not be realized through devilish means. Others might act brutally; but Muslims cannot, and must not, abandon upright conduct.
  • A murder is especially dangerous if it is considered “holy,” and is committed under the assertion of religious reasons. If the perpetrator is not under the influence of psycho-active drugs, then it is not possible for the murderer to be saved in the next world. Even if suicide bombers commit their act in the name of religion and meet death by making the proclamation of faith, the attackers themselves fall headfirst into the Hell. Because, what needs to be done during peace and warfare are clearly defined by certain laws and disciplines in Islam. Just as nobody is authorized to declare war on his own, or make a decision to kill a person during peace, nobody is authorized to kill children women, or the elderly during warfare. For this reason, from whatever perspective they are viewed, it is absolutely impossible for suicide attacks or similar terrorist acts to be compatible with Islam.
  • When Usama ibn Zayd, one of the blessed Companions of the Prophet, was about to kill somebody during battle, the man proclaimed faith. Still, Usama ibn Zayd thought that the man did not say it sincerely but for fearing the sword and killed him anyway. It was unthinkable for such a great Companion to act emotionally and kill a person out of hatred. It seems that he did not know the main idea of the issue at that point. In that period, the Messenger of God taught everything freshly, and the Companions practiced the teaching right away. How could they know without the Prophet telling them?
  • When the Messenger of God learned what happened, he reprimanded Usama by asking if he cleft that man’s heart open to see whether there was faith (asking how could one be sure the man did not have faith). That brave commander, who was the son of Zayd ibn Haritha, wished he had newly accepted Islam so that he could avoid that severe reprimand by the Messenger of God.
  • This age is an era of conflict and antagonism. During such a period, people of sound mind and faith in God must balance the delirious currents of extremism with their love and logic. They should be saying, “How is it possible for us to abate this violent anger and restore a peaceful balance?” and make relevant efforts to achieve that goal.
1. Rumi’s father Bahauddin Walad was among the disciples of Najmuddin al-Kubra.

A Time to Listen to Our Soul: The Three Months


Question: What are your suggestions for feeling the elation of the three months of Rajab, Sha‘ban, and Ramadan deep within us and making the most of their spiritual atmosphere?

Answer: First, we need to state that the three months are the most important blessed segments of time when believers can attain greatest proximity to God Almighty, become eligible for His immense mercy, and journey through the horizons of the heart and spirit by abandoning sins. Every year believers need a process of heavenly rehabilitation to purify the carnal self, discipline the spirit, and purify the heart. These months are a very important means to realize such rehabilitation.

Obviously, a person’s being able to rid oneself of carnal burdens, ascend to a certain horizon, and maintain a certain level of spirituality requires a serious devotion of remembrance and reflection. However, while doing this, one needs to keep the heart and spirit receptive to religion and spirituality. That is, as people try to grasp matters related to faith and the Qur’an with their mental powers and discussion, they should also try to benefit, sip-by-sip, from the showering of Divine blessings and light.

The One Who Cherishes the Divine Will Be Cherished

So many people have praised those special segments of time and have drawn attention to the various beauties of these blessed months in accordance with their viewpoint and horizons. Analyzing these invaluable works, word-by-word, through reading circles and internalizing their meaning are very important in terms of understanding and sensing the spiritual blessings these months can make one gain. In order to benefit properly from what is written about the three months, it is necessary to leave aside a causal manner of reading and delve into the depths of the issue. Otherwise, if such feeling and way of thinking are not developed, it will not be possible to thoroughly benefit from the sources about the three months.

In addition, for feeling the particular beauties of these three months and their delights that are reflected on human heart, it is necessary first to appreciate them as “the months full of surprising Divine gifts and favors” and then seriously try to make the most of their nights and days in devotions, without wasting a second. For example, those who do not determinedly wake up in the middle of the night for the supererogatory Prayer of tahajjud and turn to God in devotion, sipping the blessings of the night, cannot profoundly feel the spiritual beauties told about these months, taste them, or feel their delight. If somebody does not seriously maintain a state of metaphysical vigilance and become immersed in devotions with a consciousness of servitude, they cannot sense or feel the meanings these months convey, even if the blessings keep pouring down in abundance. They might even evaluate others’ statements about these segments of time according to their limited horizons and see those experiences as mere fantasy.

Benefiting from the abundant blessings of these days depends first on having belief in them and cherishing them. Attentiveness is reciprocal. If you are not attentive to the spirit and meaning found in these months, they will not open their doors to you, and the most enthusiastic statements about these months will remain faint in your sight. Even the touching expressions of Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali or statements of Imam al-Ghazali that move hearts with enthusiasm do not make sense to you, as the impact of a statement does not only depend on its real worth but also on the listeners’ mental and spiritual receptiveness to the issue, together with their viewpoint and intention.

In this respect, one must own the issue to the degree of being permeated by the hue of the sacred months; only then will they be able to hear and feel what those blessed months whisper into the human soul. If believers do not rid themselves from superficiality as well as their mundane routines and try to gain insight into these months’ truths, they will not heed even the most exquisite words expressed about these sacred months as they would go in one ear and out the other without any effect. Those who prefer acting lightheartedly, who do not exert an effort for self-renewal at a season of such abundant blessings, and who fail to act seriously can hardly benefit from these months.

Gatherings Becoming for These Heavenly Segments of Time

Another aspect of the issue is related to the societal spirit and general acceptance of the society. In fact, feeling the true depth and immensity of the blessed months is an attainment peculiar to those who have deepened with respect to the horizons of their heart and spirit. It is a reality that Muslims have begun to grow aware of the value of these months, are attending to mosques, and are becoming oriented to God Almighty. Taking this valuable opportunity, it is possible to help people learn certain truths and feel these in their souls by different events and activities. In the same way it is possible to hold spiritual gatherings to appeal to the believers of this contemporary age during the blessed nights of Raghaib, Mi‘raj, Bara‘ah, and Qadr, with the condition of being true to the spirit of the religion. This will mean seizing the opportunity of making people closer to God and feeling the essence of religion within. It is also possible to make different gatherings more meaningful through reading circles or religious talks. Thus the expectations of believers will have been answered correctly.

I would like to draw attention to one more important thing that I have realized about these programs: all of such activities should be meant for helping people to become one more step closer to God Almighty with respect to their world of thoughts and feelings. If such events and activities do not take believers to their own identity and guide them toward finding themselves, then they are nothing but a waste of time. Instead of voicing Divine truths and evoking love for the Prophet, make God bless him and grant him abundant peace, making people enjoy themselves by appealing to their fancies and desires only serves to waste one’s time, and even can lead to transgression. Every means that does not take one closer to God Almighty and His Messenger is a delusion. It is not the job of devoted souls to make people have fun.

In addition, it is necessary to be aware that people of the modern age have a general inclination towards entertainment in terms of their lifestyles. For this reason, their positive response might be deceptive. By looking at their pleased manner, you may think you did a good job. What really matters, however, is whether what you did was right according to the criteria of the Qur’an and Sunnah, rather than catching their interest. In this respect, even if there is no large-scale attendance to a program, one should always seek the right conduct. In other words, what really matters is whether the program stands for anything meaningful in terms of hearts and spiritual life.

At such fruitful periods, when the heavens are filled with blessed light and the earth is adorned with heavenly tables, we should always guide people toward deepening their heart and spiritual life; we should always pursue sublime goals in everything we do. So much so that we should convey a new meaning and spirit into the hearts of people at every time, and let them set sail toward the horizons, always asking for more and more at spiritual journeying.

In order to realize all this, either traditional hymns, prayers, and eulogies in praise of the Prophet or new ones can be recited. But no matter what happens, with every gathering and activity, we must always try to evoke a yearning for eternal bliss in people and eventually help them awaken to the very spirit of religion.

This text is the translation of “Ruhumuzu Dinleme Zamanı: Üç Aylar

The Time of Corruption and the Nucleus of a Society


If we comprehended Islam deeply, and exhibited the sincere sound of our conscience, you would see signs of ardent longing in the people of the Muslim world who jam-pack mosques.

I always feel troubled about whether we are being misrepresentative. Are we misleading other people by our misrepresentation, which they interpret as being a Muslim? What if we never spoke but kept silent and let the wisdom of silence take over? These were the thoughts keeping me busy just before I came to the room.

In this accord, I myself faced a dilemma of whether to come here or not. Both considerations weighed equally… yet I decided to come albeit reluctantly.

Oscar Wilde says, “Of all the things that were done to me, I have done the most harm to myself.”

I wish there was a group of people to serve as role models in this time of corruption.

I wish the people of the world could see true integrity, profound belief, unblemished Muslimness, transcendent ikhlas (sincerity), exalted ihsan (God-consciousness), amazing marifah (knowledge of God), and such a love of God and zeal and ecstasy that it would blow their minds. I wish they could see awesomeness at its every level.

If this comes to pass, you will see similar formations in the world, at various magnitudes. You will see individuals, families and actions paralleling your example, at various magnitudes.

They will admire that you have solved the problem of mankind as the Earth has been introduced to problems by mankind, who is the leading instigator of problems.

That is why, unless you solve the problem of mankind, you cannot solve the problems regarding the family, education, the house of worship, politics, the government, or the like.

Of course I do not mean any -isms, -ists, or the like, because all of these associations are rejected terms in my understanding.

In this time of corruption being a Muslim straight as an arrow is demanding; however, those who manage to be like that are heroes who can overcome any other difficulty in life. May God make you one of them.

In Order Not to Feel Remorse When It Is Too Late


Question: It is stated in the Qur’an that wrongdoers will feel remorse on the Day of Judgment: “On that Day, the wrongdoer will bite at his hands, saying (with remorse), ‘Oh, would that I had taken a way in the company of the Messenger. Oh, woe is me! Would that I had not taken so-and-so for a friend!’” (al-Furqan 25:27–28). What kind of mistakes is this remorse related to? What are the points to be careful about in this world, in order not to feel remorse in the next one?

Answer: The verse begins by referring to “that day,” a dreadful one, and then describes how a wrongdoer will bite at his hands in remorse on such a day of grimace and grief. “Biting at one’s fingers” is an idiom in Arabic and it describes a state of remorse in deep feelings of woe, grief, and yearning.

Then the wrongdoer will express his deep regret for not having followed the way of the Prophet: “Oh, would that I had taken a way in the company of the Messenger.” His regret, however, is not limited with that; he will further express his remorse by saying, “Oh, woe is me! Would that I had not taken so-and-so for a friend!” That is, “I wish I had not fallen in with such and such wrongdoers and unbelievers and sided with them. I wish I had not followed in the footsteps of evildoers and transgressors and thus taken the wrong way!” However, saying “I wish” in the next world will not help at all. On the contrary, it will double the remorse. In other words, as it will only mean wasting one’s breath, it will only add to the suffering. Just as those words can be uttered in the Hereafter, they might be uttered when the dying person’s soul comes up to the throat as he is about to leave this world for the intermediate life of the grave, the first step toward the eternal afterlife. No matter when they are uttered it is definite, however, that these words express deep remorse by somebody who blatantly wasted the great chances that they had.

The Greatest Kind of Regret

Even though there are many sins and wrongs that will burn people within and make them say “How I wish” with a deep sorrow, the foremost of them is unbelief, because the entire universe proclaims God—letter by letter, word by word, phrase by phrase… When somebody leaves aside all biases, gives a fair ear to creation, and tries to read this universe like a book of wisdom, they will discover that everything in the universe points to the Almighty Creator. Owing to this evident truth, the great scholar Imam Maturidi stated that even the peoples who did not have a Messenger from God to guide them are responsible for knowing Him. In fact, even if such people cannot know God Almighty in detail with His Attributes and Names within the framework of a Divine teaching, they can come to the conclusion that this splendid universe has a Creator. Umar ibn al-Khattab’s uncle Zayd voiced this thought before the advent of Islam: “I know that there is a Creator, but I do not know what am I supposed to do. If only I knew what He wishes me to do, so that I could exert myself to carry it out.”1 In short, the greatest “I wish…” to make one seized with remorse is to give one’s last breath as being devoid of faith.

Forsaking faith after having found guidance is another grave sin to make one grimly say “I wish…” in the next world. There is a thin veil between belief and unbelief and there is always the risk of finding oneself on the other side with the slightest move. For this reason, we believers ask from God for guidance to the Straight Path forty times in total through the five Prayers we offer every day. And then by stating “to the path of those whom You have favored,” we wish to be on the path of the rightly guided ones. As stated in another verse (an-Nisa 4:69), those whom God has favored are the Prophets, truthful (siddiq) ones, martyrs, and righteous (salih) ones. This is the wish we repeat forty times a day. Right after that, we seek refuge in His greatness and mercy and ask for being saved from deviating “to the path of those who have incurred His wrath and of those who are astray.” It is nothing but a delusion to be confident for having found right guidance and to see oneself immune to a possible fall or deception by Satan. Nobody has a guarantee to keep on the righteous path until they give their last breath. People who feel confident at this issue put their own faith in danger. A man who does not worry about his end is a man to be worried about his end. For this reason, one must shake with the fear of straying to unbelief after having found guidance and be constantly vigilant about it. A believer should constantly implore God not to leave him or her alone with his or her carnal soul and seek refuge in Him against whisperings and goading of devils. Faith is an invaluable treasure that makes one eligible for Paradise, gains the good pleasure of God, and lets one witness Divine Beauty. There are jinn and human devils lying in wait to steal it. What befalls believers is to treasure their faith, protect it against attacks, and being constantly alert in this respect.

The Weaknesses That Can Make One Sink into the Ground

Being taken by human and Satanic intrigues (Hücumat-ı Sitte, or “The Six Assaults”) Bediüzzaman mentions at the end of “The Twenty-ninth Letter” might also make one stray from the Straight Path and say “How I wish…” grimly in the other world. Actually each one of the human weaknesses he explains is powerful enough for a believer’s spiritual downfall. Namely, as love of status or fame is such a virus, fear is no less powerful. The same goes for greed, racism, egotism, laziness, and love of comfort. Given that each one has the potential to bring a believer down, having all of these does not make one just fall, but rather makes one sink deep into the ground. Even a person within the circle of faith is under the constant risk of being overtaken by them. For instance, love of fame can easily mar the essence of the good deeds a person does in the name of serving faith. Another person can present distinguished works and secretly wish to become famous, which eventually makes him sink deep into the ground. In addition, giving in to such negative feelings invites other types of negativities as well. For example, if love of fame seizes a person, you cannot know what further sins it will cause that person to commit. All of these are possible dangers within a circle of faith, and they will cause grim remorse in the next world. One who lays personal claim on the success granted by God, as a result of failing to adopt the principles of sincerity2 as guidelines, will say, “I wish I had not fouled up all of those good deeds for the sake of worldly appreciation and applause; I wish I had not set sail to the void for the sake of nothing! I wish I had not be taken by deadly currents…” They will agonize in useless woes and laments of perpetual remorse. Grimly, their wail will be to no avail; on the contrary, it will only double the suffering of their misfortune.

Shields to Protect from Feelings of Remorse in Vain

For this reason, believers should act sensibly in this world. On the one hand, they should count being saved from unbelief as the greatest favor of God; on the other hand, they should shun from the alleys that may cost them their faith. As Bediüzzaman stressed, there is a pathway to unbelief in every kind of sin. The Messenger of God stated that every sin leaves a dark spot on the heart, which can cover the entire heart in time3 (unless removed through repentance). Every dark spot forming on the heart is an invitation to another one. In the Qur’an, God Almighty refers to the hearts contaminated and darkened with evil: “…By no means! But what they themselves have earned has rusted upon their hearts (and prevents them from perceiving the truth)” (al-Mutaffifin 83:14). If people do not remove sins darkening the heart through repentance and asking forgiveness, God Almighty will seal up their hearts: “God has set a seal upon their hearts…” (al-Baqarah 2:7) and “…a seal has been set upon their hearts” (at-Tawbah 9:87). These hearts become unable to receive anything from the pure message descended from heavens, and they end up continually saying “How I wish…” in the next world. In order not to fall into the grip of useless remorse, what needs to be done here is trying to carry out the responsibilities of servanthood to God without any flaws, in a balance of fear and hope. Realizing this depends on a heart in awe of God. The Messenger of God referred to a certain man and stated that if his heart had been in awe of God, so would have been his body parts.4 Awe of God in a believer’s heart will be reflected in the behaviors of that person; in time, even the body parts of that believer begin to shake with the awe of God—so much so that this shaking can be perceived by some in the iris of their eyes. On the one hand, a believer doubles up on feeling the greatness of God; on the other hand, if he or she trusts the immensity of His mercy and leads a life of such sensitivity and balance, this will be a means of deliverance from woes and regrets in the next world.

At the same time, people can prevent the negative factors to ruin their afterlife by attending circles of religious talks—or “sohbet-i Canan” (talk of the Beloved). As Süleyman Çelebi stated:

“Constantly say God’s Name with every breath

It is with God’s Name everything becomes complete.”

Another Sufi poet (Yahya of Taşlıca) voices the same truth thus:

“I wish my love was shared by all people of the world

If only all of our words could be talk of the Beloved.”

If we make mention of Him everywhere we go and make our gatherings blessed with His name, and make our time gain a depth uncontainable by dimensions, then we put a stop to so many negativities that might make us feel regret in the other world.

Saying “I Wish…” in the Sense of Asking Forgiveness

Question: Can there be useful examples of “I wish…” as opposed to useless ones? What should be our criteria?

Answer: As there are useless kinds of “I wish…” to be uttered in the next world, there are positive kinds of “I wish…” that are acceptable, and even laudable, in Islam. Those uttered by our master Abu Bakr are of this type. As it is known, he once said, “I wish I had asked the Messenger of God about the meaning of the verse referring to one who dies leaving behind no lineal heirs, so that I would not leave the issue to the judgment of scholars.” He voiced the same regret about the judgment concerning the share of a grandmother’s inheritance, as it is not openly stated in the Qur’an. He also expressed similar regrets about some political decisions he had to make. In my opinion, such phrases of “I wish…” are uttered as a consequence of deeply felt suffering and a feeling of self-criticism, which stem from comprehending religion correctly and rendering it the spirit of one’s life. They took Abu Bakr the Truthful to a great spiritual level beyond our comprehension. Imagine that the Pride of Humanity confirmed Abu Bakr’s worth by stating that if Abu Bakr’s faith were to be weighed against the faith of all people, his faith would weigh heavier.5 He was the greatest truthful one who realized through God’s grace—within two years and ten months (of his caliphate)—what others could not achieve in one and a half centuries. He did not simply overpower different lands as tyrants did, but poured the inspirations of his soul into them. Every place he went or turned his eyes came to life with the teachings of the Prophet. Indeed, he was the one who prepared the ground for the great conquests and breakthroughs realized during the next caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab. Therefore, his statements of “I wish…” added to the worth of that great figure, whose worth was already greater than the totality of all people.

In the same way, there are positive kinds of “I wish,” for every believer to elevate their ranks. For example, “I wish I had made better use of my youthful days in terms of worship! I wish I could spare two hours for a hundred units of Prayer every night! I wish I could save myself from carnal desires! I wish I could thoroughly restrain my hands, feet, sight, and hearing even while carnal desires boiled over at youth. I wish I had not turned my gaze anywhere else and not beheld anything else except for what is oriented toward seeking the good pleasure of God…” Even though one did not fulfill certain things previously, such statements of remorse, which express a resolution to take positive action to make up for what one has missed so far, actually lead to a person’s spiritual progress. If left to the other side, it will mean nothing but anguish and misery, whereas those we make here can be considered as istighfar (asking forgiveness). We say, “Astaghfirullah,” at remembering such things; we then feel ashamed of saying it only once and say, “Alfu-alfi Astaghfirullah,” (I ask forgiveness for a million times) and continuously seek refuge in God with a spirit of heartfelt penitence and remorse (tawba-inaba-awba).6 So when believers knock the door of Divine mercy with all of these “Astaghfirullahs”, God will hopefully not leave their petitions unanswered and will treat them with His immense mercy and grace.

1. Sahih al-Bukhari, Manaqib, 24
2. Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, The Gleams, The Twenty-first Gleam,  New Jersey: Tughra Books, 2008
3. Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Tafsir al-Surah (83) 1
4. Al-Hakim at-Tirmidhi, Nawadir al-Usul, 2/172
5. Bayhaqi, Shuab al-Iman, 1/69
6. For a detailed explanation of these concepts of Tawba, Inaba, and Awba, see Fethullah Gülen, The Emerald Hills of the Heart, Vol. 1.

This text is the translation of “Faydasız ve Faydalı ‘Keşke’ler

A Builder of Spirituality: Muhammed Lütfi Efendi, the Imam of Alvar


Question: Could you share your feelings about the Imam of Alvar (d. 1956), the saintly guide, with respect to his messages for society and his influence on you?

Answer: Actually, describing that great person properly is beyond the abilities of a humble servant like me. For this reason, I should confess from the very beginning that I do not possess a capacity of discernment to have deep insight into his life, world of thought, or his horizons of heart and spirituality. In addition, when that great personality passed away, I was only 16 years old. Although I spent some time near that pure wellspring, a young man at that age obviously cannot benefit from that great figure with an immense horizon in the real sense of the word. For this reason, it needs to be known that the points I am going to tell will be limited by my narrow comprehension, lack of ability, and childish consideration.

A Lustrous and Fruitful Home

The family of the Imam of Alvar was like a blessed source of spirituality. His father Hüseyin Efendi and brother Vehbi Efendi were very great personalities. I did not see his father Hüseyin Kındığı Efendi, but even one particular event I previously narrated to you will suffice to give an idea about the virtues of that blessed person:

One day, the Imam of Alvar and his father Hüseyin Kındığı Efendi, who are from the lineage of the Prophet, traveled to the city of Bitlis in order to become disciples of Sheikh Kufrawi. As he probably discovered their potential immediately, Sheikh Kufrawi showed special care to them and gave them importance. Without any processes of spiritual journeying or Sufi retreats, the sheikh authorized both of them as spiritual guides, as the true worth of jewels is appreciated by masters of the field. So Sheikh Kufrawi was such a master who recognized the worthy jewels before him, and confirmed that they were eligible to guide people. In the face of this unexpected development, the disciples who had been near to the Sheikh until then expressed their protests at night and began to ask the two newcomers questions to see whether they were really eligible to guide others. In the meantime, the door burst open and the Sheikh came in; he addressed them as follows: “You disciples! Hüseyin and Muhammed Lütfi Efendis did not need me. What brought them here is their very perfection.” If a person has nothing to do with spiritual maturity, what difference does it make, even if he owns a treasure equivalent of the Korah (a.k.a. Qarun)!

His brother Vehbi Efendi was also a sea of wisdom. He was predominantly a quiet person, but even his quietness had an influence that would cause different undulations in our souls. Both of my parents had deep respect and loyalty to them. Sometimes those great persons would come and stay in my grandfather’s guesthouse. My grandfather had a deep respect for them as well. Vehbi Efendi was older than the Imam of Alvar and passed away when I was about five years old. I think the Imam wrote the lines meaning, “I drifted apart from beautiful ones, now I woe with this longing…” after his brother passed.

The Touching Melodies That Light up Fever in Souls

The Imam of Alvar was a person with a deep inner world, a man of God overflowing with love and enthusiasm. His state at circles of remembrance was a living example of this richness of heart. Both the Naqshbandi and Qadiri orders inspired him, and it was possible to witness both types of remembrance in the Mosque. There used to be a crowded circle in the mosque. In Sufi tradition, the head of the circle goes to the contributors to teach them to say the words of remembrance. Since that blessed person was very old in those days, he would not go through the circle but sit somewhere, like the prime one among prayer beads and behold those in the circle from there. Anyway, a short while later those in the circle would become enraptured and unable to realize their surroundings. There would be some people who choked with tears and some even fainted. Despite his serious health problems, the Imam of Alvar would sit with folded legs (as in the Prayer) on the sheikh’s mat for two to three hours. Religious poems, eulogies in praise of the Prophet as well as litanies would be recited from his work, Khulasatu’l-Haqaiq (Summary of Truths), with a rhythm of a simple frame drum (daire). There was a hafız—memorizer of the Qur’an—with a very beautiful voice in the village. He was the one who beat the frame drum. At that moment, the Imam of Alvar would be oriented to God Almighty with his entire being. Sometimes he would be entranced with the sublime atmosphere generated by the hymns, effect a similar mood in those around him, and would kindle in hearts the fire of love for the Divine. When a few people lost themselves in ecstasy, or someone became enthusiastic with tearful eyes, this would pass to the other participants and form an atmosphere of love and enthusiasm in everyone. Such powerful atmospheres that even though I witnessed these in my childhood, I can say that I am still under their effect.

That blessed man was a devoted lover of the Prophet at the same time. When somebody who returned from Medina remarked near him, “I saw so many creatures with mange,” he reacted right away: “Stop that! Do not talk like this even of the dogs of Medina. For the sake of the Prophet, I am ready to be sacrificed for the mange of Medina!” He would say such things from the bottom of his heart, with his entire being, to such a degree that he was virtually melted in the spirituality of the Prophet, and passing into a state of fana fi’r Rasul (becoming immersed in the love of the Prophet to the degree of forgetting oneself). This deep love for the Prophet is reflected in his following poem:

O the Sacred Witness, O the Sun embellishing the universe
Your clothes are melodious, your eyebrows are lovely
A strand of your hair is dearer than the entire world
Your hair disseminates a pure fragrance to both worlds

Such eulogies in praise of the Prophet would often be recited in his presence; he and all the people there would burst into ecstasy. Sometimes he lamented in such a way and his voice rose to such a high pitch while reciting the following stanza that the place where he was would resonate with awe of God and everybody in the circle would shake:

This heart is so fond of you, O beloved: why?
Your beauty is shining like the bright day: why?
Your eyebrow is like the “two bow-length’s nearness to God”
Your face brings to our minds the chapter of Ar-Rahman (The All-Merciful): why?

He Appreciated Everybody Virtuous

He was a master of verbal expression. He voiced the inspirations of his soul in different metric styles. However, in addition to being an authority on verbal expression, he would never be disturbed by sayings and poems of other great figures recited in his presence; he would even encourage that. For example, I heard Ketencizade’s following poem in praise of his master Sheikh Kufrawi being recited in the presence of the Imam of Alvar:

My dear master, spiritual guide, shining light,
My remembrance of God is the illumination in both worlds
All of my disciples agree with the hopeful prayers
Help us, O noble Spiritual Pole, the greatest Spiritual Helper, the king of all time
Never neglect these servants, O our dearest Sultan.

Normally, a feeling of envy could easily arise, but the Imam of Alvar trampled such negative feelings under his feet. He would salute any truthful words no matter whom they belonged to. I memorized many poems, including the following ones he would frequently recite:

Does one who seeks the Beloved struggle for his own life?
And can another who seeks his own life be in quest of the Beloved?
We have entered the path of love; we are lovesick,
O my heart, are you ready for this? (By Seyyid Nigari)

I found he had left his home already
The beloved Prophet passed away, leaving his headquarters empty
The bottles of love were broken, and the drinks spilt
The cupbearers left the scene.


On which mountain can I find that doe?
In what desert should I look for the eyes of that gazelle?
Just like a gazelle that lost her fawn,
wandering indecisively from desert to desert. (By Zihni of Bayburt)

As well as,

Growing tired of my life, doesn’t my beloved get tired of the torments?
Heavens burned from my sigh; doesn’t the candle of my will burn?
My beloved gives the cure to every patient;
why not me; am I not a patient?
My soul burns at the night of separation; my crying eyes shed tears of blood
My cries wake people; doesn´t my bad fortune wake up, too?
To your rose-like cheek, bloody water falls from my eyes
My beloved, this is the season of roses; do the rivers not blur?
I was keeping my grief secret; they say “Make it known to the beloved”
If I say this, I don´t know whether the unfaithful would believe or not
I was not interested in you, you made my mind perish
Wouldn’t that careless person reprimanding me be ashamed when he sees you?
Fuzuli is madly in love, and is always shameful in the eyes of folk
Ask what kind of love this is, isn’t he sick of it? (By Fuzuli)

I can even say that he would see these words no different than the fruits of his own mind and appreciate all of them. I think this is an important criterion in terms of giving an idea about his horizons, world of thoughts and feelings, maturity, and greatness.

Salih Özcan, a student of Bediüzzaman, related a memory about the Imam of Alvar, which I find very meaningful in terms of reflecting his maturity and level of thankful contentment. Brother Salih came to Erzurum in early 1950s and visited the Imam of Alvar. He told the Imam about the famous scholar Bediüzzaman and his works on faith. Brother Salih told the imam that they were disciples of Bediüzzaman and were trying to guide youths of the time with the works of their guide. On hearing that the Imam of Alvar responded: “I wish my eyes could see, so that I could join you as well.” Real virtue is being able to appreciate others’ virtues and being respectful toward them.

The Words Ringing in My Ears

I also would like to relate a few unforgettable memories of my own about that person I deeply feel the honor to have met. Here is one of them:

I was about fourteen or fifteen years old. I had a good friend whom I truly liked. One day he said, “There were such centers of spiritual teaching in Istanbul that they take someone to the top level of spiritual journeying within six months and make them eligible to preach.” My friend convinced me with these words. I packed my belongings without asking the teacher who was responsible for me and the great imam, and then left for the train station with that friend of mine. I would learn later that in the meantime another friend of ours, who was the grandson of Vehbi Efendi, warned my relatives about my intention to leave. When I extended my hand to the ticket booth to get my ticket, somebody suddenly caught me by the wrist. It was my father’s cousin and he took me back right away. The next day, my teacher told me that the imam wished to see me. I went to his presence shaking with fear. I had never seen him so angry before. He said, “I swear to God, if you had left, you would be perished!” These words he uttered are still ringing in my ears. For years I wondered, “Was my attempt really that bad that I would be perished if I had left?” and could not understand why he had said so. But in time, I started to somewhat understand his reaction. Possibly, he worried that a teenager could easily melt in an immense sea like Istanbul. Besides, leaving his blessed atmosphere without permission could mean losing. In addition, if that guide envisioned a certain duty for you to carry out in the future, you could not be where you should be by leaving for another destination. Therefore, I better understand now the intensity of his reaction and say, “Fortunately he did so and protected me under his spiritual shelter.” After making that warning, he made different complimentary remarks considering that I would be brokenhearted. I felt like an excited child whose pockets were filled with candies and decided to stay at that madrasa against all odds. Perfected guides’ treatment of others is different. That great figure fathomed the character of people before him well and treated them accordingly.

Here is another memory: We had newly started studying (the reference book known commonly as) Molla Jami and I went to him with some of my friends. A group of 5 to 10 rich people of Erzurum was sitting with him. He told them: “Now I am going to ask questions to my student. If he answers correctly, you will give him (this much amount of) money.” He asked from the parts I knew best, so I answered everything. Those rich men then gave me the amount that he had told them to give me. I think the total amount was two hundred liras. Considering the currency of those days, it was enough to send a man to pilgrimage to Mecca. He could not see how much I had due to the cataracts in his eyes. He asked how much money there was and I told him. Then he said, “This amount is too much for you. Let me give it to Demirci Osman Efendi so that he spends it for the needs of the students of the madrasa.”

While we studied in Erzurum, we were really poor and we sometimes could not find basic foods to eat, like bread and cheese, for a few days. My father gave me modest pocket money from what he earned as an imam, but it was too little to support a student. Most days, we had no money to buy bread. On such a day when we were starving, we went to the Sufi lodge, three or four students together. The Imam’s grandson Tayyib Efendi was also with us. There was a shed beside the Sufi lodge used for storing food. Through the spaces of the wooden wall, we saw watermelons inside. The Imam was praying inside. After a while, the door opened and he said, “Come in boys, let me slice a watermelon for you.” As we witnessed in very different examples, he was an immense figure of deep spirituality, understanding of others’ wishes and what passes through their minds, whose heart could sense beyond the physical reality.

In short, although I failed to fully benefit from him, I am so thankful to my Lord for the blessing of having known him.

I remember the day he passed away. My late father had come to Erzurum and we were resting in the house of my father’s aunt. All of a sudden I heard some distant voice saying, “The Imam of Alvar passed away!” I immediately broke into a run toward the madrasa of the Kurşunlu Mosque. When I arrived there, I saw my friends crying. From there, I went to the Imam’s house, which was in the neighborhood known as Mumcu. Sadık Efendi, who was the mufti of Erzurum, and the great scholar Sakıp Efendi had also come and personally washed his blessed body, not leaving this honor to anybody else. After the washing in a winter day, the body was taken to the village of Alvar and buried there. All the people attended the burial in spite of the severe winter cold. May God Almighty resurrect that great guide together with His Beloved Prophet and grant him eternal bliss in the highest Paradise of Firdaws, amin!

This text is the translation of Bir Gönül Mimarı: Alvarlı Efe Hazretleri

Respect for the Sacred


Question: What is the right stance and attitude that become believers in the face of insults and disrespect against religion and sacred values?

Answer: When insults and disrespect are directed toward a certain individual, it is a very important virtue in Islam to show patience without reacting, take such “stones” into his or her atmosphere of tolerance and let them disappear, like meteors hurled into the atmosphere of the earth. However, there are such rights as the rights of God, the Prophet, and the Qur’an that, since they are not personal issues to be shown personal tolerance, individual believers are not authorized to forgive insult and disrespect toward these. True believers cannot overlook them, show forbearance, or remain unresponsive. However, as they do in everything else, they must always act in a way that becomes a believer. Their actions should reflect a believer’s character; they should show their reaction in a civilized fashion, take their style as their honor, and never consent to lower this down.

Those Who Expect Respect Need to Be Respectful First

Unfortunately, we witness very different forms of extreme behaviors in our time. Every day so many events triggered by grudge, hatred, and animosity are taking place. There are various unbecoming remarks and behaviors coming from different sides. Sometimes, an unfortunate event occurs somewhere; even before the doers are identified, somebody remarks—with a horrible grudge and hatred—that it is necessary to do away with all Muslims. Then another one makes a different insult. At another place you see people trying to provoke others by hanging posters. In all this confusion, one point is being missed: if somebody makes an insult against the Prophets, angels, God Almighty and His Divine Names, he also is insulting all of the people who cherish these values. We can even say that an insult related to certain issues, such as resurrection after death and the otherworldly bliss, disturbs not only Muslims but also followers of other religions as well, because with respect to their essence, such matters of belief are also accepted by people who follow other faiths. For this reason, when you add the followers of other faiths with a belief in the Hereafter to the nearly 1.5 billion Muslims, the total number will amount to 4 or 5 billion people; you can picture the actual scale of the insolence. Therefore, such a person should expect the same scale of a responsive insult toward himself or herself. If someone does not mind stabbing a dagger into the sacred values of 4 or 5 billion people, he or she should not be disturbed by the needle that stings in return. No matter who you are, whenever you insult another person, you trigger a relevant response, whereas showing respect toward that person will elicit respect toward you.

In fact, it is definitely not acceptable for a person to comment on a field in which he or she has no knowledge. For example, if a man who never studied philosophy severely criticizes a certain school of philosophy, he will both expose himself to ridicule and commit disrespect toward those scholarly methods. In the same way, if a man who has nothing to do with music starts making remarks about musical keys like an authority, he becomes an object of ridicule. The same is true for journalism and other fields of expertise. Still, so many people can become experts in such fields after a certain deal of effort and relevant study.

When you view the situation today, however, some people who have no serious knowledge about Islam—a faith that has realized significant transformations and breakthroughs in world history and, at the same time, conduced to a dizzying renaissance that had continued for about five centuries in a vast territory—are making insulting remarks about the faith and its followers, and then call it, “freedom of thought and expression.” We are living at a time when there are fields of expertise. When someone makes offhanded remarks about a subject without having any expertise whatsoever, it is sheer disrespect toward that field, to oneself, to sound reason, commonsense, and conscientiousness. If someone who commits such disrespect receives certain responses from some inflamed people, they should not complain about it, since they personally presented improper behavior at the beginning. As the scale of the insult covers as many as 4 or 5 billions of people, it is always possible that some people in such a large population will act upon their emotions.

If Your Home Is Made of Crystal…

The devoted believers, on the other hand, are always supposed to be very sensitive about their words, attitudes, and behaviors; they need to consider how the words they utter will be responded to and carefully refrain from sudden outbursts of emotion. It should never be forgotten that words uttered in an angry mood are always prone to abuse. And others’ feelings need to be taken into consideration before speaking. If your home is made of crystal, you should not hurl anything harmful toward others people’s houses. Otherwise, you indirectly cause damage to your own building. This fact is pointed out in the Qur’an as follows: “And do not (O believers) revile the things or beings that they have, apart from God, deified and invoke, lest (if you do so) they attempt to revile God out of spite and in ignorance” (al-An’am 6:108). If you begin to insult others’ deities, they will do the same for what is sacred to you. Indeed, there is no command or recommendation in Islamic sources to insult the idols and deities others worship. Believers always voice the truth and proclaim the Oneness and Unity of God: this is a different issue. But believers have no responsibility to revile things that bear no value in their sight. In this respect, I wish we could always speak, write, and act in accordance with the criteria of the Qur’an and Sunnah, because certain attitudes and behaviors that have their root in emotional reactions may cause grave effects with respect to our values. As it will be remembered, the Holy Qur’an was insulted recently. Right after that churches were attacked and buildings were destroyed in another place. Certainly, it is an outrageous behavior to insult the Qur’an. But destroying buildings and places of worship in reaction to such insolence is another type of extremism. Therefore, before resorting to offensive attitudes and behaviors, individuals—whoever they are—need to consider well what the likely results will be, and speak and act accordingly. Those who are subjected to insults should keep their reaction within acceptable limits; they should prefer correcting ugliness through scholarly and legal means, never sacrificing their refined character and adopting mistaken manners. The response toward such an attack should be a civilized one, later regrets will be of no use.

How I wish an international agreement on respecting the sacred could be maintained! I tried to make my voice heard to certain authorities, but I suppose that I failed to express myself properly. Freedom of thought and expression in our time is an issue that has much emphasis placed on it. Unfortunately, as insulting faith, religion, and sacred values are seen as a form of freedom of expression and thought in some circles, similar ugly remarks and comments concerning other fields are not acceptable; on the contrary, they are considered hate crimes. Actually, a real believer, who should be a representative of assurance and trust, must never speak against others for no reason; they should never intend to behave in an offensive and insulting way. However, declaring some acts free in certain fields and forbidding them in some other fields is an obvious double standard; it is a contradiction.

In short, there is serious need for making respect for the sacred a thought owned by the entire humanity and for evoking this feeling in everyone. It is high time international institutions, joined by all nations, settle this issue with clear-cut lines that do not allow further speculation. Certain disciplines to serve as decisive criteria must be decreed. How I wish the whole of humanity could agree on this issue! How I wish everyone knew his or her limits. Because, if the principle of respecting others’ sacred values—an important component of peaceful coexistence—is not observed, conflicts arising from such incidents of disrespect will make their presence felt as much more horrible and greater problems in today’s globalized and shrunken world.

This text is the translation of “Kutsala Saygı

290. Nağme: Gül Günlerinin Bedeli


Kıymetli Arkadaşlar,

Geçtiğimiz hafta mescidimizde, Cuma hutbesi olarak, muhterem Fethullah Gülen Hocaefendi’nin 1997 senesinde yazdığı “Kaosun Ötesindeki Dünya başlıklı makale okunmuştu. Baştan sona insanı derin düşüncelere sevk eden makale/hutbe şu cümlelerle sona ermişti:

“Kim bilir bize bu koskoca mirası bırakanlar, ne kadar ağlayıp inlediler? Bugün evirip-çevirip istifâde ettiğimiz değerleri elde etmek için ne cenderelerden geçti ve ne ölümlerle yaka paça oldular? Şimdilerde har vurup harman savurduğumuz millî ve dinî değerlerimiz, kim bilir onlara neye mâl oldu? Rahmeti Sonsuz’dan niyaz ederiz ki, gerçek bedeli dünyalarla ölçülemeyecek kadar büyük olan o ulu günlerin hakikî fiyatlarını bizden talep etmesin!..”

Aziz Hocamıza bu ifadeleri hangi hissiyâtla yazdığını ve “o ulu günlerin hakikî fiyatları” sözünden neler anlaşılması lazım geldiğini sorduk. Aldığımız cevabı 17:54 dakikalık ses ve görüntü dosyaları halinde sunuyoruz.

Dualarınıza vesile olması istirhamıyla…