Love, Courage, and Strategic Thinking

Herkul-EN | . | WEEKLY SERMONS

Question: What are the dynamics needed to solve huge, seemingly unsolvable problems?

Answer: For volunteers whose hearts are dead, in a religious sense—who have lost their enthusiasm and are going through the motions—it is unthinkable that they may overcome big problems. For this reason, there needs to be love and enthusiasm to solve the big problems that appear before us. A person must fix on the target with unceasing love and enthusiasm, be determined to strive on in the face of pressure and oppression, and show the resolve to stand up and continue no matter how often they’ve faced failure. If they have these traits, they can surmount seemingly impossible hills and turn possible defeats into victories.

The United Point of Trueness and Love

Prophet Adam is a very good example on this issue. God Almighty loaded into his genes what is considered an “err” according to the pure ones nearest to Him, and Adam committed a “lapse” (dhalla) in terms of his relationship with his Lord. As the Qur’an puts is, “…he (Adam) acted forgetfully…” (Ta-Ha 20: 115). However, what matters is being able to say, “O God please do not make me repeat this mistake again,” without giving in to despair after making a mistake or forgetting. This was what Prophet Adam, peace be upon him, did. Although it is not included in the sound sources of hadith, it is narrated in fairly reliable sources that owing to the err he committed, he implored God ashamedly for some forty years, without even raising his face to the sky.[1] It is very important for a person who erred to bow with shame, and accept his mistake by saying, “although I know God, and I’m from Him with everything I have, how can I commit such a mistake against Him?” and then beg forgiveness at the door of the True One to be worshiped.

If the fire of love is kindled in a person’s heart and love has seized his being, then he will never think of leaving the door of his Beloved One in spite of the various trials and tribulations he faces. Love is the title for a person’s relationship with God; it is a constant connection of the heart with Him; it is the yearning for reunion a person feels deep inside. When a love is crowned with trueness, even if a person burns with desire for the reunion, he will step back, obeying orders by saying, “I am not demanding to come now since You have not called me yet. I wish to fulfill my responsibilities toward You on Your path.” Such a horizon is the intersection of truth and love.

How to Save a Victory from a Defeat

Courage expresses a different dimension, or consequence, of love, and is another important factor in terms of surmounting seemingly insurmountable problems. The blessed Companion Mus’ab ibn Umayr presented a dizzying example of courage at the Battle of Uhud. When his arm was cut off, he said, “I have one more arm, it suffices me!” And when he lost the second one too, he said, “My neck is still here, now I use it as a shield,” and this even made the bitter face of death smile.[2] There is no problem such a paragon of courage cannot solve. The face of death is a bitter one of course; but if you smile at it, it smiles at you, too; so much so that God Almighty Himself takes back the soul He entrusted to the person, without even giving a role to the intermediaries. Personages like Abdulqadr al-Jilani and Abu’l-Hasan ash- Shadhili made the wish, “My God, take my life with Your own hand please!”

One of the most important virtues of the noble Prophet was his righteous courage and bravery. For example, although the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, did not make any mistakes of strategy, the early Muslims experienced a temporary defeat at Uhud. The blessed Prophet commanded a defensive battle, and though his tactics were sound, it is understood from the Divine statement, “Satan made them slip because of some of the errors they themselves had done” (Al Imran 3: 155), the distinguished group of the Prophet’s Companions were mistaken in their ijtihad—or their critical interpretation of the situation. The fact that the original wording of the Divine verse does not say they “committed” (iktisab) but “did” (kasb) indicates that theirs was a judgmental mistake of ijtihad. The Companions had failed to fully obey their orders and the consequence was a temporary defeat. However, the Messenger of God turned that temporary defeat into a victory. Note that right after the Battle of Uhud, Abu Sufyan gathered his army and set on the road towards Mecca. At a certain point, they weighed the idea of striking back to Medina to exterminate Muslims. In the meantime, however, the Messenger of God started to chase the army of polytheists with his Companions. On seeing the marching Muslims, most of whom were actually battle-struck, Abu Sufyan preferred not getting into trouble by turning back, but went home to rejoice with the people of Mecca over the partial victory they had gained—without showing the courage to confront the Muslims again.[3]

What happened in Hunayn was no different. The Thaqif and Hawazin tribes, who were very skillful archers, caught the advance guard of the Muslim forces in an ambush and the rear forces fell into confusion under a shower of enemy arrows. Even at such a moment, the Pride of Humanity spurred his horse on toward the enemy lines, and cried, “I am the Prophet; that is no lie. I am the descendant of Abdulmuttalib; that is no lie!” His uncle Abbas expressed that at that moment, he stopped the Prophet’s horse with difficulty.[4] Later, on the orders of the Prophet, Abbas called out at the top of his strong voice to the retreating Companions to return by saying, “O Companions who pledged allegiance under the samura tree, where are you?”

All the Companions who heard the call of the Prophet gathered near him and marched on the enemy. As a result, they reversed the defeat and gained a victory.[5]

In this respect, it is important for a believer to never grow despondent in the face of problems, but to grapple with them courageously. A believer must be spiritually vigil in a way that will enable him to say, “If the Divine will is manifested, with God’s permission and help, I can even change the orbit of the earth.” Given that one relies on God’s power and strength, there is no problem a believer whose heart is filled with courage cannot surmount.

Love and Courage Must Be Under the Assurance of Common Sense

Although feelings as love, enthusiasm, and courage are very important when tackling gigantic problems, these sublime feelings need to be based on a firm strategy and well founded logic; they need to be employed properly and ascribed to a sound project. With your warm and sincere breath coming from the bottom of your heart, you may possess a vigilance that could melt mountains of ice. But on its own, this factor does not suffice to solve problems. You also need to know your adversaries well, take into consideration the power and means they possess, and come up with projects accordingly. Otherwise, all of your mind and heart’s labors will be wasted.

This is especially true if you are surrounded by people thundering with hostility; if you are facing an entire circle of antagonists. And if that circle of enmity has very serious plots of their own, then you need to be much more cautious and act vigilantly. The colluded circles of antagonism, formed in a united line, can slam unexpectedly upon you like a sledgehammer.

In this respect, love, enthusiasm, spiritual vitality, and courage must definitely be safeguarded by common sense. You may compare it to the structure of a building. If you do not rest it on a sound foundation, the building will collapse at the slightest tremor, and you will be crushed under the debris of what you have built.

In order to not let all of these efforts go to waste, you need to safeguard your enthusiasm and dynamism by appealing to logic and judgment; but more importantly, you must appeal to collective reasoning. Rather than having two, three, or four geniuses who have the potential to change the world’s geography, it is much better to have people who consult with some five or ten others.

To put it once more, if God Almighty conditioned His graces to form a collective of consultation, it is beyond your power to change that. Remember that the noble Prophet stated that a person who consults with others will not experience regret.[6] In addition, there is almost no incident in which he did not use consultation. When some scandal-mongers slandered his pure wife, Aisha, who is more excellent than angels in heavens with respect to purity and chastity, the noble Prophet, who never panicked, even in his dreams, consulted with some of his Companions – even on this issue! Even concerning a private matter about his wife, he consulted with Umar ibn al-Khattab, Uthman ibn al-Affan, Ali ibn Abi Talib, and others, may God be pleased with them. Every one of them stated their good opinion about our mother Aisha, may God be pleased with her, who was a paragon of chastity and innocence, and their testimonies supported the pure considerations in the noble Prophet’s mind.

Actually, as a person who had the support of Divine revelation, the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, was in no need to consult with others about any minor or major matter. A Muslim considering otherwise would be disrespect toward him, and this would be a sign of lacking insight into what “revelation” means. God Almighty never let the blessed Prophet experience a void during his life. God never let him fall into a situation comparable to—I reluctantly say—a “fiasco,” but always supported him. As it can be taken from the verse relating his words during the Hijra—“Do not grieve. God is surely with us” (at-Tawbah 9:40)—the Messenger of God spent his life in a constant atmosphere of assurance, may our lives be sacrificed to that blessed life. Despite having no such need, he solved even the slightest issues through consultation, and thereby guided his followers on how they should act.

In this respect, we say that particularly on issues of general concern, finding a solution by means of collective reasoning is far more important than being a genius.

You must do everything you can to prepare and solve problems. Even in the face of a single problem, you develop alternative plans from A to Z. However, despite all these precautions, problems you did not consider might come up and cause confusion. One must never fall to despair in such a situation. Presently, in many Muslim countries, there are unfortunately fault lines that might give way to cracks at any time. These owe to intolerance and jealousy. In this respect, no matter how well you plan, you may still meet some unexpected negatives. One must never let this paralyze their willpower such by saying things like, “There is nothing further to do anymore. We are finished now!”

As Bediüzzaman puts it, despair is an obstacle to every kind of perfection.

Mehmed Akif said:

Despair is a marsh; you will drown if you fall into it.

Attach yourself to hope, then see where you will get!

Those who survive, owe it to their resolution and hopes;

But despair cripples a person in spirit and conscience.

It is a cursed knot, impossible to disentangle…

Like the most horrible killer, despair will never smile!

At the beginning of his poem, Akif makes the following address to a person who has fallen to despair:

O you living dead, two hands are for one head.

Get moving, the hands are yours, and so is the head.

I don’t know why your determination is so inconsistent.

Is it you, or your hope that is spineless?

To sum up, some people with twisted minds might wish to prevent your most innocent services for the sake of God, and try to sabotage your efforts. However, even if some fifty different conspiracies arise, one must never despair. With God’s permission and grace, you will not be shaken, and will always stand upright. It is necessary to seek ways of turning any situation, such as those at in Uhud and Hunayn, into a victory; and to walk towards the heart of belief, which may let people embrace faith in throngs.

One must never be discouraged by the conspiracies faced. In the face of obstacles and blocked roads, it is necessary to make a fresh start in the name of God and seek new alternative solutions. Even if a person is on the righteous path and sincere in his demand, he may not be granted each wish right away. We cannot know the wisdom behind the sufferings experienced. But who knows? Maybe as a result of these sufferings God Almighty will bestow more abundant blessings to the noble people of Anatolia than those He previously did. Tomorrow is another day, which will be born from the fertile womb of the night; let us wait in proactive patience and see!

[1] Suyuti, Durr al-Mansur, 1/141–142.

[2] Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqatu’l-Kubra, 3: 121.

[3] Ibn Hisham, As-Sirat an-Nabawiyya, 4:54–55.

[4] Sahih al-Bukhari, Jihad, 52; Sahih Muslim, Jihad, 78–80.

[5] Ibn Kathir, Al-Bidaya wa an-Nihaya, 4, 326.

[6] Tabarani, Mujamu’l-Kabir, 6/365.

This text is the translation of “Aşk, Cesaret ve Stratejik Akıl.”

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