Posts Tagged ‘Hizmet’

Perfection and Modesty


Question: It is stated that the devoted souls who will realize a new revival are supposed be no different than ordinary people. On the other hand, they are continuously encouraged to be the cultured people who represent the best way by personal example. How can we strike the balance between these seemingly conflicting aspects?

Answer: If we evaluate the issue from the perspective of guiding others and conveying the Divine message to them, it is essential to believe that the following two qualities constitute the “must” of this path: targeting perfect standards along with adopting an understanding of nullifying oneself. For being able to convey relevant points to others and making an impact on consciences by God’s grace, it is essential to make an effort to be well-equipped with the knowledge and practices of faith, as well as possessing humility and modesty, and viewing oneself as an ordinary person among other people. Any attempt to guide that is not based on knowledge and actual spiritual depth will not evoke any trust in those being addressed. Word polluted with arrogance and pride will never diffuse into hearts; and even if they do, their effect will never be permanent. Consider the works of Bediüzzaman: He highlighted how serious a problem ignorance was. On the other hand, he also emphasized that arrogance has become a widespread disease in our time.

Two-Winged Spirit of Guidance, with Knowledge and Humility

Let us expound on these two aspects a bit. In order to achieve a thorough representation, a Muslim, first, needs to “read” very well the contemporary age, social structure, contemporary events, and Divine principles operating in the universe, and then interpret them correctly. On the other hand, a Muslim also needs to know religious commandments and what they mean in our age, and thus become a “child of the time.” Otherwise, so many truths will be victimized by their poor representation, and their values will be condemned to seem worthless in the eyes of others. As everything depends on knowledge, it is very important for Muslims to express their own values well. What we mean by knowledge (ilm) here is not having information about a particular subject as it is commonly used in our day; it is the knowledge based on an evaluation of realities with their internal and external dimensions, which can help us draw a conclusion and deepen in knowledge of God. In fact, it is not possible for a believer to make any individual progress without such knowledge, let alone guide others. Until the moment people are equipped with knowledge, including knowledge of God, they will not be able to refuse their carnal self, and not be able to rid themselves of confusion and instability. Individuals who do not solve the problems of their own heart and mind will have real difficulty conveying the truths of faith to others; unaware, they will probably resort to demagogy and dialectics. Until the moment they overcome the doubts and suspicions in their own mind, they will not be able to avoid faltering at their statements. For this reason, we firstly need to have insight into our own matters, knowing them deeply, with their spirit, essence, background, and basis. After that, we need to feel and sense in our conscience that, with the initial theoretical knowledge we have, we can attain knowledge of God (marifah), then love of God through that knowledge, and then zeal and yearning for God through their totality. If we can truly make these ingrained in ourselves, and behold in our heart and mind a picture of what comes out of our mouth, then we can be saved from having inner conflicts and falling into contradictions. For this reason, those who wish to guide others and share the beauties of their teaching with others must definitely do everything they can to have a profound and multi-dimensional knowledge that will be pleasing to God Almighty. However, mere knowledge does not suffice for conveying the message to others. At the same time one needs to be conscious of the fact that these very important inspirations and gifts are pure blessings and bestowals of God Almighty. As Bediüzzaman points out in The Letters, all of these blessings can be compared to a fur coat presented by a king. Their value should not be overlooked. On the other hand, we should never give up the consideration that they do not essentially belong to us. That is, what we need to do is to direct the appreciation to the One who truly deserves it. If we can attain this perspective, we will have started opening the doors of modesty, humbleness, and humility. Thus we will have realized the truth expressed by Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib: “Live among people as one of them.” And this means combining absolute humility and perfection. Ingraining this feeling and thought in ourselves depends on acknowledging the True Owner of everything we possess, and making our conscience accept the fact that we are nothing. I would like to reiterate one point I previously made. If we were to be asked to put aside what essentially belongs to God and stand before Him with what remains, nothing would be left, I think. For this reason, what befalls on us is constantly being oriented to him in humbleness, modesty, and humility. As a matter of fact, it can be said that these points are related to the wisdoms behind the command to pray five times a day. Standing in awe of God five times a day at prayer is an expression of submission to Him. As bowing before God is a form of modesty, prostrating oneself before Him is an expression of humbleness; it is a person’s closest state to God Almighty, as related in a hadith. Actually, the time of prostration is the moment when a person is freed from one’s own self and dyed with the hue of manifestations from Him. That is, you reach such a state of “I” during prostration that, this “I” is nothing but a work of His manifestations. Then, closeness to God depends on a person’s nullifying oneself.

The Most Modest Person

As it is stated in the Qur’an: “Assuredly you have in God’s Messenger an excellent example to follow…” (al-Ahzab 33:21), the Messenger of God presented the best example in every respect in all of his attitudes and behaviors. The Prince of both worlds was honored with the Divine address “I would not have created the existence, had it not been for you.” In the words of the poet Necip Fazıl: “He, for whose sake we exist.” As his blessed light was the first light that appeared in the realm of existence, he is the most perfect fruit of the tree of existence. In other words, the light of Muhammad is the seed of the tree of universe and the ink of the pen of Divine Power that writes this “book of universe.” And he is the curator in this great exhibition of the universe. In the words of insightful scholars, the Prophet is a person who was gifted with the beginning and end of wisdom, with respect to the knowledge of the Divine. By God’s grace, every kind of problem was solved in the hands of that blessed settler of problems. He is the teacher for everybody to learn how to evaluate the world and its contents with the eye of wisdom. In addition to being such a distinguished person, God’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, is at the same time a monument of modesty and humility. When somebody addressed him as “our master,” he expressed his protest for such address—even though it was true. At another case when the following Divine command was revealed, “So wait patiently for your Lord’s judgment, and do not be like the companion of the fish, when he called out choking inwardly (with distress)…” (al-Qalam 68:48), he stated, not assuming superiority, “Do not prefer me over Yunus ibn Matta.” At another time, he told someone who felt overawed before him “Do not be afraid, I am the child of a woman who ate dried meat.” During the construction of the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, he carried two bricks on his back while others carried a single brick. While they needed to cook during travel, as all of his Companions contributed to it, he undertook the task of collecting firewood; he always made an effort to not avoid at any kind of responsibility. So the most perfected guide, under whose blessed feet the stars were like a stairway, combined such opposite virtues in his person, and thus he reached into souls with his most perfect and trustworthy example. Then what befalls believers should be faithfully following the footsteps of that perfect guide.

This text is the translation of “Mükemmellik ve Tevazu

The Devoted Souls and Life Standards


Question: Those who work at the establishments based on the philosophy of devotedly serving humanity, sometimes begin to develop expectations of a better payment and life standards, owing to factors like long working hours or having produced high quality work. Could you share with us your considerations on this issue?

Answer: Let me first state one thing—that not all people will be on the same level of devotedness, as it is the case with other moral virtues. Even if a certain spiritual guide has an ability to make surprising impact on the hardest hearts, it is not possible for him to bring all of the people he guides to the same level of spiritual progress. As the guide is expected to give the message perfectly, those who are to receive the message need to be capable of receiving the message with their potentials and abilities. Let us say that you run to help a certain man with a water tanker, but he only has a bucket in hand. Even though you empty the contents of the entire tanker, the water will pour out once the bucket is filled.

When the Age of Happiness is viewed from this perspective, it becomes apparent that there were serious “level differences,” even between the Companions of the noble Prophet, the most influential guide, who consisted of, and emanated, blessed light in every way. It is not possible for ordinary people like us to categorize those radiant figures. Despite this, it is definite that few Companions shared the same level with people like Abu Bakr and Umar. We can say that every one of the Companions of the Prophet benefited from God’s Beloved one, who was the focal point of Divine manifestations, in-as-much as their personal aptitudes and capacities allowed.

Such a difference of level is also true for the devoted souls in our time. For example, some of them can live of barely enough food for sustenance—sometimes they even starve; but they still do not ask anything from others, and keep their dignity.

However, some of them cannot forebear such sacrifice; they might adopt attitudes and expectations to violate the principle of dignified contentment. Similarly, as some people lead their lives by keeping up a serious consciousness of death, the dominant feeling in others might be a longing for worldly goals and delusion of permanence. I heard a few days ago that an old person—who has one foot in the grave as they say—visited a doctor and asked: “I heard some rumors, is there anything real as the potion of immortality?” In my opinion, delusion of immortality for a person of that age is nothing but seeking disgrace. It is a reality that a wish for an everlasting life, together with the feeling of cherishing worldly goals and endless desires, is inherent in human nature. However, it should not be forgotten that this feeling in human nature is supposed to be directed to the eternal afterlife.

As is the case with devotedness and other qualities, despite spending time with the devoted ones, a person may not quite share the same spirit. Some people always have their eye on higher worldly benefits. For this reason, they do not feel content with the payment, title, and status they have; they expect to have these increased at certain intervals. And when they get what they desire, they set about seeking even more. Their lack of thankful contentment causes them to complain all the time. For this reason, it needs to be accepted as a reality that such people can be found even within the sphere of the devoted ones.

Responsibilities Must Be Entrusted to Eligible Ones

When needs to be done about dealing with this reality? First of all, people in certain positions should discern well the personality and natures of the people they are responsible for; they should consult with as many people as possible. This shared information should serve as a criterion that can assess the levels of individuals who act with commonsense and ascend to higher steps in life. If this can be done, people with worldly ambitions will not be able ascend to certain positions and breach the principle of dignified contentment. In fact, sometimes you need to employ someone in an important position, and cannot find anybody that suits your criteria. The only candidates for the job might possess some weaknesses, such as greed and envy. Then, even though they do not meet your standards of virtue, you may choose the lesser of two evils, and will temporarily entrust that important responsibility to such a person, rather than leaving things undone. But when you find the eligible one to carry out the job, you shift the former to a more suitable position and let the deserving one assume control. Entrusting a duty to someone else while there is an eligible one will be a betrayal to that duty, or a breach of trust.

When somebody asked the noble Prophet about the Last Day, he told him that breach of trust would herald the coming of the Last Day. And when the man asked about this breach of trust, the beloved Prophet told him to expect the time of Last Day when responsibility is given to the ineligible.1 Accordingly, if you entrust some responsibilities to one who is not eligible for them, then it is a kind of “Last Day” for that particular responsibility. If this state becomes general and permanent, then the Last Day can come. It appears that when the appointed hour for the world comes, betraying the trust will have become a grave, worldwide issue.

Having More Abundant Means and Real Economy

Another thing that needs to be done about people who never feel satisfied but always have their eye on more worldly benefits is to remind them that self-sacrifice and sufficing with the available means is not a principle only to be followed during hard times; it is necessary to help them attain a character of living with economy and dignified contentment in all conditions.

Gaining access to more abundant means should not change our general discipline. As the noble Prophet stated, even a person making ablutions near a river should avoid wasting water. Accordingly, as it is a waste for such a person to dip one arm in water and wait for 2–3 minutes; washing the limbs 4–5 times instead of 3 is wastefulness as well. A religious teaching that places so much emphasis on frugality also requires the same sensitivity in other matters. That is, if a person near a sea needs to act frugally, then a person in charge of a wealth like the sea should also live frugally, avoid wastefulness, and never change his or her lifestyle. For example, they should keep their habit of eating within the limits brought by Islam and never waste anything. As it is known, Bediüzzaman pointed out the fact that unnecessary eating triggers a false appetite. Then instead of sufficing with a single kind of food, having a diverse spread and tasting various dishes will trigger such a false appetite, which is harmful to health. Therefore, no matter how much wealth God Almighty grants, individuals should eat the necessary amount and avoid excess.

Some of the Companions led very austere lives in spite of being very wealthy. For example, Uthman ibn Affan had abundant means to donate three hundred camels and also to provide ten thousand soldiers with equipment. In spite of that, he never changed his life standards. He mostly spent his life on the sands of the Prophet’s Mosque. He would make a little heap of sand and use it as his pillow. He ate the same meal with others. Ali ibn Abi Talib, who also lead his life in the same simplicity, had only one dress to wear. He wore it both in summer and winter. As a matter of fact, he was a caliph who ruled an affluent state in a very extensive region. He and other great personalities followed the way of the blessed Prophet and continued to lead a simple life. These are very important examples for us. If we are to change our lives after gaining access to better means, then—may God forbid—it means that we have stepped into a vicious circle of unending negative change.

A Bohemian Life Has No Limit

You need to be so steadfast on this issue, so that even if God Almighty makes money shower down from the sky and form a heap before you, you should still say, “no matter how abundantly you come, you cannot find any way into my heart. I know where to use you.” Some saintly figures spent all of the goods God bestowed them without leaving anything for the morrow. A report included in the collection of Imam Bukhari teaches us the attitude to be adopted in the face of worldly means. Accordingly, while the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, was about to lead a Prayer at his mosque, he suddenly stopped and rushed to his room. After that, he returned and led the Prayer. When the Prayer was over, he turned to the puzzled congregation and explained that at the moment he was about to start the Prayer, it occurred to him that somebody had given him a present. Since this worldly property could occupy his mind during the Prayer, he told his wife Aisha to give it to someone else so that he could free his heart and stand in God’s presence thus. This perfect lifestyle of God’s Messenger, together with his blessed light and atmosphere, made such an impact on those around him that their attitudes and behaviors were never changed by their opportunities. Bediüzzaman’s treatise “On Frugality”2 is a very important guideline on this issue. Reading it from time to time will be very helpful in terms of getting used to living contently with frugality. Otherwise, there is no limit to leading a bohemian life. If people indulge themselves in such a life—may God forbid—they spend an entire life controlled by their carnal desires. For this reason, frugality and contentment is an important value for everyone, poor or rich.

Particularly for the believers dedicated to serving faith, thankful contentment has a special significance. It is the duty of those who employ them to provide them with a sufficient payment for a decent living; on the other hand what falls on the devoted souls is to live with frugality and contentment, and to not compare their own lives with their counterparts outside their spiritual sphere. Home and abroad, wherever they are, the volunteers had better become accustomed to living with a modest income, like the scholarship of a student. Other people’s working for very high salaries cannot be an example for those who soar through the horizons of self sacrifice. They do not care about owning worldly property; they rent an apartment to reside and support their family with what God Almighty grants them. This is the basic discipline of devotion. The desire to be like those who chase money and status is a violation of this discipline. Others may lead a heedless life by eating and lying lazily. This cannot be a criterion for the devoted soul. God Almighty grants some worldly means to some of those who run lawfully on His path, such as the private business they run; that is a different issue. However, those who are paid through the financial means of serving the truth need to be very careful on this issue. Nobody must take anything more than they deserve. When Abu Bakr was given a little more than the sufficient amount to support his family, he put the remaining amount to a pot and willed it to be given to the next caliph after he passed away. When it was brought to Umar ibn al-Khattab, in accordance with the will, he could not hold back his tears and said, “You presented an inimitable example of righteousness and responsibility for those to come after you.” Thus he voiced the greatness of the first caliph. Actually, this is how the devoted souls in our time have to be. If they look at the means and payment others enjoy and hold the mistaken idea, “it seems that these are the real rewards of the job I am doing,” they should know that even if they run breathlessly on that path, this very thought will cause them to consume the blessings meant for the afterlife.

Constant Self-Criticism

Another point that needs concern on this issue is having in mind the question, “I wonder whether I really deserve this salary I get?” We need to maintain this self-criticism by praying somewhere open to the public, or by eating at an establishment and asking ourselves: “I am consuming the water, using the carpet, and eating the food here, so I wonder whether…” Even if we are in the places that belong to the circle we are devoted to, we need to be suffering with such concerns in our inner world.

Even things gained while fighting for a righteous cause are lawful to take only in certain conditions. According to a hadith related in Sahih al-Bukhari, making personal claim on any possession left from a particular enemy depends on having eliminated him personally. But when a nameless hero was offered a share from the gains of a battle he joined, he rejected the offer since was fighting not to gain benefits but to sacrifice himself. As our way is “serving” for the sake of God, we are supposed to adopt the philosophy of selflessness and lead our lives in dignified contentment. God loves those who sincerely act this way. Attitude and behaviors of such people have an effect on others, and seeing them reminds others of God. There is no need for them to tell so much with words. Their attitudes become an eloquent tongue and an articulate speech. Otherwise, those who cannot maintain this fine state cannot convey any good message even if they start shouting. Even if such people hold others’ attention temporarily, they can never help others make spiritual progress. Maybe some of us find it very difficult to lead such a life. But we mean to attain the difficult. The Qur’anic address to the noble Prophet “…the Hereafter (what comes after) will be better for you than this world (what has gone before)…” (ad-Duha 93:4) is also true for ordinary people like us. God Almighty makes the following warning to those who think otherwise, “but you (people) love and prefer what is before you (the present, worldly life). And abandon that which is to come later (the Hereafter)” (al-Qiyamah 75:21). In one of the letters he wrote to his students, Nursi refers to the same fact by stating that this age made (most) followers of Islam prefer this life over the afterlife, willfully and gladly. That is, he pointed out that the greatest disaster in the contemporary age was that love for this material world gained priority over love for the Hereafter; he commented that this verse refers to our time. From a perspective of Qur’anic exegesis, the original Arabic word in the verse is inflected in simple present tense (mudari); we can infer that this situation is one that continues for a long time. Therefore, it is possible to say that this understanding of preferring this worldly life over the next is likely to continue in the years to come. Probably in criticism of such facts, Muhammad Qutb chose the title “Are We Muslims?” for one of his books. According to the commentary of the great Imam Abu Hanifa in his Al-Fiqh Al-Akbar, making such a statement in the sense of not really being sure whether one really accepts faith or not is an expression of unbelief. But there is nothing wrong in this one, for it is used in a sense of making self-criticism. The poet Mehmed Akif referred to the same problem thus:

Let alone being Muslim, we can hardly be called human;
Let us make no pretence, we cannot fool anyone.
All the true Muslims I knew are already in their graves.
The real Islam is I guess, nowhere else but in heavens.

It is a reality that this is a diabolical age. We are living in an era of people whose sole concern is to indulge in consumption, to satisfy their appetites, and to lead an indolent life; their notion of Hereafter was destroyed, buried under the ground and huge boulders were heaped on it so that it could not be resurrected. Then, it should never be forgotten that the influence we are to make on others is closely related to the shadow we cast on the ground. If we are really upright, so will be our shadow, and our state will have a relevant effect in the hearts of others.

1. Sahih al-Bukhari, Ilm, 2
2. Included in The Gleams as “The Nineteenth Gleam.”

This text is the translation of “Adanmışlık Ruhu ve Hayat Standardı

Slanders and Conspiracies


Question: The tolerance and dialogue process that began in Turkey years ago and was met with opposition is now a fact that almost everyone accepted. Would you please give your views on this phenomenon?

Answer: It doesn’t surprise me. I see that the resistance to the above-mentioned process appears to be an extension of the struggle between believers and unbelievers. As I have said on different occasions, it is not a new phenomenon for unbelievers to act against believers or for insults to be hurled at the faithful. It has gone on from time immemorial: It is a phenomenon that began with the first battle between Satan and Adam and has continued on, changing according to the times and conditions, sometimes gaining in intensity, sometimes easing up. At certain junctures, the deniers of our day are planning particular games, and they continue their fighting by changing arguments, instruments, and strategies. Here the attitude against faith never changes. Their hearts don’t change; their resentment, hatred, animosity, and hostility toward religion never change. The Holy Qur’an and the sound hadiths call this type of people “Satan’s minions,” meaning those who assist Satan. Because Satan has not changed, it is not possible for Satan’s minions to change either.

From the beginning Muslims really had to accept that this was the reality. Because of that, very trustworthy, angelic people may come and say, “The devils have changed now. The snakes embrace the doves and the wolves graze with the lambs.” But you should not believe them in any way. Otherwise, we will be people who are always lied to, deceived, and cheated.

Against this, we don’t have even one thing in common with them. We have the attitude towards them as we would towards the most monstrous animals that are committed to opposing us. As history has established, our attitude is always humane, because our religion commanded that we should be like that or behave like that. We are even saddened when a fly falls into the jam and is struggling, because our compassion and mercy are centered on even the smallest creature. Many years ago, my beloved friend, who was a flawless theologian, broke the back of a snake in the countryside. I think I didn’t speak to him for a month or two. “What right did you have? Why did you cut that animal’s life short and keep him from living,” I said in reproach.

Now our manner of interpretation is like this. Even people who have the natures of snakes and scorpions are treated with compassion and mercy.

Question: This approach means that they have not changed their attitude at all—why do they fail to soften their stance?

Answer: As I tried to express before, this is in the nature and character of unbelievers. To change one’s nature is hard—as in the folk-saying, “A leopard can’t change its spots.” Don’t forget: From the time of the creation of Adam and Satan’s people until now there has been a continuous rising animosity between these two groups. Before, this animosity was connected to ignorance, today it is based on their interpretations of science, philosophy, and the social sciences. Because of this, now the matter is a little more difficult to resolve and has taken the form of an enigma.

Yes, this hostility that is inherent in the character of unbelief impels them into rebellion against faith. They haven’t the least bit of forbearance for the things that come from faith. They have no ability or intention to share. These people have not matured enough to share. Rather than unite against a common enemy, they will wolf each other down, don’t doubt it. There are their clubs and organizations. If you’re not in their circle, they will not even accept you as a visitor. And our mosques? We need to think very seriously about them.

Question: In your opinion, do Muslims know about this as much as they should?

Answer: I don’t believe that they know. Of course, if you don’t know about something, you can’t be opposed to it either. Thus in the times when there were serious attacks against a group of Muslims, there were also Muslims who supported these attacks through deeds and publications. A number of false sheiks and scholars, perhaps unconsciously, served the misguided clan. They used their mouths, they published intrigues. Didn’t they really know what they were doing? I don’t know. But I can say this much: If these people—people of unbelief and misguidance—did not think about why there was this much hostility toward Muslims who were already exposed to a thousand kinds of brutality, then they were both enmeshed in behaviors that were disrespectful to religion and they were completely naive. And even further, they will be punished for their credulousness.

Really, isn’t it necessary to think, “Why are the enemies of God and the Prophet so hostile to them?” Isn’t it necessary to say, “Why do the enemies of the mosques take such a hostile attitude toward them?” Shouldn’t we ask, “What is the reason they declared their hostility to the religion?” On the other hand, a Muslim who can discern even the smallest detail should understand that these people are nothing but Satan’s servants, his representatives and accomplices who take his attitude.

Question: What gave rise to the most recent slander?

Answer: Everyone who lives in this country knows that in this type of structure, people with intelligence and character have so far heard of fifty types of slander and allegations against me. Maybe “conspiracy” would be a better word. The biggest was the “cassette storm” that I went through in June 1999. From the beginning to the end, there was this scenario, but there were details that they didn’t take account of. They didn’t realize there were serious holes in their logic. They said, let’s finish everything up quickly, but they couldn’t do it either strategically or technically without making mistakes. This is the way it was. They hurried through everything and tripped over their own feet. They made fools of themselves in the eyes of the public. Every time I hear it, I admire the prudence: According to the results of a survey of Turkish society, 85 percent said “We don’t believe this.”

We can learn this from looking at a point in history. Let me express my perceptions and feelings: The Prime Minister of the time, Mr. Bülent Ecevit, bravely spoke up and came out against this matter, saying in a loud voice, “I don’t believe this,” and “I don’t understand anything about these allegations.” He reacted to this bravely every time something happened. History will always remember his behavior with appreciation.

Yes, that was a storm but it never really died down. From that day to today, just as they did before, they try to destroy me. Every time they ignore the truth, they say brazenly, “This man has nine lives.” As you’ve seen, they may think you’re dead, but you aren’t really dead at all. I want this to be known: I am ill but I am not afraid of death. I see death as something like a holiday. People who do not believe in God should fear death. I am stubbornly longing to meet with God and our Prophet. Death is the greatest jewel that can be given to me. It is like a pearl found on the road.

There are several possibilities we could consider as to why this last slander arose. Let’s start with the flimsiest possibility: Some sly person wanted to get something into the media. He sat down and wrote some fake news and sent it to one of the news agencies. As it happens all the time with us, it was published on a website without anyone checking to see if it was accurate. Even though there are press ethics, they are not enforced because there is no penalty for false news. The press and publication houses have a relevant set of laws, but as I heard from Oktay Ekşi himself, we have a problem with enforcement.

On the other hand, they don’t even think about how this deceptive news affects my family, relatives, and those close to me. Previously, I said that they had tried to kill me. I’ll never forget: A while ago, my brother called me and said, crying, “We heard some news that someone attacked you as you left the mosque and split your head in two.” After that, his voice cut out—I think he fainted. As evidenced by the publication of this sort of false news, they clearly have no respect for people or for human values. In Turkey no one goes out and says, “All right, enough. Fear God. This issue has gone completely overboard.” Because no one says this sort of thing and the law has not been framed appropriately, lies and those who lie are allowed free reign. With these lies, the liars make a premium, increase circulation, and win new customers. And with that they can earn more from the increased advertising, too.

Second:—God knows, this is how it seems to me—Turkey is moving in a good direction toward cooperation through the united efforts of the state and smart politicians in the government. With a certain degree of agreement and compromise—even though there are always opposing voices—good things have been accomplished. For forty or fifty years we’ve had this dream of joining the European Union, and for the first time we are taking real concrete steps toward that goal. Turkey has successfully taken ownership of its role by hosting a meeting of NATO. We are experiencing many important developments, such as improvements in the field of economics, a reduction in inflation, foreign capital invested in Turkey’s development, an increase in tourism, etc.

God knows, there are people, as well as groups, neighborhoods, internal and external powers, who want to undermine and sabotage these developments. Whenever Turkey goes through a good period, there are those who always do underhanded things to all that has been accomplished. There’s no Turk who is unfamiliar with this. The people who have risen to such peaks, haven’t they just worked to benefit their allies? Didn’t they smuggle goods right in front of the eyes of the intelligence agencies? I’m embarrassed even to say it—what should we say about the whole embezzlement affair? Rather than talk about these things, they just shoved it all under the carpet, and instead switched the daily news topics to “reactionaries” in Turkey, “Fethullah Hoca,” and news like that. They turn the eyes of the public in another direction so they can comfortably continue their fraud!

That’s another possible explanation for this slander: Because of what they were doing, they put out this false news because they wanted to change the topic away from themselves.

Third: They think I’m at the threshold of death, and they say I always wanted to pass my last days in Turkey. All right, how did a person such as this come to stay in a different country for the past five years? The people who like to show off want to create an environment of pageantry when I arrive at the airport, with thousands of people who would come and meet me and form a convoy. People always think that everyone else is just like them. So it is thought that I want what those spectacle-loving people want.

On the other hand, throughout my life I have never wanted more than one or two people to meet me when I have arrived from another place. I wanted someone to come to meet me because I don’t know how to drive and I didn’t own a car. When I returned to Turkey from the United States in 1997, I called only one person from the plane and let him know I was there. I didn’t want either the media or my friends to come. Those close to me, including my siblings, only heard after I had already arrived in Turkey.

This is my nature. When I was little I used to do this when I would come home. Was everybody really waiting for me? If they were, so what? All right, it isn’t important if they looked for me or not. When I return to Erzurum, I would prefer to come home at night. My father, may he rest in peace, used to say, “Our stork, he comes home at night.” Let people—the neighborhood, guests, and neighbors—say “He came and he went, etc.”, but I didn’t want them to say anything. My character compelled me not to like those things.

By the way, let me say one more time that I consider it an insult to attribute to me all the educational activities and worldwide achievements made by the workers, teachers, women, and men of this altruistic group (Hizmet). I am not of the opinion that I did anything. Everything is done by these generous people. But some people misjudge and ascribe all this to me. I’ve been here for years in voluntary isolation, as you see and know. But work continues everywhere, with God’s guidance and favor. Even despite all the obstinacy and unbelief.

Let’s go back to the earlier point: If I return to Turkey and I am met by thousands of people coming to the airport in convoys and in the middle of it someone can stick in some provocateurs, they will change the focus. Come on, didn’t they do this in even the most innocent demonstrations? 

Fourth: With this false news, they may have wanted to interfere with people who just want to be in their own home, in their own garden, with wife and friends, enjoying the summer, or innocently reading the Qur’an or hadith. It’s not just my individual perception; it is general common sense that they snitch on people. As a result they come and seize innocent people and—excuse me—work you to a pulp until they can get you to spill everything. And no matter how much you protest your innocence, they’re sure you are guilty. That is, they work opposite of the law. You will be declared guilty, and then you have to prove your innocence. But they should follow the basic principles of law: “You can’t prove a negative.” “People are innocent until proven guilty.” “Allegations must be proven.”

In order to blacken the reputations of such innocent people, it is not difficult to sneak into people’s homes and plant a bunch of CDs and books, and things like that. Right now in the world of terrorism, this is a most common method. With these sorts of sneaky plans they can enthusiastically declare innocent people to be terrorists and portray innocent acts to be somehow connected to terrorism. You can see this is a basic conspiracy theory, but you cannot assure me that this isn’t what is really going on.

Fifth: I heard that some people influenced by the evil suggestions of Satan would say a certain person is dying and that would act be a curse to make that death possible. When they did, people think he really is dying, and people give up on him. I don’t believe in such things, but it is certainly within the realm of possibility that such false news with this aim could be fabricated. It is possible, as I discussed before, that false sheiks and scholars are capable of doing such a thing.

Question: How do you want us to behave in the face of all of these things that are happening?

Answer: You know of the behavior of our blessed Prophet and the Companions during the Slander Incident. Now the Companions were a discreet group. Despite this, there were some hypocrites mixed in with them. In order to get revenge against the Messenger of God, they spread slanders about our noble mother Aisha. This was the scenario. Behind this was the well-known hypocrite Abdullah ibn Ubay ibn Salul. It is always like this—pardon me—there are always people who will believe such ridiculous scenarios. There were even those among the Companions who started to believe this. I’m not going to say their names, but all together there were three people. I think there are some Muslims in Turkey who are like this. As I said before, I am all for discernment, but there might be those among our people who believe in such lies, misrepresentations, and conspiracies. Because of a lack of evidence and despite the fact that I haven’t had any influence for years, they can believe the lies because they don’t see me since I am living far away as an expatriate. And those people who have these beliefs fill the airport and this situation benefits the conspirators. As I said on STV in a live telephone interview—and as I am saying again—I do not give my blessings for people to act this way.

Question: How do you feel about these slanders?

Answer: I can’t say I’m not sad. Of course I’m sad. I’m sick at heart. But I found this consolation: People slandered our blessed mother Aisha during the Age of Happiness. The heretics even slandered God. How many times are such slanders against God mentioned in the Holy Qur’an? God forbid! “God has a child,” they said. “The angels are God’s daughters” they said. These expressions that are so disrespectful of the Divine Essence always fill me with compassion. First the heretics did this to God and to our dear mother Aisha. Now in our day, the heretics do this to a simple man like me. But I don’t suffer that much, I cheer up.

Question: Finally, is there anything you would like to add?

Answer: Well, the people who have the ability to oppress always oppress. Your work is painful—actually, you decide if it is painful or delightful. If you don’t have the capacity to hurt people, then you won’t hurt them. In my opinion, this is better. If there are such oppressors, let them continue oppressing. Let’s call down God’s mercy and forgiveness upon those with an aptitude for caution and vigilance. Let’s wish for them to be saved from the path that leads us astray.

Second, you will be subject to slander whatever you do. It has been the fate of those who walk this road to face conspiracies and this will continue. But sagacity sweeps it all away. Against wisdom no conspiracy or slander can work.

Third: It is ungrateful to ignore the activities of people who bring Turkish culture and language to all corners of the world. I say these activities are like the sun. The sun can’t be covered up with wet clay. Let them do what they do, this wise society sees and knows everything. Because those who oppose us can’t help but see the good things that are happening—the light has not been extinguished—they are driven to delirium. They become unbalanced. This also needs to be known. Those with that mentality are like those who believe in the caste system. I dare not say it—they think they were created from God’s mouth and ear, but the pure children of Anatolia were created from His fingernail (God forbid!). No matter how improper it is, they make this judgment against those who do the good activities, “Give no quarter! Don’t save them, shoot them! Kill them!” Their basic logic is based on the idea: “Kill them, and later we’ll find proof.” It is also important to know this.

Finally: Don’t be discouraged. Those who serve this nation and this nation’s future and even serve all people will continue with God’s permission and grace. Like a caravan, they will forge ahead. This caravan—again with God’s favor and generosity—will not be stopped by slander or by deceit.

This text is the translation of “İftiralar-Komplolar.”

The Broken Jug: Droplets of Wisdom from the Heart


Introductory Note

The phrase Broken Jug is a valuable metaphor and a symbol worth pondering upon. It gets its name from the following tale by Rumi:

Once upon a time there was a Sultan who set up his marquee on a hill overlooking the Euphrates. The people of the land dearly loved this Sultan, a great man who not only conquered their lands, but also their hearts. They desired to be known and loved by this auspicious man. For this reason, they would come to his presence and offer him gifts.

On one such day, when the rich and wealthy were presenting the Sultan with precious gifts, a poor man went in search of finding a present fitting for the Sultan. When he couldn’t find a valuable enough gift, he remembered the broken jug lying on one corner of his home. He filled the jug with ice-cold water from his village and set off to see the Sultan. Soon after, he came across a villager who asked him where he was going, and when the poor man answered, the villager mockingly said, “Don’t you know, the Sultan owns and is presiding over the water source of these lands? The water from your village is also his. He does not need whatever is left from your broken jug!”

The poor man blushed and said “So what? To the Sultan belongs the noblest of manners, just as servitude befits a slave. Even if I don’t have a gift valuable enough for the Sultan, this broken jug filled with his water symbolizes my heart filled with his love, and that is why I will go and present this to him.”

Just like this poor man, Gülen is a self-attributed “slave” who is offering his humble sermons as his only gift to God Almighty, and to the benefit of others.

We, too, have a broken jug in our hands and our aim to present it as a gift to God, the Sultan of sultans. We wanted to share this gift with our readers, a gift which is comprised of all the beauties and blessings He has bestowed upon us. Initially, it was a few of us who were blessed to be acquainted with this fountain of wisdom, but we humbly wished to share these  sermons with others so that they, too, could quench their thirst for knowledge.

The Symbolism

The Broken Jug is symbolic of the water of life, an elixir so deep and abundant that we can only truly understand it and contemplate upon its depth from the water seeping through its cracks. Even though the seeping is small, it is enough of a trickle for those who want to find their way and reach the Fountain of Truth…

The water seeping through the Broken Jug is like a mirror reflecting the inner dynamics of Gülen’s heart and soul, his profound knowledge, asceticism and piety. The water also symbolizes abundance and blessing, but at the same time it is symbolic of pain and suffering. It is as if each word in every sermon has been washed with the author’s tears, and we can almost hear the cries of pain, anguish, love and passion seeping through…

The Broken Jug is symbolic of love and humility. We all have a jug to offer as a gift to God, the Sultan of sultans and it is rarely in a neat condition. Some are broken, some are cracked, and some are covered in dirt and soil. Regardless, it is not the condition of the jug that matters; rather, it is the act of offering the gift to Him that matters most. It is knocking on His door over and over again, being aware of one’s impotence and weaknesses, in spite of what is in the jug and however little of it there may be left…

The real gifts in life are those hidden in trickling tear drops, heart-felt prayers, and the enthusiastic hands raised towards the heavens. The real gifts in life are hidden in the prayer: “O Lord! I may have fallen once, twice, so many times to have lost count. But now I am bent double and standing at Your door. For I have no other refuge or sanctuary to go to. Yes, to make mistakes is what I do best, and to forgive is what You do best.”

The story of the poor man with the broken jug continues when he arrives in the presence of the Sultan. The Sultan was such a man that, befitting of his status, he responded to the poor man with mutual love and humility, and before parting, he ordered his men to fill the broken jug with gold coins.