M. Fethullah Gulen
The feeling of pity is the quiver of a person’s heartstrings and spirit, a quiver that resonates from a sincere sense of compassion deep in one’s soul. Feeling pity, as it were, can be found in all living beings and is a manifestation of many Divine names of compassion; yet, it is actually a Divine grace special to humanity with its distinctive profundities. It is by this extraordinary gift (if a person is not completely distanced from humane qualities) that a person begins to suffer in the spirit and mind before a harrowing scene. Proportional to their sensitivity, such individuals are immersed in grief and sighs.
Feelings of compassion and pity are indispensably found in all living beings, primarily in humankind and especially in parents. People try to eliminate whatever triggers this emotion, even if it means risking and sacrificing one’s own life or standing against fires without considering what pity might cost. When feeling pity, one completely erases from the heart the feeling and thought of living. A hen attacks a cat or dog for the sake of protecting her young; a rabbit ventures death against wolves and hyenas; cattle defy lions or tigers with their horns. And human beings in particular, if they have not lost this magnanimous feeling and inner profundity, will virtually burn from within in the face of scenes that trigger pity; they will dare jumping into fires and walk against death without hesitation when feeling deep pity.
Feelings of compassion and pity are directly proportional to the flourishing of the person’s heart. In lofty souls, it goes beyond every frame and reaches to the horizons of those closest to God. They react to selfish considerations expressed as, “an ember burns the very spot it falls on” (those who really suffer are only the first persons involved); instead they say, “no matter where it falls, that fire burns me up from within!” Thus, they run to extinguish the fire, shouting warnings and holding extinguishers of humane compassion.
In great personages, and more so in prominent ones among them, this feeling is so deep and sincere that they feel agonized on seeing those who suffer. With such an outburst and stupor of compassion, they do not see or feel themselves anymore; thus, they keep saying, like Nursi once did once: “Given that I see the faith of my people saved, I even accede to burning in the flames of Hell. For, as my body smolders in fire, my heart will transform into a rose garden.” They voice their feelings with notes that remind of the noble Prophet who returned down to the world after his journey up to the heavens (Mi’raj) for the sake of eternal bliss for humanity, and they even consider throwing themselves in the fire to burn instead of those victims. Their feelings of compassion and pity are of a nature to make angels envious and of a quality to serve as an invitation to rays of Divine beneficence to come from beyond.
With a resolution that can only be surpassed by that of a Prophet, they keep running for help night and day, offering prescriptions of all kinds to extinguish the fires of pity. Moaning with a melody of most heartfelt compassion, they say, “here I am.” They knock on every door they reach with laments to wake up those inside, and then they leave only to turn back a few more times. They leave as they turn over the duty to wake to the morning breeze. They do not feel sick and tired of their visits, of meeting insult and disrespect, because their road is that of the Prophets which averts people from Hell and takes them closer to Paradise and beyond; and they are well aware of the requirements of this path.
The source of inspiration for those distinguished servants was the conscientious magnanimity of the Master of the Prophets. He had ascended to the heavens to meet with the Divine; then, he had gone to the furthest boundary and approached the Divine, as close as two bow lengths. A day of the former and a moment of the latter are more pleasurable than thousands of years in the world. He had the opportunity to stay up there, but he bid a temporary farewell to Paradise and returned to this realm of tribulation for the sake of saving others from falling to the lowest of the low and directing them to the highest horizons. He did it with a feeling of compassion and sense of deep pity special to him, for those who drifted towards Hell. He did it to let others also feel what he felt and allow them to enjoy what he had seen and to present brightness to unfortunate ones in pitiable condition who go through deformations of the heart and spirit.
With such a degree of altruism, while he was giving his loftiest character and mission their due, he was showing the ways to save people from the dark end unbelief is bound for, together with directing them to the ascent leading up to what faith promises. Actually, as that matchless person saw poor souls who had not completely lost their human quality but were struggling in a whirlpool of unbelief and misguidance, he writhed under their situation with a perpetual feeling of compassion and pity; and with that immense spirit of altruism he was blessed with, he would lament for them and immediately call everybody to his radiant course. These sighs and moans had even moved dwellers of heavens. The following counsel of moderation implied compliment while also reminding him of the frame of his duty: “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,” (Kahf 18:6). Thus, some water of relief was poured on his blazing heart.
Along with similar moderation and counsel, many other elucidating verses of the Qur’an also made emphasis to his noble character in this respect and gave a lesson of self-possession to those who took that course. They understood him, received their lesson, and contributed with their voices to that heavenly voice with a consideration of being a vanguard on the way to Paradise. The souls oriented to the lofty circle that followed his footsteps at every issue also showed the same attitude of beneficence and compassion; they kept sighing by adding new ones to his ballads of pity.
After them, neither did such moans cease nor the feeling of pity in hearts disappear. New compositions with melodies of the realms beyond were presented to those who staggered on; they were given glad tidings of a possibly blissful future. In the face of those who were taken by currents of unbelief and deviation and were drifting toward the destined fires, everybody was called to help: “Come, fetch water, hurry up! There is fire!” They cried to put off that inevitable end. As the glad tidings voiced a different aspect of compassion, the warnings aimed to stop the flowing towards Hell. They had belief in God and the Prophet; they saw their thoughts and actions as the necessity of being truly human—which can be in the sense of feeling pity, compassion, or purity of heart—and thus they acted without expecting anything in return. The theme and meaning is from God; the lyrics—as an outcome of their playing the part that falls to their freewill—are from the blessed Prophets and particularly the final one; and the composition is from those in the lofty circle and from the distinguished servants who are overjoyed with beholding the realms beyond the mundane world.
This blessed ember was so heartfelt to make the earth and the heavens whirl like dervishes, and its impact was forceful. Those who heard the melody, which sounded as if blown from the Trumpet of Israfil, were invigorated in accordance with the horizons of their comprehension, and, after some continuation, there would come a time when they also contributed to it with the sound of their own hearts. In time, this would turn to a tune of resurrection that resonated in ears. A time would come when those on the road, whose condition and feelings in terms of human values lagged much behind, also joined this feeling of compassion and pity. This humble author of yours remembers how he once wept for half-an-hour out of compassion and feeling of pity after the death of a bee – it was unthinkable for such a person not to wail on seeing intertwined problems causing different vicious circles of deformation in the world of humanity. By taking these into consideration, this humble servant also wished to join that sacred symphony and said, “I feel pity!” He sang ballads of pity for pitiable ones and offered moans for the waking of those who stumble their way on. With this, he expressed his pity for those who walk in the swamps of unbelief without a purpose and ideal, in spite of the blessed course of the Prophets.
“The universe is a great book of God all around,
whichever letter you try, you will find that its meaning points to God.”
I feel pity for those who have been blind all their lives and fail to study this book of the universe and what lies behind it. I feel pity for those who disregard the Hereafter and eternal life by falling for the outward beauty of this world and its deceptive magnificence and pomp. I feel pity for those who live blind and deaf to the eternal life in favor of transient sovereignty and ostentation. I feel pity for the slaves of an inferiority complex and who despise their past in slums and now boast of moving from one villa to another. I feel pity for those out of their mind to the degree of preferring this ephemeral and perishable worldly life over Paradise and Divine Beauty. I feel pity for the thickly heedless, who fell so low as to be bought off for the sake of this short-lived worldly life and fantasies of status, rank, money, and luxury. I feel pity for the dead at soul, the unfortunate ones who spend their time laughing and consuming vain entertainment in spite of the present violations of our dignity and honor. I feel pity for the mute devils who do not speak against intertwined destructions and irreparable collapses. I feel pity for those who eat, drink, and lie lazily, unaware of being no different than beasts in God’s sight. I feel pity for those in outward human form, unaware of the blessing of “the best stature” that the human is and what being one requires from us. I feel pity for those who came forward by saying “rights and justice!” like the Prophets did, but ended up as henchmen of the Pharaoh. I feel pity for those who treat human values like a cheap commodity, at a time when lying is so popular, betrayal is seen as a necessity, and rights are only entrusted to God. I feel pity for the hypocrites who make up religious legitimacy to deceive and slander in their attempt to pass these off as “battle tactics.” I feel pity for the so-called religious scholars who let their dignity be trampled under feet with sycophancy for the sake of a cursed appreciation or a dirty medal. I feel pity for the unfortunate “sold” ones who give rulings in return for a few banknotes.
I feel pity for those who go astray with light hearted statements like “let them steal…” I feel pity for the chameleons who vilify believers to obtain a short-lived worldly rank. I feel pity for those notorious ones oblivious to truth and who declare lies to be true and truths to be lies for fear of losing their lawful or unlawful benefits and titles. I pity those worshippers of worldliness who turn a blind eye to atrocities not even committed by crusaders. I pity those hypocrites who use their pen for besmirching people and call this vice a “war strategy.”
And I also pity myself for I was overcome by my good opinion of others and failed to tell about these atrocities to the masses. I pity myself for mistaking everybody as a friend by disregarding the truth I expressed in this poem:
“The heart always keeps seeking a true friend
but sometimes one who appears a friend turns out to be a hypocrite!”
I feel deep pain within and sigh for having failed to recognize and having fallen for the faith of a couple of hypocrites. I feel remorse and pains in my bosom for failing to keep up this principle: “Have good opinion of others, but be cautious, too.”
I try to find consolation by saying that, “we should view the past and misfortunes from a perspective of Divine decrees,” but I still feel pangs of conscience for failing to take a stance in line with the Quranic teachings against what happened and thus feel to be in a pitiable condition. Although waves and rays of oppression and malice struck my horizons of thought in a very early phase, I accuse myself for having failed to take shelter in Divine protection in utter confidence in Him and feel agonized with pains.
How I wish that it would have been possible to detect hypocrisy when they spoke of rights and justice and gave pompous lip service to respecting believers while things were shifting towards a disaster like Karbala; then innocent people wouldn't be martyred and bloodshed wouldn’t amount to streams. But it is too late; oppression and malice have reached a level to incur Divine wrath. What falls to us after this point is to say, “goodness is what God has decreed,” by taking shelter in serenity from God (sakina), self-possession (tamkin), reliance on (tawakkul) and submission to (taslim) Him, commitment (tawfidh) and utter confidence (siqa) in Him, and then expect for extra graces from the Almighty concerning those completely astray; and this should be the very attitude indispensably expected from a believer.
 Like ar-Rahman, ar-Rahim, al-Hannan, al-Mannan
 Lote Tree (Sidrat al-Muntaha)
 Israfil: the angel to give start for the apocalypse.
 The heart-rending incident where the Prophet’s grandchildren and their company were brutally murdered.