M. Fethullah Gulen
There is anticipation in the air. People from all walks of life are vigilant, waiting for a ray of light to shine upon them. Their eyes are fixed on the horizon, expecting the rise of a “true dawn,” and their hopes are spurred at each trace of light in the east. When they cannot see what they were expecting, they groan with disappointment, yet turn again to their horizon of hope and wonder, “when is the sunrise?” They lower their heads and set sail to another broken dream. Remembering the glorious days of old and seeing the fearful images of today, they sing songs of sorrow and drift in the high and low tides of hope and despair.
Horrific scenes of disintegration are seen on all sides as we witness more than ever before defiled feelings, darkened spirits floundering in the pus, hopes knocked down over and over, dead hearts that do not see and cannot understand, paralyzed souls, trashed consciences that have no horizons and are blind to what lies beyond. Ears are deaf to heavenly voices; eyes – persistently denying their nature – misread and misunderstand laws of creation; minds are intoxicated with positivism, naturalism, materialism, and all that nonsense that don’t fit within the framework of reason. Thus buried are the brightest truths in the darkest of the dark and with the darkest of souls. It is like a long gloomy night blackened by pitch-black thoughts of pharaohs.
On the other end of the spectrum, those who can fathom the mysteries and truths of humankind are but a few. Still, as whips lash above their heads, their mouths are zipped up, and their hands are cuffed, all they can do is wait for an extraordinary Divine help. Those who keep their hopes alive move on, saying, “God is enough; the rest is a passing desire.” Sometimes, they breathe by uttering the words of the poet:
Let the world come with all its causes of suffering,
Call me a traitor if I turn back on my struggle for the people. (N. Kemal)
Problems have reached the furthest boundaries; brute force is rampant; persecution and violence are blindingly daring; every corner is filled with helpless masses that moan and grieve. The sovereigns whose hearts have been captured by the devil and the elite who are somewhat lettered but whose eminence is but on the surface do not hear these groans. Even if they hear, they do not care; on the contrary they applaud the tyranny, praise the tyrant, and strive to become like the vizier Haman  to the Pharaohs. What is left for the victims, is to suffer.
God gave humankind reason and heart so we can discover and understand the inner truths of existence. Failing to use these to discern the developments around us and what they stand for will cause us to fail to maintain the quality of “the perfect pattern of creation” ; we may not even be aware of this failure. For those who fell from this status, life has been wasted in a vicious cycle of diversions and slips; they confuse the white with the black, the flower with the thorn. For them, the beauty of a rose becomes unfathomable; the songs of nightingale are the caws of a crow. Saving themselves from these crooked thoughts is rare, leading them to err one after another, and to become lower than their level of creation. While their feet are stuck in pitch-dark thoughts, their spirits drift aimlessly in all directions, and their hearts deform at all levels. They are headed to disintegration and to an inevitable naught.
As a matter of fact, there is a crystal-clear path, a way to be released from these deviations, a path that those who lead a life in the orbit of their carnality are unable to see. Everything points to the direction of this path in every possible language and style. The way out is to know and believe in the All-Glorious One as He is; to look into existence and events with the lens of such a Divine knowledge and make analyses accordingly; to explore the natural phenomena with what lies beyond their material being; to study the mysteries that underlie the essence of humankind; to apply mathematical decoding to all the known universe; to evaluate the Earth and all that is found here; and to continue all this work without a break.
Such firm persistence will lead to exploration of human nature, with its physical and metaphysical dimensions. It will turn the human into a projector that will show how to read the book of the universe, for a person is but a comprehensive index of the universe. Reading the book of the universe accurately is a vital prescription for us humans who can reason. This is how humans can gather themselves together, be protected from all kinds of deviations, and will reconquer themselves. This is how we will be saved from being dragged by whims, will be guided by knowledge, and we will cherish the relief and reassurance of turning to the One, will love Him, and will sing songs of love and reunion.
Unless there is a special Divine grace, it is not possible for the unfortunate ones who are unable to read and discover their profound nature to know and love the Unique Faithful Beloved; to surpass their physical and carnal aspects and move forward in accordance with the purpose of their creation, to overcome all humanly errors and soar for a reunion with Him.
The path to attaining knowledge of the Unique Truth and to be guided to Him require engaging in serious contemplation and deep thinking, and thereby reaching accurate assessments about one’s self. Such a frame of mind becomes a means for the gifts of faith and Divine knowledge, which all together will be of service to the person, allowing them to fathom their reason for existing, what they are expected to do with this life, and the content of the Divine message that has been blown into our souls with the breaths of Prophets. Then they start becoming aware of their status vis-à-vis all of existence, turning their faces gradually in the right direction. Having grasped their purpose, they let themselves flow with the current leading to the Ultimate Purpose. The journey becomes paths of discovery, as the person realizes all material and spiritual depths are the keys to the mystery of existence. They start hearing invitations from deeper realities at each departure from the shore towards the endless horizons, turning their back on all those that are destined to disappear. They build greenhouses against disintegration and hold themselves to account on how to live and behave. As they strain further in their spiritual struggle, they appear as role models and awaken those who are asleep with the hymns of the dawn. They guide to God those who can purify themselves from arrogance, vanity, and narcissism.
On the other hand, there are those unwise souls who think looking is the same as seeing. They are unable to hear the humming of all that exists in all corners of the universe in their unique languages of disposition; they cannot comprehend their precious status in the midst of everything. They keep their ears closed to sounds and tunes from what lies beyond the physical realms. Theirs is the life of the blind and the deaf. While every letter of the universe cries out for the One, they are far from understanding it. Deprived of senses and enthusiasm, these unfortunate souls live like moving corpses who regret the inner pains of their contradictions.
The discovery of phenomena occurs via one’s self-discovery. The human mind, spirit, and all other faculties become lenses to see even deeper, spurring feelings that ask for even more. It is without doubt that such a constant search does not go unrewarded. Then, the truth of this heavenly word is revealed: “Those who know themselves begin looking for Me; those who look for Me will surely find Me” . This search is what being in the “perfect pattern of creation” entails.
But the humans unaware of their status vis-à-vis the Divine constantly trip; their lives are no different than those of life forms that eat, drink, and sleep, indifferent to the outer world. They are plagued with the pressing fears of eventual ruin. They try to avoid these fears and run away from themselves by seeking fun, drunkenness, and various forms of hypnosis. Theirs becomes a life wasted, and when the time comes, the candle of life is blown out, leaving them in the hands of the inescapable end they have always feared.
Today, there are so many who are navigated not by their reason but the devil, enslaved by their carnal desires, and who have set sail to waters of rebellion. They act in opposition to what their hearts and spirits call them to; their thoughts are paralyzed, and the qualities that make them human have fallen apart.
Good character has disappeared, indecency is everywhere
How many ugly faces
were covered by that thin veil of morals!
Loyalty, honoring covenants, and trust
are nowhere to be found.
Lies, betrayals are all around, and truth is unknown.
O Lord! No strand of hair shudders of this scene,
How disastrous a revolution this has been.
Religion and faith are no more;
religion is destroyed, faith is a mirage
Let all the pride go and hearts turn mute
Freedom is no more
when this moral decay is underway! (M. Akif)
It is useless to expect anything from those whose knowledge of themselves is the least. Falsehood is disguised as truth and has set its throne in so many hearts. Those who masquerade as the elite whose job is otherwise to convey the true message and the raw souls who are merchants of religion act as “mute devils” – turn their faces away from atrocities and say nothing to prevent them, inviting even more trouble. Conspiracies are staged as truth and masses are manipulated so deceitfully that even the devils are ashamed.
All of these negativities started at a time when societies lost their true identities; call it our luck, or rather bad luck, that our times have witnessed their flourishing to unprecedented heights. We do not wish this, but it looks like they will continue to shape our future until we patch up the wear and tear of the last few centuries and reach days of revival.
The first step of such a blessed revival would be to establish our connection with the Divine as His servants and the place He has ordained for us in the universe. When the fog clears, and we can finally see the true Ka‘ba, we will turn in the same direction and seek opportunities of harmony and unity. As we will offer our unity as a call for help and success from the Divine, we will and should aspire to attain our true human status.
Among the major principles of this revival would be to think systematically, look comprehensively, question the authenticity of our current knowledge, be freed from the disease of imitation, and trample the filth of arrogance, conceit, and egotism under our feet. Those who put themselves first and are chained to their ego are in fact humiliating themselves.
You are unaware of yourself, so it seems
O humankind, you think you are a lowly being
If only you knew
Your essence is precious, even more so than angels
Hidden in you are the worlds, wrapped are the universes.
Those who become aware of their value leave behind their ego and move on so their remoteness to the One is shortened. As they are welcomed by heavenly beings into unreachable horizons, they abandon all worldly recognition and glory and cherish the discovery of their own nature. Then, not only the deceiving beauties of the world, but even the pleasures of the heavens, become invisible to their eyes. They live calling on the One with the words of Yunus: “I need You and You only.” Those who call on the world and are trapped in the beauties of this false life are fooled by assumptions and aspirations of an eternal life here and tend to ignore an eternal life there. Their minds and hearts are mortgaged by luxurious mansions and fleets of ships they own. I do not want to defile my language for them, and leave them with their fate to be recorded in history books, for this is not what the cavalries of light are expecting; with torches in their hands these cavalries are hunting for light and striving to attain whatever God wills for them.
God renders evils into goodness,
Don’t think He does otherwise.
The wise will wait and behold His works;
What God will do, let’s wait and see
Surely beautiful it will be.
- While Haman in the Hebrew Bible is a vizier in the Persian Empire under King Ahasuerus, the Qur’an refers to this name in 40:36 as the vizier of the Pharaoh in the time of Moses, peace be upon him: “The Pharaoh said: ‘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, though I surely think that he is a liar.’”
- Qur’an 95:4.
- This quote is narrated in books concerning Sufism as a hadith qutsi – a saying, the meaning of which is from God and the wording of which was inspired in the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. This saying is considered to be the gist or kernel of all explanations concerning knowledge of God.