Appeal To Mercy
On the other hand, what lies at the roots of the behavior of people of service is a long period of preparation and severe suffering followed by an appeal to mercy aimed at a search for human rights.
It is patently obvious that those who do not share the same values inherited from the past, or who do not rely on the same sources as us are not likely to appreciate our affliction; nor can they help but be puzzled by our general attitudes. In fact, for those who view the present and the future from only a materialistic point of view and who deal with life merely in accord with its corporal aspects, it is not possible to feel or taste anything but the transient and shallow pleasures of the body.
And, again, according to the same corrupt view, things not related to corporeality or to the body are not worth mentioning. Neither the past nor the future holds any meaning. The past and the future are merely refuges in which those who have lost the present can take shelter. What such people consider essential is the present; they see the rest as being a waste of time. Truly, these people, imprisoned within such a narrow perspective, are not likely to understand such statements as, “Were you to know what I know, you would seldom laugh, and often weep.”1 Nonetheless, the Sultan of the Words, the Prophet who uttered this hadith, knew well over what he was crying, just as those mature spirits, satisfied only with faith, divine knowledge and love, and prepared with their armament for eternity, also know why they are weeping and of what they are in pursuit. There are many reasons for such people to cry.
As well as belief and finding peace—a problem in which everybody is interested—or the danger of being drowned in disbelief, there is a multitude of problems that need to be solved—social, economic, political, and cultural. There are cases of injustice that are considered to be the root of unease in society. There are rights that need to be reconsidered and redistributed in accordance with human values and along the principles of fairness and conscience. There are our hopes and ideals that are concerned with eternity, and, opposing these, there are antidemocratic obstacles that cannot be contemplated, as well as the propaganda of power. In many areas, emotions still dominate reason, and orders are given in accordance with the recklessness of power. In many parts of the world, human mistakes and acts that are considered to be wrong are still swept away with blood and tears. People, from time to time, are forcefully taken off in the direction of Paradise, or roughly pushed toward Hell, their will power and opinions disregarded. New camps are being formed every day, each team fighting for their perspective or their commandments; every ideology is depicting a life style befitting their principles. Furthermore, people are forced to fit into this narrow portrait and to live accordingly. Throughout the world, in hundreds of places, individual consciences are still being crushed, the will of the community is still being ignored and the eyes of the conscience are still being blinded.
In fact, the shortest way to relieve their pains and to rid them of personal and social repression is to cease interfering with their consciences and to show them how to exist with their own awareness and will. Indeed, only when the mechanism of the conscience is kept alive, and will power and awareness are respected in society, can the people stay human and be directed toward human values. Individuals can only be regarded as true citizens when they exist with their own conscience and will power, thus growing mature enough to help others spiritually. Otherwise, society is inescapably inflicted with various social, political, administrative, and economic problems. A community that is made up of inadequate, inconsistent or patched together pieces cannot be called a nation. Likewise, a mass that appears to be a nation, yet which has deteriorated beyond recovery cannot promise a bright future. If we want salvation as a whole society, it is essential that each and every individual be alert and motivated. The star of the good fortune of our society will appear in a surprisingly comforting manner if we plead for the salvation of others, shoulder to shoulder, with our palms opened to the sky.
The essence of the fundamentals that help us reach the desired maturity is composed of our being aware of the faith with all its peculiar depths, of undergoing pain and effort in our worship, of being moral in all our acts, of being spiritually, consciously and sensuously revitalized, and of weighing everything against the righteousness of the heart. Enlightened with these, we will transcend the limits of individuality, make demands in accordance with these principles, and be aware of the things that we demand as well. Going one step further, we will be able to connect everything with eternity, and evaluate everything with the supreme criteria. Thus, sharing in all the advantages of humanity, we will be able to voice once again our eligibility to be “in the most perfect form and nature”2 as the humans we are. I believe that those blessed ones who understand this pivotal point will not only attempt to lead others to the straight path, but will also guarantee their own future.
I feel obliged to restate again that individual projects of enlightenment that are not planned to aid the community are doomed to fruitlessness. Moreover, it is not possible to revive values that have been destroyed in the hearts of the individual in society, nor in the conscience or the will power. Just as plans and projects for individual salvation that are independent of the salvation of others are nothing more than an illusion, so, too, the thought of achieving success as a whole by paralyzing the individual awakening is a fantasy.
In this light, we believe that, having clarified in our individual wills and consciences the fact that everybody has hands of their own, but by joining hands we can solve all the problems with a collective conscience and will power. With this kind of attitude, we hope to retain, and even to increase, the fruitfulness of our individual lives while presenting to others the elixir of life, and, therefore steadily augmenting our material and spiritual value. To us, the more altruistic a plan or an attempt is, and the more often it is directed for the good of others, the more consistent and promising it is. This is true because what keeps a person alive is the goal of lifting others up. The converse of this is that it is personal interest that kills or paralyzes human beings. Those who waste their lives in pursuit of personal interest are sooner or later corrupted, although they are not necessarily involved in dirty politics. Those who stay alive by inspiring the awakening of others, on the other hand, walk safely providing the elixir of life, in places where all others are being blown around like leaves. And such are the people who have been nominated to “contentment” in this marathon that takes place in both this world and the next.
The camaraderie of the politician who seems to have accepted the existence and right to life of others just because they serve his or her personal interests can never be trusted, nor can anyone be safe when such politicians are antagonized. What such people think of all the time is their own personal interests. This is why they flatter and even submit themselves to the whims of other people. Such people crush, if need be, those they can afford to, and those whom they need are ceaselessly plotted against. When in power, these tyrants are ruthless; yet, when weak, they begin to cringe and fawn. Because they are consistently insincere, they are mostly beaten by their own tricks, preparing their own evil and wicked end. They make themselves believe that they are tricking and deceiving everybody, and that they are doing the right thing. These poor politicians, however, have placed themselves in a strange position, destroying their reputations for the sake of their careers. Such a deceptive intelligence, witnessed in some people, is a very serious disorder and is an incurable psychological illness. People of this kind always seek their own personal interest, despite the fact that these people are good for nothing. Nevertheless, this does not win them a reputation or credit in their career, and they end up cringing, licking boots.
On the other hand, what lies at the roots of the behavior of people of service is a long period of preparation and severe suffering followed by an appeal to mercy aimed at a search for human rights. This appeal almost always lies beyond individual responsibility, transcending the limits of the awareness of social responsibility with a depth of sincerity, and is a task fitting to a person of heart. People of heart are the leaders in each and every charitable act, reflecting their own style in their works, and they are open and honest in all their deeds. No matter how relentless and merciless the circumstances may be, such people are determined not to be diverted from their routes and, relying on their own foundations, they do not become disturbed. With their inner and outer feelings, they are programmed to see and hear God in a certain way, to know and to be with God. They are people of this world and the next, people whose contact with others, from the aforementioned point of view, can be considered as contact with God. Apparently, it is possible to observe the zenith of the Hereafter from this sort of worldliness. Moreover, the life that such people lead, with all its variants, is clear and boundless enough for them to enjoy a glimpse of the quiet of a harbor in the next world. Indeed, these purest of pure hearts have already achieved the blissful result that others can only dream of reaching after millions and millions of years of toil. They are considered to have reached the company of God and to have sat down with the dwellers of the highest rank, knee to knee, shoulder to shoulder, proving that such people are the eternal winners. Always sincere and profound, these people of heart constantly seek grand projects and summits. They think of mercy, speak of mercy, and seek ways to express themselves through mercy. They endeavor so heartily in the name of conducting everyone, without discrimination, to the infinite bliss that they sacrifice the pleasures of the future world and spiritual power, not to mention materialistic interests and desire for position. They display in their spiritual position and in their relationships with others a spiritual attitude that reflects the fact that they are in the presence of the Supreme Power. And where others die, they realize successive revitalizations.
Over and above the maxim “Desire not for others what you do not desire for yourself,” such people ceaselessly try harder for others so that others will benefit from what these people of heart have already found useful. With the boundlessness of the horizon of such people, they are able to revive the feeling of mercy in the hearts of tyrants. At the same time, they believe that being with the oppressed is the same as being with God, and thus support them.
Living for others is the most important factor that determines the behavior of such heroes. Their greatest worry is their quest for eligibility for such missions, whereas their most prevalent characteristic is that their utmost ambition is their search for God’s consent. When striving to enlighten others, they feel no pain nor do they undergo any shock caused by the delight of enlightening others. The achievements that such people accomplish are regarded as revelations of His holy aid, and such people bow in modesty, nullifying themselves again and again, every day. In addition to all this, they tremble at the idea that their emotions are bound to interfere with the works that they have caused to come into existence, and groan; “You are all I need.”
For ages we have waited impatiently for such blessed hands to transform what can be depicted as “the devastated lands, ruined homes, and remote deserts” into a new realm. And we are determined to wait for many more years with faith, desire, and resoluteness. May the expectation of these pure, compassionate hearts for this Infinite Mercy, not go unanswered.
By M. Fethullah Gulen
- Bukhari, Kusuf, 2; Muslim, Kusuf, 1; Tirmidhi, Zuhd, 9; Ibn Maja, Zuhd, 19.
- “We have indeed created man in the most perfect form and nature.” (at-Tin 95:4)
- This article originally appeared in Isigin Göründügü Ufuk, [The Horizon Where the Light Has Appeared], Nil, Istanbul, 2000, pp. 189-195.