On the eve of the beautiful days of the future, days whose dawns are breathing festivities, it is clear that we face crises that seem insurmountable. Like social troubles, national problems, and natural disasters, the crises that besiege a society cannot be overcome or resolved by mundane measures. Solutions for such crises depend on insight, knowledge, and wisdom becoming widespread.
It is of no use— indeed, it is a mere waste of time—to try to solve such crises with aimless, limited, unpromising policies that are like mundane political maneuvers. From the past to the present, people of spirit, essence, and insight have resolved the commonest and most widespread depressions and crises with their immense horizons and zeal with unimaginable ease by using and activating the present day sources of power for the future. Some laypeople suppose that their own ingenious measures are superhuman and have admired and marveled at them as such. However, all they are doing, like all other successful people, is to use fully and efficiently the capacity, talents, and opportunities granted them by Almighty God.
People of discernment are always, in all their acts and manners, busy and preoccupied with plans and projects for today and tomorrow; they use all they have and all possibilities and opportunities as material to build the bridge to cross over to the future; and they always feel the pain and distress of carrying today onto tomorrow; to resolve the problems depends, to a certain extent, on overcoming or passing over the present time, and in fact being beyond time. That is, being able to see, foresee, and evaluate today and tomorrow in the same way. You can call such scope of thought, which entails embracing tomorrow from today and comprehending the future’s spirit and essence and content, an “ideal,” if you so wish. One who does not have such a horizon can neither overcome a multitude of problems nor promise anything for tomorrow. Even though some simple people have assumed great proportions like these, the pomp, circumstance, and magnificence of the Pharaohs, Nimrods, Caesars, and Napoleons, their noisy and hectic lives, which bedazzled so many, never became, and can never become, promising for the future in any way. For those people were the poor, the wretched, who subjugated truth to the command of might, who always sought social ties and congruity around self-interest and profit, and who lived their lives as slaves, never accepting freedom from spite, selfishness, and sensuality.
In contrast, first the Four Rightly-Guided Caliphs and later the Ottomans presented such great works, whose consequences exceed this world and reach to the next, that these works are in essence able to compete with the centuries; their value can only be appreciated by those who are not beguiled by temporary eclipses. Although they lived their lives and duties fully and passed away, they will always be remembered, talked of, and find a place in our hearts as the good and the admirable. In every corner of our country, the spirit and essence of such people as Alparslan, Meliksah, Osman Gazi, Fatih, and many others, waft like the scent of incense, and hopes and glad tidings flow into our spirits from their vision.
Caesar trampled down the ideal of Rome with his whims and desires, Napoleon imprisoned and killed the ideal of Great France in the net of his greed and ambitions, and Hitler consumed the aim of Great Germany with his rash madness. On the other hand, the ideal, which is open to continuity, of our people, whose heroism expresses integrity and continuousness, has always been held high and above all meanness or vulgarity, whether in victory or defeat; it is held dear, beloved, sacred, and highly esteemed, like a banner for whose sake lives are given. Under such a banner, Fatih walked through Constantinople, Süleyman the Magnificent advanced in the West, and our people during the First World War and the National War, for another time, maintained their loyalty and gave their lives for the understanding that the banner must wave so forever.
An ideal in the hands of an ideal man reaches the most elevated values and turns into the charm of victory and accomplishment. If the people who represent such an ideal are not the correct people for the task, then that banner or standard turns into a pennant under which common low whims and ambitions are expressed. Although such a pennant is able to bring together the children in the street, driving them to strike the targets, as if in a game, it is not capable of realizing the emotions and aspirations that reside in the depths of the souls of our people.
A person of ideals is, first of all, a hero of love, who loves God, the Almighty Creator devotedly and feels a deep interest in the whole of creation under the wings of that love, who embraces everything and everybody with compassion, filled with an attachment to the country and people; they care for children as the buds of the future, they advise the young to become people of ideals, giving them high aims and targets; They honor the old with wholehearted regard and esteem, develop bridges over the abysses to connect and unite the different sections of society, and exert all their efforts to polish thoroughly whatever may already exist of harmony between people.
A true person of ideals is also a person of wisdom. While observing everything from the comprehensive realm of reason, they also assess everything with the measures of their appreciative heart, testing them through the criteria of self-criticism and self-supervision, kneading and forming them in the crucible of reason, and always trying to possess and take further the radiance of the mind and the light of the heart in equal harness.
A person of ideals is a true example of responsibility to the society in which they live. To reach their targets, the first of which is, of course, the pleasure of their Creator, they sacrifice everything that God has bestowed on them, without giving the matter a second thought; they have no fear or concern for anything worldly, their heart is captivated by nothing other than God; they have neither ambition for individual happiness nor worry about unhappiness; they are a savior, a hero of the spirit, they do not mind being in hellfire, so long as their ideals and their country are everlastingly firm, stable, and permanent.
A person of ideals and high standing feels respect for the values they are attached to with profound self-supervision, performing their duties in the exhilaration of worship, and living as a hero of love and enthusiasm. Agreeing with and abiding by the truth with minutely meticulous sensitivity they always exercise their preference for sublime ideals. They are always in a struggle in the depths of their heart, a struggle to be the master of their self at all times; they have been sentenced to being a slave to the truth, they are disinterested and indifferent to positions and titles, and they see fame, covetousness, and fondness of comfort and ease as a fatal poison. That is why such people always win where they have an opportunity to win and turn unfavorable circumstances to their advantage.
Walking on this path along with the glorious spirits, such a person is so sincerely devoted to the Will of God that the storms of ambitions which hit them intensify and consolidate their sense of right, justice, and right-mindedness; floods of hatred, grudge, and malice enthuse the springs of love and compassion in their soul; they ignore and tread upon the gifts and blessings that ordinary people are caught up with and they oppose retaliation. If we are to think of such heroes of ideals at their true horizon, a place which perplexes the mind, then we are able to picture a person with an almost prophet-like resoluteness; superhuman pictures flow into our feelings from the doors which have been opened by these associations, and our house of imagination overflows with historical examples of heroism. Thus are we enthralled by the loyalty and sincerity of Uqba ibn Nafi in the African deserts, enraptured by the bravery and intrepidity of Tariq ibn Ziyad after crossing Gibraltar, lost in admiration of Fatih (Mehmed II) and his resolution, entranced by Gazi Osman Pasha in Plevne, and we salute with reverence the lions of Gallipoli on whose heads bombs and shells were showered and who faced onslaught with smiles on their faces.
We do not need anything else but exemplary people of high character and ideals. These exalted souls of the highest ideals will realize the re-establishment of our nation in the coming years. These heroic people, the yeast of whose existence is faith, love, wisdom, and insight, have not yielded to or been shaken by the numerous attacks that came from within and without over almost ten centuries. Perhaps they have shrunk a bit and become a little smaller. However, by acquiring some strength and firmness, they have come to a level where they can settle their accounts with the future, and have observed the age and bided their time to take over the duty with an extraordinary power of spirit.
It is a fact that over the last few ages, love, wisdom, insight, and the consciousness of responsibility have shrunk and simple daily matters have replaced the great ideals. Of course, it is not possible to say that we have done nothing in the name of reform within that period. However, the things put forward remain nothing more than low mimicry and sound effects. Such blind imitation, as a disguise for the introduction of vice and immorality into the thought of the nation, and as a means that leads to the destruction of its spirit, has brought about more harm than good. When the nation was bleeding from the injuries inflicted, one after another, on the community’s stamina, the real problem was not diagnosed, the way to cure and treat it was not known or defined, and incorrect treatment and meddling caused the masses to be paralyzed. The effects of the crises of the last few ages are still making themselves felt today in flares, eruptions, and centrifugal outbursts of rage.
Therefore, just like before, if we do not deal with the true causes of the problems, if we do not approach and treat individual, familial, and social problems with the ability, sensitivity, and skill of surgeons, if we are not saved from the swamp of vice, immorality, and filthy affairs and dealings from which we have been struggling to extricate ourselves for the last few ages, we will run into errors, one after the other, while looking for remedies; our crises will get much worse and deepen, and we will never be relieved from the vicious circle of crises and depressions.
It doesn’t matter if those who hold the reins continue in their age-old obstinacy. We have deep absolute trust in the ideal generations whose thoughts, feelings, and actions turn to the future, who are attached and devoted to their country, people, and ideals, who are focused to serve and contribute to people, indeed to all of humanity, who are taut and ready to be released, like the string of a bow, to serve all with the understanding and consciousness of responsibility. We trust that they will tackle and overcome all negativity and make the newest developments come true. One day, their strong desires and wishes, their love and longing to serve people will penetrate into all sections of society and will turn into seeds that flourish wherever they fall. This approach, which will eradicate the so-called realities of materialism and corporeality, will certainly embroider once more the canvas of its spirit with its own worldview and plan of action.
By M. Fethullah Gulen