Ideal Spirits And Heroes of Love
Only those who overflow with love will be able to build the happy and enlightened world of the future. Their lips smile with love, their hearts brim over with love, their eyes radiate love and the most tender human feelings—such are the heroes of love who continuously receive messages of love from the rising and setting of the sun and from the flickering light of the stars.
Those who attempt to reform the world must first reform themselves. In order for others to follow them on the way to a better world, they must purify their inner worlds of hatred, rancor, and jealousy, and adorn their outer worlds with all kinds of virtue. The utterances of those who are far removed from self-control and self-discipline, those who have failed to refine their feelings, may seem attractive and insightful at first, but they will not be able to inspire others—or, if indeed they can, the sentiments they arouse will soon die away.
Goodness, beauty, truthfulness, and being virtuous are embedded in the essence of the world. Whatever happens, the world will one day find this essence, and no one will be able to prevent that from happening.
Those who strive to enlighten others, those who seek happiness for them and extend them a helping hand have such a developed and enlightened spirit that they are like guardian angels. They struggle with the disasters that befall society, they stand up to “storms,” they hurry to put out the “fires,” and they are always on the alert for possible shocks.
Devotees of Love
Bediüzzaman said, “We are devotees of love; we do not have time for antagonism.” This is a very important principle for us. However, it is not enough to say just this; the crucial matter is to represent it. As a matter of fact, many speak beautiful words about loving humankind, and these are indeed pleasant words. But, I wonder how many of those who speak such words are able to put into action and represent in themselves, in their characters, what they have verbalized? I think it would be difficult to find a satisfying answer to this question.
Representing what he preached is one of the important characteristics of our Prophet. He practiced whatever he said and implemented in his life whatever words he spoke. Words that are not put into practice, regardless of how beautiful or perfect they may be, are doomed to be spoiled, to be wasted, and to lose their influence with time. It will be understood by their impact on hearts how stagnant, not only human words, but even Divine Words can become if they are not put into practice. Not even one letter of the Qur’an has been changed and it has maintained the same freshness and originality that it had at the moment it was first revealed. It is a blessed and celebrated book, but it has become a victim of not being seen clearly through the foggy atmosphere of weak human representation and emptiness, and consequently is subject to the delirious ravings of deficiency that are not a characteristic of the Qur’an itself, but rather attributable to the societies that have failed to carry it over into life. Religion and the Qur’an should be vital to life and must be fully understood so that we can remain dynamic. The Qur’an should be fully represented so that it can perform the function that is expected from it. In short, what I want to say here is this: it is not enough to say that you are a devotee of love and a representative of peace. There are a number of obstacles that must be overcome. The crux of the matter is to put that beautiful expression of words into practice.
Love and affection are among the most important principles of Islam. We must represent these throughout the world. However, certain recent negative events in particular have lead people to think of Islam as being other than it really is. Of course, it would be completely wrong to attribute to Islam the mistakes that some people have made. It is true that a serious change has occurred in a neighboring country which has severely harmed the Muslim world, although many of the problems there could have been solved through reconciliation. This did not spread because it did not go beyond mere slogans. Moreover, that is not the only country that has incorrectly reflected the image of Islam in the world. There are many other countries and leaders that continually portray negative images through their attitudes and behavior and, of course, in so doing it is the opponents of the Qur’an who always benefit. Moreover, we must be insistent on what we say and we must be fully determined to implement it. Our inner world should overflow with love and affection for humankind; there should be no place at all in our heart for hostility. Let there be no doubt, this new century is going to be an age when love and dialogue will flourish. Antagonism will be eradicated and love and tolerance will spring up everywhere. This is not a remote probability, especially at a time when the world is experiencing globalization. God willing, when the time comes, the holy ones will carry out this mission.
People of Love
The people of love, like Rumi, Yunus, Yesevi, and Bediüzzaman were attached to God at a much greater degree than us, and their fallibility was much less than ours. For this reason, they made tremendous efforts regarding love, affection, and tolerance, and they greatly influenced those around them on this matter. But, if we evaluate them within the period they lived, none of them saw the level of dialogue and tolerance that has been attained today by believing people as a result of their efforts. In fact, each of them had to face unbecoming treatment; in comparison with what they suffered, the treatment we face is almost nothing. Bediüzzaman says in concerning the suffering they had to bear:
Do they think I am an egotist who is only concerned for myself? In order to save the faith of the community, I have sacrificed my whole life and have had no time to think about my afterlife. During my life of over 80 years, I have tasted no worldly pleasure I have spent my life on battlefields, in prisons or in the jails and courts of this country. They have treated me like a criminal, banishing me from one town to another, keeping me under constant surveillance. There has been no persecution I have not tasted, no oppression I have not suffered. But if I were able to see the faith of my community secured, then I would not care about even being burned in the flames of Hell. For while my body is burning my heart will blossom like a rose-garden. (Bediüzzaman Said Nursi, Tarihçe-i Hayati [Biography])
In spite of all these difficulties, none of these men of love saw the degree of acceptance in their own time that is received by today’s representatives of dialogue and tolerance. Their messages did not have the same impact on the public that the messages of today’s heroes of tolerance have. I think that if they were to live in this century and were to see today’s trend toward dialogue and tolerance, they would ask, “How have you been able to be successful with dialogue all over the world? What is your secret?”
Such a distinction was not destined for these giants of light because the conditions of the time were not appropriate; in order to attain this distinction, it is necessary to persist on this way. Yesterday an eminent person said to me, “Some circles that were strongly opposed to believers until yesterday are now greatly supporting and commending them.” In fact, these are all indications of the feeling of welcome for these devotees of love that God has put into the hearts of other people. Ignoring this would be sheer ingratitude, and witnessing it, but neglecting to give thanks for it would be another dimension of unbelief.
By M. Fethullah Gulen