The Characteristics Of A Believer
Today, we need responsible generations who are vigorous in the awareness of their duty toward God more than ever. We need ideal people who will guide our society: the guides who will help us escape from the abyss of ignorance and anarchy and lead us to faith, wisdom, integrity, and peace. Humanity has managed to stitch new garments out of its own death shroud before, and we can thank these exceptional minds and souls for our past rejuvenation. In every time of crisis, they are the ones who illuminate the way and attend to the crowds who suffer from economic, intellectual, religious, and moral depression. Thanks to them, we can continually reinterpret our existence, thus dissolving obstacles in our thoughts and feeling. Thanks to them, we have re-construed the world of phenomena around us all over again. They recite the book of existence to us melodiously after it has lost its meaning. Thus we are able to analyze it again, chapter by chapter and line by line. Thanks to them, the universe becomes an exhibition of wonder to us again, and we rediscover the hidden truths.
These auspicious people are characterized by their faith and by their effort to represent this faith everywhere. They believe that, with this faith and effort, they can surmount everything and attain God’s good pleasure, the truest peace. Then after turning this world into a paradise, they will settle into the Paradise beyond this life. In the assurance of their joyful end, they travel through life as if they were traveling through the slopes of Paradise.
Although the degree of faith may differ from person to person, faith has always been the most influential dimension of humanity’s life. No system of thought, doctrine, or philosophy can match its positive impact. When faith enters a person’s hear, it transforms the way he thinks about God, the universe, and his own life. His gaze becomes so encompassing that he can survey the whole of existence as if he were perusing a book page by page. The creation that he had once taken for granted, all those phenomena that had been dead and meaningless in his mind, are suddenly vitalized. They become his friends and companions, welcoming him in compassion. In this warm atmosphere, he senses the true value of his life. The believer comprehends that humanity is the only form of consciousness present among creation. He walks the secret paths that meander throughout the universe and perceives the mysteries behind the veil of all phenomena. Then he is set free from the narrow confines of three-dimensional space and finds himself in the immensities of the infinite.
Every believer, thanks to the flux of thoughts in the depths of his soul, enjoys the infinite in the midst of the temporal world according to the degree of his faith. Although the believer lives within the limits of space and time, he becomes as free and pure as the absolute, reaching the stars of the lofty beings and listening to the melodies of angels. Created from a drop of fluid, he flourishes when he nurtures the “divine breath” contained in his soul.(1) And no matter how small he may appear to be the believer is a transcendent being that neither the earth nor the sky can contain. He attains spiritual qualities as immense and endless as the heavens. The believer may walk among us, sit with us, and worship as we do, but he is vaulted to divine heights by the humble position of his prostration. He bears his wings in the same sky as the lofty spirits, experiencing the other world in this one.
Such a believer transcends his individuality as he dedicates him self to human virtue, and thus attains universality. He embraces all believers, lends a hand to everyone, and greets the whole of existence with sincerity. In everything and everyone, he recognizes the traces of the divine manifestations. He delves so deep into meditation that he can almost hear the beating wings of the angels. From the fearsome thunder of the lightning to the soothing melodies of the birds, from the gorgeous waves of the oceans to the eternal murmurs of the rivers, from the eerie roar of the forests to the awe-inspiring of song of the summits, he is surrounded by this panoply of beauties and says, “This is truly life!” He joins with a creation to voice the truth. Through prayers and praises, he raises his breaths to the dignity of their true value.
In constant humility, he waits like a servant at the door of the Divine, hoping that it will open onto God’s familiar gaze. He waits for the fortunate hour when absence and separation will disappear and peace and nearness will envelop his soul. He yearns to satisfy his desire for reunion. But even as he travels toward God, sometimes flying through the sky, sometimes running on the ground, he does not neglect creation, his companion. He experiences a new reunion with God at every turn and extinguishes the fire of longing, but it is quickly rekindled with a new spark. Who knows how many times a day he feels the breezes of divine friendship? Or how often he feels a deep sadness over the loneliness and affliction of those deprived of such blessings?
Indeed, the believer with such a broad horizon feels exceptionally ardent and resolute as he sets out to explore new realms. He thinks of the future honors and achievements on which he will be able to put his signature, thanks to God’s providence. And so he never tires, but keeps running with his path open before him, his will free, and his heart at peace. At every moment, his existential curiosity grows. His soul is at rest in a never-ending field of peace. Unlike others, he never faces loneliness or alienation; for he knows where he comes from and is confident in his purpose. He knows where he is going and is aware of the wisdom that governs all of the gatherings and dispersions of the world. He feels neither the weariness of the road nor the fears, worries, and afflictions of others. He trusts in God, leaps with hope, and the tastes joy of the summit in his dreams of Paradise.
According to the degree of their faith, such heroic believers can travel even the most difficult roads as if they were promenading through the slopes of Paradise. Because of their relationship with God, they challenge the whole universe and surmount every difficulty. They are not terrified of calamities or destruction, and they do not flee from even the most terrifying situations. They hold their head high, bowing to no one except God. Such believers do not fear anybody, do not expect to be rewarded by anybody, and are not indebted to anybody. When they achieve victory, they guard themselves against temptation and at the same time are humbled with gratitude and relieved with the tears of joy. When they lose, they are patient and determined, and they launch out again with a sharpened will. They do not become arrogant and ungrateful in the face of blessing or fall into despair when suffering deprivation.
In their relationships with others, believers have hearts like those of the Prophets. They love everything and embrace everyone. They turn a blind eye to the faults of others but question themselves for their smallest mistakes. They forgive the wrongs of those around them, even when they feel angered, and know how to get along with even the most acrimonious people. Islam advises its adherents to forgive as often as possible and to avoid the traps of hatred and revenge. Those who are conscious of their constant progress toward God could behave in no other way. They always have good wishes for others and seek the goodness of others. They keep love alive in their soul and maintain an endless war against hatred and animosity. The fire of their penitence purifies them of all faults and wrongs. They constantly wrestle with the evil feelings of their nature and prepare the ground for goodness and beauty by first making their own hearts good and beautiful. Like Rabia al-Adawiyya, they receive everything, even poison, as if it were a sweet drink. They welcome everyone with smiles, even those who approach them with hatred. They repel the most aggressive armies with the invincible armor of love.
God loves them, and they love God. They are always filled with the excitement of loving and are enraptured by the feeling of being loved. With humility and tenderness, they make themselves like the soil in which roses can grow. They are respectful to others, but also protect their honor, which is more valuable to them than this temporal life. They do not let their tolerance, compassion, and gentleness be interpreted as weakness; they live according to their beliefs and do not heed the censures or praises of people. Instead, they care only that the atlas of their thoughts not loses its color; for they have resolved to be true believers.
By M. Fethullah Gulen, May 1999
(1) The Qur’an teaches that when God creates the human individual in the womb, He breathes from His own “spirit” into the created body. This divine spirit constitutes our soul, the essence of human identity. (see Quran 32:9)
Source: “A Fethullah Gülen Reader – So That Others May Live” Edited by Erkan Kurt. 2013. New York. Blue Dome Press. Pages 67-70.