The Generations of Hope
The generations of hope, which are, with respect to the present, the representatives of science, knowledge, faith, morality, and art, are also the architects of the spirits of the people who will succeed us. They will pour out to the needy hearts the purest inspirations of their hearts, which are nourished in the higher realms, and they will bring forth the newest formations in all sections of society. The inauspiciousness and waste, the insanity, obsessions, and delirium of successive generations in our near past occurred, to a great extent, because they had not met such a generation of hope.
Within the last few centuries in our history, we have experienced total failure after failure, even in places where we should have succeeded, and have lost mostly in the arenas where we should have won and been victorious. At this time, we treated one another like wolves, and left an inheritance of grudge, hatred, and political greed and ambition to those who came after us; those who were in politics and those who supported them considered every means and action as legitimate and permissible if it were to gain them position for their own team or party; they devised and entered into complex intrigues and deluded themselves that by overthrowing the dominant group and changing the party in power they would change everything and the country would be saved. Neither those in power nor those in the opposition ever understood that it was only possible to reach their stated targets through a performance of revolutionary-like actions directed by thought, knowledge, faith, morality, and virtue. That is why they saw the desired “change” and “transformation” in empty, formal, and meaningless alterations on the exterior only, and in what might have been a huge historical restoration and reformation they became entangled in paints, colors, whitewash, and mere cosmetic changes. Moreover, some, being alienated from our true national values, sold out the ideal of patriotism to Satan in exchange for insignificant things, just like the naïve Faust; and according to the requirements of time and conditions, and some passing interests and gains, they subjected themselves to the madness of being one type of nation on one day and another on another day, yet in fact not being so, but only appearing as if so. They either breathed Turanism once, or mumbled the farmer-peasant nation once, or talked about aristocracy somewhat pretentiously once, or attempted to say democracy once, or winked at communism once, but they never saved themselves from drifting here or there. Particularly with the mixed appetite of our intelligentsia, an appetite that has no scale or criteria, a fancy and fantasy of France at one time, a liking and admiration of England at another, a passion for Germany next, then a love and zeal for America, or some other such country, became the drive behind our interpretation of life and the ports from which we were to sail forth into the future.
In contrast to this, the sense of nationality and religion, which is the common ideal of our people, should be based on a foundation. The foundation should be above all sorts of fantasies, it should exceed the truth of individual spirits, and it should be of a strong faith, of established thought, of sound morality and of virtue that is acknowledged and owned by all souls. It should be stronger than the strongest of all foundations. This is a moral movement, which each and every day leads in the same direction, which is on the course of its own richness of spirituality and understanding of reality, which is open to all kinds of change and new attempts, which revolves around God’s pleasure, which is completely immune to considerations of interest and profit, and which will promise the desired salvation to the future generations. Otherwise, while our intellectual world goes down such a twisted path, while our hearts hold a faith that has not yet acquired certainty (yaqin), and while they are in utter confusion and disorder, while our minds see so many diverse methods and concepts that have multiple views of civilization, it seems impossible for us to claim the ownership of a spirit and essence—the real property of our nation—to take it under our protection, and to pass it safely to the future generations like a trustworthy keeper.
Many have witnessed and know quite well our near past, the critical periods in which we lost the values that belonged to us. We thought a great deal of producing a new style and philosophy of life for ourselves by combining so many diverse understandings and interpretations, so distant from one another, and so many thoughts that contradict one another. Alas! We have wasted so many lives and are still consoling ourselves with the delusion that we are producing something. As we have not been able to do this so far, it will be impossible for us to do it from now on if we carry on in the same way. For without embracing the roots of spirituality and meaning of our own lives, it will not be possible to reach a new synthesis in thought and a fresh style in expressing ourselves. During this period, far from reaching a new synthesis and style, we have experienced a continuous nausea because of the split in our understanding and feelings and the effects of fluctuating contradictions in our soul. Of course, all the opportunities we received from time to time and the potential strengths and powers we had were completely wasted, lost, and came to naught.
Although it may have seemed that we accomplished some things in the last few centuries, we have not been able to present convincing or admirable work in terms of our own faith, our way of thinking, morality, culture, art, economics, or in our way of administration. Even though there have been some achievements in this period, they proved to be nothing more than “fantasy” or “superficial” things initiated to arouse the desires of youth. These achievements went no further than a couple of dozen insignificant wishes and desires when compared to our real needs, such as the interpretation of the age, an evaluation and appreciation of knowledge and science, a comprehension of the spirit of concord and alliance (wifaq and ittifaq), and resolving and overcoming the needs and wants which have bent us double for a long time. Our salvation from such narrow views and meager thoughts which enslave our senses and hold us prisoner can only be realized by the heroes of understanding, insight, and God-consciousness, who are conscious of and realize the age we live in, who are lovers of the truth, who are inspired by a longing for knowledge, who are bent under the burden of the true difficulties and troubles of today and of those anticipated in the future, whose acts are the reflection of their inner life and words, whose promises are the breaths of their heart, of people who are able to see beyond the horizon, who feel pain in the actual undesired state and dim future of people, who suffer in order to lift and raise generations to higher levels and shed tears for them like Job, who share the present and future pains and distress of the generation, and who appreciate their happiness and pleasures as the work and gifts of God, becoming ever more thankful for these and being elevated with that thankfulness. These heroes of God-consciousness will take their strength and inspiration from our life and centuries of colorful history, they will breathe into us the spirit of being a nation true and purer than the purest, they will thus enthuse our youth with faith, hope, and ideals of action, and will produce new canals and watercourses in the pool of our national ideals, which has been stagnant and inactive in the fatal dam of a long and terrible extinction.
And then we, as the nation, will run to the place of worship which we lost in our hearts through such canals and courses, will shed tears of reunion; by returning to our homes which are as warm as the corners of Paradise, we will meet the reflections of the Paradise we lost long ago; by rediscovering our own schools whose pillars are the search for truth and the love of knowledge, we will meet and be re-introduced to creation through the outlets of schools which are open to the universe; by loving all human beings we will learn how to share everything; by living through more agitation for others we will embrace everybody on the diamond hills of our hearts; by observing and looking into the creation we will be enthused by the sense of art, and in our relations with people we will think with deep inner concerns and sighs, drenched in tears and wrenched by palpitations, and thus express ourselves.
For us to experience a new nationwide resurrection is dependent on a few dozen heroes who will be the life in our bodies and the blood in our veins, a few dozen heroes who will have reached the lights of the truth beyond the horizon of knowledge, who will have controlled and disciplined the demands and desires of their body, paring these down to only the bare necessities. These heroes will always feel in their conscience that they are called to God in a transcendent harmony. They will always communicate His message, sobbing with enthusiasm, speaking with formless words and voices; they will breathe in and out with Him.
As these heroes have dedicated themselves in a willing slavery to truth from the very onset, they will never be servants or slaves to the disorderly wishes, work, and dealings of society. They are conscious of servitude to God in humility and continually act with the observation and understanding of eternity in all their acts. They will lead their life under the shower of inspirations from God. By turning to and forcing the gates of other divine gifts with every inspiration, they will feel their difference for they are blessed with turning one into thousands, and will taste at every incident of extinction, the delights, enjoyments, and pleasures of eternity.
The adventures of the lives of these heroes will be renewed within the frame of faith, knowledge, affection, love, and spiritual pleasures; their horizon of thinking will soar over the vastness which separates the mortal from the eternal. Their capital is knowledge and faith, their base the Owner of the Infinite Might, and their path the way of all the righteous servants of the Truth who have ever lived. They go forward, relying on the invincible power of religion and the surprise favors of God in the guidance of the Prophet to eternity, and so a period of apostasy, unbelief, and atheism will drown and perish in bottomless pits of unnaturalness.
Just as humanity has never lived without faith or knowledge in any period of history, so too have civilizations never been without places of worship or God. Although, by darkening their own horizon with their own hands, humanity has occasionally fallen down into the pits of faithlessness and ignorance, they have stood up with a more consistent, meaningful, speedy, dignified return from every fall, feeling their bond with the Creator more profoundly in their consciences. That is why staying and living in a vacuum of civilization, in relation to places of worship and God, and of humanity, in relation to faith and knowledge, has always been a temporary state, and will continue to be so from now on; until Doomsday and the destruction of the worlds, the thought of the places of worship and God will not be eradicated from the hearts of humanity; human beings will never be completely torn away from their Creator. Consciences are fundamentally open to God; therefore, the temporary darkening of their horizon from time to time will be like an eclipse. The light will follow the darkness, and dawn will follow the sunset; and when it is due, time and whatever is bound with it will launch into the course and orbit that are pre-destined by the irresistible pre-ordained decrees of God in eternity.
All around the world the generations of today are seeking their own essence, the life in their conscience, and the Paradise they once lost. This inclination, even to this degree, will be enough for them to find their hero and reach the line of the Truth. Once their consciences are on the course of their nature and disposition, God is perceived in everything that comes to them through their inner senses.
Moreover, atheism, which rips things from the spirit and the essence they contain and uses them for the sake of its own wishes, ambitions, and fantasies, has started to be beaten down by its own inconsistencies and even to disintegrate. During this time, the spirits that are seeking their own truth have moved into the phase of discovering their own essence. Of course, in this way people will lose their interest in the ordinary things. They will sense their inability, weakness, and helplessness as a point of reference in their hearts, and perceive the point of support and reliance (nokta al-istinad) and the point of help and assistance (nokta al-istimdad) in the depths of their consciences. Thus, their natures will exhibit extraordinariness, their willpower will rescue them from their narrowness and so they will turn to the will and commands of God, the Infinite, the Eternal.
Again in this process, faith and resoluteness, which are the greatest spiritual dynamic of success, will make everyone achieve the power of their spirit pertaining to the secrets of the divine. This power will enthuse their hope and willpower, will eliminate their disorderliness and inconsistencies, will help them cross the bridges which lead them to being themselves, and will thus enable them to reach God.
The quickest, shortest, safest, and most accurate way for human beings to reach the truth is the way of faith, which is equipped with spiritual and scientific knowledge. The soul has always achieved its most mind-boggling accomplishments and victories in this way. In a place where faith is not fed with knowledge, coercion replaces the truth and law, and one inevitably meets brute force and bullying there. Under such conditions, weapons are often resorted to, money talks, only quick-wit makes its voice heard, and hypocrisy becomes the most desirable and sought-after quality. It is impossible to reach the spirit or essence of the Creation or to observe what lies behind it in such an atmosphere.
On the other hand, our truth is tightly related to the spirit of the infinite. To sense this relationship and to perceive what this relationship promises, we, as a whole nation, have to sacrifice much. It is not possible to talk about such a relationship or connection unless we sacrifice from our individual pleasures and happiness worldly amenities and possibilities, ranks, positions and titles, and even our feelings and ambitions for spiritual prosperity. If this relation and connection are realized, tomorrow’s world will be a bright, luminous world in which God is held the Most High, in which the truth will be made a crown and duly respected, and in which interest in power and self-seeking will be seen as a shame, a disgrace.
We feel that we have been on the way to such a luminous world for years. We deal neither with searching for the signs and symptoms of the awaited dawn nor with investigating magical numbers and dates for mysterious future happenings. By evaluating everything that the needle of the compass of our souls shows under the guidance and leadership of Divine realities, we will try to relate and connect ourselves to the Divine Will by means of our own willpower; we will become like those heroic people who spent everything they had on this way; we will use, spend, and sacrifice from our own lives and wealth; we will keep on walking on this way until we meet the Divine Will and what it presents and promises.
Each and every person who has a sense of serious individual responsibility will say, “I have to do this myself. If I do not do it now, to whatever extent I can, then probably no one will do it,” and they will run forward to be the first to do it, to bear the flag high. They will do this without competition, without jealousy or envy, without hindering and troubling others, but rather by providing opportunities around them for others to progress. During the dark period we have experienced, some of the things we did knowingly or unknowingly have tarnished our hearts and ruined our spirits; a great majority of our people were not able to pull themselves up or shake themselves off, and thus were unable to awaken to the lights of truth in their essence. They did not reach or acquire the spiritual dynamics that express vitality, which are like water, air and the power for vegetative growth necessary for our revival and resurrection. At least nowadays, instead of searching like an ivy for something apart from ourselves on which we can cling to remain upright and survive, by bringing out our potential power with all its relationships and ties with the beyond and the higher realms, by relying on Him, we continue walking toward Him.
To reach such a standpoint where we can see all, hear all, hold and take away all, and evaluate with a reasoning that is open to inspiration is dependent on revising and renewing this potential power and connection. In short, you never seek the spirit and essence which carries you to existence outside of yourself. Bend your head and listen to your conscience and, by using your essence, your entity like a magnifying glass you will start to travel in the direction of existence from your own essence.
By M. Fethullah Gulen