The World Awaited
This article covers the dreams, hopes and aspirations of the writer’s for “The World Awaited“.
When we ponder great historical events we can see that thought and action live within one another, that they are interlaced in togetherness; action is, on the one side, planned and fed by thought, while on the other side, new efforts and ventures build the grounds or foundations for new thoughts and projects. In this sense, thought can be seen to be the sky and the rain, the atmosphere and the air for action, while action can be seen to be the container and the flowerpot, the soil and the power of vegetative growth for thought. It cannot be wrong to assume such reciprocity. For every venture is the realization of some thought and plan; every thought is a beginning and a process of finding its true framework and reaching for its target by directing actions toward it. The first stage of willpower is an inner inclination and the last stage is decision, determination, and effort; in this process thought is like the strands of the warp and the weft, from the beginning to the end, and conscious activities are like the patterns and the lace that is woven over those strands. Actions without thought and planning result mostly in fiasco and disorder; thoughts without actions prevent the construction of models—considered to be the latest dimension of thinking—and also damage the spirit of the willpower.
Returning to the present day, not only have the rays of thought been prevented from illuminating all sections of society, but willpower has also been completely paralyzed, representation has been excluded from the system and anarchy has been allowed to kill action. The unfortunate movements of the century have driven the masses from one depression to another, and dragged them into one disorder after another. The masses, in the hands of selfish, greedy, and ambitious souls, have been misled, paralyzed, and confused, and have tottered hither and thither, constantly exploited. Despite all these excuses, we reluctantly can see that the people of today have not yet matured enough to be able to move their own hearts and mental powers, and we say “and yet a bit more. . .” to rid ourselves of the weaknesses in our natural disposition, to strengthen our willpower, to feed our beliefs and to ripen them, and to eradicate all sorts of hopelessness and skepticism from our souls; and also, of course, first of all, to save ourselves from the “Western” shock, we again say “a bit more.”
From the industrial revolution in the past to the technological advance of the present day, almost everything has produced shock after shock, creating many complications for us; moreover, the misinterpretation of “scientism” and the flightiness and inconstancy of modernism have largely confused our minds and blurred our vision. Unfortunately, it is highly likely that such weakness and shocks will continue for some time, and our delirious speeches in our somnambulism will apparently persist, and so only God knows how many more years we shall have to bear such a state. We have to and we will endure, for we are conscious of the fact that in order for a society that has been so shocked and shaken to recuperate, come to itself, and to settle its account with the age, disciplined and positive action over a long period of time is needed; like the living patience of corals, a disciplined and active movement that is like the tranquility and constancy of incubation.
After such waiting and action, I truly believe that we will revive and contribute to the betterment and advancement of the world. However, in order to enact such a process we should raise people of great willpower who will give the people of today the newest spirit, people with the profundity of Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, the breadth of Imam Ghazali, the devoutness of Imam Rabbani, the love and enthusiasm of Mawlana Jalal al-Din Rumi, and the comprehensiveness and composure of Nursi; and who may thus prepare for the people of today fresh ground on which to live. However, it is a fact that we need the time, the conditions and the opportunity to raise such people and thus to break the waves of depression which have been crushing thought and intuition for ages, and to allow the breezes of Judi to blow into the souls of people. Of course, it goes without saying that we need to conquer ourselves, to repair the mechanism of our souls and restore our world of the heart, feelings, and thoughts as well. Otherwise, as we are unable to raise “the cavalry of light,” who will help us to reach the fountain of Khidr? As we remain closed to our own values and as long as we, concerning our spiritual systems, live disorientedly, it will not be possible for us to go further and make progress; this has been the case so far. On this issue, we do not need to look for enemies outside, for our enemy is within ourselves, and is watching our misery and vagrancy from his own palace, legs crossed and sniggering at us under his breath.
If we are to produce a strategy for jihad, then this jihad should aim to eradicate the ruthless and faithless enemies enthroned in our hearts, our world has in fact been blockaded for ages by none other than these very enemies. Our people have not been able to raise this fatal blockade and come to themselves, nor to become themselves. Our nation has been like a strange focal point of diverse communities, traditions, and cultures; it has always been a sample of disorder and disorientation and has never pulled itself together, as if it were a victim of thought riven by conflicting allegiances to so many nations, tribes, understandings, and idols; it has knelt to so many false gods at the same time, renewing its solemn oaths before so many false deities everyday. It was so, for, in that unfortunate period, our people never believed that any of the ideas were complete or right. Though it has lived in so many intellectual and ideological cross-currents, our nation has never been able to be completely in or of any of them.
Who knows how many great ideas remained merely latent and inapplicable to life, and what serious projects were trapped and destroyed because of the vague, blurred view of those with myopic vision then? For, in their view, the meaning borne by things and events and the interrelations of humanity, the universe, life, and science are insignificant and meaningless things, not worth dwelling on. Of them, they claimed that we know only what we know about existence; as to what we do not know, this will be solved by the understanding of someone else in the future anyway. Everything is measured, formed, and resolved by their fixed ideas. They can, as the need arises, by showing a world of wrongs to be right and rights to be wrong, go on keeping science, research, and knowledge under the injunctions of their own beliefs and dogmas; and, as if they had even witnessed the whole of creation and its stages from time immemorial, they can brag and swagger in such an assured manner and sell certain hypotheses fait accompli.
If there is no truth to be believed in, if no idea is worth believing or accepting, then what distinguishes existence from chaos? In a world where such an understanding prevails, how can a community be protected from relativism on even improbable matters? Will not the masses steeped in relativism accept what is most true and what is most untrue only to the degree that they accept its opposite? Of course, if such an understanding becomes widespread, everything, from the concept of goodness/badness to the consideration of moral/immoral, will be influenced by relativism. Today, what we need as a nation is a character which is activated by consciousness, realization, and responsibility, a character which is thoughtful in future plans and projects as well as in attitudes and actions concerning the necessities and requirements of today, and which is sincere and uplifted, but balanced; we need a character of thought and spirit which is open to all existence through the heart, one whose mind is cultivated and prosperous, and conscious of knowledge, one who always knows how to renew itself once more, one who is always after order and regularity, and which is quick to repair any damage.
People of such character will always run from victory to victory; not, however, in order to ruin countries and set up capitals on the ruins, but rather to move and activate humane thoughts, feelings, and faculties, to strengthen us with so much love, affection, and benevolence that we will be able to embrace everything and everybody, to restore and repair ruined sites, to blow life into the dead sections of society, to become the blood and life and thus flow within the veins of beings and existence and to make us feel the vast pleasures of existence. With all that they have, such people are servants of God and as His vicegerents they are always in constant contact with the creation. All their acts and attitudes are controlled and supervised. Everything they do, they do as if it were to be presented for His inspection; they feel by what He feels; they see by His look; they derive their way of speech from His Revelation; they are like the dead body in the hands of the ghassal before His Will; their greatest source of power is their awareness of their own weakness, inability, and poverty before Him, and they always try to do their utmost, and not to make a mistake in order to make the best use of that endless treasure.
They are also people of enormous self-accounting and self-control; good and bad, beauty and ugliness are as distinct and ordered within their own places in the mirror of their soul as day and night, light and darkness; all their powers of will, heart, consciousness, and perception are bent on attaining the mechanism of conscience and the highest aims related to and incumbent upon the faculties which compose conscience; knowing “the Almighty Creator’s ‘atiyya (gifts, bounties) are carried only (by) the matiyyas (the beasts of burden),” in the way responsibility is carried by the willpower, and love by the heart, with the connection and exchange of information between consciousness and existence, and between consciousness and the mysteries behind the veil of existence, with their senses perceiving the absolute truth, without or beyond any manner and measure, without or beyond any quality and quantity, and with their knowledge that places them some steps ahead of the angels, they feel closeness to God.
Regarding their own individual life, their eyes are always on the horizon of being an exemplary person; in the pursuit of excellence they are neck and neck with the saints and sincere friends of God; they are inexpressibly attentive, meticulous, subtle, and particular in fulfilling and representing God’s commands. All their attributes, such as their heroic determination to live true Islam, their reaction to the things God does not love, their fearlessness, intrepidity, and perseverance in the way of realizing the precepts of their faith, are beyond our conception or imagination.
Moreover, the enormous breadth of their collective feeling, the depth of their being a person of Truth and simultaneously a fellow of the common person, their love for God and for the creation because of Him, and their ascetic love, joyful zeal, interest and concerns are beyond all measure and expression.
Such a person is indeed, above all, a person of other worldly knowledge and other worldly duty. What we understand by other worldly duty merits a separate discussion.
By M. Fethullah Gulen