Those were the Days
As the years pass by, O Muhammad!
Months are, to us, turned to Muharram!
What a sunny night was the evening;
Alas! It too turned into a night of grief!
For the love of God, O Innocent Prophet!
Do not leave Islam so desolate,
And us so oppressed.
You were the one who once filled our hearts; everything was so magical and beautiful with your presence. Nevertheless, certain discontinuities were also experienced along the way and there were times when conduct was ungracious, manners were coarse, and voices and breaths were snarls; but all these shortcomings would immediately be wiped away by the light and breeze from your world, and only you and your colorful atmosphere would start to emerge as if in a reverie on the horizons of thought and sense. The fading of the horizons to black, or the entwining of souls with palpitations would seem a call for you to rise in hearts: Whenever we were downhearted, your shade would rise over the hills of our hearts like a full moon, obliterating all gloom. Every time we were stuck in any kind of problem or troubled by ourselves, as if that state of self-oppression we were in was an invitation to your light, the warmth and soothing quality of your private world would be immediately felt from all around, and we would be immersed in the lights coming from eternity. The breezes would be impregnated with your fragrance; the benefits of your climate would pour on us like waterfalls, and we would become as cool as if we had bathed in the lights coming from beyond.
After almost every break, no matter how short it may be, we would say, “Shame on us, for not realizing how much we were without him,” and we would find you in our hearts fresh and anew. After each faltering, each deviation, or gloom, the All-Compassionate would return you to us, and we would hear your voice and breath, your light and fragrance with all our hearts, and we would hear the captivating accent of your message; as if we were on a magical balloon, we would be liberated from gravity, feeling an air of progress toward the eternity in our souls. With the magic of that air, we would escape from our contaminated atmosphere and turn into celestial beings, such that, whenever we looked into our souls, we would feel a light, a hope, a relief emanating from your luminous world, knowing ourselves to be in your cordial presence since you were always there with us, and everything was so gorgeous with your presence.
You meant both the past, the future and the present for us; it was as if you were always with us with your enchanting stance transcending time. You would stand there in your era of light, yet embrace our day, give indications for the future, and make your voice heard at all times. Our bosoms were your summer palace; you would live in our hearts, have us live like you, disperse our palpitations as if you were singing lullabies softly for us in that sacred atmosphere of yours, warmer than the arms of our mothers and so comforting us all. Mostly, we would surrender to the charm of your spiritual peace and wander in the eras you had crowned with your light, observing the historical glories we had once achieved as your community; we would feel as if we had once more found the values we had lost or abandoned, cheer up like joyful children, then those gentle and spectacular days flowing from you would blossom in our memories like flowers. As a whole nation we would feel like we were suckling milk from the breasts of the Age of Light; and then, those rusty and dirty worlds of ours would glitter again; pieces of our broken, torn, and uncontrolled daydreams would come together, and times enlightened by you would flow into the days, hours, and minutes we had been living in, whispering to us the color, pattern, and accent of real life.
Whatever others who are not nourished from the same source as us may drink, we would almost always feel pleasures that nobody else felt; we would blink our eyes, and, as if we were in Paradise, we would get almost everything we reached for, we dreamt of, wished, or wanted, and it was as if we were always strolling in the realm of dreams. Yes, that is the way it should be since there was you inside ourselves; time, space, and everything associated with them were friendly to us.
Whenever we would establish contact with you in our hearts, your harmonious, spectacular, and radiant world would immediately start to emerge like a reverie over our ordinary states and thoughts, and your mysterious life adventure, stirring our feelings and emotions to overflow, would take us from where we were to the avenue by which we would reunite with you; by the same road, it would lead us eventually to the gates of God, and lay cushions like the sofas of Paradise for us in the ceremonial halls beyond spatial dimensions, providing our hearts with beauties comparable to our most beautiful daydreams. At those mystical times when we were with you, we would recall many more extraordinary things, experience great surges of pleasure and delight, rest in the cheer and joy of existence, and say repeatedly, “Indeed, this is the life.” At those times, we were in your protective shade, aware of existence and nonexistence! The spirit and meaning distilled from your deep blue climate were our essence and life; we would live with them, go on our daily activities with them, surmount all the obstacles and reach all the summits we wished to reach with them; then, we would walk without pausing towards the most sacred of all targets: to win God’s consent, and to make your name heard worldwide, your name which we consider as a means for His pleasure. With breaths as soft as silk, always soaring high like birds, caressing everything and everybody like a gentle breeze, from time to time turning into rain in the bosom of clouds, and then descending all around as a sparkling shower, we would effervesce with life at every moment. In those radiant days and hours when we lived to our heart’s content and would say, “This is the life,” our sun used to rise and set in harmony with you; days used to pass brightly like your face; nights used to sing to us from your black side-locks; and our pulses would always beat in harmony with the rhythms of your heart. We would rest our minds by thinking of you; our anxieties would be dispersed by taking shelter under your shade; and thus, we would get the taste of life, which we had never experienced before, and the endless joyful adventures of existence by being with you. We would read in your life adventure which was linked to the heavens, the invincible power of faith, that being a Muslim means being a hero, that fidelity involves priceless assets, and that chastity and innocence are angelic qualities.
You were the one who uttered the mysteries from beyond the heavens, and described lights flowing from the beyond, connections between this world and the afterworld, the expectations, dreams, and needs of humanity and the eternities promised in this matter. When your messages fell onto our ears, we would feel as if you were among us, as if your voice touched our inner selves, and we would observe the radiant snapshots of your luminescent life through our vision, and interpret the entire creation in you with all its particular content. The generations raised in your training, your style, and your system have been enthused and they have shuddered year after year in the waves of the deepest, most colorful, most charming, and most striking of the messages they heard from you; their faith has reached perfection—to the extent that unbelief, for them, does not have the slightest possibility—in proportion to their connection with you; their love turned into waterfalls; and they reached as far as the spiritual ones with a flood of deepest love and ardor.
Who knows what endeavors and efforts were invested so that the following generations over centuries would long to hear and love you this much and feel your message, which was the purpose of your existence? What consultations were held and what pains were taken! These yielded their fruits when it was the season; and then, there was you in every act, in every heart; and every minute, every second spent with you was auspicious. Your lights were continually pouring over our heads and flowing into our souls, and giving us delightful sensations! You were promising happiness to those who followed, replying to their wishes for eternal happiness; in return, their sentiments were running high at the thought that even more bright days would come in the future, and they were almost living a new Age of Happiness at the joy of being led by you.
We human beings were created weak, destitute, and needy with many expectations: We expected to have peace of heart, we sought fancies of happiness pertaining to this world as well as to the afterlife; we had dreams of eternity and eternal happiness and pursued what seemed to be beyond our capacity. With your coming and your luminous messages we were provided with blessings exceeding our expectations. We were like the dead before you arrived; but we were revived with your prophethood as if we heard the sound of the Trumpet.
In the past, you were within our hearts, and our days were real days; now, even though those bright days have not perished completely, they have lost their vividness and faded greatly. Our sorrow is like Jacob’s and our hopes are as high as his; we all live by dreams of those bright days when you will rise again on our horizons, and we wait through the morning and the evening in excitement at your return as promised. Every year, your birth reminds us of this, and we feel as if we have drunk many cups full of the elixir of hope, and we are unable to be as grateful to the All-Compassionate as we ought for blessing the people of this age with you.
In recent past, those who broke away from you were lost. Those who went away ruined themselves. It is a fact that we all experienced estrangement to some extent; yet moving away from you took different forms, and so did losing you. Now, though it is late, we express our repentance for such estrangement, and we wish to return to your bosom, warmer than a mother’s embrace. We are ashamed, and we are embarrassed; yet we have a firm belief that your wishes are acceptable to God. If only we had never broken off from you in any way; if only we had never separated from you and never been deprived of the lights coming from you and your world and meaning pouring into our souls; and if only we had been able to keep your persuasive face fresh and alive inside ourselves! Alas! Knowingly or unknowingly, we have been separated, and we have turned our backs on ourselves. Now, while following various prescriptions for deliverance, if only we could think about what we have lost! No, once again, we have been deceived by the tricks of Harut and Marut, and we have been defeated by Satan once again. Yet, we had times when your shade lay over us and we could challenge all devils. While all around was fall, days and nights were like spring to us. Our years, months, and days were stolen, and we were transformed into the victims of time. Saying, “It is always darkest before the dawn,” we are waiting for the auspicious times when this pitch darkness will be torn by the light.
By M. Fethullah Gulen
 Two angels who were sent to the Children of Israel during their life of exile in Babylon in order to teach them some occult sciences so that they might be protected against sorcery. See Baqara 2:102 for further information.