Lead Article

  • Issue 80 / March - April 2011



    In between Contrasts

    M. Fethullah Gulen

    Year in and year out, as a community we have been concurrently going around the “vicious” and “virtuous” circles of an assortment of strange occurrences. On the one hand, we tumble headfirst in the course of the most disturbing examples of massive collapses, which are worse than earlier declines, and we imagine that we can get through by means of destroying, by our own hands, our cultural, ethical and spiritual foundations. On the other hand, we sense everything with a vivacity of spring in the light of assorted signs of the dawn and on the horizon of our hopes; thus simultaneously experiencing contradictions, one within another.

    Indeed, not only the dizzying development of modern technology our contemporary age rush towards the luxurious and prosperous life that is promised, toppling our inherited values; in addition, with a determined sense of destruction – which can be more suitably called “social delirium” – and with a sense of disloyalty, a manifest war is waged against our collective system of belief, traditions, customs, cultural and religious dynamics, a system that has been passed down to us from a glorious past. In so doing, they divorce the soul of our society from God and His Messenger, and from its history as well; compelling us to live through years of separation, one after another. In the meantime, a great many inept souls in an impetuous rush for identity bustle from one delirium to another, while many others crumble into the void for the sake of a pure nothing. During this term it was essentially the destiny of our society to spend each day in search for a new direction, each morning turning towards a new niche. Masses, in a confusion of tides between taboos, rushed hither and thither spending their lives chasing vanities, while months and years became wasted and spilt into nothingness. In the meantime, that traditional holy privacy of the family has been smashed into pieces for the sake of a fantasy and our homes have virtually been transformed into arenas of clashing contrarieties. Our homes, which are softer and warmer than the birds’ nests, have been rendered into inns and hotel rooms for short stopovers and swift migrations. Those who imagined living in these unfortunate shelters are always longing for genuine and permanent happiness; they effervesce with the pleasures of ephemeral amusements and lead their lives as the victims of their bodies, serving a life-sentence in the narrow confines of corporeality with feeble willpowers, unbelieving hearts, starving souls, bleak horizons, and shaken hopes.

    Those who became suitors for alien unlawful qualities instead of adopting positive aspects in terms of science and technology, those who have trampled upon their own ethical values, through the mendacity of nothingness within abundance have displayed a different form of mendicancy at each doorstep, disappearing into the deadly whirlpools of their sad lot, having become enslaved to their soulless ambitions. It all happened at the same time, when they dreamt of ruling the entire world in a very near future, setting up interstellar travel agencies, solving the secrets of existence, elongating the lifespan of humankind with unnamed inventions, even providing a cure for death, attaining the absolute satisfaction after overcoming the pangs of their passions, and bringing in new profundities to the current amusements and pleasures of the life they lead. Nowadays there are a myriad of people who are intoxicated by the enchantment of these false dreams and this plenitude, closing their eyes tightly to the sun of reality, striving to lead a life in the candlelight they kindled within their delusion. However, neither is it so easy to base life upon whims and illusions, nor is this extremely long journey that awaits humankind so trivial as to be weathered with a false candle. God knows that in a very near future, when the strings of their hopes have become completely unraveled through an unknown cause, their expectations will scatter all around like beads from a rosary, and all along the itinerary everything will be invaded by unexpected things, distances will be reversed, dreams will collapse, all whims and illusions will be blocked under ruins and then, when neither any of those pretentious inventions or those pompous philosophies nor those rose-colored hopes will remain, they will not remain equal to commemorative archaic artifacts exhibited in the museums.

    I wonder if we should pity, scold, or sit down and weep for the condition of these unfortunate ones who have been rendered lonely between existence and non-existence, who cannot receive remitting news from any aspect of existence, having been distracted and delayed by alienation and separation at a certain junction that is intersected by so many paths.

    Contrary to these unfortunate ones whose hearts are filled with fog and smoke, whose willpowers have been paralyzed by various contrarieties and those who think keeping on walking around the whirlpools of death is walking towards life, in the same arena are the souls whose eyes of the heart watch the beyond, whose emotions froth and bubble with the ecstasy of turning towards the Truth (Haqq); their hands are opened up to God with the entire treasures of their bosoms and souls, like rain-laden clouds, lying in wait for breezes into which they will pour themselves, the feeling of chastity in their hearts is apparent in all the lines on their faces; respect for humankind and the feeling of freedom is the most prominent color of their attitude; their manners and expressions are enchanting to the extent of arousing the feeling of eternity in each heart; every behavior is a discourse reflecting their relation with the Truth sans letters or words; their human relations are extremely warm and sincere, like that of spiritual beings; their homes, schools, and garrisons are virtually like temples, while their temples are a sacred fountain serving the river of Paradise (kawthar) through their most profound mysterious Divine nature – souls busy in waiting.

    These souls, with bowls of offerings in their hands, in the excitement of awaiting the turning of pure consciences towards themselves as a means of opportunity, without indulging in expectation of return, support and influence, roam above the heads of everyone, like the clouds; pouring down as rain and flowing everywhere; cracking open like the soil and opening their bosoms to the sprouts, sometimes above heads, sometimes under the feet, forgetting to live for their own behalf, they are busy with the passion of letting live while they roam around, blowing resurrection everywhere. Indeed, the world they will carve and shape and the historical inheritance they will bequeath to future generations will bring smiles to the faces of both this society and future generations. Such a formation, which will eternalize our love and fervor with a fresh revival and ignite our willpowers in the name of constructing the future, will be the final fruit of the effervescing love that is like gushing springs, the exhilaration of worship abreast with the pleasures of Paradise and the determination, hope, and faith that will voice our existence with the songs of eternity, the launch-pad and quay of sailing to infinity.

    In short, just as there are lights descending upon us continuously, the foul-smelling smoke is rising at the same time. What can one say about this as the Divine decree has always occurred in this way – we pray it does not last long – but from this time onward it seems to continue in the same.

    Everything flows; water, history, stars, men and thought;
    Double are the troughs; radiance flows from one, and filth from the other.
    Bunched together in the same stream are large and small, and the universe;
    Watch that cloud rising, just out of spite for descending water!
    Necip Fazil

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