Issue 103 / January - February 2015
M. Fethullah Gulen
Faithfulness and fidelity are the hallmarks of societies that are committed to living and working together for a higher good.
Fidelity or faithfulness is a rose that grows within the friendly, warm climate of amiability. To be able to encounter it in an atmosphere of enmity is extremely rare, perhaps even impossible. Faithfulness always blows gently among and around those who share common feelings and thoughts and pursue the same vision. Grievance, hatred, and envy never allow fidelity to survive, killing it straightaway. Yes, fidelity can only flourish and branch out in in the presence of love, kindness, and generosity; but in an atmosphere of enmity, it fades away and dies.
Fidelity has also been described as being in complete unison with one's heart and soul; an insufficient definition, but a correct one. Yet, it is very difficult to speak of faithfulness to people who are lacking in their spiritual lives. Telling only the truth while speaking, being faithful in one's promises and oaths, which are signs of fidelity, are the fruits of spiritual awareness. Meanwhile, expecting spiritual awareness would be deceptive, just as it would be unwise to demand faithfulness from those who are hypocritical, who lie, who do not fulfill their promises, and who do not carry the burden of responsibility given to them.
One who puts his or her trust in an unfaithful person will likely end up getting burned. The one who travels the road with such a person will be stranded. The one who regards such a person as a guide and scout will always fall into despair and lose.
While I was longing for fidelity, My eyes filled with tears of sorrow, Now I am stranded and lack any remedy...
By having all the attributes of faithfulness, an individual can attain and ascend to the level of confidence and credibility. A family can remain alive and happy if it is based upon faithfulness. With this sublime feeling, a nation can reach admirable qualities and high virtues. It is only through this feeling that a state can gain respect before the eyes of its citizens. In a country where fidelity is lost, we can neither speak of mature individuals, nor marriages and families that inspire confidence, nor a stable and trustworthy government. In such a country, individuals become skeptical about each other; marriages are distressed as families become anxious and restless; meanwhile, the state treats its citizens with suspicion and disregard. In such a country, neighbors become strangers, as if they were little more than lifeless rocks. Faithfulness can blend and fuse individuals to each other. Thanks to fidelity, particles combine into a whole, and separate parts unite and become one; through faithfulness, scarcity transforms into abundance. When the beams of faithfulness among these earthlings reach the eternal heavens, rays from heaven will begin to illuminate their path and clear all hindrances in front of them, as long as society matures with the feeling of faithfulness and submits to the combining and unifying arms of fidelity. Did you set your heart on a thought? Did you bond yourself to an ideal? Did you begin a friendship with someone? You may have to sacrifice your life, or lose all your wealth for the sake of this; but remain faithful! This is because faithfulness and faithful people are esteemed to be the highest by both the Creator and the created.
"I received a calling from the Lord, saying
Come, O lover, you have intimacy with Us!
This is the place of intimacy;
I have seen you as a faithful one!" (Nasimi)
With the secret key of faithfulness, Prophet Adam, peace be upon him, one by one, opened all the doors that had been closed to him and reached the refreshing fountain of God's forgiveness. Faced with the same trial, the devil threw himself into the pitfall of unfaithfulness, and drowned. Noah (peace be upon him), the Prophet of the Flood, also lived a very long life full of suffering and sorrow, but was always faithful. His centuries of warnings and words of advice were not recognized by most of his people, but this disappointment never pushed him towards unfaithfulness towards his Lord. And it was this faithfulness that became an ark of salvation at a time when both the heavens and the earth were streaming down their fury over mankind.
How faithful was Abraham (peace be upon him), the friend of God and the father of Prophets, while he was bearing the brunt of Nimrod's fire? When his cries of "God is enough for me, God is sufficient" united with the showering blessings and grace of God, the core of the hell-like flames became "cool and peaceful."
The one at the forefront of all holy ones, Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, reached beyond the heavens, an ascension which none had been able to attain before him, by virtue of the deep faithful feelings in his soul. Yes, he even surpassed angels and all mortal souls by virtue of faithfulness. Then, he left that realm of felicity - full of fascinating beauties that no eye has ever seen, nor anyone can imagine, and which dazzle the eyes and mesmerize hearts - and returned to his people. With them, he was going to struggle in the face of many dangers and confront many challenges, all in the hopes of elevating his community to that lofty abode.
It was his faithfulness towards his companions that made him forget all about Paradise and its dazzling beauties. It was a promise to be faithful that made him leave all those sublime honors and rewards and return to this world of sorrows and deprivation! The book of good deeds of all these elevated souls ended with faithfulness and was sealed with fidelity. The books of ugly deeds of those stranded on the way were all branded with unfaithfulness. Yes, those who bear a responsibility but exhibit unfaithfulness on the first few steps are humiliated and marked with lowliness; they are pushed to the most inferior status. Those who could not burden the sacred load and holy travel, and who eluded their responsibilities, have become a flock of voyeurs who have lost the right path and have been led astray. Eventually, when our turn of bearing the sacred ordeal came, we took over this huge responsibility by a solid oath of fidelity. We were vibrant and excited, resolved and determined.
But alas! An unexpected giant blocked our way and we broke all our oaths. And then, once again, everywhere was deserted; all our chivalry faded and died away. Roses were replaced by thorns; all our moons and suns set, one after the other, and everywhere was covered with dreary and miserable clouds; all of our gardens collapsed and decayed, and the gardeners died; "honeycombs crumbled and no honey was left." And the youth of this unfortunate generation, who were subjected to a period of scarcity in well-versed individuals, began to glorify and bow down in front of dead souls who did not have even a speck of trustworthiness or faithfulness. They praised and applauded unrefined and crude individuals, saying, "What a clever person, and what a gentleman he is!" And the words below, from Mehmet Akif, were the last utterance of disappointment and moaning from within the heart of our people during that sad period of time:
"There is no fidelity, neither is there respect for promises... Trust is just a word with no action;
Lying prevails, betrayal, favoritism are routine, Right is something unknown!
How dreadful is all that, oh Lord! What a terrible and drastic revolution has occurred,
Neither religion remains, nor faith; Religion is in ruins and faith is a mirage."
At this stage, every place was raided by pompous liars who broke their promises, reneged on their oaths, and lacked any notion of fidelity! They were cursed by those on earth and those in the heavens. People wondered: where did all these false, wicked men come from? Which traitor adopted these foul men? Which unfortunate parents raised them? And which accursed mouths welcomed them in?
Oh faithfulness, where have you been? We are fed up with those who break their promises, time after time, day after day. We are fed up with those whose every word is an exaggeration, whose every deed is artificial, and who are stripped of all faithfulness! Where are our faithful friends, who have waited for days at the place you promised just for the sake of faithfulness? Where are the real heroic souls who have become one with the feeling of faithfulness? Where are the innocent and honest people of a very blessed period of time who did not care about losing everything just for the sake of faithfulness?
Come and invigorate our imaginations and flood us with all that you know about faithfulness! Rise up; rise and enter our souls! Enter our souls, which have forgotten resolution, austerity, and fidelity. Come and lead us to the fountain of revival! Come, come, and save these few faithful people, who walk about here and there, from despair and disappointment! With the hope that our generation, who are thirsty for faithfulness, will preserve the feeling of fidelity...