Lead Article

  • Issue 93 / May - June 2013



    Souls of Immortality

    M. Fethullah Gulen

    Immortal souls always preserve their vitality, and in every season, they show a different sign of life. They never wither or fade away; they never lose their vigor. Neither the setting sun or the fading moon, nor the passing days and nights, exhaust them. How can they possibly tire when the immutable source of their life and energy comes from the pot from which Khidr drank the elixir of life? In this climate, for those who set sail to explore their true nature, every spring is effervescent and magnificent, and every summer peaks in delight; every fall and winter are seasons of stirring challenge that prepare them for thrilling new leaps. Even if all sorts of terror lurk around them, these souls will always be robust and vigilant, and their exhilarating ethos will always emanate sublime sensations.

    These exalted souls are lovers with angels; they always stand their position, even in the case of possible devastation, collapse, or resentment. They carry out their duties only to please God. They deem themselves responsible towards the community in which they live. They are neither grieved by the disturbance of their work or the disruption of their plans, nor do they panic in the face of dangers descended over their community. Above all, they never fall into despair.

    They are patient and skilled, and strong and determined in their relations with others. They prepare and build radiant kiosks, silently but vigilantly, and they wait for their guests. Whoever enters their atmosphere can feel as if they met Khidr, and whoever intermingles and sympathizes with them attains true happiness.

    Brightness can be seen in their faces, wisdom in their thoughts, and truth in their speech. Those who enter their private spiritual space burdened with pessimism and hopelessness leave lightened with faith and hope, having acquired the secret to everlasting existence.

    Neither the darkness of menacing nights, nor the multiplicity of accumulated problems can discourage them. Even if they were faced with Noah’s flood, they would walk away from it without a drop touching their feet. If the destruction like the one that befell the people of ‘Ad fell upon them, they would carry on, marching towards their target without loss of resolution or determination. Neither the fire of Nimrod, or the Pharaoh's arrogance, nor even the atrocious despotism of Caesar could intimidate them.

    Their mind has no place for excuses like, “let it be morning, then we can go,” or “let first the cold winter finish, let the snow melt and the spring come, then we can carry on our way.” They are like graceful, inveterate trees whose branches spread beautifully towards heaven, and, by the grace of God, bear fruit in both winter and snow, in both spring and summer.

    Owing completely to the All-Powerful in whom they put their trust, they do not expect help, or rely on appreciation. They are not deceived by the capricious attitudes of others. Their vision will not be blurred by the might of tyrants, and their path will not be diverted by promises of wealth or power. Whenever they visualize a terrifying day—when people are desperate and buckle at the knees, when even the proudest crumple—they despise everything about the worldly life, avoid falling into the materialist void, and rise up against the idol of sensuality. Luxury and comfort are the two things they never aspire to. They consider the lethargy of a comfortable life as death for themselves and misfortune for their nation. In the eyes of their community, they strive to accommodate new ideas and perspectives. They seek to engage in relationships with all who are open to healthy, appropriate dialogues.

    Throughout history, such immortal souls have never avoided their responsibilities; they have stood firm as a chain of mountains. They were neither distracted by success nor dejected by defeat; they were not misled by the multiplicity of false lodestars, nor left dumbfounded by the destruction of their shrines. Throughout history the light of their moon was extinguished, their sun did not rise, and their stars fell one by one, but they changed neither their direction, nor their path. They have remained steadfast, resolute and truehearted.

    They have always been like an army of spirits who carry the vessel of life to their people. In return, the people have always been thankful, and remained faithful.

    What about those who give up and stay behind because they have been scared and disheartened when faced with a little adversity? those who always wait for spring to come? those who are shaken, slacken and easily discouraged when confronted with minor oppression? those who want to govern the masses but constantly defraud, mislead and stupefy them? What about those miserable people whose pasts are troubled, whose presents are humiliating, and whose futures are susceptible to unpredictable hysteria?

    They are those who behave like daredevils when spring arrives, and hop from branch-to-branch when the sun rises. But when it snows they become sluggish, and when night descends, they, too, fall into languor. They await awards at the frontline, but when the drums of danger beat, they withdraw and vanish into thin air. They are abstinent only when confronted with poverty, but act like Korah when showered with abundance. They are dynamic when they are flattered, but lazy and indolent when forgotten. In short, they fall into such disrepute, humiliation, and failure that it would be no exaggeration to describe them as the disgraced of their community.

    I am not sure if anything can be explained to those unfortunate ones who feel saturated with thoughts and ideas even before they have awoken to their own person, those who drown in the dullness of habit and routine, those who lose the fervor of their faith and spiritual delights. How I wish even these disordered lines could mean something to them...

    1 Khidr is a spiritual personality and a man of wisdom in Islamic tradition. He lives in an angelic way, serving God in the execution of His commands and succoring people in hard conditions. It is reported that Khidr drank from a fountain in Paradise, granting him immortal life.
    2 ‘Ad was an ancient tribe from the region of Yemen. The people of ‘Ad rebelled against the Prophet sent to them by God (Prophet Hud, peace be upon him), and did not heed his warnings. Thus, they received the wrath of God and were destroyed in a great storm.
    3 Korah was a wealthy person from among the people of Moses, peace be upon him, and his story is told both in the Qur’an and the Bible. According to the Qur’anic description, he was so rich that the very keys of his treasures alone were “too heavy a burden for a company of strong people” (Qasas 28:76). But he falsely claimed exclusive ownership over this wealth which was granted to him by God, and he betrayed his own people.

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