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Types of heedlessness that impede serving faith

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Endeavor for Renewal

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Types of heedlessness that impede serving faith

Question: Could you explain the different types of heedlessness that might impede the devoted souls on the path to serve their faith?

Answer: It is important, particularly now when some misunderstand Islam and misinform others about it, that we let hearts feel the truth of Islam. It is our greatest responsibility. We must share the beauties of the teaching of the noble Prophet with others, and strive to let Islam be understood correctly, trying to show the beauty of its besmirched face; it is a necessity of being a believer and a duty Muslims owe their religion. In other words, we must represent the genuine Islam in the best way as practiced by the blessed Prophet and his Companions—like presenting a new gift to humanity. This should be the goal of our lives. Indeed, four corners of our world are caught in a fire with respect to faith in God. Individuals, homes, and in a way, places of worship, schools, and administrations, are all burning… In short, not only Muslim regions and but other parts of the world are virtually in flames. For the devoted souls to ignoring this miserable human condition of humanity and to not have the sensitivity to share their suffering is heedless. Wherever the fire is, the volunteers to serve humanity need to respond sensitively to it, as if their own children were suffering. This depends on having a Prophetic spirit and upholding the issue with a Prophetic will, resolution, and altruism. As it is known, no new Prophets will come, and it is not possible for those who follow their example to become Prophets. However, it is always possible to target being adorned with their high virtues. As God Almighty favors the Prophets among all people, He will not let down those who try to follow in their footsteps. For this reason, it is necessary to seek proximity to the noble Prophet by being adorned with his virtues. The Pride of Humanity was a paragon of virtue;[1] he was a living example of the high virtues described by the Qur’an,[2] which we can refer to as Divine morality. As his followers, Muslims can only find their true value, discover their depths and feel their true identity by following his example. I think that only those adorned with these high virtues can journey on the path of the blessed Prophet and share his feelings as much as their capacity allows; he will not leave such people halfway. The Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, will never leave the devoted souls suffering for the troubles of the Islamic world - those exerting themselves to find solutions, and continuously generating plans and projects to reach into hearts. At the moment you say, “It’s over,” I swear by God, he will extend his hand of light to you. Maybe he will tell you to carry on in your dream, maybe his blessed spirit will walk among you and somehow raise your spirits. When you have him on your side, other blessed figures behind him will also be with you, his blessed family (Ahl al-Bayt) being the first.

Heedless ventures

Getting back to our main subject, another type of heedlessness putting those journeyers on the righteous path at risk is being reckless on duty. This has different types as well. For example, acting casually, not using diplomacy when one should, acting without taking evil into consideration, doing wrong things for the sake of adventure, giving in to popular considerations, doing things solely to impress others, venturing into some task without taking the consequences into account… these mistakes are different forms of being heedless on duty. Actually, each one of these types of heedlessness can suffice to topple a person. People overcome by such forms of heedlessness not only fall on their own, but they also make other people coming after them sink, like a heedless captain who ends up taking his entire ship to the bottom of the sea.

On the other hand, there are very important essentials for those volunteers on the righteous path: not offended anybody, approaching everybody with compassion, running to the help of others like a fireman, seeing all of God’s manifestations—troubles and joys—as equal yet only treating others benevolently, being conscious of their own impotence and neediness, maintaining their zeal to serve God with gratitude for His blessings, and continuously feeding their spirituality through reflection and wisdom. The devoted souls should act in a chivalrous way and judiciously reckon the results of their actions. They need to appraise every step they take—whether it will leave behind grudge, hatred, and rage… or love, affection, and care. In short, they need to act very carefully and wisely regarding everything they do in order not to disappoint people who view them with hopeful eyes.

The misconception of causality

Laying too much importance on causality by ascribing everything to causes and being oblivious of the “Causer of causes,”[3] and ignoring Him, is another type of heedlessness. In the Risale-i Nur Collection, Bediüzzaman tried to open the door to recognizing the Causer of causes. Here is one thing he pointed out on the wisdom of causes’ existence: “God’s Dignity and Grandeur require apparent causes to prevent complaints and to hide, from those who reason superficially, the hand of Power’s involvement in certain seemingly insignificant or vile things and affairs. At the same time, God’s Unity and Glory require that these apparent causes have no part in either the creation or disposition of things.”[4] At another place, he makes a similar point:

“As befits God’s Oneness and Majesty, causes have no real and creative effect in creation and the universe’s functioning. But in the outward (corporeal) dimension of existence, causes function to veil Divine Power’s operation so that certain seemingly disagreeable or banal entities and events might not be attributed directly to It.”[5]

Causes are not the real doer. If causes have any true value, they take it as being projections worked by the Beautiful Divine Names and passed through many veils. Therefore, if causes are to be given any value at all, it should be done in connection with the Divine Names. On the one hand, a total disregard of causes is wrong, since it means fatalism. On the other hand, a person who sees causes as the real doer of everything is heedless of the Causer of causes. To give a concrete example, let us say that one of the volunteers goes somewhere and his efforts become fruitful: roses bloom in all the fields of thorn and nightingales start singing; that place virtually turns to Paradise. In such a situation, if another man remarks, “All of these would not have happened, if it weren’t for such and such friend of ours,” and attributes all of the good works to that person, then that man becomes heedless of God; he puts his friends under the same risk with such remarks. If that man is not capable of dismissing such remarks, then praising him will mean breaking his neck, as stated by the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him.[6]

Ascribing the good works realized by a group of people to a single person is another type of such heedlessness. Ascribing the victory of an entire army to a commander means being unfair to his soldiers;[7] the fruits attained by concerted efforts of many people cannot solely be seen as achievements of the person who guides them. In addition, it should not be forgotten that what invites the Divine providence is those people’s collective spirit of unity. That is, God Almighty bestows them success if He is well pleased with their harmonious collaboration. If they work together despite the fact that every one of them has their personal arrogance and pride, He is pleased. Attributing that success to a single person, or failing to see the Causer of causes is heedless.

The insolence of not knowing one’s limits

When the issue is considered on a larger scale, you see that there are dangers facing a group of people, too. For example, if those who are affiliated with a certain movement ascribe to themselves the fruits of certain good works they tried to do in service of faith and humanity, they are being heedless. This situation depends on the existence of so many factors: having favorable conditions, the inability of misguided ones to disrupt good works in spite of their enviousness, hearts opening up to His volunteers with love, the world’s general atmosphere being peaceful… and maybe fifty other factors should be included. If we calculate the probabilities, the chances would be around one in a million. When this is the case, why are the present good works reduced to the consequence of a few simple causes? Even if such a thought crosses your mind as a momentary idea, you need to ask forgiveness for it. Once, when I wrote something like[8] a couplet, which was to be published on the outer cover of the Sızıntı magazine, it occurred to me that my words were somehow well-chosen. Immediately, I repented and asked forgiveness from God saying “O God Forgive me please! Take the life of this donkey and do not let him feel pleased with what he did!” In this respect, a thought as “The speech I made really touched hearts and made people take action” is an insolence by not knowing one’s limits; such a consideration ascribes the existence of an entire picture that depends on thousands of variables to one simple cause.

There is another side of this issue. As we have mentioned, being oblivious of the Causer of causes is an example of heedlessness. On the other hand, not raising morale for those who strive on this path and causing them to lose enthusiasm is a different mistake. Instead, it is possible to pray for them by saying “May God be pleased with you forever. God Almighty is making you realize such good work. If He had not valued you, He would not have given this role as a part Divine destiny and used you in the cast. Then God has favored you. May He continue His favor upon you!” This can help raise their spirits without ascribing Divinity to causality. At this point, there is a principle we should observe: instead of attributing lofty attributes, such as sainthood, to people who serve on this path for some thirty or forty years, and who seem on the fore of this movement, we can reflect our good opinion of them in the form of being very much loyal and faithful to them. Even if we see them fallen, we need to hold them up right away, raise them up from where they fell, wipe away the mud on them, and embrace them. For this reason, acknowledging the Causer of causes does not necessarily mean refusing to see the ones striving to serve humanity; but this seeing should be done within a logical frame.

Failing to interpret the creation, to derive truthful meanings from phenomena, and to find God through them is a significant type of heedlessness. In a verse relevant to our discussion, God Almighty reveals: “How many a sign there is in the heavens and earth that they pass by, being unmindful of the signs and giving no consideration to them” (Yusuf 12:105). Every one of the types of heedlessness we mentioned can be more important in comparison to others. In other words, their degree of importance can show difference according to personal aptitude and abilities. Any of them can be a serious component of testing for different people. If we look at the issue in terms of Islamic faith, every type of heedlessness is a satanic idea and must be expelled. Getting rid of them depends on deeds and actions of the heart and spirit such as always acting with insight, being sensitive, trying to see the truth of phenomena, always keeping the “eyes of the heart” open, seeing while looking, listening while hearing, feeling while contacting, and making the conscience feel all of these.

[1] Al-Qalam 68:4
[2] Sahih Muslim, Salatu’l-Musafirin, 139; Sunan Abu Dawud, Tatawwu, 26; Sunan an-Nasa’i, Qiyamu’l-Layl, 2
[3] Causer of causes: Musabbib al-Asbab, or God Almighty.
[4] Nursi, Al-Mathnawi al-Nuri, p. 4
[5] Nursi, The Letters, p. 446
[6] Sahih al-Bukhari, Shahada, 16; Adab, 54, 95; Sahih Muslim, Zuhd, 65
[7] Nursi, Şuâlar, p. 349
[8] It is typical of Mr. Gü