Invitation for divine providence

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Endeavor for Renewal

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Invitation for divine providence

Question: It is stated that believers are supposed to present a Prophetic diligence, on one hand, and to see the totality of their own efforts merely as a subordinate act to succeed at gaining the good pleasure of God, serving humanity, and making an invitation for Divine Providence. Could you please elucidate this consideration?

Answer: Believers should be devoted to a noble ideal with respect to the intentions, efforts, projects, and plans they make; they should be ready to give everything if necessary. It is possible to describe this as a Prophetic diligence. Because, the way to make a lasting influence on hearts depends on possessing the lofty characters of the Prophets, the true guides of humanity. Their attributes such as innocence, trustworthiness, perspicacity, and conveyance of Divine truths are different spiritual profundities of those distinguished figures of the skies of humanity. These lofty attributes constitute their spiritual make-up. By the entirety of these virtues, God granted them perfection; a perfect religious teaching could not be established by imperfect ones to represent them. God Almighty decreed, “This day, I have perfected your religion for you and I have completed My favor upon you,” (al-Maedah 5:3) and He did it through the hands of His Prophets. Then the journeyers on the path of the Prophets are supposed to seek perfection in faith, practicing Islam, sincerity, and zeal.

“If i am to act arrogantly…”

The Messenger of God appointed Abu Bakr as the imam after him, on the night prior to the day he passed away. Just as it was an important merit for Abu Bakr, may God be pleased with him, to welcome his new duty,[1] it was another merit for the congregation to welcome him as their imam. The broad horizons of the Companions enabled them to pledge allegiance to their new leader without much difficulty or confusion. In the meantime, the noble Prophet drew the curtain aside and saw his followers praying serenely behind their blessed leader and closed the curtain, smiling with the contentment of having fulfilled his duty.[2] The curtain was closed against the world as well. But the Pride of Humanity, peace and blessings be upon him, was glad while leaving this world; the distinguished group of people who would shoulder the cause of faith stood in the Divine presence with a spirit of unity. As this had been the goal of his blessed life, the Prince of both worlds closed the curtain on this world in serenity and contentment. We see the same noble thoughts and feelings after his meeting with the jinn to convey the Divine teachings to them. Abdullah ibn Mas’ud narrated that after this meeting, the Messenger of God stated that he had received the promise that people and jinn would accept faith, that people believed, and now the jinn also accepted faith; thus, the promise came real. Therefore, his mission was over and implied that he was soon to depart from this world.[3] The Prince of both worlds took his mission as the very goal of his staying in this world. As soon as it was over, he wished to be freed from the prison of the body and meet the True Friend.[4]

As a matter of fact, such a lofty thought should be the goal of every individual in love with the Qur’an, of everyone who seeks to realize a new revival for humanity. A hero of revival must dedicate his or her life to working for this noble ideal. They should even be able to say, “My God, so far you have honored me by letting me serve on Your path, which is a means of agreement and unity between people. After this day, if I am to act egoistically and cause disagreement and conflicts because of my selfish concerns, please take my soul to Your side, so that You save it from toppling over and falling into ruin.” One should adopt this noble approach all the time and pray to God after going to bed every night with the consideration: “If I am to serve faith in any way, then my staying in this world bears a meaning; otherwise it doesn’t.” What becomes a believer is to make a resolution to become like the Prophets; a believer should seek to be equipped with the noble ones’ virtues, saying “My God, You can make potentials develop further. You have the absolute power and Your decrees can change anything destined;[5] bestow us unbound potentials, and grant brand new realizations to our potentials! Make us succeed in interpreting and evaluating everything more correctly!”

Unless Divinely commissioned, no person can attain the level of the Prophets, who are bestowed special abilities so that they can guide humanity. It is even very difficult for an ordinary person to equal the levels of the great imams such as Imam al-Azam Abu Hanifa, Imam Shafi, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Awzai, and Sawri. The imams of the four Sunni schools are figures of particularly exceptional standing, even surpassing great saints (aqtab). In addition to realizing a very important revival with the books they wrote and the disciples they taught, they fulfilled a very important duty by maintaining a continuity of the feeling and thought of revival.

Given that we manage to eliminate our ego

Even trying to follow the footsteps of the Prophets (in a secondary sense) is too difficult a task for ordinary people like us. But against all odds, believers should always aim for very high horizons regarding their relations with God Almighty and serving on His path. While asking for these high virtues from God, it is necessary to carry out what we must do with sincerity. The efforts made for walking on the path of the Prophets, and other great guides that followed them, can be seen as an invitation for Divine providence. This can be compared to the situation of a person who does not know how to swim but still jumps into the sea and exerts himself there. Those who witness that will naturally say, “Look at that man! It seems he doesn’t know how to swim. Let us save him.” In the same way, such a person trying to walk on the path of the great guides can say, “My God, it is beyond my power to give this path its due, but I have set forth for this sake. I see that all of the Prophets and saints were able to swim in this sea. Even though I cannot swim, I am resolved to follow their example.” Having made this intention, jumping into the sea will be an invitation for Divine providence. God Almighty does not let down those who turn to Him so sincerely and saves them from drowning. Then He opens new horizons before them, making an atom into a sun, and making nothing into everything for those servants of His… given that we eliminate our ego with this consideration, given that we rid ourselves of arrogant claims. As it is known, zero has no value on its own. But if somebody puts a figure near it, then it suddenly gains tenfold in value. For this reason, believers should exert themselves, but they should also stay humble, recognizing their true position, and watching their steps carefully. They should never lay claim to beauties bestowed upon them, and should never forget that they are not the original source but only serve as a conveyor for those blessings to the rest of the world. No beauty bestowed upon us is an essential property of ours. Like bubbles on water that show a reflection of the sun, beauties are sometimes manifested on us and sometimes not; all of them belong to the Creator of all beauties. People with such consciousness can make their efforts truly fruitful. They witness the realization of the command “If you are thankful (for My favors), I will most certainly give you more” (Ibrahim 14:7), and enjoy more and more Divine blessings.

[1] Sahih al-Bukhari, Adhan, 51; Sahih Muslim, Salah, 90–97
[2] Sahih al-Bukhari, Adhan, 94; Amal fi’s-Salah, 6; Maghazi, 83; Sahih Muslim, Salah, 98
[3] At-Tabarani, Al-Mu’jamu’l-Kabir, 10/67
[4] Sahih al-Bukhari, Fazailu Ashabi’n-Nabi, 5; Maghazi, 83–84, Da’awat, 29; Riqaq, 41; Sahih Muslim, Salam, 46; Fazailu’s-Sahaba, 85
[5] The original phrases (qadar, qada, ata) Fethullah Gülen uses are related to destiny in Islamic Theology. As destiny belongs to God, he can bring decreed things to existence (qada) or change something destined to happen (ata) as He wills.