The acceptance of truth by the powerful elite

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in The Broken Jug

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Fethullah Gülen: The acceptance of truth by the powerful elite

Question: When we view the life of God’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, and the stories of the Prophets mentioned in the Qur’an, we can seen that people with ahigh social status and high standards of livingaremore stubborn and rigid about accepting truths. In the face of this reality, what should believers be aware of when they want to speak about truths?

Answer: In every period of history, as well as today, there exists an oligarchical minority who try to suppress people who think differently from them and who are not one of them. Their only wish is to turn those people into their servants and exploit them. This oligarchical minority wishes to design the world according to their own will. They interpret everything from the perspective of their own interests, desires and fancies. Therefore, they do not consideranybody but themselves, and they look down on the rest as lowly servants. Just as this disdainful and prosperous elite exists in Turkey, italso exists in other countries of the Muslim world and will continue to exist in the future.

The only true owners of right are those who defend their rights

It is wrong to imagine that these people who consider themselves at the top of society (as also happens with the levels of the caste system) can always dominate the rest of the people. There have been times, particularly during periods when religious and moral thought prevailed in the true sense, when they regressed and were condemned to remain in a narrow sphere. However, even when they had to withdraw to their dens with their tails between their legs, it is a reality that they retained their thoughts aboutenslaving society, and moreover, they kept on developingnew projects and plans with the aim ofmoral destruction. It is another factthat when they gain the opportunity, they invade all areas of life, resort to brutal force and smash everyone who does not side with them.

However, this situation should not be solely attributed to their obstinacy and oppression. Other factors such as the heedlessness and negligence of the masses, the failure of virtuous people who couldactually struggle against them to maintain a spirit of togetherness, and their acting without any forethought orplans, also play an important role in the emergence of this tyranny. We can say that society will not sufferfromthe oppression of such tyrants unless itdeserves it. Actually, seeing every trouble and hardship we suffer as a consequence of our own mistakes and wrongs is a piece of advice from the Qur’an. God Almighty, may His glory be exalted, states in the Qur’an: “Whatever affliction befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned, and yet He overlooks many (of the wrongs you do)” (ash-Shura 42:30).

In fact, a person will not knowingly harm himself unless he has become totally insane. However, certain aspects of neglect and wrongs such as: a lack of awareness and anticipation, preoccupation with egoistic concerns, and pursuing worldly positions and titles, harm a person so gravely as if it were a deliberate harm.In spite of so many wrongs and sins, if a person is still blessed with something good, he must be awarethat all of those good things are gifts from God.

The late poet, Mehmed Akif, said that the sole true ownersof right in this world werethose who speak up for defending their rights. In this regard, merelyshouting and making a fuss in the face of oppression and the violations of the oligarchical elite will not yieldpositive results. On the contrary, it is necessary to struggle by means of reason and logic.If we have been unable to defend certain rights, we must make every possible effort toreclaim them. If need be, every self-sacrifice must be made for this sake in accordance with the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah; the right to live humanly must be reclaimed by endeavoring within a legal framework of law and justice.

The conceited ones of the age and the forceful voice of truth

Just as it happened yesterday, today, the people who control the capital, power, government and certain high positions look down on the rest of the people as if looking down to the ground, and they see themselves as being sohigh up, as if they arelooking at the firmaments. In our present time, their number has becomeso large that even calling them an oligarchical minority will not suffice. Surely, their power bears no importance against the strength and power of God Almighty and does not really mean anything for those who seek refuge in Him. The void that appears as a result of our inactivity and weakness is what makes power more meaningful, and the oligarchical minority is using that power against us.

It is not correct to think that such elites that leech off the people will always remain in such as position. One day, there may appear some among them who regret the oppressions they have committed, who become sincerely repentant, who change their feelings and thoughts, and prefer to live in ahuman way. We can see so many examples of this during the Prophet’s time. Although at the beginning of Islam, the majority of the believers were poor people—such as Bilal al-Habashi, Ammar ibn Yasir, and Abdullah ibn Masud—who worked near the controllers of wealth and power, the leading personalities of Mecca also came to be included in this blessed circle in later years.

By studying the identities of the people who accepted faith first and formed the center, it is possible to make some psycho-sociological analyses. For example, you can say that they had been seeking a savior to save them from the negative life conditions they were experiencing, and when they saw the prince of the Prophets with his truthfulness, decency, Prophetic intelligence and resolution, they ran to him with the intentionof seeking refuge in him. Or, by considering that those people owned very few worldly possessions and did not have much to lose, you may think that it was easier for them to dedicate their lives to the path of God. You may also think that the Messenger of God’s treating those oppressed people with his immense compassion, opening his bosom for them and supporting them was a factor in their speedy acceptance of Islam. Additionally, you mightalso interpret the fact that people in abject poverty followed such an infinite light as a result of Divine guidance. However, no matter which factor you ascribe this result to, you see that the majority of the heroes that formed the first rank of Muslims were poor people disdained by thoseprominent in society.

However, there came the day when those prominent people, who accosted the Muslims at every opportunity and tried to smash them, also joined their ranks. For example, duringthe sixth year of Islam, the unpleasant invectives against the noble Prophet tugged at the humane feelings of Hamza, who took a stance against the polytheists in return.[1] This meant that this quintessence and potential had existed in his soul. In spite of temporarily hesitating at the beginning, this brave champion was devoted to Islam in such a way that after he was martyred at Uhud, his name was written in heavens as the “lion of God.”[2] Abu Sufyan, who was unparalleled in obstinacy, took his place near the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, after the conquest of Mecca.[3] Like him, so many leading figures from among the polytheists submitted to the truth and changed sides later on.

Nobody should be deprived of the goodness

On account of the reasons we mentioned so far, from the oligarchical minority who in their imaginations see themselves at the uppermost level of the caste system and behave as if it were their essential right to oppress others, God knows what potential heroes may appear and may lend you a hand withyour ideal of establishing universal values. Even today, it is possible to say that its signs can be seen—not asshowers but rather like dewdrops on leaves. There are people who have ample worldly means, seen by some as being atthe uppermost level of their imagined caste system, who see themselves as having a distant worldview from you and whom you do not see as likely to share your ideals; when they witnessthe beautiful things you do, they may support the activities on the path of humanity and peace. You may see that some of them want to open a school somewhere, others wish to sponsor a university to be opened somewhere, while others want to provide afield for a new educational institution to be opened. As they also set an example for others with such services, those who see thiswill also wish to do the same.

Therefore, the duty that falls to us is taking care of all individuals in society without making any distinction. The thought that the reformation can only be carried out by poor or middle class people is not correct. These people may have welcomed the good things done and have opened the doors of their hearts wide from the very beginning. You may rather have spent time with them at the beginning. However, on account of the great scope of the tasks needed to be done for the sake of humanity today, it is necessary to spread our wings wide, and try to reach every place and every person. For this reason it is necessary to make efforts to include those who have worldly means and look down on others. However, while making this effort, you should not forget that in order for them to accept the values you believe, although a single day or week may suffice for some, for some of them it may be necessary to make visits for a month or even a year.

Who knows how many times the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, knocked the door of Abu Jahl and communicated his message to him? Without getting angry or feeling bitter, he made use of every opportunity and tried to make him feel the truths of faith. Note that Abu Jahl was one of the prominent figures of the Banu Makhzum tribe.[4] It was possible for his entire tribe to embrace Islam onceAbu Jahl had done it. Those days, the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, did not solely make visits to Abu Jahl, but also went to all the leaders of Mecca time and time again; he presented his message to them without growing weary or being broken down. Although Abu Jahl was not honored with faith, a day came when his son Ikrima accepted faith before the beneficence and compassion of God’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him.[5] There even came a day when no one remained among the prominent figures of Mecca who had not embraced his message. Maybe with a bit of help ofmass psychology, people accepted Islam in throngs all over the Arabian Peninsula.[6]

In this regard, it is necessary to utilize every opportunity to reach all sections of society and to advance in a multi-alternative fashion. It is necessary to knock on everybody’s door without becomingweary, giving in to hopelessness, orfeeling broken. Maybe some will insult you, call you “backward” or “bigot,” or call you other names. However, the reward of this task is absolute deliverance for you in the case of fulfilling it, and absolute perdition for them in the case of not fulfilling it. If your message is the magical and mysterious key to absolute deliverance—God Almighty has given everybody who strives on His path such a key—it is worth it for you to bow before them some fifty times for the sake of passing this key into their hands. In order to let people take the path of eternal happiness, those who serve on the path of the Qur’an must not feelhindered by any kind of suffering, torments, ugly remarks or obstacles.

[1] Ibn Ishaq, As-Sirah, 2/151–152; Ibn Hisham, As-Sirat an-Nabawiyya, 2, 129.
[2] Tabarani, Mujam al-Kabir, 3/149; al-Hakim, Al-Mustadrak, 3/149.
[3] Bayhaqi, Dalail an-Nubuwwah, 5/102; Ibn Asakir, TarikhDimashk, 23:458.
[4] Ibn Ishaq, As-Sirah 4/191; Ibn Abi Shaybah, Al-Musannaf,7/255–256.
[5] Ibn Asakir, TarikhDimashq, 41/55–56.
[6] Ibn Hisham, As-Sirat an-Nabawiyya, 5/248-249; Ibn al-Athir, Al-Kamil fi’t-Tarikh, 2/157–161.

This article has originally been published in Turkish on 18/04/2016.