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The Inheritors of the Earth

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in The Statue of Our Souls

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The world is floating away as it spins into its real orbit… but are the rightful "inheritors of the Earth" ready to retake and restore the inheritance that has been snatched from their hands? The initial rights were granted as a gift and, as such, are different from the rights acquired by effort and action. Rights that are not distributed on account of due merit, even if initially given to a particular group, cadre or nation, can always be withdrawn; they may even continue to change hands among those whose portion of worthiness is greater than others, until those who are genuinely worthy have been raised up.

Indeed We wrote in the Psalms after the Message (Torah) that My servants, the righteous, shall inherit the Earth. (Anbiya 21: 105)

Without doubt that promise, guaranteed in this verse by an oath, will be fulfilled one day. Nor, without doubt, is it the inheritance of the Earth only; for inheriting the Earth also means governing and managing the resources of the sky and space. It will be almost a universal "dominion." As this dominion is one that will be deputed to a regent or steward on behalf of the Lord, it is extremely important, indeed essential, that the attributes that are appropriate to inheriting the Earth and the heavens are conformed to. Indeed, only so far as the required attributes are realized and practiced can the dream come true.

Since in troubled times of history those who had a claim to be the inheritors, but who failed to carry out the duties required by this heavenly inheritance, were deprived of it by the true Owner of the dominion, the only way for them to be saved from such deprivation is to return and take refuge in submission to Him.

God did not promise this inheritance to a particular clan, tribe, nation, or race. The inheritance is for those of His servants who are righteous in thought and religion; for those who have a Muhammadi spirit and Qur'anic morality; who foster and retain the idea of unity, accord, togetherness, and solidarity; who are aware of the era they are living in; who are wellequipped with science and knowledge; who always keep and observe the balance between this world and the next; in short, for the heroes of spirit, spiritual reality and vision who aspire to the same orbit as the Companions of God's Messenger, the stars ornamenting the sky of prophethood. And this inheritance is within sunnatullah, the course of God, His way of treatment.

According to the verse, For you shall not find any alteration in the course of God; and you shall not find any change in the course of God (Fatir 35:43), this is a law of nature, that is a law of creation as ordained by the Creator, and it is immutable.

That is why becoming the inheritors of the Earth is conditional, first and foremost, on striving to live the religion in line with the Qur'an and Sunna. Secondly, it means striving to make religion the soul of life. Thirdly, it is conditional on being deserving heirs of the science and knowledge of the era. The point that should never be forgotten is that punishment falls inevitably upon those who do not abide by the natural laws operating in the universe (the manifestations of God's Will and Power in the universe) and the Divine laws (as manifested in divine scriptures which are derived from God's attribute of kalam—speaking to humanity) in the revealed scriptures. This punishment also falls upon those who have suffered a negative change in their spiritual life, even though they may be, at the time, enjoying the dominion of rule over the rest. History, the graveyard of nations that have declined and become extinct for that reason, attests to this fact. God never withdraws the bounties He has granted to a society or nation and never makes them change, unless they themselves implement changes in their living, inner world, unless they deform themselves, their souls and essence. The verse cited above and the following—Verily, God does not change the condition of a people until they change that which is within themselves (Rad 13:11)—which concerns rule and being ruled, honor and humiliation, reminds us of a significant general principle and also highlights the particular failing of contemporary Muslims.

We can summarize this failing as the deformation that is suffered in both their inner structure (in their hearts and souls) and in their outward structure (their falling behind in contemporary knowledge). It does not much matter whether this is the result of the obstacles and impediments placed by the outside world over two hundred years, or from their own ignorance, weaknesses, inabilities and deficiencies. One thing is certain, namely that the Islamic community is losing blood on account of its indifference to, and want of interest in, the sources of power which kept it standing firm for ages and which made it the rightful "inheritor of the Earth."

Can we say of those who claim, on behalf of the Muslim community, to represent Islam at such unfortunate times that they have the profound life of heart and soul that the first Muslims had? Can we say that Muslims leave aside and forget their own desires to live and instead have the desire and spiritual resolve to make others live? Again, how many people can we point to now who live with the awareness of whether what they are doing will lead to good, loftier, more valuable and beneficial things or status, or whether it will lead to destruction? How many sincere people can we point to who prefer to pass away honorably rather than to live on despised? How many bright souls can we show who have never given in to the pressures of the obstacles and enemies in front of them and who have continued to live without changing their course and direction?

During such unfortunate periods, the weakness of the administration and the administrators is literally heart-breaking. Although the Qur'an forbids Muslims to live under the rule of tyrants, unfortunately we have been unable to save ourselves from this. Alas, we cannot deny that we have been suffering great misery and humiliation under oppressors who have been crushing us for years under their domination.

The truth of the matter is that we have committed one of the most unforgivable errors of history: just to make our world materially prosperous, we have sacrificed our religion to the world and adopted a system of thought which has made the world preferable to religion; subsequently we have been struggling in "a web of impossibilities and absurdities." Consequently, not only have we lost religion, we have also failed to gain the world. This glorious but unfortunate nation suffered a period of emptying: a blessed history and a thousand-year heritage were rejected; artificial, newly-invented origins were imposed upon the people; a great state was re-designed on blocks of inflated principles that have no enduring value; history, associations of community and culture, ancestry, and national culture and heritage were despised, insulted and derided; we took refuge with those who had for a thousand years opposed our system of thought and with their alien ideas; these were thereby imported into our country along with the most profane ideas and dire expressions. Those who successfully uttered and praised such things in prose and poetry were showered with awards and prizes; in a complete world of the wronged, unjustly treated, condemned and oppressed, they went almost as far as communism in an attempt to prosper in feelings, thought, and morality.

I can still recollect that when ideologies like socialism and communism were in their heyday there was a group of almost a dozen incompetents disabled by unbelief who doubted even themselves and who always felt the need to hide behind public figures, dogmas, and ideologies in order to attack religion and assault the sacred things in a crude and vulgar fashion. At the present time we are experiencing a most dreadful and disgraceful campaign of the same sort by the very same individuals, the same gang. Still based on and backed up by the same illegitimate ideologies, they spew out their hatred, malice, and rancor and all but declare war in their effort to silence devout, religious people and the religious life. Turkish national poet laureate, M. Akif Ersoy (1873-1936), the writer of the Turkish National Anthem, has dealt with such issues in his corpus, Safahat (Stages), in heartfelt bitterness and mental anguish, where he has impressively expressed the darkest period when Muslims and Islam were put under surveillance, chased, persecuted, and prosecuted, and when the love and enthusiasm for and attachment to religion were disgraced, extinguished, and exterminated.

However, I must point out that this noble nation, which has been compelled to suffer blasphemous and arbitrary oppressions for years, has never been completely subdued, and the aspirations to the eternal life in its thoughts have never been extinguished. These thoughts are at the same time a red hot ember, a spark that crackles with life when it stirs, and a source of light which is able to illuminate the worlds; it has thus far been so compacted with the centripetal force of caution, circumspection, foresight, and composure that it is reduced in size, fitting into a seed, and therefore is able to survive the most calamitous days of the century, reaching forward to the horizon of fulfilling its purpose, and waiting in readiness to fully enlighten the world when its time comes.

We should take the long period of desolation to the same degree as hardships endured and effort exerted. By understanding Islam, which is a sufficient source of power for our material and spiritual revival, according to its essence, and by joining with the righteous servants, whose emotions, thoughts, perceptions, consciousness, and willpower are sound and strong, who stand firm and upright with the thought of living and communicating God's Word,[4] who are systematic in the acquisition of knowledge, trustworthy in their work and attitudes, of upright character, who would not give in to sensual desires, and who have managed to harmonize their hearts and minds, let us prove once more that we are the inheritors of the Earth.

If God grants His guidance and success to us we would like to continue our journey in the direction of this lost line.

[4] i'la al-kalimatullah: Knowing the highness and value of God's word and Islamic truths, spreading His name and word and teaching them to others.