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From chaos to order - I

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

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Fethullah Gülen: From chaos to order

For several centuries, with respect to our understanding of morality, virtue, science, and knowledge, our society has had the appearance of a wreck. It has been searching for an alternative system of order and thought in education, art, and morality. In fact, we need genius minds with iron wills that are able to carry the of vicegerent of God on Earth, and which are able to intervene in events and challenge the orphan spirit and puny thought which attach no importance to the consciousness of responsibility, humane values, knowledge, morality, true contemplation, virtue, and art in such a vast territory, we need refined minds and an iron will which will embrace and interpret creation in its depth and entirety and humanity in all its worldly and other-worldly vastness.

Recent gusts of change and transformation in the world tore the masks from the faces of many and revealed their true identities; they also momentarily lifted the veil from our eyes, and thus the true essence of everybody and everything became clear to our view. Nowadays, we can observe events taking place around us more clearly and draw sounder, more reliable conclusions. Consequently, we have now deduced and realized that it is not only our external appearance and attire, our way of thinking and our philosophy of life that were subjected to the mishap of being exiled, forsaken and obliterated from memory, but also our national culture, the consciousness of history, the system of morality, acceptance, and the interpretation of virtue, the understanding of art and the roots of spiritual essence-these were no less subjected to erosion. In fact, they suffered rather more. All our spiritual bonds were shredded, the sources of virtue dried up, and in their place impassable cliffs and abysses were thrown between us and our past.

In this blessed world of ours, we have experienced periods in which the intellectuals were silenced; the fount of thought was sealed; those who represented might and authority reinforced the deviation and degeneration; the poor, unfortunate generations were always trapped "in the most lifeless, hopeless, and darkest feelings, within a groaning chaos, like the dead."

In this "red" period, when everywhere was pervaded by the thick dust and smoke of hopelessness, eyes shed tears of helplessness, hearts sighed when looking toward the faces that did not know shame, lamenting their feelings with a voice from their deepest self, bemoaning: "What else could you expect from those confused, who sailed forth into atheism; from those unthinking people, who praise and applaud everybody and everything; from those victims of their deeply sullied conscience, who are accustomed to bowing to that power?" However, not a single one of all those things that were shaken and demolished, which perished and disappeared has been replaced. And now, witnessing the unease, the discomfiture that we have started to feel recently in all of our hearts, even deep in the hearts of the so-called realists, who know nothing but the pursuit of their own pleasure, it has become crystal clear that nothing has been built or established in place of what was demolished, what perished and disappeared; the values of society have been left inverted.

Now let me ask you earnestly how and with what we should overcome this moral misery, which has turned life into a burden and an enigma, and how should we overcome the crises which form an ever stronger and deeper whirlpool in ourselves as the days pass? How can we tackle, surmount, and extricate ourselves from these individual, familial, and social crises? How can we walk confidently toward the future? With a few imported fantasies and fancy ideologies? Or with the limited reasoning of this age on which they try to build everything? No! Neither those illegitimate thoughts and ideologies nor that dark logic are able to rise from under such a heavy burden.

All the efforts of reformation in our world remain nothing but artifice; they have never successfully pursued an objective nor reached even the smallest target. Those at the top, paintbrush in hand, have assumed that it was a skill, or perhaps even revolutionary, to daub paint over the wounds that appeared on the national and social body; yet they have been blind to the internal bleeding in the major blood vessels of the vital organs and the complications caused by that bleeding. Since the turn of the century, with the exception of some success in the private sphere and the achievements of the heroes of our National War, everything has continued on this way. Furthermore, it is impossible even to claim that the blessed effort of our heroes has been continued with a purity and strength comparable to that shown at its origin. Today, it is not impossible, but it is very difficult, to talk of unity on such a scale and to imagine such a rising and revival.

Although different groups have separated and distanced themselves more and more from others, they do not acknowledge clearly the substantial differences among them concerning their intellectual lives, spirit, and essence. They have become alienated from one another to an extraordinary extent and behave like beasts attacking each other. This has reached such a level that if one says something is black, the other contradicts him and claims that it is white; if one puts forward an idea, the other opposes and refutes it; one considers the alternative ideas of the other as being treacherous; and one sees the firmness of the other as bigotry and fanaticism. Apart from all this contrariness, now imagine the dimensions of this fight, or rather, brawl, where there are no criteria commonly or mutually acknowledged by all. Try now to discover on which side the truth is to be found.

That is why, more than anything else today, we need a way of thinking which is undeceiving and criteria which are not misleading on the way that carries us to truth and virtue. While our conscience and our moral and ethical values could once have been considered to be a source of light sufficient to resolve many problems, unfortunately today that conscience has been wounded and those moral values are scattered in confusion; both of these important dynamics have been uprooted and, like ancient fountains in museums, their source or spring has dried up. In the words of M. Akif Ersoy:

What elevates morality is neither knowledge nor conscience,
Fear of God is the real source of all virtue and excellence.

If you add to all this the fact that willpower has slackened as far as possible, that reasoning has become as shameless as possible, and that human feelings are as wicked and ferocious as fiends, the depth and vastness of the nightmare we have been experiencing will be self-evident.

It is therefore essential to start by revising once more all the fundamentals of our reasoning, finding the line of logical thinking, giving our willpower its due, and raising resolute generations. As we are living in a universe besieged by causes, we cannot ignore them. Negligence of causes in a world of causes is absolute determinism and deviation. To become responsible and accountable does not demand that we ignore causes, but rather renders our observance of the principle of causes (tanasub al-illiyat) as an indispensable requirement.

Departing from this point, if we do not, with serious intent, analyze today the fundamentals of those particular harmful thoughts, ideologies, and movements, and if we do not take the necessary measures against them, it is inevitable that we will again live through similar miserable morality, social disasters, deviations, and corruptions, all in their different scales and dimensions. It is not commendable that we know the consequences of a disaster after it has already taken place. The merit is to foresee and predict which causes and factors produce what effect. It is even difficult to show such hindsight or wisdom concerning our recent history; we can never claim that we gave our willpower its due at any time. Quite the contrary, within that twilight period our people were suspicious of their own thought, willpower, and resolution and thus always sought some superior and extraordinary willpower to govern them. Moreover, by means of the thought of such and such a "scholar," "scientist," "country," or "state" lack of character was inculcated into the pure consciousnesses and innocent consciences of our people, and thus their resolution and perseverance were shackled. In time, the dominance and rule of these people over our thoughts and acts caused a variety of deviations of personality, dizziness, deviations of reasoning, distortions and contradictions in our thinking, our acceptance of ideas and interpretations. This then brought about some terrible deformations in those who surrendered, without terms and conditions, such people and thought. However, none but the Divine Will ought to be believed in and accepted without inspection and criticism.

Descartes said, "Thought which is not free cannot be considered thought." Are we not at least able to think as Descartes in order to save ourselves from the scholasticism of today which is already rotten and outmoded in many respects? Alas, it seems not . . .

In coming years, the generations who can see the bright horizons of this world and the next will revise the thoughts, formulas, and systems which were imported to us and formed inside us, they will purify society from alienating and filthy things and affairs, and connect it with its own spiritual roots, so that it can protect and preserve its essence, its personality, and walk its own line to its own future. Yet while walking it will remain so intimate with the world that it will be able to read and study yesterday together with today, one within the other, so that it does not merely discard the past because it is old and blindly accept the things it considers new and fresh. The most obvious characteristic of this enlightened generation will be to know everything related to the past and present, to realize that what is commonly assumed to be known is not at all what we know to be true, and, in one way or another, to try to understand the truth along with the findings of laboratories by sieving all through the filter of mind, logic, and reason and by heeding the currents of inspiration.

To achieve such an improvement and change it is vitally important to know our near past, its heroes, and historic personalities: in the formation of our history, who were the most influential persons, and what were the most influential factors, motives and reasons? Who are the people who have most recently revived the love and enthusiasm of our people? Who composed and performed the works which reflect our national, social, and spiritual beauties? Once we know all this, I think we may understand better what we need to envision and how to present our plans for the future clearly. Thus we may attain the happiness of walking in the footsteps of the heroes who kept safe and sound in their hearts their thought, cause, love, and tolerant morality.