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For the Conquest and Dominion of Hearts

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Towards the Lost Paradise

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Over the last few centuries mankind have suffered hardships after hardships, travelling around pits of 'death'. Their struggles for deliverance and relief have all resulted in new calamities. During this dark period, rather than the established governments formally in power, it is the greed and passions of individuals, classes, holding companies and mafias that have controlled communities. It hardly needs saying that in this circumstance, the only criterion by which people and things are evaluated is money, buying power.

It is natural, in a period when standards have changed so completely, that people should be esteemed for their wealth, the make of car they use and the sort of house they live in. It is natural because material and financial resources or potentials have been given precedence over human virtues like knowledge, good morals, sound thinking and civility. Wealth may indeed be valued when put under the command of knowledge, intellect, courage, honour and devotion to the service of others, but when valued for itself or, worse, when united with greed, it can be a means of brutality.

If the members of a society make the foundation of their lives the gratification of animal desires, and their purpose becoming or being rich at all costs – rather than being honest, industrious and competent, then the selfish, the ignorant and the cunning people come to dominate in that society. This means the exclusion of moral values and human virtues and therefore of those who combine efficiency with personal integrity – precisely the ones who could be useful to the society.

Compared with previous centuries, mankind today may well be wealthier and enjoying more of the conveniences and comforts of life. However, it is also true that they are trapped in greed, infatuations, addictions, needs and fantasies much more than in any previous age. The more they gratify their animal appetites, the more crazed they become to gratify those appetites still more; the more they drink, the more thirsty they are; the more they eat, the more hungry they are. They enter into bad speculations to feed their avarice to earn ever more and more and sell their spirits to the devil in return for the most banal advantages, thus breaking with true human values a little more each day.

Modern man, who spends his energies in pursuit of transient material advantages, is wasting himself and all the nobler, truly human feelings in the depths of his being. It is no longer possible to find among his resources either the serenity that comes from belief, or the tolerance and depth of spirit enabled by knowledge of God, or the traces of love and spiritual joys. This is so because he weighs everything on the scales of material advantage, immediate comfort and the gratification of bodily appetites, and thinks about only how he can increase his profit or what he will buy and sell, and where and how he will amuse himself. If he is unable to satisfy his appetites through lawful means, he rarely hesitates to resort to unlawful means, however degraded and degrading.

In order to be delivered from the suffocating world of unbelief and egocentricity, from shuttling aimlessly between the false modern concepts of thought, action and life, man should strive to re-discover the true human values that lie in the depths of his being. To escape the various stresses and afflictions in the psychological, spiritual and intellectual dimensions of personal life, and the strains and conflicts in collective affairs within and between nations, he should re-consider the worth of believing, loving, moral values, metaphysical thinking and spiritual training.

Believing means knowing the truth to be true, what and how it is, and loving means putting that knowledge into effect in one's life. Those who do not believe and love are merely physical entities without true life, like mechanically animated corpses. Belief is a most important source of action and a way to embrace the whole creation in spirit, while love is the most essential element of true human thought and a transcendental dimension of it. For this reason, those who are on the way of building the happy world of the future on the foundations of spiritual and moral values, should first arrive at the altar of belief, then ascend to the pulpit of love, and only then preach their message of belief and love to all others. In seeking to achieve their aims, they should never forget that their influence depends on morality and virtuousness.

Morality is the essence of religion and a most fundamental portion of the Divine Message. If being virtuous and having good morals is to be heroic – and it is – the greatest heroes are, first, the Prophets and, after them, those who follow them in sincerity and devotion. A true Muslim is the one who practises a truly universal, therefore Muslim, morality. Anyone of sense and insight can see that the Qur'an and the Sunnah – the way or example of the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings – are sets of moral principles. The Prophet, who is the greatest embodiment of morals, said: Islam consists in good morals; I have been sent to perfect and complete good morals. The Muslim Community have always been the representatives of good morality and it must be so since it is only through morality and virtuousness that this Community can attain eternity. Islamic metaphysics is a means to reach the highest point in morality.

Metaphysical thought is the effort of the intellect to embrace creation as a whole and perceive it with all its dimensions, visible and unvisible. Without this effort of the intellect or spirit, everything breaks up into lifeless fragments. For this reason, the failure of metaphysical thought implies the death of the intellect. All the great civilizations have developed and come into being in the arms of metaphysical thought. Metaphysical thought is human intellect or spirit trying to embrace the whole of creation and comprehend it from within and outside; those who see metaphysics and physics (and other sciences) as conflicting disciplines, are not aware that they are seeing a river and the source where it originates as contradictory.

Another dimension of metaphysics is the perception of creation through love. In this context, love is identical with perceiving the whole of the universe with whatever is happening in it as a continuous interconnected flux and loving it. Those who have been able to find this true love pursue neither wealth nor fame; rather, they find peace in the flames of their love and see the face of their beloved amid the ashes of their own existence burnt away. In other words, they are on an uninterrupted journey from the valleys of 'self-annihilation in the existence of God' to the heights of 'attainment to permanence through permanence of God'. This attainment can come through strict spirritual training.

Spiritual training means directing man to the purpose of his creation. Through awareness of the ultimate purpose of this worldly existence, a man can be freed from bodily pressures and realize a journey into his very essence.

We are obliged to change the viewpoint and aspirations of modern man who, having lost his spiritual dynamics and broken with his essential identity, is the victim of his own self. We are hopeful that if we reinforce our will and resolve through regular worship and control it through continual self-ciriticsm, Almighty God will not deny his help in making us successful in this blessed mission. It is our duty to sow the seeds now for the brighter earth of the future, and we leave to God Himself, if He wills, to grow each of them into fruitful trees.

We are fully convinced that, as a result of conscious efforts, this corrupt world will give birth to a new one where belief and worship will carry to every place the fragrances of peace, security and love. We are also convinced that future generations will aim at, and be favoured by, the ecstasies of an overflowing love, far beyond aspirations for money or fame or high appointments. This love will originate in conquering hearts and, in return, will be recompensed with the dominion of hearts. Aug 1995, Vol 17, Issue 199