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The horizons of tranquility

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Sufism and Metaphysics

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The horizons of tranquility

People have always dreamed of attaining peace of mind since the day the first foot was set on the Earth; people have longed for peace of mind, pursuing and struggling in a multitude of ways to obtain it. Sometimes people have connected tranquility to working hard and earning financial wealth; sometimes they have tied it to living to their heart's content and to boundless freedom; at other times, peace of mind has been seen as being in the possession of advanced technological means and the achievement of physical comfort; or at times it has been connected to eating and drinking and the satisfaction of carnal desires. People have bound their lives up in the attainment and possession of these means. On this misty, dusty road people have sometimes lived in hope, have sometimes experienced disappointment and writhed in despair, but never have they reached the longed for expectation; it is impossible via these routes, as the peace of mind that they are in pursuit of is the fruit of virtue within faith and can only be attained through perfect faith. This has also been the essence of the call of the prophets.

The essence of this call for peace and peace of mind can be instituted when individuals turn toward God and submit themselves to Him with all of their being: it is impossible for a person of faith who has achieved submission to this degree to continuously be a slave to bodily desires, nor is it possible such a person to fear anything but God or feel any anxiety. For now, just as these people have found the One that they have been searching for and as they find the beloved toward whom they have directed their love, they also find themselves at peace, for they have been sheltered in the refuge of Eternal Omnipotence in front of whose majesty they will always feel awe and respect. They are at peace, for they know that the Endless Omnipotence and Grace never abandons those who have turned their faces toward Him, whoever they may be, and He never lets them wallow in misery.

For this reason, people of faith are always at peace and always feel secure. They know that they will reach the desired destination if they continue walking, associating everything with Him. They will be safe all along the way and will, in the distance, experience "the wedding night" of being in close proximity; they will walk toward the purpose of existence with the guidance of the Qur'an, with the trust that the faith in their hearts promises, with breezes of submission wafting through their emotions and conscience and with the supervision of the Divine Master. With all of these they can overcome all the hellish pits of corporeal attachments and the insatiable appetites of their desires and fancies. Indeed, those who enter the atmosphere of the Qur'an and who take refuge in His guidance always feel a deep contentment and an unshakable trust in their hearts when they breathe of safety. As they listen to their conscience, as they gaze upon objects, as they contemplate the tomorrows of both the near and far future, i.e. the future stretching until eternity, as they take into consideration the Barzah (the place where the souls will wait till Judgment Day), Mahshar (the place where all the dead and living will meet on Judgment Day), Sirat (the very narrow bridge which leads to Heaven), Hell, and Heaven, they carry a remarkable awareness of their duty and a feeling of responsibility, and they are also filled with a deep feeling of hope. This feeling of hope is directly proportional to the depth of the faith in their breasts. They gaze upon objects through such a specific window of benevolence, given unto them as befits the breadth of their faith, that should the curtain of physical existence be completely drawn back, they will find the things that they see and the experiences beyond that window akin to the things that they feel and experience here. Due to the nature of earthly confinement, they will come face to face with what they have felt briefly on the Earth beyond this window in fine detail, and they will smile at their good fortune.

Indeed, faith is the magical key to happiness in this world and the Hereafter and promises a virtuous end to those who pass their lives under its banner. Faith promises a bright time of Barzah, giving glad tidings of a gentle and warm resurrection, whispering an octave of the Divine Scale that is pleasant to our souls, making our hearts feel our approaching adventure on the Sirat Bridge with its depths of hope and poise. Heaven opens its doors with content and comprehension, with surprises that exceed all expectations and presents us with blessings from the Tree of Heaven, blessings that make us forget even the most troubleladen and painful moments of this life!

In fact, when people of faith turn toward God with all their being, everything else disappears from sight. All false powers and desires deflate like pricked balloons. All physical lights which have occasionally dazzled their eyes with their false glitter are attenuated in the face of His divine light that shines into our hearts; all around we hear, resounding: "Today all wealth and possessions belong to God, the Absolute Victor." A heart which has attained this level is free from the deceptive promises of all seductive powers, forces, kindness, and grace and turns only toward God and awaits help only from Him. When such people are in trouble or shaken by difficulties, they trust in and lean on Him. They seek protection against all threats, taking refuge in the sanctuary of His grace, benevolence and help.

When such people weaken, they enter the advice of His transcending power. When they are tainted by sin, they run to His basin of forgiveness to cleanse themselves, dispersing the fog and smoke that has occasionally enveloped their horizon by putting faith in Him and submitting themselves to Him. Thus, they walk toward the future without submitting to any phenomena that may appear in their way. They solve all their individual, familial, and social problems by connecting with Him and they never fear, or feel a loneliness that cannot be overcome in their souls. At times they may be subjected to temporary loneliness in public, but thanks to their faith and submission, they always feel the breeze of "divine companionship." Whatever befalls them, they take it as a warning sign from fate, and welcome such transactions with assent and patience.

Their faith in God and the characteristics of their faith open up the possibility of acquainting themselves with everything, and thus they see all existence—living or not—as a family. They make contact with the rest of creation, taking an active part in the life of things and in their conscience they feel the vastness of the of vicegerent which has been bequeathed to them. They perceive that all things have been created for their benefit, and they bow in gratitude, realizing that they are hand in hand with the perception of angels and the souls of the universe. They find the ground that they walk upon, the lowland and the heath, as warm as ancestral residences, and they feel as at home there as if they were in their mother's cradle. They evaluate existence in a way that in no way resembles materialist and naturalist depictions, but with the eye of a person of faith who associates everything with God, and in response, they receive recognition from all that is around them. They receive messages of confidence from all the things with which they come into contact and respond with an attitude expressing the same confidence. They are not afraid of anyone and do not cause anyone to fear; they embrace all as their brethren. They shower smiles upon all things; they sip water, breath air and accept all manners of presents as blessings from God. They inhale the scent of the Earth and those that it gives birth to as if it were the sweetest of aromas. They salute the orchards and gardens, the mountains and valleys, the grasses and trees, the roses and the flowers with the language of their heart, as if these things too had senses. They caress all creatures that they encounter as if they were friends assigned to keep them company in this guesthouse. With every action they demonstrate that they have been sent to the Earth as a sign for agreement and reconciliation.

Thus, people of faith who, with this vast faith of theirs, see everyone and everything through this framework, feel themselves to be in an expansive atmosphere of peace, so much so that it would make all other people jealous if they were but aware. These people are overjoyed with the inexpressible pleasures of living with faith. Indeed, there are no fights, no disputes; they expend all their energy on making other people feel what they feel and enjoy, on sharing these sincere feelings with everyone; they strive to lead everyone to this song of joy by uncovering the horizons of others to whatever degree they can. They are always a few steps behind ordinary living because of their efforts to cause other people to experience these joys. In all of their acts, they have eternal trust in God; they take care never to posit themselves deliberately against other people. Indeed, on the one hand, they feed their own, relative, power with the omnipotence of God; on the other, they also try to attain the support of other people of faith who are like them. They transform all powers that may stand against them into a new depth of their capabilities, thus walking toward their goal as if they were flying. They walk toward the goal of reaching peace with faith, the goal of making other people believe, and toward the achievement of God's pleasure.

If truth be told, a society where individuals have reached such a state of satisfaction, where they love and respect one another and where they are connected with a bond of the heart is a society that is the perfect candidate for peace. It is the perfect candidate, because the factors that may lead its members to unease and the creation of factions have totally disappeared. Among these people, there are no considerations or privileges of nobility, ancestry, region, or status. These people, who see all people and all things as stemming from the same root, are brethren in the fullest meaning of the word. The Qur'an calls attention to this deep truth when it says, the people of faith are only brethren to one another (AlHujraat 49:10). This is not just a physical kinship; in the words of the Prophet, they are strongly bound to each other by love, affection, and sincerity, like organs of the same body, and they always feel the pain of other's in their hearts, and suffer the agony, share their joys, and experience the same happiness together.

Indeed, they are like each other's eyes and ears, tongue and lips, hands and feet. In this society, every individual has devoted themselves to facilitate another's life, to do all that they can for the happiness of others. Consequently, there is no abandonment or wallowing in despair among such people. When one is hurt, all the others feel this pain in their hearts. All join in the feast of happiness when one partakes of it. Again, in this society, parents are respected like saints, children are raised with diligent care, as if they were flowers. Spouses, even when they have grown gray together, treat each other with the joy of their first day, with contemplation of the eternal togetherness in the Hereafter. They try to live their lives following a route of the heart and mind, beyond the limits of emotional relationships. They are true to each other to the degree that no stranger's shadow is ever reflected in their eyes. This harmony in the family is also true for the nation, which is considered to be a larger family; in a nation composed of such families, all will love and respect one another, all will regard each other with affection, all will wish well for others and all will try to extinguish evil to the best of their ability. No one thinks bad thoughts about anyone, and no one holds another in suspicion. No one uses people as spies against one another. One section of society does not devote its existence to the destruction of another. No one, no one at all, engages in acts like complicity, mendacity, deceit, and slander; these are the habits of the lowest sort of people. In this society of peace, each individual is at battle with all that is negative; it is as if they have sworn to protect human values. As a result, this society becomes a society of conscience and peace.

This article originally appeared in Işığın Göründüğü Ufuk [The Horizon Where the Light Has Appeared], Nil, Istanbul, 2000, pp. 240-245.