Gülen: "Even the Worst State is Better Than No State"

by Mehmet Gündem on . Posted in Mehmet Gündem's Interview in Milliyet Daily

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Your name has been frequently mentioned together with the State. What does the State mean for you?

I have always stipulated that "even the worst State is better than no State" whenever I voiced my opinion in words such as "the State is necessary, and should not be worn down." I have never sanctified the State as some people have done. This preference is a necessity for me, because if the State were not to occupy a certain place, it is certain that anarchy, chaos, and disorder would dominate there. Then, there would be no respect for ideas, freedom of religion, and our consciences would be violated; justice would be out of question. In the past there were times when our nation suffered from the absence of the State. Therefore, I regard supporting the State also as a duty of citizenship.

If a person is admired by people and his words are regarded highly, then this person is bound by a responsibility not to lead those people into error and to prevent them from extremism. We try to see the bright side and interpret in that direction; there is no use to base arguments upon permanent criticism, harm, opposition, revenge, hostility, and hatred, as some people do. Therefore, this is our preference (to support the State); although we are aware of certain mistakes, we bury this in our hearts. I never had such thoughts as, "the State is innocent, it is as infallible as a Prophet; whatever it does is to the point, it is never mistaken." They too can be mistaken (like anyone else).

Some categorize you as being extremely étatiste, whereas some others believe you have plans to take over the State. They think the cassettes released in 1999 are proof of this. Is the State something for you to take over?

The path for those who desire the State is evident. I could head along the same path as a member of this nation, if I had had such a yearning. At this point, I feel the need to mention an issue which is not directly related (to your question): Explanations regarding such questions are tantamount to trying to absolve one's self, from my perspective, and thus I feel very nervous about this (when exposed to). Absolving one's self is essentially against my belief. Therefore, although I am very nervous about doing this, I would like to ask if these people never think. Do they never look into the past of this person of whom they are suspicious, do they never examine how this person, who is now over sixty, has lived and in which directions he has set his preferences? I have always told my friends—sometimes openly, sometimes indirectly, but consistently—to cut off our connections with this world, to devote ourselves to earning the pleasure of God, and to allow ourselves no other goal but to make the names of God and His Messenger heard everywhere. If I were to prefer this world, to prefer to be at the top of the State, I would have looked for a position in certain places where such preferences could be realized. My preferences are clear. What could a man have had in mind, a man who spent his youth, a slice of his lifetime when youthful desires were at their peak, in the niche of a mosque in a wooden hut? What's more, some proposals were made for the sake of our sympathizers, admirers.

... proposals in political sense?

There were political proposals as well as proposals of a different purpose (and for different efforts); these were far above my head and I could never become engaged in them. I am sorry, but I feel nervous and I don't want to go into further detail.

If this person refused all the opportunities that came to his doorstep and rather headed for his wooden hut in his youth, how could he have such desires now when he spends every night as "if this were my last"? I think all of these accusations arise from feelings of hatred.

Why do you keep yourself so distant (from the State) then? Do you see a drawback with this idea?

No. It is not because I see a drawback. If I were of a mind to be in office, then I would become a candidate in a certain place, and then no one would complain about it. But as I said before, my heart is filled and my vision is decorated by other things. I prefer to live as Ahmad Sarhandis, Ghazalis, Harranis, Akil Mubanjils lived, to follow their traces in order to reach the lifestyle of the Prophet and thus reach the pleasure of my Lord. Citizens of Turkey who possess the right set of heart and mind, a vast conscience, and who are capable of and wishing to be in office can step forward and govern the State. And we will support them at an intellectual level. We will present at their disposal whatever we can that is of any use. This is how such a goal can be reached.

What happens if those in government are opposed to your views?

This is possible. I have never had any predilections in this matter. I have always accepted it as my State, both in my mind and in my heart, no matter who has come to power. For instance, I encountered the State for the first time in my youth with the late Menderes. I used to listen to his speeches with admiration. He was a man of Anatolia, he spoke as we spoke and he was brave. I always remember with grief his unjust trial and execution. When Demirel came to power, I appreciated him at certain times, as well; I supported him at an intellectual level, at least . . . I think he was supported to a certain extent.

I appreciated Turgut Ozal and Bulent (Ecevit) too. You already know the rest; I met both Mesut Yilmaz and Mrs Tansu Ciller. I even tried to tell them to join forces and if they could have done this their votes could have had a higher potential, and this could have prevented the subsequent chaos. There are witnesses to these meetings. In short, we have always been on the side of the State, no matter who was there, just to prevent disorder and anarchy in the nation. What we care about is that the reputation of our State is protected, our religion is not harmed, and that we are provided with services to live our faith.

I could not get a clear answer to one of my previous questions. I asked, "Some may think 'Gülen supports the presidential system so that it will facilitate the transition to the theocratic dictatorship that he aims to establish.'"

Even in the most primitive societies, people are judged according to their words and actions. I have spoken and all my actions have taken place in the presence of society and governments, and what I have written is readily available. If I have had such thoughts (to take over the State), their traces would have been revealed at least with a few words voiced over 40 years of my career. Is it at all possible for a man to conceal such things for such a long time without even implying them or indicating them? No one can claim such a thing, except a marginal group who are motivated by hatred.

How can a person with one foot already in the grave accomplish this, even if he had such aspirations! He has not made any preparations for it; no preparations for governing even a village. Such claims would make reasonable people laugh. All such claims are based upon suspicions and possibilities. This logic—or illogical approach—amounts to accusing every leftist of a possible desire for a totalitarian communist regime, every nationalist of being racist and chauvinist or fascist-Nazi. Even the insane would laugh at such paranoia.