"Turkey Lags Far Behind Where it Should be"
For the sake of the future of the world, I believe that believers, mu'mins [believers of Allah] and in particular Muslims in Turkey need to prepare themselves really well. I will again apply the remarks of the Master Bediuzzaman [Said Nursi]: "Minds should be enlightened with the science of civilization, hearts with the light of belief." Separated for centuries, the marriage of the heart and mind should be realized again. People should see with their hearts. With their inner hearts, they should observe the secret that belongs to Allah. They need to live with Allah and also know how to examine the universe very carefully, just like a Westerner. They have to read the world very well. They have to read humanity. They should try to claim - I say this for my own people-- their places in the world. As for my personal feelings, examinations, thoughts as the child of such a strong, great nation, I should state that I am disturbed by our present situation. Because many incidents take place in the world, decisions are taken, a place is gone, perhaps another place is "invaded" or "democratized", people are chained and taken places; however, nothing is asked of our nation. Our nation has no function in this matter. It is not even found worthy of being given the floor. People talk about the issues according to their perspective. We think that we will be able to make a statement ourselves by entering a place. We cannot do nice things on our own behalf without using the excuse of entering someplace.
For example, if democracy is a nice human system, we couldn't be democrats if we just think of ourselves. Others have questioned us in this matter. Some thousands of lawsuits had been filed against us on the grounds of democracy and human rights violations. In such a Turkey, what harm would really be done if we refrained from interfering at first in issues of human rights, freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of other people's living. We are not able to say 'Let us not make these kinds of things the subject of arguments in a society with common interests.' Instead, we try to do these things using the accession to the European Union as an excuse, regardless of what the others say. I consider that this is such a shame for us. It creates the feeling that we are a somewhat unknown nation that came to the scene yesterday. This offends me a great deal. You stand somewhere at the equilibrium of the states; they had allied with you, some injustices were removed with your assistance, but now, in order to have your right, you ought to lean someplace. You think: "I wonder if we will turn to America, Europe, or Russia?" This nation is required to be itself, to raise itself. It should solve its problems on its own.
You once correctly commented during the brainstorming subject about friends who do not make their observations known, who make errors of ijtihad [process of making a decision by independent interpretation of the sources], who accidentally wrong me in a narrow circle because of excessive respect for me. I would not say that about my interview, because that would be disrespectful to you. But, same issues are valid for Turkey as well. In Turkey, people cannot state their thoughts. For example, it could be a different democracy. This democracy at the same time has a dimension of the afterlife. That is, it should have a door that opens to the other dimension. Democracy should speak to my desires related to eternity, eternal observations, and observations that are related to the world beyond the skies. Otherwise, it is incomplete. If I am a human, my wholeness completely depends on it. However, if it cannot say anything about my wholeness, then it is the shortcoming of democracy. In Turkey, these [shortcomings] are still experienced. And people are followed like brigands because they state this, or even just because of the possibility that he/she still may state these; by the possibilities in lieu of the actual committment of criminal activity. Even more so, it is wished that people be sent into exile. Turkey has much ground to cover. In my humble opinion, Turkey lags far behind where it should be.
Turkish people are not stupid. Even here [America], in very important places, there are Turkish intellectuals and scientists. They have taken responsibilities in major places. Due to the system here, our people shine like stars. Turkish students come here and win [knowledge] olympics. Thankfully [these achievements] wrecked my ill thought that we were incapable of doing anything. The minds of our people are sufficient for everything. They could even rule the world. But instead, we are trying to keep that thought alive, the thought of constantly needing to lean on this or that, the thought that we cannot stand on our own. It is necessary to rid ourselves of the thought that "If someone is here we could stand still". We should try this ourselves, to stand up. Even the disabled are told, "Try to stand up first". Then, he/she dispenses with the crutches and starts to stand on their own. However, a tiny oligarchic minority somehow cannot stand the thought of our people wanting to be their own selves. Whoever they are, however they think, they blacken the future by sentencing the society into the confines of their own narrowness.
What word would best explain your being here? Exile, migration, or escape?
The verdict is bound to the intention. I came to the hospital for a check-up. I came here to recover from my disease. Therefore, I wouldn't say that I immigrated because of my thought and culture and the need to explain them. Now, I cannot do it anyways. I do not see others. I wish I had come with such an intention. I wish I had the chance to explain something about the 5,000-year old culture of my nation as Bediuzzaman said. I wish I had tried giving seminars in different places, had participated in conferences. I was invited to the conferences; I could not go. I sent a paper somewhere. Now they want a paper from Barcelona. I prepared a small one even, and then I withdrew it. I am not a person like this: however, people from many different places insist, "You should join [them] within the framework of world peace, tolerance and dialogue." I always hesitate. Because I have never said, "Almighty Haqq granted my efforts." I count this as shirq [to attribute a partner to Allah]. Allah does everything. However, in Turkey, if a person pursues a good deed, some people cannot stomach this and want all the nice things to be kept to themselves. They feel disturbed. If someone calls you a hero of peace, I believe they will die of a heart attack. I consider all of these. That's why I cannot say for myself that I am on active duty. I came [here] for treatment and I see good reason to stay here longer. Because I cannot hurt like the others, I am incapable of that. I don't have claws, I cannot scratch. They bite and get away with it. They scratch, and some places are torn; they speak to hurt my honor, my pride. I have a religion and affairs in that religion. I have a life such that I don't owe anything to anyone; however, the other party doesn't know human values at all. They just aren't aware that while they violate me they also stamp on human values. Since this is the case, I think of waiting for a more positive time; in the meantime, with the thought of "they don't know, but at least I should not let myself get upset, humiliated, or let them stamp on me," I sit here and curse. As long as they [Americans] don't say, "get out", I will wait for the atmosphere in Turkey to calm down a little more. But now I say, "I came as an immigrant; let it be a good deed." So, I see some friends come to see me even though they are fewer in number.
Does the word exile suit your soul?
When I am bored, I say exile. And I find consolation in it. Some of the most valuable people in the world were sent into exile. Even Abdulhamit, a person who had loved his country very much, had been sent into exile. Mehmet Akif [Ersoy], Namik Kemal, many people have lived in exile. Moreover, I consider it improper to call these people "outsiders", or say they are from the "other side" or "other front"; but Trotsky lived in exile in Mexico because of his thoughts.
If a public poll were conducted in Turkey, many people would say they love me. For me there is no shame. I am not a thief or anything. I haven't eaten a haram [forbidden] bite, praise to Allah. I haven't stolen. The positions of my brothers and sisters are obvious. They are busy with their businesses. We haven't come out of a hole in a tree either. That is, we have a big family, but what can we do? Let my brothers and sisters stay as they are. I should say that since I am bothered by different things, it hurts, bleeds inside.
What kind of a sign are you waiting for before you return? Are you waiting for this fog to disappear?
My health doesn't allow me to listen for these. I don't have any troubles here. Namely, I am a single person. I am a diabetic, I eat tiny portions. I don't need much to satisfy me. By the grace of Allah, I wrote 40-50 books, and I live off their royalties. I don't have any problems in this regard. Wherever suits me, I stay there. As long as the waters remain turbulent, I don't want to be the cause of another Doomsday in Turkey. There are many people waiting for the Sur [Horn] to be blown.
Stating that he came to America because of health problems, Fethullah Gülen says, "I wish I could have come with the intention of immigration." Gülen emphasizes that when he is bored he feels like he is in exile. About the writings that are not in favor of his return to Turkey, he responds, "My health does not allow me to listen to them. As long as the waters remain turbulent, I don't want to be the cause of another Doomsday in Turkey."
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