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For The Conquest and Dominion of Hearts

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Gülen's Thoughts

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Over the last few centuries, humanity has suffered hardship after hardship, traveling around pits of "death." All struggles for deliverance and relief have resulted in new calamities. During this dark period, the greed and passions of individuals, classes, holding companies, and mafias have controlled communities, not the established governments formally in power. Thus, the only criterion by which people and things are evaluated is money, buying power.

It is natural, in such a period, that people should be esteemed for their wealth, their car, and their house. Material and financial resources or potentials have been given precedence over such human virtues as knowledge, good morals, sound thinking, and civility. Wealth may be valued when subjected to knowledge, intellect, courage, honor, and devotion to serving others, but when valued for itself or, worse, when united with greed, it can be a means of brutality.

If people make base their lives on gratifying animal desires, and seek wealth at all costs, rather than being honest, industrious, and competent, then selfish, ignorant, and cunning people will dominate that society. Moral values and human virtues will be excluded, as well as those who combine efficiency with personal integrity—precisely the ones who could be useful to the society.

Compared with previous centuries, people may well be wealthier and enjoy more convenience and comfort. However, they are trapped in greed, infatuation, addiction, need, and fantasy much more than ever before. The more they gratify their animal appetites, the more crazed they become to gratify those appetites still more; the more they drink, the thirstier they are; the more they eat, the hungrier they are. They enter into evil speculations to feed their greed to earn still more, and sell their spirits to the devil for the most banal advantages, thus breaking with true human values a little more each day.

Modern people, who spend their energy pursuing transient material advantages, wasting both themselves and all the nobler, truly human feelings in the depths of their being. They no longer possess the serenity that comes from belief, the tolerance and depth of spirit enabled by knowledge of God, or traces of love and spiritual joy. They weigh everything on the scales of material advantage, immediate comfort, and gratification of bodily appetites, thinking only how to increase profit, what they can buy and sell, and how to amuse themselves. If they cannot satisfy their appetites lawfully, they rarely hesitate to resort to unlawful means, however degraded and degrading.

To be delivered from the suffocating world of unbelief and egocentricity, from shuttling aimlessly between the false modern concepts of thought, action, and life, people should strive to rediscover the true human values lying in the depths of their being. To escape the stress and affliction in the psychological, spiritual, and intellectual dimensions of personal life, as well as the strain and conflict in collective affairs within and between nations, they should reconsider 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; loving means living that knowledge 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, a way to embrace the whole creation in spirit; love is the most essential element and a transcendental dimension of true human thought. Therefore, those who seek to build the happy world of the future on 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. While 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 the Prophets and then those who follow them in sincerity and devotion. A true Muslim is one who practices a truly universal, therefore Muslim, morality. Anyone can see that the Qur'an and the Sunna – the way or example of the Prophet – are sets of moral principles. The Prophet, the greatest embodiment of morals, said: "Islam consists in good morals. I have been sent to perfect and complete good morals." The Muslim community always has been the representative of good morality and must be so, since only through morality and virtuousness does it attain eternity. Islamic metaphysics is a means to reach the highest point in morality.

Metaphysical thought is the intellect's or spirit's effort to embrace creation as a whole and perceive it with all its dimensions. Without this effort, everything breaks into lifeless fragments. Thus, the failure of metaphysical thought implies the death of the intellect. All great civilizations have developed and come into being in the arms of metaphysical thought. Those who see metaphysics and physics (and other sciences) as conflicting disciplines are not aware that they are seeing a river and its source as contradictory.

Another dimension of metaphysics is perceiving creation through love. Here, love is identical with perceiving the whole universe and its contents and events as a continuous interconnected flux and loving it. Those who find this true love pursue neither wealth nor fame; rather, they find peace in the flames of their love and see their beloved's face amid the ashes of their own existence burned away. 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 spiritual training.

Spiritual training means directing men and women to the purpose of their creation. Through awareness of our ultimate purpose, people can be freed from bodily pressures and begin a journey into their very essence.

We must change the viewpoint and aspirations of modern people. Having lost their spiritual dynamics and broken with their essential identity, they are victims of their own selves. We hope that if we reinforce our will and resolve through regular worship, and control it through continual self-criticism, Almighty God will help us succeed in this blessed mission. It is our duty to sow the seeds for the brighter Earth of the future. 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 in which belief and worship will carry the fragrance of peace, security, and love everywhere. We are convinced that future generations will aim at, and be favored by, the ecstasies of an overflowing love, far beyond any aspirations of money, fame, or high appointments. This love will originate in conquering hearts and, in return, will be recompensed with the dominion of hearts. Yeseren Dusunceler, Izmir 1996, pp. 140–145