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Clarity about aims and means

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Pearls of Wisdom

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We must be as precise as possible about the aim and object of any project that we undertake. If we do so, we will not be entangled in the web of means. In our particular service for our nation and humanity as a whole, if we do not direct our spirits to a definite aim, our thoughts will collapse into a whirl of confusion and we will become their powerless playthings.

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Our objective must be the result of clear thought. Indeed, we must clearly define our objective if we do not want to become lost in the flood of thoughts. So many ambitious ventures failed to bear fruit or result in any benefit, and indeed left behind much hatred and rancor, for their aims and means were not clear.

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The Exalted Creator and seeking His approval and good pleasure must have the first and foremost place in every activist’s perspective. If not, that which is not for God’s sake can intervene, falsehood can present itself as truth, and whims can show themselves as real ideas. Although this task is being done in the name of a struggle for faith, such an oversight allows many abuses and crimes to be perpetrated.

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As for works undertaken to seek the Almighty’s approval and good pleasure: a particle can have the worth of the sun, a drop the worth of the sea, a second the worth of eternity. Therefore, even if the world could be turned into gardens of Paradise by means of which He does not approve, the final result would be completely worthless. Moreover, those responsible would be questioned about it. So, the end does not justify the means.

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The worth of means and instruments are in their ability to realize the desired objective and to do so with no defect and error. Thus, means that do not lead to the objective, especially those that hinder such progress, are regarded as cursed. Based on this logic, the world may be cursed insofar as it intervenes between men and women and their real object in life, while in fact it must be loved and applauded because it is a mirror for the manifestations of a thousand and one Glorious Names of the Creator and an exhibition of His magnificent works.

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Truth can be established and supported in many ways. The worth of such ways is proportional to how much they enhance our respect for the Creator, Who is the Ultimate Truth, and make us consider what is right and true. If a house is equipping its inhabitants with knowledge of God and social breeding, if a place of worship is rousing its community with thoughts of eternity, if a school is awakening hope and faith in its pupils, we can say that they are serving their purpose and are therefore sacred. If this is not the case, they are no more than devilish traps that divert us from the truth. We may apply the same standards to unions, trusts, political institutions, and societies in general.

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Founders and directors of institutions should frequently remind themselves of why the institutions were established, so that their work does not stray from its objective, but remains fruitful. If they do not do this, they begin to forget the purpose for establishing the homes, hostels, schools, and other institutes, and so start to counterwork, just like a person who forgets the purpose of his or her creation.

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Claiming a monopoly on good ideas and asserting that only your side is right are signs of utter dependence on material causality and ignorance of the objective. And feelings of rancor and hatred for those who share the same belief, sentiments, and ideas—is this anything other than a lack of sufficient commitment to the ultimate objective? Ah, those base, self-enslaved ones who imagine that they can administer the universe according to their decayed reasoning!