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What needs to be done in the face of slanders

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in The Broken Jug

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Fethullah Gülen: What needs to be done in the face of slanders

Question: As the Qur’an states, the Pharaoh tried to make Prophet Moses, peace be upon him, seem like a scheming person with a secret agenda. Those in power said, “(Moses) seeks to drive you out of your land” (al-A’raf 7:110). Today, some circles fabricate slanders about those doing charitable deeds. What are the duties that fall to believers in this situation?

Answer: Above all, considering their essential values, believers should not change attitude in accordance with conditions. Their manner is their honor, even in the face of the most relentless and unfair attacks. They must remain steadfast on their righteous course. People who wish to understand and read them should never face a contradictory fact that might raise doubts in their minds. Otherwise, believers cannot be convincing and cannot make headway in letting others feel the inspirations of their spirit.

Severe storms and persevering cedars

A believer must never be like leaves drifting in wind due to the events they face. On the contrary, they must always present a perfectly upright stance, like trees with deep roots. Botanists know well that in some countries, since the roots of trees are not so sound, they come down when they meet a fierce wind or an excessive snowfall. They sometimes even fall merely due to the softening of the soil. On the other hand, in some countries—for the sake of finding water—trees let their roots grow a few meters down into the ground and thus keep standing in spite of the severe storms they meet. This must be the case with a believer.

Otherwise, people who change their stance in accordance with favorable or adverse conditions, and who always adopt a different attitude to suit their interest in the face of every new development, will lose their credibility after some time. For lasting credibility, one must know to stand perfectly upright all the time, and present a resolved attitude at keeping an unwavering course. Those who took your pulse twenty years ago should find the same harmonious rhythm deep in your heart today, in spite of all that you went through in those twenty years.

Does this mean we will not have any feelings of indignation and anger? Such feelings may surely occur to us, since we are human. However, given that God endowed humans with willpower, then we should know how to take these emotions under control, and always remain within the lawful sphere.

The secret of being welcome in different parts of the world

Let me clarify what I have told with a particular example. As you know, fresh graduates went to four corners of the world as soon as they received their university degrees. Incidentally, let me state that it is not correct to speak about others as if they are absolutely innocent, for if the person we are talking about is not in an ideal state, God Almighty may throw these statements back into our face on the Day of Judgment. Therefore, it is always necessary to keep the balance while voicing positive thoughts about someone. On the other hand, just as we are guilty if we ignore self-sacrifices, seeking some negative intentions behind good acts denotes an imbalance and is a false assumption.

Getting back to our real subject, the devoted souls have opened up to different geographies of the world for more than twenty years in order to let others feel the inspirations of their heart, and they continue to do so. Although certain problems were faced in a few countries, the volunteers have gone to more than 170 countries. If you have problems in just a few out of 170, that isn’t so bad. Even during the time of the Ottomans, there was no large scale flourishing. Today, Turkey is a country below the average in terms of its economy, and many people are adverse to us. In addition, there are animosities, libels, envies, and feelings of rivalry against us. By considering these, the importance of being able to open up to 170 countries will be understood better. Those who look at the issue with fairness already understand and appreciate this.

The volunteers driven by Divine Will to four corners of the world were usually welcomed; in my opinion, their consistent attitude and behaviors played a great role in this. Those who frequently took their pulse and listened to their hearts always found the same rhythm and they said: “We have been listening to these people for years. We have not witnessed anything in their agenda other than serving humanity. They only breathe with humanity.”

Actually, 170 different countries means 170 different cultural environments. The devoted souls who went had no opportunity to have any education or seminar about the peculiarities of the cultural environment they were entering. However, they possessed such an immense conscience that they were able to embrace the whole of humanity. Namely, they were following a sublime feeling possessed by persons like Rumi, Yunus Emre, Ahmad Yasawi, and Bediüzzaman.

So what was this feeling? It was the feeling of being a means of deliverance for the whole of humanity. Since they possessed such a feeling and at the same time managed all of their affairs in accordance with human values, they were welcomed, by God’s permission, in the places they went, and were able to win hearts.

The significance of the volunteers’ state

The memories of the process of opening up to the world are being broadcast in documentaries and different programs today. The stories are being told. However, none of these can reflect the same things as experienced. They cannot reflect people’s original feelings and thoughts with their true depth and immensity. The devoted souls hit the road with such sincerity and selfless concern that some of them were not paid for months, as the volunteers who supported them from Turkey were in serious financial difficulty. They only got by with a minimum payment that met their essential needs. When the time came, they made a living in those distant lands through the sweat of their brows, working as simple laborers. As such, the people they addressed saw their genuine attitudes and believed the light in their hearts.

Today, I wish that God makes the volunteers as steadfast in faith, sincerity, and loyalty. This movement began with serious devotion, serious sincerity, and serious faith; being able to walk to the future depends on keeping up their desirable state. Sometimes, success and accomplishments might evoke pride in people and cause them to indulge in a life of ease and comfort. Considering the good things that emerged as result of their attitude and behaviors in terms of apparent causality, individuals might sometimes ascribe these to their own abilities, wisdom-oriented thoughts, and their excellent perspicacity. Such beliefs are like deadly viruses that make their way into a body. Unless the due precautions are taken, they can bring the body down.

It is necessary to try to keep up the desirable spiritual state. It is necessary to supplicate to God with expressions like, “O God, Turner of hearts! Bind our hearts to Your religion!’[1] and, “O God, Disposer of hearts! Direct our hearts to Your obedience!”[2] This way we will not fall, deviate, or stray to wrong alleys.

The coming of Prophets ended with the noble Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, who was the seal of the Prophets. It is unthinkable for anybody else to be a Prophet after him. One must walk on his path in a Prophetic way with an extraordinary loyalty, innocence, moral purity, wisdom, and perspicacity. They must seek to adopt the Prophetic horizons in his footsteps. In addition, attaining such a state will also serve as a barrier against possible misinterpretations about us.

Expecting certain returns means captivity

We should both frequently state at every opportunity that we do not have any expectations but God’s good pleasure, and also express this fact with our attitudes and actions. If people who devoted themselves to the service of faith and the Qur’an make the services they carry out conditional to certain worldly returns, then they will remain under obligation and personally narrow their ability to move. Every expectation of worldly returns takes away some things from a person’s freedom.

In this respect, the devoted souls should know to keep away from all expectations that might restrain their freedom, and also be resolute not to make any such trifling engagements. They can naturally make a political choice in which they see goodness for the country and people. This does not mean unconditional adherence to a party. While making a political choice for the good of the country, they must never surrender their freewill to a political organization and never give up their freedom. The most mysterious key to protecting freedom lies with servanthood to God. Becoming fully oriented to serving God means gaining perfect freedom, and deliverance from serving servants. Those who cherish other considerations will have damaged their freedom.

Heroes of noble ideals should not even expect Paradise as a return, but ask for that as a grace of God. As Bediüzzaman pointed out, worship of God is not an act through which to demand a Divine reward in the future, but it is the due requirement for the Divine blessings already enjoyed. In this respect, one must only wish for God and see all other wishes like asking for a zero as opposed to infinity.

However, in spite of acting with these criteria those who get hold of certain positions and experience a paranoia to the degree of insanity might still try to debilitate the devoted souls. By falling for Satan presenting his way as the righteous conduct, they may wish to hide behind a religious rationalization and misappropriate all of the opportunities in their hands to hoard wealth for themselves. Even people who seem to have very sound belief and spend most of their lives in Sufi Lodges might fall for such trifling benefits. Those who are paranoid with a fear of losing what they have obtained completely focus on their own interests and benefits. Therefore, even if a group of doves gather somewhere, they might become anxious about a possible threat to themselves, and entertain thoughts like, “Are they watching us through the eyes of these doves?”

Corrupt ones do not want decent ones around them

As a result of this mood, they do not want to see any virtuous people around them. They may even grow uncomfortable in the presence of good people. During their wheeling and dealing, or while forming their circles, they always prefer people with the same mentality. In such instances, their dishonest dealings will not be revealed. For this reason, they cannot stand people who see evils as evil to be among them. Like the noble Prophet also stated, as decent people come together around their decency, corrupt ones come together around their corruption.

Even in the face of such wrongdoing and transgressions, the devoted souls should not give up the Straight Path, and always stay balanced in feeling and thought. They should not only be balanced in their faculties of reasoning, anger, and desire, but also on the way of struggle they will adopt when faced with envy, greed, grudge, and hatred.

Keeping up the balance

What really matters is keeping our balance against those without balance. For example, some might take malicious action against you out of envy and intolerance. They might be raging against you with a fear of losing certain opportunities in the future. Even in such a situation, it is very important not to react in the same way. We must not give them a space in our minds, and dismiss them as soon as we think of them. It is not a merit to respect others when they love and applaud you. Even concerning people who do not accept you and are disturbed by your existence, the true merit is being able to say, “O God, let those who wish misfortune for me find deliverance; let those who wish my failure attain bliss!” In today’s world, where we have so much imbalance, being balanced is even more important.

The Qur’an decrees: “By no means let your detestation for a people (or their detestation for you) move you to (commit the sin of) deviating from justice” (al-Maedah 5:8). This verse was revealed in the period of Mecca, when unimaginable tortures were inflicted on the blessed Prophet and Muslims. Thus, believers were commanded to meet all that happens with patience and magnanimity, without reacting to them in the same way. Therefore, some others’ nasty attitude and behaviors should not make believers give up their feeling of decency and justice. Others acting unjustly can never be a justification for our acting unjustly. As believers, we always have to be just.

If some defamation campaign is initiated, it is possible to refute or correct such claims. Even while doing this however, we must present what our own character requires, and in a way that becomes us. “Every one acts according to his own character” (al-Isra 17:84). What falls to us is act as our character requires, against all odds.

[1] Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Qadar, 7; Sunan Ibn Majah, Dua, 2.
[2] Sahih Muslim, Qadar, 17; Abd ibn Humayd, Al-Musnad, 137.

This article has originally been published in Turkish on 21/12/2015.