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The Horizon of Shame

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Towards the Lost Paradise

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Many have wept at the contrast between a glorious, uplifting past and the distressing circumstances of their nation's present, at the decline of a magnificent civilization.

How many times have our people been pleased to hear the sound of the fountain of life like Ayyub (Job), upon him be peace. How many times like Jacob longing for Joseph, upon them be peace, have they been hopeful of reunion. They take the signs supporting their hopes to be the scent of Joseph's shirt coming from Egypt. In a like manner, the people are singing songs of reunion in expectation that the Time of Happiness will recur. If there had not been such signs of revival giving refreshment to our souls, we should probably have perished. The community has been able to preserve its essential nature during the dark years of destruction without breaking with its origins. This was only because of guidance coming from those who had determined to establish the future. Younger generations will never forget those enlightened persons who passed away honourably with no blemish upon their lives or characters.

Peace be upon those friends who passed away in blessed memory. Peace be upon those spirits who held the world and life to be of little value compared with their sacred cause. Peace be upon those who bade farewell without demanding any wages after they had planted the seed of truth. Peace be upon those people of noble stature who would not mind being burnt in the flames of Hell so long as they might thereby secure the faith and sound thinking of their people. Peace be upon those who spent their lives in great difficulties because of their opening up the way of struggle for succeeding generations. They all gave up the pleasures of life and lived for others. They all succeeded in avoiding everything shameful and departed from this life with honour and dignity.

Shame upon those who are unmoved by the pains and troubles of their people. Shame upon those carefree people who wander in utter indifference and neglect over the ruins of a magnificent civilization, which has gradually been destroyed. Shame upon such blind ones who live without noticing our dried-up water courses, wasted vineyards, our damaged bridges and ruined roads. Shame upon those who have reduced the meadows to wasteland and polluted the country, making land and sea uninhabitable. Shame upon those who praise ruins, but do not react against moss-covered mihrabs (the place where the leader of prayer stands before the congregation) and cobwebbed ceilings. Shame upon those who have not been able to make use of their opportunities, making individuals idle and institutions unproductive. Shame on those who try to exploit even the dead for their own advantage.

I feel disgraced by such betrayal and widespread shamelessness. I feel ashamed of disloyalty to my people and indifference to their destruction. I feel ashamed of my own inability to support the truth and save it from the attacks of falsehood. I feel ashamed because I did not appreciate the warnings of the past, and because I do not prefer an honourable death to a humiliating life. I feel ashamed of the injustices I have committed, and the many betrayals darkening the horizon of the country. I feel ashamed of hypocrisies, pretensions and insincerities. I feel ashamed of the hardness of my heart, my insensitivity, and the humiliation bearing heavily on my conscience. I feel ashamed because I have not given up my pleasures for the sake of my people, because I have not cried over their problems on my prayer-mat, because I have not forgotten about my self and my household and remembered their sufferings.

If only we could feel ashamed enough for our insensitivity and indifference to the spiritual misery of the community! If only we could feel ashamed enough because our people have been left in ignorance for years and our young have been pitilessly neglected! If only we could feel ashamed enough about the duties we have left unattended for years and about the multitudes of problems unattempted! If only we could feel shame enough before God – even if we do not feel ashamed before our past and future generations! May 1984, Vol 6, Issue 64