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The East meets the West through Integration not Assimilation

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Videos on Fethullah Gülen

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Our Lord!

It does not matter where the whole of society place us, what they think of us, because if You are with us, we do not have to worry.

However, if we have pushed You away from our hearts when You were close to us, and fallen astray from You, that is a wound that is difficult to heal and more dangerous than a metastasised cancer.

If He is close to us and under ordinary conditions we manage to be led astray with our own will, instead of getting deeper and more profound in our love for Him, this is a loss for us.

A few centuries ago we lost this connection, was it all of it, half of it, a quarter of it?

And till this day it seems what was left was eroded and corrupted, eroded until it was full of holes.

In the words of Bediüzzaman, this ‘new generation’ who has spread across the globe, are in a state of exertion and diligence to repair this erosion.

First of all, sharing the same feelings, shaking hands with a world that shares the same ideals, embracing it; and then being fully involved with this world, striving in a direction of a problem-free environment, made us hopeful.

If the calamities and difficulties we are facing now are a slap on the face for our faults, may God Almighty use that small slap to bring us into line; may He allow us to be successful in filling the emptiness we brought forth.

But if this slap prevents us from facing even more difficult challenges in the future, or to prepare us for future challenges, to increase our spiritual vigilance, we should sincerely accept this and say, ‘Now what’s left for me/us is to be patient

It is God Whose help is sought against what you have described’, (Yusuf, 12:18) and we take refuge in ‘good patience’, as seen in Noble Jacob’s words, upon him be peace.

This means, ‘I only convey of all my anguish and my sorrow unto God’ (Yusuf, 12:86).

I convey my own messiness, worry, sorrow, sadness and complaints only to You.

Not like an appellant, nor coy, but with internal pain and entreaty, I convey my feelings to You with respect.

The noble Prophet says this.

If the right way is the way of the Prophets, it is up to us to say these words.

Not saying these words, is also an outward manifestation of not thinking that as well.

And that signifies the devastation of a heart.

As we have witnessed recently, people have had to forcibly migrate to Western countries; based on God’s guidance, there may be wisdom with this and the results could be positive.

Less developed countries along with those who have already had some engagement with those who wish to harm you have not been very reliable.

In some places, under the guise of establishing a ‘Maarif (so-called ‘Wisdom’, but in fact, lacking wisdom) Foundation, they tried to take away the assets that you constructed through sweat, pain and struggle.

Instead of using their own opportunities and will, instead of striving to make ten into twenty and a twenty into forty, they chose to dedicate their energies into stealing or taking over what was yours.

Consequently, they were to some extent successful in these endeavours in some parts of the developing world.

The leaders of those countries—it seems to me—some of them were easy to influence and were easily persuaded.

Because of this, the safety of your friends in these nations was compromised.

Our friends realised this.

The locals in those countries also said ‘It is better if you leave’.

Therefore, even in this matter, God is guiding us.

I relate this matter to a process of sanctification.

It is not for us to evaluate every event according to our own benefit.

‘In whatever He does, there are instances of wisdom,

He does nothing in vain,

no one can ever compel Him

to do something

Whatever He Himself wills to create,

it comes into existence.’

‘Whatever God wills, will occur and exist, whatever He decrees not to come into existence, does not.

And I believe that God Almighty is The All-Powerful and surely, God encompasses everything in terms of knowledge.’

It is not because you are saying ‘Those places can wait, we should go somewhere else’ or because those places have been damaged and lost their attraction.

Maybe, without realising what is happening behind the scenes and on another level, and not considering the absolute results of the matter, and without dwelling on: ‘It is better if we go there, and better if we do not go there’, it is possible that

the All-Encompassing Divine Knowledge drove our friends to where they are now.

When our friends arrived in their new homes, they were mostly received with a promising hug and a welcoming attitude, an appreciative response.

Friends narrate:

In Europe, a state allowed an amount of people permission to stay and continues to do so.

They say very confidently:

‘All are welcome.

If a hundred thousand have come already, we are prepared to accept a hundred thousand more.’

At close proximity to us here, the country to the North, has opened its doors wide like that of a castle gate.

Our friends who migrated there, are able to represent their fundamental beliefs and lofty ideals with transparency; there is no problem in doing so

In parenthesis, let me add:

Given that you left a nation that is so mixed up, in which minds are in a state of bewilderment and are constantly exposed to ‘thoughts of darkness’, we cannot say, that your new hosts will not have any doubts in their minds.

There is uncertainty.

Maybe behind the gesture of the welcoming embrace, at the same time, there is a sense of suspicion:

‘I wonder who you are?

If you’re from ISIS or a spy?

or from Boko-Haram, or from anything else?

Let’s just hear you out’ they’ll say.

In fact, embracing you in such a manner may be useful to express yourself; because you represent a particular creed.

If you hold tight unto your own values, along with sharing your humane ideals, they will say, ‘we can agree with these people’.

‘People connect, not with those that share the same language but with those that share the same emotions’, says Rumi.

Let me add:

People will embrace one another closely, and shake hands with those that share the same emotions as themselves.

Thus, our noble Prophet’s blessed message will extend to places that have yet to hear it.

This message will have a different effect to suit every place it reaches, just like God’s mercy.

In some places, it will have a dew effect; from which the leaves will benefit.

In some places like a light shower.

In some places, it will have the effect of a heavy rain.

In some places, it will cause pain and be heavy, like that of snow but after a few months this will be absorbed by the soil, and this will be an opportunity to produce a bud that grows from a seed.

And now, many different things will happen in these new homes of forced migration.

While listening to you, they may consider you through the lens of their own values, but they will later realise that your thoughts are congruent in terms of humanity.

And yet, if you can pledge trust, and act in a transparent manner, and exhibit a strong sense of ‘integration’ then, they too will join the in this humanitarian exchange.

We must protect and internalise our own values while also being compatible with the inhabitants of our new countries.

Let me express this point just as the topic has opened.

Integration must occur within the paradigms of one’s own values.

You must live your life deeply so as not to be subject to ‘assimilation’.

You must live your values inside your home, in your living spaces in a way that the bones in your nose sting from passion and grief.

Being so strongly tied to your own values that you realise that ‘you cannot truly live them’ while striving to do so, while at the same time being open to living with others in a friendly manner.

These ideals may appear to be opposites; however, they must both be closely adhered to.

Society will then view you from the perspective of integration.

‘Indeed, you can walk on paths and reach your goals with these people.

They are at the same time pure; and one can make use of this.

There are a lot of things they know and we can make use of them’.

You know, as social historians say:

(From the perspective of culture) ‘Triumphant nations have taken far more from defeated nations than what they have given: What they have learned/taken has surpassed what was lost.’

We should now consider this issue from a new perspective.

You will take and give; you will be involved in much exchange.

Perhaps what you take will take will provide the basis for a new path of giving, and will be the reason people can say ‘exchange is possible with these people’.

And with such blessings from God, if at any of the stages that I have mentioned, the majestic name of Muhammad, peace and blessing be upon him, is to be presented or spread to others, then this whole process is a worthy and important one.

If the opportunity to come together is only once a year, from Eid to Eid or during their own celebrations, coming together and shaking hands if of no harm.

Developing such a relationship and tradition.

We may not currently comprehend the wisdom and outcomes entirely.

The Divine knowledge, the comprehensive knowledge.

The Divine wish, the comprehensive wish.

The Divine will, the comprehensive will. God knows the best of everything.

God knows, and you do not know.

God drove us to paths that were unknown to us.

Therefore, our responsibility is to make effective use of our position.

We need to display the discernment of being Muslim and at the same time show that we do not wish to dispute with others and get them to acknowledge this by saying ‘This world can be shared with these people at all times.

Long journeys can be taken with these people’, this indeed will become an advantage for us.

For the purpose of building bridges to each other’s hearts, we could take part in their activities as long as these events are not against the fundamental values of our religion.

At some point, as representatives of empathy and dialogue, you opened up to various places around the world with the spirit of devotion.

However, this expansion was still considered to be on a narrow scale.

You opened schools and they inquisitively followed your every step and checked your pulse and you constantly asked ‘Is the pulse healthy?’

They checked your pulse and said ‘Yes’.

Initially they had some doubts about you, but over the last twenty years you have expressed yourself in true and correct fashion.

And they welcomed you with open arms, except for some of them who embraced you until their minds were clouded.

May God give mercy and insight to those who are confused and those who cloud other people’s minds.

Those who witnessed the humble beginnings of your cause welcomed you.

However, a different world was awaiting you; there had never been an opportunity for a comprehensive expansion and opening.

Now, God has provided new opportunities.

You will go and display the beauty that belongs to you; quietly, through your disposition and good behaviour.

I would like to add another note:

It is very important to convey something with heavenly eloquence and expression, like Firdawsi.

Also, I admire Nizami with his eloquence and rhetoric.

Perhaps, Molla Jami is deeper with his gentleness and spiritual life, as he was greatly influenced by Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi.

However, all the others are also masters of eloquence and speech.

When we particularly analyse Mahzan al-Asrar (Treasure of Mysteries) by Nizami, we will realise a profound deepness.

If you were to express your feelings and thoughts in a similar depth, others might still say ‘Are they trying to trick us using demagogy?’ and they will start observing your attitudes and behaviour.

Therefore disposition and representation are very crucial.

Yes, you may have expressed your thoughts in the most eloquent way possible but do you really live and realise what you have said, and does this harm others?

Did you genuinely and sincerely represent your creed with your actions and personal conduct?

If you truly believe in your cause, and think ‘This is consistent with our Lord’s pleasure’ and act accordingly, then they will observe you for two years, three years, and in awe, say, “O my God,

‘The pace is the same, the pulse and motion are the same, there is no change,

These people must be people of integrity and steadfastness’

Hence, in this way, you will be able to conquer hearts.

You will be able to both conquer hearts, and honour the Spirit of the Greatest of all Creation, peace and blessings be upon him.

At the same time, you will also please God.

And is that not our purpose anyway?

‘My God, I ask you for sincerity in all my actions, for your Divine pleasure, for the feeling of pure and wholehearted ardour and longing towards You, and I ask You to grant me all of these perpetually, agelessly and beyond the limits of time.’

If the purpose of the Hizmet Movement is this, then with the permission of God, you will have thus fulfilled this purpose.

As you see, Germany opened its arms.

The Netherlands, seeing this, followed suit.

Other countries also followed, though some may still have doubts.

Recently, there are developments in this regard in France; they recognise that you are harmless and respect universal human values.

You see the influence of disposition and representation by personal conduct.

Thus, the same attitude will permeate across the entire Western world.

The same will happen in Italy too.

Someone has come forth and said:

‘Let’s establish a university for you in a certain location, in the name of all Divine religions’

‘On account of the religions Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Let the believers of these faiths come together in a cafe, office or other venue, and prove wrong all those who said that they will never get along.

Let everyone see that no one is trying to eat each other; let them get to know and warm to each other.

Let them join each other in activities and practices that do not conflict with the primary beliefs, or even the secondary rulings of their faiths.

Let someone come forward and say:

‘This is against the rulings of the Qur’an and Sunnah’

I say:

‘As long as it is not in conflict with the fundamental pillars of the religion and the secondary rulings, let them join each other in their activities’

Will this soften people’s hearts or not?

Now, God has granted such an opportunity; with His permission perhaps it will extend to the furthest lands.

Previously it was in Brazil, Argentina, and Chile amongst other countries.

According to our brothers and sisters who migrated to Costa Rica, the people of Costa Rica are more lenient on immigrants and offer opportunities to invest and grow.

People who work there say to me:

‘Could you possibly spread the word so that more people come here?’

Also, previously, when you wanted to migrate somewhere you were received with doubt.

But now your suffering and victimisation is being considered.

At times in places where the opposition becomes ugly and inhuman, other people start to think, ‘These people do not behave in the same manner as those transgressors, they are worthy of our sincere welcome’

Yes one side is depicting a portrait of hate and you refuse to be in the same frame with them.

‘We can communicate with these people and share this world’ says the entire world, and welcomes you.

In my opinion, this is an important opportunity.

Immigrating to various parts of the world to promote our values through action and representation and also earning spiritual rewards for migration.

To whom will God give the blessing of being able to make them love and respect our values?

We have to submit this to God, to His Glorified Wish and Divine Will.

A journey towards the marriage of East and the West, the Heart and the Mind, Legislative Verses and the Creative Commands

In fact, today what the West has achieved through its various revolutions, such as the Renaissance, technological revolution in areas of social sciences, psychology, pedagogy, in modern sciences; Muslims have also achieved similar outcomes to the best of their abilities until the 5th century of the Hijrah (12th century).

Until the 5th century of the Hijrah, Muslims have achieved in every field of knowledge, everything that was intellectually possible.

However, a time came when people who were learning Islamic knowledge alongside spiritual knowledge and modern sciences surrendered themselves to scholastic thought.

And a detachment occurred, a divorce of each other so to say.

Whereas the coexistence of the three pillars—the Christians use this term differently—is of crucial importance; they are three dimensions of the one.

The studies of the Qur’an and Sunnah in madrasas, at the same time, abandoning desires and bodily pleasures, leaving behind the physical interests, traveling through the degree of life of the heart and the spirit, Journeying to God, Journeying in God, Journeying with God; the people of the heart and the spirit, educating the people of the Secret, the people of the Hidden, and the people of the Most Hidden, and also modern science.

As mentioned by Imam al-Ghazali, as we read in his Revival, understanding and knowing the Divine Essence truly, in a way with the senses of perception and inner sensation.

Like diving to the bottom of the sea.

That is, while swimming on the surface of water, saying ‘Yes, I’m swimming in water but I’m also affiliated with the outer world’.

When going deeper, ‘I’m still affiliated with the outer world’ which expresses the position of an ascetic devotee.

As for the state of the lover with a pounding heart, he sees everywhere to be the sea from the moment he dives in.

This is how it is in the world of his feelings.

For he is not He, may He be glorified and exalted.

‘He is not everything but everything comes from Him.

Yet their perception and inner sensation will fade away as though they cannot see anything but He.

Thus a different outlook emerges when one considers the noble Muhyiddin ibn Arabi, and a different outlook when he looks at Imam Rabbani, and Abdulqadr al-Jilani, and Najmaddin al-Kubra, and Bahauddin Shah an-Naqshband.

These are all the monumental figures of this spiritual journey.

Now, the life of the heart and spirit is so important that Sufi lodges and retreat centres took it on their shoulders; at the same time they were open to the outer world and the modern sciences.

The scholars like Muhammad Bahauddin an-Naqshband were not giving licenses to become the leader of a Sufi order if one did not graduate from the 12 sciences.

Morphology, Grammar, Rhetoric, (Clear Expression, Embellishment, Beautiful Style), Logic, then the Qur’an, the Qur’anic Exegesis, Hadith, Methodology of Exegesis, Methodology of Hadith, Methodology of Fiqh at the same time, the basic principles of the Religion and the religious methodology (Kalam, Aqaid).

Unless you are an expert in all of these areas you were not permitted the position of Sufi leader.

Because a person who has not received a license in all of these areas might make wrongful observations due to his feelings and emotions.

In a sense, it is necessary to analyse everything through the lens of those twelve sciences, put them through a sieve and calibrate accordingly.

Calibration is necessary.

Yes, now that has ended and turned into scholastic thought.

The madrasas have closed their doors because the succession was passed down from father to son.

The madrasas have said, ‘Our duty is to pass these books on’ and didn't show much interest in them.

‘Why should we care about the heart and the spirit?

We should focus more on these.’

Just like some theologians of today.

And then, people who investigate every detail of things and events.

You know, in a sense, if you are only concerned with that, it will only give rise to Naturalism, Positivism or Materialism.

But when you combine these, modern science will predicate the things you want to express.

For, in the words of Bediüzzaman, ‘Silence!

In the great masjid of the universe’, that is to say the universe is a ‘great masjid’.

‘The Qur’an reads the universe.’

We need to establish a relationship between the Qur’an and the universe.

‘Let's listen to it.

Let us be illuminated with that light. Let us act according to its guidance, and let’s read it regularly!

It is the ‘speech’ in the true sense.

The Qur’an is the truth, coming from the Ultimate Truth. It guides to the truth, spreading its light everywhere.’

Yes, only you, O Holy Qur’an!

How fortunate for you all, for you have embraced it!

On separate occasions I had mentioned this in the form of a joke:

These three essentials have divorced each other by saying, ‘I divorce you’ three times.

In Eastern Turkey, when families are getting divorced, this is said three to nine times even though three times is sufficient.

From three to nine, six of them are extra.

Three times are required for divorce, not nine.

These essentials have also said this three times and have divorced.

After the divorce of these essentials, they have approached other doors for marriage and have married with others countless times.

After countless marriages, I think it is necessary for them to get back together.

We can begin this in the following manner:

Graduates of Islamic or Theological Studies should be encouraged to study branches of either Physics, Chemistry, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Sociology or Psychology, which will allow the community to once again understand each other.

When they come together to gather ideas, one needs to understand the other and vice versa.

A person engrossed with the Qur’an and Sunnah studies should be able to understand a person specialising in Anthropology.

They need to know how long it has taken the Earth to form; they must comprehend those thousands of years of existence.

In the boundless skies of infinite systems, there are trillion of systems similar to our own; they need to understand these principles; they should understand the discussions surrounding them.

Only then can a union be established.

Till now, they have knocked on others doors; another has knocked on somebody else’s; the other another.

However the outcome was not a success, rather it has resulted in further disconnection.

This could be the result of large groups of people forced to migrate and settle in Western countries.

Who knows, perhaps this is just God’s will.

These are believers, who also know the Qur’an, Sunnah and have religious knowledge.

They know the modern sciences; they have done multiple reforms to this day, have achieved great things for humanity.

When they look at it with a deeper perspective, they would say we actually don’t have any dispute with them.

We can quite easily get along with them.

With the combination of these frameworks and the achievements of our people, combined with the philosophy of the Sufi lodge, the schools of theology and the modern schools, I believe, with God’s permission and grace, many problems will be resolved.

This will be the Islamic world’s ‘Neo-Renaissance’, a new Renaissance.

For the ideal migrants, just as integration is important, to not fall into assimilation is just as vital a matter.

When all of this is taking place, it is essential to ensure whilst integration is assured, to not fall into the trap of assimilation.

Like I mentioned earlier, in this world, different geographical locations are dominated by distinct cultures.

It's not just the difference between those that are Muslim and those that are not Muslim; it’s also not just the difference between religions; just as there are differences between Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Brahmanism, Shintoism there are also differences in thought between followers within them as well.

Consider, for example in Rome, in Spain it would be different. In different states of Europe it would be different; in Germany it would be different; in Russia it would be different; in Turkey it would be different; members of the same religions would be different.

Everywhere they go, while they are presenting their own values through ‘representation’ and ‘conduct’, our friends should show that even with them they do not have a problem.

I am stating the matter by connecting it to that key consideration I just mentioned a moment ago:

From the perspective of our disciplines, religious principles, in matters that are not prohibited in our religion in primary and secondary matters, there is nothing wrong with participating in others’ activities.

Please, for once, you could go to a place they consider holy, go and sit at the back, and watch them.

See how they come and watch how you pray here; how you supplicate, they watch that and go and listen to the friends that are reciting the Qur’an over there, ‘What is the meaning of this?’ they ask.

Especially when they read that one of the Prophets most mentioned by name in the Qur’an is the noble Messiah and our mother Maryam is the only female mentioned by name, a softening occurs in them.

From this perspective, a warm attitude should be presented which would not cause anyone to feel anxious.

Without presenting an attitude of fighting, or making them look like us, or doing missionary work, with our attitude, conduct, and representation, we should make them say, ‘We can get along with these people, we can cover great distances, climb mountains, pass through rivers of blood and pus’.

However, from another perspective, the younger generations who are coming, attracted to the shiny things in this new world, there is a risk of ‘assimilation’.

These generations should be observed in a particular circle.

Not in the manner of having a certain attitude towards any culture.

These are our generations, our youth; at the same time, women and men, they should not be deprived of nourishment. Through talk of the Beloved, nourishment should continuously be provided, it must be explained that our values are not in contradiction with universal values.

We must explain that, in reality, our values in one regard leave doors open to them.

We need to communicate that there is no contradiction,

and we need to make the others love our values.

On one side, we need to embrace others, on the other side we need to raise generations that adore their own values.

That is why ‘integration’ and ‘assimilation’ are two important matters that seem to be at odds with each other.

You will need to take care of this matter in the orbit of love and you appeal to the free will of people through your disposition and representation.

If there is a side of us worth liking, leave it up to them to decide.

If there is a side of us that express something by ‘disposition’ and ‘representation’, they will see it and identify it themselves anyway.

Friends are saying, ‘He made that choice by his free will.’

The description of ‘religion’ is as such indeed in the fundamentals of religion, isn’t it?

‘Religion is a sacred booklet of laws that informs intellects to choose more auspicious things by their own free will’ meaning religion is a sacred system telling people to choose more beneficent things.

People can have a look at it and analyse it themselves and they can say ‘This matter looks true’ and can choose it if they want by their own volition, not by force.

In the Qur’an, in the Chapter of Al-Baqara, the verse states, ‘There is no compulsion in the Religion’.

The exegesis of the prominent scholar Hamdi Yazir gives the meaning of this verse as ‘There is no compulsion in the Religion to convert people for the sake of the Religion.’

Look, ‘There is no compulsion in the Religion to convert people for the sake of the Religion.’

In one aspect, you can call it ‘secularism’ as certain people do.

I am not saying it is ‘secularism’, but I suppose that if you show this perspective of yourselves, people may think, ‘These guys look secular’, a secularism that does not go against human values and respect for other values as well.

A friend of ours has a book on this matter; the concepts in France, in Russia and in Istanbul are different.

In this aspect, one may think of an oppressive regime they used in a period, forcing people in their way of thinking and culture, after that, they may have a purpose of gradually making people lose their own backgrounds.

Make sure that people do not fall into this impression, they should never think of us like that.

If they desire so, and have a democratic understanding, they will respect differing opinions.

One can choose a new system by his or her own free will.

They might feel uncomfortable, this is possible.

And even in this case, if such a situation puts forward your exemplary demeanor, I think that even their mother, father, uncles and aunts would not object.

We must act in the pursuit of love, with love, love, love, love.

Once more a quote from one of those electronic signs that we have here:

‘Human beings are creations made to be loved by God.’

Humanity is honored as the perfect pattern of creation; it is created to be loved for its humanity.

Why?

The human being is a creation of God so beautifully endowed by His Power, Will, and Knowledge, that even the angels have acknowledged man as a ‘compass’, or ‘mihrab’, in the presence of which they have knelt in respect and prostrated:

‘What a monumental figure this is!

On one hand, it has lust, carnal desires, and a desire for the temporary world, yet at the same time, it has been created with the potential to overtake even the angels.’

As Archangel Gabriel told the Spirit of the Master of Humankind, peace and blessings be upon him, during the Ascension,

‘Proceed. Tonight is your night.

If I was to take another step, I would burn to ashes.’ Humanity is such a creation.

May God allow us to successfully continue on our path with this understanding.

‘We send invocations of peace and blessings to our honored one, our support, the intercessor for our sins, and our confidant always there to hold our hand, the noble Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, and the Respected Companions, and we make this the podium on which we voice our request O Lord.’