Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Living for Others

Gülen attaches importance to this principle of "living for others" (yaşatma ideali) such that he interprets it as a basic dynamic that would make a nation awaken. Every society must make sacrifices. Sacrifice is beyond and above worldly gain, and thus its definition exceeds that of mere altruism. On the contrary, it is more akin to idealistic heroism. Such altruism constitutes the character of people who are uninterested in personal or worldly gain, and who are committed to God's favor. Gülen describes these types of people as "architects of soul" and as "physicians of thought." These are people who are able to instill in the society a consciousness of responsibility and concern for others. Without physicians of soul, it is not possible to preserve the established values that pertain to the Islamic civilization and that have formed its historical identity. If such preservation is not possible, any hope of instigating a renaissance and revival of this civilization and identity will be lost. Such people are an important dynamic, according to Gülen:
Today, what we need are brave people who selflessly work in the service of God and who wave aside personal benefits and egoism... who writhe with people's miseries... who have a torch of knowledge in their hands, and who fight the ignorance and rudeness that ignites tinder everywhere... who, with eminent belief and determination, come to the rescue of those stranded... like stallions, hold on their course without repelling and without griming... those who ramp with pleasure of living for others while forgetting the desire of living.[2]
I believe that all humanity will be pleased, and that the centuries-long miseries of suffering people, will come to an end, and that the world will once again will come to an axis of thanks in regard to the ideals that related his salvation with rescuing others. Such people can trample on their future and prosperity in the name of others' happiness; they can circulate in the veins of others like blood; they can splash over yearning and thirsts and breathe life everywhere. They then can bind their actions to the responsibility that is idealized in the depths of their inner selves. With compassion that transcends personal responsibility, and through kindness that could encompass all humanity, they will try to bring for us the spirit and significance that we have lost; they will remind us of our human significance. Meanwhile, they will constitute a model for perplexed souls who have lived without ideals for such a long time.[3]
Our society needs only heroes of ideals: those who can reach out to help first our nation, and then all humanity, with the feeling of compassion; and every time they raise their hand to God, they pray for others. As such a great requirement could not be met by others, it falls upon us who start from ourselves to articulate it.
We consider living for ourselves as egoism, and we have found such a consideration revolting. It has been our passion to live for others and to prepare them for eternal happiness. Even if it were possible to return to life, even if we were free to choose the alternatives of this new life, we would certainly choose to "live for others" again, we would certainly dedicate ourselves to humanity, and we would prepare humankind for resurrection. We would not mind any misprision... We would not be deterred by cries of reaction... We would not quarrel with anybody who has accused us with false and malicious accusations... We would smile while weeping inside.[4]
The ideal people burn like candles despite themselves, and they illuminate others...[5]
A true friend who is a mature person is the one who can utter "after you," even while exiting from Hell and entering Paradise.
What we are always stressing is that it is those who live their lives in sincerity, loyalty, and altruism at the expense of their own selves in order to make others live who are the true inheritors of the historical dynamics to whom we can entrust our souls. They do not ever desire that the masses follow them. Yet their existence is such a powerful, inevitable invitation that all run to them, wherever they are, as if these devout people were a centre of attraction.[6]
Individual projects of enlightenment that are not planned to aid the community are doomed to fruitlessness. Moreover, it is not possible to revive values that have been destroyed in the hearts of the individual in society, nor in the conscience, nor in the will power. Just as plans and projects for individual salvation that are independent of the salvation of others are nothing more than an illusion, so, too, the thought of achieving success as a whole by paralyzing the individual awakening is a fantasy.
Living for others is the most important factor that determines the behavior of such heroes. Their greatest worry is their quest for eligibility for such missions, whereas their most prevalent characteristic is that their utmost ambition is their search for God's consent. When striving to enlighten others, they feel no pain nor do they undergo any shock caused by the delight of enlightening others. The achievements that such people accomplish are regarded as revelations of His holy aid, and such people bow in modesty, nullifying themselves again and again, every day. In addition to all this, they tremble at the idea that their emotions are bound to interfere with the works that they have caused to come into existence, and groan; "You are all I need."[7]
Expecting nothing in return is the rose of our land. Altruism is the lotus of our gardens. It is our lot to attain but not to enjoy. We forget living for ourselves while burning with the desire of living for others. It is our people who know how to be in the front while serving, and how to stay behind in compensation. The world has discovered from us to love unconditionally.[8]
Perfect believers do not stick only to their personal development or perfection; they are determined almost like prophets to open themselves up for everyone and to embrace each and every person. They devote their lives to the happiness of others both in this world as well as in the hereafter, at the expense of neglecting themselves. They live like the Companions of the Prophet; they walk in a direction opposite to where their carnal selves urge, and they spread light all around, for they have that potential to illuminate in their essence like a candle. They are always on alert for darkness, and they struggle to keep it at bay... As they burn all the time, they are hurt inside; nevertheless, neither constant burning nor extermination can restrain them from enlightening others.[9]
We are not in need of local or foreign grants, favors or ideologies. We need the physicians of thought and spirit who can arouse in all people the consciousness of the value of responsibility, sacrifice, and suffering for others; who can produce mental and spiritual depth and sincerity in the place of promises of passing happiness; who can, with a single attempt, make us reach the point of observing the beginning and the end of creation.
Now we are waiting, looking forward to the arrival of these people, who have so much love for their responsibility and cause that, if necessary, they would even give up entering Paradise; people like this, if they have already entered, would then seek ways of leaving Paradise. Like Muhammad, the Messenger of God, who said, "If they placed the sun in my right and the moon in my left to abandon my cause, I would not until God made the truth prevail or I died in the attempt." This is the horizon of God's Messenger. Bediüzzaman Said Nursi, a scholar exuberant with the rays that emanate from God's Messenger, bent double by the pain of his cause said, "In my eyes I have neither love for Paradise nor fear for Hell, and if I saw the faith of my people secure, I would be ready now to be burned in hell-fire." Likewise, Abu Bakr opened his hands and prayed in a way that would shake the heavens, "O my Lord, make my body so great that I alone fill up Hell and thus no place may be left for anyone else."
Humanity is terribly in need of people with inner depths and sincerity now, more than anything else, for people who suffer and cry for the sins and errors of others; who look forward to forgiveness and pardon of others before their own; who, instead of entering Paradise and taking their pleasures individually there, prefer to stay in the A'raf (between the Paradise and Hell) and from there, try to take all the people to Paradise along with them; and who, even if they enter Paradise, will not be able find time to enjoy the pleasures of Paradise because of their thoughts for others, and their concern to save them from the hell-fire.[10]
This is a snippet from an article by Dr. Enes Ergene. To read the full article, please visit http://www.fethullahgulen.org/about-fethullah-gulen/an-analysis-of-the-gulen-movement/3046-basic-dynamics-of-the-movement.html#_edn5 

1 comment:

  1. An insightfull post. Will definitely help.

    Karim - Positive thinking