Comparisons of faith and faithless

Europe is twofold. One follows the sciences which serve justice and right and the industries beneficial for the life of society through the inspiration it has received from true Christianity; this first Europe I am not addressing. I am addressing the second corrupt Europe which, through the darkness of the philosophy of Naturalism, supposing the evils of civilization to be its virtues, has driven mankind to vice and misguidance. As follows:

Comparisons of faith and faithless

Western science and civilization had to some extent a place in the Old Said’s thought, so when the New Said embarked on his journeys of the mind and the heart, they were transformed into sicknesses of the heart and were the cause of excessive difficulties. The New Said therefore wanted to shake off from his mind that fallacious philosophy and dissolute civilization. In order to silence the emotions of his evil-commanding soul, which testified in favour of Europe, he was compelled to hold in his spirit the following discussion – which in one respect is very brief and in another is long – with the collective personality of Europe.

It should not be misunderstood; Europe is twofold. One follows the sciences which serve justice and right and the industries beneficial for the life of society through the inspiration it has received from true Christianity; this first Europe I am not addressing. I am addressing the second corrupt Europe which, through the darkness of the philosophy of Naturalism, supposing the evils of civilization to be its virtues, has driven mankind to vice and misguidance. As follows:

On my journey of the spirit at that time I said to Europe’s collective personality, which apart from beneficial science and the virtues of civilization, holds in its hand meaningless, harmful philosophy and noxious, dissolute civilization:

Know this, O second Europe! You hold a diseased and misguided philosophy in your right hand and a harmful and corrupt civilization in your left, and claim, “Mankind’s happiness is with these two!” May your two hands be broken and may these two filthy presents of yours be the death of you! And so they shall be!

O you unhappy spirit which spreads unbelief and ingratitude! Can a man who is suffering torments and is afflicted with ghastly calamities in both his spirit and his conscience and his mind and his heart be happy through his body wallowing in a superficial, deceptive glitter and wealth? Can it be said that he is happy?

Don’t you see that on feeling despair at some minor matter and his hope for some illusory wish being lost and his being disillusioned at some insignificant business, such a person’s sweet imaginings become bitter for him,

what is pleasant torments him, and the world constricts him and becomes a prison for him? But what happiness can you ensure for such a wretched person who through your inauspiciousness has suffered the blows of misguidance in the deepest corners of his heart to the very foundations of his spirit, and because of this whose hopes have all been extinguished and whose pains all arise from it? Can it be said of someone whose body is in a false and fleeting paradise and whose heart and spirit are suffering the torments of Hell that he is happy? See, you have led astray wretched mankind in this way! You make them suffer the torments of Hell in a false heaven!

O evil-commanding soul of mankind! Consider the following comparison and see where you have driven mankind. For example, there are two roads before us. We take one of them and see that at every step is some wretched, powerless person. Tyrants are attacking him, seizing his property and goods, and destroying his humble house. Sometimes they wound him as well. The heavens weep at his pitiful state. Wherever one looks, things are continuing in this vein. The sounds heard on this way are the roars of tyrants and the groans of the oppressed; a universal mourning envelops the entire way. A person is afflicted with a boundless grief since due to his humanity man is pained at the suffering of others. But because his conscience cannot endure so much pain, one who travels this way is compelled to do one of two things: either he strips off his humanity and embracing a boundless savagery bears such a heart that so long as he is safe and sound, he is not affected even if all the rest of mankind perish, or else he suppresses the demands of the heart and reason.

O Europe corrupted with vice and misguidance and drawn far from the religion of Jesus! You have bestowed this hellish state on the human spirit with your blind genius which, like the Dajjal, has only a single eye. You afterwards understood that this incurable disease casts man down from the highest of the high to the lowest of the low, and reduces him to the basest level of animality. The only remedy you have found for it are the fantasies of entertainment and amusement and anodyne diversions which temporarily numb the senses. These remedies of yours are being the death of you, and so they shall be. There! The road you have opened up for mankind and the happiness you have given it resembles this comparison.

The second road, the All-Wise Qur’an has bestowed on mankind; it is like this: We see that in every stopping-place, every spot, every town are patrols of a Just Monarch’s equitable soldiers doing the rounds. From time

to time at the King’s command a group of the soldiers is discharged. Their rifles, horses and gear belonging to the state are taken from them and they are given their leave papers. They are apparently sad to hand over their familiar rifles and horses, but in reality are happy to be discharged and extremely pleased to visit the Monarch and return to his court.

Sometimes the demobilization officials encounter a raw recruit who does not recognize them. “Surrender your rifle!,” they say. The soldier replies: “I am a soldier of the King and I am in his service. I shall go to him later. Who are you? If you come with His permission and consent, I greet you with pleasure, show me His orders. Otherwise go away and stay far from me.  Even if I remain on my own and there are thousands of you, I shall still fight you, and it would not for myself, because I do not own myself; I belong to my King. Indeed, my self and the rifle I have now are in trust from my owner. I shall not submit to you because I have to safeguard the trust and defend my King’s honour and dignity!”

This situation then is one of thousands on the second way which are the cause of joy and happiness. You can think of the others for yourself. Throughout the journey there is the mobilization and despatch of troops with joy and celebrations under the name of birth, and the discharge of troops with cheer and military bands under the name of death. This road has been bestowed on mankind by the All-Wise Qur’an. Whoever accepts the gift wholeheartedly travels down it to happiness in this world and the next. He feels neither grief at the things of the past nor fear at those of the future.

O second corrupted Europe! A number of your rotten and baseless foundations are as follows. You say: “Every living being from the greatest angel to the tiniest fish owns itself and works for itself and struggles for its own pleasure. It has the right to life. Its aim and purpose and all its endeavour is to live and continue its life.” And you declare idiotically: “Life is conflict,” because you suppose to be conflict the compassionate, munificent manifestations of the universal law of the All-Generous Creator which is manifested through plants hastening to the assistance of animals and animals hastening to the assistance of man through a principle of mutual assistance, which is conformed to in perfect obedience by all the principal beings of the universe.

How can particles of food hastening with total eagerness to nourish the cells of the body – a manifestation of the principle of mutual assistance – be conflict? How can it be a clash and struggle? It is, rather, mutual help at the command of a Munificent Sustainer.

Another of your rotten foundations is, as you say: “Everything owns

itself.” A clear proof that nothing owns itself is this: among causes the most noble and with regard to choice the one with the most extensive will is man. But out of the most obvious acts connected to man’s will like thinking, speaking, and eating, only a hundredth single, doubtful, part is subject to his will and is within his power. So how can it be said that he owns himself?

If the highest beings with the most extensive will are thus inhibited from real power and ownership to this degree, someone who says that the rest of beings, animate and inanimate, own themselves merely proves that he is more animal than the animals and more lifeless and unconscious than inanimate beings.

What pushes you to make such an error and casts you into this abyss is your one-eyed genius. That is, your extraordinary, ill-omened brilliance. Due to that blind genius of yours, you have forgotten your Sustainer, who is the the Creator of all things, you have attributed His works to imaginary nature and causes, you have divided up the Creator’s property among idols, false gods. In regard to this and in the view of your genius, every living creature and every human being has to resist innumerable enemies on his own and struggle to procure his endless needs. They are compelled to do this with the power of a minute particle, a fine thread-like will, a fleeting flash-like consciousness, a fast extinguishing flame-like life, a life which passes in a minute. But the capital of those wretched animate creatures is insufficient to answer even one of the thousands of their demands. When smitten by disaster, they can await no salve for their pain other than from deaf, blind causes. They manifest the meaning of the verse:

For the prayer of those without faith is nothing but futile wandering in the mind.(13:14)

Your dark genius has transformed mankind’s daytime into night. And in order to warm that dark, distressing, unquiet night, you have only illuminated men with deceptive, temporary lamps. Those lamps do not smile at them with joy, they rather smirk idiotically at their pitiful and lamentable state. Those lights mock and make fun of them.

In the view of your pupils, all living beings are miserable, calamity-striken, and subject to the assaults of oppressors. The world is a place of universal mourning. Issuing from it are cries and wails at death and suffering. The pupil who has absorbed your instruction thoroughly becomes a pharaoh. But he is an abject pharaoh who worships the basest things and holds himself to be lord over everything he reckons advantageous. A student of yours is obstinate, but an obstinate wretch who accepts utter abasement

for a single pleasure. He is so despicable as to kiss Satan’s foot for some worthless benefit. And he is a bully. But because he has nothing in his heart on which to rely, he is an impotent bullying braggart. His whole aim and endeavour is to satisfy the lusts of his soul, to cunningly seek his own personal interests under the screen of patriotism and devotion, and work to satisfy his ambition and pride. He loves seriously nothing at all other than himself and sacrifices everything for his own sake.

As for the sincere, wholehearted student of the Qur’an, he is a worshipping servant. But he is an esteemed servant who does not stoop to bow in worship before even the mightiest of creatures, and does not make the supreme benefit of Paradise the aim of his worship. And he is mild and gentle, but at the same time noble and gracious and lowers himself before none but the All-Glorious Creator, and only stoops before the lowly with His permission and at His command. And he is needy, but due to the reward his All-Generous Owner is storing up for him in the future, he is at the same time self-sufficient. And he is weak, but he is strong in his weakness for he relies on the strength of his Lord whose power is infinite. Would the Qur’an make its true student take this fleeting, transient world as his aim and purpose while not making him have even eternal Paradise as his goal? Thus you can understand how the two students’ aims and endeavours differ from one another.

You can further compare the zeal and self-sacrifice of the All-Wise Qur’an’s students with the pupils of sick philosophy as follows:

The student of philosophy flees from his brother for his own sake and a files a lawsuit against him. Whereas, looking on all the righteous worshippers in the heavens and on the earth as brothers, the Qur’an’s student makes supplication for them in sincere fashion. He is happy at their happiness and he feels a powerful connection with them in his spirit, so that praying he says: “Oh God, grant forgiveness to all believing men and women!” Furthermore, he considers the greatest things, the divine throne and the sun, to be subservient officials, and servants and creatures like himself.

Also, compare in the following the loftiness and expansion of spirit of the two students: the Qur’an imparts such a joyous elevation to its students’ spirits that instead of the ninety-nine prayer-beads, it places in their hands the minute particles of ninety-nine worlds displaying the manifestations of the ninety-nine divine names, and tells them to recite their invocations with them. Listen to the invocations of such students of the Qur’an as Shah Geylani, Rufa’i, and Shazali (May God be pleased with them)! See, in their fingers are the strings of particles, the droplets of water, the breaths of all

creatures, and recite their invocations with them. They praise and glorify God with them and mention His most beautiful names.

Behold the miraculous instruction of the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition and see how man is elevated by it – insignificant man who is stunned and confused at some minor grief or tiny sorrow and is defeated by a microscopic germ. How his inner senses expand so that the beings in the mighty world appear inadequate as prayer-beads for his invocations. He considers Paradise to be insufficient as the aim of his invocations and recitations of the divine names, yet he does not see himself as superior to the lowest of Almighty God’s creatures.1 He combines the utmost dignity with the utmost humility. You can see from this how abject and base are philosophy’s students.

Thus, the guidance of the Qur’an – which looks at the two worlds with two shining eyes familiar with the Unseen and points with two hands to the two happinesses for mankind – says concerning the truths which the one-eyed genius proceeding from the sick philosophy of Europe sees wrongly:

O man! The self and property you hold is not yours; it is in trust to you. The owner of the trust is an All-Compassionate and Munificent One, powerful over all things and with knowledge of all things. He wants to buy from you the property you hold so that He can guard it for you and it will not be lost. He will give you a good price for it in the future. You are a soldier under orders and charged with duties. Work in His name and act on His account, for He sends you the things you need as sustenance and protects you from the things you are unable to bear. The aim and result of this life of yours is to manifest your Owner’s names and attributes. When a calamity comes your way, say:

To God we belong, and to Him is our return.(2:156)

That is to say, “I am in the service of my Owner, O calamity! If you have come with His permission and consent, greetings, you are welcome! For anyway some time we shall return to Him and enter His presence, and we yearn for Him. Since He will release us from the responsibilities of life, let the release and discharge be at your hand, O calamity, I consent to it. But if He has decreed your coming as a trial for my dutifulness and loyalty in preserving my trust, then without His permission and consent to surrender it to you, so long as I have the power, I will not surrender my Owner’s trust to one not certainly charged to receive it.”

Consider this one example out of a thousand and see the degrees in the

instruction given by the genius of philosophy and guidance of the Qur’an. In reality, the two sides proceed in the manner described above, but the degrees of people in guidance and misguidance differ, and the degrees of heedlessness differ. Not everyone can perceive completely this truth in every degree, because heedlessness numbs the senses. In the present age it has so deadened them that the civilized do not feel this grievous pain and suffering. However, sensitivity is increasing and rending the veil of heedlessness due to developments in science and the warnings of death which every day displays thirty thousand corpses. Utter abhorrence and a thousand regrets should be felt for those who take the way of misguidance due to the Europeans’ idols and the natural sciences, and for those who follow them in blind imitation!

O sons of this land! Do not try to imitate Europeans! How can you reasonably trust in and follow the vice and invalid, worthless thought of Europe after the boundless tyranny and enmity it has shown you? No! No! You who imitate them in dissoluteness, are not following them but unconsciously joining their ranks and putting to death both yourselves and your brothers. Know that the more you follow them in immorality the more you lie in claiming to be patriots! Because to follow them in this way is to hold your nation in contempt, to hold the nation up to ridicule!

God guides us, and you, to the Straight Path.

From Risale-İ Nur Collection Bediüzzaman Said Nursi