The faithful and trustworthy person in Gulen’s philosophy

A true Muslim is a person whom other Muslims are secure from (possible harms to come through) his tongue and hand. The noun “Muslim” is an active participle, functioning as the subject, from the same verb, as it means “one who surrenders to God.” It also bears the meaning, “one who lets others be safe and sound, feel secure, and one who establishes peace and mutual freedom from harm.”

The faithful and trustworthy person in Gulen’s philosophy

Question: A Muslim is described in a hadith as a person from whose tongue and hands other people are secure. How can we ingrain this good character in us, and what is its significance?

Fethullah Gulen: As it is included in reliable sources of hadith, God’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, describes a true Muslim as a person whom other Muslims are secure from (possible harms to come through) his tongue and hand.1 In order to open a door to the meaning you mentioned in the question, I would like first to expound on the meaning of “Muslim” with the definite article (al). The phrase “al-Muslim” shows that the hadith refers to an ideal Muslim in the true sense of the word. That is, according to the principle, “An absolute mentioning refers to the perfect example of the type,” the Muslim mentioned here is not someone who just seems or claims to be so; it is one who confirms the truth in a heartfelt fashion and accepts it, surrenders to it, fulfills the requirements of this faith, and a person who makes this faith into the pervading spirit in one’s life.

If we expound further, the verb used in the hadith is “aslama” (to surrender) which comes from the same root with “silm” (peace) and “salamah” (being safe and sound). The noun “Muslim” is an active participle, functioning as the subject, from the same verb, as it means “one who surrenders to God.” It also bears the meaning, “one who lets others be safe and sound, feel secure, and one who establishes peace and mutual freedom from harm.” In this respect, the word “Muslim” describes “a person who surrenders to God, and therefore who observes His commandments fastidiously, and is trustworthy to the utmost degree.

The Divine Names “As-Salam” and “Al-Mu’min”

Ideal Muslims making others feel secure is a consequence of their adopting Divine morality with respect to two Divine Names: “As-Salam” (the Supreme Author of peace and salvation) and “Al-Mu’min” (the Supreme Author of safety and security Who bestows faith and removes all doubt). They appear consecutively at the end of the Surah al-Hashr (59:23). As a Divine Name, As-Salam means He who is absolutely immune from imperfections and who grants wellbeing to His creatures. Al-Mu’min means God is the one who creates the faith in people’s hearts and promises them deliverance, and who fulfills His promises. Therefore, if God Almighty makes a promise to His servants, it must be trusted. Actually, this belief is the source of the feeling of hope (raja) in a believer’s heart. Therefore, a person who seeks to adopt Divine morality, or in other words, a person who strives to manifest a shadow of the Divine Names and Attributes in oneself should always inspire trust in those around him or her; no one should feel any anxiety of possible harm from that person. One must possess a heartfelt belief in God and inspire trust in others to such an extent that they should comfortably entrust their most valuable possessions with this person, walking away without any worries whatsoever.

The fact that sidq (truthfulness) and amanah (trustworthiness) are among the properties of God’s Messengers is important in terms of indicating the significance of this issue. As it was truthfulness that took the noble Prophet to the peak of perfection, it was lying that took the false prophet Musaylima the Liar to the lowest of the low. Indeed, unbelief is a great lie against God. It means denying everything in the universe that bears witness to the Creator, owing to failure to comprehend the splendid order and harmony in the universe, turning a blind eye to it, and rejecting the perfect correspondence of reasoning in the universe and the Qur’an. In this respect, it is such a horrible murder that Hellfire is decreed as the due punishment for it. On the other hand, faith makes one eligible for Paradise by taking that person to peaks of spiritual perfection. It is this truthfulness that took all of the Companions to exalted levels, Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, being the first.

In addition to truthfulness, another property of God’s Messengers is trustworthiness. Each of them acted as an example of trustworthiness throughout their lives and always inspired trust in others. The most trustworthy person,2 the Messenger of God, inspired such trust in others with his attitudes and behaviors that when people needed to have someone watch their daughters or wives until they returned from travel, he was the first person that would come to their mind, as they knew that he would not even raise his head to look at their daughters’ or wives’ faces. He was a paragon of modesty. When our mother Khadija implied her wish to marry him, the noble Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, sweated profusely. These virtues were deeply ingrained in him. For this reason, his trustworthiness was appreciated by all accounts.

The Credibility of Trust

The same situation must actualize for his followers today. Particularly those heroes devoted to ideals of making others love God and His Messenger must make others in their atmosphere feel secure all of the time and evoke a feeling of trust toward themselves in everyone—so much so that people should be able to turn their back to them and comfortably say: “If that person is saying it, then it must be true. His (or her word) can be trusted.” To the extent that people support your activities today, you should know that this feeling of trust is the underlying factor.

Without making special tests and spying, people observe you in many instances along the natural flow of events that in the end they will say, “It is possible to trust this person.” For example, when you recommend an organization during the Eid of sacrifice for taking meat to poor people, they will come unhesitatingly with some fifty sacrifices to entrust to you unhesitatingly. Acting with utmost sensitivity, building this trust, and maintaining its continuity are imperative.

If the devoted souls in our time can make the genuine breeze of trust around them keep blowing as they have done so far, new people who meet them today—by God’s permission and grace—will see that they are sincere and not change their minds. In this respect, the volunteers who migrated for their ideals must give their position its due in the face of the most difficult conditions. They must keep an upright stance and always live in compliance with the essential disciplines. They must fear being deserving of punishment as described in the verses, “…but you love and prefer what is before you (the present, worldly life), and abandon that which is to come later (the Hereafter)” (al-Qiyamah 75:20–21); “… because they have chosen the present, worldly life in preference to the Hereafter” (an-Nahl 16:107).

Devoted souls value the world only as that transient abode it deserves, and the Hereafter as much as its infinity deserves. Indeed, when you value the Hereafter as it truly deserves, you make your worldly life more valuable as well. This is so because those who lead their lives with this balance become so sincere and present such faithfulness and feel so secure that everything becomes efficient in their hands. Nothing is wasted. For this reason, they better the world also. Without any doubt, as those who dedicated themselves to the Hereafter and gaining good pleasure of God let Andalusia thrive, as the Ottomans did the same in their region, today’s trustworthy ones can help the contemporary world to thrive if they resolve to do so.

In this respect, a person devoted oneself to serving God must always keep away from luxury and lead a simple life. Such people’s home must be accordingly, and when they pass away, their friends must try to raise money to pay for their shroud. A person devoted to serving God cannot be bound by fortunes, the world, status, or comfort. Thanks to devoting one’s heart solely to serving none but God, nothing can fetter such a person. There naturally are, and should be, people who engage in business and serve God by donating from their lawful earnings. This is a different issue from the sensitivity expected from those whose sole job is to serve God.

Administrators’ Representation of Their Values

Devoted souls must always inspire trust in their own fellow volunteers as well. They should always refrain from attitudes and behaviors that might lead their friends to distrust. They must refrain from doing things that might raise suspicion and always act transparently. They must be so sensitive and careful at this issue that no one should feel that they have been deprived of something or their field of action has been restricted.

It is for this reason that we always need to be transparent toward the people we walk with, make all of our decisions with consultation, avoid oppressive attitudes and behaviors, and continually take into consideration the feelings and thoughts of the people around us. In the same way, we must be careful to assign duties suitable with others’ abilities and arrange their working hours accordingly. We must build such trust in them that people given a certain duty are sure that their seniors are acting with good intentions and common sense all of the time. In addition, people need serious counseling to internalize the duty they have been given. In short, division of labor must be done with so much transparency and sensitivity that no feeling of mutual distrust should ever be evoked.

When Umar ibn al-Khattab discharged the army commander Khalid ibn Walid from duty and similarly when Uthman ibn Affan sent Abu Dharr to Ar-Rabadha, they did as ordered without any objection at all, thanks to this very feeling of trust. If you have been able to inspire trust in the people under your responsibility with your attitudes and behaviors, if you have protected your innocence in terms of your thoughts, feelings, reasoning, and logic, then the decisions that you make with respect to them will be accepted. When people are assigned with a new duty and are sent somewhere else, they will do so without hesitation. For example, if you tell them to go to a certain place, they will think to themselves, “The ones who made this decision must have thought that this was the best thing for me to do,” and they will gladly forbear the lack of means in the places they go. Even if you tell them to reside in a narrow place like a cell, they will do as required, because they know that the demand was made with certain wisdoms. In sum, your demands will find acceptance in accordance with your trustworthiness as an administrator. The most reliable method of finding a way into people’s hearts is to inspire trust with genuine feelings. People must trust you in such a way that they must comfortably say, “If a duty—no matter which—befalls on me for serving on the path of faith and Qur’an, God’s good pleasure must be there.” And this undoubtedly, will be realized by the power of administrators’ fastidious care about representing the values they believe.

1. Sahih al-Bukhari, Iman, 4; Sunan Abu Dawud, Jihad, 2
2. Prior to the advent of Islam, the noble Prophet was nicknamed as “Muhammadu’l-Amin” (Muhammad the Trustworthy), peace and blessings be upon him.


Herkul.ORG, November 28, 2013

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