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The New Man and Woman *


By Fethullah Gulen


History has carried us to the threshold of a new age that is open to the manifestations of divine favor. Despite, or in parallel with, advances in science and technology, the last two or three centuries have witnessed a global break with traditional values and, in the name of renewal, an attachment to different values and speculative fantasies. It is our hope, strengthened by promising developments, that the next century will be the age of belief and moral values, an age that will witness a renaissance and revival for the believers.

Among wavering crowds that lack sound thinking or reasoning, a new type of people will appear. They will rely equally on reason and experience, but give as much importance to conscience and inspiration as they do to the former. They will pursue the perfect in everything, establish the balance between this world and the next, and wed the heart to the intellect.

The coming to be of such people will not be easy. All births are painful, but these blessed births will take place and provide the world with a new, brilliant generation. Just as rain pours out of slowly gathering clouds and water wells up from underground, so too will the "flowers" of this new generation one day appear among us.

These new people will be individuals of integrity who, free from external influences, can manage independently of others. No worldly force will be able to bind them, and no fashionable ism will cause them to deviate from their path. Truly independent of any worldly power, they will think and act freely, for their freedom will be in proportion to their servanthood to God. Rather than imitating others, they will rely on their original dynamics rooted in the depths of history and try to equip their faculties of judgment with authentic values that are their own.

They will think, investigate, believe, and overflow with spiritual pleasure. While making the fullest use of modern facilities, they will not neglect their traditional and spiritual values in building their own world.

If changes and reforms are linked to and dependent on eternal universal values, they may be welcomed eagerly. Otherwise, there will be a plethora of speculative fantasies that are appealing because of their novelty and modernity. Standing on the firm ground of those eternal values, the new man and woman will always look to the future to illuminate the darkness enveloping the world.

They will be completely truth-loving and trustworthy and, in support of truth everywhere, always ready to leave their families and homes when necessary. Having no attachment to worldly things, comforts, or luxuries, they will use their God-given talents to benefit humanity and plant the seeds of a happy future. Then, constantly seeking help and success from God, they will do their best to protect those seeds from harm, just as a hen protects its eggs. Their entire lives will be dedicated to this way of truth.

To stay in touch and communicate with people's minds, hearts, and feelings, these new men and women will use the mass media and try to establish a new power balance of justice, love, respect, and equality among people. They will make might subservient to right, and never discriminate on grounds of color or race.

These new people will unite profound spirituality, diverse knowledge, sound thinking, a scientific temperament, and wise activism. Never content with what they know, they will continuously increase in knowledge: knowledge of self, of nature, and of God.

Equipped with the good morals and virtues that make them truly human, these new men and women will be altruists who embrace humanity with love and are ready to sacrifice themselves for the good of others when necessary. As they shape themselves in the mold of universal virtue, they will simultaneously strive to illuminate the way of others. They will defend and support what is good and recommend it to others, while seeking to challenge, combat, and eradicate all evils.

These new people will believe that the Almighty gave them life here so that they could know and worship Him. Without discriminating between the Book of the Universe (where the divine names are manifested and which is therefore full of signs of Him and acts as a "stairway" leading to Him) and the Divine Scripture (the translation of the Book of the Universe), they will see science and religion as two manifestations of the same truth.

They will never be reactionary. They will not pursue events, for they will be the dynamism of history that initiates and shapes events. With due perception of their age and surrounding conditions, and in devotion to their essential values and with utmost reliance on God, they will be in a state of continuous self-renewal.

These new people will conqueror their selves, thoughts, and hearts, and those of others, and they will discover the unknown. They will regard any time spent in not taking a new step into the depths of the self and the universe as being wasted. As they remove, through faith and knowledge, the veils covering the face of reality, they will become even more eager to advance further. With the messages and answers received from the heavens, the earth, and the seas, they will continue to journey until they return to their Creator.


* This article originally appeared in Zaman'n Alt'n Dilimi [The Golden Slice of Time], Kaynak, Izmir, 1998, pp. 157-160.

Fethullah Gulen is an influential Turkish Muslim intellectual who inspired a series of social activities, including a transnational education and business network, interfaith dialogue forums, and multicultural encounters.

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