Second Stratagem: The vein of fear.


One of the most important and fundamental emotions in man is the sense of fear. Scheming oppressors profit greatly from the vein of fear. They restrain the pusillanimous with it. The agents of the worldly and propagandists of the people of misguidance take advantage of this vein of the common people and of the religious scholars in particular. They frighten them and excite their groundless fears. For example, in order to throw someone on a roof into danger, a scheming man shows the fearful one something which he supposes is harmful; he excites his fear and draws him gradually towards the edge of the roof; then he makes him fall and break his neck. In exactly the same way, they make people sacrifice most important things through most unimportant fears. Thinking, Don’t let this mosquito bite me, they flee into the dragon’s mouth.

One time, an eminent person -May Allah have mercy on him- was frightened of climbing into a rowing-boat. One evening, we walked together in Istanbul to the Bridge. We had to board a boat; there was no carriage, and we had to go to Eyüp Sultan. I insisted. He said: “I’m frightened. Perhaps it will sink!” I said to him: “How many boats do you reckon there are, here on the Golden Horn?” He replied: “Perhaps a thousand.” So I asked him: “How many boats sink in a year?” He said: “One or two. Perhaps none at all.” I asked him: “How many days are there in a year?” “Three hundred and sixty,” he replied. Then I said to him: “The possibility of sinking, which arouses groundless fears in you and makes you anxious, is one in three hundred and sixty thousand. Someone who is frightened at such a possibility is not a human being, he could not even be an animal!” Then I asked him: “How long do you reckon you will live?” He replied: “I am old; perhaps I shall live another ten years.” So I said to him: “Because the appointed hour of death is secret, every day there is the possibility of dying. In which case, you might die on any day of the three thousand six hundred. You see, it is not a possility of one in three hundred thousand like the boat; rather one in three thousand, that you might die today; so tremble and weep, and write your will!” He came to his senses, and I got him trembling to board the boat. When on board, I said to him: “Almighty Allah gave the sense of fear to preserve life, not to destroy it! He did not give life to make it burdensome, difficult, painful, and torment. If fear is due to a possibility of one in two, three, or four, or even one in five or six, it is a precautionary fear and may be licit. But to have fear at a possibility of one in twenty, thirty, or forty, is a groundless fear, and makes life torture!”

And so, my brothers, if those who toady to the atheists attack you by frightening you into giving up your sacred ‘jihad of the word,’ say to them: “We are the party of the Qur’an. According to the verse,

We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it,1

we are in the citadel of the Qur’an. The verse,

For us Allah suffices, and He is the Best Disposer of Affairs2

is a firm bastion surrounding us. Through fear at the possibility of one in thousands of some minor harm coming to our fleeting transient lives here, you cannot drive us through our own wills down a way which with a hundred per cent possibility will cause thousandfold harm to our eternal lives!” And say too: “Is there anyone who has suffered harm due to Said Nursi, our friend in the service of the Qur’an and Master and foreman in running this sacred service, or from the people of truth like us who are his companions on the way of truth? Is there anyone who has suffered any trouble due to his close students, so that we might suffer it too? So should we be anxious at the possibility of suffering it? This brother of ours has thousands of friends and brothers of the hereafter. Although for twenty to thirty years he played an effective role in the social life of this world, we have not heard of a single of his brothers suffering harm due to him. Especially at that time, he was carrying the club of politics. Now in place of that club, he has the light of reality. For sure, long ago they mixed him up in the Thirty-First of March Incident and they crushed some of his friends, but it later became evident that the affair had erupted due to others. His friends suffered misfortune, not because of him, but because of his enemies. Moreover, at that time, he saved very many of his friends. So satans like you shouldn’t get it into their minds to make us throw away an eternal treasury through fear of a danger the possibility of which is one in not a thousand but thousands.” You should say that, hit those toadies of the people of misguidance in the mouth, and drive them away! And tell them this:

“And if the possibility of death is not one in hundreds of thousands but a hundred per cent probability, if we have a jot of sense, we will not be frightened and leave him and flee!” Because it has been seen through repeated experiences, and it is seen, that the calamity which is visited on those who betray their elder brother or their Master in times of danger, strikes them first. And they are punished mercilessly and they are looked down upon contemptuously. Both physically dead, and their spirits abased, they are dead in meaning. Those who torment them feel no pity for them, for they say: “Since they betrayed their Master who was loyal and kind to them, they must be completely despicable, and worthy not of pity but contempt.”

Yes, the reality is this. Also, if a tyrannical, unscrupulous man throws someone to the ground and stands over him certain to crush his head with his foot, and the man on the ground kisses that savage oppressor’s foot, through his abasement, his heart will be crushed before his head, and his spirit will die before his body. He will lose his head, and his self-respect and pride will be destroyed. By displaying weakness before that savage tryrant without conscience, he emboldens him to crush him. But if the oppressed man under his foot spits in the tyrant’s face, he will save his heart and his spirit, and his body will be a wronged martyr. Yes, spit in the shameless faces of the oppressors!

One time when the British had destroyed the guns on the Bosphorus and occupied Istanbul, the head clergyman of the Anglican Church, the main religious establishment of that country, asked six questions of the Shaykh al-Islam’s Office. I was a member of the Darü’l-Hikmeti’l-Islamiye at the time. They asked me to answer them, saying that they wanted a six-hundred-word reply to their six questions. But I said to them: “I shall answer them not with six hundred words, and not even with six words, or even a single word, but with a mouthful of spit! For you can see that government; the moment it set foot on our Bosphorus, its clergyman arrogantly asked us six questions. In the face of this, we should spit in his face. So spit in the pitiless faces of those tyrants!” And now I say:

My brothers! Since at a time a tyrannical government like the British had occupied us the protection of the Qur’an was enough for me, despite the danger of confronting them in this way through the tongue of the press being a hundred per cent, it is certainly a hundred times more sufficient for you in the face of the harm that comes to you at the hand of insignificant bullies, the possibility of which is only one in a hundred.

Furthermore, my brothers! Most of you have done your military service. Those that have not, have certainly heard this. And those who have not heard it, let them hear it from me: “Those who receive most wounds are those who abandon their trenches and run away. While those who receive fewest wounds are those who persevere in their trenches!”

The allusive meaning of the verse,

Say: “The death from which you flee will truly overtake you”3

shows that those who run away are more likely to meet death through their flight!


1. Qur'an, 15:9.

2. Qur'an, 3:173.

3. Qur'an, 62:8.

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