(ADVICE TO THE YOUNG AND PRISONERS)
In His Name, be He glorified.
Pitfalls before the young
Indeed, youth follows emotions rather than reason, and emotions and desires are blind; they do not consider the consequences. They prefer one ounce of immediate pleasure to tons of future pleasure. They kill for one minute’s satisfaction of revenge, then suffer for eighty thousand hours the pain of imprisonment. One hour of dissolute pleasure of rape may result in a lifetime’s contentment being destroyed through distress at the fear of both prison and enemies.
Like those mentioned above, there are many pitfalls for the unfortunate young because of which they transform the sweetness of life into a most bitter existence that will bring remorse. In particular, a huge and mighty state to the north is misusing the passions of the young and shaking this century with its storms. For it has made lawful for the young, who are motivated by emotions that are blind to all consequences, the beautiful daughters and wives of upright, innocent people. Further, by allowing men and women to go together to public baths, it encourages immorality. It also regards it as lawful for vagabond and the poor to freely use, even plunder, the property of the rich. All mankind tremble in the face of this calamity.
So it is most necessary in this century for all Muslim youths to act heroically, and to respond to this two-pronged attack with “sharp swords” like the “Fruits (of Belief)” and the “Guide for Youth” from the Risale-i Nur. Otherwise those unfortunate youths will destroy both their future, their happiness in this world and in the next, their eternal afterlife, and transform both into torment and suffering. They will wind up in hospitals because of their abuse of their energies and dissipation, and in prisons because of their excesses. In their old age, they will weep copiously with sighs of regret. If, by contrast, they protect themselves with Qur’anic training and the Islamic truths some of which the Risale-i Nur is trying to expound, they will become truly heroic youths, perfect human beings, prosperous Muslims, and in some ways masters over the rest of animate beings.
Let’s suppose a young man spends one hour out of the twenty-four of each day on the five prescribed prayers and—in addition to the imprisonment preventing him from many sins—repents and seeks God’s forgiveness for the mistake that was the cause of his disaster. And let’s suppose he abstains from other harmful, painful sins. Just as this will be of great benefit for both his life, and his future, and his country, and his nation, and his family and relatives, so also will he gain with his fleeting youth of ten to fifteen years an eternal, brilliant youth. The Qur’an of Miraculous Expression primarily included, all the revealed Scriptures give this glad news decisively.
If a young man demonstrates his gratitude for the delightful blessing of youth by following the Straight Path in obedience to God, this will cause both increase of this blessing, and its becoming eternal and more pleasurable. Otherwise, it will bring calamities, pains, grief, and become a nightmare, and then it will disappear. It will cause him to become like an aimless one, harmful for both his relatives, and his country, and his nation.
Conversation with prisoners
If the prisoner has been sentenced unjustly, provided he performs the five prescribed prayers, each hour he has spent in prison will be the equivalent of a day’s worship, and the prison will be like the cell of a recluse for him. He may be counted among the pious hermits of old times who retired to caves in order to devote themselves to worship. If he is poor, aged, and ill, and desirous to learn the truths of belief on condition he repents and asks God’s forgiveness for his previous sins and crimes and performs the five prescribed prayers, each hour of his will be the equivalent of twenty-hours’ worship. The prison will be like a rest-house for him, and by reason of his friends there who regard him with affection, a place of friendliness, training, and education. He will probably be happier staying in prison than being free, for outside he is perplexed and subjected to the attacks of sins from all sides. He may receive a perfect education in prison, and on being released, he will no longer be a murderer, one thirsting for revenge, but he will be released as someone, repentant, matured, well-behaved, and useful to his nation. The Denizli prisoners attained this rank in a short period through the moral instruction they had. For this reason, giving such moral instruction to prisoners for fifteen weeks should always be preferred to putting them in prison for fifteen years.
Death for believers and unbelievers
Since death does not die, and the appointed hour is unknown, it may come at any time. The grave cannot be closed, and people enter it troop after troop. It has been shown through the truths of the Qur’an that for the believers death changes into documents of discharge from worldly duties or from execution for eternal punishment. For the corrupt and misguided, on the other hand, death is execution for everlasting torment and unending separation from their loved ones and all other creatures. The most fortunate person is surely he who thanks God in patience, and fully benefiting form his time in prison, takes the necessary moral and religious teaching to serve the Qur’an and his belief on the Straight Path.
O man who is addicted to enjoyment and pleasure! Being seventy-five years of age, I have come to know with utmost certainty from thousands of experiences and proofs that true enjoyment, pure pleasure, grief-free joy, and happiness of life, are only to be found in belief and within the sphere of the truths of belief. Whereas a single worldly pleasure yields numerous pains; as if delivering ten slaps in return for a single grape, it mars the pleasure of life.
O you unfortunate people who are suffering from the misfortune of imprisonment! Since you are mourning in the world and your life is bitter, derive enough benefit from prison so that you may not mourn in the Hereafter and your eternal life may be sweet. In the same way that an hour’s watch under severe conditions in the face of the enemy is sometimes equivalent to a year’s worship, the hardship of each hour of yours spent in worship under such severe conditions in prison multiplies and changes that hardship into mercy.
This article has been adapted from Risale- i Nur Collection.