The key to the happiness of Muslims in social life is consultation, as ordered by the Shari‘a. The verse, Their affairs are by consultation among themselves (42:38) orders consultation as a basis of social life and administration. While the consultation between eras in human history under the name: “the opinions supporting one another over time” has been a propitious ground for scientific and technical development, the abandonment of consultation is one of the reasons for the regression in Asia.

The key to the happy future of Asia is consultation. Like consultation among individuals, countries should consult with one another so that the fetters of various sorts of oppression placed around the feet of hundreds of thousands of Muslims will be removed. The consultation ordered by the Shari‘a and the freedom established by the Shari‘a, born of the compassion and zeal that originate in belief and are decorated with the good manners ordered by the Shari‘a – it is this consultation and freedom that will remove the fetters of all the oppression that are clamped around the feet of Muslims; only in this way can we discard the evils and vices borrowed from modern Western civilization. Islamic freedom, which is based on belief, orders the following two things: degrading no one through oppression and disallowing oneself to be degraded through bowing to oppressors. Whoever becomes a true servant of God never admits servitude to others. None of us should take others for lords, apart from God (3:64). One who does not recognize God or become His servant conceives a kind of lordship in all others, each according to their status and sets others over themselves. By contrast, the freedom established by the Shari‘a is a gift from God as a manifestation of His being the All-Merciful and the All-Compassionate, and it is a characteristic of belief.

Consultation results in sincerity and solidarity and causes three separate ones (1-1-1) to become one hundred and eleven (111). Thus, through sincerity and solidarity, three persons may be as beneficial for the nation as more than one hundred people. Many historical incidents inform us that through the sincerity and solidarity that result from consultation, ten persons give as great a service as a thousand people. Since humankind suffers from limitless needs and innumerable hostility but has insignificant power and capital, and particularly, as it is threatened by people of destruction who have turned into brutal creatures through irreligion, humanity can resist them only by discovering the points of reliance and help through belief, and only thus, through consultation, can social life continue.

We Easterners are not like Westerners. The emergence of the Prophets in the east and the appearance of philosophers mostly in the West is a message of Divine Destiny, informing us that it is religious endeavor and zeal that will awaken the East and urge it to develop. Religious zeal and endeavor should be given priority and national zeal and endeavor should support it. Religious zeal and endeavor is a luminous, unbreakable chain that extends from the Divine Throne; it is an indestructible castle. History is a witness to this.

One of the most terrible calamities visiting us is belittling religious scholars, an attitude which we have borrowed from Westerners. In fact, religious scholars are more worthy of respect, compassion, and love than any other people. The faults and defects attributed to them do not arise from their existence; they arise from a lack of perfect, verifying scholars due to the problems of the time. Religious scholars are the supports of Islamic life.

I once heard that someone noticed that the pillar under his roof had weakened. Before putting in a new, powerful pillar, this man began to remove the other one. As a consequence, the roof collapsed on his head.

I have also witnessed that in order to set forth a proof for the glory and greatness of the Caliph ‘Umar, may God be pleased with him, someone said that ‘Umar was as tall as a minaret. When another one warned him that

‘Umar’s height was an allusion to his personal virtues and grandeur in spirit, the other man said: “In that case, ‘Umar was an ordinary one like us.”

I also observed that a man was attacking another’s steadfastness in religion to condemn bigotry. But since he did not mention or emphasize that this person’s steadfastness in religion lay in his piety, righteousness, morality, and regularity in the practice of religion, and as he did not draw attention to these virtues, by criticizing a man of steadfastness in religion and reducing his value in people’s sight, he actually attacked the virtuous attribute of steadfastness in religion itself and reduced it in people’s estimation.

So, whoever wants to displace the weak pillar under the roof of their house let them first put in a new, strong pillar and make the house safe. Otherwise, they will destroy their house unwittingly.

A person who wants to falsify and annul an unsound argument that is put forth to support a truth should first support that truth with a sound proof. Otherwise, they will unwittingly falsify the truth.

A person who wants to attack bigotry should first establish steadfastness in the religion, taking it under protection and emphasizing its virtue and value. Otherwise, they will unwillingly mislead others.

(From Khutba-i Shamiya [“The Sermon of Damascus”])

Bediuzzaman Said Nursi