GENTLENESS, GOOD MANNERS AND ABSTINENCE FROM THE UNLAWFUL
HILM, AKHLAQ AND WARA'A
Prof. Dr. Mahmud Es'ad COSAN
Translated from Islam, Tasavvuf ve Hayat, Istanbul: Seha, 1996, pp. 253-280.
The original text is available at http://meckitap.8m.com

E'ūdhu billāhi minash shaytānir rajīm
Bismillāhir rahmānir rahīm...

Elhamdu lillāhi rabbil ālemīne hamdan kathīran tayyiban mubārakan fīhi alā kulli hālin wa fī külli hīn... Was salātu
wasselāmu alā seyyidil awwalīne wal ākhirīne tāj-i ruūsinā muhammedinil mustafā... Wa alā ālihī wa sahbihī wa men
tebiahū biihsānin ilā yawmil jazā...

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(Thelāthun men lem yekun fīh, feleyse minnī wa lā minallah: Hilmun yaruddu bihī jahlel jāhil, wa husnul khuluqu yaīshu bihī fin nās, wa wara'un yahjuzuhū an maāsillah.) Sadaqa rasūlullah, fī mā qal aw kemā qal.

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

May your Friday night be blessed.  May Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala have you benefit from the goodness, abundance, and spirituality of this blessed night.  May He grant you happiness in this life and in the hereafter.  May He honor you with His Beauty in His Paradise.

This evening, I am going to explain a hadith reported by Hadrat Ali (karramallahu wajhah).  Naturally, all ahadith are crowns on our heads.  The reporters are the companions of Prophet Muhammad SAS;  they are like stars in the sky.  We love and respect all of the companions, yet Hadrat Ali has a special place in our hearts.  Especially nowadays, people are appearing on television to claim that they are Alawīs and they love him very much.  Yet the very same people make incorrect statements and take an offensive stance towards Islam.  They disregard the history, the commentaries on the Qur'an, and the words of Prophet Muhammad SAS.

We invite all who claim to love Hadrat Ali (radiallahu anh), who claim to be Alawī to the path of Hadrat Ali RA.  We invite them to lead a life as Hadrat Ali did, to listen to his words, and to be how he was.  We are trying to be like him.

Hadrat Ali RA is a crown on our heads.  He is one of the Ashara-i Mubash-shara (the ten people whom are told that they would enter the paradise by the Prophet), also the son-in-law of the Prophet.  He is one of the personages who are dearest to us.  It is very upsetting to deny his path, his belief, and his interpretation of Islam and yet to claim to be one of his followers.  We ought to look at this issue, ordain the good and prohibit the evil.

How are we going to do it?  What are we going to say?

"Look, this is what Hadrat Ali said about this issue.  What do you say?  Do you love him?"

"I do."

"Then, here is what he said.  We ought to do what he said if we love him."

That is why we should compile the ahadith related by Hadrat Ali RA and publish it.  Yes, the words are from the Prophet, yet the relater is Hadrat Ali RA.  If it is related by Hazrat Ali, the running water should stop.

Some claim that they are humanists and tolerant towards other people.  We ought to see you in action.  As the saying goes, "The mirror of a person is his work--not his words."  We have to see you in action.  We have to observe how you work, how you treat other people, and how you lead your life.  Then we can decide if you are really what you claim to be.  Everybody would brag about himself; we have to see if you are as you describe.

We are going to read what Hadrat Ali had reported from the Prophet.  We had been reading from the book Ramuz al-Ahadith (The Ocean of the Ahadith).  I must admit that I could not remember which page we were at.  It has been quite some time since we were here for the last time.  We have neglected the discourses here.

Brothers and Sisters!  We should not neglect these hadith discourses.  The worship and preaching are good deeds to be rewarded in the hereafter.  They incur the consent of Allah.  Such deeds should not depend on a particular person.  It would not be acceptable to have the discourses only when I am here and neglect it when I am not here.  If I do not come here, you would prefer watching television.  That is not acceptable.  Persons are temporary in this life.  They depart when the time comes.  One leaves, and another person arrives.  The persons are not that important, but the traditions, the customs, are.  We have to establish good deeds and practices.

If we study ahadith here on Thursdays, it will continue regularly.  Everybody should know that on Thursday there is a hadith discourse and schedule his activities accordingly.  If somebody wanted to visit us on Thursday evenings, we ought to tell him that we have the hadith discourse in the mosque after Isha and that he should come with us.  There is room for ladies, too.

We have to schedule all of our activities according to our worship time.  We should not sacrifice our worship for other types of activities.  Earning the consent of Allah should be our motto.  Our life should be planned in accordance with the prayer times.

From now on, everybody should take notice that there will be a hadith discourse here every Thursday.  You should come here with that intention.

Hadrat Ali RA related that the Prophet said:

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(Thelāthun men lem yakun fīh) "There are three things that if a person lacks them, (falaysa minnī) he is not from me (wa lā minallah) or from Allah."  This is a very strong, important statement.  The Prophet will state three things.  If a person has these three things, there is no problem.  If a person lacks them, he will not be a good Muslim or a good servant of Allah.  The person is rejected by the Prophet.

The Prophet strongly desires that these three virtues are present in a person.  We all must acquire these virtues because we want to be on the side of the Prophet.  We all want to say, "O Messenger of Allah, we are with you!"  We all want to practice what Allah has ordained for us;  we want to be obedient to Him.  We want His consent.  We do not want to be left out.

What are these three virtues?  Here is the first one:

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(Hilmun yaruddu bihī jahlel jāhil) "A gentleness (hilm) that faces the ignorance of the ignorant."  We have to have a gentle treatment towards an ignorant person despite his misconduct towards us.

That means we should not be hot tempered or nervous towards others.  We have to be calm when somebody does something upsetting.  We should not get angry easily.  We have to control our anger.  We have to be quiet and calm and keep a smiling face.

While we were driving here, there was a car in front of us.  The driver was avoiding all the potholes on the road.  He was driving on the three-lane road as if he was the only person on the road.  He was occupying all three lanes as he wished.  Someone in our car commented:  "Watch out!  The driver ahead could be drunk!"

When we passed that car, the car made a right turn and almost hit our car.  I signaled to the driver by my hand and asked, "What are you doing?"

The driver was a young man.  It looked like he just got his drivers license and got his father's car.  He was taking a pleasure in driving.  He looked at me and had a nice smile.  I forgave him.  He did not get angry with me for waving my hand.  He must have seen me as an elderly person with a cufy cap on my head and a beard on my face.  He smiled at me, and I overlooked what he did.  He is still young and inexperienced.

That means a smile could get a person out of trouble.  A gentle person should behave like that.  If an ignorant person does something wrong or improper to him, she should remain calm and quiet.  He should face him gently and respond to him calmly.  Thus the ignorance will not be exaggerated, yet suppressed.  The fire would be put off.

We all should have the calmness because it is for the benefit and happiness of the society.

I travel often and have a different experience each time I go to some place.  I hear various things happening among people.  We can imagine that there may be a disagreement between a Muslim and a non-Muslim. Yet I witness unimaginable problems and disagreements among people who attend the same mosque and follow the same tariqa.  I see anger and hostility.  I see that they do not talk to one another.  It is a strange situation that originates from the fact that we have not accepted the Islamic training for ourselves.  We have not assimilated the spiritual training well.  We have to absorb it well.  When we fail to do so, we get angry for insignificant matters that would lead to unpleasant consequences.

I hear from ladies that they are divided into two groups in a small town.  One group insists on something while the other group insists on something else.  Yet both are valid and acceptable. You can go to Ozelif Complex from various routes.  There is no reason to fight.  There are many paths leading to the same destination.

There exist indigestion, a tension, and a stress among people.  It should not be like that.  Muslims should be calm, gentle, and tolerant.  They should have a smiling face.  He will not create a big problem upon the misconduct of the ignorant.  They should respond to the misconduct, but it has to be done calmly and wisely, so it would produce positive results.

Sometimes, people do wrong things in the name of Islam.  The Messenger of Allah SAS was calm, compassionate, merciful, and forgiving, yet he would not tolerate if an order of Allah was violated or a prohibition was committed.  He would become a roaring lion.  He would get angry then.  When he delivered a sermon, he would be like a commander of an army attacking the enemy.  He would get upset when an order of Allah is not fulfilled.

We understand that the calmness and gentleness (hilm) is for our relationships with people in business, in sharing the same neighborhood, in the family and alike.  Yet when it comes to violating an order of Allah, we should not be relaxed.  We may not tolerate the disobedience towards Allah.  We may not feel relaxed and lazy towards carrying out what Almighty Allah ordered.

"These guys are young.  Let them drink!"

"You wretched person! How could you say that while Almighty Allah forbids drinking intoxicants?"

"Well, they are young!"

"It does not matter!  Young or elderly.... they must not drink!"

"They are young; they go to bed late.  They neglect the prayers.  They cannot get up early for the Fajr prayer."

"It is not acceptable!"

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(Innas salāta kānet alel mu'minīne kitāben mawkūtā) "The prayer is an obligation on believers to be performed in predetermined time intervals."

The Fajr prayer is to be performed during its time range.  The Dhuhr prayer is to be performed from the noontime till the Asr time.  These are to be performed within its time period.

The Messenger of Allah said: "If there are five houses in a locality, there should be a call for adhan and congregational prayers must be established there.  If that does not happen, Satan invades and dominates the locality."  Can you lead a fruitful life in a place dominated by Satan?  Of course not.  The evil will be all over.  We ought to pay attention to these things.

As we understand from the hadith, we must abandon the anger and be a calm person.  It is a very important character that the Prophet wanted us to have.  Meanwhile we have to protect our rights, uphold the orders of Allah and not allow the prohibitions of Allah.  That is amr bil ma'ruf and nahy anil munkar --ordaining the good and forbidding the evil.  We may not make any concessions when it comes to the orders of Allah.  Still, we have to be calm.  We have to observe the limits, and not get angry.

A person came to the Prophet and said: "O Messenger of Allah, give me an advice!"

The Prophet said: "Lā taghdab--do not get angry!"  The person said: "O Messenger of Allah, give me another advice!"

"La taghdab!"

"O Messenger of Allah, give me another advice!"

"La taghdab!"

The Prophet said the same thing three times: "La taghdab--do not get angry!"

Now I think that I need to tighten some bolts on me because sometimes I get angry.

Once we were driving to Konya.  We climbed up a hill and reached to the top.  The other side of the hill had three lanes: one is down; two lanes, up.  As soon as we started driving down, we realized that there were three vehicles side by side climbing up and coming towards us.  We were about to slam one of the vehicles head on!  My stomach got upside down.  I almost panicked.  I think the stomach releases some acid, and it burns itself.

Fasubhanallah!  The driver had crossed the double continuous lines, broken the rule.  He could not see what was coming ahead.  He put himself as well as us in danger.  He was driving an Anadol pickup--it is a small and slow vehicle.  If the vehicle were a BMW or Mercedes car, we could understand what he was counting on.  I had to get off the pavement to avoid the accident.  It took a while for me and for my stomach to calm down.

We should be calm and not get angry.  We have to try and learn how to be calm.  We have to be calm towards our spouses, our children, and our customers.  We have to be calm towards the passengers in the bus that we are traveling.  We have to be calm and sweet.  That was one of the characteristics a person must have.

The second characteristic that our beloved Prophet wants us to have is the following:

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(Wa husnul khuluqu yaīshu bihī fin nās) "And a good code of conduct to live among people."

Dear Brothers and Sisters!   Good characters are many in number.  The method to acquire such good characters is the path of Tasawwuf and Tariqa.  It trains the nafs, illuminates the heart and earns a person good characters.  That was how Yunus was raised;  that is how Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi was raised.  That is how Ibrahim Hakki Erzurumī and Eshrefoghlu Rumī were raised.  The personages that we love and respect have been raised through Tasawwuf.

The good characters are many in count.  Some scholars list as many as five or six hundred good characters.  For example, generosity is a good character.  Being merciful is a good character, so is being equitable.  Generosity, mercy, justice and many other ones are all good characters.

Our late Khawaja Mehmed Zahid Kotku listed the good characters in his book Tasavvufī Ahlāk.  He listed them there so that our brothers and sisters could read and learn about them.  You can also find material on the good characters in Ihyayi Ulūm of Imam Ghazali.  You can also find them in Tariqat-i Muhammadiya.  Each of the hadith collections allocates a chapter on the good characters.  You can study them from there.

If you also study the lives of important personages and prophets (may Almighty Allah be pleased with them), you will find information in there.

"Do you know what Hadrat Eyyūb (Job) AS did?  Do you know about Prophet Noah?  Do you know about Prophet Shu'ayb?  What are the major events in their lives?"

"I do not know."

"What a shame!  You must find out at once!  Go study the lives of the prophets.  There are books on this matter.  You can get them from the bookstores."

Then, you must learn about the companions of Prophet Muhammed SAS.  There are books describing their lives, too.  You can read them easily like a novel.  We have published similar books and distributed as gifts along with our monthly magazines.  You must read these books in your library.

Then you must study about the lives of the awliyaullah.  There are personages whom people like very much.  They have displayed some miracles.  You may witness some of them.  You could get to know them while living as neighbors, traveling, or doing business with them.  You observe extraordinary abilities and states with them.  Sometimes you dream about them.  We should read about their lives, too.

As an example, I will mention about Haji Bayram-i Veli--may Almighty Allah make his abode Paradise and grant his intercession for us.  He would plant wheat in the valley and make a living that way.  He would not be a burden to anybody.  Having worked under the sun, he would get a dark complexion.  With a cycle in his hand, he would harvest the wheat.  He would not say, "I am a shaikh!  I am one of the awliya!"  He would work like an ordinary person.  In fact he was a scholar, a professor in madrasa.  Then he sought Tasawwuf training and became Haji Bayram-i Velī.

Molla Akshamseddin, too, heard about Haji Bayram-i Velī and came to him to receive spiritual training.  He wanted to improve himself spiritually, beautify his code of conduct, and become a beloved servant of Allah.  He arrived in a day that there was a big feast in the valley. In the meadow, there were caldrons of food and many guests.  Akshamseddin was a professor in madrasa, a scholar, a person with a diploma and turban indicating his rank in the school system.  Haji Bayram-i Velī did not pay any attention to him, nor did he look at him.  He did not say, "welcome" to Akshamseddin, nor did he show him a place at the table.  Akshamseddin realized that nobody had any special treatment for him.  He was not even asked who he was.

Imagine, you were in his shoes.  If I were in his shoes, I would get angry.  "I came all the way from a distant place for a visit.  He even does not say 'welcome!'  They all keep eating the food as if they've never seen food, yet they do not ask me to join them.  Is there a place for this in Islam?  I am leaving this place."  We could think like that.

Akshamseddin did not do what we would have done.  He went to the place where the bones and other leftovers are dumped for the dogs.  As he was getting ready to eat something there, Haji Bayram-i Velī came to him: "Come here!  You inflamed my heart.  You passed the test!"  Haji Bayram-i Velī had been following him with the vision of the awliya.  He pushed Akshamseddin in a difficult situation.  As Akshamseddin approached to the food container for dogs, Haji Bayram Velī picked him up and paid him due respect.

Akshamseddin passed the test of humbleness and the test of not getting angry.  He could have got angry and upset.  He was a college professor!  He could have found numerous reasons to criticize and get angry.  He could have stated many ahadith on how to treat the guests and declared that the recommendations of the Prophet had been violated.  The guest was not welcomed.  He could have left right away!  Yet he did not do so.  He was patient, calm, and humble.  That earned him the success in the test.

How did Almighty Allah put Hadrat Abraham AS into a test?

"Sacrifice your dear son Ismail for Allah!"

"Yes my Lord!  If it is your order, I sacrifice my own live and my child.  I could give up everything I have for You!"

How could a person neglect an order knowing that it is from Almighty Allah?  Hadrat Abraham took a knife and his son to sacrifice him.  At the critical moment, Almighty Allah sent a ram.  There was an order: "O Abraham!  You passed the test!  Sacrifice the ram, instead."

Almighty Allah tests people by bringing them to a critical moment.  The awliyaullah, too, tested some people: "Let me see his character. Is he a haughty person?  He is a scholar, a man of a diploma.  He has a cloak and a turban of the educated.  He has wealth, rank, and knowledge.  I would like to see his character."  That is how Haji Bayram-i Velī tested Akshamseddin.  As Akshamseddin behaved with patience, calm and humbleness, Haji Bayram-i Velī welcomed him and showed him a place at the table.  Of course, Akshamseddin became a deputy of Haji Bayram-i Velī and carried out the spiritual guidance work.

The good characters include being patient, being equitable, and being generous.  There are many of them; you must learn what they are.  You live among people and get along with them with your good characters.  The good characters regulate the relationships and interactions among people.  Almighty Allah created good characters and gave them to people so that their lives become pleasant.  When everybody has good characters and manners, life becomes beautiful.  With good characters, life would be pleasant in the village, in the neighborhood, at the workplace, and at everywhere you can imagine.  Good characters and manners are important for living in the society.  They are required for the social life.  We have to have good characters and good manners.

We have to treat our spouses and children with good manners, too.

Dear Brothers and Sisters!  Sometimes I receive complaints.  For instance, yesterday I heard in Konya that a young man had beaten up his father.  Fasubhānallah!  This is not an ignorant person!  He would offer his prayers and do some dhikr, too.  Perhaps he had attended the sermons in the mosque, too.  How could a person raise his hand to his father?  Besides, his father is not a bad person.  When the character is bad, when a person is not trained spiritually, the outcome is very unpleasant.

Some men beat up their wives!  Some time ago, a young woman sent me a message on a piece of paper while I was in the mosque and stated:  "My husband beats me up so much that the walls get blood."

I still feel like crying for her.  Her parents entrusted this woman to you to be your wife.  They did not give her to you to hit her head to the walls.  Don't you have any fear of Allah?  Don't you have any mercy?  How would you feel if somebody did the same thing to you?  Now you are the strong one, and you treat her badly.  What do you think it is going to happen to you in the hereafter?

We all need good characters very much.  We need them in the family, in the neighborhood, in the village, in the town, in the country and in the world.

How could a person burn a forest?  How could a person invade a village and kill people?  What would he gain by doing so?  What religion would order something like that?  It is not in Christianity!  It is not in Judaism!  It is not right for anybody be it a Muslim or a non-Muslim to do such a crime.

I question myself about why all of these are happening.  Why did our people become so bad?  The reason lies in our national education system.  For so many decades, the importance of religion in our lives has been downgraded by our education system.  Religious people have been mocked at and considered passé.  The education system distanced our youth from Islam.  The government established brothels and wineries. The government dictated atheism in schoolbooks.  Teaching Islam correctly has been neglected.  If people are not righteous believers, you expect the disorder and mistreatment.

Look what the Prophet advised! "Be gentle and calm!  If you are not gentle and calm, you are not from my nation, not a good servant to Allah!"  He also advised to have good manners.  It is a must.  Did you suffer from the good manners?  How did the good manners hurt you?  Why did you prevent people from getting the good manners?

One of our professor friends visited the Turkish Embassy in London.  He saw a book printed in glossy paper which had a statement in Turkish: "In Turkey we have decided to be a part of Western Civilization by erasing and destroying all the signs of Islam and Islamic civilization."

If you take decision as a government in this way, if you take a stance against the orders of Allah, if you publish such books, then your people will become ruthless, violent and cruel.  The reason for the cruelty is the negligence of proper Islamic education.

Now you tell me which one is better:  Yunus Emre or a murderer, a briber, or a shameless person.  Yunus Emre has been loved by people for centuries!  Yunus Emre's character was shaped by Islam.  Yunus Emre received Tasawwuf training.  Why do you oppose Islam and Tasawwuf now?

The atheists oppose Tasawwuf; those who claim to be "Radical Muslims" oppose Tasawwuf, and some professors in the college of theology oppose Tasawwuf!  Which one shall I deal with?  In this situation, how could one be calm?  Well, we ought to be gentle and calm--I have no objection to that.  Fasubhānallah!  We suffer from the foes and from the friends.  They keep attacking and destroying.  We try to fix and correct, yet people busy themselves with something else.  May Almighty Allah give them a good way of thinking and understanding.

Naturally, everybody works at something and harvest the outcome in the end.  Nobody gets away with the bad things he commits; he collects what he deserves in this life and in the hereafter.

First we have to be gentle and calm.  Then we have to have good characters and manners.  We have to be equitable, generous, merciful, patient, thankful, sweet-tongued, smiling-faced, and agreeable.  We must acquire these characters.  Then comes the third one:

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(Wa wara'un yahjuzuhū an maāsillah.)  A Muslim must have wara' too.  Wara' is spelled with waw, ra and 'ayn.  It may be difficult to pronounce the last letter.  Wara' means to be extremely cautious and careful.  This carefulness is towards avoiding the sin.  A Muslim must pay attention to staying away from the sin or any disobedience towards Almighty Allah.  A Muslim must have wara'.

How is it possible that you say you are a servant of Allah, a believer, you believe in the Qur'an, you love the Prophet, and you are a good Muslim, and then continue committing offenses?  How could you disobey Allah?  How could you disregard the orders of Allah?  You have to stay away from the unlawful.  The feeling of abstinence from committing sins is wara'.  It is even beyond the feeling of taqwa;  it is avoiding the doubtful all together.

If a person has taqwa, he avoids the unlawful:  He does not look at the unlawful, he does not touch the unlawful, he does not eat the unlawful.  If a person has wara', he stays away from the doubtful with a fear of committing an offense.  He acts very carefully.  If a person is not careful, he may slip into the sin that would incur the wrath of Allah.  That would be a terrible end for a person.

If a person walks on the edge of an abyss, the rock he is stepping could move, and the person could fall into the abyss.  Why do you have to walk at the edge?  It is like walking at the edge of the roof of a building.  What if a tile flips over by the weight of the person?  He would fall all the way down to the ground on his head.  He would be hospitalized.  Doctors would have to put nails and bandage over his head, cast on his arm, etc. Why did you have to walk at the edge?  Why did you get close to the danger?  You had to stay away from the doubtful and dangerous.

Our beloved Prophet said: "One who gets closer to the borderline between the lawful and unlawful is likely to fall into the unlawful."

Close to the edge of the roof, you may say, "Khawaja, do not worry!  I am an expert, I won't fall down!"  Yet the tiles could be wet and slippery; it does not do any good after you fall.  You have to walk on the safe place and avoid the danger and doubtful.  Avoid the borderlines.  You can walk on the street, in the park, in the square, in the field, but avoid the dangerous places and edges.

This is the feeling of wara'--abstaining the unlawful and avoiding the doubtful and dangerous.

In this hadith that was related by Hadrat Ali RA, the Messenger of Allah taught us the following:

1.  We have to be gentle and calm, patient.  We should not get angry easily.  We have to be calm when we face some disturbances originating from the ignorance and handle the situation with patience.

Can you imagine what a young man told the Prophet SAS?

"O Messenger of Allah, allow me commit adultery."

Hearing this, the companions got restless.  They wanted to teach him a lesson for his improper request.  Yet they kept silent in the presence of the Prophet SAS.  The Prophet asked the young man to come closer.  He asked:

"If a person looked at your mother with ill intentions, would you feel happy?"

"No!"

"If you were married, and a person looked at your wife with ill intentions, would you be happy?"

"No!"

"If you had a daughter, and somebody looked at your daughter with ill intentions, would you feel happy?"

"Of course not!"

"The woman you would commit adultery with would be the mother of somebody, the wife of somebody, or the daughter of somebody.  Is there any other possibilities?"

"No, there is not."

"That is why you must not commit adultery."

"All right O Messenger of Allah.  I repent and seek forgiveness from Almighty Allah.  Please forgive me for such a request, too."

I will give you another example from the time of the Prophet.  As you know, the mosques in the past did not have rugs or decorations.  During the time of the Prophet, they would enclose a section of the desert and call it a mosque.  The floor would be sand; the outside would be sand, too.  Once a Bedouin came to the mosque.  He felt the urge to urinate.  He got up, looked around and decided to respond to the call of the nature on the sand by the wall inside the mosque.  The companions got furious, yet the Prophet told them: "Do not get angry at him.  He does not know the proper manners.  Teach him.  He is new in Islam.  He does not know Islam well.  He does not know the requirements on the cleanliness.  Teach him.  Do not get angry at him."

That was an example of hilm, gentleness, calmness, patience, winning the hearts and education.

We educate our children the same way.  When a child makes a mistake, you would not get angry at him, instead tell him, "Son, come here!  Look, what you did was wrong.  You should have done this way."  That would teach him the correct way.  You must explain and convince the child.

2. We have to have good characters and good manners.  You can study the good characters from the book Tasavvufi Ahlak written by our late Khawaja Muhammed Zahid-i Bursevī.  Then you can read Imam Ghazzali's Ihyā-yi Ulūm.  It is an excellent book!  Then you find out what the good characters and manners are.

You should study the lives of the Prophets and the lives of the companions of our beloved Prophet.  You read about them from the books and have your family listen to it.  Read about the lives of scholars, beloved servants of Allah, and awliyaullah.

I must indicate the limits, too:  What you read must not be exaggeration.  You have to find out the truth. There are some stories about some personages that are not based on the truth and are not acceptable.  You have to learn from the authentic and reliable sources.  When the information is false, Almighty Allah does not like it.

That is why I suggest that you study the lives of the Prophets, and the companions first.  The books about them are reliable.  Then read books about the great awliyaullah that are written by serious scholars.  Do not read false and unreliable books that cause confusion.  The information in them is not based on the truth.  It is the fabrication of some author.

You have to be selective when you watch television, too.  I heard in one such program that described the event of Mi'rāj (Ascension) of the Prophet SAS.  According to the program, the Prophet saw a group of people while he was descending from the heavens.  The group did not allow the Prophet to join them.  That was the "assembly of the forty" i.e., of the forty virtuous men.  Look at the false information!  Who are the "assembly of the forty"?  They cannot be a grain of dust on the feet of the Prophet!  Prophet Muhammad SAS is the most beloved servant of Allah, he is the "sayyidil awwalīna wal akhirīn--the master of all that has come to this life and of all that will come to this life till the Day of Judgment."   Who are these men not to accept the Prophet in their assembly?  What kind of a story is this?  What kind of a lie is it?  We should not accept or respect such baseless, false information.  It has no basis, no essence, and no truth in it!

Mi'rāj is a well-known event.  The authentic hadith books describe the details about the Mi'rāj of our beloved Prophet.  Reliable books provide all the information based on the ahadith.  There is no such thing as the assembly of forty not accepting the Prophet.  Somebody fabricated a lie and wrote in a book.  It would be an offense to say such lies or listen to or believe in them.  How is it possible?  Who is the highest man?  It is our beloved Prophet Muhammad the chosen.  He is above all men; he is the leader of the prophets!  He is the crown of the creation, the most beloved servant of Allah!  He is Habībullāh (Beloved of Allah), Rasūl-i Akram (the most Munificent Prophet), Nabiy-yi Muhtaram (The Dearest Prophet).  How could you make a demeaning statement about him?  If you could, how can you consider yourself a Muslim?

You may ask, "What is the assembly of the forty?  Who are awliyaullah?"

The "assembly of the forty," the awliyaullah, are the beloved servants of Allah.  They exist in every era.  The beloved servants of Allah cannot reach the spiritual level of the Companions of the Prophet.  They rank below the companions. The Prophet is above all,  then the companions and the awliyaullah follow his rank.

"How come the companions of the Prophet are above the awliyaullah in rank?"

The Companions received the honor of being with the Prophet and becoming his friends.  The highest awliyaullah cannot reach the level of the companions.  The false information instills doubts and confusion in people's minds.

It is not right to listen to such false information.  If a person listens to it and does not silence the speaker, [he will be apart of the lies, hence responsible for it, too.]  The false information misguides people and leads to mischief.

The information we seek has to be sound.  Why do you think we take a hadith book in our discourses?  We do that because it is the word of the Prophet.  Somebody else's words could be false.  The words of the Prophet are guaranteed to be true in the Qur'an:

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(Wamā yantiqu 'anil hawā. In huwa illā wahyun yūhā.)  "The prophet does not utter false information; he tells you about the orders of Allah.  He conveys the messages revealed to him by Allah." (Qur'an 53:3-4)  He is the Messenger of Allah.

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(Walaw teqawwala 'aleynā ba'dal eqawil. Le-akhaznā minhu bilyamīn.  Thumma leqata'nā minhul watīn.) "If the Messenger of Allah said something against the will of Allah, he would have been destroyed; his life vain would be cut off." (Qur'an 69:44-46)  That is why we study, we listen to and we explain the ahadith of the Prophet SAS.

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

We have to be gentle and calm and we have to have good characters and conduct.  Isn't this advice sufficient?

3. We have to have an awareness to stay away from the unlawful.  We have to avoid the doubtful.  We have to have wara'.

Dear Brothers and Sisters!  Do you know what happens when a person commits an offense towards Allah?  The spiritual heart of the person gets dark and the light of his belief diminishes.  When a person commits a sin, his belief gets out of his heart.  He loses his belief while committing a sin.  His heart darkens, and his spiritual rank decreases.  He loses his spiritual earnings.  He becomes a dirty and ugly creature spiritually.  To regain his spiritual level, the person has to work real hard.

What do we need to do then?  We have to abstain from all kinds of sin as we would stay away from the disease AIDS.  We have to stay away from the offenses, as we would avoid the plague, syphilis, cholera and other diseases.  We have to run away from the sins as we would from a lion, a tiger, a snake, and a scorpion.  We have to avoid the sins as we avoid the atomic bombs and nuclear radiation.

We all avoid the danger; we seek a secure place for ourselves.  We all avoid things that hurt us.  How come you do not avoid the sin that will hurt you even more in the hereafter?  How come you do not stay away from the offenses?  Why do you keep looking at the picture in the newspaper?  Isn't there a picture of a naked woman in every page of every newspaper?  She crossed her legs and posed the camera. She is from Sweden.  She is lonely; she lives in ...  That newspaper must be burnt.  That newspaper should not be allowed in homes.

Everybody reads that newspaper, watches similar shows on television, and then says: "Khawaja, I cannot feel any spiritual progress in myself."

What do you expect?  If you indulge in such offenses, you lose your heart.  Your heart gets tarnished and you do not progress spiritually.

Our beloved Prophet SAS said, "Hearts would get tarnished as the iron gets rusty."  When an instrument made of iron or steel is rusted, it does not function.  Imagine an automobile  engine that had been kept in water for ten years.  Then somebody got it out.  Would that engine work?  The rust has covered all parts, so it would not work!  Do not waste your time with it; go and get a new engine.  The heart gets tarnished, too.  That is why we have to keep our heart, mind and eyes away from the unlawful.

"Khawaja, I do not buy newspaper or bring it home."

Well, how about television?  Isn't it worse than the newspaper?  I would like to see those who do not have a television at home.  Would you raise your hands?

Everybody has a television set at home.  Are there indecent pictures on the television?  Yes, there are.  Are there singers? Yes!  Are there bars?  Yes.  Are there beaches?  Yes.  Are there churches and preachers on television?  Yes.  You have not been to any of such places; you had never seen them live.  You have never been to a church; you have never been to a bar!  You have never been to a beach!  You have never been to a place where sin is committed.  Good Lord!  They all came into your home!

While you are not home, your children turn the television on and watch movies.  They watch the shows that you turn your head away saying "Tawba astaghfirullah!"  They watch the scene that you are ashamed of watching.  That is a major disaster!  Committing sins with eyes, hands, tongue, ears, and alike destroys the hearts.

That is why one and half billion Muslims do not have the impact of one and half kilo!  There are so many Muslims, yet the evil is dominant all over!  The evil ones are ruling the world, and the good ones are silent!  The good has disappeared while the evil is piled up as mountains.  Why is it so?  Muslims have no strength because they have indulged in sins.  They have no strength of belief!  The lands that were ruled by our forefathers, with the power originated from their belief are now ruled by the disbelievers.  It is all because we have indulged in sins so much!

We talk about the war of independence: "The enemy attacked our borders from all direction, yet we saved our country from the invasion."  Yet Satan has invaded our villages, our homes, our hearts and our minds!  Satan has invaded our Colleges of Theology where Islam is taught!  How could we expect good thing under such conditions?

I feel sorry for the events that unfold in all parts of the world.  Then doctors tell me, "Khawaja, your stomach problem is not abnormal."

"Why?"

"You get nervous and feel sorry for everything!"

My stomach feels like twisted.  I feel sorry for everything!  I hear news and get sad.  I truly feel sorry.  My family members notice when my stomach starts producing acid. I cannot help it but feel sorry for those who commit misconduct.  I feel sorry for the Muslims who are oppressed in all parts of the world.  I just cannot help it.

That is why, my Brothers and Sisters, we have to avoid committing sins.  We have to have wara'.   If we do not have wara', if we are not gentle and calm, if we do not have good characters, the Messenger of Allah does not accept us.    That means we fail to be a good servant to Allah.

We have to have hilm; do we agree? Yes!  We have to have good manners; do we agree?  Yes!  We have to abstain from sins.  If you are a brave person, if you want your name to be written in the books of history, you shall remove the television out of your home!

"Khawaja, I shall be deprived of information and culture!"

You will not be deprived of anything!  You can read your books and learn much more in a better way!

What is television?  It is "telef-ision!"  It is a machine of telef (destruction).  It destroys our time, our mind, our hearts, our religion, our children, and our family.  It destroys everything!  If you did not have a television at home, you could study Qur'an, memorize suras, and have conversations with your children. You could read from the books on Islam and learn.  The television is the biggest obstacle for the spiritual advancement in your house.

We have to abstain from sins.  We have to have hilm and good characters.  We have to have taqwa and wara'.  May Almighty Allah be your helper.

Today we received very important advice from the Prophet.  Hadrat Ali reported the hadith.  I wonder if the Alawis follow this advice.  We fail to follow, too.  We have so many shortcomings, too.  We must follow the advice; they should find out what Hadrat Ali related, too.

September 29, 1994 -- Ozelif/ANKARA