You know that the earth revolves and is turned like an ecstatic Mevlevi in perfect order within most exalted aims.
How is it then, as an atheist published, they suppose the death-tainted events of the earth, like the earthquake, which resembles the earth's shaking off itself the weight of certain forms of heedlessness of which it disapproves from mankind, and especially from the believers, to be without purpose and the result of chance?
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
And what are the goods of this world but the goods of deception?21
[A slap for the heedless and a warning lesson]
O my wretched soul sunk in heedlessness, which sees this life as sweet, has forgotten the hereafter, and seeks only this world! Do you know what you resemble? An ostrich! It sees the hunter, but cannot fly, so sticks it head in the sand so the hunter will not see it. Its bulky body remains in the open, and the hunter sees it. Only, its eyes are closed in the sand and it cannot see him. O my soul, consider the following comparison, and see it!
Restricting one's view to this world transforms a great pleasure into a grievous pain. For example, there are two men in this village, that is, in Barla. Ninety-nine out of a hundred of the friends of one of them have gone to Istanbul, where they are living in fine fashion. Only one has remained here, and he too will go there. For this reason, the man longs for Istanbul and thinks of it; he wants to join his friends. When he is told to go there, he is overjoyed and goes happily. As for the second man, ninety-nine of his friends have departed from here. But some have perished, and some have been put in places where they neither see nor are seen. He imagines that they have departed and disappeared in utter misery. This wretched man becomes friendly with a single guest in place of all of them, and wants to find consolation. Through him he wants to forget his grievous pain of separation.
O my soul! Foremost God's Beloved, and all your friends, are beyond the grave. The one or two who remain will also depart for there. So do not be frightened of death, anxious at the grave, and avert your head. Look manfully at the grave, and listen to what it seeks. Laugh in death's face like a man, and see what it wants. Beware, do not be heedless and resemble the second man.
O my soul! Do not say, "The times have changed, this age is different, everyone is plunged into this world and worships this life. Everyone is drunk with the struggle for livelihood." For death does not change. Separation is not
transformed into permanence and does not become different. Man's impotence and poverty do not change, they increase. Man's journey is not cut, it becomes faster.
Also, do not say, "I am like everyone else." For everyone befriends you only as far as the grave, and the consolation of being together with everyone else in disaster has no meaning beyond the grave. And do not suppose yourself to be free and independent. For if you look at this guest-house of the world with the eye of wisdom, you will see that nothing at all is without order and without purpose. How can you remain outside the order and be without purpose? Events in the world like earthquakes are not the playthings of chance. For example, you see that the extremely well-ordered and finely embroidered shirts, one over the other and one within the other, which are clothed on the earth from the species of animals and plants, are adorned and decked out from top to bottom with purposes and instances of wisdom, and you know that the earth revolves and is turned like an ecstatic Mevlevi in perfect order within most exalted aims. How is it then, as an atheist published, they suppose the death-tainted events of the earth, like the earthquake,22 which resembles the earth's shaking off itself the weight of certain forms of heedlessness of which it disapproves from mankind, and especially from the believers, to be without purpose and the result of chance? How is it that they show the grievous losses of all those stricken to be without recompense and to have gone for nothing, and cast them into a fearsome despair? They are both making a great error and perpetrating a great wrong. Indeed, such events occur at the command of One All-Wise and All-Compassionate, in order to transform the transient property of the believers into the equivalent of alms, and make it permanent. And they are atonement for their sins arising from ingratitude for bounties. Just as a day will come when this subjugated earth will see the works of man, which are the adornment of its face, to be tainted by the attributing of partners to God and not to be the cause of thanks, and it will find them ugly. At the Creator's command, it will wipe them off its entire face and cleanse it. At God's command, it will pour those who attribute partners to God into Hell, and say to those who offer thanks, "Come and enter Paradise!"
21. Qur'an, 3:185.
22. This was written in connection with the Izmir earthquake.
Bediüzzaman Said Nurî / The Fourteenth Word