M. Es’ad Coşan / M. Es'ad Coşan (Rh.a) Külliyatından


Thus it is that the only religion to bring together and accord respect to all the prophets is Islam. And all of the truths of all the divine religions are accordingly brought together in its book, the Holy Qur’an. All that humanity must know is there in its pages. The teachings of the Qur’an have come down to us, unchanged, through the ages. The life of the prophet Muhammad has also been combed over with all the precision of the most careful scholars, such that every detail of it has been preserved: his days and his nights, his private life, his familial, social, and political life, his travels, and his words and speeches. In the words of one Western scholar, “The life of no other person in the world is so well recorded.” There is no other person whose life has been recorded and preserved in such minute detail. Thus, in addition to the Qur’an, we also have its perfect, and perfectly recorded, exemplar in the person of our prophet.

Translations in other Languages

Prof. Dr. M. Es’ad Cosan
(May Allah have mercy on him)

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

Respected guests! Dear brothers and sisters!

May the blessings of Allah be upon you all, and upon our beloved prophet, Muhammad.

Today, I would like to speak about a wonderful topic, and one that is of vital importance. Our topic is that of faith, and the greatest faith of them all: Islam. Today, we will discuss Islam’s characteristics, its instructions to us as believers, and what we must do as Muslims. Religion is the most important of all subjects, for all else is only concerned with matters of this world, and generally with only a small portion of it, like nature, or health. But religion covers both this world and the one to come. Earth is but small and limited, while the universe surrounding it is infinite and knows no boundaries. The difference between the two could not be greater. The difference between this world and the next is much the same. It is in this sense that religion is the most important of all subjects, for it deals with quite literally the largest issue there is, namely the eternal future of all mankind. We know from experts in the history of religions that all societies throughout history have some form of belief system or religion. We can divide these into two importantly different groups: divine religions and non-divine religions.

Examining these belief systems, we see that over the course of history people have placed their highest beliefs in all sorts of things, many of which may strike us as odd from our position here in the twentieth century. People have worshipped cows, for example. This seems funny to us, and we laugh. But the ancient Egyptians worshipped cows, and the Indians still do. Others have worshipped the sun. The ancient Persians did so, and the Japanese still do. The emperors of Japan, a country so well developed in technological terms, are regarded as the children of the sun! What is one to do with this? Are we to laugh, or are we to cry? We cannot help but feel astonished, in the name of humanity, in the name of knowledge, in the name of technology, and in the name of the twentieth century.

On television, I have seen people who worship cobras. They have temples, the doors to which have cobras with their hoods expanded on either side. They collect cobras from the fields and worship them. Every year, who knows how many people die from the bites of these cobras. In India, there are those who even worship their own reproductive organs. There are others elsewhere who have made idols of their heroes, as well as those who worship trees, rocks, mountains, and various stars.

This means that all societies have a system of belief. What is important, however, is the sort of beliefs these systems involve. What is important is the character and quality of these beliefs. We cannot simply say, “Oh, good, they have a religion.” The nature of that religion is important. This is always the case. For example, in the twentieth century people worship the human mind. They love it, respect it, and applaud it. Everyone in the world has a mind, but the fact is that not everyone necessarily acts like they do. It was for this reason that our ancestors developed the term “sound mind” for those whose minds worked like they were supposed to. But not everyone’s mind meets this standard. In one story, Nasreddin Hoca (Nasr al-Din Khodja) says, “I was the first person to discover that you could eat yogurt with onions, but I didn’t like it either.” In other words, a person may discover something, may make something, but that does not necessarily make that thing good. Then there is the issue of personal taste. We say that “tastes and colors cannot be debated,” but we also consider some tastes sounder than others. A great artist no doubt has better taste in matters of art than does a child or a young art student. It is the same with belief. And the quality, the beauty, and the soundness of a belief are similarly important.

When we look at the history of religions and the various religions of the world today, we see that there are many nations whom we respect, appreciate, even envy—such as the Americans, the English, the Europeans, and the Japanese—whose religions, when you look at them close, sadly do not seem to make much sense. We also see that there is much in their religions that a well-cultured nation like ourselves simply cannot accept, much that is ridiculous, childish, and deserving of reproof and even condemnation.

When I was carrying out my military service a general once called me to his office. He treated me with a respect that I did not deserve, not in my capacity as a second-lieutenant but because I was an associate professor at a faculty of theology, and sat me down in front of him and asked, “Hoca, I am really curious. Why did the Turks become Muslim?” I looked at the general and I saw that he looked aggrieved. He did not understand why we had embraced Islam and actually seemed sorry that we had. That was the manner in which he had asked his question. What he meant to say was how wonderful it would have been had we become Christians instead. After all, they drink alcohol, and they are relaxed and open about relations between men and women. That was the sense in which he had asked his question. The question he wanted to ask was really, “Out of all the religions, why did they have to choose Islam?”

This was my response:

“It was not chance or force of circumstance that led our ancestors to become Muslim. Why did they choose Islam? Moving from east to west, they had the opportunity to come to know all of the religions that existed at the time. They were well aware of the Dalai Lama and of Brahmanism and Buddhism from the time when they ruled China. They knew the beliefs of those religions. They knew of shamanism from their own ancestors. They encountered Christianity as they passed north of the Caspian and Black Seas. There are ancient Christian texts that still survive from this period. Certain tribes became Christian, and we see discussions in the papers today about whether the Gagauz people are their descendants. The Turks of the Caspian encountered Judaism, came to know it, and embraced the religion. It was only after experiencing all of these that the Turks, as a reasonable administrative elite in control of many states and nations, came to appreciate and ultimately adopt Islam. The reason for this is that Islam, out of all religions, is best suited to human life; it contains the most appropriate ordinances for the management of a state, and it best organizes relations between the individuals in a society. Islam is also the religion that best ensures the health, strength, and spiritual mettle of families, which are the cornerstones of society, and individuals, who are the foundation of the family.”

Since I was speaking with a general, I also added the following: “From a military perspective, too, there is no better religion than Islam. It is Islam that made the soldierly profession into something holy and sacred, even a form of worship. It is Islam that first accustomed people to the ideal of sacrificing themselves in the path of Allah so that others might live out their lives peacefully behind secure borders. Name one other religion that has anything even approaching this!” I added, “You won’t and you can’t, general!”

Having brought the discussion to this point, the regimental commander, who had served as military attaché in Rome, intervened: “I can, general! I was in Rome, and they didn’t have anything that was illogical there.”

The general was nevertheless impressed. Even years later, after I had retired, he would still send me cards on the holidays. It seems he liked my answer. And it was the truth. Our ancestors were not dragged to embrace Islam by the rough and tumble of circumstance; they did not wake one day and say, “Well, I suppose this our fate. We might as well choose this one.” They thought about, inspected, evaluated, and critically examined the religions they encountered, subjecting them to logic and close scrutiny and ruling out those that proved unfit. That is how they chose Islam, and that process continued even after they became Muslim, drawing them ever closer to their religion. They went to India, for example, and there found over four hundred different religions. They took over the administration of the country and tried to bring all four hundred together. They came to rule over Iran, and there played the role of arbitrator in the disagreements between the Shia and Sunnis of the country. They would bring the two sides together and have them discuss their differences until the side that was right became clear to all involved. They were always engaged in a process of intellectual inquiry, and it was because of this state of cautious, critical discernment that they willingly and lovingly embraced Islam. If the case had been otherwise, and they had become Muslim not out of love but by force of circumstance, there is no chance that they would have continued on so selflessly as Muslims for so many centuries, especially in the face of so many enemies and so much pressure on them to abandon their faith.

Our religion offers the necessary basis for eternal happiness. In that sense, being devout is in our own self-interest. Islam protects and ensures our personal health and physical cleanliness, even covering such basic tasks as instructing us wash ourselves daily, bathe weekly, trim our nails, and brush our teeth. It treats the family as sacred. It values the mother. It gives responsibilities to the father, and views obedience to him as a meritorious act. The happiness of the family is crucial for the happiness of individuals and for the order and happiness of society. But with this being said, we cannot approach or embrace religion merely on the basis of its obvious material benefits. From a materialist perspective, we could say, “Since religious is useful for people and keeps them spiritually and physically healthy, let’s support it. People will be healthy, and society will benefit.” For us, these are all merely happy byproducts. The true reason we are religious is that we perceive the existence and oneness of Allah through our faculties of discernment and conscience. We carry out Allah’s orders because they are His orders. But in doing so, we receive innumerable benefits. But whether doing so brings us positive things or negative things, and whether it brings us happiness or pain, we are a nation that has risen to a state of submission to Allah. When needed, we have sacrificed our money, and when necessary we have sacrificed our lives. But we have never abandoned Him. The whole of our history bears this out.

Today, as the result of the improved travel, greater communication, and the development of better communications technology, we are once again face-to-face with the many cultures of the world, and must continue to use out powers of discernment on a daily basis. We compare and contrast ourselves with others, whether in terms of Christians, Europeans, Americans, or others. There is also the matter of the attacks and criticisms levied by the enemies of Islam on our religion. There are the perspectives of communists and atheists to contend with on the subjects of religion and the clergy. We do not shy away from any of these. The force of these blows strengthens us, just as steel emerges stronger from the blows of the hammer upon the anvil. We are becoming more and more faithful. The more we read and the more we think, the more pious we grow. In contrast, as one Western thinker has said, “The more a Westerner reads, the further he grows from religion.” This is because the more he reads, the more he finds to criticize. The Muslim, in contrast—glory be to Allah—grows more Muslim with each turn of the page. When I was young, it was always incredibly inspiring to me whenever I saw a professor, a scientist, an atomic physicist, or anyone else with a similarly impressive title who turned out also to be a pious Muslim. I would say to myself, “These people possess all the knowledge of the twentieth century and they are still Muslim; they have studied in America, in England, they have completed their doctorates, and they have become professors, yet they are still religious!” Allah willing, the same sight continues to inspire our youth in the same way today.

Our religion is not something that arrived only with the prophet Muhammad. The religion of Islam began with Adam, the first prophet and the first man. The Holy Qur’an speaks of the prophets as those who “surrendered themselves” or submitted to Allah.1 The word “Islam” itself literally means submission, being willing to accept whatever it is that Allah ordain, worshipping and obeying Him, and conscientiously refraining from worshipping anything or anyone else. And this is what all the previous prophets have done. In other words, all prophets have been prophets of Islam. The Qur’an tells us that Abraham, Noah, Moses, and Jesus—peace be upon them—were all on the same path. This means that the religion has been the same from Adam right through to the prophet Muhammad: believing only in Allah, and submitting to Him and His will.

The Qur’an tells us that the prophet Noah, peace be upon him, pled with his people to abandon their idols, saying “O my Lord! I have called to my people Night and Day,”2 but that they ignored him. “But my call only increases (their) flight (from the Right)”3 “And every time I have called to them, that Thou mightest forgive them, they have (only) thrust their fingers into their ears, covered themselves up with their garments, grown obstinate, and given themselves up to arrogance.”4

It also relates the story of the prophet Abraham, who swore to his people, “And, by Allah, I shall assuredly outwit your idols, after you have gone away turning your backs,” and adds that he indeed did so and broke the idols.

And then there is the story of the prophet Moses before Pharaoh, who claimed sovereignty over all of Egypt and the great Nile River, who put himself forward as a god, and who ordered all in his lands to bow down in worship before him and reject all other gods. Moses refused, instead calling on Pharaoh to accept the existence and oneness of the true God. He also sternly punished those of his own tribe who fell back into their old Egyptian habits and prostrated themselves before an idol in the form of a golden calf, even going so far as to beat his brother Aaron, peace be upon him, about the head.(Aaron) replied: “O son of my mother! Seize (me) not by my beard nor by (The hair of) my head! Truly I feared lest thou shouldst say, Thou hast caused a division among the Children of Israel, and thou didst not respect my word!”5

The prophet Jesus, too, told his people to “Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord. Whoever joins other gods with Allah, Allah will forbid him the Garden, and the fire will be his abode”6, but they nevertheless ignored his words.

What we learn from all of this is that Islam is the one true religion, and that it has been around since the time of the very first man. “Wherein are laws (or decrees) right and straight.”7 The Holy Qur’an is the essence of all previous holy books, and tells us that its truths are “surely... in the ancient scrolls, the scrolls of Abraham and Moses.”8 In these and other examples, we see that the religion of Islam is truly the religion of all humanity.

This remains the case today. It is the religion that will unite all mankind, for it is the only one to recognize all the prophets and acknowledges the truth of their message. If Islam had not done so, people would still doubt whether or not they were real prophets. It is for this reason that the prophet Muhammad is called the Seal of the Prophets. Just as the notary imprints his seal upon a document, stating by his authority that it is authentic, so too did Muhammad certify the prophethood of all those who had gone before him. Yes, he said, Jesus was one of Allah’s prophets. Yes, he said, Abraham was one of Allah’s prophets. It was our religion that did this. It was Islam. Christians do not understand this. They do not realize that the person they recognize as their own prophet is also recognized as a prophet by Islam. This piece of information has somehow never made its way into the minds of the Christian people.

Thus it is that the only religion to bring together and accord respect to all the prophets is Islam. And all of the truths of all the divine religions are accordingly brought together in its book, the Holy Qur’an. All that humanity must know is there in its pages. The teachings of the Qur’an have come down to us, unchanged, through the ages. The life of the prophet Muhammad has also been combed over with all the precision of the most careful scholars, such that every detail of it has been preserved: his days and his nights, his private life, his familial, social, and political life, his travels, and his words and speeches. In the words of one Western scholar, “The life of no other person in the world is so well recorded.” There is no other person whose life has been recorded and preserved in such minute detail. Thus, in addition to the Qur’an, we also have its perfect, and perfectly recorded, exemplar in the person of our prophet.

Not a single letter of the Holy Qur’an has been changed, from the time it was first revealed to the present. This can be seen in the oldest copies of the Qur’an, housed at various museums. In the Topkapı Palace Museum, for example, there is a copy of the Qur’an bearing the signature of Ali, the fourth caliph. My old professor Ahmet Bey from the faculty of literature at the university explained that you could tell it was Ali’s signature from the style in which it was written. Today, we call him “Ali ibn Abi Talib,” but the signature reads “Ali ibn Abu Talib,” which is an ancient form of the grammar that has not been employed since shortly after the time of the prophet Muhammad. That is how we can know that this signature is truly that of Ali, for if it had been added later it would have been written in its more modern form. This is but one example. You could also date the pages on which it was written, but in any case, the result would be the same: The Qur’an has remained exactly the same since it was first revealed.

Every last detail of the prophet Muhammad’s life is there before us, clear as day, and our religion recognizes all the prophets. Christians, for example, reject some of these prophets. But Islam does not. We recognize all of Allah’s prophets, praises be to Him! And we have been taught to say “peace be upon him” whenever we mention one of their names: Moses, peace be upon him; Abraham, peace be upon him. We love the prophets so much that we name our children after them. If you look around, you will find children named Moses (Musa), Jesus (İsa), Jacob (Yakub), Joseph (Yusuf), Job (Eyüp), Jethro (Şuayip), and other examples. We love all the prophets mentioned in the Torah and the Bible so much that we still use their names today.

These older scriptures also testify to the future arrival of the prophet Muhammad. Because Allah sent these books too, He also included passages in them stating that in the future a prophet with certain characteristics would come. These passages and lines were talking about the prophet Muhammad. The Holy Qur’an itself mentions this in several of its suras, as in Sura al-Fath and Sura al-Saff and others. There is also similar information in the Torah and the Bible. The priests themselves point them out. When I was a student at the faculty of literature we had a Pakistani-Indian professor named Hamidullah Bey who would bring those passages in and have us read them. Zeki Velidi Bey also wrote an article on the subject. In the Qumran Caves on the border of the Dead Sea they found a wealth of old texts belonging to Christianity and Judaism. These texts were incredibly old. Their original owners had hidden them in the caves so that they would not be found and destroyed by the Romans. America took some; some went to Jordan, and others went to the Vatican. Different places took them and examined them. What all of these old texts showed was just how much the Torah and Bible had changed, and that the Qur’an was in fact the true book. There are a number of documents verifying the Qur’an’s nature. A number of important priests and learned Christian and Jewish individuals have come to embrace Islam as a result of the evidence in their own books. Even before the time of the prophet Muhammad, people were expecting him. And once he arrived, they became Muslim.

One example from the time of the prophet Muhammad is Salman the Persian (Salman al-Farisi). Salman had been born to a noble Persian family, and spent many years traveling the world in the company of priests. After all his travels, he came to the Hijaz to await the coming of the last of Allah’s prophets, to meet him, to come to know him, and to follow him. There was also Abdullah b. Salam, a Jewish scholar in the city of Medina. Based on the words of the Torah, he understood that the prophet Muhammad had been sent by Allah, and he became a Muslim.

These examples are proof that the older scriptures testify to the coming of the prophet Muhammad, for these are not things Muslims could have made up on their own. They existed in various different cultures before Islam was first revealed. In Pakistan, the Aisha Begum Bawani Foundation published a book entitled Islam: Our Choice.9 This book reproduces the pages from several ancient Indian religious texts, which also testify to the future arrival of the prophet Muhammad. There are copies of the texts, photographs, and translations of old Indian and Persian texts from well before the time of our prophet. This means that the Torah, the Bible, and ancient Persian and Indian texts all foretell the coming of Muhammad.

All this is also substantiated by the Qur’an. For example, it recounts that “O Children of Israel! I am the Messenger of Allah (sent) to you, confirming the Torah (which came) before me, and giving glad tidings of a Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad.”10 This verse shows that in the Bible Jesus himself told his people that there would be another prophet after him. And there really is such a verse in the Bible. Hamidullah Bey showed it to us himself. There it is, right in the Bible. While no copy of the actual Bible, as it was first revealed, remains, there are translations. And in these translations you can still find equivalent passages describing the prophet Muhammad. As a result, a great many Christian priests have become Muslim.

One famous example is that of Anselmo Turmedo, a priest who was raised on the Spanish island of Majorca. After completing advanced studies in Spain, France, and Italy, he began to work for a very important scholar at a monastery in France. It was there that he learned that this verse from the Bible actually described the prophet Muhammad. He immediately traveled to Tunisia and became Muslim, taking the name Abdullah al-Tarjuman, and then wrote a book detailing the verses of the Bible that refer to Islam and the prophet Muhammad. This book was later translated into Turkish.

There is also the case of the famous İbrahim-i Müteferrika’s Risâle-i İslâmiyye. Müteferrika is famous for bringing the printing press to Turkey, and was a famous publisher. I had heard of his book, which was said to be a book explaining Islam. At the time, I was the chair of the Department of Religious Literature, so I decided to carry out a serious investigation of the Risâle-i İslâmiyye, on the basis of which study I was promoted to the status of full professor. I later published the study as a book.

Müteferrika was a priest that once lived in what is today the Romanian city of Cluj-Napoca. He was very well educated. He studied Greek and Latin, and carried out research on the ancient texts in the church’s library. He said that he even read the books his “ungenerous teachers” had forbidden him from reading. They were his teachers, but they were not Muslim. It was for this reason they had tried to hide the truth, and this is why he called them “ungenerous.” It was in these forbidden books that he discovered the Christian literature foretelling the coming of the prophet Muhammad, and because of it that he says he became Muslim. His Risâle-i İslâmiyye is not actually a book about Islam. That is what certain people call it, but the reason they call it that is because they want to hide what it is really about.

The most serious scholarly study on İbrahim-i Müteferrika is said to have been done by a Catholic priest. But would a Catholic priest really want to publicize a priest who had become Muslim and had written a work promoting Islam? Of course, not. So, he calls it “a book about Islam.” But no, it is most emphatically not a book about Islam. It is a book about the verses in the Bible that led the priest İbrahim-i Müteferrika to embrace Islam. The priest who wrote about it called it “a book about Islam” so that no one would read it or learn about these verses. İbrahim-i Müteferrika tells his own story, and does so in Latin. He explains which verses he saw and how they led him to become Muslim. His name, “müteferrika,” refers to a sort of high service to art and science in the palace. That is the level that this person reached. This was a title bestowed on people who had attained the status of a master in a field requiring no small amount of knowledge, training, specialization, and expertise. İbrahim-i Müteferrika’s own name testifies to the fact that he had attained a level where he was capable of performing such a service to the palace. In other words, he was an important state official, and one who carried out important services to the state. And truly he did indeed perform great, praiseworthy services during his lifetime. May he rest in the holy light and may Allah grant him entry into paradise. Over the course of my research, I came to the conclusion that he was a true Muslim and that he performed important services for Islam. His Risâle-i İslâmiyye is one such service, since it details which verses in the Bible led him to become Muslim. I also published it, that others might benefit from it and that other priests might read it as well.

Another example worth mentioning is that of a researcher named Abdülehad Davud, who was originally Christian. His original name was Abdülmesih, meaning “the servant of the Messiah.” It was the sort of name that those who believe that Jesus is God would choose. After he became Muslim, he took the name Abdülehad, meaning “the servant of the One God.” Bilal al-Habashi once called out “Ahad, Ahad!” in the sense of “God is One, there is none like Him,” and that was the name Abdülehad took. He authored a number of very valuable studies on the Bible. He lived in England and Rome. He completed two separate doctorates. He worked as a professor in Iran. He knew Turkish, Farsi, Arabic, English, Italian, Greek, and Aramaic. He was a very impressive and knowledgeable man. I asked some of my colleagues to find out more about him, to research him, to find out where he was buried and what had happened to his works. He was, after all, a man of learning who had embraced Islam and who had written books describing the mistakes of Christianity. That sort of thing should not be allowed to be forgotten. There may well be those who would seek to hide the life and work of such a man. But we are a people who can recognize true greatness, and we must know and promote the work of men like him. That is why I mention him here. May Allah have mercy on his soul.

Among us today are brothers and sisters who are experts in the modern sciences. I myself am a professor, and there are other professors here with us now. We are all happy to be Muslim. We are people who believe, who have done research, who know the criticisms levied against our religion, and who from time to respond to them; we are happily and lovingly Muslim. Every criticism of our religion only draws us closer to it. That is the kind of religion Islam is.

I would like now to turn to and briefly discuss some of the various aspects of Islam that make it such an attractive and superior religion.

The most important thing in Islam is faith. Sins and mistakes can be forgiven. Allah is merciful and forgiving. The crucial thing is believing. That is the foundation of all knowledge and understanding. So long as Allah is comprehended as the One Great Truth, all other faults can be forgiven.

“Allah forgiveth not that partners should be set up with him; but he forgiveth anything else, to whom he pleaseth”11 In other words, the only thing Allah cannot forgive is the failure to comprehend this truth. He can forgive anything else.

Thus, it is crucial for everyone to first comprehend this truth. Rejecting Allah or associating anything else with Him are unforgivable crimes. To reject Allah is blasphemy. To misunderstand Allah and associate anything else with Him, in turn, is shirk. While still impermissible, shirk is a lesser sin. Humanity is obligated to properly understand Allah. We are required to understand Allah correctly, and a failure to do so will not be forgiven. Our most important duty is to attain a true understanding of our Creator. Every day of our lives we enjoy the blessings of Allah—our sustenance, health, reason, and everything else in our lives—and we must know Him as He is. If we make a mistake on this point, it is not one that can be forgiven. This is the fundamental logic of Islam and the primary struggle in which all prophets from Adam to Muhammad have been engaged. People must understand Allah. They must not bow down before idols they have wrought themselves, nor before the sun or the stars. Science shows us just how many stars there are in the sky. People must not worship the animals we rely on for our own sustenance, that we turn into kebabs or steaks for our tables. People must find the truth, and not entertain silly beliefs.

There is also the matter of worshiping Satan. The Qur’an says, “You should not serve Satan.”12 Then there is worship of the self, making one’s own desires into idols. The Qur’an warns of “him who has taken his caprice to be his god.”13 Humans sometimes fail to worship or to obey Allah. Some obey Satan, following him and his wishes. Others worship themselves, obeying naught but their own wishes and desires. Not worshipping Satan or the self, indeed not worshipping anything other than Allah, is the foundation upon which a proper understanding of the existence and oneness of Allah is based. It is a beautiful understanding, and one in line with reason, logic, science, and the twentieth century.

The important thing is not the outer forms of one’s actions, but the motivations behind them. In Islam, it is one’s heart and intent that is key. Two different people may do exactly the same thing, but one’s actions may be praiseworthy and the other’s not. Why? Because the intention of the one is good, and that of the other is evil. On the surface, it may appear that both are doing exactly the same thing, but Allah will accept the one and not the other. He will reward the one and punish the other. For Islam is a religion that promotes truth and honesty, that rejects superficial attempts to whitewash what is ugly; it orders Muslims to be clean and sincere in their hearts.

As a matter of fact, the prophet Muhammad—peace be upon him—once said that religion itself was nasiha. Now, some people have translated this as “religion is advice.” But this is wrong. What it means is that “religion is sincerity.” The word nasiha means “sincerity.” Religion is not merely advice, what it means is sincerity, even if most people do not entirely appreciate this truth. I recently acquired a book about communication. According to it, the actual words a person uses only account for about ten percent of how what that person says is understood in any given case. Gestures and facial expressions account for another thirty percent. And the remaining sixty percent is all down to that person’s overall demeanor. True communication takes place at the level of a person’s demeanor; it is there that messages are conveyed and sense is made of them. People can communicate without even speaking. The important thing is sincerity. “Religion is nasiha” means “religion is sincerity. The words that follow this sentence in the original hadith make this meaning clear. The prophet is asked, “Sincerity toward whom, oh Messenger of Allah?” His reply: “Toward Allah.” Now, if the word nasiha had truly meant advice, then it would mean that the prophet was instructing people to attempt to give advice to Allah, which would be ridiculous. This means that translating nasiha as advice is wrong. The hadith states that it is sincerity: toward Allah, it begins; and toward His messenger, it continues; and toward His Qur’an, and of course, you cannot give advice to a book; and toward Muslim rulers; toward all of them.14

These words are truly beautiful. Religion is all about sincerity, it says. We ought to adopt this stance in all our relations. Religion is not simply an empty ritual or an external appearance. It is about our innermost selves, and sincerity, pure and total sincerity. We must be sincere in our relations with Allah, with His messenger, with the Qur’an, with rulers, and with other Muslims. That is how the prophet Muhammad explains it. Islam does not capriciously command us to do certain things or forbid us from doing others. Its commands are not random or whimsical. They generally proceed on the basis of five primary aims, which are:

1. Protecting the faith, for example against blasphemy and shirk.

2. Protecting the soul.

3. Protecting the mind, for example against dangerous substances like alcohol. (It is forbidden because it perplexes mind)

4. Protecting future generations.

5. Protecting property.

On this last note, put simply, damaging property is absolutely forbidden in Islam. There has been something of a recent fashion whereby people go to special restaurants where they go and pay some sum of money so that they may break the plates there to relieve stress. Islam has no place for any such thing. Doing so is forbidden. Why? Because in Islam, property is respected and he or she who destroys it is punished. Even if it is your own plate that you destroyed, Islam still states that there must be a punishment. La darar wa la dirar.15 Harming a person’s property is forbidden in Islam. When a neighbor angers me, I cannot simply go and burn down his fields. To do so is a sin, and its punishment is great. But if even in spite of this I do burn down his fields, that does not give him free reign to burn down mine. That, too, is forbidden. Inflicting injury is forbidden, as is repaying one injury with another. What you can do is to apply to a judge for restitution. But you cannot destroy property, because Islam respects property.

One day a child was playing in the street. As a hoca was passing by, the child smashed an old light bulb against a wall. As you know, when a light bulb is shattered, it emits a loud bang. The hoca punished the child. The child objected, saying, “Hoca, the light bulb was broken anyway, it didn’t work anymore.” “That doesn’t matter,” said the hoca, “it is never okay to destroy a thing that someone’s effort went into creating. Perhaps someone would have found a use for it, somehow, but now that is no longer possible.”

You might wonder what use could possibly be found for an old light bulb. But let me tell you a story. There was this old professor of mine, may Allah rest his soul, whom I worked for as an assistant. One day, he invited me to go visit a colleague of his. My professor lived in the neighborhood of Çengelköy, in the Sadullah Pasha Yalı there.16 He took me to Altunizade, to a small store resembling a greengrocer’s, where he introduced me to Hafız Yusuf. Yusuf had these glasses, these big, coke-bottle glasses—he must have been half-blind—that could not have stood in starker contrast to the incredibly slight, elderly man behind them. My professor went to him and they embraced, May Allah have mercy on their soul, and then they turned to me. They called me over, and I went to them and kissed their hands in the traditional show of respect.

This Hafız Yusuf was an interesting man, a great and famous man. Books have been written about him.17 His bed was there in the one corner, his shelves and books there to the side. Across from them there was this great big electric lamp that had been turned into a kettle for hot water, with a smaller lamp atop it for brewing the tea. So, there is an example of an old lamp being put to good use, for making tea and heating water.

For Islam, the protection of the mind, property, religion, and the continuity of the Muslim population are all fundamental things. The reason why adultery is forbidden and marriage is a requirement is because of this. It is for this reason, too, that abortion is forbidden and considered tantamount to murder. A child in its mother’s womb can inherit property. It has worth. This shows that Islam commands what it commands and forbids what it forbids for the protection and preservation of humankind. It does so for the benefit of Islam, and for the benefit of humanity. In the words of the Qur’an, “Allah does not command indecency.”18 All of Allah’s commandments are always for the good.

Why then, you might ask, has He commanded Muslims to engage in war? Because war is also sometimes necessary. Why has He permitted divorce? Because divorce is like the safety valve of marriage. If divorce were forbidden, people would be forced into depression and perhaps suicide. Divorce is a symptom, not a cause, and for humans to be happy they must sometimes have recourse to it. Sometimes a couple’s relationship reaches a point where it has become truly intolerable. Sometimes death is good, sometimes divorce is good. Allah never commands evil. Everything He commands is for the good. This aspect of Islam, its beneficence, is a beautiful thing. Islam is not a utopian religion, and does not only concern itself with the afterlife.

Some have said that religion is a personal matter, a matter of conscience, between a person and Allah, and that no one has the right to interfere in that relationship. Some have said that this is the very essence of secularism. This is wrong. This is to misunderstand both religion and secularism. What is religion? What is Islam?

Islam is a way of life. It involves prayer, but that is not all. It involves fasting, but that is not the end of it. It involves pilgrimage, but there is more. Islam is about living one’s life in accordance with a specific system of belief. It is a system that covers all aspects of one’s life, from morning to night, from sunset to sunrise, from work to the home, and from the cradle to the grave. Islam is the air one breathes, not simply a shiny bauble one pins to one’s vest. Because of this, many of the things we do are actually forms of worship. Marriage, for example, is a form of worship. Marital relations between a husband and wife, too, are a form of worship. Silence is a form of worship. So too is a desire to do good. Even the wish in one’s heart to see good done, regardless of the corresponding action, is a form of worship.

Islam deals with both this world and the next, with both the individual and the group, and with both the material and the spiritual.

One day a man goes to the police station in Taksim to file a complaint about his neighbors. “They leave the blinds open,” he said, “and they undress in front of the windows. We can’t have something like that in our home. We want to file a complaint.” The police officer responded, “What can I do? We can’t interfere with what someone does in the privacy of their own home.”

Well, that is precisely what Islam does. Islam interferes. It interferes with one’s home life, with one’s heart, with one’s head, and one’s motivation. Were it not to interfere, it would not be able to secure a new order. The police are right there, yet the problem continues. This is another aspect of Islam that makes it such a superior religion.

Another example of just how attuned Islam is to the needs of human life is that it considers entrepreneurialism and business a meritorious act. It is said that “He who engages in business is beloved of Allah.” According to a hadith, “A true and trusted businessperson will sit at the side of the prophets and martyrs on the day of judgment.19 A good businessperson sells goods and makes money, but performs a meritorious act by doing so. The businessman recognizes a need and works to meet it, and it is for this reason that business is a meritorious act.

Working for the government is also a meritorious act. According to one hadith, “The most virtuous person in the eyes of Allah is the man of state.”20 So long as a state administrator is just and honest, he or she is considered to be the most virtuous of all people. Working in government, whether at the national or local level, is a form of worship.

The prophet Muhammad said, “There are two people who will never see the fires of hell. The first is the person who keeps Allah in his or her heart even when alone, who remembers Allah’s name, worships Him, and sheds tears for Him. The second is the person who stands guard against the enemy, protecting the borders of the Islamic world.”21

When I was carrying out my military service there were those who would try to escape from guard duty. I would offer to stand in for them. Why? Because I knew it was a meritorious act. When I was first headed off to start my military service, I was so excited that I left the house without eating a bite. I could have had a nice lunch and dinner and then gone, but I did not. Why? Because I wanted to squeeze as much time as possible into my military service, and to obtain Allah’s blessing those extra hours. So long as your intention is good, military service and guard duty are both meritorious acts. Silence and speech, business and the production of knowledge are all meritorious acts. Why? Because Islam is life, a way of life, and a way of living. In life, the things that one does are either good or bad. They are counted either for us or against us. I am sometimes asked, “What is fiqh?” Fiqh is the science of law concerned with knowing what is good and what is not, what is counted for us and what is counted against us in the grand tally of our deeds. That is what fiqh is. If you know this, then it means you know religion.

Islam is not the religion of a particular people or restricted to a particular time. Judaism, for example, is restricted to one particular group of people. It is a tribal religion. Islam is not like that. It speaks to all people throughout the ages. The prophet Muhammad was sent with a message for all people, with the good news of Allah’s word and a warning. He is prophet to all people and all other beings, seen and unseen, to the jinn as well. The Qur’an states that the jinn, too, came and believed. The prophet Muhammad is not only Turkey’s prophet, he is also the prophet of England, of America, and of Japan. Why? Because they too are living in the age of Muhammad. If they come to accept Muhammad, then they will become Muslim. If they do not, then they will lose all hope of salvation. Why? Because believing in Moses or Jesus is not enough. After the prophet Muhammad, the world entered a new age, the age of Muhammad. He came as a prophet to everyone, but only some of us have accepted him and his invitation and have committed ourselves to carrying out the commandments he brought with him. But his message was not only for us, it was and remains a message to all people, regardless of whether they choose to heed the call.

The ideas and principles of Islam are truly beautiful, and are ones that are embraced and applauded the world over. For example, the prophet Muhammad tells us that “Allah, may His glory be exalted, is beautiful, and He loves beauty.”22 Allah himself is beautiful; indeed, He is the creator of beauty. He loves what is beautiful. For this reason, Muslims should have a sense of beauty; they should have a love for things beautiful. They should have an aesthetic sense. They should do whatever they do in a beautiful way. Islam gives people this sense of beauty, of art. It teaches them what is beautiful. That is why Rumi continues to be read all over the world today. That is why Yunus Emre is so famous, and why UNESCO celebrated a year in his name. These are perfect examples of men who have captured Islam’s sense of beauty. Islam understands the beauty of nature, of creation. We are currently engaged in preservation work in the district of Eyüp, where we are working to ensure that the beauty of the district is not lost. We are restoring the Sheikh Murad Efendi tekke there and the four-or-so acres of land belonging to it. Its gardens have the rarest of flowers, and you can sometimes see deer there. Can you imagine how wonderful the atmosphere there is? So spiritual, so aesthetically pleasing. And just down from there is the Selami Mustafa Efendi tekke, famous for its roses.

In another hadith, it is said that “Whenever you do anything, it pleases Allah to see you do it in the most perfect way possible.”23 Allah will bless whoever carries out their work this way. This is to encourage Muslims to pay attention to the quality of their work. Islam emphasizes this sense of beauty, this command to do quality work. Muslims should do whatever they do in the most beautiful way possible. Their swords must be the sharpest. Their porcelain must delight the eye. Their mosques must be the most beautiful of monuments, designed to endure unblemished through the ages. Islam emphasizes the idea of doing the best, highest quality, and most beautiful work possible.

Another important feature of Islam is its emphasis on spiritual and physical cleanliness, which is something no one can deny. Europeans never used to bathe. At best, every now and then they would scrub themselves down with a wad of cotton. Why? So, that the power of their baptismal water would not be washed away. The great palace of Versailles did not even have a toilet. But every place of worship built by Muslims had a hammam (public bath) built right beside it. A mosque would have a school, a kitchen, a bath house, and hot and cold water, and people could wash themselves there for free. A Dutch ambassador by the name of de Busbecq who visited the Ottoman Empire in the sixteenth century, witnessing this, exclaimed, “These people will fall ill. They wash themselves like fish. I’ve never seen anything like it.”24 He found it strange that Muslims washed themselves so tenaciously, and so often, in the hammams. We wash ourselves five times every day. Sultan Abdülhamid, may heaven be his eternal abode, would grab his towel and would go to the hammam to wash himself every morning before getting dressed. He was admittedly in a rather privileged position, but even normal people would bathe no less than once a week. Whole families—men, women, and children—would go to the hammams. There would be a good scrub at least once a week. This business of letting the dirt build up on one’s skin until it resembles a suit of armor or the shell of a turtle, that is something foreign to Islam. Islam emphasizes cleanliness, both physically and spiritually. It tells us to trim our nails and our moustaches, to clean our armpits, to clean our rooms, etc. For example, in Islam, if your clothes are not clean then your prayers do not count. After going to the bathroom, you have to clean yourself. After doing anything that might dirty you, you must clean yourself. This is one of the requirements of prayer. Even if you pray five times a day, if you are not clean when you do so you might as well not have prayed at all. You must be clean. That is how important cleanliness is in Islam. These are not just idle words. None of Islam’s commands are idle. One of the most important characteristics of the religion is that it offers a way to fulfill everything it commands.

What is the most beautiful aspect of Islam? It does not leave things at a purely theoretical level, it always ties them to something concrete and practical.

For example, it commands Muslims not to forget Allah—“Be not as those who forgot Allah.”25—and commands Muslims to pray five times a day to ensure that they do not. “But hoca, isn’t once enough?” you may ask. No. If you only pray once a day, you will forget Him. That is why we pray five times a day and remember His name throughout the remaining hours. Also, the Qur’an tells us that “the believers indeed are brothers.”26 What is practical about this? How are we all to be brothers? We join together in the pilgrimage to Mecca once a year, and the people who go are the richest and healthiest Muslims. There is a process of natural selection. There, they have the opportunity to speak for Islam. Or take the case of praying together in the mosque. That is also a means of bringing Muslims together. On Fridays, everyone comes together in the mosques. That is another case of Islam binding its commandments to practical solutions. The command to be clean is tied to the performance of ablutions. Muslims have to wash themselves, there is no escape. That is why Islam is the religion of cleanliness. Cleanliness is half of the religion. Europe, however, is different. Europe has big showers and baths. They wash themselves now, but that is a result of the historical influence of Islam. It was not always this way, and it only changed because of contact with Islam. This change happened in the Renaissance, after Europe had encountered Islam and began to adopt the Islamic sciences as its own. This process of reform took place after Europe came into contact with Islam. Opposition to the Catholic Church was the same way, only emerging after Europeans had begun to know Islam, and after Islam started to become more widely known in Europe. German scholar Sigrid Hunke’s Allahs Sonne über dem Abendland (Allah’s Sun over the Occident) details how Islam led to a scientific awakening in Europe, and just how much Europe benefitted from the religion. The book has been translated into Turkish several times.27 Islam places a great importance on learning, and a great value on scholars. The true representatives of the prophets were not the caliphs serving as heads of state, but rather Muslim scholars.

“Scholars are the representatives of [Allah’s] messengers and the heirs of the prophets.”28 Why? Because everything is based on the knowledge they produce. Whenever we want to do anything today, we go to an expert in the field. It is for this reason that scholars and men of science are leaders.

Justice is also very important. “Justice is the foundation of mulk.”29 The word mulk here does not mean property or the land one owns, though that is one sense of the term. Instead, it means sovereignty, or even the state. In other words, it means that justice is required for sovereignty, for the state to be a state, and for a leader to govern. There must be justice for all, even those who oppose the sovereign.

The first judge of Istanbul was a man named Hızır Çelebi, who owned what is now the district of Kadıköy on the Asian side of the Bosphorus. His tomb is beside what is now the Istanbul Manufacturer’s Market—the İMÇ building—on the other side of the city. He once presided over a case brought against Sultan Mehmed II by a Greek architect. He ruled against the sultan, the very sultan who had conquered the city of Istanbul itself, may Allah grant him entry into paradise. Can you imagine that? That is the justice of Islam.

In Islam, justice is fundamental. A judge fears no earthly power, not even a head of state. He fears only Allah, and carries out His orders. He carries out justice. The Qur’an says, “O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both.”30 If you or someone close to you has made a mistake, you must go forward, admit that mistake, and accept the punishment. That is Islam.

There was another judge, named Şüreyh, who found himself in a similar position. One day, the caliph and a non-Muslim came before him. The one, who from his clothes was clearly a non-Muslim, accused the other, a Muslim, of wrongdoing. The judge immediately found himself hoping that the Muslim would win. As the case proceeded, however, he realized that the non-Muslim was in the right and the Muslim in the wrong. He pronounced his decision, ruling against the Muslim, and all parties went on with their lives. But until his very last day the judge regretted his errant thought during the case and begged for Allah’s forgiveness. “Why did my heart immediately incline toward the Muslim,” he asked himself, “why couldn’t I be a more impartial judge?” This is the Islamic conception of justice, and this is why it is truly a universal religion. It is the religion that deems all peoples and nations of the world worthy of love and respect.

Love and respect are the foundations of Islam. Muslims must love their fellow Muslims. “Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; and those who are with him are strong against Unbelievers, (but) compassionate amongst themselves.”31 Muslims are patient, compassionate, and merciful toward their neighbors and friends. Today, for example, I was reading about how no less than the great Abu Bakr—may Allah be pleased with him—begged for forgiveness from one of his fellows whom he had wronged. Such respect! Such love! That is what Muslim relationships are like, that is how sincere they are.

The famous Arab traveler Ibn Batuta visited the city of Denizli in the fourteenth century. It was a time when the first Turkish principalities were appearing in Anatolia. The locals were wonderful people. Ibn Batuta spoke Arabic, but did not know Turkish. He had his horses and his camels there with him, together with all the gifts he had received on his travels and the goods he brought with him to trade. As he and his caravan were making their way toward Denizli, an armed man approached him and grabbed his horse’s bridle. The armed man said something, but Ibn Batuta could not understand him. As he sat there trying to understand what the man was saying, another armed man approached from his other side, and the two began arguing with each other. Surrounded by armed men, with all that he possessed in the world there with him in the caravan, Ibn Batuta was scared. He feared that he would lose all that he owned, and perhaps even his life. But he soon came to understand that the men who had approached him only desired to invite him to be their guest and rest a while.

The first man said, “From your appearance you seem a stranger to these parts. Come, be my guest!”

The other man interrupted, “Don’t you even try it. This is our land, and we are going to host the traveler. Where do you get off coming over here and trying to steal our guest?”

The first responded, “I saw him first, and the guest always belongs to whoever sees him first.” It turns out this is the argument that Ibn Batuta witnessed. This is Islamic hospitality. This is the love Muslims show to strangers, to animals, to birds, to servants, to everyone and everything.

In Islam, pious foundations have been established to pay for items that are accidentally broken over the course of cleaning so that the servants who break them are not responsible for the bill. Foundations have been established to help birds with broken wings. This is Islam: a love for all people, for the environment, and for every living and breathing thing.

Lady Wordsworth Montagu, wife to an English ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, came to Istanbul in the eighteenth century. She met many Ottomans over the course of her stay there. Her letters from the period were later collected and published as a book, and are now available in Turkish, too.32

In a letter to a friend, she wrote that before she came to the Ottoman Empire she had thought of the harem as a cage and a prison. Upon actually visiting a harem, however, she found it to be an incredibly warm, sweet, colorful, and fun. Every house and palace had a harem, the women’s quarters, which were set off from the rest of the house. Lady Montagu wrote that she had assumed that women were forced into the harem and kept there against their will, the acts of barbarians. Instead, she wrote, she found that the Ottomans were actually incredibly well educated and polite.33

In one particular episode, she wrote that she met a woman named Fatma Sultan, whom she loved and was delighted by. With her English sense of humor, she said to Fatma, “My lady, you are very beautiful. If you were in England, the men would be drawn to you like moths to a flame.” Our woman was startled by Lady Montagu’s words. The English taste in matters such as this is very different from our own. Our lady responded by saying, “I doubt it. If they knew what the value of beauty was they would never have let you leave.” Lady Montagu was left awestruck, declaring that she had never before witnessed such wit or sense of humor.34

I, personally, especially love Bezmialem Sultan, who left behind such wonderful works.

Islam is the religion of love and respect. It promotes serving all mankind, even non-Muslims. One of the companions of the prophet Muhammad said to him one day:

“Oh Messenger of Allah. Every day I work my hands raw drawing water up from the well so that my camels can slake their thirst at the trough. But then while my camels are drinking, other camels—old, wounded, mangy things that have been abandoned by their owners—come and drink from the trough as well. Is my action worthy of any special merit in Allah’s sight?”

The prophet Muhammad responded by telling the man that his work in service of the cast-off animals was especially pleasing to Allah, for animals too have lives and feelings. Even an old camel can suffer, and any effort to alleviate that suffering is a meritorious act.

Islam places a great importance on togetherness and fellowship. Allah views these with much favor. A prayer performed in a mosque among other Muslims is twenty-seven times more meritorious in the eyes of Allah than one performed alone at home. Togetherness is a state of grace; division is a state of suffering. Islam forbids division, separating oneself from others, indifference, selfishness, and defeatism.

Rather than withdrawing to the margins of society and living one’s life alone, Islam dictates that Muslims engage with each other and live together as a community. It tells believers that “The believer who lives among the people, serves them, and bears their same burdens is more praiseworthy than the Muslim who sits to the side, doing nothing.” It also tells us that “The best person is the one who is of greatest service to humanity.”35 Islam is like a treasure for society. It forbids discord, conflict, and anything else that disrupts social harmony. It outlaws gossip, speaking ill of one’s neighbor, division, and fighting. A Muslim cannot turn his weapon on another Muslim. One Muslim cannot harm another. It is forbidden.

The prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said, “At the end of days there will be great discord.” So, he was asked, “Oh Messenger of Allah, what, then, are we to do?” He responded, “Stay in your homes, do not take part. If discord arises among Muslims, if it arises in your homes, then be like the good child of Adam.” Which of Adam’s children was the good one? The one who truly worshiped Allah and who was murdered. “Do not be as the murderer; be as the victim,”36 Islam tells us. In other words, Islam instructs us not to raise a hand against each other. The ideal and the teaching of Islam is this. Practice is another thing, for while Islam is beautiful, Muslims are often incredibly flawed.

Islam greatly values brotherhood. This is in fact forms of worship in its own right. Al-Ghazali once said that “The best of the customary forms of worship is making a friend.” He divided worship into two categories: 1) the usual forms of worship we all know, including prayer, fasting, the hajj, alms, etc., and 2) customary forms of worship. Of this second category, the best is loving and forging friendships in Allah’s name. Visiting others out of one’s love for Allah is a very meritorious act. If two people visit each other with Allah in their hearts, then Allah will bless them with His love. For this reason, instead of working to forget Islam’s place in our lives, we should work to make it more manifest in them so as to better promote brotherhood, love, and social harmony. We have no problem with race. We look down on America, where everyone is divided into black and white and other races, as a disgrace. All people are brothers. All believers are siblings. All come from the seed of Adam. And all are equal in the eyes of Allah. To help one’s fellow man is the most meritorious of all acts. And the person who is most favored of Allah is he who helps his fellows. That is the sort of religion we have. That is how great Islam is.

We live in an age of great change and swift transformation. It is an age in which we are being brought into ever closer connection with each other. And just as Allah has provided us with all these possibilities, so too has He bestowed upon us new responsibilities. International boundaries are becoming more transitory. Russia declares Turkey to be one of its greatest friends. The Muslim nations of the country look up to Turkey as an older brother, and they all are in need of great aid. Allah be praised! It is our faith and our religion that has made us such a great state, that has made us a leader of nations, that has made us a state that stands up to oppose and right injustices. Sultan Suleyman the magnificent wrote a letter to France, ordering them to release some king they had imprisoned, and they immediately released him. Another sultan heard that men and women had begun to dance in public with one another. He ordered that such immoral displays stop at once, and they did. In Islam, injustices are brought swiftly to an end. If there is an outbreak of war, Muslims send aid.

All praise belongs to Allah. Thank Allah we are Muslims! Allah brought us into this world as Muslims, born in a Muslim country, and to Muslim parents. We have truly been blessed. And may we all appreciate just how favored we are to have been born in such fortunate circumstances.

The cure for the ills of the twentieth century is Islam, and the sturdy foundation of the centuries to come is to be found in its principles. We have very valuable thoughts, experiences, knowledge, and feelings that can be of benefit to the world and all its peoples. Sharing these, too, is Islam.

Allah grant that we may all recognize the greatness and beauty of our religion, and that we may all become true Muslims; grant that we may be of benefit to others and serve as perfect Muslims in His name; grant that we may carry out our duties toward Him, that He may be pleased with our humble service, bless us for it, and reward us in the world to come.

May Allah be look upon you with favor, and may His peace and mercy be upon you all.


* İslam, Istanbul: Server İletişim, 2012. (Conference text dated 11.02.1992)

1) Sura al-Maidah 5/44.

2) Sura Nuh (Noah) 71/5.

3) Sura Nuh (Noah) 71/6.

4) Sura Nuh (Noah) 71/7.

5) Sura Ta Ha 20/94.

6) Sura al-Maidah 5/72.

7) Sura al-Bayyinah 98/3.

8) Sura al-A’la 87/18-19.

9) Islam: Our Choice, Karachi: Begum Aisha Bawani Waqf, 1970.

10) Sura al-Saff 61/6. (Ahmad and Muhammad come from the same Arabic root of ha ح – mim م – dal د)

11) Sura al-Nisa 4/48, 116.

12) Sura Ya Sin 36/60.

13) Sura al-Furqan 25/43.

14) For the hadith transmitted by Tamim al-Dari, may Allah be pleased with him, see Muslim, “Iman”, 95; Abu Dawud, “Adab”, 67, hadith no: 4944; Nasai, “Bay'at,”, al-Tabarani, al-Mu'jam al-Kabeer, II, 52, hadith no: 1260, 1261, 1262.

15) The 19th article of the Ottoman law code, the Mecelle-i Ahkâm-ı Adliyye (the first hundred articles of which deal with general principles), uses this same phrase in the sense that it is forbidden to inflict injury or to repay one injury with another.

16) The professor’s name was Necati Lugal Bey.

17) His full name was Hafız Yusuf Cemil Ararat. For information about him, see Mahir İz, Yılların İzi, Istanbul 2003, pp. 332-361.

18) Sura al-A’raf 7/28.

19) For the hadith transmitted by Abu Said al-Hudri, may Allah be pleased with him, see Tirmidhi, “Buyu”, 4, hadith no: 1209 (hasan-gharib); Darimi, “Buyu”, 8, hadith no: 2539; Darakutni, III, 7.

20) For the hadith transmitted by Omar al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, see al-Tabarani, Al-Mu'jam al-Awsat, I, 112.

21) For the hadith transmitted by Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, see Tirmidhi, “Fazail ul Jihad”, 12, hadith no: 1639.

22) For the hadith transmitted by Abd Allah b. Mas’ud, may Allah be pleased with him, see Ahmad b. Hanbal, I, 399, hadith no: 3789; Muslim, “Iman”, 39, hadith no: 147; Tirmidhi, “Birr”, 61, hadith no: 1999, Ibn Hibban, XII, 280, hadith no: 5466; Hakim, Al Mustadrak, I, 78, hadith no: 69.

23) For the hadith transmitted by Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, see al-Tabarani, Al-Mu'jam al-Awsat, I, 275, hadith no: 897; Abu Ya’la, VII, 349, hadith no: 4386; Al-Bayhaqi, Shu'ab al-Iman, IV, 334-335, hadith no: 5313-5314.

24) Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, Kanuni Devrinde Bir Sefirin Hatıratı: Türk Mektupları, Ankara: Serdengeçti Neşriyat, 1953; Türk Mektupları, trans. Derin Türkömer, Istanbul: Doğan Kitap, 2005.

25) Sura al-Hashr 59/19.

26) Sura al-Hujurat 49/10.

27) See Sigrid Hunke, Avrupa'nın Üzerinde Allah'ın Güneşi, trans. Hayrullah Örs, Istanbul: Altın Kitaplar Yay., 2001, and Avrupa'nın Üzerinde Allah'ın Güneşi, Servet Sezgin, trans. Servet Sezgin, Istanbul: Bedir Yay., 1997.

28) This hadith is not found in this wording. For the part al-Ulamau varasatu'l-anbiya see: Ahmad b. Hanbal, V, 196, hadith no: 21763. This is cited within a long hadith whose narration transmitted by Abu’d-Darda may Allah be pleased with him, see Abu Dawud, “Ilim”, 1, hadith no: 3641; Tirmidhi, “Ilim”, 19, hadith no: 2682; Ibn Majah, “Iftitah”, 17, hadith no: 223; Ibn Hibban, I, 289, hadith no: 88.   

29) The origin of this expression is not clear, but it appears in a number of works. See Kalkasandi, Subhu’l a’şa fî sınaati’i-insha, XI, 137.

30) Sura al-Nisa 4/135.

31) Sura al-Fath 48/29.

32) Mary Wortley Montagu, Türkiye Mektupları: 1717-1718,trans. Aysel Kurutluoğlu, Istanbul, Tercüman Gazetesi, pp. 77-81; Şark Mektupları, trans. Ahmed Refik, Istanbul: Timaş Yay., 1998.

33) Ibid., p. 132, 133.

34) Ibid., p. 116, 117.

35) For the hadith transmitted by Jabir b. Abd Allah, may Allah be pleased with him, see al-Tabarani, al-Mu'jam al-Awsat, VI, 58, hadith no: 5787; Kudai/Qudai, Musnedu’sh-shihab, I, 108, hadith no: 129, II, 223, hadith no: 1234; Ibn Asakir, Tarikh Dimashq, VIII, 404.

36) Transmitted by Jundab b. Sufyan al-Bajali, may Allah be pleased with him. "After me, and soon, discord will descend upon you like the dark waves of night. In these days, a man will rise a believer in the morning and will become a disbeliever by night, will go to sleep a believer and rise an infidel." He was asked, "So what are we to do?" He replied, "Seclude yourselves in your homes." He was asked, "But what about if one is trespassed in one’s home?” He replied, "Stay in control of your hands. It is better to die for Allah than to commit murder in His name. For in these days, Islam will be on men's lips. They will steal their brother's property and spill his blood. They will revolt against and curse the name of Khaliq (Allah). The fruit of their labors will be the fires of hell."

Ibn Abi Shayba, al-Musannaf, VIII, hadith no: 37430; Abu Yaʿla, al-Musnad, III, 92, hadith no: 1523; al-Tabarani, al-Mu'jam al-Kabeer, II, 177, hadith no: 1724; Haythami, Macmau'z-Zavaid, VII, 574, 591.

Article “Islam” Professor M. Es'ad Coşan