There is a well-known parable by Eşref Rumî that he tells in his Muzekkin Nüfus.
From time to time, an old lady brought milk to the Prophet Noah and said, “Oh, Noah, I believe in you and the Lord. Do not forget to take me into your Ark when the Flood begins.”
The Flood occurred, the water rose above the mountains. The ones who refused to board on Noah’s Ark perished.
The Flood ends; the water recedes. Months go by.
One day the same old lady visits the Prophet Noah and repeats her request: “When the Flood begins, do not forget to take me into your Ark.”
The Prophet Noah is astonished. “The Flood is already over. How did you escape it? Didn’t you see anything?” he asks.
The lady replies: “I never left my home. But one day my cow came home with mud on its feet. Perhaps that was the day of the Flood.”
Liveliness in the Hereafter
Being caught up in the severe storm of the Latter Days, I have found myself recalling that old lady more frequently. The question in my mind has been: “Would I be willing to be in the place of this old lady, who was surrounded by the special grace of her Lord?”
If only the vast majority of people had not gone so far and had embraced the invitation of the Prophet Noah, they would have escaped punishment.
Yet, if the Flood was destined to drench the earth, I would not have wanted to escape a miracle that had begun and ended without my knowledge.
Let my place be near to the Prophet Noah; let me feel the Flood in its entirety, as long as I am on that Ark and I am on board with a duty.
It is evident both that a lively hereafter cannot emerge from a dead life and that life is so precious because it is lived only once.
Even if we had the means to do so, none of us can give our willpower its due if we retreat into a corner and wait for the storm to stop.
The Children of the Age
Bediuzzaman is rightfully named the ebu’l vakt, the father of the Age. He reads the book of the universe line by line and interprets the phenomena that occur by the signs of creation. Manifesting the Divine Names of Hakim (the Wise) and Rahim (the Compassionate), he sees the entirety of creation through tafakkur (deep reflection) and compassionate love. He helps others see the compassionate and powerful hands behind the veil of causes. He wakes us up to the Truth and gives us fervor.
Thus, whosoever are children of the age, ibnu’l vakt, must fill up their jugs from Bediuzzaman’s river.
He likens troubles and calamities to storms, spring storms that are accompanied by severe rainfall. Although such a storm is horrifying to man, it activates and improves the potential capabilities of seeds, plants, and trees. The seeds flourish; the plants blossom. They all come into flower in their particular ways at their predetermined times and take up their duties according to their natural tendencies.
A Calamitous Spring Storm
According to Bediüzzaman, the unrest that afflicted the companions of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his immediate successors, specifically the battles of Camel, Siffin, and Karbala, were also “calamitous spring storms.” These storms trigger various abilities that could be thought of as hidden seeds in the dispositions of these people. Crying “Islam is in danger, we are caught in a fire!” scares every part of society. It urgently calls people to save and preserve Islam.
Thus, each of those blessed people voluntarily shoulders responsibility according to their abilities and knowledge, and they work earnestly to protect the true spirit of religion. Some become the guardians of Hadith, some turn out to be the guardians of the Quran. Some of them strive for the preservation of the pillars of faith and shariah.
They embark on vigorous activity.
With the storm, fertile seeds get scattered everywhere. Colorful flowers blossom and rose gardens spring forth. “It is as if the hands of the All-Powerful whipped up the age with his Glory, severely turned it over, lit up the people of benevolence with even more fervor.” The ones who fled from the unrest that originated at the center have spread to the world “through the centrifugal force stemming from movement.”
As a result, many enlightened mujtahids, luminous hadith narrators, numerous saintly hafiz, asfiya, and kutub are raised and get scattered on the earth like seeds.
A Proposal of Method
With these revelations, Bediuzzaman not only reveals the hidden wisdom behind the unrest that took place during the times of the Prophet (pbuh) and his immediate successors but also proposes a method that can be used during the unrest that will emerge in the Latter Days: A vigorous engagement.
To me, whoever agrees with the fact that “Islam is in danger, and there is a fire” should take this proposal seriously and hold onto one line of service or science. We bear the responsibility of repairing the broken ties between the Qur’anic verses and the signs of the Book of the Universe.
If we believe in the rightness of our path, we can start by saying, as Saadi Shiraz proclaims:
“Oh heart, should a flood of destruction engulf the world,
If Noah is at your helm, do not grieve!”
We can start,
By returning once again to the books that have been taken away from us because we did not read them,
By mending our imperfect and defective devotion to Allah,
By strengthening our spiritual immune system which we have weakened by being buried in daily news.
If we cannot keep up with the zuhd and takwa of the innocent sufferers in prisons, we will not be able to establish harmony with each other in the future.
We should all have answers to the question, “What were you doing during the storm?”
Art, literature, cinema, all scientific and humanistic disciplines, theology, and philosophy are natural tasks we should rush to.
We should not miss this historic opportunity.
If such a violent storm cannot awaken us to the truth, nothing will awaken us.
It would be a shame if we cannot give birth to our own Renaissance out of this great pain and suffering.
(October 13, 2017)