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July 19, 2012, Thursday

Conservatism: What we were; what have we become?

This is the first day of the holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan is not just a time for fasting; it is also a time for self-control. People perceive the world, life and universe differently at different ages. In terms of our mentality, we all are different.

There is a nice saying that explains this: Every person is like one-copy book. But what we inscribe in this book may differ. Some of the lines and pages are filled with regrets, lessons, experiences and repentance. The final part of the book is important, though. Another saying confirms this: You should consider what you will become, not what you have become.

Muslims and believers should pay attention to their inner self during Ramadan. What were we? What have we become? What are we becoming? This process of self-inquiry and questioning that should take place in the coming days is both meaningful and important.

Our generation has witnessed a huge transformation in the last decade. However, our ages also remind us that we are approaching the end of our lives. The world is no longer appealing or glorious for those who are aware of their age. Our eyes are focused on our graves, and our hearts tell us that worldly ambitions and expectations are not meaningful and substantial. Personally, I have always thought that life means nothing and you have nothing if you are not connected to Allah.

As part of my inner inquiry, I asked myself this question: What do you understand by religion and Islam? Above all, I realized how to become a person; I learned what it is to be fair, just, humble, tolerant, honest and reliable. The saying by the Prophet Muhammad, “I came to complement ethics,” is the gist of the matter and discussion.

I am really hurt by the ignorant and arrogant attitudes of those people who define themselves as pious and conservative democrats. Behavior and attitudes that could be viewed as arrogant reflections, bragging with wealth, positions and status really hurt me. I am particularly concerned about jealousy, gossiping and other improper behavior; is this what we have become? My heart aches when I see people talking behind the backs of others. What happened to our emotional response to what we read, what we listen to and what we think about?

What if those who pursue justice, seek refuge in our tolerance, view us as people who would not go after wealth and personal interest, see us as their saviors and hold high expectations in this time of transition from winter to spring become disappointed because of us? What if they regret it once more?

We strongly need to initiate a process of inner inquiry and control for integrity, trust, mercy, passion, justice and humility.

Religious people, or conservative democrats as we call them today, are going through an important test. The test for humility is done through wealth and position. Do wealth and position quickly change us? Do we see ourselves as knowledgeable when we learn or read something? More importantly, how reliable and trustworthy are we? How honest are we? Are we afraid of nepotism, property acquisition in unsavory ways or injustice, which we have been criticizing for a long time? Or did we eventually justify our wealth and positions by arguing that we need to become strong against our enemies?

History is full of stories of those who failed to preserve their values and were unable to adhere to their ethics. Love for worldly and material assets has been destructive to believers. The price associated with leaning more towards the world is huge because the heart does not bear two different loves at the same time. The most expensive thing in this world is to attract the love and consent of Allah. Of course, the world should be paid attention to; of course, we need to work in our jobs. However, we need to do all this without loving and working for power and wealth.

Ramadan should be seen as an opportunity. We need to start a journey towards our inner self. Muslims should be seen as trustworthy. They have to become a source of faith and confidence. People should have faith in our justice and our stance that focuses on merit. When people think of us, they should think of integrity. We need to pray extensively in fast-breaking dinners: “O Allah, do not make us a bad example; make us merited to worthy of positions you granted us.”

May you have a nice Ramadan...

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