Western science and civilization had to some extent a place in the Old Said’s thought, so when the New Said embarked on his journeys of the mind and the heart, they were transformed into sicknesses of the heart and were the cause of excessive difficulties. The New Said therefore wanted to shake off from his mind that fallacious philosophy and dissolute civilization. In order to silence the emotions of his evil-commanding soul, which testified in favour of Europe, he was compelled to hold in his spirit the following discussion – which in one respect is very brief and in another is long – with the collective personality of Europe.
It should not be misunderstood; Europe is twofold. One follows the sciences which serve justice and right and the industries beneficial for the life of society through the inspiration it has received from true Christianity; this first Europe I am not addressing. I am addressing the second corrupt Europe which, through the darkness of the philosophy of Naturalism, supposing the evils of civilization to be its virtues, has driven mankind to vice and misguidance. As follows:
On my journey of the spirit at that time I said to Europe’s collective personality, which apart from beneficial science and the virtues of civilization, holds in its hand meaningless, harmful philosophy and noxious, dissolute civilization:
Know this, O second Europe! You hold a diseased and misguided philosophy in your right hand and a harmful and corrupt civilization in your left, and claim, “Mankind’s happiness is with these two!” May your two hands be broken and may these two filthy presents of yours be the death of you! And so they shall be!
O you unhappy spirit which spreads unbelief and ingratitude! Can a man who is suffering torments and is afflicted with ghastly calamities in both his spirit and his conscience and his mind and his heart be happy through his body wallowing in a superficial, deceptive glitter and wealth? Can it be said that he is happy?
Don’t you see that on feeling despair at some minor matter and his hope for some illusory wish being lost and his being disillusioned at some insignificant business, such a person’s sweet imaginings become bitter for him, what is pleasant torments him, and the world constricts him and becomes a prison for him? But what happiness can you ensure for such a wretched person who through your inauspiciousness has suffered the blows of misguidance in the deepest corners of his heart to the very foundations of his spirit, and because of this whose hopes have all been extinguished and whose pains all arise from it? Can it be said of someone whose body is in a false and fleeting paradise and whose heart and spirit are suffering the torments of Hell that he is happy? See, you have led astray wretched mankind in this way! You make them suffer the torments of Hell in a false heaven!
O evil-commanding soul of mankind! Consider the following comparison and see where you have driven mankind. For example, there are two roads before us. We take one of them and see that at every step is some wretched, powerless person. Tyrants are attacking him, seizing his property and goods, and destroying his humble house. Sometimes they wound him as well. The heavens weep at his pitiful state. Wherever one looks, things are continuing in this vein. The sounds heard on this way are the roars of tyrants and the groans of the oppressed; a universal mourning envelops the entire way. A person is afflicted with a boundless grief since due to his humanity man is pained at the suffering of others. But because his conscience cannot endure so much pain, one who travels this way is compelled to do one of two things: either he strips off his humanity and embracing a boundless savagery bears such a heart that so long as he is safe and sound, he is not affected even if all the rest of mankind perish, or else he suppresses the demands of the heart and reason.
O Europe corrupted with vice and misguidance and drawn far from the religion of Jesus! You have bestowed this hellish state on the human spirit with your blind genius which, like the Dajjal, (The Antichrist) has only a single eye. You afterwards understood that this incurable disease casts man down from the highest of the high to the lowest of the low, and reduces him to the basest level of animality. The only remedy you have found for it are the fantasies of entertainment and amusement and anodyne diversions which temporarily numb the senses. These remedies of yours are being the death of you, and so they shall be. There! The road you have opened up for mankind and the happiness you have given it resembles this comparison.
The second road, the All-Wise Qur’an has bestowed on mankind; it is like this: We see that in every stopping-place, every spot, every town are patrols of a Just Monarch’s equitable soldiers doing the rounds. From time to time at the King’s command a group of the soldiers is discharged. Their rifles, horses and gear belonging to the state are taken from them and they are given their leave papers. They are apparently sad to hand over their familiar rifles and horses, but in reality are happy to be discharged and extremely pleased to visit the Monarch and return to his court.
Sometimes the demobilization officials encounter a raw recruit who does not recognize them. “Surrender your rifle!,” they say. The soldier replies: “I am a soldier of the King and I am in his service. I shall go to him later. Who are you? If you come with His permission and consent, I greet you with pleasure, show me His orders. Otherwise go away and stay far from me. Even if I remain on my own and there are thousands of you, I shall still fight you, and it would not for myself, because I do not own myself; I belong to my King. Indeed, my self and the rifle I have now are in trust from my owner. I shall not submit to you because I have to safeguard the trust and defend my King’s honour and dignity!”
This situation then is one of thousands on the second way which are the cause of joy and happiness. You can think of the others for yourself. Throughout the journey there is the mobilization and despatch of troops with joy and celebrations under the name of birth, and the discharge of troops with cheer and military bands under the name of death. This road has been bestowed on mankind by the All-Wise Qur’an. Whoever accepts the gift wholeheartedly travels down it to happiness in this world and the next. He feels neither grief at the things of the past nor fear at those of the future.
From The Risale-i Nur Collection