The Nature of Fear

We live in fear, in fear of losing things which we think we own; our health, our youth, our life, our wife, children, money, job, etc. And indeed, most of our time and efforts are spent to secure these things. We take our bankers’ advice, our lawyers’ advice, our doctors’ advice. We economize, we are jealous of our legal rights, we diet, we take our pills. To somewhat appease our fears of losing our material well-being, we buy insurance, open savings accounts, have medical check-ups, swallow vitamins, jog in the streets. And to have people’s esteem, we appear not as we are, but the way they wish us to be.

Some also fear losing their good reputation, honor, respect, and love. of others. Fewer still are afraid of losing their minds, their faith, their hope for salvation in the hereafter and their religion. The very few who are afraid to lose their faith and their place in Paradise squeeze in a few minutes of prayer a day, a few days of fasting a year, and cheat on the alms which they pay, while they wouldn’t dare to cheat the IRS.

We complain of fatigue, stress, injustice, lack of good luck and of the tyranny of the government, society, economy, bosses, employees, neighbors, mothers, fathers, wives and husbands, our children; just about everything and everybody, and we rarely find fault with ourselves. In spite of all this effort, we cannot eliminate our fears. In fact, the more we try and fail, the corse we feel, and our fears increase. This is the state of the whole world.

The solution which the rulers of this world (the politicians, the media, Wall Street) have found is to offer "circus and wine": amusement and fun. Their remedy is not to seek strength to face this situation, but to forget, to be. distracted. It does not work! The drunkard wakes up with a hangover after a momentary craze; he returns to his problems accompanied by a splitting headache!

In reality there is nothing to fear except ourselves, our ego and its insatiable appetite, which will always want more than it has, even if it had the whole world. What is one supposed to do to stop this insanity. How do we live this life in peace and with sanity? Indeed there is no comfort in this world. It is a hard test which lasts seventy to eighty years, through which we must pass to meet our Lord. It is a test which very few pass because they choose the world and the worldly as their teacher.

From the very beginning Allah has sent 128,000 teachers, His prophets. Worldly teachers, even if they consider the prophets as teachers, say they are all dead; the last and the most recent died 1400 years ago. Besides, they belong to a different place and time; they judge them in their own terms. .And how well we know this "logic"!. In our hopes to reduce our fears, we have to succeed, and success is to be better than others. We compete. We have to be NEW. New is not new. It is the same old thing with one ingredient added. So the "new" is really a little bit more, which we also value.

But our teachers, our models, strove to value the tradition, "the old", and the "less’; and their goal was to be "nothing". They arc categorically the opposite of what is thought and taught today. That is why most of humanity today does not have faith, even the ones who say they are religious. Most of the religious ones have also turned to the "new" way.

The teachers of the new teachers indeed die, and are forgotten as soon as one of their students is able to add one more thing to what they have learned. But the Teacher of the prophets is ever-living. His message to His creation is one and constant, and the prophets do not and cannot change, add, or eliminate any part of the message revealed the them.

The last and the seal of the prophets, the Blessed Muhammad, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, was sent as a man. He was born, passed through different trials which any man anywhere, anytime, could pass through. He worked, fought, ate and slept, married, had children, became sick, and died. The Qur’an, Allah’s message in human language containing instructions to all humankind, was revealed to him. And all that he thought, felt, said and did was not from him, but caused by Allah through him. He was the living Qur’an, a perfect man, (as Allah meant all human beings to be), a guide and an example, an answer to all our questions. a solution to all our problems. And he is not dead. His beautiful material body is gone, but his spirit is ever-living. His actions in every possible situation and condition, his answers and advice to solve all possible problems, is recorded in numerous records, kept by his many companions, and the hadiths are available in all languages.

To follow his instructions and his example is not at all difficult. We only have to choose to do so, to take the trouble to learn his way of life, either by studying "the prophetic traditions" or better still, by finding a teacher who imitates him. Yet, there is a precondition, a prerequisite, which is the difficult part. It is the key to the treasure of peace and serenity in this life and the hereafter. It is given in the following verse of the Holy Qur’an, Surah 33, ayah 21:

Certainly you have in the Messenger of Allah the best example for those whose hopes are only from Allah and who are concerned with the Hereafter and who remember often Allah

Thus we can follow his way, and imitate him in our lives only if we have trust in Allah and if we have confidence in Divine assistance, while being steadfast through the hardest trials. We must feel accountable for our actions and beliefs on the Day of Last Judgement and be conscious, able to see Allah’s manifestations around us, and remember Him often.

Oh Lord, teach us the Truth of Muhammad (saws), lead us to the Way of Muhammad (saws), beautify our hearts with the Love of Muhammad (saws). And give us his courage, the courage of the one who fears only Allah, as You say:

He who fears Allah, all other creatures fear him.

Amin bi hurmeti seyyid al Murselin

Shaykh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi al-Halveti, August 1997