Damascus Sermon by Ustad Bediüzzaman Said Nursi (1873- 1960) in Umayyad Mosque ( Damascus) in 1911:
The lesson I have learnt from the mutual consultation enjoined by the Shari‘a is this: in this age, the single sin of one person does not remain as one; it sometimes swells, spreads and becomes a hundred sins. And sometimes a single good deed does not remain as one, but progresses to the order of thousands of good deeds.The reason for this is as follows:
Freedom in accordance with the Shari‘a and the consultation enjoined by the Shari‘a have demonstrated the sovereignty of our true nationhood. The foundation and spirit of our true nationhood is Islam. In so far as they have carried the standard of the Ottoman Caliphate and Turkish army in the name of that nationhood, the two true brothers of Arab and Turk are like the shell and citadel of the nationhood of Islam, and the sentries of that sacred citadel.
Thus, through the bond of this sacred nationhood, all the people of Islam become like a single tribe. Like the members of a tribe, the peoples and groups of Islam are bound and connected to one another through Islamic brotherhood. They assist one another morally, and if necessary, materially. It is as if all the groups of Islam are bound to each other with a luminous chain.
If a member of one tribe commits a crime, all its members are guilty in the eyes of another, enemy, tribe. It is as though each member of the tribe had committed the crime so that the enemy tribe becomes the enemy of all of them. That single crime becomes like thousands of crimes. While if a member of the tribe performs a good act that is the cause of pride affecting the heart of the tribe, all its members take pride in it. It is as if each person in the tribe feels proud at having done that good deed.
It is because of this fact that at this time, and particularly in forty to fifty years’ time, evil and bad deeds will not remain with the perpetrator; they will transgress the rights of millions of Muslims. Numerous examples of this shall be seen in forty to fifty years’ time.
O brothers who are listening to these words of mine here in the Umayyad Mosque! And O Muslim brothers in the mosque of the world of Islam forty to fifty years’ later! Do not make apologies, saying: “We do no harm, but neither do we have the power to do anything beneficial; therefore we are excused.” Such an apology is not acceptable. Your laziness and saying: “What is it to me?”, and your displaying no effort and not getting into the working spirit through Islamic unity and true Islamic brotherhood, have done much damage and are an injustice to you.
Just as bad deeds thus mount to thousands, so also at this time good deeds, that is, good deeds that affect the sacredness of Islam, do not remain restricted to the one who performs them. Indeed, such good deeds may in fact be beneficial to millions of believers; they may strengthen the bonds of moral, spiritual, and material life. Therefore, this is not the time to cast oneself on the bed of idleness, saying: “What is it to me?”
O my brothers here in this mosque and my brothers forty to fifty years later in the mighty mosque of the world of Islam! Do not suppose I have mounted this place of delivering lessons in order to give you advice. I have done so to claim my rights from you. That is to say, the interests and happiness in this world and the hereafter of small groups are bound to masterly teachers like you, the Arabs and Turks, who are a vast and esteemed body. We, the Muslim groups who are your unhappy small brothers suffer harm through your idleness and laxity.
Especially the Arabs, who are esteemed, numerous, and either have been awakened or will be! First and foremost, I address you with these words. For you are our teachers and leaders, and the teachers and leaders of all the peoples of Islam, and you are the fighters of Islam. It was later that the mighty Turkish nation assisted you in that sacred duty.
Therefore, due to laziness your sin is great. Your good acts and deeds are also great and exalted. In particular we await with great expectation from Divine mercy the different Arab groups entering upon exalted circumstances in forty to fifty years’ time, like those of the United States of America, and your being successful like in former times in establishing Islamic rule in half the globe, indeed, in most of it, which at the moment is in captivity. If some fearful calamity does not soon erupt, the coming generation shall see it, God willing.
Beware, my brothers! Do not imagine that I am urging you with these words to busy yourselves with politics. God forbid! The truth of Islam is above all politics. All politics may serve it, but no politics can make Islam a tool for itself.
With my faulty understanding, I imagine Islamic society at this time in the form of a factory containing many machines. Should any components of the machines fall behind or encroach on another, which is its fellow, the machines cease to function. The exact time for Islamic unity is therefore beginning. It necessitates not paying attention to one another’s personal faults.
I say this to you with regret and sadness that certain foreigners have taken our most valuable possessions and country from us and have given us a rotten price in return.
Similarly, they have taken from us our elevated morals and a part of our fine character that touches on social life, and they have made them the means of their progress. And it is their dissipated morals and dissipated character that they have given us as their price.
For example, because of the fine national feeling they have taken from us, one of them says: “Should I die, let my nation live, for I have an everlasting life in my nation.” They have taken these words from us and it is the firmest foundation in their progress. These words proceed from the religion of truth and the truths of belief. They are our property, the property of the believers.
However, because of the obscene and bad character that infiltrated us from foreigners, a selfish man from among us says: “If I die of thirst, let it not rain again anywhere in the world. If I do not experience happiness, let the world go to rack and ruin as it wishes.” These ridiculous words arise from lack of religion and from not recognizing the hereafter. They have entered among us from outside and are poisoning us.
Also, because of the idea of nationhood which those foreigners obtained from us, an individual becomes as valuable as a nation. For a person’s value is relative to his endeavour. If a person’s endeavour is his nation, that person forms a miniature nation on his own.
Because of the heedlessness of some of us and the foreigners’ damaging characteristics that we have acquired, and, despite our strong and sacred Islamic nationhood, through everyone saying: “Me! Me!” and considering personal benefits and not the nation’s benefits, a thousand men have become like one man.
If a man’s endeavour is limited to himself, he is not a human being, for human beings are by nature civilized. Man is compelled to consider his fellow humans. His personal life continues through social life. For example, how many hands is he in need of to eat one load of bread, and in return for it how many hands does he in effect kiss? And how many factories is he connected to through the clothes that he wears? You make the comparison! Since he cannot survive with only skin like an animal, and is by nature connected to his fellow humans, and is compelled to pay them an immaterial price, by his nature, he maintains civilization. One who confines his view to his personal benefits abandons his humanity, and becomes an iniquitous animal lacking all innocence. If nothing happens as a consequence and he has an authentic excuse, that is an exception!