COMPARISON BETWEEN LIVES
WITH AND WITHOUT BELIEF
a number of bright young people came to me1, seeking an
effective deterrent to guard themselves against the danger
arising from modern worldly life, youth, and animal desires.
As I had previously told other young people who sought help, I
also said to them:
youth will definitely disappear and if you do not restrict
yourselves within the limits of the lawful, it will be lost.
Rather than its pleasures, it will bring you suffering and
calamities in this world, in the grave, and in the Hereafter.
If under the Islamic discipline, you use the blessings of
youth in gratitude, chastely and uprightly, and in worship, it
will in effect remain perpetually and be the cause of gaining
life, if it is without belief, or if belief, because of
rebelliousness, is ineffective, it will produce pains,
sorrows and grief far exceeding the superficial, fleeting
enjoyment and pleasure it brings. As an intelligent,
thinking being, man is (in contrast to animals) intrinsically
connected to the past and the future, as well as to the
present time. He derives both pain and pleasure from them.
Whereas, since the animals do not think, neither the sorrows
arising from the past nor the fears and anxieties concerning
the future, spoil their present pleasure. But if man has
fallen into misguidance and heedlessness, sorrows arising from
the past and anxieties about the future, mar his particular
pleasure, diluting it with pains. Especially if it is an
illicit pleasure, then it is like an altogether poisonous
honey. This means that, with respect to enjoyments of life,
man is a hundred times lower than the animals. In fact, for
the misguided, heedless people, their whole life and
existence, their whole world, consists in the day in which
they find themselves. According to their misguided belief, all
of time past and all past worlds have gone to non-existence.
Their intellects, which connect them to the past and the
future, produce darkness for them. Accordingly with their lack
of belief, the future is also non-existent for them. The
separations that become eternal because of this non-existence
continually darken their lives.
contrast, if they build their lives upon belief, then through
the light of belief, both the past and the future will be
illuminated and acquire existence. Like the present time, they
provide, through belief, exalted spiritual pleasures and
lights of existence for their spirit and heart.
does the enjoyment and pleasure of life lie?
that is how life is. If you desire the pleasure and enjoyment
of life, animate your life with belief, and adorn it with
religious obligations. Maintain it by abstaining from sins. As
for the fearsome reality of death, which is demonstrated by
instances of death every day, in every place and time, I shall
explain it to you with a parable in the same way as I
explained it to some other youths.
suppose a gallows has been set up here in front of our eyes.
Beside it is a lottery office, one which gives tickets for
truly high prizes. We are here ten people, and willingly or
unwillingly, shall certainly be invited there. They may call
us (since the appointed time is unknown) at any moment, and
say either, “Come and mount the gallows for execution!” or
“A prize ticket worth millions of dollars has come up for
you; come and collect it!” While we are waiting for either
call, two people suddenly turn up. One of them is a scantily
dressed woman, beautiful and alluring. She holds in her hand
and offers some apparently very delicious, but in fact
poisonous, sweets, which she wants us to eat. The other is an
honest, solemn man. He enters behind the woman, and says:
have brought you a talisman, a lesson. If you study it, and if
you do not eat the sweets, you will be saved from the gallows.
With this talisman, you will receive your ticket for the
matchless prize. You see with your own eyes that those who eat
the sweets inevitably mount the gallows, and furthermore,
until they mount them, they suffer dreadful stomach pains from
the poison of the sweets. As for those who receive the ticket
for the large prize, it seems that they too mount the gallows.
But millions of witnesses testify that they are not hanged on
the gallows, they use them as a step to enter the prize arena
easily. So, look from the windows! The highest officials, the
high-ranking persons concerned with this business announce
with loud voices, ‘Just as you see clearly with your own
eyes those mounting the gallows to be hanged, so also know
with utmost certainty that those with the talisman receive the
ticket for the prize.’”
the parable, the dissolute, religiously forbidden pleasures of
youth, which are like poisonous sweets, are the cause of
losing belief-and belief is the ticket to an eternal treasury
and a document for everlasting happiness. Those who indulge in
them are subject to death, which is like the gallows, and to
the tribulations of the grave, which is the door to eternal
darkness. The appointed hour of death is unknown, therefore,
its executioner, not differentiating between young and old,
may come at any time to cut off your head. Give up the
religiously forbidden pleasures (which are like the poisonous
sweets) and acquire the Quranic talisman (belief and
performing religious obligations). One hundred and twenty-four
thousand Prophets, upon them be peace, together with
innumerable saints, have proclaimed that you will get to the
treasury of eternal happiness if you do so. They have also
shown the signs and evidences of it.
spent in indulgences
short: Youth will pass. If it is wasted in indulgences, it
results in thousands of misfortunes and pains both in this
world and the next. Perhaps you want to understand how such
youths end up in hospitals with mental and physical diseases,
mainly because of their abuse, and in prisons or hostels for
the destitute as a result of their excesses, and in bars
because of the distress provoked by their spiritual unease.
Then, go and inquire at the hospitals, prisons and cemeteries.
sure you will hear from most of the hospitals the moans and
groans of those ill from dissipation and debauchery resulting
from the appetites of youth. Also you will hear from the
prisons the regretful sighs of unhappy wretches, suffering for
illicit actions mostly resulting from the excesses of their
youth. Again, you will come to know this truth as testified by
the saints who can discern the life of the grave, and affirmed
by exacting scholars of truth. Most of the torments of the
grave-that Intermediate Realm the doors of which continuously
open and shut for those who enter it-are the result of
ask the old and the sick, who form the majority of mankind.
Most certainly the great majority of them will answer you with
grief and regret, “Alas! We wasted our youth in frivolities,
indeed harmfully. Be careful, never do as we did!” A man
subjects himself, for the sake of the illicit pleasures of a
short period of youth, to years of grief and sorrow in this
world, torment and harm in the Intermediate Realm, and the
severe punishment of Hell in the Hereafter. Despite being in a
most pitiable situation, he does not deserve pity. For one who
freely consents to indulge in harmful actions is not worthy of
Almighty God save us and you from the alluring temptations of
this age and preserve us against them. Amen.
Bediuzzaman Said Nursi