harmless things. Indeed, he will chase away a few snakes and find numerous blessed creatures; he will become close friends with them. Or he will ward off stinging wild hornets and attract blessed bees, the sherbert-sellers of mercy. He will eat honey at their hand, and through their prayers find friends from all parts of the Islamic world through whom his spirit will receive effulgences like the water of Kawthar, and these will pass to his book of good deeds.
At one time, when through perpetrating a great wrong due to the desire for fame, a little man who was occupying a high worldly position became a laughing-stock in the eyes of the World of Islam, I spoke to him teaching him the meaning of the above comparison; I hit him over the head with it. He was badly shaken, but because I myself had not been saved from the desire for rank and position, my warning did not arouse him.
One of the strongest and most basic emotions in man is the sense of fear. Scheming oppressors profit greatly from the vein of fear. They restrain the pusillanimous with it. The agents of the worldly and propagandists of the people of misguidance take advantage of this vein of the common people and of the religious scholars in particular. They frighten them and excite their groundless fears. For example, in order to scare a coward who is on a roof and put him in danger, a scheming man shows him something which he supposes is harmful; he excites his fear and draws him gradually towards the edge of the roof; then he makes him fall and break his neck. In exactly the same way, they make people sacrifice most important things due to most unimportant fears. Trying to avoid a mosquito bite, they flee into the dragon’s mouth.
One time, an eminent person – May God have mercy on him – was frightened of climbing into a rowing-boat. One evening, we walked together to the Bridge in Istanbul. We had to board a boat; there was no carriage and we were going to Eyüp Sultan. I insisted. He said: “I’m frightened. Perhaps it’ll sink!” I said to him: “How many boats do you reckon there are, here on the Golden Horn?” He replied: “Perhaps a thousand.” So I asked him: “How many boats sink in a year?” He said: “One or two. Perhaps none at all.” I asked him: “How many days are there in a year?” “Three hundred and sixty,” he replied. So I said to him: “The possibility of sinking, which provokes these groundless fears and makes you anxious, is one in three hundred and sixty thousand. Someone who is frightened at such a possibility is not a human being, he couldn’t even be an animal!” Then I asked him: “How long do you reckon you will live?” He replied: “I