Question: You refer to “genius minds” in various articles and talks. What do you mean by genius minds? What are the points of consideration in order to let those people’s talents flourish?
Answer: When we say “genius minds,” we refer to those who try to understand the era they live in, the society, humans, the universe, phenomena… in short everything, who strive to put into practice the theoretical information they have learned, and who constantly think, inquire, and investigate in this respect. As these people are fixed on searching for truth, love of knowledge, and passion for investigation, they can solve the problems they pursue by God’s grace, can make very surprising achievements, can clear up muddled thinking, and thus become a means of illumining the society they live in.
Talents Are Causes of Trial
It is necessary to note that the people who attained such a level are in a position to face certain potential dangers. For example, they may take pride in their talents, see themselves as distinguished, and thus be deceived by the misjudgment that they can overcome any problem with their own intellect and abilities. In such psychology, they can even view themselves to be the one who lays down the law. Or since they wish to emphasize their superiority, they might take an indifferent and rigid attitude towards others’ thoughts and opinions. In other words, their high achievements in certain cases might cause them to look down on the people around them and take their opinions lightly. By even developing a certain code of rebellion of their own, they might begin to refuse even very plausible thoughts developed as a result of serious pondering and forget the fact that doing things for the sake of God is exalted above all.
Actually, what lies at the root of such wrongs is a lack of learning manners. In the past, people who were responsible for education were very good teachers of manners as well. That is, true educators were exemplary persons to the people around them in every way—the way they sat, got up, stood, together with their beliefs, thoughts, and worldviews; they were teaching manners in a silent language. However, considering the education system in our time, it is very difficult to say that the teaching of knowledge and manners are in line. Even if we consider the fact that informative teaching has made great progress, it will not suffice to fill the gap we have mentioned. Education means elevating someone potentially human to the level of true humanity. As for ideal educators, they have to possess the ability to produce a monument of a human, like an able sculptor. If genius minds are not cultivated in the hands of good educators and not brought up under their influence, then it is very difficult for them to rid themselves of the diseased thought of “I know everything the best” and gain an understanding to let them benefit from other people.
Those Who Are Crushed under the Weight of Their Ego
In relevance to our subject, I previously related a certain attitude by one of the heroes of the first rank who served Bediüzzaman for a lifetime. While discussing an issue, one of the people near this heroic personage revealed an idea contrary to his thought. Still, that great personage responded with a smile and said, “It must be so my brother. It may be you who is telling the truth.” He did so because he felt that the person before him was not at a level and was not ready to accept the truth and comprehend what he had to say. However, when the person who objects there witnesses the faltering of his own considerations at times, he comes near that great guide and this time says, “Sir, I was mistaken at that thought of mine. What you said was right.” Without changing his manners, the sagacious one says again, “It must be so my brother.”
I can also say that I have had similar experiences, maybe a thousand times, and ignored these every time. I did so because such people might think they know every matter well and object to everything other people say. In this case, in order not to worsen the problem you leave the issue to the passing of time. Otherwise those people can drift to very different and dangerous points. There are so many grim examples of this throughout history. For example, together with having certain talents, Hitler had a disease as always seeing himself as superior and listened to no sound advice, and consequently condemned an entire nation to great loss for the sake of an adventure—so much so that people in his own society still curse him.
Gaining Genius Minds for the Society Requires Special Care
The only solution for protecting individuals from such a mistaken code of rebellion is to maintain their harmony with the collective by training and rehabilitating them. Through different ways and methods, it is absolutely necessary to tell them about the significance of concord and unity. It is necessary to point out that possible extra Divine favors and support depend on this factor, and that no matter how well-placed somebody’s personal opinion is, being able to relinquish it for the sake of not upsetting the general harmony is a virtue.
On the other hand, with respect to personal matters that do not concern the rights of the entire collective, it can also be a useful method to leave such people alone with their own mistaken ways for the purpose of letting them learn a lesson. Let him go as far as he can, let them hit the wall, and then come back and say, “What you said was right.” Because, letting people see their mistakes with their own preferences and freewill is very important at educating a person.
On seeing talented people wasting their lives for the sake of their ego and running after their fancies and desires, one cannot help but sigh, “If only…”
I wish the brave and competitive people with high capacity, who can ably reason in different matters and who are gifted to solve problems, would use their minds for the sake of sharing the message of Islam and our spiritual culture, instead of using their potential for proving themselves superior or for objecting to this and that. Indeed, the genius minds who can use the talents that God Almighty has bestowed upon them in harmony with the collective, for the sake of a lofty ideal, can be blessed with realizing a lot of works and activities of goodness.
At this point, a very serious responsibility falls to the people in a position to lead and manage them. Those in administrative positions must make serious efforts to gain them, have them work in harmony with their society, and thus benefit from their abilities. If those gifted people will offer a service equivalent to ten other people, those leading them must devote the time and effort that they would normally spare for ten people if necessary. As it is known, the noble Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, made serious efforts for the sake of encouraging exceptionally talented ones such as Khalid ibn al-Walid, Amr ibn al-As, and Mughira ibn Shuba to embrace Islam. The Messenger of God cultivated such talented ones that had remained in the society of the time of ignorance with special care, put them into shape, and then let them serve religion. Naturally, each one of these Companions eventually fulfilled great services for Islam.
When you look at the Ottoman history, you also see that as soon as the sultans detected a gifted person to the degree of a genius, they made serious efforts to gain that person. The administrators of that time discovered those talents with their perspicacity and senses, even if they were from different religions and cultures, and sought ways for gaining them. This way, people like Zaghanos Pasha, Evrenos Pasha, Ghazi Mihal, Sinan the Architect, Sokollu Mehmed Pasha—may God be pleased with them all—accepted Islam, came under the command of the Ottoman state, serving humanity for the rest of their lives. They became a commander, grand vizier, or an architect, and they eventually carried out great services for the people.
By avoiding imbalanced and excessive ways, sometimes by gaining their hearts, sometimes by applauding them, and sometimes by rewarding them, it is necessary to seek ways for gaining genius minds. Actually, behaving this way is Divine conduct, because we understand from His Glorified acts that He does not leave any success unrewarded. In this respect, what needs to be done is to reward and appreciate genius minds for the sake of letting different talents and potentials flourish, while evoking the feeling and thought of working for the good of humanity in their soul.