The Eighth Letter states that compassion is more elevated, brilliant and sincere than love, which is a means of the names in basmala by interpreting the names the Merciful and the Compassionate in basmala.

The Eighth Letter

In His Name!

And there is nothing but it glorifies Him with praise.

There are numerous instances of wisdom in the Names of Most Merciful and Compassionate being included in ‘In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate’ and at the start of all good things. Postponing the explanation of these to another time, I shall for now recount a feeling of mine:

My brother, I see the Names of Merciful and Compassionate to be a light so vast that they embrace the whole universe and satisfy all the eternal needs of all spirits, and so luminous and powerful that they secure a person against all his innumerable enemies. The most important means I have found for attaining to these Names, these two vast lights, are poverty and thanks, impotence and compassion. That is, worship and realizing one’s neediness. What comes to mind in connection with this and I say contrary to the great mystics and religious scholars, and even to Imam-i Rabbani, one of my masters, is this: the intense and brilliant emotion the Prophet Jacob (Upon whom be peace) felt for Joseph (Upon whom be peace) was not love or passion, but compassion. For compassion is much sharper and more brilliant and elevated, and purer and more worthy of the rank of prophethood than love and passion. If the love and passion for metaphorical objects of love and creatures are intense, they are not fitting for the elevated rank of prophethood. This means Jacob’s feelings, which the All-Wise Qur’an describes with brilliant, glittering eloquence, and which were the means to attaining to the Name of All-Compassionate, were a high degree of compassion. As for passionate love, the means of attaining to the Name of All-Loving, it concerns the matter of Zulaikha’s love for Joseph (Upon whom be peace). That is to say, however much higher the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition shows Jacob’s (Upon whom be peace) emotions to be than Zulaikha’s, to that degree compassion is seen to be more elevated than passionate love. My master, Imam-i Rabbani,1 did not consider metaphorical love to be altogether fitting for the rank of prophethood and therefore said: “Joseph’s virtues were virtues pertaining to the hereafter, so love for him was not of a metaphorical kind so that it should have been defective.” But I say: “Master! That is an artificial interpretation, the truth of the matter must be this: that was not love, but a degree of compassion a hundred times more brilliant, more extensive, and more elevated than love.” Yes, in all its varieties, compassion is subtle and pure. Whereas many varieties of love and passion may not be condescended to.

Furthermore, compassion is extremely broad. Through the compassion he feels for his child, a person’s compassion encompasses all young and even all living beings, and acts as a sort of mirror to the comprehensiveness of the Name of All-Compassionate. Whereas passionate love restricts its gaze to its beloved and sacrifices everything for it. Or else to elevate and praise its beloved, it denigrates others, and in effect insults them and abuses their honour. For example, one said: “The sun saw my beloved’s beauty and was embarrased. In order not to see it, it veiled itself in cloud.” Lover, fine sir! What right do you have to impute shame to the sun, which is a light-filled page of eight Greatest Names?

Moreover, compassion is sincere, wants nothing in return; it is pure and seeks nothing in exchange. The self-sacrificing, unselfish compassion of animals for their young, at the most common degree even, is evidence for this. Passionate love, however, desires remuneration and seeks return. The weepings of passionate love are a sort of demanding, a desiring remuneration.

Thus, Jacob’s (Upon whom be peace) compassion, the most brilliant light of Sura Yusuf -the most brilliant of the Qur’an’s Suras- points to the Names of Merciful and Compassionate. It informs us that the way of compassion is the way of mercy. And as a salve for the pain of compassion, it causes a person to utter:

For Allah is the Best of Protectors and He is the Most Merciful of the Merciful.2

The Enduring One, He is the Enduring One!

S a i d N u r s i


1. See, page 40, fn. 1.
2. Qur’an, 12:64.

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The Ninth Letter explains an important rule about the importance of karamah, divine bestowal, and divine favor. It also explains the relationship between Islam and belief scientifically.

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