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.
The Ninth Letter
In His Name, be He glorified!
And there is nothing but it glorifies Him with praise.
[Again part of a letter he sent to the same sincere student of his.]
S e c o n d l y : Your success, endeavour, and eagerness in spreading the lights of the Qur’an are a Divine bestowal, a wonder of the Qur’an, a dominical favour. I congratulate you. Since we have come to a discussion of wonder-working, bestowal, and favour, I shall tell you a difference between wonder-working and bestowal. It is like this:
So long as there is no necessity for it, to display wonder-working is harmful. Whereas to make known bestowal is to make known a Divine bounty. If someone who is honoured with wonder-working knowingly manifests an extraordinary matter, and his evil-commanding soul is persistent, then in respect of him relying on himself and on his soul and what he has uncovered and falling into pride, it may be that Almighty Allah is drawing him on by at first granting him success. If unknowingly he displays a wondrous act; for example, a person has an unvoiced question and involuntarily he gives an appropriate answer, and afterwards understands, this increases his confidence, not in himself, but in his Sustainer. He says: “I have a Preserver who is raising me better than I myself.” And this increases his reliance on Allah. This is a harmless sort of wonder-working; he is not charged with concealing it, but he should not intentionally display it, because of pride. For since apparently man’s power to act has some connection with it, he may relate it to himself. When it comes to bestowal, it is sounder than the second sort of wonder-working, the sound sort, and in my opinion is more elevated. To display it is to make known a bounty. The power to act has no connection with it, and the soul does not attribute it to itself.
And so, my brother, the Divine bounties concerning both yourself, and myself, particularly in our service of the Qur’an, which for a long time past I have seen and written about, are bestowal, and to make them known is to make known a Divine bounty. For this reason I mention to you the success of both of us in our service in order to make known the Divine bounty. I always knew that it would stimulate your propensity to offer thanks, not pride.
T h i r d l y : I observe that the most fortunate person in this worldly life is he who sees the world as a military guest-house, and submits himself and acts accordingly. Through seeing it in this way, he may rise swiftly to the rank of winning Allah’s pleasure, the highest rank. Such a person will not give the price of a lasting diamond for something of the value of glass that will be broken. He will pass his life uprightly and with pleasure. Yes, the matters to do with this world are like pieces of glass doomed to be broken, while the lasting matters of the hereafter have the value of flawless diamonds. The intense curiosity, fervent love, terrible greed, and stubborn desires, and other intense emotions in man’s nature were given in order to gain the matters of the hereafter. To direct those emotions in intense fashion towards transitory worldly matters means giving the price of eternal diamonds for pieces of glass that are to be smashed. A point has occurred to me in connection with this, and I shall tell it. It is like this:
Passionate love is an ardent sort of love. When it is directed towards transitory objects, it either causes its owner perpetual torment and pain, or, since the metaphorical beloved is not worth the price of such fervent love, it causes the lover to search for an eternal beloved. Then metaphorical love is transformed into true love.
Thus, there are in man thousands of emotions, each of which has two degrees, one metaphorical, the other, true. For example, the emotion of anxiety for the future is present in everyone. When a person is intensely anxious at the future, he sees that he possesses nothing to guarantee that he will reach the future he is anxious about. Also, in respect of sustenance, there is an undertaking for it, and the future is brief and not worth such intense worry. So he turns away from the future towards the true future beyond the grave, which is long-lasting, and which for the heedless there is no undertaking.
Man also displays intense ambition for possessions and position, then he sees that the transient property which has been put temporarily under his supervision, and calamitous fame and position, which are dangerous and lead to hypocrisy, are not worth such intense ambition. He turns away from them towards spiritual rank and degrees in closeness to Allah, which constitute true rank, and towards provisions for the hereafter, and good works, which are true property. Metaphorical ambition, which is a bad quality, is transformed into true ambition, an elevated quality.
And, for example, with intense obstinacy, man expends his emotions on trivial, fleeting, transient things. Then he sees that he pursues for a year something not worth even a minute’s obstinacy. Also, in the name of obstinacy, he persists in something damaging and harmful. Then he sees that this powerful emotion was not given him for such things and that it is contrary to wisdom and truth to expend it on them. So he utilizes his intense obstinacy, not on those unnecessary transient matters, but on the elevated and eternal truths of belief and foundations of Islam and service and duties pertaining to the hereafter. Metaphorical obstinacy, a base quality, is transformed into true obstinacy; that is, ardent steadfastness and constancy in what is right, a fine and good quality.
Thus, as these three examples show, if man uses the faculties given to him on account of the soul and this world, and behaves heedlessly as though he was going to remain in the world for ever, they become the means to base morality, wastefulness, and futility. But if he expends the lesser of them on the matters of this world and the more intense of them on spiritual duties and duties pertaining to the hereafter, they become the source of laudable morals and the means to happiness in this world and the next in conformity with wisdom and reality.
My guess is that one reason the advice and admonitions given at this time have been ineffective is that those giving them say: “Don’t be ambitious! Don’t display greed! Don’t hate! Don’t be obstinate! Don’t love the world!” That is, they propose something that is apparently impossible for those they address like changing their inborn natures. If only they would say: “Turn these emotions towards beneficial things, change their direction, their channel,” their advice would be both effective, and they would be proposing something within the bounds of their wills.
F o u r t h l y : The differences between ‘Islam’ and ‘belief’ have frequently been the subjects of discussion among Islamic scholars. One group has said that they are the same, while another has said that they are not the same, but that there cannot be one without the other. They have expressed various ideas similar to this. I myself have understood the following difference:
Islam is a preference, while belief is a conviction. To put it another way, Islam is taking the part of the truth and is submission and obedience to it, and belief is acceptance of and assent to the truth. Long ago I saw certain irreligious people who fervently supported the injunctions of the Qur’an. That is to say, such people by in one respect taking the part of the truth were Muslim, and were called “irreligious Muslims.” Then later I saw certain believers who did not show any support for the injunctions of the Qur’an, they did not take the part of them, and they reflected the term “non-Muslim believers.”
Can belief without Islam be the means of salvation?
The Answer: Just as Islam without belief cannot be the means of salvation, neither can belief without Islam be the means of salvation. All praise and bounty is Allah’s, through the grace of the Qur’an’s miraculousness, the comparisons of the Risale-i Nur have demonstrated the fruits and results of the religion of Islam and Qur’anic truths in such a way that even if someone without religion does not understand them, it is not possible for him not to be sympathetic towards them. And they have shown the evidences and proofs of belief and Islam in such powerful fashion that if a non-Muslim even understands them, he is certain to assent to them. Although he would be a non-Muslim, he would believe. Yes, the Words show the fruits of belief and Islam to be sweet and delectable like the fruits of the Tuba-tree of Paradise, and show their results to be pleasant and agreeable like the pleasures of happiness in this world and the next. They therefore induce in those who see them and know them a feeling of infinite partiality, support, and surrender. And they have demonstrated proofs as powerful as the chains of beings and numerous as minute particles so that they afford infinite conviction and strength of belief. On certain occasions even, when testifying to belief in the invocations of Shah Naqshband and saying, In accordance with that we live, in accordance with it we shall die, and in accordance with it shall we be raised up on the morrow, I have felt an infinite feeling of partiality. If the whole world was given me, I could not sacrifice a single truth of belief. It causes me extreme distress to imagine the reverse of a truth of belief for a minute even. Even if the whole world was to be given me, my soul would submit without hesitation for the existence of a single truth of belief. When I say, We believe in what You have sent through the Prophet, and we believe in what You have revealed through the Book, and we assent to it, I feel an infinite strength of belief. I think the opposite of all the truths of belief is rationally impossible, and I consider the people of misguidance to be infinitely foolish and crazy.
I send many greetings to your parents and offer them my respects. So let them pray for me. They are like my mother and father, since you are my brother. And I send greetings to the people of your village, especially to all those who listen to you reading the Words.
The Enduring One, He is the Enduring One!
S a i d N u r s i
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The Tenth Letter explains the issues like qadar and lawh al-mahfuz (the preserved tablet) by defining the 'Clear Book' and the 'Clear Record; it also gives information about where the Great Gathering will take place.
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- LIMITS OF SCIENCE AND RELIGION
- STUDIES IN THE FIELD OF PSYCHIATRY AND RELIGION
- INTRODUCTION / EPISTEMOLOGY OF BELIEF
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