Seeds of Reality are aphorisms from the booklet called Seeds of Reality, which was first published in 1920.

Seeds of Reality

[This consists of aphorisms taken from a collection published thirty-five years ago called Seeds of Reality]

PREFACE to the original edition:

For some time now, my uncle considers matters with the heart alone, rather than with the intellect. If something is imparted to his heart clearly, he gets me to write it down. He says: “Knowledge is that which may be established in the heart. If it is only in the intellect, it lacks value for man.” And he says: “These matters are not only scholarly rules, but certain principles of mine pertaining to the heart which I have taken as fundamental to my conscience.” He told me to choose those I wanted from his “inspirations of the heart,” and I have shown the works from which I have selected these aphorisms: Nokta min Nuri Ma‘rifeti’llah; Isharat al-I‘jaz; Sunûhat; Shua‘âtu Ma‘rifeti’n-Nebi; Rumûz; Tulu‘at; Muhâkemat; Münâzarat; Ishârât; Qizil Ijaz.1

Compiler, his nephew, Abdurrahman

( Istanbul 1336/1920)

  In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.

All praise be to Allah, the Sustainer of All the Worlds,

and blessings and peace be upon our master Muhammad,

and on all his Family and Companions.

1. The prescription for a sick age, an ailing nation, an ill member, is to follow the Qur’an.

2. The prescription for a glorious though unfortunate continent, an illustrious though hapless state, a noble though ownerless people, is Islamic Unity.

3. One who does not have the strength to raise and turn the earth and all the stars and suns as though they were beads of a tesbih cannot lay claim to creating anything in the universe. For everything is tied to everything else.

4. The raising to life of all animate beings at the resurrection of the dead can be no more difficult for Divine Power than restoring to life a fly in the spring, heavy with the death-stained sleep of winter. For Pre-Eternal Power is essential; it does not change; impotence cannot penetrate it; obstacles cannot intervene in it; there can be no degrees in it; everything is the same in relation to it.

5. He who created the eye of the mosquito is the one who created the sun.

6. The one who ordered the stomach of a flea is also the one who ordered the solar system.

7. There is such miraculousness in the universe’s compilation that if to suppose the impossible all natural causes possessed will and the power to act, they would still prostrate in utter impotence before such miraculousness, exclaiming: “Glory be unto You! We have no power; indeed You are the Mighty, the Wise!”

8. An actual effect has not been given to causes, for Divine Unity and Glory require it to be thus. Only, in the outer aspect of things, causes are a veil to the Hand of Power; and this, Divine Dignity and Grandeur require, so that in the superficial view the Hand of Power should not be seen to be directly in contact with lowly things.

9. The inner dimensions of things, where Divine Power has its connection, are transparent and pure.

10. The Manifest World is a lace veil strewn over the Worlds of the Unseen.

11. An infinite power sufficient to create all the universe is necessary to create a single point and set it in its place. For every letter of this Mighty Book of the Universe, and particularly all its living letters, has a face looking to all the sentences, and an eye that beholds them.

12. It is well-known: they all looked for the crescent moon of the ‘Id, but no one could see it. An elderly man swore he had seen it. But what he had seen was not the crescent moon; it was a curved white eyelash. What is an eyelash compared with the moon?... What is the motion of minute particles compared with the one who fashions all beings?

13. Nature resembles a printing-press, not the printer. It is an embroidery, not the Embroiderer. It is passive, not active. It is a pattern, not a source. It is an order, and not the Orderer. It is a law, not a Power. It is a code of laws proceeding from a will, not an external reality.

14. The lure and attraction in the conscience, which is the essential nature of conscious beings, is felt through the appeal of a drawing truth.

15. The essential nature of beings does not lie. The inclination to grow in a seed declares: “I shall sprout and produce fruit!” It speaks the truth. In an egg is the desire for life; it says: “I shall be a hen!,” and this comes about, with Divine permission. It speaks the truth. Due to the inclination to freeze, a handful of water says: “I shall take up more space!,” and unyielding iron cannot give it the lie; the rightness of its words splits the iron. These inclinations are the manifestations of the creative commands proceeding from Divine Will.

16. Pre-Eternal Power, which does not leave ants without a prince, or bees without a queen, certainly does not leave mankind without prophets. As the Splitting of the Moon was a miracle of Muhammad (PBUH) for men in the Manifest World, so the Ascension was a supreme miracle of His before the angels and spirit beings in the World of the Inner Dimensions of Things. Through this clear wonder, the sainthood of his prophethood was proved, and like lightening or the moon, that shining Being scattered light through those inner worlds.

17. The two phrases of the confession of faith testify to each other. The first is ‘the proof of cause to effect’ of the second, while the second is ‘the proof of effect to cause’ of the first.

18. Life is a sort of manifestation of Unity within multiplicity, and therefore leads to unity. Life makes one thing the owner of everything.

19. Spirit is a law possessing external existence, a conscious law. Like the stable and enduring laws of creation, spirit comes from the World of the Divine Command and the attribute of Will. Divine Power clothes it an existence decked out with senses. He makes a subtle, flowing being the shell to that jewel. Existent spirit is the brother of the conceivable law. They are both enduring and come from the World of the Divine Command. If Pre-Eternal Power had clothed the laws governing in the species of beings in external existence, they would have been spirits. And if the spirit banishes consciousness, it still would be an undying law.

20. Beings are visible through light, and their existence is known through life. Both are revealers.

21. Christianity will either erupt, or being purified, will lay down its arms before Islam. Christianity was split apart several times, and Protestantism emerged. Then Protestantism was rent, and approached the true affirmation of Divine Unity. It is preparing to be rent again. It will either erupt and be extinguished, or it will see before it the truths of Islam, which encompass the basis of true Christianity, and it will lay down its arms.

The Prophet Muhammad (Upon whom be blessings and peace) alluded to this great mystery when he said: “Jesus will appear having descended from the skies; he will be of my community and will act in accordance with my Shari‘a.”

22. It is the sacredness of the authority more than proof that drives the mass of the people to conform.

23. The essentials and incontestable matters of religion, which form ninety-nine per cent, are each diamond pillars, while the controversial matters which are open to interpretation form only ten per cent. Ninety diamond pillars may not be put under the protection of ten gold pillars. Books and interpretations should be telescopes for observing the Qur’an; they should be mirrors; not shadows or deputies!

24. Anyone who is capable may make interpretations of the Law for his own self; but he cannot make the Law.

25. Calling others to accept an idea is dependent on acceptance by the ‘Ulama; otherwise it is innovation, and should be rejected.

26. Since by nature man is noble, he seeks the truth. Sometimes he encounters the false, but supposing it to be the truth preserves it in his heart. Then, when delving into reality, without his willing it, misguidance strikes him on the head; supposing it to be reality, he plunges his head into it.

27. Divine Power has many mirrors, each more subtle and transparent than the last; they vary from water to air, and air to ether, and ether to the World of Similitudes; from the World of Similitudes to the World of Spirits, and even to time, and to thought. A single word in the mirror of the air becomes millions of words. The Pen of Power writes this mystery of reproduction in truly wondrous manner. The reflection contains either its identity or its identity together with its nature. The images of dense beings are moving but dead. While the images of a luminous spirit in their own mirrors are living and linked with it; even if they are not identical, they are not other than it.

28. Since the sun shakes itself in its axial rotation, its fruits do not fall; whereas if it did not shake itself, the planets would fall and be scattered.

29. If the light of thought is not illuminated with the light of the heart and blended with it, it is darkness and breeds tyranny. If the white of the eye, which resembles day, was not together with its black pupil, which resembles night, the eye would not be the eye; it would be unseeing. Similarly, if the black core of the heart is not present in white thought, it lacks insight.

30. If knowledge lacks the insight of the heart, it is ignorance. Taking the part of something is one thing, belief is something else.

31. Embroidering meaningless things is to mislead simple minds.

32. A learned guide should be a sheep, not a bird. A sheep gives its lamb milk, while a bird gives its chick regurgitated food.

33. The existence of something is dependent on the existence of all its parts. As for non-existence, since it occurs though non-existence of one part, a weak man supports destruction in order to demonstrate his power; he acts negatively instead of positively.

34. If the laws of government are not combined with the principles of wisdom, and the bonds of force not combined with the laws of truth, they will not be fruitful among the mass of the people.

35. Tyranny has donned the hat of justice; treachery has clothed itself in the garment of patriotism; jihad has been given the name of rebellion; captivity has been called freedom! Opposites have exchanged forms!

36. Politics which revolves around benefit is savagery.

37. To show friendliness towards a hungry beast does not excite its compassion, but its hunger. Both its fangs and its claws will want their rent!

38. Time has shown that Paradise is not cheap, and neither is Hell unnecessary.

39. While the virtues of those known by the world as the upper classes should be the cause of modesty and humility, they have lead to oppression and arrogance. And while the poverty and powerlessness of the poor and common people should be the cause of compassion and bounty, they have resulted in captivity and condemnation.

40. So long as honour and good things are to be obtained from a thing, they offer it to the upper classes, but if it is a bad thing, they divide it among the ordinary people.

41. If there is no imagined goal, or if it is forgotten or pretended to be forgotten, thoughts perpetually revolve around the ‘I’.

42. The origin of all revolutions and corruption, and the spur and source of all base morals are just two sayings:

The First Saying: “So long as I’m full, what is it to me if others die of hunger?”

The Second Saying: “You suffer hardship so that I can live in ease; you work so that I can eat.”

There is only one remedy for extirpating the First Saying, and that is the obligatory payment of zakat. While the remedy for the Second is the prohibition of usury and interest. Qur’anic justice stands at the door of the world and says to usury and interest: “No entry! It is forbidden! You don’t have the right to enter here!” Mankind did not heed the command, and received a severe blow. So it must heed it before it receives one even more severe!

43. War between nations and states is relinquishing its place to war between the classes of mankind. For just as man does not want to be a slave, so he does not want to be a labourer.

44. Someone who follows his goal by an illicit path is usually punished by receiving the opposite of what he intended. The recompense for illicit love, like love for Europe, is the cruel enmity of the beloved.

45. The past and calamities should be considered with regard to Divine Determining, while the future and sins from the point of view of responsibility before Allah. The Jabariyya and Mu‘tazila are reconciled on this point

46. Impotence should not be resorted to in things for which a solution may be found, while for things for which there is no solution, punishment should not be resorted to.

47. The wounds of life may be healed. But Islamic pride and honour, and national pride, their wounds are extremely deep.

48. It sometimes happens that a single word causes an army to perish, and one bullet leads to the annihilation of thirty million.2 Some conditions are such that a small act raises man to the highest of the high, while others are such that a small action reduces him to the lowest of the low.

49. One grain of truth consumes a stack of lies. One grain of reality is superior to a stack of illusions. Everything you say should be true, but it is not right to say everything true.

50. A person who sees the good in things has good thoughts. And he who has good thoughts receives pleasure from life.

51. What gives life to people is hope, while what kills them is despair.

52. Since early days, this Islamic state took on itself the upholding of the Word of Allah, the maintenance of independence, and jihad for Islam, an obligation which if undertaken by part of the community, released the rest; it considered itself to be charged with sacrificing itself for Islam, which was united, and carrying the banner of the Caliphate. The misfortune it now suffers will therefore be made up for by the future prosperity and freedom of the Islamic World. For this calamity has speeded up in wondrous fashion the growth of Islamic brotherhood, the leaven of our lives.

53. To attribute to Christianity the virtues of civilization, which are not its property, and to show retrogression, the enemy of Islam, to be its friend, is to suggest that the firmament is revolving in the opposite direction.

54. A tarnished, matchless diamond is always superior to a piece of glistening glass.

55. Those who seek everything in materiality know only what their eyes see, and such eyes are blind in spiritual matters.

56. If metaphors fall from the hands of learning into those of ignorance, they are transformed into their literal meanings, opening the door to superstition.

57. Favour greater than Divine favour is not favour. Everything has to be described as it is.

58. Fame also ascribes to man what is not his.

59. Hadiths are the source of life and inspirer of reality.

60. The revival of religion is the revival of the nation. The life of religion is the light of life.

61. The Qur’an, which is a mercy for mankind, only accepts a civilization that comprises the happiness of all, or at least of the majority. Modern civilization has been founded on five negative principles:

1. Its point of support is force, the mark of which is aggression.

2. Its aim and goal is benefit, the mark of which is jostling and tussling.

3. Its principle in life is conflict, the mark of which is strife.

4. The bond between the masses is racialism and negative nat-ionalism, which is nourished through devouring others; its mark is collision.

5. Its enticing service is inciting lust and passion and gratifying the desires. But lust transforms man into a beast.

However, the civilization the Shari‘a of Muhammad (PBUH) comprises and commands is this: its point of support is truth instead of force, the mark of which is justice and harmony. Its goal is virtue in place of benefit, the mark of which is love and attraction. Its means of unity are the ties of religion, country, and class, in place of racialism and nationalism, and the mark of these is sincere brotherhood, peace, and only defence against external aggression. In life is the principle of mutual assistance instead of the principle of conflict, the mark of which is accord and solidarity. And it offers guidance instead of lust, the mark of which is human progress and spiritual advancement.

Do not loosen your hands from Islam, the preserver of our existence; cling onto it with all your strength, or you shall be lost!

62. A general disaster results from the error of the majority. Disaster is the result of crime, and the introduction to reward.

63. A martyr thinks he is alive. Since he did not suffer the pangs of death, he considers the life he sacrificed to be perpetual and not to have been severed. Only, he finds it purer.

64. The pure justice of the Qur’an does not spill the life and blood of an innocent, even for the whole of humanity. The two are the same both in the view of Divine Power, and in the view of justice. But through self-interest man becomes such that he will destroy everything that forms an obstacle to his ambition, even the world if he can, and he will wipe out mankind.

65. Fear and weakness encourage outside influences.

66. Definite benefits should not be sacrificed for imaginary harms.

67. Istanbul politics at the present time are a sickness like Spanish ’flu.

68. Tell a bad man, “You are good, you are good,” and it is not unheard of that he will become good. And tell a good man “You are bad, you are bad,” and it is not rare for him to become bad.

69. So long as the enemy of an enemy remains his enemy, he is a friend; while so long as the friend of an enemy remains his friend, he is an enemy.

70. Obduracy is this: if Satan assists someone, he calls him “an angel,” and calls down blessings on him. But if among his opponents he encounters an angel, he calls him “a satan who has changed his clothes,” and curses him.

71. The remedy for one ill person may be poison for another. If a remedy exceeds its limit, it is the cause of ills.

72. Solidarity in a society results in tranquility in all its activites, while mutual envy causes all its activities to come to a standstill.

73. If the community is not one and a whole, undivided number, addition makes smaller, like multiplying fractions.3

74. Non-acceptance is confused with the acceptance of non-being. The evidence for non-acceptance is the absence of established proof. The acceptance of non-being requires proof of non-being. One is doubt while the other is denial.

75. If doubt in the matters of belief destroys one, or even a hundred, evidences, it does not harm what is posited; for there are hundreds of evidences.

76. The majority of Muslims should be followed. For when they followed the majority, the Umayyads, who were slack in religion, finally entered the Sunni community. As for the Shi‘a, who were firm in religion but remained in the minority as regards their practices, finally only a part of them followed the Rafida.

77. If unanimity concerning good leads to conflict concerning what is better, then sometimes good is better than the better; right is truer than what is truer. Everyone should say about his own way that “It is right,” he should not say “it is the only right way.” Or he should say, “it is good,” but he should not say “it is the only good way.”

78. If there was no Paradise, Hell would not be torment.

79. As time grows older, the Qur’an grows younger; it signs become apparent. Like light sometimes appears as fire, sometimes intense eloquence appears as exaggeration.

80. Degrees in heat occur through the intervention of cold; the degrees of beauty occur through the intervention of ugliness. Pre-Eternal Power is essential, necessary, and inherent. Impotence cannot penetrate it; there can be no degrees it in; everything is equal in relation to it.

81. The sun’s image, which is the effulgence of its manifestation, displays the same identity on the surface of the sea and in all its droplets.

82. Life is a manifestation of Unity; Unity is also its consequence.

83. So long as it remains unknown who are the saints among men, which moment prayers are accepted on Fridays, which night in Ramadan is the Night of Power, and which among the Divine Names is the Greatest Name, other things retain their value and importance is given to them. Twenty years of doubtful life is preferable to a thousand years’ life the end of which is specified.

84. The consequence of sin in this world is evidence for its punishment in the hereafter.

85. In the view of Power, sustenance is as important as life. Power brings into existence, Divine Determining clothes in form, Divine favour nurtures. Life is a summary, a specified product and is apparent. Sustenance is not a summary; it is gradual and widespread, and causes thought. There is no death from hunger, for death occurs before the food stored up in the body in the form of fat is exhausted. That is to say, illness resulting from the giving up of habit kills, not lack of sustenance.

86. The licit sustenance of carniverous wild animals are the innumerable remains of dead animals; they both cleanse the face of the earth, and they find their food.

87. Before entering the mouth and disappearing down the throat, a mouthful worth one kurush and one worth ten are the same. There is only a few seconds’ difference in the mouth. To raise the price from one to ten in order to gratify and please the sense of taste, which is like an inspector and doorkeeper, is most prodigal and wasteful.

88. When pleasure calls, a person should say: “It is as though I ate it.” (Sanki yedim.) For one who made that his principle, could have eaten a mosque called “Sanki Yedim,” but he did not.4

89. Formerly, there was no hunger among Muslims; there was the desire for ease. Now they are hungry, and they have no wish for pleasure.

90. Temporary pains should be smiled on rather than temporary pleasure being smiled on, and should be welcomed. For past pleasures cause one to say: “Alas!”, and “Alas!” is the interpreter of a concealed pain. While past pains cause one to say: “Oh!”, and “Oh!” tells of a permanent pleasure and bounty.

91. Forgetfulness is also a bounty. It allows one to suffer the pains of only one day, and causes the rest to be forgotten.

92. In every calamity is a degree of bounty, like a degree of heat. Greater calamities should be thought of and the degree of bounty in the small one noted, and Allah should be thanked. For if the calamity is blown up, it will grow; and if it is worried over, it will double; the image, the imagining, in the heart will be transformed into reality; and that will pound the heart as well.

93. In society as a whole, everyone has a window, known as rank, through which to see and be seen. If the window is higher than his stature, a person will grow taller through arrogance; and if it is lower than his stature, he will bow down through modesty so to see and be seen at that level. The measure of greatness in man is smallness, that is, modesty. The scale of smallness is bigness; that is, arrogance.

94. The dignity of the weak before the strong becomes arrogance in the strong; while the modesty of the strong before the weak becomes abasement in the weak. The seriousness of someone in authority in their office is dignity, and his humility is abasement. While his seriousness in his house is haughtiness, and his humility, modesty. If an individual is on his own, then his tolerance and self-sacrifice are good acts. But if he is more than one, they are treachery and inauspicious. Someone should swallow his pride in his own name and not be boastful, but he may boast in the name of the nation and should not swallow his pride.

95. To ‘leave it to others’ in planning the preliminaries of a matter is laziness, while in awaiting the outcome it is reliance on Allah. Resignation with the fruits of one’s labour and with fate is contentment, and strengthens the wish to strive. Whereas making do with what exists is to lack enterprise.

96. Just as there is obedience and rebellion in the face of the commands of the Shari‘a, so too there is obedience and rebellion in the face of the creative commands in the universe. With regard to the first, the reward and punishment are mostly in the hereafter, while with the second, they are mostly in this world. For example, the reward of patience is victory; the punishment for idleness is poverty; the reward of effort is wealth, and the reward of constancy, triumph. Justice without equality is not justice.

97. Mutual resemblance is the cause of contradiction; congruity is the basis of solidarity; smallness of character is the source of arrogance; weakness is the source of pride; impotence is the source of opposition; and curiosity is the teacher of knowledge.

98. Through need, and especially through hunger, the Creator’s Power has reined in foremost man, and all the animals, and put them in order. Also, He saved the world from anarchy, and making need the master of civilization, ensured progress.

99. Distress teaches vice. Despair is the source of misguidance; and darkness of heart, the source of distress of the spirit.

100. When men become amiable through following their fancies, women become masculine by being impudent.

A beautiful woman entering a gathering of brothers awakens hypocrisy, rivalry, and envy. That is to say, the unveiling of women led to the unveiling of bad morals in civilized man.

101. The represented forms of little smiling corpses have played a large role in making the evil-polluted perverse spirit of modern man what it is.

102. The prohibited statue is either petrified tyranny, or embodied lust, or personified hypocrisy.

103. For someone who has truly entered into the bounds of Islam by conforming precisely to its incontestable matters, the desire to expand is the desire to be perfected. But for someone who may be counted outside those bounds through slackness, the desire to expand is the desire to destroy. In time of storm and earthquake, it is advisable to not open the door of ijtihad, and to close the windows too. The overly free and easy should not be indulged with dispensations, but determinedly and severely warned.

104. Unfortunate truths become worthless in worthless hands.

105. Our globe resembles a living being; it displays the signs of life. If it was to be reduced to the size of an egg, would it not become a sort of animal? Or if a microbe was enlarged to the size of the globe, would it not resemble it? If it has life, it has a spirit too. If the world was reduced to the size of man, and the stars made like the particles and substance of his being, would that not also be a living conscious being? Allah has many such animals.

106. There are two Shari‘as:

The First is the Shari‘a that we know which orders the actions and conduct of man, the microcosm, and proceeds from the attribute of Speech.

The Second is the Supreme Shari‘a of Creation, which orders the motion and rest of the world, the macroanthropos, proceeds from the attribute of Will, and is sometimes wrongly called Nature. The angels are a vast community; they are the bearers, representatives, and personifications of the creative commands which proceed from the attribute of Will and are the Shari‘a of Creation.

107. If you weigh the senses of a microscopic organism against man’s senses, you will observe a strange mystery: man is in the form of Ya. Sin., inscribed in him is the Sura Ya. Sin.

108. Materialism is a spiritual plague which has infected man with a fearsome fever, causing him to be visited by Divine wrath. The more the ability to inculcate and criticize expands, so does that plague spread.

109. The most wretched, distressed, and suffering of men is the man with no work. For idleness is the cousin of non-existence, while striving is the life of existence and the waking state of life.

110. Profiting from banks, the doors of usury and interest, is for the infidels, who are the worst of mankind, and for the most tyrannous of the former, and for the most base of the latter. They are the cause of absolute harm for the World of Islam, so mankind’s affluence should not be taken into consideration. For if the infidels are warmongers and aggressive, so too they are without respect and honour.

111. The Khutba in the Friday Prayers is for mentioning the essentials and incontestable matters of religion, not for instructing in theoretical matters. The Arabic terms recall these in more elevated fashion. If Hadiths and Qur’anic verses are balanced, it will be apparent that even the most eloquent of men cannot attain to the verses’ eloquence, and cannot resemble them.

S a i d N u r s i

O Allah! O Most Merciful! O Most Compassionate! O Single One! O Ever-Living One! O Self-Subsistent One! O Arbiter! O All-Just One! O Most Holy! For the sake of Your Greatest Name, and in veneration of the Qur'an of Miraculous Exposition, and in honour of Your Most Noble Messenger, Upon whom be blessings and peace, bestow everlasting happiness in Paradise on the producers of this book and on all those who assist them. Amen! And grant them unending success in the service of belief and the Qur'an. Amen! And for each word of The Words write a thousand merits in the books of their good deeds. Amen! And bestow on them perseverance, constancy, and sincerity in publishing the Risale-i Nur. Amen!

O Most Merciful of the Merciful! Grant happiness in this world and the next to all the Students of the Risale-i Nur. Amen! Preserve them from the evil of satans among jinn and men. Amen! And forgive the faults of this impotent and wretched Said. Amen!

In the name of all the Students of the Risale-i Nur,

Said Nursi


1. These works were all written in Turkish with the exception of Isharat al-I’jaz and Qizil Ijaz, which were written in Arabic. The former was translated into Turkish in the 1950’s by Bediuzzaman’s brother Abdülmecid. (Tr.)

2. A single bullet fired by a Serbian soldier at the Austrian crown-prince set off the Great War, and was the cause of thirty million souls being lost.

3. It is well-known that in arithmetic, multiplication and addition increase: four times four makes sixteen. While in fractions, on the contrary multiplication and addition make smaller: a third multiplied by a third makes a ninth. In just the same way, if there is not integral wholeness, correctness, and unity among people, by multiplying they become smaller, spoilt, and without value.

4. That is, the person put aside the money saved through his abstinence, and built the mosque with the proceeds. It is in the Fatih district of Istanbul. (Tr.)

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