Thirteenth Letter includes answers to the state of Badiuzzaman Said Nursi in his exile life, and the questions why he did not apply for a permission document and why he stayed away from politics.
The Thirteenth Letter
In His Name!
And there is nothing but it glorifies Him with praise.
Peace on those who follow Guidance, and may those who follow their own desires be censured!
My Dear Brothers!
You frequently ask about my situation and how I am, and why I have not applied for my release papers, and concerning my indifference towards politics and the state of the world. Since you have repeated these questions on numerous occasions, and also ask me them in meaning if not in fact, I am compelled to reply to them not as the New Said, but in the language of the Old Said.
YOUR FIRST QUESTION
Are you comfortable? How are you?
T h e A n s w e r : I offer a hundred thousand thanks to the Most Merciful of the Merciful that He has transformed the various wrongs ‘the worldly’1 perpetrate against me into various forms of mercy. It is like this:
Having given up politics and withdrawn from the world, I was living in a mountain cave and thinking of the hereafter when ‘the worldly’ wrongfully plucked me from it and sent me into exile. The All-Compassionate and Wise Creator turned the exile into mercy; He transformed the solitude on the mountain, which was unsafe and exposed to factors that would harm sincerity, into a retreat in the safe and sincere mountains of Barla. While a prisoner-of-war in Russia I formed the intention to withdraw into a cave towards the end of my life and offered supplications for that purpose. The Most Merciful of the Merciful made Barla the cave and bestowed the benefits of a cave, but He did not burden the difficulties and troubles of a cave on my weak being. Only, in Barla there were two or three people who were suspicious, and due to their groundless fears I suffered torments. It was as though those friends were thinking of my comfort, but due to their suspicions, they caused harm both to my heart and to the service of the Qur’an.
Moreover, although ‘the worldly’ gave the document in question to all the exiles, and released the criminals from prison and offered them an amnesty, they wrongfully did not give it to me. In order to further employ me in the service of the Qur’an and make me write to a greater extent the lights of the Qur’an called the Words, my Compassionate Sustainer left me in untroubled manner in this exile and transformed it into a great instance of compassion.
In addition, although ‘the worldly’ left all the influential and powerful leaders and shaykhs who could interfere in their world in the towns and cities and permitted them to meet with their relatives and everyone, they wrongfully isolated me and sent me to a village. With one or two exceptions they gave permission to none of my relatives and fellow-countrymen to visit me. My All-Compassionate Creator transformed that isolation into a vast mercy for me. It left my mind clear and was the means of my receiving the effulgence of the All-Wise Qur’an as it is, free of all malice and ill-will.
Also, ‘the worldly’ considered the two commonplace letters I wrote in two years at the beginning of my exile to be excessive. And now even, they do not look favourably on one or two visitors coming to me purely for the sake of the hereafter once every ten or twenty days or once a month; and they have harassed me because of this. My All-Compassionate Sustainer and All-Wise Creator transformed that tyranny into mercy, for He transformed it into a desirable solitude and acceptable retreat for me during these Three Months, which will gain a spiritual life of ninety years. All thanks be to Allah for all conditions, my condition and comfort is thus.....
YOUR SECOND QUESTION
Why don’t you apply for your release papers?
T h e A n s w e r : I have been sentenced by Divine Determining in this matter, not by ‘the worldly.’ My application is to Divine Determining.
Whenever it gives permission, whenever it halts my sustenance here, then I shall go. The reality of this is as follows: there are two causes of everything that befalls one, one apparent and the other, real. ‘The worldly’ are the apparent cause; they brought me here. As for Divine Determining, that was the true cause; it sentenced me to this isolation. The apparent cause acted wrongfully, whereas the true cause acted with justice. The apparent one thought like this: “This man serves learning and religion excessively, he may interfere in our world.” Because of this possibility, they exiled me and perpetrated a threefold wrong. Divine Determining saw that I could not truly serve religion and learning with sincerity, so it sentenced me to this exile. It transformed their compounded tyranny into a multiple mercy. Since in my exile Divine Determining is dominant and it is just, I have recourse to it. For sure, the apparent cause has certain pretexts and things; that means it is meaningless to make application to them. If they possessed some right or some powerful cause, then application could have been made to them also.
Although I have completely given up their world -may it be the end of them- and their politics -may it rebound on them- since the pretexts and suspicions they think up are of course baseless, I do not want to imbue their suspicions with reality by applying to them. If I had an appetite to meddle in world politics, the reins of which are in the hands of Westerners, it would not have remained thus secret for eight hours let alone eight years; it would have leaked out and shown itself. Whereas for eight years I have felt no desire to read a single newspaper, and I have not read one. For four years I have been here under surveillance, and there has not been the slightest sign of my meddling in politics. That is to say, service of the All-Wise Qur’an is superior to all politics so that it does not allow one to lower oneself to world politics, which consists mostly of falsehood.
The second reason for my not applying is this: to claim a right before those who suppose wrong to be right, is a sort of wrong. I do not want to perpetrate such a wrong.
YOUR THIRD QUESTION
Why are you so indifferent towards world politics? You don’t change your attitude at all, even in the face of so many events occurring in the world; does this mean you consider them to be good, or are you frightened so that you are silent?
T h e A n s w e r : Service of the All-Wise Qur’an severely prohibited me from the world of politics. It even made me forget about it. For the whole story of my life testifies that fear has never taken me by the hand and prevented me taking the way I considered to be right, nor can it. And why should I be frightened? I have no connection with the world apart from the appointed hour. I have no family and children to think of. It is not wanting to preserve worldly glory and renown which consists of hypocritical, undeserved fame, may Allah bless those who help in destroying it. There only remains the appointed hour and that is in the hands of the All-Glorious Creator. Who has the power to interfere with it before the time of its coming? Anyway we are among those who prefer honourable death to degradation in life. Someone resembling the Old Said spoke the following lines: We are those for whom there is no middle way; For us is either the place of honour among the people, or the grave.2
Indeed, service of the Qur’an prevents me from thinking of socio-political life. It is like this: human life is a journey. I saw at this time through the light of the Qur’an that the way has entered a swamp. The caravan of mankind is stumbling forward in stinking and filthy mud. Part of it is travelling a s afe way. Part of it has found certain means to save itself as far as is possible from the muddy swamp. The great majority are travelling in darkness in the stinking, filthy, muddy swamp. Twenty per cent suppose the filthy mud to be musk and ambergris because they are drunk, and are smearing it over their faces and eyes... they stumble on till they drown in it. However, eighty per cent understand it is a swamp and realize it is stinking and filthy, but they are bewildered and cannot see the safe way... Thus there are two solutions for these:
The First: to bring the drunken twenty per cent to their senses with a club.
The Second to point out the safe way to the bewildered by showing them a light.
I look and see that eighty people are brandishing clubs at the twenty, while the light is not shown truly to the unhappy and bewildered eighty. And even if it is shown, since those showing it have both the club and the light in one hand, it does not inspire confidence. The bewildered man anxiously wonders: “Does he want to attract me with the light then hit me with the club?” And sometimes when, due to some defect, the club is broken, the light flies away too or else is extinguished.
And so, the swamp is the dissolute social life of mankind, which breeds heedlessness and misguidance. The drunkards are those obdurate people who take delight in misguidance, and the bewildered, those who detest misguidance, but cannot extract themselves from it. They want to be saved, but cannot find the way: they are confused. As for the clubs, they are the political currents. And the light, the truths of the Qur’an. Light cannot be disputed, nor can enmity be held towards it. No one can detest it apart from Satan the Accursed. And so, in order to hold in my hand the light of the Qur’an, I said, “I seek refuge with Allah from Satan and from politics,” and throwing away the club of politics, embraced the light with both hands. I saw that in the political currents, there are lovers of those lights in both the opposition and the supporters. It is necessary that no side and no group casts aspersions on or holds back from the lights of the Qur’an which are shown, or from the teachings of the Qur’an, which are far superior to all political currents and partisanship and are exempt from and free of all their biased considerations. Unless they be the satans in human form or animals in human dress, who imagine irreligion and atheism to be politics and support them...
All praise be to Allah, because I withdrew from politics, I did not reduce the daimond-like truths of the Qur’an to the value of fragments of glass amid accusations of political propaganda. Indeed, the diamonds increase their value in the view of every group in brilliant fashion.
And they shall say: “All praise be to Allah, Who has guided us to this [felicity]; never could we have found guidance, had it not been for the guidance of Allah; indeed it was the truth that the prophets of our Sustainer brought to us!”3
The Enduring One, He is the Enduring One!
S a i d N u r s i
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1. ‘The worldly’ (ehl-i dünya): those whose view is restricted to the life of this world, and who disregard the hereafter, or those who sell religion for this world. (Tr.)
2. Abu Firas al-Hamadani. (Tr.)
3. Qur’an, 7:43.
- Fifth Point: It is an answer that will silence the worldly for the rules and bid’ahs they offered to Badiuzzaman Said Nursi.
- The Addendum of the Sixteenth Letter: It was written with the tongue of the Old Said in order to dispel the groundless doubts and panics of the worldly and the irreligious people about Badiuzzaman Said Nursi.
- Third Point: It explains an important reason for Badiuzzaman Said Nursi’s endurance against hard pressures with two examples.
- Fourth Point: It is the answer given to the doubtful questions of the worldly. This answer explains the divine assistance that cannot be denied by any means as a karamah belonging to the service of the Quran.
- Third Satanic Stratagem: Greed and ambition.
- The Sixth Letter describes the state of Badiuzzaman Said Nursi away from home and expresses the consolation given by the verse "For us Allah sufficeth, and He is the best disposer of affairs".
- The Third: A comparison made between the time of the Prophet and nowadays in terms of the conditions that advance the abilities of ijtihad.
- Sixteenth Letter: It includes the answers of Badiuzzaman Said Nursi as five points to questions about the social life and politics in the period of one-party administration.
- Third Matter: It is an answer given to those who try to include the idea of nationalism in Islam in a negative way.
- A Brief Look at Bediuzzaman Said Nursi’s Life, The Risale-i Nur, and ‘Letters-1928-1932’