What kind of a tafsir is Risale-i Nur? Who is Badiuzzaman Said Nursi?

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What kind of a tafsir is Risale-i Nur? Who is Badiuzzaman Said Nursi?

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Dear Brother / Sister,

RISALE-I NUR COLLECTION is an original work with its language and content as well as its written style and arrangement. This work, which was generally written on the mountains, in the countryside or under the deadly conditions of dungeons, deals with the heaviest, deepest and most ambiguous issues, the most difficult questions related to ilm, and presents solutions to the problems that have been discussed for centuries, in a way that cannot be expected under those circumstances; in addition, it does all of them in a style and method peculiar to it.   

Risale-i Nur has commonly been described as “a contemporary tafsir”. This description reflects a fact since it is directly based on the Quran and it explains some verses of the Quran related to belief in a detailed way.   

However, Risale-i Nur differs from ordinary tafsir books in terms of its arrangement and style of explanation; some parts of the Collection (NineteenthLetter, Twenty-Ninth Flash, Nineteenth Word, addendums in general and defenses, etc.) include works that can be studied in other branches of science. For instance, it is understood at first sight that İşârâtü’l-İ’câz and Sünuhat are not books that can be classified in the same way.  

Another aspect of Risale-i Nur that is as important as tafsir is related to the science of kalam. It might be more appropriate to deal with the majority of the Collection within the science of kalam. In the remaining parts including addendums, issues related to the methods of service are in majority. 

When Risale-i Nur is compared to the works on the history of kalam and classical kalam books, it will not be difficult to see that it developed a brand-new style in this field and marked a new epoch. Besides, the writer of Risale-i Nur mentions this issue clearly in various places in his works.  

Risale-i Nur attracted the attention of many people with its style of dealing with issues, its depth in its content and its comprehensiveness. On the one hand, it has been read by various layers of people in Turkey and abroad; on the other hand, international symposiums have been held about it and it has been the topic of many academic articles and theses.

For instance, Prof. Dr. Taha Abdurrahman of Morocco, one of the contemporary thinkers, mentions the great revolution Risale-i Nur made in the world of thought; he attracts attention to the fact that this aspect of Risale-i Nur is remarkable along with its other aspects:

"Some Western philosophers put the intellect in the center of everything; and they relied on only the things that are the products of the intellect. They even went so far regarding the issue that they brought a definition for the heavenly books such as the Bible and the Quran and the religions they represented in the intellectual system by including them among other things based on the intellect. That is, they regarded the mind as something fixed and made the celestial books and religions go round it just as old people thought that the world was fixed and that the sun went round it.

"Badiuzzaman Said Nursi changed this trend in the world of thought and put it in the course where it needed to be with Risale-i Nur - just as Copernicus did in the world of science. Copernicus refuted the old view that the world was fixed and the sun went round it; instead, he proved that the world turned around its own axis and around the sun. Badiuzzaman Said made a similar revolution in the world of thought with Risale-i Nur. He said, "Man’s world of thought cannot be fixed; the world of thought turns around its own axis and around the sun of Revelation." Thus, He determined the real place where human thought should be, and illuminated and relieved the mind by saving it from loneliness and darkness."

In addition, Risale-i Nur addresses the heart, soul and all other senses as well as the mind since it is a Quranic tafsir. It sheds light on all dimensions of ethics and offers solutions for many social problems. However, the best way to understand its many other virtues similar to this one is to open it, read it and live it.

What kind of a tafsir is Risale-i Nur?

Tafsirs are divided into two. The first ones are the tafsirs that explain the phrases, words and sentences of the Quran, explain and prove.The second ones explain the truths of the Quran related to belief with strong evidence, prove and explain. This part is very important. The tafsirs in the first group sometimes deal with this part in summary. However, Risale-i Nur is a spiritual tafsir that is based on this second part and that silences stubborn philosophers incomparably.

Risale-i Nur is a collection that explains the truths of the Quran, which is our holy book and which has been a guide for millions of people in every century, in a rational and objective way, away from subjective theories and views; and it presents them to humanity so that they will benefit from them.  

Risale-i Nur is a luminous tafsir of the verses of the Quran.It is full of the proven truths of belief and oneness. It was prepared based on the understanding of all layers of people and is equipped with exact sciences.

Risale-i Nur answers the needs of this age fully.It satisfies the mind and the heart. It convinces scrupulous sceptics. It forces even the most stubborn philosophers to surrender. Risale-i Nur eliminates all of the questions that come to mind. It explains the levels of belief from atoms to the sun. It proves the divine oneness and the truth of prophethood.

Risale-i Nur proves all of the issues that can come to mind related to belief mentally, scientifically and logically with definite evidencesfrom the layers of the earth and skies, angels and spirits, the reality of time, the occurrence of the resurrection and the hereafter, the nature of death to the source of eternal bliss and destruction. It supports positive sciences. It convinces the mind and heart with definite evidences and eliminates doubts.  

Once, the great Turkish poet Mehmed Akif stated the following in a literary meeting: "Victor Hugo, Shakespeare, Descartes, etc. can only be Said Nursi’s students in literature and philosophy."

When Badiuzzaman Said Nursi saves people from debauchery and deviation with  Risale-i Nur, he does not use the method of giving fear and terror. It shows one hundred pains in an illegitimate pleasure, overcomes the feelings and saves the heart and spirit from being overcome by feelings. It proves that there is a seed of oleander of Hell in unbelief and deviation, that they cause man suffer torture of Hell even in the world, that there are delicious flavors and pleasures in belief, Islam and worship and that they gain man a kind of reward like seeds and fruits of Paradise in the world.

The Quran is an all-embracing divine speech and universal dominical address delivered from the Sublime Throne that addresses all the classes, nations, and members of mankind in every age. So also, and especially at this time, does it encompass many sciences and branches of learning related to the physical aspects of the world, knowledge of which is beyond the capacity of a single individual or small group.

Therefore, a commentary issuing from the understanding and imaginative power of a single individual, the scope of whose comprehension is very narrow with regard to time, place, and specialization, cannot truly expound the Quran. For an individual cannot be acquainted with and be an expert in all the exact sciences and the branches of knowledge concerned with the spiritual and material states of nations and peoples, all of whom the Qur’an addresses.

And he cannot be free of bias towards his own profession and discipline that he might explicate the truths of the Qur’an impartially.

Also, a person’s understanding is peculiar to him and he may not call on others to accept it – unless it be affirmed by a consensus of some sort.

In consequence of this, a commentary should be written after minute studies and researches by an elevated committee of authoritative scholars each of whom is a specialist in a number of sciences, proving the Qur’an’s subtle meanings and its fine points to be found scattered through other commentaries, and its truths, which become manifest in time due to the discoveries of science. Just as its legal ordinances have to be ordered and regulated, not according to the thought of a single individual, but by such a committee after being scrutinized and studied minutely by it. Thus, gaining the trust and confidence of the mass of the people, the committee will implicitly assume responsibility for them and be an authoritative source for the Muslim community.

Indeed, one who expounds the Quran should possess high intelligence, penetrating independent judgement, and a high degree of sainthood. But in these times in particular, such conditions can be met only by the brilliantcollective personality born of the co-operation of an elevated, esteemed committee and the uniting of the minds of its members, of their assistance for one another and harmony of spirit, and of their freedom of thought, and, being free of bias, of their complete sincerity. Only a collective personality such as this can expound the Qur’an.

For in accordance with the rule, ‘What is not found in the parts is present in the whole,’ conditions like these which are not to be found in every individual are present in the group.

Great Islamic scholars and sheikhs reached the following conclusion after a lot of experience and tests: Whatever Badiuzzaman Said Nursi says is true. His works are based on the inspirations coming to his heart and they receive the approval and appreciation of the majority of scholars.

Risale-i Nur, is a high and bright tafsir of the miraculous Quranwith a spiritual miracle in this age. Yes, Risale-i Nur is the conqueror and beloved of hearts, sultan of spirits, teacher of minds, trainer and cleaner of souls.  

Thus, Badiuzzaman Said Nursi discovered the truths in the Quran that this age needed and was able to interpret and explain the Quran in a way that everybody could benefit in accordance with their abilities. Therefore, it is thought that Risale-i Nur is an unprecedented masterpiece.

Who is Badiuzzaman Said Nursi?

Said Nursi was born in 1876 in Nurs village, Hizan in the province of Bitlis. In his childhood, he studied in the madrasahs around. Due to his extraordinary intelligence and memory, he was first known as "Mulla Said, the Famous". Afterwards, he became known as "Badiuzzaman" "the Wonder of the Time".

During the years when he was a student, he memorized ninety books. He revised one of them every night. Those revisions became a means of understanding the verses of the Quran in depth and he saw that each verse of the Quran encompassed the whole universe. 

He went to Istanbul, which was the center of the caliphate, in early 1900s with the intention of establishing an Islamic university in the east called "Madrasatuz-Zahra", in which religious and exacts sciences will be studied together; he made efforts to realize this idea throughout his life. He could not establish the university but he established a madrasah system that had branches all over the country. 

During the First World War, he worked as a volunteering regiment commander in the eastern front. He was wounded during the war and was captivated by Russians. He was a prisoner of war for two and a half years when he escaped by making use of the chaos caused by the Bolshevik revolution in 1917. When he returned, he was appointed by the general staff as a member of "Darul-Hikmatil-Islamiyya", which was the highest religious consultation center of the Ottoman State. 

During the years when Istanbul was under the occupation of the British, he published a booklet called "Khutuwat as-Sitta" against them. He supported the struggle of independence started in Anatolia.

While he was busy with teaching in Van in 1925, he was exiled to Burdur, then to Isparta and after that to Barla due to the revolt started by Sheikh Said. He remained there for eight years. He wrote most parts of his tafsir of the Quran called Risale-i Nur there. He was sent to Eskişehir Court due to his books and ideas in 1935.

He continued writing his works in Kastamonu, where he was exiled. He was sent to  Denizli Court in 1943 and Afyon Court in 1948. He was acquitted in both courts.

When the multi-party system started in Turkey in 1950, religious rights and freedom increased. Said Nursi established Nur madrasahs in Emirdağ, Isparta and the towns around it when he lived in this region and raised a lot of students. He printed and published his books.

Badiuzzaman Said Nursi died on March 23, 1960.

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