What is Risale-i Nur? Will you give detailed information about it?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Risale-i Nur is an interpretation (tafsir) of the Quran written according to the understanding and needs of our century. The spiritual illnesses and needs of each century are different from one another. The scholars of a century collect the appropriate medicines they get from the pharmacy of the Quran and offer them to the ummah to benefit from them.

We live in the age of science and knowledge. It has brought about skepticism and proof. Doubt and proof are not related only to science, but also to religion and spirituality. The view “I do not believe what I do not see” caused the creeds of so many people to be shaken. That situation necessitated explaining every issue related to Islam, primarily the principles of belief and even made it an obligation.

Risale-i Nur Collection is an interpretation of the Quran where you can find answers to that need and many other issues.

While Risale-i Nur is considered to be within the science of tafsir since it explains the verses of the Quran in terms of meaning, it is also considered within the framework of the science of kalam in terms of discussing the problems of the age such as belief and ethics. The author himself mentions those two issues in the Collection.

Risale-i Nur attracts 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.

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:

The German philosopher Kant and his followers 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 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.

Risale-i Nur is an interpretation (tafsir) of the Quran written by Badiuzzaman Said Nursi. He first wrote the book titled İşaratu’l-İ’caz with the intention of interpreting the Quran from beginning to end. It interprets the chapter of al-Fatiha and the first thirty-three verses of the chapter of al-Baqara. This work, written in Arabic, is a masterpiece in terms of showing the miracles in the prose of the Quran.

The author was thinking of interpreting the entire Quran in the same way as sixty to seventy volumes but the events led him to write a Turkish interpretation of the Quran. He continued writing his tafsir for twenty-three years in Barla, Kastamonu and Emirdağ, where he was sent to exile, as well as in Eskişehir, Denizli and Afyon prisons.

Risale-i Nur does not explain all the verses of the Quran from beginning to end, but about a thousand verses that are related to belief and truth in particular. In the light of the verses that are explained, it gains man a tremendous foundation to interpret other verses.

The verses dealt with in Risale-i Nur are generally the ones criticized by the enemies of religion. Risale-i Nur explains and proves to those sane people that the points they criticize are glitters of miracles. Indeed, as a result of his explanations, many enemies of religion were convinced and accepted Islam, and those who were not convinced had to keep silent.

In Risale-i Nur, issues like “How is prayer performed? What are its fards and sunnahs” are not dealt with. However, answers to questions like “Why is prayer performed? Why is it performed at certain times?” are given with evidences. When someone who reads it is convinced to perform prayers, he learns how to perform it from fiqh books.

Yes, Risale-i Nur is

• a glittering and spiritual miracle of the Quran,
• a drop from the sea of the Quran,
• a light of that sun,
• a spiritual translation inspired and coming from the source of that knowledge of truth,
• a chest of the sacred treasure of the Quran,
• a prescription from the sacred pharmacy of the Quran,
• a very appropriate medicine and salve for the wounds of this age,
• a very beneficial light for Islam as a whole, which has been subject to the assaults of darkness,
• a true guide for those wandering bewildered in the valleys of misguidance,
• a key for the realities of the Quran,
• a diamond sword to hit the heads of those who try to deny those realities,
• an electric lamp on that light-filled highway of the Quran of Miraculous Exposition,
• a translator of the lights of the Quran,
• an unbreakable, sound handle stemming from the spiritual miracle of the Quran,
• a luminous means to take man from darkness to the light,
• a real interpretation of the Quran,
• a translator of its reality,
• an evidence of its issues.

Risale-i Nur Collection includes very useful meanings and messages for all humanity. Everybody has the right to benefit from that treasure of sciences regardless of religion, sect and ideology.

THE PLACE OF RISALE-I NUR IN TAFSIR

The place of a book in knowledge in general and Islamic literature in particular is determined in two ways. The first one is to examine the content of the book and the second one is to refer to the statement of the author. Accordingly, it is necessary to determine the real place of Risale-i Nur Collection in the Islamic literature in those two ways.

1. The Content of Risale-i Nur

Risale-i Nur can be regarded as a tafsir of the Quran in terms of content because the tafsir of the chapter of al-Fatiha and the first 33 verses of the chapter of al-Baqara is included in the book titled Îşârâtü’l-İ’câz. As it is seen in relevant places of this study, the book in question is a kind of “scientific and literary tafsir” included in “tafsirs of dirayah” in which all methods of classical tafsirs are used except for the relationships among chapters. The basic resources of Risale-i Nur like Sözler, Mektûbat, Lem’alar and Şualar can be considered as a kind of “tafsir with a topic” because a topic’s being analyzed under a certain verse, attention being paid to topic integrity in general, and the topic’s being presented as the explanation of several verses in terms of meaning, though not in terms of words, can be regarded as a new approach of “tafsir with a topic”. In fact, “tafsir with a topic”, emerging as a new form of tafsir, described as “the verses related to the topic being arranged and evaluated based on the order of revelation and”1 shows a certain view; it does not mean it cannot be in any other way. It is clear that the books of the previous scholars based on a certain topic like “nasikh-mansukh, aqsamul-Quran and amthalul-Quran” are a kind of “tafsir with a topic”.

Some contemporary scholars regard “tafsir with a topic” within the framework of the definition above but they also accept dealing with the issues that a chapter includes within the framework “tafsir with a topic,2, which shows that this type of tafsir can be dealt with differently. In fact, it should not be scientifically objectionable to evaluate the issues that are dealt with in unity like “Scenes of Doomsday in the Quran”, “Divinity in the Quran”, “Oneness in the Quran”, “Miraculousness of the Quran” and “Science in the Quran” within the framework of “tafsir with a topic”.3 Similarly, it is possible to consider the way of dealing with issues like “Oneness”, “Prophethood” and “Miraculousness of the Quran”, which are analyzed independently under certain verses in Risale-i Nur Collection, which are also evaluated within the framework of the explanation of several verses whose topics and texts are not given, which are known as the main purpose of the Quran and which provide man happiness in the world and the hereafter, within the framework of “tafsir with a topic”.

For instance, Dokuzuncu Söz (the Ninth Word) is evaluated within the framework of the topic “the wisdom behind prayer times”.

“So (give) glory to Allah, when ye reach eventide and when ye rise in the morning; Yea, to Him be praise, in the heavens and on earth; and in the late afternoon and when the day begins to decline.”4

The verses فسبحان اللّه حين تمسون وحين تسبحون وله الحمد في السموات والارض وعشيا وحين تظهرون are used as a heading. It is stated in the contents part of this word with the statement “on the wisdom in the specified times of the five daily prayers, in five ‘Points’...” that the other verses regarding the issue are explained along with the verses above.5 The common topic of the “Ninth Word” as well as the 4th Word and the 11th Word and the 21th Word (First Station) is prayer. It is possible to consider it as “Prayer in the Quran”.

For instance, the 19th Word and the 19th Letter deal with the issue of “the Prophethood of Muhammad (pbuh)” only. That generally hadiths are dealt with in the 19th Letter is not contrary to the understanding of tafsir with a topic. However, the topic of the 19th Letter is expressed as follows in the contents: “(By the Qur’an, full of Wisdom,- Thou art indeed one of the apostles). It interprets and proves the Prophethood of Muhammad (pbuh), which is the most important reality of hundreds of verses in the meanings of the verse from the chapter of Yasin above, with fourteen definite and sound evidences called fourteen droplets.”6

The Tenth Word is titled “Booklet of Resurrection”; it deals with resurrection only. In addition, resurrection is also dealt with in the addendum to the 15th Word and in the 29th Word. It is possible to bring those three booklets together under the heading “Resurrection in the Quran”. As a matter of fact, the following is stated in the contents part of the 29th Word:

“... Say: The Spirit (cometh) by command of my Lord.”7

“And the Decision of the Hour (of Judgment) is as the twinkling of an eye, or even quicker.”8

“And your creation or your resurrection is in no wise but as an individual soul.”9

It interprets the three realities of hundreds of verses in the meanings of the verses above related to resurrection, everlastingness of the spirit and angels.10

The Twenty-Fifth Word is also called the “Booklet of the Quranic Miracles”.

“Say: If the whole of mankind and Jinn were to gather together to produce the like of this Qur’an, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they backed up each other with help and support.”11

The explanations at the beginning of the verse above are evaluated as “the miraculousness of the Quran”. The content of the 25th Word starts with the verse above and the following is stated with reference to it: It interprets the miraculousness of the Quran, which is a very important reality of hundreds of verses confirming the reality of the verses above.”12

The 26th Word deals with the issue of “Qadar” exclusively. “And there is not a thing but its (sources and) treasures (inexhaustible) are with Us; but We only send down thereof in due and ascertainable measures.”13 “... and of all things have We taken account in a clear Book (of evidence).”14 The verses above are written as the heading.15

However, the originality of Risale-i Nur in its style of expression and the method it uses for dealing with topics can be evaluated as a new approach. As a matter of fact, some scholars evaluated Risale-i Nur as a new “methodology of the science of kalam” since it deals with the topics of the science of kalam.16 Accordingly, it is necessary to accept that Risale-i Nur has a method peculiar to itself whether it is considered as “science of kalam” or “tafsir”.

It can be stated as a summary that Risale-i Nur is a spiritual tafsir of topic that explains the verses that deal with the principles of belief. In other words, Risale-i Nur is a spiritual and observational tafsir that conveys the message of guidance as a concept to the minds of people without interpreting the words of the Quran in general (except for İşârâtü’l-İ’caz).17 Yes, Risale-i Nur is a spiritual tafsir in that it conveys the message, not the words, of the Quran directly and it is an observational tafsir in that it shows the realities of the Quran with visible examples. The views of the author below confirm it. On the other hand, Samir Rajab Muhammad, who examined the “literary aspect” of Risale-i Nur in detail along with its religious service, considered Risale-i Nur as an observational tafsir.18

2. The Views of the Author on Risale-i Nur

That Risale-i Nur is a tafsir was insistently emphasized by its author, Badiuzzaman Said Nursi. There is nothing more natural than an author’s knowing why and how he wrote a book, and what the source and subject of his book is better than anyone else. It is contrary to the understanding of scientific courtesy to claim that Risale-i Nur has no connection with tafsir and to state an opinion contrary to that of the author despite all his insistence and his statement “I wrote it as a tafsir”. It is contrary to the understanding of objective science to imply that a scholar who was given the nickname “Badiuzzaman” (the Wonder of the Age) by his peers could not distinguish between the sciences of tafsir, kalam, philosophy, fiqh and hadith, and to accuse him of not knowing what he wrote. Yes, Risale-i Nur is a book that deals with both tafsir and kalam. It is quite normal for those two issues to be together. The meaning of it is as follows: Risale-i Nur is a tafsir that generally explains the verses that deal with the principles of belief, in other words, that deals with the verses of the Quran using the method of ilm al-kalam. That is to say, that a book deals with the principles of belief that are the topics of Kalam does not prevent it from being a tafsir book.

Now let us hear from Badiuzzaman, the author himself, that Risale-i Nur is a book that deals with the topics of Kalam and a tafsir:

2.1. Risale-i Nur is a Spiritual Tafsir

Desired tafsir is a tafsir that shows people the ways of happiness in the world and the hereafter. Tafsir scholars made tafsirs by dealing with various aspects of the Quran, and hence, various aspects occurred in tafsir. 19 Tafsir works started to be called tafsir of riwayah (narration) and dirayah (opinion), scientific, literary and social tafsirs and tafsir of topic in the course of time according to the type of the tafsir material used predominantly.

In addition, it is possible to call tafsirs that explain the words of the Quran within the framework of philological studies as tafsir based on words and tafsirs that convey the message of guidance of the Quran directly without examining the words as spiritual tafsir. As a matter of fact, according to Ibn Qayyim, tafsirs are generally divided into three:

1. The understanding of tafsir based on the explanation of the words of the Quran (Literal tafsir).
2. The understanding of tafsir based on the message that the Quran wants to give (Spiritual tafsir).
3. Tafsir Ishari (Allegorical tafsir).20

According to Ghazali, tafsir is divided into two as literal (based one words) and spiritual (based on meaning). Literal tafsir explaining the words of the Quran are insufficient to understand the true meanings of the Quran. According to Ghazali, it is not possible to understand the real meaning of the following verse based on literal tafsir:

وما رميت إذ رميت ولكن اللّه رمى (When thou threwest (a handful of dust), it was not thy act, but Allah’s)21. For, the apparent meaning of the verse says both “you threw” and “you did not throw”. It is a contradiction in terms of literary tafsir. That apparent contradiction can be explained by understanding the real meaning of the verse.22

It is possible to find examples of both literal and spiritual tafsir in the Sunnah. Imam Shafii included the following views while explaining the issue: The Prophet’s explanation of the Quran is in two ways: First: The explanation made by including the verses of the Quran. Second: To convey directly what the will of Allah is without mentioning the words of the Qur’an in issues expressed as mujmal (in summary) in the Quran.23 According to Shafii, all of the decrees that the Prophet put forward regarding the issues whose clear decrees are not available in the Quran like the details of prayer, zakah and hajj are the decrees that he deduced from the Quran.24 For instance:

“But whosoever turns away from My Message, verily for him is a life narrowed down, and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Judgment.”25

The Prophet’s interpreting the phrase معيشة ضنكاmentioned in the verse as “a life narrowed down”26 is an example of tafsir based on words; his explanations related to the details of hajj, zakah and hajj are examples of spiritual tafsir.27

Badiuzzaman divides tafsir into two as based on words and based on meaning. He states the following regarding the issue:

Since we have repeatedly said that ‘the Risale-i Nur is a powerful and true Qur’anic commentary,’ it was imparted to me that I should explain a fact, since some inattentive people do not know the full meaning of this. The fact is this:

“There are two sorts of Qur’anic commentaries: The first is the well-known sort of commentary. Commentaries of this sort expound and elucidate the Qur’an’s phraseology, words, and sentences. The second sort explains, proves, and elucidates with powerful arguments the Qur’an’s truths related to belief. This sort has great importance. Sometimes the well-known, externalist commentaries include this sort in summary fashion. But the Risale-i Nur has made it its basis directly, and is a commentary on the Qur’an’s meanings which silences obstinate philosophers in unprecedented manner.”28

His following statement addressing the Afyon court expresses his view regarding the issue clearly: Thus, the Risale-i Nur, which is a true and powerful commentary on the Qur’an of Mighty Stature, is a supreme Divine bounty which has been demonstrating its effectiveness for twenty years in this century, an insuppressible miracle of the Qur’an.29

It is clearly understood from the statement of Badiuzzaman above that Risale-i Nur is an unprecedented, real and spiritual tafsir that also deals with the principles of belief, which is also a topic of kalam according to him. It is possible to understand some of the emphasized words above as follows: Risale-i Nur is “unprecedented” because its style of expression, method of proving and approach to topics are original. “It is a true tafsir of the Quran” because it is primarily based on the topics of oneness, prophethood and resurrection, which are the real message of the Quran. “It is a spiritual tafsir” because the messages taken from the Quran are transferred directly without the texts or meanings of the verses generally being given in the method used by Risale-i Nur Collection except for Îşârâtü’l-İ’câz tafsir.

2.2. The Topic of Risale-i Nur is Principles of Belief

Stating that Risale-i Nur is a spiritual and true tafsir of the Quran, Badiuzzaman says that they are books that give real kalam lessons in terms of topics and that Imam Rabbani gave information about it beforehand.

He states the following in a letter to one of his students:

“You state in your letter that you want to take Kalam lessons from me. You already take that lesson. All the words that you write are luminous and real Kalam lessons. Some blessed researchers like Imam Rabbani said: Somebody at the end of time will explain Kalam, that is to say, issues of belief that are the true madhhab, in such a way that he will cause those lights spread more than all saints and tariqahs.   What is more, Imam Rabbani regarded himself as that person. As your humble and unworthy brother, I cannot claim that I am that person to come, which is beyond my state; I am not worthy of it. However, I think I am a servant, vanguard and soldier of that wonderful person to come in the future. That is why, you felt that strange smell from the things that were written.”30

The reason why Risale-i Nur Collection is regarded as books of Kalam is that they are about the principles of belief. As it is stated above, Badiuzzaman regards Risale-i Nur as a spiritual tafsir of the Quran and emphasizes that it deals with the topics of Kalam.

Some of his statements regarding the issue are as follows:

“Imam Rabbani, the Regenerator of the Second Millennium, Ahmad Faruqi (May God be pleased with him), said: “In my opinion, the unfolding and clarification of a single of the truths of belief is preferable to thousands of illuminations and instances of wonder-working. Moreover, the aim and result of all the Sufi paths are the unfolding and clarification of the truths of faith.’ Since a champion of Sufism like Imam Rabbani made such a pronouncement, surely the Words, which expound the truths of faith with perfect clarity and proceed from the mysteries of the Qur’an, may yield the results sought from sainthood.”31

The following statement of Badiuzzaman Said Nursi related to Imam Rabbani also shows that he considers Risale-i Nur as a spiritual tafsir of the Quran.

The author states the following while explaining the reason why he does not refer to any books other than the Quran by taking into consideration the following advice of Imam Rabbani: “Turn to one qibla only”:

“It was imparted to my heart by God’s mercy: The All-Wise Qur’an is the head of these various ways and the source of these streams and the sun of these planets; the true single qibla is to be found in it. In which case, it is also the most elevated guide and holy master. So I clasped it with both hands and clung on to it. Of course with my deficient, wretched abilities I could not absorb the effulgence – like the water of life – of that true guide as was its due, but still, through it, we can show that effulgence, that water of life, according to the degree of those who receive it, those who perceive the truth through their hearts and attain to certain spiritual states. That is to say, the Words and those lights, which proceed from the Qur’an, are not only scholarly matters that address the intellect, they are matters of faith that look to the heart, the spirit, and spiritual states. They resemble most elevated, valuable knowledge of God.”32

According to Badiuzzaman, transition to the reality from outward appearance is through two ways: The First: To enter the realm of tariqah, to cover various stages through a spiritual journey and to attain the truth. The second: To attain the truth directly thanks to divine grace without entering the realm of tariqah. The latter is a lofty way that is peculiar to the Companions and Tabiun and that enables man to attain the truth in a very short time. Thus, Risale-i Nur, which follows that way and occurs as a reflection of the realities of the Quran, has that characteristic.33

Stating that Risale-i Nur serves as a mirror that reflect the realities of the Quran, the author expresses the following views:

“I myself have formed the conviction through experiencing, not ten or a hundred times but thousands of times, that just as the lights proceeding from the Words and the Qur’an give instruction to my mind, so do they induce a state of belief in my heart and produce the pleasure of belief in my spirit, and so on. The same goes for worldly matters: just as the follower of a wonder-working shaikh awaits saintly assistance from him to answer his needs; so I have awaited from the wondrous mysteries of the All-Wise Qur’an that they answer my needs, and this has been achieved for me on numerous occasions in ways I had not hoped or anticipated.”34

In his book titled “Kastamonu Lahikası”, Badiuzzaman expresses the following views while mentioning an issue that interested people of madrasah and scholars: In the past and in most places, madrasah teachers sought the realities of belief and blessing in dervish lodges. A great madrasah teacher sometimes bowed down before a sheikh of dervish lodge, kissed his hand and became subject to him in order to attain the fruits of sainthood. He looked for the blessing of sainthood there.  However, Risale-i Nur shows clearly through the spiritual miracle of the miraculous Quran that there is a way leading to the lights of the truth, a purer fountain of water of life in the sciences related to the principles of belief in madrasah, that there is a higher and stronger way of sainthood than tariqah in science (ilm) itself, in the realities of belief and in Kalam of Ahl as-Sunnah. Therefore, it is necessary for madrasah teachers to be interested in the lights but unfortunately most of the people of madrasah are not aware of the fountain of the life of water and the very valuable treasure that comes out of madrasah; they do not know and seek it and they cannot keep it. However, thank God, Sözler attracted scholars and teachers to the lights.35

2.3. Risale-i Nur is inspired by the Quran

The following statement of Badiuzzaman Said Nursi clearly expresses the view that Risale-i Nur is a spiritual tafsir inspired by the Quran:

“I do not praise Risale-i Nur because it is my work in appearance. On the contrary, I express its virtues only because it is a tafsir of the Quran, a real translator inspired by the Quran and evidences and guide of belief. Furthermore, I wrote some treatises involuntarily; similarly, I wrote about its importance involuntarily.”36

Accordingly, it can be said that the topics that are dealt with are not the explanations of only the verses used as headings but also many other verses whose texts are not quoted but that are relevant to the topic.

“Risale-i Nur, which is like spiritual electricity, is not something coming from the knowledge and information of the east or the philosophy and sciences of the west and a light taken from them. On the contrary, it is taken from the lofty level of the Quran over the east and the west.”37

The statement of the author above clearly expresses his view regarding the issue.

According to Badiuzzaman, there are evidences showing that Risale-i Nur is inspired by the Quran. They can be mentioned as addressing people of all levels and being written extraordinarily fast though the author did not have any resource other than the Quran while writing it. According to the author, the content of Risale-i Nur has a scope that is superior to his mind. It is an evidence showing that it is a work of inspiration. His following statement indicate it:

“Furthermore, although in the truths of belief and the Qur’an there is such a breadth that the greatest human genius cannot comprehend them, the fact that they appeared together with the great majority of their fine points through someone like me whose mind is confused, situation wretched, has no book to refer to, and who writes with difficulty and at speed, is directly the work of the All-Wise Qur’an’s miraculousness and a manifestation of dominical favor and a powerful sign from the Unseen.”38

The author states that the style of Risale-i Nur is different from other books, that it can address people from all strata and that it uses a way that is compatible with the style of the realities of the Quran and the Quran. His views regarding the issue are as follows: All deep truths in all treatises of Risale-i Nur are taught even to the most ignorant people through the examples that are given. However, great scholars do not tell all people and even people of high level about most of those realities thinking that they “cannot be understood and taught”. Thus, the ease of explanation in Risale-i Nur is a sign of divine help; it cannot be the skill of its author. It can only be a manifestation of the spiritual miraculousness of the Quran and a reflection of its examples.39

The author includes some comparisons in order to support the views above and states the following:

“The fact that the various parts of the Risale-i Nur prove the principal truths of belief and the Qur’an in brilliant fashion to even the most obdurate person is a powerful sign from the Unseen and divine favor. For among those truths are some that Ibn Sina, who was considered the greatest genius, confessed his powerlessness to understand, saying: ‘Reason cannot solve these.’ Whereas the Tenth Word explains what he could not achieve with his genius to ordinary people, or even to children.”40

Badiuzzaman gives another example regarding the issue from Sa’d Taftazani stating that he could only solve the mystery of divine determining and man’s will in forty to fifty pages with the famous “Muqaddamat Ithna Ashar” in his work titled Talwih. Those same matters, which he set out for the elite alone, are explained completely in two pages in the Second Topic of the Twenty-Sixth Word, which is about divine determining, in a way that everyone can understand; Nursi emphasizes that it is a mark of divine favor.42

Badiuzzaman thinks that the persuasive ability in Risale-i Nur, the ability to compare the issues in a measured manner and to show the facts clearly, and its great success in this regard is only possible thanks to the inspiration by its only master, the Quran. He states the following in an answer to a question while explaining that believing alone cannot be a means of salvation without Islam:

“Neither can Islam without belief be a means of salvation, nor can belief without Islam be a means. All praise and bounty is God’s, through the grace of the Qur’an’s miraculousness the comparisons of the Risale-i Nur have shown the fruits of the religion of Islam and results of the Qur’anic truths in such a way that even if someone without religion does not understand them, he cannot be unsympathetic towards them. And they have demonstrated proofs of belief and Islam in such powerful fashion that if even a non-Muslim understands them, he is sure to assent to them. While being a non-Muslim, he would believe.”43

There are even more striking expressions of the author showing his belief that there is a wonderful effect of his works. The expressions that were deemed appropriate to be kept private and not shown to everyone for a while, included under the title “It is an answer to a private question” and in a “question-answer dialogue”, are as follows:

“You ask me: How is it that in the Words you have written from the Qur’an are a power and effectiveness rarely to be found in the words of Qur’anic commentators and those with knowledge of God? Sometimes a single line is as powerful as a page, and one page as effective as a book?”

“The Answer: - A good answer - since the honor belongs to the Qur’an’s miraculousness and not to me, I say fearlessly: it is mostly like that for the following reason: The Words that have been written are not supposition, they are affirmation; they are not submission, they are belief; they are not intuitive knowledge, they are a testifying and witnessing; they are not imitating, they are verification; they are not taking the part of something, they are comprehension of it; they are not Sufism, they are reality; they are not a claim, they are the proof within the claim.”44

With that statement, Badiuzzaman emphasizes that Risale-i Nur proves the realities of the Quran with evidences at the degree of observation (witnessing) as a spiritual miracle of the Quran directly.

While writing about the reasons that make Risale-i Nur so different from other works, he states that it is a grace of Allah as a sound tafsir inspired by the Quran as follows:

“Formerly, the fundamentals of belief were protected, submission was strong. Even if the intuitive knowledge of those with knowledge of God lacked proof, their expositions were acceptable and sufficient. But at this time, since the misguidance of science has stretched out its hand to the fundamentals and pillars of belief, the All-Wise and Compassionate One of Glory, who bestows a remedy for every ill, in consequence of my impotence and weakness, want and need, mercifully bestowed in these writings of mine which serve the Qur’an a single ray from the comparisons of that Noble Qur’an, which are a most brilliant manifestation of its miraculousness. All praise be to God, distant truths were brought close through the telescope of the mystery of comparisons. Through the aspect of unity of the mystery of comparisons, truly disparate matters were collected together.

Through the stairs of the mystery of comparisons, the highest truths were easily reached. Through the window of the mystery of comparisons, a certainty of belief in the truths of the Unseen and fundamentals of Islam was obtained close to the degree of witnessing. The intellect, as well as the imagination and fancy, and the soul and caprice, were compelled to submit, and Satan too was compelled to surrender his weapons. In Short: Whatever beauty and effectiveness are found in my writings, they are only flashes of the Qur’anic comparisons. My share is only my intense need and my seeking, and my extreme impotence and my beseeching. The ill is mine, and the cure, the Qur’an’s.”45

According to the author, the way Risale-i Nur is written shows that it is a work of inspiration. According to what is understood from the explanations he made showing all his students and the scribes who were with him and whom he called “my brothers and friends” as witnesses, the five parts of the Nineteenth Letter were written referring to no book at all in several days working for two or three hours each day making a total of twelve hours. According to what is expressed particularly, “the Fourth Part”, which is the most important and displays a clear seal of prophethood in the phrase “God’s Noble Messenger, Upon whom be blessings and peace”, was written from memory in three or four hours in the rain in the mountains; that the important and profound treatise of the Thirtieth Word was written in six hours in an orchard, and that the most important of the Words and their treatises were written when he was suffering most difficulty and illness, and with the most speed are regarded as a direct divine favor and dominical bounty and wonder of the Quran.46

Badiuzzaman states that the way fifty to sixty treatises were written can be explained by nothing but Allah’s inspiration and grant as follows:

“Fifty to sixty treatises were bestowed in such a way that, being works that could not be written through the efforts and exertions of great geniuses and exacting scholars, let alone someone like me who thinks little, follows the apparent, and does not have the time for close study, they demonstrate that they are directly the works of divine favor. “47

The following can be stated as a summary: According to Badiuzzaman Said Nursi, the extraordinary ease and speed in the writing of Risale-i Nur, extraordinary facility and enthusiasm in their being written out and copied, not causing boredom in reading and being read with pleasure are miracles of the Quran, becoming manifest in Risale-i Nur, the lights of the Quran.48

Badiuzzaman states the following in the answer he gives to those who consider his praising Risale-i Nur as praising himself and those who oppose him:

“His fifty-sixty years of life of ilm does not need such praise; he avoids boasting fully especially in the last part of his life; it is a slander to transform his statement that he did not make any mistakes in expressing the realities of belief and that he only quoted from the blessing of the Quran into such boastfulness.”49

One of the evidences showing that Risale-i Nur is inspired by the Quran is that the thoughts expressed in various places of those books are put forward as the explanation of more than one verse. For instance, the First Station of the 22nd Word is written under the heading of the following two verses:

“So Allah sets forth parables for men, in order that they may receive admonition.”50

“... Such are the similitudes which We propound to men, that they may reflect.”51

Four to five verses expressing oneness like the verse below are used as headings in the Second Station of the 22nd Word:

“Allah is the Creator of all things, and He is the Guardian and Disposer of all affairs. To Him belong the keys of the heavens and the earth.”52

The creed of oneness is proved through 12 evidences in the first station and through 12 flashes in the second station. On the other hand, although the number of verses used as headings in the 22nd Word is no more than seven, the following is stated in the content of that word: “The 22nd Word interprets an important reality of hundreds of verses about real oneness – with two stations.”53

While dealing with the reasons for explaining Allah’s grant and help to him with the intention of mentioning the blessings, the author explains the third reason as follows:

“I do not say this about the Words out of modesty but in order to explain a truth, that the truths and perfections in the Words are not mine; they are the Qur’an’s and they have issued from the Qur’an. The Tenth Word, for instance, consists of a few droplets filtered from hundreds of verses, and the rest of the treatises are all like that. Since I know it is thus and since I am transient, I shall depart, of course something, a work, which is enduring should not, and must not, be tied to me…Yes, the qualities of delicious bunches of grapes should not be sought in their dry stalks. I resemble such a dry stalk. “54

Badiuzzaman Said Nursi states the following in summary in a letter he wrote to his students in which he tells them about the wisdom behind Risale-i Nur and mentions about a conversation that took part in the form of question and answer:

“Someone said: The great mobilization and complete preparedness of the Risale-i Nur for the sake of belief and the proving of the Divine unity is constantly increasing. One hundredth part of its contents is enough to silence the most obstinate atheist; why then this further feverish mobilization and preparation? They answered him:

The Risale-i Nur is not only repairing some minor damage or some small house; it is repairing vast damage and the all-embracing citadel which contains Islam, the stones of which are the size of mountains. And it is not striving to reform only a private heart and an individual  conscience; it is striving to cure with the medicines of the Qur’an and belief and the Qur’an’s miraculousness the collective heart and generally-held ideas, which have been breached in awesome fashion by the tools of corruption prepared and stored up over a thousand years, and the general conscience, which is facing corruption through the destruction of the foundations, currents, and marks of Islam which are the refuge of all and particularly the mass of believers. Certainly, for such universal breaches and awesome wounds, proofs and equipment of the utmost certitude and the strength of mountains, and well-proven medicines and numberless drugs of the effectiveness of a thousand remedies are necessary. Emerging at this time from the miraculousness of the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition, the Risale-i Nur performs this function, and is also the means of advancing and progressing through the infinite degrees of belief.”

When the author quoted that conversation, which, he said, took place in a spiritual realm, he evaluated it with the following sentence: “A long discussion ensued to which I listened, offering infinite thanks. I curtail the matter here.”55

According to what is understood from what Badiuzzaman wrote to one of his students as “a secret”, Allah’s name “Wadud (the Loving One)” becomes manifest in some people of truth; similarly, he was given a position to receive the manifestation of the names “Rahim (the All-Compassionate)” and “Hakim (the Perfectly Wise)” when he was serving the realities of the Quran. According to him, all Nur treatises are a manifestation of it. “He granteth wisdom to whom He pleaseth; and he to whom wisdom is granted receiveth indeed a benefit overflowing.”56 The secret of the verse above becomes manifest in them.57

2.4. Risale-i Nur used the method of the Quran

According to the author, Risale-i Nur used the same method of guidance and conveying the message as the Quran. Risale-i Nur followed the path of the Qur’an exactly, without introducing new methods like other sects, both in terms of the basic principles of the Quran and its method of guidance, conveying the message, proof and persuasion.

According to Badiuzzaman, who compared the way of sufism (tariqah) and the way of Risale-i Nur in his book titled Mektûbat, Risale-i Nur showed that it was different and superior to other sects because it followed a line peculiar to the Quran. However, it should be known that what is meant by comparison here is not to show the superiority of any party but to show how Nur treatises, which are claimed to have been based on the Quran with all its realities, were evaluated by its author since it is related to our topic.  

According to the author, the following statement of Imam Rabbani, who was a hero of tariqah, shows the value of the way of Risale-i Nur, which teaches the principles of belief in an investigative way: “The disclosure of a single matter of the truths of faith is preferable to thousands of illuminations, ecstasies, and instances of wonder-working”.58

“Sainthood is of three sorts: one is the lesser sainthood, which is the well-known sainthood. The others are the middle sainthood and the greater sainthood. Greater sainthood is to open up by way of the legacy of prophethood a direct way to reality without entering the intermediate realm of Sufism.”59 After quoting the statement of Imam Rabbani above, Badiuzzaman states the following:

“Accordingly, the Naqshi way consists of three veils. The First and most important is to serve the truths of faith directly; Imam Rabbani travelled this way in his later years. The Second is to advance the cause of the religious obligations and serve the glorious practices (Sunna) of the Prophet (UWBP) under the veil of the Sufi way. The Third is to strive to eliminate the sicknesses of the heart by way of Sufism and to journey with the feet of the heart. Of these, the first is the equivalent of obligatory, the second, close to obligatory, and the third, Sunna.”

“Since the reality of the matter is thus, my conjecture is that if such persons as Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir Gilani (May God be pleased with him) and Shah Naqshband (May God be pleased with him) and Imam Rabbani (May God be pleased with him) were alive today, they would expend all their efforts on strengthening the truths of faith and tenets of Islam. For it is through them that eternal happiness is won. Any deficiency in them results in eternal misery. A person without faith will not enter Paradise, but very many will go there without Sufism. Man cannot live without bread, but he can live without fruit. Sufism is the fruit, the truths of Islam, basic sustenance.”60

The following views of Badiuzzaman show very nicely his thought that the method Risale-i Nur follows in terms of guidance is a very short way peculiar to the Quran and a means that takes man to the truth very quickly: In former times, through spiritual journeying from forty days to as much as forty years, a person could rise to some of the truths of faith. But now, if through Almighty God’s mercy there is a way to rise to those truths in forty minutes, it surely is not sensible to remain indifferent to it. Thus, people who have studied the thirty-three Words closely state that they have opened up just such a Qur’anic way. Since this is a fact, I am of the opinion that the Words so far written about the mysteries of the Qur’an are a most appropriate medicine and salve for the wounds of this time, and a most beneficial light for Islam as a whole, which has been subject to the assaults of darkness, and a most right guide for those wandering bewildered in the valleys of misguidance. I think that Almighty God has bestowed Risale-i Nur at this time, which are flashes of the Qur’an’s miraculousness, as an antidote to this atheistic misguidance.61

“Had it not been for the adverse incidents caused by the World War I, I would have written İşârâtü’l-İcâz as sixty volumes with the help and permission of Allah. Inshallah Risale-i Nur will replace that wonderful tafsir, which I planned.”62 Badiuzzaman’s explanation above shows that he considers Risale-i Nur Collection as a tafsir like “İşâratü’l-İcâz”. In addition, that the title of the index at the end of the Words (Sözler) and the title in the Fihristler booklet is “It is a short index of Risale-i Nur remedies, which is a kind of tafsir of the verses of the Quran”63 shows that Badiuzzaman Said Nursi regarded his books as a tafsir all the time.

2.5. Some Objections Regarding the Issue and Answers

An expert who examined Risale-i Nur considered Badiuzzaman’s statements like “I was informed; I was given information from the truth; I was told” as boastfulness. Badiuzzaman’s answer to such views is as follows:

“Such statements are expressions used for the things like memories and private inspirations that come to the heart. They have no haram aspects. The statements like ‘I was given information from the truth; it was told to my heart’ are to the point for the meanings that come from the realities of the Quran involuntarily and in the form of inspiration for understanding some subtleties of the Quran.”64

“Yes, people of truth and religion unanimously decree that there is a Satanic spot and giver of delusions in everybody’s heart as well as an inspirational and angelic spot. A reality out of my will and beyond my thought sometimes comes to my heart just like everybody else. That is, a nice subtlety in the form of inspiration from the Quran is informed to me from a spiritual aspect of the Quran. By using those expressions, I want to say that the realities that I write do not belong to me and that they are not products of my thought. Otherwise, I never remember attributing or wanting to attribute in the period of New Said such a position to my soul and myself, who is afraid of the evil of the soul and ego. However, I told my students in order to level their extreme good thoughts about me originating from the extreme love toward the master (teacher) existing among the people of truth and so as not to show ingratitude toward the blessings of Allah the following: The duty of being a ‘mujaddid’ is possible but it belongs to Risale-i Nur, not to me. Maybe it is a manifestation of the reality of the Quran related to this age. Risale-i Nur represents it. Who am I to claim it?”65

Another criticism aimed at Badiuzzaman is that he does not attach importance to the books of the Islamic scholars. It is answered as follows in Risale-i Nur:  

“They say: Said does not have any other books with him. It means he does not like them. He does not like Imam Ghazzali fully since he does not have his books with him. They confuse people with such strange and meaningless statements. The ones who play those tricks are unbelievers behind the scenes. However, they use some gullible scholars and Sufis as a tool. We answer it as follows:

“God forbid! It is impossible for Risale-i Nur and its students not to like Hujjatul-Islam Imam Ghazzali, my unique master who connects me with Hz. Ali; on the contrary, what they do is to save and protect the way they follow from the attacks of the people of deviation with might and main. However, when they were alive, the terrible attacks of the unbelievers did not shake the principles of belief. The tools those investigative, knowledgeable and mujtahid people used in scientific and religious debates in their ages can be obtained late and they cannot defeat the enemies of this age at once; Since Risale-i Nur finds the sharp weapons that destroy the enemies from the miraculous Quran very quickly, it does not refer to the tools of those blessed and holy people because the Quran, which is their reference and source, has become a perfect teacher of Risale-i Nur.”66

In the answer Badiuzzaman gave to some people who discussed the connection of Risale-i Nur with the Quran, he said his works could not be his skill. Some of the sentences of a long letter are as follows: “ However, if the person who out of amazement deems it unlikely that such an important work should appear at the hand of an insignificant person like myself thinks of the creation of a pine-tree the size of a mountain out of a seed the size of a grain of wheat as being a sign of Divine power and grandeur, he is surely bound to say that the appearance of this work at such a time of intense need from someone as absolutely impotent and wanting as myself is evidence for the vast extent of Divine mercy…

In addition, I say this: in the face of the awesome attacks of misguidance at this time, the powerful, true ways, paths, and tariqats with millions of devoted followers have been apparently defeated. But a semi-literate person under constant surveillance living opposite the police-station, who is alone and the object of a many-sided campaign of slander in order to make everyone execrate him, cannot lay claim to the Risale-i Nur, which is more advanced than those other ways and has resisted the attacks more strongly, and that work cannot be the product of his skill, and he cannot take pride in it. It has rather been bestowed directly by Divine mercy as a miracle of the All-Wise Qur’an at this time. He laid hands on that gift of the Qur’an together with thousands of his friends. For sure the duty of chief interpreter fell to him, but evidence that it is not the work of his thought, knowledge, and intelligence is as follows:  

“Risale-i Nur are parts which were written in six hours, others that were written in two hours, others in one hour, and some in ten minutes even. I swear that even with the power of memory of the Old Said with my own thought I could not write in ten hours what was written in ten minutes. With my own mind and capacity, I could not write in two days the treatise that was written in an hour. And neither myself nor the most exacting religious philosopher could research the matters of the Thirtieth Word and write it in six days, although it was written in one day in six hours. And so on...”67

The following statement of Badiuzzaman showing his view that Risale-i Nur is inspired by the Quran is like a document:

“Risale-i Nur was not taken from sciences and other books like other works; it has no source except the Quran, no teacher except the Quran and no reference except the Quran. When it was written, the author had no other books with him. It is inspired directly by the blessing of the Quran; it comes down from the sky of the Quran and stars of its verses.”68

Footnotes:

1 see Muhammad Mahmud al-Hijazi, al-Wahdatul-Mawduiyyatu fil-Quranil-Karim, 402-403.
2 see Abdussattar Fathullah Said, al-Madhal ila Tafsiril-Mawdui, 24-25.
3 cf. Abdussattar, 26-27.
4 ar-Rum, 30/17-18.
5 see Sözler, 830.
6 see Sözler, 835-36.
7 al-Isra, 17/85.
8 an-Nahl, 16/77.
9 Luqman, 31/28.
10 Sözler, 840. In the place in question the following phrase exists: “wal-mu’minuna yu’minuna billahi wa malaikatihi” but there is no verse containing that phrase in the Quran. It may have been taken from another verse but since it is described as a “verse”, it is not possible. There is only one possibility left: It was probably taken from the verse beginning with “Amanar-rasulu”; we think the word “yu’minun” was written instead of “kullun amana” by mistake (N. B.).
11 al-Isra, 17/88.
12 see Sözler, 838.
13 al-Hijr, 15/21.
14 Yasin, 36/12.
15 see Sözler, 488.
16 see Muhsin Abdulhamid, Bediüzzaman Said Nursi ve Risale-i Nur, (transl. Abdulaziz Hatip), 80-83.
17 see Nurun ilk Kapısı, (Os.), 2; Mesnevî-i Nuriye, 68, 235; Lem’alar, 104.
18 see S. Rajab, 151.
19 Cerrahoğlu, İsmail, Tefsir Usûlü, 228.
20 see al-Qattan, Mabahith fi Ulumil Qur’an, p. 357-58.
21 al-Anfal, 8/17
22 Ghazzali, İhya, p. I/300.
23 see ash-Shafii, ar-Risala, 92.
24 see ash-Shafii, 88, 176-177; as-Suyuti, al-Itqan, II/225.
25 Taha, 20/124.
26 al-Hakim, al-Mustadrak, M/381.
27. cf. ash-Shafii, ibid; Suyuti, al-Itqan, H/25.
28 Şualar, 434-35.
29 ibid, 317.
30 Barla, 173.
31 Mektûbat, 330.
32 ibid, 331.
33 ibid, the same page.
34 ibid, 331-332.
35 Kastamonu Lahikası, 176.
36 ibid, 611.
37 Sikke-i Tasdik, 76.
38 Mektûbat, 348.
39 ibid, the same page.
40 ibid, 347.
41 The book Talwih in question is the explanation of Sadrushsharia’s book Tankih; the topic in question is dealt with between pages 298 and 330. The number of Muqaddama, which is four in Tankih, was increased to 12 in Talwih through subdivisions. The topic is dealt with scientifically; therefore, it addresses scholars.  
42 Mektûbat, 347.
43 ibid, 31.
44 ibid,351.
45 ibid, the same page.
46 ibid, 348-349.
47 ibid, 348.
48 ibid, 334.
49 Müdâfaalar, 276-277.
50 Ibrahim, 14/25.
51 al-Hashr, 59/21.
52 az-Zumar, 39/62-63.
53 Sözler, 836.
54 Mektûbat, 344.
55 Kastamonu, 23-24.
56 al-Baqara, 2/269.
57 Mektûbat, 18.
58 ibid, 20.
59 ibid, the same page.
60 ibid, 20-21.
61 ibid.
62 Barla, 141.
63 Fihrist Risalesi, 4; Sözler, 827.
64 Müdâfaalar, 129.
65 ibid, 125.
66 Kastamonu, 137.
67 Kastamonu, 176-179.
68 Sikke-i Tasdik, 95.

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