Monday, March 22, 2010


The present work forms the second volume of the Risale-i Nur Collection and consists of the most important letters, and those of most general interest, written by Bediuzzaman Said Nursi to his students between and 1932, while in exile in Barla, an isolated village in the province of Isparta in South-Western Anatolia. Other letters belonging to this period are included in one of the collections of additional letters, also volumes of the Risale-i Nur, called Barla Lahikasý (Barla Letters). The letters in the present volume cover many subjects and were set in order and numbered, not chronologically, by the author. They were largely written in reply to questions put by his students, and also in reply to criticisms of and attacks on various questions of belief and Islam made in that time of oppression by those inimical to religion and Islam.

    Thus, during that period of despotism when, under the name of secularization, those in power were seeking the virtual eradication of Islam and Islamic-Turkish culture and their substitution by irreligion and materialist philosophy of Western origin, Bediuzzaman himself with his unequalled learning and extraordinary clear vision and foresight and courage, and his writings, became a point of hope and strength for the people. Inspite of the adverse conditions and efforts to isolate him in Barla, he began to attract 'students' - so-called since he described himself as a teacher. Drawn by those "lights of belief' in that dark time, they willingly suffered the persecution of the authorities and assisted Bediuzzaman by writing out and spreading the Words. The writing and dissemination was another unique feature of the Risale-i Nur; Bediuzzaman would dictate at speed to his students who acted as scribes. He had no books for reference and the writing of religious works was of course forbidden. They were all written therefore in the mountains and out in the countryside. Handwritten copies of the treatises or the letters were then made of the originals and these were conveyed to the Risale-i Nur students and secretly copied out in their houses. These copies were passed from village to village, and then from town to town, with more and more copies being made on the way till eventually they spread throughout Turkey.

    Travel was not easy, and Bediuzzaman communicated by letter with those of his students who lived in towns and villages other than Barla.Largely in reply to their questions, the letters offer important guidance on numerous points of belief and Islam, explained in the light of the Risale-i Nur and its way, and in the face of the misguidance of the times. Indeed, they form an important source and authority on many subjects for all Muslims today.

    Since some of his students had previously been attached to Sufi orders, he sometimes explains the way of the Risale-i Nur to them through comparisons with the Suf way. The primary aim of the Risale-i Nur is the saving and strengthening of belief. Employing both the intellect and the heart, Bediuzzaman described it as Reality (hagiqat) and Shari'a, rather than tariqat, that is Sufism. It is the highway of the Qur'an, which teaches the true affirmation of Divine Unity; true and certain belief, attained in a short time through investigation and the exercise of the reason. The direct way to Reality and knowledge of God, which is the way of the Companions of Prophet (PBUH) through "the legacy of Prophethood."

    Some of the Letters offer guidance and encouragement to the students through answering criticisms and misrepresentations put forward by atheists and the enemies of religion, concerning both points of Islam, and Bediuzzaman himself. Others expose the plans to corrupt Islam through the introduction of innovations. They show how on the one hand Bediuzzaman was absolutely uncompromising in the face of enemies to religion, and on the other his complete fairness and moderateness in adjudicating points of conflict and controversy within Islam. All these illustrate his profound knowledge of many subjects, as well as the clarity and power of his style, which is based on logic.

    Bediuzzaman did not ascribe the Risale-i Nur to himself; he saw it as a Divine favour bestowed because of need, with himself as the means. In some of his letters he writes that he feels justified in describing these "Divine favours which pertain to the service of the Qur'an," to his students - to encourage them in the exceedingly difficult conditions of the time, since they were a mark of the acceptability of both his writings and their service. A number of them were mentioned above. Bediuzzaman pointed out that the fact the Risale-i Nur proves the most important of the truths of belief and the Qur'an, was a clear mark of Divine favour. For it had proved and demonstrated, for example, such questions as bodily resurrection before which even geniuses like Ibn-i Sina had confessed their impotence, and many mysteries concerning Almighty God, which are of such breadth and profundity that they cannot be comprehended by the human mind. Yet, Bediuzzaman stated, these truths were explained by means of comparison by someone in "the wretched situation" he was in so that they could be understood by even the most ordinary and uneducated of people. So also, no one, from religious scholars to philosophers, had been able to put forward any criticisms of the treatises or to challange them. The writing too had been with extraordinary speed at the most distressing times, often when he had been afflicted with illness. For example, a profound treatise like the Thirtieth Word had been written in six hours in an orchard, while the lengthy Nineteenth Letter, recounting the Miracles of Muhammed, had been written in a total of twelve hours partly in the rain on the mountains, referring to no book at all. There was also the question of the 'coincidences', or mutual correspondence of words in the hand written copies of the Risale-i Nur, and of the Qur'an, for which readers may refer to the present work. In relating these Divine favours to his students, Bediuzzaman was impressing on them the importance of the Qur'anic way of the Risale-i Nur and its function of saving and strengthening belief at that time when the very foundations of Islam were being threatened. In a way outside their own will and knowledge, they were being employed, they were being made to work. Indeed, within the twenty-five years of Bediuzzaman's exile; the handful of students grew into many thousands, the Risale-i Nur movement and its service to belief and the Qur'an spread throughout Turkey, despite all efforts to stop it.

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