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Bediuzzaman Said Nursi

             The Risale-i Nur collection is a six-thousand-page commentary on the
             Qur'an written by Bediuzzaman Said
             Nursi in accordance with the mentality of the age. Since in our age,
             faith and Islam have been the objects of the
             attacks launched in the name of so called science and logic,
             Bedizzaman Said Nursi therefore concentrated in the
             Risale-i Nur on proving the truths of faith in conformity with modern
             sciences, through rational evidence and by
             manifesting the miraculous aspects of the Qur'an that relate
             primarily
             to our century. This collection now has millions
             of readers both in and outside Turkey. Thanks to the RFDsale-i Nur,
             the Turks managed to maintain their religion
             despite the most despotic regimes of the past decades; although its
             author faced unbearable torments, prisons and
             exiles and no effort was spared to put an end to his service to
             faith,
             he was able to complete his writings comprising
             the Risale-i Nur and raise a vast group of believers who courageously
             opposed the oppression and preserved the
             dominance of Islam in the country.

                  WONDER OF THE AGE

                  Bediuzzaman Said Nursi was born a century ago, in 1876, in a
             village in eastern Anatolia, Nurs, from which he
             received the name Nursi. He received his basic education from the
             best-known scholars of the district. The
             extraordinary intelligence and capability of learning that he showed
             at a very early age made him popular with his
             teachers, colleagues and the people. When he was sixteen years old,
             he
             silenced the distinguished scholars who had
             invited him to a debate (debate was then a popular practice among
             scholars). This later recurred several more times
             with various groups of soholars, and he thereby began to be called
             Bediuzzaman (Wonder of the Age).
                  The time he spent in education paved the way in his mind for the
             thought that at a time when the world was
             entering a new and different age, where science and logic would
             prevail, the classical educational system of theology
             would not be sufficient to remove doubts concerning the Qur'an and
             Islam. He concluded that religious sciences
             should be taught at modern schools on the one hand, and modern
             sciences at religious schools on the other. "This
             way," he said, "the people of the school will be protected from
             unbelief, and those of the madrasa from fanaticism."
                  With this idea, he twice went to Istanbul-once in 1895, the
             second time in 1907-where he sought to convince
             the Sultan to establish a university in Anatolia, one that would
             teach
             religious and modern sciences together. But the
             sharp words in his conversation with the Sultan caused him to be
             court-martialed, and during his trial too he did not
             hesitate to use the same sharpness. Alarmed by this, the military
             judges thought it best to send him to a mental
             hospital, but the phisician who examined him reported, "If there is a
             grain of insanity in Bediuzzaman, then there must
             be no sane person in the whole world"

                  FIRST ACQUITTAL

                  To be the object of accusations contrary to his aim and
             intention
             was, in fact, an invariable feature of
             Bediuzzaman's fate. When the uproars of March 31, 1909, took place,
             he
             was arrested and court-martialed on the
             charge of inciting the uproar, although he had tried, and to a degree
             managed, to calm down the events. While the
             hanging bodies of the convicts executed were seen through the windows
             of the court-martial room, Bediuzzaman
             made a heroic defense and in the end was acquitted.
                  After the first of a series of acquittals, Bediuzzaman Said
             Nursi
             returned to eastern Anatolia, visited the remote
             proviences and explained to the people that the movement freedom that
             was beginning to emerge in the country was
             not contrary to Islam. He told them that all kinds of dictatorship
             were rejected by the Sacred Law, which would be
             nourished and would manifest its virtues in a free atmosphere. Her
             later collected these speeches in a book entitled
             the Debates.
                  In the winter of 1911, Bediuzzaman went to Damascus and gave a
             sermon at the Umayyad mosque to an
             audience including one hundred well-known scholars, explaining that
             the true civilisation contained in Islam would
             dominate the modern world. Afterwards he went to Istanbul once again,
             to continue his efforts to have a, university
             established in eastern Anatolia. As the representative of the Eastern
             provinces, he escorted Sultan Reþad on his
             journey in Rumelia and, when they were in Kosovo Metohija, where the
             Sultan was planning to establish a university,
             Bediuzzaman told him, "The East is in more need of a university, for
             it is the centre of the Muslim world." He thus
             convinced Sultan Resad to earmark a sum of nineteen thousand gold
             liras, and then went to Van and laid the
             foundation of the university. Unfortunately, the construction was not
             completed because of the World War which soon
             broke out.

                  THE FEAR OF THE RUSSIANS

                  In World War I, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi served as a commander of
             a volunteers' regiment on the Caucasian
             front and in eastern Anatolia. The heroism he demonstrated in battle
             was highly admired by the generals of the
             Ottoman army, including Enver Pa=FEa, Minister of Defense and Deputy
             Commander-in-Chief of the Ottoman
             Armed Forces. Together with his volunteers known as "the Felt Caps,"
             he struck terror into the Russian and
             Armenian forces. In the meantime, he wrote his celebrated commentary
             on the Qur'an in the Arabic language,
             sometimes on horseback, sometimes on the front line and sometimes in
             the trench. This commentory, entitled the
             Signs of Miraculousness; received immense appreciation from eminent
             scholars.
                  In one of the battles against the invading Russian forces,
             Bediuzzaman and ninety other officers were captured.
             He was sent to a prisoners' camp in Kostroma, Northwestern Russia,
             where he spent over two years and once
             appeared before a firing squad, as a result of his insulting the
             Russian general Nicola Nicolaevich, the
             Commander-in-Chief of the Caucasian front and the Czar's uncle. One
             day the general came to the camp for
             inspection and, as he passed by Bediuzzaman, he did not stand up
             before the general. When asked, Bediuzzaman
             explained the reason why he had not stood up in these words:
                  "I am a Muslim scholar and have belief in my heart. Whoever has
             belief in his heart is superior to the one who
             does not. I cannot act against my belief."
                  He was court-martialed, sentenced to death, and, when the
             sentence was to be executed, he began his last
             duty, prayer, in front of the firing squad. The general witnessed the
             scene and came to Bediüzzaman, this time with an
             apology. He said that he had now realized that the act of Bediuzzaman
             was the result of his adherence to his faith;
             and that the sentence was withdrawn, and apologized to Bediuzzaman
             because he had bothered him. Sadly, this
             virtuousness of a Russian, the long-standing enemy of the Muslims,
             was
             never shown to him in his homeland by those
             who caused him a life full of torments of all kinds.

                  AGAINST THE BRITISH FORCES

                  Amid the uproars caused by the communist revolution, Bediuzzaman
             found a way of escaping and, after a long
             iourney, came back to Istanbul in 1908 He was rewarded with a war
             medallion and Enver Paþa, Minister of Defense,
             offered him some positions in the government. He refused all these
             offers; however, upon the suggestion of the army
             and without his knowledge, he was appointed to Dar-al-Hikmat
             al-Islamiya, the religious academy of the time. He did
             not object to this appointment, as it was a pure scientific position.

                  When the country was invaded by imperialist forces after the
             defeat in World War I, Bediuzzaman challenged
             the invading British in Istanbul with bitter attacks that almost cost
             him his life. He addressed them in his articles in
             daily newspapers with phrases such as, "O dog doggified from the
             atmost degree of dogness!" and "Spit at the
             shameless face of the damned British" These attacks made him the
             target of the British, but, with the help of God
             Almighty, he escaped all the plans against him and ran toward the new
             services that were awaiting him. In 1922, upon
             the invitations of the government that recurred eighteen times,
             Bediuzzaman Said Nursi went to Ankara and was
             received at the Grand National Assembly with a ceremony. However, he
             could not find in Ankara what he had
             anticipated; rather he saw the most of the representatives negligent
             in their religious obligations. On January 19, 1923,
             he issued a declaration to the representatives. Upon this declaration
             fifty to sixty of them began prayer.

                  Bediuzzaman spent eight months in Ankara and then left for Van.
             For two years he lived there in seclusion and
             was occupied only with meditation and prayer. Meanwhile the
             unfortunate events known as "the Eastern rebellion"
             broke out. The rebels sought Bediuzzaman's help, as he had a strong
             influence over people, but Bediuzzaman refused
             their requests, saying, "Sword is to be used against the outside
             enemy; it is not to be used inside. Give up your attempt,
             for it is doomed to failure and may end up in the annihilation of
             thousands of innocent men and women because of a
             few criminals." But once again Bediuzzaman was charged falsely and
             sent into exile in Burdur, western Anatolia.

             There he was kept under strict surveillance and oppression, but this
             did not prevent him from teaching the truths of
             faith to the people around him and from collecting his writings
             secretly in a book. His activities were reported to
             Ankara , and then a plan was prepared to silence him. They sent him
             to Barla, an out-of-the-way place in central
             Anatolia surrounded by mountains, with the thought that Bediuzzaman
             would eventually die there from impotence and
             loneline.

                 THE EMERGENCE OF THE RISALE-I NUR

                  In reality, the dissemination of the truths of faith was nothing
             to be alarmed about, nor was it a crime that would
             be the cause of plots against a man's life. However, it was an
             unforgiveable crime under the circumstances of the
             time! For those were the days when despotism had fallen down over the
             nation with all its darkness and
             awesomeness; a ban had been put over adhan; hundreds of mosques were
             being used for nonreligious purposes; the
             plans to cut off all that connects the nation with its past and its
             moral values were in process; and the mere mention of
             religion was a matter of great courrage. The head of the press
             department of the government could order the editors
             of newspapers to cut within ten days all the serials that directly or
             indirectly. mentioned religion, as "it was considered
             harmful to lead to the emergence of the concept of religion in the
             minds of youths."

                  Such were the circumstances under which Bediuzzaman Said Nursi
             entered the second part of his life which
             he called the New Said and which was dedicated to the waiting and
             dissemination of the truths of faith. Taking as the
             aim the revival of faith, which is the first and most important truth
             of the cosmos, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, "I will
             demonstrate to the world that the Qur'an is a spiritual sun that
             shall
             never set and shall never be extinguished." And
             indeed so he did. Bediuzzaman did not die in Barla, where he had been
             sent to die alone, but a new Said emerged
             there, and with it em= erged a sun over the world of science and
             culture, .one that has since been illuminating millions.
             In Barla too, an awesome oppression and surveillance were waiting for
             Bediuzzaman.

             It appeared that his enemies
             had not yet come to know him, who, in the World War had been the fear
             of the Russians, in Istanbul had spat at the
             face of the British who were in his pursuit, and had several times
             returned from the gallows. Nevertheless, they later
             had enough time to know him and in the end found themselves having to
             say, "Despite all we have done in the past
             twenty-five years, we have not been able to prevent Said Nursi from
             his activ=EDties." During the eight years and a
             half that he spent under absolute oppression in Barla, Bediuzzaman
             wrote three quarters of the Risale-i Nur collection:
             The treatises were being multiplied by handwriting, as neither the
             author nor his students could afford the printing
             costs. Even if they had been able to, then again they did not have
             the
             freedom. Handwriting was also a dangerous
             task, for the scribes were being tortured in prisons and police
             stations, and every attempt was being made to prevent
             people from contact with Bediuzzaman.

                  600.000 COPIES WRITTEN BY HAND

                  Here it must be noted that at that time the writing or
             dissemination of even a single religious treatise was not
             anything that anybody dared try, let alone the firm, courageous and
             continuous struggle that Bediuzzaman Said Nursi
             and his students carried out. When these circumstances under which
             the
             Risale-i Nur was written and spread all over
             Anatolia are taken into consideration, one cannot find difficulty in
             realizing how right was Maryam Jameelah, the
             well-known American Muslim writer, when she said, "It is no
             exaggeration to claim that whatever Islamic fait= h
             remains in Turkey is due to the tireless efforts of Bediuzzaman
             Nursi." Indeed, those instructed by the Risale-i Nur in
             lessons of the faith of realization strengthened, in so doing, their
             beliefs and attained an impregnable Islamic courage
             and heroism. With Bediuzzaman, who represented in his person the
             spiritual personality of the Risale-i Nur, as their
             leader, those hundreds of thousands-now millions-of students of Nur
             set a pattern for other Muslims and constituted a
             support for them in those perilous days like brave commanders
             encouraging an army with their states. The strength of
             their beliefs and their continuous struggle against irreligion had
             wide effects on people, and they thus removed the
             fears and misgivings from the hearts, rallied the morale of the
             nation, brought about hope and relief and delivered the
             Muslims from desperation.
                  Bediuzzaman was arrested in 1930 with 125 students of his and
             tried at the Eski=FEehir Criminal Court. In
             Eski=FEehir prison where they spent eleven months during the trial,
             they had to put up with unbearable torments.
             They were released the next spring but not Ieft in peace. This time,
             ,again escorted by gendarmes, Bediuzzaman was
             sent into exile in another city , Kastamonu. There he spent the first
             three months at a police station, then was
             transferred to a house opposite to the police station.
 
                    Bediuzzaman lived in Kastamonu for seven years and countinued to
             write and disseminate the Risale-i Nur.
             Because he and his students were deprived of almost all kinds of
             freedom, they therefore formed their own postal
             organization called the "Nur postmen." Through the "Nur postmen,"
             600,000 copies of treatises were multiplied by
             handwriting.

                  In 1943, he was arrested again and tried at the Denizli Criminal
             Court together with 126 students of his. The
             main reason for this was that Bediuzzaman had recently had a treatise
             concerning the existence of God printed
             secretly in Istanbul. In prison too he did not shrink from continuing
             his service, just as he never did when he was in
             exile. He was now reforming the criminals who were considered lost
             for
             society. He was also writing new treatises.

                  Paper and pen were not allowed into the prison, so the treatises
             were written on small pieces of paper torn
             from paperbags and smuggled out in matchboxes: This way Fruits from
             the Tree of Light came out. The trial ended in
             a unanimous acaquittal. But that did not mean that Bediuzzaman would
             be given back his freedom-upon an order from
             Ankara, he was sent to another town, Emirdað.

                  THE ACQUITTAL THAT CAME TOO LATE

                  For him Emirdað was just the same as it had been elsewhere
             again
             pursuits, pressures and plots, and despite
             these, a continuous, tireless service of faith... This period, in the
             usual fashion, ended in arrest. Together with
             fifty-three students, Bediuzzaman was sent to Afyon Criminal Court
             and
             spent twenty months in Afyon prison. The
             cruelties they encountered there were even worse than all those
             before. Bediuzzaman was then seventy-five years
             old and suffering from various illnesses. Yet he was isolated in a
             cell with broken windows where he spent two
             severe winters. And, as if it were not enough to leave him to die
             alone, he was poisoned too. When he was suffering
             from the effect of the poison, the students of his who dared to
             approach him in order to help him were ruthlessly
             bastinadoed. The sentences given were annulled by the Supreme Court;
             the court, however, took its time in deciding
             whether to withdraw the sentence or not. After Bediuzzaman and his
             students had spent in prison the terms specified
             in the annulled conviction, the court finally made up its mind and
             decided that they should be released. And eight years
             later came the final decision in 1956, the court announced that those
             who had under unbearable conditions spent
             almost two years in prison had now been found innocent!
                  When the first free and fair elections were held in Turkey in
             1950 and the multiparty system was established,
             the despotism of the Republican People's Party which was known, and
             still is, for its hostile attitude toward
             religion-ended, and thereby freedoms began to be recognized. Thus a
             new era opened in the history of the Turkish
             Republic in the very first session of the new parliament, the ban
             over
             adhan was lifted. During the years that followed,
             Bediuzzaman had only one trial-the only one in which he was not
             arrested in Istanbul and was acquitted with a
             unanimous decision.

                  WITH HONOR, DIGNITY AND VICTORY

                  And, after completing a lifetime of almost a century, with every
             minute spent in the service of faith,
             Bediuzzaman Said Nursi departed from this world on the morning of
             March 23, 1960, with complete honor, dignity and
             victory, leaving behind him a work that would illuminate this and the
             forthcoming centuries and a love that would be
             handed over from generation to generation until eternity.
 

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