Who was Bediuzzaman Said Nursi and What is the Risale-i Nur?

Bediuzzaman Said Nursi was born in eastern Turkey in 1877 and died in 1960 at the age of 83 after a life of exemplary struggle and self-sacrifice in the cause of Islam. He was a scholar of the highest standing having studied not only all the traditional religious sciences but also modern science and had earned the name Bediuzzaman, Wonder of the Age, in his youth as a result of his outstanding ability and learning.


Bediuzzaman’s life-time spanned the final decades of the Caliphate and Ottoman Empire, its collapse and dismemberment after the First World War, and, after its formation in 1923, the first thirty-seven years of the Republic, of which the years up to 1950 are famous for the Government’s repressive anti-Islamic and anti-religious policies.


Bediuzzaman understood and essential cause of the decline of the Islamic world to be the weakening of the very foundations of belief. This weakening, together with unprecedented attacks on those foundations in the 19th and 20th centuries carried out by materialist, atheist and others in the name of science and progress, led him to realize that the urgent and over-riding need was to strengthen, and even to save, belief. What was needed was to expend all efforts to reconstruct the edifice of Islam from its foundations, belief, and to answer at that level those attacks with a ‘manevi jihad’ or ‘jihad of the word.’


Thus, in his exile, Bediuzzaman wrote a body of work, the Risale-i Nur, that would explain and expound the basic tenets of belief, the truths of the Qur’an, to modern man. His method was to analyse both belief and unbelief and demonstrate through clearly reasoned arguments that not only is it possible, by following the method of the Qur’an, to prove rationally all the truths of belief, such as God’s existence and unity, prophethood, and bodily resurrection, but also that these truths are the only rational explanation of existence, man and universe.


Bediuzzaman thus demonstrated in the form of easily understood stories, comparisons, explanations, and reasoned proofs that, rather than the truths of religion being incompatible with the findings of modern science, the materialist interpretation of those findings in irrational and absurd. Indeed, Bediuzzaman proved in the Risale-i Nur that science’s breathtaking discoveries of the universe’s functioning corroborate and reinforce the truths of religion.


The Risale-i Nur is uniquely fitted to address not only Muslims but all mankind for several reasons. Firstly it is written in accordance with man’s mentality, a mentality that, whether Muslim or not, has been deeply imbued by materialist philosophy: it specifically answers all the questions, doubts and confusion this causes. It answers too all the ‘why’s’ that mark questioning mind of man today.


A further reason is that in explaining the true nature and purpose of man and the universe, the Risale-i Nur shows that true happiness is only to be found in belief and knowledge of God, both in this world and the hereafter. And it also points out the grievous pain and unhappiness that unbelief causes man’s spirit and conscience, which generally the misguided attempt to block out through heedlessness and escapism, so that anyone with any sense may take refuge in belief.


The method that Bediuzzaman employed in the Risale-i Nur. He explained the true nature of the universe as signs of its Creater and demonstrated through clear arguments that when it is read as such all the fundamentals of belief may be proved rationally.


Bediuzzaman Said Nursi demonstrated in the Risale-i Nur that there is no contradiction or dichotomy between science and religion; rather, true progress and happiness for mankind can, and will, only be achieved in this way, the way of the Qur’an.