Scholars of Islam: Said Nursi

ID 10847638 © Faizan Khan | Dreamstime.com
ID 10847638 © Faizan Khan | Dreamstime.com

Said Nursi (1878-1960) – a modern Turkish theologian and interpreter of the Quran (mufassir), one of the most famous and prominent figures of the Muslim world of the first half of the 20th century, who had a huge impact on the public and political life of Turkey. For his extraordinary scholarship and authority in science and public life, he received the title Bediuzzaman, i.e. Miracle of the Century. He had a phenomenal memory. Once they decided to check him out, giving him a book by the medieval writer and philologist Muhammad al-Hariri. Teacher Nursi (as his followers and admirers called him. “Ustad” (Teacher) opened it, looked through the page with his eyes and, closing the book, repeated it by heart. He did this with each new page.

Said Nursi lived a life full of stormy events. During the First World War, he was conscripted, fought at the front and spent time in Russian captivity, before his eyes the Ottoman Empire ceased to exist and gave way to a new Turkey, in which Nursi’s views regarding the spread and expansion of the influence of Islam did not always coincide with the policy of the secular state, which was pursued by the first Turkish President Kemal Ataturk, for which Nursi was persecuted more than once. At the same time, Nursi’s views on Islam were quite progressive.

Said Nursi believed that in modern conditions it is impossible to live with the concepts and principles that emerged a thousand years ago. First of all, he attributed this to issues of interpretation of the Quran. This interpretation became the main work of his life. It was formatted as a book called ‘Risale i-Nur’ (Treatises of Light) and translated into 50 languages. Said Nursi believed that the Quran should become the main source of the righteous life of all people, that all social and political schools, views and teachings should be built around it. For this, in the interpretation of the Quran, it is necessary to see consonance with the problems of our time. And it is also necessary to see the main thing in the Quran, namely that the Quran is designed to teach people unity, love and respect for each other, denial of enmity, violence. Only in this way, having united, people will be able to defeat their common enemy which is shirk (lack of belief), denial of God, the fall of morals and morality in society.

All the people of the world, willingly or unwillingly, are united by the grace and power of the Quran. This means that a dialogue is possible between all people, representatives of all religions, to unite in the fight against the denial of God. Similar ideas of inter-religious dialogue, expressed later in the Christian world, were first voiced by Said Nursi.

‘Risale i-Nur’ consists of 14 volumes and contains over 5,000 pages. In this tafsir, from the standpoint of modern scientific knowledge, all the main issues of Islam and the Muslim faith are examined in detail, namely, faith in the Creator, life after death, Heaven and hell, angels, matters of happiness and justice in this world and the hereafter. This tafsir helps a modern person to become imbued with love for Allah, to understand the depth and miracle of His Creation, to look into the greatness of the Divine Secrets.

For the contribution that Said Nursi made to the propaganda and popularization of the profound ideas of the Muslim world outlook and the Muslim faith for modern man, many rank him among the Mujaddids of the past 14th century AH (the renovators of the faith, who, according to the Prophet, should appear once every hundred years).