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An Important Warning and Statement of Purpose
The Seventh Ray from Risale-i Nur Collection The Suprame Sign
by Bediüzzaman Said Nursi
Not everyone will be able to understand all the matters discussed in this most significant treatise, but equally nobody will remain portionless. If somebody enters a garden, he will find that his hands cannot reach all the fruit it contains, but the amount that falls within his grasp will be enough for him. The garden does not exist for him alone; it exists also for those whose arms are longer than his.
There are five causes making difficult the understanding of this book.
The First: I have written down my own observations, according to my own understanding, and for myself. I have not written according to the understanding and conceptions of others, as is the case with other books.
The Second: Since the true affirmation of Divine unity is set forth in this book, in the most comprehensive form, by virtue of a manifestation of the Supreme Name, the subjects discussed are extremely broad, extremely profound and sometimes extremely long. Not everyone can comprehend these matters all at once.
The Third: Since each matter constitutes a great and extensive truth, a single sentence will sometimes stretch out over a whole page or more, in order not to fracture the truth in question. A single proof requires copious preliminaries.
The Fourth: Since most of the matters contained in the book have numerous proofs and evidences, the discussion sometimes becomes prolix through the inclusion of ten or twenty proofs by way of demonstration. Limited intelligences cannot understand this.
The Fifth: It is true that the lights of this treatise came to me from the effulgence of Ramadan. Nonetheless, I was distraught in a number of respects, and I wrote the book hastily at a time my body was wracked by several illnesses, without revising the first draft. I felt, moreover, that I was not writing with my own will and volition, and it seemed inappropriate to rearrange or correct what I had written, according to my own thoughts. This, too, resulted in rendering the book difficult of comprehension. In addition, a number of sections in Arabic crept in, and the First Station, written entirely in Arabic, was removed and made into a separate work.
Despite the defects and difficulties arising from these five causes, this treatise has such an importance that Imam ‘Ali (May God be pleased with him) miraculously foresaw its composition and gave it the names “Supreme Sign” and “Staff of Moses.” He looked upon this part of the Risale-i Nur with special favour, and directed man’s gaze toward it.1 The Supreme Sign is a true exposition of the Supreme Verse,2 and it constitutes at the same time the Seventh Ray, designated by the Imam as the Staff of Moses.
This treatise consists of an Introduction and two Stations. The Introduction sets forth four important matters; the First Station contains the Arabic portion of the exposition of the Supreme Verse; and the Second Station consists of the translation of that expostion together with the accompanying proofs.
Too much has been explained in the following Introduction, but it was not my intention to lengthen it thus. The fact that it was written at this length indicates the existence of a need. Indeed, some people may regard it as too short, despite its length.
I created not jinn and mankind except that they might worship me.3
According to the meaning of this mighty verse, the purpose for the sending of man to this world and the wisdom implicit in it, consists of recognizing the Creator of all beings and believing in Him and worshipping Him. The primordial duty of man and the obligation incumbent upon him are to know God and believe in Him, to assent to His Being and unity in submission and perfect certainty.
For man, who by nature desires permanent life and immortal existence, whose unlimited hopes are matched by boundless afflictions, any object or accomplishment other than belief in God, knowledge of God and the means for attaining these, which are the fundament and key of eternal life — any such object or accomplishment must be regarded as lowly for man, or even worthless in many cases.
Since this truth has been proven with firm evidence in the Risale-i Nur, we refer exposition of it to that, setting forth here, within the framework of four questions, only two abysses that shake certainty of faith in this age and induce hesitation.
The means for salvation from the first abyss are these two Matters:
The First Matter: As proven in detail in the Thirteenth Flash of the Thirty-First Letter, in general questions denial has no value in the face of proof and is extremely weak. For example, with respect to the sighting of the crescent moon at the beginning of Ramadan the Noble, if two common men prove the crescent to have emerged by their witnessing it, and thousands of nobles and scholars deny it, saying: “We have not seen it,” their negation is valueless and without power to convince. When it is a question of proof each person strengthens and supports the other, and consensus results. But when it is a question of negation, there is no difference between one man and a thousand. Each person remains alone and isolated. For the one who affirms looks beyond himself and judges the matter as it is. Thus in the example we have given, if one says “The moon is in the sky,” and his friend then points his finger at the moon, the two of them unite and are strengthened.
The one who engages in negation and denial, however, does not regard the matter as it is, and is even unable to do so. For it is a well-known principle that “a non-particularized denial, not directed to a particular locus, cannot be proven.”
For example, if I affirm the existence of a thing in the world, and you deny it, I can easily establish its existence with a single indication. But for you to justify your negation, that is to establish the non-existence of the thing — it is necessary to hunt exhaustively through the whole world, and even to examine every aspect of past ages. Only then can you say, “It does not exist, and never has existed.”
Since those who negate and deny do not regard the matter as it is but judge rather in the light of their own souls, and their own intelligence and vision, they can in no way strengthen and support each other. For the veils and causes that prevent them from seeing and knowing are various. Anyone can say, “I do not see it; therefore, in my opinion and belief, it does not exist.” But none can say, “It does not exist in actuality.” If someone says this —particularly in questions of belief, which look to all the universe— it is a lie as vast as the world itself, and he who utters it will be incapable both of speaking the truth and of being corrected.
In Short: The result is one and single in the case of affirmation, and every instance of affirmation supports all other instances.
Negation by contrast is not one, but multiple. Multiplicity arises through each person’s saying concerning himself, “In my opinion and view,” or “In my belief,” and leads to multiplicity of result. Hence each separate instance cannot support all other instances.
Therefore, with respect to the truth with which we began, there is no significance in the multiplicity and apparent predominance of the unbelievers and deniers who oppose belief. Now it is necessary to refrain from introducing any hesitation into the certainty and faith of a believer, but in this age the negations and denials of the philosophers of Europe have induced doubt in a number of unfortunate dupes and thus destroyed their certainty and obliterated their eternal felicity. Death and the coming of one’s appointed hour, which afflict thirty thousand men each day, are deprived of their meaning of dismissal from this world and presented as eternal annihilation. The grave with its ever-open door, constantly threatens the denier with annihilation and poisons his life with the bitterest of sorrows. Appreciate then how great a blessing is faith, and the very essence of life.
The Second Matter: With respect to a problem subject to discussion in science or art, those who stand outside that science or art cannot speak authoritatively, however great, learned and accomplished they may be, nor can their judgements be accepted as decisive. They cannot form part of the learned consensus of the science.
For example, the judgement of a great engineer on the diagnosis and cure of a disease does not have the same value as that of the lowliest physician. In particular, the words of denial of a philosopher who is absorbed in the material sphere, who becomes continually more remote from the non-material or spiritual and cruder and more insensitive to light, whose intelligence is restricted to what his eye beholds — the words of such a one are unworthy of consideration and valueless with respect to non-material and spiritual matters.
On matters sacred and spiritual and concerning the Divine unity, there is total accord among the hundreds of thousands of the People of Truth, such as Shaykh Gilani (May his mystery be sanctified), who beheld God’s Sublime Throne while still on the earth, who spent ninety years ad-vancing in spiritual work, and who unveiled the truths of belief in all three stations of certainty. This being the case what value have the words of philosophers, who through their absorption in the most diffuse details of the material realm and the most minute aspects of multiplicity are choking and dazed? Are not their denials and objections drowned out like the buzzing of a mosquito by the roaring of thunder?
The essence of the unbelief that opposes the truths of Islam and struggles against them is denial, ignorance, and negation. Even though it may appear to be an affirmation of some kind and a manifestation of being, it is in reality negation and non-being. Whereas belief is knowledge and a manifestation of being; it is affirmation and judgement. Every negating aspect of belief is the gate to a positive truth or the veil covering it. If the unbelievers who struggle against faith attempt, with the utmost difficulty, to affirm and accept their negative beliefs in the form of acceptance and admission of non-being, then their unbelief may be regarded in one respect as a form of mistaken knowledge or erroneous judgement. But as for non-accceptance, denial, and non-admission —something more easily done— it is absolute ignorance and total absence of judgement.
In Short: The convictions underlying unbelief are then of two kinds:
The First pays no regard to the truths of Islam. It is an erroneous admission, a baseless belief and a mistaken acceptance peculiar to itself; it is an unjust judgement. This kind of unbelief is beyond the scope of our discussion. It has no concern with us, nor do we have any concern with it.
The Second Kind opposes the truths of belief and struggles against them. It consists in turn of two varieties.
The First is non-acceptance. It consists simply of not consenting to affirmation. This is a species of ignorance; there is no judgement in-volved and it occurs easily. It too is beyond the scope of our discussion.
The Second variety is acceptance of non-being. It is to consent to non-being with one’s heart, and a judgement is involved. It is a conviction and a taking the part of something. It is on account of this partiality that it is obliged to affirm its negation.
The negation comprises two types:
The First Type says: “A certain thing does not exist at a certain place or in a particular direction.” This kind of denial can be proved, and it lies outside of our discussion.
The Second Type consists of negating and denying those doctrinal and sacred matters, general and comprehensive, that concern this world, all beings, the hereafter, and the succession of different ages. This kind of negation cannot in any fashion be substantiated, as we have shown in the First Matter, for what is needed to substantiate such negations is a vision that shall encompass the whole universe, behold the hereafter, and observe every aspect of time without limit.
The Second Abyss and the means for escaping from it: This too consists of two matters.
The First: Intelligences that become narrowed by absorption in neglect of God and in sin, or the material realm, are unable to comprehend vast matters in respect of sublimity, grandeur, and infinity; hence taking pride in such knowledge as they have, they hasten to denial and negation. Since they cannot encompass the extremely vast, profound and comprehensive questions of faith within their straitened and dessicated intellects, their corrupt and spiritually moribund hearts, they cast themselves into unbelief and misguidance, and choke.
If they were able to look at the true nature of their unbelief and the essence of their misguidance they would see that, compared to the reasonable, suitable and indeed necessary sublimity and grandeur that is present in belief, their unbelief conceals and contains manifold absurdity and impossibility. The Risale-i Nur has proven this truth by hundreds of comparisons with the same finality that “two plus two equals four.” For example, one who does not accept the Necessary Being, the pre-eternity, and the comprehensiveness of attribute of God Almighty, on account of their grandeur and sublimity, may form a creed of unbelief by assigning that necessary being, pre-eternity, and the attributes of Godhead to an unlimited number of beings, an infinity of atoms. Or like the foolish Sophists, he can abdicate his intelligence by denying and negating both his own existence and that of the universe.
Thus, all the truths of belief and Islam, basing their matters on the grandeur and sublimity which are their requirement, deliver themselves from the awesome absurdities, the fearsome superstitions, and the tenebrous ignorance of unbelief that confront them, and take up their place in sound hearts and straight intellects, through utmost submission and assent.
The constant proclamation of this grandeur and sublimity in the call to prayer, in the prayers themselves and in most of the rites of Islam,
the declaration of the Sacred Tradition that “Grandeur is My shield and Sublimity My cloak;” and the statement of the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) — his most inspiring communing with God, in the eighty-sixth part of Jawshan al-Kabir:5
O You other than Whose Kingdom no kingdom exists;
1. The events that took place in Denizli fully confirmed the prediction of Imam Ali concerning the Supreme Sign. For the secret printing of this book was the cause of our imprisonement, and the triumph of its sacred and most powerful truth was the main cause of our acquittal and deliverance. Thus did Imam Ali make manifest his miraculous prediction, and prove the acceptane of the prayer he had uttered on our behalf: "By means of the Supreme Sign, secure me against sudden death!"
2. See footnote (1) on page 20.
3. Qur'an, 51:56.
4. Allah is Most Great.
5. The famous supplication revealed to the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) which, comprising the Divine Names, is relatedto posses many merits.