“The Strongest Voice will be Islam’s”

In the December of 1919, Bediuzzaman had a “true dream” or sort
of vision, which he subsequently recorded and included in Sünûhat.1 He tells us
there that he was at the time greatly distressed at the course of events and was
“searching for a light in the dense darkness.” In his dream, Bediuzzaman was
summoned by “a great assembly” made up of representatives of the leading figures
of Islam from each century and called upon to give an account of the present
state of Islam. Contrary to what might be expected, Bediuzzaman’s reply pointed
out positive aspects of the defeat, including the strengthening of Islamic
brotherhood and the Ottomans’ being saved from being carried away to a greater
extent on “the tyrannical current” of capitalism. Then, in order to show why
Islam rejects modern Western civilization, which was epitomised by the ugly and
exploitative capitalism and aggressive imperialism of the time, he made a
comparison of the principles on which Western civilization and Islamic
civilization are based and their results. This extremely interesting and
original exposition was greeted with approval by the Assembly in the dream, and
one of the deputies declared:

“Yes, be hopeful! The loudest and strongest voice in the coming
upheavals and changes will be that of Islam!”

The same comparison of Western and Islamic civilizations appears
in different contexts in a number of Bediuzzaman’s works of the period. And from
these and from other references to the same subject, we see in greater detail
his views on the subject, and also the reasons for the optimism and hope for the
future engendered by the dream.

It should be noted firstly that Bediuzzaman frequently pointed
out that just as modern civilization was not the product or property of
Christianity, neither was decline and retrogression in keeping with Islam: “To
consider civilization to be the property of Christianity, which it is not, and
to show decline, which is the enemy of Islam, to be its friend, is to suggest
that the firmament is revolving in the opposite direction.”2 As we have already
seen, Islam enjoins progress and comprises all the necessities of civilization:
“I declare with all my strength that there is nothing which is in reality good
in civilization that is itself, or what is better than it, not guaranteed either
explicitly or implicitly by Islam…”3 And in another work he wrote: “The things
known as the virtues of civilization are each a transformed matter of the
Shari’a.”4 Further to this, Bediuzzaman pointed out that Islam had played a
fundamental and significant role in the development of modern civilization:

“I cannot deny this: there are numerous virtues in [modern]
civilization, but they are neither the property of Christianity, nor the
creation of Europe, nor the work of this century. Rather, they are the property
of all. They arise from the combined thought of mankind, the laws of the
revealed religions, innate need, and in particular from the Islamic revolution
brought about by the Shari’a of Muhammad (PBUH).”5 And in another work he put it
in even stronger terms: “The good things and great industrial progress to be
seen in Western civilization are entirely reflected and derived from Islamic
civilization, the guidance of the Qur’an, and the [other] revealed

However, in the West, the evils of civilization had come to
preponderate over its beneficial aspects. Bediuzzaman gave two reasons for this.
The first was the permissive attitude of Western civilization towards
“dissipation” and “the appetites of the flesh”, which arose from “not making
religion and virtue the principles of civilization.” While the second was “the
appalling inequality in the means of livelihood”, which also ultimately resulted
from lack of religion. These would eventually lead to its destruction.7

Thus, Bediuzzaman predicted that because Western civilization
had become distant from true Christianity and was based not on the principles of
revealed religion, but on those of Greek and, primarily, Roman philosophy, it
would eventually “be dispersed” and “change its form”, and make way for the
emergence of Islamic civilization. His comparisons, then, are between the
“positive” principles and results of revelation, and the “negative” principles
and results of philosophy, or between divine guidance (hüda) and genius, meaning
‘reason’ (deha), as he sometimes calls them. Western civilization he describes
as follows:

“It takes as its point of support force, which manifests itself
in aggression. Its aim and purpose is benefit and self-interest, after which
everyone jostles and pushes without restraint. Its principle in life is
conflict, which manifests itself in contention and discord. The tie between
different groups is racialism and negative nationalism, which thrives on
devouring others and which manifests itself in ghastly clashes. Its alluring
service is encouraging lust and passion, satisfying desires, and facilitating
the attainment of whims. And as for lust and passion, they make man descend from
the level of the angels to that of a dog. They cause him to become a beast. If
most of these civilized people were turned inside out, the skin of a wolf, bear,
snake, pig, or ape would appear. Or so it seems to the imagination.”

The principles on which Islamic civilization is based, on the
other hand, are the reverse of these:

“Its point of support is truth instead of force, which is
manifest as justice and equity. Its aims are virtue and God’s pleasure in place
of benefit and self-interest, which are manifest as love and friendly
competition. Its means of unity are the bonds of religion, country, and class
instead of racialism and nationalism, which are manifest as sincere brotherhood
and reconciliation, and co-operation in only defending against outside
aggression. The principle in life is that of mutual assistance and co-operation
instead of conflict, which is manifest as unity and mutual support. In place of
lust is guidance, which is manifest as progress for humanity and being perfected
spiritually. It restricts the passions, and instead of facilitating the base
desires of the carnal soul, it gratifies the high sentiments of the spirit.”8

Of the various aspects of civilization of which there are more
detailed comparisons in Bediuzzaman’s works, we shall briefly mention two. The
first of these is literature.

In a piece on the subject in Lemeat, a collection of writings in
free verse on various subjects which was published in Istanbul, probably in
1921, Bediuzzaman makes a comparison between the Qur’an as literature and
European literature. This literature is represented by the novel, for which
there had been a strong vogue among ‘Europeanized’ Ottomans since the time of
Abdulhamid. Bediuzzaman states that there are three areas of literature. These
are concerned with love and beauty, heroism and valour, and thirdly, the
depiction of reality. As regards European literature, he says that in the first
sort it does not know the meaning of true love, and merely excites the carnal
appetites – though it purports to be high-minded and condemn such things as
unfitting for man, while in the second, it does not favour right and justice,
but exalts the concept of force.

In the depiction of reality, Bediuzzaman describes the Western
view in greater detail. He points out that since European literature regards the
universe not as Divine art, but from the point of view of nature, it prompts
materialism and the worship of nature. And the novel, whether in book form, or
as theatre or cinema, is the only remedy it has been able to find for the
distress of the spirit arising from this misguidance. He goes on to say that
both produce feelings of sadness, but while the sadness produced by the Qur’an
is of a lofty and elevated nature, that caused by European literature offers no
hope. This again springs from the view of existence it expresses. The world is a
wild and ownerless place; what inspires the sorrow is “deaf nature” and “blind
force”. It is the pathetic woe of an orphan, of the lack of friends, rather than
their absence. And while both give pleasure and stir the emotions, where the
Qur’an stirs the spirit and moves the higher emotions, European literature
stimulates man’s animal appetites and affords pleasure to his lower nature

The second aspect to be considered here is of a socio-economic
nature. It concerns the injustice inherent in Western civilization and the
remedy for its grievous consequences provided by Islam.

Bediuzzaman summarizes the root cause of the great social
upheavals man has suffered, particularly this century, in two phrases. One is:
“So long as I’m full, what is it to me if others die of hunger.” And the other:
“You struggle and labour so that I can live in ease and comfort.” And he
demonstrates that if they are to be eradicated, it will be through applying the
Qur’anic injunction of almsgiving (vüjub-u zekat) and prohibition on usury and
interest (hurmet-i riba). His argument is as follows:

Through urging the wealthy classes to act in a cruel,
oppressive, and arrogant manner towards the poor, the first phrase has been the
cause of such sedition and strife that it has come close to overturning
humanity. And the second phrase, through driving the poor to harbour hatred and
envy towards the rich, has for several centuries destroyed public order and
security, and this century, due to the struggle between capital and labour, has
given rise to disaster and disorder on a vast scale. The role of zekat and the
prohibition on interest in rectifying this situation is this:

The most important factor in maintaining the order of society as
a whole is not allowing an unbridgeable gulf to develop between the various
classes. The upper classes and the rich should not become so far removed from
the lower classes and the poor that the lines of communication are broken, as
happened in European civilization. “Despite all its societies for good works,
all its establishments for the teaching of ethics, all its severe discipline and
regulations”, it could neither reconcile those two classes, nor heal the two
wounds in human life caused by the two phrases above. However, through making
the payment of zekat obligatory and prohibiting interest, Islam establishes
relations between rich and poor, and forges links of respect and sympathy
between them. By not allowing the classes to draw far apart, it maintains the
order and balance of society. It “uproots” the two phrases and heals the wounds
they have caused in mankind.10

How is it then that while Islam comprises true civilization, it
was materially defeated by Western civilization? In his dream, Bediuzzaman was
questioned concerning this. He was asked by one of the deputies in the Assembly:
“With which of your actions did you issue a fatwa to Divine Determining so that
it ordered this disaster for you?” Bediuzzaman replied that it was their neglect
of three of the ‘pillars of Islam’ – the prescribed prayers, fasting in Ramadan,
and payment of zekat – that had brought it upon them.11 And he afterwards added
a note to this, including neglect of the Hajj.

The Absolute Sovereignty of the Qur’an

Many reasons have been touched on in describing Bediuzzaman’s
thought and works up to here for the decline of the Islamic world and the
Ottomans in particular. Broadly speaking they can be classed under two main
headings. One is despotism and the other is religion, or rather the failure to
adhere to its principles in various areas. The two are interconnected.
Despotism, together with its numerous, far-reaching, and negative consequences,
and the solutions for them in the form of Constitutionalism and Freedom within
the sphere of the Shari’a worked for with such dedication by Bediuzzaman, we
have discussed in some detail. With regard to religion, many areas of decline
may be included under this heading, and these too, together with their
solutions, have been described in various places. For example, the decline in
the field of learning and medrese education, and the solutions put forward by
Bediuzzaman for this which would also heal the deep rifts that had developed
between the ‘ulama, the Sufi community, and those with a secular, Western
educational background. The negligent attitude towards the ‘pillars of Islam’
mentioned in the dream above. And the various “sicknesses” in the social life of
Muslims, and in the field of morality, and the “remedies” offered by Bediuzzaman
in his sermon in Damascus. However, rather than attempting a comprehensive
analysis of all the reasons Bediuzzaman put forward for the decline and relative
backwardness of the Islamic world, we shall just make the following points.

In Muhâkemat, a work written to establish the principles of
Qur’anic exegesis (tafsir) and published in 1911, Bediuzzaman attributes the
decline to the fact that the heart or true meaning of the teachings of Islam had
been abandoned for its externals. He wrote:

“…Abandoning the essence and kernel of Islam, we fixed our
gazes on its exterior and shell. And through misapprehension and ill-manners, we
did not afford Islam its right nor pay it the respect it was due. So in disgust,
it swathed itself in clouds of illusion and delusion, and concealed itself. And
it had the right, for we mixed Isra’iliyat12 with the fundamentals of belief,
and stories with the tenets of faith, and metaphors with the truths of belief,
and did not appreciate its value. So to punish us in this world, it left us in
abasement and penury. And what will save us, is again its mercy.”13

Later in the same work, Bediuzzaman expands on this, explaining
how some Isra’iliyat, and a portion of Greek philosophy, had been incorporated
into Islam, and “appearing in the apparel of religion”, had thrown minds into
disarray. Explaining how this happened, he concludes that when commenting on the
Qur’an, some ‘externalist’ ‘ulama had expounded certain of its verses (nakliyat)
by making them fit the Isra’iliyat. “Whereas”, he wrote. “What will explain and
expound the Qur’an is again the Qur’an, and sound Hadiths. Not the Gospels and
the Torah, whose ordinances have been superseded, just as their stories are

As for Greek philosophy, it had sprung from fables and
superstition, and just as it had caused confusion, so also had it opened up a
way to mere imitation (taqlid) in place of investigative and dynamic
scholarship. Supposing there to be points of similarity and agreement between
philosophy and matters of the Qur’an which demand the use of reason (akliyat),
externalist scholars explained these verses in terms of the philosophy and
adapted them to it. Bediuzzaman then said:

“God forbid! …For the criterion of the Book of Miraculous
Exposition is its miraculousness. Its expounder and commentator is its parts.
Its meaning is within it. Its shell, too, is of pearl, not clods….”14

And so to return to Sünûhat, published in 1919-20, and a piece
concerned with the Qur’an and the decline of Islam. Entitled, The Absolute
Sovereignty of the Qur’an, it describes what Bediuzzaman considered to be “the
most important cause of the Islamic community displaying carelessness and
negligence in the precepts of religion.”

The gist of Bediuzzaman’s argument is that while it is the
sacredness (qudsiyet) of the Qur’an, rather than reasoning, that drives the mass
of ordinary believers to conform to the precepts of religion, the way Qur’anic
commentaries and books on the Shari’a have developed in the course of time is
such that they have come to act as a veil to the Qur’an’s sacredness.

Firstly in his argument, Bediuzzaman states that although the
fundamentals of belief and pillars of Islam, which are the ‘personal’ property
of the Qur’an and the Sunna of the Prophet (PBUH), which expounds the Qur’an,
form ninety per cent of the religion, and controversial matters which are open
to interpretation (ijtihadî) form only ten per cent, in the course of time the
former have been “placed under the patronage” of the latter, have been combined
with them, and become subordinate to them.

Then, while “the books of those qualified to interpret the law
(mujtahidin) should be like means and display the Qur’an as though they were
glass; they should neither act on its behalf nor obscure it”, it is on these
books that the attention of the mass of believers became focussed. They have
only thought of the Qur’an in a hazy sort of way. They have read these books in
order to understand not what the Qur’an says, but what the authors say. As a
result of this the ordinary believer’s conscience “has become accustomed to
being indifferent, and has become lifeless and unresponsive.” However,
Bediuzzaman continues:

“If the Qur’an had been shown directly in the fundamentals of
religion, the mind would have naturally perceived its sacredness, which urges
conformity [to the precepts of religion], is the rouser of the conscience, and
is [the Qur’an’s] inherent property. In this way the heart would have become
sensitive towards it, and would not have remained deaf to the admonitions of

Bediuzzaman then states that there are three ways to direct the
attention of the mass of believers towards the Qur’an – “the exemplification of
the Pre-Eternal Address, which shimmers with the attraction of miraculousness,
has a halo of sacredness, and constantly stirs the conscience through belief.”
The first he describes as dangerous, the second as needing time, while the third
is to remove the veils obscuring the Qur’an and display it directly to the
ordinary believers; to seek its “pure, unmixed property” from itself alone, and
only its secondary (bilvasita) decrees from the means.

That is to say, the fundamentals and essentials, which as we saw
form ninety per cent, should be sought from the Qur’an itself and from the
Sunna, while matters of secondary importance, which are open to interpretation
and form ten per cent, sought from the works of those qualified to interpret
them, that is, the mujtahids. If that had been the case, the demand shown for
these truly numerous commentaries and books on the Shari’a and divided up
between them would have been directed towards the Qur’an itself, indeed, the
demand would have been greater because of need. And in that way the Qur’an would
have been dominant and influential in its full meaning over the Muslim

Bediuzzaman had a significant dream shortly after writing this
piece, and included it at the end of it. We also include it:

“One night shortly after writing this matter, I dreamt of the
Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). I was in a medrese in his blessed
presence. The Prophet was going to instruct me in the Qur’an. On their bringing
the Qur’an, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) rose to his feet out
of respect. It occurred to me at that moment that he rose in order to guide his

“Finally I related this dream to a righteous member of his
community, and he interpreted it in this way: ‘It is a powerful sign and certain
good news that the Qur’an of Mighty Stature will acquire the exalted position of
which it is worthy throughout the world.’”15

Birth of the New Said

Some two years after his return to Istanbul from the
prisoner-of-war camp in Russia, Bediuzzaman underwent a radical interior change,
“a strange revolution of the spirit”, and out of this inner turmoil, the New
Said was born. Indeed, it is clear from Abdurrahman’s biography and from his own
requests for leave of absence from the Darü’l-Hikmet that from his return
Bediuzzaman suffered certain difficulties. The strains of war and harsh
conditions of his captivity had taken their toll on his health, while the
Ottoman defeat and foreign occupation were sources of great distress. However,
as we saw at the end of the piece describing his “awakening” in the little
mosque beside the River Volga, Bediuzzaman considered the first two years of his
return, despite all his activities, to be a period of heedlessness, during which
his fame and the acclaim he received made him temporarily forget his decision to
withdraw from social life and concentrate on the inner life. Bediuzzaman
described the major turning-point that then occurred in some detail in various
places in his works, and we shall chart its course from these.

It seems that a few flashes of realization restarted the process
of “spiritual awakening”. These occurred on high vantage points overlooking the
city of Istanbul and took the form of realizing the stark realities of death and
separation, old age and the transitoriness of things. Bediuzzaman says that
then, before anything, he tried to find consolation and a ray of light in his
learning and the things he had studied for so many years. But rather than
providing this, he found that they had “dirtied his spirit”, and been an
obstacle to his spiritual progress.16

Until this time, Bediuzzaman had “filled his brain with the
philosophical as well as the Islamic sciences”, for he thought that “the
philosophical sciences were the means to spiritual progress and enlightenment.”
In addition, he was of the opinion that European science and philosophy could be
used to “reinforce” and “strengthen” Islam. He described it like this:

“The Old Said together with a group of thinkers accepted in part
the principles of human philosophy [as opposed to revealed knowledge] and
European science, and fought them with their own weapons; they admitted them to
a degree. They accepted unshakeably some of their principles in the form of the
positive sciences, and thus could not demonstrate the true value of Islam.
Simply, they supposed philosophy’s roots to be extremely deep, and grafted Islam
with its branches, as though they were strengthening it. But since the victories
were few, and it depreciated Islam, I gave up that way. And I demonstrated [in
the Risale-i Nur] that Islam’s principles are so profound that those of
philosophy cannot reach them; indeed, they remain superficial beside them.”17

And, now, when overwhelmed by the realization of his own
increasing years and the fleeting nature of everything to which he was attached,
Bediuzzaman’s learning afforded him no light, no hope. “The spiritual darkness
arising from the sciences of philosophy plunged my spirit into the universe,
suffocating it. Whichever way I looked seeking light, I could find no light in
those matters, I could not breathe…”18

Bediuzzaman’s spiritual crisis prompted him to withdraw from the
society of men and seek solitude in places removed from Istanbul life. He
retreated to Yusha Tepesi,19 a high hill on the Asian side of the Bosphorus near
its junction with the Black Sea. Here, he tells us, he would not permit
Abdurrahman even to attend to his essential needs.20 Following this he took a
house in Sariyer, on the European side, and it was here in this old wooden house
which is still standing that Bediuzzaman’s crisis was resolved and he found what
he was searching for.

It was Gawth-i A’zam, ‘Abd al-Qadir Geylani, who came first to
Bediuzzaman’s aid. A copy of his Fütûhu’l-Gayb came into Bediuzzaman’s
possession “by a happy coincidence”, and on opening the pages at random to take
an omen from it, these lines came up:


or, as Bediuzzaman interpreted them:

“Oh, you unfortunate! As a member of the
Darü’l-Hikmeti’l-Islamiye, you are as though a doctor curing the spiritual
sicknesses of the people of Islam, whereas it is you who is sicker than anyone.
You first of all find a doctor for yourself, then try to cure others!”
Bediuzzaman continued:

“So I said to the shaykh: ‘You be my doctor!’ And I took him as
my doctor, and read the book as though it was addressing me. But it was most
severe. It smashed my pride in the most fearsome manner. It carried out the most
drastic surgery on my soul. I could not stand it. I read half of it as though it
was addressing me, but did not have the strength and endurance to finish it. I
put the book back on the shelf. Then a week later the pain of that curative
operation subsided, and the pleasure came in its place. I again opened the book
and read it right through; I benefited a lot from that book of my first master.
I listened to his prayers and supplications, and profited abundantly.22

The second work which was instrumental in transforming the Old
Said into the New Said was the Mektûbat of Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi, Imam-i
Rabbani. Some time after his “cure” through the mediation of Gawth-i A’zam,
Bediuzzaman opened Imam-i Rabbani’s Mektûbat to take an omen from this too. He

“It is strange, but in the whole of Mektûbat, the word
Bediuzzaman appears only twice. And those two letters fell open for me at once.
I saw that written at the head of them was: Letter to Mirza Bediuzzaman, and my
father’s name was Mirza. Glory be to God! I exclaimed, these letters are
addressing me. At that time the Old Said was also known as Bediuzzaman. Apart
from Bediuzzaman Hamadani, I knew of no one else in the last three hundred years
famous with the name. Whereas in the Imam’s time there was such a person and he
wrote him these two letters. This person’s state must have been similar to mine,
for I found these letters to be the cure for my ills. Only, the Imam
persistently recommended in many of his letters what he wrote in these two,
which was: ‘Make your Qibla one.’ That is, take one person as your master and
follow him; do not concern yourself with anyone else.’”23

Bediuzzaman wrote that this most important piece of advice
seemed inappropriate for his state of mind, and he was bewildered as whom to
follow. In the Introduction to the Mesnevi-i Nuriye, he explained this in
greater detail:

“Since the Old Said proceeded more in the rational and
philosophical sciences, he started to look for a way to the essence of reality
like that of the Sufi’s (ahl-i tarikat) and the mystics (ahl-i haqiqat). But he
was not content to proceed with the heart only like the Sufis, for his intellect
and thought were to a degree wounded by philosophy; a cure was needed. Then, he
wanted to follow some of the great mystics, who approached reality with both the
heart and the mind. He looked, and each of them had different points of
attraction. He was bewildered as to which of them to follow.”24 None of the
great figures, such as Imam Gazzali, Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi, or Imam-i Rabbani,
answered all of his needs.

While in this state, “it was imparted to the Old Said’s much
wounded heart” that the one true master was the Holy Qur’an. It occurred to him
“through Divine Mercy” that “the head of these various ways and the source of
these streams and the sun of these planets is the All-Wise Qur’an; the true
single Qibla is to be found in it. In which case, it is also the most elevated
guide and most holy master. So I clasped it with both hands and clung on to

Thus, we can say that Bediuzzaman’s enlightenment occurred in
three stages. Firstly, he realized the deficiency of the “human philosophy” he
had studied and how it had been an obstacle to his enlightenment and progress.
And secondly, as Bediuzzaman himself confessed, through the “bitter medicine” of
Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir Geylani’s Fütûhu’l-Gayb: “I understood my faults, perceived
my wounds, and my pride was to a degree destroyed.”26 Then to complete the
process of his transformation into the New Said, he understood through the
Mektûbat of Imam-i Rabbani that he should take the Qur’an as his sole master.
The instruction in Divine Unity he then received from the Qur’an through the
phrase There is no god but God was “a most brilliant light” scattering the
darkness in which he had been plunged and allowing him to breathe easily.
Bediuzzaman describes how the Devil and his ‘evil-commanding soul’ would not
brook this, and “relying on what they had learnt from philosophers and the
people of misguidance, attacked his mind and his heart”, but that the ensuing
debate resulted in “the heart’s victory.”27

Bediuzzaman notes that he now proceeded “through an alliance of
mind and heart”. That is, through the guidance of the Qur’an he found a way to
the essence of reality through employing both the heart and the mind. And since
it employed both heart and mind, he found that before anything it cured his
wounded spirit and heart, and silencing Satan and his evil-commanding soul,
rescued him from doubts and scepticism. This then was the way of the New Said.
It was also to be the way of the Risale-i Nur. In fact, the first work the New
Said wrote was a collection of eleven or so treatises in Arabic called the
Mesnevi-i Nuriye, which he described as “a kind of seed of the Risale-i Nur”,
and as “the seedbed” and the Risale-i Nur as “its garden.”28

As will be recalled, Bediuzzaman had undergone “a radical change
in his ideas” at the turn of the century on learning of the explicit threats to
the Qur’an and Islamic world made by the British Colonial Secretary, and had
understood that he should dedicate his life to the defence of them with his
learning. However events and his youth had served as “obstacles”, preventing him
“taking up the duty.”29 From Bediuzzaman’s own accounts of his transformation
into the New Said quoted above it is seen that his first realization was of the
deficiency of “human philosophy” as opposed to revealed knowledge. And so, in
addition to the other “obstacles” which had prevented him from “taking up his
duty to defend the Qur’an and Islam” was his preoccupation with “philosophy”.
Now some twenty years later at the age of forty-three or four, through what was
clearly an overwhelming mental and spiritual upheaval, he had found what he had
been searching for. Near the end of his life, he described this search in the
presence of his close student, Mustafa Sungur:

“Sixty years ago, I was searching for a way to reach the truth
and reality at the present time. That is, I was searching for a short way to
obtain firm faith and belief and a complete understanding of Islam which would
not be shaken by the attacks of the numerous negative and damaging currents.
Firstly, I had recourse to the way of the philosophers; I wanted to reach the
truth with just the reason. I reached it only twice with extreme difficulty. I
looked and saw that even the greatest geniuses of mankind had gone only half the
way, only one or two had been able to reach the truth by means of the reason
alone. Then I said: ‘A way which even the greatest geniuses had been unable to
take cannot be made general for everyone’, and I gave it up. For numerous
philosophers, even Ibn-i Sina [Avicenna], Farabi, Aristotle and others had only
got half way. I saw that only one or two had been able to rise to the truth.
Then I understood that a path and way by which not even the great geniuses had
been able to rise, could not be the way for everyone. Then I had recourse to the
way of Sufism and studied it. I saw that it was most luminous and effulgent, but
that it needed the greatest caution. Only the highest of the elite could take
that way. And so, saying, neither can this way be a way for everyone at this
time, I sought help from the Qur’an. And thanks be to God, the Risale-i Nur was
bestowed on me, which at this time is a sound and short way of the Qur’an for
the believers.”30


1. Sünûhat, 41-47

2. Ibid., 60-61; Mektûbat, 445.

3. Bediüzzaman Kürdi’nin Fihriste-i Makasidi, Volkan Nos.
83-84, in Asar-i Bedi’iye, 373.

4. Muhâkemat, 39.

5. Sözler, 666-7.

6. Hubab, in Mesnevi-i Nuriye, 81.

7. Muhâkemat, 37-38.

8. Sünûhat, 44; Sözler, 664, 119, 379; Mektûbat, 445-6.

9. Sözler, 686-8; see also, Sözler, 382.

10. Ishârâtü’l-I’caz, 47-49; Sözler, 380.

11. Sünûhat, 47-48; Sözler, 667.

12. Isra’iliyat: teachings and stories which with time had
been corrupted and become superstitions and were introduced into Islam by
scholars of ‘the People of the Book’ on their becoming Muslim in the early
period of Islam.

13. Muhâkemat, 7.

14. Ibid., 16-18.

15. Sünûhat, 31-35.

16. Lem’alar, 226-228.

17. Mektûbat, 413.

18. Lem’alar, 229.

19. A point of interest which should be mentioned here was
recorded by Bediuzzaman’s student of later years, Ibrahim Fakazli, from one of
Bediuzzaman’s Van students, Seyyid Shefik, who joined Bediuzzaman in Istanbul on
his return from captivity in Russia. Seyyid Shefik Efendi, who was subsequently
Imam of Sultan Ahmad Mosque in Istanbul, related to Ibrahim Fakazli how Said
Halim Pasha, in the period following his resignation from the office of
Sadriazam (Prime Minister) in 1917, and “before going abroad”, had decided to
make over to Bediuzzaman an estate on the Bosphorus containing woods and number
of fine buildings for the purpose of founding an Islamic university, since he
had no heir. However at this point Bediuzzaman had disappeared off the scene for
a month. When it was learnt he was on Yusha Tepesi, word was sent to him that he
had only to present himself at the Land-Registry Office for the transaction to
be completed. Bediuzzaman requested twenty-four hours’ grace to seek guidance,
whereupon the two ‘Levhas’, or tables in verse, beginning “Don’t call me to the
world!”, occurred to him, and he turned down the offer. That is to say,
Bediuzzaman had already taken the decision “to abandon the world”, and on the
strength of the two pieces, which he later included in the Risale-i Nur in the
Seventeenth Word, did not go back on his decision (See, Sözler, 203-4). This
event, which shows the esteem in which Bediuzzaman was held by the highest
members of the Ottoman establishment, makes it probable that the process of his
transformation into the New Said began at an early date and continued for some
period of time. For, as a member of the CUP Government which had taken Turkey
into the First World War, Said Halim Pasha was arrested in early March 1919, and
together with 66 others, sent into exile in Malta on a British ship on 28 May
1919 (See, Inal, Ibnü’l-Emin, Son Sadriazamlar, iv, 1909-12). And the extant
documents show Bediuzzaman as resident in Sariyer in September, 1921.

20. Sualar, 446.

21. The original reads:

“Ya ibada’llah anta fi dari’l-hikmati; labud min al-wasita,
atlubu min ma’budikum tabiba; yutibbu amrad qalbikum…”

It is in the 62nd. Meclis, p. 245, of Shaykh Geylani’s work,
al-Fath al-Rabbânî, which in a printed edition of uncertain date was bound
together with Fütûh al-Ghayb under that title.

22. Mektûbat, 330; Sikke-i Tasdik-i Gaybî, 116-7.

23. Mektûbat, 330-331.

24. Mesnevi-i Nuriye, 7.

25. Mektûbat, 331.

26. Sikke-i Tasdik-i Gaybî, 117.

27. Lem’alar, 229.

28. Mesnevi-i Nuriye, 7-8.

29. Sikke-i Tasdik-i Gaybî, 76.

30. Sungur, Mustafa, in Sahiner, N. Aydinlar Konusuyor, 399.