Man’s desire to make sense of himself and the world in which he finds
himself is fundamental to his nature and is his greatest need. It is the driving force of
progress and is manifested particularly in this age. More than at any time, man in the
modern age wants to know the why’s and wherefore’s of everything and to learn their
purpose. And indeed, his efforts to uncover the workings of the universe have been
rewarded by the astounding leaps forward made in every branch of sience. In the West,
however, where these developments have taken place, material progress has not been matched
by progress in other areas; that is to say, although Western man has had this tremendous
success in unravelling the mysteries of the material universe, his success has not been
extended beyond this. Plunging further and further into matter, he has failed to find
satisfactory answers to the most basic and most important questions of all. Questions like
"Why does the universe exist? What is the purpose of everything? What is the purpose
of life? What is man’s purpose? Where does he come from, and where will go after
death?" have remained unanswered. Thus, though the material needs of those in the
West are met and the majority live in conditions of affluence, the most basic need remains
unanswered, and indeed becomes more acute as science daily displays more the astonishing
order, unity, and harmony, and complexity of the universe, and its alleged purposelessness
becomes more untenable.

The source of this inability to provide satisfactory answers for the most
basic questions lies far back in the roots of Western civilization, which has as its
inspiration ‘man-made’ philosophy as opposed to divinely revealed religion. As science
developed in the West, it was seen as distinct and separate from religion. Science and
religion were ‘the material’ and ‘the spiritual’. So too Western civilization has
traditionally taken up a position opposed to the pure revelation of the Qur’an, the only
uncorrupted revealed scripture that remains to man. However, what must be one of the most
exciting and encouraging things for Muslims today is that, despite these denials of modern
civilization, developments in science corroborate the statements of the Qur’an concerning
the universe and the beings within it, rather than contradicting them. And more than that,
this agreement increasses the further science goes; the latest discoveries of physics
point to the unity of being and acausality. That is to say, the science which the West
claims as its own is proving the revealed knowledge of the Qur’an to be true; the Qur’an,
which, showing there is no conflict between science and religion, provides the answers for
modern man.

As the final Book Almighty God has revealed to mankind, the Qur’an
addresses all men in every age. It Addresses particularly and directly each level and rank
of mankind in every age, and their particular needs. As mentioned, the mark of the modern
age is the spirit of enquiry, which, driving man to discover the wisdom and purpose of
things, has led him to uncover the mysteries of the material universe to a degree which
even now seems unbelievable. So too in every age Almighty God sends someone to renew His
religion of Islam and relate the Qur’an’s message; a regenerator who makes known those
aspects of the Qur’an which look to that age in particular. Thus, in this modern age such
a renewer and regenerator is Bediüzzaman Said Nursi, the author of the Risale-i Nur,
which, primarily pointing out the wisdom and purpose of things, relates and explains the
Qur’anic message for contemporary man.

The Risale-i Nur is a true commentary on the Holy Qur an, expounding those
of its verses which are concerned with the truths of belief, written particularly to
answer attacks made on them in the name of science. This it does in a way that addresses
modern man’s mentality, a mentality that has been permeated by ‘scientific thinking’, and
so is uniquely fitted to convey the teachings of the Qur’an to Western man. For it
examines the universe and the beings within it, but in o doing concludes that the only
rational explanation for them is that they are the creatures, the evidences, of a Single
Creator. It demonstrates that the very nature of the universe, its order, harmony, unity,
the interdependence of its parts, excludes the possibility of all the various explanations
put forward by philosophy and materialism, that the concepts of chance and coincidence,
Nature, and causality are irrational and precluded. The Risale-i Nur proves that nothing,
be it ‘Nature’, or the laws and forces of Nature, or causes, can have a hand in the
creation of things, and become ‘a partner to God’. What are known as the laws of Nature,
which give the universe its order, have no external existence, they exist only as
knowledge, they have no power. The order in the universe is the way the Divine Will is
manifest, and ‘the forces of Nature’ manifestations of Divine Power.

Western man wants proof and evidence if he is to accept an idea. Thus, the
Risale-i Nur sets forth all these matters as reasoned arguments; it puts forward a
proposition, argues it with logical proofs, and comes to reasoned conclusions. An example
of this is the following, which is part of a proof of Divine Unity:

"If all things are not all together attributed to the Pre-Eternal
All-Powerful One, the One Knowing of All Things, then as well as having to gather together
in a particular measure from most of the varieties of beings in the world the body of the
tiniest thing like a fly, the particles which work in that tiny fly’s body will have to
know the mysteries of the fly’s creation and its perfect art in all its minutest details.
For as all the intelligent agree, natural causes and physical causes cannot create out of
nothing. In which case, if they do create, they will gather [the being] together. And
since they will gather it together whatever animate being it is, there are within it
samples of most of the elements and most of the varieties of beings, for living creature
are quite simply like a seed or essence of the universe, it will of course be necessary
for them to gather together a seed from the whole tree and an animate being from the whole
face of the earth sifting them through a fine sieve and measurin them with the most
sensitive balance. And since natural causes are ignorant and lifeless, and have no
knowledge with which to determine a plan, index, model, or programme according to which
they can smel and pour the particles which enter the immaterial mould [of the being in
question], so they do not disperse and spoil its order, it is clear how far it is from
possibility and reason to suppose that, without mould or measure, they can make the
particles of the elements which flow like floods remain one on the other in the form of an
orderly mass without dispersing, for everything has a single form and measure amd
possibilities without calculation or count…"1

In addition to proving these truths according to logic and with reasoned
arguments, the Risale-i Nur examines, ‘reads’, the universe looking at it through the eyes
of science. Considered in the light of all the physical sciences, it demonstrates it to be
the creation of a single Creator and the manifestation of His Most Beautiful Names. It
shows that in describing some aspect of the universe’s functioning, each science makes
known some aspect of the Creator. The source of each is one of the Divine Names; its
development is the manifestation of that Name. Far from there being any contradiction, the
sciences are a means to knowledge of God.

When looked at in this way, the cold, dark, meaningless world of
philosophy makes way for a universe illumined with wisdom and purpose. The Risale-i Nur
uses the analogy of the universe as a book, with the pages of the heavens and the earth
and of the seasons, the lines of night and day, the words of the creatures on the earth,
the letters of fruits, and dots of seeds. With many books contained in one page, whole
pages contanied in a word, and an index of the whole in a dot. This vast, interlinking,
complex, unified, perfect book is written in this way so that each part of it, even the
letters and dots, make known and loved its Author and Inscriber. World within world, it is
a perfect indivisible whole, a unity, making known its Single Creator. The book addresses
man; its aim is that he should read the book and its parts, and respond with universal
worship, love, and thanks to this desire of its Author to make Himself known. So too most
of the benefits and purposes of things look to man, he attains to that universal worship
by uncovering, discovering the order in the book, and displaying the functioning of beings
and the workings of the universe by means of science.

To explain this further, the Risale-i Nur also likens the universe to a
tree, with the elements as its branches, plants as its leaves, animals as its flowers, and
man as its fruit, with his heart as its mirror-like seed. All the Divine Names are
manifested within it. As its fruit, man with his comprehensive disponition has the
potentiality also to manifest all the Names. His superiority over all creatures lies in
this. By displaying the parts of the tree and the book, the sciences make known the Divine
Names. And man also reflects them as his potentialities unfold. The aim of the universe is
realized as man uncovers and recognizes all the Namas manifested in the vast Divine works
which bring all beings to perfection, and responds to them with love and worship. And so
is man’s ultimate aim realized, which is to attain to that worship through knowledge and
progress. Isn’t then the Risale-i Nur important for people in the West by thus explaining
these exalted aims and purposes and instances of wisdom in the universe, and by pointing
out to path of true progress through worship, showing them the way to save themselves from
meaninglessness and the contradictions of misguidance?

As with the existence of God and Divine Unity, the Risale-i Nur proves the
other main truths of belief through pointing out their evidences in the universe. It shows
the way to gaining rational belief in such pillars of faith as the resurrection of the
dead and the life of the Hereafter, prophethood and the revealed scriptures, the angles,
and Divine Decree and Determining, sometimes known as fate and destiny. It shows that
these matters can be understood and proved rationally. This is one reason the Risale-i Nur
and its author have earned the name of Regenerator of Religion in the present age. And it
is another reason the Risle-i Nur is particularly fitting to convey the truths of the
Qur’an to Western man, who, deprived by Christianity of rational belief in these matters,
thirsts for such explanations.

There is no question more pressing for man than that of life after death
and eternal happiness. Since, inspired by the Our’an, the Risale-i Nur has found a way to
prove this rationally, included here by way of illustration is Bediüzzaman’s own
explanation of the method followed. The work referred to is the Tenth Word, the Treatise
on Resurrection and the Hereafter.

"Each [of the ‘Twelve Truths’ of which the main part of the work is
composed] proves three things at the same time. Each proves both the existence of the
Necessarily Existent One, and His Names and attributes, then it constructs the
resurrection of the dead on these and proves that. Everyone from the most obdurate
unbeliever to the most sincere believer can take his share from each Truth, because in
each, the eye is turned towards beings, works. Each says: ‘There are well-ordered acts in
these, and a wellordered act cannot be without an author. In which case they have an
Author. And since those acts have been carried out with order and balance, their Author
must be Wise and just. Since He is Wise, He does nothing in vain. And since He acts with
justice, He does not permit rights to be violated. There will therefoxe be a great
gathering, a supreme tribunal. "The Truths have been tackled in this way. They are
succinct, and thus prove fhe three things at once."2

Together with proving the main pillars of faith singly, Bediüzzaman also
demonstrates in the Risale-i Nur that they are all interconnected and each is a proof of
the others. Thus, by "reading" the events and Divine works in the world around
us and recognizing the Divine existence and Names and gaining certain belief in them, it
is possible through observation, thought, and contemplation to gain certain and rational
belief in resurrection and the life to come. How the universe becomes alive and meaningful
when it is seen in this light! What better way is there to call Western man to belief in
the Our’an than showing him that if he "reads" the universe, which he has
ariyway been trained to observe, in the way the Our’an directs, it becomes illuminated
with meaning and purpose and becomes a means to gaining rational belief, thus saving him
from a meaningless life overshodawed by the blackness of non-existence, death? Throughout
the Risale-i Nur, Bediüzzaman explains how to "read" the universe in this way,
to read it as meaningful missives and letters from its Author, so that its readers
constantly take lessons from the world around them and constantly increase in knowledge of
their Maker and strengthen their belief and certainty in the fundamentals of faith.

To continue with the theme of resurrection and the Hereafter, the Risale-i
Nur offers a coherent, rational, total view of existence, that is, this world and the next
world, the worlds of the Unseen and the Manifest World, and sets man and his actions
within it. This is a point of the greatest importance for Western man. For in the West,
due to the influence of Materialist and Naturalist philosopy, which look to multiplicity,
causes, and Nature, the view is focussed on this world and the life of this world; Western
man is submerged in matter. and even those who turn to Christianity or other religions
cannot extricate themselves from it. Its consequences are grievous for man, who by his
nature is pained by transience and looks beyond the material to eternity.

The Risale-i Nur describes the world as having three faces. One looks to
the Divine Names, and is a mirror reflecting their "embroideries". Transience,
separation, and non-existence can find no place in this face; there is only renewal. The
second face looks to the Hereafter and the worlds of eternity; it is like the seed-bed for
them, and the tillage of Paradise. It produces enduring crops and fruits, serves eternity,
makes transitory things immortal. There is no death and transience in this face either,
rather, the manifestations of life and eternity. As for the third face, this looks to
transient beings, that is, us. It is the beloved of the worldly who follow their lower
instincts and the place of trade examination for the aware and the conscious. Thus, for
those who for any reason do not see the first two faces, the world presents this painful
and ugly third face, which telIs only of transience, death, and seperation. In regard to
the first two faces, they are seen in relation to their Creator; that is to say, they are
seen beyond or behind the veil of causality and Nature. The constant change and flux in
this world, which when seen in the view of the third face gives rise to transience and
death, serves many profound purposes. Bediüzzaman describes the passage of beings like

"At its Sustainer’s command, the universe is in continuous motion.
With Divine permission, all creatures are unceasingly flowing in. the river of time. They
are being sent from the World of the unseen, being clothed with extarnal existence in the
Manifest World, and are then being poured in orderly fashion into the World of the Unseen,
and it is there that they alight. And, at their Sustainer’s command, they continuously
come from the future, stop by in passing pausing for a bereath, and are poured into the

Thus, beings do not go to non-existence; they pass from the visible world
to the unseen world. They have existence in the world of the unseen and Divine Knowledge;
at the manifestation of Divine Power and Will, they are given external existence in this
manifest world, where they are recorded, then they pass on to the sphere of Knowledge and
the worlds of the Here after and the Unseen. This constant flood and passage of beings is
being made from top to bottom with instances of wisdom, benefits, aims and purposes. The
Risale-i Nur describes how the All-Wise Maker created the world in this way so that he
might exhibit the endless embroideries of His Divine Names in a limited field and write
infinite signs which point to infinite meanings on a small page. He created the face of
the earth as an arable field and prepared it in such a way that it would produce
ever-fresh crops, so that He might sow and reap the numberless miracles of His Power and
display endless gifts from the infinite treasury of His Mercy. And through the flood of
beings, He grows in this small world vast quanties of crops suitable for the endless
worlds of the Hereafter. So too He displays infinite Divine perfections and endless
manifestations of His beauty and glory and countless Dominical glorifications in finite
time and in a limited field.

As with other creatures, man’s deeds and actions pour into the worlds of
the Hereafter. This awesome fact Bediüzzaman explains like this:

"Heaven and Hell are the two fruits of the branches which stretch out
from the tree of creation towards eternity. They are the two results of the chain-like
universe. They are the two storehouses of this flood of events. They are the two pools of
beings which flow tumbling towards eternity. They are two places of manifestation, the one
of Divine Favour, the other of Divine Wrath. When the Hand of Pwer shakes up the universe
with a violent motion, thoe two pools will fill up with the appropriate matters."4

This brings us to a further important point about the Risale-i Nur, which
is that it explains these profound matters in such a way that each person can understand
them according to his level. Through the use of comparisons and allegories, it brings
distant and vast truths close like a telescope. all the atters are illustrated with apt
comparisons, examples, or stories, so that the reasoning and logic are easy to follow and
the conclusions easy to grasp. Its whole tone is mild and persuasive, and with its
flawless arguments, convinces utterly. It concerns truth and reality, and it rings true.
For the West, where the religion of Islam is so misrepresented and misunderstood, there
can be no more fitting means of conveying its truths. Anyone who comes to know Islam and
the Qur’an through the Risale-i Nur will corne to love them.

In addition, the Risale-i Nur makes comparisons of religion and philosopy,
belief and unbelif, guidance and misguidance, in many contexts and on many levels, and
shows that in every case, truth and reality, as well as true benefit, happiness, and
progress for man lie orıly in the former. Philosopy, in whatever form, cannot answer the
fundamental questions it is in man’s nature to ask and offer him true happiness.
Restricting its view to this world, it drowns in matter, and condemns the world and man to
meaninglessness and purposelessness. Thus a work which points out the contradictions and
irrationality of concepts such as Nature and causality by which philosophy attempts to
explain existence, and demonstrates by pointing out the grand purposes and instances of
wisdom in all things that the only rational explanation of the universe and man is that of
Divine Unity, is certainly of the utmost importance for the people of the West. Indeed, as
science progresses and man wakes up to the contradictions of Western philosopy, the
importance of the Risale-i Nur, which bringing together science and religion, explains so
appropriately the Our’an’s message of Divine Unity, will increase.


1. Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, Lem’alar, İstanbul,1986,230

2. Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, Barla Lahikası, İstanbul,1960,160

3. Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, Mektûbat, İstanbul,1981,220

4. Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said, Sözler, İstanbul,1980,498-9