Biography:Said Nursî

From HandWiki
Short description: Kurdish Sunni Muslim theologian (1877–1960)

Said-i Nursi

Üstad • Bediüzzaman
Said Nursi 1956.jpg
Said Nursi
Nurs,[2][3] Bitlis Vilayet, Ottoman Empire
Died23 March 1960 (aged 82–83)[7]
Urfa, Turkey
  • Sofi Mirza (father)
  • Nuriye Hanım (mother)
Era19th–20th century[4]
Main interest(s)Theology,[8] Tafsir,[8] Revival of Faith[9] Kalam, Eloquence
Muslim leader
SuccessorAhmet Husrev Altınbaşak[10]

Said Nursi (Ottoman Turkish: سعيد نورسی‎, Kurdish: سەعید نوورسی‎, romanized: Seîdê Nursî‎; 1877[1] – 23 March 1960), also spelled Said-i Nursî or Said-i Kurdî,[13][14] and commonly known with the honorifics Bediüzzaman (meaning "wonder of the age") and Üstad (meaning "master")[15] among his followers, was a Kurdish Sunni Muslim theologian who wrote the Risale-i Nur Collection, a body of Qur'anic commentary exceeding six thousand pages.[16][17] Believing that modern science and logic was the way of the future, he advocated teaching religious sciences in secular schools and modern sciences in religious schools.[16][17][18]

Nursi inspired a religious movement[19][20] that has played a vital role in the revival of Islam in Turkey and now numbers several millions of followers worldwide.[21][22] His followers, often known as the "Nurcu movement" or the "Nur cemaati".[23] In a 2008 publication Nurcu worldwide adherents were estimated at 5 to 6 millions with numbers going up to 9 millions, with around 5500 dershanes or study halls where adherents would read Nursi’s writings collectively.[24]

Early life

Said Nursi was born in the Kurdish village of Nurs near Hizan in the Bitlis Vilayet of the Ottoman Empire.[5] His father Mirza and his mother Nuriye both were Ahl al-Bayt (lineage of the Islamic prophet Muhammad). [25]

He started his Islamic education at the age of nine, after admiring his elder brother who was studying Islamic sciences.[26] Said studied in the Madrasa's around his home village and later in the ones in Eastern Turkey. Sometimes he couldn't get along with the other students in the madrasa; after an event where 4 students together attacked him, he asked the Sheikh of the madrasa if they can attack him 2 to 1 instead of 4 to 1. The Sheikh liked this brave attitude of Said and mentioned no one can touch him, after this event he was known as "Sheikh's student".[26]

He switched from one madrasa to another one due to his dignity and intolerance of others being bossy (whether student or teacher).[26] He was extremely smart and whatever book he wanted, he was able to understand in less than 24 hours no matter how difficult the subject is. He was able to understand 200 pages from the books like “Jam-al Jawami”, “Sharhul-Mawakif”, “Ibnul-Hagar” in less than 24 hours by reading himself.[26] To focus on his studies during these years he started a very strict and low calorie diet known as riyazat, after some time he switched to a total vegan diet and dropped bread. [26]

After some time he went to Sirvan, where his elder brother Mullah Abdullah was. Mullah Abdullah mentioned to him that he studied the "Sharh-i- Shamsi" book during his absence. Said responded that he studied 80 books. Mullah Abdullah couldn't believe this and asked random questions from those books. Said was able to answer all his brother's questions. Mullah Abdullah was amazed by this and he started to take classes from his younger brother (Without telling others -because he was much older than him-) [26]

After staying with his brother for some time Said came back to Siirt. He went to the madrasa of Mullah Fathullah. Mullah Fathullah mentioned to Said that he was reading "Süyûtî" last year and asked whether he is reading "Mullah Jâmî" this year. Said responded that he finished Jami plus many other books. Said was able to answer all questions from whatever book Mullah Fathullah asked. Mullah Fathullah was amazed by his intelligence.

He was able to recite many books from memory. For instance: "So then he [Molla Fethullah] decided to test his memory and handed him a copy of the work by Al-Hariri of Basra (1054–1122) — also famous for his intelligence and power of memory — called Maqamat al-Hariri. Said read one page once, memorized it, then repeated it by heart. Molla Fethullah expressed his amazement."[27]

This news spread throughout Siirt. Mullah Fathullah said to the scholars, "A young student came to my school and answered every question I asked him. I am amazed by the wisdom and knowledge he has attained at such a young age!". After this, scholars of Siirt gave him the title "Bediuzzaman" meaning "Wonder of the Age". [28]

When he was 13-14 years old he completed the entire madrasa curriculum in 3 months, (there were more than a hundred books in the madrasa curriculum), which normally takes 10-15 years to complete. Bediuzzaman’s approach was to rely on the teacher only for the key ideas of each book, he later mastered whatever remained in the book with self-study. [29]

Later on, he was invited by the governor of the Vilayet of Van to stay within his residency.[30] In the library of the governor, Nursi gained access to an archive of scientific knowledge he had not had access to previously. He studied the principles of history, geography, mathematics, geology, physics, chemistry, astronomy, and philosophy during his stay , besides Islamic sciences. He also memorized the books he studied, these are 90 books. [31]

[citation needed] Said Nursi also learned the Ottoman Turkish language there.[citation needed] During this time, he developed a plan for university education for the Eastern provinces of the Ottoman Empire.[32] By combining scientific and religious (Islamic) education, the university was expected to advance the philosophical thoughts of these regions.[citation needed]

After reading a speech in the newspapers delivered by William Gladstone, the British Secretary for Colonies where he stated "so long as the Muslims have the Qur’an we shall be unable to dominate them. We must either take it from them or make them lose their love of it." and Bediuzzaman allegedly declared: "I shall prove and demonstrate to the world that the Quran is an undying, inexhaustible Sun!",[33] and set out to write his comprehensive Risale-i Nur, a collection of Said Nursi's own commentaries and interpretations of the Quran and Islam, as well as writings about his own life.[34]

Bediuzzaman and World War I

Bediuzzaman in Germany 1918, after escaping the Russian prison camp

After World War I started, Russia attacked the Eastern part of Turkey. Bediuzzaman with his students established a volunteer brigade to resist the invasion. [35] In the First World War, he would enter the trenches himself despite heavy shelling which earned him the admiration of the troops he commanded.[citation needed] It was during these experiences that he allegedly wrote his Quranic commentary, Signs of Miraculousness dictating to a scribe while on horseback.[citation needed] During a combat day, he broke his leg and was forced to surrender to Russian forces. He was taken prisoner by the Russian forces and spent 2.5 years in the Kostroma prisoner camp in the North-East of Moscow. During his imprisonment, one day the Russian Commander-in-Chief Nicolai Nicolaevich came to inspect the camp. He walked in front of him but Bediuzzaman didn't stand up, unlike the other prisoners. He walked again but Bediuzzaman didn't pay any attention to Nicolaevich. Nicolaevich asked him whether he knew who he was. Bediuzzaman said that he knew who he was, but because he is a Muslim scholar and a person with faith is superior to a person without, he couldn't stand up, that would be disrespecting his own faith. Russian martial court ordered his execution. Bediuzzaman asked to do his last prayer before the execution. After a couple of minutes, they took him and tried to blindfold him, which he refused, claiming that he wants to look at paradise. Nicolaevich admired the brave attitude of Bediuzzaman and understood that Bediuzzaman's intention was not to insult him, his behavior was just self respect. Nicolaevich immediately ordered to stop the execution and asked for forgiveness from him. Later on, Bediuzzaman was allowed to stay in a Tatar mosque nearby. [36] After some time he found a way to escape from the Russian camp. He traveled to Istanbul via Warsaw, Berlin, Vienna, and Sofia. He was welcomed as a hero in Istanbul. [37]

Teachings and movement

Humanity faced the greatest corruption of this period and the danger of unbelief, which was the greatest threat to humanity.[citation needed] Therefore, according to him, the greatest service in this period was the service of faith rescue, and Risale-i Nur, who did this duty properly. [38] His commentary argues that the Quran encompasses the knowledge which allows for modern science.[39]

Risale-i Nur addresses the fundamental questions of human existence, such as the existence of God, the nature of the soul, and the purpose of life. It does so in a way that is both intellectually stimulating and spiritually uplifting. Risale-i Nur does not rely on blind faith or mysticism. Instead, it uses reason and logic to demonstrate the truths of belief. This makes it accessible to people of all backgrounds and beliefs.[39]

In Risale-i Nur he explains that if you see a painting you should assume the painter. A painting cannot exist without a painter. Nature is art and not the Artist. There is a hidden hand in every creation. The extraordinary abilities of animals (like cows producing fundamental nutrients for humans from converting raw grass, trees doing photosynthesis to produce sugar and carrying water to 200 feet high leaves , trees growing from a tiny seed ) cannot be attributed to them but to their Creator. He uses analogies, reasoning and logic to prove God's existence.[40] According to Bediuzzaman all systems in the universe are interrelated. The designer of the Galaxies must be the designer of the Earth, human beings and all other creation. According to him "the One who created the eye of the mosquito must be the One who created the Sun"[41]

According to Bediuzzaman Muslim World had 3 enemies: Ignorance, Poverty, and Division. To defeat these 3 enemies Muslims should use 3 weapons: Education, Art, and Unity. [42]

Besides the Risale-i Nur, a major factor in the success of the movement may be attributed to the very method Nursi had chosen, which may be summarized with two phrases: 'mânevî jihad,' that is, 'jihad of the word' or 'non-physical jihad', and 'positive action.'[43][44] Nursi considered materialism and atheism and their source materialist philosophy to be his true enemies in this age of science, reason, and civilization.[45][46] He combated them with reasoned proofs in the Risale-i Nur, considering the Risale-i Nur as the most effective barrier against the corruption of society caused by these enemies. In order to be able to pursue this 'jihad of the word,' Nursi insisted that his students avoided any use of force and disruptive action. Through 'positive action,' and the maintenance of public order and security, the supposed damage caused by the forces of unbelief could be 'repaired' by the 'healing' truths of the Quran. Said Nursi lived much of his life in prison and in exile, persecuted by the secularist state for having invested in religious revival.[47] He advised his students to focus on spreading Risale-i Nur books and teaching people about them even when they were in jail. And most of the Risale-i Nur collection were written when he was in exile or jail. [48]

In 1911 when he was asked what he thinks about the idea of appointing Armenians as Governors in Ottoman States, he responded that there is no harm of doing this as there is no harm of Armenians being engineers, watchmakers [49]

Nursi's influence concerned the incipient leader of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk,[50] which lead to Atatürk offering Nursi the post ‘Minister of Religious Affairs" for the eastern provinces of Turkey in attempt to make sure Nursi would not oppose Atatürk's regime, a post that Nursi famously refused.[51][52] Said Nursi was exiled to the Isparta Province for, amongst other things, performing the call to prayer in the Arabic language.[53] After his teachings attracted people in the area, the governor of Isparta sent him to a village named Barla[54] where he wrote two-thirds of his Risale-i Nur.[55] These manuscripts were sent to Sav, another village in the region, where people duplicated them in Arabic script (which was officially replaced by the modern Turkish alphabet in 1928).[53][55] After being finished, these books were sent to Nursi's disciples all over Turkey via the "Nurcu postal system".[56] Nursi repeatedly stated that all the persecutions and hardships inflicted on him by the secularist regime were God's blessings and that having destroyed the formal religious establishment, they had unwittingly left popular Islam as the only authentic faith of the Turks.[55]

The period believed to be the "golden age of Mahdi" will come in the future, and after this period that will last 30–40 years, irreligion will prevail again. According to him, the Doomsday may fall on the heads of the atheists in the Hijri calendar between 1530 and 1540.[57]

Later life

Alarmed by the growing popularity of Nursi's teachings, which had spread even among the intellectuals and the military officers, the government arrested him for allegedly violating laws mandating secularism and sent him to exile.[citation needed] He was acquitted of all these charges in 1956.[55]

In the last decade of his life, Said Nursi settled in the city of Isparta.[citation needed] After the introduction of the multi-party system, he advised his followers to vote for the Democratic Party of Adnan Menderes, which had restored some religious freedom.[55] Said Nursi was a staunch anti-Communist, denouncing Communism as the greatest danger of the time. In 1956, he was allowed to have his writings printed. His books are collected under the name Risale-i Nur ("Letters of Divine Light").

He died of exhaustion after travelling to Urfa.[58] He was buried in a tomb opposite the cave where prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) is widely believed to have been born.[59][60] After the military coup d'état in Turkey in 1960, a group of soldiers led by the later right-wing politician Alparslan Türkeş opened his grave and buried him at an unknown place near Isparta during July 1960 in order to prevent popular veneration.[61][62]

In popular culture

Published in 1999, Fred Reed's travelogue describes a journey around Turkey in the footsteps of Said Nursi. [63]

A Turkish film Free Man based on Nursi's biography was made in 2011.[64]

See also

Note: This topic belongs to "Islam" portal


  1. 1.0 1.1 Şükran Vahide, Islam in Modern Turkey: An Intellectual Biography of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, p 3. ISBN:0791482979
  2. "Bediüzzaman Said Nursi'nin köyü Nurs, TRT'de". 
  3. Ian Markham, Globalization, Ethics and Islam: The Case of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, Introduction, xvii
  4. Islam in Modern Turkey, Şükran Vahide (Suny Press, 2005)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Vahide, Sükran (2005). Islam in modern Turkey: an intellectual biography of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi. SUNY Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-7914-6515-8. "They [Said Nursî's parents] were among the settled Kurdish population of the geographical region the Ottomans called Kurdistan." 
  6. Ozgur, Koca. Said Nursi's Synthesis of Ash'arite Occasionalism and Ibn 'Arabi's Metaphysical Cosmology: "Diagonal Occasionalism," Modern Science", and "Free Will". UMI Dissertations Publishing. p. 217. ISBN 9781303619793. 
  7. Ian Markham, Engaging with Bediuzzaman Said Nursi: A Model of Interfaith Dialogue, p 4. ISBN:0754669319
  8. 8.0 8.1 Gerhard Böwering, Patricia Crone, Mahan Mirza, The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought, p482
  9. Robert W. Hefner, Shari?a Politics: Islamic Law and Society in the Modern World, p 170. ISBN:0253223105
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 David Livingstone, Black Terror White Soldiers: Islam, Fascism and the New Age, p. 568. ISBN:1481226509
  12. M. Hakan Yavuz, John L. Esposito, Turkish Islam and the Secular State: The Gülen Movement, p. 6
  13. Janet Klein (2011). The Margins of Empire: Kurdish Militias in the Ottoman Tribal Zone. pp. 106 & 116. 
  14. Şükran Vahide (2019). Bediuzzaman Said Nursi: Author of the Risale-i Nur. The Other Press. p. 195. 
  15. "". 
  16. 16.0 16.1 Gerhard Böwering, Patricia Crone, Mahan Mirza, The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought, p. 482. ISBN:0691134847
  17. 17.0 17.1 Ian S. Markham; Suendam Birinci; Suendam Birinci Pirim (2011). An Introduction to Said Nursi: Life, Thought and Writings. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd, p 194. ISBN:978-1-4094-0770-6.
  18. Said Nursi, Munazarat, p. 86 "The religious sciences are the light of the conscience; the modern sciences are the light of the mind; only on the combining of the two does the truth emerge. The students’ aspiration will take flight with those two wings. When they are parted, it gives rise to bigotry in the one, and skepticism and trickery in the other."
  19. Omer Taspinar, Kurdish Nationalism and Political Islam in Turkey: Kemalist Identity in Transition (Middle East Studies: History, Politics & Law), p. 228. ISBN:041594998X
  20. Serif Mardin, Religion and Social Change in Modern Turkey: The Case of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, p. 23. ISBN:0887069967
  21. Şükran Vahide, Islam in Modern Turkey: An Intellectual Biography of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, p. 425. ISBN:0791482979
  22. Akyol, Mustafa (March 2007). "Render Unto Atatürk". 
  23. Balci, Bayram (June 2003). "Fethullah Gu¨len's Missionary Schools in Central Asia and their Role in the Spreading of Turkism and Islam". Religion, State and Society 31 (2): 153. doi:10.1080/09637490308283. 
  24. Banchoff, Thomas (2008). Religious Pluralism, Globalization, and World Politics. Oxford University Press. pp. 237. 
  25. "The Great Islamic Scholar". 17 September 2010. 
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 26.4 26.5 Tarihce-i Hayat. Sahdamar Yayinlari. pp. 25–29. ISBN 978-605-4038-70-1. 
  27. Şükran Vahide. (2005). Islam in Modern Turkey. State University of New York Press, ISBN:0-7914-6515-2
  28. Balcı, Ramazan (2011). Bediüzzaman Said Nursi "Wonder of the Age". Tughra Books. pp. 28–30. ISBN 978-1-59784-260-0. 
  29. Balcı, Ramazan (2011). Bediüzzaman Said Nursi "Wonder of the Age". Tughra Books. pp. 28–30. ISBN 978-1-59784-260-0. 
  30. Vahide, Şükran (2011). Bediuzzaman Said Nursi. Islamic Book Trust. p. 28. ISBN 978-967-5062-86-5. 
  31. "Books Bediuzzaman memorized". 
  32. İbrahim M. Abu-Rabi, ed (2003). Islam at the crossroads: On the life and thought of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi. SUNY Press. pp. xvii, 6. ISBN 978-0-7914-5700-9. 
  33. Vahide, Sükran (2005). Islam in modern Turkey: an intellectual biography of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi. SUNY Press. 
  34. "Said Nursi'nin Yeşilay'ın kurucusu olduğu doğru mudur? Bu teşkilatın Kurtuluş Savaşı ile hiçbir ilgisinin olmadığı söylenmektedir. Buna ne dersiniz?" (in tr). 25 February 2012. 
  35. Balcı, Ramazan (2011). Bediüzzaman Said Nursi "Wonder of the Age". Tughra Books. pp. 59. ISBN 978-1-59784-260-0. 
  36. Balcı, Ramazan (2011). Bediüzzaman Said Nursi "Wonder of the Age". Tughra Books. pp. 60–62. ISBN 978-1-59784-260-0. 
  37. Balcı, Ramazan (2011). Bediüzzaman Said Nursi "Wonder of the Age". Tughra Books. pp. 63–69. ISBN 978-1-59784-260-0. 
  38. "SORU VE CEVAPLARLA RİSALE-İ NUR'DA MEHDİYET » Sorularla Risale". 13 October 2010. 
  39. 39.0 39.1 Slife (5 August 2012). "Slife". The Spiritual Life. 
  40. Nursi, Said. Flashes. 
  41. Nursi, Said. Masnawi-i Nuriye. 
  42. Tarihce-i Hayat. Sahdamar Yayinlari. pp. 64. ISBN 978-605-4038-70-1. 
  43. Ian S. Markham, Engaging with Bediuzzaman Said Nursi: A Model of Interfaith Dialogue, p 15 [Quoting Şükran Vahide, The Biography of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi: the author of the Risale-i Nur (Istanbul, Sozler Publications 1992), p. 352]. ISBN:0754669319
  44. Arvind Sharma, The World's Religions After September 11. p 92. ISBN:0275996212
  45. Ian S. Markham, Suendam Birinci, Suendam Birinci Pirim, An Introduction to Said Nursi: Life, Thought and Writings. p 46. ISBN:1409407713
  46. Ziaulhaq, Mochamad; Sen, Hasbi (2021-07-31). "Transforming Hate into Compassion as an Islamic Nonviolent Thought of Bediüzzaman Said Nursi". Wawasan: Jurnal Ilmiah Agama Dan Sosial Budaya 6 (1): 13–30. doi:10.15575/jw.v6i1.13159. ISSN 2502-3489. 
  47. Gerhard Böwering, Patricia Crone, Mahan Mirza, The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought, p. 482.
  48. Emirdag Lahikası, s.241
  49. Nursi, Said. Munazarat. 
  50. David Tittensor, The House of Service: The Gulen Movement and Islam's Third Way, p 37. ISBN:0199336415
  51. David Livingstone, Black Terror White Soldiers: Islam, Fascism and the New Age, p. 569. ISBN:1481226509
  52. Vahide, Sükran (2005). Islam in modern Turkey: an intellectual biography of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi. SUNY Press. "He offered Nursi Shaikh Sanusi’s post as ‘general preacher’ in the Eastern Provinces with a salary of 300 liras, a deputyship in the Assembly, and a post equivalent to that he had held in the Darü’l-Hikmeti’l-Islamiye, together with various perks such as a residence. Part 1; Childhood and Early Life, chapter 8" 
  53. 53.0 53.1 David McDowall (14 May 2004). A Modern History of the Kurds: Third Edition. I.B.Tauris. pp. 210–211. ISBN 978-1-85043-416-0. 
  54. Sükran Vahide, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, p. 230. ISBN:967506286X
  55. 55.0 55.1 55.2 55.3 55.4 Bosworth, C.E.; van Donzel, E.; Heinrichs, W.P.; Lecomte, G. (1995). Encyclopaedia of Islam. VIII (Ned-Sam) (New ed.). Leiden, Netherlands: Brill. p. 144. ISBN 978-9004098343. 
  56. Awang, Ramli; Yusoff, Kamaruzaman; Ebrahimi, Mansoureh; Yilmaz, Omer (2015). "A Challenge from Teaching to Social Movement: Bediüzzaman Said Nursi's Struggles for Modification in Turkey". Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences 6 (6): 446. doi:10.5901/mjss.2015.v6n6s1p444. 
  57. Kastamonu Lahikası, s.26
  58. Ibrahim M. Abu-Rabi, Islam at the Crossroads: On the Life and Thought of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, p. xxiv. ISBN:0791457001
  59. Ibrahim M. Abu-Rabi, Islam at the Crossroads: On the Life and Thought of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, p. xxiii. ISBN:0791457001
  60. Ian S. Markham; Suendam Birinci; Suendam Birinci Pirim (2011). An Introduction to Said Nursi: Life, Thought and Writings. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd, p 17. ISBN:978-1-4094-0770-6.
  61. Nursi's Letters Found in Yassiada Archives , Zaman
  62. Yes to 27 May No to 28th (in Turkish), Yeni Şafak, 16 August 2003, Retrieved 17 June 2014
  63. Reed, Fred (1999) (in English). Anatolia Junction: A Journey into Hidden Turkey (1st ed.). Talon Books. ISBN 978-0889224269. 
  64. "Free Man (2011) - IMDb". 


Further reading

External links