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Forgotten, Ignored, Misunderstood, and Betrayed: A Tribute to Said Nursi

If I tell and write that Said Nursi and Fethullah Gulen played no role in my development as a person, then I would tell and write a lie. At the age of twelve, I was sent by my mother to a Gulen-inspired school. Then, I studied university in Turkey, and during those four years, I stayed at Hizmet's "light-houses." Next, I worked for ten years as a teacher in Hizmet's schools. In sum, it is five plus four plus ten equals nineteen years. Thus, the ideas and methods of Nursi and Gulen were part of my life for almost twenty years.

Nursi and Gulen were complex and complicated individuals that influenced many people. Some people are claiming that this influence is negative, and others claim that it is positive. I will not discuss and debate that issue because I think it is worthless and pointless to freeze in the past and forget the future.

Starting from the 1920s and going to the 2020s, Hizmet grew and transformed into a political, economic, and social force. However, during that growth and transformation, Hizmet lost and forgot its psychological, philosophical, and personal roots and aspects. Gulen is associated with the social, political, and economic force of Hizmet, and Nursi is associated with the philosophical, psychological, and personal roots of Hizmet. Starting from the 1920s and going to the 2020s, Nursi and Gulen guided and channelled the aspirations and actions of the Muslims of Turkey.

Now, at the beginning of the 2020s, we witness the physical and psychic, material and moral defeat of Hizmet. Physical and material defeats are not important because they are reversible and repairable. Psychic and moral defeats are dangerous because they are irreversible and irreparable.

The brand of "Hizmet" is damaged and tarnished irreparably and irreversibly. Therefore, those who were the part and participants of Hizmet must rebrand and reform themselves. And this is what I am trying to do for myself by writing.

Said Nursi is forgotten, ignored, misunderstood, and betrayed because people who claim to follow ideas expressed by him, do not read, understand, and apply ideas expressed in his books.

Nursi is ignored because his books are not read actively, but they are recited passively in the same way the Quran is recited passively without understanding. No book brings benefit if it is not analyzed, broken down, compared, and contrasted. Passive reading is an insult to the book and author.

Nursi is forgotten because putting his picture on social media or wall is equal to forgetting his ideas. Ideas must influence and shape daily habits; otherwise, they are forgotten. The main ideas of Nursi were thinking, reading, and writing. Do you see and observe the daily habits of writing, reading, and thinking in the lives of those who claim to follow Nursi?

Nursi is misunderstood because he argued for the fusion and unification of art, science, and religion. His philosophy was to reintroduce beauty, order, and purpose in a balanced way in people's lives. Now, look at the lives of people who claim to follow him: Do you see fusion and unification of art, science, and religion in a balanced way in their lives? Do you see the search for beauty, order, and purpose in their lives? Most of them do not know the basic scientific facts. Almost all of them cannot and do not make connections between art, science, and religion.

Nursi is betrayed because people tried to imitate and copy almost all his traits except the most important one. They tried to imitate his clothing, eating style, talking style, haircut, facial hair, etc., but almost no one understood and imitated his thinking style. Biographers, memoir writers, researchers looked at trees, but they did not see the forest. Body parts are not a body. Car parts are not a car. Ingredients are not a meal. Similarly, the partial and partitioning view and analysis of Nursi led to positioning him as a proponent of political Islam, whereas he was its staunch opponent.

Nursi is betrayed because his followers did not expand and did not extend the thinking style and thinking habits proposed and promoted by him. Nursi's thinking style was starting at concrete and observable natural phenomena (Divine works of art), and then going to the scientific laws (Divine actions) that connect those phenomena, and finally, progressing to abstract concepts that name those laws (Divine Names).

Works --> Actions --> Names

Art --> Science --> Religion

Beauty --> Order --> Purpose

What --> How --> Why

People who claim to follow Nursi completely ignored and neglected this thinking pattern. Instead of scientific thinking promoted by Nursi, they chose sentimental thinking. Instead of planning, they chose to parrot. Instead of a marathon, they chose sprint. Instead of nonviolence and freedom, they chose violent oppression. Instead of the freedom of speech, they chose a code of silence (omerta).

They betrayed Nursi. Nowadays, there are two groups of people who claim to love and hate Nursi, but both of them misunderstood and did not understand him.

Nursi was writing in his fourth language. His mother tongue was Kurdish; his languages of education were Arabic and Farsi. He learned Turkish as a grown man, and during the first half of his life, he barely wrote and published in Turkish. Only in the second half of his life, he started to write and publish in the Turkish language. He placed a lot of hope in Turks.

When analyzing Nursi, we have to understand that he was the witness, contemporary, and victim of the largest geopolitical and sociocultural catastrophe of that age - decline, death, and decay of the Ottoman Empire and the Muslim world. This catastrophe greatly and deeply traumatized, crippled, and wounded him. He witnessed how the world he fought to protect burned down to ashes. He saw how defenders became traitors. He observed how sacred ideas became desecrated. So, he was not a triumphant winner, but he was a crippled soldier who lost the war. At last, he decided to seclude himself in a cave and wait for his death. However, circumstances (destiny) forced him to become active again.

From this point of view, the magnum opus of Nursi, Risale-i Nur, is the effort to rebuild, restore, rehabilitate, repair, and resurrect himself. When everyone he loved was lost, separated, or dead; when everything he struggled for was razed and buried; when those who called themselves friends and defenders betrayed, he stood up straight and did not bend his knees.

Nursi was a misfit, outcast, and rebel. He was attempted to be killed firstly, by his schoolmates, then, by a local governor, then, by a government of the Ottoman empire, then, by Russian military forces, then, by the British occupational forces, then, by a government of the Republic of Turkey. All these incidents show and prove that he was a misfit, outcast, and rebel who was not afraid to put his life on the line, who was not scared to challenge authority, who was the first to question misuse and abuse of power.

Nursi was offered authority, but he chose anonymity. The reason for that is that authority overshadows and blocks the light of truth because authority is opaque and dense. Anonymity is transparent and porous, and anonymity is the act of self-annihilation so that no one and nothing blocks the light of truth. His last will was that his grave must be unknown and anonymous. During his lifetime, he was not famous, but he was infamous. He was slandered and libelled, and his reputation was questioned many times. However, all these were not his priorities, and public opinion never was his Qibla or North Star.

Why did I decide to write the tribute to Nursi? During my late teens and early twenties, I was in a constant and continuous suicidal depression. That was a dark and grim period of my life. Every day was filled with despair. I was not experiencing hunger, poverty, loss, bereavement, etc., but the meaninglessness of life was silently and slowly strangling me. On the outside, I was healthy and happy, but on the inside, I was dying slowly and surely. During that period, two books helped me to power through that darkness. The first one was Gulen's "The Prophet Muhammad." The second one was Nursi's "Tenth Word."

Book "The Prophet Muhammad" showed the model of a human being that was balanced, without going to extremes. The Tenth Word showed the worldview that is not limited by sixty-eighty years of lifetime.

My spirit loves and longs for freedom. The thought of a limiting and constraining lifetime of sixty-eighty years is the handcuffs and shackles. How can a person be happy while handcuffed and shackled? I can't. And the Tenth Word broke those handcuffs and shackles for me. That is why I think Nursi deserves more respect and recognition. He reintroduced psychological, philosophical, and personal aspects of the Quranic mindset. On the other hand, other scholars and thinkers overemphasized the political, economic, social, and military dimensions of the Quran.

The Tenth Word of Nursi helped me to avoid suicide. Other works of Nursi provided me with the framework and scaffolding for thinking. In many places, he wrote and urged people to think and analyze for oneself and by oneself. Also, Nursi, contrary to other scholars and thinkers, put thinking (belief, iman) above and before rituals (prayer, salah, namaz). Thus, thinking must come before rituals, and thinking is above rituals, and rituals are physical and outer expressions of psychological and inner thinking.

The rise of deism and atheism is due to overemphasis on rituals and under-emphasis of thinking. Sun, moon, stars, sky, earth, winds, clouds, fruits, animals, trees, rain, rivers, seas, mountains, etc., are the elements and objects of thinking and for thinking presented and highlighted by Quran. Alas, Muslims do not think about them, and Muslims do not see connections between them. That is why their belief (iman, thinking) is weak, frail, and fragile. Rituals are not primary, but thinking is primary. Without thinking, rituals are empty, and deism and atheism attack and target empty rituals.

Thinking is the process that happens between input and output of information, i.e., reading and writing. Nursi reinstated and re-emphasized the reading of Universe and Human together and in parallel with Quran. Thus, he made the fusion and unification of art, science, and religion that study beauty, order, and purpose from the books of Human, Universe, and Quran. The balance between beauty, order, and purpose, i.e., art, science, and religion, is absent from most people's lives. Thus, these imbalance, void, and emptiness are filled with cheap entertainment and mind-altering chemicals.

In my opinion, Nursi is not important by and because of himself. However, he opened the world of the Quran to me, and he showed the uniqueness, inimitability, and applicability of the Quran. Nursi is the teacher of the Quran, i.e., Ustad, and this is his precise position for me.

At the age of twelve, I was put by my mother in a Gulen-inspired school. At the age of seventeen, I became acquainted with the works of Nursi. At the age of thirty-one, I learned about the misuse and abuse of power by the followers of Gulen and Nursi. Am I surprised? No. Because I know that we live in a world of entropy, and any social or natural structure or system is destined for decay, decline, and disintegration. The spiral of birth and death is going to spin and progress. The time of Nursi and Gulen is over. Nostalgia and sentiments are not going to return the past times. The last ten years showed zero new, novel, and innovative ideas from the followers of Gulen and Nursi. Money, wealth, and power captivated, captured, and corrupted them, and now, their place is the graveyard of history.

Live in ruins? Leave the ruins? These are the questions. Nursi left the ruins of the Ottoman Empire. Gulen left the ruins of tarikats. I left the ruins of Hizmet and Cemaat.

Followers of Nursi and Gulen discredited and smeared the ideas they claimed to follow. They failed to adapt to new circumstances. Followers of Nursi faced the challenge of transition from the mindset of the agrarian society to the mindset of the industrial society. Followers of Gulen faced the challenge of transition from the mindset of the industrial society to the mindset of the information society, and they failed to recognize the power of information and the need for transparency. Thus, they were defeated by their own secrecies and conspiracies exposed by social media.

Nursi influenced many people, including me, either directly or indirectly. He started the unification of beauty, order, and purpose, i.e., art, science, and religion. However, most of his followers think narrowly, and they want to concentrate on religion only, disregarding art and science. By doing this, they alienate and scare away many people who do not want to be play-toys and prisoners of religious fundamentalists and clerical extremists.

This is my tribute to misunderstood, forgotten, ignored, and betrayed Said Nursi. He influenced my thinking in numerous ways, and I had not yet read ideas more powerful and practical than his ideas. He introduced me to the meaning of the Quran, and his methods of thinking are the most innovative among those that I have seen.

I chose, and I am choosing beauty, order, and purpose altogether without exception or omission of any of them.

-İman isteyen münafık


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  1. Twitter'im calismiyor. @EnesGokce01 bey'in twitine burda cevap vermeye mecbur oldum.

    "Nursi'nin öğretilerinden şaşırması asıl problem değildi. Nursi'nin öğretileri derinlikten yoksundu.

    Mesela geleneksel islam öğretilerinden gelen, kök salmış problemlere yönelik bir şey söylemiyordu.
    Batılı düşünürlere kıyasla söyleyecek birşeyi yoktu. Söylemedi de.

    Bir yerde Hz. Ali için şecaat kahramanı derken, iki sayfa sonra Amr bin As için "siyasi deha!" demekteki çelişkiyi görmekten uzaktı.

    Kitaplarında referans verme diye birşey yok. Kendi fikirleri gibi sunuyor. İntihal. Atıf yapma noktasında çağdaşlırından çok gerideydi."

  2. 1. "Batılı düşünürlere kıyasla söyleyecek birşeyi yoktu. Söylemedi de."

    The Twelfth Word: Then the Ruler showed the artistically wrought and bejewelled Qur’an to a European philosopher and to a Muslim scholar. In order to test them and for reward, he commanded them: “Each of you write a work about the wisdom and purposes of this!”

    Selamlar. On ikinci Soz'u okuyabilirsiniz. Dort prensip var. Saygilar.

    Sonra On Yedinci Sozde "A FRUIT OF THE BLACK MULBERRY" okuyabilirsiniz.

    Sonra Yirmi Besinci Sozde iki dusunce sistemlerinin detayli karsilastirmasini okuyabilirsiniz: "it has been proved decisively in the previous twenty-five Words through the comparisons between European philosophy and human science, which are the spirit of civilization, and the wisdom of the Qur’an that philosophy is impotent and the wisdom of the Qur’an miraculous."

    Sonra Sozler'in sonundaki Lemeat'ta "The Fanciful, Lust-Exciting Genius-Style Hand of Western Literature Cannot Reach Up To the Healing, Light-Scattering, Guidance-Laden, Eternal Literature of the Qur’an" okuyabilirsiniz.

  3. 2. "geleneksel islam öğretilerinden gelen, kök salmış problemlere yönelik bir şey söylemiyordu."

    Problem = dusunmemek.

    Dusunmemek = yazmamak + okumamak.

    Okumak + yazmak = iman.

    Nursi, iman, dini rituellerden daha onemli oldugunu vurguladi. Iman esittir dusunmek. Dusunmek esittir okumak ve yazmak.

    Koylu ve egitimsiz insanlarin, vakitlerinin cogunu okumaya ve yazmaya vermesi, risale nushalarini el yazisiyla cogaltmasi, ve bunu erkek-kadin, ihtiyar-cocuk, fakir-zengin fark etmeksizin yapmasi - Nursi'nin en buyuk basarisi budur.

    Problemlere yonelik bir seyler soyledi. Soyledigi seyleri daha iyi anlamaniz icin onlari formuller halinde yazdim.

  4. 3. "Nursi'nin öğretileri derinlikten yoksundu."

    On Dokuzuncu Soz'un basinda Allah'i tanitan uc delilden bahsediyor: Kainat, Insan, Kuran. Bu uc delil guzellik (insan), nizam (kainat) ve mana (Kuran) tekabul ediyor. Insan'i arastirdigimizda sanat, kainati arastirdigimizda bilim, kurani arastirdigimizda din fayda oluyor. Yani, Nursi, sanat-bilim-din uclusunu birlikte goruyor ve aralarinda muhalefet degil, muhabbet oldugunu vurguluyor. Bu demek ki, insanin mutlu olmasi icin hayatinda sanata, bilime ve dine yer vermesi lazim. Bu ucunun biri ihmal edilirse, mutluluk olmaz. Yazinin icinde bu pattern'ler formul halinde yazili idi, okuduysaniz.

    Boyle derin perspektifi yazan ve anlatan, Nursi'den baska hangi dusunur var, bilmek istiyorum. Lutfen beni bu konuda tenvir edin.

  5. 4. "Kitaplarında referans verme diye birşey yok. Kendi fikirleri gibi sunuyor. İntihal. Atıf yapma noktasında çağdaşlırından çok gerideydi."

    Risale'ler dagda, ovada, dogada yaziliyordu. Nursi soyluyor, katipler yaziyordu. Ve surgunde oldugu icin yaninda sadece bir kitap bulundurabiliyordu. Yani Risaleleri hafizasindan yaziyordu. Boyle durumda referans verme zordur.

    Bunula birlikte,
    On Yedinci Sozde Mawlana Jami, Mevlânâ Celâleddin-i Rûmî, Ahmed-i Cizrî,
    On Dokuzuncu Sozde Husayn Jisri, Ebû Hanife, Şâfiî, Bayezid Bistâmî, Şah-ı Geylânî, Şah-ı Nakşibend, İmam Gazâlî, İmam Rabbânî,
    Yirmi Besinci Sozde Zemahşerî, Sekkâkî, Abdülkahir-i Cürcânî, Muhyiddîn-i Arabî,
    Yirmi Sekizinci Sozde Ziya Paşa,

    Ve simdi dipnotlu risalelerde kaynaklari gosteren kisimlar vardir. Yani Nursi irticalen konusmustur, katibler yazmistir, Nursi tashih etmistir. Sonra, 30-40 yil gecti ve arastirmacilar kaynaklari tespit etmistir. Sozlu eser, yazili eser degildir. Yazili eserlere kullanilan parametreler, sozlu esere kullanilmaz.

    Ve son olarak, Nursi'nin oncelikli muhataplari ve amaci universite profesorleri ve makale yayinlamak degildi. Oncelikli muhataplari, Osmanli yikilisina ve Islam'in cokusune sahit olan ve cok derin psikolojik travmaya ve yikima ugrayan basit koy insanlariydi. Hayatin kenarina itilen, ucuncu sinif vatandas muamelesi goren koyun gariban cocuklari ve onlarin anne-babalariydi. Oncelikli amaci da bu insanlara o travmayi ve yikimi atlatmak, onlara guven ve umit asilamak, ve hayatlarina okumak, yazmak ve dusunmek gibi aliskanliklari kazandirmakti. O insanlari tekrar hayat, guven, umit ve gelecege yonlenditmekti. Gecmis'in tutsagi olmaktan kurtarmakti. Psikolog sizinle konustugunda Freid, Adler, Erikson, Bloom hakkinda konusmuyor, ama psikolog sizin dertlerinize care bulmak istiyor, ve dolayli olarak o bilim adamlarinin metotlarini kullaniyor. Ama kendi alaninda makale yayinlayacaksa, o zaman makale kurallarina uyarak yazar. Ama Nursi makale yazmadi.

  6. 5. "Bir yerde Hz. Ali için şecaat kahramanı derken, iki sayfa sonra Amr bin As için "siyasi deha!" demekteki çelişkiyi görmekten uzaktı."

    Bu fikrinizi anlamadim. Acabilirseniz memnun olurum.