THE DAMASCUS SERMON
by Bediüzzaman Said Nursi
While visiting Damascus in early 1911, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi was invited by the religious scholars there to give a sermon in the historic Umayyad Mosque. On their insistence he agreed, and delivered a sermon to a gathering of close on ten thousand, including one hundred scholars. It met with such a response that the text was afterwards printed twice in one week.
In this sermon, Bediuzzaman gave certain news that in the future Islam and the truths of the Qur'an would prevail, and he provided clear proofs that this would occur. Not only did he demonstrate how the Islamic world could heal itself through taking the medicines of the Qur'an, but he also pointed out a number of developments in the West, among them the stirrings of a genuine search for the truth, that indicated to a forthcoming acceptance of Islam. With extraordinary foresight, Bediuzzaman predicted that, as all the evidence suggested, Islam would in the near future gain ascendancy. However, the two World Wars and a period of despotism both in Turkey and elsewhere in the Islamic world, which he had not foreseen, delayed matters. That is to say, as the developments of which he gave news in 1911 slowly unfold, this sermon, together with its diagnosis of some of the fundamental ills afflicting the Islamic world and the remedies from the Holy Qur'an that it points out, continues to be of the greatest relevance for Muslims of the present day.
As Bediuzzaman Said Nursi demonstrates, since Islam relies on reason and reasoned proof, it is the religion of the present and 2he future, for this is the age of science, technology and reason. This fact is being understood now by many who realize that they cannot live without a true and complete religion. The causes for the decline of the Islamic world and its material backwardness in comparison to the West should be sought in the failure of Muslims to adhere to the teachings and truths of the Holy Qur'an and Islam. Just as Islam provides for the material progress of man, and indeed urges him towards it, so too does it provide for man s true progress and development in moral and spiritual matters. This combination forms the basis of true civilization.
Since Western civilization is not based on truth and justice, but on the principles of force, conflict, and aggression, the evils of civilization predominate over its virtues. If man is to survive he will embrace Islam, for he understands now his need for true civilization, founded on the positive troths of Revelation, the Holy Qur'an and the Shari'a of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), in which the virtues of progress predominate, and the benefits of civilization may be profited from.
In the form of "Six Words", Bediuzzaman describes a number of those positive truths of Islam, which form the cure for the grievous sicknesses besetting the Muslim community. Hope, courage, honesty, love and brotherhood, self-sacrifice, awareness of the luminous bonds uniting the believers, mutual consultation. These are not qualities that are unimportant or may be dispensed with in the face of difficulties or threats; on the contrary, they form the very foundations of Muslim society.
As the truths of the Qur'an and Islam become increasingly apparent in this age of scientific discovery and technological advance, the lessons of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi's prophetic sermon of 1911 increase in significance. The civilization of the future is true civilization; the civilization of Islam. It will be achieved through Muslims heeding these lessons, and rebuilding their society on the foundations of belief, and on the morality of Islam.
Note: Besides the two original printings of the Sermon, a further edition of the Arabic text was published in Istanbul in 1922. In the 1950's it was translated into Turkish by the author, and then published as part of the Risale-i Nur Collection. Bediuzzaman expanded to some degree this Turkish edition, which is the source of the present translation, in order to address directly contemporary Muslims also. For this reason there are references to dates subsequent to 1911, and to other parts of the Risale-i Nur.
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THE DAMASCUS SERMON
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
We, too, offer the immaterial gifts, and praise and tanks that all animate creatures offer through the tongues of their beings and lives to the Creator, the Necessarily Existent One, Who said:
Do not despair of Got's Mercy. [Qur'an 39:53]
And never-ending blessing and peace be upon our Prophet, Muhammad the Elect of God (upon Whom be blessing and peace), who said:
"I came to perfect good moral qualities."
That is, "I was sent to mankind by Almighty God in order to complete an important instance of wisdom, to perfect good conduct, morals and virtues, and to deliver mankind from immorality and vice".
So, having offered praise to God and sought His blessings for His Messenger, we say this: Oh my Arab brothers who are listening to this lesson here in the Umayyad Mosque! I have not mounted this pulpit to this position, which is far above my station, in order to guide you, because it is beyond my authority to teach you. Rather, in the face of this gathering among which are close on a hundred religious scholars I am like a child who goes to school in the morning and learns his lesson. In the evening he returns and repeats it to his father who then sees whether or not what the child has learnt is correct. The child awaits either approval or guidance from his father. Indeed, we are like children in relation to you, and we are your students. You are our masters, and the masters of the other Muslim nations. And so, I shall repeat to you, our masters, part of the lesson I have learnt. It is as follows.
In the conditions of the present time in these lands, I have learnt a lesson in the school of mankind's social life and I have realized that what has allowed foreigners, Europeans, to fly towards the future on progress while it arrested us and kept us, in respect of material development, in the Middle Ages are six dire sicknesses. The sicknesses are these:
FIRSTLY: The coming to life and rise of despair and hopelessness in social life.
SECONDLY: The death of truthfulness in social and political life.
THIRDLY: Love of enmity.
FOURTHLY: Not knowing the luminous bonds that bind the believers to one another.
FIFTHLY: Despotism, which spreads like various contagious diseases.
SIXTHLY: Restricting endeavor to what is personally beneficial. I shall explain, by means of six 'Words', the lesson I have learnt from the pharmacy of the Qur'an, which is like a faculty of medicine. This lesson constitutes the medicine to cure our social life of those six dire sicknesses.
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The first word is 'hope'; that is, to nurture a T strong hope of God's mercy. Indeed, as a consequence of the lesson I learnt on my own account, I say: Oh congregation of Muslims! I give you this good news: the first signs of the true dawn of Arab happiness are now starting to unfold. This happiness will occur through the kindling of the worldly happiness of all Muslims, in particular that of the Ottomans; and especially through the progress of Islam. The emergence of the sun of happiness has drawn close. In order to rub despair's nose in the dust*, I say what is my firm conviction so that the world will hear:
[*The Old Said, trough a presentiment of the event, gave news forty-five years ago of what occurred in 1371/1951, namely that the Islamic world, and foremost the Arab states would be delivered from subjection to foreign powers and their despotism and would form Islamic states. He did not think of the two World Wars and thirty to forty years of absolute despotism. He gave the good news of what actually occurred in 1371/1951 as though it would occur in 1327/1909. He didn't take into account the reason for the delay.]
The future shall be Islam's and Islam's alone. And its ruler shall be the truths of the Qur'an and belief. Therefore, we must submit to divine determining and our fate of the present, which is that ours is a brilliant future, while the Europeans' is a dubious past. I shall now mention one and a half preliminary arguments. I start with the premises of those arguments:
The truths of Islam are able to progress both materially, and in moral and non-material matters, and possess a perfect capacity to do so.
PROGRESS IN MORAL AND NON-MATERIAL MATTERS, WHICH IS THE FIRST ASPECT
You should know that history, which records actual events, is the most faithful witness to the truth. See! History is showing us. The testimony of the Japanese Commander-in-Chief who defeated Russia to the validity and justice of Islam is this:
"History shows that the Muslims increased in civilization and progressed in relation to the power of the truths of Islam; that is, to the degree that they acted in accordance with that power. And history also shows that thay fell into savagery and decline, and disaster and defeat amidst utter confusion to the degree of their weakness in adhering to the truths of Islam." As for other religions, it is quite to the contrary. That is to say, history shows that just as they increased in civilization and progressed in relation to their weakness in adhering to their religions and bigotry, so were they also subject to decline and revolution to the degree of their strength in adhering to them. Up to the present, time has passed thus.
Furthermore, from the blessed time of the Prophet (PBUH) up to the present, not a single event in history has shown us a Muslim who has embraced another religion, whether old or new, in preference to Islam, as a result of reasoned argument and conclusive evidence. If the uneducated embrace another religion without evidence in blind imitation, it has no bearing on this matter. And to be without religion is yet another question. However, history shows us that followers of other religions, and even the English and pre-Revolution Russians, who displayed the greatest bigotry in religion, are gradually approaching and entering Islam on the strength of reasoned argument and cogent proofs, sometimes in groups.*
[*Proofs of this claim and powerful witnesses to it, are the following facts; that forty-five years after this claim was made, in spite of two appalling World Wars and the emergence of an extreme and absolute despotism small northern states like Sweden, Norway and Finland accepted and started to teach the Qur'an in their schools as a barrier to communism and irreligion. And certain important English orators are seen to be in favour of encouraging the English to accept the Qur'an. And America, which is now the most powerful state on earth, is seen to support the truths of religion with all its strength, and has decided that Asia and Africa shall find happiness, peace and reconciliation through Islam, and it patronizes and encourages the newly born Muslim states and tries to enter into alliance with them.]
If we were to display through our actions the perfections of the moral qualities of Islam and the truths of belief, without doubt, the followers of other religions would enter Islam in whole communities; rather, some entire regions and states, even, on the globe of the earth would take refuge in Islam.
Moreover, mankind has been awakened and aroused by the sciences of civilization, in particular; they have understood the true nature of humanity. Without any shadow of a doubt, they are not able to live without religion, aimlessly. They cannot. Even the most irreligious of them is compelled to take refuge in religion. For the only point of support for impotent mankind in the face of the innumerable disasters and the external and internal enemies that plague them, and the only point from which they may seek help and assistance in the face of the innumerable needs with which they are afflicted, and their desires that stretch to eternity, despite their utter want and poverty, is in recognizing the Maker of the world, in faith, and in believing and affirming the hereafter. There is no help for awakened mankind apart from this.
If the jewel of true religion is not present in the shell of the heart, material, moral, and spiritual calamities of untold magnitude will break loose over mankind and they will become the most unhappy, the most wretched of animals.
This century, man has been awakened by the warnings of war, science, and awesome events, and he has perceived the true nature of humanity and his own comprehensive disposition. Man has begun to understand that with his wonderful comprehensive abilities and disposition, he was not created only for this brief and troublesome worldly life; rather, that he is a candidate for eternity, for there are within him desires that extend that far. Everybody has begun to realize that this narrow and transient world is not sufficient and cannot meet man's boundless hopes and desires.
If it is said to the imagination, which is one of the faculties and servants of humanity, "You will rule the world and live for a million years but in the end you will be dispatched to non-existence with no possibility of a return to life", for sure, the imagination of one who has not lost his true humanity and who has been awakened, rather than being joyful and pleased, would weep longingly and with sighs and regrets at there being no eternal happiness. Thus, included in this point is the fact that in everyone's heart an inclination has sprung up to search earnestly for a true religion. In the face of the sentence of death, before anything else man is searching. for a truth, contained only in true religion, so that he may save himself. The present state of the world testifies to this fact.
After forty-five years and the appearance of irreligion, regions and states on the globe of the earth have each begun to. perceive, like a human being, this intense need of mankind. Furthermore, at their beginning and end, the verses of the Qur'an refer man to his reason, saying, "Use your intelligence! Think! Consult your mind and your heart! Confer with them so that you might know this fact!"
For example, look at the beginning and end of verses such as those, they say, "Why do you not look? Why do you not take warnings? Look so that you may know the truth". Take note of the way "Know!" is used. Many verses contain sentences that have the meaning of, "Why does mankind not know, why do they fall into compounded ignorance? Why do they not understand, and then sink into lunacy? Why do they not look, have they become blind so that they cannot see the Truth? Why does man not call to mind and ponder over his own life and the events in the world so that h e might find the straight path'? Why do they not think, deliberate and reason with the mind and so fall i nto misguidance? Oh men! Take a lesson! Take a warning from past ages and try to be saved from the moral and spiritual calamities of the future!" .These verses refer man to his intellect, they enjoin him to consult with his reason.
Oh my brothers in this Umayyad Mosque as well as those in the vast mosque of the world of Islam! You, too, take warning. Take warning from the dreadful events of the last forty-five years. Come right to your senses! Oh you who are wise and thoughtful and consider yourselves to be enlightened!
We Muslims, who are students of the Qur'an, follow proof; we approach the truths of belief through reason, though, and our hearts. We do not abandon proof in favour of blind obedience and imitation of the clergy like some adherents of other religions. Therefore, in the future, when the intellect, science and technology prevail, of a certainty, that will be the time the Qur'an will gain ascendancy, which relies on rational proofs and invites the intellect to confirm its pronounce
Moreover, the veils that eclipse the sun of Islam, hinder its emergence and prevent it illuminating mankind have begun to disperse. Those things that were hindering it have begun to fall back. The signs of the dawn appeared forty-five years ago.* The true dawn broke in 1371 /1951, or it will break. Even if that was the false dawn, in thirty or forty years time the true dawn will break.
[*This statement was made in 1951.]
Indeed, eight serious obstacles prevented of Islam completely overwhelming the past.
THE FIRST, SECOND AND THIRD OBSTACLES
The Europeans' ignorance, their barbarity at that time, and their bigotry in their religion. These three obstacles have been destroyed by the virtues of knowledge and civilization, and they have begun to disperse.
THE FORTH AND FIFTH OBSTACLES
The domination and arbitrary power of the clergy and religious leaders, and the fact that the Europeans obeyed and followed them blindly. These two obstacles have also started to disappear with the rise among mankind of the idea of freedom, and the desire to search for the truth.
THE SIXTH AND SEVENTH OBSTACLES
The despotism that was with us, and our immorality and degeneracy that arose from opposing the Shari'a were obstacles. The fact that the separate despotic power residing in a single individual is now declining indicates that the fearful despotism of larger groups in society and of committees will also decline in thirty to forty years time. And the great upsurge in Islamic zeal, together with the fact that the ugly results of immorality are becoming apparent show that these two obstacles are about to decline; rather, that they have begun to do so. Insha'llah, they will completely disappear in the future.
THE EIGHTH OBSTACLE
Since certain positive matters of modern science were imagined to oppose and be contrary to the outer meanings of the truths of Islam, it prevented, to some extent, their prevailing in the past. Scientists and philosophers opposed Islam because they did not know the truth and, for example, imagined the two angels composed of spirit called Sevr and Hut, who are charged through a divine command to oversee the globe of the earth, to be a great corporeal ox and fish.
There are hundreds of examples like this one. After learning the truth, even the most opinionated philosopher is compelled to submit to it. In the 'Treatise on the Miracles of the Qur'an, the Risale-i Nur points out flashes of the Qur'an's miraculousness that lie beneath each of all the verses that science attacks, and it sets forth clearly the elevated truths, which the hand of science cannot reach, in those sentences and phrases of the Holy Qur'an that the scientists suppose to be points of criticism; it compels even the most obstinate philosopher to submit. It is clear and self-evident, anyone who wishes may look; so let them look and see how this obstacle is being destroyed, as these words forecasted forty-five years ago.
Indeed, some perspicacious Muslim scholars have written on this subject. Signs that this eighth serious obstacle will be overturned are to be seen.
For sure; even if not now then in thirty to forty years time, in order to fıt out and equip to perfection the three forces of science, true knowledge and the virtues of civilization, and to rout and put to flight those eight obstacles, the desire to search for the truth, equity, and love of humanity will be dispatched to the eight fronts of those eight enemy squadrons. They have already started to drive them back. Inshâllah, in half a century they will scatter them completely.
Indeed, it is well-known that the most indisputable virtue is that which even its enemies testify to and affirm.
And so, the following are two examples out of hundreds.
The First. The most famous philosopher of the l9th century and the European continent, Mr.Carlyle (Trans. Note. Thomas Carlyle 1795-1880), did not hold back from proclaiming in the loudest voice te philosophers and Christian scholars the following, which he also wrote in his works: "Islam was born like a brilliant flame, it devoured other religions like the branches of a dry tree. And it was Islam's right so to do, for the other religions -those that were not affirmed by the Qur'an- were as nothing."
And Mr. Carlyle also said:
"The words most worthy of being heeded first are Muhammad (upon whom be blessings and peace)'s words, because the true word is his."
And he also said:
"If you doubt the truth of Islam, you should doubt matters that are self-evident and of necessity true, because the most self-evident and necessary truth is Islam."
This famous philosopher wrote testifying to Islam thus in various places throughout his works.
Second Example. A famous European philosopher of the last century, Prince Bismarck, said:
"I have studied all the Revealed Books. Since they are corrupted, I have been unable to find the true wisdom that I was searching for, for the happiness of mankind. But I saw that the Qur'an of Muhammad (upon whom be blessings and peace) was far superior to all the other Books. I found instances of wisdom in each : of its words. There is no other work that will serve man's happiness like this. A work such as this cannot be the word of man. Those who say it is Muhammad (upon whom be blessing and peace)'s work are denying the imperatives of knowledge. That is to say, it is self-evident that the Qur'an is the word of God".
So, supported by the fact that the clever fields of America and Europe have produced crops of such brilliant and exacting scholars as Carlyle and Bismarck, I too say with all assurance:
Europe and America are pregnant with Islam. One day, they will give birth to an Islamic state. Just as the Ottomans were pregnant with Europe and gave birth to a European state.
Oh my brothers who are here in the Umayyad Mosque and those who are in the mosque of the world of Islam half a century later! Do the introductory remarks, that is, those made up to here, not point to the conclusion that it is only Islam that will provide true, and moral and spiritual rule in the future, and will urge mankind to happiness in this world and the hereafter? And that true Christianity, stripping off superstition and corrupted belief, will be transformed into Islam; following the Qur'an, it will unite with Islam?
That is, the powerful reasons for Islam`s material progress show that Islam will also be dominant materially in the future. The First Aspect demonstrated its progress in moral and spiritual matters and this Second Aspect offers strong proofs for its material progress and supremacy in the future. For established in the heart of the Islamic world's collective personality are five extremely powerful, unbreakable 'Strengths', which have blended and coalesced.*
[*Indeed we understand from the indications of the Qur'an's teaching and instruction that through mentioning the prophets' miracles, the Qur an is informing mankind that events similar to those miracles will come into existence in the future through progress, and is urging them to achieve them, saying:
"Come on, work! Show examples of these miracles! Like the prophet Solomon (UWP) cover a journey of two months in a day! Like the Prophet Jesus (UWP) work to discover the cure of the most frightful diseases! Like the Prophet Moses (UWP), extract the water of life from a stone and deliver mankind from thirst. Like the Prophet Abraham (UWP) find materials and dress in them so that fire will not burn you,! Like some of the prophets, listen to the most distant voices and see the most distant forms in East and West! Like the Prophet David (UWP), soften iron like dough and make it like wax to meet the needs of mankind How greatly you benefit from the clock and the ship each the miracles of the Prophet Joseph (UWP) and the Prophet Noah (UWP) respectively. And so benefit in the same way from the miracles that the other prophets have taught you and imitate them."
Thus, by analogy with the above, the Qur'an instructs mankind in every respect, urges them to material moral and spiritual progress, and proves that it is the universal teacher and master.]
First Strength. This is the reality of Islam, which is the master of all perfections, can make three hundred and seventy million souls as a single soul, has been furnished with a real civilization and positive, true sciences, and whose essence cannot be destroyed by any power.
Second Strength. An intense need, which is the real master of civilization and industry, and is the source and means of achieving perfection, together with complete, back-breaking poverty are such strengths that they may be neither silent nor crushed.
Third Strength. This Strength, which teaches mankind exalted aims in the form of competition for exalted, things, and causes them to strive on that way; which shatters despotism; which excites exalted emotions, and destroys jealousy, envy, malice and rivalry; and which is furnished with true awakening, the eagerness of competition, the tendency towards renewal and predisposition for civilization, consists of the freedom born of the Shari'a. That is to say, it has been fitted out with the inclination and desire for the highest perfections worthy for humanity.
Fourth Strength. This is the fearlessness arising from belief, which is decked out with compassion. That is, neither to demean oneself, nor to be servile to oppressors and despots, nor to oppress and be arrogant towards the unfortunate, which form the foundations of the freedom born of the Shari'a.
Fifth Strength. This is the glory of Islam which proclaims and upholds the Word of God. And in this age; proclaiming the Word of God is contingent on material progress; it may be proclaimed only through achieving real civilization. It cannot be doubted that in the future the world of Islam's collective personality will carry out to the Ietter that definite command given by the glory of Islam through belief.
Indeed, in the past Islam's progress occurred through smashing the enemy's bigotry and obstinacy, and through defense against their aggression, through weapons and the sword. Whereas, in the future, in place of weapons, the immaterial, moral swords of real civilization, material progress, truth and justice will defeat and scatter the enemies.
You should understand that what I mean is the good things that are civilization's virtues and its benefits for mankind. Not its iniquities and evils that idiots have imagined to be its virtues, and imitating them devastated our possessions. And selling religion down the river they have not even gained the world. Through civilization's iniquities prevailing over its benefits and its evils being preferred to its virtues, mankind has suffered two calamitous blows in the form of two world wars, and overturning that sinful civilization have been so utterly disgusted that they have smeared the face of the earth with blood.
Insha'llah, through the strength of Islam in the future, the virtues of civilization will predominate, the face of the earth cleansed of filth, and universal peace be secured.
Indeed, the facts that European civilization is not founded on virtue and guidance but rather on lust and passion, rivalry and oppression, and that up to the present the evils of civilization have predominated over its virtues, and that it has been infiltrated by revolutionary societies like a wormeaten tree are each like powerful indications and means for the supremacy of Asian civilization. And in a short period of time it will prevail.
How is it that while there are such powerful and unshakable ways and means for the material and moral progress of the believers and people of Islam, and although the road to future happiness has been opened up like a railway, you despair and fall into hopelessness in face of the future, and destroy the morale of the Islamic world? And in despair and hopelessness you suppose that "the world is the world of progress for Europeans and everyone else." But, "it is the world of decline only for the unfortunate people of Islam!" By saying that you are making a grievous mistake.
Since the inclination to seek perfection has been included in man's essential nature, for sure, if doomsday does not soon engulf man as a result of his errors and tyranny, in the future truth and justice will show the way to a worldly happiness in the world of Islam, insha'llah, in which there will be atonement for the former errors of mankind.
Indeed, consider this: time does not run in a straight line so that its beginning and end draw apart from one another. Rather, it moves in a circle, like the motion of the globe of the earth. Sometimes it displays the seasons of spring and summer as progress. And sometimes the seasons of storms and winter as decline. Just as every winter is followed by spring and every night by morning, mankind, also, shall have a morning and a spring, insha'llah. You may expect from Divine Mercy to see real civilization within universal peace brought about through the sun of the truth of Islam.
At the start of the lesson, I said I would demonstrate one and a half arguments to support my claim. Now, one argument, in concise form, is finished and the remaining half argument for that claim is as follows:
As has been established by the prying investigations and innumerable experiments of the sciences, the fundamental and absolutely overriding aim and the true purpose of the All-Glorious Maker in the order of the universe are good, beauty, excellence and perfection. For each of the sciences concerned with the universe demonstrates such an order and perfection in the field and area that it studies in accordance with its comprehensive laws that the intellect could find nothing more perfect.
For example, the field studied each according to its own comprehensive laws by all the sciences, like anatomy in medicine, the science of the solar system in astronomy, and botany and biology, demonstrates the miracles of power and the wisdom of the All-Glorious Maker in the order in that field, and the truth of the verse,
Who makes most excellent everything that He creates. [Qur'an 32:7]
Also, inductive reasoning and general experience show and conclude that evil, ugliness, defect, badness and futility are minor in the creation of the universe. They are not the aim; they are dependent and secondary. That is to say, for example, ugliness has not entered the universe for the sake of ugliness, but as a unit of measurement in order to transform a single truth of beauty into many truths. Evil, and Satan even, have been set to pester man in order to be the means of man's limitless progress through competition. Minor evils and ugliness like these have been created in the universe in order to be the means of instances of universal beauty and good. Thus, according to inductive reasoning, the true aim and result of creation in the universe proves that good, beauty and being perfected are fundamental and that they are the true aim. For sure, since mankind has filthied and disordered the face of the earth to this degree. with their tyrannical godlessness and depart this world without receiving their deserts, and without reflecting the true aim present in the universe, they cannot escape to nonexistence. Rather, they shall enter the dungeons of Hell.
Also, it is established by inductive reasoning and the investigations of the sciences that man is the most exalted among animals and the most important. For man discovers with his intellect the steps between the apparent causes and effects existent in the universe, and the relationships of causes, which follow on after each other in succession. And, in order to imitate divine art and orderly and wise dominical creation with his own insignificant art, and in order to understand divine actions and divine art through his partial knowledge and his own arts, he has been given partial will as a scale and measure. Thus, the fact that man knows the universal, all-embracing actions and attributes of the All-Glorious Creator through the materials he works by means of that partial will proves that he is the most honoured and exalted creature in the universe.
Also, according to the testimony of the truths of Islam concerning man and the universe, the most noble and exalted, who are the most excellent and the highest, are the people of Islam, who are the people of truth and reality. And, according to inductive seasoning and the testimony of history, among the people of truth, who are the most exalted among the most revered of mankind, the most excellent and superior was the Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be blessings and peace); and this is testified to by his thousand miracles, his" elevated morals, and the truths of Islam and the Qur'an.
Since the three truths of this half argument give such news, is it at all possible that mankind should refute the testimony of so many sciences and deny this reasoning with their depravity, and, being perversely obstinate in the face of divine will and pre-eternal wisdom, which comprehends the universe, continue in their tyrannical savagery, willful godlessness and fearful destruction? And is it at all possible that they should continue in this way against Islam?
I swear with all my strength and, if I possessed them, with innumerable tongues by the All-Wise and Glorious One, the All-Beauteous Maker, Who creates the world with this perfect order, and the universe, from particles to the planets, from a fly's wing to the lamps in the heavens, with an unbounded wisdom of regularity, that it is in no way possible for mankind, contrary to every other sort of being and opposed to the other, species, which are their small brothers, to stand in opposition to the order in the universe through their universal acts of evil and to eat and digest its bitter fruits which, for thousands of years, have been the cause of evil predominating over good in mankind.
This possibility could only occur by supposing the impossible that, although man ,is at the degree of having been charged with the 'Greatest Trust' over the universe, is at the rank of being deputy of the face of the earth, and is an elevated elder brother to the other beings in the universe, he was the lowest, most base, most wretched, most harmful and most insignificant, and as a consequence had stealthily entered the universe and caused chaos in it. This impossibility can in no way be accepted.
This half argument of mine for this fact leads to this conclusion that just as the existence of Heaven and Hell in the hereafter is a necessary fact, so too shall the religion of good and truth prevail absolutely in the future so that, as is the case with all other beings, good and virtue will also be absolutely predominant in mankind. And so that mankind may be equal with the rest of their brothers in the universe, and it may be said that the mystery of pre-eternal wisdom is `established' in mankind also.
IN SHORT: As the definite facts mentioned above demonstrate, the choicest result in the universe and the most important creature in the view of the Creator is man. And just as man's tyrannical conduct up to this time necessitates the existence of Hell, so too do his comprehensive and perfect abilities and the truths of his belief concerning the universe included in his nature self-evidently necessitate Paradise. And so, since he cannot endure the crimes, and two world wars, which have made the cosmos weep, and cannot digest the bitter evils he has swallowed; and because of his conduct at which he is sick and through which he has filthied the whole face of the earth; and since he has caused humanity to fall to the most abject level and cannot endure the crime of having overturned a thousand years of progress, most certainly and without any doubt, if some ghastly catastrophe does not soon break loose over his head, the truths of Islam will be the means of delivering man from the low and debased degree to which he has fallen, of cleansing the face of the earth, and securing universal peace. We beseech this from the mercy of the All-Merciful and Compassionate One, and we await it with hope.
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The Second Word has been born in my thought T as a result of my experiences in the course of life It is as follows.
Despair is a most grievous sickness and it has entered the heart of the world of Islam. It is despair that has as though killed us so that a small state of one or two million in the West has made twenty million Muslims in the East like its servants and their country like its colony. And it is despair that has killed our high m orals, and causing us to abandon the public good, has restricted our sight to personal benefits.
And it is despair that has destroyed our morale. Although with little power we were victorious from east to west through the moral strength that arose from belief, because it was destroyed through despair, tyrannical foreigners have made three hundred million Muslims their captives for the last four hundred years.
And because of this despair, Muslims even suppose the indifference and despondence of others to be an excuse for their own laziness and say, "What is it to me?" And saying, "Everybody is contemptible, like me", they abandon the courageousness of belief and fail to perform their Islamic duties.
Since this sickness has inflicted so much tyranny on us and is killing us, we shall totally shatter despair with the verse,
Do not despair of God's Mercy. [Qur'an 39:53]
Insha'llah, we shall destroy it with the truth of the Hadith,
Even if a thing is not wholly obtained, it should not be wholly left.
Despair is a most grievous sickness of communities and nations, a cancer. It is an obstacle to perfections and is opposed to the truth of, "I am with my bondsman who thinks favourably of Me". It is the quality and pretext of cowards, the base and the impotent. It does not tell of Islamic courage. It cannot be the quality of a people like the Arabs in particular, who among mankind have been privileged with a fine character that is the cause of pride. The nations of the Islamic world have taken lessons from the Arabs' tenacity. Insha'llah, once more the Arabs will give up despair and will stand together in true solidarity and concord with the Turks, who are the heroic army of Islam, and will unfurl the banner of the Qur'an in every part of the world.
* * * *
The summary and essence of this Third Word has T been made known to me through the studies and researches I have carried out throughout my life and my experience of the ups and downs of social life; it is thus: Truthfulness is the basis and foundation of Islam, and the bond of fine character, and the disposition of elevated emotions. Since this is the case, we must bring to life within us truthfulness and honesty, which form the foundation of our social life, and cure our moral and spiritual sicknesses with them.
Indeed, truthfulness and honesty are the vital principles in the social life of Islam. Hypocrisy is a sort of actualized lying. Flattery and artifice are cowardly lying. Duplicity and double-dealing are harmful lying. And as for lying, it is to slander the All-Glorious Maker's power.
Unbelief in all its varieties is falsehood and lying. Belief is truthfulness and honesty. As a consequence of this, there is a limitless distance between truth and falsehood; it is necessary that they are as distant from one another as the East is from the West: Like fire and light, they should not enter one another. However, cruel politics and tyrannical propaganda have mixed and confused them, and have also confused man's perfections.*
[*Oh my brothers! it may be understood from this lesson of the O1d Said that he was excessively concerned with politics and the social matters of Islam. But be careful, do not suppose he had gone down the way of making religion a tool or means of politics. God forbid! Rather, with a11 his strength, he was politics the tool of religion. And he used to say, "I prefer one truth of religion to a thousand matters of politics." Indeed, he perceived at that time forty to fifty years ago that certain two-faced atheists were attempting to make politics the tool of irreligion, and in response to these aims and ideas of theirs, he tried to make politics a servant and toot of the truths of Islam.
However, twenty years later he saw that, in response to those clandestine double-dealing atheists' efforts to make politics the tool of irreligion, which they were doing under the pretext of westernization, a number of religious politicians were trying to make religion the tool of Islamic politics. The sun of Islam cannot follow and be the tool of lights on the ground. And to make Islam a tool is to reduce its value and is a great crime. And, as a result of that sort of partisan politics, the Old Said even saw a pious scholar enthusiastically praise a dissembler who agreed with his own political ideas while criticizing and declaring to be deviant an upright teacher who opposed them. The Old Said said to him, "Should a devil support your ideas, you would interpret it as mercy, and if an angel were to oppose your political thought, you would curse him." As a result of this, the Old Said said, "I seek refuge with God from Satan and politics." And for thirty-five years has given up politics . Said Nursi Since the New Said gave up politics altogether and did not follow them at all, the Turkish translations of the Damascus Sermon, a lesson of the Old Said which touches on politics, has been printed and made available
Funhermore, although the twenty-seven years of the New Said's life together with the hundred and thirty sections of his writings and letters have been minutely examined by three courts (now one thousand courts) and by government officials, and although he was compelled to oppose the evil-doing apostates and double-dealers who were working against him, and although the order had even been given secretly for this execution, the fact that they were unable to find even the slightest indication suggesting that he had made religion the tool of politics proves decisively that he had not done so. And we Students of the Risale-i Nur are in wonder at this extraordinary situation and consider it to be a sign of the true sincerity that exists within the sphere of the Risale-i Nur.
Students of the Risalei-i Nur]
This truthfulness and lying are as distant from one another as belief and unbelief. With Muhammad's rising to the highest of the high by means of truthfulness in the Era of Bliss, and with the treasury of the truths of belief and the truths of the universe being unlocked with the key of truthfulness, truthfulness became like the most valuable merchandise and the goods most in demand in the market of human society.
And because of lying, the likes of Musaylima the Liar have fallen to the lowest of the low. Since that mighty revolution showed that at that time lying and falsehood were the key to blasphemies and superstition, they became one of the worst and filthiest goods on the market of the universe, and it was not as though everyone wanted to buy them, rather, everyone detested them. And for sure the Companions, who were in the first line of that mighty revolution and in whose nature it was to buy things that were the cause of pride and to be customers for the most valuable goods and those most in demand, would never knowingly have advocated any falsehood. They would not have soiled themselves with lying. They would not have made themselves resemble Musaylima the Liar.
Indeed, since with all their strength and through innate disposition they were customers for truthfulness and honesty, which formed the steps whereby Muhammad (upon whom be blessings and peace) rose to the highest of the high, and were the most sought-after rnerchandise and the most valuable commodity and the key to realities, and since as far as was possible they tried not to depart from truthfulness, it became an established principle in the science of Hadith and among scholars of the Shari'a that, "The Companions always spoke the truth. Their narrations do not require to be investigated in the same way as other narrations. The Hadiths they related from the Prophet (PBUH) are all sound." A decisive argument for the concensus of the scholars of Hadith and the Shari'a is this fact. Thus, while at the time of the mighty revolution in the Era of Bliss truthfulness and lying were as far from one another as belief and unbelief, with the passing of time they have gradually drawn closer to each other. Political propaganda has sometimes given greater currency to lies, and evil and lying have to some degree taken the stage. It is because of this fact that no-one could attain to the level of the Companions. Since this has been discussed in the Addendum to the Twenty-Seventh Word, which is about the Companions, we refer you to that and cut short the matter here.
Oh my brothers here in this Umayyad Mosque! And Oh my brothers who, forty to fifty years later, form the four hundred million believers in the vast mosque of the world of Islam! Salvation is only to be found through truthfulness and honesty. The "support most unfailing" [Qur'an 2:256] is honesty. That is to say, the strongest chain with which to be bound to salvation is honesty.
However, sometimes in the past lying abrogated this if there were advantages to be gained. Some scholars issued 'temporary' fatwas in case of necessity or for benefit. But in this age, such fatwas may not be given. For it has been abused so much that there may be only one benefit among a hundred harmful things. Therefore, the judgement cannot be based on benefit.
For example, the cause for shortening the ritual prayers while on a journey is hardship. But it cannot be the reason. For it has no determined limit and may be abused. Rather, the reason may only be the journey. And in the same way, benefit may not be the reason for telling a lie. Because, it has no specified limit and is a swamp that breeds abuse. The judgement for a fatwa may not be based on it. In which case, "Either truthfulness or silence". That is, there are two ways, not three. That is, not either the truth, or lies, or silence.
Thus, since public order and security have been overturned though mankind's evident and ghastly lying and wilful misrepresentations, and through their abuse of benefits, mankind is clearly commanded and compelled to close the third way. Otherwise, the world wars, hideous revolutions, decline and destruction that they have seen in the past half-century wil1 bring down some overwhelming disaster on their heads.
Indeed, everything you say must be true, but it is not right to say everything that is true. If on occasion it is damaging, then be silent. But there is no fatwa for lying. Everything you say must be the truth, but you do not have the right to say everything that is true. Because if it is not sincere, it will have a detrimental effect, truth will be spent on wrong.
* * * *
What I am certain of from my experience of human social life and have learnt from my life-time of study is the following: The thing most worthy of love is love, and the quality most deserving of enmity is enmity. That is, the quality of love and loving, which renders man's social life secure and impels to happiness is the most worthy of love and being loved. And enmity and hostility are. ugly and damaging qualities, which have overturned man's social life and more than anything deserve loathing and enmity and to be shunned. Since this truth has been clearly explained in the Twenty-Second Letter of the Risale-i Nur, here we shall only briefly point it out. It is as follows:
The time for enmity and hostility has finished. Two world wars have shown how evil, destructive, and what an awesome wrong is enmity. It has become clear that there is no benefit in it at all. In which case, on condition they are not aggressive, do not let the evils of our enemies attract your enmity. Hell and divine punishment are enough for them.
Sometimes, man's arrogance and self-worship cause him to be unjustly hostile towards believers without his being aware of it; he supposes himself to be right. But this hostility and enmity is to slight powerful causes of love towards the believers, like belief, Islam, and nationality; it is to reduce their value. It is a lunacy like preferring the insignificant causes of enmity to the causes of love, which are as extensive as a mountain.
Since love and enmity are contrary to one another, like light and darkness, they cannot truly combine. The causes of whichever are in truth predominant in the heart, its opposite cannot be truly present. For example, if love is truly present, then enmity will be transformed into pity and compassion. This is the position towards the believers. Or, if enmity is truly present in the heart, then love takes on the form of feigned approval, not interferring, and being apparent1y friendly. This may be the position towards unaggressive people of misguidance.
Indeed, the causes of love, like belief, Islam, nationality, and humanity, are strong and luminous chains and immaterial fortresses. One sort of the causes of enmity towards the believers are private matters, which are like small stones. In which case, to nourish true enmity tawards a Muslim is a great error; it is like scorning the causes of love, which are as immense as a mountain,
IN SHORT: Love, brotherhood, and affection are the temperament of Islam, they bond it. The people of enmity resemble a spoilt child who wants to cry, and so looks for an excuse to do so, and something as insignificant as a fly's wing becomes the pretext. And they resemble an unfair, pessimistic person who so long as it is 'possible to distrust, never thinks favourably. He covers ten good deeds with one bad deed. Fairness and favourable thinking, which mark the Islamic character, reject this.
* * * *
The lesson I have learnt from the mutual consultation enjoined by the Shari'a is this: in this age, a single sin that a person commits may not remain as one; it sometimes swells, spreads and becomes a hundred sins. And sometimes a single good deed does not remain as one, but progresses to the order of thousands of good deeds. The reason in the wisdom of this is as follows:
Lawful freedom and lawful consultation have demonstrated the sovereignty of our true nationhood. And the foundation and spirit of our true nationhood is Islam. And in so far as they have carried the standard of the Ottoman caliphate and Turkish army in the name of that nationhood, the two true brothers of Arab and Turk, who are like the shell and citadel of the nationhood of Islam, are the sentries of that sacred citadel.
Thus, through the bond of this sacred nationhood, all the people of Islam are like a single tribe. Like the members of a tribe, the groups of Islam are bound and connected to one another through Islamic brotherhood. They assist one another morally and, if necessary, materially. It is as if all the groups of Islam are bound to each other with a luminous chain.
If a member of one tribe commits a crime, all the members of the tribe are guilty in the eyes of another, enemy tribe. II is as though each member of the tribe had committed the crime so that the enemy tribe becomes the enemy of all of them. That single crime becomes like thousands of crimes. And if a member of the tribe performs a good act that is the cause of pride affecting the heart of the tribe, all its members take pride in it. It is as if each person in the tribe feels proud at having done that good deed.
Thus, it is because of this fact that at this time, and particularly in forty to fifty years' time, evil and bad deeds will not remain with the perpetrator, rather, they will transgress the rights of millions of Muslims. Numerous examples of this shall be seen in forty to fifty years' time.
Oh brothers who are listening to these words of mine here in the Umayyad Mosque! And Oh Muslim brothers in the mosque of the world of Islam forty to fifty years later! Do not make apologies, saying, "We do not do any harm, but also we do not have the power to do anything beneficial; therefore we are excused." Such an apology is not acceptable. Your laziness, and saying, "What is it to me?", and your displaying no effort and not getting into the working spirit through Islamic unity and true Islamic nationhood have done much damage and injustice to yourselves.
So, just as bad deeds thus mount to thousands, so also at this time good deeds, that is, good deeds that affect the sacredness of Islam, do not remain restricted to the one who performs them. Indeed, such good deeds may in truth be beneficial for millions of believers. They may strengthen the bonds of moral, spiritual, and material life. Therefore, this is not the time to cast oneself on the bed of idleness, saying, "What is it to me?"
Oh my brothers here in this mosque and my brothers forty to fifty years later in the mighty mosque of the world of Islam! Do not suppose I have mounted this place of delivering lessons in order to give you advice. Rather, I have done so to claim my rights from you. That is to say, the interests and happiness in this world and the world of the hereafter of small groups is bound to masterly teachers like you, the Arabs and Turks, who are a vast and esteemed body. We, the Muslim groups who are your unhappy small brothers suffer harm through your idleness and laxity.
And especially, Oh Arabs who are esteemed, numerous, and either have been awakened or will be! First and foremost, I address you with these words. For you are our teachers and leaders, and the teachers and leaders of all the groups of Islam, and you are the fighters of Islam. It was later that the mighty Turkish nation assisted you in that sacred duty.
Therefore, due to laziness your sin is great. And your good acts and deeds are also great and exalted. And in particular we await with great expectation from Divine Mercy the different Arab groups entering upon most exalted circumstances in forty to fifty years' time, like those of the United States of America, and your being successful like in former times in establishing Islamic rule in half the globe, or rather in most of it, which now remains in captivity. If some fearful calamity does not soon erupt, the coming generation shall see it, insha'llah.
Beware, my brothers! Do not fancy or imagine that I am urging you with these words to busy yourselves with politics. God forbid! The truth of Islam is above all politics. Ail politics may serve it, but no politics can make Islam a tool for itself.
With my faulty understanding, I imagine Islamic society at this time in the form of a factory containing many wheels and machines. Should one wheel fall behind or encroach on another wheel, which is its fellow, the machine's mechanism ceases to function. Thus, the exact time for Islamic unity is beginning. It necessitates not paying attention to one another's personal faults.
I say this to you with regret and sadness that certain foreigners have taken our most valuable possessions and country from us and have given us a rotten price in return.
And in the same way, they have taken from us our elevated morals and a part of our fine character that touches on social life. They have made them the means of their progress. And it is their dissipated morals and dissipated character that they have given us as their price.
For example, because of the fine national feeling they have taken from us, one of them says, "Should I die, let my nation live, for I have an everlasting life in my nation." They have taken these words from us and it is the firmest foundation in their progress. These words proceed from the religion of truth and the truths of belief. They are our property, the property of the believers.
However, because of the obscene and bad character that infiltrated us from foreigners, a selfish man from among us says, "If I die of thirst,. do not let rain fall again in the world. And if I do not experience happiness, let the world go to rack and ruin as it wishes." These ridiculous words arise from lack of religion and from not recognizing the hereafter. They have entered among us from outside and are poisoning us.
Also, because of the idea of nationhood which those foreigners obtained from -us, an individual becomes as valuable as a nation. For a person's value is relative to his endeavour. If a person s endeavour is his nation, that person forms a miniature nation on his own.
Because of the heedlessness of some of us and the foreigners' damaging characteristics that we have acquired, and, despite our strong and sacred Islamic nationhood, through everyone saying, "Me! Me!, and considering personal benefits and not the nation's benefits, a thousand men have fallen to become like one man.
If a man's endeavour is limited to himself, he is not human being, for human beings are by nature civilized. Man is compelled to consider his fellow humans. His personal life continues through social life. For example, how many hands is he in need of to eat one loaf of bread, and in return for it how many hands does he in effect kiss? And how many factories is he connected to through the clothes that he wears? You make the comparison! Since he cannot survive with only skin like an animal, and is by nature connected to his fellow humans, and is compelled to pay them an immaterial price, by his nature, he maintains civilization. One who confines his view to his personal benefits abandons his humanity, and becomes an iniquitous animal lacking all innocence. If nothing happens as a consequence and he has an authentic excuse, that is an exception !
* * * *
THE key to Muslims' happiness in Islamic social life is the mutual consultation enjoined by the Shari'a. The verse,
Whose rule is consultation among themselves. [Qur'an 42:38]
Orders consultation as a fundamental principle. Just as the consultation of the ages and centuries that mankind has practised by means of history, a conjunction of ideas, formed the basis of the progress and sciences of all mankind, so too one reason for the backwardness of Asia, the largest continent, was the failure to practise that true consultation.
The key and discloser of the continent of Asia and its future is mutual consultation. That is to say, just as individuals should consult one another, so must nations and continents also practise consultation. For it is the freedom resulting from the Shari'a, which is born of the consultation enjoined by the Shari'a, and the noble-mindedness and compassion of belief that will loosen and remove the fetters and chains of the various forms of tyranny fastened to the feet of three hundred, rather, four hundred million strong Islam. It is that lawful freedom which, adorned with the customs and observances of the Shari'a, will cast out the evils of dissolute Western civilization. The freedom born of the Shari'a, which arises from belief, enjoins two principles:
That is to say, belief necessitates not humiliating others through oppression and despotism and not degrading them, and, secondly, not abasing oneself before tyrants. Someone who is a true slave of God cannot be a slave to others. Do not make anyone other than God lord over yourselves. That is to say, someone who does not recognize God ascribes relative degrees of mastery to everything and everyone, and piles worries on his own head. For sure, the freedom born of the Shari'a is a bounty of Almighty God through the manifestation of His Names All-Merciful and All Compassionate; it is a characteristic of belief.
Long live truthfulness! Death to despair! Let love endure! Let mutual consultation find strength! Let those who follow their own whims and desires be the objects of blame, reproach and detestation! And on those who follow Guidance be peace and well being! AMEN.
If it is asked: Why do you attach this much importance to mutual consultation? And how may the life and progress of mankind, in particular Asia, and particularly Islam, come about through mutual consultation?
We would answer: As is explained in the Twenty-First Flash of the Risale-i Nur, the Treatise on Sincerity, because just consultation results in sincerity and solidarity, three 'elifs' become one hundred and eleven. Thus, three men between whom there is true solidarity may benefit the nation as much as a hundred men. Many historical events inform us that as a result of true sincerity, solidarity, and consultation, ten men may perform the work of a thousand men. Man's needs are endless and his enemies innumerable, and his strength and capital insignificant, and the number of destructive, harmful humans who have become like monsters through lack of religion is increasing. Just as, in the face of those endless enemies and innumerable needs, man's personal life can continue only through the point of support and point of assistance that proceed from belief, so, too, can his social life endure only through the mutual consultation enjoined by the Shari'a, that again proceeds from the truths of belief. It is only thus can he halt those enemies and open up a way to secure those needs.
* * * *
Reflections on Unity
A SHORT EXPLANATION OF THE ADDENDUM TO THE ARABIC TEXT Of THE DAMASCUS SERMON
In the Arabic addendum to the Damascus Sermon, the unassailable moral heroism bom of belief in God was described by means of a truly subtle comparison. Here we shall set forth a summary of it and explain it.
Close to the beginning of the Second Constitutional Period, (1908-1918), I joined Sultan Reshad's tour of Rumelia on behalf of the Eastern Provinces [June, 1911]. In our train a discussion started with two friends who taught in the new secular schools and were well-versed in science. They asked me, "Which is more necessary and should be stronger, religious zeal or national zeal?" To which I replied:
"With us Muslims, religion and nationhood are united, although there is a theoretical, apparent and incidental difference between them. Indeed, religion is the life and spirit of the nation. When they are seen as different and separate from each other, religious zeal includes both the common people and upper classes. Whereas national zeal is peculiar to one person out of a hundred, that is, to a person who is ready to sacrifice his personal benefits for the nation. Since this is the case, religious zeal must be the basis with regard to the rights of all the people, while national zeal must serve it and be its fortress.
This is especially so since we people of the East are not like those of the West. Our hearts are governed by the sense of religion. The fact that it was in the East that Pre-Eternal Divine Determining sent most of the prophets indicates that only the sense of religion will awaken the East and impel it to progress. A convincing argument for this is the era of Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be blessings and peace) and those who followed after him."
Oh my friends who are studying with me in this travelling school called a train! You asked me which it is necessary to give more importance to, religious zeal or. national zeal? And now, all you who received secular education and are travelling with me towards the future in the train of time! I say the following to you as well:
"Religious zeal and Islamic nationhood have completely fused in the Turks and Arabs, and may not now be separated. Islamic zeal is a luminous chain which is most strong and secure and is not born of this world. It is a support that is most firm and certain, and will not fail. It is an unassailable fortress that cannot be razed."
When I said this to those two enlightened school teachers, they said to me, "What evidence is there for this? For a claim as great as this an equally great proof and powerful evidence are necessary. What is the evidence?"
Suddenly the train emerged from a tunnel. We put our heads out of the window and looked. We saw that a child not yet six years of age was standing right next to the railway line where the train was about to pass. I said to my two teacher friends: .
"Look, this child is answering our question just by the way he is acting. Let that innocent child be the teacher in our travelling school instead of me. See, his behaviour is stating the following truth:
"You can see that the child is standing only a metre's distance from where this hideous monster will pass the minute it roars shrieking out of its hole, the tunnel, with its fearful onslaught. Although it is roaring and threatening with the tyranny of its attack saying, 'Anything that gets in my way better watch out!' the innocent child is standing right there. With perfect courage, heroism and freedom of spirit he gives no importance at alt to its threats. He has contempt for monster's onslaught, and says with his childish heroism, 'Hey, railway train, you can't frighten me with your thunderous roars!'
"It is as if he is saying through his resolution and tenacity, 'Hey, railway train, you're the prisoner of a system! Your bit and bridle are in the hands of the one who's driving you. It's beyond your power to attack me. You can't sieze me and hold me under your despotism. Off with you! Get on your way! Carry on down the track at the command of your driver! "'
And so, oh friends in this train, and brothers who are studying. science fifty years later! Traversing time, suppose that Rustam of Iran and Hercules of Greece with their proverbial heroism are there in place of the innocent child. Since at their time there were no trains, of course, there was not the belief that trains move regularly, according to a system. When the train suddenly roars out its hole, the tunnel, snorting thunder and fire, with lightening in its eyes, how Rustam and Hercules rush to one side at its threatening onslaught! How those two heroes are terrified and flee! For all their proverbial courage they run more than a thousand metres.
So look, see how their freedom and courage dissolve in the face of the monster's threat. There is nothing they can do but flee. They do not realize that it is an obedient steed, because they do not believe in its driver and orderly system. Rather, they imagine it to be a sort of lion with twenty terrifying and rapacious lions the size of waggons attached to its rear.
Oh my brothers and my friends who are listening to these words after fifty years! What gives the five year old child greater freedom and courage than those two heroes, and a fearlessness and confidence far exceeding theirs, is faith, trust and belief. Belief in the order and system of the railway, which is a seed of truth in that innocent child's heart. Belief that the reins of the train are in the hands of a driver, that its movement is regulated, that someone is driving it on his own account.
And what terrifies those two heroes and makes their consciences prisoners to delusion is their ignorant lack of faith; it is the fact that they do not know the driver and do not believe in the order and system.
The heroism which arose from the innocent child's belief in the comparison is like the heroism of a number of tribes -in particular Turkish and Turkified tribes- from among the Islamic peoples who, by reason of the faith and belief that was rooted in their hearts, for a thousand years raised the banner of Islam and all its perfections in the face of more than a hundred nations and states in Asia, Africa and half Europe; who went to meet death laughing and saying, "If I die, I shall be a martyr; if I kill, I shall be a champion of Islam."
Indeed, foremost the Turks and Arabs, and all the Muslim peoples, never fearing, confronted with the heroism of belief the unending succession of hostile events in this world, and the theats of that fearsome railway train which is inimical to man's comprehensive disposition, from microbes, even, to comets. Through the submission to Divine Determining and Decree that arises from belief, they took lessons, and gained wisdom and a sort of worldly happiness in place of terror and fright. That, like the innocent child, they displayed this extraordinary heroism demonstrates that in this world as in the Hereafter the absolute ruler of the future will be the nation of Islam.
The cause of the truly strange fear, alarm and anxiety of those two strange heroes in the two comparisons was their lack of belief, their ignorance, and their misguidance; a truth which the Risale-i Nur demonstrates with hundreds of proofs. it is as follows:
Unbelief and misguidance show to the people of misguidance a universe consisting wholly of series of terrible enemies. Thousands of different enemies from the solar system to tubercular bacteria are attacking unfortunate humanity with the hands of blind force, aimless chance, and deaf nature.
By presenting to man's comprehensive disposition, and his endless needs and infinite desires continuous fear, pain and anxiety, unbelief and misguidance is a form of Hell; it puts those who follow it into a sort of Hell while still in this world.
All science and human progress outside religion and belief is worth nothing, like the heroism of Rustam and Hercules. All it does is to administer injections to deaden the senses so chat through drunkenness and dissipation those grievous fears may be temporarily forgotten.
Thus, just as the comparison of belief and unbelief yields fruits and results in the hereafter like Paradise and Hell, so too, in this world belief ensures a sort of Paradise, and transforms death into a release from duty, while unbelief makes this world a sort of Hell, destroys true human happiness and reduces death to eternal nothingness. The Risale-i Nur, relying on definite I insight and direct cognition, has demonstrated this truth with hundreds of proofs. Therefore, we refer you to those and cut short the discussion here.
If you wish to see the truth that lies in this comparison, raise your head and look at the universe. Look and see how many vehicles there are like the railway train: balloons, cars, aeroplanes, ships of the land and the sea... the globes of the stars, the heavenly bodies, the chains of events and successive occurrences that Pre-Eternal Power creates with order, regularity, wisdom and purpose on land and sea and in space.
Anyone who has intelligence and sight is able to see most of these chains of events in the manifest world and corporeal universe and to confirm their existence. So too, may they confirm that there are even more wonderful successive events created by Pre-Eternal Power in the spirit and incorporeal worlds.
Thus, all these material and immaterial chains of events in the universe attack, threaten and frighten the unbelieving people of misguidance; they destroy their moral and spiritual strength. Whereas, for the people of belief, rather than threatening and frightening them, they bring them joy and comfort, and give them hope and strength.
This is because the believers understand through their belief that an A!1-Wise Maker is impelling each of those innumerable chains of events, corporeal and incorporeal railway trains, travelling universes to perform their duties within the sphere of perfect orderliness, regularity, wisdom and purpose; that He is causing them to work. Not one jot are they confused in their duties, nor can they transgress against one another.
The believers see through their belief that these events are displaying the perfections of His art and the manifestations of. His beauty in the universe. Thus belief gives all moral strength to them and demonstrates a sample of eternal happiness.
And so, nothing, no science, no human progress can ensure moral strength in the face vf the ghastly pains and fears that arise from the people of misguidance's unbelief, nor give them any comfort. They destroy their courage, but temporarily draw a veil of neglect over them, deceiving them.
The believers, by reason of their belief, look on these events, not with fear and crumbled moral strength but with an extraordinary strength and fortitude, and with the truth that is in belief, like the innocent child in the comparison. They observe the planning and will of an All-Wise Maker within the sphere of His wisdom and are saved from delusions and fears.
They understand and say, "If it were not for the command and permission of the All-Wise Maker, these travelling universes could not be in motion, they could do nothing". With perfect confidence, they manifest happiness in the life of this world, each according to his degree.
When the seed of truth born of belief and true religion is not present in a person's heart or conscience, and is not his point of support, in the same way that Rustam and Hercules' courage and heroism crumbled in the comparison, such a person's courage and moral strength, too, will be annihilated and his conscience will decay: He will become prisoner to all the events in the universe. He will sink to being a trembling beggar before everything. Since the Risale-i Nur has demonstrated this truth concerning belief and also the fearsome wretchedness that misguidance brings in this world with hundreds of decisive proofs, we shall cut short this long and extensive truth here.
Mankind in this century has perceived that their greatest need is for moral and spiritual strength, comfort, and resolution. Therefore, for them to abandon Islam and truths of belief at this time, which are a point of support and secure such moral strength, comfort and happiness, and, instead of benefiting from Islamic nationhood, under the pretext of becoming westernised, for them to rely on misguidance, dissipation, and lying politics and diplomacy, which completely destroy and annihilate all moral strength, comfort, and resolution, is an act far from all benefit and profit for mankind. Just how far it is from benefiting mankind, mankind, and first and foremost, Islam will realize. They will be awakened to this truth, and, if time has not run out for this world, they will adhere to the truths of the Qur'an.