Who is Master Said Nursi?
Master Said Nursi was born in 1878 in a village known as Nurs, within the borders of the town of Hizan, and the city of Bitlis in the Eastern part of Turkey.
He died on 23 March 1960 in Şanlıurfa, a city in Southeastern Turkey.
His Wisdom and Education
Master Said Nursi, having a keen mind, an extraordinary memory, and outstanding abilities had drawn the attention upon himself since his childhood. He completed his education in the traditional madrasah system in a very short time about three months, which takes many years to complete under normal conditions.
His youth passed with an active pursuit of education and his superiority at knowledge and science was evident in the discussions with the scholars of the time on different occasions. Master Said Nursi who had made himself with his capacity and abilities accepted in the scientific and intellectual circles has begun to be called Bediuzzaman, “the wonder of the age”.
After completing his expertise in the education of Islamic sciences at the madrasah, Master Said Nursi conducted research in various modern sciences; followed the newspapers of the time and concerned himself with the developments in the country and the world. On the other hand by direct experience, he observed the problems of the Eastern lands, where he was born and grew up, and came to the conclusion that education was the most necessary one.
Therefore he went to Istanbul in 1907 in order to demand the establishment of a university in the East where the modern and religious sciences would be taught together. There he made himself known in the scientific circles in a very short time and by writing articles in the newspapers; he joined the discussions on freedom and constitutionalism which reverberated in Istanbul and the Ottoman lands in those days and he supported constitutionalism in the name of Islam.
Although he played a soothing role in an event, which broke out on the 31st of March in 1909, he was put on trial in the Martial Court with false accusations, but after making a heroic defense he was acquitted. After that, he left Istanbul and returned to the East.
His Role in The First World War
When the First World War began Master Said Nursi was in Van and he immediately founded a volunteer militia regiment made up of his students and joined the battlefront in Eastern Anatolia against the invading Russian army. He was of great help in the defense of the country against the enemy and many of his students became martyrs in the battle; finally, he became wounded and fell prisoner to Russians while defending the city of Bitlis. Having lived for about three years in a Russian camp as a prisoner of war, he was able to escape and come to Istanbul by way of Warsaw, Vienne, and Sophia.
Upon his return, he was received with great enthusiasm by the statesmen and scholarly circles and immediately appointed to the membership of Dar al-Hikmah al-Islamiyyah which was formed with the aim of solving novel religious issues and developing refutations against movements that worked against Islam in the 20th century, within the framework of Islamic principles.
Bediuzzaman used the income from this official duty, in printing his books and distributed them to people for free. When Istanbul was under occupation he did a great service by distributing his brochure Hutuvat-ı Sitte(Six Steps) and ruined the plans of the occupation forces of the Allied Countries. Similarly against the fatwa declaring the National Forces in Anatolia as rebels, given by the Shaykh Al-Islam under the oppression of the invaders, he announced a counter-fatwa and declared the legitimacy of the action of the national liberation.
Due to these services by Bediuzzaman, he was appreciated by the National Assembly founded in Anatolia and invited persistently to Ankara. Eventually, he came to Ankara towards the end of 1922 and he was welcomed with an official ceremony in the Assembly. During his stay in Ankara seeing that the approach of the dominant political administration to religion was unfavorable, he wrote a 10-item declaration and delivered it to the members of the Assembly.
In this declaration he calls the architects of the new reformation to protect the symbols and representative practices of Islam; after that, he had several meetings with Mustafa Kemal. He was offered the positions of the Eastern Public Preacher, deputy, and the membership of the Board of the Religious Affairs; but after rejecting all these offers Bediuzzaman returned to Van. Bediuzzaman had no connection with the uprising of Sheikh Said, and even he tried to dissuade Sheikh Said from his intention when he had demanded support from Bediuzzaman.
A Man of Peace
Despite that after the rebellion, Bediuzzaman was taken from his seclusion in Van and sent as exile first to Burdur and then to Barla, a village of Isparta. There he started the service of the “spiritual jihad” by enunciating the fundamentals of belief in his works he writes one after another.
His Book Series
These works have seen the favor and approval of the people who felt their faith in danger; they spread quickly by circulating from hand to hand. The total number of books that were written by hand exceeded 600.000 in those days.
As the favor and tendency of the people to this service disturbed those in power, Bediuzzaman had to stand trials in courts in Eskişehir in 1935, in Denizli in 1943, in Afyon in 1947, and in Istanbul in 1952. As these trials did not bring the desired achievement, he was not left in peace; he was compelled to live under close watch and control in Kastamonu, Emirdağ, Isparta.
Bediuzzaman who was continually subject to arbitrary treatment and persecution until the last days of his life continued carrying out the service of belief with great determination; succeeded in completing and disseminating the collection of the Risale-i Nur, which exceeded 6000 pages. These works which are the fruits of his troublesome life have been written with divine inspiration and guidance, prove the truths of the Qur’an and its miraculousness in accordance with the understanding of the modern age.