A Reflection on Uslub Al-Da’wah of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi
This is an attempt to give a brief review in term of styles and approaches of da’wah of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, based on the Twentieth Letter, contained in the Second Volume of Risalat-i Nur Collection titled The Letters, written by him between 1928-1932, while in exile in Barla, an isolated village in Province of Isparta in South Western Anatolia. They were largely written in reply to questions put by his students and also in reply to criticism and attack on various questions of belief and Islam. Its original title is Mektubat with thirty three letters altogether. There are another collection of letters such as Barla Lahikasi (Barla Letters). The Twentieth Letter was written based on a prayer or supplication taught by Muhammad Sallallahu`alaihi wasallam, as follows:
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له له الملك وله الحمد ويحيى ويميت وهو حي لا يموت بيده الخير وهو على كل شيئ قدير وإليه المصير.
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate
There is no god but Allah, He is One. He has no partner. He is the dominion and He is the praise: He alone grants life, and deals death, and He is living and dies not: all good is in His hand. He is powerful over all things, and with Him all things have their end.
Ustaz Bediuzzaman Said Nursi repeatedly in his writings emphasized the belief in Allah as the the utmost purpose of creation and the final aim of existence. The knowledge of Allah contained within belief in Allah will accelerate one’s self to a higher rank in term of humanity. And the knowledge of Allah will develop into love of Allah. And in knowledge of Allah and love of Allah lies the true happiness, pure joy, sweet bounties and genuine pleasure. One who knows and loves Allah is one who knows his Owner and discover His Master. And for the true love he shows towards his Owner and Master, he is eligible for endless bounties, happiness, light and mysteries.
Based on the above du’a (prayer of supplication), Ustaz Bediuzzaman made an effort to highlight the most fundamental aspect of God in relation to the wellbeing of man. According to Ustaz Bediuzzaman, this sentence expresses Divine Unity and possesses numerous merits and based on an authentic narration, bears the degree of the Greatest Name. Ustaz Bediuzzaman derived eleven fundamental points or phrases. In first part of his writing called the First Station, he observed that in each phrase of the prayer contains both good tidings and affirmation of the Unity of God. And in each good news lies cure, while in each cure comes together with a spiritual pleasure. Ustaz Bediuzzaman’s ability to dug deeper into each point is very astonishing.
THE FIRST PHRASE: لا إله إلا الله ‘There is no god but Allah.’
The good news in this phrase is such that the human spirit, subject as it is to countless needs and the attacks of innumerable enemies, finds a place of recourse, a source of help (Good News). This opens for it the door of a treasury of mercy that will guarantee all its needs, and provides it with a point of support and Strength which shows it its Master and Owner; just as it makes known to it its Creator and True Object of Worship, Who possesses an absolute power that will secure it from the evil of all its enemies (Cure). Through pointing this out, the phrase saves the heart from utter desolation and the spirit from aching sorrow; it ensures an eternal joy, a perpetual happiness (Spiritual Pleasure).
THE SECOND PHRASE: الله وحده ‘Allah, He is One.’
This phrase, according to Ustaz Bediuzzaman, announces the good news, which is both healing and a source of happiness. Man in his interaction with fellow human being and environment will be inevitably experiencing trouble, misery and confusion. He will find in the phrase ‘He is One’ a refuge and protector that will deliver him from all the confusion and bewilderment, instead give him patience and courage (Good News and Cure). He doesn’t have to submit to others for help other than Him. “If you find Him, you will be saved from endless indebtedness, countless fears.” (Spiritual Pleasure).
THE THlRD PHRASE: لا شريك له ‘He has no partner.’
Ustaz Bediuzzaman explained, “Just as in His Divinity and in His sovereignty He has no partner, Allah is One and He cannot be many, so too in His Dominicality and in His actions and in His creating He has no partner. It sometimes happens that a monarch is one, having, no partner in his sovereignty, but in the execution of His affairs his officials act as his partners; they prevent everyone from entering his presence. But here everyone can have recourse to Him directly (Good News). This phrase, therefore, delivers joyful announcement to the human spirit: the human spirit which has attained to faith may, without any hindrance, enter the presence of the Possessor of Beauty and Glory, the One of power and perfection, the Owner of the treasuries of mercy and bliss (Cure). With His mercy and bliss human being will attain perfect ease and happiness (Spiritual Pleasure).
THE FOURTH PHRASE: له الملك ‘His is the dominion.’
This phrase means “ownership is altogether His”. Men and women are but His property, owned by Him, and work in His property. This phrase announces joyful and healing news. Ustad Bediuzzaman eloquently pronounced, “O mankind! Do not suppose that you own yourself, for you have no control over any of the things that concern you; such a load would be heavy. Also, you are unable to protect yourself, to avoid disasters, or to do those things that you must. In which case, do not suffer pain and torment without reason, the ownership is another’s. The Owner is both All-Powerful and All-Merciful; rely on His power and do not cast aspersions on His mercy! Leave grief behind, be joyful! Discard your troubles and find serenity!…”
THE FIFTH PHRASE: وله الحمد ‘His is the praise.’
Praise, laudation, and acclaim are proper to Him, are fitting for Him. That is to say, bounties are His; they come from His treasury. And as for the treasury, it is unending. This phrase, therefore, delivers the following good news:
“O mankind! Do not suffer and sorrow when bounties cease, for the treasury of mercy is inexhaustible. And do not dwell on the fleeting nature of pleasure and cry out with pain, because the fruit of the bounty is the fruit of a boundless mercy. And since its tree is undying, when the fruit finishes it is replaced by more”…
SIXTH PHRASE: ويحيى ‘He alone grants life.’
“The giver of life is He. And the one who causes life to continue by means of sustenance is again He. And the supplier of the necessities of life is also He. And the exalted aims of life pertain to Him and its important results look to Him and ninety-nine out of a hundred of its fruits are His. Thus, this phrase calls out to ephemeral and impotent man in this way, it makes this joyful announcement:
“O man? Do not trouble yourself by taking the heavy responsibilities of life onto your own shoulders. Do not think of the transience of life and start grieving. And do not see only its worldly and unimportant fruits and regret that you came to this world. Rather, the life-machine in the ship of your being belongs to the Ever-Living and Self Subsistent One, and it is He Who provides for all its expenses and requirements. Also, your life has a great many aims and results and they pertain to Him, too.
“As for you, you are just a helmsman on the ship, so do your duty well and take the wage and pleasure that come with it. Think just how precious is the life-ship and how valuable its benefits; then think just how Generous and Merciful is the Owner of the ship. So, rejoice and give thanks and know that when you perform your duty with integrity, all the results the ship produces will in one respect be transferred to the register in which your actions are recorded, that they will secure an immortal life for you, will endow you with eternal life.”
THE SEVENTH PHRASE: ويميت ‘And deals death.’
“The one who causes death is He. He discharges you from the duty of life, changes your abode from this transitory world, and releases you from the labour of service. That is, He takes you from a transient life to an immortal one. This phrase, then, shouts out the following to ephemeral jinn and man: Here is good news for you! Death is not destruction, or nothingness, or annihilation; it is not cessation, or extinction; it is not eternal separation, or non-existence, or a chance event; it is not authorless obliteration. Rather, it is being discharged by the Author Who is All-Wise and All-Compassionate; it is a change of abode. It is being despatched to eternal bliss, to your true home…
THE EIGHTH PHRASE: وهو حي لا يموت ‘And He is living and dies not.’
“The Possessor of a beauty, perfection, and munificence that are infinitely superior to the beauty, perfection, and munificence to be seen in all the creatures of the universe, and that arouse love, and an Eternal Object of Worship, an Everlasting Beloved, one single manifestation of Whose beauty is sufficient to replace all other beloveds, has an enduring life through pre-eternity and post-eternity – a life free from any trace of cessation or ephemerality and exempt from any fault, defect, or imperfection. Thus, this phrase proclaims to jinn and man, to all conscious beings, and the people of love and ardor:
“Here is good news for you! There is an Everlasting Beloved Who will cure and bind your wounds caused by countless separations from the ones you love. Since He exists and is undying, whatever may happen do not fret over the others. Furthermore, the beauty and generosity, virtue and perfection in them, which are the cause of your love, are, passing through many veils, the shadows of the palest of shadows of the manifestation of the Ever-Enduring Beloved’s ever-enduring Beauty. Do not grieve at their disappearance, for they are mirrors of a sort. The changing of the mirrors renews and embellishes the manifestation of the Beauty’s radiance. Since He exists, everything exists”….
THE NINTH PHRASE: بيده الخير ‘All good is in His hand.’
“Every good action you perform is transferred to His register. Every righteous deed you do is recorded with Him. Thus, this phrase calls out to jinn and mankind with the following good news:
“O you wretched ones! When you journey to the grave do not cry out in despair, ‘Alas! Everything we owned is destroyed, all our efforts wasted; we have left the beautiful broad earth and entered the narrow grave,’ for everything of yours is preserved, all your actions written down, every service you have rendered recorded. One of Glory in Whose hand is all good and Who is able to bring all good to fruition, will reward your service: drawing you to Himself, He will keep you only temporarily under the ground. Later, He will bring you to His presence. What happiness for those of you who have completed their service and duty; your labour is finished, you are going to ease and mercy! Service and toil are over, you going to receive your wage!
“Indeed, the All-Powerful One of Glory preserves seeds and grains, which are the pages of the register of last spring’s deeds and the deposit boxes of its services, and preserves and publishes them the following spring in glittering fashion, indeed, in a manner a hundred times more plentiful than the originals. He is, then, preserving the results of your life in the same way, and will reward your service in a truly abundant fashion…”