A Short History of Risale-i Nur Service
By The Pen Magazine
Imam Nursi, after living a life full of struggle to save the faith of the people and to defeat the materialist ideology, left behind a service which is now illuminating the paths of millions of people.
Imam Bediuzzaman Said Nursi was born in Nur village of Bitlis province in the eastern part of Turkey in 1877. Thanks to his extraordinary intelligence and memory, Allah (SWT) granted that he complete his education in the Islamic disciplines, which normally takes fifteen years, in a much shorter time and he took his diploma (ijazat) from the madrasa while he was only fourteen. Due to the correct and remarkably quick answers that he gave to the questions of the scholars, his teachers gave him the nickname Bediuzzaman, which means ‘a unique wonder of the age’.
Meanwhile, he studied the natural sciences comprehensively on his own. Along with the high academic level that he had attained at such a young age, he was observing the principles of the Sunnah meticulously with zuhd and taqwa.
During the fifteen years that he was a teacher in madrasas in his hometown, he realized that the education system which was being practised in the madrasas was not really suited for training the scholars who were needed for Muslim ummah, and thus he prepared a new education project called Madrasatu’z Zahra, in which the religious disciplines and natural sciences were taught together. In order to present this project to the Sultan he went to Istanbul, the capital city of the Ottomans, at the age of thirty. He stayed for a while in Istanbul carrying out some Islamic academic and political services, and gained a remarkable popularity in the eyes of the scholars, people and statesmen alike because of his activities there.
When he returned from Istanbul to his hometown, he laid the foundation of the madrasa that he was planning to build. However, the First World War broke out not long after the beginning of the construction of the madrasa, and so, together with his students, he went to war to fight the Russians who were occupying the eastern part of Turkey. He was captured by the Russians after fighting for two years, and after two years in captivity, he returned to Istanbul. Meanwhile, the Ottomans had been defeated in WWI, Istanbul had been occupied by the British in 1920, and the western parts of Turkey were being occupied by the Greeks. At this time, after the war of independence, the new Republic of Turkey was established following the fall of the Ottomans.
However, under this new regime, the enemies of religion launched a horrible oppression to destroy Islam and cause the Qur’an to be forgotten. In the illegal courts of law, thousands of the Muslim scholars were sentenced to death, the Islamic madrasas were shut down, the education of religion was forbidden, the letters of the Qur’an were forbidden and Latin letters were substituted instead, and even the recitation of the adhan (call to prayer) in Arabic was forbidden. Every kind of method was applied to erase all traces of Islamic culture in social life.
On one hand, the people were prevented from getting an Islamic education or accessing their Islamic sources, and on the other hand, the new generation was cut off from their religion with an education system based on materialism and atheism.
Imam Bediuzzaman stressed that the only solution in the face of this great destruction in the spiritual and religious life was to return to the Qur’an. He authored lots of treatises refuting the anti-Islamic ideas published by the secular state and he spread them covertly all around Turkey. He authored these treatises with the inspirations emanating from the verses of the Qur’an, which refuted unbelief and misguidance and proved tawhid and the hereafter.
With this fight against atheism which he carried out with his one hundred and thirty treatises, most of which were written in Isparta province during exile, he caused the regression of the great destruction that was being perpetrated against Islam, and the return of the people to their Islamic roots, gaining an Islamic awareness by the grace of Allah, he being the recipient of a great help from Allah.
During this spiritual jihad, he acted upon the principle that ‘it is time to act as a community and a group, instead of acting as individuals’, and he launched heated academic discussions all around the country with his thousands of students who read and wrote out his treatises, and then read them to the guests who came to their houses.
These services that he did for Islam drew the fury of the enemies of Islam. Because of this, he had to lead a life of exile which continued for 34 years. He was exiled from one city to another, Isparta being the first place. He was imprisoned and his enemies attempted to assassinate him many times. He was under surveillance and oppression for his whole lifetime. Yet due to his strong faith and sincerity which were from the grace of Allah nothing prevented him from serving Islam.
He once expressed his perseverance and determination in serving Islam as follows in a plea that he was submitting to a court: “If I had heads to the number of my hairs, and if each of them was cut off every day, I still would never bow my head, which is devoted to the truths of the Qur’an, to atheism and positivism! I would not give up this luminous service of faith and I would not be able to give it up…”
Imam Bediuzzaman passed away in 1960 and reached Rabbur Rahim (his Compassionate Lord) leaving behind the Risale-i Nur collection, which is a wonderful Tafsir of the Qur’an and thousands of students. He had indicated to his followers in various different treatises and letters to gather around Husrev Effendi, and he had said “consider Husrev, who is a hero of Risale-i Nur, to be in my place”.
Husrev Effendi receivedthe appreciation and love of Imam Nursi for his service and efforts in spreading of Risale-i Nur all around the country for a period of thirty years. The following are some of the ideas and feelings of Imam Nursi about Husrev Effendi, “Husrev is a great spiritual hero of the Turkish nation and a saviour of this country, and he is a sincere devoted man of whom Turkish nation should feel proud…” and “If I had fifty souls, I would give all fifty of them for Husrev”.
Those enemies of Islam who realized that the nominee for the place of Imam Nursi was Husrev Efendi who was his closest student launched a smear campaign about him and tried to draw the Risale-i Nur students away from him, and Imam Nursi said the following about this:
“Even if Husrev had a thousand mistakes, I would fear to be against him. Because now to be against him means to be directly against me and against the Risale-i Nur and to be in favour of those who attack us, which is a huge betrayal.”
Unfortunately, after death of Imam Bediuzzaman, some of the hypocrites and enemies of Islam succeeded in separating some of the weak characters and young students from Husrev Efendi and got them to leave him by offering them political and worldly positions and interests.
In spite of these negative developments, Husrev Efendi continued the spread of the truths in Risale-i Nur in the leadership of the Risale-i Nur service for seventeen more years. The pressures continued to increase in this period of time as well. They were raided and put in jails lots of times, as they had been while Imam Nursi was alive. Husrev Effendi was arrested with his students after the military coup d’état in 1971 and stayed in prison for a long time in his old age.
After he was released from prison with the issuing of a general pardon during the term of Erbakan, he came to Istanbul and established the Hayrat Foundation, so that it became a centre both for the Risale-i Nur service and for the Qur’an in tawafuq which he had written with the order of Bediuzzaman to be printed. Husrev Efendi continued his service with his close students for three more years, andthen he passed away in 1977, leaving behind an enduring legacy, a life full of service to faith and the Qur’an with the Risale-i Nur.
Husrev Efendi announced that he was leaving behind Hafidh Said Nuri Efendi as his successor. Hafidh Mustafa Efendi, the father of Said Nuri Efendi was among the closest students of Imam Bediuzzaman. For this reason, Imam Bediuzzaman gave his name to Said Nuri Efendi. Hafidh Said Nuri Efendi served Husrev Efendi after the death of Bediuzzaman for many years, and also stayed in prison with him for a long time.
The Nur service has continued with the same excitement and enthusiasm under the leadership of Hafidh Said Nuri Efendi for thirty-four years since the departure of Husrev Efendi and thousands of students have been educated in Nur madrasas. Many people have strengthened their faith through this service which has spread and developed all around the country. Meanwhile, the printing of the copies of the Qur’an in tawafuq, the copies of Risale-i Nur in the Qur’anic letters, and finally the Arabic translation of the Risale-i Nur continues in the Hayrat Publication House Printing Facilities.