The Prescription for a Morbid Era, a Diseased Unit, and a Disabled System;
or Showing Islam’s Pristine Brilliance;
or Bediüzzaman’s Reasonings
In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
A debt of deepest reverence and submission is due to the Eternal Sovereign, the All-Wise and All-Merciful, Who has blessed us with the religion of Islam and given us guidance in the form of the pure and peerless Shari‘a.3 This Shari‘a is a code of law the truth of which has been confirmed by human intellect and Divine Revelation; it is a corpus of rules so veracious that its roots reach deeply into the soil of truth, producing in human individual and social life branches of perfection which bear the fruit of happiness in this world and the next. The Shari‘a has also helped us to attain intellectual and spiritual maturity through the grace of the Qur’an, which in all of its aspects is a Divine miracle.
Through the rules and principles it outlines, the Holy Qur’an expounds the subtle, all-inclusive Divine laws which are operative in the cosmos; it is a Divine Book of creation which the Hand of Destiny has inscribed with the Pen of Wisdom. There is in the Qur’an all that humanity needs for a well-ordered and harmonious life, and all that it needs in order that it may progress.
May endless peace and blessings be upon the master of creation, who is the source of pride and honor for this world. The entire universe and all the creatures in it bear witness that Prophet Muhammad is the Messenger of God and that they serve as a means and medium for his miracles, heralding the exalted truths and principles which he brought from the treasury of the Unseen. Each species of creatures, in its own particular tongue, ardently welcomes the honor the Prophet bestowed on the universe with his presence. The Eternal Sovereign causes the needs of the earth and heavens to speak so that each need sings the songs of the Prophet’s miracles as if it were a string on the cosmic violin. Thus, his beautiful, thrilling voice will echo in the azure vault of heaven. The heavens congratulate him in the language of his Ascension, as do the angels, and the moon. The earth praises him because of his miracles in the language of its rocks, trees, and animals. The atmosphere gives the glad tidings of his Prophethood with its invisible beings, providing shade for him and protecting him with its clouds. The time preceding the Prophet gives the joyful tidings of the rising of that sun of truth with the other Prophets’ confirmation of him, and the predictions of the Scriptures and seers.4 The blessed age of the Prophet himself proves the Prophethood of Muhammad in the language of the society and state it set in train; that is, by producing the tremendous transformation in the character of the Arabs and giving rise, in so short a time, to a magnificent civilization from a desert life. And the post-Prophetic era thanks him for his guidance with the tongue of wisdom and sciences, heralding his ascension to the highest throne of humanity and Prophethood through the transformations he has engendered in the history of humanity. With its scholars—particularly with the verifying ones among them and those who pay heed to the articulate and eloquent discourse of the Prophet—humanity bears witness that Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, who himself is like a sun which illuminates both itself and others, is a Messenger sent by the Almighty.
A chain by which all the lions of the world are bound;
Would it ever be possible for a deceitful fox to break it?
Now, this poor Nursi, whom people have mistakenly and without his consent nicknamed Bediüzzaman—the Peerless of the Age—though he might be called Bid‘atüzzaman—the Innovation of the Age—grieves bitterly over the lack of development of this poor nation. With a heart filled with regret, he says: We have abandoned the essence of Islam and concentrated instead on its shell; in doing so, we have deceived ourselves. Having committed mistakes and fallen short of the ethical standards we should have had, we have failed to give Islam its due and the respect it deserves. As a result, it has recoiled from us in disgust, hiding itself in the miasma of whims and suppositions that we have formed around it.
It has the absolute right to do so, for we have been unable to recognize its true worth. We have conflated its fundamentals with spurious accretions from non-Islamic sources; we have commingled its principles of belief with mere stories, confusing people into taking its figurative, metaphorical, and allegorical statements as though they were statements of literal truth. For this reason, Islam has punished us with misery and wretchedness in the world. It is only the mercy of Islam which will save us.
So, O Muslim brothers and sisters! Let us ask forgiveness from Islam and obtain its good pleasure. Together we must stretch the hands of faith to Islam and pay allegiance to it. Together we will hold fast to the unbreakable rope of our religion.
Without any hesitation I can say that what gives me the courage and enthusiasm to confront the thoughts and attitudes of past centuries, and what moves me to exert myself to remove the whims and suppositions that have gained currency over those centuries is this: I believe with the utmost conviction that even though it has been trampled underfoot, the truth will eventually flourish; I also believe that even though they are few in number and weakened by the mercilessness of the present conditions, the supporters of the truth will one day emerge victorious.
I am also convinced that it is only the truth of Islam that will prevail in the future and enjoy absolute authority all around the world. It is only Islam that will be seated on the future throne of truth and knowledge. The signs of this victory have already begun to appear. In the past there were eight obstacles which prevented the light-giving Shari‘a from overcoming the despotic rule of fanaticism and blind imitation, and from sweeping aside the deceptively glittering debris of knowledge which held sway over the wasteland of human ignorance. Of these obstacles, which caused the sun of Islam to be eclipsed, four were to be found in the West: blind imitation of the clergy, ignorance, fanaticism, and the hegemony of the Church. Three of these obstacles were dominant in Muslim lands: despotism, disorder in internal affairs, and the kind of hopelessness which leads to apathy. The eighth obstacle, and greatest of all, was to be found both among us and in the West: this was the supposed conflict between certain outer aspects of Islam and a number of established scientific facts. Thanks to the enthusiastic and courageous efforts of scientific knowledge which, out of its love for humanity, has mobilized the truths which emerge from unbiased investigation and judgment, these obstacles have begun to be destroyed.
For sure the greatest obstacle, which causes us to suffer misery in the world and the Westerners to be deprived of happiness in the Hereafter, and which causes the sun of Islam to be eclipsed, is the supposed conflict between some outer aspects of Islam and certain established scientific facts. This is strange, to say the least, for how can something be in conflict with the very phenomenon that has given rise to it? For it is Islam which has shepherded the sciences, and even given birth to many of them. Yet the fallacy of conflict between Islam and science continues to prey on our minds, driving many to hopelessness and serving to close the doors of knowledge and civilization to many of the Muslim people. Those who imagine that Islam is in conflict with science labor under a misapprehension that is fuelled by fear. For example, there are some who think that by believing that the world is round, they will be in contravention of certain Islamic principles—despite the fact that the spherical form of the earth is a clearly established fact confirmed by geography, a discipline which deals with some of the most observable phenomena in the universe.
O friend, my aim in this book is as follows: I seek to show the straight path in Islam, proving false the doubts which its enemies have tried to spread about it, and showing how baseless are the whims and worries of those Muslims who have imprisoned themselves in the faulty understanding of some of the outer aspects of Islam. I also hope to be able to lend a helping hand to those loyal friends of Islam and the truth-seeking scholars who try to lead people to the truth, who strive for development in the Muslim world, and who exert themselves with the hope of victory on the straight path.
In short, my aim is to brush away the dust from Islam and to show it in its pristine brilliance.
If you were to ask why I strive in this way to reveal the truth of matters which have already been clarified and are commonly known, I would say in reply:
It is true that we all live in the same world and in the same era, but intellectually, many of us are still in the Middle Ages. Because of this, there are many obvious truths which are still unclear to them.
3 Shari‘a is the set of the rules and laws established by the Divine Book and the Prophetic Traditions (Sunna) to order human religious individual and collective life. (Trans.)
4 God allowed the jinn, whom He created with the ability to ascend and penetrate the heavens to listen to the conversations of the angels, to grasp some bits of information from their conversations before the advent of His Last Messenger, Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings. So, they ascended the heavens and were able to obtain some information from the angels’ conversations, and whispered this to those among the human beings who were in contact with them. Many seers had predicted the coming of Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings. However, just prior to his advent, God shut the gates of the heavens to the jinn completely. When they tried to gain entry into the heavens, they found them protected by strong guards who hurled missiles at them. Now if any of the jinn are able to grasp something, they are pursued (and destroyed) by a shooting star dispatched by the angels on guard there. See, the Qur’an, 67: 5; 72: 8–10. (Trans.)