Reflections of Imam Bediuzzaman’s Taqwa
By Mohammed Asim Alavi
‘……O you who have believed, fear Allah as He should be feared and do not die except as Muslims…..’(Surah Ale Imran: 102)
In the life of a person moulded with Taqwa (Piety) extraordinary events occur, which are incomprehensible by ordinary people. It was during the First World War, when the Ottoman army was facing the invading Russians in the Eastern Front, Imam Bediuzzaman raised a volunteer force of his disciples to encounter the enemy at the battle front. They fought with stunningly exceptional heroism. In the war the Armenians actively collaborated with the Russians and committed immeasurable crimes against innocent people slaughtering women, children and elderly Muslim subjects of the Ottoman Empire. An incident in the life of Imam Bediuzzaman in the year 1916, which depicts his highest level of Taqwa is recorded by Sukran Vahide as follows:
‘When the Armenians massacre the Muslim women and children as well as the men, Armenian children would sometimes be killed in retaliation. But to a degree Bediuzzaman was able to put a stop to this barbaric practice through his exemplary true Islamic conduct and was able to bring some humanity to the chaos of war. One time thousands of Armenian women and children had been gathered together in the place where Bediuzzaman was. He issued an order that none of them were to be touched. Then later he released them and they returned to their families in Russian-held territories. The Armenians were so impressed at this example of Muslim morality that from then on they themselves refrained from slaughtering Muslim children. In this way, many innocent lives were saved’
Taqwa breeds exceptional human virtues in a person. These virtues are fundamental pre-requisites for success in life.
Risale Nur has defined Taqwa in a beautiful manner. It says: ‘Taqwa is to abstain from prohibitions and giving up of sinful acts and evils….. in the present era which is characterized by destruction of moral and spiritual values and dominance of egotism, the unleashing of lust from its roots, Taqwa becomes a very essential fundamental of life, nay it is the centre of such a fundamental. It occupies an extremely higher position due to its ability to deter the spread of evil and major sins among people, as prevention of evil takes precedence over promotion of virtue. This is a firm principle applicable to all times’. 
Coming back to the incident quoted above, of Imam Bediuzzaman’s should not be interpreted in a secular sense as a calculated manoeuvre in expectation of reciprocation by the Armenians. Such an interpretation is totally wrong and unacceptable in this context, as it’s a normal occurrence in the life of pious Muslims in war situations. A person with Taqwa would never engage in an act forbidden by Allah and His Prophet. Islamic history possesses rich numbers of such incidents. Imam Bediuzzaman did simply discharge the requirement of his Taqwa and the Armenian reciprocation was only its natural consequence. This is a clear proof of Islam conquering the hearts and minds of people before conquering their lands.
We often read the story of an elderly woman, who had adopted the habit of pouring heaps of garbage at our beloved Prophet (PBUH) in a street of Makkah. One day, when he found the usual garbage did not fall on him, the baffled Prophet (PBUH) enquired from people around on the situation of the woman. On being informed that she had fallen sick, he rushed to visit her, which resulted in her accepting Islam. Indeed, the intention of the ‘mercy to mankind’ (Rahmatun Lil Aalameen) was very clear. It was his highest level of Taqwa that pushed him to visit her.
Hence, Imam Bediuzzaman’s behaviour with the Armenians should be viewed on the basis of the above incident of our beloved Prophet (PBUH).
(Excerpt from the author’s book, ‘The Positive Warrior’- Thrilling Leadership Lessons from the Life of Imam Bediuzzaman Said Nursi)
 ‘Bediuzzaman Said Nursi’,- Sukran Vahide, pp 128
 Seeratun Zatiyatun(Biography of Imam Bediuzzaman – Arabic) P 314, compiled by Ustaz Ihsan Qasim Assalihi