• Said Nursi

    All about Bediuzzaman
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Bediüzzaman Said Nursi’s life story



In the Ottoman period


Said Nursi was born in Nurs, Bitlis, in 1877, eastern Anatolia, and educated by the district’s best scholars, completing the normal madrasa (traditional religious school) education when he was fourteen. He soon surpassed his teachers and earned the title Bediüzzaman (Wonder of the Age). Believing that modern science and logic was the way of the future, he advocated teaching religious sciences in secular schools and modern sciences in religious schools.

Following the uprising on April 13, 1909, he was one of the many scholars indiscriminately arrested and court-martialed for inciting the unrest. However, as he managed to restore some calm, he was acquitted. Returning to eastern Anatolia, he taught that Islam allowed freedom in government and rejected dictatorship. He later collected these speeches in Munazarat (The Discussions).

In 1911, while preaching in Damascus’ Umayyad mosque, he stated that Muslims were being defeated due to the growth of despair, the loss of truthfulness in social and political life, love of belligerence, ignoring bonds among believers, pervasive despotism, and egocentricity. He then offered his cure: hope, truthfulness, trustworthiness, mutual love, consultation, solidarity, and freedom in accordance with Islam. Building on these, he asserted that the true civilization contained in Islam would dominate the world.

Returning to Istanbul to seek the new Sultan’s support for a university in Van, eastern Anatolia, he finally secured sufficient funds—19,000 gold liras. Unfortunately, World War I broke out before the university could be completed.

During World War I, Said Nursi commanded a volunteers’ regiment on the Caucasian front and in eastern Anatolia. His heroism was admired by the commanders. He also dictated (to his students) his famous introduction to the Qur’anic commentary, Isharat al-I’jaz (Signs of Miraculousness), during the war.

Eventually captured, he spent over two years in a prisoners’ camp in Kostroma, northwestern Russia. Amid the Russian revolution, Said Nursi escaped and returned to Istanbul. After receiving a medal and rejecting all government appointments, he joined the Dar al-Hikmat al-Islamiya (the religious academy) on the army’s recommendation. When imperial Europe invaded the collapsed Ottoman State to grab what it could, Said Nursi protested against the British presence in Istanbul and the invasion of Turkey.

In 1922, after receiving eighteen official invitations, Said Nursi went to Ankara and was given an audience at the Grand National Assembly. On January 19, 1923, he delivered an influential address to the Assembly emphasizing the importance of observing religious obligations. Eight months later he moved to Van and devoted himself to prayer and teaching.