The Risale-i Nur and The Staff of Moses
Withdrawing from public life completely, Said Nursi devoted himself to defending and explaining Islam’s main principles of thought, belief, worship, morality, and way of life through writing. His books are known as the Risale-i Nur (“The Treatises of Light”). It consists of 130 parts, which were collected in some ten or so books. In his Risale-i Nur, considered a classic of Turkish religious literature, he identified the cause of the Muslim world’s decline: the weakening of belief’s foundations. When joined with the unceasing attacks of scientific materialism, atheism, and material progress, he saw a great cloud of denial and doubt hovering over the Muslim world. To neutralize it, he undertook a “jihad of the word with the diamond principles of Islam” designed to strengthen—even save—belief by reconstructing Islam from its foundations of belief.
The Risale-i Nur explains Islam and belief to modern people in their own terms and according to their own worldview. Analyzing both belief and unbelief, he used clearly reasoned arguments to prove that the Qur’anic conception of God and His Unity, Prophethood and bodily resurrection, and all others are the only rational explanations for existence, humanity, and the universe.
Using easily understood stories, comparisons, and explanations, Said Nursi produced categorical proofs showing that modern scientific discoveries actually support and reinforce the truths of the Religion. He used the Qur’anic methodology of addressing each person’s intellect, and all inner and outer facilities, to encourage people to study the universe and its functioning in order to understand creation’s true nature and purposes. This, in turn, leads to learning the One Creator’s Attributes and their own duties as God’s servants.
Said Nursi explained the universe’s true nature as being a comprehensive sign of its Creator, and showed via clear arguments that all fundamentals of belief can be proven rationally when the universe is read in this way. As belief is then grounded in modern science, it remains firm and immune to materialism, naturalism, and atheism.
Such believers view all scientific and technological advances as merely uncovering the cosmos’ workings. Viewing the cosmos as a vast and infinitely complex and meaningful unified book describing its Single Author, all discoveries and advances reinforce, deepen, and expand belief. Thus their most fundamental needs—to worship God by recognizing His Most Beautiful Names and Attributes, and to obey His laws—are met.
Said Nursi himself describes the Risale-i Nur as a true commentary on the wise Qur’an that emanates from its miraculousness. In addition to proving the six pillars of Islamic belief through both concrete and rational arguments and producing the human conscience and basic nature as witnesses, especially through comparisons it vividly demonstrates the true natures of and difference between belief and unbelief. It demonstrates that in misguidance there is a sort of Hell in this world, while in belief there is a kind of Paradise. It shows the severe pains in sins, evil deeds, and forbidden pleasures, and proves that pleasures akin to those in Paradise are to be found in good deeds and virtues, and in the truths of the Religion.
‘Asa-yi Musa (“The Staff of Moses”) is a collection of his writings concerning many benefits of belief, worship, and good conduct, and the Existence and Unity of the Divine Being. Said Nursi named it after the Staff of Moses, which broke and destroyed the spells of the sorcerers as a miracle of Moses, upon him be peace (see, the Qur’an, 7:111–122; 20:57–70), because it breaks and destroys the “spells” of unbelief which especially scientific materialism casts on belief. It has two chapters. The first chapter is composed of fruits of belief, and the second one, which Said Nursi named The Treatise on God’s Final, Conclusive Argument, after the Qur’anic verse, Say, “(as against what you argue) God’s is the final, conclusive argument.” (6:149), contains decisive arguments for God’s Existence and Oneness, and other pillars of the Islamic faith.