Many people who write on religion spend their lives authoring academic tomes or theological treatises that are so abstract or divorced from the reader’s life. Others offer simplistic and “feel-good” explanations that they are worse than useless and in fact might actually do great harm.
Said Nursi, however, makes the same points just as eloquently through simple parables and allegories from which everyone can benefit. Even more importantly, his solutions and explanations fit right into real life, regardless of our level of mental, spiritual, or cultural development. In that respect, he follows the style of the Qur’an, the final Divine Revelation addressed to every person, regardless of his or her particular era, culture, language, age, or level of intelligence. He also explains the most complicated matters of theology, answers many questions occupying the minds of modern people, and deduces many precious criteria to understand Islam with its basic principles, to think rightly and live a good life to please God and to serve all creation.
Although written during the second quarter of the twentieth century, the views expressed in this volume have not been rendered obsolete. As human nature does not change, all of us still have to answer the basic questions that make us human: Why am I here? Who created me? What path should I follow in life? What happens after I die? What is expected of me? Said Nursi answers these and other questions according to the precepts of Western logic and rationalism. There is no appeal to blind faith, religious tradition and authority, or the speculations and theories of earlier theologians and philosophers. Everything is based solely on the Qur’an and his own observations of nature and human life.
A final note: Every effort has been made in this book to allay the misperception that Islam is a male-dominated religion and for men only. This view has been popularized in the media and in academia. We would like to point out that no religion can be blamed for the misunderstandings of its followers. Islam teaches that Adam and Eve were created, sinned, and forgiven equally; that men and women are equal in God’s eyes; and that they are equal as regards their responsibilities and duties toward God and others. As God states in the Qur’an: I shall not allow to go to waste the deed of any doer among you, whether male or female. You are one from the other (3:195). However, in the interest of textual fidelity, most of the time only men are mentioned.
— The Editor