• Q and A

    Questions and Answers from the Risale-i Nur Collection
  • 1

Do You Have Any Advice to Atheists Who Would Like to Live However They Wish?


Left without a support on which to build his misguidance and atheism the representative of the misguided reveals his real intention, saying:


The real nature of atheism

‘Since I seek the pleasure and happiness of the worldly life, advancement in civilization and perfection of art in denial of God, not heeding the Hereafter, love of the world, being free to live however I wish and self-assertiveness, I have drawn most people onto this path through the help of Satan, and continue to do so.’


I say in the name of the Qur’an:

O helpless man! Come to yourself! Do not listen to the representative of the misguided. If you listen to him, you will suffer such a great loss that imagining it causes the spirit, mind and heart to shudder. There are two paths before you:


Two paths before man

One is the path to which the representative of the misguided points and it is a path full of dangers.

The other is the one which the wise Qur’an describes and it is a path that brings happiness. You have already seen many comparisons between these two paths in The Words, primarily in the first nine short ones. Now heed only one among a thousand, which befits the occasion.

The path of misguidance, and associating partners with God and of dissipation and transgression of Divine Commands, causes man to fall to bottomless depths of degradation, and loads an unbearable burden onto his weak back and his heart with boundless sorrows. For if a man does not recognize Almighty God and put his trust in Him, he becomes like an extremely weak and impotent and an infinitely poor and destitute animal, a mortal afflicted with pains and grieves and subject to countless calamities. Throughout his life he suffers incessantly from separations from the things which he loves and has had connections with, and leaving his friends and relatives remaining in life in pains of separation, he enters into the dark depths of the grave alone.

Also, he struggles in vain, with a limited will, little power, a short life-span and a dull mind, against infinite pains and ambitions. He strives to realize his countless desires and goals without any considerable result. While he is unable to bear the burden of his own being, he loads his miserable mind and back with the tremendous burden of the world. Before going to Hell, he suffers the torments of Hell.

In order to be able to endure that sort of painful spiritual torment, a misguided one leads himself to the drunkenness of heedlessness as some sort of anesthesia. However, when he has approached the grave, he begins to feel it most acutely. For since he has refused to become a true servant to Almighty God, he supposes himself to be the owner of his self. Whereas he is unable to govern his being in this tumultuous world with his limited free will and insignificant power and encounters numerous enemies from harmful microbes to earthquakes ready to attack him. In painful fear and terror he looks to the door of the grave, which always appears terrifying to him.

Furthermore, on account of being human, he is related to humankind and the whole of the world. But since he does not believe the world and mankind to be at the disposal of the One Who is All-Wise, All-Knowing, All-Powerful, All-Compassion-ate, and All-Munificent, and attributes their existence and lives to chance and nature, the fearful events of the world and the conditions and experiences of mankind always trouble him. Together with his own pains, he also suffers from the troubles of other creatures. The convulsions, earthquakes, plagues, calamities, deaths and famines, which visit the world, inflict upon him unbearable torments.

A man in this position does not deserve mercy and affection for it is himself who throws himself into such a terrible state. As is pointed out in The Eighth Word, comparing the states of the two brothers who happened to fall into wells, if a man who, not content with an agreeable and lawful enjoyment and entertainment in a fine banquet among honest friends in a beautiful garden, has become drunk with foul wine for the sake of a disagreeable pleasure, imagines himself to be surrounded by wild beasts in a dirty place on a winter day and begins to tremble and cry in fear, he will not deserve pity. For he is imagining his honest friends to be wild beasts and insulting them, and supposing the delicious foods as foul and the clean, fine plates and bowls as worthless, dirty stones, is breaking whatever he touches, and judging the invaluable meaningful books which have been brought to read and study to be ordinary meaningless collections of sheets, is tearing them up and throwing them around. Rather than compassion and pity, such a man deserves punishment.

Similarly, since through the drunkenness of unbelief and insanity of misguidance arising from the abuse of will-power, a man asserts that the All-Wise Maker’s guest-house of the world is a plaything of chance and nature, and that the transference of beings to the world of the Unseen after each has completed its duty of refreshing the manifestations of the Divine Names is going into absolute non-existence; since he judges the glorifications of beings and their recitations of the Divine Names to be outcries of deaths and eternal separations, and those sheets of creatures which are each a missive of the Eternally Besought-of-All to be confused, meaningless collections; since he sees the door of the grave, which is opened on the world of mercy, as the opening of a dark world of non-existence and death (while it is in fact an invitation to re-union with friends and beloved ones), as absolute separation from all friends and beloved ones; he makes himself subject to alterable and painful torment, and since he denies, rejects and insults both creatures and the Divine Names and His inscriptions and missives, he in no way deserves pity and compassion, rather he deserves a severe punishment.


Do science and technology compensate for the darkness of death?

So, O unfortunate people of misguidance and dissipation! Which progress and evolution of yours and which sciences, which technology and civilization of yours can compensate for such a terrible loss and collapse and crushing hopelessness? Where can you find the true consolation which the human spirit needs first of all and most urgently? What nature, what causality and whatever else on which you rely and to which you attribute the works of God and His bounties and favors, and what discoveries and inventions of yours and what idols and fetishes, can save you from the darkness of death, which you suppose to be eternal extinction, and take you across the boundaries of the intermediate world of the grave and the place of the Resurrection and Gathering and over the Bridge to the Abode of Eternal Happiness?

Whereas, since you are unable to close the door of the grave, you are bound to traverse, to tread this way which reaches the One under Whose command and at Whose disposal are all those worlds and abodes.


The potential of loving misspent

Also, O unfortunate, misguided and heedless people! Since you use unlawfully in love of your selves and the world, the potential of loving and knowing which was given to you to know and love God and His Attributes and Names, and your body and faculties granted to you to worship and thank Him, you are suffering the punishment which you deserve. Since you assign to your selves the love which must be felt for Almighty God, you are suffering the troubles which your selves cause you. You do not provide a true peace and happiness for that object of your adoration, which is your carnal self. Since you do not submit it to the Absolutely Powerful One, the True Beloved One, with utmost trust in Him, you always suffer pains. Since you assign to the world the love belonging to the Names and Attributes of Almighty God, and attribute the works of His art to causality and nature, you are getting your deserts. The things among which you share out your love either leave you without saying good-bye or do not recognize you. Even if they recognize you, they do not love you. Even if they love you, they give you no benefit. You suffer from incessant separations and deaths without hope of re-union.

This is the reality of what the misguided call happiness of life and human perfection and beauties of civilization and pleasures of freedom. Dissipation and drunkenness are a veil which may temporarily keep them from feeling those sufferings and pains.

As for the light-diffusing highway of the Qur’an, it heals the wounds with which the misguided are afflicted, with the truths of belief, and disperses all the darkness enveloping them. It closes up all the doors of misguidance and wasting.


How do man’s essential weakness and destitution the source of his real power and richness?

The way of the Qur’an removes the weakness and impotence of man and his poverty and neediness through trust in an All-Powerful One of Compassion. In this way man submits the burden of his being and life to His Power and Mercy and rather than being loaded with that burden, he makes his self and life a mount for himself. This way teaches him that he is not a speaking animal but a true human being and a welcomed guest of the All-Merciful One. Showing the world as a guest-house of the All-Merciful One and the creatures in it as the mirrors of the Divine Names and ever-recruited missives of the Eternally Besought-of-All, it heals perfectly the wounds caused by the transience of the world, decay of things and love of mortals, and saves man from the darkness of whims and fancies.

The way of the Qur’an shows life to be the prelude to re-union with the friends and beloved ones who have already gone to the other world, and thereby heals the wounds of death, which the misguided regard as an eternal separation. It establishes that that separation is in reality the re-union itself.

By demonstrating that the grave is a door opened on the world of mercy, the abode of happiness, the gardens of Paradise and the luminous realm of the All-Merciful One, the way of the Qur’an removes the greatest fear of mankind and shows the journeying in the intermediate world which is, in appearance, most depressing and troublesome, to be most pleasant and exhilarating. It demonstrates that the grave is not like a dragon’s mouth but a door opened on the gardens of Divine Mercy.

It says to the believer: ‘Seeing that you have a most limited will-power, then leave your affairs to the universal Will of your Owner. If you have a slight, insignificant power, then rely on the Power of the Absolutely Powerful One. If you have a short life, consider the eternal life. If you have a dull mind, enter in the sun of the Qur’an. Look at it with the light of belief so that in place of your mind, which gives light like a firefly, each of the Qur’an’s verses gives you light like a star.

If you have endless ambitions and pains, boundless rewards and an infinite mercy are awaiting you.


The world is not the place where all aims and desires can be fulfilled

If you cherish limitless desires and aims, do not be anxious for them. The world is not the place where you can realize all of them. You can realize them in another realm, and the One Who has given them to you is One other than you.’

It also says: “O man! You do not own yourself. You are one owned by One infinitely Powerful and an infinitely Compassionate One of Majesty. That being so, do not give yourself trouble by loading your being and life onto yourself, for the One Who has given you your life is He, and the One Who governs it is again He.

“Then the world has an Owner, Who is the All-Wise and the All-Knowing. Whatever He does, He does it out of compassion. Even His wrath is based on His Compassion in many respects. You are His guest in His world, so do not interfere with what is beyond the realm of your power and responsibility.

“Next, living beings like men and animals are not free, left to themselves. They are officials charged with certain duties, and controlled and favored by an All-Compassionate Ruler, Who has preferred them over most of His creatures. He is much more compassionate towards them than you.

“Furthermore, all things and events from microbes to catastrophes like plagues, floods, droughts and earthquakes which, in appearance, are hostile to you, are controlled and governed by that All-Compassionate Ruler. He is the All-Wise, doing nothing useless, and the All-Compassionate, in every act of Whom is a kind of grace.”


This world is transient but the necessities of the afterlife are obtained in it.

It adds: “This world is transient but the necessities of the afterlife are obtained in it. It is doomed to decay but it yields everlasting fruits and displays the manifestations of the Eternal Names of a Permanent One. In return for its few pleasures it causes one to suffer many pains and afflictions but the favors of the All-Merciful, All-Compassionate One are true and lasting pleasures, and its pains are the cause of obtaining many spiritual rewards. Since the sphere of the lawful is sufficient for the enjoyment and pleasures of the spirit, heart and carnal self, do not enter the sphere of the unlawful: any illicit pleasure results in numerous pains. It also causes one to lose the favors of the All-Merciful One, which are pure, lasting pleasures.

“In the way of misguidance man falls so low that no trend of philosophy, nor scientific development, no human civilization and progress can pull him up out of that deep pit of darkness. Through belief and righteous deeds, the wise Qur’an takes man out of that lowest of the low and raises him to the highest of the high. It fills up that deep pit with the steps of spiritual progress and the means of spiritual perfection.

“The way of the Qur’an facilitates man’s long, troubling and stormy journeying in the direction of eternity. It shows him the means with which to traverse in a day the distance which would normally take him fifty thousand years to cover.

“Also, by enabling man to know the majestic Being, Who is the King of Eternity, uncontained by time and space, it honors him with the position of being a dutiful servant and guest of His, and secures him an easy and comfortable journeying through the world and the mansions of the intermediate world of the grave and the Hereafter. Just as a righteous, dutiful official of a king travels in his domain in security with fast vehicles of transport like planes or trains or ships and crosses the boundaries of its provinces without encountering any difficulty, so too a man who is connected with the Eternal King through belief and shows his obedience to Him through righteous deeds, travels through the mansions, and across the boundaries, of the world and the realms of the grave and the Hereafter with the speed of lightning or Buraq, the mount of Paradise, and finds eternal happiness. The Qur’an proves the truth of this decisively and purified religious scholars and saints can see it clearly.”

The Qur’an also says: O believer! Do not use your infinite capacity of loving in favor of your carnal self, which is ugly, defective and evil, and harmful to you. Do not adore it and do not follow its desires and fancies as if it were an object of worship. Use the infinite capacity of loving given to you in favor of the One worthy of infinite love, Who does you infinite good and will make you infinitely happy in the future, Who through His favors makes happy those with whom you have connections and whose happiness pleases you; One with infinite perfection and infinitely sacred, transcendent, pure, perfect and undecaying beauty, Whose every Name radiates numerous lights of beauty and grace and the beauty of Whose Mercy and the mercy in Whose Beauty are displayed in Paradise, and Whose Beauty and Perfection all the beauty, grace and perfection in the universe which are lovable, point to and are signs of: love Him, and make Him the sole object of your worship.


Do not use your infinite capacity of loving in loving impermanent beings.

Furthermore it says: O man! Do not use your infinite capacity of loving, which has in fact been given to you to love His Names and Attributes, in loving impermanent beings. For whatever or whoever other than Him is mortal. Whereas the Divine Beautiful Names manifested on mortals are permanent and constant. Each of those Names and Attributes has thousands of degrees of favoring and thousands of levels of perfection and love. Consider, for example, the Name the All-Merciful: Paradise is a single manifestation of it, and the eternal happiness, a single radiance, and all the provisions and bounties bestowed on creatures in the world are a ‘drop’ of it.

In order to see in the language of the Qur’an the difference between the way of the Qur’an and that of the misguided, which we have so far been trying to elaborate, consider the verses,

Surely, We have created man in the fairest form and the best pattern of creation. Then We have returned him to the lowest of the low, except those who believe and do righteous deeds.

and the verse which points to the end of the misguided,

Neither the heavens nor the earth wept over their destruction.

and see in what elevated and miraculous style they express the difference!

The verse explicitly states that the heavens and the earth do not weep over the death of the misguided. Therefore, it implies that when a believer dies, the heavens and the earth shed tears over them.

Since the misguided people do not know the meaning of the heavens and the earth and do not recognize their Maker, and since they deny their duties and reduce their value, and thereby insult them and show ‘hostility’ toward them, when they die, the heavens and the earth do not weep over them, rather they are pleased with their death. But they weep over the death of believers because the believers know the duties of the heavens and the earth and affirm the reality they bear. Through belief they know the meaning they have and admit: how beautifully they have been created! how well they perform their duties! The believers acknowledge their value and pay them their due respect. They love them and the Names to which they are mirrors in the name of Almighty God. It is for this reason that the heavens and the earth are grieved for their death.


This article has been adapted from Risale- i Nur Collection.