The twelfth hope


I was once being held in the district of Barla in the province of Isparta in distressing captivity under the guise of exile. I was in an extremely wretched state, suffering both illness and old age, and continuous separation from home, and in a village alone with no one, banned from all company and communication. Then, out of His perfect Mercy, God Almighty bestowed a light on me regarding the subtle points and mysteries of the wise Qur’an, which was a means of consolation for me. With it, I tried to forget my pitiful, grievous, sorrowful state.

I was able to forget my native land, my friends and relatives, but alas, there was one person I could not forget. That was Abdurrahman, who was both my nephew, although more like a son to me, and my most self-sacrificing student and most courageous friend. He had parted from me six or seven years before. He did not know where I was and thus he could not hasten to help or console me, nor did I know his situation so that I could correspond with him and confide in him. In that old age of mine, I was in need of someone faithful and self-sacrificing like him.

Then all unexpectedly, someone gave me a letter. I opened it and saw it was from Abdurrahman; it was a letter that showed his true nature. Exhibiting three manifest instances of wonder-working, part of which has been included in the Twenty-Seventh Letter.12 It made me weep much; indeed, it still makes me weep. In the letter, the late Abdurrahman wrote earnestly and sincerely that he hated the pleasures of the world and that his greatest desire was to reach me and serve me in my old age just as I had taken care of him when he was a child. He also desired to help me with his powerful pen in publicizing the truths of the Qur’an, my true duty in this world. He even wrote, “Send me twenty or thirty treatises and I’ll transcribe twenty or thirty copies of each and get others to transcribe them.”

His letter afforded me great hope in respect of my affairs. Thinking that I had found a daring student with the intelligence of a genius, one who would serve me more faithfully and closely than a real (biological) son, I forgot my painful captivity, loneliness, separation from home, and old age.

Before writing that letter, he had a copy of the Tenth Word, which is about belief in the Hereafter. It was as if the treatise had been a remedy for him, curing all the spiritual wounds he had received during those six or seven years. He then wrote the letter to me as if he were anticipating his death with a truly strong and radiant belief. While I was once again thinking of spending a happy life with Abdurrahman, one or two months later I suddenly received news of his death. I was so shaken that five years later I am still under its effect. It caused a great sense of separation, grief, and sorrow, ten times exceeding that of the painful captivity, loneliness, separation, old age, and illness I was then suffering. I considered that half of my private world had died with the death of my mother, and now with Abdurrahman’s death, I felt that the other half died. My ties with the world were now completely severed. For if he had lived, he could have been both a powerful help in my duties that pertain to the Hereafter, and a worthy successor to fill my place after me, as well as a self-sacrificing friend and a means of consolation in this world. He would have been my most intelligent student and companion, and a most trustworthy patron and protector of the Risale-i Nur.

From the viewpoint of being human, such losses are extremely painful and ravaging for people like me. It is true that, outwardly, I was trying to tolerate it, but in my spirit a fierce storm was raging. If from time to time the solace that came from the Qur’an’s light had not been able to provide consolation for me, I would not have been able to bear it. At that time I used to go out alone to wander in the mountains and valleys of Barla. I sat in lonely places and, while surrounded by sorrows, pictures of the happy life I had spent in the past with my faithful students like Abdurrahman passed through my imagination like film scenes, and the grief caused by old age and exile broke my resistance. Suddenly, the meaning of the sacred verse, Everything is perishable (and so perishing) except His “Face” (His eternal Self, and what is done in seeking His good pleasure). His alone is judgment and authority, and to Him you are being brought back (28: 88), was unfolded to me. It made me utter, “O Everlasting One, You are the Everlasting! O Everlasting One, You are the Everlasting!” and gave me true consolation.

Then, as described in the treatise, the Stairway of the Sunna (the Eleventh Gleam), while in that sorrowful state in that desolate valley, inspired by this sacred verse, I saw myself at the head of three vast corpses:

I saw myself as a gravestone at the grave of the fifty-five dead Saids who were buried during the fifty-five years of my life.

The second corpse was the vast corpse of all my fellow human beings who had died since the time of Adam, peace be upon him, and who had been buried in the grave of the past. I saw myself as a tiny living creature like an ant moving on the face of this century, which is like the headstone of that grave.

The third corpse was the whole world which, as announced in the verse above, will one day die like human beings and the worlds that travel through it every year. This was embodied in my imagination.

Then the verse, Still, if they turn away from you, say: “God is sufficient for me; there is no deity but He. In Him have I put my trust, and He is the Lord of the Supreme Throne” (9: 129), came to my aid and with its true solace and inextinguishable light, it utterly removed that terrifying vision which arose from my sorrow at Abdurrahman’s death. It reminded me: Since God Almighty exists, He is sufficient in place of everything else. Since He is Everlasting, He is surely sufficient. A single instance of His Grace substitutes for the whole world. And one manifestation of His Light gives life to the three vast corpses mentioned above, showing that they are not corpses, but rather they have completed their duties and have left for other worlds. As this truth has been explained in the Third Gleam, here I will only say that the two repetitions of the phrase, “O Everlasting One, You are the Everlasting! O Everlasting One, You are the Everlasting!” which indicates the meaning of Everything is perishable (and so perishing) save His “Face” (to the end of the verse), saved me from that most painful, sorrowful state. It was as follows:

The first time I uttered “O Everlasting One, You are the Everlasting!”, like a surgical operation it began to cure the endless spiritual wounds caused by the passing of the world and the numerous friends to whom I was attached in this world, and by the severance of my bonds with them.

The second utterance of the phrase “O Everlasting One, You are the Everlasting!” was both an ointment and medication for all those innumerable wounds. It gave me the thought: “You are everlasting. Let those who depart do so; You are sufficient for me. Since You are everlasting, one manifestation of Your Mercy is sufficient in the place of all things which are decaying. Since You exist, for one who is aware of one’s connection with You through belief in Your Existence, and who acts in accordance with that connection in adherence to Islam, everything exists. Transience and decay, and death and departure are a veil, a renewal; they are like traveling through different realms.” Thinking this, my burning, exile-stricken, sad, painful, dark, and terrifying mood changed into a happy, joyful, pleasurable, luminous, lovable, companionable state. My tongue and heart—indeed, through the tongue of their disposition, each particle of my being—exclaimed, “All praise be to God!”

One thousandth of that manifestation of mercy is this: I returned to Barla from that valley where I suffered sorrows and where I was in a melancholy state of mind. I saw that a young man called Kuleönlü Mustafa had come to ask me a few questions concerning the five daily Prayers and ablutions. Although I was not accepting visitors at that time, as if through a presentiment my spirit perceived his sincerity of spirit and the future valuable services he would perform for the Risale-i Nur,13 I did not turn him away and accepted him.14 It later became clear that God Almighty had sent me Mustafa as an example (of future students of the Risale-i Nur) in place of Abdurrahman as a worthy successor who would completely fulfill the duty of a true heir in the work of the Risale-i Nur, as though saying, “I took one Abdurrahman from you, but in return I will give you thirty Abdurrahmans like the Mustafa you see, who will be both students, and nephews, and son-like companions, and brothers, and self-sacrificing friends in this duty for the Religion.”

All praise be to God, He gave me thirty Abdurrahmans. So I told myself, “O weeping heart! Since you have seen this example and through it He has healed the most grave of your spiritual wounds, you should be convinced that He will heal all the rest of the wounds that afflict you.”

And so, my elderly brothers and sisters who, like me, have lost a child or relative they love much during their old age, and who have to bear the intense sorrows of separation together with the burdens of old age! You have understood that while I was in a much more severe situation than yours, a single verse of the Qur’an healed it. So, in the sacred pharmacy of the wise Qur’an, there must certainly be remedies to heal all your afflictions. If you have recourse to it through belief and apply those remedies through regular worship, the heavy burdens of your old age and your sorrows will be greatly lightened.

The reason why this peace has been written relatively longer is to seek more prayers for Abdurrahman; let it not weary you. Also, what I pursue in showing my most painful and sordid wound in an extremely grievous and unpleasant way is to demonstrate what an extraordinary remedy and brilliant light is the sacred antidote of the wise Qur’an.

Bediuzzaman Said Nursi

12  This contains the communications between Said Nursi and the students of the Risale-i Nur and which was published as separate books under the names of Barla Lahikası (“Supplements of Barla”), Kastamonu Lahikası (“Supplements of Kastamonu”), and Emirdağ Lahikası (“Supplements of Emirdağ”). (Tr.)

13 By transcribing more than seven hundred copies of parts of the Risale-i Nur with his fine pen, Mustafa’s younger brother, Küçük Ali, not only became an Abdurrahman but also trained many other Abdurrahmans.

14 He truly demonstrated that he was not only worthy of being accepted, but also worthy of the future.