Said Nursi’s concept of science


Said Nursi used religious and scientific terminology together, as indicated by his usage of ulum-u musbete (positive sciences). Given this, and his emphasis on contemporary scientific achievements, we can say that he accepted the existence of positive and metaphysical sciences. He states that the “Risale-i Nur uses demonstrative proof,” which for him is the scientific method, and thus addresses the human mind convincingly. He argues that all phenomena in the universe give as much certainty for the truths of belief as science gives for any established fact. He accepted and then tried to modify the prevalent concept of science by joining religious and modern scientific knowledge, and then justifying this theoretically:


The light of the conscience is religious sciences (ulum-u diniye). The light of the mind is modern sciences (funun-u medeniye). Combining both manifests the truth. The student’s skills develop further with these two (sciences). When they are separated, the former breeds superstition and the latter breeds corruption and skepticism.6


Classical Muslim scholars joined scientific and religious knowledge during the Islamic world’s Golden Age (ninth to mid-thirteenth centuries). Although Said Nursi stated that Islamic metaphysics must remain Islamic, he approved of such attempts in being related to certain religious issues, with the result that the scientific theory is believed to be part of the religion. He stressed that the knowledge of these two fields must not be mixed, and that great care must be taken when using scientific theories to interpret religious issues.


6 “Munazarat,” in Ibid., 2:1956.