Said Nursi and the Republic of Turkey


Said Nursi’s life, both while writing the Risale-i Nur (1925-48) and until his death in 1960, consisted of arrest and imprisonment, surveillance, and harassment. But he persevered. In the words of a person familiar with such anti-Said Nursi activities: “Despite all we have done in the past 25 years, we have not been able to prevent Said Nursi from his activities.”

Following is a brief chronology of this phase of his life:


  • 1925-35: Kept under strict control at Barla, a very small, mountainous district, and forced to live alone.
  • 1935: Arrested and imprisoned for 11 months with 125 students during their trial at Eskisehir Criminal Court.
  • 1936-43: Following his release, began a 7-year exile in Kastamonu, where he spent the first 3 months at a police station. After that, he was transferred to a house opposite to the police station.
  • 1943: Arrested and tried with 126 students at the Denizli Criminal Court for having a treatise on God’s existence printed secretly in Istanbul. He taught the other prisoners and produced his Fruits from the Tree of Light and other works on small pieces of paper torn from paper bags, which were then smuggled out. He was acquitted and exiled to Emirdag.
  • 1948: Arrested in Emirdag with 53 students, and jailed for 20 months in Afyon prison. Now 72, Said Nursi endured solitary confinement in a cell with broken windows that were not fixed during the two harsh winters he stayed there. Sick and eventually poisoned, he had to serve his full term even though the Supreme Court had annulled his sentence. In 1956, they were declared innocent.
  • In 1950, the multiparty system was introduced and restrictions on religion were relaxed. Said Nursi was arrested only once after this, and was acquitted by a unanimous decision. Dying on March 23, 1960, he left this world with complete honor, dignity and victory, and bequeathed to the Muslim world his works, which remain highly influential and a lighthouse guiding us on our way back to God.