In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.


When My servants question you about Me, (tell them) I am surely near. I answer the call of the caller when he calls to Me. (2:186)

Call upon Me and I will answer you. (40:60)

My Lord would not care for you, were it not for your prayer. (25:77)


KNOW, O ONE WHO CLAIMS that his or her prayers are not answered. Prayer (calling to God, supplication) is a type of worship, and the fruit of worship is given in the Hereafter. The worldly results expected from worship are the occasions for it. Sunset is the occasion for the evening prayer, and a solar eclipse (not its ending) is the reason for the eclipse prayer. Drought is the occasion for the prayer of asking God for rain, which was not ordered so that rain would come. It is another kind of worship done purely to obtain His good pleasure, although it is necessary to continue it until rain comes. When rain comes, its appointed time ends.

When wrongdoers and misfortune assault Muslims, another kind of prayer should be offered until these conditions cease. If this is possible, it is light upon light. If not, do not say that the prayer remains unanswered; rather, say that its time has not ended yet. God promises to answer prayer in: Call upon Me and I will answer you (40:60), but answering does not mean accepting it and giving what is asked. Every prayer is answered, but giving what is prayed for depends on Divine Wisdom.

For example, you ask your doctor for some medicine. He or she gives you what you want, something better, or nothing at all, for it might harm you. Since prayer is said to achieve a worldly aim, we think it has not been accepted when what we prayed for does not happen. For instance, we think that praying for rain is done so that rain may come. But if we do it for that purpose (instead of for God’s sake), it is not accepted.

KNOW, O FRIEND, that revolutions open a deep rift between two sides (in conflict). A bridge is required to pass from one side to the other. Such bridges are opened, based on the nature of revolutions and the rifts. Sleep is a kind of bridge between this world and the World of Symbols or Immaterial Forms. The Intermediate World is a bridge between the world and the Hereafter. Spring is a bridge between winter and summer. After the Resurrection, since there will be many mighty revolutions, the bridges will be extremely strange, curved, and amazing.

KNOW, O FRIEND, that in such frequently mentioned verses as: Unto Him is your return (6:60); Unto Him you are returning (2:28); to Him is the homecoming (5:18), and unto Him is the return (13:36), in addition to a threat for the rebellious, there is good news and consolation. They tell humanity that death and decay, as well as transience  and separation from the world, are doors opening onto the King of Eternity’s Presence. This good news saves the heart from the terrible pain of thinking of eternal separation from what is loved. Consider the hellish state that unbelief causes: According to what the Almighty decrees: “I treat My servant in the way he thinks of Me.” Since unbelievers suppose death to be an eternal extinction and separation, their supposition becomes a painful torment for them.

Pleasure arising from the conviction of meeting with God is superior to that of Paradise. But above that is the even greater pleasure attained by God’s eternal approval and seeing Him in Paradise free of any quantitative and qualitative dimension. The physically hellish state of a sinful believer in the world is like a pleasure of Paradise compared to the spiritually hellish state of an unbeliever who does not recognize the Creator.

Even if there were no proofs for or means to obtain eternal life, the supplications of the Eternal, Beloved One’s beloved, behind whom all Prophets, saints, and believers stand in lines in that supreme prayer, would suffice as a proof and means. Could the greatest, most extraordinary, and perfect beauty be marred by the greatest ugliness and most bizarre defect— that the One Who hears and meets His most secret creatures’ most secret entreaty does not hear and accept the loudest voice rising from Earth to God’s Supreme Throne, the most pleasant supplication, the most comprehensive prayer for meeting the greatest and most urgent needs? No, for He is the All-Hearing, All-Knowing. The Almighty’s acceptance of His Messenger’s entreaty is the widest, most inclusive dimension of the Messenger’s intercession, and his being a mercy for creation.

KNOW, O FRIEND, that heedless people discuss Destiny and are occupied with human free will and the creation of human deeds. But they deny Destiny and attribute things and events to chance, supposing themselves independent agents and sharing what belongs to God and His works among other people and material causes. An unbelieving or heedless self denies that God creates and administers things and events, even if they evidently confirm Him. A believing self that knows God attributes all things and events to Him.

According to those with sufficient knowledge of God and conscious of His constant supervision, these two theological issues—Destiny and human free will—mark the final point of belief in and reliance on God, the highest degree of belief in God’s Unity and of being a good Muslim. They serve as a veil between those who are aware and those who, due to their heedlessness, are far from the truth. Believers who advance in humility and servanthood, who deny free will and attribute everything to God, are harmless, for they are lost in or intoxicated with Divine love and Unity. In this case, issues of denial (of human free will) or its negation and confirmation no longer concern theology; rather, they become issues pertaining to a believer’s state arising from one’s love and belief.

KNOW, O FRIEND, that humility sometimes contradicts one’s proclaiming God’s blessings upon oneself, for doing so sometimes gives rise to pride and arrogance. Thus, avoid exaggeration and excessive description. The middle way in one’s proclaiming God’s blessings on him or her is as follows: Every blessing has two aspects. The first pertains to the one on whom God has bestowed it. This blessing distinguishes one, which leads to pride and forgetting the One Who gave it. Such people arrogate it to themselves, attributing it to their abilities or merits, and become haughty.

The second pertains to the Bestower of blessings. The blessing displays His Munificence and Mercy, and testifies to His Names. By bestowing blessings, He pronounces “verses” of His manifestations. Humility should be shown in the first case, while it becomes ingratitude if shown in the second one. If one attributes all the blessings that have been bestowed to God and His Munificence, and feels no self-pride, one’s proclaiming God’s blessings on himself or herself becomes a praiseworthy gratitude.

O Yusuf Kishri.92 When you wear splendid clothes, Said says to you: “How beautiful you are.” You say: “Beauty belongs to the clothes, not to me.” This is both humility and a proclamation of blessing.

KNOW, O FRIEND, that when people are paid and share a reward, feelings of rivalry and jealousy that are quiet while working begin to stir. Since sharing the work and responsibility lightens the burden they bring and lessens the difficulty, the weak appreciate the strong and the lazy love the hardworking. This world is the place of working for the Hereafter, of fulfilling religious responsibilities to get the reward in the Hereafter. There must be no rivalry and jealousy, for such things point to insincerity and an impure intention. Such people, by looking for such worldly rewards as appreciation and praise, invalidate their good deeds, make others partners with God in giving reward, and are condemned by others.

KNOW, O FRIEND, that God’s use of His servant to perform a miracle (karama) differs from His gradually leading another servant to perdition by enabling him or her to do extraordinary things (istidraj). Karama is an act of God. Those through whom it is done know that it originates from the All-Glorified One, that the Almighty oversees and protects them, and wishes them good. This strengthens their certainty about and reliance on Him. Although they are sometimes conscious of the karama and how it takes place, it is safer for them and their belief that they remain unaware that God does this through them. For example, God may cause them to say unconsciously what occurs to another person’s heart or mind, or reveal scenes from the Unseen so that others may be guided to the Straight Path. These beloved servants are unaware of what God does for His servants through them.

As for istidraj, for example, some things from the Unseen may appear to heedless or misguided people. They even may perform miracles. Attributing these to their own power or ability, they grow in conceit, vanity, and distance from God. They say: “I have been given it only on account of knowledge I possess (28:78), and it happened because of my purity and my heart’s enlightenment.”

Those who are half-way in their spiritual journey confuse karama and istidraj. Those who have attained the highest ranks and realized self-annihilation are aware of the things belonging to the Unseen with their external senses, which function as if means for God to execute His decrees.93

Since their inner world is perfectly illumined and illuminates their outer world, they distinguish clearly between karama and istidraj.


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Said Nursi

92 Yusuf Kishri was a pupil of Said Nursi. (Tr.)

93 As is declared in a hadith qudsi recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari: “When I love a servant of Mine, I become his (her) ears with which he (she) hears, his (her) eyes with which he (she) sees, his (her) hands with which he (she) holds, and his (her) legs on which he (she) walks.