The Tenth Premise



A speaker is not held accountable for all the meanings inferred by others from it. One is responsible for the meanings construed by others only if those meanings were intended. Otherwise, the speaker is not called to account. A speaker is responsible only for his intentions.

It is among the rules of the art of writing and speaking that truth and falsehood exist in the intention of the writer or speaker. As for the responsibility for the connotations and the meanings inferred by the listener, and the styles in use, these belong to customs or traditions. For customs or traditions have a role and are adhered to when conveying meaning. If the piece of writing criticized is a story, defects and faults are to be sought for in its heroes.

A speaker is not called to account for forms or connotations. For speakers do not stretch out their hands to them to pick their fruit, but rather they employ them to climb towards the branches of their main purposes. If you would like to, consider figurative or metaphorical accounts or descriptions. For example, they say in Turkey of generous people, “The sheath of so-and-so’s sword is long and he himself has plenty of ashes,” meaning the person talked about is rich and generous. Even if this person does not have a sword and ashes, we have still spoken the truth. Also consider the examples that begin with phrases like “Let’s suppose” or “Supposing.” As they have a value that arises from common usage, these phrases have the capacity to function as mediators in the exchange of views and consultation. Even the most exacting, truthful men of wisdom such as Jalal al-Din al-Rumi18 and Sa‘di al-Shirazi19 did not see any fault in using them. If this truth has become visible to you, then light your candle by it, and go to the corners of narratives and stories. For anything valid for one part can sometimes be valid for the whole.



In the Third Part, a basic principle will be mentioned concerning the firm, explicit, and allegorical expressions of the Qur’an. However, as I feel that it is necessary here, I will make a brief mention of it as follows:

God’s primary purpose for sending His wise Book is the guidance of people. All human beings are not of the same level of understanding, nor are they specialists in every branch of science. Therefore, God speaks in His Scriptures in a way understandable to everyone. Those of a higher level of understanding and having expert knowledge can benefit from anything that is addressed to all people. But when a work addresses only the scholarly, things may become difficult for common people. Furthermore, people cannot easily abandon their habits or be freed from the things with which they have been familiar for a long time. People often find it hard to deal with abstractions, but find it easier to understand things when expressed with metaphors and similes as these are closer to everyday life. For this reason, truths are usually presented in familiar terms or forms and thereby effectively presented for guidance. However, we should not focus our views upon such forms. The Qur’an of miraculous exposition has considered how people can easily understand it and has used styles that are suitable to be presented in this way. The Qur’an is God’s address to human beings in a form that they can understand. The following Qur’anic expressions are examples of this:


He has established Himself on the Supreme Throne (7:54).

God’s Hand is over their hands (48:10).

Your Lord comes (89:22).

He saw it (the sun) setting in a spring of hot and black, muddy water (18:86).

The sun runs the course appointed for it (36:38).

That is how the Qur’an is, and there can be no doubt that it is God’s Word.



An idea can be difficult to understand for two reasons. One is that it has been expressed in a poor style or in a poor language. The Qur’an is far above having such language or style. A different reason that may cause difficulties in understanding some Qur’anic expressions is that the Qur’an has profound, subtle, and multi-dimensional meanings. As the Qur’an is peerless in value and contains innumerable precious jewels, it does not uncover its secrets easily, but rather demands much care and concentration; the reason for, and the result of this, is that one is impelled and encouraged to study the Qur’an to find the deeper meanings it contains.



As declared in a Prophetic Tradition, each Qur’anic verse has an outward and inward dimension of meaning, and every inward and outward dimension has a field of comprehensibility, with sub-domains in every field.20

The religious sciences that have been established over the course of history bear witness to this fact. Every dimension or rank of meaning in each verse of the Qur’an has a particular, distinguishing merit, and this must be discovered. The ranks or dimensions of meaning do not cause confusion, but certain proximities in meaning can give rise to ambiguity or misunderstandings. In the same way that confusing the sphere we live in, where we must possess the necessary means or equipment to obtain a desired result, with the sphere of belief, where we attribute all effects to God’s absolute Will, can cause either fatalism in the name of absolute reliance on God, or the deviation of attributing creativity to the created, similar results may appear if the ranks or dimensions of the meaning of a verse are not distinguished from one another.


Said Nursi

18 Mawlana Jalal al-Din al-Rumi (1207–1273): One of the most renowned figures of Islamic Sufism. Founder of the Mawlawi Order of the whirling dervishes, famous for his Mathnawi, an epic of the religious life in six volumes. For Western readers, Rumi is a powerful voice among the poets of Sufism. (Trans.)

19 Sa‘di al-Shirazi (1215?–1292): The greatest didactic poet of Persia, author of the Gulistān (“Rose Garden”) and the Bustan (“Orchard”), who also wrote many fine odes and lyrics. (Trans.)

20 Ibn Hibban, Sahih, 1:146; al-Munawi, Fayd al-Qadir, 3:54.