December 2015 Issue of Nur-the Light is Here!

DECEMBER 2015 issue of Nur-the Light is out! MEHMET FIRINCI abi writes about “A Solution for Anarchy and Terror” on page 2. Dr. Colin Turner’s article is on page 3 and Dr. Mary Weld is on page 5. An extremely important interview with SAID OZDEMIR abi can be found on page 13 that proves the birth year of Ustad Bediuzzaman Said Nursi as 1873. Please enjoy and share!

Fasting 2014: The Wisdom and Benefits

Our Nur-the Light Magazine for March 2014 although late has arrived. Below you will find some enlightening information on Ramadan by Bediuzzaman Said Nursi. Also “How can we save our lives?” is another article included here. The focal point of this issue of Nur-the Light will be the confirmation of the 1873 birth year of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi as you see on Page 15. Two important scholars, Hekimoglu Ismail and Necmeddin Sahiner, are agreeing on the certainty of 1873.

-Osman Birgeoglu, Ph.D.

Great News: Turkish Government Prints Bediuzzaman’s Risale-i Nur!

The government of Tayyip Erdogan has decided to print Bediuzzaman’s famous Risale-i Nur books. Signs of Miraculousness is the first book already printed in Arabic and Turkish together. This exceptional occasion was celebrated by an important group of high religious figures and government officials with Turkey’s Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan, including Abdullah Yegin Agabey, Mehmet Firinci Agabey and Husnu Bayramoglu Agabey on Saturday, January 25th, 2014.

Printing of the Risale-i Nur books by the Turkish government for the benefit of the public was one of Bediuzzaman’s most precious dreams. Mehmet Firinci Agabey states that in the early 1950’s Bediuzzaman requested the following three things from the government for the safety and security of the country: 1) Opening new schools where religious and modern sciences are taught together. 2) Returning the Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia) building to its original status (from the current museum back into the mosque it was). 3) Publishing the Risale-i Nur by the government for the benefit of the country.

This printing has taken over 60 years to materialize. All credits for this monumental achievement goes to the Turkish Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan. He understands the need of the public for the Risale-i Nur to strengthen their faith in these modern difficult times. On behalf of American Muslims, we here at the Risale-i Nur Institute of America celebrate this joyous event and offer our gratitude to the Prime Minister for realizing Bediuzzaman’s dream.

–Osman Birgeoglu, Ph.D.

Video #2 “Why the Risale-i Nur?” is Released!

We are  very happy to announce the release of our second video for our online educational video series on Bediuzzaman Said Nursi and the Risale-i Nur Collection! Video #2 discusses and explains why the Risale-i Nur is so very important for everyone and why we all need it.

Here is the link: http://vimeo.com/84339661

Never Discriminate – Good People are Everywhere

The following hadith of Prophet Muhammad shows all of us how sweet, comprehensive and beautiful are his teachings about living in perfect harmony in a multi-cultural society:

One day, the Prophet’s wife Sophia (RA) came to him crying. She said, “Hafsah (RA) called me the daughter of a Jew.” (This was true because Sophia’s father, Hubayy b. Akhtab, was in fact a Jew who had died without ever accepting Islam. Still, such a comment was meant as a take on Sophia’s person, which was only more hurtful as it was coming from her co-wife. So when she heard what Hafsah had said, she started to cry.)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied:  “Verily, you are the daughter of a Prophet, your Uncle was also a Prophet, and you are the wife of a Prophet, so what does she have over you to boast about?” He then turned to Hafsah and said: “Fear Allah, O Hafsah!”

In an alternate narration, the Prophet is reported to have turned to Sophia and said: “Why didn’t you say, ‘So how can you be better than me? Muhammad is my husband, Aaron is my father, and Moses is my Uncle.’ ”

Source: Mishkat al-Masabih, Vol 2, #367, by Al-Tibrizi (English translation)

Dr. Osman Birgeoglu

New Online Education – Bediuzzaman Video #1: Man of the Millennium

We are very excited to be presenting online educational videos about Bediuzzaman Said Nursi and the Risale-i Nur Collection. Our first video introduces Bediuzzaman, his life and mission, and is titled, Bediuzzaman Video #1: The Man of the Millennium.

Here is the link: http://vimeo.com/79188072

 

 

1873 Written in Stone, Not Open for Debate

Nine salient points make Bediuzzaman’s birth year of 1873 a crystal-clear definitive truth, a reality ‘carved in stone’. Truth cannot and must not be argued, to do so is minimally most foolish, as well as misguided, disrespectful and dangerous. Today’s researchers on Bediuzzaman’s life come across six different birth years. However, the year 1873 is the accurate birth year. The following nine points illuminate this truth:

1. Bediuzzaman himself proofread his own Autobiography published as the first edition in 1958, two years before his death. Bediuzzaman had dictated to his students what to write and then instructed his students to read aloud three separate times (which Mehmet Firinci Agabey, still living, witnessed) as he listened to what his students had written. The opening first line was thus read aloud which Bediuzzaman heard on three separate occasions. This first sentence clearly states the double-dated year of his birth as 1873M-1290H.

2. Bediuzzaman is widely accepted without question as a Master. His students acknowledge this fact. Mastery itself necessitates truth, it does not involve gross mistakes, especially regarding the Master’s knowledge of his own life. To doubt the Master does not change his mastery, rather it reflects the weakness, arrogance, disrespect and/or falseness of the one doubting. A Master speaks or writes with clear intention, not with dubious words. Bediuzzaman was highly aware of whatever he said or wrote.

3. The fact that Bediuzzaman intentionally orally dictated a double-dated birth year, namely Lunar calendar corresponding with the Solar calendar, carves this truth into stone.

4. A general yet vital principle in any undertaking is the notion that the first step sets the stage, establishes the path, directs the true course of that which follows. Bediuzzaman, as a Master, was obviously aware of this crucial element which is reflected in his first sentence of his Autobiography being the double-dated birth year of 1873. The very first line on the first page of the first chapter of the book opens the door of the entire Risale-i Nur, and as the grand opener, it can not be, should not be and is not wrong. This first sentence clearly illustrates this widely accepted principle which all of us need to contemplate deeply.

5. Any different birth year other than 1873 is a grave and dangerous mistake. It weakens all subsequent works and hurts the truth of the Risale-i Nur in the eyes of the readers without them even realizing it.

6. The early students instructed to write and read Bediuzzaman’s Autobiography had ample opportunity at the time of publication (which included their reading and writing of the book) to question the truth and validity of Bediuzzaman’s birth year. If there was a mistake, they would have corrected it. We may thus conclude there was no mistake in the original book.

7. For thirty years after Bediuzzaman’s death, nobody questioned his birth year of 1873. All of Bediuzzamans early students respected this original autobiography.

8. Much like organic chemistry, everything connects to everything else in the Risale-i Nur in proper and precise order and amount. The Risale-i Nur has an unbroken order and  harmony. Anything other than 1873 breaks this chain.

9. Praising his autobiography, Bediuzzaman stated (which was later included in the book),  “This book has the value of twenty of my other books.”  The extreme worth of this original autobiography is obvious and Bediuzzaman would not, could not and actually did not allow any mistake in it.

Osman Birgeoglu, Ph.D.

 

Bediuzzaman (1873-1960) and Two Stories

Bediuzzaman (1873-1960) and Two Stories

World renowned scholar, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (1873-1960 per Official Autobiography, First Edition, 1958), was and continues to be one of the most phenomenal spiritual Masters of all time, and indeed, certainly the most extraordinary luminary of this millennium. His one-of-a-kind Masterpiece, The Risale-i Nur Collection, which translates into English as The Treatise of Light, consists of over 130 books and has been time tested for accuracy and trust by multiple disciplines. Translated into over 60 languages, Bediuzzaman’s Risale-i Nur continues to positively influence and benefit millions of people of all walks of life around the world and remains a growing phenomenon globally. His name, “Bediuzzaman” means “Wonder of the Age”. At the remarkable young age 15, he demonstrated publicly his unprecedented ability of winning all debates against multiple groups of the most eminent scholars in his region. Additionally, Bediuzzaman accomplished the academic excellence in only three months’ time, educating himself extensively and thoroughly in all the traditional religious sciences as well as most of the modern sciences. These are but a few of Bediuzzaman’s many exceptional abilities. His brilliance and superior genius, according to some, is likened to that of Albert Einstein.

Bediuzzaman Said Nursi devoted his entire life to helping and guiding people understand and obtain genuine belief in God. He was actively involved in public life teaching students, debating scholars, etc. This time is referred to as the “Old Said”. Bediuzzaman transitioned into the “New Said” shortly after WWI and withdrew altogether from public life and politics, concentrating instead on study and prayer. The New Said was a man of deep thought, contemplation and reflection. In 1925, he was unjustly exiled for life, though he committed no crime or misdemeanor. During his exile, he often suffered imprisonment and isolation. However, it was during these reflective years that he wrote his Masterpiece, The Risale-i Nur Collection. Bediuzzaman understood that the essential cause of the decline of religion was due to the weakening of the very foundations of belief. This weakening, along with the attacks on those foundations in the 19th and 20th centuries carried out by materialists, atheists and others in the name of science and progress led him to realize that the most urgent and overriding need was to strengthen, even to save, belief. What was needed was to expend all efforts to reconstruct the edifice of religion from its foundations of belief and to answer at the level of those attacks through peaceful dialogue or ‘war of the word’.

Serving the Risale-i Nur is a huge honor for all of us. According to one important student of Risale-i Nur who stated last year: “Mankind has been waiting for more than a thousand years for this amazing work to appear. And now it is here. [We must appreciate this.]” His name is Nusret Hoca, now 93 years old, from Agri, Eastern Turkey. As a Sheikh, he was teaching classical Islam to his hundred-plus students before knowing Ustad Bediuzzaman. After meeting Bediuzzaman, he saw the powerful cure of the Risale-i Nur and immediately started teaching it to all of his students.

Another Sheikh from Mecca-i Mukarrama, Saudi Arabia, stated two years ago when he was in Ankara: “Do you know why I am coming to Turkey? Because you have the Risale-i Nur and Bediuzzaman in this country. I have 50-60 students in Mecca and I am teaching the Risale-i Nur to them. The reason? The Qur’an says, ‘Do this!’, but it doesn’t say when, why, how or where. Bediuzzaman has these answers.” His name is Sheikh Al-Mas, the leader of the organization of the Descendants of the Prophet Muhammed in Mecca.

I just wanted to share these two important stories about the Risale-i Nur with our readers, fans and friends. Our hope is that the medicine of Bediuzzaman’s Masterpiece reaches the hearts and minds of all humanity.

Osman Birgeoglu, Ph.D.,

Director of Risale-i Nur Institute of America, Nur Publishers and Nursi School of Theology

 

 

Nur-the Light Magazine Jan-Mar, 2013 Issue: Confirming Bediuzzaman’s Birth Year as 1873

Our new January-March, 2013 Nur-the Light Magazine is here! This particular issue contains very important material and we are thus a little late printing it as we needed more time to prepare crucial documents. This magazine issue presents evidences from the history and original works of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi. We share an excerpt here including some of the photocopied documents of Bediuzzaman’s original works published in 1958 when Bediuzzaman himself was alive and managing his own publishing, including proofreading and approving his photographs. You may purchase the magazine through us at our website at Nur Publishers to read the complete article and discover all the rest of the evidences presented. On December 29, 2011, we submitted the entire paper printed in this January-March, 2013 magazine issue to the Library of Congress to serve as authentic resource material for future generations (Registration Number TXu 1-793-770). Special Note: For our Turkish-speaking friends, and especially the Abiler in Turkey, we’ve printed in Turkish a very short summary of these important evidences documenting Bediuzzaman’s birth year as 1873 which can be read on page 11.

We also share here our sadness and respect at the death of Mustafa Sungur Agabey, a very close and beloved student to Bediuzzaman Said Nursi. I, Osman Birgeoglu, visited Sungur Abi when he was admitted to the hospital at Kartal, Istanbul on Saturday, September 29, 2012. Interestingly, according to his son Muhammed Sungur whom I spoke with, that particular day was Mustafa Sungur Abi’s birthday. Sadly, this was going to be my last opportunity to visit this important and unique student of the Risale-i Nur. He truly was enlightening for all of us and we will miss him greatly.

[I must document here with all my humbleness a surprising dream I had on July 9th, 2012 just four months prior to his death. In my dream, Sungur Abi appeared to me and asked me to come to Istanbul, from Arizona, USA, to visit him. I was able to fulfill his request and visited him in Istanbul at the end of September, 2012.]

–Osman Birgeoglu, Ph.D., Director and Founder, The Risale-i Nur Institute of America

 

Nur-the Light Sep-Dec Issue: A Taste of Thanksgiving

Our Nur-the Light Magazine September/December 2012 issue has arrived, full of enriched treasures from the Risale-i Nur Collection. This is a special edition of Nur-the Light Magazine covering an entire season of the next four months. We are entering the new season of autumn, full of beauty with its many vibrant colors as the leaves on the trees change at being relieved of their duties in this world.  In order to read all 16 pages, we encourage our readers to subscribe to our magazine here (click on the magazine). Below are a few tastes of what this issue contains:

New Issue of Nur-the Light | Eid: Sun, August 19th

Our July-August, 2012 issue of Nur-the Light Magazine is now available. On the cover is a partial picture of the mighty Milky Way Galaxy. The Utterance of the Stars by Bediuzzaman Said Nursi is an exemplary meditation of how the stars speak to us as signs of God’s Power:

Our stamp is one; our seal is one; we are mastered by our Sustainer;

We glorify Him through our subjugation;

We recite His Names; we are each of us in ecstasy, a member of the

mighty circle of the Milky Way.

We wish our readers a blessed Ramadan as we approach the end in these last ten days, and a fruitful Layla-tul Qadr. Enjoy the Eid Festival on Sunday, August 19, 2012 ̶ according to the Directorate of Religious Affairs of the Turkish Republic.

In closing, we would like to encourage all of our readers to support our services by subscribing to Nur-the Light Magazine. Even better, help spread the word of the phenomenal Risale-i Nur Collection and subscribe your friends and family members too! The cost for residents of the United States is only $20 annually. Simply visit this link and click on the magazine cover to subscribe: Nur-the Light Magazine.

–Editor

 

During Holy Ramadan: Look at the Larger Picture!

Let’s imagine we travel to the middle of the enormous Milky Way and look back upon our tiny planet Earth and other billions of Earth-like planets. We observe: only one of them is filled with living beings that we know of…all others appear vacant to us.

Then, we carefully look at the living beings on Earth which consist of more than a million species. We further analyze them from plants to animals, from ants to bees to elephants, from butterflies to eagles. All are busy performing their tasks without showing any weariness except one species: human beings. Humans consume, they take over many places, they are wasteful and they pollute while they contribute very little. By any worldly standards, humans are extremely poor performers. Also, many people are not even aware of their lofty goals for which they are created. The majority of mankind is not awake. Even worse, they neither remember God nor give thanks to God, many are totally indifferent towards Him.

Now consider this true story: The conqueror of the Eastern Byzantium Empire, Fatih Sultan Muhammad, was once told, “You built these colleges/seminaries where most students are not performing.” The Sultan replied, “If they deliver one saint, like Aksemseddin, that would suffice.” Like in this story, we strongly believe in this logic that it only takes some good people to be sufficient to justify the existence of the planet Earth. However, should our goal not be to raise more of these good people?

The Risale-i Nur says, “In just the same way that the messengerhood of the Prophet was the reason for the foundation of this realm of trial —the saying ‘were it not for thee, were it not for thee, I would not have created the spheres’ being an indication of this— so too the worship he (and his followers) performed was the cause for the foundation of the abode of bliss.

God Almighty wanted to see a perfect community which would reflect His Attributes and Names best. With Prophet Muhammad, God completes His message to mankind. Without this system of education, mankind cannot learn and thus cannot also perform their God-intended duties to God. Essentially, mankind began in elementary school at the time of Adam, then attended middle schools, then high schools, and now with the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, has finished graduate school, this is according to God’s revealed intentions for mankind. Mankind is now ready to perform complete worship to Almighty God. And, altogether shall we brainstorm to achieve this sacred worship.

IN SHORT: Some of us need to continually raise the bar of our good deeds such as helping each other, discovering and delivering life’s goals like a honeybee. Are we ready? How much do we care about God, religion and the Afterlife?

Osman Birgeoglu, Ph.D.

May/June Issue of Nur-the Light is Here!

Our second magazine since our reintroduction of publishing Nur-the Light has arrived. Look forward to it in your mailbox shortly! If you would like to subscribe, please visit our website to order here.

Zubeyir Gunduzalp, a very close student of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, says the following about the Risale-i Nur Collection: “Mankind has not seen such a [magnificent] work in the last 1,000 years.” For example, some of the jewels of this Collection are: The Supreme Sign, a 237-page book; The Resurrection and the Hereafter, a 245-page book; The Miracles of the Prophet, a 281-page book; and The Highway of the Practices of the Prophet,  a 245-page book.

Osman Birgeoglu, Ph.D.

 

RISALE-I NUR NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD!

This week we would like to share with you some important Risale-i Nur news. These items which come from around the world excite us all. If you happen to have some news, please let us know so we can share them too.

The Risale-i Nur in Russia

On January 13 of this year, the radio MORAL FM of Istanbul, broadcast a live interview with Imam Resul Cemalof, the imam of Baltic countries. The host, Ihsan Atasoy asked the imam about recent religious activities in Russia. Imam Resul told the host that some prisons were impacted by the Risale-i Nur lectures and requested some recorded copies so that they can reach more inmates more often. They needed a studio to record the readings. They were told that Petersburg Radio Station was the place. They went there, paid the fee and were sent to the third floor. Sofia Valentine, a famous radio personality who had retired from Moscow was in charge of the studio. Resul says: “We recorded a 30 minute CD on each of the first two days. When we arrived the third day, we did not see Ms. Valentine whose help we needed to continue. We were told that she was hospitalized earlier. The two of us bought flowers and rushed to the hospital to visit her. She was very surprised to see us and said: ‘Even my son did not come, yet here are two strangers who care about me.’ Besides the flowers, we gave her a few books of Bediuzzaman including Message for the Sick.” Resul said that the next day when they went to the studio, it was their turn to be surprised. Ms. Valentine was there sitting on her desk. “How did it happen?” they asked. She said to them: “Remember the small book you gave me?” referring to Message for the Sick, “I read it six times and I felt fine.” Resul continued: “After finishing our CD’s she suggested we broadcast these messages once a week. We chose a name for the weekly program: “THE DROPS OF LIGHT” and read the 23rd Word, 20th Letter, 2nd Flash, and others for the next 3 months on her watch. Three months later she suddenly passed away. Her will included the following quote: ‘I am a Muslim, and please write on my gravestone: This world is transient; surely the next life is forever.’ So we did.”

The Risale-i Nur in Argentina,  “where the sun sets”

On February 21, 2012 we got a letter regarding the Nur service in Argentina. The following is a summary: A few months ago, one of the brothers delivered some Risale-i Nur books to the prison of Rosario. He then started weekly lectures for the inmates. Soon, other prisons requested their services. They even went to Lima, Peru where they visited the Directorate of Prisons. They told the officials: “We came from Turkey and we have a project to help rehabilitate prisoners.” They answered: “Our prisons are overfilled. We definitely need help.” They said they needed one week to check the books. After checking, they said, “come and start your lectures in seven of our prisons.” They met many inmates, and the meetings were very much welcomed.

In the meantime, the Director General of Prisons of Argentina, Dr. Juan Natelo, read their petition to lecture on Fruits of Light and wanted to meet them in person. The interview was a success and Dr. Natelo ordered special I.D’s for them to be able to visit three of the prisons freely. “Our regular lectures from The Risale-i Nur affected many inmates’ lives for the better. Some were even crying.” Here, the brothers made an important point; “Let’s compare the prisons in the 1940s in Turkey and the prisons in Argentina in 2012. The author of The Risale-i Nur was imprisoned in the 40’s for writing these books we use here today in Argentina. The prison officials are even offering their vehicles to carry us from home to prisons. Why? They say: ‘Our inmates need your lectures as much as they need bread and water.’ Look at God’s wisdom and destiny: even Christians are supporting the Risale-i Nur for their inmates! We would like to mention here that our first visit to prisons started with Head Priest Pancho Martinez who was passionately recommending our books to everyone he encountered, from wardens to directors, even the driver of the vehicle that was provided for us…” This letter was signed, “Your brothers in Argentina: Ahmed Hasan, Abdullah, Fatih, Huseyin.”

A Gas Station Attendant, an Amazing Person

One of the Risale-i Nur students living in the Los Angeles area, called us with the following story: “Recently, I gave a few books, including A Guide for Women to a gas station attendant in my neighborhood to read. [This was a 122 page book of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi which includes many life-saving lectures for women, published by nurpublishers.com.] A few days later, I was filling up my car, he came out and said the following amazing words: ‘This man found the Truth! He’s had a tough life. He carries the whole world on his shoulders.’ I was really amazed at the level of his insight and benefit from this book. And that’s not all. Now, whenever I stop by, he comes out waving his pink book, A Guide for Women, meaning he still enjoys reading the book very much. What a lucky person and I am happy for him. I just wanted to share this with you.”

SPECIAL STORY: A presentation on Islam in a high school

A world history teacher in a small town in USA called our editor to invite him to give a talk on Islam to his 11th grade students in early March of this year. The editor writes the following: “The teacher told me that most of his students never talked to a Muslim face to face. ‘Their only source of Islam is the media, so naturally they are biased. They might give you a hard time.’ We decided I would talk for 10 minutes on religion and let them ask questions for the rest of the period. I started with the definition of Islam and said that it also means “religion” which takes you to God. I explained: Any true religion is Islam (see, Ilmihal, Omer Nasuhi Bilmen, pg. 8). Any path which takes you to God is a true path, a true religion. Islam and terrorism are total opposites. A Muslim cannot be a terrorist; a terrorist cannot be a Muslim. A hadith of Prophet Muhammed says that a person is not a believer if his/her neighbor is not safe from him. This clearly prohibits all terrorism. All children until the age of puberty are believers, after which they have a choice. Childrens’ acts are saintly actions; they are pure and innocent. Saints are real and true. In this matter, Santa Claus is real. He may be called by different names in different countries, but he remains the same. The Qur’an calls him Hidr (peace be upon him) who has a long story with the prophet Moses. He helps people in dire need anywhere. In addition to him, there are many saints all around the world who reach out to those in great need. As you see, we are not without help. Almighty God very often sends special help to His people. Then I talked about the Qur’an and its four goals:

  • 1) Oneness of God
  • 2) the Divine Messengers
  • 3) the Afterlife
  • 4) the practice of Justice and Worship

(see Bediuzzaman’s book, Signs of Miraculousness, pg. 19).

Then I answered many curious questions of the students. They were quite satisfied talking to a Muslim. I repeated this talk for  students of 3 other classes. Around 11:30 a.m. students had lunch break while I stayed in the class room. Three students remained in the class to ask more questions, missing their lunch. At the end of the day, the teacher was very impressed and said, ‘Wow! They all walked out different people.’ One little note: when I was leaving, the teacher handed me a check. I told him that I could not accept it: this was for God. The teacher was further impressed. Amazed, he shook his head and said ‘this is huge!’ Hearing that made my day…”

Osman Birgeoglu, Ph.D.

Books of the Risale-i Nur and the Approaching Holy Months

We are now promoting our books in Nur-the Light magazine, a bi-monthly publication by the Risale-i Nur Institute of America™. The forthcoming May/June issue of this magazine will include the following advertisement which I wanted to share with you here:

As you see, the books we publish through nurpublishers.com are focused on All about finding God because: If you find God, you have found everything and this finalizes the search for God.

REMINDER: In ten days (May 21st or 22nd) we will be entering the first of the three Holy Months, Rajab.

According to Bediuzzaman Said Nursi: the rewards for good deeds are multiplied by 100 during this first month, they are multiplied by 200 during the second month of Sha’ban, and finally the highest rewards are given during the month of Ramadan in which they are multiplied by 1,000, except on the Night of Power (Layla-tul Qadr) when they are multiplied by 30,000.

Osman Birgeoglu, Ph.D.

 

 

Reintroducing Our Nur-the Light Magazine!

We are very excited to reintroduce our beloved Nur-the Light Magazine. We have been working very hard for many years to be able to once again distribute our bi-monthly magazine, which thousands of people around the world had come to love and look forward to since 1974.  We happily share here some tidbits of our new spring issue for all our devoted readers:

Highlights of the materials in this issue:

On page 3, you will find an indispensable explanation which answers the ongoing debate on Nature. In the author’s words: “…it puts naturalistic atheism to death with no chance of reanimation, and totally shatters the foundation stones of unbelief.” On page 5, the true picture of our free will and the control of things is given. On page 6, “A Speech in a Dream” is powerfully rich and detailed. On page 8, Bediuzzaman’s heroism during World War I is documented. On page 9, in appreciation, you will see a surprising reprinting of Umit Simsek’s original, timeless design of the resurrection article from the February 1976 issue of this magazine. On page 11, “The Miracle of Miracles” describes the Most Noble Messenger of God with an impressive language. Finally, we really recommend to our readers to take advantage of our sale on “The Damascus Sermon” on page 13.

Brief History:

The first issue of Nur-the Light Magazine was published in August, 1974. Since that time, its publishing has unfortunately been interrupted three times. Now with renewed energy and enthusiasm, we pick up from where we left off to continue publication of this treasured Magazine. By way of reintroduction, we have put together some examples of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi’s faith-building, mind-opening, and spirit-comforting guidance that many have been looking for to hang on to. The kind that makes you truly happy, healthy, and strong. Nur-the Light Magazine developed into further book publishing through our Risale-i Nur Institute of America.

Nur-the Light is deeply indebted to the following great individuals:

The late Attorney Bekir Berk Abi (death, June 14, 1992) who supported immensely its publication and the late Mehmet Buker Abi (death, 2005) who, in 1975, helped us purchase our very first printing machine.  Additionally, we give special mention to the late Huseyin Demirkan who recently passed away on February 5, 2012 for his selfless efforts to help us start the Risale-i Nur service in the U.S.

We humbly share our thoughts and feelings during this great effort to finally see our newly printed spring magazine with Bediuzzaman’s Risale-i Nur works.  During our preparation of the magazine, two interesting things occurred which were not planned. I really don’t know what they mean for sure, but they gave us all great hope and happiness in our efforts to get our magazine finished.

The first thing happened when I brought the unfinished product home to proofread and make final editing. In the middle of our work a small bird, sparrow,  flew into our house through the patio door which was opened very slightly for our cat, Dusty. This had never happened before in the 19 years we’ve lived here. Despite the danger of our cat who was still inside, the bird circled around in the kitchen for quite some time even though our cat was trying to catch him. We immediately put the cat outside for the bird’s sake. Then we opened the front door and amazingly the bird flew out to safety. This led me to recall the story of Umit Simsek when he and I were working on Nur-the Light Magazine for the February, 1976 issue when a bird then, too, visited us. The pictures of this story are included on Page 9 of our newly released March/April, 2012 issue, the little bird can be clearly seen on a flower pot, fourth photo from the left. We thank our friend Umit Simsek for sending these photos.

The second interesting thing I noticed two days ago on March 20th. I realized all the printing of our first reintroduced issue of our magazine was completed on March 20th, the first day of spring in 2012. This really made our day because we’re coming out together and being renewed with all of God’s creation. What a heart-warming message this is for us, although some people may see this as insignificant.

–Osman Birgeoglu, Ph.D.

P.S. We kindly ask our readers to send us some mailing addresses of sincere and devoted family, friends, colleagues, or others who may benefit from a complimentary copy of Nur-the Light Magazine.

 

Spirituality Today: On Curing Ills and Wounds

Last month,  the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration(SAMHSA) reported very disturbing statistics regarding Americans suffering mental illness. The statistics are derived from The 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a scientifically administered annual survey of approximately 67,500 Americans throughout the country, aged 12 and older.

The national report showed that in 2010, 20% of American adults, or 1 in 5 adults (45.9 million) aged 18 years or older experienced mental illness. According to the report, the highest rate of mental illness occurred in young adults aged 18 to 25 (29.9%) which was double the rate compared to people 50 or older (14.3%). The diagnosis of mental illness was also higher in women (23%) than in men (16.8%).

The report also found that 5% of the adult American population (11.4 million adults) suffered “serious mental illness”, which they define as, “one that resulted in serious functional impairment, which substantially interfered with or limited 1 or more major life activities.” Additionally, the report reveals that 8.7 million American adults seriously considered suicide in 2010, and of those, 2.5 million made plans to kill themselves while 1.1 million actually attempted suicide. American youth aged 12 to 17 are also affected. The report statistics state 1.9 million (8%) youth suffered a “major depressive episode” in 2010. Also significant is the finding that the rates for substance dependence and abuse are higher among those suffering a mental illness.

These statistics are truly alarming! What is happening? Why are so many people suffering such mental illness? We need to look at the deepest reasons, the real core of the problem: a lack of belief and a misunderstanding of God. Let’s listen to Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, the genius scholar of our century, indeed the millennium:

“There is no god but God, He is One, He has no partner; His is the dominion and His is the praise; He alone grants life, and deals death, and He is living and dies not; all good is in His hand, He is powerful over all things, and with Him all things have their end.

Be certain of this, that the highest aim of creation and its most important result are belief in God. The most exalted rank in humanity and its highest degree are the knowledge of God contained within belief in God. The most radiant happiness and sweetest bounty for jinn and human beings are the love of God contained within the knowledge of God. And the purest joy for the human spirit and the sheerest delight for man’s heart are the rapture of the spirit contained within the love of God. Indeed, all true happiness, pure joy, sweet bounties, and untroubled pleasure lie in knowledge of God and love of God; they cannot exist without them.

One who knows and loves God Almighty is potentially able to receive endless bounties, happiness, lights, and mysteries. While one who does not truly know and love him is afflicted spiritually and materially by endless misery, pain, and fears. Even if such an impotent and miserable person owned the whole world, it would be worth nothing for him, for it would seem to him that he was living a fruitless life among the vagrant human race in a wretched world without owner or protector. Everyone may understand just how wretched and bewildered is man among the vagrant human race in this bewildering fleeting world if he does not know his Owner, if he does not discover his Master. But if he does discover and know Him, he will seek refuge in His mercy and will rely on His power. The desolate world will turn into a place of recreation and pleasure, it will become a place of trade for the hereafter.”

Bediuzzaman further states this profound truth:

“Since He exists, everything exists”

–Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (exerpts from The Letters, The Twentieth Letter)

I encourage everyone to read The Twentieth Letter, First Station in its entirety. The details teach us through belief about true happiness, dispelling the dark, the sorrow, and all sources of misery.

–Dr. Osman Birgeoglu

Concerning the Standards of Serving the Risale-i Nur

Today, I wish to discuss the great service of the Risale-i Nur. Gratefully, many students around the world have joined in this most honorable service over the years. As a result, I feel it is imperative for the sake of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi’s purpose as well as his Masterpiece itself, the Risale-i Nur Collection, that all of us, as students, maintain our awareness of what this service involves and what it means.  We must remind ourselves and put under the light the most fundamental and most crucial aspects which are absolutely required without exception, they are:

  • SINCERITY
  • BROTHERHOOD
  • RESPECT

S I N C E R I T Y :  It is no wonder that Bediuzzaman does instruct: “This Flash should be read at least once a fortnight [two weeks].” In true sincerity there is never any dishonesty, rivalry, or competition as they negate, undermine, and indeed destroy sincerity. A lack of genuine sincerity in the service of the Risale-i Nur is clearly harmful to all and is thus unacceptable. Bediuzzaman Said Nursi discusses four rules of sincerity:

“YOUR FIRST RULE

          You should seek Divine pleasure in your actions. If Almighty God is pleased, it is of no importance even should the whole world be displeased. If He accepts an action and everyone else rejects it, it has no effect. Once His pleasure has been gained and He has accepted an action, even if you do not ask it of Him, should He wish it and His wisdom requires it, He will make others accept it. He will make them consent to it too. For this reason, the sole aim in this service should be the direct seeking of Divine pleasure.

YOUR SECOND RULE

          This is not to criticize your brothers who are employed in this service of the Qur’an, and not to excite their envy by displaying superior virtues. For just as one of man’s hands cannot compete with the other, neither can one of his eyes criticize the other, nor his tongue object to his ear, nor his heart see his spirit’s faults. Each of his members completes the deficiencies of the others, veils their faults, assists their needs, and helps them out in their duties. Otherwise man’s life would be extinguished, his spirit flee, and his body be dispersed.

YOUR THIRD RULE

          You should know that all your strength lies in sincerity and truth. Yes, strength lies in truth and sincerity. … Evidence that strength lies in truth and sincerity is this service of ours. … You should be aware that Hadhrat Ali (May God be pleased with him) and Ghawth al-A’zam (May his mystery be sanctified) honor you with their miraculous wonder-working and wondrous vision of the Unseen because of this mystery of sincerity.

YOUR FOURTH RULE

          This is to imagine your brothers’ virtues and merits in your own selves, and to thankfully take pride at their glory. The Sufis have terms they use among themselves, “annihilation in the shaykh,” “annihilation in the Prophet;” I am not a Sufi, but these principles of theirs make a good rule in our way, in the form of  “annihilation in the brothers.” Among brothers this is called “tafânî;” that is, “annihilation in one another.” That is to say, to forget the feelings of one’s own carnal soul, and live in one’s mind with one’s brothers’ virtues and feelings. In any event, the basis of our way is brotherhood. It is not the means which is between father and son, or shaykh and follower. It is the means of true brotherhood. At the very most a Master [Ustad] intervenes. Our way is the closest friendship. This friendship necessitates being the closest friend, the most sacrificing companion, the most appreciative comrade, the noblest brother. The essence of this friendship is true sincerity.

–Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (for details, see: The Flashes, The Twenty-First Flash; Sincerity And Brotherhood)

B R O T H E R H O O D :  Simply put, brotherhood between all students of the Risale-i Nur, regardless of gender, is our strength, our joy, and our support. Brotherhood is very important to maintain at all times. We refer to our Master Teacher, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, regarding this topic:

“Dispute and discord among the believers, and partisanship, obstinacy and envy, leading to rancor and enmity among them, are repugnant and vile, are harmful and sinful, by the combined testimony of wisdom and the supreme humanity that is Islam, for personal, social, and spiritual life. They are in short, poison for the life of man. We will set forth six of the extremely numerous aspects of this truth.

FIRST ASPECT

          They are sinful in the view of truth.

SECOND ASPECT

They are also sinful in the view of wisdom, for it is obvious that enmity and love are opposites, just like light and darkness; while maintaining their respective essences, they cannot be combined.

THIRD ASPECT

          In accordance with the meaning of the verse:

No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another, [Quran, 6:164]

which expresses pure justice, to nurture rancor and enmity towards a believer is like condemning all the innocent attributes found in him on account of one criminal attribute, and is hence an act of great injustice.

FOURTH ASPECT

          It is a sin from the point of view of personal life.

FIFTH ASPECT

          Obstinacy and partisanship are extremely harmful in social life.

SIXTH ASPECT

Spiritual life and correctness of worship will suffer as a result of enmity and rancor, since the purity of intention that is the means of salvation will be damaged. For a biased person will desire superiority over his enemy in the good deeds that he performs and will be unable to act purely for the sake of God. He will also prefer, in his judgment and dealings, the one who takes his side; he will be unable to be just. Thus the purity of intention and the justice that are the bases of all good acts and deeds will be lost on account of enmity and hostility.

Verily God it is Who gives all sustenance, Lord of Power and Steadfast. [Quran, 51:58]  How many are the creatures that carry not their own sustenance? It is God Who provides for them and for you; He is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. [Quran, 29:60]

O people of belief! You will have understood by now how harmful is enmity. Understand too that greed is another awesome disease, as harmful for the life of Islam as enmity. Greed brings about disappointment, deficiency, and humiliation; it is the cause of deprivation and abjection. … Greed demonstrates its evil effects throughout the animate world, from the most universal of species to the most particular of individuals. To seek out one’s sustenance while placing one’s trust in God will, by constrast, bring about tranquillity and demonstrate everywhere its beneficient effects.”

–Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (For more details on Brotherhood, see The Letters, The Twenty-Second Letter and Sincerity And Brotherhood, which includes multiple sources from the Risale-i Nur on Brotherhood.)

R E S P E C T :  Thus far, we have understood the necessity for truth, sincerity, and brotherhood. All Risale-i Nur students are expected to maintain high standards of respect to each other and towards themselves. The chain of authority starts with Almighty God followed by our Noble Messenger, and the Companions. We may then continue to follow the chain of respect in the Risale-i Nur as described below:

Our Master Bediuzzaman Said Nursi…his first generation students…his first students’ students (second generation students)…and so on down the chain. [Many sincere students use the Arabic term “saff-i evvel” which refers to those who have come before..or..first comers.]

It is crucially important that we all follow the laws of the country we reside in and honor the rights of other beings with fairness and responsibility, we may not breach any of these under any circumstances. Bediuzzaman was extremely careful and respectful of law and human rights, particularly in preserving public safety and security. As Risale-i Nur students we are each expected to uphold these timeless standards equally as much.

The guidance for all Risale-i Nur students is found in the following words:

“Five principles are necessary, essential, at this strange time in order to save the social life of this country and nation from anarchy: respect, compassion, refraining from what is prohibited (haram), security, the giving up of lawlessness and being obedient to authority. ” –Bediuzzaman

Our sole concern, within the framework of the laws of the Republic, is for the Risale-i Nur” –Bediuzzaman

The principles which I’ve discussed in this article are vital to the success of the Risale-i Nur service. The responsibility required of every single Risale-i Nur student is to uphold, defend, and thus preserve this great service of the Risale-i Nur. It is of utmost importance that we all encourage new readers, help existing readers, and share and spread Bediuzzaman’s great works, but we must do so within the framework of these above standards set by Ustad Bediuzzaman. Doing so honors and protects the Risale-i Nur Collection itself as well as all things vital in serving the Risale-i Nur including: truth, respect, brotherhood, sincerity, law, human rights and Bediuzzaman’s purpose, hope, and vision for humanity.

May God protect all sincere students of the Risale-i Nur and guide us to the right  path and His Mercy; and help us to persevere in this most respected honor of serving the Risale-i Nur and our Ustad, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi.

–Dr. Osman Birgeoglu

 

Ustad Bediuzzaman Said Nursi

Spirituality Today: Our Elderly

The attitude we observe throughout society today often depicts a terribly misguided way to treat our parents and other elderly. Most saddening, in certain circumstances this mistreatment goes as far as blatant abuse, a most shocking and clearly unwarranted practice which continues in today’s reality. Indeed, our elderly deserve the greatest respect and the best treatment possible from us. Bediuzzaman Said Nursi devoted two chapters of his great masterpiece, the Risale-I Nur Collection, to this very important and compelling subject which are detailed in the Twenty-First Letter and Twenty-Sixth Flash (Treatise for the Elderly).

Let’s reflect carefully upon what Bediuzzaman Said Nursi advises:

Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour. * And out of kindness, lower the wing of humility, and say: “My Sustainer! Bestow on them Your mercy even as they cherished me in childhood.” * Your Sustainer knows best what is in your hearts: if you do deeds of righteousness, indeed he is Most Forgiving to those who turn to Him again and again [in true penitence]. (Holy Qur’an, 17:23-25)

O heedless one in whose house is an elderly parent or an invalid or someone no longer able to work from among his relations or brothers in religion! Study the above verses carefully and see how on five levels in different ways it summons children to be kindly towards their elderly parents. Yes, the highest truth in this world is the compassion of parents towards their children, and the most elevated rights, their rights of respect in return for their compassion. For they sacrifice their lives with great pleasure, spending them for the sake of their children’s lives. In which case, every child who has not lost his humanity and been transformed into a monster honors those respected, loyal, self-sacrificing friends, serves them sincerely, and tries to please them and make them happy. Uncles and aunts, maternal and paternal, are like fathers and mothers.”

We must heed these glorious words whenever we encounter our elderly. Furthermore, we need to develop our empathy and be proactive in visiting and assisting our elderly as part of our daily lives. Our elderly are treasured blessings for our families and ourselves.  Our mothers are the most elevated of all as the Most Noble Messenger Muhammad reminds us: “Heaven is underneath mothers’ feet.” (Ibn Maajah). And remember: we too shall grow old.

–Dr. Osman Birgeoglu

Spirituality Today: Environment, Adornments of This World

The countless relations between all  life are astonishingly complex and intricate. Mankind is no exception to this interdependence in the worldwide web of life which shows an exquisite harmony. Such harmony points to an unquestionable wisdom in the order of the universe, which in turn points to a conscious purposefulness in the existence of all things. We need to understand the duties of the beings, both animate and inanimate, around us to develop proper respect and care for our world while we are here on Earth to fulfill our good stewardship. The great scholar of our time, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, gives us his words to review how we need to understand the purpose of the environment:

“There are numerous purposes for the existence of everything, and numerous results flow from its being. These are not restricted to this world and to the souls of men, as the people of misguidance imagine, being thus lost in vanity and purposelessness. On the contrary, the purposes for the existence and the results of the being of all things relate to the following three categories.

  • The first and the most exalted pertains to the Creator. It consists of presenting to the gaze of the Pre-Eternal Witness the bejewelled and miraculous wonders He has affixed to the object in question, as if in a military parade. To live for a fleeting second is enough to attain that glance. Indeed, the potentiality and intent for existence is enough, without ever emerging into life. This purpose is fully realized, for example, by delicate creatures that vanish swiftly and by seeds and kernels, each a work of art, that never come to life, that is, never bear fruit or flower. They all remain untouched by vanity and purposelessness. Thus the first purpose of all things is to proclaim, by means of their life and existence, the miracles of power and the traces of artistry of the Maker and display them to the gaze of the Glorious Monarch.
  • The second purpose of all existence and the result of all being pertains to conscious creation. Everything is like a truth-displaying missive, an artistic poem, or a wise word of the Glorious Maker, offered to the gaze of angels and jinn, of men and animals, and desiring to be read by them. It is an object for the contemplation and instruction of every conscious being that looks upon it.
  • The third purpose of all existence and result of all being pertains to the soul of the thing itself, and consists of such minor consequences as the experience of pleasure and joy, and living with some degree of permanence and comfort. If we consider the purpose of a servant employed as a steersman on some royal ship, we see that only one hundredth of that purpose relates to the steersman himself – i.e., the wage he receives; ninty-nine hundredths of the purpose relate to the king who owns the ship. …”

Bediuzzaman Said Nursi brings to this subject further light in the following paragraph:

Third Principle: You will understand, further, that the adornments of this world are not simply for the sake of enjoyment or admiration. For if they yield pleasure for a time, they cause pain for a longer time with their cessation. They give you a taste and whet your appetite, but never satiate you. For either the life of the pleasure is short, or your life is short, too brief for you to become satiated. These adornments of high value and brief duration must, then, be for the sake of instruction in wisdom, for arousing gratitude, and for encouraging men to seek out the perpetual originals of which they are copies. They are, then, for other exalted goals beyond themselves.” (The Words, Tenth Word, Sixth Truth by Bediuzzaman Said Nursi)

–Dr. Osman Birgeoglu

 

 

Celestial Signs: Innumerable Proofs

We all love to gaze at the night sky to look at the stars. How many of us are aware that what we witness are indeed signs of an All-Powerful, All-Knowing, All-Wise Creator? This great artwork displayed across the heavens should open up our eyes and our hearts to appreciate our Creator. For millions of years mankind has been unceasingly amazed and enchanted with the heavenly bodies. The same still holds true today if not moreso. New breakthrough discoveries are happening on a regular basis. Simply said, we are in love with the heavens. Now is the time to love the Maker.

Today, I’m sharing a most beautiful and eloquent poem written by Bediuzzaman Said Nursi celebrating love for the Creator and the celestial signs which direct us back to God:

Then listen to the stars, listen to their harmonious address!

See what wisdom has emblazed on the decree of its light.

Altogether they start to speak with the tongue of truth,

They address the majesty of the All-Powerful, All-Glorious One’s sovereignty:

We are each of us light-scattering proofs of the existence of our Maker,

We are witnesses both to His Unity and His Power,

We are subtle miracles gilding the face of the skies for the angels to gaze upon.

We are the innumerable attentive eyes of the heavens which watch the earth, which study Paradise.

We are the innumerable exquisite fruits which the hand of wisdom of the All-Glorious and Beauteous One has fastened

To the celestial portion of the tree of creation, to all the branches of the Milky Way.

For the inhabitants of the heavens,

We are each of us a travelling mosque, a spinning house, a lofty home;

Each is an illumining lamp, a mighty ship, an aeroplane.

We are each of us a miracle of power, a wonder of creative art

Created by the Powerful One of Perfection, the All-Wise One of Glory;

A rarity of His wisdom, a marvel of His creation, a world of light.

We demonstrated to mankind innumerable proofs,

We made them hear with these innumerable tongues of ours;

But their accursed unseeing, unbelieving eyes did not see our faces,

They did not hear our words.

And we are signs that speak the truth:

Our stamp is one, our seal is one,

We are mastered by our Sustainer,

We glorify Him through our subjugation,

We recite His Names,

We are each of us in ecstasy,

A member of the mighty circle of the Milky Way.

The Enduring One, He is the Enduring One!

S a i d  N u r s i

–Dr. Osman Birgeoglu

NASA Hubble Space Image

All Signs Point to One Maker

When we observe, contemplate, study and reflect upon the world around us, we become aware of many different “things” in our immediate environment. We may see other people, animals, plants, rocks, rivers, mountains, buildings, etc.; we are surrounded by a multitude of animate and inanimate beings.  Upon closer inspection, we start to notice the various properties and qualities of the different things and we begin to see unity and continuity between the things.

A simplified example: I discern compassion in a mother duck gathering her little ones upon leaving the nest to go for a swim in a nearby pond.  Additionally, I see beauty in her specific form and color, and I also perceive wisdom in the manner in which she communicates with her babies.  Next, I look around and perceive multiple instances of  beauty, compassion, and wisdom in the flowers, trees, other birds and creatures around me, and I realize that it is the same beauty, compassion, and wisdom which  I’ve just perceived in the mother duck. This sameness, this continuity of qualities of the things is unity. Such unity can only mean that it comes from one, single source.  The beauty which I see in the mother duck is the same beauty I see in the flowers, the trees, the pond, etc. Thus, there is unity with respect to the things manifesting beauty, and thus the source of beauty must necessarily be one, must necessarily be the same.  The same is true for compassion and wisdom given in this example. All are signs which point to a single Maker.

Ustad Bediuzzaman Said Nursi further elaborates on this matter in the following words:

“The phrase “He is One” is the conclusion of this. There is a unity in everything, and unity points to one. Yes, a work that has unity self-evidently proceeded from one maker. One proceeds from one. The fact that there is a unity in everything demonstrates that they are the works and artefacts of a single being. The universe is like a rosebud swathed in a thousand veils of unity. Or it is a single macroanthropos dressed in unities to the number of Divine Names and universal Divine works. Or it is a Tuba-tree of creation on the branches of which are hung unities to the number of realms of creatures.

Yes, the administration of the universe is one and the same; and its regulation is one and the same; its sovereignty is one and the same; its stamp is one and the same; a thousand and one things are all one and the same. Also, although the Names and acts which make the universe turn are one and the same, they each encompass the universe, or most of it. That is to say, the wisdom that works in it is one and the same; the bestowal in it is one and the same; its regulation is one and the same; the providing of sustenance in it is one and the same; the mercy which hastens to assist the needy is one and the same; the rain, which is that mercy’s dispenser of soft drinks, is one and the same, and so on; thousands of things are all one and the same. The sun, the universe’s stove, is one and the same; the moon, its lamp, is one and the same; fire, its cook, is one and the same; its mountains, which are its stores, treasuries, and masts, are one and same; its water dispensers are one and the same; its sponges which water the gardens are one and the same; a thousand and one things are all one and the same.

All these instances of unity in the world are proofs indicating the Single One of Unity, as clear and brilliant as the sun. Moreover, the elements and realms of beings of the universe each encompassing the face of the earth, as well as being one and the same, and their interpenetration and their uniting through their mutual relations and even mutual assistance, are clear signs that their Owner, Maker, and Master is one and the same.”  -Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (The Rays, Second Ray)

–Dr. Osman Birgeoglu

 

New Beginnings 2012, A Spiritual Addition

We begin a new year, a fresh new start. Opening a new year energizes us to do good deeds for ourselves, our families, our friends and our communities. We will try our best to commit sincerely to whatever resolutions we’ve made. We may make resolutions to take better care of ourselves or to become more educated about God, the Merciful Creator of All Things. The important thing for me is thinking about God. Too often we forget to nurture our souls which is the source of all things. Thinking about God involves being grateful for all that He provides us, it is about remembering and thanking God.

What does it really mean to thank God? It means having the proper awareness for the source of what we are thanking God for in order to understand our world. It means being awake.

We utilize Bediuzzaman Said Nursi’s brilliant methodology to gain awareness in thanking God for whatever He gives us. But there is more involved than simply having an awareness of the Source of the qualities of the thing given, that is only part  of it. God creates the order of this universe in harmony, He places connections between all things. This is the unity inherent in the nature of the created order of all the worlds.

Let’s take a closer look:

Let’s say, for example, that we wish to thank God for an orange we are about to eat. Using Bediuzzaman’s methodology, we know by reflecting upon the orange and confirming that the qualities of this fruit cannot be attributed to itself or to any cause since neither has any power to bring the orange into existence, that this thing must have a Creator, and that whoever created this orange must also have created everything in the universe, and therefore, we conclude that this Creator must be Absolutely Powerful.

But are we finished? Is that all there is in being aware in thanking God for the orange we are going to eat? No, there is more. There is also the relationship between the fruit and the person reflecting upon it. Not only is God the Source of all the qualities of the orange, this external piece of fruit, but He is also the Source for everything that connects us to the orange. He is the Source of our ability to reflect upon this orange, to taste the orange, to chew and swallow it, and to digest it. God gives our bodies the ability to extract the nutrients from the orange, to distribute these nutrients in our blood throughout our bodies, and to process these nutrients to keep our bodies functioning. There are multiple processes, from macroscopic to microscopic, we can become aware of in thanking God for just this one orange we are about to eat. It is not simply a separate, external orange. In this created order, everything is attributed to God. We become fully aware that the inter-relatedness of all things connects us to the unity, and thus to God-consciousness.

Is there anything else we can gain from this? Yes, indeed there is. When we become truly aware of the process involved through Said Nursi’s methodology of using our reasoning to confirm our belief in God, and thanking God for all things, we also realize that this process is, in fact, a powerful act of worshipping God. Most importantly, we realize our awareness in this act of worship immediately brings us into the presence of God. In that moment of our awareness of the power of Almighty God, we are awakened.

We, at the Risale-i Nur Institute of America, extend a warm and happy new year for 2012 to everyone; may it be a year full of peace and prosperity for all. I would like to close with the following hadith: Prophet Muhammed (ASM) said: “When someone is secure in his property, healthy in his body and has his food for the day, it is as if he owned the entire world.” (Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)

–Dr. Osman Birgeoglu

 

 

 

A Reassuring Message of Hopes

Our hearts reach out to all who are affected by typhoon Washi which struck the southern Philippines last Friday night. The typhoon has overwhelmed the region, changing the lives of over 150,000 people. There have been 650 reported dead, many of them children. Hundreds are still missing and scores are injured, and many have been displaced. “The suffering here is unspeakable,” says Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard J. Gordon. Help is urgently needed.

Illness, suffering, and disaster are facts of life from which no one is exempt. Mostly they are seen to be the inescapable evils of life, despite the advances in medicine, science, and technology in modern times. For just as these tremendous advances have not eliminated illness and disaster, indeed there is no sign of their lessening, so too have they not offered  any cure for the non-physical pain and suffering which result from them, and exacerbate them. This is surely true for all facets of modern civilization. Although its material progress has greatly improved the material lives of some sections of humanity, it has clearly not brought with it happiness and fulfillment for all.

This point is analyzed in detail by Bediuzzaman Said Nursi in the Risale-i Nur Collection in his comparisons between the ways offered to man by the Qur’an on the one hand, and philosophy on the other; those of belief and unbelief, guidance and misguidance. In these he proves and illustrates that man’s happiness and true progress are only to be found in the former way, that of recognition of the existence and unity of this world’s Creator, and of the prophets and scriptures. He has sent, and particularly in His final revelation, the Qur’an, and complete religion for mankind, Islam, and the Prophet Muhammad (ASM), who brought them. For it is only from these that man can learn the true purpose and meaning of both his own existence and that of the universe, and that of such questions as life and death, illness, suffering and disaster.

The twenty-five ‘Remedies’ that Bediuzzaman offers in Message for the Sick spring from the Qur’an and present an entirely different view of illness and disaster to that described above. Considered in the light of the Qur’an and through the lens of belief, illness is seen to contain so many benefits, advantages, and instances of wisdom that far from being something to be feared and complained about, it should be submitted to with thanks and patience. The same may be said regarding any disaster and source of suffering.

Note that Bediuzzaman is not opposed to modern medicine and its advances, indeed he writes that in “the pharmacy of the earth” is to be found a cure for every illness, and these should be benefitted from. But one should be aware that the effects of medicines are from Almighty God, just as He provides them. In addition, since man’s true sicknesses arise from unbelief, and physical illness itself very often results from “abuses” and “excesses”, that is, from not adhering to the teachings of religion, Bediuzzaman suggests that to find a cure, recourse should be had to believing, religious doctors, and that “materialist and heedless doctors” should themselves “take the medicines of belief from the sacred pharmacy of the Qur’an” if they are truly to heal others.

With his unparalleled insight into the human spirit as well as unequalled knowledge of the Qur’an, Bediuzzaman offers most gentle and effective remedies which are a consolation and cure for both the physically sick and those wounded by unbelief and misguidance. His advice is applicable in all situations of hardship, suffering, and disaster. In a special section of Message for the Sick, Bediuzzaman gives several points in his letter of condolence on the death of a child. Below is an excerpt:

First Point: The meaning of the phrase, “immortal youths” (56:17, 76:19) in the All-Wise Qur’an is this: with this phrase, the verse indicates and gives the good news that the children of believers who die before reaching maturity will remain perpetually as eternal, lovable children in a form worthy of Paradise; that they will be an everlasting source of happiness in the embrace of their fathers and mothers who go to Paradise; and will ensure that their parents receive the sweetest of pleasures, the loving and caressing of children; and that all pleasurable things will be found in Paradise; that those who say that since Paradise is not the place for the reproduction there will be no loving and caressing of children, are not correct; and that gaining millions of years of pure, pain-free loving and caressing of eternal children instead of a brief ten years or so  of loving them mixed with the sorrows of this world, is a source of great happiness for believers.” –Bediuzzaman Said Nursi

May we all find courage, patience, strength and consolation through the verses of the Qur’an and the interpretive words of the Risale-i Nur.

–Dr. Osman Birgeoglu

 

 

Collective Mentality vs Ego

When we think about life, our families, each other, and this glorious temporary home of Earth, we realize we are given all these miraculous gifts for a purpose, namely, to know and worship our Creator. Knowing our Creator requires understanding that the words in our Holy Book are God speaking to us. We read and study His words, and then, utilizing our human qualities and properties to investigate and reflect on the creation, we confirm our beliefs in His words. Our Creator tells us to treat each other with kindness and respect, to form and keep strong bonds with members of our communities and to cooperate with them, and that unity and brotherhood are most important. Examples of this collective mentality can be read in the following verses:

The Believers are but a single Brotherhood: So make peace and reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers; (Quran 49:10)

Work together for the sake of virtue and piety. (Quran 5:2)

And hold fast, all of you together to the rope of Allah and be not divided among yourselves and remember Allah’s favor on you, for you were enemies one to another, but He joined your hearts together so that by His Grace you became brethren. (Quran 3:103)

We also read about the collective mentality of community, solidarity, unity, and brotherhood in the ahadiths, the following examples illustrate this:

Prophet Muhammad (ASM) also said in a Hadeeth Qudsi: “Allah, the Exalted, says ‘Indeed, My Love shall be bestowed upon the ones who visit each other for My Sake. Indeed, My Love shall be bestowed upon the ones who love one another for My Sake. Indeed, My Love shall be bestowed upon the ones who approach one another in humility for My Sake. And, indeed, My Love shall be bestowed upon the ones that rush to help one another for My Sake.” (Musnad Imam Ahmad)

“Shall I tell you about a status which is better than prayer, fasting and giving charity?” They said: “Please do”. He answered: “To maintain zat al-bain [essential community bonds] in good order”. He then added: “When zat al-bain is corrupted, it destroys all” (Narrated by Al-Bukhari in Al-adab al-mufarrad following Abu Al-Dardaa)

The Messenger of Allah (ASM) said, “A Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hand the people are safe.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

We have a responsibility to ourselves, each other and to the entire planet to be caretakers and live in alliance with all beings as brothers. An egocentric orientation is harmful, destructive, limiting, and invariably leads to loss at multiple levels, there is no genuine benefit in greed, self-centeredness, egoism, arrogance, or the “me” mentality. On the other hand, living with a collective mind set, an “us” community mentality, allows all to prosper regarding the needs of all beings and humanity through mutual cooperation, assistance and sharing.

Bediuzzaman Said Nursi elaborates further:

“You and I are members of a collective personality such as that, worthy of the title of ‘perfect man.’ We are like the components of a factory’s machinery which produces eternal happiness within eternal life. We are hands working on a dominical boat which will disembark the Community of Muhammed (PBUH) at the Realm of Peace, the shore of salvation. So we are surely in need of solidarity and true union, obtained through gaining sincerity—for the mystery of sincerity secures through four individuals the moral strength of one thousand one hundred and eleven—indeed, we are compelled to obtain it.

Yes, if three alifs do not unite, they have the value of three. Whereas if they do unite, through the mystery of numbers they acquire the value of one hundred and eleven. If four times four remain apart, they have a value of sixteen. But if, through the mystery of brotherhood and having a common goal and joint duty, they unite coming together shoulder to shoulder on a line, they have the strength and value of four thousand four hundred and forty-four. Just as numerous historical events testify that the moral strength and value of sixteen self-sacrificing brothers have been greater than that of four thousand.

The underlying reason for this mystery is this: each member of a true and sincere union may see also with the eyes of the other brothers, and hear with their ears. As if each person of a true union of ten has the value and strength of seeing with twenty eyes, thinking with ten minds, hearing with twenty ears, and working with twenty hands.”

-Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (from Brotherhood and Sincerity)

–Dr. Osman Birgeoglu

Transition from creation to Creator

Mankind is Almighty God’s most beloved creation; of all beings both animate and inanimate, it is the human being that is created most exalted, most comprehensive with respect to unity within all worlds, and most favored. Yet it is also we humans who have much to learn about finding God, understanding the meaning of the created world around us, and maintaining firm belief in He who creates everything. We are weak, needy and powerless, we can never create or sustain ourselves or anything else. We exist in a realm of physicality where all things are transient. We must cultivate proper knowledge and understanding of our Creator because we are indeed created and all creation is constantly unfolding, and thus we must direct our awareness and attention to Him in worship. Without this understand and knowledge, we will face the epitome of anxiety, loss, pain, and suffering. Ustad Bediuzzaman Said Nursi provides an eloquent explanation to help us grasp this better:

“O my soul! As we have stated repeatedly, since man is the fruit of the tree of creation, he is a creature which, like a fruit, is the furthest and most comprehensive and looks to everything, and bears the seed of a heart which holds within it the aspects of unity of everything, and whose face looks to multiplicity, transience, and the world. As for worship, it is a line of union which turns his face from transience to permanence, from creation to Creator, from multiplicity to unity, and from the extremity to the source, or it is a point of union between the source and the extremity. If a valuable, conscious fruit which will form a seed looks to the living creatures beneath the tree, and relying on its beauty throws itself into their hands; if being heedless, it falls; it will fall to their hands and be smashed, and will go for nothing like a common fruit. But if the fruit finds its point of support, and it is able to think that by the seed within it holding the aspects of unity of the whole tree, it will be the means of tree’s continuance and the continued existence of the tree’s reality, then a single seed within that single fruit will manifest a perpetual universal truth within an everlasting life.

In the same way, if man plunges into multiplicity, is drowned in the universe and intoxicated by love of the world, is deceived by the smiles of ephemeral beings and casts himself into their arms, he certainly falls into infinite loss. He falls into both transitoriness, and ephemerality, and non-existence. In effect he sentences himself to death. But if he listens with the ear of his heart to the lessons in belief from the tongue of the Qur’an and raises his head and turns towards unity, he may rise through the ascension of worship to the throne of perfections. He may become an eternal man.

O my soul! Since the reality is thus, and since you are a member of the nation of Abraham (Peace be upon him), like Abraham, say: I do not love those that set [disappear]. (6:76)  Turn your face to the Eternal Beloved and weep the following lines like me. The Persian verses to be included here have been included in the Second Station of the Seventeenth Word, and have not been repeated here.” -Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (from the Risale-i Nur CollectionWorship and the Prayers or The Words)

Dr. Osman Birgeoglu

A Warm and Happy Thanksgiving to All and Announcing Our Nur-the Light Magazine!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the United States. People celebrate this holiday with a large feast among family and good friends.  It is a time of sharing, giving, and most importantly, Thanksgiving is a time of gratitude for God’s Bounties. We, at the Risale-i Nur Institute of America with its two branches Nur Publishers and Nursi School of Theology, have much to be thankful for during this Thanksgiving Holiday.

Announcement: Many will recall that we published Nur-the Light Magazine Copyright ©.  Historically, from 1974 through 2000, thousands of publications were reaching over 70 countries from Sweden to India, from Alaska to Australia and to the Philippines. Unfortunately, due to financial shortage, we ceased its publication some time ago. We have good news! We are now very excited and pleased to formally announce our plans to once again offer this extremely popular magazine. Plans are underway! You may look forward to the new edition of Nur-the Light Magazine © in the near future.  We give very much thanks to God for this. Alhamdulillah!

Let us all remember throughout this Thanksgiving Holiday to be grateful to God for the immense service of all His Messengers, 124,000 to be exact. We will concentrate more in the near future on this very important topic of God’s Messengers. We extend in our warmest, most joyous wishes to all our readers, fans, and friends A Very Happy Thanksgiving!

Dr. Osman Birgeoglu

A Certain Reality: Immortality

When we reflect deeply on human nature, we realize a fundamental principle of wanting immortality resides within the core of our existence. This principal can neither be denied nor ignored, in truth. Some people choose to ignore their inner spiritual selves temporarily, but they cannot escape it, even if they are not aware at a conscious level, they get glimpses of it’s reality when it repeatedly surfaces. Ustad Bediuzzaman’s explanation elucidates this principle very impressively:

“Included in human nature is an intense love of immortality. Even, because of his power of imagination, man fancies a sort of immortality in everything he loves. He cries out from the depths of his being whenever he thinks of or sees their passing. All lamentations at separation are expressions of the weeping caused by love of immortality. If there were no imagined immortality, there would be no love. It might even be said that the intense desire for immortality arising from that passionate love of immortality, and from the spontaneous general prayer for immortality, is a reason for the existence of the eternal realm and everlasting Paradise. The Eternal One of Glory accepted man’s intense, unshakeable, innate desire and his powerful, effective, general prayer, for He created an eternal realm for him, a transient being.

Is it at all possible that the Munificent and Compassionate Creator would accept the insignificant wish of a tiny stomach and its supplication through the tongue of disposition for a temporary immortality by creating innumerable delicious foods, and not accept the intense desire of all humankind, which arises from an overpowering innate need, and its universal, constant, rightful, just prayer for immortality, offered through word and state? God forbid, a hundred thousand times! It is impossible that He would not accept it. Not to accept it would be in keeping with neither his wisdom, nor His justice, nor His mercy, nor His power.

Since man is most desirous of immortality, all his perfections and pleasures are dependent upon it. And since immortality is particular to the Eternal One of Glory; and since the Eternal One’s names are enduring and immortal; and since the Eternal One’s mirrors take on the hue of the Eternal One, and reflect His decree, and manifest a sort of immortality; for sure the matter most important for man, his most pressing duty, is to form a relation with that Eternal One and to adhere to His names. For everything expended on the way of the Eternal One receives a sort of immortality. The second “O Eternal One, You alone are Eternal!” expresses this truth. In addition to healing man’s innumerable spiritual wounds, it satisfies the intense wish for immortality inherent in his nature.”

-Ustad Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (More information can be found in the Lights of Reality, or The Flashes, Third Flash.)

Dr. Osman Birgeoglu

Islam means Peace

Islam means Peace

Today, we will address a crucial issue from the perspective of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi and the Risale-i Nur Collection. Our obligation, our moral duty and our fundamental responsibility is to correct the utterly false, but ongoing trend (especially seen in the media) that Islam condones violence, which Islam certainly does not and, indeed, cannot do based on the very Divine Principles which constitute the true essence of Islam. Immense and grave misunderstanding exists worldwide about Islam, especially in the West, but also in Muslim countries. Many people of all faiths such as fundamentalists, extremists, and those who promote terrorism have failed to understand the decisive definition that Islam means peace. This essential disconnection, misunderstanding and profound twisting of God’s Truth is particularly seen in the phrase ‘Islam rules by the sword’ and in the term ‘jihad’.

To eradicate these false claims, we will first reflect on what Ustad Bediuzzaman explains regarding two extremely important verses in the Quran that are most relevant to the misunderstandings:

 “ Let there be no compulsion in religion; Truth stands out from error, whoever rejects evil and believes in God has grasped the most trustworthy handhold, that never breaks. And God is All-Seeing, All-Knowing. God is the protector of those who have faith; from the depths of darkness He will lead them forth into the light. While those who do not believe, their patrons are the evil ones; from the light they will lead them forth into the depths of darkness. They will be companions of Fire, to dwell therein forever.” (Qur’an 2:256-7)

Bediuzzaman states the meaning of these two verses quite clearly:

“Furthermore, as far as the word khalidun —to dwell therein for ever, by repeating the contrast between light and darkness, and belief and darkness —the source and origin of all the comparisons in the Risale-i Nur and just like them— is a concealed sign that a great hero in the contest of the ‘mânevî jihad’ at that date is the Risale-i Nur, which bears the name of light. For its immaterial sword has solved hundreds of the mysteries of religion, leaving no need for physical swords.” -Ustad Bediuzzaman (from The Rays )

He also addresses this issue in his following quotes:

“As for one who strikes with the sword, the sword turns back and hits his own innocent. Now victory is not with the sword. There is a place for the sword, but it is the hand of the mind.” -Ustad Bediuzzaman (Munazarat)

“We are devotees of love; we do not have time for enmity.” -Ustad Bediuzzaman (The Damascus Sermon)

I feel it’s also important to consider what our translator, Sukran Vahide, says to help Westerners anywhere understand Islam:

“In answer to the question, then, of how Euro­peans need Islam to be presented, we would sug­gest that it needs to be presented to them as the rational explanation of this world, that is, our­selves and the universe. It needs to be presented to them as the Holy Qur’an directs. That is to say, it must be demonstrated that God Almighty did not create man with an intellect in order not to use it to increase his belief. Rather, he created this beautiful and wonderfully functioning universe and gave man intellect and sent prophets with revealed Books as guides, and finally the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) with the Holy Qur’an, in order that man might attain to rational and true belief. If the universe is presented as a book created as the means to introduce its Author, which human beings are invited to read using their intellects so as to be able to prove and understand rationally the truths of belief, then it will be clear that each person is directly responsi­ble to his Creator and that there is no need for any intermediary in the performance of his wor­ship and religion…

…Any European who can begin to see Islam in this way, that is, on the level of belief, will soon be able to see through the web of lies and the false image of Islam that has developed over the centuries. He will see that, as was demonstrated above, Islam does not accept aggression on any level. In the same way that it sees the cosmos as it is, functioning according to a universal system of mutual help and cooperation, so does it also preclude aggression in any form in the actions of human beings. And so too, jihad, commonly known as ‘holy war’, may only be fought in defense against outside aggression. (As for Islamic dress for women, a source of much mis­understanding in the West, it shall be considered in the fifth section below.) Furthermore, if such a person’s intention is sincere, that is, a person who can begin to see Islam on the level of belief, he will also understand that, far from being alien, Islam is God Almighty’s final and complete revealed religion that is totally in accord with man’s nature as a creature and human being, and as such transcends any restriction of race, color, or class.”

Mary Weld [Sukran Vahide,  our translator] (Excerpts taken from Islam, the West, and the Risale-i Nur )

We simply must take an active role in helping to dispel the false ideologies of Islam. There is only One Truth which belongs to God. We cannot ignore the Islamophobia and the harm it results in worldwide. The Risale-i Nur contains light-scattering wisdom from which all mankind can benefit and come together in unity and peace.

Dr. Osman Birgeoglu

Celebrating Eid-ul Adha

We offer our heartfelt congratulations to all our readers and friends for Eid-ul Adha which will begin Sunday, November 6th. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’Allah grant you many blessings during this happy celebration of four days! Please remember two important points:

1. During the day of Arafat (Arefe) this Saturday, if you are able, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi recommends that we recite 1,000 Ikhlas (Surah 112). Inshallah, this will bring us abundant rewards.

2. The importance of Tekbirat: after each Fard prayer we say one Tekbir. This practice starts with the morning (Fajr) prayer on Saturday, the day of Arefe, and it ends after afternoon (Asr) prayer on the fourth (last) day of Eid-ul Adha, a total of 23 times.

For further insight, we are including Ustad Bediuzzaman Said Nursi’s words from the Fourth Ray of the Sixteenth Word:

“FOURTH RAY 

And so, O my lazy soul! Like the soldier in the previous comparison was received into the royal presence as a pure favour, the reality of the five daily prayers, which are like a sort of Ascension, are a being received into the presence of the All-Glorious One of Beauty, the Beauteous One of Glory, Who is the True Object of Worship, as an instance of pure mercy. Declaring, God is Most Great!, it is to traverse the two worlds either in fact, or in the imagination, or by intention, be divested of the restrictions of materiality, pass to a universal degree of worship or a shadow or form of universality, and being honoured with a sort of presence, it is to manifest the address, You alone do we worship (everyone according to his own capacity); it is a most elevated attainment. Through repeating, God is Most Great! God is Most Great! in the actions of the prayers, it is an indication to rising through the degrees, to spiritual progress, and to ascending from minor particulars to universal spheres, and is a concise title to the perfections of Divine Sublimity which are beyond our knowledge. It is as if each God is Most Great is an indication to traversing a step in the Ascension. To attain to a shadow or a ray of this reality of the prayers either in fact, or by intention, or with the imagination, is a great happiness.

The frequent declaring of God is Most Great! during the Hajj is for the above reason. For the blessed Hajj is worship at a universal level for everyone. Just as on a special day like a festival a soldier goes to the king’s celebrations like a General in the sphere of General, and receives his favours, in the same way, a Hajji, no matter how lowly, is turned towards his Sustainer under the title Mighty Sustainer of every region of the earth, like a saint who has traversed all the degrees. He is honoured with universal worship. For sure, the universal degrees of Dominicality opened with the key of the Hajj, and the horizons of the tremendousness of Godhead which are visible to his eye through its telescope, and the spheres of worship which gradually unfold to his heart and imagination through its observances, and the heat, wonder, awe, and dread of Dominicality caused by the levels of sublimity and last stage of manifestation, can only be quieted by, God is Most Great! God is Most Great!, and those observed or imagined unfolded degrees can only be proclaimed by it. After the Hajj, this meaning is found in various exalted and universal degrees in the Festival (‘Eid) Prayers, the prayers for rain, and on the occasions of solar and lunar eclipses, and in prayers performed as a congregation. Thus, the importance of the marks and observances of Islam, also even if of the category of Sunna, lies in this reason.” -B. Said Nursi

Dr. Osman Birgeoglu

Tahiri Mutlu Agabey

My reply to our Admin in a conversation about Tahiri Mutlu Agabey:

“Tahiri Mutlu was special, he was like a saint to Bediuzzaman (once Bediuzzaman said about Tahiri Agabey: ‘He doesn’t know that he’s a saint.’) Tahiri Agabey didn’t talk much, he was always serious and quiet, but when he did speak his conversations were very informative and sweet, and we always listened carefully to what he had to say.

In the early 1970’s I was visiting Tahiri Agabey and he told us one of his encounters with Bediuzzaman in Van. Bediuzzaman’s early students were not acting very seriously in their chores and Bediuzzaman turned to them and said: ‘YOU DON’T KNOW WHO I AM!’ And when Tahiri Agabey told us this particular quote, his voice was very loud and we knew that Bediuzzaman was upset with the students.”

Dr. Osman Birgeoglu

P.S. You may also view a video of Tahiri Agabey at:  http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10150165257382508

 

 

 

“In Everything is a Sign that God is One”

We see historically the dilemma that Theology is deficient in teaching knowledge of God, and furthermore, it does not give people a complete sense of the Divine Presence. Mastering both these aspects is significant because without such mastery, one may not advance in the degrees of certainty of knowing God (i.e. ilmel yakin, aynel yakin, and haqqal yakin). Bediuzzaman Said Nursi was aware of the great need to teach both aspects. Ustad Bediuzzaman, through his Risale-i Nur works (consisting of 130 books) on the meaning of the Quran for our contemporary time, sheds further specific light on this otherwise perpetual dilemma:

In everything a window opens up onto knowledge of God.

In some of the Words we have illustrated with the following comparison the differences between the way of the scholars of theology and the true highway taken from the Qur’an: in order to have water, some is brought from a distant place by means of pipes, tunnelling through mountains. And some of it is obtained by digging wells everywhere. The first sort is fraught with difficulties; the pipes become blocked or broken. But those who know how to dig wells and extract water can find water everywhere with no trouble.

Similarly, utilizing the impossibility of causation and causal sequences, the scholars of theology cut the chains of causes at the extremities of the world and then proved the existence of the Necessarily Existent One. They travelled a long road. However, the true highway of the Wise Qur’an finds water everywhere and extracts it. All its verses cause water to flow forth wherever they strike, like the Staff of Moses. Each makes everything recite the rule: In everything is a sign indicating that He is One.

Furthermore, faith (îman) is not gained only through knowledge; many of the subtle faculties have their share of it. When food enters the stomach, it is distributed in various ways to various members. Similarly, after entering the stomach of the mind, the matters of faith that come through knowledge are absorbed by the spirit, heart, inner heart, soul, and other subtle faculties; each receives its share according to its degree. If they do not receive their share, faith is deficient. Muhyi’l-Din al-‘Arabi was reminding Fakhr al-Din Razi* of this point.”

-Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (more on this can be found in The Letters, Twenty-Sixth Letter, or  Lights of Reality )

* Bediuzzaman clarifies the teachings of both these scholars.

Dr. Osman Birgeoglu

True Belief and Trust in God

Before reading the Risale-i Nur (many years ago), although I was indeed a believer, I didn’t know the extent of the power of belief. Bediuzzaman puts belief into such a perspective that we understand the enormous importance of belief in God. When you learn the real power of belief, it gives you indescribable joy and greatly eases the pressures of life. With my belief, I always try to remember God and act accordingly which makes me feel very happy. It’s just an incredible experience to learn and appreciate the value of belief in God. Until the Risale-i Nur, I didn’t have such a deep understanding of the importance of belief. I really enjoy reading the section of the Risale-i Nur quoted below. Each time I read it I get more out of it, and although I’ve read it more than 100 times, I am still looking forward to reading it again and again. I just can’t get enough of it….

And here is the part I am talking about from Bediuzzaman Said Nursi’s Masterpiece: Belief and Man from the Risale-i Nur Collection:

“Belief is both light and strength. Yes, the person who acquires true belief may challenge the whole universe and be saved from the pressure of events in accordance with the strength of his belief. Saying, “I place my trust in God,” he travels through the mountainous waves of events in the ship of life in complete safety. He entrusts all his burdens to the hand of power of the Absolutely Powerful One, voyages through the world in ease, then takes his rest in the Intermediate Realm. Later he may fly up to Paradise in order to enter eternal happiness. But if he does not rely on God, rather than flying, the burdens of the world will drag him down to the lowest of the low. That is to say, belief necessitates affirmation of divine unity, affirmation of divine unity necessitates submission to God, submission to God necessitates trust in God, and trust in God necessarily leads to happiness in this world and the next.

But do not misunderstand this, trust in God is not to reject causes altogether; it is to know that causes are a veil to the hand of power and have recourse to them. It is to know that to attempt causes is a sort of active prayer and to seek the effects only from Almighty God; to recognize that the results are from Him alone, and to be thankful to Him.”

-Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (Belief and Man)

Dr. Osman Birgeoglu

Essentials of Belief

Belief is the means by which we may learn to know more about our Creator. We can gain important insight into the meaning and essentials of belief through the words of Ustad Bediuzzaman:

The Requirements of Belief  – [An extract from a letter written to some students of the Risale-i Nur at Istanbul university ]

“In His name, be He glorified!

AT the end of the The Staff of Moses, there is the answer I gave to the question of one of our brothers, Küçük Ali, small in name but great in spirit. Read it, for some critics said to him, in an effort to belittle the Risale-i Nur, “Everyone knows God; the common man believes in God just like the saint.”  They wished in this way to present the exalted, valuable and most essential discussions contained in the Risale-i Nur as superfluous. Now too in Istanbul, with a still more destructive intention, some hypocrites of anarchist persuasion, who have fallen prey to utter unbelief, wish cunningly to deprive everyone of the truths of the faith that are contained in the Risale-i Nur and are as essential to man as bread and water. They say: “Every nation and every individual knows God; we have no great need for new instruction in this matter.”

To know God, however, means to have certain faith in God’s dominicality encompassing all beings, and in all things, particular and general, from the atoms to the stars, being in the grasp of His power, action and will; it means believing in the truths of the sacred words, “There is no god but God,” and assenting to them with one’s heart. But simply to say, “God exists,” and then to divide His kingdom among secondary causes and nature and attribute it to them; to recognize secondary causes as sources of authority, as if – God forbid – they were the partners of God; to fail to perceive His will and knowledge as present with all things; to refuse to recognize His strict commands, and to reject His attributes, and the messengers and prophets He has sent – this has nothing to do with the reality of belief in God. Rather the person who does all this, and says “God exists,” does so only in order to find some relief from the torment he suffers in the world after his unbelief has made it a hell for him. Not to deny is one thing, to believe is some­thing completely different.

No being endowed with consciousness, in the whole universe, can indeed deny the All-Glorious Creator to Whom every particle of existence bears witness. Or if he does make such a denial, it will be refuted by all of creation, and hence become silent and diffident. But believing in him is, as the Qur’an of Mighty Stature informs us, to assent in one’s heart to the Creator with all of His attributes and names, supported by the testimony of the whole universe; to recognize the messengers He has sent and the commands He has promulgated; and to make sincere repentance and feel genuine regret for every sin and act of disobedience. Conversely, to commit every kind of sin, and then never to seek pardon for it or concern oneself with it, is a sure sign of the absence of any element of faith

Thus my spiritual offspring, an important event has become the occasion for a brief exposition of a long and complex matter.”

-Ustad Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (from The Fruits From the Tree of Light )

Dr. Osman Birgeoglu

Worship is man’s path to true progress & happiness

Man’s primary purpose in life is to worship the Creator of all the worlds. We understand from reading and contemplating the methodology of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi’s Risale-i Nur Collection that there must necessarily be a Source for all things as no single thing has the ability to create itself, to bring itself into existence from a state of non-existence.  We also know that this Source must be Absolute (and is thus indivisible or One, not multiple) because we easily observe the same laws of justice, wisdom, beauty, compassion, etc. in all things in the world which points directly to the harmony of the Unity and Oneness of the Creator. For example: He who creates the beauty in a flower creates the same beauty everywhere in all things. Most importantly, nothing has the power to escape death, nothing can maintain its own existence, rather all things are weak and necessarily depend on the Creator to sustain their existence. For this reason, we worship God, the All-Knowing, All-Seeing, All-Hearing, All-Powerful Creator.

The Glorious Quran tells us about worship in the following verses contained in a helpful excerpt on worship from Bediuzzaman Said Nursi’s Risale-i Nur Collection, The Short Words:

O you people! Worship your Sustainer, Who created you and those who came before you that you may attain to fear of God, Who made the earth a resting-place for you, and the sky a dome; and sent down rain from the sky, and brought forth with it all manner of fruit and crops for your sustenance. So make nothing the peer or partner of God now that you know.” (Quran 2:21-22)

How worship is the cause of personal attainment and perfection:

Consider this: together with being physically small, weak, and powerless, and being one of the animals, man bears within him an exalted spirit, and has vast potentiality, unrestricted desires, infinite hopes, uncountable ideas and unlimited powers, and he has a nature so strange he is as though an index of all the species and all the worlds. As for worship, it expands his spirit and raises his value; it causes his abilities to unfold and develop, allowing him to become worthy of eternal happiness. Worship is also a means of rectifying and purifying his inclinations, and of realizing his hopes and making them fruitful, and marshalling his ideas and setting them in order, and also of reining in and limiting his three powers of appetite, anger, and intellect. Worship also removes the rust of nature from his members, physical and spiritual, each of which when transparent is like a window onto his private world and that of humankind. Also, when performed with both conscience and mind and heart and body, worship raises man to the dignity of which he is worth and to his appointed perfection. It is a subtle, elevated relation, an illustrious lofty connection between the bondsman and the One Worshipped. This relation constitutes the utmost degree of human perfection.

-Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (from the Risale-i Nur Collection, The Short Words)

Dr. Osman Birgeoglu

Look at the new life after death…our transition to eternal will be similar!

 

Powerful Medicine for Today’s Problems

I was reading Sincerity and Brotherhood and I realized that what Bediuzzaman said is very applicable to the current problems we are witnessing here and around the world. For this reason, we chose Sincerity and Brotherhood  for our book of the month. I encourage all of us to deeply reflect on the following wisdom of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, and please share this important material with your friends. We all know how much humanity is hurting today and needs this timeless advice:

“The time for enmity and hostility has finished. Two world wars have shown how evil, destructive, and what an awesome wrong is enmity. It has become clear that there is no benefit in it at all. In which case, on condition they are not aggressive, do not let the evils of our enemies attract your enmity. Hell and Divine punishment are enough for them.

Sometimes, man’s arrogance and self-worship cause him to be unjustly hostile towards believers without his being aware of it; he supposes himself to be right. But this hostility and enmity is to slight powerful causes of love towards the believers, like belief, Islam, and fellow-humanity; it is to reduce their value. It is a lunacy like preferring the insignificant causes of enmity to the causes of love, which are as great as a mountain.

Since love and enmity are contrary to one another, like light and darkness, they cannot truly combine. The opposite of whichever is predominant in the heart cannot at the same time be truly present.”

-Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (from Sincerity and Brotherhood )

Dr. Osman Birgeoglu

Worldly vs. Otherworldly News: A Comparison

Every week, we hear through the media that new things are being discovered in the universe such as a new star or planet, or a previously unknown phenomenon.  Understandably, we get excited and we enjoy what the scientists discover, even though our eyes have not seen what theirs have. This reminds me that we should also thoroughly enjoy the news which comes from Prophets and Messengers, for they are no less credible than the scientists. By this way, our lives become wholesome: we integrate the worldly with the otherworldly realities.

For example:

  • Prophet Abraham teaches us obeying God’s commands.
  • Prophet Moses tells us about Eternal Life.
  • Prophet David delivers the Psalms to us.
  • Prophet Jesus teaches us about Judgement Day.
  • Prophet Muhammad talks about the Afterlife’s 50,000 year-long accounting we will all face.

The Prophets and Messengers are trustworthy. We need to believe these great Envoys of God and prepare ourselves accordingly. Not to prepare ourselves for our future is not wise. Like preparing ourselves for a summer travel, we need to be prepared for the long journey towards Eternal Life. We cannot afford not to take them seriously.

Next time we look at the sky, we should try to remember this: there are many things we do not see that the experts do. We should heed their words, whether worldly or otherworldly, and be grateful that such excellence is delivered to us as good news. Remember to find out more good news from the otherworld through God’s Messengers.

Dr. Osman Birgeoglu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                        NASA Hubble Telescope image of interacting galaxies Arp 273

Everything is written in the Quran!

Our beloved Manisali Ali Hoca told us this true story:

Many years ago in Cairo, Egypt, a person came to the Grand Sheikh of Jami-ul Azhar and asked the Sheikh the following question:

“The Quran says, ‘Wa la ratbin wa la yagbisin illa fi kitabun mubin’.” [Quran 6:59] (“and nothing fresh or dry but is recorded in a clear book”…scholars believe this clear book to be the Quran).  The person then asks the Sheikh, “since the Quran says this, will you show me how to make bread from the Quran?”

The Grand Sheikh sent for a baker. When the baker arrived, the Sheikh asked him, “How do you make bread?”. The baker described the process in detail from beginning to end. The person raised an objection to the Sheikh to this and said, “No, no, I asked you to show me in the Quran!”

The Grand Sheikh replied, “The Quran says, ‘if you don’t know something, ask somebody who does know. Therefore, the Quran has answered your question.’ ”

Dr. Osman  Birgeoglu

 

A Happy Eid to All

I wish all of our readers a very happy and most blessed Eid after fasting the month of Ramadan.  We welc0me and share with you our Eid celebrations for the next few days! May Allahu Ta’ala grant each of you health, peace, and prosperity, and may He keep us all on the straight path of His Most Noble Messenger as we continue journeying towards eternity.  Amin.

Dr. Osman Birgeoglu and Staff

Blue mosque in Istanbul, spring 2002 author T. Moravec

My Memories of Agabeys to Share

As I sit here fondly remembering my days with Bediuzzaman’s close students (my teachers), I want to share some treasures with you.

 1) One day, Bayram Yuksel Agabey said, “Bediuzzaman would always  walk most tenderly and respectfully when stepping on the rocks  climbing the mountains of Barla or Emirdag.” After hearing that story  (again, this was many years ago), I thought to myself, “wow!”.  This  story opened my heart and allowed me to deepen my awareness and  sensitivity towards inanimate beings.

2) Another time, I heard one of the Agabeys sharing Bediuzzaman’s  memories. One thing he said was, “Bediuzzaman was not  permitting any of his students to break light bulbs which were thrown  away.” (It was a common thing among children to blow up old, burnt out light bulbs by say, throwing them against rocks, walls, anything where they’d make a loud sound.)

3) In the good old days, we didn’t have much isolation within the houses. The windows and doors were frequently left open during summer months. Flies, which were particularly abundant and bothersome in the summer, would easily enter and continue to buzz around us. However, Bediuzzaman was protective of the flies and did not permit his students to harm them. There are quite a number of incidents involving flies with several of Bediuzzaman’s students. Once, I was told that Bediuzzaman said, “do not bother my little birds.”  Whenever flies become bothersome, I always remember what I’ve learned from Bediuzzaman’s close students.

4) As I sit here writing the above memories, one memory in particular just came to me. Molla Hamid Agabey would often speak about Bediuzzaman’s early life. One time, I remember a story of Molla Hamid Agabey; the story goes as follows:

One day, Bediuzzaman’s students prepared a meal for themselves in the little house (such houses are now called dersane) they were living in.  After the meal was ready, they left the house to get something. When they returned, they found the door wide open and the meal had been eaten by a wolf.  The students were so disappointed and upset, and they were very angry with the wolf.  They kept talking and talking against the wolf.  Bediuzzaman came and inquired what they were complaining about. Upon hearing the story, Bediuzzaman told them, “do not back-bite the wolf! It’s your own fault you left the door open.”  (As we see here, Bediuzzaman did not allow back-biting against even animals.)

5) In those early years of Bediuzzaman’s life, Bediuzzaman was telling his early students, like Molla Hamid Agabey, regarding the wild-growing fruits found in the mountains and valleys as follows: “do not eat them, they are the sustenance for the wild animals.” I recall especially how delicious the wild pears were, which we were eating before we knew of this story.  I soon learned of the story and ever since I think of this powerful advice by Bediuzzaman.

I ask that we continue to think about the ramifications of the principles contained in just these few, small treasures. The wisdom is endless, the benefits are saintly, and the implications are far-reaching for all life on this planet. I have more stories from my many years with the Agabeys.  I will try, inshallah, to share most of them as we go along…

Dr. Osman Birgeoglu

P.S. Bediuzzaman’s early teachings took place around this mountain, Mt. Ararat. Three pictures of this mountain are the least I can include to honor the good old days of Molla Hamid Agabey with Ustad Bediuzzaman Said Nursi.

Approaching the Night of Power

Muslims around the world have entered the last 10 days of Ramadan. This period is when the Night of Power (Layletul Kadr) occurs, although the exact night is unknown. On this Holy Night, the Qur’an was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad (ASM) in a cave near Mecca. Our focus must be on sincere prayer and seeking closeness to God Almighty. If our intentions and prayers are sincere, we may hope to receive maximum rewards, God Willing.

The importance of the Night of power is explained in the Holy Qur’an, the Ahadiths, and the Risale-i Nur:

Qur’an 97:1-5 “Indeed, We sent the Qur’an down during the Night of Power. And what can make you know what is the Night of Power? The Night of Power is better than a thousand months. The angels and the Spirit descend therein by permission of their Lord for every matter. Peace it is until the emergence of dawn.”

Abu Hurayra said that the Messenger (ASM) said: “Whoever prays during the Night of Power with faith and hoping for its rewards will have all of his or her previous sins forgiven.” (Bukhari, Fadl Laylat al-Qadr)

Hadrat ‘Aisha reported: “I asked the Messenger of Allah: tell me what should I say (pray) on Lailatul Qadr if I know which night it is?” He said: say, “O Allah, You are forgiving and love forgiveness, so forgive me.” [Sunan Tirmidhi, Vol 2, page 191]

Ustad Bediuzzaman Said Nursi discusses the Night of Power in the following excerpt:

“And on the Night of Power, each word is counted as thirty thousand merits. Indeed, the All-Wise Qur’an, each of whose words yields thirty thousand eternal fruits, is like a luminous Tree of Tuba that gains for believers in Ramadan millions of those external fruits. So, come and look at this sacred, eternal profitable trade, then consider it and understand the infinite loss of those who do not appreciate the value of those words. To put it simply, the month of Ramadan is an extremely profitable display and market for the trade of the hereafter. It is an extremely fertile piece of land for the crops of the hereafter. For the growth and flourishing of actions it is like April showers in the spring. It is like a brilliant holy festival for the parade of mankind’s worship in the face of the sovereignty of Divine dominicality. Since it is thus, mankind has been charged with fasting in order not to heedlessly indulge the animal needs of the instinctual soul like eating and drinking, nor to indulge the appetites lustfully and in trivialities. For, by temporarily rising above animality and quitting the calls of this world, man approaches the angelic state and enters upon the trade of the hereafter. And by fasting, he approaches the state of the hereafter and that of a spirit appearing in bodily form. It is as if man then becomes a sort of mirror reflecting the Eternally Besought One. Indeed, the month of Ramadan comprises and gains a permanent and eternal life in this fleeting world and brief transient life. ” -Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, from the Risale-i Nur Collection, Twenty-Ninth Letter.

Dr. Osman Birgeoglu

NASA image of the Andromeda Galaxy

The Enormous Power of ‘Bismillah’ (In the Name of God)

The Quran is in Fatiha; the Fatiha is in Besmele (Bismillahirrahmanirrahim).”  –Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, from the Risale-i Nur Collection, 25th Word.

“Bismillah brings God’s help and concern. And that Divine concern becomes like a helping spirit for the person’s affairs. Therefore, noone should leave any of his or her affairs without Bismillah.” -Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, Risale-i Nur, Signs of Miraculousness

Before the revelation of the Quran, God’s Most Noble Messenger used to say, “Bismikallahumma” (in the Name of our Lord). Then God Almighty revealed to him the Bismillahirrahmanirrahim (in the Name of God, the most Merciful, the most Compassionate). Subhanallah, what a difference! One is man-made; the other is God’s Word carrying enormous power.

Dr. Osman Birgeoglu


 

Ramadan Around the World!

Muslims around the world are fasting during this holy month of Ramadan. In each country and region, there are different ways that Muslims celebrate the month.

In Turkey, people break their fast at sunset with a meal (“Iftar”) which commonly includes a special freshly-baked flat bread  called “pide”. The atmosphere is carnival-like as the mosques are lit up and colored lights are strewn on trees and buildings. Booths in the streets sell religious books, treats and things for children. The mosques also fill up quicker than normal as people come to pray and listen to recitations of the Qur’an.

In Lebanon, Egypt, as well as in Turkey, drummers go around town beating their drums and chanting Ramadan songs to wake people up for the early morning meal of “sahur”. With modern technology, though, this tradition is fading in the cities, but it still remains popular in the smaller towns and rural areas.

In Egypt, the symbol of Ramadan is the “Fanoos Ramadan”, which is a brightly colored lantern. The lanterns are put up on balconies and in the streets. Children love them and they commonly carry them around and sing Ramadan songs.

In Malaysia and Indonesia, the brightly colored festivities continue. In Indonesia, a carnival called “Dorderan” is held right before Ramadan for people to prepare for Ramadan. Additionally, the first three to five days of Ramadan is a holiday. Some schools even give the whole month off for students. In Malaysia, Eid ul-Fitr, the celebration after Ramadan, is known as Hari Raya. Muslims there celebrate this day by opening their homes to family and friends and serving lots of food. Guests bring a small gift of sweets or fruit. Even the king and queen and the prime minister and his wife have open houses for all who want to attend.

In the United States, it is of course different for Muslims during Ramadan. As most are not Muslim, the same sense of celebration is only apparent in the Muslim communities, but it is not a widespread, public phenomenon. However, mosques in the United States perform a similar role as the ones in Muslim countries. In fact, many Muslims in the US go to mosques in the evenings for Iftar. Last night, President Obama himself offered Iftar to Muslim American leaders.

Regardless of wherever Ramadan is celebrated, the most important thing for Muslims during this Holy month is to get closer to God through prayer. Additionally, family ties are strengthened and charity is emphasized, while fasting facilitates an awareness that God is provider of all things. Muslims are very much attuned to the fact that during Ramadan the rewards for their good deeds are multiplied 1,000 (and 30,000 times on the single, unspecified Night of Power).

Dr. Osman Birgeoglu

Ramadan in Jerusalem

 

 

Sources: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nb5ptAq7DrQ http://www.sensesofmalaysia.com/latest_article2.php http://faculty.ksu.edu.sa/aljarf/Activities/Nicenet%20posts%20-%20Ramadan%20in%20Islamic%20countries/Nicenet%20team%20post%20-%20Ramadan%20in%20Indonesia.pdf http://www.asharq-e.com/news.asp?section=7&id=10428 http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/Religion/ramazan.html

To Believe or not to Believe: The Supreme Choice

It is very disheartening to see that many people completely cut off their ability to know and find God. This choice is a great tragedy and results in not only permanent misery for those who choose this, but it also affects the entire world we live in, precisely because God designed this world as a carefully interwoven and interdependent tapestry.  If the ego does not submit to God, it is a dangerous choice. Without submission, the ego claims: ownership, self-subsistence, authority, and godliness over self. Only with faith in God may we as humans come to realize a number of critically important things:

  • We are never alone, God is always with us.
  • We are not the owners of anything, God is.
  • When we ask God for help, He answers us each time.
  • God is the Provider of all things.

We may visit Bediuzzaman Said Nursi‘s words from the Risale-i Nur to gain further insight:

“Belief makes man into man, indeed, it makes man into a king. Since this is so, man’s basic duty is belief and supplication. Unbelief makes man into an extremely impotent beast.Out of thousands of proofs of this matter, the differences in the ways animals and man come into the world are a clear indication and decisive proof. Yes, these differences show that humanity becomes humanity through belief. For when animals come into the world, they come complete in all points in accordance with their abilities as though having been perfected in another world; that is, they are sent. They learn all the conditions of their lives, their relationships with the universe, and the laws of life in either two hours or two days or two months, and become proficient in them. Animals like sparrows and bees acquire in twenty days the power to survive and proficiency in their actions that man only acquires in twenty years; that is, they are inspired with them. This means that the animals’ fundamental duty is not to be perfected through learning and progress by acquiring knowledge, nor to seek help and offer supplications through displaying their impotence, but in accordance with their abilities to work and act. Their duty is active worship.”

“This means that man came to this world to be perfected by means of knowledge and supplication. In regard to his nature and abilities everything is tied to knowledge. And the foundation, source, light, and spirit of all true knowledge is knowledge of God, and its essence and basis is belief in God.”

“Say, ‘My Sustainer would not concern Himself with you but for your supplication,’ ”

which has the meaning of:  What importance would you have if you did not offer Me supplications?

He also commands:

“Call upon Me and I will answer you.”

If you say: “We frequently offer supplications, but they are not accepted. But the verse is general, it states that every supplication is answered.”

The Answer: To answer is one thing, to accept is something quite different. Every supplication is answered, but its being accepted and exactly what was sought being given is dependant on Almighty God’s wisdom. For example, if a sick child calls the doctor, saying: “Doctor! Doctor!”, and he replies: “Here I am, what do you want?”, and the child says: “Give me that medicine!”,  the doctor will either give him exactly what he asks for or something better and more beneficial for him. Or knowing that it is harmful for his illness, he will give him nothing.

-Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, from the Risale-i Nur Collection, excerpts from the Twenty Third Word

Dr. Osman Birgeoglu

In Memory of Dr. Ibrahim Abu Rabi & his Service to Risale-i Nur

I wish to dedicate this post to my friend, Dr. Ibrahim Abu Rabi. His services to Risale-i Nur were outstanding, to say the least. His sudden and unexpected death came while traveling to Jordan, Saturday, July 2nd, this year. His death at the early age of 55 shocked many of us,  indeed, it was very sad news for all of us to lose such an exceptional scholar and important friend. We pray for his family now.  We also pray that his invaluable services to better understanding of Islam in the United States will continue.  Dr. Ibrahim was the first full-time Muslim faculty member at an accredited Christian Seminary, the Hartford Seminary.

Once, in 2005,  I was attending a conference at the Seminary in Connecticut, Dr. Ibrahim was the Chairperson for the conference.  He and I were also in the company of Mehmet Firinci Agabey and Sukran Vahide, both arriving to the US from Turkey. We all really enjoyed the presentations on the Risale-i Nur.  Dr. Ibrahim was the one person responsible for this conference taking place. I was coming from Phoenix, Arizona and at one point, Dr. Ibrahim told me: “how about if we have the next Risale-i Nur conference in Phoenix?” I was very happy for his encouragement of this suggestion. Inshaallah, his soul will be blessed and rewarded whenever our team holds seminars or lectures in Phoenix.

Needless to say, he brought so much good to very many people around the world.  We will not forget him. May Allah increase His blessings on our good brother, Ibrahim Abu Rabi. Ameen.

Dr. Osman Birgeoglu

 

For Ramadan: With Faith in God, We Find Serenity

“O mankind! Do not suppose that you own yourself, for you have no control over any of the things that concern you; such a load would be heavy. Also, you are unable to protect yourself, to avoid disasters, or to do those things that you must. In which case, do not suffer pain and torment without reason, the ownership is another’s. The Owner is both All-Powerful and All-Merciful; rely on His power and do not cast aspersions on His mercy! Leave grief behind, be joyful! Discard your troubles and find serenity!”

-Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, from the Risale-i Nur CollectionThe Letters

Norway Tragedy, Terrorism: Poor Education About God

In our modern world, we are facing a worldwide break down of education about God. This ignorance is not limited to any one religion nor to any one country, it has reached epidemic levels globally. To further illustrate, all we need to do is review the number of terrorist attacks which happen seemingly continuously in different places, originating from different people.  We need to ask questions, out-loud, among each other. Where did the ball drop in the culprit’s education on God? What went wrong? Why are they this way? What is our responsibility? And finally, what do we do about it?

Let’s start with education and proper upbringing.  A truly God-believing person does not harm any life. This has been true throughout the history of mankind. When we see people doing anything contrary to this truth, we need to examine their education system concerning God. About 70- 90% of the Western World and 95% of the Middle East believes in God. These numbers are remarkably high. Thus, within these “believers” we shouldn’t expect such a tragic outcome as the death of any innocent life.

How to respond and correct such tragedy:

  • by educating and proper upbringing
  • by consulting teachers and scholars
  • by facilitating and promoting the availability of preventive measures to the needy
  • by emphasizing the need to care about each other

We understand that each society or nation will implement these measures differently based on their style. What we recommend is to incorporate God into these measures. However, I wish to emphasize that this is not about my God vs. your God, nor your religion vs. my religion. Why? Because God is Universal, meaning, the 70-95% of believers (previously mentioned statistics) should unite under the One True God.   In theology, we call all these believers, the People of the Book. So, we may now ask, “Why do the believers of God not unite?”  The reason is because too many of these believers do not have the crystal clear understanding of  God.  Sadly, this unacceptable shame is happening in our modern time of advanced knowledge and technology, a time in which we have much deeper understanding of everything except God.

The solution is not, “Who is right about God?”, but rather, “What is right about God?”.

To find the solution, scholars of all faiths need to brainstorm together, objectively. Our input to them about this dilemma will be presenting a masterpiece on God: the Risale-i Nur Collection by Bediuzzaman Said Nursi.  Today, millions of people around the world testify to this fact that Bediuzzaman makes the truth of God crystal clear. He brings great clarity about God through his unique methodology utilizing sound reasonings and logical proofs of God. This is our contribution to the scholars’ quest of seeking what is right about God.

Dr. Osman Birgeoglu

Greatest Human Quest: Connecting to God

Human beings are searching for higher power, they are yearning for a true, tangible connection to the mystical realms. People hope, need, and want the ‘supernatural’ to be real, not imaginary. This craving for magic is a clear indication of a very crucial and fundamental human quest; precisely, finding God and actualizing their dreams in their ordinary lives. People crave the extraordinary because they realize they themselves don’t have it.

A perfect example of this occurred this weekend with the opening of the final Harry Potter movie. According to the Los Angeles Times, the film had the highest-gross-opening of all time at the domestic and international box office. Interestingly, one theatre in Salt Lake City, Utah, the Mormon capital of the US, sold more tickets than any other theatre in America. Just in three days, the film grossed $168.6 million in the US and Canada, plus $307 million overseas in 59 countries.  It is expected to pass $1 billion overall at the global box office. These statistics reflect the unprecedented numbers of people yearning to reach beyond their ordinary lives to connect with the non-ordinary.

Experiencing the extraordinary is possible, but all dreams come true only through God, no other means. Thus this deep spiritual hunger people feel for the extraordinary is possibly only through God. The Risale-i Nur published by Nur Publishers states it best, “If you find Him, you found everything.”

I will add my input on this: If you don’t have everything you need, want, desire in your life, then your journey to God isn’t finished, you are not there yet.  Your unanswered needs will serve as your indicator that you need to push yourself harder and further on your journey. It’s perfectly OK to go see the Harry Potter film which stirs our hearts and spirits to obtain things of the extraordinary, mystical realms. We simply need to realize our next step then is to seek these things with God because the real power is with Him and comes through Him to His loved ones. And, becoming one of His loved ones is certainly within the reach of each of us. When we seek God genuinely we begin to see and experience the extraordinary in the ordinary; your dreams soon become real.

And with Him are the keys of the unseen; none knows them except Him. And He knows what is on the land and in the sea. Not a leaf falls but that He knows it. And no grain is there within the darknesses of the earth and no moist or dry [thing] but that it is [written] in a clear record. [The Quran, 6:59]

The answers we seek for our dreams, hopes, and desires are in the manual of life: God’s Revelations through Archangel Gabriel ( The Psalms, The Torah, The Bible, The Quran).

Dr. Osman Birgeoglu

the phenomenal journey to God

 

Risale-i Nur says: Acts here produce fruits there

The Quran and Hadiths are telling us that the only benefits or rewards we will see in the Afterlife come from the good deeds we achieve here on Earth. The importance of this is that we utilize and invest our time in service to other beings. Then our efforts will come to fruition in the Afterlife, our permanent life. Wasting our time and efforts here means waste our rewards in Heaven. The Prophet (ASM) said, “Everybody who goes to the Hereafter will regret.” One Companion remarked to this, “We know that evil people will have regret, but why do the rest of us regret?” The Prophet (ASM) replied, “You will tell yourself you could have done more, yet you did not.” The emphasis is necessarily on making good use of our time in acts of service to elevate and benefit our permanent life in the Hereafter. Ustad Bediuzzman Said Nursi visits this exact topic in the Risale-i Nur and says the following:

“This world is the is the realm of wisdom, the realm of service; it is not the realm of reward and recompense. The wage for deeds and acts of service here is given in the Intermediate Realm and the Hereafter. Acts here produce fruits there. This being the truth of the matter, the results of actions that look to the hereafter should not be sought in this world. If they are given, they should be received not gratefully, but regretfully. For in Paradise, the more fruits are picked, the more they grow. So it is hardly sensible to consume in this world in fleeting fashion the fruits of action that pertain to the hereafter, which are lasting. It is like exchanging a permanent lamp for one that will last a minute and then flicker out.”

– from the Risale-i Nur by Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, The Lights of Reality

Dr. Osman Birgeoglu