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.