The Necessity and Beauty of Religious Communities, Books and Scholars: Islam is not a religion that can be lived on its own!
This article is the epilogue of our book “A Journey of Discovery for an Extraordinary Treasure: Risale-i Nur (The Treatise of Light) Training Program”
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At the beginning of our book, we invited you to a Mental Journey in our inner world asked you to join us.
In fact, this was the beginning of a never-ending journey. Now, at this point, we can see ourselves as having just stepped in on an island full of treasures. We have found the place where the treasure is hidden. We have seen gems, but not all of them. Perhaps, just a small portion of them…
After this point, the discovery just starts and you will have the privilege of living the most exciting episodes of your life adventure- if you appreciate its value well – that will last a lifetime and never end.
The meaningful beauties, that you will discover, and the heavenly pleasures, that you will taste, will never end.
If you ask how to continue this journey of discovery, within this spiritual treasure, which is called faith, then we would like to reply in two ways:
1- For sure, in truths of faith, which have the power of spiritual nutrients, and which can be obtained in the depths of the meanings of the Collection of Risale-I Nur, which is worth reading for a lifetime.
2- In the spiritual lecture-hall composed of volunteers seeking for the knowledge, where the knowledge of Risale-i Nur is open to everyone and everyone is a student; the locations of conversation where the lectures of Risale-I Nur are given, providing the theory together with the practice in life.
As we have previously mentioned, the knowledge of faith is not like other which can be learned at once and contemplated about, and that the shah and the sultan of all sciences is the knowledge of faith. The realities related to faith are truths about which we need to think every movement like we need water and food. It is not possible to say “I have understood once, that is enough”. There is a related section to this issue in a letter in Barla Appendix of Risale-i Nur: A person, contemplating that such a conversation of faith is a spiritual ornament and the source of pride of the surface of the earth, says this: “Heavens admire the earth enviously as there are one or two men, one or two souls sitting down together side by side for one or two minutes, loving their Creator and making others love Him too and thinking of Him and making others think of Him too by reminding each other of very beautiful compassionate works and of artful works with inner purposes of their Creator (Sâni-i Zülcelâl)”.
Learning, teaching and making others learn form the basis of the religion of Islam. In fact, the moral-spiritual journey of the human being, starting from a logical point of view and continuing throughout history boils down to an effort to learn and know new things.
For this reason, our religion puts a special emphasis on learning, making others learn and disseminating knowledge. The following Hadith confirms this point in an impressive manner:
“Allah will raise some people from their graves on the Day of Judgement in a state that their faces will be glowing with radiant light. They shall be seated on pulpits made of pearls. Other people shall envy their elevated state. These dignified people, however, will neither include Prophets nor Shuhada (martyrs).”
The Companions submitted: “O Messenger of Allah! Who are these people? Tell us their distinguishing qualities.” Rasul Allah observed: “These are the people who love each other for the sake of Allah only.” (Taberâni. -Book of Hadith-)
In fact, what we call “lecture” is a truth from and a meaning of Quran.
It is the reading and the explanation of a section from the works of Risale-I Nur Collection, which are nothing more than the presentation of the spiritual/moral medicines from the prescription of Quran in accordance with the understanding and the comprehension of the century in which we live.
People voluntarily come together for these lectures and they try to learn and understand the truths of Quran as they relate to this century.
These are very special rare and decent environments which are hardly encountered in this century, where people come together to gain knowledge and apply it in their lives just for Allah’s sake without any other purpose in their minds, without any relationship to material interest.
“It is only Allah who could show the right path. Therefore, why do we need such intermediaries that may be curtains between us and Allah?
The Answer: What you call as the curtain perhaps is a brilliant mirror.
Then, shattering down that mirror could mean disrespect to the sun which is appearing on that mirror and could entail missing out the abundance of the lights to be received from that mirror. We are all living in a world of material causes. Allah includes everything in our lives with certain causes and occasions. The blessings of Allah, especially those we eat do not come out of the sky within a big basket.
Let us say, we do not attach any importance to the means by which Allah sends his blessings by saying that “It is Allah who sends one’s livelihood directly” and for example we do not eat an apple that is presented to us by an apple tree in the name of Allah and throw that apple away by thinking that Allah will give our livelihood anyway. Would not it be such an indecent, inappropriate behavior? Wouldn’t this act, which means risking dying of starvation, represent courage of ignorance, showing a great disrespect to Allah?
Because, that livelihood is sent to you at the hands of a tree! Respecting the apple coming to you by means of that tree means respecting Allah. Surely, it is necessary to respect the gifts send by a Sultan with his officers and these officers are also to be respected. Disregarding these officers and mistreating them would mean disrespecting and insulting the ruler who sent them. In a similar fashion, it is Allah who directs us to the right path, leading us to salvation. However, several means like your friends whom you love in the name of Allah and who are telling you about Allah and leading you towards Him; the scholars who are spreading the knowledge as the moral and spiritual successors of the prophets and books telling the truths could be like these intermediary officers who are sent you by Allah and to be the means of your ascending to heaven. How do we know that this is not the case?
About the light of faith and salvation sent by Allah through these means?
Islam places great importance on telling about the righteous and the truth; spreading the knowledge, learning and teaching it. This is a reality compatible with the nature of the matter.
Does not ask Allah to send out livelihood directly first-hand from the sky and prefers to reap the benefits of these blessing and respects these blessings in the name of Allah, he should also consider doing the same thing for the means of non-material blessings and should care about it accordingly.
In order to better grasp the meaning of Risale-i Nur for us, let us confirm the realistic approach we are showing in this respect with several Hadiths. Our Prophets says: “Verily, Allah sends at the head of every hundred years the scholars who reform the matters of its religion.”, “Those who die without knowing the religious reformer of his time die with a death of ignorance” “Scholars are heirs of the prophets.” “The scholars of my Community are like the prophets of the Children of Israel.”
First of all, the meaning of the hadiths mentioned above looks very logical. Because Allah’s leaving its religion and the believers unattended and not consolidating His believers with scholars, not renewing His religion given the changing conditions and understandings of the times in the face of scientific and civil developments are not compatible with his compassion and wisdom.
This is not bringing a new religion, because, an excellent religion and a prophet with such excellence are already sent so that it is not necessary to have another religion and a prophet until the day of judgment. But there is need for such a service that will reveal the excellence of the religion once again freshly, that will take into account the material and moral/spiritual development of humanity; and that will reinterpret the religion which Quran and Prophet presented with its fundamental principles in accordance with the needs and comprehension of the time in a very fresh manner. This service mentioned by the Hadith is to be undertaken by elite religious scholars who are called as mujaddids (regenerators of the religion).
We can imagine Quran as a pharmacy, and these scholars like spiritual/moral doctors who will take these medicines, that will cure all diseases of the century, from that pharmacy and present them to the humanity’s service. And In our opinion, Bediüzzaman Said Nursi is also one of these scholars. The opinions can’t be objected to. And this is true if such an opinion is proved with the change foreseen in millions of people with these works. The claim and the case of Said Nursi are for faith. In the works of Risale-i Nur that were written by him, the truths of faith are presented with all evidence, aiming at us being an informed, conscious believer and finding out the purpose of our lives. Since Risale-I Nur was written directly with inspirations taken from Quran, it is not possible to compare it to the book written by other authors based on their own personal opinions or on other books. In old times, the knowledge and sciences of Islam and Faith used to be obtained only with great hardship after an education lasting 15 years on average. Here some of the statements made by Bediüzzaman Said Nursi with regard to Risale-i Nur’s opening of a way resulting in the acquisition of the knowledge of faith excellently in a short period of time and the discovery of a new Quranic method:
“In the future, such times will come that; no madrasah will be available for a one-year education of the knowledge of faith let alone for 15 years. Then, at that time, there will be a Quran explanation (Tafsir) and Said will be at its service. “, “In the past, some truths of faith could be achieved within 40 days even up to 40 years through following a pathway (Seyr-ü sülûk). Now with the help and compassion of Allah, if a way is found to achieve that truth in 40 minutes, then not having an interest in and any curiosity about that way is not logical at all…”
“Anyone who reads these Treatises and learn its lessons in it real sense could be a true scholar.” (Here the knowledge of faith is meant. Other sciences are not covered).
In fact, it would be necessary to write pages even a separate small book on the benefits and the necessity of attending the environments where Nur lectures are taught and lived as a way of living, which could provide a benefit given by the madrasah and orders (religious sects) of old times in very short time with its lectures of faith, combining the importance of the reading of Risale-i Nur in our minds and hearts. Since we do not such an opportunity here, we say “a word to the wise is enough” and stay content with what we can provide you with these lines.
Nevertheless, we can’t go on without mentioning the following. Islam is not a religion that can be lived on its own. A person who believes is the truths that fundamentally change his comprehension of the world and who puts these truths in the centre of his life needs others who share the same feelings and beliefs, speaking the same language.
When we look around we see numerous people who do not care and talk about anything other than this world and worldly things., and whose interest does not cover anything other than the wishes and desires of this temporary world. The social life is so strange that, once you are in a hospital, you start thinking as if everybody is ill. And in the working environment it seems as if nobody gets ill and dies; However, the world stays as it is, and will be the same forever. You will be deceived by such an appearance.
And just like this situation when we spend all our time among people who do not practice their prayers (salat) and whose only concern is this world, not being aware of the purpose of being sent here then, it will seem as if there is no one in this world, who works for the eternal life, who is aware of the truths of faith and works at their service. But this is not true. You can grasp this reality only when you go to places where people who understand and live these realities in their lives come together, then, you can see that there are so many “judicious “persons who work for eternal life in this world. You are the one who chooses the river in which you will be washed and go adrift. Even if we are aware of this fact, as long as we stay lonely on our own, then the society trying to take us to the world things and this dangerous situation of our times will force us a lot and defeat us. We need motivation, a moral and spiritual support, and an anchor to hold onto.
Just like how difficult it is for a drop of water to escape from evaporation due to the heat coming from the sun, we are in a similar situation in the face of unrest and the spiritual damage of the doomsday against which all prophets warned their societies.
Whereas it would be much more different if we are together with people who believe in the same truths, trying to practice them in their lives to leave ourselves to the current of a river, and to go away to our destination using its power. Leaving such a spiritual and moral power is not logical. All hadiths and verses fiercely promote and suggest us living in communities (the proper Islamic term is cemaat).
For instance, you can prepare for an exam by studying at home, but at the expense of missing the joy of staying at home and moreover paying money on top of it, you prefer to go to a private preparatory course (dershane). The point of going to such a place is the same in the example of the river we have given above. You are motivated by seeing the people studying for the exam just like you. In fact, for verbal subjects it is not so meaningful to spend time attending these courses. But these preparatory courses have such an emotional environment that it has such an enthusiastic driving force giving you impetus detracting from laziness. Just to join this system and to gain this emotional power, most people spare no expense and allocate their time and attend these preparatory courses. We are living in such a period that it is most difficult to live Islam in the face of terrible obstacles of the Greatest Trial in this world of examinations. How can we preserve ourselves by staying on our own?
Clearly, it seems practical and logical to get some help and stay in the protective environment of a big moral and spiritual power, making it necessary for us to enter into the environment of an emotional spiritual preparatory course. In that sense, it is very meaning full that Bediüzzaman called such places where Risale-I Nur is read and people with common purposes come together as “dersane”, meaning the classroom.
Let us share with you some of the hadiths confirming this issue. There are mercy and compassion for being in a community and torment for solitude. (Müsned-i Ahmed, 4:278. -Book of Hadith-) “Devil is close to one and away from two persons.”, “Allah’s help is to those who stay in the community”. “Allah’s hand of mercy and power is with the Community”, “Those who want to die as believers and be in the heaven should hang on to the community”. The concepts of the community mentioned in these hadiths mean, in the first instance, the Community of Islam and believers. The brotherhood of the believers is the basis of Islam. But as in the army, where there is no single type of soldier, each one having different duties and specialized in different units, in a society also there is no single type of human being, there are specialized institutions and groups in accordance with the needs of social life.
Likewise, reading Risale-i Nur and attending it classrooms, has a beautiful meaning of a work specialized at the service of faith and the gathering of those who read this work and become the students of Quran and render service to society. It can be said that this is an example, in this day and age, of the service given at the time of the Prophet, (S.A.V.) by his companions to spread the truths of Islam.
Students of Risale-i Nur is a name given to those who read Risale-i Nur, who protect and set their hearts on these works in the name of Quran. The occupation of Risale-I Nur, on the other hand, with the words of Bediüzzaman, is the great street of Quran. In other words, the occupation of Risale-I Nur and the service of faith which is obtained with these works make up a wide street, a righteous guide showing the path of faith.
Otherwise, it is not another road, sect, occupation, disposition etc. It directly teaches and shows Islam. In the larger circle of Risale-i Nur, the whole Islam Umma is included.
This is our answer: Certainly, it is not. In fact, the methods of the reality and the paths leading to heaven are many and various.
However, it should not be so logical to give up a guidance of truth which has succeeded in achieving the spiritual, moral gain and benefit, especially in our current world, with a short-cut fast and easy Quranic method and proved itself with transforming the lives of millions.
Performing Salaat, the prayer in the community is not a binding religious duty (Fardh) but it can bring about much more good deed, twenty-five or twenty-seven times more than a prayer performed individually.
Islam continuously encourages the being together.
Bediüzzaman uses a term “şirket-i maneviye” (the company of moral, spiritual union).
On commerce, it is not necessary for a person to be a partner of a company. However, just like the profit that can be earned by individual capital is so limited compared to the profits of big companies and such individuals lose their competition power; the prayers and worships made individually are so powerless compared to the prayers and worship carried out in the community by people coming together. Who would not like to have a moral/spiritual power? The lectures done in community enables good morals and characters of individuals coming together to be reflected each other. Moreover, the students enjoy and get enlightened more and complete each other during the lectures.
In my high school years, I remember myself as having started to search for the truth. In fact, I had read numerous books on religion and contemplated on these issues, then started to practice prayers and to tell what I believed to others (in my own limited way). Before that, I had read several popular science and personal development books. I had read the life-story of Bediüzzaman and I was amazed. But I was not aware of his works yet. After a Friday-Prayer, I have met someone who came close me by saying “May Allah accept your prayers”. He introduced himself and told me he was studying in the physics department of a university. He and his friend were coming together to read the books of Said Nursi. It was so appealing to me when he invited me to join them. I told him “Certainly, let’s go “. In this way, the doors of quite a different universe were opened to me.
These were the best years of my life. Now I remember these days wistfully. May Allah be pleased with that person who introduced me to Risale-i Nur and the people who put their hearts on the same truth. I have experienced a heaven on earth by sharing the same environment with people who believe in the same truth. It was as if I had passed to another dimension in time and space. Outside, the world was running away to somewhere else. But once you step into “classroom” of Risale-I Nur, you were abstracted from all negativities of the world and leaving all ugliness, the meaningless daily rush, never-ending struggle to earn a living outside and see that there are people in this world, who devote themselves to eternal truth.
There you see people who, though they have not seen you before, smile without any calculation of interest for the sake of Allah and sincere brothers who hug you as if they were your old-time friends. Your world gets really transformed once you are in there. The warm hearts, whose virtues and good characters you will take as models, who try to live Islam in its real sense and to make the truths of Islam the property of humanity, and who spare no sacrifice, material and non-material, for the happiness and salvation of the eternal life of the people; moral and spiritual heroes and impressive people who make you say “Are there really such nice people at such a time?”, they all come into your life in such environments.
Once I had come across to a hadith, which we will present also its meaning: One day The Messenger of Allah spoke: “While travelling over the earth, also visit the gardens of heaven and get your nutrition from these gardens”
Then his companions asked him: “Oh, the Messenger of Allah! Are there gardens of heaven here? (or where are these gardens?)” And He replies: The Gardens of Heaven are gatherings of people (majlis) where the names of Allah are mentioned and remembered (and where Quran and knowledge are taught) (Tirmizi, Daavât 82. -Book of Hadith-)
Then during this period, I was feeling the meaning of this hadith with all my soul, and living it in my life. In the conversations of Risale-I Nur you sense the circles of knowledge of the Prophets ‘time smells coming from the golden age (asrı-saadet) and an unprecedented universe enabling you to taste the spiritual joys of the heaven. You understand that this world is composed of not only things seen out there. And if the world is not falling apart, the existence of such people on the surface of the earth has an important share in this. And you feel that this is the case, from the deepest, with all your heart. This is not an exaggerated claim, because in these places, the truths of faith, which are the greatest truths in the universe and the reasons for the establishment of the world, are taught in its purest form.
In the last part of our book, we will mention the resources by which you can read and listen Risale-i Nur for 24 hours non-stop a day and places where you can attend the conversations and lectures of Risale-i Nur.
In this way, we wanted to help you to have nice special friends that will keep you accompany in the discovery of the treasure of faith and in the journey of life.