Bediüzzaman Said Nursi
Then that traveller looking closely at the World of the Unseen, and voyaging in it with his intellect and his heart, knocked inquisitively on the door of that world, thinking to himself, “What does this world have to say?” The following occurred to him: it is to be clearly understood that behind the veil of the Unseen is one who wants to make himself known through all these numerous finely adorned artefacts full of art in this corporeal Manifest World, and to make himself loved through these infinite sweet and decorated bounties, and to make known his hidden perfections through these innumerable miraculous and skilful works of art, and who does this by act rather than speech and by making himself known by the tongue of disposition. Since this is so, of a certainty he will speak and make himself known and loved through speech and utterance just as he does through deed and state. In which case, from his manifestations we must know him in respect to the World of the Unseen. Whereupon he entered that world with his heart and saw the following with the eye of his intellect:
The truth of revelations prevails at all instants over all parts of the World of the Unseen, with a most powerful manifestation. There comes with the truths of revelation and inspiration proceeding from the One All-Knowing of the Unseen, a testimony to His existence and unity far stronger than testimony of the universe and created beings. He does not leave Himself, His existence and His unity, only to the testimony of His creatures. Rather, He speaks with a pre-eternal Speech consonant with His own being. The Speech of the One Who is all-present and all-seeing everywhere with His Knowledge and Power is also endless, and just as the meaning of His Speech makes Him known, so does His discourse make Himself known together with His attributes.
The traveller recognized that the truth, reality, and existence of revelation has been made plain to the point of being self-evident by the consensus of one hundred thousand prophets (Peace be upon them), by the agreement among their proclamations concerning the manifestion of Divine revelation; by the evidences and miracles contained in the sacred books and heavenly pages, which are the guides and exemplars of the overwhelming majority of humanity, confirmed and assented to by them, and are the visible fruits of revelation. He understood further that the truth of revelation proclaims five sacred truths.
The First: To speak in accordance with men’s intellects and understandings, known as ‘Divine condescension to the minds of men,’ is a form of Divine descent. It is a requirement of God’s dominicality that He endows all of his conscious creatures with speech, understands their speech, and then participates in it with His own speech.
The Second: The One Who, in order to make Himself known, fills the cosmos with His miraculous creations and endows them with tongues speaking of His perfections, will necessarily make Himself known with His own words also.
The Third: It is a function of His being Creator to respond in words to the supplications and offerings of thanks that are made by the most select, the most needy, the most delicate and the most ardent among His beings — true men.
The Fourth: The attribute of Speech, an essential concomitant and luminous manifestation of both Knowledge and Life, will necessarily be found in a comprehensive and eternal form in the being Whose Knowledge is comprehensive and Whose Life is eternal.
The Fifth: It is a consequence of Divinity that the Being Who endows men with impotence and desire, poverty and need, anxiety for the future, love and worship, should communicate His own existence, by way of His speech, to His most loved and lovable, His most anxious and needy creatures, who are most desirous of finding their Lord and Master.
The evidences for the existence in unity of the Necessary Existent offered in unanimity by universal and heavenly revelations, which contain the truths of Divine descent, dominical self-proclamation, compassionate response, Divine conversation, and eternal self-communication, constitute a proof more powerful than the testimony for the existence of the sun brought by the rays of sunlight.
Our traveller understood this then looked in the direction of inspiration and saw that veracious inspiration indeed resembles revelation in some respects and is a mode of dominical speech.
THE FIRST: Revelation, which is much higher than inspiration, generally comes by the medium of the angels, whereas inspiration generally comes directly.
So too a king has two modes of speech and command. The first consists of his sending to a governor a lieutenant equipped with all the pomp of monarchy and the splendour of sovereignty. Sometimes, in order to demonstrate the splendour of his sovereignty and the importance of his command, he may meet with the intermediary, and then the decree will be issued.
The second consists of his speaking privately in his own person, not with the title of monarch or in the name of kingship, concerning some private matter, some petty affair, using for this purpose a trusted servant, some ordinary subject, or his private telephone.
In the same way the Pre-Eternal Monarch may either, in the name of the Sustainer of All the Worlds, and with the title of Creator of the Universe, speak with revelation or the comprehensive inspiration that performs the function of revelation, or He may speak in a different and private fashion, as the Sustainer and Creator of all animate beings, from behind the veil, in a way suited to the recipient.
THE SECOND DIFFERENCE: Revelation is without shadow, pure, and reserved for the elect. Inspiration, by contrast, has shadow, colours intermingle with it, and it is general. There are numerous different kinds of inspiration, such as the inspiration of angels, the inspiration of men, and the inspiration of animals; inspiration thus forms a field for the multiplication of God’s words, that are as numeous as the drops in the ocean. Our traveller understood that this matter is, indeed, a kind of commentary on the verse,
Were the sea to become ink for the words of my Sustainer, verily the sea would be exhausted before the words of my Sustainer.18
Then he looked at the nature, the wisdom, and the testimony of inspiration and saw that its nature, wisdom and result were composed of four lights.
The first: it is the result of God’s Lovingness and Mercifulness that He makes himself loved through word, presence and discourse, in the same way that He makes Himself loved to His creatures through His deeds.
The second: it is a requirement of His Compassionateness that just as He answers His servants’ prayers in deed, He should also answer them in word, from behind veils.
The third: it is a concomitant of dominicality that just as He responds in deed to the cries for help, supplications, and pleadings of those of His creatures who are afflicted with grievous misfortunes and hardships, so too He should hasten to their help with words of inspiration, which are like a form of speech.
The fourth: God makes His existence, presence and protection perceptible in deed to His most weak and indigent, His most poor and needy, conscious creatures, that stand in great need of finding their Master, Protector, Guardian, and Disposer. It is a necessary and essential consequence of His Divine solicitousness and His dominical compassion that He should also communicate His presence and existence by speech, from behind the veil of veracious inspiration —a mode of dominical discourse— to individuals, in a manner peculiar to them and their capacities, through the telephone of their hearts.
He then looked to the testimony of inspiration and saw that if the sun, for example, had consciousness and life, and if the seven colours of sunlight were the seven attributes, in that respect it would have a form of speech through the rays and manifestations found in its light. And in this situation both its similitudes and reflections would be present in all transparent objects, and it would speak with all mirrors and shining objects and fragments of glass and bubbles and droplets of water, indeed with all transparent particles, in accordance with the capacity of each; it would respond to the needs of each, and all these would testify to the sun’s existence; and no task would form an obstacle to any other task, and no speaking obstruct any other speaking. This is self-evident.
In the same way, the Speech of the Glorious Monarch of Pre-Eternity and Post-Eternity, the Beauteous and Exalted Creator of All Beings, Who may be described as the Pre-Eternal Sun, manifests itself to all things, in general and comprehensive fashion, in a manner appropriate to their capacity, as do also His Knowledge and Power. No request interferes with another, no task prevents the fulfilment of another, and no address becomes confused with another. All of this our traveller understood as self-evident. He knew that all of those manifestations, those discourses, those inspirations, separately and together, evidenced and bore witness unanimously to the presence, the necessary existence, the unity and the oneness of that Pre-Eternal Sun with a knowlege of certainty that approached a vision of certainty.
In brief allusion to the lesson in knowledge of God from the World of the Unseen gained by our inquisitive traveller, we said in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Degrees of the First Station:
There is no god but God, the Necessary Existent, the One, the Single, to Whose Necessary Existence in Unity points the consensus of all true revelations, containing Divine descent, glorious discourse, dominical self-revelation, compassionate response to the invocations of men, and eternal indications of His existence to his creatures. There points also to His Necessary Existence in Unity the agreement of all veracious inspirations, containing expressions of God’s love, compassionate responses to the prayers of God’s creatures, dominical responses to the appeals of His servants for aid, and glorious intimations of His existence to His creatures.
Then that traveller through the world addressed his own intellect saying: “Since I am seeking my Master and Creator by means of the creatures of the cosmos, I ought before all else to visit the most celebrated of all these creatures, the greatest and most accomplished commander among them, according to the testimony even of his enemies, the most renowned ruler, the most exalted in speech and the most brilliant an intellect, who has illuminated fourteen centuries with his excellence and with his Qur’an, Muhammad the Arabian Prophet (May God’s peace and blessings be upon him).” In order thus to visit him and seek from him the answer to his quest, he entered the blessed age of the Prophet in his mind, and saw that age to be one of true felicity, thanks to that being. For through the light he had brought, he had turned the most primitive and illiterate of peoples into the masters and teachers of the world.
He said too to his own intellect, “Before asking him concerning our Creator, we should first learn that value of this extraordinary being, the veracity of his words and the truthfulness of his warnings.” Thus he began investigating, and of the numerous conclusive proofs that he found we will briefly indicate here only nine of the most general ones.
THE FIRST: All excellent qualities and characteristics were to be found in that extraordinary being, according to the testimony even of his enemies. Hundreds of miracles were made manifest at his hands, according to explicit Qur’anic verses or traditions enjoying the status of tawatur.19 Examples of these miracles are his splitting of the moon, And the moon split,20 with a single indication of his finger; his casting of a handful of dust into the eyes of his enemies, causing them to flee, It was not your act when you threw, but God’s,21 and his giving his thirsting army to drink from the water that flowed forth from his five fingers like the Spring of Kawthar. Since some of those miracles, numbering more than three hundred, have been set forth with decisive proofs in the remarkable and wondrous work known as The Miracles of Muhammad (The Nineteenth Letter), we leave discussion of the miracles to that work, and permit the traveller to continue speaking:
“A being who in addition to noble characteristics and perfections has all these luminous miracles to demonstrate, must certainly be the most truthful in speech of all men. It is inconceivable that he would stoop to trickery, lies and error, the deeds of the vile.”
THE SECOND: He holds in his hand a decree from the lord of the universe, a decree accepted and affirmed in each century by more than three hundred million people. This decree, the Qur’an of Mighty Stature, is wondrous in seven different ways. The fact that the Qur’an has forty different aspects of miraculousnes and that it is the word of the Creator of all beings has been set forth in detail with strong proofs in the Twenty-Fifth Word, The Miraculousness of the Qur’an, a celebrated treatise that is like the sun of the Risale-i Nur. We therefore leave such matters to that work and listen to the traveller as he says,“There can never be any possibility of lying on the part of the being who is the conveyor and proclaimer of this decree, for that would be a violation of the decree and treachery toward the One Who issued it.”
THE THIRD: Such a Sacred Law, an Islam, a code of worship, a cause, a summons, and a faith did that being bring forth that the like of them does not exist, nor could it exist. Nor does a more perfect form of them exist, nor could it exist. For the Law appearing with that unlettered being has no rival in its administration of one fifth of humanity for fourteen centuries, in a just and precise manner through its numerous injuctions. Moreover the Islam that emerged from the deeds, sayings, and inward states of that unlettered being has no peer, nor can it have, for in each century it has been for three hundred million men a guide and a refuge, the teacher and educator of their intellects and the illuminator and purifier of their hearts, the cause for the refinement and training of their souls, and the source of progress and advancement of their spirits.
The Prophet is similarly unparalleled in the way in which he was the foremost in practising all the forms of worship found in his religion, and the first in piety and the fear of God; in his observing the duties of worship fully and with attention to their profoundest dimensions, even while engaged in constant struggle and activity; in his practice of worship combining in perfect fashion the beginning and end of worship and servitude to God without imitation of anyone.
With the Jawshan al-Kabir, from among his thousands of supplicatory prayers and invocations, he describes his Sustainer with such a degree of gnosis that all the gnostics and saints who have come after him have been unable, with their joint efforts, to attain a similar degree of gnosis and accurate description. This shows that in prayer too he is without peer. Whoever looks at the section at the beginning of the Treatise On Supplicatory Prayer which sets forth some part of the meaning of one of the ninety-nine sections of the Jawshan al-Kabir will say that the Jawshan too has no peer.
In his conveying of the message and his summoning men to the truth, he displayed such steadfastness, firmness and courage that although great states and religions, and even his own people, tribe and uncle opposed him in the most hostile fashion, he exhibited not the slightest trace of hesitation anxiety or fear. The fact that he successfully challenged the whole world and made Islam the master of the world likewise proves that there is not and cannot be anyone like him in his conveying of the message and summons.
In his faith, he had so extraordinary a strength, so marvellous a certainty, so miraculous a breadth, and so exalted a conviction, illumining the whole world, that none of the ideas and beliefs then dominating the world, and none of the philosophies of the sages and teachings of the religious leaders, was able, despite extreme hostility and denial, to induce in his certainty, conviction, trust and assurance, the slightest doubt, hesitation, weakness or anxiety. Moreover, the saintly of all ages, headed by the Companions, the foremost in the degrees of belief, have all drawn on his fountain of belief and regarded him as representing the highest degree of faith. This proves that his faith too is matchless. Our traveller therefore concluded, and affirmed with his intellect, that lying and duplicity have no place in the one who has brought such a unique sacred law, such an unparalleled Islam, such a wondrous devotion to worship, such an extra-ordinary excellence in supplicatory prayer, such a universally acclaimed summons to the truth and such a miraculous faith.
THE FOURTH: In the same way that the consensus of the prophets is a strong proof for the existence and unity of God, so too it is a firm testimony to the truthfulness and messengerhood of this being. For all the sacred attributes, miracles and functions that indicate the truthfulness and messengerhood of the prophets (Peace be upon them) existed in full measure in that being according to the testimony of history. The prophets have verbally predicted the coming of that being and given good tidings thereof in the Torah, the Gospels, the Psalms, and the pages; more than twenty of the most conclusive examples of these glad tidings, drawn from the scriptures, have been set forth and proven in the Nineteenth Letter. Similarly, through all the deeds and miracles associated with their prophethood they have affirmed and, as it were, put their signature to the mission of that being which is the foremost and most perfect in the tasks and functions of prophethood. Just as through verbal consensus they indicate the Divine unity, through the unanimity of their deeds they bear witness to the truthfulness of that being. This too was understood by our traveller.
THE FIFTH: Similarly, the thousands of saints who have attained truth, reality, perfection, wondrous deeds, unveiling and witnessing through the instruction of this being and following him, bear unanimous witness not only to the Divine unity but also to the truthfulness and messengerhood of this being. Again, the fact that they witness, through the light of sainthood, some of the truths he proclaimed concerning the World of the Unseen, and that they believe in and affirm all of those truths through the light of belief, either with knowledge of certainty, or with the vision of certainty, or with absolute certainty. He saw that this too demonstates like the sun the degree of truthfulness and rectitude of that great being, their master.
THE SIXTH: The millions of purified, sincere, and punctilious scholars and faithful sages, who have reached the highest station of learning through the teaching and instruction contained in the sacred truths brought by that being, despite his unlettered nature, the exalted sciences he invented and Divine knowledge he discovered — they not only prove and affirm, unanimously and with the strongest proofs, the Divine unity which is the foundation of his mission, but also bear unanimous witness to the truthfulness of this supreme teacher and great master, and to the veracity of his words. This is a proof as clear as daylight. The Risale-i Nur too with its one hundred parts is but a single proof of his truthfulness.
THE SEVENTH: The Family and Companions of the Prophet —who with their insight, knowledge, and spiritual accomplishment are the most renowned, the most respected, the most celebrated, the most pious and the most keensighted of men after the prophets— examined and scrutinized, with the utmost attention, seriousness and exactitude, all the states, thoughts and conditions of this being, whether hidden or open. They came to the unanimous conclusion that he was the most truthful, exalted, and honest being in the world, and this, their unshakeable affirmation and firm belief, is a proof like the daylight attesting the reality of the sun.
THE EIGHTH: The cosmos indicates its Maker, Inscriber, and Designer, Who creates, administers, and arranges it, and through determining its measure and form and regulating it, has disposal over it as though it was a palace, a book, an exhibition, a spectacle. And so too it indicates that it requires and necessitates an elevated herald, a truthful unveiler, a learned master, and a truthful teacher who will know and make known the Divine purposes in the universe’s creation, teach the dominical instances of wisdom in its changes and transformations, give instruction in the results of its dutiful motions, proclaim its essential value and the perfections of the beings within it, and express the meanings of that mighty book; it indicates that he is certain to exist. Thus, the traveller knew that it testified to the truthfulness of this being, who performed these functions better than anyone, and to his being a most elevated and loyal official of the universe’s Creator.
THE NINTH: There is behind the veil One Who wishes to demonstrate with these ingenious and wise artefacts the perfection of His talent and art; to make Himself known and loved by means of these countless adorned and decorated creations; to evoke praise and thanks through the unnumbered pleasurable and valuable bounties that he bestows; to cause men to worship Him with gratitude and appreciation in the face of His dominicality, through His solicitous and protective sustenance of life, and His provision of nurture and bounty in such manner as to satisfy the most delicate of tastes and appetites; to manifest His Divinity through the change of seasons, the alternation of night and day, and through all His magnificent and majestic deeds, all His awe-inspiring and wise acts and creativity, and thereby to cause men to believe in his Divinity, in submission, humility and obedience; and to demonstrate His justice and truthfulness by at all times protecting virtue and the virtuous and destroying evil and the evil, by annihilating with blows from heaven the oppressor and the liar. There will of a certainty be at the side of this Unseen Being His most beloved creature and most devoted bondsman, who, serving the purposes that have just been mentioned, discovers and unravels the talisman and riddle of the creation of the universe, who acts always in the name of that Creator, who seeks aid and success from Him, and who receives them from Him — Muhammad of Quraysh (Peace and blessings be upon him!)
The traveller further said, addressing his own intellect: “Since these nine truths bear witness to the truthfulness of this being, he must be the source of glory of mankind and the source of honour for the world. If we therefore call him the Pride of the World and Glory of the Sons of Adam, it will be fitting. The fact that the awesome sovereignty of that decree of the Compassionate One, the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition that he holds in his hand, has conquered half the world, together with his individual perfections and exalted virtues, shows that he is the most important personage in the world. The most important word concerning our Creator is that which he utters.”
Now see: the foundation of the summons of this extraordinary being and the aim of all his life, based on the strength furnished by his hundreds of decisive and evident and manifest miracles, and the thousands of exalted, fundamental truths contained in his religion, was to prove and bear witness to the existence of the Necessary Existent, His Unity, attributes and Names, to affirm, proclaim and announce Him. He is therefore like a sun in the cosmos, the most brilliant proof of our Creator, this being whom we call the Beloved of God. There are three forms of great and infallible consensus each of which affirms, confirms, and puts its signature to the witness he bears.
The First: the unanimous affirmation made by that luminous assembly known and celebrated throughout the world as the Family of Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) including thousands of poles and supreme saints of penetrating gaze and ability to perceive the Unseen, such as Imam ‘Ali (May God be pleased with him), who said, “Were the veil to be lifted, my certainty would not increase,” and ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Gilani, the Ghawth al-A‘zam (May his mystery be sanctified), who saw the Supreme Throne and the awesome form of Israfil while yet on the earth.
The Second: the confirmation made with a strong faith that permitted men to sacrifice their lives and their property, their fathers and tribes, by the renowned assembly known as the Companions, who found themselves among a primitive people and in an unlettered environment, devoid of all social life and political thought, without any scripture and lost in the darkness of a period between prophets; and who in a very brief time came to be the masters, guides, and just rulers of the most civilized and politically and socially advanced peoples and states, and to rule the world from east to west in universally approved fashion.
The Third: the confirmation provided with unanimous and certain knowledge by that lofty group of punctilious and profound scholars of whom in each age thousands spring forth, who advance in wondrous fashion in every science and work in different fields.
Thus, the testimony brought by this being to the Divine unity is not particular and individual, but general and universal and unshakeable. If all the demons that exist were to unite, they could not challenge it. Such was the conclusion reached by the traveller.
In reference to the lesson learned in the School of Light by that traveller from the world, that wayfarer in life, when he visited in his mind the blessed age of the Prophet, we said at the end of the Sixteenth Degree of the First Station:
There is no god but God, the Necessary Existent, the One, the Unique, the Necessity of Whose Existence in Unity is indicated by the Pride of the World and the Glory of the Sons of Adam, through the majesty of the sovereignty of his Qur’an, the splendour of the expanse of his religion, the multiplicity of his perfections, and the exaltedness of his characterisitics, as confirmed even by the testimony of his enemies. He bears witness and brings proof through the strength of his hundreds of manifest and evident miracles, that both testify to truth and are themselves the object of true testimony; and through the strength of the thousands of luminous and conclusive truths contained in his religion, according to the consensus of all the possessors of light, the agreement of his illumined Companions, and the unanimity of the scholars of his community, the possessors of proofs and luminous insight.
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