The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) will be hosting a symposium of the life of Badee uz Zamaan Said Nursi. The symposium will aim to bring awareness of the life and contributions of Said Nursi and the legacy he has left behind.
Speaking to VOC Drivetime this week, Hamza B. Oztas, from the Hayrat Foundation Representative based in the United Kingdom, said Imam Said Nursi was quite possibly the most influential Islamic scholar in the last 100 years in Turkey, and maybe in the Islamic world.
The Imam was not only a theologian, but a classical Islamic scholar and was blessed with aqli (rational) and naqli knowledge (revealed). He was good at positive science, wrote books about maps, and debated with the experts of positive science.
“In this age, Muslim children should get both of them,” Oztas noted.
As a leader, a commander, an academic, an activist, and an ’Abd (servant) of Allah, “[Imam Said Nursi] was a good model for the modern world.”
In his teachings, Imam Said Nursi was not a proponent of extremism, but in living his normal day-to-day life he was regarded as a teacher of theories that today remains relevant.
Imam Said Nursi’s life
He was exiled, in the later period of the Ottoman Empire and the early Turkish period. In this period every aspect of Islam from; the call of athan, Islamic letters, Islamic dress code, and religious foundations’ were abolished. When many individuals sought to riot against the ban, Imam Said Nursi proposed that because the government and soldiers were Muslim, rioting was not option. The Imam, therefore, sought to preserve the Islamic doctrine of preventing Muslims from creating internal conflict.
Imam Said Nursi instead encouraged the Muslims to develop a peaceful plan that would gain them access to their religious rights. This plan entailed educating individuals.
As a result, on his passing in 1960, Imam Said Nursi left a legacy of thousands of students.
Oztas believes that Said Nursi’s actions “showed that peaceful and classical Islamic education is the real solution.”
At the tender age of 14 Imam Said Nursi was regarded as one of the top theologians and was known for his incredible memory.
“In order to become a graduate of a classical ottoman curriculum you need to finish 90 books in 15 to 20 years. What he did was memorise the entire curriculum of 90 books within 3 months,” Oztas admirably notes.
Oztas furthermore expressed that such ability is no doubt “a bounty of Allah.”
With the total abolition of the Islamic way of life and education, in a period in which an onslaught against Islam occurred, Imam Said Nursi’s books were a beacon of light and hope for Turkey.
The most famous work of Imam Said Nursi is the Risal-i Nur (The Books of Light). This work has travelled around the world, in the same manner that the the works of Imam al-Ghazali, and Imam al-Shafi’i has travelled, becoming intellectual property for all. “We are hopeful [in Turkey] about the Muslim education, [and since] Turkey is growing massively, we now found the opportunity to share what we have in our hands,” Oztas asserts.
Although scholarly work was quite successful, poverty was rife. Imam said Nursi went to the capital and expressed that he wished to increase education in the eastern parts of Turkey. When Russians and Armenians occupied turkey, Imam Said Nursi joined the Turkish army. During this period, he was taken as a prisoner to Russia.
When asked why he did not stand in front of the Commander of Russia, he said “I am a Muslim scholar, and Islam’s knowledge gives me the ‘izza (superiority) that I do not have to stand.
The commander understood that Imam Said Nursi acted not out of arrogance, but rather, out of adherence to the teachings of Islam. On his return to Turkey, Imam Said Nursi was disappointed to find that the new regime of Turkey neglected to uphold the teachings of Islam.
Imam Said Nursi, due to his opposition of the new regime, was placed into exiled, in which the government attempted to poison him on more than 10 occasions.
These occurrences reflect the protection which the Almighty bestowed on Imam Said Nursi.
Imam Said Nursi, in an attempt to further torture him, was transported from one place of exile to the next. This, the imam accepted as an opportunity to teach Islamic values to the people with whom he came into contact with.
“This is Allah’s higher plan, [since] knowledge is the hidden treasure of a Muslim,” Oztas concluded.
The symposium takes place on Saturday 27th February at Islamia auditorium, Imam Haron road Lansdowne from 9am to 4.30pm. For more info, contact 021 684 4626.
VOC (Thakira Desai)